Charles Clanton Rogers

Reflections based on poetry, music, visual art, book reviews, history of science, first-person history, philosophical essays and International Blogging[11703361_1149977555018367_352659097434984790_nimage: Myphuong Nguyen, saxophone: Steven Rogers

Our potential reader is inundated with shouting media, on large, flat screen televisions or giant cinema’s screen, in spectacular colors and high fidelity stereophonic sound. The protagonist is  a Gregory Peck (Moby Dick),  a Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady), a Lawrence Olivier (Hamlet), Peter O’Toole, (Lawrence of Arabia), or Elizabeth Taylor (Cleopatra),  gorgeous, clever, courageous. The special effects virtually shake one’s sensibilities.  On your TV: Breaking News. Breaking NEWS, BREAKING NEWS on every channel.  Mass Murder;  mysterious disappearances!   All of this spilling into  your living room.  Stay tuned for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,  Anthrax!,  Ebola!  It comes in eight-second clips.

Lester Holt, on NBC Nightly news, reported an estimated American’s  attention span is eight seconds! (said to be shorter than goldfish).(1)

It has been reported, the brain’s neural circuits  control one’s Internet experiences and are becoming strengthened while the other parts of one’s brain are being neglected. When using the Internet, our brain receives a small release of dopamine as one switches from one web page to another, and this feels good. This is why we tend to “surf the Web,”

Whether at the cinema, at the flat screen TV or the internet, your potential reader is accustomed to be seized by the presentation and the “take-home-message”” is  not  subtle and  with little nuance. Could Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre have competed?

Anne Dillard reports an entomological experiment showing a male butterfly will ignore a living female butterfly, of his own species, in favor of a painted cardboard replica of a female butterfly, if the cardboard one is big and colorful.  If the cardboard one is bigger than he is, bigger than any female ever could be, he jumps the piece of cardboard. Nearby, the real, living female butterfly opens and closes her wings in vain.  Dillard suggests that films and television are produced to stimulate one’s body’s senses in big waves. These big waves bathe and engulf  our readers repeatedly.(2)

Dillard, discusses our efforts:  “This writing you do, that so thrills you, that so rocks and exhilarates you, as if you were dancing next to the band, is barely audible to anyone else.”

“The reader’s ear must adjust down from loud life to the subtle, imaginary sounds of the written word.”   So why should the writer persist? This is no small challenge to test how much we want to write.

There are numerous examples of authors who have written without the prospects of publication. Randy Pausch, in his last lecture,  told his students: brick walls are in our path to keep out others less motivated.  (3)

There is, however, great value in the process. The process may be the product  as in The Japanese Tea Ceremony.  I think the best thing Winston Churchill wrote was a little monograph: Painting as a Pastime,  in which he explains the mental restoration of amateur painting.(4)

When I write, I feel like Churchill did when he describes “stabbing the blank canvas with a paintbrush!” (it’s OK, it doesn’t bleed). Instead of a wound, you receive healing from fatigue, anxiety and boredom.

I find  when I set down to write, I often find it is less a message than a discovery. I have read that some authors, having started a story, will find his own fictional character take control of the keyboard and write its own story that the author did not know was in him.  It is  the discovering of what is going to appear on the page, that keeps me coming back for my own indulgence.

Neurological research at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital, indicates  there is a “reward circuitry” in the brain in which there are sites where  both areas of “what the brain likes and what the brain wants” exist. It is something that is regarded as a reward in and of itself. (5)

I believe that a  writer writes, regardless of an audience because he is, like, I think Van Gogh  was, “dancing next to the band” (his own music)(Thoreau’s “distant drummer”?). We need  to do this, even though our product may then lie in our attic.

“Beauty is its own reward!”  

Or, you can try to compete with the giant cardboard butterflies!  30

This is a revision of one of my previous published post. Image of the  butterfly by Myphuong Nguyen, used by permission.

(1.) NBC Nightly News, May 14, 2015

(2) Dillard, Anne, The Writing Life , Harper Perennial, 1998

(3.) Pausch, Randy, “The Last Lecture”,  Professor, Carnegie Mellon, 2008

(4.) Churchill, Winston, Painting as a Pastime, Rosetta Books, 1932

(5.)  Massachusetts General Hospital Proceedings, Study finds beauty can be Its own reward, November 8, 2001


15 thoughts on “Writers and The Butterfly

  1. Elle Knowles says:

    Interesting post. I loved Randy Pausch’s “The Last Lecture”. My son had to read it for a class in high school and even he who hates to read was enthralled. I just feel lost sometimes when I let my writing slip from my grasp. ~Elle

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Jack Flacco says:

    The reward system in the brain makes sense to me. Every chapter done is more light at the end of the tunnel that illuminates the fog. Every draft completed is a celebration.

    Provocative thoughts that I truly believe are true.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. clanton1934 says:

      I’m very pleased for this “echo”. Thanks for your note, Jack.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. clanton1934 says:

        Jack, I invite to look at an earlier post of mine:

        If you find it useful, I would like to hear your thoughts.


    1. clanton1934 says:

      Steven Rogers is my son. He is professional musician and teacher. Thank you. ccr


  3. bbnewsab says:

    Very interesting thoughts! Especially, at least for me, what you – or rather Anne Dillard – tell us about the male butterfly looking for a female one to “date” and mate.

    BTW, Is the saxophonist Steven Rogers a (maybe) close relative of yours? After all, musicality is a genetic “personality trait”.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bbnewsab says:

    Another little thought just knocked on my door begging to be invited to my mind.

    It wanted me to convey to you this simple message,

    “Why not have a look at this article: ?”

    My little thought also told me you’d appreciate that text, since you seem to be so interested in both nature and nurture, and you apparently are a great admirer of “les belles artes”.


    1. clanton1934 says:

      Thank you. I will open that link and study it. Best wishes. ccr


    2. clanton1934 says:

      Your butterfly and moth link was very good. The butterfly is the link between two workers working apart but sharing a value: “A tuff of flowers”

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Janice Wald says:

    Where is your post with the flags? Please send the link. I need it for tomorrow’s post. Thanks.


  6. Thao says:

    Hi! I’ve been reading your web site for some time now and
    finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Atascocita
    Tx! Just wanted to mention keep up the great work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. clanton1934 says:

      Thank you so much. I solicit and cherish responses like yours. I hope it does not require bravery to continue talking to me! What would you like to hear more of?


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