Monday, June 1, 2015

"The Things I Don't Write About, And The Reasons I Don't Write About Them"

This one may be short.

(Although I have said that before and been wrong.)

It occurred to me that terrorist organizations, more frequently that you would statistically expect, have appealingly colorful names.

“Isis.”  “Boko Haram.”  And, heaven help us – the “Gestapo.”

There is an undeniable charisma about those names.  You want to join up just for the jackets.

Other than this brief mention, I decided not to write about that.  Why?  Because the amusement value is monumentally eclipsed by the reality of the horrificness. 

“Funny names.”

“Yes, but they kill people.”

Not a difficult call, that one.

It is curious but true that when I talk about what I do here, I find myself reluctant to admit to its comedic intent.  It is possible – bordering on quite likely – that I deny that I’m trying to be funny so when I’m not I can assert that I was not trying to be funny.

I was just talking.  And if it’s funny, hey, sometimes I talk funny.

It is absolutely true – and if it’s not, I choose to believe it is anyway – that I do not deliberately try to be funny.  Despite that assertion, however, the evidence suggests that my “personal slant” and “subject selection process” betrays an undeniable proclivity in that direction.

As with the “terrorist name” example, I admit to avoiding topics that might – or for the majority, would – turn the readership off.  Why would I want to do that?  Even so, however, I do not always succeed in my intention. 

I had a regular commenter who disappeared because she was offended by a post I wrote concerning my imagining of the original selling point of the guillotine – that it introduced a democratizational effect into public executions. 

No more hanging for the poor and beheadings for the wealthy.  With the guillotine, everyone got executed exactly the same way.  Allowing the condemned French peasant to exult:

“What an honor!  I’m getting the same self-off as an aristocrat!”

I thought that was funny. 

My longtime but now departed commenter – and there are likely other departees whom I have similarly affronted over the years – did not.

The “guillotine” idea was comedically workable; plus, it was about an issue I cared about – the barbarity of capital punishment.  So I went with it.  I, however, passed on the “terrorist names” idea partly because of the offence it would engender, combined with the fact that, though comedically workable itself, bottom line – it’s “Funny Names”, lacking an underlying point of view. 

At best – similar to the guillotine example – I’d have imagined a salesperson from the advertising arena pitching infectiously catchy “Organizational Names” to terrorists.  (Premised on an actual situation I once heard about, in which a Canadian songwriter became successful, composing national anthems for emerging countries.)

There are other cases where I don’t write something because the issue has already been determined, and I am unequivocally on the wrong side of history.  Women in the military.  I do not know what they’re doing there – adding emphatically that I would support the access of women into any other line of endeavor.  Okay, not football. 

Though it is unpopular to say so – which is why I take a pass on writing about it, beyond the fact that it is a fait accompli – I do not believe women in our culture should be encouraged to kill and maim people from other countries, and – especially when it comes to my two daughters – risk a similar outcome themselves.

Somebody has to stop the madness.  And, judging from history, it unlikely to be men.

“Forget about it, Earlo.  It’s over.”

I know.

(I am, however, pleased to acknowledge a soupcon of reasonability in our commercial entertainment.  I recently, out of curiosity, checked out Fast & Furious 6 on TV, and noticed immediately that, in the climactic confrontation, the “Good Guy” woman squared off only against the “Bad Guy” woman.  Finally, I thought.  Sanity in combat.)

Finally, in this introductory though hardly comprehensive conversation about what I don’t write about and why, there is the comedic angle.  (Says the man who is “not trying to be funny.”)

By this writing, I’ll have attended a reunion of my original Toronto Hebrew Day School class, who, with one exception, I have not seen since we were thirteen years old.  Making it a cool fifty-seven years between “How’re ya doin’s?”

Will I write about it?

It depends how it turns out.

I recall recently reporting that the blog title “Just Thinking” suited me because it left me open to writing about anything that comes to my mind.

True and not true.

I cannot – obviously – write about something that doesn’t come to my mind.  But I also reject subjects that do.

Not to say that I am entirely untroubled by my decisions. 

Selectivity is a part of the artistic process.

But it is difficult to distinguish from “Why take the chance?”

1 comment:

JED said...

I'll jump on the bandwagon of possibly getting people mad at me.

Wouldn't it be funny if a foreign terrorist group ask someone to come up with a name that would strike terror into the hearts of the English-speaking world and the guy they asked for a name was really working for the US or Canada and suggested they call their group the Doofuses? They'd create their webpage and mail out a bunch of press releases and be the laughing stock of the world before they realized what had happened.