Pounding at the Door 

not my original image!

Like grass in sway
on the verge of thunder
the humid and electric drum

A change and the blades do pitch us
once again, what other way?
and a bottle rises in silence

Then our voices rise as one
Then our voices amplified

Then our riot sways and swells
Our ebb, our flow and our decay.

On the wings and drums of violence
hear us pounding at the door

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Analysis of Three Advertisements from Purportedly “Top-Shelf” Magazines

add #1 from The New Yorker

This first advertisement comes from the NewYorker. Now it’s not your traditional advertisement, in my mind, because what it’s selling at surface value is the idea that you want to go check out this art gallery 1220 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. Apparently this gallery is just too cool for a name, it just has an address! Now the image floating above the text in the upper left hand corner occupies the center and bulk of the ad, so the image is definitely meant to be the focus. The information, the title of the exhibit and the dates it’s running are cropped around the right hand side and down beneath the image almost as if the critical information is mostly just an afterthought, or should be considered that way, because once again, “this gallery is about the art, and the business is just a necessary evil, or even a formality.”

Now the image itself is of a woman’s face. This woman is caucasian, she’s pretty, definitely feminine in a “classic” sense of the word, her eyes are blue, and she’s wearing a large emerald ring on her right hand. She’s wearing red lipstick, and the shade of her nail-polish matches the shade of her lips. She’s not looking at you but away to the right of you, and her gaze is veiled in something like black fishnets that cover her bangs and hair which is obviously pulled back or short in a bob, and stylized. There is what appears to be a fur collar around her neck and her face is only seen above it no neck. Her hands are also held very close to her face one an open hand brushing her cheek the other a closed and weak fist almost obscuring her mouth. Her eyelashes are stylized, and her eyebrows are well manicured and sculpted. There is not a wrinkle on her face which is completely smooth.

She is youthful, she is vulnerable, she is not entirely confident in herself but her eyes are open wide and she seems alert. She is not distracted by the viewer’s presence almost as if to suggest there is some goal ahead of her that she’s got her eye on, which is amplified by the gleam in her eye where the light has caught emphasizing the blue of her irises. I think she is supposed to be a mystery, and because she is looking away the viewer is invited to inspect and judge her with anonymity, and she is white and she is wealthy, and there is nothing to fear from her because she has worked very hard to embody classical notions of beauty and femininity. Because she is unthreatening she is an invitation.

If a male sees this ad most likely he will not feel threatened. He will see the emerald ring on the woman’s finger and he will know, this gallery is commenting on wealth explicitly and my identity will not be shamed or challenged critically by this necessarily. Furthermore he might think, that should I ever want to visit an art gallery this one might be a good one to visit because it ignores those subjects which I am fearful of and focuses on something that is socially acceptable in my mind, and within the realm of acceptable analysis… if I go there I might even feel intellectual because I can stand back and engage in the social commentary on wealth in America while I myself and the cultures and habits I engage in that might be harmful to my fellow citizens remains unscrutinized and unexamined.

ad #2 from The Economist

This second ad comes from The Economist, a magazine that seems to be quite a bit more conservative in its appeal than the NewYorker, but both seem to market themselves as top-shelf Literature containing analysis and news that matters and is relevant in today’s modern society. Now this ad is a little more traditional, in my mind, because what it’s selling at a surface level is the Hyunai Genesis, an elegant new model with the power to turn heads at even the most prestigious sporting events, like say golf.

The ad itself has paid for the whole back page of the Economist, and is printed on fine waxy paper… already a higher and more luxurious grade than all the other ads in the magazine. Golf is a sporting event that comes with a perception that it is only palatable to an upper class audience that believes in exclusive events, pastimes, and products. This advertisement is not meant for me, and in that regard there is a strong message of class as a limiting factor with an overt message that says, “separate thyself from the classless peasants ye noble and mighty captains of society.”

This ad is geared towards and ideal of luxury and a higher class, but Hyndai is not typically associated with that class… no, names like Benz and Mercedes come to mind way before Hyndai. This tells me that Hyundai is trying to send a message, “Re-consider what you think about our company and our products. We are luxury and top-shelf, and perhaps we are still more affordable and economically-sound a choice if you are in the market for a new car… and look, you are already reading the economist, which means you pay attention to value, right?”

Within the add you see lush greens, a strip of blue sky, and within the ad is a hierarchy of people. At the bottom of the hierarchy is a general public separated from the pro-golfer and the media crew by a rope boarder. These are fans of golf. Just above them is the pro-golfer and the media crews filming him… normally he would represent the highest branch of the hierarchy with the most prestige and the most power, but the balance is upset by the introduction of the Hyundai which is parked to the right of the people and is actually on the same side of the rope boarder separating the golf-star from the luxury care itself. This sends a very specific and very cleverly constructed message, “This luxury is for you upper-middle-class people of privilege, and it is a privilege the golf-star you adore so much is separated from, because this is for you special people alone, not him, not the media, and certainly not any of the lower classes who are not represented in the image at all.

The last layer is the fact that the entire ad is a cartoon except for the car which is rendered in glossy smooth finish with crisp detail which says, “This is real, it’s not a fantasy like dreaming about playing golf in the pro-tournaments, this is accessible prestige and power, and you owe it to yourself to grasp it!” In a world where the lower classes are facing inequality and injustice in every facet of their lives, this ad ignores them completely, “because it’s not about them it’s about you, and your American dream that you’ve worked so hard to attain, and that you so deserve. Buy the Genesis because you deserve it. Because you earned it. Live brilliant.”

ad #3 From Poets and Writers

Now this last add comes from Poets and Writers, a magazine that purports to be a resource to those interested in writing. It is largely text based, 2/3 text v. 1/3 imagery, and the main text reads, MFA in Poetry. So the audience is student’s like me, who have seriously considered creative writing or poetry as a career path and who want to receive an education that reflects that passion and that will probably open doors for us in the publishing world that you just wouldn’t receive from a place like Chico State (This is the myth about such programs).

Now the not so subtle stray messages appear in the image in the top third of the ad itself. In the left hand corner of the image is a smiling woman holding a large book open in front of her. She is wearing glasses, still a symbol of intelligence in our culture today, and her dress is long and flowing which is reminiscent of a graduation gown, and, and this is a bit more interesting, her skin is of a darker complexion, and her hair is curly and not straight or ironed out to be made straight. She is not Caucasian, and this is clear.

To her right is a row of students, in this row of students there is only one that is clearly male, and all the rest are clearly female, of varying ages, and they are all white and looking up at the dark skinned woman with beaming and attentive faces. They are all clearly thrilled to be in her presence and sharing, no basking in her wisdom and expertise. What a happy bunch…

Now this might reflect a reality of the school, that they’ve worked hard to secure a diverse staff, and unfortunately a disproportionate majority of their students are Caucasian, but the ad itself seems more than a little patronizing, because the message that exudes from the image is this, “Look how forward thinking and open minded we are. If you are a student who’s also open minded and looking for an education reflective of that then come here. You will be surrounded by Caucasians so you will never feel truly threatened or have to face a pesky minority as a peer, but you will also get to learn under a ‘not quite black but colored” professor and from that point on you can put that token colored girl with the smiling face on your resume and say golly I learned a lot from that magical woman.”

I might be more than a little cynical about the image. Anyway, the message reflects an ideal of “forward thinking” to some and “tokenism” to others, including myself. I feel a little disgusted when I see ads like this. Tokenism is disgusting, and it feeds the patriarchy and power structure of this country, because you don’t have to be accepting of entire cultures different from your own so long as you can tolerate (or more likely ignore) them and have collected at least one positive experience with a minority to prove that you too are a beacon of “forward thinking and progress.” Tokenism doesn’t really promote progress it promotes stasis while merely claiming to show progress.

a field of roses

Great poem I ran into on one of the blogs I follow. It takes roses, and enduring trope in poetry, and turns the whole thing on it’s head! I recommend giving this one a read and a think before you go about the rest of your day.

venomous scribbles

This field of roses
So pretty from above
A song that opens and closes
With joy and love

It is as if they were dancing
Swaying side to side
It could be romancing
Playing seek and hide

yet a real battle is taking place
Beneath the astonishing beauty
To maintain that beautiful face
The rest must fulfill their duty

Down below was a different scene
Swords and knives on these beautiful flowers
It was a survival fight when they sway and lean
And with every charge they stab each other

The roots are buried beneath the ground
Entangled in a battle of their own
No rest for the wretched the day is a fighting round
An everlasting battle that can’t be won

The evil pretty head is on the top
Shouting, carry on don’t stop
Telling them they will see the sun
If they act as one
@FAT 2014

society,,,,,

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Danger Up Above (Orandamned)

Collector of Human Souls

Collector of Human Souls

Cliff woke up to the sudden feeling of falling and disorientation. Not again! However disturbing, it wasn’t the same as before when he came face to face with the void. There was a feeling of weightlessness, but there was also the presence of sound, color, direction, and the smell of food! For a second he was suspended in mid air as the woman poured him out of his bag and into the tank below. Continue reading

What Puts Readers Off Self-Published Books?

I’m a fan of self publishing myself! This article has some great insight! 🙂 Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Tara Sparling writes

ANOTHER graph! Heaven.... I'm in Heaven.... ANOTHER graph! Heaven…. I’m in Heaven….

Oh, we’ve come a long way from What Makes People Buy Self-Published Books last week, ladies and gentlesirs!

Brace yourselves now, as we enter the dark side of book marketing: the things which make you REFUSE to buy self-published books.

And we’ve all experienced this to some degree. Self-publishing often gets a very bad rap. If people avoided some of the behaviour which follows, the industry can only benefit.

Cobbled together from the feedback from you, the nice people who comment, I now have a list of what’s most likely to make sure you will never buy a book from a certain author, let alone read one.

These fall loosely into 3 categories:

1. Pushy Marketing Tactics
2. Bad Book Design
3. The Writing Itself

These categories also come in the order which they would turn readers off a book. Even if a book didn’t…

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On “The Work of Writing”

"The Work of Writing"

A post shared by David Puerner (@dpuerner1218) on

We’ve all heard about writing and the hard work that goes into it. When you have a story you love you’re expected to give yourself over to the project… one of the biggest commitments you can make. It’s like learning a new instrument, or trying to pick up a language, your story can come out good the first time (which is a rarity) but even then it’s going to take work to lift that story to a place where others are going to agree with you and enjoy your labor of love alongside you.

I myself have been working on my novel for going on three years now. It keeps getting better and better and this is largely thanks to my novel writing group Northern California Novelists (NCN). It’s a fucking fantastic group comprised of 6-7 members at any given time. The core members, as I’ve known them are as follows:

Tim: A man who has a raging penchant for gore and action. Every now and then he will offer an amendment that seems so natural to your world you’d be a fool not to add it.

Ian: A man who can get lost in his own richly layered worlds, sometimes for months, before he picks up the plot again. Which is actually fantastic because he will always point out the areas where your story could do to dwell on your world a bit more.

Brittany: The Queen of the opening paragraph, and lyrical madman to the max! Her prose is second to none.

Molly: Story architect. From start to finish she seems to know where her major scenes and images will occur, and when we reach them her brilliance shines.

John: A man who, without ever mapping out the movement of his novels in any way, can produce a fucking magical web of storytelling every damn time.

Me: A dude who writes… deal with it.

Liz: Our newest member who seems to be a cross between the Coen brother’s and Stephen King!

A writing group has been essential for me. There are many lessons I’ve had to learn. Don’t play to your strengths, challenge yourself with every chapter. Offer meaningful critique, don’t just compliment. Put the good shit on stage, why the fuck are we writing if someone’s just going to hear about it. Don’t take every damn piece of advice offered by the group because at some point you’re going to have to steer the ship. etc. And I seem to take something away with every meeting.

I’ve taken the creative writing classes, and I’ve been to a few writing conferences, and while those have been valuable experiences, NCN is what keeps me coming back. For me it is the right mixture of accountability and gratification that I need to take the grueling out of this commitment called novel writing. But to each his or her own.

Thank you for reading.

Visual Storytelling: Tips from Photographer Laura Cook

As a writer I like to look at other mediums for inspiration. Here is Laura Cook’s take on visual storytelling! I think there is a lot we can learn from visual arts. Personally I have learned a lot from comic books. This is great too!

The Daily Post

There’s a difference between photography and visual storytelling. You can easily take a photograph, but not all photographs tell rich stories.

You’ve heard the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” many times, right? As a photographer, I believe this is true when we dedicate ourselves to seeking out images that really tell a story.

We often take images that are part of a set or portfolio, but it’s also important to seek out pictures that can stand alone — that invite you in and make you feel like part of one particular story. Our camera is a tool we use to tell that story, to capture not only a moment in time but also something bigger.

Laura Cook is a humanitarian and travel photographer who spends most of her year in Sierra Leone, West Africa. She loves meeting new people, and through her work, strives to highlight human dignity amid life’s struggles.

Laura blogs at The…

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