We Did Not Want To Be Here. And Yet We Are

War

A continuation of…

As Legions Before Us. We Will Be Tested

This not grandstanding; nor doomsaying; nor least of all a rallying call. We are moving past all of that. We are in the place where Reality is demanding our choices. This is how it is. You are being drawn to those choices, you will be asked to judge which paths.  For there are two human emotive tectonic plates grinding together and at some stage one will flip over the other, and there will be the quake. Those are National Domestic Pressures and The War  In Ukraine. Both remorseless, unavoidable, most of the elemental forces out of your control. Your reaction though will still be yours, along with tens of millions of others, each drop, each flake with its own weight and influence. Prepare yourself. And do not look for advice or guidance here I would not presume such arrogance.

The world is still dealing with a pandemic, the, medical, social and financial costs. Nations are facing domestic political upheavals in one form or another. The two closest to my heart being The Fracturing of Consensus in the USA and Brexit in my own UK. While now we have on the European Continent a full scale conventional conflict between two nations; The War that has been on hold since the Nuclear Sword of Damocles arrived. Both nations are locked in. One for survival, the other for a complex mix of motivations, some traditional, others recent. Both have invested great amounts of blood and treasure. One has massive resources, the other is in receipt of a steady stream of support. With each passing day, each shock of more death and misery. While in our own nations the domestic world goes on; at times you could be forgiven for briefly not thinking about Ukraine. But it will not go away.

War on the doorstep, be that literal, continental or geo-political in scope. War in one of its uglier industrial scales. No fast sweep of motorised columns; a hard version of commuter traffic, while folk stand gawping, some shaking fists, and then in a few days, it’s all over. ‘How shocking. I hope our government protests,’ you would have thought. Not this time, this was one militaries prepare for; well to begin with not so much The Russians. This was the grand demonstration to a horrified public what happens when the invaded supplied with latest weapons, trained for this happening, take a stand. The attacker very rarely gives out with a collective ‘Whoops’ and pulls back. Instead they revert using whatever they have in their locker, irrespective of the structural damage. While their troops on the ground, weary, low of morale, confused and angry take out their fear on the civilians. And there are the brutal mercenaries, bringing resonances of the WWII German SS police battalions .

Even so, after a while a certain adjustment can take place, what was in your mind, grabbing all of your attention, slips into the background. Back to the Domestic. Home news pushes to the fore, again. Ukraine: you’ve done all you can, you think; price rises, job security, polemical domestic politicians, they cannot be avoided.

However this war will not go away. The scenarios in which NATO is involved begin to take credible shape. Are you prepared for those? Are you ready to support such a step? Or would you judge it is best for all if the war is let to run down and Ukraine accept it has Fought the Good Fight, but must accept some compromise with Russia? Would you then hope the cost in men, material and economic damage would cause the downfall of the present Kremlin Court, then fences can be repaired, slowly and to salve our consciences money is poured into the surviving parts of the Ukraine. Money? Where from? Our own economies are suffering. National Debt is high. Some economists must be having sleepless nights, more so those in the various Financial Branches of governments. There again as we steer around the circle, NATO being involved would bring its own heavy costs. Unavoidable, pick one.

Whatever path is taken there will be prices to be paid. Militarily, Economically, Politically, Ethically even (Remember, every Ukrainian victory or defiant stance comes with a price in Russian blood, we also are now locked into that one way or another. Remember those days when you thought killing of anyone was reprehensible, but you still do. Except the World doesn’t allow you that detachment)

To re-visit. With the coming of Covid the world changed, though we got off lucky; a different strain could have brought an unmanageable death rate. But we are learning to live with it; just have to stop playing politics and silly conspiracy role-play games . A war in Europe involving Russia vs The West. Now that is no so easy to walk through; if it stopped tomorrow, all arms laid down the resonances would continue for at least the rest of the decade. How long before Russia and Russian stops being associated with brutality?

So far I have used the ‘?’ symbol six times. Could have been more. Strategies still developing in The West and Blindness to Consequences in the Kremlin. We are on a road in a fog, approaching something more than a crossroads.

You and I. We in our places. And we wonder or we resolve. If we take the latter  will we stay the course? (Seven ‘?’s and counting). When we look back all the other stances we took, seemed to have elements of simplicity. ‘We shouldn’t have gone there’; ‘We shouldn’t have got involved’ ‘We shouldn’t be doing this/that’. ‘We should be’; ‘We should be’…. Now, in these early months of 2022, ‘We should be doing…What?’ Your choice of Statement. (Eight ‘?’s and counting).

I did not bring in other issues, such as the catastrophic drought in the Horn of Africa, or the likely famine in Northern Africa due to the disruption of grain supplies from Ukraine & Russia, or…..

On reflection I was likely wrong to use the road, crossroads analogy.

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say ‘Make your accommodations, or sketch out your own forecast so you may navigate through the storms ahead,’. Perhaps? (Nine ‘?’s and counting).

Today It Is Ukraine. Yesterday It Was Elsewhere. Tomorrow? This Never Rests.

Where do we begin? How do we explain?

24th February 2022. Another Date To Remember….So many events, actions and commentaries since the day Putin and his court decided to take the next step in their endeavours to bring The Ukraine back under Kremlin control. The avalanche into the medias has been such that I literally had to check the start date. It was as if Time measured in days had ceased to be a relevant method of recording, all that counted was The Narrative, every daily action is affected by The Narrative, even Sunrise and Sunset are but part of the backdrop. So many folk are asking ‘How could this happen?’ Understandable.

Under the lens of the seemingly disturbing and dispassionate study of International Relations’ Realism theories what is happening in the Ukraine is predictable, almost inexorable. However this is not the arena to be bandying terms such as ‘Anarchic World System’, ‘Biopolarity’ or ‘Interests’. Their uses are better suited to academic discussions of less vivid times and not against the scenes of raw death and suffering.

As with most events, cases and mindsets in Europe and East of the Dnieper into Russia to focus on How We Got Here is a long road. In terms of Ukraine one which requires a journeying back centuries. To Kievan Rus of the 9th Century (No Vlad you got that wrong about it not being a nation), its disintegration in the 11th to 12th centuries and the subsequent seven centuries of empires, nations and tribes fighting for territory until by the 19th Century it became part of the Russian Empire. There is a pause. Then with the intense industrial wars of the 20th Century the whole complexity of nations, peoples and beliefs starts again. For nothing is simple in Europe / Russia; arguably a portion of land which in terms of area and populations has been a place of more conflicts than any other part of the world. Heritages, folk memories, ethnicities ,injustices often correct, and always very selective run deep. No coincidence the arms industries and sciences settled then proliferated here. Blame America of the World’s ills? Blame its parents.

None of this excuses Putin and his court. They had enough recent lessons to know this would not be a swift walk in. Finland 1939. Ukraine Nationalist Insurrection 1944 to…1955?. Afghanistan 1979 to 1989; a toxic baton taken over by the West in 2001 to 2021. Chechnya (a running sore, still)  The USA / UK’s hubristic invasions of Iraq 2003 to 2011. To name the more prominent ones. And those were ones with military costs (aside from the minor fracas over the 1980 Olympics). Another big power, deluded by its apparent military might falls into another quagmire, an old, old story they never bother to read. They don’t get to walk away from this one though. This is happening in The First World.

And suddenly Western Europe is flexing financial, political, social, cultural and commercial muscles. China is concerned and arguably the USA is running to catch up. Where did that surge of anger and resolve come from? Two decades of teeth grinding frustration at the rise of suspect money? Two decades of seeing Russia is quite as capable of dishing out even more than The USA can in terms of military ‘solutions’. Maybe all those decades of The Cold War and what could happen if it turned warm and those echoes of two world wars came crashing back? Take your pick; mix and match? Though this is harder to fight against Putin. You can blow up a tank, it’s not so easy to destroy a series of expulsions from an international community; you can try to threaten to invade everybody, but you can’t be everywhere at once.

Not that this is of much comfort for those huddled in a cold basement somewhere in Ukraine, short of food, water and maybe important medicines; children crying, walls and floors shaking; the sounds of war getting nearer. Not much help when you have been on the road for days and are in a situation where you are grateful for the least of shelters and supplies which only go from day to day, uncertain of where you family are, not knowing what will be left to return to. War was ever like this. There will never be a clean, swift, surgical war. They tear, they grind, they are careless as they thrash around once the first plan and initial ideas burn up in the consuming destruction and counter destruction. What is happening in Ukraine is bad, it is unthinkable!… No. Think again. You know war did not stop with 1945, but was not just limited to those which made the nightly news. To a villager in some far away third world location to destruction visited by local security forces, militia or self-styled resistance groups, the horror and the suffering are the same. If you are distressed by one, then you should be equally distressed by them all. Selective outrage just does not cut it for the innocent. Ukraine is on TV, it is an example written in burning letters twenty stories high, laced with the choking tang that comes with the conflagration, the fuel of which you are advised not look to deeply at; your imagination will suit.

You should feel anguish. You should donate aid as best you can. You should shout against this invasion. You should also give some of your wrath to those who try and justify naked aggression or worse divert attention because it suits their own blinkered views. There are folk out there on all sides of the political divides who by default have blood on their hands because they could, but did not react or claimed reaction was wrong. A crime just as bad, in the dead or weeping eyes of the innocent. You see nothing is simple, we are fortunate this very visible one in Ukraine seems so. There are some in small shadowed corners of the world where the lines are blurred and twisted.

So we watch and we wait. But we don’t get to switch channels or turn to the sports entertainment or fashion pages so easily. This is First World ‘Business’. It demands and sucks in the attention of all. But remember, if we in the rest of the First World do get out, without a Covid-like spread, there will be a First World nation to repair, while across this Globe, the same miseries and sufferings will continue.

On Getting Your Work Noticed (Just an Observation)

The end of an edit / re-write beckons; approximately 11.5% of some 248,000+ words left to ‘listen’ to and ponder over. Word is not happy with the weight I have placed upon it, pretending to lose the Dictionary additions, altering margins and spacing at random intervals, changing the Spellcheck to another language, failure to comprehend any literary constructs apart from business speak; the usual protests against an unprofessional artistic use of its programmes. BUT my trusty memory stick is ever at my side reminiscent of a faithful hound, lest Word pulls its most evil of tricks and crashes the whole work (which it dallied with back in July).

Thus this will conclude a work in three parts which will in total tally up 600,000 + words and has taken somewhere around six years to complete. A time in which edits, proof-reading and re-writes were all done within my own bubble. Thanks to Amazon Kindle and the free-book promotions I guess about 30 folk have Volumes I & II downloaded and a big thanks to those kind folk who also purchased copies (probably about 10 sales). If Volume III bumps the totals up by 33% that might be in line with my expectations (based on the previous performances). Sometimes those figures were disheartening but were unlikely to be the sole cause of the low mood, more symptomatic of a general lassitude, my late father used to refer to this as ‘being at the bottom of the wheel’. Outside of the central character of a mid-twentieth century swashbuckling or ‘happy’ musical film, who does not experience these times?

At this stage a writer facing such results will have reached a crossroads of some sort of another. Their outlook will be dependant on amount of the effort they have previously put into their marketing, networking, assistance, outside editing and beta-reading to name but a few of the preparation and research strategies available to them.

For some despite their very best and diligent efforts in these areas, their work still fails to gain recognition and a despondency sets in. This is very understandable. They may well decide writing is not for them and seek other paths. Whether this was the right choice or another promising writer was lost to the caprice of the market, we will never truly know; this sort of judgement belongs as it were ‘to the ages’.

For others there can be an analytical response, they shrug (after a period of flushing out the disappointment) and ‘go back to the drawing board’. Maybe, they think, the work needs some tweaking, nay complete overhauling. Records of advice: friendly, editorial and beta will be consulted, the work re-read (a painful process at times) and the writer returns to the battle carrying out that very delicate balancing act between others input and how they, the writer, wishes the narrative to go.

Some will decide, they do so love writing, but maybe they chose the wrong genre or wrong style of narrative. They start again, maybe using the very bare bones of the first work. This happened to me, twice. First attempt was grim, bloody (and also unreadable). The second attempt, set in the world of my current books at an earlier time was comedic satire, the volumes are now a source of folklore and history in the current works. This third is a mix, one might say real as can be found in Fantasy. 

I stood at the crossroads and looked back over my shoulder. Had I utilised any of those aforementioned strategies and resources in my journey. Yes, but due to the vagaries of life met with three sources whose advice or commentaries were not to my liking, and hereabouts there are some strong opinions retained on their competencies and ability to use perception, but we shall move on. I was glad of the observations and reviews by Audrey Driscoll https://audreydriscoll.com/  Berthold Gambrel  https://ruinedchapel.com/  and Rachael Ritchey https://rachaelritchey.com/ Each gave support, advice incisive and constructive and was taken on board in future efforts. Those who indulge in throwaway criticism would do well to stay away from me, their comments get analysed, critically…yes one is not supposed to indulge so in kicking back at a bad review…. I have nothing to lose, there would be ramifications for the throwaway reviewer.  

And there came the decision. If my work was currently not surfacing into public attention amongst the many thousands of efforts by unknown writers and my approach to all the strategies and resources was idiosyncratic, nay even shambolic and I was using the massively populated medium of Amazon Kindle, then what was there to lose in going my very own way? The books could be recorded for the public to find, there would be some gratification there, and at the same time all creativity, imagination and experimentation could be utilised just for their own collective sakes. Thus I gave vent to all manner of writing about varied circumstances, maybe some had no business being in a book seriously put together with sales in mind as a benefit; some might send editors and beta-readers into much head-shaking or saying ‘WHAT???’ Let it be so. I have enjoyed this veering off at tangents, exploring issues narrative, and it is all mine.

At this juncture let me say this is not an attempt to mask vanity with an air of assumed artistic superiority or the self-indulgent woeful stance of someone ‘suffering’ for their art. No this is just me, writing as I write, for a particular  purpose, and because the whole project will not let me be until it is concluded this way. To put it another way for those starting out or those having doubts:

Writing about my approach as one you should follow is not the reason. It would, quite frankly be irresponsible for me to contend this is worthwhile way of ‘doing things’. Not so, the above words are tailored to illustrate my position and current view of my own work. For advice on the matter of publishing, please, please seek out others. Going Complete Rogue is generally a bad idea. 

As long as the writing does not mask an agenda promoting Hate, Intolerance or questionable politics I wish everyone well with their writing. Published conventional or self-published, the writer’s efforts are to be celebrated, another record in the great endeavour writing, another statement ‘I was here’.

That you strive at your work with the conviction you have as much right as any to do is enough for me.

Meanwhile, nearly a year after the original narrative of Daughters of Circumstance. Arbiters of Consequences was completed, still working on the final ‘publicationable’ document? But of course.  

And Thus Is Completed The Narrative

Another Launch (Persistence Doesn’t Always Pay, But It’s Satisfying)

Musings on Writing (Another series). Important Reactions to Use on Suitable Occasions

Pinnacle of Creation? (An exercise in speculation and perception with figures)

Foreword:

The two pivotal ‘dates’ are based a very broad scientific estimates; the latter being arrived  on a possible assumption that ‘nothing else happens’, which in our Universe is stretching it a bit.

The maths are replete with rounding ups and downs to suit the narrative. This is therefore not a serious mathematically based socio-environmental statement. It is a speculative musing intent on giving one sense of perception of ‘Our’ place on this planet.

 

Most of us will be familiar with the old saw about the history of Humanity being placed in the context of a 24 hr clock. I never cared for this, because it was based on the assumption that at midnight there was no need to go any further because we had arrived…yea! And the 77 seconds it took for us to get there was all you needed to know.

If we ignore this monumental piece of vanity and consider a possible Life of the planet Earth, we see a different alternative. So let us look at the figures

Age of Earth to date                           =                 4.5 billion years

Remaining Life Expectancy of Earth  =                 7.5 billion years (then falls into the Sun)

Total Estimated Life of Earth             =               12.00 billion years

24 Hour clock

1 hour                                               =        500,000,000(0.5 billion) years

Each quarter on clock (1/4 of an Hour)=       125,000,000 Million years

Each minute on a clock (1/15 of quarter)=         8,333,334 Million years

Each second on a clock (1/60)            =                138,890  thousand years  

 

So now we have arrived at the rough figure of 138,890 years per second, let us consider Humanity in the scheme of things. Now I am not going to inflate us with the arguable time we’ve been around, scratching, surviving, hunting and gathering. I am going to fast forward to our much vaunted ‘civilised ‘period which is when we started to farm, build communities, tear up the land and fight wars. This is estimated at 12,000 years ago. Divide that figure by 138,890 and you get a time of 0.0864 of a second. That is all we’ve racked up so far and even if we concentrate at making things right and double that it will still only be .0.1728 of a second. Still a long way to go to get to the magic 1 second. 114,890 years as an estimate.

Some might say we have achieved so much in such a short space of time. I would argue, let’s just count another 0.00864 (1,200 years) of  a second before we start celebrating our speck of existence.

Conclusion: If these figures unsettle you, then feel free to find another interpretation. Scientists, Historians, Economists and Sociologists do this all the time.

Addendum: If you are a writer, don’t be discouraged by this, you are part of the Quantum World and must work on the Planck Scale
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planck_units