Archive for the ‘Philosophizing’ Category

Easter Is Gone, But Not The Bunny In The Moment   Leave a comment

Easter Is Gone, But Not The Bunny — Photo-Artistry by kenne

“Existence only becomes clear through reason;

reason only has content through existence.

By philosophizing, I seek to call attention to the limits of knowledge,

not with the skeptical purpose of disposing of knowledge altogether,

but rather in order to let the truth which always lies just beyond

those limits shine through for a moment.”

— kenne

An Old Man’s Goal   4 comments

self-portrait

An Old Man’s Goal

To walk the earth
as long as I can
feeling the earth
benight my feet
learning from nature
becoming free of my 
own freedom.

— kenne

Book Banning In School Libraries   3 comments

This open letter to the parents in Texas who want to ban THE BRIDGE from school libraries is posted on Twitter. We cannot let people who want to erase history and people who think differently from libraries and curriculum.

An Open Letter to Parents Who Wish to Ban My Books from School Libraries

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Elliott,                                                                                          2/18/22

I recently read with interest your call to remove 282 books from your local school library. In it, you claim to have reviewed yourself all of these books and deemed them unfit for K-12 usage (quite a range there!).

I saw that you included among these books my 2020 novel, THE BRIDGE.

First off, thank you for reading my book! I would be happy to chat with you about the book, to see what you took from it.

Second, I want to say up front that I believe your intent here is to protect your children. I echo your concern; I also want safety for children. It’s one of the main reasons I write books for young adults.

THE BRIDGE, as you know, is about two teens, Aaron and Tillie, who are severely depressed. They are both suicidal, and they meet atop the George Washington Bridge in New York City. From there, the book splits into four parts, illustrating all the possible scenarios about what could happen: they could both jump, they could both NOT jump. Or one or the other could jump. The novel follows the impacts of these decisions all the way out, so that readers can come to understand two things—just how difficult it is to be depressed and navigate the disease of depression, and also just how devastating one loss to suicide is to the whole world.

I was a bit surprised to see THE BRIDGE on your list for removal from the library. Not entirely surprised, as I was aware of Matt Krause’s list of 850 books he wants removed, which includes five of my titles. But still I was a bit startled, especially when I read your review of why the book ought to be removed.

You wrote that the book “Contains 1 or more of the following: Marxism, incest, sexual explicit material — in written form and/ or visual pictures, pornography, CRT, immoral activities, rebellious against parents, and the material contradicts the ISD’s student handbook.” As I looked through your screeds, it seems that this is how you describe each of these books. It’s as if you cut and pasted that complaint 282 times. That surprised me, because you took the time, you say, to read each of these books. That’s a lot of reading! Surely you have thoughts about these books you read beyond some cut and paste jargon?

    

So I want to address these concerns. While I disagree that books should be removed from libraries because some people are uncomfortable with the content, I felt it made sense to go through these since you specified your issues with THE BRIDGE.

  • There is no Marxist philosophy in this book. In fact, its author is a capitalist. Of course, since we live in a free country, a book with Marxist philosophy ought to be able to exist in a library, so long as it isn’t threatening to overthrow the government. But that seems like a moot point here.
  • Incest is not a part of THE BRIDGE. In fact, my book does not include explicit sexual activity, though one student at one time writes a poem about wishing she hadn’t had sex with a boy. It is not explicit. In fact, I have read a lot of young adult lit, and I know very few books that include incest, and in each of those cases, it depicts incest in order to help readers who have been through that trauma, not to glamorize it. If you wish to start a petition banning books that glamorize incest in school libraries, I might actually sign it. That’s simply not happening here.
  • Sexual (sic) explicit behavior: I had to think about that one, since teens are sexual beings and sometimes have sexual thoughts. Both Tillie and Aaron have sexual thoughts, but they aren’t explicit in their thinking. No one has sex in this book. That is not what the book is about.
  • Pornography: There is no pornography in my novel.
  • CRT: I believe you are referring to Critical Race Theory. My book doesn’t touch on this. Some of my others do, but this book, again, is about suicide and depression. One of the characters is Korean and was adopted at a young age by a white family. At moments she describes what it feels like to be of a different race than her parents and sister, but at no point does this novel delve into theories about race or a screed about racial inequality. I do wonder what your concern is here, as my understanding is that CRT is a scary buzzword for “teaching history as it happened.” What is the problem with teaching American history, and the fact that this country was built on slave labor? What would you have books say instead? I think it is very important to learn about history. We learn about challenging times in history so that we don’t repeat them.
  • Immoral Activities: Wow, that’s quite an umbrella there. We’d have to dig a bit deeper to know what you mean, but one thing I will say is that misbehaving is often central to literature, as novels always have a conflict. If you are referring, as sometimes people do, to sex before marriage, or taking street drugs, I think you will agree that these things do not happen in THE BRIDGE. I have read some books in which characters do have sex and take drugs, and my take is that it is rarely done to titillate, or to glamorize drug use. Usually in YA literature, drug use is depicted as something negative, and that is as it should be. Now, it is possible you consider Aaron’s sexuality immoral, since he’s gay, but Aaron has never had sex. So unless you are the thought police (and I’m pretty sure those people are on the Left, correct?), I can’t really see how anything about Aaron’s behavior in this book is immoral.
  • Rebellious (sic) against parents: Ah. I think at one point in this book, Tillie skips school. She is depressed, and she is in a therapist’s office with her mother in the waiting room, and she realizes they want to commit her to an institution because she is so deeply depressed, and she freaks out and flees the office. This is, in fact, rebellious behavior. It is also exactly the kind of thing that could happen in the world. I read that you have an elementary school daughter. Congratulations! I don’t have kids, but I have many friends who do. If this sort of rebellious behavior is means for taking a book out of a library, I think you have some exciting and potentially difficult discoveries in front of you when your daughter reaches adolescence. I won’t spoil them. You’ll find out when you have a teenager!
  • I don’t have the ISD handbook, so I don’t know what’s in it specifically. But I do think that if you want to have all the characters in novels adhere to a school handbook, you might have trouble finding novels. In THE WIZARD OF OZ, Dorothy drops a house on a witch. Is murder allowed in the handbook? In A TALE OF TWO CITIES, a French aristocrat runs down a working-class child with his carriage. I would assume this would be considered poor behavior in your district. Should we ban these books, too? Mr. and Mrs. Elliott, the truth is that stories, both fictional and non-fictional, include behaviors that might be considered outside the bounds of how schools might like their students to behave. People lie and cheat and steal. Find me a book for teenagers where no one behaves poorly, and I’ll show you a boring book!

You suggest that the libraries in your district remove THE BRIDGE from its shelves. I guess the question I want to ask, since you have read the book, is: why?

Why, exactly, are you wishing to remove a book about suicide and depression from your libraries?

Perhaps you are concerned for the safety of your students. If so, I applaud you. Health and safety of young people is at the top of my list of concerns, too. As I wrote THE BRIDGE, I spent a lot of time ensuring that I wrote my book in a way that would help teens, not trigger them by making suicide somehow glamorous or sexy. Just like a doctor, who takes an oath to “do no harm,” I take my craft very seriously. I want my books to leave the world better than they found it.

That said, we live in a society where, increasingly, young people are dying by suicide. The reasons for this are too long to go into here, but I would say that among the reasons is isolation and feeling alone and misunderstood.

Right there, in a nutshell, is why I write books for teens. I felt isolated and alone and misunderstood as a teen. I so wished there was a book out there that had a person going through what I was going through. See, I was gay. I knew I was gay because of my thoughts, not because of any book or TV show, because there were basically none of those things back when I was in school. At the time, I was depressed and suicidal because I felt so alone. So I wanted to make sure no other young person went through that.

I am concerned about the young people in the McKinney Independent School District, because in my experience, kids are the same everywhere. There are depressed kids everywhere. There are isolated, at-risk kids everywhere. There are LGBTQ kids everywhere. Getting rid of books from the library won’t change that; it will just make life that much harder and more isolated for those children.

Do you think there should be books in the library that might help a depressed teenager feel a bit more understood? A book that stresses the importance of staying another day, even when everything feels hopeless? Knowing how concerned you are for the safety of your daughter, I would actually guess you would want a book like that available to your child when she gets older. Perhaps I am wrong.

My concern is that you didn’t actually read THE BRIDGE and said that you did. I say this because your list of 282 books includes the exact same concerns for each book. That seems lazy, at best. At worst, it is deceitful, which, I imagine, goes against the ISD handbook. I certainly hope you’re not doing that! It would be hypocritical to behave in ways that go against the values we try to instill in our children.

I think you didn’t read THE BRIDGE, and that in fact you would have been better served to include a book of mine that was more focused on LGBTQ representation. Not because you would be right, but at least then we could have a conversation about why you’re wrong about that, too.

I can say with total honesty that I wish the best for your child. I want for her to have every opportunity for joy and success in life. To experience freedom and happiness.

What I wonder, though, is whether you feel the same way for kids who suffer from depression? Or for kids who are gay? The truth is that like it or not, some kids are gay. Some kids are trans. To make the world safer and better for them, we need to have representation of those people in books. Books with LGBTQ characters save lives. I know because of the hundreds of emails I’ve received from kids who have told me my books saved their life.

Perhaps you would like it better if those kids repressed those desires and didn’t act upon them. Or tried to pray the gay away. I’ve seen that movie. I have met hundreds of men and women over the course of my life who have tried to do that. It doesn’t end well for them, nor does it end well for their spouses.

You might say this is blasphemous, but here is a question for you: what if it turns out your daughter is lesbian or bisexual? You might think this is impossible; I can tell you from experience that I have met hundreds if not thousands of teens and parents in that situation. Kids from conservative, religious households. Parents who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman and anything else is immoral.

My question is, if it turns out your child is lesbian, or bi, or trans, what would you wish for them? Would you want them to feel loved and safe, or would you want them to feel alone and ashamed?

You might think now you’d prefer the latter, but I see from the fact that you are doing so much to try to keep your child safe that perhaps you might change your mind about that. According to a 2021 national study by The Trevor Project, 42 percent of LGBTQ youth considered suicide last year. The number is much higher for trans and non-binary youth. I have heard the argument that this shows that LGBTQ youth are simply troubled, but I can tell you that’s not right. LGBTQ youth are at risk precisely because of endeavors like yours that aim to erase people like them from the library.

I’ll end with a prayer for you, because I know that you are religious. I pray that you and your family find prosperity and joy. I hope that in your prayers tonight, you will pray for at-risk kids who need these books. Because in many cases, their lives depend on it.

Sincerely,

Bill Konigsberg

Posted February 21, 2022 by kenneturner in Books, Information, Philosophizing, Texas

Tagged with , ,

“I Contain Multitudes”   Leave a comment

“I Contain Multitudes” –Photo-Artistry by kenne

Do I contradict myself?
Very well, then,
I contradict myself;
I am large –
I contain multitudes.

— Walt Whitman
 

* * * * *

“I’m just like Anne Frank, like Indiana Jones
And them British bad boys, The Rolling Stones
I go right to the edge, I go right to the end
I go right where all things lost are made good again

I sing the songs of experience like William Blake
I have no apologies to make
Everything’s flowing all at the same time
I live on the boulevard of crime
I drive fast cars, and I eat fast foods
I contain multitudes”

— Bob Dylan

 
 

I Am The People —   Leave a comment

“The Worker” — Image by kenne

I AM the people — the mob — the crowd — the mass.
Do you know that all the great work of this world is
done through me?
I am the workingman, the inventor, the maker of the
world’s food & clothes.
I am the audience that witnesses history. The Napoleons
come from me & the Lincolns. They die. &
then I send forth more Napoleons & Lincolns.
I am the seed ground. I am a prairie that will stand
for much plowing. Terrible storms pass over me.
I forget. The best of me is sucked out & wasted.
I forget. Everything but Death comes to me &
makes me work & give up what I have. & I forget.
Sometimes I growl, shake myself & spatter a few red
drops for history to remember. Then — I forget.
When I, the people, learn to remember, when I, the People
use the lessons of yesterday & no longer forget
who robbed me last year, who played me for
a fool — then there will be no speaker in all the world
say the name: “The People”, with any fleck of a
sneer in his voice or any far off smile of derision.
The mob — The crowd — The mass — will arrive then.

— Carl Sandburg

Life Turned Around   3 comments

Turned Around — Image by kenne

Turned around,
Here am I.
Knowing how,
Not the why.

Young in heart
Old in age.
Feeling the itch,
Pacing the cage.

Inner peace,
Knowing the thou.
Learning to write
Thesis of now.

Turned around,
Found love.
Living the moment,
Free as a dove.

Still learning,
When to talk.
Listening for,
Beat of the walk.

Reality is now,
Truth in the heart.
Singing the knowledge,
Requiem to smart.

Turned around,
Found beauty in art.
Traveling the future,
With Dylan and Descartes

— kenne

Street Fair Musician   Leave a comment

4th Avenue Street Fair Musician (Tucson, 12/12/14) — Image by kenne

I believe that ignorance is the root of all evil.
And that no one knows the truth.

— Molly Ivins

Flashback, 1972 — The CDCP Days   2 comments

Flashback, 1972 at SIU — The Pipe Smoking Days

In the early 1970s, I worked with Dr. Larry J. Bailey, my friend, and mentor, on the Career Development for Children Project (CDCP). Several of us worked on the project to produced a career development curriculum for elementary school children. In 1973 I went to work at McKnight Publishing Company to help produce project materials. Career development is not obtaining knowledge in preparation for living, but rather it is a process of experiencing living.

Before leaving CDCP, I prepared a paper titled, “A Theory of the Functional Self.” The paper reviewed self-theory that explores self a being a product of social interactions. From this theory, we have seen that self-information is a developmental process that takes place within the social system. A social system may be a peer group, a single classroom, school, community, occupational establishment, or any other organized group of individuals.

It is also assumed that a social system has two dimensions, the individual and the institution, and the patterns resulting from the interaction of these dimensions are social behavior. The individual’s inferences from his behavior define his self-concept, and a self-concept that has career relevance is the functional self. 

The functional self, like the self-concept, is a self-process, a process of being and becoming. It is the functional self’s developmental process that should enable educators to develop a process career developmental curriculum, rather than a content occupational information curriculum. Career development is not obtaining knowledge in preparation for a living; rather, it is a process of experiencing living.

— kenne

“I think every man is his own Pygmalion and
spends his life fashioning himself. And in
fashioning himself, for good or ill, he
fashions the human race and its future.”

— I.F. Stone (1971)

Hiker On The Phoneline Trail   2 comments

Phoneline 12-21-12Hiker On The Phoneline Trail (December in Sabino Canyon) — Image by kenne

There’s no remaking reality…

Just take it as it comes.

Hold your ground and

take it as it comes.

There’s no other way.

— Philip Roth

Out On A Desert Photo Shoot   Leave a comment

Photo Shoot Day-4978-art-72-2Desert Photo Shoot, A Different Perspective — Image by kenne

Each day take a fresh look at the world around you.

— kenne

24 to Harwood and Cropsy: No Road Back Home #6   3 comments

Lummi & MCLACThomas R. Turner (May 23, 1942–November 13, 2014) — Photo-Artistry by kenne

This posting is the sixth, and last, I will be sharing from a long poem written by Tom
sometime around 1980 after his wife left him. Today is the fifth anniversary of his death.

24 to Harwood and Cropsy: No Road Back Home
(Taken from a Brooklyn Bus Route and the Title of a Blues Album.)

The nuances between us were scattered with the 
January snows of Peter's arrival.
Ambiguities, second starts and brokendreams were too
Tangled up in Blue to
Cut to the exact place on the page where our rhythm had 
Broken.
I'm not that young any more.

"Get off your stagnant ass and do something."
The scenario years later would speak.
The Pacific Northwest and a three quarter profile statement
Echoing out Denny's window
Why I never got a job during all those summers.

Only the facts she put to me.
I couldn't keep in step with the definitions you
Dreamed.
 We speculated endlessly in different directions
Whether our togethrness might might imaginable be framed
From inside so that the usual connection between lover 
And lover and loved and loved would be interchangeable but
Paradoxically unchanging.

                     (For my benefit, I suppose)

Was the fiction of my eroticism so damn necessary?

Somewhere I glimpsed you
Coming at me; balancing cryptic hats . . .
Laughing comic confusion.

Now I never see you anymore.
The summers are much colder tha used to be
In that other time, when you and I were young.

I miss the human truth of your smile;
The half-hearted gaze of your voice and all the things
That you'll always be to me.
Only thee is no comic relief
Just a 
Curious translation of cracked nostalgia.

But lets 
Skip the arguments.
I already know how the story ends:
A-not-so-crytic-message:
Don't be naive
You could only gaze into the distance at my life.

	

24 to Harwood and Cropsy: No Road Back Home #5   Leave a comment

Lummi & MCLACThomas R. Turner (May 23, 1942–November 13, 2014) — Photo-Artistry by kenne

This posting is the fifth of several I will be sharing from a long poem written by Tom
sometime around 1980 after his wife left him. Today is the fifth anniversary of his death.

24 to Harwood and Cropsy: No Road Back Home
(Taken from a Brooklyn Bus Route and the Title of a Blues Album.)

In the inerstices of "hold me," and "stop hovering,"
The symbiosis of us succumbed 
An anamoly had intruded
The desideratum of my life found my eyes
Bestial and sought transcendence through "appointments-only."
The spontaneity of our quick was cheapened.
                (Funny how incredulity becomes more than a word)

The aesthetics of my artifice went against the grain;
Recreation, utilitarian achievement and another sexuality
Were the hidden Karmas of your soul.
My recondite preoccupations rung-up as
No sale.

Impressions filtered through my extranceous fictions
Single out shared neck massages and inept peeling of oranges.
Her solipsistic soaking in the tub found me
Speaking my love through
Closed doors. Anxiety and discontent had obscured our moments
Together.
My metamorphosis was quixotic and debilitating
Labor for the demensional person on which
Her eyes tried to focus. 
Making love in the afternoon was an
Extreme of ethos a sexual shadow world for her
Yet the doctrine-of-discontinous-selves found a measure of 
Your accentance.

Odd.

24 to Harwood and Cropsy: No Road Back Home #4   Leave a comment

Lummi & MCLACThomas R. Turner (May 23, 1942–November 13, 2014) — Photo-Artistry by kenne

This posting is the fourth of several I will be sharing from a long poem written by Tom
sometime around 1980 after his wife left him. Today is the fifth anniversary of his death.

24 to Harwood and Cropsy: No Road Back Home
(Taken from a Brooklyn Bus Route and the Title of a Blues Album.)

Closely watched trains came and went without me without us
I somehow missed you

Eyes have a way.

After love with my caliban sweat and noises
A vacant resentment would knife
From glares askance
First seen in the pain of Vanessa-labor.
And this is what happens when you love someone?

Progeny and sunburn haired sensualness
Prefaced Rare-Earth and a student nurse.
The ideology of lesbos intimacy had
Clandestinely raised its latent head.
But it doesn't matter anymore.

                      (You were the poet in my heart)

91st street was the end
Wasn't it?
Curious how our windows are always steamed-up
On Autumnal days.

                      (Was ANYTHING central?)

The "is-this-all-there-is" syndrome sums up the
Period: Existentialist discontent
With a walk-up duplex decor.
A matter-of-fact sexuality
Presaged a psychic-incarnation I couldn't see.
Lisa brought home a metamorphosis I didn't
Realize.
They cut your "tubes" after she came and that was that.
Funny how I thought even then that is was
All a matter of hormonal imbalance. Shit!

And what about you?

Paradoxes betray the limits of logic
Not of the reality we shared.
Your "passion" was stillborn though so damn necessary.
A dissolution of absence into substance sucked
Screaming through a Rimbaud-Day-On-Fire.
I could't laugh enough for the
Frivolity she needed but detested.

24 to Harwood and Cropsy: No Road Back Home #3   Leave a comment

Lummi & MCLACThomas R. Turner (May 23, 1942–November 13, 2014) — Photo-Artistry by kenne

This posting is the third of several I will be sharing from a long poem written by Tom
sometime around 1980 after his wife left him. Today is the fifth anniversary of his death.

24 to Harwood and Cropsy: No Road Back Home
(Taken from a Brooklyn Bus Route and the Title of a Blues Album.)

The metaphor Milwaukee-East-Side
Found an oblique happiness on Newhall street and other avenues.
A thirty-three-o-one flight walk-up
Mingled with a sweaty montage of
Walk-down circus parades:
Beer with Richard punctuating assassinations
Democratic conventions and
Halloween readings.
My movements in a not-always-silent
Desperation enveloped the shit of a B.S. paperchase.

                    (My illusions were so intensed christ I missed you)

"Im Home:" used to reverberate through someone's contentment
Of newhall evenings and milwaukee days.
Introspective space refracted my looking-glass image and the
Ennui of your self-esteem.
The enigmatic fruit of our "intimacy"
Was even then becoming spurious and estranged
Yet continued to sustain me and confine you.
Our spring had clouded into a season of
Discontinuities.

Snap-shot ambiguities cannot clarify
Where we were
Only echo tangents of truth
Which negate explanations of a then with Allison:
Lake Michigan shoreline Dr's Park Flag day
Too much to drink
We ate dogs with laughter went to bed at ten
And felt safe.

                    (I still see the scenes, but no longer see
                     myself among those present no longer
                     can improvise the dialogue)


Reflections In The Moment   2 comments

Reflections-1201 III-72Reflections In The Moment — Photo-Artistry by kenne

“Everyone and everything that shows up in our life is a reflection of something that is happening inside of us.”

— Alan Cohen

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