A Review of Paul Handover’s, Learning from Dogs

 

 

 

 

 

Visit Paul Handover at https://learningfromdogs.com



If you have ever read a book that made you cried because the story was so beautiful and heartfelt, well, this is one of those memorable stories that touches your heart. The love between a dog and his/her human being is one that is unique in the animal kingdom. Paul Handover writes of the special connection humankind has had over thousands of years, how it came to be, what it means for us, and what dogs have taught us. The author explores the nature of dogs, their innate abilities that perhaps have made humans better because of our connection with dogs. The author’s story teaches and tells us the incredible ways that dogs have made Homo Sapiens more human, more civilized. This book is about learning from dogs and as the author writes, “There is a cycle of love and death that shapes the lives of those who choose to travel in the company of dogs”. It is a breath-taking journey and I highly recommend, Paul Handover’s, Learning from Dogs!

A few insights from Paul Handover’s about dogs,  https://learningfromdogs.com/dogs-and-integrity/


Dogs And Integrity

Anyone who has owned a dog or got to know a dog well will have realised something fundamental.  The relationship that a dog has with humans is very special.  Just visit this article published on the 6th January, 2011 to get a taste of this relationship.

Old Drum – 1870

Anyway, I was speaking of how special is the relationship between dogs and humans.  Special in the sense that no other animal that commonly lives close to man creates such an intimate bond, although I expect horses come a close second.  Special in the sense that this bond goes back for tens of thousands of years, well into the mysteries of time.

Dogs are part of the Canidae, a family including wolves, coyotes and foxes, thought to have evolved 60 million years ago.  There is no hard evidence about when dogs and man came together but dogs were certainly around when man developed speech and set out from Africa, about 50,000 years ago.  See an interesting article by Dr. George Johnson.

Because of this closeness between dogs and man, we (as in man!) have the ability to observe the way they live.  Now I’m sure that scientists would cringe with the idea that the way that a dog lives his life sets an example for us humans, well cringe in the scientific sense.  But man seems to be at one of those defining stages in mankind’s evolution where the forces bearing down on the species homo sapiens have the potential to cause very great harm.  If the example of dogs can provide a beacon of hope, an incentive to change at a deep cultural level, then the quicker we ‘get the message’, the better it will be.

 

Emotion vs. Feeling: How to Evoke More from Readers

By: Writer’s Digest, David Corbett, Award Winning Author and Guest Columnist, Author of The Art of Character

The difference between writing emotion and writing feeling is more one of degree than kind. Feeling is emotion that has been habituated and refined; it is understood and can be used deliberately. I know how I feel about this person and treat her accordingly. Emotion is more raw, unconsidered. It comes to us unbidden, regardless of how familiar it might be. Rage is an emotion. Contempt is a feeling.

Both emotion and feeling are essential not only in fiction but in nonfiction. However, given their unique qualities, rendering them on the page requires different techniques.  Both emotion and feeling are essential not only in fiction but in nonfiction. However, given their unique qualities, rendering them on the page requires different techniques.

To accomplish this, the POV character should:

  • Dig deeper: As with emotion, surprise is a key element. You need a starting point that seems unexpected, because nothing shuts off the reader like belaboring the obvious. Instead, seek a second- or third-level feeling in the scene.
  • Objectify the feeling: Find a physical analogy for it (e.g. She felt as though her shame had created a sunburn from within).
  • Compare the feeling: Measure it against other occasions when it has arisen. Is it worse this time? How? Why?
  • Evaluate the feeling: Is it right or wrong to feel this way? Proper or shameful? What would a more refined, stronger, wiser person feel?
  • Justify the feeling: Explore why this feeling is the only honest response for the character.
  • Examine the impact on identity: What does this feeling say about the character or the state of her life? Has she grown or regressed? Does she recognize the feeling as universal, or does it render her painfully alone?

Eliciting Emotion

Emotion on the page is created through action and relies on surprise for its effect. That surprise is ultimately generated by having the character express or exhibit an emotion not immediately apparent in the scene.

  • To create genuine emotion when crafting a scene, identify the most likely or obvious response your character might have, then ask: What other emotion might she be experiencing? Then ask it again—reach a “third-level emotion.” Have the character express or exhibit that. Through this use of the unexpected, the reader will experience a greater range of emotion, making the scene more vivid.
  • Surprise can also be generated through unforeseen reveals and/or reversals. This technique requires misdirection: creating a credible expectation that something other than what occurs will happen instead.

Types of misdirection include:

  • Misdirection through ambiguity: Any of several results might occur.
  • Misdirection through fallacy: Something creates a mistaken belief regarding what is happening or what it means.
  • Misdirection through sympathy: Intense focus on one character lures the reader into overlooking what another might do.
  • To ground a surprise in emotion you must develop a belief that some other emotional outcome—ideally, the opposite of the one you hope to evoke—is not only possible, but likely.

Exploring Feeling

Feeling requires introspection, which thus necessitates identification with the character and empathy for what she faces.  The goal is not to get readers to feel what the characters feel, per se, but to use the characters as a device to get readers to feel something on their own.

This means allowing characters to think about what they’re feeling, which accomplishes two things:

  • It makes the feelings both more concrete and more personal.
  • It creates time and space for readers to process their own feelings. If empathy for the character has been forged, this allows readers to ask themselves: Do I feel the same way? Do I feel differently?

Within such scenes, the point-of-view character:

  • registers and analyzes the emotional impact of what has happened
  • thinks through the logical import or meaning of what has happened
  • makes a plan for how to proceed

Putting Them Together: Writing Emotion and Feeling

A character changes through the emotions she experiences, the refinement of those emotions into feelings, and the evolution in self-awareness that this process allows. This gradual metamorphosis creates the story’s internal arc, providing the character an opportunity to move step-by-step from being at the mercy of her emotions to mastering her feelings. And through the use of surprise and introspection, you provide a means for the reader to traverse an arc of her own, expanding her emotional self-awareness.

Deciphering Book Descriptions

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I am reblogging this post for good reason. I am reading books, lately, that don’t seem to have cogent descriptions and left me wondering: what’s it all about?

How interesting and telling are most book descriptions?  Most are not at all. Maybe there should be professional book description writers.  Reading a book description should not be a word puzzle to try and figure it out. It can be daunting to write your own book description, especially if one is so subjective, the premise can be lost entirely. It is  better to have a Beta Reader or a Reviewer with a successful blog write a book description, if the author is having problems pinning down a short description that actually describes.  On WordPress, there are many experienced and talented reviewers and beta readers.

Here is a book description that does not describe the content of said novel : Fresh Eggs – a novel by Rob Levandoski. 

“Calvin Cassowary is ready to do whatever it takes to keep Cassowary Farm in the family for one more generation. Hatching a scheme to specialize in chickens, soon he’s got a million hens laying eggs for Gallinipper Foods, b…ut he’s getting deeper and deeper into debt. To make matters worse, his chicken-loving daughter Rhea starts growing feathers. Filled with as many tears and chuckles, Rob Levandoski’s Fresh Eggs is a provocative father/daughter tale guaranteed to make you ponder the realities of modern farming and think twice the next time someone asks, “white or dark meat?”

What we know about this book:  All we know so far is that raising and selling chickens will get you into debt and chicken farm daughters tend to grow feathers.  So far, so what.  Who sheds tears and why is the owner chuckling? After all, I can’t think of anything worse things than to have a child grow feathers.  Pondering the realities of modern farming?

 

BURNING DOWN THE SYSTEM TO THE GROUND?

20161126_blp902-bannonWhy does Steve Bannon want to “burn down our form of government to the ground?”  By Steve Bannon’s definition, it means doing away with our democratic system of government. With words like nationalism, populism, and his strong belief in Eurasian, the writing is on the wall, literally.

Eurasian means a system of authoritarian government that is, at best a dictatorship, at worse a medieval form of governance. Think, the Ottoman Empire. Bannon is not a conservative, he is an “Imperialist – like Putin – but worse.

Bannon’s belief in Eurasian, is a system of government that loathes secular modernity, like America and most Western European countries. Bannon’s belief heralds back to the Slavic-Turkic land empire and it is Bannon’s wish to do just that, democracy must go, ergo, he intends through Trump to do just that – “burn down our system of government to the ground.”

How do I know this? Because Steve Bannon has talked  about this kind of authoritarian/dictatorship for many years. It is easy to find out for yourself. Just go to google and go to http://www.economist.com/blogs/erasmus/2016/11/america-russia-and-new-right

Also google Steve Bannon’s favorite philosopher’s  Alexandre Dugin (Putin’s Rasputin), and Julius Evola to know more about Steve Bannon’s (Trump’s Brain) plan for America.

 

Point of View

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I believe that in order to tell a story well, it depends most specifically on a point of view. What Point-of-View do you think meets your style of writing most often or does it all depend on the story you are writing? Today’s post includes excerpts from What’s the Story? Building Blocks for Fiction Writing, by Melissa Donovan, chapter six: “Narrative Point of View.”

(The terms story and narrative can be used interchangeably, meaning a sequence of events, real or fictional, that are conveyed through any medium ranging from prose to film. However, when we talk about narrative, we’re often referring to the structural nature or presentation of a story, the manner in which it’s told.)

Point of View in Storytelling

The narrator of a story is the in-world storyteller, the voice that imparts the story events to the audience. Narrative point of view, often called POV, determines the position of the narrator, relative to the story. Points of view include first person, second person, and third person.

If readers envision the events of a story as a movie playing in their minds, then the narrative point of view is best described as where the camera is sitting at any given time. In the case of first-person point of view, the camera is inside the narrator’s head; we see the story through their eyes. In limited third-person point of view, the camera sits on one character’s shoulder; that character is not telling us the story, but we’re close to their perspective of events. In omniscient third-person point of view, the camera is pulled back so it can capture everything in the story objectively.

First Person

In a first-person narrative, the narrator is a character within the story—often (but not always) an active participant. First-person point of view is easily identified by the narrator’s use of I or we. It’s often told from the point of view of the protagonist. The Catcher in the Rye is an example of a first-person narrative told from the protagonist’s perspective. However, first-person narrative can also be relayed by a secondary or tertiary character, such as when the narrator is a witness to the story events rather than an active participant. In the case of a story such as Heart of Darkness, the first-person narrator is relaying a story as told to him by someone else.

The first-person point of view provides ample opportunities to present a narrator with a distinct voice, which flavors the story’s tone, giving it personality and a subjective slant. For this reason, first-person narration can feel more intimate, as if the reader is in a close conversation with the storyteller. First person often feels as if we’re inside the narrator’s head. When executed well, this helps readers forge deep and lasting connections with the character and the story.

First person is ideal for stories that need to explore the narrator’s internal thoughts and emotions. However, first-person narrative comes with interesting limitations, such as when the narrator is not privy to what other characters are thinking, feeling, or doing. Because some stories require that readers know what other characters are thinking and doing, first-person narration is not always appropriate.

First-person narration is frequently used in all genres of fiction and is especially common in the nonfiction categories of memoir and autobiography.

Second Person

Second-person narratives use second-person personal pronouns (you) to refer to other characters or the reader. These stories often feel like the narrator is talking to the reader as if the reader is the main character in story. We tend to see second-person point of view used mostly in instructions (“After you dip the apples in caramel, set them on wax paper to harden.”). This point of view is rarely used in storytelling. Bright Lights, Big City is one of the rare novels written in second person. Here’s an excerpt:

You keep thinking that with practice you will eventually get the knack of enjoying superficial encounters, that you will stop looking for the universal solvent, stop grieving. You will learn to compound happiness out of small increments of mindless pleasure.

Third Person

Third-person point of view is the most common form of prose narrative because it offers the greatest flexibility with access to all characters and full view of the story world and all events taking place. Even limited third-person narratives offer broader access to the story’s full scope than a first-person narrative. Characters are referred to as he, she, and they. There is no I or you. The narrator is not a person but an entity.

Third-person narratives are categorized on two axes: subjective/objective and omniscient/limited.

Third-person subjective allows the narrator to describe characters’ thoughts and feelings using internal dialogue. Third-person objective does not have access to characters’ thoughts and feelings; it only offers an external view of the characters. Many narratives float in and out of subjective and objective, giving readers glimpses of the characters’ thoughts when it benefits the story and keeping the characters’ thoughts hidden when doing so serves the story.

A third-person omniscient narrative has full view of the story and characters at all times. The narrator knows everything in the story world but may choose which details to reveal to the reader. A third-person limited narrative only has full knowledge of one character and can only relay events that character is privy to.

Narrative point of view is an important consideration for any storyteller, because it helps orient readers in the story world by giving them a distinct perspective from which they observe the story events unfolding.

A Glimpse into the Philosophy of Reading

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I think, “reading is such a game changer. With every book I read, I feel changed somewhat, meaning, I have been added to or subtracted from some thought or notion. Beyond that notion, I have learned something important.  I am never filled up—nor am I ever emptied.”  The following are a few great quotes on reading and why reading is important – it helps one think and often great things are the result – like Democracy and our constitution, as well as the sciences, humanities, and literature. We are what we read and ergo—what we think.

“Reading and writing, like everything else, improve with practice. And, of course, if there are no young readers and writers, there will shortly be no older ones. Literacy will be dead, and democracy – which many believe goes hand in hand with it – will be dead as well.” Margaret Atwood 

“I did the traditional thing with falling in love with words, reading books and underlining lines I liked and words I didn’t know. It was something I always did.” Carrie Fisher

“Expand the definition of ‘reading’ to include non-fiction, humor, graphic novels, magazines, action adventure, and, yes, even websites. It’s the pleasure of reading that counts; the focus will naturally broaden. A boy won’t read shark books forever.”Jon Scieszka

“Reading is a conversation. All books talk. But a good book listens as well.” Mark Haddon

“By reading Huckleberry Finn I felt I was able to justify my act of going into the mountain forest at night and sleeping among the trees with a sense of security which I could never find indoors.” Kenzaburo Oe

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.” Ray Bradbury

“Reading was very important to me as a kid. It was very inspirational to me. I went to a school where that wasn’t encouraged so much, but my parents encouraged that, and it has made me part of who I am.” Sasha Grey

“Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.” Joseph Addison

 

 

 

Steve Bannon’s Idea for America: Eurasianism

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Today, President Trump reorganized the National Security Council by elevating his chief strategist Steve Bannon and demoting the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They will only be invited to sit at the table when Steve Bannon deems it necessary.

Erasmus, www.economist.com, writes” It’s a fair bet that America’s [president-elect] doesn’t spend too much time on Russian philosophers, but somebody close to him is certainly aware of Alexander Dugin. That is, Trump’s campaign manager Stephen Bannon (pictured). Answering questions at a conference in 2014, [Bannon] expounded on Russia’s leadership, its intellectual origins and on why some people in the West might find those origins worth exploring. Thinking aloud rather than in full or coherent sentences, Bannon said:

“…Vladimir Putin, when you really look at some of the underpinnings of some of his beliefs today, a lot of those come from what I call Eurasianism; he’s got an adviser [Alexander Dugin] who harkens back to Julius Evola [Fascist] and different writers of the 20th century who are really supporters of the traditionalist movement which…… eventually metastasized into Italian fascism…We, the Judeo-Christian West, really have to look at what [Putin] is talking about as far as traditionalism goes, particularly the sense of where it supports the underpinnings of nationalism…”

Robert Zubrin, writes, www.standard.com, Alexander Dugin is an exponent of “Eurasian” geopolitical thought which dreams of a great Slavic-Turkic land empire under Moscow’s command, he saw his influence soar during the early months of the conflict in eastern Ukraine in 2014.  Along with some figures on the nationalist fringe of Russian Orthodox church, he gave moral support to the leaders of the Russian-backed rebellion against the government of Ukraine. Dugin sometimes describes his credo as Orthodox Eurasianism, but he is not much interested in Christian theology as such: more in Orthodoxy as a mark of distinction from the West.

K.D. Dowdall, writes, “Julius Evola, one of Steve Bannon’s favorite philosophers and  esotericist,  was an Italian guru, Neo-Nazi Fascist, of the far right who also drew on a strange “traditionalist” view of wisdom in many ancient and elaborate faiths and loathes secular modernity.” According to one scholar, “Evola’s thought can be considered one of the most radically and consistently antiegalitarian, antiliberal, antidemocratic, and antipopular systems in the twentieth century.” Many of Evola’s theories and writings were centered on his idiosyncratic mysticism. Evola’s work was influential on fascists and neo-fascists.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julius_Evola

Putin, Dugin, and Bannon denounce liberal and secular humanism in the name of the Judeo-Christian Western world and believe that their definition of Traditionalism is “a return to the traditionalism of the Middle Ages, as written by Julius Evola” or in other words— eliminating the America we know: our American Democracy.

Referencing the following articles:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/erasmus/2016/11/america-russia-and-new-right

http://www.weeklystandard.com/putins-rasputin-endorses-trump/article/2001344

https://thinkprogress.org/putins-rasputin-has-lauded-donald-trump-as-a-sensation-8de320369bc1#.kwu6hcq8a