To Kill A Svengali (Final)

(1) To Lure A Svengali

(2) To Snare A Svengali

*

You’d have me believe that life is a race

Governed by the likes of your kind

If only you looked closer at the tartan track, you’d notice,

That I’m not only a participant in this “race” —

I’m the gun-wielding starter —

— The roaring crowd — the checkered flag waver.

It surprises no one, but you — pay attention —

— I am the whole stadium.

You’re a bystander — a potential witness — to how I’m highly favoured,

Drop the Svengali act and step aside —

I’m doing you a favour because you’re not even good at that.

Self-knowledge dictates I start and run my own races

Notice the scoreboard as I fill every vacant placement.

Such is the greatness of tempering incessant anguish.

No one is better at being me more than I’ll ever be;

As such, I work to outdo myself at every single opportunity.

The gems I excavate on my worst days have more weight.

In pursuit of depth, they touch base with the Earth’s core

With a fluency that dwarfs what you’d parse to me as amazing.

Should be a borderline crime, enduring such levels of basic,

Especially at the cost of my patience.

Listen, I have love for humanity,

I have love for who we are

Who we could be — our flaws and all — but —

I have no love for you. I’ve searched, but I have none to spare.

Specifically for you and those like you.

Because no well-meaning human carries themselves

The way that you do. 

– O.D. ©2022

Art by: ArthurHenri

False Self.

It only takes one moment.

One moment, for the mask feigning compassion to fall

Then you’ll know;

Oh, you’ll know

That narcissists aren’t human.

– O.D. ©2022

Art by: ArthurHenri

Sickle Over A Full Moon.

Tell me, what god do you pray to?

Tell me their name. What god allows you to believe

— That you’re above the unrealistic expectations you set for others?

What god convinces you murder in their name is justified?

Reflect on my series of rhetorical questions.

Amend your statement:

You meant the devil

– O.D. ©2022

Art by: Rashedjrs

Deft Egress.

Choose to behave like a problem;

Expect to be treated like one.

– O.D. ©2022

Art by: ArthurHenri

To Snare A Svengali.

I’m not saying stop trying to manipulate me.

No, convincing you otherwise is a lost cause.

I’m saying, if you’re going to manipulate

At least be good at it.

– O.D. ©2022

Art by: ArthurHenri

To Lure A Svengali.

There’s only one person better than me

And that’s the me I’m yet to be.

– O.D. ©2022

Art by: ArthurHenri

The Purple Odyssey.

I’ve been working on my cocktail of emotions and chemical imbalances

I’ve been working on feeling less subsumed into you

Wondering whether I’m justified in thinking of you the way that I do

— Whether I’ve done enough soul-searching to validate this love trip.

Excuses — Truth is, I believe I could love you in ways outside the knowable

Applying novelty to the core of our theoretical relationship

Turning it into known reality with the proficiency of a fluent newscaster;

Converting doubters to believers like prosperity pastors and preachers.

I don’t just like, I put skin in the game and love deeply.

Enough to touch the sea floor and then more, unearthing hidden gems

Cut and polish them till they give an intergalactic glare

Even after all that I’d go ahead and throw them away,

Simple, because no matter the appraisal

They’d never be good enough.

The things I would do for you leave me terrified;

I’m the type to write — and write — and write about you

Slide pieces your way like the Queen’s Gambit

Till I have no recollection which version of the two is you.

My mind tells me to stop — Stop, young lion

So much for that ephemeral high, it was good while it lasted;

Insight reins in my heart how a shepherd would their sheep.

I work better when distractions are not central to my reality.

In the face of human suffering, the world has many illusory antidotes.

To maintain my sanity, I refuse to make you one of them.

– O.D. ©2022

Art by: Pegaite

 

Why I Refuse To Be Overtly Humble.

TLDR? It’s a complete waste of my time and energy. Thanks for reading.

*****

Humble (adjective) – having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.

Overt (adjective) – done or shown openly; plainly or readily apparent, not secret or hidden.

*****

Rant incoming.

Because it’s garbage. Complete and utter garbage.

Listen, the only reason I would ever overtly show humility is to accommodate others. In a business sense, it’s likely to improve brand image, network with rivals or increase my following.

I believe humility is important. But I don’t need to undress to show it. I don’t need people to believe I’m humble so I feel comfortable with my brand of humility.

“But O.D. , where is this coming from all of a sudden?”

I’ve noticed it in my conversations, forums and comment sections. People say. “I like him/her, they’re so humble”

Really powerful unit of measurement there. Real game-changing metrics. Humility is obviously the signifier of all signifiers when it comes to understanding just how “good” someone is. It’s not like people can fake it or use it as a tool to pacify their audience — increasing suggestibility in an attempt to influence decision-making. No, everyone who’s humble definitely means it. It’s the kind of world we live in after all.

I’m allergic to being overtly humble for a number of reasons:

1) Humility was often used as a weapon against me in friendships and family. “We know you’re a good writer, but you come off as arrogant; why not be more humble?” — Not by everyone, but by enough people with similar patterns of behaviour. Tell me geniuses, who exactly am I being humble for here? My audience? Whoever is saying this? Because the answer stays the same.

“No.”

This bunch would rather I dumb myself down for whatever reason. Not to mention, they wanted me to be humble based on their own estimation of what it means to be humble. Christ– but why stop there, please tell me how to pay my rent while you’re at it.

Family-oriented individuals might say, “Don’t be so harsh, maybe they’re looking out for you”. From what exactly? From being judged? There is literally no escaping that.

Giving me advice to increase engagement on my platform? Really, all these people with no experience running a blog suddenly gained insight into how I should run my platform. That’s awfully convenient.

Trying to stop me from pulling off an Icarus flying towards the sun situation? You either don’t know me as well as you think you do or you believe you’re the first ever person to understand the meaning of that story. If you have either of those answers you’d know you’re parsing something basic.

In all seriousness, get out of my face with that nonsense.

2) Let’s not confuse insecurity with humility. If you earn an opportunity to do something — let’s say — give a speech. And then you forfeit because “It would be impolite to outdo your boss”, that’s not humility. You’re just forfeiting. Especially if no one told you to forfeit. 

Hell, maybe this boss is amazing. And you respect them a lot. Doesn’t change that you’re still forfeiting. Because if they (the boss) are really as amazing as you say, they’d have no problem with you shining on stage. Think about that for a second.

3) Humility, to show respect for the elderly. Again, no. Until my teens, I endured insufferable, outdated and unearned cultural hierarchies that were run on the whims of emotionally dysregulated adults looking to snuff out any fire they considered intimidating. Having to settle for reasoning such as “Because I’ve lived longer” and “Because I said so” showed me ways in which enforced humility in the youth is synonymous with subjugation.

Wanna know what I can be? Polite. And that can be viewed as another form of humility. But being polite considers things such as manners and behaving in consideration of others. On the off-chance that I visit someone’s house, I will do as the Romans do.

— But I don’t get out often, so …

4) Humility for an agreeableness uptick. You’re joking, right?

*****

“So what you’re essentially saying is you choose to be arrogant instead?”

If you’re reading this, I hope you didn’t make this extremely lazy pivot when the title clearly says Why I Refuse To Be ‘OVERTLY‘ humble… Overtly. 

Nowhere did I say humility is not useful. My humility is intrinsically motivated. Tied heavily to a reward system that rejuvenates my spirit and inner joy. 

I simply choose to be humble at my own pace, at my own time — not during the preferred lunar cycle of others. 

– O.D. ©2022

Art by: vurdeM

Scorched Earth Seance.

I like to wake sleeping memories long since buried

Because I love hearing their screams again, and again.

The screams of tormentors — would-be victims clinging. 

Clinging to the assumption of ever being more than.

I like the way the ethereal dirt marinates their spirits

Buries them — Bit by bit, grain by grain,

Until the forming heap makes what we could barely see before

Nothing more, than an aggregate for a slippery road.

I promise I’m not evil. I just have a firm line.

No matter how tempting, don’t cross it.

In the past, some have often mistaken it as a means to win

Upon crossing the threshold, expressing their “victory”

They have somehow always found a way

To get tangled — strangled to death by that alluring line.

And I just watch; waiting until it’s done.

What, don’t look at me

It’s rude to interrupt a celebration.

– O.D. ©2022

Art by: ArthurHenri

I don’t go out of my way to teach anyone a lesson. No, they teach themselves.

Watering The Masses.

(Collaboration with Bree and Raw Earth Ink)

INTRODUCTION (By O.D.)

Do people actually want to consider reality when reading, or do they prefer to have no mention of it? 

Are we on our blogs to confront issues that affect us, or are we here to simply patch each other up and call it a day? Not mutually exclusive, I know, but I wonder.

Decided to take a break from writing here. It’s a little disheartening and at times, exhausting.

There’s a recurring non-committal attitude I’ve noticed when people share their thoughts on WP and even on Youtube. A desire to not offend or hurt people’s feelings because you’ll be labelled a pariah and lose followers/readers.

I understand the desire to harmonize and protect people’s feelings… just not at the cost of integrity.

Say your truth, don’t be a people pleaser. Approach issues you wish to address with respect (If this little tidbit sounds obvious, you’re exactly the kind of reader I like) 

I’m not a masochist desperately trying to get burned with every post I read, but I’m not a passive drone either. 

One of the reasons I started a blog in 2014 was to write content I wished to read. Sounds a little self-serving but hold on …

Before 2014 I would read blog posts in which people would share their non-stop happy thoughts like we were in some kind of pre-heaven lobby. And then I would read the most abrasive blog posts that cursed the world and everyone in it. I don’t know, I just find both tasteless if I’m being honest.

Where was the analysis — the self-critique — the deep dives?

Often times people are intimidated by the idea of being open on their own blogs. The idea of addressing topics that are considered sensitive or divisive. Because it’s hard work, obviously, and people don’t like being wrong or appearing less competent. Looking to preserve their reputation.

Well, I say screw that reputation lol 

No matter how hard you may try to be “right” all the time, you’re always going to be wrong somehow. That’s just a fact.

Take me, for example, I’ve done a few deep dives like The Gigachad Vortex or Why Fight Club Continues to Be Culturally Relevant.

Despite all the work I put in, are they perfect? Absolutely not. In fact, I’ve had a few corrections pointed out to me, which is great because I learned something.

When we pursue the truth, in whichever capacity, we can never reach an absolute. I believe truth is a process — a continuous discovery. There’s no way one person can find the truth on their own, not an objective truth at least.

We need to share our experiences, critique our shared realities and find a synthesis of some kind. And one of the ways we can achieve this is by letting go of the assumption that we’re required to be perfect know-it-alls that have reached the ultimate zen state. 

To have the courage to correct someone who’s wrong and to have the humility and willingness to learn when we’re being corrected.

I’m literally putting myself out there with posts such as these. Giving an open invitation to readers to call me out wherever they think I’m wrong. 

Know why? Because that’s how we get to think.

One of my favourite quotes says, “To think is to choose to be uncomfortable”. Contrary to popular belief there’s nothing simple about thinking. You don’t need to think to brush your teeth or switch on a light; in fact, these are things that happen on auto-pilot. 

For example: When someone drinks water from a glass, they don’t think: 

Glass +Touch Glass + Bring Glass To Mouth + Drink +Put Glass Down. Instead, they just do it. The process has a heuristic element to it.

The only time we get to think about mundane things like glasses and water is when they don’t work according to our approximations.  When we choke or when the water turns out to be warm instead of cold is the only time we get to notice the glass and the water inside. 

“The primary object of perception is meaning, not objects” i.e. When you see a door, you don’t think “door” (object). You think that’s a “go-through place” (meaning).

But I’ve put too much into the intro already. Considering how massive of a task it would be to explore this topic, I thought it would be best to collaborate with other bloggers I know (Secret Bree and Raw Earth Ink). It’s no small undertaking, but I figured if we’re going to critique how watered down a majority of content is, better to look at it from all perspectives.

Despite the intro sounding like I hate all “boring” content, I believe there’s a place for it — and we’ll also get into that. It’s our hope that by the time this post is done we would all have learned something. Starting with why “boring” or milquetoast content may not be so bad.

 

 Alright, here we go: 

r_g__by_viktorow_dd2tzxs-fullview

FOR THE WATERING (By Bree)

Allow me to start by disagreeing O.D, because variety is the spice of life 😉 I’m here to defend Instapoets and influencers everywhere! You say content is watered down and without depth, I say get with the times.

The belief in the decay of society is not new

The belief that people are watering-down communication/expression or ‘pitching to the masses’ is nothing new. The feeling of societal decay and the loss of integrity and morality has happened since the beginning of human generations. There’s a great article outlining 2,500 years of recorded comments of people’s concern at the ‘lack’ of morality with the next generation or social movement (see below). Hence, when we make these comments today, it’s wise to view them against the patterns of history. When new generations emerge and change things, the older generations are usually offended. Change tends to make us uncomfortable, so what we view as an ‘non-committal attitude’ or ‘boring’, may simply be a shift in generations. I’ll explore cultural change a bit later. 

It is really watered down or is it pitching to your audience? 

You can’t expect people to be on the same level as you. This needs to be taken into consideration when trying to get people to see things from your point of view OR when you’re trying to influence them. Sometimes you have to take people on a journey and that often means speaking to the lowest common denominator. Is it frustrating (absolutely), but isn’t it worth it if you can take someone from point A.00 to point A.01? It might not be point A to point B (the ultimate goal), but it’s a lot closer than nothing at all. Sometimes this requires a holding back, a ‘watering down’ so to speak as you gradually get people used to an idea.

Art is Subjective

Art in all its forms is subjective and therein lies the problem. Someone may genuinely connect with the seemingly simple phrase someone writes (e.g. ‘Nights are dark’) and it might be what they need to read in a particular moment to not feel alone. Who’s to say that their reaction is disingenuous? Who’s to say that what someone has said, written, or posted is disingenuous or unworthy of attention, simply because you don’t like it. We must acknowledge that personal taste influences what we choose to see and how we react to content.

I’ve seen some highly publicized poetry books and having flicked through them I’m frustrated, I know far better poets on WordPress. However, I know someone else would disagree… because of subjectivity. We assume others aren’t truthfully appreciating something or taking the time to understand something because we don’t like it. We think their engagement with the content is fake. We don’t understand how they can like it and cry foul! Is it possible that our judgements are subjective according to our own standards of what we consider good or worthy? As much as someone likes something, another dislikes it. Who is right? Is it possible that both are truthful in their assessments? Who becomes the gatekeeper of what is valid and acceptable, because the person next to them might disagree?

O.D. – “Also, let’s not forget, with boring, formulaic content comes consistency. And when we have consistency, we have certainty. And let me tell you, many people love having certainty in their lives. Like Bree mentioned, someone may connect with the simple line “Nights are dark” because it’s direct, clear and obvious. And perhaps it’s the fifth in a long line of predictable and arguably uninteresting lines like “Water flows” and “Winter is cold”. But you know what, the reader loves it. They know when they visit this unspecified blog they will get more of that juicy obviousness. 

And again, like Bree says — who’s to say they’re wrong in thinking that? If it brings them joy, no one should get in the way of that.

Humans seek meaning in an unpredictable world full of unclear choices and happenstance. We want to be certain about things, so we pursue that certainty in the meaning-making areas of our lives — through religion, politics, beliefs and ideologies.”

Non-Committal Attitudes – Are they actually wise?

When the internet is forever and every week a new issue draws world-wide attention, is it actually wiser not to be so forthcoming with your opinions? One week you might be a hero, the next week you say/write/do/like/post something and then you’re a hate target. It doesn’t even have to be something you did this week, it could be from five years ago… the internet is forever.

Cancel culture, although not bad at holding people accountable for their actions, can also turn quickly into a mob mentality. Individuals can be cancelled without just cause or proper investigation, due to public exposure and vicious online attacks.

There seems to be little room for reasonable debate these days. Battle lines are drawn quickly and it’s either one side or the other without much respectful exchange. This in turn, limits conversations, debates or differences to the opinions of those who are willing to go down in flames for their cause OR shout the loudest. It’s a difficult place to navigate and so, keeping the peace, walking delicately in an unstable world isn’t cowardice, but perhaps wisdom. 

Art reflects culture and current style preferences

Any era throughout history can be identified by certain styles of music, art, fashion etc. In western history it’s evident in the renaissance paintings of the 14th-16th centuries, flapper dresses in the 1920s, 1980s rock ballads or emo culture in the 2000s. Those periods were dominated by a certain culture and stylistic manifestation of it. The current culture we live in is no different, however, we have a new element: social media, flooded with quick-moving fads and expressions. It’s a fast-changing culture and generations are likely to point fingers at each other saying ‘you’re out of touch’ or ‘you’re distorting real art’ (see my first point). Some artists will adapt, some will change tact, some will look for different avenues and others will rort the system. 

Perhaps online content and art creation have changed, but that doesn’t always mean change is negative, it creates opportunities in other areas. Undoubtedly people feel uncomfortable when a new generation emerges having known nothing different and are able to function or thrive. We’re at a precipice at the moment… either we’ll adapt and move with the current cultural trend (lest we be left behind) or there will be a major count-cultural shift. Or perhaps, to add in another spanner… the two can exist side-by-side, but in different arenas e.g. the emergence of apps like BeReal.

nastya_by_viktorow_dd1zhym-fullview

AGAINST THE WATERING

O.D. – “Despite issues of ‘watered down content’ and the ‘decay in integrity/morality’ having been explored countless times over the years or centuries, it’s still worth critiquing. I believe in the Principle of Divine Reason, the Logos, so to speak. A truth that’s innate in nature, a truth that unifies and continues to exist but remains elusive to us as humanity.

In pursuit of this truth, we may form similar conclusions to those that have asked the question before. Our ‘duty’ (and I use that word loosely for lack of a better one) is to try and find new connections. In doing so, we move that much closer to a theoretical ‘absolute’. Should anyone else ask these same questions after we do, we hope what we’ve explored and uncovered here serves as a timely baton pass.” 

Raw Earth Ink“With the rapidly morphing face of social media into more and more AI-generated (unnatural) shares, be it in art, photography, writing, videos, selfies, etc, there comes the greatly diminished Real Person behind the screen. The “reel” world in 15-second snapshots doesn’t allow for (or indeed care about) actual composing, editing, re-editing, proper grammar, punctuation, art created withOUT the assistance of AI-art-software, or blunders in audio. Instead, it’s fabricated to replace rather than imitate Real Life. 

 

“It is currently socially acceptable (and expected) to use filters for your face, which is now no longer your own, but to eschew traditional forms of writing (with rules) and art (with hands rather than a computer). We’ve been engineered, rather quickly, to share snippets of an event highly filtered, to write short-form for toddler attention spans, to “brand” our name, to share what gets the most “likes”, rather than being genuine. Sometimes that means it won’t be the most popular opinion. Sometimes that means being misunderstood or harassed. And so we, as a society, are trading, or rather Selling, our authentic selves for the intangible “fame of likes.”

More from Bree: I’m back for some more fun (love that variety).

People aren’t as stupid as you think

Why do we assume people won’t understand intelligent arguments or questions? Why do we assume that they can’t handle complex or confronting ideas? By ‘edging around’ an issue, aren’t we simply ignoring what’s happening? Instead of dumbing down arguments, give people the opportunity to engage in deep discussion.

Is it because we’re afraid?

Is it actually our own fear of rejection that holds us back from sharing the truth as we see it or standing up for something? In a day of ‘cancel-culture’ and any differing opinions are perceived as a mortal sin, it’s easy for important voices to get silenced. This is more of a reason why issues of concern should be addressed head-on. Tiptoeing around disagreements only allows one side to have a louder voice and the loudest voice isn’t always right. Rational arguments don’t always override irrational responses, but they can be the turning point for some.

The current content is hurting us

When focusing on social media, the studies on its impact on people’s mental health can’t be denied. Don’t even get me started on fake news. Surely there needs to be some accountability? As with the evolution of declaring a paid advertisement an #ad, I propose that when using filters etc, make it clear a filter is being used. If you see BS online, we should be able to call it out.

O.D. – “This desire to churn out non-confrontational content in many ways encourages complacency and a self-impressed attitude in those that are already ignorant. 

Sure, Bob and Susan may want to read the boring stuff to feel ‘safe’ and ‘certain’ about their reality. But are they really safe and secure because we’re merely omitting the uncomfortable and gory details? Or are we emulating the poor standard that has already been set by mainstream media? How conducive is that approach to our development and overall well-being?

Someone might counter and say “What I don’t know won’t kill me” to which I say, there’s already plenty of that. There’s a lot we don’t know, and as a result, a lot that won’t ‘kill’ us. The true challenge is actually getting to know what kills us because not enough people are willing to bring up the uncomfortable. So much so that it’s become taboo.

Besides, uncertainty isn’t such a bad thing, particularly for creative minds. Being uncertain pushes us to learn things we wouldn’t otherwise learn if we were certain. And one of the most interesting things that happen during times of uncertainty is value creation. And where there is value creation there’s potential for novelty. 

By exploring the unknown we increase our space of possibility and start forming new connections. Something to consider the next time you think being certain about everything is the ideal. 

It’s not ideal, it’s only comfortable.

Last thoughts from Bree: I hope by reading our mix of words, we’ve caused you to feel slightly uncertain and uncomfortable. I love how O.D says they lead us to growth. What I appreciate about WP and O.D’s blog is the space it creates to have these open discussions. We three aren’t the only ones pondering the complexities of modern-day art and the impacts of social media. We’re certain you have your own thoughts to add. Which side of the ‘argument’ do you side with? What’s something we discussed that stood out to you? What got your blood boiling and what did you nod your head at? As O.D would encourage, say your truth, don’t be a people pleaser, we want to hear from you too.

Bree, Raw Earth Ink & O.D.

Art by:  viktorow

REFERENCES:

Berber, M, W. 2018. Social media use increases depression and loneliness. Available at: https://penntoday.upenn.edu/news/social-media-use-increases-depression-and-loneliness

Gillard, J. 2018. The 2,500-year-old history of adults blaming the younger generation. Available at:  https://historyhustle.com/2500-years-of-people-complaining-about-the-younger-generation/

headspace: National Youth Mental Health Foundation Ltd, 2022: Young people cite social media as main reason for worsening mental health. Available at: https://headspace.org.au/our-organisation/media-releases/young-people-cite-social-media-as-main-reason-for-worsening-mental-health/.

Holmes, J. 2016. Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing. P.11-12.

Jones, C J. 2019. Subjectivity and Objectivity in Art (extract from Exploring Art History). Available at: https://christopherpjones.medium.com/subjectivity-and-objectivity-in-art-cc41d55c76a5

Lotto, B. 2017. The Neuroscience of Creativity, Perception, and Confirmation Bias. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vR2P5vW-nVc&t=1s

Mclean. 2022. The Social Dilemma: Social Media And Your Mental Health. Available at: https://www.mcleanhospital.org/essential/it-or-not-social-medias-affecting-your-mental-health

Perkins, M, A. 1994. Coleridge’s philosophy: The Logos As Unifying Principle.Oxford University Press.

Protzko, J and Schooler, J, W. 2019. Kids these days: Why the youth of today seem lacking. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6795513/

%d bloggers like this: