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Monday, January 28, 2008

Information Overkill

Good lord.

I can remember when the toughest part of writing was, well, writing. Now, it seems I'm doomed to spend my free time at the computer doing everything but. While I keep hoping for an opportunity to dust off one of several manuscripts cluttering my hard drive, I've not been able to do any such thing.

I've spent the last 87 minutes browsing the internet, updating links in my browser, registering at various forums and websites and I still feel I'm no closer to figuring out how to improve my online visibility, sell more books or even where to begin.

Tonight's round of internet explorations consisted of (1) pruning some garbage from the links I've been collecting--more than half of what I'd bookmarked during the interim between my last couple of posts, (2) subscribing to new writers' and writing related message boards--including the writing of the insipid, mandatory, pat and un-necessarily necessary "Hi! I'm New!" message, (3) reading several different blog posts (most of which were less than 500 words!) from blogs purporting to provide me the tips I need to be successful at blogging--if I can manage to filter past their favourite recipes for peanut butter and bacon sandwiches, rants against Wal-Mart and suspiciously corporate-looking self-promotion posts, and (4) rubbing my eyes and shaking my head in astonishment that anyone every actually finds anything useful on the Internet through keyword searching.

The progress I made--or should I said that I felt I made--last week now seems to have mostly been in vain. Though I've found what I hope to be a few useful links, I really don't get the impression I've found anything that will be beneficial overall, including the links that a couple of friends kindly emailed me after reading last weeks cries for help.

I'm really more of a writer than an internet researcher. Hell, I don't even like to have to research stuff for the things I write, which is why I thank the Gods for Wikipedia and Google. I like to write. I don't like anything to do with the "business" of writing, which is probably why I'm so bloody bad at this. I really do recommend that if you are an independant author on the verge of publishing your first novel or with your first novel about to be published that you put as much money aside as you can and hire yourself a publicist to do all this fucking stuff for you. It's tedious and discouraging, at least for me.

Having said that, I'd also like to present this opportunity for any burgeoning publicists out there to have at it with my stuff. Build my brand, get my books sold and I'll gladly pay you a royalty off of my meagre royalties. Land me a book contract for my next publication (I have 2 books about ready to go; one fantasy/horror the other plain fiction marketed at 20 to 40 year olds) and I'll more than happily sign over a nice chunk of whatever I get for the contract to you...truth be told I know far more about writing than I do about self promotion, publicity or any of what is necessary to turn product into revenue. Fuck, you're the figure it out. Let me get back to what I enjoy, what I do best: writing, and leaving the "business" to somebody else.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ongoing Attempts To Raise My Visibility

After a long and tangenital conversation with my friend, tormentor, unlicensed life-coach a general pain-in-the-butt WTL last night, I have decided to begin the painstaking process of building my brand, IE increasing my presence online in the hopes of building an audience and a market for my writing.

I already have regular readers over at Confront Magazine where I write the music review column and occasional articles, and over at PHYTE Magazine, where chapters from my E-novel Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind are currently hosted. And, of course, there's this blog. The trouble is, despite the readership at Confront and PHYTE, I still don't seem to have that big an audience.

WTL suggested I look at the weblogs of the most successful of my peers, such as Scott Sigler, ProBlogger as well as do a Google search for such thigns as "weblogs for writers", "writing weblogs" "writer weblogs" and the like.

I've spent the evening therefore bookmarking different sites, including The Emerging Writers' Network, the All Kinds of Writing weblog, Writers' and the Authors' Blogs listing. My next step will be to accumulate a few more links, then start going through these pages, looking for any information that I can use to increase my presence on the Internets. At some point, assuming my research bears fruit, I'll change my links section, appropriately.

My problem is, I just don't know how to separate the wheat from the chaff; how do I know I'm looking at the right information? How do I know I'm on the right social networking site? How do I know, for that matter, that I'm producing content that people want to read? The problem with the Internet is the sheer glut of information out there.

One of the reasons that in the three-plus years this weblog's been operating that I've not been able to boost traffic is the simple fact I've repeatedly tried and given up to make sense all the different, often contradictory information and damn fucking difficult requirements of successful weblogging and brand-building.

Take for example the fact that "good" blog posts are usually 500 words or less. I cannot fathom being able to compress what I have to say into so few words. Frankly, I think that the idea of easily-digestible bite-sized text packages is one that does a disservice to the craft of writing and to the pleasure of reading.

Reading is something you're supposed to devote time to doing. You should have to ponder what you're absorbing, think about it, even reflect upon it. Reading is a contemplative, meditative thing. But more and more in this society, it's being seen as a burden, a trite, quaint and even antiquated thing. People want to be able to skim everything, get the gyst of what the writer has to say and do without the rest.

The problem with this is there's just no mental challenge to that kind of reading. Yes, you can read twenty or thirty weblogs a day that way, but how substantial are those text pellets? How much contemplation does such reading promote? Flitting from one blog to the next because everything's got to be read fast, fast, fast only provides you with quantity reading, not quality.

And frankly, isn't that what the establishment wants? By creating the false expectation that we "should" write only short bursts, that we "should" only read small texts, what's happening is the promotion of intellectual laziness. Such laziness leads to complacency, ignorance and stupidity. And you know what? Stupid people are easier to control. I've already written (literally) at length about how society is trying to engineer us into perfect slaves...but if my sources are to be believed, nobody wants to read my posts on that subject, because they're too long. I'm already about a hundred and thirty words over the acceptible limit of text, and frankly, I still don't feel I've said everything I have to say.

Reading is something that should encourage mental stimulation, the imagination and the intellect. Everything we read should lead us to contemplate its implications, the meanings and truths in the text, the craftsmanship that the author shows with writing. Reading should inform, involve and entertain, not merely distract us. Five hundred words a post isn't going to do that, I'm sorry. You may upload a few facts to your brain, you may even gain some new knowledge. But insight? Revelation? Epiphany? You're not going to get any of those in 500 words or less.

But, I digress...I'm now on a hunt across the internet for any helpful/useful/ultimately beneficial information to put to use improving my presence. I've added the link logger, for whatever goo it'll do...I'm on Facebook and MySpace, neither of which have produced much by way of results, other than allowing me to contact a few friends I'd misplaced along the way. I notice that only two or three of them are paying customers, but, hey...

All this to say that, along with the writing projects listed the last time I posted, I will begin a new chapter of the Chronicles of an Independant Author at some point, as well: branding myself on the Internet. Hopefully it will bear more fruit than the first edition of those chronicles.

I'll be doing other changes to the layout of this blog as well, notably how those links on the left show up. For now, though, I've got to bury my head in some research.

Hopefully in not too long a time I'll be able to look back on this and say that here was the point my star began ascending.

Monday, January 21, 2008


I am currently at work on several writing projects.

First, I am now actively revisiting and reworking a novella I wrote many years ago, titled "Crossroads". No further project status is available at this time.

Second, I am also actively reworking and preparing to rewrite "The Darkness and the Stars", volume two of "The Macrocosm" series, of which "The Unearthing" is volume one.

"Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind" is currently being read and reviewed, and once this process is complete, I will begin the final rewrite before marketing the book to prospective publishers. Concurrently, I have also started compiling a list of publishers to whom the work will be marketed.

I am writing, slowly but steadily, two other works: the third volume of "The Macrocosm" and a non-sci-fi one-off novel which due to the early stages of the work, I will not discuss in further detail. More information will be posted as it becomes available, so long as that information does not compromise any of the work.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, I am conducting research in order to turn the two-part essay, "The Perverse Society" into a book-length, non-fiction work, which will examine in detail exactly how our society has enslaved us, and offer proposed solutions to the problem. I expect the book to take years to complete.

I think the reasons for me to work on this project should be self-evident. As someone recently told me, the problem with rocking the boat, is no one wants to do it when they're actually still in the boat. I've been out of the boat and treading water not since December, when Computershare decided to terminate my employment because I wasn't happy enough for them, but since Bell decided to lay me off so its now-former CEO Michael Sabia, of 72 Sunnyside, Westmount, QC decided to lay off 4000 underlings for the sake of a 555% pay rise.

The goal of this last writing project is simple: to wake people the fuck up to the world that has been pulled over their eyes, and help those who are ready to free themselves to live the lives they want, and to possibly help free others. I have no real hope of success, simply because I know what sort of juggernaut I am up against. Ultimately, my own enlightened self interest will determine the status of this project. However, most of the essays I intend on writing for this book will probably make their way here.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Perverse Society -- Part Two

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Committee,

Thank you once again for the time you are devoting to the results of my studies. Some of you have advised me that you recognize the perverse society about which I am reporting. My reply is this: though you may indeed recognize it, I doubt you truly understand it. In all honesty, I don’t believe I truly understand it either, at least not fully.

But what I have come to understand is how unconscionably criminal that it is.

As previously mentioned, the culture in question is based on the principles of slavery and exploitation of the masses to benefit the elite. Every aspect of this society serves to perpetuate it, and the servile class are either unaware of their lot, or unwilling to accept the truth.

The slaves themselves spend most of their waking lives labouring, making themselves ready to labour, or travelling between their work site and their dwellings. As previously mentioned, personal property is an illusion provided to the servile class: they own nothing lasting because of built-in obsolescence and constantly shifting trends; their dwellings are either leased from elite landowners or are liened by the government through taxation.

The servile classes spend their days doing either physical labour or clerical work. They spend the majority of their time working in gangs with their fellow slaves, oftentimes overseen by other slaves who have advanced somewhat in the hierarchical echelon. The elite, themselves tend to minimize their contact with their servants.

For their labours, slaves are awarded a weekly stipend, from which taxes are taken both by the government and their masters. The society encourages slaves to run up massive debts in pursuit of the material trinkets that they themselves often labour to produce, so after payments are made to their creditors and providers of essential services, the slave is left with very little real income.

This system of indentured servitude is generally accepted by the servile classes as the norm; they have never known anything else, so they do not understand that they are being exploited. The elite control the workplaces, they control the economy, they control the essential services, they control the government and they control the markets and the prices of marketable goods. They control everything that a slave needs, in order to survive in this society. The result is they therefore perfectly control the slaves.

Either through taxation or direct payment, everything in a slave’s life must be purchased: food, shelter, clothing, education, health care, transportation, recreation, and every manner of personal belonging. Likewise, even things like water, heating, communication and even protection must be bought and paid for. The amount of money a slave needs to spend in order to meet these needs often exceeds their ability to pay up front. For many items, they must therefore enter into payment arrangements, putting themselves into debt.

This debt forces them to continue to labour for their masters, even as it outstrips the stipend that the servile classes are paid for their work. The elite encourage the slaves to go into debt, by making it easy for a slave to acquire loans, lines of credit or so called “purchase financing”. Invariably, interest is charged on these credits, meaning the slave has to pay significantly more than they borrowed, often over the course of several years. Invariably, when the slave is out of debt, the need arises, most often through the artificial manipulations of the elite, for them to go back into debt again.

In short, the servile classes are required to work, in order to stay alive.

And yet, despite this obligation to work in order to stay alive, the slaves are told they are absolutely free, that they have liberty to do as they please, say what they will, go where they wish. The truth is they can only do what they please so long as it does not interfere with their taskmasters’ plans for their daily labour. They cannot speak out against their masters or their labours, for fear of being banished from a work site. Banishment from a worksite often means being barred from other work, as the masters exchange their information on the slave. Unable to work, the slave then loses not only his stipend but everything that that stipend buys, including food, shelter, clothing, and ultimately, their very lives.

The slave, though allowed to travel virtually anywhere, is really limited to being able to travel to and from the job, or to and from the markets. And then, their travel is limited to when they are not supposed to be at their labours: they are not paid for the time they travel from home to their worksite, nor are they paid for their return. In fact, they usually must pay out of their own pocket for the privilege of being able to travel to labour for their masters.

This means that the slaves live in constant fear of doing something that will displease their masters, for their livelihood depends entirely on the pleasure of those they serve. And though they are allowed to rest at night and for two days out of the week, slaves are expected to be able to be called upon at any time by their masters to return to work, in case of a so-called “emergency”, or required to put in extra time at their labours, until they have virtually no time for themselves or their families, at all. It is not unusual, in fact, for the slave to work until they die.

Often, the slave has so many personal household duties to look after in the small window of time allotted to their personal pursuits that they cannot truly rest, relax or sleep a healthy amount of hours; any personal interests or pursuits they must have therefore comes at a cost of either household duties or rest. The elite do not encourage the servile classes’ pursuit of outside personal interests. In some cases, they even forbid it.

To ease their emotional burdens, the servile classes often turn to calmatives to relieve themselves. These calmatives, generally highly addictive substances, are again things that must be purchased from the slave’s wages. This again reduces their ability to get out of debt, further locking them in to the cycle of indentured servitude.

The servile classes often rely on organizations purported to occupy themselves with improving the slaves’ working conditions and personal situations. These organizations are funded from deductions from the slave’s stipends, and more often than not, the organizations, themselves have as a primary goal looking after the interests of those who run them. It is therefore not unusual to find that these organizations ally themselves in name with the slaves, but in truth with the masters, working not to aid but to appease the servile classes.

The slave’s working conditions vary somewhat, depending on what sort of labour is required. Universally, however, the hours are long and the atmosphere is grim. Often, the labour is dangerous or at the very least unhealthy: most slaves are locked away inside great buildings, away from fresh air and sunlight, constantly pressured with quotas, either of products assembled or services rendered. The quotas increase constantly, and the more a slave produces, the more they are expected to produce.

Because of the nature of the society, the cost of everything is constantly inflating. There is, obviously, virtually no indexation of the slave’s stipend, even though the amount they must pay for everything, including interest on their debts, constantly increases. When the stipends are raised, it is never significant, and often, the increase is entirely reabsorbed by taxation.

The servile classes spend their entire lives in service to the elite. Though they are often convinced they are labouring for themselves and their own betterment, the opposite is true: the elite control everything. Whether it be the food on their plate or the roof over their heads, the money to pay for it goes into the coffers of the elite, who own the farms and the lodgings. All goods are manufactured by companies owned by members of the elite class, as are the stores where these goods are sold. Education is run by the elite, and is so costly that only the elite themselves truly benefit from anything other than the most basic education.

Every aspect of this system is designed to benefit its masters and architects. Every penny of money earned by the slave is filtered upwards to the elite, either the owners of the factories or the government that reigns over the slaves. The heads of the government and the heads of the factories, farms, companies and churches often interchange themselves; as I previously mentioned, in this perverse society it is a very few families who make up the elite; one or two per cent of the overall population, at most.

The servile classes have been bred to accept this elaborate system of control. They are indoctrinated with a perverse loyalty to their masters that is disguised as patriotism, but is in fact nothing more than territorial xenophobia.

When a slave is intelligent enough to realize something is wrong, when that slave learns enough to recognize, even in part, what is wrong with this exploitative society, they are isolated, silenced and then subjugated. Those who will not be cowed are made examples of, in order to keep the rest in line.

Revolts have occurred in the past, but they have always been successfully put down, usually by sheer brute force, and making examples out of the rebels. Dissent, though allegedly permitted under the laws of this so-called civilization, is not tolerated.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Committee, it is my sincerest hope that you recognize this society, for it is our own. We are all slaves, to our employers, to the banks that extend us credit at high interest, to the utilities that provide us with essential heat, light, water and communications.

We willingly addict ourselves to truly worthless baubles and gadgets, games and entertainments that aren’t necessary, except that they distract us from being able to truly do anything to improve our lives. The truth is, the luxury items we indebt ourselves for, the music players, the games, the computers, the fancy clothes, the toys and the distractions, will not make us happier. They will not make us live longer. They will not make us healthy, they will not feed us. We only want them because their manufacturers tell us that we must want them. When we spend money on them, we are receiving so much junk in exchange for so many hours of sacrificed life.

It isn’t the Emperor who is a fool parading down the street without any clothes; it is us. The Emperors are the ones who sold us on such foolishness.

We take drugs to make it all more bearable: the coffee, the cigarettes, the soda that “keep us going” through the day, the drink with supper or before bed, the dope we numb ourselves with…all of it serves our masters, because it renders us more complacent; it keeps us in line.

From the first day we are in daycare to the day we leave school we are taught to conform, to obey, to be like everyone else, or else we face dire consequences. When we enter the labour force, we are expected to keep our heads down, shut up, do our jobs. But our jobs take up most of our waking life. We cannot complain, for fear of retribution. We sacrifice our very lives for the sake of a very few rich, greedy, exploitative bastards who know they are better than us, simply because we are all too stupid to realize that we are in stocks, being led to the slaughter like cattle. Though we are not butchered literally, is there any doubt that we are giving up the best years of our lives, in order to serve someone else?

We are willingly giving up our healthy years, our youth, our freedom, for the sake of wages that more often than not barely allow us to keep our heads above water. Even those of us with benefits, such as health insurance, retirement plans, so-called protections, could lose them if they lose their jobs. What then? Even if you are lucky enough to live long enough to benefit from your retirement savings—assuming you manage to keep any—oftentimes those benefits are insufficient to keep you alive, in which case you lose much of everything you’ve worked so hard to have.

Why do we do this? Why do we continue to do this? Why are we working for the benefit of others? If we must work to survive, should we not be working for one another? Should we not put our efforts towards our own mutual benefits? Why are we making rich elite swine even richer, by sacrificing our very lives?

We are enslaved to corporations and institutions whose only true goal is to make rich people richer. But we are the ones who build the products they sell. We are the ones who provide the services they charge so exorbitantly for. We are the ones who toil in their fields, their factories, their offices. We are the ones who provide them with their freedom, their luxuries, their privileges. When are we going to stop? When are we going to take away everything that we have been fleeced into providing them? When will we take back our lives?

When will we stop being such fucking slaves?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Perverse Society -- Part One

Ladies and gentlemen,

This report to the Committee will detail the particulars of a most unusual civilization; one which is unlike anything previously encountered in our travels.

This society is full of apparent contradictions and several behaviours which seem to be both self destructive and anti-intuitive. While studying the people of this society I found myself alternately bemused, disgusted, outraged, and most of all, frightened.

I scarcely know where to begin detailing the methods used by the masters to control their slaves; The convoluted weave of dominion is so elaborate, so labyrinthine, that even when one steps back to look at the pattern as a whole, it seems entirely too complex to fathom.

Let us begin, therefore, with a brief yet detailed overview of their society:

On the face of it, their civilization seems benign enough. The people generally appear to be happy, healthy, and the public image presented at all levels is one of great personal freedom, though scratching below the surface reveals a far more insidious reality.

Their culture is one of slavery, with vertically-integrated hierarchies in every aspect of their society. Invariably, a small, privileged minority rules over the majority. They use several different tools of control to keep the majority in line, most especially creating a cycle of addiction and dependency upon the ruling and governing institutions.

The carrot-and-stick approach of this society has successfully cowed the population for centuries; so long, in fact, that almost no one born into the culture is aware of how inherently wrong it is. The rulers control all the major institutions of the civilization: industry, education, religion, health care, government, infrastructure, public entertainment; everything is controlled by the same ruling class. They have successfully engineered perfect and absolute control over the masses.

The lessons of shame and conformity are repeated throughout the society, at all levels: religion is centered not around spirituality, but on conformity. Religious leaders instruct their followers to obey, above all else. Obedience to their gods is linked to obeying their masters; in fact, the people are taught to juxtapose the two. Government is seen as a protective overlord, keeping the serving class safe, and ensuring their personal freedoms, which are much talked about but aren’t at all real. Government controls education, infrastructure, and health care, and supposedly surveys the industries that in fact perpetuate that government. The industries, the government, the religious institutions are all run by the same ruling class: a series of loosely affiliated families who work together for mutual benefit, by ensuring that anyone outside their circle remains permanently below them in the echelon.

Indoctrination is the key to everything: the slaves are told from a very young age that they are in fact free, that theirs is a society where the individual is master of their own destiny. But from that same very young age the ruling class ensures that the serving class are trained to conform: Their system of education is used to train the people to conform to expected societal standards; stamping out personal expression and notions of true individualism and subservience to anyone in a higher position in the echelon of authority.

This subservience is reinforced by addicting the serving class to different forms of gratification, thereby distracting them from the reality of their lot. The class system is defined by who has access to the most coveted trinkets and baubles: humiliation is used against the lowest echelons by anyone and everyone perceived to be higher up, even among slaves of equal status.

Things like dress are used to delineate between the slaves: those who do not have the best available or most currently acceptable clothing are ostracised and persecuted. Likewise, even among children, those who do not have the newest toys, games or other child-oriented products are the least socially accepted.

This conditioning is repeated throughout the formative years of all children in this society. The learned behaviour of the slave class is therefore to always conform and to always work towards the imagined reward of being able to fit in among their peers. This obsession then follows the slave through all the long days of their lives, and becomes the sole ambition, both consciously and unconsciously.

The society perpetuates this by continually producing new and more expensive ornaments for the slaves to covet. So many new trinkets are made so often that they quite literally render obsolete by demand everything previously produced. When a slave has acquired everything that their station in life allows them to acquire, they are then told repeatedly, through the very industries they support through their labours, that everything they have acquired is now insufficient, deficient and valueless, necessitating that the slave classes are never able to complete their quest to acquire everything they are told they must covet.

Material possessions and the quest to acquire them aren’t the only means used to control the slave classes. This is just the most prevalent form of addiction and dependence that the ruling classes have created.

They have also co opted all forms of creative expression, most notably music, literature, art, drama and performance, to serve as a means of telling the enslaved people what they should desire while simultaneously controlling them by instilling whatever prevailing emotions are necessary to keep the people in line: fear, complacency, and anger being the most common.

Likewise, these creative media are themselves used to fuel the covetous desires so vital to maintaining the conformist controls: the slave must pay for everything, to watch a performance, to read a text, even to look at a creative work. The slave is taught that not to experience these popular cultural events is to fail, to be inadequate.

The servile class is also kept in line by creating true physiological addictions to several different chemical compounds that are found in every ingestible product made. Specialty foods are designed to provide biochemical reactions that create cravings to continue consuming them. These foods are not staples of their natural diet and are, like the ornamental goods produced by the industries that the slaves themselves labour to manufacture, considered to be a symbol of status among the people. Likewise, more direct drug consumption is done through products that are drunk, smoked or otherwise ingested. And once again, from an early age the slaves of this society are taught that to not ingest such things is to be an outcast, an abomination.

If loss of status isn’t enough to keep the slave in line, they must also fear the loss of their dwellings, which are either controlled through lease payments to the ruling class who own the land, or if a slave has somehow managed to acquire land, through taxation by the government. To be evicted from one’s dwelling, or to lose land to government seizure is considered among the most shameful infractions. Oftentimes, even if the slave manages to acquire a new dwelling, or (more often than not) if the slave manages to secure lodging with a fellow servant or (again shamefully) by going into a so-called “publicly funded” housing scheme, the stigma of the initial eviction remains.

Dossiers are kept on each slave, which detail their earnings, their ability to purchase, their histories of servitude and their infractions and supposed failures. These files are kept by all levels of the society: government, industrial, religious and even personal. Though supposedly private, these histories, including comments, observations and judgements of the higher echelons are frequently and openly exchanged.

Those who do not conform, those who are disgraced are not only ostracized by their fellow slaves, but by anyone higher in the echelon and especially by the ruling classes themselves. It is an unforgiving society; one which requires absolute obedience by the serving classes.

The next instalment of my report will examine the specific duties of the common slave in this society. I will highlight the tasks that slaves are expected to perform and how they are made to perform these tasks. I will also elaborate on the illusion of personal liberty, and demonstrate how successful this programme of slavery has become.

Until my next report, I extend to you, ladies and gentlemen of the Committee, my sincerest thanks for your interest in the study of this most perverse society.