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The Ragged Edge
The Ragged Edge
Once a writer always a writer, and I know it because I've been doing it for longer than many of you might be able to remember.
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The Ragged Edge

First Chapter of Lord's Bane — the rest of which can be read progressively by subscribers


Lord's Bane

Ellaras


 

Ellaras is a brilliant blue world orbiting a solitary yellow star at the outer limits of our galaxy. Four small islands spread over the vast oceans are home to a remarkable people — a people very like us although much fewer in number. The most significant difference lies in their capacity for telepathy and other mind powers, which they know simply as Mindcraft.
At one with both the land and their vast oceans and well guided by the druids’ reverence for the nature spirits, these people were for the most part fair and content until after near a hundred thousand years of chronicled history, the brazen philosophy of Trans-Alchemy mysteriously rose to the fore.
Its deceitful proponents brought war to, Altora, the home isle of the traditional ruling Tzars, and then to the rest of Ellaras.
In the end, the High Council of the Meccanat murdered the royal family of Desea, seized control and tore down the great palace. In the absence of the Tzars, many things changed and fear began to rule.



Tale 1 — Spirit of Peace

 
Autumn’s deep colours and golden light were soothing, even inspiring, but to the boy who sat absorbed on a large boulder by a fast-flowing river in one of the upper valleys beneath Mt Zoran’s rocky peak, they were felt rather than seen. Colour bathed him in warm folds of dreamlike forgetfulness and the still warm rays of the Ellaras star relaxed the almost ceaseless tension in his muscles from head to toes.
But like a ragged reef beneath calm seas, memory lay in wait to smash through the hull of the vessel that was his mind and without warning he was plunged into a new wave of misery for what he had done, and perhaps more for what he had not done. In the wake of those feelings came a familiar round of negative thoughts —perceptions that had begun to manifest over the last couple of moons and had dominated his waking hours ever since.
Life had never been this complex before and there really was no knowing why it was now. Twelve was a whole new ballgame — difficult at the best of times; you smile at a girl and she smiles back, you kiss her and she slaps your face. Your teachers aren’t happy. Your parents behave astonished — as if none of it were possible.
You go away because nobody’s pleased with you and then there’s a panic about where you are.
“It’s too hard!” he called out suddenly and loudly, but the only response was a series of echoes within the steep valley.
As if in reaction, a shock of anxiety passed like a steel bolt through his chest and a dark poison flood filled his being. In anguish, he jumped up and punched the air, but when he dropped back his feet slipped on the smooth rock and he fell scrambling to the hard, unforgiving ground several strides below.
Tortured by unknown and unwelcome forces, the tall-framed youth’s smooth face distorted into an ugly grimace as he sprang up again. Tears smarted in his eyes and he ran from them, hard and fast up the path that wound at the edge of the river.
At the limits of his strength, he raced up the path away from the present, desperate to burn out the invading flood of poison as if it were a substance that might pour out with his sweat. He kept on for near a mile until the going became steeper then leapt with his last strength up the steep stairs to the viewing platform for the high Zoran falls. Behind him, another boy — one who’d been watching him — struggled to keep up.
Spray settled on the first youth in a gentle veil as he sank sobbing and panting onto the rock floor, and the falls thundered deep into his consciousness.
Some time later, whether minutes or hours he knew not, he rose to his knees and as he lifted his head to stand up, he saw raised before him a large serpent, neither black nor grey but a strange sort of silver like shiny metallic graphite.
Standing back a little from the amazing creature, he was not exactly afraid, but all he could do was look. A sleek head was adorned with curved lines of bronze raking back from just above its intense indigo eyes, and the foremost third of its body was raised so that the piercing eyes looked directly into his, tall for his age though he was.
 
Having climbed the top of a large boulder some distance back from the rise up to the viewing platform, the other boy saw the one he’d been chasing retreat a little as if from something right before him, but he could not see what it was. For long moments one boy stood staring and the other stood staring at him.
The one looking on thought the scene was strange, mysterious, like so many things that seemed to happen to Tor — the boy up on the rock platform ahead. It was some sort of trouble for sure and the others, the group of friends he’d strayed from, weren’t far behind. Was there time? Tor stood like stone.
Yes, they’d know what to do.
Daen and Tor had known each other when they were small children but that all seemed like a long time ago now, and the strange things that had happened lately were very worrying. Daen slipped down off the boulder and ran hard down the track.
 
Holding itself up for what seemed like a long time, the serpent suddenly flicked around and dropped to the ground, disappearing down the face of the rock platform as if off the edge of the world. One moment it was there then the next, without any fuss, it was gone, leaving Tor enjoying an unexpected and welcome aura of peace.
After a while he closed his eyes, keen to hold onto the new warm sensation of stability and belonging, but soon something made him look again and there before him now was a young girl.
He would have spoken to her but before he could think of anything to say, he saw something very strange — he could see through her. She had colour and form and her eyes moved as she observed his reactions, but he could see the shiny rocks in the pool below the waterfall right behind her — through her.
Her face softened and her eyes looked sad to see such surprise and alarm. As his tension eased a little, she lowered her face and turned her head slightly to one side, and somehow what she expressed in doing so stilled him, made him reassess what he was seeing and how he should react. His heart still beat fast, but the impulse to jump up and run had faded.
The apparition raised its gaze again and looked deep into his eyes. The sense of peace returned along with a strong sense of power and liberation.
“Who are you?” he asked. “What do you want?”
The girl’s expression changed little, but somehow it soon became clear that her purpose was to help him, to wish him well and to give him the strength he needed to fight the newly risen demon within.
As these thoughts passed through his head the spirit girl moved forward a little and, reaching out, placed her right hand on his brow.
A fizzing like electricity passed through him and the peace was gone, replaced with a cascade of rampant new energy. The figure faded away before him as the energy filled him, yet now he no longer felt abandoned.
Clearer than he had been in months, he knew now in a flash of insight that he shouldn’t try to repress or be embarrassed by the impulses he experienced. Survival was somehow connected with doing what he felt like doing. The demon within could only win if he tried to lock those feelings down and reject them. If he rode with the flow that was imposed on him, he might bend it, steer it and perhaps make sense of it along the way.
With that realization, he jumped up and ran at a full sprint down the mountain towards the summer village. It was easier to maintain that pace down the smooth track and he was still running hard when he came around a corner and saw a group of young people running towards him. They also were from Deor Vale, on holiday at the Mt Zoran park.
“Tor,” one of them called out. “Slow down. You look like you’ve seen a ghost. Are you alright?”
It was Daen, the boy who’d run to get help, and he was no less alarmed now, to see Tor running down the track in such a hurry.
 
Little did Tor know it yet, but both the spirit and the serpent were super conscious symbols of power, natural forces of the Ellaran world that would help in the days and even in the years to come.
He was familiar with all of those in the group, but his attention went immediately to one. He ran straight to the girl Verane and almost crash-tackled her as he came to a halt. Without a second thought, he held her tightly and kissed her — hard, on the lips.
This time she was demure. She didn’t struggle or resist and suddenly he felt disdain for her. What had changed?
He let go of her and stood back looking intently at her for a few seconds. Seeing no change in her, he shook his head and without saying a word ran off. The others, four of them boys around his own age, gave chase but couldn’t match him and soon gave up. Besides, they’d been on their way up to see the great falls.
When they came back to Verane she was still standing in the same place and tears fell from her cheeks.
“He’s a brute,” said Lena, the only other girl. “Why should you care what he does?”
Verane looked up and met her eyes.
“I don’t know. There’s something about him. He wasn’t always like that. We were friends once … when we were small.”
“Then it’s the worse that he treats you that way,” said Brock, the oldest boy, a lad nearly as tall as Tor and of a heavier build. “I’ll get him, don’t you worry.”
“Don’t be stupid,” Verane shot back. “I can look after myself.
“He only kissed her, Brock,” Daen chided. He was nearly as big as Brock and not inclined to hear Tor spoken of badly. Having only recently come back to the area, he’d seen the sudden change in Tor with the benefit of a relative outsider’s perspective.
Until very recently Tor had been popular, and for good reason. He was thoughtful, intelligent, imaginative and athletic. Daen had always liked him and had a strong hunch that something was wrong now.
 
Farther down the track, Tor began to run out of breath. He slowed and began to think about what he’d done. No matter what he’d told himself before, he was again slave to self-censure. He knew that what he’d done was wrong and depending only on whether one of these powerful, irresistible influences was running through him or not, he had to view it as detestable, shocking and unworthy.
There was no doubt about what his parents would think, and he both loved and respected them.
Despite his heavy mood, he came into the holiday cottage with a glowing ruddy face and an attempt at a smile.
“Greetings papa,” he said to his father, who had been busy with a pile of the estate’s paperwork.
Reynor Valyrian shoved it aside uncomfortably, abruptly remembering his commitment to Miriel and the children to relax and spend time with them on this long-awaited vacation.
“You look well son. Been a bit low lately, eh?”
“A bit.”
“The change suits you?”
“Well enough, although others of Deor are here also.”
“That was the idea.”
Tor’s little sister Mithra looked up sweetly.
“Is Verane here?”
The sweet smile was met with a slight narrowing of Tor’s eyes.
“Of course. They always come here in spring.”
“Have you seen her?” Miriel asked.
“Yes, but she was with others.”
“And you cared not for their company?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps not.”
His mother’s brow wrinkled a little.
“You’re so very critical lately. What’s the matter, son?”
“I … er I don’t … think there’s anything wrong.”
Reynor coughed.
“Really now son, you truly believe that? It does no harm to …”
“You’re worrying again, father. I’m fine. Finish your work, and I’ll take Mithra out for a walk.”
Reynor and Miriel glanced at each other.
“Well, alright. Where will you go?”
“Down to the lake.”
Reynor nodded.
“We’ll join you there in half an hour or so.”
Tor took his sister by the hand and led her out the door, giving a parting wave.
 
Miriel looked up at her husband again after they’d left.
“There’s something strange afoot.”
“Isn’t there always.”
Not ten minutes later, there was a knock on the door. Miriel answered it and let in their close neighbours from Deor, Riley and Lara, Verane’s parents.
“You seem troubled,” said Reynor.
“As would you be, neighbour,” Riley replied bluntly. “Our daughter has but a few minutes ago informed us of Tor’s conduct.”
Reynor stood, suddenly alarmed.
“What has he done?”
Lara shook her head and smiled with strained diplomacy.
“Verane likes him. You must know that. It’s not that he kissed her, but how it was done.”
Reynor fell back in his chair, plainly relieved.
“Now look here, my lord, just because you own the largest estate around here and you work for the Meccanat doesn’t mean that your son can be doing anything he pleases.”
“But a kiss? They’re twelve years old, friend.”
“But such was the manner of it that it would more befit the conduct of a forty-year-old Armenciaran pirate than a twelve-year-old boy.”
Lara looked imploringly at Reynor.
“He ran straight up to her without a word of greeting, swung her around and kissed her hard upon the lips. Then he just dropped her and ran. The boys with her would have taken care of the matter but for the fact that he took off so quickly.”
Reynor stood again and moving over to the table, fidgeted with the pile of papers on it.
“I grant you, his behaviour has been a little strange of late, but boys growing into men will at times do things like this. I’ll have words with him. Is Verane alright?”
Lara responded.
“She’s fine, I think. She seemed as satisfied as a well-fed inchena and laughed the matter off. She was more worried about Tor than anything, but I’ve got to say I don’t feel so generous. From what I’ve gleaned it was more an expression of insult and dominance than affection.”
“I hear you. It’s not good enough, and I will deal with it … now.”
 
 
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The Ragged Edge
Premise— Iterating the Obvious Can Resolve Identity Insecurity and Conflict
 
We all know that the world’s in trouble, but we shy from the full understanding of the mechanisms partly because of our shame and our fear, but mostly because in our rushed lives, the words simply elude us.

Also, the seemingly obvious isn’t always so easy to understand, and sometimes a double take is needed to get to the heart of the matter. A little persistence, however, can go a long way, and it doesn’t seem tooobvious to say that it’s the writer’s job to find the words — for himself and for his readers.

Life is what you make of it, it is said, but on examination that statement really is too obvious and overly simplistic. The truth is that some possess the tools to engage with it and others do not. 

There are those who click with life and those who fail. In between are the vast majority, and much of the time, they are ill at ease. This large pool of unrest, alone, provides the groundwork for much of the conflict in society.

Strength of identity and a clear purpose are the most significant factors contributing to the success of those who are at one with life, whereas even modest levels of doubt and confusion can ultimately lead everyone, not merely the ill-at-ease, into the deadliest of battlegrounds. They may be immaterial factors, not innate to anyone, but doing away with them is one of the most difficult tasks anyone can face.

Given the extreme contrast in potential outcomes that people can experience whether in parenting their children, in business negotiations or in competition, it’s very surprising that a clear and easily accessible guide to creating a more positive self through cultivating identity integrity has not yet been established.

Yet if we look again, this cultural deficiency is only to be expected. In light of the catastrophic lack of respect for the individual demonstrated by most of our governing bodies and organized religions throughout recorded history, it would seem more intelligent to conclude that they’d prefer we remained confused.

Organized religion has long pretended to serve the spiritual and, therefore, the mental needs of humanity when, in fact, its primary purpose is to repress and control, which has been made clearly evident by the many ridiculous and unreasoning demands it places on people.

This cultural standpoint has naturally engendered predominantly uncritical dependence on authority of any type, and the most representative manifestation of this in society in modern times is the widespread belief that only experts can fix things.

With respect to the mind or identity, in which we are particularly concerned here, this means the majority believe that only psychiatrists, psychologists and perhaps sociologists can effectively comprehend the causes and cures of psychological and social problems.

Such dependent ignorance is particularly profound in this area of the mind but is also demonstrated in many others; even in basic matters of daily life like home or vehicle maintenance. Getting in the expert and relying absolutely on his knowledge is increasingly the way in western societies, as it has been for some time; but if the expert stuffs up your mind or body and not simply your carburettor or wheel bearing, the chances are your life will be ruined.
You might say that non-experts would have an even better chance of wrecking things, but I can only say that, especially in this day and age, relying on culturally obsolete conformist values in a seriously degraded society will be much riskier.

If it’s hard to find a good mechanic, how much harder will it be to find a good psychologist? Given my experiences with the former, there isn’t much hope for mental care in professional hands. In a world where such fundamentals as the quality of our air, the flavour of our food and the very existence of natural wonders from bees and polar bears to phytoplankton and coral polyps are all under threat, how can you expect an overworked and under-thinking professional of any kind to provide you with the best answers?

Attaining the relative freedom of a strong identity, in any case, must require you to take control of your own destiny. For this, you have to become an expert in your own mind, or at least to take on the role of an interested, committed amateur.

To do this, you’ll have to assess your own mental state and this can be difficult.

Yet there is reason to take heart. At the very least, if you have some consciousness of what constitutes a lack, the right sort of questions will present themselves, either in the presence or absence of professional advice.

For some, however, the need may be more urgent, and for them, the message will be most difficult to hear. Given the great dangers inherent in mental instability, everyone, carer or otherwise, should think well on the matter. No one should assume that everything’s all right, whether with respect to themselves or to any that they love. Prolonged anguish, doubt and poor decision-making hold grave potential for harm.

Clearly, there are different indicators for different people, and it serves well here to consider the matter of crutches — alcohol, painkillers, illicit drugs and even addiction to pathetic soap operas or random, meaningless sex — but, most importantly, it serves well to examine that fundamental truth: the first step to seeing is asking the right questions.

First of all, confront your own issues, feel the pain and ask why it’s there. Invariably, such pain will arise from some form of insecurity, and when you home in on the apparent source, the most useful realization will be that the key contributor to identity security is not some innate or external quality like intelligence or wealth. It’s actually something much easier to control — nothing more or less than the quality of your internal dialogue. This will be harder to assess in another but, again, if you’re aware of that basic need for inner verbal clarity, the right questions and observations concerning that person will come.

While it’s clearly not so easy to apply this criterion to someone else, it is crucially important to learn to do so effectively given that there’ll always be troubled people to deal with. If approximately half of the human race has suffered significant episodes of depression, it’s safe to say that someone you know will be labouring under the dangerous burden of serious identity issues.

Back to the primary concern.

If we are to judge ourselves effectively in this matter, we should ask if our thought cycles habitually run their course, or if we cut ourselves off without reaching salient conclusions. Do we answer our questions about things or do we leave them hanging? Can we make meaningful observations or do we always seem to come up with half-baked conclusions that turn out steering us in the wrong direction? Are we left feeling depressed with each successive failure?
In any case, is there necessarily a link between depression and poor inner verbalization/identity resolution?

The answer lies in the observation that depression is most frequently associated with the lack of a sense of direction. With a sense of purpose — I mean something that we’re truly interested in — we can endure almost anything and without it, even many good things can seem bad. Without a coherent and consistent sense of identity, making choices becomes difficult, other peoples’ priorities will sway us unduly and it becomes difficult to see the latent good in outcomes that might initially seem adverse.

Soon, we lose our sense of direction and it can become all too easy to resort to sensual obsession in the form of drugs, alcohol or sex. Eventually, we even become jaded with those experiences and that’s when depression strikes.

Knowing that there’s a problem is always a critical phase in engineering change but given that so many folk struggle even with such basic problems as excess weight or smoking or alcohol, it’s clear that finding the exact behavioural modifications and instituting consistent change will never be as easy as it seems.

No single magic bullet exists that will deal with the individual factors behind these problems — only a tool that’s available to us all.

Rational analysis is the beginning.

Reason based self-analysis is something that almost everyone can do. Even better, since even professionals in the art of psychoanalysis seem to be mystified by many of their clients (given the low success rates of treatment) we can get great benefit simply from applying reasoning more consistently to our everyday choices. The key is to keep things simple and at the very least make reasoning work at that concrete level.

Once you have that under control, and I will talk about the processes in detail in later chapters, you’ll be able to shift up a gear and look closely at what’s the most complete and accessible reflection of identity integrity — your thoughts. Again, and I can’t emphasize this enough, it’s a question of monitoring the resolution of inner verbalization.

Knowing the problem is there is one thing but coming up with a way to ensure coherently verbalized and consistently resolved thoughts is another. It ought not to be a difficult thing but in reality, because thought incoherency is a symptom and a consequence of what lies behind you, turning that around demands substantial identity restructuring.

This is where you begin to examine habitual modes of behaviour, fundamental attitudes and even long held belief systems. For some, it might necessitate the ushering in of a whole new social paradigm.

All sorts of things promise assistance when we set out on such significant life quests but ultimately most disappoint until we at least see the need for a secure and resilient identity.
A clear and certain sense of self is the outward manifestation of the fact that dozens and dozens of crucial little boxes have been ticked in the process of your development. There’s no easy way to tick them off if you don’t already have them, and the chances are that you won’t even know you need them or even what they are, but once you become aware of them, then at least you’ll have a chance.

A lack of wealth and intelligence are undoubtedly primary risk factors for their absence and it would be safe to say that these two things rank highest in shaping popular belief about what defines and promotes personal wellbeing. After all, most would agree that eliminating their opposites, poverty and ignorance, is the holy grail of building a better world.

Wealth does allow people to set their identity limits and easily remain within them, while good intelligence facilitates expansion of the range of available identity shaping choices. If a person can acquire sophisticated skills and happily reassure himself that he’s, say, a great computer programmer, a keen devotee of the ballet, an accomplished pianist or a talented sailor, his life will be easier and his self criticism less carping.

Everything else being equal, such identity-shaping elements help people maintain emotional equilibrium. They arepart of a prosperous picture, but even the most limited analysis will determine that strong skill sets are no guarantee of happiness and, paradoxically, an excess of wealth can, under some circumstances, be a hindrance to building anything but the most basic identity.

The ease and comfort that wealth can provide on one hand can also do much to shield people from crucial life challenges and a wide range of associated stimulating experiences. Under those circumstances, too much emotional equilibrium can translate into ennui and become much more of a curse than a blessing.

Questions of degree and unusual circumstances aside, since poverty and ignorance are clearly associated most closely with ongoing social misery, it has to be acknowledged that huge efforts have been made in attempting to eradicate them.

Yet, many people have seen loved ones suffer from acute forms and manifestations of identity insecurity, and have remained powerless to make any difference, except perhaps to make money available to professionals attesting their ability to find cures.

Efforts in the fields of psychiatry and psychology towards dealing with this problem indicate considerable altruistic intent but the failure of these professionals to effect real and lasting change should long ago have made us question the validity of their approaches.

Certainly, drugs have been developed to ease the burden of pain, and much has been done to attempt to ease the burden of social expectation by promoting acceptance, but few talk about cures, nowadays, whether it is for social ills or personal ones.

Dealing directly with the twin evils of poverty and ignorance has been regarded popularly as the key to a better world but, in the 21stcentury developed world, it is becoming increasingly apparent that they maintain, forgive the pun, a vise like grip on society.

In view of the tenacity of the twin evils, it would seem that at least some of those who would seek to build a better world have placed the cart before the horse, by which I mean that they’ve treated symptoms rather than fundamental causes.

While poor thinking skills can be attributed to chemical issues or to supposedly more permanent issues like brain damage or retardation, if you believe in the fundamental standpoint that mind rules over matter then even brain damage need not be seen as final and irrevocable. Improvement can always be found with effort and focus.

Yet even relatively minor things can balk us. One only needs to see the effect that nerves have on some of us, say when we’re called upon, unexpectedly, to make a public speech, to understand that stress and or bottled up emotions can make fools of anyone.

Obtusely, in the face of diminishing verbal skills and abilities in society, not to mention ongoing poverty and ignorance, rather than simply attributing these things to treatable emotional causes, many hold the view that they exist because the innate nature of the poor and ignorant is unalterable.


In the age of science, genetics does initially appear to support that view by demonstrating an apparently clear-cut and predetermined influence on individual behaviours. It could be said that genes program both hormonally driven responses and performance potentials, therefore we are what we are, no matter what.

Grimly, this conclusion shouts that there is no cure — no practical means of dealing with the wayward because they can be nothing else.

Yet genes are only half of the nature, nurture dichotomy, and even the most basic division of this ‘twin-evils’ problem suggests that the matter is not quite so black and white.

The existence of poverty assumes a lack of intelligence yet, as we ought to be stunned to see, many of those who suffer poverty in first world societies are neither dull nor ignorant.

Inaction in the face of this might be excusable if it were only the ignorant affected by poverty, given that it would be easier to conclude little could be done about it, but that’s simply not the case.

Even the smallest additional consideration of the issue reveals that intelligent, creative people all too often find the various tasks of basic survival difficult while some of the most intellectually challenged seem able to survive quite well in material terms.

Even if there were not so much to gain, it would be inexcusable to ignore such a curious anomaly. Yet there are some very important potentials at stake. These minds might be the ones that find a sure path to world peace, find a cure for cancer or discover some inexhaustible source of pollution-free power.

Can we really afford to leave them in a state of poverty and suffering, simply because they’re ineffectual at looking after themselves?

Given the above observations, it would seem that lack of intelligence is not the sole and possibly not even the principal determinant of first world poverty. Since many very intelligent and creative people have found themselves in difficult circumstances, it would seem productive to consider, instead, that their emotional shortcomings might have been the true cause of their poverty.

Emotional issues may appear more difficult to address than intellectual ones, but surely the relative difficulty of a problem matters less than perceiving whether, or not, it is in fact the root cause.

In the absence of the true cause being identified, a lasting cure can never be found. All questions of relative difficulty then become inconsequential.

So, if this is the true cause, why has it not been identified or at least widely touted, before? No one can definitively answer that question, but it’s true that the problem isn’t simple.

It’s quite counter-intuitive to separate poverty from its traditionally accepted cause of ignorance, which could explain the lack of insight so far. After all, we’ve been bashing away at the pair for so long that they might well have become welded together in our social consciousness.

In any case, it hardly matters why the cause hasn’t been widely identified. It only matters that we identify it now, and act on it. Even without the ramifications for long-term social engineering, the absence of emotional health stands out as a weakness hardly to be borne in any rational or caring society.

Personal resolution to change things for the better is the first desired objective, but this is less likely to happen in the absence of an adequate definition of the problem and without structured facilitation in society.

To that end, if there is cause to believe that emotional insecurity is the primary causal element in material poverty, not to mention ongoing mental anguish, it might be constructive to define the overall social problem as emotional poverty — the primary driver of the phenomenon of society being so at war with itself.

 
***

Two simple words, emotional and poverty, not often used in the same context, clearly specify both the cause and the primary symptom of the problem, and feature the fringe benefit of presenting the issue as a matter of social justice deserving of publicly organized change.

Given that emotional poverty so frequently leads to existential destitution in measures of confidence, career, friends, spouse and health, there’s every reason for society to get involved.
Indeed, if we truly wish to engineer a better world for our children, and ourselves, not to mention bring back basic professional competence, such matters should be dealt with urgently and decisively. No other field of endeavour could come anywhere near it in terms of potential for yielding positive change, and without addressing it, we can hardly claim to have any meaningful control over our destiny.

If emotional poverty is the ultimate underlying cause of material poverty, working on transcending it will have far greater potential for gain, in all areas of human endeavour, than any other strategy, including directly addressing poverty by material means.

Emotional behaviour is largely determined by social influences. As such, it is a product of nurture rather than nature, and should be alterable by clever strategies of social engineering. In other words, there is clearly a significant potential for curing diverse social ills and directly enhancing life experience.

Emotionally scarred people are undermined in so many ways by recurring negative emotions that they can be left feeling chronically fragmented, and in some cases barely even human. These recurring negative emotions comprehensively sabotage a person’s ability to grapple with the daily challenges of the world. Even relatively simple problems can seem hopeless when in the grip of constant emotional pain.

Society addressing the matter of emotional poverty could make a difference, but how can society hope to plan a policy program when few within it have any idea how the deficiency comes about, let alone how to deal with it?

To shed some light on the extent of the problem, it might help to observe that even those who possess great emotional strength generally don’t know why they do. Nor would they generally be scientifically studied. So, if we don’t know much even about the positive extremes of the behaviour range, what hope have we of understanding the negative ones?

Emotions are at the core of human experience and perhaps, given that they lie so deep, it is easier to think of them as being unalterable, whether they be good or ill.

Wrong. It’s simply more difficult to change them than we’d like, and it is possible that we don’t know much about emotional strength because when we have it we feel no need to explore the issue.

Also, when we don’t have it, our social standing dissipates and few can spare the energy to help us even though it’s perfectly doable. There’s no use clouding the issue with loose presumptions of impossibility. That, after coming so far, is not the way. Hard, after all, isn’t anywhere near impossible, and the ramifications are vast.

Programming determines unconscious behaviour whether it’s genetically or culturally sourced. For a mind to cause someone to behave in any particular way, programming must exist. We’ve long known that culturally sourced programming can be changed. The question is, can this also be done sufficiently well with genetic programming to improve lives?

If we are to reasonably assess that probability, we need only consider the basic strengths of the human mind — those characteristics of adaptability and ingenuity that have allowed us to develop into beings capable of dominating the planet despite our physical frailty.

We are subject to the instinctive drive to eat yet some repress it to become anorexic or to participate in hunger strikes. We are apparently hard-wired to survive yet some will sacrifice their lives or endanger themselves to help others in need. We’re compelled by our basic biological urges to have sex as frequently as possible but most of us, for one reason or another, keep our instincts well in check.

It is quite possible to alter the most basic of behaviours to suit our circumstances, so even the most counter-productive emotions must be subject to control or fundamental alteration.
Greater intellectual ability might be called upon at will, in view of increasing evidence that the mind can actually alter DNA — switching genes on and off in response to changing needs amongst other things.

Also, greater facility with emotional expression will further intellectual capacity, affecting emotional freedom in turn, and ongoing research could reveal a range of other factors.

Certainly, developing a more integrated view of the relationship between emotions and intellect should facilitate self-expression and thereby minimize the manifestation of destructive conflict between society and the individual.

Traditionally, emotions have been seen as innately disturbing, and as competing with intellect — a vague collective conception that the more there is of one, the less there will be of the other. Yet in truth, positive emotions are more likely to support intellect rather than compete with it — the greater the emotional strength, the more powerful and lucid the intellect and therefore the self-expression.

My basic contention is that in the 21stcentury, we face personal difficulties and collective dangers far greater than ever before, but that substantial reordering of priorities at both social and personal levels and the re-examination of fundamental presumptions can provide the means to combat these difficulties and dangers no matter how intransigent they seem.

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Scifi and Fantasy Novels

The first book is Lord's Bane and the chapters will be progressively uploaded. This story tells of another world far away in which humanity first developed. At this time in its long history, a young and well-loved noble is persecuted by an increasingly cruel bureaucracy. The goals of the regime are hidden, but the custodians of the ancient druidic culture help this young man break the hold it has on him and sets the scene for a clever rebellion.

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Zetetics and the Art of Identity

This tier will give you access to a revolutionary philosophy that will give you an edge in the way the you interact with the world and the people around you. Forget the psychologist. Just get your own mind under control. A new chapter each month will give you plenty to think about given the rich content of ideas in them.

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  • I've written seven scifi and spec fiction novels that are quality literature with groundbreaking thought and a responsible yet exciting world view. I'll be uploading chapters progressively from these books, one book at a time, and will also provide various articles about writing but also about the world in general. I'll cap that off with a new well loved photo each time I log on or upload.
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