The written word: Past, present and future

What would our ancestors say of how we tell stories via the written word, when many could not do so. Instead they would use art from painting and music to tell them and pass them on to the next generation. Even today being able to read and write is a luxury that many of us that can, forget.

Something I have often pondered is, if time travel were possible when or what would I most like to visit. I decided recently that for me it would be the ancient library in Alexandria because I would not only like to see what was in it but ultimately what was in it and answering who really did set fire to it.

The thought of books on fire reminded me of the excellent “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury. The book tells of a dystopian future vision of America in which books are banned and if found they are burnt. When I first read it over 15 years ago I could not imagine a world with no books.

However, today we have electronic readers today such as kindles, the word always reminds me of kindling. I will admit to not being much of a fan as love the smell and feel of books. So are they kindling of the fire to destroy books and the written word? No, I would not go quite that far.

However, it does make me wonder about edits to texts, books we regard as classics, if the original text will remain unaltered? Then again, how many books we do read now have gone through changes? The Bible, has probably been spun and purposefully mistranslated for centuries.

I have this concern as have heard it with music, as an artist produces a remastered greatest hits with subtle changes in the music from the originals. Equally, I have seen edits in movies and television, to make them more suitable for a set time frame or feel something isn’t appropriate any more.

So what is the future for the written word? More and more we are publishing our own work, from fan fiction to novels, but are people actually reading more? Yet original creative thought and work seems to be declining, as we see and hear old ideas rehashed. I can only hope for the future.

© Fi S. J. Brown

There’s an app for that

Today if we want to learn how to do something we go to a site like YouTube to learn by video or we use an app on our phone/tablet to do it for us. More and more we let an app do something for us, rather than working out or learning how it is done, as quite often quicker and easier than spending time, or so we argue, learning how is not important. Yet our parents and grandparents would, if they were lucky, go to a library and borrow a book to learn how to do something but many more would learn from their parents or grandparents directly or indirectly.

It is as though in many ways we are now reliant on technology to think for us, not question and wonder for ourselves for there are other things we would rather do than study. Yet at the same time we complain of a boredom our ancestors would never have understood, with so much now possible we find it hard to find something to do…is that not a contradiction? Is it because we have become so reliant on machines for us, that some cannot think for themselves? It seems as though some almost need the machine or app to tell them exactly what to do, when and how!

So what can we do? As for some being without the internet and/or mobile phone is although missing something or no longer part of modern life. Those that choose not to have social media are thought of as strange, as the cynics believe they must have something to hide or even anti-social! I have considered doing this myself countless times but decided to keep for sharing creativity such as music, art, photography and writing. So much of our lives based upon the screen that conversation in person seems so strange to some, but with an alcoholic drink it’s ok!

Does technology improve our lives, is in now ruling or even ruining our lives? Stopping to think about what makes us human, all we can do with our many senses and our capacity to learn new things from scratch. Yet now it seems like we are sleepwalking backwards by relying on something else doing things for us and thinking for us so we can get on with something perceived to be more “fun”. In many respects the robots of science fiction are here but are not the humanoid droids we thought they would be. Machines taking over, is it really so far fetched?

© Fi S. J. Brown

Time to smile

There is a saying that time is the greatest healer, and I would totally agree with it. What seems like a major incident today is but a footnote on our life’s story. In 2006 I hid the pain of depression inside and sometimes self harming my feet, I looked older than the almost 28 years I was suppose to then be. We are now in 2015, I let go of what hurt me and try not let today’s pains stick, setting them free as the sun sets. I am happier now within than I have ever felt previously. So whatever is making the world seem black, focus on the good things and keep the colour in focus. Remember we all have scars from where this world has bitten us, but it is now time to bite back.

© Fi S. J. Brown

What’s age got to do with it?

Last night I watched the movie “Logan’s Run“, which left me questioning many ethics and morals of the society Logan lives in. Within this there were two things that made me think overnight; the age that people were euthanised was thirty and the “old man” played by Peter Ustinov.

More and more we are fixated with looking younger, trying pills, potions and injections to have the face of youth, which also makes me think of those getting new faces in “Logan’s Run“. How long will it be till seeing a face like that of “the old man” is something many no longer see?

There is already a growing gap between young and old, as one does not respect the other. Equally, part of older people’s beauty is in their wrinkles, each one tells their own story, removing them is like trying to erase their past, which we cannot do. Being old isn’t promised to us all.

In many ways the strive to be immortal has been replaced by looking young; but does looking younger than our physical age really matter after all it is a number and our outer shell not what truly makes us human, it is the inside that gives colour to our thoughts, actions and beliefs.

The media and entertainment business is always telling us of the latest young talent, the new x or y, it is almost like Logan 6 or Jessica 5, as saying those ones have gone now. What happened to originality and creativity, we’re all individuals not replacements, a name is but a label.

So perhaps in the future we will live in a society that is just filled with youth, but to me that sounds horrific as we learn so much through life. It seems like wanting to be like emotionless, identikit clones and drones, rather than embracing what colours we shine and sharing that light.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Normal…a redefinition

How a dictionary defines normal can be very different to how as people we do, ask hundred people and you will get a hundred definitions. Equally, ask the same hundred people what they define as abnormal, and you will get the same result. This is because our life experiences to the people we meet adding different colours and layers to how we see the world. With the advent of social media to the cult of celebrity these too add to this perception we have of the world. Seldom do we stop and think of what is normal and/or abnormal and do not question it.

We pass judgement every day; be it how best to serve tea or coffee to how to dress ourselves and the partner we choose to have in our lives (if at all). They all serve as means of self-expression, that is to say they say “this is my way” of living life. The choice of partner you will already have opinions on, some maybe tutting or swearing at the thought anyone may want a partner of the same gender as themselves to choosing not to have a partner at all. So which is the normal way? Simply put all of them are and none of them are.

Even people that claim not to be judgemental make judgements every day, knowingly and unknowingly. So on deciding if another’s choice partner as in the above example is normal or not we are making a judgement, not on morality or ethics but based on our personal sense of normality.

In defining what is normal, we need to look at our own lives, where we make judgements and where others judge us. Whilst doing this we also need to consider not just why we think this way, but what is the root of this belief and why we have these expectations of others and equally ascribe them to ourselves.

Expectations of ourselves and/or others can be due to our families, beliefs, and cultures we grew up in to the ones we find ourselves living in now, which by breaking these can lead to estrangement and even death. Equally, we need to learn not to be hard on ourselves and/or others for failing to live up to these expectations: For example, in some areas of the world you would be expected to be married with at least two children by 21, but we have to remember that may not happen for all and trying not to be judgemental on someone that by 25 is single and a virgin. How can we ascribe the actions or personality of ourselves and/or another normal and/or abnormal just because they are different to our own?

So should the word normal in this case be left like many prejudices and stereotypes be left in the past? Just because we do not agree with, have no knowledge, expect life/another/ourselves to be a certain way, is it really abnormal? Equally, should we expect others to agree with and/or collaborate with our ideas of what is and is not normal? Have they not also got their own, just as valid, ideas and ways of expressing what is normal to them?

Let us return to defining what is normal, a friend once said “it is a function on a washing machine”. Normal in real terms is what is right for us and our journey, trying to conform to the expectations and ideals of others is like wearing our neighbour’s underwear! We also try to put labels on ourselves so can find like minded people, only do this if you must to let them explore your world but remembering not to judge them by our ideas of normal, for we are not them, have not and never will experience their journey their way.

I am currently writing a short book exploring the above themes, to find just what is normal to us, the journey to find what it is but always remembering that one size will never fit all, and finally accepting what we have found, which can be just as difficult as the prejudice we can encounter from others.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Night whispers

I stand in line waiting for the ferry to carry me back home
As the night stretches out far and wide in every direction
And the stars sparkle like diamond speedways of light

I am in no rush to make the journey back to my homeland
For tales, myths and lies haunt me like a ghost live there
And memories of my childhood are little works of origami

The spring breezes catches my breath to make me relax
Filling it with sparklers bright and smells almost angelic
And removing the hellish voices and flooding thoughts

Those days are in the past and where they must stay
The future’s foundations are made from today not then
So into a box I lock them shut and throw the key to sea

Now I board the ferry free with a new song in my head
I cannot change what happened or those that hurt me
But I can enjoy the present and let positivity shine out

© Fi S. J. Brown

I believe

I believe…
I believe today is the best day ever.

I believe in crying,
I believe hugging is the best therapy.

I believe in smiling,
I believe laughter is the best medicine.

I believe in dancing,
I believe music is the best language.

I believe in hope,
I believe intuition is the best guide.

I believe in loving,
I believe friendship is the best support.

I believe in you,
I believe trying is the best thing.

© Fi S. J. Brown

The Gift – Bullying

I caught a bit of the BBC 1 program “The Gift” tonight about a bully wanting to appologise to the boy he bullied at school many years ago, so of course I’ve been crying but it did make me think of my own experiences of being bullied. I was bullied at primary school by the girls and then moved schools to a girls only school but the bullying continued. Did I tell teachers and family – yes: My father’s comments at the time were his hands were tied, only to tell me when back in touch fifteen years later he wished he’d known I was; my mother’s attitude was girls will be girls, something that does not help when every day is a misery with it all and hoping each day it will change for the better but it never does.

I will admit by the age of 14 the idea of suicide was never far from my thoughts, I wanted to self harm but knew that would only cause more attention from them, which I did not want. Indeed eczema on my arms from the stress of it, which led to had quips on if I had been taking drugs! Losing my hair fully when young to being laughed at for being stupid, and taking all my school books for the day in one bag (as my mother wouldn’t let me use a locker like normal people encase I forgot something), looking back at times I think it is no wonder I was bullied for being different. However, being different is not a fault of any sort, in fact my school year was abnormally small so I stood out in our very fetching bottle green uniform.

To those of you that were at school with me, you know who I have grown into but not necessarily the journey it has taken me to put it all behind me. I would not want to meet some of those that bullied me then as for me it is in the past and has added to the colour of the person I am. I do not wish anyone else I care about to experience the pain and misery I felt in those years, so do what I can for my closest friends. I am a stronger, compassionate and loving person for the experiences. I was told by two different people it was said “nobody is friends with Fiona” to any new pupil starting; I won’t appologise for being your friend, as I appreciate you for what you bring to my life. They may have won battles, but I won the war.

© Fi S. J. Brown

50 Shades of grey – An opinion

All this talk of “50 Shades of grey” has got me thinking; is it glorified porn, a harmless movie with sex for women, an exploitation of women with an abusive partner, and is it worth giving it the oxygen of publicity?

In 2011 when the book was released I was still in the throws of self hate, low self esteem and the idea of a book of any sort on sex would never be one I’d buy. However, reminded it me of the Twilight saga that inspired it and Dan Brown’s work before it, that is to say despite being a poor excuse for literature, masses were lapping it up as wanting to read it for themselves, and perhaps in many ways so they were able to fit in with what people were talking about around the water coolers and offices of the world but few wanted to be like the boy in the Emperor’s new clothes and point out how bad or what the book’s greater message was.

The book’s plot filled me with shivers as someone that has been almost raped and was stalked for three months I know that it is not fun, and if he had done these things I certainly would have thought of it far from the topic of a fun movie to see with female friends or something of enjoyment. One of the things I look for in a relationship is space and freedom, I become overwhelmed by intense situations and I certainly would not want one with Christian Grey. What happens behind closed doors, even with our closest friends, we really do not know for certain how many are abused (female AND male) to how many abuse others (not just their partners). A relationship for me is a partnership that is equal, not 50:50, but 100:100, not give and take as and when another wants it.

The main theme of sex in the book and now movie hits upon something far deeper and darker. The sexualisation of society is something I have seen increase in my lifetime, and this seems to be yet another example of this. The videos from my childhood by Duran Duran or Robert Palmer pale by the ones that anyone can watch at any time via the internet, which some dismiss as “only entertainment” but actually what is entertainment really? Therefore, a book like 50 shades does not surprise me and the movie being made did not either. The scriptwriter and director are women, their gender for me is important and not, for this is a Hollywood movie so would expect it to be done by women for the outcry if been made by men would be far more from certain areas.

I read only last week that they want to have sex education for five year olds, on the pretense of understanding issues such as abuse young. As someone who found that whole thing uncomfortable as the idea of anything going in my girl parts freaked me out then and still does due to unresolved childhood issues. Who are these kids going to go to if feel they’re experiencing these things especially when it is something that is regarded as normal in their family’s social circle? We’re led to believe if follow the media that abuse stories that come out and few between. Yet those that were in children’s homes tell a far darker story, I cried my eyes out at an Irish man telling his story on a live show of what happened to him, with a politician just sat there stoney face, where was that man’s humanity and compassion? It is no wonder that people are scared to speak out and up.

So will I ever read or watch “50 shades of grey”? No way, the book would have made better toilet paper! I’m all for others reading and watching what they like, but sometimes we need to take a step back and be the like the little boy and say no I am not okay with that, which should always be enough. If you really want to see a movie with S&M go watch James Spader’s movie “Secretary”. We should not feel pressured to do or be something we are not, I know this from my own experience. So do not feel you HAVE to see or read 50 shades, having our own opinion is valuable it is important to remember it and respect another’s, even if different to our own.

© Fi S. J. Brown