Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Civil Civilian In This Civilization

In spite of my complaints, I am quite fond of my television. The channel selection is limited but occasionally I come across a rare gem that would have certainly escaped my notice otherwise.

This evening I came across such a jewel in a W5 special on the decline of civility in modern society (narrated by William Shatner!). It explored many of the issues surrounding the decay of proper manners including sixties counterculture, urban sprawl, technological saturation and isolation, a lost sense of community and emergent situations with no established protocol. It very fascinating, particularly the discussion on how the rejection of the almost oppressive etiquette of the fifties by well meaning idealists led to the elimination of protocols necessary for the functioning of polite society throughout North America.

What I find most interesting is how much of a formative influence civility has had on my decisions. It has certainly had an influence on my distaste for texting and social networking sites. There’s a very dehumanizing quality associated with short, textual messages that makes me uncomfortable. There’s none of the free and easy flow of conversation that comes with speaking face to face or over the phone; there’s none of the care and consideration present in a well thought out letter or e-mail. I find no discomfort in being alone but being alone and spitting messages out into the great unknown leaves me a little uneasy. I’m also fairly certain that my respect for common courtesy is key to my distaste for alcohol. Alcohol eliminates inhibitions and suddenly our respect for others and even ourselves is washed away in a drunken haze.

I’m not advocating stringent behavioural controls. I am far from conventional in many ways and I enjoy free expression. However, I do believe it is possible to offer simple kindnesses without damaging or demeaning yourself. I’ve seen the crime of discourtesy often, even among my friends and family. I’m certain I’ve transgressed myself. What disservice do you do to yourself holding a door open for a stranger? What do you gain by defaming another? Is it impossible to be chivalrous without wishing for something in return? I fear my own observance of civility has earned me a reputation as one who is cold and emotionless. Does discretion and self control mean I am unable to love? Does it make me unlovable? I’d like to say no but I have no track record to speak of. I’m sure I’m not alone in my respect for civility but sometimes I feel I’m the only one who grasps what it means. Rather elitist of me, yes?

Tip heavily (another courtesy)

Travis T

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

And What Are Men But Chariots Of Wrath...

… by demons driven!

I’ve avoided blogging for quite a while. I’ve managed to avoid posts on my trip to Florida, my regrettable absence the Brandon Family Bonfire and my Bayfest experiences. So what has stirred me from my long, blogless stupor?

Swamp Thing.

Yes, reading comics has outranked anything else that has happened to me in the past month as a blogable issue. Truly Alan Moore knows how to tell a story. I loved his work in the Watchmen and Swamp Thing was even better. What writer in his right mind begins by taking out the title character? It’s particularly astounding when you take into account that this was his first act as a newcomer in an ongoing series. Yet somehow he manages to use this as a device to add incredible layers of depth to the character. Then he proceeds to resurrect Swamp Thing in a manner that sets the rest of the story up perfectly. Coupled with the striking visuals that tie it all together, it is one the most enjoyable reading experiences I’ve had to date.


Also, I finally located my Writer’s Craft anthology. That made me happy.