Bamboozled

Writers’ Trigger:

I really like this Art Deco sculpture on the east side of Park Lane just south of Marble Arch. I need to look again and see if I can find the sculptor’s name. How well he/she captured the panic of pursuit.

Feel the absolute panic of the chase – to me, made more dramatic by the family grouping and a dog.

  • Using this photo as a trigger – write the story.
  • Focus on the devil. Who or what is the devil?
  • Imagine that you or your main character is walking down a dark street at night. You hear footsteps behind you. You pick up the pace. The person behind you quickens his pace as well.

***************************

There I was… waiting for a friend to prepare lunch… looking through her reading material… when I came across a slim brown book: Joan Didion’s “Fixed Ideas,” originally published in The New York Review of Books, January 16, 2003.

It is hard to imagine paying $7.95 in 2003 for a mere 44 pages – short pages with maybe 160 words per page… but such was the value of the book at the time, and interestingly enough, this essay (prompted by the events of 9/11/2001) is even more valuable today.

I urge you to read this book. I think I need to have my own hard copy, but if you go to The New York Review of Books and type “Fixed Ideas” by Joan Didion into the search engine, the essay will pop up.

In her essay, Didion mulls the selling of 9/11, and the vilification of anyone who questioned America’s response to that event. Didion writes of “an entrenched preference for ignoring the meaning of the event in favor of an impenetrably flattering celebration of its victims, and a troubling belligerent idealization of historical ignorance. ‘Taste’ and ‘sensitivity,’ it was repeatedly suggested, demanded that we not examine what happened.”

I began my university study as journalism major. My study did not last long because I had a personality conflict with one of my key professors, but before leaving the program, I learned an important lesson.

Assigned to cover a fire at a local drinking hole, I went off to do that. Camera-ready, I surveyed the scene and decided that in terms of composition, I needed a person in the foreground to direct the reader’s gaze to the charred building.

I did that. And for my efforts, my professor gave me a failing grade. I had broken a cardinal rule of reporting and that was to manipulate the news/a scene.

That is a lesson that has served me well as a writer and even more as a reader. I’m always questioning the story behind the story.

Didion’s essay concerns our sheep-like tendency to buy the party-line as it relates to foreign policy. McCarthyism is not dead. Those who question the approved party-line fall into a big black hole. Nothing is worse than being labeled “un-American.” We should all be “true patriots”… whatever they are…

About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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