DEM BONES, DEM BONES, DEM DRY BONES

I’m overdue for getting in touch with you cyber-chums of mine. If I were a marketing mage I would be posting at least weekly. I’m sorry though, I’m not put together that way. I’m a real person with real flaws and one of the worse when it comes to my writing is discipline. Part of it is that I have a handful of other interests that tug at me, and the folks that have recruited me into volunteering for those various involvements and causes know I’m a sucker for flattery and easily manipulated by gentle guilt-slinging.

But I really wanted to say thanks to all of you who have been stopping by the website. I’m not exactly a seismic force in the web-o-sphere, but for my little ol’ website the uptick in visits in the last few months has been noticeable. I’ve had a few direct emails with nice comments about my story “The Bone Necklace” which appeared in NewMyths.​com in June. It will be sliding into the e-zine’s archives in a few days but you will still be able to get to it by reading my NewMyths.​com author profile and clicking on the archived story links.

There is a lot of my personal experience in “The Bone Necklace.​” Several scenes are fermented fruit plucked from the vines of my memories. I lived and worked in New Zealand for a year in the early 1990s and travel frequently to the Hawaiian Islands for both business and fun. I am fascinated with aspects of Polynesian history, lore, culture and how it has meshed with the outside societies that have come to have so much power and influence over its continued existence.

I can never stop thinking about what the world would be like if, instead of European society (mainly) having had the technological and resource advantages over the rest of the world at the time of its expansion and conquests in the middle of the second millennium, the situation had been reversed. My first published story “The Sacrifices of War” played with that notion a bit. And it may very well be that we are living in a time when the emergence of China (a strong wealthy nation state) and elements of Muslim society (a non-nationalistic asymmetrical counterforce to the west) will enlighten us in that regard.

Indeed it has been interesting to watch how the post-World War II world had diffused culture bilaterally much more than in preceding centuries.

I’m not an anthropologist. So, I don’t really know if there are cultures that pro-actively work at assimilating “otherness” and changing themselves to facilitate connection and societal/​cultural evolution. My impression is that all cultures and societies are fundamentally tribal and resistant to externally-sourced influences. They resist until survival demands bending. And when they do bend there is almost always an internal struggle over whether adapting to external influences is in fact the same as being destroyed. Racial identity may even be more resistant to change than cultural identity, although clearly as humanity progresses it appears that even those boundaries are more easily blurred.

When we dig deep inside ourselves it is hard not to find hitches and snags in our own attitudes toward change that we would not be aware of it weren’t for some uncomfortable challenge to our normal personal situation.

Nick, Lucy, Sam, Rosina, Ernie, Ginger and even Leslie, Nigel, Thurmond, Nancy and the Gypsy musician are all afloat in the turbulence of culture mingling. The elements that blend or resist it range from religion to superstition, science to magic, education to craftsmanship, government to culture, and friendship to suspicion. And more.

As I’ve traveled and worked in different parts of the world I am always fascinated at how assumptions about and interpretations of life, events and value systems are endlessly diverse. At its worse it is the source of most of the world’s problems. At its best it provides such great opportunity for societies and individuals to solve problems, progress and enrich our existence at so many levels.

It is easy to lose perspective about our importance as individuals when we pick up a newspaper or watch a newscast. So much seems to operate at a scale designed to make individuals insignificant and disposable. Yet, every great philosophy, movement, discovery, conflict or concord begins with an individual. And real peace in no small part only comes to conflicts when the individuals affected achieve an accommodating state of mind.

Like the stiches in the fabric of a great quilt, no one stitch is more important than the next– Except perhaps the first stich that allows the binding to begin while still preserving the pattern of diverse beauty.

And of course give and take involves commitment and sacrifice. These ingredients are rarely equal among all who join in the process. But thank goodness the capacity for largess seems to be a defining trait of humanity.

I hope some of these ideas found their way into “The Bone Necklace” and that they provided some satisfaction and enjoyment to you when you read the story.

Cheers,
Bob Sojka

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