The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, December 11, 2009

Love, Actually

I'll have my "race" hat on at the movies this season. "Invictus", "Princess and the Frog" and "Avatar" are all pricking my interest on this level. I can't wait to see Morgan Freeman's Mandela, one of the human beings I'd most like to meet. "Princess" I am rooting that the "Old Men" of Disney animation are retired, I can expect more inclusion at the Mouse's been painful to grow up without a single animated image in all the millions of character images in the Disney feature animation world...and to hear all the excuses made, or the current cries of "affirmative action" among the unwashed. "Avatar" I'm looking forward to as much as anything i a very long time...and keeping my fingers crossed that at least one black male character survives. Cameron seems to have a real problem along this line, but I love him anyway.


On another front, can't wait for "Sherlock Holmes." It tickles me that Holmes purists complain that he is presented as a man of action, although that is very clearly what Doyle created. The fact that Watson never chronicled a really action-oriented story is irrelevant to me. What IS relevant is that Holmes was described as a stickfighting and sword expert, as well as boxing and a form of jiu-jitsu. He was also credited with remarkable strength and agility. Considering that Holmes knew NOTHING that he didn't consider critical to his major interests (remember he didn't know whether the Earth revolved around the moon or vice versa?), why in the world do YOU think he knew these things? He was said to spend serious time down on the docks in disguise, extraordinarily rough company at that time. Someone thinks that he didn't have serious opportunity to practice these skill that he himself thought he needed? Nonsense. Victorian stories were quite circumspect about things like sex and violence. Hell, Holmes could have belonged to the Hellfire club, and Watson would never have talked about it. Considering the dozens if not hundreds of different portrayals of Holmes (including a bumbling idiot in "Without a Clue") what in the world is wrong with one portrayal in which he has the physical skills to survive the problems he gets into?

And as for sex...yeah, right. Watson could be oblivious for years that Holmes even had a brother, but we're supposed to know whether he'd know if Holmes dipped his wick from time to time? What a load. Can't wait for "Holmes". But his deductions had better be slick!


The subject of love comes back again and again. While a devotee of Sri Chinmoy, I learned the Heartbeat Meditation that is the spiritual heart of my teaching. And while I matured using the bottom-up approach, I would recommend the Heart centered path to most people, unless powerful survival imperatives are at play. But recent comments from people who are looking into their emotional lives more deeply tell me that I need to address, specifically, the need for self-love. I've had several comments to the effect that when people either begin the "Soulmate" path, or the path of deep introspection, emotional sewage gushes in, leading to a cascade of negative feelings, vile inner voices, convictions of helplessness or unworthiness, pain, fear, and loss of motivation.

This is the emotion you have been repressing. It is the sewage tank under that dream house you're building, and it's leaking into your basement. If you don't drain it, the vermin and stink will poison your life.

Moving toward any high-level career, finding love, losing protective weight...will shock the ego, and rip the cyst holding your unprocessed emotional crap wide open. All the doubt, guilt, blame and shame will pour out, and it will be SHOCKING if you have been in denial about your pain. So what do you do? Ignore the inner work? That is what most people do...and so the poison stays in your system, leaking up into your life in a time-released fashion. Again, its effects can be seen in lack of love, health, or success. Clearly, I'm speaking to those who want to walk toward their futures without being crippled by their pasts.

For those courageous souls, the path is to confront the demons on YOUR terms, in YOUR time, in a safe context: say, meditation and journaling.

What happens when you meditate? You will find out who you are.

1) Negative voices rise up. They were there anyway, so much a part of your background noise that you can't even hear it. Killing you softly with their song.

2) Negative images and memories. Again, they have been within you for years, and by stuffing them you don't deal with it consciously. That's like thinking that if you have a gas leak in your home, you hope you also have a head cold, so that you won't have to smell it.

3) You go to sleep. Guess what? That's what you're doing in everyday life: just going to sleep, totally unconscious about the very things you need to do most.

4) Wild distractions fly into your mind. Guess what? You distract yourself with the trivial or imperative in life, rather than doing what is actually important.

It's all there.

If we connect with the love inside us, we START with the sense that we are worthy, desirable, delicious, lovable, pure and vital spirits. These are the kinds of emotions people mistakenly think they will derive from actions or relationships. NO. This is your birthright, a fire already burning within you, and if you will take the time, daily, to clean away the debris, you can make the connection.

Every day. Every damned day I wake up and meditate, connecting with my heart, reminding myself who I am in this world, and my commitment, and what I must do to keep my feet on the path. Every day. I shudder to think what would have become of me had I not found a way to process the poison in my life.


That said, I hate tobacco executives.


That said, I will find love in my heart for Insurance Company execs if they adopt one modest proposal: if you drop a client for pre-existing conditions, refund every damned dime of their premiums, plus interest. Otherwise you are STEALING.


LaVeda H. Mason said...


I'm looking forward to seeing what Disney puts out now, as well. It will be wonderful to see all different kinds of people... and I'm rooting for the Black guy, too! I was really happy to see that Adrien [sp] in '2012' stands up for right, is heroic, gets the girl, and rides off into the sunset with her ::CHEERS:: !!


ITA with you about Sherlock Holmes. It makes sense that he have these skills; they are vital to surviving the work that he does... looking forward to seiing Robert Downey Jr.'s work in this one.


The emotional basement is full of sewage... I love it!
[Well, not really, just being able to see it for what it is... thanks for the image!!]


I wonder how tobacco execs can sleep at night...


It will be a wonderful world when the Insurance Industry spends more time helping people than trying to get out of paying for procedures and tests... there's enough money for them to take care of people AND make money, too. There's nothing wrong with making money, if it doesn't involve hurting people.

Christian Lindke said...

Given the many discussions you have written about the distance you felt between yourself and literary protagonists as a youth, I thought that Tu Publishing might interest you.

"Fantasy and science fiction, mystery and historical fiction–these genres draw in readers like no other. Yet it is in these genres that readers of color might feel most like an outsider, given that such a large percentage features white characters (when they feature human characters). It is the goal of Tu Publishing to publish genre books for children and young adults that fills this gap in the market–and more importantly, this gap in serving our readers."

Anonymous said...

As far as Avatar goes, I suspect that we'll be hearing that the aliens are people of color - even more than real minorities! There might be a gruff NCO or officer who is black and survives, as one sees that at times, but I'd guess that that's about it. I could be wrong, which would be a good thing. As a veteran, and someone who cares about military people in something other than an abstract sense or as the focus of political talking points, I also hope that it does not portray us in a negative light, but that's far less likely, as big budget Hollywood films seem to reflect an obsession with showing military people as disfunctional, or worse.

I never read the Sherlock Holmes stories, so the purity of the character is not that important to me. I am a history geek though, so I look forward to visually drinking in a vital Victorian London. Robert Downey is an excellent actor, so if the buzz is at all good, I'm going to see the movie.

As for insurance companies, they only have a profit margin on around 3%. This is miniscule. MacDonalds, for example makes around 20%, net. Though of course, some people want government to force fast food businesses to "contribute generously" to the health care costs of people who freely choose to eat way too many burgers and fries. If one is going to draw an analogy, you should argue that all fast food outlets should give free or deeply discounted food to any poor person who walks in (or drives up). After all, compared to the insurance companies, "Big Burger" operates with a much profit margin that drips with fat, relatively speaking.

My insurance company took very good care of me when I had cancer. It took less than two months from the time I first went to the doctor until the time that they removed half of my colon. I lived in the UK for almost six years, and know that my waiting period there would have been much longer under their NHS. U.S. cancer survival rates are appreciably better than in Europe. I very much like Steve's idea that insurance companies should refund money if they refuse to treat a (disclosed on both sides) pre-existing condition though. This seems eminently fair.


Anonymous said...

Steve, I discovered something that might interest you. Remember the statistics about elevated levels of death threats against the current President? These claims, while apparently accepted without question by the mainstream media and widely circulated by the same, are most questionable, at least according to the head of the Secret Service. I suspect that this will make you feel a bit better as far as the subject of race goes. Apparently the New York Times article includes more of the actual quote, and clearly states the Barack Obama has not received more death threats than any of his recent predecessors. Don't newspapers employ fact-checkers any more? I look forward to the corrections which will no doubt be printed in the New York Times, L.A. Times and other papers any day now. In fairness, I did find this out from The Moderate Voice, a blog (with multiple contributors)that very often leans left and/or Pro-Obama, so I'll give credit where it is apparently due.


Daniel Keys Moran said...

Marco, the proper metric for insurance companies isn't profitability, but % of each dollar paid in premiums that's paid out in health care benefits. A barely "profitable" company that pays out only 50% of premiums per dollar paid in isn't a great deal for the consumer.

Steve Perry said...

This is the same Secret Service that allowed a couple of uninvited guest to waltz into the White House, big as you please, and wherein they shook hands with all and sundry, including the Prez? And the same Secret Service that found out about only after the couple posted pictures on Facebook?

How appropriate their name is ...

Yeah. We can believe what they have to say about anything.

Joel Cairo said...

>>Apparently the New York Times article includes more of the actual quote, and clearly states the Barack Obama has not received more death threats than any of his recent predecessors.<<

Preventive maintenance, and likely a good thing for them and the Prez. Just imagine if the opposite was stated and were true. The SS doesn't (hopefully) want to promote a false sense of optimism in people desiring to do the Prez harm by saying more people do it and less are prosecuted for it. Bad enough Dick Cheney, and others, are and were planting motivational hints and ideas.

Marco said...


Your point sounds like a good one. I'd be genuinely interested in follow-up data. Could you follow through, if you find the time?


Snide comments can be fun, but they don't constitute an argument. Do you have a reliable, original source for the elevated threat rate vs. Obama? OK - you don't believe the head of the Secret Service, so who is it that you are believing? Or are snide comments the best that you can do?


Steve Perry said...

Oh, dear, Marco, I wasn't politically correct, was I? Being snide at the expense of the Secret Service, whose job, among a couple of other things, is to protect certain of our elected officials, such as, you know, the President.

That they allowed such a breach of security demonstrates a certain lack of, I dunno, competence?

And if somebody who is the head of an agency that has just been shown to be be terrifyingly incompetent all over the evening news offers up a comment, why would I accept that at face value?

Why would anybody?

Do I think they did it on purpose because Obama is black? No, certainly not. Somebody screwed up, and it could have happened with the Previous Occupant. I never heard that it did, but it might have.

Right-wing spins offering that we are post-racial in this country, and that a President of color is at the same risk as the last white guy, vis a vis assassination seems prima facie horse-hockey. Wishful thinking at best.

LIke people who keep offering that him being black was a big advantage to getting elected.

Sounds like white man's drum beating, and arhythmic to me ...

Steven Barnes said...

"Sullivan said that published reports claiming that Obama faced a 400 percent increase in death threats were incorrect. "I'm not sure where that number comes from," he said. The number of threats against Obama, he said, "are the same level as it has been for the last two presidents."
He said that directly. Now I REALLY want to see some investigative journalism. I find this difficult to believe, but would be delighted to believe it, if true.