Meshing Fantasy with Unfolding Crises

 

Do you find current world events disturbing or hopeful?

The World Trembles

Again I have to note the title of this blog is Cusp of Reality. 

The news recently is chilling. It was not so long ago that the world seemed so much more stable and suddenly it seems almost surreal. Did I somehow move to an alternative planet which bears a strong resemblance to this one, but with an entirely different character?  It feels that way and simultaneously I find myself reviewing history as I’m reading the book  Postcapitalism by Paul Mason (again).

Inseparable Reality and Fiction

Suddenly we are falling deeper into crisis and it seems they are just beginning. While we cannot know where it will lead, the possibilities are far more daunting than hopeful. And then I look at my Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy and see an unfolding of a worldwide crisis. It is very difficult for me to separate the fiction from what may be the reality of what is unfolding in our world whether it is social conflict or dangerous climate change.

Oceans as Models

More and more I’m convinced of the significance of what is called wave theory in human affairs. Waves come in many forms. We can observe the succession of empires in the ancient world, the coming of feudalism moving to capitalism and now seemingly beyond. Each has a wave form and, like waves, there seems to be a culmination and an end. Another wave inevitably follows. Our mighty oceans are deeply significant as models. Likewise politically we see waves of astonishing proportions leading to cataclysmic wars and such things as dynamic economic developments. The march of human history is hardly peaceful, nor is it adequately described as a march.

Melding Truths

It is impossible for me not to respond to what is resonating around me. I have always looked off into the distance and weighed the significance of events and experiences. It would appear that my devotion to my fiction reflects a concern about world affairs. As I have said, I see great truth about humanity in mythology and in my writing I have meshed myth with the empowerment of women. 

What Women May Bring

The rise of women is not core to the developing world crises but I see it as a wave of a contrary sort in that it represents something which I believe is of profound significance. It gets little attention but, as in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy, the movement of women and the grace they bring to human affairs may well be a determining factor for the outcome of our development. 

Tools to Face Our Future

Reality is truly something open to interpretation and vastly different outcomes. It is essential to our stability but, taken as definitive, it may leave us vulnerable and without the tools to manage inevitable crises. Suspending our belief has utility and the search for alternatives of all kinds can help us survive. In the same way fantasy should not be dismissed because it helps us explore and seek alternatives. And that includes coping skills and utility in speculation. 

Will we face who we are and our vulnerability? Will we use our skills and our talents to guide us? In future posts I will be addressing themes related to the strengths and weaknesses of humankind as well as elements of vision. Dealing with what is to come requires us to blend reality with tools derived from fantasy and speculation. And my special interest in our world is seeing how the unfolding of the potential of women may serve us.

What is your hope and your fear?

My Personal Reactions

 

( Look at the faces of the Mom’s in the picture! Fabulous.)

My Personal Reactions

Why I’m Devoted to Empowerment

I’m offended and have been offended. What men have been doing has been putting many different kinds of pressures on other men which actually has the effect of suppressing their potentials as well. And then when you open partnership you find the potentials are multiplied in everything from our love life, our commitments, our children and each other in education and business. We have a remarkable opportunity.

As I said, early on I was attracted to the promise of women’s liberation as it was called in the 1960s. As soon as Gloria Steinem’s Ms. Magazine came out my wife and I subscribed. I had to ask myself why I cared. It proved to be a difficult question to answer. But some incidents proved intriguing.

A Boy Looking at Men

There was a day when I was perhaps nine years old and was standing on a baseball diamond watching two other boys at home plate arguing with each other over whether one was out or safe. It seemed interminable and finally I tucked my ball glove under my arm and walked away—never to come back. Part of the problem was that I was a card carrying intuitive type who dreamed out the window and sought novelty and intrigue. That ball game offered none of those things.

I also remembered college football games. At the University of Michigan the cheerleaders were male only. (How boring.) We lost some games and won some. I just couldn’t care that much. In some ways I was an outcast in the male culture. At last I went to a basketball game thinking I probably should get involved if only as an observer. “Wow he just got two points.” Other end of the court, “Wow he just got two points.” And so on back and forth until — wow he didn’t get two points. I finally had to ask myself why I was there. I wasn’t very competitive and didn’t have a lot of talent for sports. I didn’t have good balance and so as a child I was a stick who fell over.

Seeing Novelty and Potential

Other avenues in life always called out to me. And some of those avenues were in the world that included girls where I saw potential and diversity.

Later in life I found myself studying men in the workplace and found many men lacking in vision who were imposing their power on others. All male meetings were often stultifying as men talked sports and patted each other on the back. When a woman joined in we got much more done. Quite a revelation.

Personality Directing My Search

And again I have to say my personality led me to seek discovery and to search for potential. Increasingly I found those things in relation to women. How could I not be involved in supporting their future.

I’ll leave it there for now. Much of the male culture was simply not attractive to me but it deserves considerable evaluation as we move forward into what I believe is a new and wonderful era.

Let me hear your thoughts! roger.burt@earthlink.net

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Regarding the Cusp of Reality

 

What do you explore in your life?

The Blog

Humankind does not simply exist on earth. We may in time cease to exist as a species or we may continue to evolve as we have in the past. Our time on Earth is a voyage of exploration and it seems valid to believe that we may face not just future crises but also substantive remarkable changes.

This blog is a thought document given to guide our exploration of where we individually and humankind may be going. It comes in the form of a “what if” and the name of the blog indicates that truth is often ephemeral, personal and social just like the fact that our currency is backed by nothing other than trust. Thought informs us and so do stories such as in myth or romance. And so we seek direction and substance as we can find it.

One of the vehicles for this exploration is the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. The books compose more than a story but also contain a philosophy and hope including hope for true partnership. The themes chosen grow from my experiences over the decades. Their exploration may help inform our perceptions of future efforts.

The two most important themes relate to the empowerment of women and the probability that we are on the verge of unprecedented change.

The Promise of Humankind

This is a deeply troubling time. Not long ago we were heartened by events in the world. They included the Arab Spring, emerging nations, rapprochement with Russia, the rise of Africa, China opening to the world, among others. But it is as if the edifice we were building has crumbled. Much of the promise internationally has proven to be ephemeral. And domestically we are mired in a seemingly insurmountable political confrontation built on obstruction with no goal holding clear promise.

In the coming posts I will continue to explore components of confrontation and failures along with the elements of future possibilities. There are a number of ways to do it and I chose two paths. One is information which is definitional in part and includes thought documents born of my belief in asking the what if. So, it will be approached from the real world but I also believe in exploration through mythology in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy where there is often illumination and fundamental truth.

Also statements will be included regarding what I call the wave format in human development and history. Human development has hardly been glacial with slow steady movement into our future. Rather, it is fitful and I view it as coming in waves which may be destructive but also can move us forward easily or dramatically. And, just as we see at the seashore, there are moments of peace and consolidation.

Interregnum or Denouement

Thus, we embark on an exploration in the real world and the world of myth. I hope you will find it interesting and it includes the gift of hope and promise. You will now see definition and related thoughts regarding our present circumstances. I believe the next wave is on the horizon and a key part of its promise is that it bears the fruits of the empowerment of women.

It appears valid to call this time an interregnum and in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy I term it a denouement. In Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called we begin the exploration. The two pillars are demonstrable as we inspect real world events and inspiration using a mythological cloak where women are central.

Do you believe we are on the verge of substantive change?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Meaning and Entertainment

 

What are you seeking when you read?

Reading and Writing As Discovery

Roger the psychologist here. As I tread my way through the world of being a writer, I must confess that it stirs a lot of conflicted feelings and perceptions. I guess many of us may wonder why we write and may from time to time come up with some answers. I enjoy the process and find it one of discovery.

When it comes to reading, I’m not really there to pass time or just for entertainment. I have to be engaged and it has to stir something in me. And recently I had a curious discovery. A lengthy trip on a plane was coming up and I bought some books for my iPad. There was nothing to distract me on the flight.

From Out of the Past

The first book was Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I didn’t really know what it was about but I started reading. It turned out to be set in France during World War II. I was curious about the experiences of the people at the time and she drew me in and gave me their perspective. It was not a love story and was both difficult and engaging. And then something strange happened. I saw the face of a shop girl from when I was with my parents in France. I was ten years old at the time. She was in a bad mood but suddenly froze and looked off into the distance. The connection was instantaneous. As a ten year old I couldn’t understand that the Nazis had left only five years before. But something about that look stuck in my mind and then connected to the story I was reading.

Reflections of Our Personality

We harbor strange things in our brains. And in my brain, I search for connections. I’ve wrestled with a name for the genre I’m writing and have finally settled on choosing the term speculative fiction. I’m what’s called an intuitive personality type and the “what if” is always foremost for me. In Nightingale I think I was engaged with what ifs about how one endures such a terrible environment and then I found I had harbored someone else’s pain in the memory of a shopgirl’s face. I can’t prove that connection but we get stirred in interesting ways.

And There Was Meaning

In the end it was meaning and connection I sought. In Nightingale I found some elements of both. And, in my own writing, I am looking to understand why I chose to write the trilogy of Gaia’s Majesty. And recently I believe I’ve come to understand that it is about the empowerment of women. For decades, in my office, I listened to stories about people’s lives and one thing that came out again and again was the struggles women endured because they might be cherished on the one hand, but in other ways were pushed aside and told what they could not do. So, I chose to convey a story about talented women on an important mission. It was meaning I was seeking.

What are you discovering?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Sanity Versus Insanity

 

Do you know what insanity is?

No Clarity

As a clinical psychologist I have come to mistrust the definitions of sanity and insanity. And for that matter I also question the clarity of what is or is not reality. That is why this blog is called cuspofreality.

Most of us would like to believe we have a firm grip on reality but the “reality” is that we are deeply influenced by the context, our personality, our mood, culture and on and on. Reality changes from moment to moment as does the perception of what is or is not sanity.

What a Surprise!

Not long ago there was a great deal of excitement when someone showed the same dress as white and gold or blue and black. It was an internet sensation. How could the same dress be those different colors. It was, of course, explainable in terms of the type of light, how we looked at it, etc. But it shook people’s believe in what was reality. Could it really be both sets of colors? Sorry to say, yes it can be or at least can be perceived as such.

We do, indeed, spend most of our lives believing in that thing we call reality. And people who see things differently from us, whether it is visually or cognitively, are simply wrong. I know. I have the proper perspective.

Facing the Task, Not the Diagnosis

For those of us in the mental health field, when we have to help people who are struggling with their emotional and cognitive lives, we often have to spend time determining the role of insanity. After decades in the field all I can say is that I dislike having to make such a determination. I’m not sure the label is helpful. I prefer to think in terms of how well the person copes in the world and how effective they are in relating to other people, including their coworkers, and how good they are at life management.

If a person is harmless and happy with how they see the world, in many ways it is not important to define exactly how sane they are or are not. Labels may be rather pointless. Often we need not face the fact that most of us have varying forms of reality from which we relate to the world. There are, in fact, people who are quite insane in a fashion we can all agree on. Some people have a biochemical disorder which means their reality is fickle and they have terrible problems relating to other people.

Contextual Adjustment

What is the point you may ask? Sometimes we just have to adjust our belief as it relates to what is fair, correct, moral or just plain effective. And I am led back to the matter of the empowerment of women. We come from a history in which women’s rights were restricted. It is as if they were flawed and incapable of being truly independent. We are now rethinking this belief. And in doing so we are casting aside thoughts of sanity versus insanity or even incapacity. Perhaps we simply have to move to what is fair, correct and appropriate. We are already seeing the benefits. No matter how we view it, it is surely going to be a struggle.

How have you had to adjust your view of things in the past and in our current political crisis how do you assess reality?

 

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Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The Not So Loyal Opposition

For you, what are the implications of the movement to empower women?

Opposing Empowerment

From history it is clear that there are very many people opposed to women being empowered. It was not so long ago that women did not have the right to vote. They had to be brave, march in the streets and insist that they should have such a right. In the 1960s came the women’s liberation movement. In some ways it was not an easy time for women. I recall women dressing in what amounted to men’s suits with ties. That form of dress was (thankfully) abandoned shortly. But we were all finding our way.

There were questions about who would support women being liberated and that included some women. At times it was all so tentative. I recall being at a convention and hearing there was to be a meeting of women about the issues. I showed up wanting to hear what they had to say and a stricken woman politely told me it was for women only. In retrospect I can see how they wanted to consider where they stood and what needed to be done without some male making possibly unwanted input, possibly in the form of “mansplaining”.

Male Subterfuges

And lets face it, whether men will say so out loud, many of them are opposed to women being empowered. And, of course, the question is why they should feel so threatened. Of course, they almost never put it that way. There were simple statements that a woman’s place was in the home, that it was unseemly what women were asking and on and on. Oh please, can we be honest?

Actually, I’m not so sure we can be honest because I think the issues are so fundamental and deep in the human psyche that I’m not sure we can easily be honest.

Such Breadth of Opposition!

And then there are other matters which are related. Recently it has come out that men in football are suffering terrible brain injuries from the brain bouncing around in the skull and from twisting of the brain stem. Suggesting there is a problem seems to be tantamount to taking away their masculinity. But the real point here is something else that came up in one discussion I heard. A couple of former players raised the issue of a player who came out and said he was gay. To put it mildly he was not treated well by his brother players. And then both of the former players commented that they thought the homophobia was simply another form of being antiwomen. I simply can’t respond to that thought in a simple fashion.

Expecting a Backlash

The bottom line here is that there is a lot more than meets the eye. Presently we have a war on women going on in the United States. Efforts are being made to restrict women’s reproductive rights which also relates to fundamental issues of health care. The talk is about opposition to abortion but, not for a second do I believe that is the issue. Women are not supposed to be empowered.

And I fully expect that I’m going to get some nastiness for supporting the movement and I think it will be disguised and, in fact, the men objecting may actually believe what they are saying. This is a very, very deep issue which will require exploration. And this issue is fundamentally underlying my Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy.

I’ll have much more to say and some thoughts about the underlying issues.

How are you expecting the movement for empowerment will play out?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Our Nation in Crisis – An American Vision: Part 5

 

Responding to Problems – Two Examples

An Epidemic of Drug Abuse

We are told we have a national heroin epidemic. Probably not quite. That’s an easy description.

It seems that we have been passing out prescription pain medication a little too easily. I have not heard a clear statement about why this issue is suddenly so prominent. If the issue is pain, then what kind of pain are we dealing with and why is it happening? Is it physical or emotional? Regardless of why, it is an issue and why is it happening?

And then we come to the issue of how we respond. After I left my job in the inner city of Baltimore I got a call from the man who had been our lead community organizer. He had become the administrative head of a drug treatment program generally referred to as a methadone program. He asked me to become a clinical consultant. Most of the staff were social workers and counselors (recovering addicts) and he thought, with my time on the street, I could help the staff especially since they were not meshing well with the psychiatrists. Fine with me.

What I found was not a nest of recovering heroin addicts but a diverse group of all kinds of people wrestling with a myriad of drug problems. It didn’t matter whether it was heroin, opioids, hallucinogens, or any other drug, they all had personal and vocational issues. In short, we had to respond to the human condition and it did not reduce to one form of treatment. People are different and programs need to be flexible.

It seems we have a national problem with one indicator being drug issues. Much of the problem involves factors discussed previously. The question is what we are dealing with and how wisely we respond.
Empowerment or Subjugation of Women

And then there are issues which are basic and may be wholly unrecognized.

One of the things that interests me as a psychologist is the operation of the unconscious mind. Above I mentioned that we are all racists and it is clear racism operates generally as an unconscious attitude. There is another unconscious attitude which appears fairly universal and that is misogyny. It is generally defined as dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women. How can this be so widespread? We are talking about our mothers, our wives, our daughters, our sisters. I don’t have a ready answer about the reason for its existence but it is clearly pervasive. It had an effect in our recent election.

I have some thoughts. Misogyny leads to women being subjugated and dismissed. Often it is said that it is about maintaining control of paternity. That is hardly a sufficient answer because it is so widespread even where paternity is not at issue. More likely is the matter of power and possession. Men do not like to yield power and in relationships it is desirable for them to yield to the creation of a partnership. Sometimes they do in their own relationship but will fight against the rights of women in general. It is a curiously complex phenomenon.

Another area where it is apparent is sexually. Women captivate men emotionally and in the sexual release there is a yielding of power which, while men want it, they may have trouble with the outcome of the experience. No matter how we look at it, women are somehow threatening to men and men often feel women must be controlled.

As we look at our troubled future it is apparent that women can play an important role in building a constructive future. It would help if we could understand that, just as with racism, there is an unconscious need to control women. Men would benefit from understanding why there is this fight within themselves. We can already see that microloans for women are having huge benefits, personally, in their families and in their communities. Recognizing and owning the process underlying misogyny would pay huge benefits.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy – Book 1 is Here!

 

At Last! – Publication

It is my pleasure to announce that book 1 of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy has been published. Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called:Women in Power is now available in paperback and Kindle editions at Amazon.

To me it feels that it has been so long in coming. What began as an idea for a story took on a life of its own. The story began to take on shapes not expected with characters showing up and demanding inclusion.

A Guiding Force

The guiding force was my belief that the movement to empower women is of unparalleled importance for the future of humankind and I thought fiction might be one way to explore and illustrate its significance and potential. And in an exploration truth of an emerging movement was inevitably illusive. Symbolism was essential.

We open with a couple ordained by our Earth Mother Gaia to find each other because their partnership was essential to a larger purpose. We don’t have to wait for them to fall in love. Their loving partnership begins early and is a harbinger of what may be found for the fulfillment of all of us but it also is a core around which the developing crisis of the world swirls.

A Heritage

In the end it is not a simple story alone. This couple has a heritage of people set aside to be stewards of the future of humankind and our planet. And among these people are the warrior women of the Andromeda. They fight for our future but not wantonly.The world these people lead is rich in potentials of so many kinds.

A Story of Our Future

Now we begin to unfold the exploration of our future and study its implications in the first book of the trilogy.

Join us in the exploration of this grand adventure. There is,the story itself, but also, in the reading, the possibility of the creation of a personal exploration. But above all, it is time to consider the meaning of the growing empowerment of women.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Speculative Fiction

Establishing a Category

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What is your favorite category of fiction?

I’m frustrated. My Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy has come to life. The characters have clarified and paraded before me richly displaying themselves. And I can perceive the forces of the universe which drive them and give life to the future of humankind.

But I have to place this work in what is called a real context. That means, in part, I have to say what type of fiction it is. I can tell you what it is not and run into a road block when I must say what it is. A concise description has been alluding me. I want to call it speculative fiction but Amazon has no such category.

Encompassing

It seems that speculative fiction is a broad category with elements, settings and characters which are derived from imagination and speculation. I created the blog cuspofreality.com because I don’t believe in a hard edged reality. Everything is far more nuanced. Evidently speculative fiction encompasses science fiction, horror, fantasy, science fantasy, magic realism and something called alternative history. I have to say that I believe those terms do not well describe Gaia’s Majesty.

My Personality

I know exactly what’s going on and why I’m having trouble with terminology. And it has to do with my personality. Other blog posts on cuspofreality,com will relate to the full array of personality types but I know mine and I know what’s happening. I’m what’s called an introverted intuitive thinking type. That means my perspective comes from deep inside of me (introversion) and my intuition means I’m intrigued by possibilities and forever ask “what if”. Then comes my auxiliary function which is thinking. That means after generating the possibility I turn to refining and organizing.

Possibilities and Our Future

In terms of the fiction there are specific consequences. I don’t write literature. I find the turn of the phrase is something I stumble over as if the area in which I’m working is strewn with boulders in my way. I want the image and the possibility.

Out there is a world of changing possibilities and they invite social commentary. Certainly there is a history and what composes the history. For me, under the guidance of Carl Jung, history has deep mythological roots. And then there are the images. One image which has always intrigued me is the image of that darling mermaid. She is not an isolated image but is found in almost every society which has significant water. Who is she and why does she exist?

Threat and Conflict
I believe she represents the mystery and threat of women. Yes, both of those things. Is love concrete? I think not. Is a man being enraptured by a woman something which can be taken lightly? I think not. The mermaids in myth are beguiling but also may bring a man to his death. We can see the conflict and the ambivalence. Those things are not fictional. They exist in our world as it is and are often not discussed or recognized.

And then there is the fact of human conflict and what much of the rule of men has brought us. Again there is a reality but behind it there is the myth and the varying truths. How could I not explore all this. There are deeply hidden elements in humankind which include deeply beguiling forces and fearful destructive forces. But look at the maelstrom in the universe and see the creativity that comes out of the clash simultaneously. Out of it comes new planets, suns, stardust, of which we are made, and all manner of creative life. How can we not explore these things.

An Emerging Future

And then there is the matter of blending history with emerging themes. The power of women is not seen in the image off a women with a sword. It is seen in so many other elements bewitching and beautiful but powerful in their own right as well. And now, in our world we have the movement to empower women. I must wonder at the possibility (that word again) and where it may lead us and what are the deeper meanings.

Realities Budding Before Us

These books are not just adventures. They ask us to look at the possibilities before us and what the stirrings in the world may indicate about our potential and our future.

And so I created a world of speculative fiction which is not full of multi headed creatures or strange science. It is not meant to horrify nor be pure fantasy because there is a reality there. I see human cultures as waves of change and we are in a fundamental one right now I’m convinced. And so, what if, our earth goddess set aside a movement of women to guard our future and they live safely in the sea and are seen from time to time as mermaids. And what if they are now coming to power and the empowerment of women is indicative. And as they come to power they come into true partnership with men. Surely there is a struggle ahead but quite possibly a glorious future.

What struggles and futures do you see?

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page