In case you were wondering what Obama and Boehner talk about in their fiscal cliff meetings, The Viril View presents a screen capture from our secret ObamaCam.
As writers, we tell stories about heroes because they expand what we believe to be possible. In fiction, we have mythic figures like Luke Skywalker and King Arthur that inspire untold billions across the globe—even when they fall, like Manny Pacquiao did Saturday night.
And, yes, Manny Pacquiao is an important world figure; despite the triviality of who wins or loses inside a boxing ring. Beyond his prosaic athletic achievements, Pacquiao’s vibrant charisma rises above the ugliness of his sport.
Manny shows us that, despite the hard and sometimes unpleasant necessities in this life, we do not have to let those realities define us. We can be more if only we keep working, keep plugging away—day after day—until the things that stand in our way are overcome by the volume of our effort. And, we don’t have to let those things turn us into surly automatons diminished by ambition.
We can live a life of joy even as we struggle to earn our way in the world.
Of course, most of us lack the talent and skill to aspire to Pacquiao’s success. But, within the scope of our humble lives, Manny shows us the way.
Where Pacquiao becomes more than a mere sports figure, is the affect he has on the people around him. He turned professional at age 16 to help his family, despite the grief of watching his teenage friend, Eugene Batang, die in the ring. He’s kept the sport of boxing relevant on the world stage by becoming a international star in a sport fractured by pay-per-view audiences. Finally, Pacquiao has made the globe aware of our largely-ignored nation through his victories in the ring.
Beyond the scope of Pacquiao’s achievements, is what Manny has chosen to do with his fame. Rather than losing himself in narcissistic indulgence like so many other sports icons, Manny returned to his roots after achieving international fame. Pacquiao has used his career as a launching pad to transform his society.
While becoming a Congressman is not a selfless act for most men: for Pacquiao, it diminished his ability to revel in his status as an international superstar. Instead of forgetting where he came from, Manny has devoted his energies to building a hospital to serve the poor and to fight corruption in Philippine society.
As a the child of a Philippine immigrant and born in America, my Filipino relatives constantly cite endemic corruption as the biggest problem our people face as a nation. Everyone knows what holds us back as a people, but we find ourselves at a loss how to break out of the cycle.
When we see Manny overwhelm a sport built on Machiavellian intrigue through merit, we start to believe that we CAN overcome the things that stand in our way. We start to realize our people CAN make a difference on the world stage, if only we can stop fighting ourselves.
That’s why it makes little difference what happened Saturday night against Juan Marquez. Pacquiao has already won the battle that truly matters.
The teachers who portray the rich urinating on the poor in a recent cartoon are lost in Dark Age “thought”.
My cousin, Ted Cordero, helped Sun Microsystems enable streaming video as a key developer of Java. Was he somehow “pissed upon” by the founders of YouTube because they became billionares on the back of Sun’s work?
These teachers, produced by a university system which enriches itself (and mankind) through scholarship, are totally ignorant of their own hypocrisy.
They seem to think our wealth is built upon control of real property, which is finite and limited. This fact might have been true in the Dark Ages, but is certainly false today.
In a modern economy, largely driven by intellectual property, wealth is additive. Wealth creators enable others to build upon their work by enriching themselves. The world we have today, and the increasing pace of innovation, is a testament to this truth.
One would think that educators would understand the very system in which they earn their living.
Until just now, I never thought of WHY the transition from “Trial by Combat” to “Trial by Jury” occurred in England. Soft-scientists tend to focus on ideology, which emphasizes the importance of scholars—hence University professors often have a bias toward attributing social changes to shifts in philosophy.
Yet, my guess is it has much more to do with the practical capability of the King to exercise power. Basically, in later days, the English Crown gained enough central power that it could enforce decrees simply upon its word—and reasonably expect most to conform. The law courts give the King much more precise control over behavior, and give the Crown much more ability to provide incentives for behavior that solidified his power.
I know I’m sorta jumping over a lot of analysis here, so I’ll try to show how I came to that point. Consider the problems of the English Crown shortly after the Norman Conquest in 1066 (around 7,000 Norman French nobles conquered England). Not only were you trying to rule England with 7,000 guys, for those dudes to benefit from their rewards, they had to live on the scattered fiefs that they ruled (remember the money economy had collapsed in Europe, hence King William couldn’t just pay the people who helped him). Which meant the King in London didn’t have a lot of truly loyal troops to back up his decrees; and, to assert that power, you’d have a problem gathering those vassals.
Hence, William left most of England’s existing legal system in place and created “King’s Courts” to handle disputes between nobles (many of whom were his ex-soldiers, and others were local lords with minimal loyalty). Given these problems, just how could he expect to enforce decrees when the litigants left his courts in London and went back to their fiefs? How willing would a strong noble be to accept losing a judgment to a weaker man given that the King would take weeks to even hear about any violation—much less be able to gather forces to correct it.
Wouldn’t the stronger man just impose his will once they returned from the King’s demense? In a sense, by the King using combat as the “finder of fact” instead of a jury in the legal procedure; he was exerting his power by claiming what would occur anyway was actually at his behest.
The whole system makes perfect sense when you think about it. The King gains some control of the process, while the litigants obtain the assurance the King won’t arbitrarily decide they’re causing problems and attack them. In fact, they get the “right” result, without the threat of later repercussions. The King gains a land not constantly torn up by fighting Barons.
They key is that the King knows he will squander his limited strength if he has to enforce his will too much through armed strength too many times. But, the threat of imposing it on the NEXT violator,(sorta like the concept of marginal utility in economics) keeps the Lords in line.
Consequently, by defining the “forms” of legal judgment (situations where legal redress from the Crown would lie), then letting the principals fight to determine “did Uncle Frim really lie or tell the truth” and then imposing monetary rewards and punishments…was the King exerting as much control as was reasonably possible.
This changed when the Crown gained more central power and more people were willing to enforce the Crown’s decrees.
For the writer of fantasy and speculative fiction, understanding the above limits to exercising monarchal power helps us get away from the childish, “I’m King and the subjects will do as I say” sort of portrayals.
Oxford professor J.R.R. Tolkien pretty much invented the modern fantasy genre between his seminal The Lord of the Rings and his Oxford writing group (which included C.S. Lewis).
The biggest reason it’s ridiculous to call someone “the next Tolkien” is that we’re unlikely ever to see a writer like him within our lifetimes. First, Tolkien worked on his books as a hobby for something like 38 years. Second, Tolkien was a pre-eminant scholar of his day, being one of the foremost linguists of his time (an editor of the Oxford English dictionary) and a scholar of norse epic poems.
Modern and post-modern commercial writers simply can’t afford to put the time and effort into their work that Tolkien did, since they are making a living at it. Even if they put in the time, very few will have the scholarly credentials of Tolkien, or access to his sources (1,000 year old manuscripts about norse mythology).
Often, scholars of Tolkien’s caliber find it difficult to write in a manner accessible to a commercial audience. Tolkien didn’t have that problem. Hence, another Tolkien will be almost impossible to duplicate. The very desire to “be Tolkien” (usually meaning writing a commercial work which captivates millions) will prevent a writer from having the patience to build such a creation.
How many artists, really, are willing to produce “Leaf by Niggle”?
For those of us who are trying to be Tolkien, I think we’d be better off being ourselves. We will never have the strengths Tolkien possessed. We will do better to emphasize the unique knowledge and perspectives that we bring to the table. That’s the only way any of us will even come close.
For those of you not cognizant of the academic path in creative writing, an M.F.A. is a Masters in Fine Arts. This degree is granted by graduate creative writing programs taught in American, Canadian and some other University systems.
As much as I admire and respect these programs (and wish I had obtained one), I think the MFA has some toxic effects on our sense of “literature”.
Basically, I have read about MFA programs in which the participants scorned any fiction enjoyed by the masses simply on principle. Of course, our aspiring MFA’s aren’t going to seem very exceptional if they like what everyone else likes. In order to signal their superior erudition and academic achievement, many MFA’s seem to think they must profess to enjoy work which requires much more “refined tastes” to comprehend.
The end result is the MFA crowd (as well as their literature degree cousins) often celebrate works which are about as pleasurable as swallowing castor oil was to a prior generation.
Those parents THOUGHT castor oil was good for their children, hence they crammed it down young throats. However, if a work of fiction is mostly “good for you” in some philosophical or larger social sense, haven’t we forgotten about what makes fiction “art”? Does not “art” presuppose the existence of some innate sensate pleasure that transcends thought?
If a writer wants to strip “mere” enjoyment from their work in favor of “meaning” or “truth”, then why bother with the pretense of fiction? Why not instead write philosophy or pursue social-science research?
Obviously, we all want our “better” fiction to have something more meaty to it than the latest soap opera episode. Yet, perfunctorily scorning the tastes of the masses is even worse—we strip fiction’s ability to relate across social, cultural and educational barriers. In the end, we turn literature into something that divides us rather than builds a culture.
My name is John Viril and I am a new kindle author.
This blog will mostly be about the process of writing, why I have adopted certain viewpoints that affect my writing, the role of fiction in society, and other musings that strike my fancy.
Being a writer is something I have wanted to be since my earliest childhood. When I was six, I admired the “Moonbeam” series and wanted to write my own Moonbeam story—which led to my first attempts at writing.
About six years later, my sister shifted my reading interests to speculative fiction when she handed me The Hobbit . I had read (and liked) the Narnia books a few years earlier, but they did not completely capture my attention like J.R.R. Tolkien. At the time, I was blissfully unaware that C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien had been literature professors at Oxford—and had been members of the same critique group.
Immediately after, I barely read anything but sci-fi/fantasy. The next big fantasy book I picked up was Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara , followed by Stephen R. Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant series and Piers Anthony’s Xanth books. Soon after, I plowed through Isaac Asimov’s The Foundation Trilogy and Robert Heinlen’s juvenile novels. At fifteen, I discovered Frank Herbert’s DuneTrilogy.
In my early 20′s I began to add thrillers and more “serious” fiction to my reading que, but my favorites have been mostly focused on stories that stretch the imagination.
At the time, I did not realize that this mindset is shared by business entrepreneurs—which, I suppose, is why I have also chosen to spend most of my “real” life involved with early-stage ventures. I have been a writer for two early online sports magazines, I worked for a startup reference lab, and now I am a founding member of a health-care IT firm.
I suppose I have always been more concerned with what “could be” than with “the way things are”. Thankfully, I have never felt any desire to enter politics.
I hope you will enjoy at least a few of my creations.
Here is a link to the Amazon page of my first book The Supreme Warrior .