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October 2001


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We Hope To See You At Our Next Celebration

Sunday, October 7, 2001
4-9 PM
Carl and Lida Sloan's

For directions: Please phone Bob Olson at (425) 747-3879.

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Art Sharing
Sunday, September 9, 2001

Carl Sloan read his poems. Bruce Taylor read his story "Insight" published on the Webzine Alternate Realities. Roberta Gregory shared one of her "Bitchy Bitch" animated cartoons. Maggie Bloodstone read excerpts from her screenplay. Larry Lewis shared stories about his trip into Canada and the world of paleontology. David Hartz showed his fire sculpture portfolio together with a fire painting video. Pippin Sardo, Peter Wagener and Benjamin Miller provided our audience. Lida Sloan will play some jazz music at our next meeting.

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Other Stuff

Bruce Taylor was a presenter at Pacific Northwest Writers' Conference, was also a guest at VikingCon SF convention in Bellingham and will be presenting a panel entitled "The Artist's Way" at "Write on the Sound", Writers' Convention Oct. 6 and 7 in Edmonds.

Bruce sold his story, "Insight" to a Webzine, Alternate Realities. He will also have an article on Magic Realism appearing in the Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America Bulletin. (Hey, folks, this is really classy!!!!)

Bruce will also be retiring from his job at Harborview, November 1, 2001. Party to be announced in next newsletter. (Editor's note: Lucky stiff!!)

Bruce can now be reached by e-mail at: mrmagicrealism@aol.com or brucebtaylor@aol.com. His website is: www.pantarbe.com/mrmagicrealism/index.htm.

Bob Olson will go into Swedish Hospital on September 27 for prostrate surgery. We all send him our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

If you want to advertise something your are doing in our newsletter please call Bob or Bruce. This is an excellent free bulletin board for your announcements.

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Editorial by Donna Barr:

The Truth is Not Out There

When I was thirteen years old, my junior-high-school history class was shown an American propaganda film as "history." Had the teacher told us that this was indeed a propaganda film, I would have held my peace. But it was obvious that we were to view the film as an historical documentary and to answer and formulate questions about it as though it dealt with a detailed, considered record of reality, rather than fragments that supported a specific opinion. When I asked why the discrepancy was not pointed out, I was neither reprimanded nor punished as is usual with high-school children -- especially girls -- who ask too many questions. Instead, the teacher looked at me with such incomprehension that I realized that he didn't think it was important. He probably couldn't discriminate between history and propaganda, himself.

Once I thought about it, it became obvious that, as an American, he would never have been given the tools to make the distinction. We have a long history of confusing history with propaganda. Young republics often do -- they've got to get the word out about their situation, and then the habit sticks. It's certainly stuck with us. We're not the only ones, of course -- history has long been in the hands of court poets, patriarchs, kings and the elect and wealthy. But during the late eighteenth and nineteenth century, history became an academic discipline. An attempt had been made -- if not always successful -- to separate history from propaganda.

"History" -- regardless of national viewpoint, contradictory or spotty reporting, incompatible approaches, the blink hubris of the victorious, absence of witnesses (or too many of them!) or just plain confusion -- is at least an attempt to record the true course of events. What one writer leaves out, another can protest and a third, reading their opposing views, can come to a more educated, and hopefully more urbane, guess. History is seldom pure; historian suffer from their own ethnic, cultural and chronological blind spots. They regularly butt heads with one another over the details of their discipline. And since many of them are professors, the ruthless deadlines of "publish-or-perish" often rush them into ill-conceived pronouncements that they wouldn't have made if they'd had a chance to stop and edit (a situation with which many a drawn-book wrier, artist or publisher can ruefully sympathize).

"The winners get to write the history." In America, the entertainment industry gets to rewrite history. The film, especially, yields itself to the process of myth making. In movies from Birth of a Nation to Schindler's List, a limited or incomplete story is treated as history. This needed be a concern of the filmmakers. They have a personal ideal to share, and they must pay attention to the demands of the film market. No more than Shakespeare, Homer or the bible may they be held accountable for historical rigor. Shakespeare turned Joan of Arc into a witch and a whore. The Bible sneers at Egypt as an empire of slavers. Homer puts the words of gods into the mouths of men. Spielberg doesn't know where Schindler got the diamonds. But history isn't the author's job. No writer of fiction, no poet, no holy book or movie need be blamed nor should artistic license, nor artistic ignorance.

The blame should fall upon teachers who use forms of entertainment or advertising in the classroom as historical documentary and make no attempt to differentiate between the two. As a particularly depressing contemporary example, an article in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer quotes a student who says that, in a production of Cabaret, "My character was supposed to represent Germany, so (I) made it overly sexual and disgusting." In this case, the wartime propaganda about a country has not been clarified to a child, who does not understand that Cabaret is a play within a play, and the "disgusting" characters are based on the courageous actors who daily risked multiple or one-way trips to Dachau for purposely trying to shock the middle-class German society of their day. His drama and history teachers have given him an image based in propaganda, with a fillip of American sexual phobia, and applied it to a play he does not understand.

The best film documentaries make it clear that they are incomplete -- only a fragment of the whole story -- that holes remain, which cannot be filled in the finite space of a film. "Exhaustive" is not a term that can be used even of the best and most complete film documentaries. "Exhausting" is more like it -- as anyone who has sat through Olympiad or Triumph Of The Will -- can attest. And even these are not documentaries in a strict sense, but edited contemporary imagery. Reality can be tedious, even with a good soundtrack.

Americans have confused their mythology -- their entertainment -- with their history. It's just a short step to believing anything we're handed, from toothpaste commercials to the reason for the latest war. Americans want to think they know the difference. We even think that what we have is history and that only other people have propaganda. While we may later recognize what we did as propaganda, it has still done its damage to its contemporary audience, by lumping together another population as the beast, the Untermensch, the goyim.

Once a population believes another has no human status, it is dangerous or worthless, its easy to treat them at best as valuable slaves, at worst as vermin. The only thing my own home town did as its "dangerous foreign" minority was loaded into trains was to confiscate their erstwhile neighbors' property. Only lately has our government grudgingly paid the survivors a pittance in reparation -- and only that after a bitter legal struggle. And not without mouthing excuses in the guise of "Wartime Expediency" -- as though any form of expedition could be a reason for treating another people as less than human! But expediency, like propaganda, is easy. History and humanism are not. No wonder most people or governments, when offered a choice, snatch for the easy way!

I think -- I hope -- I have encouraged teachers who wish to use my series The Desert Peach as a text, to remind their students that it is a work of fiction -- an allegory that, no matter how thorough the research or good the sources, needs to be labeled as fiction for the student. In a century where propaganda of all sorts, including advertising, has been so inescapable, the teacher of history cannot escape the responsibility to teach students to discriminate between the sources and intents of the information they receive.

Propaganda is not new -- and we're not the first people to turn it into entertainment. We certainly won't be the last to believe in it for our own excuses. But it would help if we learned to recognize the differences between propaganda and history -- or propaganda and contemporary events -- a little sooner. And never to accept propaganda as a valid replacement.

It's probably a Fond Hope. Those who know about the past are condemned to repeat it because we don't recognize it. Most of us suffer from chronocentrism as well as ethnocentrism, and can only remember that sequestered moment that interests us. When history repeats itself, it just does it in a different costume. (Originally composed for The Sixth Annual Comic Arts Conference, held at the 1998 San Diego Comicon International).

Bruce Taylor's Editorial: We Have Met the Enemy and...

Is this country really that stupid to want to invade Afghanistan? Are we really that idiotic to not have learned from Vietnam and the Russian experience in Afghanistan? The horrible tragedy in New York can only be compounded by such an act that would simply unite all of Islam against us, protect the terrorists and probably bring even more destruction to us.

There has got to be a better way, but I don't see our "leaders" thinking like that. And all we're doing, as far as the Islamic world is concerned, is recreating the Crusades yet again. We don't get it. We just don't get it. We don't get it why our policies in the world have created so much anger. We don't get it why the hatred and bigotry of Falwell and Robertson* is no different than the worst and most incendiary radicalism of Osama bin Laden.

What does this all have to do with art? If we don't somehow get the powers that be to step back and really think about what we're about to get into, there may not be much left of an "environment" (culture, safety, resources, etc.) in which to do our art. And, if things get bad enough, there may not be much left of us to do it. This may well be the beginning of the end, not only for the unspoken Pax Americana, but for hope that, for once, things could be different. Walt Kelly, creator of Pogo, was so right: "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Falwell Apologizes To Gays, Feminists, Lesbians
September 14, 2001 Posted: 2:55 AM EDT (0655 GMT)

LYNCHBURG, Virginia (CNN) - The Rev. Jerry Falwell said late Thursday he did not mean to blame feminists, gays or lesbians for bringing on the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington this week, in remarks on a television program earlier in the day.

On the broadcast of the Christian television program "The 700 Club," Falwell made the following statement:

"I relaly believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"

Falwell, pastor of the 22,000-member Thomas Road Baptist Church, viewed the attacks as God's judgment on America for "throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked."

But in a phone call to CNN, Falwell said that only the hijackers and terrorists were responsible for the deadly attacks.

"I do believe, as a theologian, based upon many Scriptures and particularly Proverbs 14:23, which says 'living by God's principles promotes a nation to greatness, violating those principles brings a nation to shame,'" he said.

Falwell said he believes the ACLU and other organizations "which have attempted to secularize America, have removed our nation from its relationship with Christ on which it was founded."

"I therefore believe that that created an environment which possibly has caused God to lift the veil of protection which has allowed no one to attack America on our soil since 1812," he said.

Pat Robertson, host of the 700 Club program, seemed to agree with Falwell's earlier statements in a prayer during the program.

"We have sinned against Almighty God, at the highest level of our government, we've stuck our finger in your eye," said Robertson. "The Supreme Court has insulted you over and over again, Lord. They've taken your Bible away from the schools. They've forbidden little children to pray. They've taken the knowledge of God as best they can, and organizations have come into court to take the knowledge of God out of the public square of America."

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Lorri L. Jean bristled at the idea that gays and lesbians had anything to do with the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that may have left thousands dead, and demanded an apology from Falwell.

"The terrible tragedy that has befallen our nation, and indeed the entire global community, is the sad byproduct of fanaticism. It has its roots in the same fanaticism that enables people like Jerry Falwell to preach hate against those who do not think, live, or love in the exact same way he does," she said.

"The tragedies that have occurred this week did not occur because someone made God mad, as Mr. Falwell asserts. They occurred because of hate, pure and simple. It is time to move beyond a place of hate and to a place of healing. We hope that Mr. Falwell will apologize to the U.S. and world communities."

Falwell told CNN: "I would never blame any human being except the terrorists, and if I left that impression with gays or lesbians or anyone else, I apologize."

?? So he's apologizing for something he really means? Why isn't he considered a Radical Fundamentalist Extremist? Who's next on his roster of hate? Artists?

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Two Poems by Carl Sloan


Art has as many phonies
As politics:
Beige buffoons,
Pastel prevaricators,
And critics of a stripe.


Two kinds of waves
out here:
ones that want you dead
ones that just don't care.

For awhile after
his boat went down
anything you'd see in the water
you'd think was Norman.

Don't take that extra chance
for the extra crab load.
We'll get by without it
even skip a meal.

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Advice From The Experts:

"Un-provided with original learning, unformed in the habits of thinking, unskilled in the arts of composition, I resolved to write a book."

Edward Gibbon

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Last updated:  October 2, 2001