War and Regular People
The Brain of Pooh
Writing as Therapy
TO: poo@cts.com

Subject: people affected by the war

Could you possibly tell me who was affected by the war and how they were affected? I'm having a hard time finding information about regular people all I get is the famous people. Thank you so very much.

--- Anon

§     §     §

Hi and thanks for the email.

If you want to study the effects of WWI, you might look at In Flanders Fields or "Loos" or The First World War by Gerard J. De Groot.

In truth, World War One was a loser as far as wars go. It only killed 16,000,000 ordinary people --- 21,000,000 wounded: mostly conscripts at the Western Front and poor civilians to the east.

WWII, on the other hand, was considerably more cost-efficient. More than 60,000,000 people died, 30,000,000 alone in "The Great Patriotic War" (Russia vs. Nazi Germany) ... with countless millions more dying at the hands of the Japanese in their "Greater Eastern CoProsperity Sphere." China lost between 10,000,000 and 20,000,000 (civilians and military); Poland lost over 16% of its total population.

One of the best books about the death of "regular people" is Music of Another World by Szymon Laks. For American soldiers --- humble grunt soldiers --- see The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer.

For suffering under the Japanese, read the second review, Judgment at Tokyo: The Japanese War Crimes Trials by Tim Maga. For the plight of the people of Russia see Without Vodka: Adventures in Wartime Russia by Aleksander Topolski. For a view of the sufferings of the people of Italy, see A Woman of Rome by Alberto Moravia, and for a general study of life in England during the war, you might want to consult the very funny Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War 1941 - 1945.

RE: Helping through writing

To: carlosamantea@yahoo.com

Good Day,

I am a right leg amputee with additional trauma to my right leg. I have lived with this for over eight years. Dealing with the challenges, raising my family on my own and giving hope to others. I am interested in going further with that help through my writing. If you could give me any guidance I'd be very appreciative.

--- Rick Parker

§     §     §

Hi, Rick:

One of the great disabled writers once said that there are three things out there that can make it possible to survive the loss-of-body that we all suffer, and all will (ultimately) suffer.

The first is to realize that a trauma to the body also creates a trauma to the ego, to the heart, and perhaps to our oneness. The cure for this is counseling, preferably with a group of like-minded individuals possibly those who have gone through the same trauma as you. However, if you do not like being around other amputees, you should seek out other people with physical or emotional trauma that you can communicate with.

Then again, as you suggest, you may find an art that will assist you to communicate with yourself, and with the world. Music, sculpture, fine weaving, painting, whatever. This will serve to diffuse if not defuse the despair that comes built-in to the package of disability.

Writing is appropriate because it requires no special tools, nothing outside of your sensibility and whatever it is you choose to use (pen, typewriter, computer) to tell your story. If you can send an email to us, obviously you can write; thus you already have the instrument you need to speak in your own particular voice.

The key to becoming a writer is to do it daily. You should do it, as well, with passion. You have to dedicate time --- an hour, two, three, even a dozen a day --- to this pursuit.

The wonder of writing is that it's something you can do it while you are doing other things: making a living, for example. John Barth taught English, Franz Kafka worked in an insurance office, William Carlos William served as a doctor, e. e. cummings and Ernest Hemingway as ambulance drivers. J. D. Salinger wrote his early works in a foxhole during WWII: and all survived with their work while they were working miracles with words.

There are several books on writing that might help you in your quest. The best study for you is writing about writing. Nabokov's Speak Memory, Thomas Mann's Tonio Kröger Sartre's The Words, would be excellent places for you to start.

For instance, in The Words, the author wrote, "At the age of ten, I was sure of myself. Modest and insufferable, I saw my defeats as conditions for my posthumous victory. Even though I were blind or a legless cripple, even though I were led astray by my errors, I would win the war by dint of losing the battles. I saw no difference between the ordeals reserved for the elect and the failures for which I was responsible."

Perhaps these words could be your guide for starting a career as a writer.

--- Ed.

To: Lolita Lark

Subject: The Brain of Pooh


With respect to submissions and your confession of bewilderment with so-called i-books and your need to sniff and touch what you would read --- I am reminded of an Indian friend who had to finger her food to work up an appetite --- let me be immodest enough to point out a third possibility for submission which will not satisfy you entirely but may do in a pinch.

Go to Google Books, the only library with all of my books written in English. Type "robin d gill" into the search box and 10 will pop into the page below and 3 on the following page. They are all 100% readable. The last 6 or 7 were not scanned but sent as pdf's, so they are every bit as reliable and almost as clear as the books themselves.

You will see Fly-ku! raved in this Review by the author of The Blob that Ate Oaxaxa, one or two more I am afraid you swallowed up without trace and, starting with the most recently published, respectively,

A Dolphin In The Woods --- Composite Translation, Paraversing & Distilled Prose (2010)

Kyoka, Japan's Comic Verse --- a Mad In Translation Reader (2009)

Mad In Translation --- a thousand years of kyôka, comic japanese poetry in the classic waka mode (2009).

You will note two 2009 books that probably have escaped your attention as I was too busy writing them to do pr. It goes without saying that your reviews of the best 10 books of 2009 are but the best that reached Ralph.

What say you to reviewing books that are 100% viewable on-line? Or, you might read enough to know you want to review the book and then request a review copy.

It also goes without saying that Ralph is a treasure. Were yours truly not a true pauper press, a review copy of every book would have been sent your way. I have always enjoyed your freedom to lollygag (the verb borrowed from one of your reviewers) about, and the practice of putting a colorful snippet by the title of each book, rather than the cover, when you list them is one all reviews should copy.

For your amusement, here is a snippet from page 3 of Mad In Translation, a Benediction for the readers:

If you find this book, so full of naught, of service, nonetheless,

Rename it The Brain of Pooh and you, too, will be blessed!

And, if I may ask, what percentage of Ralph readers recall what was named "The Brain of Pooh" and how it served Pooh in much the same way pig bladders did Hudibras?

--- robin d. gill
paraverse press
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