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Wednesday, March 30, 2005


"'M pollertics, like my religion, bein of a exceedin accomodatin character."
Charles Farrar Browne (Artemus Ward) 1834-1867

I've spent the last couple of days with my nose in books (Plutarch), research notes and searching the internet trying to sort out the sequence of political events taking place in my novel (319 BC) between Macedonia and Greece. I wonder, Am I getting everything politically correct?

I don't mean that crazy 'politically correctness' that has become today's subtle form of censorship. How often in my classes worried writers ask if it's okay to say this or that. Is it politically correct? The whole thing has gotten out of hand. You can't say firemen, policemen, chairmen, any more. Everything must be gender generic. People worry about using the wrong expressions and offending. Personally I think it's all gone too far.
I do agree with a certain amount of 'censorship' when it comes to gratuitous violence, blatant and degrading pornography, racist, religious and gay-bashing. In my classes when we discuss workshopping there are some rules. Once, before I was able to go over those rules, a man presented some material in the novel writing class that was so over-the-top and shocking that it created a major stir, freaked everyone out (including me), and as a result I lost two of the best people in my class. So for this reason, I now make it clear what is okay and what is not okay to be presented. (In this guys case it wasn't even good writing although he figured he was going to be another Steven King.) There's nothing wrong with erotica or a well-crafted horror story like "Silence of the Lambs". But this person's gratuitous violence and ugly pornographic gay-bashing stuff was delived to the class with great relish and was completely unacceptable, in fact shocking and frightening.

Anyway, no, I am not worried at the moment over that kind of 'political correctness'.
I've been trying to unravel the political intrigues happening in Macedonia and Athens in 319
B.C. which will eventually lead up to the unfortunate execution of a popular military governor known as Phocion the Good. "Have I inadvertently said some evil things?"
Phocion asks after making a speech which the people had applauded. (from Plutarch, "Apothegma, Phocion") (Phocion was known for his terse statements.)

As I'm neither a historian nor politically inclined, it's been quite an education trying to sort out the political events that were happening in Alexander's world at that time. And the interesting thing I've noted is that not much has changed in this world.

Some quotes by Plato, from "The Republic" "Oligarchy: A government resting on a valutaion of property, in which the rich have power, and the poor man deprived of it."

and "When the tyrant has disposed of foreign enemies by conquests or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader."

Does this sound familiar?

Anyway, it's been an interesting few days and I'm learning a lot while I research. This character, Phocion, merits a book all to himself (besides the one Plutarch has written). He was an amazing man, the elected military governor of Athens, who served the people selflessly, avoided war in favour of negotiating, and refused bribes (he even turned down a gift of money from Alexander.) But in the end, the Athenians turned against him, and falsely accused him of collaborating with the enemy.

It's such a tangled web, all this political scheming. There's a multitude of behind the scenes plots all leading to a tragic end. I just hope for the sake of my novel, I'm getting it all correct.

"The best political community is formed by citizens of the middle class." Aristotle "Politics"

"The good have no need of an advocate." Phocion. 402- 317 B.C.

1 comment:

jon said...

After we paid for our kids overnight summer camp we found it tough to recover! I totally agree with you!