Mind Fields: Why Are Commercials?

Why Are Commercials?

May 2022

I’ve been watching these f..ing things since the beginning of television in the early fifties.

We call them “commercials”, thus making the word a noun. On offer in our affluent culture is a system built upon the marketing of various products. Without marketing there is no Capitalism. In the early days of TV we took for granted that every ten minutes or so the program would pause for a “word from our sponsor”. In most cases that sponsor was one of three things: food, pharmaceuticals or automobiles. 

It hasn’t changed. We still see these interruptions every X number of minutes. Nowadays we mute the volume or we fast-forward but we are forced to waste time on them, one way or another.

When I watch these things I feel a mixture of amused contempt and chagrin. The contempt is for myself and my brethren who have absorbed so many of these messages that the wasted time must amount to… what? Months? Years? I have to wonder. How much of my time has been spent either watching or avoiding these marketing techniques? As much time as I’ve spent sleeping, certainly.

The first commercial that I was aware of was the brand of Twenty Mule Team Borax. It was laundry detergent. It completes the picture of the happy housewife in our capitalist society. She washed clothes in her brand new washer-dryer combo. She fed her children the repulsive junk that was flogged on the Saturday morning cartoon shows. Breakfast cereal. Wonder Bread. Jif peanut butter. Canned peas. I shudder. My insides are permanently made of glue.

The happy housewife model of consumer heaven ruled our lives from the airwaves. Our moms were supposed to be efficient smiling providers of nurture in the form of supermarket comestibles. We had Twinkies. We had cupcakes. So, how come my mom was a raging manic depressive with sadistic tendencies?

I was more likely to get strangled in her apron strings as I was to be poisoned by sugared manna from the delicatessen.

Guess what, people? We have a past. We have history. Our culture has evolved at a rocket pace to keep up with the rate of change. But a lot of us folks came of age in a different world. We don’t understand the stuff our kids and grand kids are consuming. What is this shit? Uh…uh. No Way. 

It’s the same old story updated for modern times. It’s still fast food, pharmaceuticals and Ford pickup trucks. 

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Mind Fields: Food Disorders And Other Fun Things to Do To F**k Yourself Up

Mind Fields

2022, The Year Of The Great Fungus

I have a conceit, i.e. that I should hold the title as “The World’s Most F**ked Up Person”. The only problem is that all of you would also like to hold this same title. Don’t try to con me. I know what you think. The only reason I know what you think is that it’s the same thing that I think.

Or. I used to think. When I recognized that each of us claims this title as the most neurotic person on Earth, I began to have more confidence in myself. Surely, I reasoned, if I am exactly the same amount of f**ked up as everyone else, then I must belong to this Family of Man. I’m human. And we all know that there is great dignity to being human. We are builders of pyramids, makers of satellites and space ships.

I have a very weird relationship with food. The first time I grasped that I was deeply crazy was when I began to eat huge amounts of food. I indulged especially in sweets. If I were to make a pie chart of my life (and refrain from eating it), I’m sure it would show huge chunks of time in the bulimia/anorexia’ zone. The worst of my food disorders followed me through adolescence; years seventeen through twenty two. I was out in the world, trying to maneuver by being on or near college campuses.

I had a sneaky way of being anorexic. I deluded myself into thinking that this was a spiritual discipline.  Macrobiotics. It would get me high, exalt me spiritually. By eating small portions of brown rice and onions, chickpeas in barley, I was the paragon of yogic discipline. This was who I wanted myself to be. I got skinny. I weighed 125. On top of this I was taking LSD and smoking DMT. I was deep into my purpose, my destiny of becoming a musician of salvation and a figure of reverence. I was grandiose as all hell.

Then I came to a breaking point. After a year of Macrobiotics, I had such a craving for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I bought the ingredients and took them back to my hidey hole. “What are you doing?” I asked myself. “This is a self betrayal, this is the opposite of Macrobiotic food. You asshole, what a failure you are!” So I ate it. Then I ate something else sweet and gooey. Then I couldn’t stop eating every kind of junk food on the planet. I had been like a spring ready to snap. Boing!

I was so ashamed of myself. This was 1967, before eating disorders had been invented. I was a pioneer. My bulimia wasn’t the pukey kind. It was the Exercise Freakishly type of bulimia, the one where on alternate days I would purge with sweat and effort, then follow with a day of relentless eating: an entire apple pie, backed up by a half gallon of ice cream. That kind of eating: epic, disgusting eating. After that came the cookies, and so forth. One day exercising. One day binge eating. Back and forth, one followed the other, for more than a year. I looked for help. I went to the college shrink. He said, “I don’t know what’s happening to you and I can’t help you. Besides, you’re not even enrolled as a student at this college.”

I lost weight during this time. It was paradoxical! How could I be losing weight? My metabolism must have been very confused. My waist was a twenty nine or thirty. I was living in a vacant student’s quarter, avoiding the security guys and bedding down with a pad and sleeping bag. I got money from my dad. I worked as a stable boy at a local horse ranch. A stable boy. I had my drums stashed at the university’s music building in a practice room. I practiced there for hours every day, getting high by all means and experimenting with the limits of my technique. That was the point of not going to college. I let my dad pay for semesters at Western Reserve or Wayne State, and then I would slip down to Yellow Springs from Cleveland and hang out with people who talked to trees. I would practice all the time, working through the famous “Stick Control” books and listening to Coltrane records.

This was a pleasant period that lasted about a year. I may be conflating two different periods of time. It doesn’t matter. That’s the way memory works when it sort of fails to work. I think there’s a memory bank in the brain and it gets filled up and needs to be purged once in a while. It’s all just story anyway. Life truly is fiction, it has to be. I just want a subject to write about and my life has been so bizarre that it qualifies as the stuff of novels. That poor guy (that is, myself) didn’t know what lay ahead. He thought that if he took enough acid, did yoga, ate rice and played the drums then he would launch himself into nirvana. It’s not a bad plan, really. The problem was that I was fractured psychologically, harboring behaviors that would shame me again and again. I was very (he says solemnly) very f**ked up.

These were adolescent ordeals, but they were precursors to my future. In the sixties my eighteen year old self dreamed of cosmic unity while the biggest thing that lay ahead of me was coke and heroin addiction. I interrogated my psyche by reading about psychology. After that came years of therapy. I was determined to save myself ,in spite of my terrible behavior.

It took a long time but none of it can be repudiated. It’s lucky I’m still alive and well.

After my food disorders came cocaine, and then, heroin.

I’m still slightly food disordered. I control, compensate, manage. Mostly I exercise.

The cocaine and heroin almost killed me. 

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Mind Fields: Crime Thrillers And Mystery Media

Mind Fields

I read everything. I read fiction, non fiction, biography, history, psychology. If libraries were edible there would be few surviving libraries. I would have been a Godzilla-like creature with an insatiable appetite for books, “The Monster That Devoured Libraries”. I’ve been reading voraciously since I was eight years old. I started my reading career with historical fiction, then turned to sci-fi and Fantasy. I detoured into crime fiction and mysteries but I put them down in my twenties and never returned until I saw the film “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”. That rekindled my lust for good thrillers and I checked out the late Stieg Larsen’s epic trilogy. Then I turned to the somber depths of Henning Mankell, author of the Wallander mystery series.

Mankell is sixty four years old. I find this fact very much  in his favor. I like reading authors who’ve got some worldly experience, who are old enough to recognize the body’s fragility and are beginning to be on speaking terms with death.

Henning Mankell spends half of his year living in Maputo, Mozambique. He is director of a drama troupe called Teatro Del Avenida. What, I wonder, could be better food for a writer’s mind than to open himself to a world so utterly alien to his native experience?

Stockholm/Maputo, Stockholm/Maputo… here is a successful writer who is seriously engaged with the world. He’s not hiding in some comfy Swedish estate, churning out formulaic mystery books. His writing is many layers deep.

Mankell’s best-selling character, Chief Inspector Wallander, is a frustrating man. He’s frustrating to his daughter, he’s frustrating to his colleagues; he’s especially frustrating to himself. Somehow he never seems to get to that vulnerable place that allows his feelings to surface. He looks like a man tormented by an itch that he can never scratch. He walks around with three days’ growth of beard on his face, his shirt tails are hanging out, his eyes are bleary.

Somehow he always catches the killer, by thrashing his way through obscure connections, chasing ancient traumas, exposing religious zealotry and the classic motive to many a murder, old fashioned desire for revenge. Wallander’s like a gloomy Colombo. He always has one more question.

Mankell’s prose is austere and controlled. It evokes the Swedish countryside, from its thousands of Baltic islands to its birch forests and vast yellow fields of mustard and flax. Mankell also takes non-Swedish readers into the Swedish mind-set via references to Swedish history and attitudes.

There is a nostalgia for an “old” Sweden. Just as we in the U.S. have pre and post Nine Eleven mind-sets, the Swedes divide their recent history into periods before and after the assassination of their prime minister Olaf Palme in 1986. The crime was never solved and remains a collective national trauma.

Any sensitive reading of Mankell requires this awareness of the Swedish world-view. Americans are not great in being aware of other cultures and other histories. This is an opportunity to absorb Swedish culture from one of its iconic writers.

James Lee Burke

        A quote from the novel Swan Peak:

“There are occasions in this world when you’re allowed to step inside a sonnet, when clocks stop and you don’t worry about time’s winged chariot and hands that beckon you from the shadows.”

I flat out love James Lee Burke’s writing. He’s another writer with some miles on his old frame. His best selling series characters, Detective Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell are two of the most colorful non-heroes in crime fiction. Most of Burke’s novels move in and around New Orleans and the bayou country. The area’s history is like a character in itself.  The ghosts of civil war personalities haunt the landscape. Burke’s stories draw on the family feuds and crimes from the past. His plots involves the great great great grandchildren of  plantation owners and slaves. James Lee Burke’s writing is an invocation of living memory.

Certain structures appear in Burke’s narratives. There’s always an aristocratic family whose roots go back to ante-bellum times. This family has entanglements within the black community. The family is also “mobbed up”, albeit quietly, with the Giacano people in New Orleans. 

People whose grandparents were slaves still work  for this family. Some old blues man who plays the local dives witnessed a killing forty years ago. He won’t talk about it; he never talks about the “doings of white folk”. Dave can pry bits of information from the reluctant guitar man when he promises not to reveal his source. All the same, there’s a possibility that the old blues man’s body will float out of the bayou some time down the road.

Dave is a recovering alcoholic. The longing, the nostalgia for a shot of Johnny Walker in a glass of beer, is so authentic that Burke’s nascent alcoholism is clear as an empty decanter.

Burke knows the landscape of longing, of grief for an addiction that provided so much comfort yet brought so much destruction. This is why James Lee Burke is so good as a writer: he’s honest about who he is and his “real” personality bleeds across into his characters with perfect fidelity. 

Here they are, the inhabitants of James Lee Burke’s fictional world. Dave Robicheaux, Vietnam vet and PTSD sufferer. Alcoholic. A cop who resents authority. Habitue of AA meetings when the pressure builds. Lover of his wife and his daughter Alafair and his tame three legged raccoon Tripod and his un-neutered warrior cat, Snuggles. Best friend of Clete Purcell, a de-frocked homicide cop who now does skip tracing for bondsmen Nig Rosewater and Wee Willie Bimstine.

Clete is enormous, powerful, aggressive, self indulgent and frequently teeters on the brink of losing his self control. He is described as “an elephant falling down a stairs”. He still drinks and pushes Dave’s patient loyalty to the boundary. A fellow Vietnam vet, fellow PTSD patient, Clete was Dave’s partner in the homicide division of New Orleans Police Department.

In the old days they were called “The Bobbsey Twins.”

Burke mixes up all these characters to create stories with perfect pacing and addictive tension. He describes the color of light in Bayou Teche, the sound of the rain as it blows in from the Gulf. Someone out there creeping around the roots of the drowned trees is leveling a telescopic site onto Dave’s forehead. That someone may be a psychopathic ex-prison guard from Angola Penitentiary, a “gun bull”, a racist of the old stripe who once prodded prison laborers from the saddle of his horse, carrying a shotgun and ready to use it.

Burke’s villains have a whiff of sulfur about them, they aren’t quite human, they have a Satanic indifference to human suffering and a quick toughness that seems invincible.

These are some of the scariest villains in fiction. These are just a few reasons why you should read James Lee Burke.

His heroes are flawed, his villains terrifying, his victims pathetic and mute, his settings historic and laced with the colors of Spanish moss and the distant growl of alligators.

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Growing Bookworms – Setting learning goals with your child

Just like adults, children benefit by setting learning goals for the year or even the term. Goals give all of us something positive and definite to work towards and we feel a sense of achievement when we meet our goals.

At the beginning of the school year, parents should sit down with their child and plan some goals for the year. This goal setting process should include identifying the specific areas the child needs to work on and the setting of realistic and achievable goals in order to measure progress in those areas. If your child is struggling with maths, for example, there is no point in setting a goal of achieving a distinction in the first term of the new school year. A reasonable goal would be an increase of 5% for each term, which will allow the child to improve his/her understanding of the subject and gradually build on their successes. By setting achievable goals your child will be motivated to work towards them. Unrealistic goals are demotivating and set the child up for failure.

It is also better to set goals that are unrelated to specific grades and performance measures as this destresses the goal setting process for your child. Goals that shift your child’s learning objectives and focus from passing tests and exams to a greater understanding of the topic and appreciation of the value of the subject matter result in a better attitude towards learning. In this way, a child that dislikes a particular subject because of anxiety issues can learn to enjoy the learning process involved in tackling the subject and learning material. A positive attitude makes all the difference to a successful learning outcome.

Parents need to be sensitive when discussing areas of academic weakness with their child and ensure they do not compare one child in a family unfavourably to another. Children are all different and have their own talents which may differ dramatically. It undermines a child’s self confidence if they feel their performance is being measured against that of a sibling. Comparing children can also make them both feel that their parents love is conditional on good grades and academic performance thereby increasing anxiety and stress even in strong academics.

Goal setting should always focus on the future and not reflect negatively on the past. If the child has had a bad term and failed a subject, the goal should set out positive steps to improve performance and not focus on a bad result that can’t be changed. Ask your child how they can use the learning experience of the difficult test or exam to do better next time.

Goals don’t have to be academic in nature. A child that is exceptionally shy can set goals to try and participate more in class activities and discussions. A child that is not sporty can set a goal to play a non-competitive sport for a term. After all, learning is not only about academics, it is also about learning to be a good citizen and contributing positively to society.

What do you think? Have you ever set goals with your child? Let me know in the comments.

This morning, I came across an excellent post by Bella from Thoughts ‘n Life blog about goal setting. It offers some good advice which you can read here: https://thoughtsnlifeblog.com/2022/05/09/setting-the-right-priorities/

Thinking about goals setting and keeping children focused and positive brought to mind this song from the movie Annie:

About Robbie Cheadle

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Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with 9 children’s books and 2 poetry books.

The 7 Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published 2 books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has 2 adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories in the horror and paranormal genre and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie writes a monthly series for https://writingtoberead.com called Growing Bookworms. This series discusses different topics relating to the benefits of reading to children.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/ where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Mind Fields: When A Man Ages

Mind Fields

Dating And Aging: A dilemma

If you’re fifty years or older and you’re looking for a romance you will find that things have changed. In the past it was “the bad boy” who got all the ladies. Now, to these ladies, a bad boy is just an early version of a bad man.

I used to be a bad boy. I was a jazz musician, which is a permanent “bad boy” pass. Now I’m an elder musician. I’ve given up on looking for romance. It can find me; that’s okay.

 It has been difficult for me to re-calibrate my visual expectations. Men are sexually stimulated by their eyeballs. When I was a kid I looked at my dad’s magazines with complete and ardent attention. Without this masculine visual appetite. there would be no porn, no Playboy or Hustler. But there IS, and men like to look almost as much as they like to touch. Men LOOOVE to look.

When I go out into the world, to shop or keep appointments, I see women of my own age in all their seasoned glory. It is an adjustment for the testosterone-fueled man to make… to keep the fires lit on these ladies of fifty and sixty something years. They’re not likely to have fresh pert boobs. Nor a smooth silky skin. As for the shapely ass, eh, maybe… maybe not. 

It’s natural for men to seek young women but that doesn’t make it wise. When a man discovers that young women are children with boobs, he finds a clear warning: this is not going to work. If he fails to sense this warning he’s letting himself in for a universe of grief.

When I set out twenty years ago to look for a partner I was already…uh…old. I knew I was looking for women near to my age, that is, I knew it with my mind but my body and unconscious adolescent still sought out twenty three year olds. I understood that women of my age are mothers and grandmothers. I was stuck inside my twenty three year old male lust for women of reproductive age.

It is nature’s way of ensuring that we continue to reproduce our species. Men were designed to want young women. I’ve been in a battle between twenty something ME and seventy something ME. Men want to follow their instincts and spew their seed far and wide. That doesn’t change but the DRIVE in the older version of myself has changed, it isn’t so insistent, so relentless. Maybe it’s time to change the entire aspect of love, eros and friendship.

Changing these core drives gives me a little breathing room.

It gives me a chance to take a step backward and look at myself. I don’t have abs any more. I have… uh… call them abdominal folds. I’m ridiculously fit, BUT. Fitness is not a definitive draw for women. The females of the human species are attracted to emotional intelligence and vulnerability. They want to know and feel your emotions. After failing repeatedly with women, I got into therapy. I found that a few years of therapy is the most erotic asset one can have. It’s also good for acquiring self knowledge. And this, self knowledge, is the most valuable asset of all. The more you know yourself, the more you know what you’re doing. It’s time to put on your big boy pants. Or your big girl pant-suit; as the case may be.

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Mind Fields: It Began With Television

Mind Fields

It Began With Television

April 2, 2022

It began with television. I was born in 1947, which makes me the first generation of TV people. I watched Howdy Doody, Sky King and Death Valley Days. How imprinted in my soul is Twenty Mule Train Borax? It’s permanent. As is….The Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke and Rawhide.

Television took the ancient art of storytelling and whisked it away from our personal imaginations. It brought down a shutter on our fantasy and took the lead in guiding our young personalities in ways we could not anticipate. Regard the PURPOSE of television: to make money. We were beyond infatuation. We were addicted to the TV. We stayed up late until the test pattern came on.  When we turned the set off we watched the picture die into a small white dot that after a second turned black. It was time for bed. Our parents didn’t care what we watched. We watched most of it together, except on weekend mornings. There was nothing subversive or dangerous on TV in those days. There were only the illusions of the capitalist marketing system. It sold a lot of laundry detergent. It was very tribal and sad. Yet… hypnotic and cute.

TV affected us. We don’t yet know how the effect scales up. We don’t know what has been done. We base our existence upon what presents on the screen. We are Creatures Of The Screen and it continues, until we have whole walls as screens. And they keep getting bigger! The emitted light enters our bodies and charges our cells. Television is both success and catastrophe. Television morphs into cell phones and monitors. It’s in the gas station restrooms. It’s in our pockets. If it JUST STOPPED right now: what would we do? For a while we would be lost. Many of us would just give up. It’s too hard being a human in this culture without that continual entertainment. We might… some of us… turn to reading or writing. Or solving math problems. Or speaking to our friends and family. 

We are unbearably lonely. That’s what TV has done. It has infected us with our culture’s unprecedented loneliness. Americans are the loneliest people in the world. It doesn’t stop there. Go to the worst barrio in Manila. You will see satellite dishes on the most humble shack. You will see TV sets playing within tiny shops that sell pencils and sponges. Their owners don’t even watch them. They play  Exotic Soaps and Indian made porn tapes. In the souks of Damascus. In the bazaars. Television.

Only the automobile has had such stupendous repercussions. Now, the T.V. has entered the vehicle and drives us to our destinations. We are embraced into the womb of the new culture. Soon, we may not need destinations. We will just be. In our cars. With our media. With our T.V.s.

It is, after all, just story telling. 

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.”

Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

______________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Mind Fields – Why Do We Pick On Ourselves?

Mind Fields

Why Do We Always Pick On Ourselves

from Mind Fields at writingtoberead.com

Americans pick on themselves. We do it constantly, relentlessly, awake, asleep, we pick on ourselves about everything. It’s as if a perfectionist mother–in-law sits inside our heads on a platform at the very center of our thoughts and points here and there, hectoring us with criticisms.

“You know you could lose a few pounds,” she will say.  She points with a drooping finger. “You’re getting heavy.” Her eyes narrow and she leans forward. “What’s wrong with your face? Is that a zit? How could you have a zit at your age? Your pores are kind of large, too. Speaking of age, wow, It really shows you’re getting over the hill.! I see wrinkles at the sides of your mouth and eyes. And that big one in the middle of your forehead, wow.”

Her elbow rests in her left hand while she taps her cheek with the right index finger. “Who could love a mess like you? Who buys your clothes, a retarded pygmy? My god, where did you get those awful shoes?”

Her inspection continues with a glare all up and down the length of me.  “Who does your hair”, she rasps, “a baboon? Get another stylist before it’s too late. The damage that’s being done, what a shame,  a real shonda. Your hair is thinning out too, a little bit day by day. You’re getting a pot belly! Ever think of wearing something, a brace, maybe?”  She sits in a rocker and lights a cigarette.  “I have a skin  cream that I can recommend. You’re at that age where it loses its elasticity.”

I’m quivering with shock now but determined to let her have her say. “Your teeth are a little funny. Has anyone ever suggested cosmetic dentistry?”

Pick pick pick, pick pick pick. Am I wrong? Have I overstated the case?
She never stops, this critical demon of the shadows. She is a product of decades of indoctrination. I only say “She” because I had a terrible mother. I’m still pissed off about that.

“I should remind you” she says inside my head, “to get your cholesterol checked. It can happen; any second it can happen, bam! and you keep over.You’re dead! Then what happens to your family?  Do you have a good lawyer? My brother in law knows one. And his cousin’s a doctor! Have you checked your prostate lately? I hear there’s a new medication for that. There’s a pill for everything these days, just watch sixty minutes. I mean the commercials, not the show. There’s a pill that’ll help you stop smoking if you survive the side effects. I love the medications where one of the side effects is ‘diminished semen’. What does that mean? What kind of pill can have ‘diminished semen’ as a side effect? Isn’t that the scariest thing a man can hear, short of ‘penis may wither and fall off?’ Loss of semen really means having crappy sex, doesn’t it? So why don’t they say, ‘may have brief weak orgasms’?”

This yapping harridan, this carping abusive inner voice, how did it get inside our heads? Let’s make it simple. First there’s television. There are a lot of good things about television, it’s not the monolithic purveyor of propaganda it might be in some other countries. Still, it hauls a freight train of psychological toxins every second of every day, no matter if the sound is on, whether or not you’ve blocked the commercials. It doesn’t matter. The marketers behind television are so sophisticated that we don’t have to turn on the device to be contaminated. In our society, television has become a self-referential culture, the subject of billions of conversations. It has moved into our thoughts and taken residence, permanently.
After TV there’s movies, the internet, magazines, newspapers, radio, you can’t escape marketing anywhere, not even in an airport restroom.

We barely live real lives any more. We talk about fictional characters whose lives are infinitely more exciting than ours and whose dangers are far beyond anything we would ever permit ourselves to face.

It would be interesting to snatch someone from the past and have this person witness our marketing techniques. Show a Viagra or Cialis commercial. What if we brought someone from the Victorian era, from around 1895, and showed commercials for keeping your thing hard? Every ten minutes another commercial showing a man of about fifty with a woman of about thirty eight, snuggling together, holding hands, watching the sun set. We would have to explain the nature of this product to the viewer. Without the warning “see a doctor if erection lasts more then four hours” there is nothing to indicate what this product does, what’s it’s for. When we explain it to our time traveler, what will this person think about our culture? How embarrassed would he or she be, how shocked at the impropriety?

Well, sure, they were prudes. Their repression caused them vast inner conflicts, but I would speculate it added an extra thrilling dimension to sex. It seems that when we started discussing our president’s blow jobs on the public airwaves, some line was crossed, some basic decency and sense of proportion was jettisoned off the side of our big ocean liner of a culture. Sex also got a little bit more ordinary, a bit more like costume jewelry.

I digress, I was talking about how we pick on ourselves. It’s stupidly obvious. It’s about getting us to spend money. The entire purpose of marketing is to manipulate our desires. The basic technique is to infect us with feelings of inadequacy. Then we are bombarded with glittering images of things we’re led to believe will make us feel better. If we feel bad enough we’ll go out and buy some ridiculous cream, or pill, or car, or hair weave, or something that makes no sense at all, we’ll just go buy anything, walk into Walmart with our credit cards and shop, as an anesthetic. We’ll be perfect consumers, depressed, dazed automatons piling up debt. Glassy eyed, we walk the aisles of the stores, pace the infinite mallways without destination until we find ourselves back home with bags full of junk. How did all this crap appear in our houses? I don’t remember buying an eighty eight inch Super High Definition TV set with a quadruple-woofer ten speaker sound system with Dolby nine point two noise reduction software.

We’ve been had. We’re nuts. We pick on ourselves because all our role models are distortions that are dissonant with real life. We don’t see authentic people in the movies or on TV. We see heroes who can kill a dozen trained hyenas by throwing wooden chopsticks from fifty feet. We are not encouraged to admire people who aren’t particularly beautiful, rich or talented. We aren’t given strength of character as a yardstick of true heroism. It isn’t enough to be an ordinary person anymore, we have to be some carefully crafted mannequin, with no missing teeth, no bad habits. We’re going to live to a hundred and fifty in perfect health, glowing and radiant, with a beautiful partner by our side. There won’t be any old age, slow decay, debility, nothing like that because the inner witch-voice won’t allow us to relax and be human, be ordinary and obey the laws of nature even when they take our youth and beauty.

Isn’t that the primary mechanism of marketing? To raise dissatisfaction to a level where we’ll do anything to “better” ourselves in the form of consuming whatever’s consumable to get a buzz for a few minutes or hours?

Pick pick pick, we’ve learned to pick on ourselves without mercy. Go ahead, take a look at yourself in the mirror! Do you like what you see? Have you been taught to accept yourself with all your flawed genes and pathological behaviors?

Can you accept and love yourself as the unique creation that you are?
Of course not. There’s no money in love.

Not yet.

Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Mind Fields – Healed By A Cat: An Autistic Man Meets A New Friend

Mind Fields

          One day we found out that an autistic man was going to move in next door. At the time we lived in an RV park in a 38 foot motor coach. “Next door” meant that we shared a small yard with our neighbor.         

           I was concerned. How autistic is he? I wondered. Autism can be a vague diagnosis. It has stretched beyond its original meaning of a soul completely lost to human interaction. The park’s manager described the man as “a little autistic”. That could mean almost anything.

          As Henry was helped to park in his site, he took a look at me and The Fox. He said one word, “Whew”, and then vanished into his RV.

          “Whew.” Where did he live before he came here? His former neighbors, we later learned, were motorcycle people and meth freaks. Whew, indeed.

          Henry divulged little about himself. He said he liked cats. That was fortunate, because we have two indoor cats and two outdoor cats, plus a wide variety of feral visitors and neighborhood pets. There’s something about this space that draws cats. It might be the plum trees and their abundant population of wrens and robins. 

          There are people who claim their pets have super powers. I regarded such people as harmless nuts. Lately my thinking has changed. Our cat Obsidian is a big brown tabby with green eyes. I’ve seen him tame people in that Little Prince way, literally capture their unruly spirits and put them back in a more harmonious order. That’s Obsidian’s super power, the power to restore tranquility.

          He’s getting old, and so are we. He doesn’t jump the fence and climb around with the younger cats any more. He has more important work to do.

          Our new neighbor Henry is middle-aged. He is a fearful, cranky and withdrawn man, but he’s an ideal neighbor. We barely know he’s here. He can be easily upset by minor disturbances. He is so averse to noise that he can be pushed into a ferocious sulk by the mere revving of a motorcycle.

          He has been adopted by our two outdoor cats, wise old Obsidian and his sidekick, the comical black and white Cookie. These cats have given structure to Henry’s otherwise bleak world. By loving Henry they have tricked him into loving. I looked out the window one day to see the elusive and feral Cookie sitting calmly on Henry’s lap. I had never seen her behave this way. It was strangely impressive. Henry is a cat savant, he has some magical affinity that he didn’t know he possessed until he moved close to Obsidian and Cookie.    

          I hope that you, my readers, understand how easily a friendly animal can become a tyrant who turns your life upside down. Henry is such an innocent that he immediately began flirting with disaster. We had to set him straight without setting him off. If he let Obsidian into his home even once, he would become nothing but a door man, opening and closing all day, all night, at the cat’s demand. I caught him just on the verge of doing this very thing and rushed to halt the action.

          “Don’t let him in, Henry! Close your door, quick!” He was frightened and cut Obsidian off  just as he was about to slip between his feet.

          I explained what had almost happened. I spoke towards Henry’s averted eyes and raised defensive shoulders. I spoke to him as I would speak to any intelligent adult. In Henry’s heart, the need to trust someone was rising like a powerful burst of magma from a volcano deep beneath the sea. His need to share the cats’ companionship was forcing him to emerge from his shell and talk to us. The cats pushed Henry past his fears. 

          In the next few weeks we learned more about Henry. It wasn’t easy but we supported his struggle to communicate. Then something unexpected happened. Henry and Obsidian fell in love. I’m not being flippant. It’s just that simple. When Henry left to visit his mother, Obisidian sat on his front step, waiting for his return. He would emit an occasional sob. There’s no mistaking Obsidian’s sob. He has an amazing gamut of vocalizations, including a perfectly robin-like cheep that must have been useful during his hunting years.

          I can’t put it any other way. They were in love with a pure emotional connection. Perhaps Henry’s autism short-circuited his intellectual activity and left his feelings to flourish without interference from the busy mind. I watched this fountain of feeling take shape between Henry and the cats. 

          Henry leaves the campground for treatment four days a week. When he first went away, Obsidian was inconsolable. He went into a paroxysm of grief. He stared into space for long periods.  He moped and cried. But Obsidian gradually learned that Henry ALWAYS comes home. Thus our cat friend’s tranquility was restored. He knows Henry will be back and that’s enough to comfort him. It took him a few weeks to get this; I watched him unwind and relax. I watched his attention return to his world: the falling leaves and the showoff Cookie with her bounding up and down fences and trees. Obsidian resumed his lordship of his domain. The lost baby possum was under his protection. The upstart kitten Stinker was not welcome and he meant business, even if he had to hire Cookie to teach Stinker a lesson.

          Now Henry has left for two weeks. He has gone to Connecticut to visit his sister. “Three thousand miles!” cried Henry in terror before he was picked up by his ride. The enormity of this journey was paralyzing. I shared with Henry my own fears about travel: the feeling that I’ll never get home; I’ll be trapped in some alien environment without the solace of my place and my people. Henry and I aren’t so different. This bit of one on one engagement gave Henry something to take with him on this unprecedented trip. He had shared an emotional link with another human being. And he had given his heart to a big brown cat with green eyes.

          How different is Henry’s world today? That’s not for me to say, but I suspect that it’s just different enough… enough to make a difference.


Mind Fields – Cannabis Can And Sometimes It Can’t

Mind Fields

I started smoking marijuana at fifteen. At that time, marijuana was simply Pot. Weed. It was Reefer, Dope, Ganja. Sometimes it was just Shit. It was so hard to obtain that we went to dangerous housing projects like Jefferson Barracks or East St. Louis.. These are rough ghetto neighborhoods. Here’s the classic scenario: drive to East St. Louis, to a certain intersection. A man will be there at nine p.m. taking orders. Give the man your money.  Pull around the corner and wait in the car. Half hour goes by and everyone who passes gives you the skank eye. Wait in the car. Another twenty minutes pass. Shit, did the fucker burn us and bail? There’s more skank eye from the locals. A nondescript Ford rounds the corner, driven by a white man in a fedora. “Get down, that’s a narc!” We hunch down over the drive shaft. The man could be anybody. Probably not an officer of the law. We laugh nervously: maybe he’s scoring weed, too. Haha.

I’m about to call it a night, write it off to misery when the connection shows up, rapping quietly on the steamed-up window. He’s palming a baggie. Whew, Groovy. Thanks, man. There are more side-eye looks than a herd of horses as the connection sneaks off. 

Cannabis Bud

Now it’s called Cannabis. From old habit when I talk to myself I call it Weed. But…hey… It’s the majestic Cannabis. It’s not a weed. I won’t call it that any more.

I could write about cannabis all day. One thing that stuns me (aside from the THC) is the post-legalization culture that has arisen in a few short years. The explosion of new ways to consume cannabis is one aspect of this cultural eruption. Would you have dreamed, twenty years ago, that you would go to the “pot store” to get your cannabis? THAT IS CORRECT! I go to the POT STORE! WARNING: it can get expensive. Some of the marketing is clever and ‘scammy’. The research for this article has cost me a couple hundred bucks. Pot is getting the late-capitalist treatment and is being commodified in ways inventive beyond the craziest dreams of any baby boomer. There are vape pens full of THC. There are Resins, waxes, elixirs, inhalers, collectors, nectar tubes, dab nails, glass in a thousand exotic shapes: this stuff Is appearing at breakneck speed, overwhelming in its complexity if not hilarity. 

Oh…cannabis…wonderful cannabis, the jazz musician’s vitamin. I have smoked in many cars of vintage breed. They were not, at the time, vintage. Back in the day we called our vehicles “shorts” i.e. Where’s your short, man? I parked it around the corner: Continentals. Thunderbirds. Gran Prix, Impalas. Our shorts loom large in our fantasies of past reefer madness because they were often the only places we could smoke pot. My dopey memories of the 60s occur in some car or other, some parking lot or street in some disreputable part of town.

I never thought I would be able to light up on the street in broad daylight. Now we have cannabis named for every kind of wacky idea that marketers can devise. Here are a few brand names: OG Skunk Cult, Canna Candy, Fumero, Caldera, Purple Phase, Errl’s Oil. Here’s one: Guava Fig X Face Mintz Extract.

In 1965 ten bucks got me a matchbox of Mexican grass. The name brands were Michoacan and Panama Red. There were Thai Sticks. Sometimes I could get hash from Nepal. An ounce of grass was called a “lid”. Three and a half lids are an eight ball.  Back in the matchbox days it was either a nickel bag or dime bag. This is sixties stuff, I’m jamming with Jimi, not Fats Waller.

Legal weed is a fucking explosion! The pot store looks like a bank! Maybe it was a bank before it became the Pot Store. Yeah, that’s it. The packaging for the inventory is on display in cases against two walls while the cashiers occupy windows at waist-high counters around the other two walls. The merchandise is offered in all its colorful boxes, jars, droppers, cartridges and spliffs. Twenty-five-year-old cannabis experts talk to customers about the products. This strain of cannabis, the cashier explains, has such and such a percentage of THC ratio to CBD. This one has 88.5% THCV. This one’s good for pain, this one’s good for sleep, this one won’t increase your appetite, this one will. We get new terpenes every six months.

Now we have designer dope for the elite. Ninety bucks for a one gram jar about the size of a quarter. Shee-it! Weed should not be expensive! Never never. Stop it! 

I get my dope from a dude named Steve who lives in an RV at the corner of Colegio and Runyon. It comes in baggies. No boxes no jars. Ten bucks for a big bag of buds. That’s more than a lid.

That’s Old School.

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

______________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Arthur’s “Mind Fields” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you find it interesting or just entertaining, please share.


Mind Fields – The Ideas of A Morning

Mind Fields

I value originality. It requires a level of commitment and a sense of one’s self as being unique and talented. At some base level NO ONE is truly original but in the world of human expression, of artistic and technical feats that are part of our culture, there are individuals who stand out as being special. They have hewn materials out of the core of their selves, and the results are striking and unprecedented. It is the unprecedented nature of the creations that forms the matrix of originality.


The Primacy Of Memory

There is a moment in life as one grows older that the memory recreates all the life’s experiences as if for the first time. Re-living my life from the sheltered glade of memory has been a rich meditation. What did I do and why did I do it? Observing behavior that was inexplicable at the time but contemplation later reveals why something happened. At no time have I lost a firm conviction that higher powers are always at play in the Self and that these powers design with great wisdom all that shall befall the sole witness to this life and that is one’s Self. The events in a life are far from pointless: they are signboards on a journey of profound discovery. Having a deep faith in that idea has enabled me to survive otherwise insane events that boiled up from within myself. When the psyche accepts full responsibility for the unfolding life it gains a power that shows itself in acts of compassion. Some of the work of compassion is restraint from judging people and events without consulting the context in which their behavior forms. Sometimes it is needful to discern and this discernment is a form of placing a context over the specific acts and ideas that carry the consequences of thinking. ALL thinking is consequential. Thinking is the most important thing one does and the skill brought to thinking shows development of the soul’s concept of itself. If you are going to think, it is wise to learn HOW to think and WHAT to think about.

Watching The Domino

We ordered a pizza for delivery. In twenty years, we’ve never ordered food to be delivered so this was a special birthday gift. What set this apart was the experience of tracking the delivery driver’s trajectory as he wound his way through the complicated streets of our neighborhood. We sat watching the phone in fascination as the vehicle’s icon reflected the driver’s turns and twists as he negotiated the neighborhood looking for the right place. This went on for ten minutes and we became like cheerleaders hoping for our team to score. We were thrilled when he came onto our driveway and broke out in cheers as this ordinary experience of modern tech showed us that it worked and that it was, indeed, completely ridiculous.