Terrorism, Democracy & Other Competing Narratives

“You are home,” said our brand new Canadian Prime Minister to a group of newly arrived refugees stepping off the plane at Toronto’s Pearson Airport.

“Welcome home,” he said.

Simple words, yet powerful.

Images of warm and smiling Justin Trudeau greeting exhausted, hopeful Syrian families flashed around the world. These pictures were broadcasted alongside other recent news, like clips of Donald Trump telling Americans to close the border to all Muslims, and Parisians or Californians standing over makeshift shrines attempting to cope with yet another terrorist attack.

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Why Criticism in the Arts Can Be Overrated

So you and I happen to meet on a street corner. You spot me first, and you give me a warm hello. And you ask me how I’m doing.

Then, before I can say anything, you say: Well, I can see that you’re looking older, aren’t you? You have more gray hair around the temples. Not too many wrinkles yet. But, hey, I think you’ve also gained a few pounds, if I’m not mistaken!

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Beware the Forces of Dehumanization in Storytelling, Part 2

If an author writes to connect to an audience, then how much should she or he try to anticipate what an audiences wants, or what will sell, as the book is being written?

Well, this is a complicated question, I believe.

Writers need audiences, of course. And, since no one lives on air alone, artists need to be paid for their work. So this commercial reality should be kept in mind when writing, one would think.

Or should it?

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Beware the Forces of Dehumanization in Storytelling, Part 1

Once upon a time, as I was innocently sitting at my desk, I noticed that I had absolutely nothing to write about.

What to do?

Well, I did what I always do: I fished around in what I call my “character drawer”, where I have some faceless, sexless, colorless, ageless dolls. And, at random, I picked one out.

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Psst! Hey, Peter Mendelsund! Illustrate my book cover, why don’t you?

Well, what do you know? Apparently the publishing industry is not even close to dead. As we are reminded by the recent release of two books, “Cover” and “What We See When We Read”, by guru designer Peter Mendelsund, there are whole departments of smart and talented people devoted to the ancient art of book cover illustration. And these designers are not historical re-enactors in period costume wielding ancient, cryptic tools — but living and breathing professionals working on lofty floors in Manhattan highrises! Designing real printed book covers (on real paper!) that do not even appear in some electronic versions!

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