Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Worlds Rewritten

As an aspiring author, I thoroughly enjoy the ability to create original stories.  Alas there is something compelling about writing fiction which continues an established author's work or creates a new story in that fictional Universe.

What if Spock had a goatee...
We see this genre of fan-written fiction (or "fanfic") in the popular culture aplenty. The recaptured fairy tales televised in Once Upon a Time and Grimm followed quick on the heals of the Fables graphic novels.  By weaving their magical plot-lines, these continuations connect us to the magical memories of our childhood with a desire to know what happens next and what happened before, often with adult themed implications. On the other hand, rebooted stories like the new Star Trek film series and the X-men movie prequels can look at alternate realities where things unraveled quite differently. In both cases the fanfic outcomes can be worthy experiences or total rot.

For me, writing fanfic usually takes the form of a short story length tale that speculates beyond an existing story ending that I found dissatisfying.  Perhaps it is hubris to attempt to tweak a tale to ones liking, alas what kind of world would it be where we didn't have the ability to change things, if only within our sphere.

To that end, or rather to three different ends, I present a trio of my fanfic entries for your consumption.  Certainly, I recommend reading the original source, each of which I found intriguing enough to inspire me.

Original: The Varieties of Religious Experience by John Updike (A September 11th inspired short available free online)
Fanfic: How Faith Almost Heals (super-short story)

Original: Enchantment by Orson Scott Card (urban fantasy novel)
Fanfic: Disenchantment: Trinity  (short story) by Brian Bohmueller

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (superhero-noir graphic novel and film)
Watchmen: Reunion (short story) by Brian Bohmueller

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Sail Away!

Red sky at night, explorer's delight.
Humans only relatively recently evolved to survive on the dry lands of the Earth. Our distant ancestors, of course, floated, flagellated and swam in the oceans, afterwhich our more recent ancestors adapted and thrived in the varied landscapes above sea level to acquire food, shelter and community, and whatever
else it took to create the next generation of homo sapiens. ( * )

In fact, for the past several thousand years we have demonstrated as interdependent individuals and communities that we are immensely successful at accomplishing the feat of survival, sufficient to find substantial time for pleasure seeking.  Yet, if survival and pleasure were our only quests, what dreary, complacent animals we'd be.

Recently, I was at the helm of a 38 foot sailing craft on the Chesapeake Bay, and for three days I experienced a taste of leaving behind the comfort zone of a reliable dry-land footing.  On the surface of the water for an extended period of time, human survival is near fully reliant on water-faring technology and skills aggregated over many centuries.  Sailing, at its core, is about harnessing elements and leveraging skills that evolution never intended (figuratively speaking) for us to master.  By choosing to push the envelope of experience beyond simple survival and pleasure, we open new path options along our journeys. 

Wind spirits tamed.
In general, our human desires may gravitate our daily tasks toward a stable existence, a life full of the safe acquisition of needs and pleasures.  Reaching out to explore new ideas and experiences is part of what it has become to be human.  Whether we specifically choose to adventure on the oceans or hike an isolated mountain off-trail that challenges our mind and body is superfluous.  Visiting foreign cultures in situ, reading tales of exotic fictional worlds or watching intriguing documentaries may be and individual's selection.  It is simply important that we intentionally engage our curiosity.  By raising mindfully our imagination sails to greet the winds of anticipation we can drive our biological vessels forward with verve toward lands (and oceans) of
individual and shared discovery!

* Note a possible side-path to our land-based hominid evolution: The Aquatic Hypothesis is a conjecture that for an extended period our human ancestors spent a significant amount of time in water. Evidence for this includes reduced hair density (save for on our heads) in conjunction with increased fatty tissue below the neck for better insulation from cold water, Possible reasons behind this aquatic wandering range from predator and fire evasion to marine-life foraging and, more tenuously, body surfing. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

An Ungodly Trinity

Goodness times three intertwined!
Agnostic, Atheist, Secular Humanist, I am all three at once, and unlike the triple entity from the lore of my Christian upbringing, this three-in-one simultaneity actually makes deep, rational, ethical sense.

Many associate being agnostic with being undecided about the existence of a supernatural god, particularly one who is hiding out, unwilling to show clear evidence of itself in the present moment. That may be the waffling agnostic position, whereas I embrace the agnostic philosophy of questioning with integrity. Shedding that variety of faith that pretends to know something because of authority or ancient texts or of emotional conviction, is the beginning of a true agnostic journey.  By keeping an open mind as an agnostic, I consider all new and existing evidence before deciding if it holds up or should be discounted.

So is it a contradiction then that I claim the atheist moniker as well?In truth, we are all born atheists, with no belief in any of the hundreds of the god and goddess stories humans have passed down through history (simply because no one has told us those stories just yet). As a good agnostic I do continually question, still when sufficient evidence supports a position it becomes part of my evidence based world view.  One hundred percent proof of anything is never possible, and just as not knowing the perfect diet down to the atom doesn't prevent me from choosing healthy foods to eat, I also choose a world view that includes no supernatural being in it, in part, because all of the gods proposed in historical texts have insufficient evidence backing them.

Alas, not having a god at the top of a hierarchy in my world view does not prevent me from contemplating ethical behavior and integrating that behavior into my life.  As a secular humanist I have embraced a code of essentially doing "good for goodness sake," all while maintaining an integrity about being agnostic and atheist. For me this means constantly evolving and pushing the envelope on my imperfections and influencing the world to develop a landscape of well being for all, human and non-human.  Specifically, I have gravitated toward a position that includes pacifism, veganism, exploration and activism.  

And so my journey of contemplation without the presence of any perceived supernatural guidance continues.  Hopefully, my actions encourage others to pursue a similar agnostic, atheistic, secular-humanistic path, one that is full of mindful and positive integrity.

May the ungodly trinity serve you well!