Monday, November 30, 2009

Alfred Adler - Founder of the School of Individual Psychology

Alfred Adler (1870 - 1937) was an Austrian medical doctor, psychologist and founder of the school of individual psychology. Adler was a member of Freud's inner circle, and also the first major figure to break away from Freudian psychoanalysis.

Not only did Adler advance some deep and interpretive psychological concepts, but he also developed a language that is still in use today. I for one have often used these terms —even without knowing of Alfred Adler— to describe inner states such as complex (Napoleon complex), inferiority feelings, inferiority complex, compensation, overcompensation, and style of life.

In his book The Neurotic Character (1912), he held that the individual converts feelings of inferiority to superiority. Before we can grasp what he meant by compensation, let’s explore first his concept of ‘inferiority.’ Adler —as opposed to Sigmund Fred— believed that striving for superiority is the most basic human drive (not sexuality). Everyone is always striving to be better than others. It is not that we are jealous of others, nor that we are envious or much less covetous—it is that we are wired to feel superior.

This feeling of ‘striving for perfection,’ is what moves humans to achieve their potential. A latter day follower, Abraham Maslow, perfected this concept under the label “Self Actualization.”

Yet, when we feel short in our efforts, we tend ‘to compensate’ that feeling of inadequacy with neurotic and often aberrant behavior. For some people those inabilities and inadequacies become threats to their well being, causing them to lie, belittle, demean, or even slander others. This then is a manifestation of an ‘inferiority complex.’ A famous quote attributed to Adler is: “A lie would have no sense unless the truth was felt dangerous.”

Whether habitual liars are usually perceived by most of us as delusional, to them it is perfectly acceptable to behave thus—“The neurotic is nailed to the cross of his fiction.”

While we tend to think that Adler’s theories of personality are too abstract to have any value for therapy, we can see some usefulness in our daily activities. Take for instance the place of work. No work environment is free of individuals who are hard to get along with, difficult, or unmanageable. Those whom we perceive as hostile or obnoxious are really just like anyone else who is striving to assert his superiority. So, by putting ourselves in their shoes, we can understand their behavior better and perhaps get along with them better.

Given the national American problem that is obesity, we can understand this problem better in terms of the inferiority/superiority concept. Frustrated and overcome by feelings of low self-esteem, many individuals overeat to sabotage themselves in the achievement of their goals.

Let’s recall that the roots of Adlerian psychology can be traced back to Nietzsche’s “Will to Power.” That genealogy caused Adler to view caution as the chief danger in life; as the cause of mediocrity. The healthy individual not only overcomes caution, but is daring, and lives dangerously.

Overcompensation is another concept that Adler developed in order to explain unconscious desires. For example, to achieve the image of being “perfectly thin,” people will themselves to thinness even to the extreme of falling physically ill; and when confronted with the problem, they could reply with the Adlerism: “My difficulties belong to me!”

Rather than talking about ‘personality’ as the Freudians did, he preferred to talk about ‘style of life’ which today is known as lifestyle. According to Adler, a lifestyle doesn’t develop in a vacuum, but it is the result of our interaction within our social environment.

Adler’s school of school of psychotherapy influenced notable figures such as Rollo May, Viktor Frankl, and Abraham Maslow, and even latter neo-Freudians Karen Horney, Harry Stack Sullivan, and Erich Fromm.

When he was 56 years old (1926), Adler came to the United States and traveled throughout the States lecturing and teaching at major universities. He was always well received. Adler’s Understanding Human Nature a book written for the general public is still in print.

Success is for All of Us!

Inferiority Complex?

3 Qualities for Success

The Best Leader?

How I Manage my Time

Adam Smith and Wealth


Boethius and Fortune


Employee of the Moth Everyday


If you are interested in seeing how I achieved personal success in the United States, you may find my book of short stories East of Tiffany's interesting. Some of the stories are based on my life as an executive, investment banker, and financial adviser to wealthy investors in the East Side of Manhattan.
Close to half-million people have read East of Tiffany's so far. Order your copy from either Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble. See the link on the right sidebar.

Since English is my second language, Mary Duffy --a master of the English language-- aided me not only with the editing, but she also contributed her own stories. I love her writing in "When You Wish Upon a Star." This is a story based on a personal friend's life.

Senada Selmani, model

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Black Friday Bargains for Writers

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The best buys for Black Friday have no physical location--they are right here: The Web!

Whether you are a seasoned writer or a budding one, you'll find interesting articles that will complement your professional life as a writer.

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Creating Unforgettable Characters
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The selection will please any aspiring writer. Click Here and see for yourself.
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The writing techniques I use in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual--an indispensable guide:

Sentence Openers


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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Adverbs Ending in “Ly” - Extirpate, Expunge as Sentence Openers

Many writers are fond of using an abundance of adverbs. The reason for this is that instead of searching for a precise verb they reach for a quick weak verb; it follows then that verb then will need to be buttressed by an adverb. If the adverb is of the kind that ends in ‘ly,’ then that is a signal of lazy writing.

Leona closed the door violently.

Because adverbs’ main function is to qualify, support, or buttress the meaning of verbs, it is easier and more convenient to use them (adverbs) rather than to spend time finding the appropriate verb. We can then say that the use and abuse of adverbs may be attributed to gaining expediency at the cost of quality. Notice how a more adequate verb would eliminate the need for the use of the adverb ‘violently’:

Leona slammed the door.

Editors have an eagle eye when it comes to spotting the ‘ly’ nuisances. So don’t risk the embarrassment of having your work returned marked unacceptable because of the use of adverbs. The offenses are even more glaring when the adverbs are doubled up: Leona breathed noisily and wearily. Could be revised to: Leona yawned. Mark Twain wrote in a magazine about what he called ‘this adverb plague”:
I am dead to adverbs; they cannot excite me … There are subtleties which I cannot master at all,--they confuse me, they mean absolutely nothing to me,--and this adverb plague is one of them.

It is not that adverbs do not mean anything, nor that they do not spice up one’s writing, or that they are hard to master—it is that they add very little and subtract a lot.

Often a writer must use them. But master writers limit their use to an absolute minimum. And when they do have to use an adverb they prefer to qualify or buttress their verbs with adverb substitutes—such as prepositional phrases. Take this example:

Jacqueline Susan wrote brilliantly.

The adverb ‘brilliantly’ (which qualifies the conjugated verb ‘wrote’) may be replaced by the prepositional phrase ‘with brilliance’:

Jacqueline Susan wrote with brilliance.

But what we may consider blasphemous in the temple of writing is the use of adverbs as sentence openers:

Ardently, lucidly, vigorously, humorously and passionately Josh Brogan sang the song-homage to Van Gogh ‘Vincent.’

All that useless concatenation of adverbs could have been avoided by a simple verb:

When it comes to ‘Vincent” no one can out-sing John Brogan.

As horror master writer Stephen King says, "The road to hell is paved with adverbs." So, if you consider yourself a serious writer, after you have done your writing for the day, run a program that will automatically remove all adverbs ending in ‘ly.’

You might still end up with many other adverbs, but not the most glaring ones—the ‘ly’ nuisances. To practice what I am preaching let me see what I can find. Ooops! “ … will automatically remove …” Let’s replace ‘remove’ with ‘expunge.’ The result is then that now we don’t need to use ‘automatically’ at all.

Senada Selmani, model

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Improving Page Rank and Getting Traffic


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“For the last three years I've been blogging almost daily. As you can see I have more than one hundred postings, yet my traffic is slow. Once in a great while I get 50 to 60 visitors. Short of buying traffic I don't know how to increase my readership. Hope this will help. “


I with the help of the guys from TheBlogIsMine and the idea of Bariski want to help you to get more than 4860 backlinks to your blog. All you have to do is is just to check this post. According to it you simply copy/paste ‘THE TEXT’, add 4-5 new sentences instead of “Delete this text and etc” and make a new post with ’THE TEXT’ on your great blog. After you’ll have done it, leave a comment here with the link to your post and guys from TheBlogIsMine will INCLUDE YOUR URL IN THE LIST BELOW immediately after the last one and in same way the method goes. Remember only 99 websites can be in this list. Hurry up, don’t be the last one.



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Just following these simple steps and you will get the great amount of traffic, backlinks and in future increasing of Google PR and improving Alexa Ranking for your great blog. Also don’t forget to promote this article and the original article via social networking. It only means better results for you and everyone in this list.

Want to improve Google PageRank and Link Popularity but don’t know how?! And also to increase Alexa Ranking, and all these in just next two or three weeks?! Yes, two or three weeks! Not more! Or maybe you have great content and designed layout and want to show them to the whole world?! Don’t you get tired of getting only 100 – 500 unique visitors to your blog each day or even less? Want more?! Do you want to get more than 4860 backlinks to your blog in just next few weeks like this guy did it?! Still don’t believe it, simply check this post and his Alexa Rank, and believe that it’s just simple as 1-2-3.

The writing techniques I use in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual--an indispensable guide:

Sentence Openers


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Superfreakonomics, Freakonomics - By Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Freakonomics

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Superfreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner reminds me of the series of entertaining mysteries by Sue Grafton: A is for Alibi, B is for Burglar, C is for Corpse—with titles all the way to Z. Which makes me wonder where will the two authors of Superfreakonomics end milking the title? While the first book Freakonomics was fresh, irreverent, informative, and filled with serious research, the sequel is short of exploitative.

Telling and exposing human foibles is fine except when some of the exposition is presented as scientific research. Despite the fact that economics is still labeled the “dismal science,” there’s really no advantage in reducing it to irrelevancy. I wonder what Paul Krugman and other Nobel economic prize winners think of this infamous sequel.

Sequels often disappoint and this one is more than a disappointment—it’s an undisguised effort to cash in on the success of the first work, which I understand sold over 4 million copies.

The authors pick up a counterintuitive statement and proceed to show the world how foolish people are in believing much nonsense. This is the magic formula. This is their angle. For example they would like to convince you that prostitutes are patriotic. Go figure! They would like to persuade you that taming hurricanes and typhoons is a benign idea; but even sixth graders know about the balance of nature and the Butterfly Effect. A butterfly flapping its wings has far-reaching effects in eco-systems. Yet they seem to like tinkering with geo-engineering.

Blogger Tim Lambert reports the following: One of the injured parties is Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at Stanford University who is quoted (accurately) as saying that
"we are being incredibly foolish emitting carbon dioxide." Then Dubner and Levitt add this astonishing claim: "His research tells him that carbon dioxide is not the right villain in this fight." That's provocative, but alas, it isn't true. Caldeira, like the vast majority of climate scientists, believes cutting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse-gas emissions is our only real chance to avoid runaway climate change. "Carbon dioxide is the right villain," Caldeira wrote on his Web site in reply. He told Joe Romm, the respected climate blogger who broke the story, that he had objected to the "wrong villain" line but Dubner and Levitt didn't correct it; instead, they added the "incredibly foolish" quote, a half step in the right direction. Caldeira gave the same account to me. And the controversy rages on.
When newspapers report incorrect facts, they issue apologies and corrections immediately. Shouldn’t Dubner and Levitt issue an apology to Caldeira and possibly insert an errata note in future printings of Superfreakonomics? That would be the sensible thing to do. We shall see. In Freakonomics they insulted teachers by commenting on supposedly teacher-led cheating on pupil standardized tests. In the sequel the authors submit that teachers should be paid more. Are they trying to atone for their early sin?

More and more climate science experts are criticizing the book for many misleading statements and the inclusion of discredited arguments. What we have in this book is a hodgepodge of weird facts, many of which are only tangentially related to economic theory.

Superfreakonomics is not only aimless and disjointed, but also tedious. When Susan Grafton publishes a new title --let's say, SS is for Sap-- I will buy it right away because it amuses me to read her fiction. Now the next time Dubner and Levitt bring out another sequel --let's say Incrediblesuperfreakonomics-- it will not amuse anyone.
The writing techniques I use in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual--an indispensable guide:

Sentence Openers


Augustine, City of God
Austen J, Pride and Prejudice
Austen J, "Marriage Proposals and Me"
Austen J, Emma
Borges, The Aleph
C. Bronte, Jane Eyre
Burroughs E,Tarzan
Cervantes, Don Quijote
Chaucer, Wife of Bath
Coelho P,The Alchemist
Coyle H, They Are Soldiers
Dante, New Life
Dickens C, David Copperfield
Dostoevsky, Crime&Punishment
ConanDoyle,Hound of Baskervilles
Dubner S, Superfreakonomics

DuMaurier D, Rebecca
Ellis B. E. American Psycho
Fitzgerald S, Great Gatsby
Flaubert G, Madame Bovary
Fleming I,Doctor No
Freud S, Leonardo Da Vinci
Friedan B, Feminine Mystique
GarciaMarquez, Of Love & OtherDemons
GarciaMarquez,OneHundredYrs
Guerrero M,ThePoison Pill

Grass G, The Tin Drum
Harris T, Hannibal Rising
Heidegger M,House of Being
Ishiguro K, Remains of The Day
Johnson S,Rasselas
Kafka,Metamorphosis
Kosinski J, The Painted Bird
Lee H,To Kill a Mockingbird
McBain Ed,Gutter and Grave
Murakami H,Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Nabokov V, Lolita
Meyer, S, Twilight
Ortega,Dehumanization of Art
Poe E A, Gordon Pym
Prose F, Reading Like a Writer
Rushdie S,Midnight Children
Sabatini R, Scaramouche
Spark M, Prime of Miss Brodie

Stendhal, Red and Black
Sterne L,Tristram Shandy
Stevenson R, Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde
Stoker B, Dracula
Thackeray W,History of Pendennis
Tolstoy L, Anna Karenina
Trollope A, Autobiography
Unamuno M, Tragic Sense of Life
Voltaire, Candide
Webb J, Fields of Fire
Wharton E, The House of Mirth
Woolf V, To The Lighhouse


The secrets of 'no-doze' prose:
Mary Duffy's Sentence Openers



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Lindsey Vonn


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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Greatest villains: Shylock, Iago, Claggart

Laurence Fishburne and Kenneth Branagh as Othe...

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Who doesn't love 'good villains,’ if your pardon the oxymoron? Villains are the antagonists, the bad guys, the 'black hats" in the story, without whom the story would be useless. Tough, wily, intelligent villains can challenge the other characters in your fiction.
Weak villains call for weak heroes.
It’s not the good heart of the hero, nor the beauty of the heroine, nor the noble actions of the good characters that make great fiction—not at all. It’s the caliber of the scoundrels that call for the good deeds and ennobling actions of heroes, super-heroes, and even secondary characters.
Of all the villains in literature I will mention my three favorite ones.

Shylock (Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice).

Note that though Shakespeare didn’t describe Shylock him in great detail, but we can easily picture him as black-bearded, stooped, curly sideburns, and in a long black coat. We can conjure the image of a despised money lender. What we read about is his hatred: If I can catch him once upon the hip [meaning off guard] I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him He hates our sacred nation.

Iago (Othello)

Having poisoned Othello’s mind, Iago further incites Othello to kill Desdemona by asking that she be spared. When Othello asks Iago to kill Cassio, he says:
‘Tis done at your request. Bu let her live.
Othello reacts:
Damn her, lewd minx!
O, damn her! Damn her!
Come, go with me apart,
I will withdraw
To furnish me with some swift means of death
For the fair devil
Now art thou my lieutenant.

Claggart (Melville’s Billy Budd).

Joseph Claggart, —the master at arms that tortures Billy Budd— was just born bad. But what makes this villain even more menacing to unsuspecting victims is that he hides his depravity behind a normal outward appearance that is rational, temperate, and even innocent. Even his speech was coherent and precise. Recall that Uriah Heep, Dickens’ villain in Oliver Copperfield, also spoke with a mellifluous voice—a voice laden with malice and ill-will.

Furthermore, note that in all three the indispensable trait of depravity is present. Yet, the fact that they exhibit a natural depravity to hurt others for no reason or very little reason, they form part of the human race. And as such, they are human; readers must perceive them as human—not monsters.

Writers must be careful not to de-humanize their villains: just remember that even psychopaths, at one time or another, feel compassion for others or for one another. So, don’t make your villains one hundred percent evil.

In the midst of all their treacheries and wrong doing, find a bit of humanity. Although villains are human, some part of their humanity —physically or spiritually— is missing or is deformed. Attach a few redeeming incidents that might create that bit of sympathy that readers are willing to concede. Nothing major, but some tiny detail that opens a window into the evil character’s soul.

What do we know of Shylock? We know he carries the hatred for the wrongs done to his race. What do we know of Iago? He was wronged by Othello. What do we know of Claggart? We know that in his case there’s absolutely no reason whatsoever, unless we can infer a pent-up homosexual attachment.

Villains don’t just appear fully clothed and ready to inflict pain. Something drives them there; and it is the writer’s job to fill that vacuum. Although it would fulfill the readers’ curiosity to dig into the soul of the villain, master writers will not supply the facts for that. What can be more itching than to look for these facts and not to find them? That lacuna will frustrate readers, will drive them to vexation, and will annoy them. But that is exactly the writer’s job—frustrate! Good writers do not succumb and start providing excuses, reasons, and much less logical explanations. Reason and passion run parallel, like subway tracks; so don’t force them to meet.

However, like all human beings and even heroes —recall Achilles— we all have physical and spiritual weaknesses. The weaknesses must be present throughout the work so that when the villains get their comeuppance, readers will not feel cheated. Let readers guess that the demise of the villain will come through the weak chinks in their armor.

A final recommendation: should you have a created well rounded villains, villains that often readers root for, then you may be justified in keeping them alive. Let them live so that they can reappear in other stories and created havoc all over again.

Although I've mentioned only a few villains, the literary dimension contains a myriad of these scoundrels. The reason we remember only a handful of them, is because their deeds go beyond the pale, beyond the normal canons of acceptance of cruelty and wicked acts.

Senada Selmani, model

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Victoria Beckham: Mystique

Victoria Caroline Beckham (born 17 April 1974) is an English singer, songwriter, dancer, fashion designer, author, businesswoman, actress and model. Married to super soccer star David Beckham, this dynamic duo command the attention of all tabloids and paparazzi.

What are people saying about them:


• Victoria Beckham joked that her husband David "likes to borrow my knickers," and goes on to say that she would like to give him a Gucci thong of his own, according to BBC News. David tells PEOPLE in 2005 of the thong, "I wouldn't get them past my knees!"
• Before they were Spice Girls, Victoria "Posh" Beckham, Emma "Baby" Bunton and Geri "Ginger" Halliwell all auditioned to be Jet Girl in the 1995 cult hit Tank Girl. Actress Naomi Watts landed the role.
• During a solo performance for BBC Radio in 2001, Victoria Beckham had fruit and vegetables thrown at her when a small group in the crowd was unsatisfied with her vocals. "I can really sing," Beckham insisted to GMTV.
• Victoria Beckham rarely steps out without her high heels. "What might feel like a nine-inch heel to most people is like a flip-flop to her," close friend Heidi Klum told Harper's Bazaar.
• Victoria Beckham wore a fake lip ring during a live solo performance in 2001 that attracted negative criticism from the British Dental Association for setting a bad example to her younger fans. "I had no idea it would cause this much fuss," Beckham tells PEOPLE.

The writing techniques I use in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual--an indispensable guide:

Sentence Openers


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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's - Excellent Sentence Openers

Right from the very beginning I want to make clear that my object of commentary is Truman Capote’s novelette Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and not the movie by the same name.
From the novelistic point of view, a few of Capote’s writing techniques drew my attention during this rereading.

After his death, Capote’s work has gained more acceptance with every passing day. No longer is he underestimated as a writer.

So, what distinguishes him as a writer? First he started the whole new field of fictionalized journalism with his reportage of the horrific crimes that happened in Kansas—In cold Blood. Second, his short fiction Breakfast at Tiffany’s created Holly Golightly—the prototype character of the call-girl about New York City.

Throughout the novelette the narrator shows his frustration in attaching a label to the protagonist, a label that would capture and define her personality, something catchy and easy that readers could quickly digest. After grappling with “a crude exhibitionist,” “a time waster,” “an utter fake,” he finally hits on a simple literary device —that when used in the right place and time sticks— that is often neglected: the oxymoron.

How apropos of Holly Golightly! “A phony. But a real phony.” Who can disagree with that?

In the exchange about writing between the narrator and Holly, one common sense jewel shines: Beware of description. This piece of advice coming from an illiterate character such as Holly Golightly wounds the ego of the aspiring writer-narrator.
“I read the story twice,” says Holly. “Trembling leaves. Description. It doesn’t mean anything.

According to Stephen King, three tools are available —narration, description, and dialogue— to novelists, which they must use with care. Abuse one, and the entire work suffers. This is really Holly’s common sense advice. Description should be used to highlight the sensory details that the writer wants the reader to feel. Gratuitous description neither moves nor delays the story since it has more to do with the readers than with the story.

For example, in the scene where the narrator rubs oil on Holly’s back: “Her [Holly’s] muscles hardened, the touch of her was like stone warmed by the sun.” This is ‘description.’ It doesn’t mean anything: it doesn’t advance the story; it’s just there to awaken the reader’s sensory experience.

Again, another piece of common sense advice that coming from a character who only reads tabloids, shreds the writer’s vanity:
“I haven’t planned that far.”
“That’s how you stories sound. As though you’d written them without knowing the end.”

Ah! How perceptive of Holly. In Daniel DeFoe’s Robinson Crusoe, we learn that Crusoe falls a magnificent tree and carves out a dazzling canoe, only to see that he couldn’t take it to the water. What Holly means is that lack of planning in our daily lives as well as in writing can ruin our lives.

Only master writers --and Truman Capote is one-- dare open their sentences with correlative conjunctions:
Both Holly and I used to go there six, seven times a day, not for a drink, not always, but to make telephone calls: during the war a private telephone was hard to come by.

And when the telling gets a little turgid, to quicken the pace, he injects a paragraph of monosyllabic narration:
The read cat jumped off its crate and rubbed against his leg. He lifted the cat on the toe of his shoe and gave him a toss, …

In addition, not only is the novelette is rich in straight one-single-image similes such as:
It nagged me like a tune.
Miss Golightly, to be sure, floated round in their arms light as a scarf.
He’d look like a monk if it …
His speech had a jerky metallic rhythm, like a teletype.
…and fell full-length, like an axed oak.

But we can also find similes which are elaborate, more carefully crafted:

“As a quartet, they struck an unmusical note, primarily the fault of Ybarra-Jaegar, who seemed as out of place in their company as a violin.”
“Mag Wildwood couldn’t understand it, the abrupt absence of warmth on her return; the conversation she began behaved like green logs, they fumed but would not fire.”
“And since gin to artifice bears the same relation as tears to mascara, her attraction at once dissembled.”

And finally, the big metaphor: The title Breakfast at Tiffany’s is itself a metaphor for mental therapy. Holly Golightly tells us that her anxieties, dread, and panic attacks, can all be cured with a visit to Tiffany’s. After all, “nothing very bad could happen to you there.”
If you ignore the racial slurs, you can have a great time reading this brief fiction work and learn about writing techniques.

Senada Selmani, model

To write great blogs, e-mails, term papers, essays, or fiction - Get Mary Duffy's

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sarah Palin's Book Going Rogue - What to Expect

The Associated Press has released some topics Sarah Palin will treat in Going Rogue.

PALIN: Says she made frugality a point when traveling on state business as Alaska governor, asking "only" for reasonably priced rooms and not "often" going for the "high-end, robe-and-slippers" hotels.

PALIN: Boasts that she ran her campaign for governor on small donations, mostly from first-time givers, and turned back large checks from big donors if her campaign perceived a conflict of interest.

PALIN: Rails against taxpayer-financed bailouts, which she attributes to Obama. She recounts telling daughter Bristol that to succeed in business, "you'll have to be brave enough to fail."

PALIN's views on bailouts appeared to evolve as McCain's vice presidential running mate. In September 2008, she said "taxpayers cannot be looked to as the bailout, as the solution, to the problems on Wall Street." A week later, she said "ultimately what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy."

During the vice presidential debate in October, Palin praised McCain for being "instrumental in bringing folks together" to pass the $700 billion bailout. After that, she said "it is a time of crisis and government did have to step in."

PALIN: Says Ronald Reagan faced an even worse recession than the one that appears to be ending now, and "showed us how to get out of one. If you want real job growth, cut capital gains taxes and slay the death tax once and for all."

Let's be patient and wait for the book, so that we can give a fair review.
The writing techniques I use in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual--an indispensable guide:

Sentence Openers


Click-->Back to main page

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Wife of Bath: Feminism, Womanism, or Neofeminism?

Every time I read Chaucer’s “The Wife of Bath,” (prologue and tale), I come with a different conclusion as to what the good wife did actually want or aspire to in life. I won’t comment on what the author meant to convey; I will leave this to the end. In this last reading I want to comment on Dame Alice’s motivation in telling us her tale.

Within a few verses the Wife tells us that her story will be about her personal experiences and marriages—all five of them:
That marriage is a misery and a woe;
For let me say, if I may make so bold,
My lords, since I was but twelve years old,
Thanks be to God Eternal evermore,
Five husbands have I had the church door;

As I read the poem-story, nothing to me is more delightful than to visualize the woman’s visage:
Yes, I’m gap-toothed; it suits me well I feel,
It is the print of Venus and seal,
So help me God I was a lusty one
Fair, young, and well-to-do, and full of fun!

Isn’t this the picture of a lively character? Not only is she young, fair, rich, full of fun, but also well-to-do. And if we add an appropriate dress we can complete the picture: “And always wore my gayest scarlet dress.”

Under no circumstance should we interpret Dame Alice as an early feminist as we understand the term today: someone who advocates the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. Of course the feminist movement has spawned many other more radical stances, but the core belief will suffice: feminists want equality.
Yet, throughout the prologue we see that the Wife doesn’t really want equality but woman’s supremacy. Today she could be called sexist.

Likewise, in the actual tale, the queen sends the offending knight in a quest to find the answer to the questions of the ages: “What is the thing that women most desire?” To save his life, the knight must return with the right answer in a twelvemonth and a day’s time. And the correct answer he submits turns out to be that what women most desire is the supremacy of woman over man:
‘A woman wants the self-same sovereignty
Over her husband as over her lover,
And master him; he must not be above her …’

When novelist Alice Walker coined the term ‘Womanist prose’ she meant to highlight the plight of the African American woman, whose condition was different from the constraints suffered by white feminists. Womanism has of late come to mean a benign sisterhood free from ill will to men.

But the Wife of Bath if full of ill will towards her five husbands. Womanism isn’t applicable here, for not only is she jealous, but she is also vindictive and cruel:
I told you how it filled my heart with spite
To see another woman his delight,

By God on earth I was his purgatory.

How many were the ways I tortured him,
And when she buries her fourth husband, at the very same funeral, she flirts with Johnny —the handsome former Oxford student— and wins him to become her fifth husband. And just like she did with the previous husbands, she strips them of their manhood, house, land, and wealth.

Unsatisfied, ribald, and lascivious, Dame Alice seeks pleasure in and outside marriage. In this context we can say that the neofeminist paradigm fits her well: “love me for my body—not my mind.” This man-hungry model fits her well since throughout her narrative she alludes to her strong sexual proclivities. To short circuit censorship and to avoid vulgar language, the Wife refers to sex in a variety of ways: “Silly instrument,” “In wifehood I will use my instrument,” “My husband, he shall have it eve and morrow,” “And was unable to deny in truth, My chamber of Venus to a likely youth,” and my favorite stanza:
‘What ails you, man, to grumble so and groan?
Just that you want my what-not all your own?
Why, take it all, man, take it every bit!
St. Peter, what a love you have for it!
For if I were to sell my belle chose,
I could go walking fresher than a rose;

Because in the end we can see that she is half deaf (from a beating), that she is a battered wife, and who despite the violence inflicted to her by her five husbands she only makes fun of her situation in life, one can assume that she suffers from low self-esteem.

To all this, what was Chaucer’s agenda? On first impression it seems that Chaucer is actually using the character of a picturesque woman to prove that women can be lethal to men. On a deeper level one can say that by exposing the husband’s abusive behavior, which in those years was common, he could bring about social change.
The writing techniques I use in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual--an indispensable guide:

Sentence Openers


Augustine, City of God
Austen J, Pride and Prejudice
Austen J, "Marriage Proposals and Me"
Austen J, Emma
Borges, The Aleph
C. Bronte, Jane Eyre
Burroughs E,Tarzan
Cervantes, Don Quijote
Chaucer, Wife of Bath
Coelho P,The Alchemist
Coyle H, They Are Soldiers
Dante, New Life
Dickens C, David Copperfield
Dostoevsky, Crime&Punishment
ConanDoyle,Hound of Baskervilles
Dubner S, Superfreakonomics

DuMaurier D, Rebecca
Ellis B. E. American Psycho
Fitzgerald S, Great Gatsby
Flaubert G, Madame Bovary
Fleming I,Doctor No
Freud S, Leonardo Da Vinci
Friedan B, Feminine Mystique
GarciaMarquez, Of Love & OtherDemons
GarciaMarquez,OneHundredYrs
Guerrero M,ThePoison Pill

Grass G, The Tin Drum
Harris T, Hannibal Rising
Heidegger M,House of Being
Ishiguro K, Remains of The Day
Johnson S,Rasselas
Kafka,Metamorphosis
Kosinski J, The Painted Bird
Lee H,To Kill a Mockingbird
McBain Ed,Gutter and Grave
Murakami H,Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Nabokov V, Lolita
Meyer, S, Twilight
Ortega,Dehumanization of Art
Poe E A, Gordon Pym
Prose F, Reading Like a Writer
Rushdie S,Midnight Children
Sabatini R, Scaramouche
Spark M, Prime of Miss Brodie

Stendhal, Red and Black
Sterne L,Tristram Shandy
Stevenson R, Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde
Stoker B, Dracula
Thackeray W,History of Pendennis
Tolstoy L, Anna Karenina
Trollope A, Autobiography
Unamuno M, Tragic Sense of Life
Voltaire, Candide
Webb J, Fields of Fire
Wharton E, The House of Mirth
Woolf V, To The Lighhouse


The secrets of 'no-doze' prose:
Mary Duffy's Sentence Openers



Lindsey Vonn after winning the Downhill World ...
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Lindsey Vonn


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Tattoos: Like Them or Dislike Them

Throughout more than 10,000 years of recorded history we find that humans have the innate desire to adorn themselves and their surroundings. A house isn’t just a house but a home that expresses the inhabitant’s personality. A temple isn’t just a structure for worship but a construction for those who attempt to reach God; just think of the Gothic cathedrals—point up towards the heavens. A car isn’t just a means of transportation but a symbol of power or lack of it. And so it goes.
What about tattoos? Being more personal than structures and surroundings, we must look within to understand their popularity in contemporary society.

Tattoos in America:
Let’s keep in mind that not all societies adopt tattoos as means of personal and communal expressions. In many cultures –especially illiterate societies—tattoos carry the visual symbols, icons, and signals of collective consciousness and memories they wish to preserve.

In the USA, given their popularity today, we can see that tattoos are a continuation of the earlier generations’ symbols of rebellion, of being different, of presenting a contrarian attitude, of the nonconformist. In place of long hair we now have long nails, body piercing, and tattoos. Yet no one can discern a cause for that rebellion other than the deep desire to be individualistic.
Is it a fad? Given that the fad is lasting longer than a decade, we can say perhaps it is more than a fad; may be a much longer wave. Young people imitate stars, celebrities, and other famous achievers. In soccer we see a veteran player like David Beckham sport very visible tattoos on his neck; following Beckham’s example, the young striker Natasha Kai isn’t shy about displaying her countless tattoos. In boxing, tattoos are almost mandatory –perhaps as weapons of intimidation—since most boxers wear them. The fiercer the tattoo the fiercer the appearance of the boxer: just take a close look at Mike Tyson’s face.

Tattoos are bridges between the body and the soul:
For many individuals, tattoos are connectors between material reality and the spiritual realm, much like prayers. While prayers are somewhat restricted for the most for worshipping, or for matters of extreme dangerous situations, tattoos being fixed and constant are reminders of our aloneness in this world. A glance at them can ameliorate that feeling of dread.
Sometimes it is difficult, if not impossible, to externalize a personal inner quest. A graphic depiction can do that for us as a way of telling others “this is what I am about—what of it?” For some individuals their tattoos express defiance and often hostility.
For many, tattoos concretize their faith in some abstraction. Take for example patriotism, freedom, or love. These human emotions and feelings cannot be properly articulated, but they can be expressed easily with a tattoo of the American flag, the Liberty Bell, or bleeding hearts.

Tats and Aesthetics: from the ridiculous to the sublime
One can make the argument that a tattoo doesn’t have to justify anything—but beauty. Many of the Celtic, butterfly, dragons, flowery, and even weaponry tattoos are so designed and executed that evoke a feeling of awe and admiration.
If a tattoo is well balanced, it is whole, and it has a splendor of its own, then we can say that it is beautiful. Must one have to justify beauty? Of course not, but keep in mind that quality must prevail; if enough quality tattoos are shown, then we are justified in calling this part of aesthetics: “body art.”

Tattoos that have been worked and finessed over a long period of time often achieve a sense not only of awe but of something sublime. Without knowing why, how, or what in particular moves us when we look at a fine work that glows with a mystic aura, we feel as if we were in the presence of a divinity. This feeling can be achieved by one simple icon; an abundance of extended coverage of skin sometimes repeals rather than attract.

A person must be careful with his choice, for one can easily move from the sublime to the ridiculous, from the angelic to the demonic, or from respect to offensive.
Generational Reactions:

While the public in general are tolerant and laissez-faire about tattoos, the generations in power (as in the power to hire, promote, and fire) are less inclined to accept the practice.
Tattoos are still be viewed as a vehicle of strangeness in an applicant; a visible sign that the individual may not be a team player, someone difficult to manage. This may not be true, but it is the way of corporate cultures. In fact, I’ve heard a human resources executive denigrate tattoos as “jail art.”
Sense and Sensitivity:

Common sense tells us to be sensitive to other people’s feelings, history, and culture. Likewise, tattoos should not be worn as to offend others. Political symbols and religious symbols are still taboo in America. Cosmic and zodiac expressions have become universal symbols and are looked on with sympathy.
Conclusion:

Like in any other human endeavors, taste, likes, and dislikes, tattoos have caught the imagination of the younger generations and are here to stay. While some are critical of the practice, most people are tolerant. And instead of looking for the negative, we should look for the positive gains that they (tattoos) can yield to the wearer, and also for the beauty that some of them contain.
The writing techniques I use in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual--an indispensable guide:

Sentence Openers


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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sylvia Plath: American Icon

Discussing with my wife the quality education that women get in women’s colleges, Mary Patricia pointed out to Wellesley producing Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Smith College Sylvia Plath. Of Mrs. Clinton we know a lot, but of Sylvia Plath we know less. Sylvia Plath attended Smith from 1950-1955, and graduated summa cum laude, wining a Fulbright Scholarship to Cambridge. There she met poet Ted Hughes, whom she later married. Not only was she talented poet but also an essayist and a fine novelist. In all genres she displayed a dark streak for brooding, melancholy, and self destruction. Her literary production, much autobiographical, shows the struggles of a tortured soul caged and bound, and that only death could set free.

Poems


From her poem “Daddy” we can see the confinement and death laden imagery:

You do not do, you do not do Any more,
black shoe In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time-- Marble-heavy,
a bag full of God,
Ghastly statue with one gray toe Big as a Frisco seal

In another poem she intimates the almost died from a swimming accident at the age of 10. We also know that she also attempted suicide when she was 20 years of age. Plath was hospitalized for swallowing a bottle of sleeping pills and crawling into a hole in a wall in her cellar, where her mother found her two days later.

The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar is Sylvia Plath’s most important and moving fictional work. A bell jar —a vacuumed sealed jar used in labs— symbolizes the protagonist’s life: “I would be stirring under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.” The cry for freedom and release is obvious. Faced with portraying the death of a beautiful, talented, and successful woman —Esther Greenwood— the author stylizes her prose to create a surreal atmosphere where the boundaries between sanity and inanity are erased. It is this aspect, the play of reason and unreason, which has made this novel a cultic American classic.

The death of the author

On 11 February 1963 Sylvia Plath sealed the rooms between herself and her children Freda and Nicholas in her apartment in London, left some bread and milk out, and turned on the gas. Her body was discovered the next day by a regular nurse and a construction worker. She died at the age of 30.

Conclusion

During her short life (born on 27th October, 1932 in Boston), she managed to write daily. She left autobiographical and confessional journals, diaries, letters, and many other documents from which her lifetime can be reconstructed. While writing for many is a form of catharsis, for Sylvia Plath it was a temporary, tenuous lifeline at best. Smith College has much to be proud of in having produced a true literary figure in Sylvia Plath. While many students prefer co-ed colleges, women’s colleges do have an important role to play in educating literary luminaries.
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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Philosopher Nietzsche and the Milk of Human Kindness

What is one to do with a mad philosopher? Should we take him seriously or should we discard his ideas as the ranting of a rabid madman? Some of Nietzsche’s ideas are worthy of study and have much currency, but many others are feeble and laughable. In this article, however, I will comment on the man’s attitude toward women.

Given that Nietzsche believed in the ideology of the “will to power,” everything else that wasn’t powerful he cast aside as a sign of weakness. And into the pile of weakness he threw women. In Zarathustra we read:
And finally, woman! One-half of mankind is weak, chronic- ally sick, changeable, shifty - woman requires . . . a religion of the weak which glorifies weakness, love and modesty as divine: or better still, she makes the strong weak - she succeeds in overcoming the strong. Woman has always conspired with decadent types - the priests, for instance - against the "mighty," against the "strong," against men. Women avail themselves of children for the cult of piety . . .

What was he thinking of when he wrote this part: “Woman has always conspired…,” a deliberate conspiracy? I think not. This phrasing can only be the ranting of a delusional paranoid person, throwing generalizations into his writing simply because they seem to fit his grandiose ideology of the superior man.

In Thus Spake Zarathustra, he says: “Thou goest to women? Do not forget thy whip!"

How horrible this admonition is! Bertrand Russell
in his The History of Western Philosophy mocks Nietzsche's weakly constitution, “Forget not thy whip” —but nine women out of ten would get the whip away from him and he knew it, so he kept away from women, and soothed his wounded vanity with unkind remarks.”

Of mothers he has a lot to say. But I cannot help asking myself whether he actually hated his mother. He said: “Mothers find in their children satisfaction for their desire to dominate, a possession, an occupation … “

Yet, in the end when he was in the throes of death and totally insane, in March 1890, his mother took him back home, where she cared for the invalid for the next seven years.

Ah, Nietzsche! Ah, inhumanity! But the milk of human kindness never dries.
The writing techniques I use in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual:

Sentence Openers


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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

3 Qualities Needed for Success and Material Riches

Warren Buffett speaking to a group of students...Image via Wikipedia


From prehistory to today, some humans seem to “have it all.” Maybe we should a take a second look at our obsession with equality, the Declaration of Independence notwithstanding.

Separating the Wimps from the Hunters
Even in our times we show a great deal of respect and admiration for those who are good hunters: head hunters, job hunters, partner hunters, and other type of hunters. While we are in awe of aggressive behavior, we denigrate the wimps. President Bush (41—not 43) was a war hero, yet he was a one-term president simply because he was painted (by the democrats) as a wimp. Likewise, David Letterman —a comic turned sex predator— not only survives a sex scandal, but his ratings go up! And women account for more than half of his viewership.

The patriarch Abraham (in Genesis) was a wealthy old man who owned more goats and camels than he or his sons could handle. And woe be to the son who didn’t pull his weight! Then we have Midas, Croesus, and Seneca—the first two were kings and the latter a wealthy politician. Midas had the magic touch to turn everything he touched into gold; inevitably he starved himself to death. Croesus —if we are to believe Herodotus— cast himself on a funeral pyre, having lost his empire to Cyrus. Seneca lent all his wealth to Caligula, but in the end Caligula forced him to commit suicide.

What do hunters have in common?
In the first place, what unifies these characters is the aura of aggression that envelopes them in their path to accumulating wealth.

Some might say, tongue in cheek, that happened long ago. True. But, even today in our age of communication and the Internet, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Dell, Michael Dell, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, are no wimps by any stretch—geeks maybe, but not wimps.

Secondly, these fellows command respect not because they have a great family name, but because they are assertive and look so. And while we tolerate those who inherit wealth (David Rockefeller, Donald Trump, Steve Forbes, etc), we worship the self-made hunters and gatherers.

Before Bernard Madoff —the Ponzi bandit— fell from grace, he was courted by the rich who begged him to accept their savings. Bernie exuded confidence, poise, and lived a life of splendor that made Jay Gatsby look like a small-time crook.

Thirdly, the top of the rich become philanthropists. Midas, Croesus, and Seneca died poor, having given away all their property. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have given away their riches to a foundation. Do they know something we don’t? Or is it because they fear the injunction: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."

The point is that wealth comes to those who lust for it. From assertiveness comes confidence, from confidence we develop poise, from poise we move to aggressiveness, and with aggressiveness we are one step close to lust for riches—to having it all.

In the olden times, to achieve moderate success all that was needed was a pinch of gumption, thick skin, and the gift of bag. Today one needs more than that if we want it all. We need to realize that we aren’t equal, that some possess qualities that makes them stand out above the rest—assertiveness, aggressiveness, and lust for wanting it all.

Success is for All of Us!

Inferiority Complex?

3 Qualities for Success

The Best Leader?

How I Manage my Time

Adam Smith and Wealth


Boethius and Fortune


Employee of the Moth Everyday


If you are interested in seeing how I achieved personal success in the United States, you may find my book of short stories East of Tiffany's interesting. Some of the stories are based on my life as an executive, investment banker, and financial adviser to wealthy investors in the East Side of Manhattan.
Close to half-million people have read East of Tiffany's so far. Order your copy from either Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble. See the link on the right sidebar.

Since English is my second language, Mary Duffy --a master of the English language-- aided me not only with the editing, but she also contributed her own stories. I love her writing in "When You Wish Upon a Star." This is a story based on a personal friend's life.

Senada Selmani, model

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