Tink’s Encyclical f/k/a The November Encyclical: First Attempt (Fail)

Wed 01/20/16 at 12:57 pm

Below is my initial attempt to communicate some of the thoughts I’ve had and observations I’ve made over the years.  It was a short-lived effort. What happened? Destiny happened. Destiny is a video game. I mainlined it for over a year. Had I not surrendered the disk to Darcy a few days ago, I would still be hooked, metaphorically speaking, of course. As I leveled my avatars and collected the treasures much  has gone unread, unsaid. It is with some satisfactiont that what went undone has significance only to me. Even so, i want to accomplish something that matters to me, if no one else. And so,  in the coming days, through a series of posts to Walking Raven and reposted to a newly created Facebook Page,  I will to pick up where I left off in November of 2014 and  undertake, once again, the task to create meaning where there otherwise is none.

  The November Encyclical

By

Kristine Osnes a/k/a Walking Raven

To Thomas 

The Means

The Means

The Cast

[This space intentionally contains no listing of names. I’ve tucked the original list safely away in a digital file. I refrained from including the list herein so as to spare any hurt/hard feelings on the part of those who either failed to make the list or whose names have been struck through. (Bygones, NOT.)

The Soundtrack

Joni Mitchell (all), Leonard Cohen (all), Tea and Sympathy, Diamonds and Rust, The Innocent Age, Heart Like a Wheel, American City Suite, Hymns, The Messiah, Opera, Bist du bei mir, Imagine, I Won’t Last a Day Without You, Mary Chapin Carpenter, There’s a Train Everyday, Willie Nelson, Susan Boyle, Sarah Brightman, A Whiter Shade of Pale, Golden Slumbers, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Old Man, Lay Down Candles in the Rain, Pachelbel’s Canon, Old Friends, Broken English, Old Friends, Miller’s Crossing, Jennifer Warnes, Who Could Know?  . . . actually, nearly all of the 10,000 or so tracks in my iTunes Library uploaded from the  hundreds of backup cds stored in my closet.

Out of the Many, A Chosen Few

Don Quixote, Superman Comic Books, Robin Hood, A Wrinkle in Time, Lord of the Rings, Joseph Andrews, Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Demian, The Madman, Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Tristram Shandy, Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, The Sound and the Fury, Little, Big, The Secret History, The Man with the Golden Arm, Under the Volcano, Virginia Woolf, The Little Prince, Ulysses, Nightwood, Appointment in Sammara, Master and Margarita, The Recognitions, Gravity’s Rainbow, Pattern Recognition, Tales of the Otari, His Dark Materials, The Sun Also Rises, The Great Gatsby, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Gilgamesh, His Dark Materials, Harry Potter, Infinite Jest, War and Peace, Dr. Strange and Mr. Norrell, The Satanic Verses, Midnight’s Children, The Indian Clerk, Frankenstein, The Stand, Cavalier and Clay, Jack Reacher, Gabriel Allon, Eve Dallas and Roarke, Douglas Adams, American Gods, Stardust, Lamb, Story of Edgar Sawtell, Can You Forgive Her?, The Crimson Petal and the White, Ahab’s Wife, Dante’s Inferno, The Brothers Karamazov, Professor’s House, A Song of Ice and Fire, Pendergast, Mallory, The Last Report of the Miracles at Little No Horse, Cat’s Cradle, A Confederacy of Dunces, Oryx and Crake, Middlesex, The Sparrow, John Sandford, Perfume, The Great Stink, The Smoke Tree, Going After Cacciato, Blood Meridian, Infinite Jest, Kingkiller Chronicle, Forever, To Kill a Mockingbird, I Heard the Owl Call My Name, The Iceman Cometh, Waiting for Godot, Cyrano de Bergerac. 

Videos I own

Wings of Desire: Angels on the Streets of Berlin, Das Boot, The Seventh Seal, Prophesy I-III, The Madwoman of Chaillot, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Nashville, Ghost Dog Samurai, Kill Bill I and II, Bladerunner (Director’s Cut), Harry Potter Set, The Matrix Set, Hamlet (Kenneth Branagh), Michael, MacBeth (Judy Dench), Dark City, Dogma, Babette’s Feast, Farewell my Concubine, The Hobbit Set (to date), Magnolia, RepoMan, Star Wars Set, McCabe and Mrs. Miller.

The Table of Contents

The Preface

Academic Writing

The Law and Legal Writing

The Preface

I decided to give NaNoWriMo a bye this year, as the past few years have been rather disappointing. Then I started thinking outside the novel, and realized I could change the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel to writing 50,000 words about anything I felt like. Remembering a recent dream in which there was a discussion of papal encyclicals, my dream self wondered if perhaps they were akin to the State of the Union addresses. My awake self performed some research, and  learned for the most part use of the term is restricted to publications by the Pope. Even so, “encyclical” comes from Latin encylicus meaning “general” or “encircling” which is also the origin of the word “encyclopedia.” That worked for me. I decided to write an encyclical. Initially I intended to write it as a poem, but soon realized it was a perfect fit for NaNoWriMo.

At the beginning of 2004, I spent two glorious weeks on a solitary retreat at my Sister’s wonderful cabin on the banks of Cass Lake in Northern Minnesota. It was here that my blog Walking Raven was born. I described it as a Miscellany, and intended to post with some regularity entries exploring different subjects but with an emphasis on presenting backstories and discussions related to my partially written novel The First Voice. In reality, I’ve managed to post a handful of entries each year on on all manner of things, but many more were relegated to a on line description added to a file labeled “Writing Ideas.”

You see, I am a writer who doesn’t particularly like to take the time to write. To paraphrase Descartes, I have thought it, therefore it is written. Now, in the Eleventh Month of my 60th year, I pledge to transcribe in the next 30 days as many of these these ideas as I can to the digital screen of my MacBook 11.6 in. Air. From there they will become Walking Raven posts. Together they will comprise The November Encyclical; i.e., an account of the  State of Walking Raven Union. For those you few (you happy few) who have read, or perhaps more precisely, tried to read my Walking Raven compositions over the years, I envision these new entries to stay more “on task” without the distraction of parentheticals, tangents, and digressions.

I use the term “transcribe” deliberately as writing can take many forms, including printed or cursive writing with pencil or pen, typing, word processing, and so forth. I’m as yet unsure whether I would classify thinking in words or dictating as “writing.” The bottom line is I believe the end product will be different depending on the chosen technique. Over the years I’ve gone back and forth which is best for me. I have settled on word-processing as the overall best method for this project.

I will say, however, I continue to be intrigued with a company called Livescribe which produces a series of digital ball point pens. One writing implement consists of a pen with an ink cartridge that also boasts wi-fi capabilities and memory capacity up to 8GB. It also has a microphone. One can purchase a headset with earbuds that have built in speakers. It’s perfect for taking lecture notes. Using special paper, one can tap “record” and then go on to take handwritten notes. While reviewing these notes, however, touching any written word will queue up the point in the lecture when the note was written. If one wants to simply write without recording, the pen scans each written word producing a physical piece of writing as well as a digital copy that goes straight to an Evernote notebook. In turn, an app called My Script will turn handwriting into text. Pretty sweet. I suspect this will be my chosen means of writing poetry should I ever get back to it.

And so it begins. See you on the other side.

Academic Writing

I thought it fitting, since this is my NaNoWriMo offering, that in this first The November Encyclical entry I would present a few observations about writing. Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer. As I grew older, that desire narrowed to being a writer in Paris in the 20s and 30s smoking and drinking and hanging out at Shakespeare and Company or ay Gertrude and Alice’s place at 5 Rue de Christine de Christine de Christine. I surrounded myself with all manner of pens, pencils, and notebooks. Even so, I rarely wrote anything – although there was, of course, the obligatory stint as an adolescent poet expressing the depths of her existential angst. As an English Major at the University of Minnesota, I wrote several papers, none of which were especially memorable except for one about Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry.

During my first semester as a graduate student at the University of New Mexico I experienced a rude awakening, I received a B-/C+ on a paper that I considered to be a brilliant comparison/analysis of the Circe episode in Ulysses  and Djuna Barnes’s Nightwood. The accompanying comment allowed as how the paper appeared to contain some good ideas, but they were hidden in the jumbled incoherency of the writing itself. Needless to say, I was devastated. In my best Scarlet O’Hara imitation I swore then and there that I would rectify the situation.

Ironically, I was teaching Freshman English at the time of the above incident. I supplemented my teaching materials with two or three “style” books, and worked alongside my students in pursuit of the perfect “5 paragraph essay.” Thesis, analysis, conclusion, again and again and then again. Thinking about it, the formulation of a thesis statement is akin to Hemingway’s quest for the perfect sentence.

And I learned. Things like, as much as one might want to add any number of random insightful comments, confine the analysis section to remarks in support of the thesis. Know one’s audience and make sure to provide enough analysis to allow the audience to follow one’s thought process. Wrap it all up in a tidy, satisfying concluding paragraph. In the ensuing years, I went on to write several paper exploring subjects like the “homosexual question” in Shakespeare’s Sonnets, or Britomart and Eve as Christian Heroes in Spencer’s The Faerie Queene and Milton’s Paradise Lost respectively, or Sydney Carton’s alcoholism as the motivating factor for his sacrifice in A Tale of Two Cities. And I loved every moment. My dream was to one day rewrite and publish that catalytic Joyce/Barnes paper and be invited to read it at the annual MLA convention. Instead, practicality set in and I sold out. I traded in my aspirations of being an English professor for the sure thing, law school. Three years and I would be a lawyer. To this day I wonder whether I did right by me. But overall it has worked out for the best.

It turns out I had a talent for The Law – especially legal writing. I soon developed an “office” practice, and for 10+ years I spent most days (Monday thru Sunday) (at first) dictating, editing, and critically analyzing hundreds of legal memoranda and briefs. Only toward the end did I begin to feel even remotely comfortable with written English. It still takes a lot of polishing to write what I mean, but eventually I get there – at least most of the time. Some concepts are, and will always be, ineffable.

The Law and Legal Writing

Law is based on the premise there are (at least) two sides to every story. At it simplest, Law is the process of determining which side has the “right answer.” As good an illustration as any is that of Solomon and the need for him to conduct a “best interest of the child” inquiry to determine which of two women was better qualified to have custody of a child they both claimed as their own. In the end, we’re pretty sure the child’s biological mother got the kid, but the only thing that changed in the case was judicial intervention to flush out who most loved the baby.

Law has managed to improve the tactics used to arrive at “the truth of the matter,” since the days of trial by water. [Okay, trust me, I have shown remarkable restraint in staying “on task” so far. But I feel a compulsion to point out that the expressions “trial by water” and “baptism of fire” seem the reverse of what happens in reality. What’s up with that? Whew, feel better now.)] To continue, these days we have juries and judges who act as fact-finders. To my mind, the process offers a decent answer to Pilot’s question: “What is Truth?” Truth is what a judge or jury says is the truth.

For instance during a jury trial, a grievously injured Plaintiff swears the Defendant ran a red light. Defendant swears the light was green. Plaintiff calls a witness who testifies under oath the light was red. On cross-examination it turns out the witness has recently been found guilty of fraud and has received treatment for being a pathological liar. In turn, Defendant offers the testimony of 100 Carmelite Nuns, all of whom swear the light was green. The jury accepts Plaintiff’s version that the light was red, and renders a verdict against the Defendant and in favor of the Plaintiff. At the time of the accident, and taking the yellow light out of the equation, the light was either red or green. It is up to the jury to decide, for the purpose of assessing liability, the color of the light in question.

The first step in any trial then, is to “find” the facts. The role of fact-finder is filled either by members of a jury or, if no jury, a judge. Once found, a judge must decide what law to apply to these facts. At the end of this process, the judge or jury renders a verdict disposing of the case.

There is a saying that the best attorneys keep their clients from going to trial. This goal is usually achieved in one of two ways, either by settlement (including arbitration or mediation) or by summary judgment. A motion for summary judgment maintains there is no need for a trial because there is no need to find any facts. Instead, a judge need only apply the law to the existing set of facts to find in favor of the moving party. During my first year in private practice I managed to convince a few judges that my clients was entitled to summary judgment. My future as a lawyer was decided, and for the next several years I spent much of my time researching the issues and gathering the information necessary to determine if a case warranted a motion for summary judgment.

. . .

next post: What I Am




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