You have entered the realm of a writer.

Welcome to A Writer's Landscape!

You have entered the realm of my mind where words play with the fabric of our existence. This is the map of my imagination: the very foundations of inspiration, musing, and thought splayed for your wandering eyes. Dive deep into the tides of these forces and experience my reality, my fantasy, my world; and if you should be so inclined, share your words with this land.

Peace and Love!

J Hart F

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

You Shouldn't Say "Should," Unless You Mean It!

People often ask me: What's my favorite word? I don't like this question and always have a difficult time answering. Words are my favorite. In a way, they must be; words are all we have to convey our world to any other, therefore I cherish these symbolic references like old friends. I can, however, answer the question: What's my least favorite word? The answer is "Should." I don't like the sound, the way it makes my mouth move, nor its connotations. Perhaps I dislike its connotations the most because they create emotion and reaction within when confronted with a "should." Think about it; Do you like when I say you should read my posts or you should vote for my candidate. I would naturally react the same way: with a trepid thoughts forewarning of unknown cognitive dissident trends revealing uncomfortable worldviews. To have such a solid, repetitive reaction to a word among many differing people holds that the word has been imbued with meaning from times past.

The etymology of "should" reveals a lot of the reasons why I dislike this word. Its sources in English stem back to the Old English world "Sceolde," the past participle of "Sceal," translated to "Shall." They both hold a strong sense of obligation in their meaning in Old English and were closely related to "Scyld" which means guilt and the Germanic world "Schuld" which means guilt and debt, pulling these definitions into the connotation of "should" whenever spoken or written in the 11th century. After all the language used during the 12th and 13th centuries had high religious conviction, binding the laymen to a socially normalizing culture by region as prescribed by the Church. As Old English progressed into Middle English after the 12th century, "Should" took on a future aspect in the encompassed action. For example: One should vote; meaning the individual has not yet voted and is obliged to take part in the action lest they be judged for the lack thereof. At this point in the history of the word "Should," "Sceolde" became related to the Middle English word "Shild," so much so that we now have a hard time detracting guilt, sin, crime, fault, and liability from "Should" today. One should not eat 'x' because 'y'; or one should believe 'x' because 'y'; where the statement 'y' has an intrinsic negativity closely associated (i.e. "One should not eat sugar because it triggers diabetes over long term use," where diabetes is bad).

Nowadays "Should" still encompasses a lot of these connotations, more so than "Shall." Where the latter has become more of an affirmation or action (i.e. "I shall go to the store."), the former is more of a directive laced with the aforementioned judgmental mentality. This is due to the close association of "Should" with philosophy in our time. In recent history this term has been closely linked with the ideology of right and wrong and morality. Now we see "Should" as prescriptive language asking the subject to question the immediate action at hand for its value in order to acknowledge another point of view as more correct (i.e. "You shouldn't cut onions that way; you should cut them this way"). The tone of guilt, sin, etc. may not be as strong in our language, but drawing morals into the discussion with current connotations of "should" echo the Old and Middle English linguistic trends. We know this because "Would," the second and third person predicate, does not hold the same connotative meaning of wrong doing, though it can be accusatory as in the derisive proclamation: "You would." Since the word has taken on a philosophical note it has also encouraged an authoritative aura, where the speaker/writer utilizing "should" knows best and is obliged to instruct the listener/ready of such knowledge. From my experience, those who use "should" in their speech often enjoy the dominating effect of the word. We can easily see this in our managers and they way they interact with their employees. Those who manage instead of lead often utilize "Should" where leaders open a conversation and preface ideas with "could you" or "what do you think about this" as alternatives to creating a change in their proletariats.

Then again, "Should" has its purpose in authority. One should (in fact) do a good job at work, if they don't consequences will come up. One should follow the law, because again consequences will arise. One should be healthy, share love, think less, etc. I can say these things wholeheartedly (even with my dislike of the word) because their prescription follows suit with my beliefs and larger understandings of the Verse. I take the philosophical stance, acknowledge the value of good and bad in actions and things, and draw conclusions that mirror those truths with which I assign my authority in saying this word in order to bring a balance and harmony into my world. When using language properly the full weight of the word can be harnessed. If we imagine a word highly overused (like love), we lose the power of the word. You can love a person, an animal; and a cup, or an idea, or a figment of imagination -- all just as much as you would like or admire or desire these same objects. Instead of using a more descriptive term we lump the idea into a larger term: Love. This is happening with "Should," where requests are disguised with knowledge, where authority covers insecurity, and when we can't accept other and attempt fixing it.

My experience with this word has colored my Verse. Living in America we're faced with a list of expectations in being a good and proper American. My generations were practically told that we should be straight, married, educated, hard working; that we should have a high credit score, go to church, save money; and by not adhering to these expectations we should expect scorn from our family, peers, and community. History books pointed to the righteous (those "shoulding" everywhere) always claiming victory, so why would we want to question these edicts? At the ripe age of 30, I've finally found footing to question these ideologies for myself and build a repertoire of "Should" in my life I can stand behind. That's all I ask of you now: look at when you say "Should" and begin to question if that's the right way to use it. Remember where this word has come from and what its use embodies in our language today. You may find when you start utilizing "Should" in the future people will listen more closely.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

What Labels Mean in our World.

We are introduced to our world through sound in the beginning. Our mother's womb allows vibrations to penetrate the protective sack like nothing else can, save the nutrients she provides. From these vibrations we become acquainted with the outside; and when we're born sound is the first thing we experience clearly. Eventually our brains can grasp what is going on and the chaotic rhythm of life forms into manageable compartmentalized associations that help us cope with the myriad of options before us. Words enter our schematic of the universe and these words become labels for the intrinsic, mundane, specific, beloved, and desired. In fact, we would not be able to succeed, prosper, and potentially enjoy the societies in which we live without the basis of labeling quite literally everything; though a few intellectuals might enjoy discovering the unlabeled... so they can label it. As we grow and learn, experiencing the various modes of life on this precious planet we call Earth, certain connotations creep into language further coloring our Verse with little judgments that express our ideology, morals, and, most importantly, our Self.

The given designation we call a Name is the simplest, a priori transition into labels humans come across. It's usually the first thing to which a baby responds after many days/weeks of repetition and engagement. This name, however, does not give us our identity, but rather creates an Identity Space empty of the person. Because my name is Josh does not mean I josh people or am a josher by nature, though jovial and jocular utterances do engage my communities in laughter frequently enough; my identity is larger than one word or phrase or label. Life introduces us to many labels that we cannot choose: our gender, race, sexual orientation, age, etc. Over time humans discover what factors in life associate them with defining words: a job, a social group, fields of studies, and even relationships; and even these descriptions of the self are not guaranteed depending on region/state/country in which one might reside. Then there are the self-chosen labels that we identify with: religion, politics, and regional affiliations. We call ourselves Democrats or Republicans, invoking all the denoted and connoted meanings to these qualifiers. We set ourselves as this sect or another of Christianity and set boundaries that group others within that specific label. We believe region sets us apart from other humans because cultures differ between mountain, swamp, or island inhabitants. But these are all words created by humans to help us understand what we see, feel, taste, hear, and comprehend. What if it's all really just meaningless babble?

It can't be meaningless because you would not be building greater concepts through my words if meaning were absent. The image of a cup -- yep, that one that just popped into your head -- is brought forth because the word "Cup" has an undeniable meaning attached to it. Perhaps this is why we label ourselves like processed food. One serving of Josh comes with a healthy view of Pagan ideologies, a small dosage of fiscal conservatism, heavy portions of social progress, a coating of Green Party propaganda; injected with college education in Literature and Astro-Physics, music appreciation, culinary ingenuity, artistic ambitions; less than 2% moody, judgmental, irrational, conspiracy theorist, etc. Do not take if Close-Minded, Judgmental, Homophobic, Racist, etc. Would this mentality disrupt the abhorrence for the other in society, by putting forward all our identity ingredients for those to choose whether or not to engage? I think not, merely because this would give the judger an automatic right to judge based on the facts of your existence. Remember my warning: Do not take if [fill in the blank]. We already judge people based off labels. Doctors are seen as intelligent to some because the title Doctor comes with years of education. But we also question whether Doctors are educated thoroughly (they study pharmaceuticals and their effect on health, not a full degree in bodily health). We judge people based off age (too young, must be wet behind the ears), gender (women aren't as strong as men), "race," and ethnicity. This is so second nature by this point we can barely notice the difference between a simple label (i.e. cup) apart from the more intricately laced labels (i.e. gay).

In order to label something we have to distinguish its difference from other objects. Human nature till this point has been to analyze for "goodness," a property of inherent wealth corresponding with desire, necessity, or social status, and thus judge separate it from others by this designation. Our daily practice is to analyze driving patterns, nutritional information, and social morals, amongst other things. America is currently in the heat of a label war within its own borders: Republicans and Democrats vying for justice against a backlash against liberal ideology present under a conservative Democratic presidency. The labels have interfered with relationships, at least in my world. My conservative extended family through my partner voted for President-Elect Trump (a label that sours my mind, squelches my heart, and demeans some respect I might have assigned that role in our nation) and has repeatedly approached us with words of wisdom, consolation, and misunderstanding. They've labeled us as "inexperienced" politically (overlooking academic studies in Political Science and sitting on a Congressional Advisory Committee), as "whiny liberals," as "misinformed." Rather than looking beyond their own label as Republicans to see what comes with the package of a Trump presidency (support from terrorists groups like the KKK, Neo-Nazis, Extremist Christians) and correlating that with our reactions to such an election turn out. But even here I have labeled entire groups of people with the same mindset, which is absurd. These are, however, the regular thought patterns which stem from the simplest of labels which assigns us a sense of pride, segregating us in our own prejudices, unable to grow from the lack of connection.

Pride is what helps us feel comfortable in our own labels, and I don't mean to say we shouldn't be proud of who we are. We must be careful with our labels, with the words we choose to associate with our being. Words are power: they create feeling, memory, experience. When we start piling on meanings to words, expanding them to encompass a large survey rather than the individual, we lose the Truth. As Eckhart Tolle so elegantly states:

The word God has become empty of meaning through thousands of years of misuse. By misuse, I mean that people who have never glimpsed the realm of the sacred, the vastness behind that word, use it with great conviction, as if they knew what they are talking about. Or they argue against it, as if they knew what it is they are denying. This misuse gives rise to absurd beliefs, assertions, and egoic delusions, such as "My or our God is the only true God, and your God is false," or Nietzche's famous statement, "God is dead."

Before you label yourself, ensure you know what your labels really mean. And before you confront the ideology behind another label, make sure you know what it means for the labeled. This will help banish the confusion and misinterpretation of actions by individuals because our expectations of them won't be misguided by our own prejudice.

Know your Labels. Know your Words. Know your Verse.