That way lies madness: convincing yourself that you have “influence” | Street Jazz

Thursday, December 13, 2012

That way lies madness: convincing yourself that you have “influence”

Posted By on Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 11:03 AM

I have been writing for a few years now, and very early on I learned not to let a little praise go to my head. My writing doesn’t move mountains, change hearts of stone or win elections for anyone, much though I might wish it did.

From letters to the editor to working on various newspapers to blogging to Facebook natterings and now the occasional Twitterizing of the feelings of my soul to the world, you discover - or you are taught - that you are just one among many out in the world.

But then, of course, there is also my show, and my YouTube postings.

By god, I am a force to be reckoned with!

Oh, wait - back to my main point. I’m not, particularly. When it comes to writing, I learned a long time ago that most often than not a writer is only as good as the last paragraph that he wrote.

Then again, most of us don’t write out of some messianic need to teach the masses. We write because we enjoy writing, and want to work at our craft, such as it is.

There are many, however, who have not learned this lesson; their writings (especially when they are posted on Facebook) often tend to be laden down with such “meaning,” and “I’m here to bring you your daily lesson” goop (and I have fallen prey to that on more than one occasion) that it can be difficult to catch your breath while you wade through their writing.

While I don’t want to discourage anyone, I just wish that sometimes folks would realize that we/they don’t have nearly as much influence as one might think. Nothing on Facebook, for example, has ever changed my life. Okay, it has made me laugh - on purpose, most of the time.

The same holds true for blogs or newspaper columns. To believe that scads of folks out there are hanging on our every word - well, as Shakespeare (or Christopher Marlowe, or whoever really wrote his plays) suggested, “That way lies madness.”

It also gives us the medical condition known as “the big head,” which results in us being invited to far fewer parties than we may have been in the past.


Oh, I don’t know - maybe an article about roundabouts might have some comments from those who have to drive around the damn things?

I enjoyed the article about the roundabouts in Rogers in the paper today, quoting tyhe information officer for the city of Rogers, Keith Foster, and Rogers city engineer Lance Jobe.

Missing from the article were any quotes from anyone not connected with city government or the construction of such roundabouts.

This is just sort of unscientific, but talking to folks who have been dealing with the roundabout which has been installed in the area around Washington Regional Medical Center have produced comments similar to those who encounter the English Gothic Folly which Fayetteville’s Block Street has become.

“What the hell is this?”

And while there may be some truth to the claim that roundabouts are effective, they are also very unpopular in this country. I know this because I Googled:

“Roundabouts - unpopular.”


Oh, John Rebus, you are The Man

Left to own devices, I’d happily spend most weekends on the couch, watching science fiction movies and reading mystery novels. One of the pleasures I have indulged in lately are Ian Rankin’s gritty novels about the Scottish police detective, John Rebus. Many Americans may already have been exposed to Rebus via the excellent mystery series on BBC America, and the novels are even more satisfying.


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A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. - Douglas Adams

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