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How I write so many timely think pieces.

Without being sarcastic even once.

Lora Ohanessian | Unsplash

The key to writing timely think pieces is keeping up with current events. I figured that out on my own. Which is why I basically always write about cartoons.

I do try. Honestly, I do try to write about current events. Everything that happens is a story, and every little story is the result of a thousand more stories. And since they’re happening now to people you know, they’re inherently interesting.

In semi-related news, in the insurance industry, they are immensely worried about cat activity. More on that in a minute or so.

I can see how current events ought to be pretty fore in my mind. I mean, I’m alive now. That’s considered pretty current where I come from. And yet, for some reason, when I think about what’s happening in the world, I just become so very, very tired.

Although maybe that shouldn’t be such a surprising thing. I wanted to comment on what’s happening in the world, but as soon as I find out what happens it’s turned into something else. I wanted to talk about the climate in Korea, but as soon as I got my mind around some part of it, it had changed.

How are you expected to keep up? You can’t.

I mean, clearly some people are keeping up. They are writing the news. They’re either keeping up or they’re liars. But how could they be doing that? How could they be lying? Of course they aren’t. These are reporters. Decent, honest servants of the truth who are never susceptible to sharing a story just because it sounds catchy.

Good heavens, I nearly commented on this phrase “fake news” that’s been on the news so often recently. Didn’t mean to do that. Sorry — sorry. Nothing to see here.

What a convenient thing though, right? It’s awfully nice to just dismiss things you don’t like by calling them “fake news.” Got a nice, amorphous sound to it. And you can’t argue with it because it doesn’t mean anything.

It works in the favor of those of us who love to disagree based entirely on our historically infallible gut instinct. We can just shout, “Fake news!” and dither on with our fiddly little lives in a blithe state of paving our personal paths into the fiery cauldron.

If you don’t like the sound of that, you can always disagree by calling it fake news.

See? Convenient. No need to do any self-reflection, even.

I lost my thread. I never had one to begin with, but I lost it anyway.

The biggest problem, I think, is that sounds like a joke. But, really, to explain that I’ve lost my thread is probably the most timely thing I could say right now. The most with-it thing I could say. If you look at the output of the media with any discernment, “lost my thread — but damn the consequences!” appears to be the default state of the species at the moment.

No one has a point. Nobody knows what they think, or what should be said, or what needs to be said.

No one has a point.

But that doesn’t matter! Because everyone has something to say, and that’s more important. Because the message needs to get out. Talk first — think maybe. That’s the watchword of the day. And any question about what the “message” is will be met with anger and derision about your display of ignorance, because if the media believes anything it’s that ignorance is the most cardinal sin.

It doesn’t matter what I try to say about what’s current — what’s happening — because the mere idea of what’s current becomes immediately mythologized before it even gets a chance to be incorporated into the culture.

It almost doesn’t matter what happens. We are all so scared of our opinions failing to be heard that the events themselves become eclipsed by commentary and analysis and satire before they even finish happening.

Real life, whatever that is, becomes less important than the omnipresent gossip train that comments on it. Real things that impact our lives become supplanted by what, I don’t know, Brad Pitt thinks about them.

I shouldn’t pick on Brad. He stays pretty well out of these excesses of “news coverage.”

I see a distinct common denominator here, underlying this whole eagerness — eagerness to be heard taking higher importance than an eagerness to be meaningful or intelligible.

The common denominator is us. Is the human condition. We have become our own plague, poisoning ourselves against ourselves in the unending pursuit to just feel like we matter, even for just a second.

Which is why I can boil my formula for writing timely stories about current events to a simple principle.

Just don’t. Don’t write about “current events.” That’s my cunning strategy into the hearts and minds of the literate species.

Current events, if there even is such a thing under all those layers of gossip and news and think pieces, do matter. What’s happening now is history writing itself, and history matters.

But in this media climate of clamor-over-substance, the emergencies of history are like cats to insurance.

In insurance, in quarterly profit and loss analyses, they pay close attention to how cats affect their bottom line. Too many cat losses is bad. Few cat losses is good. No deeper analysis needed by them.

But the thing is, cat is short for catastrophe. As in catastrophic hurricane leveling the island of Puerto Rico destroying many individual lives.

To a person, that’s a reason to be sad.

In insurance, that’s a detail in a loss calculation.

The big “They” behaves like “truth” — whatever that means — is like cats. That you’re supposed to take the human stories out in order to consider the events in the surgical light they’re meant to be seen in, just like God intended — whoever God is.

I don’t write about current events, because they’re just so tiresome. They’re never current when I get to them, and they’re never events when I hear about them, so I just don’t see the point.

Instead, I submit myself to the old adage. Write what you know, young blood. Write what you know.

Setting out with the best intentions to comment on maybe North Korea or something, I end up writing something actually relevant about, I don’t know, Tom and Jerry cartoons.

And even though I don’t write about anything that’s happening in the world, thus avoiding what people tell me “matters,” I write about people, which feel like they still matter…in spite of what I read in the news.

I’m so confused. I’m confused most of the time. I guess it’s comforting to be consistent.



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