Nov 30 2014

Are YOU a Propagandist?

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media_propaganda_by_trosious

Those old enough to have ever watched a World War II movie are likely to remember the infamous Tokyo Rose, the name given to any number of Japanese women (though largely ascribed to Japanese American Iva Toguri D’Aquino) whose role was to get on the radio to croon Japanese propaganda to the American military, offered with the intent of crushing morale. Given the outcome of that war, it’s safe to say the endgame didn’t quite meet the mission, but propaganda has long been a useful tool in pushing agendas and designing how the world and culture-at-large receives and perceives information.

Certainly it played a major role in the Cold War (how many kids were uniformly terrified of Russian spies or nuclear bombs hitting their grade schools?); it’s been an essential tool in how religion mesmerizes its masses, and, without a doubt, it is the machinery that foments discord between partisan politicians and their opponents. Yet even as heinous and manipulative as it is, propaganda has become so insinuated into the fibers of day-to-day American discourse that we barely notice it anymore; certainly we don’t seem to realize how affected we are by it or how we tend to use it ourselves to promote our own agendas and beliefs. In fact, we’ll raise a fist in objection to propaganda on one side of the divide while actively bandying our own version of the same. Social media has, in many ways, become a breeding ground for propaganda and I wonder if culture wouldn’t be better served if we rethought how we use it.

Constitutional scholar, Jonathan Turley, argues that the word itself, propaganda, translates literally to mean “the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person.” Helping or injuring. Yet we seldom think of propaganda in the “helping” column, it’s so often used to divide more than bring together.  Even Turley acknowledges that the almost totally negative connotation of the word has sprung from its cultural use as a “value loaded” activity, one that uses selective language and cherry-picked ideas to manipulate people toward one thought or another.

Manipulation is hardly viewed as a positive force, and that is, in fact, how most people view propaganda: as manipulation. The taking of facts and using them selectively, disproportionately, even untruthfully, and often at the expense and exclusion of balancing information as counterpoint. We see that every day on Fox News, on partisan talk radio, cable news and websites on both sides of the political divide. We see it on social media, translated through what photographs, articles, and memes are posted and shared, what words are used to introduce those images; how headlines are focused and spun. Propaganda is everywhere and, to some extent, if you partake in sharing its messages, you’re a party to it.

Don’t think so?

Well, here’s a thought: propaganda is an equation that works with the energy of thought. The more you think something, the more you say something, the more you breathe life into that idea by your thoughts, words and actions, the more a thing IS. It’s just a matter of physics. Propaganda uses that equation for its own purposes: Think it + Focus on it + Say it + Talk about it + Share supporting information + Discard countering information + Argue it + Denigrate disagreement + Be relentless in promoting it = More of IT in the world.

Racism? That’s a big topic these days, one in which propaganda is being flung around every which way, and while it authentically remains a substantial and important issue in our society, the way we discuss it, frame it, and propagandize about it is exactly how it will remain manifested in our world. Scream and yell every generality, every inflamed accusation; attack on both sides with hyperbole and viciousness, and that’s what we’ll keep manifesting.That’s just the way it works. We can’t inspire change when we’re too focused on kicking the crap out of each other.

Don’t get me wrong; shining light where it is needed is a good thing. Pulling racists and racism out from the closet or from under the rug, the basement, or from behind a robe or computer screen is necessary. Honestly confronting the issues we cringe from is essential to productive conversation and practical progress. And certainly many of these steps occur in explosive ways after events like the Rodney King beating, Trayvon Martin’s death, or the more recent Ferguson case. But wise people understand that rage and demands for justice have to be channeled judiciously and with utter candor and openness, clear that each of these cases (and others) is individual, not necessarily comparable, with specific and differentiated facts and meanings. And despite the incendiary nature of all these events, none of them mean ALL of America is broken, or race relations have all gone to hell, or civil rights have no meaning in this country. None of these are true. Elements of each are true in specific cases, but the sweeping generalities being spewed like so many litanies are not only not true, they’re propaganda, and they’re demoralizing and damaging to productive forward motion.

Remember that equation? Now, think about what your goal is as a person communicating in the world, a person sharing information and engaging in conversation. If your goal is to promote peace and bring honest, tangible change to the world; to educate, uplift, inspire, challenge, reach out, and bridge divides, you’ll communicate with equanimity, fairness, specificity, intelligence, truth, compassion, and a willingness to listen and hear new information.

If, on the other hand, your goal is to relentlessly vent and call it activism; attack and insult and call it “debate”; promote greater divides between the races, or to push the meme that racism is utterly hopeless and unstoppable, do this instead:

• Keep talking about how all whites/all blacks are all fill in the blank.
• Create and promote as many false equivalencies as possible.
• Spin the news so that only the part that supports racism is featured.
• Post as many stories as you can find about bad cops and prosecutors.
• Generalize heavily and focus on the very worst of humanity.
• Comment and promote the idea that all whites “don’t value black lives.”
• Generalize widely that all black men are criminals/victims/innocent/guilty
• Ferret out and share stories that support that all cops are vicious.
• Keep pounding the drum that ALL of America is broken/unfair/insensitive/racist.
• Look for and share media that promotes that all politicians hate people of color.
• Support the notion that all who disagree with Obama are racists.
• Make it clear by what you say and post that in all tangles between cops and people of color, the cops are always wrong;
• And be sure to only post stories that promote all of the above.

If you do all that – as many, many people are doing online these days – you are being a propagandist. And you are not helping to educate, heal, or raise the consciousness of this country. You are, instead, publicly promoting your own anger and outrage, potentially at the expense of positive change. You are promoting thoughts and ideas that focus energy and agreement on the very worst of society. And the more the very worst is agreed upon, the more it is accepted, the more it is envisioned, the more it is tweeted, posted, shared, argued about, etc., the more it will continue to become, to grow and metastasize.

That’s just the way it works. And we don’t want that.

Without propaganda, without all this fire-stoking, people would be left to their own devices to analyze, adjudicate, and form their own opinions of current (even past) events. We’d be obligated to get beyond the caterwauling of others to smartly weight pros and cons, do our own research to ascertain what’s true and what’s hyperbole. We’d not accept sensationalism on face value, but would be open to ideas that might fly in the face of what we’d held as fact. We might even have the magnanimity to change a viewpoint or embrace an ideal that had previously eluded us. We’d talk openly and civilly share our, perhaps, contrary opinions without fear of attack or ridicule. We’d boldly allow for the option to not agree with propaganda, but instead promote notions of equilibrium, personal responsibility, and each and everyone’s obligation to take control of their own actions. From there we would likely have a better chance at bringing real change to the problems that harm us as a culture.

I’m all for that. By the way, he was too.

MLK_love not hate

Media Propaganda poster by Trosious @ Deviant Art
MLK poster from OurTimeOrg


 

LDW_BWFollow Lorraine Devon Wilke on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Huffington Post. Her article archive can be found at Contently, her photos at Fine Art America; details and links to her other work @ www.lorrainedevonwilke.com.

Both her novel, AFTER THE SUCKER PUNCH (ebook and paperback) and her short story, “She Tumbled Down,” (ebook) are available via her Amazon Author page. To view the After The Sucker Punch book trailer, click HERE.

Be sure to stay current with her adventures in independent publishing at her book blog at www.AfterTheSuckerPunch.com… and don’t forget to FOLLOW THIS BLOG (click box above/right)!

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Nov 18 2014

AFTER THE SUCKER PUNCH Is Throwing A Party And You’re Invited!

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LDW reading ATSP

I’ve never done a book reading/signing event before. Certainly not for my own book. I’ve been in the audience at a few, I attended one in which an essay and photograph of mine were part of the book being presented; I even had a recurring role as “The Reading Queen” in my son’s second grade class years ago. That involved an ermine stole and a tiara, so that was definitely a highpoint! But I’ve never stood in front of an audience as a bona fide author and read an excerpt from a book I’ve written, waiting to take questions and sign a few copies afterwards. Never done that. I would guess it’s something every author pictures when visualizing their writing career. A heady thing to imagine…

Not dissimilar, I suppose, to a singer/songwriter getting up on stage to sing songs they’ve written, a painter or photographer standing at an exhibit to discuss work of theirs being featured; a playwright waiting in the foyer of a theater to talk about their play just performed. I’ve been fortunate enough in my career to have experienced each of those at one time or another, so I know both the thrill and the anticipation involved, particularly in these technical times when so much of our discourse and sharing is done online. A reading is all about human contact and that might be the very best part about it!

So I’m delighted to have this inaugural opportunity to experience a most vaunted rite-of-passage, particularly as a debut author, and I hope you will join me. Given the innumerable choices any reader has today, I’m always honored and grateful when someone chooses my work, and certainly thrilled when they find it meaningful… enough to show up at a reading! I’ll look forward to seeing those of you who’ve asked about getting your books signed, and for those who might come to find out about my work, I’ll be thrilled to make your acquaintance!

If you are in the Los Angeles area and looking for a literary event to include as part of your weekend’s entertainment, come join us next Saturday, November 22nd. I am grateful to the marvelous Lisa Schultz of The Peace Project for inviting me to present the After The Sucker Punch Party at her studio, The Whole 9, in Culver City. It’s an especially wonderful venue because, while you’re there for the reading, you’ll have the opportunity to view some incredible art, including the 2014 Peace Project Traveling Exhibit (which includes one of my photographs), as well as avail yourself of many artistic gift items, the proceeds of which help fund The Peace Project. I’m always thrilled when I can involve myself in a win/win!

The information follows; I look forward to your RSVP either at info@lorrainedevonwilke.com or via the Facebook Event page.  I will see you next Saturday and we’ll raise a glass and a cookie to After The Sucker Punch!

The After The Sucker Punch Reading/Signing Event
Saturday, November 22, 2014
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm PST
The Whole 9 Gallery
3830 Main Street, Culver City, CA 90232
(between Culver & Venice)
(310) 836-4600

Please feel free to bring your already-purchased copy for signing; books will be available for purchase at the event at the special price of $10.00.

 


 

LDW_BWFollow Lorraine Devon Wilke on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Huffington Post. Her article archive can be found at Contently, her photos at Fine Art America; details and links to her other work @ www.lorrainedevonwilke.com.

Both her novel, AFTER THE SUCKER PUNCH (ebook and paperback) and her short story, “She Tumbled Down,” (ebook) are available via her Amazon Author page. To view the After The Sucker Punch book trailer, click HERE.

Be sure to stay current with her adventures in independent publishing at her book blog at www.AfterTheSuckerPunch.com… and don’t forget to FOLLOW THIS BLOG (click box above/right)!

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Nov 2 2014

There Is Noise, Then There Is Your Voice: VOTE

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vote-cartoon

Nothing’s perfect. Nothing meets every expectation or fulfills every wish or desire. We engage in jobs, marriages, college careers, sporting competitions, cultural challenges, parenting, etc., with a presumption of one set of results and often, very often, a different set emerges. It’s part of life; we’re taught to adjust and we do. But does that mean we don’t, then, engage in those activities once they’ve failed to meet our expectations? We eschew marriage because too many end in divorce? We don’t go to college because too many expensive educations don’t result in high paying jobs? We don’t bother with jobs at all because too many disappoint with sustainability or advancement issues? We give up on sports because our team lost or a coach failed to pull out the season? We don’t engage in activities, causes, creative endeavors, and the like because we experienced disappointments, failed candidacies, unmet financial goals, poor ticket sales? We don’t have children because… well, children…. God knows what they’ll do?!

Fact is, most of don’t give up on all those many elements of human life just because they disappointed us. We may rage, write blogs, post comments or sign petitions, but once we shake off whatever frustrations, heartaches, disappointments, and tragedies life has to offer, we climb up from the depths and jump back in. We reinvent. We try again. We give it another shot.

So why do we stop voting because we’re disappointed in politics and politicians?

Muslim women voting

All week I’ve been reading articles about voter apathy, weak turnout, low approval ratings, election shenanigans (that again!), and so on. I’ve seen posts on Facebook bemoaning the futility of voting, cries of “what’s the point?”; lots of wordy treatises (some by celebrities) on the pointlessness of choosing “one devil over the other,” and the cynicism and negativity is just breathtaking. Honestly, I want to shout “FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS, PEOPLE!” as loudly as I can and, in fact, it really is only in the First World that we so take for granted our right to vote and the ease with which we can do it. When you see lines of Muslim women in India eager to make their voices known, Iraqi voters with purple fingers, Sudanese in line for hours, and others in beleaguered countries actually putting themselves at risk to get to the ballot box, the bizarrely enervated, whiney responses of far too many American voters is gut punching.

Iraqi_voters_inked_fingers

VOTE!

Seriously… vote. Spend today and tomorrow boning up on the many propositions, compare who’s for and against, get an idea of what they’re about; look at endorsements, see if they align with your thinking, then CHOOSE. DECIDE. VOTE.

Don’t know who all those judges are? Who does? Again, check endorsements, do a little research. Some big newspapers made it easy and have done the research for you; all you have to do is decide, again, if that newspaper is generally aligned with your political sway, read a few biographies and voting records, then DECIDE.

Might you get it wrong if you make a choice and later discover the proposition was weak because it wasn’t written well or it didn’t pan out as expected by its authors? Yes. You might. So what? Right now, in this election, take the time to make the best possible choice you can based on your research and your gut… just DECIDE. If it turns out to be a failure, so what? You tried. They tried. We’ll all try again.

There’s lots to say (and, oh, so many people saying it!) about Republicans and Democrats and this guy and that gal and all the usual partisan politics about who cares about women and minorities, who doesn’t, who might win the Senate, who might not, and that’s a BIG conversation filled with lots of noise and a modicum of sense… mostly not. I don’t need to add to it. My party affiliation is clear to me, I know who I believe is more concerned about my rights as a woman, a parent, an American, and a member of this human race. I will vote accordingly. But I’m not here right now to try to sway anyone to one side or the other, browbeat any particular candidate or applaud another. That’s all being done by countless others and the noise is deafening.

All I’m here to say is: VOTE. Period.

Voting in Sudan

It may be a cliche, but if you don’t vote you have no voice in the government of the country in which you live. You have no position from which to complain, to argue, to raise a ruckus. You’ve offered no energy toward being part of and, hopefully, improving a — yes — corrupt, flawed, manipulated, and seriously pot-holed system. But it’s our current system and we ARE the government. It often doesn’t feel that way for a whole host of valid reasons, but it is our vote, each and every vote, each and every election, that shifts and changes — albeit ever so slowly — the government, the laws, the leaders, the country. Don’t abdicate the power you have to protest the power you don’t have.

VOTE.

College kids voting for the first time
Ben Sargent Voting Cartoon: Reboot Illinois
Muslim women voting: Jezebel
Iraqi voters with their purple fingers: Wikipedia
Voting in Sudan: Wikimedia Commons; Jenn Warren, USAID Africa Bureau 
College kids voting for the first time: College of New Rochelle


 

LDW_BWFollow Lorraine Devon Wilke on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Huffington Post. Her article archive can be found at Contently, her photos at Fine Art America; details and links to her other work @ www.lorrainedevonwilke.com.

Both her novel, AFTER THE SUCKER PUNCH (ebook and paperback) and her short story, “She Tumbled Down,” (ebook) are available via her Amazon Author page. To view the After The Sucker Punch book trailer, click HERE.

Be sure to stay current with her adventures in independent publishing at her book blog at www.AfterTheSuckerPunch.com… and don’t forget to FOLLOW THIS BLOG (click box above/right)!

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Oct 21 2014

THIS Photography Gallery Is Open 24/7

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Cordoba Courtyard Vigil

I was DELIGHTED to have been included in the SKY exhibit at Duncan Miller Gallery’s “one day at a time” site, YourDailyPhotograph.com. It’s considered quite a prestigious selection, and there was particular honor in being chosen by the jury curator, Paula Tognarelli of the Griffin Museum of Photography. She knows her stuff and having her recognize one of my pieces as exhibit-worthy was no small thing!

BUT. While the 24-hour time limit is fun in a sort of “5-star food truck sending out Tweets to announce where it’ll be parked on Tuesday” kind of way, the dependable, always-open element of my photography site at Fine Art America is notable for its more sustaining presence! So I wanted to take this opportunity, to remind my readers, my viewers, that beyond writing blogs, books, articles and songs, I am also one who’s inspired by the Muse of Visual Art in the form of photography. And my work, work I love and share with love, is available for easy viewing and collecting at my site at FAA. 24/7. No Tweets required!

I’m always posting new pieces, so come by at your leisure, stroll through the many eclectic galleries, and if something resonates, feel free to leave a comment, a like, a share, or even, hallelujah, a purchase. Believe me, I love that sort of thing! :)

Click here any time: LDW @ Fine Art America. 

Enjoy and… thank you!!


 

LDW_BWFollow Lorraine Devon Wilke on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Huffington Post. Her article archive can be found at Contently, her photos at Fine Art America; details and links to her other work @ www.lorrainedevonwilke.com.

Both her novel, AFTER THE SUCKER PUNCH (ebook and paperback) and her short story, “She Tumbled Down,” (ebook) are available via her Amazon Author page. To view the After The Sucker Punch book trailer, click HERE.

Be sure to stay current with her adventures in independent publishing at her book blog at www.AfterTheSuckerPunch.com… and don’t forget to FOLLOW THIS BLOG (click box above/right)!

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Oct 21 2014

ONE DAY ONLY: ‘Sky Reflected’ Featured on Duncan Miller Gallery Site YourDailyPhotograph.com

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Sky Reflected

Happy to share some good news on the photography front!

YourDailyPhotograph.com, the online exhibit and collectors’ site affiliated with the prestigious Duncan Miller Gallery of Santa Monica, CA, is showing — FOR ONE DAY ONLY — my photograph titled, “Sky Reflected,” included as part of the themed and curated show, SKY.

This image is available for viewing and purchase until Oct 21, 9:00 am PST.

Paula Tognarelli, curator at the Griffin Museum of Photography, recently juried YourDailyPhotograph‘s call for submissions under the theme “Sky,” and chose “Sky Reflected” as one of 30 selections out of 700. I am honored to have had my work selected by Ms. Tognarelli, and thrilled to be involved with Duncan Miller Gallery and YourDailyPhotograph.com, all tremendous supporters of photographers and their art.

YourDailyPhotograph.com‘s mission statement is as follows:

“Our job is to search out, discover and present valuable photographs for the collectors who subscribe to this email. Unlike many online galleries, we don’t have a room of digital printers churning out poster-type prints – we don’t have a single photo printer in our office. We want each living photographer we show here to be ‘hands-on’ with the making of their print, closely examining it, signing and carefully shipping to our gallery for our own inspection and approval. The artist’s touch. Only then will a photograph find its way into the hands of our collectors.”

Beyond the SKY show, there are many other fantastic photographs on exhibit. Come look, see, collect, enjoy…!

Click HERE to access site: YourDailyPhotograph for 10.20 – 10.21 featuring “Sky Reflected.”

 

UPDATE: 8:46 am PST, 10.21.14; As we come to the end of our 24-hour exhibit, here posted is that fleeting page, memorialized for posterity. Thanks to all who stopped by!

YourDailyPhotograph


 

LDW_BWFollow Lorraine Devon Wilke on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Huffington Post. Her article archive can be found at Contently, her photos at Fine Art America; details and links to her other work @ www.lorrainedevonwilke.com.

Both her novel, AFTER THE SUCKER PUNCH (ebook and paperback) and her short story, “She Tumbled Down,” (ebook) are available via her Amazon Author page. To view the After The Sucker Punch book trailer, click HERE.

Be sure to stay current with her adventures in independent publishing at her book blog at www.AfterTheSuckerPunch.com… and don’t forget to FOLLOW THIS BLOG (click box above/right)!

Click to read & share!