Protest on College Campus

Throughout the day on Thursday students on the University of Tennessee campus gathered to protest the presidency of Donald Trump. At the height of the protest there was up to 300 students participating in both the protest and the counter-protest. Students, forming a ring around the sitting ‘marginalized’ students, chanted and repeated slogans from the speakers of the event. In an explanation of the purpose of the protest, one of the speakers elaborated that it “is not a pro-Hillary protest, it is a fuck Donald Trump protest.”

I joined the protest around 2:00 pm on my way to class and stayed for a few spare hours. Just walking close to 100 meters away from the gathering I knew instantly what it was, the police cars parked along the road with flashing lights only confirmed my suspicion. I gathered later that it was organized by the campus diversity organization. After positioning myself in the crowd I found myself chanting along with them, although abstaining once or twice when I found their slogans distasteful. A few of the favored rallying cries were “Not my president”, “Fuck Donald Trump”, and the now famous “No Trump, no KKK, no fascists USA.” The chorus to Kendrick Lamar’s song “Alright” was also frequently chanted, which is always expected.Read More »

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On Mysticism and Logic

Bertrand Russell’s famous essay “Mysticism and Logic” can seem striking to readers at first glance. The first reason being that Russell actually seems to admire some mystic’s line of reasoning. Bertrand Russell, the philosopher that redefined mathematics and logic, giving praise to mystic’s wondrous and deep intuition. Despite being written in a period where Russell was redefining his own beliefs, that is especially odd for a man of his convictions. The second most striking thing is that, for being a man so adamant about logic and reason, he really doesn’t know much about mysticism.

The essay’s main focus is analyzing what Russell believes to be universal traits of mysticism. In contrast he often analyzes these traits along with their opposite beliefs in the realm of logic, these issues being:

  • Intuition
  • Unity
  • Time
  • Good and Evil

These are definitely core issues of mysticism, intuition and unity being the most common. The basic claims with these two are that mystics reach their conclusions merely through insight or intuition, as opposed to logic and reason. This is a slight generality, but works for our purpose. Even Hegel, whom Russell claims is a more mystic philosopher, can undoubtedly be attributed high functions of reason in his philosophy. The second issue, unity, is something so central to much of Eastern philosophy. Here Russell sights the sayings of Heraclitus, such as “good and ill are one,” and “the way up and the way down is one and the same.” Even someone only familiar with philosophy on a satirical level understands the commonality of these sayings.Read More »

Finding a Voice in Your Writing

To all fiction writers, and even nonfiction writers, one of the most discouraging issues encountered is to find a suitable voice for their writing. Often times when reading the work back over they’ll find that it is too dull or or that it is unmemorable. This is a simple issue but it is also a crucial issue. Some writers are so outright with their voice that just by a single excerpt readers will know who’s work it is. Other writers are more subtle with their voice. Just to get a general idea of what voice is, this video nicely explains.

The first thing to do is it actually identify what you’re trying to say. Take fiction for example. When crafting a story the writer has to consider what point of view would fit best and what tone the story should have to be the most effective. Some writers will change certain things about the voice of each story to fit the story best, other writers will remain constant with their voice and craft stories specifically to fit that. But in both cases the writer makes decisions to get their point across in the most beneficial way. Once the writer has identified what they’re trying to get across then they’ll make their choices accordingly.Read More »

Writing Advice: Listening to Music

I actively read through a variety of writing related forums- which sounds worse when I actually say it- and at least every other day I see something about writing while listening to music. It’s almost trivial that people are too afraid to give it a try, like somehow it’s condemning their writing career if they do it without asking first. So I’m going to compile a list of the pros and cons.

Pros

  • The noise is good for some people. For many people it’s easier to concentrate with noise in the background to tune out so they can focus on their work.
  • Music can set the mood for writing. For instance if you’re writing a story set in the south and you pop on some blues or country, many find it well change their mood and get them in the right state of mind. This can work with themes as well. If you’re writing about poverty, for instance, listening to rustic bluesmen sing about ain’t gotting no spare change then you’ll definitely translate that into you’re writing.
  • Many people can find inspiration in music. If it’s the themes of the music, the images it portrays, or the overall mood and attitude, there’s always something to take away from it. Whether it affects your writing on a sentence by sentence scale or by impacting the entire story it can be a positive.

Cons

  • Many people can’t work with background noise. It all depends on the type of person you are.
  • Sometimes it’s good not to have distractions. Even if you can work with background noise, that doesn’t mean you should. There are times when you need to buckle down, eliminate all distractions and just write. In this instance, you should not listen to music.
  • It’s easy to make it more about the music. In this sense it’s about procrastination. It may take hours for some people to find the perfect music, create the perfect playlist, or get in the perfect mood before they start writing. Oh you can go to skip the next song and find yourself cleaning up the music folders on your computer moments later.

So there’s that. It all really depends on knowing yourself and what works best with you. Don’t be afraid to try new things. If you try it and it doesn’t work, you lost maybe five minutes, for which you can blame me.

If listening to music does happen to work with you, I have some more advice. A way to reduce the amount of distraction is by listening to music without words, or at least just long instrumental sections. Finding movie soundtracks and game soundtracks you like is a good first step to this. For a good period the only thing I listened to while writing was Echoes and Atom Heart Mother Suite, both by Pink Floyd. Then The Endless River came out and I stopped listening to anything else. One band I’ve noticed is very popular with writers would be Explosions in the Sky. They’re a purely instrumental band with some of the most beautiful and elegant modern music I’ve ever heard.

This goes back to the second pro I listed, but try to fit the genre you’re writing. If you’re writing an epic fantasy novel, maybe give the Skyrim or the Lord of the Rings soundtrack a listen. Or if you’re writing a space sci-fi adventure, you can’t go wrong with the Halo or Star Wars soundtrack. It’s all about trying to get those influences to rub off onto you’re writing.