Where is the snap line? Many can say that they know where their own snap line is, because they have crossed it (usually by accident). But how does one anticipate the snap line in others? What is the thing that is going to snap someone into actions they do not usually take?

What are the moments when the riddle of everyday life has just become too much to bear? Who are the people who take steps specifically to provoke someone to the tipping point? Take the North Warren High School boy who burned and strangled a fellow student last week — an incident that started as verbal bullying. We learned where his snap line was, but unfortunately we couldn’t anticipate it, or undue the trauma this tipping point causes both the victim and every parent who sends their kid to school.

 As a parallel thought to keep in mind as you read my utopian fantasy of safety and technology (below )is  this: If an elected official in my town can use “advances in solar technology in Canada and in space” as a reason to not invest in solar in our town today, (which you can hear for yourself if you wish) then I am up against a kind of reasoning  that I know nothing about- the kind of reasoning that works hard to stay fixed in the understandable status quo because the future is too scary and the present isn’t good enough. This is a fine example of the “culture of fear” inhibiting progress.

In my utopia, the future is the opposite of scary, and the present is working outside the status quo to make sure no one is satisfied with our present cultural dysfunctions. What would be a moment of utopian shift? Well a classic moment of shift was last week when an attorney said, “Now I need to say, relative to the comments I just made, that I am not against solar and I say that because I don’t want to be quoted by Amelia as being against solar.” A blog can play a role in enabling a playing field that acknowledges both sides of a topic. Wow. This is progress, not a problem. I file this under “theory proves true.”

Let’s pull from the class work of Ms. Kumaosan at The University of Michigan; she is a remarkable professor and contemporary artist and her research and teaching is clearly on the cutting edge. I am interested in her latest class titled something like Circuits and Fabrics. If we have circuits that read information from the body in microchip form, and these can be sewn into clothing, I would like to develop, in my utopia, a little beeper that goes off when a person is exhibiting extreme anger and hatred. Then, those of us in their path could get out of their way as quickly as possible.

With this little red LED flare on the cuff, “off the cuff” would gain a whole new cultural connotation.

My Snap Line device would allow for each of us to be alerted when the “joke” was over. This would illustrate that the “rants” had transitioned to something worse, that the anger had moved to a possible “physical delivery” location (like “I (antagonist blogger) will post them (my name and my postings) in the three local papers, on the community bulletin boards in front of the municipal building, in the Shop-Rite, in the A&P, I will take out ads in the elementary school’s newsletters, the booster clubs and recreational committee’s flyers and programs. In short, instead of the people who read your tripe learning your vile ways, the whole community will hear about you.”) This is a dangerous threat, and it moves discourse off the internet and into a “physical delivery place.” The “culture of fear and hate” that is present in a gesture like this would clearly benefit from a snap line device.

I wonder how many lives the snap line sensor could save a year. I wonder how much post traumatic stress the snap line sensor might eliminate. Could it be that the Snap Line device comes to be thought of as a great mental health tool for the “integrated- mentally ill?” Returning from prison, could not a person benefit from knowing their pressure point if they have been convicted of a violent crime? Perhaps my device could have some aid to a domestic violence situation. Maybe it could be used as a deterrent, like nuclear bombs are used, to stop the possibility of bad behavior.  I can see them working for motorists with a history of road rage.  Or imagine if one had gone off at a mall when a community college kid loads a gun to get some real media attention (aka Tucson).

My sweet muse and I had an interesting conversation, about the snap line, over the weekend. He suggested that the snap line would definitely be crossed by telling a story about a well-funded, and well populated (larger than the perceived majority), counter insurgency group that had formed in western jersey. In this narrative, the radicals had been trained in gorilla techniques in Venezuela, had extremist views of equity of civility and law, and leveled the playing field of liberty by holding governments and individuals captive at 15 hour teach-ins if they were found to be even the slightest bit disrespectful.

Most of these teach-ins would be constructed for those who had been mean, or had bullied, other citizens. The counter insurgents would require bullies to wear the snap line device. My muse suggested this insurgency group should sing in harmony, carry fake machine guns, distribute fabulous smelling flowers, and be dressed in bright happy clothing. We pondered that if I developed this story into a full-blown chapter that was rooted in actual facts and places in jersey its “cultural contradictions of capitalism and humanity” (or for those who did not read Bell, let’s just say good and bad) would cause a reader’s tipping point and I would for sure be ripped to shreds–devalued and refuted for days on end.

We then chatted about the expression “ripped to shreds.” No doubt that a few of my readers are very interested in ripping my novel to shreds because I am a liar and a hypocrite. But oddly outside this one fluke, I cannot find one other author of a novel who is criticized for being either a liar or a hypocrite. I did find references in research to “their work does not have a shred of evidence to prove the claim.” But I can find no reference to a novelist who is considered profane for not having evidence to prove their narrative. This is case and point to show that my genre is not yet understood, and is threatening and powerful.

Story-telling is one of my last shreds of hope for politicized evolution that is constructive. Writing a compelling story that makes someone want to read it, because it is a good story, is not a reason to have your children ostracized.  Writing a story, in the tradition of William Gibson (a writer of classic Sci Fi) that “pulls from everyday life and everyday experience” is not grounds for being bullied and ostracized. One is bullied and ostracized for writing a novel because people are afraid of the potential the narrative has to offsetting the “official narrative” (like Isaac Babel’s life story). While I think the “majority” who do not like my writing most certainly can choose not to read it, but it would seem that having it exist at all is too much to bear. They think that if they bully me long enough I will stop, but in fact I would contend that  they are assisting me in writing a timely best-seller.

So, there must be something going on here. There must be a really big bad reason why people do not want me to write. Here is my brainstormed list:

  • There is too much truth in what I write.
  • There are too many inappropriate things that might be recorded.
  • They need to have only one story (the minute story). No other story is allowed.
  • They cannot stand the fact that I do not see the world the same way as them.
  • They are terrified that some power might be given to an alternative voice.
  • They are threatened by me because they think I will cause an unraveling.
  • They do not like the internet.
  • They do not understand the internet blog as a genre of self and cultural reflection.
  • They do not understand the process of writing a novel.
  • They do not like me because I am different.

I’ve got to talk to some professors about the Snap Line device even if it is only ever an art piece and never becomes a purchasable item. I think the art community, and the museum community, could have fun with this. I bet I could get the Tolerance Museum or the Forward Thinking Museum to commission a few devises for a performance piece. The playfulness of this is inspiring to me, but this morning’s “note to self” (also known as writing for fun),  must transition now to writing for money (profession).

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