The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sub Terra Vita Chronicle #18—Epochs of other Autumns

Sub Terra Vita
By Tim Krenz
September 27, 2015

Chronicle #18—Epochs of other Autumns

Fall, the favored time of the Valley, spawns the triumphs of nature's artful skill. The autumn's godful painter, delicately stroking the brush, brings the sight alive, creating abstract colors and unending textures—deeper than the meaning of van Gogh's grass, and more real than ever a Vermeer photo-like masterpiece.

Through our autumn's harvest of life, as the heavens did harvest its share of loves given up reluctantly, we enter the season of celebrations. Autumn, with its feasts of family and kindred souls, can give a sense of the better things done the year through, and sad things, before the gardens, fields, and woods around our Valley turn white snow-bound, and frigid with ice.

Reaching to memory, I recall one era of Osceola, one epoch of true greatness within the life-span. It recalls triumphs large, and some personal sentiment to kids then, emulating the Homeric poems of giants one time, who lived those days, and need to remember the context, if not necessarily the circumstance, of that legend.

From the late-1970's through the mid-1980s, Osceola High School played some outstanding football. An unending series of old Upper St. Croix Valley Conference victories and championships culminated in the 1984 State Division 5 Football Championship. Through those years, the teams benefited from a perfect storm of coaches, support, spirit, enthusiasm, swagger, committed players, and some truly outstanding talent, one of them from the 1984 team a high school All-American-mentioned phenom. The championships happened over a great streak. That championship era ended, though, in a state playoff game in 1985, on the water-submerged field against Colby High School, ultimately because of a failed PAT-attempt with less than a minute to go. All things and heroes must pass onto to new things and different times, and so did that time and those players.

In the scheme of life, the games matter little now except as “a glorious time” in the history of Osceola. They remain in plaques, trophies, year-books, and the Sun newspaper archives. Somethings in memory transcend those times, those autumns of football excellence. Whether at the current field, or the old field before that, in Oakey Park's outfield, the games served as the time and the place to go, the event of the week, in fall, under pleasant skies, under incandescent lights, and in Oakey Park, where the old green press box towered above sidelines overfilled with crowds of several hundred or more supporters and visitors. (Oakey had few bleachers, and none permanent).

Some games, like Osceola's winning performance at Luck in 1985 against a then-undefeated Cardinals team, literally, drew several thousand of spectators. Other schools actually rescheduled their games, hoping to watch us get beat, finally. The games brought context in many ways, with the football only serving as the circumstance of the coming together of the community—for pride, yes; but also to meet neighbors, visit friends, eat food from the old, white, corrugated-tin “chuck-wagon,” and also to simply enjoy the time.

Osceola, and its sports, has had and still has, and will have, many of the similar experiences of an “authentic community.” No doubt, as things change the good things meant to do so will continue. On certain levels, though, in my memory as a student, of that epoch, of our community, the context had nothing to do with causes, revenues, commerce, construction, taxes, or raising money. It had everything to do with football, and so much more. I recall those autumns, fondly, and I foresee even greater times ahead for our community, as long as we keep the circumstance in perspective, and live it in the context we need to define it, for a community experience of good living, and for little or nothing else.

And, for the sake of my re-current memory, “Go, chiefs, GO!”  

Monday, October 19, 2015

Sub Terra Vita Chronicle #17—Two Poems on the Times of Living

Sub Terra Vita
Chronicle #17—Two Poems on the Times of Living
By Tim Krenz
September 21, 2015

Sometimes, we ruin a thing by describing it. And, sometimes, it just takes a poem, to reflect on somethings more important. I leave you with these, two poems or “pories” (not poems, not stories) from a private work of a long-dead pen, and passed forward here. This week's challenge: Find a muse, and let it sing or show or speak in your life, even if for a brief moment. But, all things must pass, of course. Then, let life proceed, for a verse or any form of art, makes life easier to understand, once the art has passed. Try it, and enjoy. I hope only to encourage you.

Bereave Pory Psalm”, From Alphabet Psalms (collection)
By Pi Kielty (Posthumously)
(Previously unpublished)

Bereave, dear brave and young, few moments, tearing swells, when a'grieving others passing, under death's destined spell. Between those honors for elders gone, living takes a happier rhyme, as poetry's songs.

Those spaces, stay wise, feel vibrant and alive, for enjoy them much, before you grow elders others survive. Lengthen the sun's rise, suspend that new born view, stretch a day, enjoined beauty's worth, for god gave joy, this joyful gift, this holy home earth.

Prize not pride, stay shy lest forget, god loves laughter, for that he begets. He also gave all to all, this mortal moral claim, that we exist to serve others, a human domain. Aware, ye daughters and sons, act love to forgive lest the gift finished done. Any silent pain carried too far, becomes farewell too soon, joys never said, and saddened uncalled.

When leaving your realm, this earth ship womb, others voice loveness, as earth still moves. Too quick to the finish, the gift does expire. Lessons relearned: god deigned peace on earth, his first-last desire. Er'fore take heart, do well, live whole. Act a joyful child's part, on stage live bold, live one for all, before death leaves us cold.

Ivy in Pory”
By Pi Kielty (Posthumously)
From : Poetrix: The Lost Works of Pi Kielty (Kapheira Press, 2015)

Deeds act a message crossed or crissed, let words like Ivy combine fates blessed. Small whispers, alikened two from none, no fault, no less, lest fall upto sun. Ivy green droops nestled, rastled string, climbing entwined vine in fightful spring. Words, regard, redeem—the quiet trust a lyric sings. Steady time, a fossil wall, brown and bled orange, teared in Ivy green but gleamed, a daring grasp, a phrase—from time receive. Growth the vine higher, a wall of word-honest, and perceive, the stone-stable enduring stage, a worn, washed and wiser life's scenes. Promise. Ivy and stone stay bound and keen. Deceive never more a speck or speech of time. The hour lowering—Ivy's season defined. Bind the rock to word well played, Ivy's joyful friend friendship displayed. Ivy's tear petal fill erosive scars of age worn, wind and rain, a word shown drop-leaf over hurtings frayed. Honor a stone's risk of wordless heed, and all good, all great, all kind, and time, all obey thee, pleased.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sub Terra Vita Chronicle #16: Part II—Language, Clarity and Thought: Orwell and Political Speech

Sub Terra Vita
By Tim Krenz
September 4, 2015

Chronicle #16: Part II—Language, Clarity and Thought: Orwell and Political Speech
(Continued from Chronicle #15)

Language has always had an anarchy around it. It grows by mean use. In poetry, language flowers its abundant meaning, like a garden harvested of fruitful images from the seeds of insights sewn in spring. In prose writing, language follows rules, rigid but evolving, to convey thoughts. In language of any kind, opportunities abound for wit, or contempt, and all between, and even irony used as bludgeon. Language must have the one thing needed for civilization to start and endure, to grow and develop: Language needs clarity in the communication.

In the essay under discussion, “Politics and the English Language,”1 George Orwell may have provided both the lock and the key to our future. Orwell surrendered that English-speaking “ civilization is decadent, and our language so the argument runs—must inevitably share in the general collapse.” (p. 954). Furthermore, “if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” (964). Although he meant primarily British English, it applies as well to the United States and American English. Yet, these two quotations carry with them the weight of the past dreading the future, and of what may come from people using lazy forms of words in any language, all filled with jargon, acronyms, misunderstood or wrong contexts, wrongly used foreign diction, slack rules of punctuation, and pretensions of words used without understanding the meaning.

The essay speaks to any of the points in time since written in 1946, and speaks to how Orwell feared language would bring the state and practice of politics, here and now, to the debased sense of mass public illiteracy concerning the issues. Orwell, perhaps, though visionary, had no concept of how the tools and leaps of technology would allow the laziest of communications that we see today, in the instant messaging, texting (with character limits), and the “liked” photos of any modern “Potemkin” emoticons. Again, Orwell: “By using stale metaphors, similes, and idiom, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself.” (p. 961).

In politics, Orwell says, “[W]ords used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly, are: class, totalitarianism, science, progressive, reactionary, bourgeois, equality.” (p.959-60). This statement should give every reader a thoughtful pause.

“The whole tendency of modern prose is away from concreteness,” Orwell said (p.960). Indeed, in our communications everyday, sent or received, do we understand the details, the context, see the precision? How do we evaluate what we see and hear from and about political candidates, especially the presidential candidates?

To switch the focus, when putting in hard, patient work, and frustratingly long periods of time learning to write, American writer Ernest Hemingway set out to do what seemed possible, but very hard. He wanted to write just one true sentence. And here we set the challenge. This week, can all of us text, blog, speak, journal, or just plain write on paper, at least ONE True sentence?

Doing the challenge might assist us in the ultimate aim Orwell set forth in the introductory paragraphs of “Politics and the English Language.” He says, “Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation, and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think more clearly is a necessary first step towards political regeneration. (p. 954-5).” As in all things, it depends on each of us first. Write one true sentence, and build the future from there.

1George Orwell: Essays. Selected and Introduced by John Cary. Everyman's Library. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Sub Terra VitaChronicle #15: Part I—Language, Clarity and Thought: Orwell and Political Speech

Sub Terra Vita
By Tim Krenz
August 31, 2015

Chronicle #15: Part I—Language, Clarity and Thought: Orwell and Political Speech

George Orwell, the pen-name of British author Eric Blair, wrote many novels, among them Nineteen-Eighty-Four. Most Americans above a certain age, hopefully, recognize both him and that capstone work. It remains accessible, quite interesting, relevant still, visionary and somewhat prophetic. That classic tale of Winston Smith battling his moral dissent against the cult of the Big Brother, and the consequences of non-conformity to the orthodoxy of that world defined as “Orwellian,” shows the end result if any society and culture fails to preserve what President Franklin D. Roosevelt defined as the “Four Freedoms”: Freedom of Conscience, Freedom of Speech, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Want.

Without those essential Four Freedoms, regardless of any opinions one may hold of FDR, peaceful and pluralistic government that protects those freedoms has no chance of surviving anything. The surest way to end those freedoms, to end democracy as we practice and misunderstand it, comes by ignoring politics and not caring enough to participate in it. In his most important work, fiction or non-fiction in my opinion, Orwell wrote in “Politics and the English Language,” that: “In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.' All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.” (George Orwell: Essays, p. 964)1.

Orwell wrote from his viewpoint as a committed Libertarian Socialist, an adherent of “Fabian” tactics in advancing his personal philosophy, and also an admirer of the 1930s Anarchists and their pure and hopeless principles of individual self-, mass-movement. He wrote about his world, from experience, concerning poverty, destitution, class, inequality, colonialism, imperialism, racism, dictatorship, ideology, orthodoxy, and war.

The essay, “Politics and the English Language,” speaks an ageless wisdom about how lack of literacy, lack of meaning, a lack of context, and no definition of terms in political dialog leads inevitably to the masses pandering to the egos of political-economic ambition and greed. Orwell disdains the cults of orthodoxy or personality, whether of a church or Russian Bolshevism, whether a Stalin or a Churchill. Most of all, he disdained the hypocrites, perhaps like Alcibiades in ancient Greece, who preached a demagogue's path to war for his own, personal interests—and who ended up a traitor to those who trusted him with power (several times, in his case).
To avoid empowering, or electing those who preach theft and destruction of lives and property as a means of advancing narrow, self-interested, or corrupt political agendas, Orwell believed language the key—to unlock the hidden agenda of the unscrupulous and to protect the very civilization that allows the likes of a modern Alcibiades their four freedoms, but also prevents them from causing harm to others.

In modern politics, in a rigid bi-party structure as we have in America, maintaining message comes in the form of “sound-bytes,” beyond anything Orwell could have imagined in the state of 1946 media. He hinted at it, but today's media may still shock him if he saw it. Yet, in that year 1946, post-War, as in today's America, discussion of politics occurs in the largely vanilla ways, where “. . .political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging, and cheer cloudy vagueness.” (p. 963). And as he pointed out, “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.” (p. 964). How does Orwell find a way beyond this dilemma?

Find out next week, in: “Chronicle #16: Part II—Language, Clarity and Thought: Orwell and Political Speech”

1George Orwell: Essays. Selected and Introduced by John Cary. Everyman's Library. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002.

Sub Terra Vita Chronicle #14: On Education

Sub Terra Vita
By Tim Krenz\
August 24, 2015

Chronicle #14: On Education

Education determines destiny. In this season of fall, as schools resume for young and old, let this stand as both warning and encouragement, for a little fear of the future might help, and accenting the positives of education can't hurt. In all manners, the art and act of learning can save the future—for the individual, their family, their community, and humanity.

By contrast, lack of education, or disregarding its importance, can condemn a person or the entire world in the end, to pitiless poverty or in slavery to oppression. According to a friend, named Coda, the hierarchy of the world goes, “The strong rule the weak, the smart rule the strong, and the clever rule all.” This statement may seem too simple, but it presents a hard, cold, and brutal logic of power. Beyond the morality of right and wrong, the statement's merits remain correct. In the rational world, self-interest governs the hearts, ambitions and calculations of minds.

Who would not want to benefit from the use of their reason, their intellect, their labor, and their hands all that could earn them what they desire? But, what do we really need in terms of education? By defining education—formal or informal in this context—I mean that every person attains the highest amount and style of learning within their ability, and focus themselves at the level attainable by their drive and curiosity in all diverse things. If a person does not, by choice and not means, do all they can to educate themselves and encourage others to the same end, they condemn themselves and their families to become the cogs of machines that run them over and crush their liberty of choices in life.

Enough of the negatives. The positives of education will always outweigh the scales of the ignorance in balance. First, education comes in diverse ways, and it should do so to provide a person with the real goal of learning and living: The ends of wisdom, beyond the mere means of material property (although property does play a vital and positive role for a family). Education or pure learning can mean: formal or informal; public or private; home school or faith instruction; community-centered; colleges; universities; continuing and work-related; and the “schools of the hard knocks.” It all depends on a continuing thirst to know all that one can want to know or have time to learn. All the best education comes to us in the form of self-education—from the treasures groves of libraries, and from an even more honored place.

The most pure education comes from family members teaching young-lings to read and write, to sum and connect, and to deconstruct via deduction. Learning the skills like leadership and responsibility happen on playing fields; reasoning, discipline and induction come from table games, etc. And sadly, acquiring and continuing the skills and crafts passed by elders stands most at risk of loss in a world increasingly disconnected by becoming more “connected.” This last, honored part of our educational heritage ring must never die for lack of curiosity. (I state that as this week's challenge to the reader—“Can you help preserve the ageless arts of living from your elders?”).

By personal and informal education, or formal and structured “studies,” one aims not only for the increase in income that statistics may or may not show as a reality of earning higher degrees. By a personal commitment to all forms of learning, we aim most of all to pass on the commitment to betterment, for families, by mentors, etc., to the future, for the best reasons: Encouraging the wisdom of bettering peace and prosperity in the world, as a commitment to the excellence one person can achieve.