English: A child not paying attention in class. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
World wide web (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Communications 126-Media and Culture class has been an educational exercise in grasping the synergy of history, technology and culture with the resulting effects on society. The great expansion of man’s progress, from sitting around a fire telling stories to the computer age, is cataloged somewhere on the World Wide Web. The computing cloud of information is available to an increasing number of people. The task is to find meaning in the sharing of that knowledge.
- William Sikes, the author of “Technology: Taking Over the World and Our Lives,” cites a study indicating Americans spend over nine hours watching television, using the Internet, and depending on cell phones daily. He posits or contends this dependence on technology diminishes social skills, adversely affects education, and creates a lazy society. Based on research, determine if this argument has merit.
Since submitting the final project hypothesis that the above statement has merit, two books, numerous articles and all assigned chapters in the text have been read and considered. The answer is complicated and part of a new age culture. The argument has merit; however, the new technologies have benefits as well as drawbacks. The answer is somewhere in a growing computing cloud of information somehow connected on a World Wide Web, and its meaning is as different and varied as the users who view the content. “Our thoughts are powerful creative forces floating in the ether ready to accomplish their purpose when they are concentrated and consciously directed.” PY
Daniel G. Amen, M.D., posits in his latest book, Magnificent Mind at Any Age, that excessive use of; TV, video games, computers, e-mails, the Internet, instant messaging and cell phones, is bad for our brains. Learning is adversely affected in the development stage, “For every hour a day that babies eight to sixteen months old were shown educational videos they knew six to eight fewer words than other children,” according to Amen, citing a report in the Journal of Pediatrics (Journal of Pediatrics 151(4):384-368). He goes on to note that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV at all for children younger than twenty-four months. Infants and toddlers learn language socially from interaction with other human beings, and in experiencing the real world around them. In another study, the chance of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children is increased ten percent for every hour a day of TV watching (Pediatrics 113(4):708-713). Factors in brain illness including strokes and Alzheimer’s disease can be linked to the higher body mass indices, lack of physical fitness, cigarette smoking and increased cholesterol found in TV watching for 1000 children born in 1972-1973 in New Zealand and followed to age 26 (Lancet 364(9430:257-262). Brain health and learning appear to be affected adversely by excessive TV use. The Office of the Surgeon General suggests limiting TV and other screen time to less than two hours per day (http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/obesityprevention/pledges/parents.html).
Doctor Amen has found thru brain imaging that video games use the basal ganglia area of the brain. This area is one of the pleasure centers of the brain and excessive use of these games can hook people similar to drug dependence. Social interaction is affected when excessive time is spent using video games. School work, job performance and interaction with others diminished (Amen, 2008 pg. 36). Studies from the University of Missouri found a connection to aggression and violent real-life situation video games. Delinquency increased and academic performance decreased with increased game use. An increase in violent thoughts and behavior was also found along with a decrease in helping behavior. None of this helps education, social interaction, or brain health (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 78(4):772-790, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 2005 Nov 31).
Excessive use of computers, Internet, instant messaging, and cell phones can become addictive and have an adverse affect on social interaction, communication and connection. Productivity at work and family interaction can be adversely affected by use of modern mass media technology. Time spent using technological connections take away from face to face communication. According to Amen (2008), “drowsiness, tiredness and an increasing inability to focus reached startling levels,” and “research subjects’ minds were all over the place as they faced new questions and challenges” with each new e-mail. In studies at King’s College, London University, average IQ loss was 10 points in people who felt a need to reply to each e-mail with resulting constant changes of direction and focus.
Answering cell phones or text messages in the middle of having a face to face conversation can hurt relationships. The person present is taking the time to connect and it is disrespectful to put them off to answer an unknown and less personal technical connection. The hierarchy of focused commitment in communication starts with face to face. Focused commitment decreases and is less focused with the use of voice, e-mail and text messaging. In synchronous communication language can be enhanced by inflection, body language, facial expressions and the sensing of emotion. Asynchronous communication as in e-mail and texting is convenient because both sender and receiver do not have to be present at the same time, however, it is impersonal and emotion cannot be conveyed (Snyder, Lawrence. 2008). Other drawbacks with Internet, e-mail, and texting include uncertainty in emphasis, loss of conversational pace, and an increase in ambiguity. Emoticons are insufficient in conveying emotion,JL they are cute but do not indicate how happy and sad, or why the emotion is felt. Blogging (web logs) is an innovation of Internet use which connects people in on-line discussions over subjects of common interest. Information is shared but the quality does not always match the quantity. Some bloggers post well thought out and researched opinions, sometimes with Web addresses for checking. Others post impulsively, without thought or backup information. Learning in this kind of Internet environment is possible but never guaranteed. The positive is in the sharing of language and posts, with the only cost being the time you invest. The blogs are democratic and open to opinions from anyone who logs on and participates. Negatives are found in a stunted conversational pace and ambiguity of message.
Positives involved in Information Society Technology are that computers and Internet access with a broadband connection make available massive amounts of information to search, review, and share. Internet access is available and used by an increasingly large population of individuals, groups, governments, organizations and businesses. The connections have the potential to close distance in seeking communication with people of all nations, races, religions and political bent. The Denver Public Library (DPL) is Tapping Into Media in recognition of how libraries need to compete for attention with advances in technology use. Embracing mass media helps to broaden a libraries appeal. Podcasts are created by teens at the Boulder Public Library which provide news, reviews, and interviews. The Public library of Charlotte, NC, has videos produced by teens and a dedicated YouTube channel. Libraries are tapping into the great expanse of audio and video on the Web to reach out to computer and internet users. DPL has a children’s story podcasting service. The library is branching out to include YouTube, Facebook and MySpace pages. Expanding to the Web and adding Audio/Visual content reaches out to computer and Internet users and draws them into the resources a library offers. Libraries physical hours are limited; however, the Internet is open 24/7 creating a time shifting of programming which can be accessed at the convenience of the user (Library Journal, v133, n15 p22-25 Sep 2008).
Nicholas Carr’s book, The Big Switch, provides an apt and amazing review of how mankind developed and adapted new technologies, and how those technological advances affect modern culture. A big switch is occurring with print and audio visual media moving to digital form. Carr mentions Yale professor Yochai Benkler’s book, The Wealth of Nations. Benkler cites three technological advances which make the big switch possible. 1) The physical machinery is available in advanced economies. 2) The raw materials are public goods including existing information, knowledge and culture. 3) the Internet provides the platform to use the goods. These advances allow individual access to the goods in order to improvise, collaborate and create (Carr 2008 p 140). A benefit of Internet technology can be found in what businesses call “crowdsourcing,” the practice of the masses producing without ownership of the products they create through collaboration. Crowdsourcing is a mixed benefit as knowledge is gained and shared, but jobs are lost and the wealth gap grows wider (Carr p 142). The newspaper and publishing industries are struggling to adapt and shift to Internet versions of their products. Many jobs are lost to the information available on the Web. The Web also spies on individuals, using cookies to track sites visited and products reviewed and purchased. The search engine Google uses algorithms to reach deeper as the store of data increases. Privacy loss is an adverse effect of Internet use. Information available in the World Wide Web is obtained easily; however, the data has no guarantee of being correct or authentic. Playwright Richard Foreman discusses the old ideal of a “highly educated and articulate personality—a man or woman who carried inside themselves a personally constructed and unique version of the entire heritage of the west,” which he fears is being lost to current technologies. He feels that the complex inner density is lost to an overload of information, instantly available. Foreman fears we are turning into “pancake people—spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information….” (Carr p 226-7)
“Sherlock Holmes, the hero of Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels, often amazed his loyal friend Dr. Watson by drawing a correct conclusion from an array of seemingly disparate and unconnected facts and observations. The method of reasoning used by Sherlock Holmes is abduction” (Patokorpi, 2007). Information Technology must be used carefully as we look for clues on the Web by following links just as Sherlock Holmes uses clues. Paths are made by focused searches recorded with technological tracking such as bookmarks, RSS feeds, and the drop down history list. Information detectives need to find information and meaning in that information by forming a feedback loop. The data must be found in replication by following other links to other sources and clues. Forward or back, facts need to be checked for accuracy to find truth in the search. The answer to the question, does Computer/Internet use make us lazy, can be found in this discussion. Information is found easily with the push of a start button and aimlessly following links. Good information requires detective skills and work, in a constant feedback loop of checking and revising (Patokorpi, 2007).
The effects of Information Technology on the family are both positive and negative. Families of old sat near the fireplace, single radio, or TV sharing time together. Today’s families spend less time together but stay connected with technology. A summary, from a recent study of 2,252 families conducted Dec. 13, 2007-Jan. 13, 2008, covers the subject well. 1) Technology enables connectedness with cell phone, texting and internet experiences. 2) Families are less likely to share meals and have less leisure time. 3) Cell phone allows parents to touch base and coordinate. 4) Internet use can have shared “Wow” moments. 5) Those surveyed include a majority who believe their family life is as close as when they grew up. 6) The new tools help people stay connected with friends and family, however, technology use blurs the line between work and home with Internet, cell phone, blackberry and texting taking work home and taking time from family. 7) TV use has decreased as Internet use increases. 8) People have less time for relaxing (Kennedy, Wells, & Wellman, 2008).
Information Technology allows all connected to play but few will reap monetary rewards. Connection can be found with communication distance instant over miles. Physical space is increased with face to face connections decreased. Excessive use of technology can have adverse effects on brain health, social connection, family time, and loss of jobs. Knowledge is available but must be carefully researched and used. Privacy must be guarded. Connection is maintained with cell phone, texting, blackberry, computer and Internet use. Nuance in sharing, and emoting face to face lessens. Democracy may expand or government may seek control. There are more questions in flux than fully answered. The technology is relatively new and expanding. The written word remains important because the new data storage requires electricity, a big switch which could take the advances back to old ways. The talented visionaries of our past have developed concepts and ideas while staying warm with others around a fire. The written word recorded and spread that knowledge to others. Today a crossroads, a cusp has been reached. Good or bad, change is here, man and society will adapt in a giant feedback loop started by firing up the computer and sharing separately around the monitors.
Carr, N. (2008). The Big Switch, Rewiring The World, From Edison to Google. New York, NY, USA: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Daniel G. Amen, M. (2008). Magnificent Mind At Any Age. New York, NY, USA: Harmony Books, Crown Publishing Group, Random House, Inc.
General, O. o. (2008). Parents and Caregivers Checklist. http://surgeongeneral.gov/obesityprevention/pledges/parents.html . Washington D.C., USA: US Department of Health & Human Services.
Jeske, M. (2008, Sep.). Tapping into Media. Library Journal, v133 n15 p22-25 . USA: 2008 Library Journal, Reed Business Information, Reed Elsevier, Inc.
Patokorpi, E. (2007). Logic of Sherlock Holmes in Technology Enhanced Learning. Educational Technology and Society, v10 n1 p171-185 . IAMSR, Åbo Akademi University, Joukahaisgatan 3-5A, 20520 Åbo, , Finland: Educational Technology & Society Peer Reviewed Journal.
Pothier, K. (2008, Oct 9). Is Clicking Around Making Us Stupid? What does information technology do to our brains? NH, USA: Pothier, Term Paper IT 100.
Pothier, K. (2008, Oct 2). Language and Information Technology. NH, USA: Kenneth Pothier, Term Paper, ENG 350.
Richard Campbell, C. R. (2008). Media & Culture an introduction to mass communication. Boston, New York, USA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
Snyder, L. (2007). Fluency with Information Technlogy. Boston, San Francisco, New York, USA: Addison Wesley.
 Inner Reflections 2009 Engagement Calendar-Selections from the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda
Never a Day Without a Line
When a mentor passes on–A Memorial to Donald Murray
I heard it on the 11 o’clock New Years Day news. Donald Murray died of a heart attack at the age of 82. He had submitted his column ‘Now and Then’ to the Boston Globe the day before he died. He never stopped working, learning or sharing the knowledge he had gained.
My connection to Donald started from a Now and Then column that he had written in late winter which mentioned a spring writing class and one of his favorite bookstores on Water Street in Exeter NH. A heartfelt feeling took me there and I bought the book he suggested and left my information. Fortune smiled and on a Monday nights for six weeks I found myself at Don’s house in Durham with a circle of writers and novices of the craft. Don in his chair teaching by drawing us in and sharing his life and the work he loves. A large man in both stature and heart held court as we listened and learned in a circle where he made us feel equal. No pretense, just the spirit of a man open and true. His words ring true in my head: ‘Find your voice and tune it to the situation’
‘Writing is personal-be as true as possible’
‘The voice must sound like you, if not something is wrong-you may not be close enough to the material’
‘I still sometimes look at the world as a soldier’
‘Write with velocity and lower your standards’
‘Good writers see deep important things about the human condition. They articulate the human condition for those who can not’
‘Surprise is wonderful, I want to surprise myself some more before the road ends’
I met with him three times after the class ended. Twice for breakfast at ‘Young’s’ in Durham where everyone knows his name. The morning after class ended I picked him up at 5:45 AM. He told me he had stayed up all night as enthusiasm about the class, father’s day trip weekend prior, writing, and using his new art supplies would not let him sleep. He insisted on paying for breakfast and said that my turn was next. As I dropped him off at his house and told him to get some rest he answered, ‘after I write a little’. 82 years old, up all night and his motto, ‘nulla dies sine linea’ and work ethic still ruled.
For me he is gone too soon, too fast but he will always be with me. It’s his turn again to buy breakfast and he promised to come for dinner and meet my ‘Maria May.’
He believed in his family, his students, his friends and his colleagues. He gave us a confidence devoid of judgments that we could find our voice and tune it to the situation.
I offer a poem written with Donald in mind and submitted during what would be his last class. He had taken up drawing and painting recently for the sheer joy and surprise of it. The last line was added today.
Hard Wood Writing
Feeling lucid under pressure
Moments of sheer horror and panic do pass
Drawn on ousted emotions to draw-paint words to paper
Form scenes opened felt by me
Acts of art for others to observe-see
A word play called ‘New Hope Spring’
On a clean cool clear and cloudy canvass of Papyrus
Framed pages with words
Book cover borders
Times Temperaments Torments Trusts
Loss and Rebirth
Felt and Palpable on written page
Hopes spring grows and flows
Words in mahogany and oak
A writer’s true rings of hard growth memory
True to a vision of what has come to pass
Hard Wood Writing on soft textured page of one person’s past
Written Word Etched for Eternity by Scribed Survivor
Mahogany Voice Rises from Oaken Experience
From scribbler to Scribe the Survivor Crafts
The soft subtle textured pages of a life’s
Lessons Learned and Shared
Now and Then
His time was write
Found a mentor, ol’ sage, life almost spent
He opened his home, gave a last class
Unconditionally he let us in and shared a successful career
“Write Short, Write Quick,” the mentor said.
The world has changed–attention spans are short sighted
Draw them in, hold them, set them free, with words from the heart
An old man’s spirit shared
His time was write
Now and Then taught me ours is then and now
The road goes on and I will be one of Donald’s Acolytes–Apostles
Nulla dies sine linea–never a day without a line
Share a life til the road ends
To be taken up by a spirit who’s time is write
Copyright by Ken Pothier
Mary Ann’s Diner
I egress to an overnight frost, perhaps the last of this season. A different road is taken this early morn under cloudy sky. The rise and fall of hills–twists and turns of a never straightforward road. I pass old farms and churches’ spires. They mark time and my passing on the road to Mary Ann’s Diner and Family Restaurant. It is done up 50’s style. Choice of booths, tables for two and four squeeze in six in a pinch. The counter for single lonely souls lost in a paper, a cigarette, a dream. TV is on but no sound and here no one cares for that kind of news. The music here is fifties and sixties oldies played back to back in an endless flow from past memory to present thought, noninvasive in a subtle and seamless meld of years. I sit with the lonely souls at the counter with a local newspaper but it is hard to read with all the life and sound around me. I play name that tune–name that band–feel that memory–emotion with the music. The flow of music matches the life of the place and the quickstep of the waitresses. Full–bodied waitresses in long poodle skirts, bobby socks and soft shoes, friendly,
carrying their loads with big smiles. Coffee and ice water brought to me with never– ending refills. Ol’ style breakfast made to your liking. I order steak tips marinated in raspberry sauce with eggs over medium, home fries and raisin toast-$7.50. Smiles small talk and refills free and this diner’s experience priceless.
A place where you are always welcome a sanctuary of sorts. Local contractors make their plans for the day; count the week’s profit and loss. Workers of all sorts fill their tanks with good food and fuel for the day’s travails, still stiff from yesterdays work. They shake it off here and get it up to do it again in their own endless flow of work, recovery, work that makes this country run.
Couples meet greet hangout, form and break relationships in a life flow of the yin and yang-the profit and loss of love and affection. Families sit together and show the strain and gain of their growth over time.
Conversations of the day: weather, sports, family progress, accomplishment and setback, goals and dreams, gossip and truth all meld with the music of the place. Spring’s arrival and blossoming, another week removed from winter, a new season and a fresh if cool and cloudy day.
No promises made; however, those who stop at Mary Ann’s leave with a full stomach and a spirit filled with smell of coffee and good food, the sound of human contact and connection in varied form.
A man sits at the counter alone; two bikers who have hardly touched their breakfast are leaving in a hurry. I move to the space provided and find out why they are moving on. The man in his 30’s is a local and a regular. He is also manic–depressive, schizophrenic, Bi-Polar or all of the above. He immediately talks to me at breakneck speed in a flow of words that have meaning but make no real sense. In ten minutes he goes from being the reincarnation of Jim Morrison of the Doors to a Naval Academy graduate at the head of his class. He had a busy night at a secret NATO meeting with CIA, FBI and national security
types. The meeting ended early when the Russians did not show up. He tells me he is still in the military and I ask in what way? He says that he is in deep too deep undercover and secret. He moves from booth to booth asking for a cigarette as I move over one stool at the counter. I can listen better and finish my breakfast from this vantage point and the waitresses understand that I cannot solve this man or the nation’s problems today. I must finish and join the workers soon as schedule intrudes on the seamless flow of music and conversation. Connections made and lost–hope for the lonely soul at the counter that tomorrow he will find communication, connection, and peace. Hope for the man with the paper that he will turn the page to someone’s smile and a new start. All in sanctuary found at a 50’s style diner, oldies playing as full–bodied women in long skirts serve up a new day.
Lyrics in the music of a life
“Time may heal, time may steal, time to decide and every thought of you casts its own shadow and everything I wanted is subject to review as time the conqueror closes in on a life.” Words paraphrased from the first and title song of Jackson Browne’s newest creation, Time the Conqueror. Many times in my life the language of lyrics have been the music that kept me going in hard times, that helped me celebrate joys and accomplishment, that helped me lift my head when others harsh words beat me down and sucked the life out of any possibility of spontaneous action or creativity. Lyrics well written and found in a timely fashion are an unbroken thread that permeates my long and winding road in getting to this point. A time which finds me lost and searching when I should be enjoying the fruits of past labors, a time when I know exactly where I wish to go and how to get there. I find that word-processing my thoughts while listening to a brand new selection of music and lyrics from one of my favorite singer/songwriters helps heal fresh wounds and leads me back to that road I was on. Once again focus returns and creativity flows. It has always been this way for me, life and people knock you down, you listen learn and move a little to the groove and move on.
The Language of Lyrics, lyrics to go with the music of life, a writers blues survival. Rock and roll rebellion, the angst of punk, rap, hip-hop, the grunge of rainy day alternative rock, the blues based feel of southern rock, dance, and disco, pop, folk, country, reggae, rhythm and blues, soul, the cool of jazz, international flavors and the music of cultures all carry their own language and lyrics for those who listen closely.
Inspired by returning to University, tested, enthused, pushed to creativity and thought in a natural high derived from writing odds and ends, bits and pieces of a life lived, observed. A large part of what has kept me going over the years and the tears is the music of my life pulling me along with the thread of a lyric put to soothing melody or vibrant rock beat. It has kept me sane after separation and divorce from a post traumatic, obsessive compulsive, politically correct, emotionally special needs wife, supported by me in so many ways. She abandoned and left me in the downward spiral of a parental alienation syndrome from my three girls and in an avalanche of emotional pain that I never saw coming. Naïve, I believed that truth mattered when a first, false, unnecessary and unjust restraining order was filed only to be told by two lawyers that truth has nothing to do with the law. A reprimanded judge, (Heffernan-MA) who never should have been allowed again on the bench to decide RO’s “had no choice but to extend the RO” and destroy any chance for communication and connection with my family. My life changed forever though I had never broken the sacred trust between Man and Wife, Father and Child. Truth lost except in the words of my journals righting it out, touching truth and reality in the only ways left. Writing, listening, learning and moving on from an emotionally dead man walking to an inspired man talking, the thread played a large and critical role in my survival.
The thread began with a sleepover listening to the 45 revolution per minute records of an older friend of the family. It was a time when Elvis Presley was King, a rebellious young man from Mississippi ahead of his time, raw, energetic, an original leader of the baby boom generations search for meanings of their own. The rock n roll era began when I was young but far from rebellious, I was hooked when a muse arrived in the guise of a portable record player and two long playing records, Chubby Checker Twist and Introducing the Beatles-VJ Records. “Do You Want to Know a Secret” grasped the thread of lyrics for me and never let it go. Love Rain or Me (The Who), Let it Be (The Beatles), to Great Big Sea (Band from Newfoundland), a palpable connection in 45 flip sides, artist, producer, label, LP-long playing records, album cover art, jacket liner notes expanded my universe and pulled me beyond a household of 9 children and a High School away from my home town which I had no say in attending. It carried me to a job at 16, girls, and a 1963 Chevrolet Impala Super Sport with slush box on the floor, bucket seats trimmed in chrome and best of all a radio with rear speaker featuring reverb. The lyrics of the thread playing in the background were touching and intertwined with first loves. I bought my first three albums with that first paycheck, The Animals-Hits, Dave Clark Five-Best of, and The Rolling Stones. The sound and lyrics of The Animals: House of the Rising Sun with Gary Burton singing blew me away in the power of a bands performance touching words.
Bruce Springsteen strengthened my lyric thread with his life and our times written out, put to music and brought to a climax in concert with the E Street Band. Jackson Browne was contributing writer on a story about Springsteen in Rolling Stone Magazine. I was overjoyed when discovering this connection between two of my top lyric writers and musicians. I have taken selective quotes from the article and cannot outdo Jackson Browne’s portrayal of feelings (shared entirely by me) about the ‘Boss.’ Bruce Springsteen is the “Embodiment of rock and roll…combining strains of Appalachian music, rockabilly, blues, and Rhythm and blues, his work epitomizes rock’s deepest values: desire, the need for freedom and the search to find yourself. All through his songs there is a generosity and a willingness to portray even the simplest aspects of our lives in a dramatic and committed way.”
Jackson Browne on Bruce in concert, “…He had this descriptive power—it was just an amazing display of lyrical prowess live…”“It was drama, his approach to music, something that he would expand on many times over, but it was there from the beginning.” No concert is the same. “It was obvious that they were drawing on a vocabulary. It was exhilarating, and at the bottom of it all there was all this joy and fun and a sense of brotherhood, of being outsiders who had tremendous power and a story to tell…indistinct utterances have been magnified to communicate volumes……Bruce has always had enormous range in terms of subject and emotion…He is always working on a very large scale, a scale that is nothing short of heroic. He is one of the few songwriters who work on a scale that is capable of handling the subject of our national grief and the need to find a response to September 11th. His sense of music as a healing power, of band—as—church, has always been there, woven into the fabric of his songs, He’s got his feet planted on either side of that great divide between black & white gospel, between blues and country, between rebellion and redemption.” The Rising on Columbia Records was Bruce’s answer to the events of 911, a short review from RS follows, “After everything fell down on September11th, 2001, Bruce Springsteen made the rock & roll we needed most–fifteen songs about getting up again—with the greatest backing combo in the world, the E Street Band. This Reborn in the USA swings between extreme despair (“You’re Missing”) and Irish wake (“Mary’s Place”). But in the grainy force of Springsteen’s voice and the muscular exaltation of the music, the power of ordinary men and women to build a new, atop so much loss, rings loud and true.” Healing power drawn from lyrical truth found in focused listening just happens when the music touches you for his is an honesty which comes thru loud and clear. He is someone you can trust and believe in. As a retired Fire/Emergency Medical Response Captain, Springsteen’s lyrics in The Rising were palpable as he describes the thoughts and feelings of a firefighter responding to the twin towers in N.Y. 345 Firefighters lost their lives that day wearing the Maltese cross of their calling and as the men climb the towers their thoughts turn to their loved ones. Parenthesis added by me as the lyrics strengthen the thread.
Can’t see nothin’ in front of me
Can’t see nothin’ coming up behind
I make my way through this darkness
I can’t feel nothing but this chain that binds me (duty)
Lost track of how far I’ve gone
How far I’ve gone, how high I’ve climbed
On my back’s a sixty pound stone (SCBA air tank)
On my shoulder a half mile of line (folded pack of hose)
Come on up for the rising
Come on up lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight
Left the house this morning (firehouse)
Bells ringing filled the air (alarm bells)
Wearin’the cross of my calling (FF Maltese Cross)
On wheel of fire I come rollin’ down here (Fire Apparatus)
There’s spirits above and behind me (the already dead)
Faces gone black, eyes burnin’bright (fear in others faces)
May their precious blood bind me
Lord, as I stand before your fiery light
I see you Mary in the garden
In the garden of a thousand sighs
There’s holy pictures of our children
Dancin’ in a sky filled with light
May I feel your arms around me
May I feel your blood mix with mine
A dream of life comes to me
Like a catfish dancin’on the end of my line
Sky of blackness and sorrow
Sky of love, sky of tears
Sky of glory and sadness
Sky of mercy, sky of fear
Sky of memory and shadow
Your burnin’ wind fills my arms tonight
Sky of longing and emptiness
Sky of fullness, sky of blessed life
Not long before the 2004 election, Bruce for the first time took a political stance and endorsed John Kerry for president. An addendum of his words in Rolling Stone, September 2, 2004 is attached. He expresses my desires for a president who, “places a priority on fairness, curiosity, openness, humility, concern for all America’s citizens, courage and faith.” This is another juncture where my feelings and the lyrics of Bruce and Jackson Browne intersect. Both write about the historic winds that surround us with focused concern. On the Iraq War of choice Bruce wrote the lyrics to Devils and Dust-2005 and Last To Die-2007 in which he paraphrases John Kerry’s words to a congressional committee during Viet Nam. My wife and I stood up front with the firefighters for Kerry at the last big rally in Manchester days before the election. The rest is History.
Who’ll be the last to die for a mistake
The last to die for a mistake
Whose blood will spill, whose heart will break
Who’ll be the last to die, for a mistake
-From the same album and the song Magic
Trust none of what you hear and less of what you see
This is what will be, this is what will be…
…and the freedom that you sought’s
Driftin’ like a ghost amongst the trees
This is what will be, this is what will be
Jackson Browne’s song The Drums of War intertwines with the thread of my feelings facing another four years under Bush and at War:
…time comes when everything you ever thought you knew
Comes crashing down and flames up in front of you
Roll out the drums of war
Roll back the freedoms that we struggled for
What were those freedoms for?
Let’s not talk about it any more
Roll out the drums of war
Whatever you believe the necessary course to be
Depends on who you trust to identify the enemy
Who beats the drums for war?
Even before the peace is lost
Who are the profits for?
And who are they who bear the cost
When a country takes the low road to war
Who gives the orders, orders to torture?
Who get to no bid contract the future?
Who lies, then bombs, then calls it an error?
Who makes a fortune from fighting terror?
Who is the enemy of truth and justice?
Where are the courts, now when we need them?
Why is impeachment not on the table?
We better stop them while we are able
Roll out the drums of war
The last line is a call for a revolution of ideas and it has started with the campaigns of 2004 and 2006 leading up to this critical election and the choices to be made by the voters of this country. I feel a need to speak up for the truths I see, a need to build bridges of connection and communication, understanding and reason. The truths of Bruce and Jackson’s lyrics strengthen and intersect with both History and how I feel. They don’t know me from a hole in the wall but over the years they have touched me deeply and I am grateful. It is better to write than wallow in grief, to speak up and stop the thief, to feel the fire in your belly and shed light on the liars. Our country changed with the assassinations of Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King and John Kennedy. All were leaders I believed in and feel as if we have lost great potential for this country in the years since their passing. Jackson Browne touches on this and the connection of today’s History to the 60’s in the song, Off Of Wonderland:
…there was change in the air
It was love everywhere
Living off of Wonderland
Ankle deep in contraband
Working on a life unplanned
Didn’t we believe in love?
Didn’t we believe in giving it away?
That didn’t really leave us with the love
To find our way
After RFK and Martin Luther King
Do you feel it today?
Love is still on the way
Coming over Wonderland
The world is in your open hand
Once again it’s at your command
Didn’t we believe in love?
Didn’t we believe that love would carry on?
Wouldn’t we receive enough
If we could just believe in one another
As much as we believed in John
Do you want to know a secret? (I believe that) before time the conqueror turns us to devils and dust a rising will occur over the great seas and that love will reign over us. That the ideals and ideas of the founding fathers of this country will be the last to die as the drums of a war of revolutionary idea wins. A global world will be built with magic, off of a wonderland thread of dreams picked up from the language of lyrics in music that connects us all. We will construct a house of the rising sun of reason, live in peace and let it be.
Language is the thread! Peace is the answer!
 2008 Jackson Browne-Time The Conqueror-Inside Recordings. L.L.C.
 Rolling Stone-Issue 946—April 15,2004 by Jackson Browne
 Rolling Stone-Issue 912/913—Dec 26, 2002 by Fricke, David
 2005 Bruce Springsteen-Devils and Dust-Columbia Records
 2007 Bruce Springsteen-Magic-Columbia Records
 2008 Jackson Browne-Time The Conqueror-Inside Recordings. L.L.C.
 2008 Jackson Browne-Time The Conqueror-Inside Recordings. L.L.C.