Monthly Archives: June 2013

Going From Writer to Published Author?

My Dome of Heaven includes dreams and challenges. Writing has always been a challenge for me since I am a moderate dyslexic. Writing a book has always been a dream achievement. Becoming an author, a published writer, is the ultimate extension of that dream.

About one year ago I decided to get on with the challenge and began the process of researching and writing a book. 50,000 words and eleven months later, a manuscript exists. Thanks to the kindness of former colleagues, my most glaring of inadequacies in grammar and word choice have been corrected, but much remains to be done. In order to move the manuscript toward publication I will some begin working through the process of developing the manuscript into a published book. I intend to write about the process.

I will share the experience of working with a development editor, reporting on the process, my reactions and feelings as I respond to suggestions by the editors, and the progress made toward the final product. I intend to respond positively to all suggestions with energy and let the various editors do their job. I hope to learn a great deal by working on my manuscript with these individuals. The costs incurred serve a two-fold purpose; the first is to achieve a publishable book, and the second is to learn enough about the writing process so that I may continue writing books. I hope this will be a useful exercise for others who are struggling with the writing process as well.

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Some ideas lead us into challenging situations

Even though some ideas lead to actions that create challenging situations for us, there is no reason to exclude them from beneath your Dome of Heaven. In the 1960’s many of us (I give away my vintage here) had the idea that the war in Viet Nam was very wrong, and the idea that of the Civil Rights Movement was worthy of support. Those ideas caused us to march, and protest, and to sit in, and as a result, created some challenging circumstances for people on both sides of those ideas. I am writing these blogs as a Canadian, rather than a citizen of the United States, because of one of those two ideas.

In the early 1970’s, Daniel Ellsberg had the idea that there were issues with involvement of the United States in Indochina, and particularly in Viet Nam. He worked on the detailed history of U.S. involvement in Indochina from the end of WW II through the Viet Nam War as commissioned by the then Secy. of Defence. As a consequence of his work, he became a major opponent of the war and released large parts of what are known as the Pentagon Papers, to the New York Times and the Washington Post, without authorization. His “whistle blowing” activities revealed the true nature of U.S. participation in events in that region of the world.

Julian Assange, the journalist, activist, and the editor and publisher of Wikileaks, is dedicated to discovering and revealing the doings and misdeeds of the powerful in this world. Bradley Manning released large amounts of classified information to Wikileaks, related to the prison in Guantanamo, Cuba. PFC Manning is currently sitting through his court martial in Quetico, VA, related to this “whistle blowing” incident. Assange is under threat of arrest for an unrelated incident, but the thought is that he is being pursued because of those confidential documents he published.

The latest “whistle-blower” to make the headlines is Edward Snowdon. He outed the U.S. government’s for gathering intelligence by listening in on telephone conversations and reading text messages and  emails from international sources that are being received by U.S. citizens. Snowdon let the world know that Big Brother was listening.

Each of these men have the idea that something very wrong and very unethical being done by government (in this case the U.S. government) needed to be exposed to the public for scrutiny. They each risked much by releasing classified information.

The “idea” of standing up against the wrong-headed, and sometimes ill-conceived, and sometimes downright unethical actions of governments by revealing so-called “top secret” information is definitely contained beneath my Dome of Heaven. This particular idea has driven some of my own actions in the small space of my immediate world, but the rational was the same for me, as it was for them. The abuse of authority is always worthy of causing the whistle to be blown.

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In my Dome of Heaven ideas abound

In my last post I introduced the idea of floating (in our mind) toward the apex of the hemisphere that is our Done of Heaven. The purpose of this exercise is to transcend the actual contents assembled within and sense the importance of what is there. The inspiration for this post, and posts to follow under this category, are all the result of that mental process.

The first thing I sensed within my dome of heaven is the importance of ideas. I seem to thrive on ideas and even revel in them. Not just my ideas, but the ideas of others as encountered through literature, art, music, science, through personal encounters, and observations of what is going on in the world. The more I let the sense of ideas sink in, the more I believe that it would be difficult to populate my personal hemisphere of life without them. Having ideas, explaining them to others (as teacher for much of my working life), and exploring ideas leading to new and interesting places (studying the pure sciences for years and participating in the experimental process), have been a constant in life. Even writing this blog on a regular basis is an outlet for an insatiable desire to express and explore ideas.

When we have our own ideas, it is concrete proof of our cognitive activity and relates to a basic level of awareness and understanding of ourselves, and the world around us. Some ideas generate from impressions however slight, and some ideas might be expressed as opinions which may or may not be well founded. Plans of actions are a sequence of ideas directed toward achieving a goal, which are best thought through carefully before implementation. Just the same, all these are evidence of our functioning brain and intellectual activity, and what are we without those two aspects of self.

Ideas need to have a rational and some valid information behind them, or else they may fall under the category of supposition and fantasy. Ideas that come from others, outside of our trust circle need to be validated. There is always the possibility of self-interest and ulterior motive working behind the facades of personality presented in public. There is a segment within society that is bent on having their ideas adopted as correct notions and worthy of belief. I include politicians, all bureaucracies, advertisers, lobbyists, purveyors of panaceas, populists of all sorts, the dogmas of religion, and over zealous religious or political leaders, to be within in this category of individuals. Ideas from these sources need to be measured against our personal form of “Occam’s razor”, or common sense reasoning, before there are accepted and perhaps adopted.

In the end, I was comfortable that the ideas I selected to be within my Dome of Heaven, were selected with due care. What about the ideas you might include within your DOH? As I reflected on this important component of my Dome of Heaven, I considered what naturally flows from having ideas including:  ideals, ideologies, and ideologues, but those are topics for my next post.

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More on Hegemony

In my last post I gave a flavour of why hegemony is excluded from under my dome of heaven. In this post I will be more specific as to why I exclude hegemony from beneath my dome of heaven. Just before I get into some specifics, I would like to remind my readers that the theme of this blog relates to the preservation of memories. We preserve memories by taking photographs or recording thoughts and events in a journal. This post, and posts to follow, are something like a retrospective journal. Everyone has ideas and philosophies that they hold to closely, and ideas and philosophies that they reject. One way to firm up your memories is to analyze your rational for selecting or rejecting particular ideas and philosophies. In the process, events and experiences that led to your decision need to be reviewed. The events and experiences recalled will relate to others, generating a web of memory. This post is the first of several that informs the reader about the specifics behind my thinking.

Hegemony is one of the “deadly sins” of society. A societal deadly sin is different from the personal deadly sins of “Christen ethics” fame, in that we have choice regarding the so-called Seven Deadly Sins, but the deadly societal sin of hegemony reflects the evolution of human behaviour. Anything that becomes engrained in human behavior and part of the fiber of society, requires us to be particularly vigulent.

My first brush with hegemonic influence came with a question. Why was it necessary to pledge allegiance to the flag each morning with an included phrase that invoked a role for God in the process ( ….one nation, under God….). This is a ritual enacted in every public school in the United States since the 50’s. What exactly did God have to do with it? Whose God were they talking about? Why were we required to invoke God in a country that is based on the separation of church and state? Subsequently, I discovered that the “God element” was not part of the pledge until 1954 when the US Congress amended the pledge on the suggestion of President Eisenhower. The anti-communist fervor in the US seemed to require some way to differentiate the democracy of the USA from the godless Soviets. This legislation was challenged in the courts on the basis that it constituted a prayer, but the court decided that the simple phrase did not constitute a prayer, so it was allowed to stand. After 60 years, the “God phrase” has been uttered countless times each day. The dominant culture of the past, continues to impose its version of reality on the majority,  which has an increasingly diverse with an increasing non-Christian component.

The phrase “God Bless America” is uttered by every president and presidential candidate as a default terminating statement in every speech.  If there is a God, why should he/she/it wish to bless America in particular. What about the rest of the countries in the world? If church and state are truly separate, then why would God even want to bless a state whose founding fathers rejected Gods involvement. The USA was supposed to be a place of equality and religious freedom. Did God bless the America that took almost a century to legislate equality of opportunity for the American black population? Did God bless US incursions and wars in Viet Nam, Iraq, and Afghanistan? Did God bless the US support for various political strong men and political movements that were inherently undemocratic? Does God bless the NRA, big oil, big pharma, the military industrial complex, insurance companies, wall street, and all the other groups that spend so much money to buy influence in Washington. If there is a God, I don’t think that lobbying for influence in the context of self-interest would be high on the list of things to bless. Lobbying reflects the interests of the dominant elements in US society that need to control the flow of things in order to retain their domination and control over the aspects of society from which they derive their wealth.

The hegemonic structures of every empire known through recorded history, served to solidify the hold each of these empires had over the lands and people they dominated.  Once the leaders of a society lose sight of the need to act in the best interests of all members of society, hegemonic practices become a tyranny, not a triumph.

Hegemony has generated more evil than good. Hegemony flies in the face of humanism and egalitarianism. Hegemony is excluded from beneath my dome of heaven because it creates stress when there should be peace. In its most benign state, hegemony is necessary, but we need to safeguard society from its inherent evils.

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Hegemony – Not Under My Dome

My last post presented an argument for emphasizing the positive, as various elements drawn from life’s experiences are selected and collected to fill the area beneath your dome of heaven. Another way to emphasize the positive is to exclude the negative whenever possible. Excluding negative experiences is not possible since the are inscribed in your memory. The best you can do is dilute or overwhelm the negatives of your experience with an increasing number of recollected and as yet to be discovered positive experiences. However, there are some negatives over which you have power . These are the negatives of attitude, ideologies, philosophies, practices, and beliefs.

What lies beneath your DOH is for your mind’s eye only. Even those individuals you include in the confines of your dome cannot visualize the entirety of any dome of heaven but their own. What you include under your dome of heaven reflects ‘you‘ to ‘yourself’. What others see, is a you based on what you stand for. They see and know you by your attitudes, ideologies, philosophies, practices, and beliefs. These overt behavioural and attitudinal elements define your persona in their eyes. Thus, in many ways you define your public self by the attitudes, ideologies, philosophies, practices, and beliefs you reject and exclude from your dome of heaven. What you exclude from your DOH, is as important an indicator of the true nature of you as a person, as what you include. I will use the remainder of this post, and a number of subsequent posts to share some of the negatives I have exclude from beneath my dome of heaven.

Hegemony has no place beneath my dome of heaven, even though hegemony is what makes the world go around. The word is derived from the Greek, and means leadership in terms of who is in control. In its most benign form, hegemony is the force that generates a stratification of society with the leaders at the top, and all the various other components of society forming strata below the leaders. The uppermost strata, composed of a commonly recognised and acknowledged, but not necessarily homogeneous leadership group, imposes its rules on that society. This, of course, requires the consent of  society as a whole. Hence, one leads with the consent of the led.

It is interesting to note that Hegemon was the Greek goddess who held dominion over plants, whose role was to ensure that they would produce flowers and bear fruit when they were supposed to, and to bear the best flowers and fruits possible. Likewise, the role of leaders in a society is to ensure that it is a healthy structure and bears its metaphorical fruits and flowers prolifically as required. Unfortunately, leaders who have dominion over societies often transmute the ideas of dominion into the reality of domination. How often in recorded history do we see the revolutionary leadership become the next dominating force, controlling the lives of individuals, and limiting their freedom. Domination can be overt or covert, but it is domination non-the- less.

I’ll have some more to say about hegemony, and why it is excluded from my dome of heaven in my next post.

As always, your faithful blogger,

L. Alan Weiss – Author – Through a lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment

Please visit my author website at

What would the Tea Party Republicans think about this? Please comment…


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