Guest Underground Society Post by Josh Gross

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I want to give thanks to Josh Gross for contributing this excellent post to my blog. Please be sure to check out his blog: Jaguar and Allies .

Underground Library Society Post

 

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Introduction

 

In May of this year, Dr. Charles French extended an invitation to join his Underground Library Society (ULS). The ULS began as a project for Dr. French’s English 2 class, in which students were required to create a poster and blog about a book they would memorize. In this way, they might be able to save it from censorship.

 

Dr. French’s invitation asked readers to do the same thing: make a poster and blog about a book they would memorize. I selected the Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence – better known as Lawrence of Arabia.

 

While I have not constructed a poster, what follows is an essay about why I would memorize this book.

 

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence

 

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(A portrait of T. E. Lawrence, as seen in Lowell Thomas’ With Lawrence in Arabia. Public Domain image retrieved from Wikimedia.)

 

In these pages in not the history of the Arab movement, but just of what happened to me in it…It treats of daily life, mean happenings, little people. Here are no lessons for the world, no events to shake peoples. It is filled with trivial things, partly that no one mistake it for history (it is the bones from which some day a man may make history), and partly for the pleasure it gave me to recall the fellowship of the revolt (Lawrence, 2011, p. 9).

 

I first picked up the Seven Pillars of Wisdom on a whim. I had just finished reading The Outsiders by Colin Wilson, which quoted Lawrence repeatedly. Lawrence’s words struck a chord with me, so I ordered a copy of his book. I had no idea what I was getting into.

 

The Seven Pillars is the memoir of the fabled “Lawrence of Arabia,” whom Michael Korda (2010) describes as, “a scholar, an archaeologist, a writer of genius, a gifted translator…a soldier of startling originality and brilliance; an instinctive leader of men; and, above all, a hero” (p. xvi).

 

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​(T. E. Lawrence, second from right in the middle row, accompanying Emir Faisal Hussein of Mecca at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Public Domain image retrieved from Wikimedia.)

 

Lawrence’s memoir chronicles his experiences in the Arab Revolt of 1916, in which the Arabic peoples rose up against the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire. Little did they know, they had entrusted their fates to a far more devious power than the Turks: the British Empire.

 

The Arab Revolt was both encouraged and supported by the British. At this time, Europe was locked in the bloody stalemate of World War I – with the British and Ottomans fighting on opposite sides. The British therefore helped to instigate a rebellion of the Arabs against the Ottomans, promising to grant their ‘friends’ freedom and a sovereign state.

 

But in a real-life conspiracy, the British and French met behind closed doors; deciding to carve up the Middle East amongst themselves however they saw fit. There would be no freedom for the Arabs.

 

From the beginning, Lawrence was a firm believer in the Arab Revolt. He initially supported it indirectly as a desk-based intelligence officer in Cairo. But when the revolt began to flounder, he entered the field as a liaison between the Arabic and British armies. His time in the field makes up the bulk of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

 

lawrencearch

(Much of Lawrence’s sympathy for the Arabs stemmed from his Oxford days, when he worked as an archaeologist at Carchemish. Public Domain image retrieved from Wikimedia.)

 

What first struck me about the Seven Pillars, and the primary reason I would memorize it, is the sheer beauty of its prose. Lawrence wrote with more skill, passion, and care than any author I have yet found. He described the scenery of Arabia so perfectly that the hues of the desert come to life; he writes about the characters so intimately that they seem like old friends; but, most of all, he describes his own thoughts and emotions in such detail that it is impossible not to be affected by them.

 

wadirum

(Wadi Rum, shown here, was one of Lawrence’s favorite places in Arabia. Wadi Rum by Dan. CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

It is in these moments of self-disclosure that the Seven Pillars truly shines. To be fair, I disagree with many of Lawrence’s sentiments. However, that does not detract from the quality of his writing. It is also during Lawrence’s ‘deeper’ passages that the central theme of the Seven Pillars becomes apparent: that of a man torn in two.

 

Lawrence was a proud Englishman, and felt that his first duty was to his homeland. Despite this, he also believed in a free Arabia. As the Seven Pillars progresses, the incompatible drives between serving his British masters and helping his Arabic friends gradually rip him apart.

 

This is the primary reason I would choose to memorize the Seven Pillars of Wisdom: it shows what happens when one chooses to obey authority over doing what they know to be right.

 

lawrenceeffigy

(​Lawrence died on the morning of May 19, 1935, following a tragic motorcycle accident. TE Lawrence Effigy Wareham Church by Julian Hutchings. CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 

Lawrence never recovered from the war, and neither did the world. How different would the modern age be if the Arabs had been allowed to govern themselves, instead of being turned into the colonial play-things of the British, French, and later the Americans? We will never know.

 

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom is more than a literary masterpiece. It is the story of broken promises, of failed dreams, and of a world that almost was. As Lawrence (2011) wrote:

 

I meant to make a new nation, to restore to the world a lost influence, to

give twenty millions of Semites an inspired dream-palace of their national

thoughts. So high an aim called out the inherent nobility of their minds, and made

them play a generous part in events: but when we won, it was charged against me

that British petrol royalties in Mesopotamia were become dubious, and French

colonial policy mined in the levant (p. 10).

 

I hope to preserve Lawrence’s words forever, so that the world never forgets the price of deception.

 

References

 

Korda, M. (2010). Hero: The life and legend of Lawrence of Arabia. New York, NY:

HarperCollins Publishers.

 

Lawrence, T. E. (2011). The seven pillars of wisdom: A triumph: The complete 1922 text.

Blacksburg, VA: Wilder Publications, Inc.

 

Once again, thank you to Josh Gross!

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Quotations By J.R.R. Tolkien

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“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”

                                                 The Fellowship Of The Ring

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

                                                 The Fellowship Of The Ring

“There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”

                                                 The Two Towers

 

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

                                                 The Hobbit

“Oft hope is born when all is forlorn.”

                                                The Return Of The King

What Are You Writing Now?

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It has been a while since I have spoken of what I am currently writing. As always, I am keeping busy and continuing to try to write almost every day.  In a few days, I will speak specifically about my book on writing essays that will be released soon. I am excited to say that this book is not self-published! I finally have a traditional publisher. I am not, in any way, discounting the value of my self-published work; instead, I am now claiming to be a hybrid writer, living in both worlds.

Additionally, I am working on the first draft of a fantasy novel that I hope to have finished by the end of July.  As soon as that is complete, I will begin working on another book on writing. Waiting patiently in line after that are the characters who will people a political thriller.

What about all of you? What are you working on? I hope you are enjoying writing and are being productive.

So, I ask again: what are you writing now?

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GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

32570160

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

 

What Do You Enjoy About Writing?

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Writers have many aspects to what they do, and creating a book is a large and arduous task. It often requires research, numerous drafts, editing, and proofreading to name some of the components.

And this is hard work.

But why do writers do this work if they do not enjoy what they do? I think most writers do take joy from their efforts, and I think they find reward in it. I would like to hear from you what you enjoy in the act of writing.

It would be completely legitimate, as I tell my students when posing a question to them, to ask me: what do I enjoy about writing?

Well, many aspects occur to me, but what I enjoy the most is the act of story-telling, of creating characters and seeing what happens to them.

So, I ask: what do you enjoy about writing?

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(https://pixabay.com)

 

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

32570160

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

Quotations on Standing Up to Evil

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(Painting by Joshua Reynolds)

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

                                                                          Edmund Burke

 

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“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”

                                                                  Mahatma Gandhi

 

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“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

                                                                 Martin Luther King Jr.

Happy Solstice; Happy Litha!

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June 21st is one of the most important dates in the pre-Christian Celtic calendar. It is the day with the longest daylight of the year, and it is a celebration of the coming summer.

Please understand, that there is nothing evil or Satanic in this holiday or its celebration. It is simply an expression of seasonal joy.

Happy Solstice!

Happy Litha!

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GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

32570160

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

Quotations on Treatment of Children

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Kofi_Annan

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“There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and that they can grow up in peace.”

                                                                             Kofi Annan

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“If our American way of life fails the child, it fails us all.”

                                                                            Pearl S. Buck

 

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“Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”

                                                                            John F. Kennedy