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The Miracle of Context

Image Source: Minds . Can you recognize  the truth, if it's taken out of context? The Internet has lately become Pandora's Box, spilling out its contents to those who dare to look  (or look again - or again ). Images Source: Hello! Magazine / Getty . Last week, a friend dismissed my claim that people want to see the truth. He thinks people are not interested in abstracts like 'truth.' They just want to get on with their lives. Whether they want the truth or not, the signs and symbols of truth are on the move. Conversations float around and skim the surface. Another friend wondered out loud tonight, "It feels like the virus is more of a meme than anything else." In the wake of the US inauguration, disinformation, strange rumours, and weird info dumps are circulating online. Everything feels off, but bizarrely connected. There is something bigger at play. Image Source: 4chan ; also here . Truth and fiction overlap. There is no way to drill down to bedrock. It

Welcome to The Dragonfly

The common whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) lives across much of North America. Image Source: Little Wild Streak.

Welcome to my new blog on writing and media! This blog accompanies my writer's Website,, which launches today. I have several social media pages; the main ones are listed at the bottom of this post.

For eight years, I have blogged under the pen names TamB, ToB, and @tamaranorbust at Histories of Things to Come. When I started, I planned to write the history of the new Millennium. I refer to the turn of the Millennium, from 1995 to the present, as a period of unprecedented transformation. My accounts of this transformation on Histories were not intended to be journalism, but a new kind of history writing, peculiar to our times.

Blogging offered a way to interpret ever-changing information on a constant basis and to publish instantly, to create what I call 'real-time history,' which I will later synthesize into a formal history.

A pseudonym offered freedom to explore many subjects; I will discuss the issue of anonymity in future posts.

Greetings from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

While Histories continues, The Dragonfly concerns the experience of writing and how and why an engagement with social media may apply as a historical tool. It also deals with narrative, especially the ways in which stories and symbols are taking on a life of their own and are competing with facts.

The name of this blog refers to my artistic vision. It is taken from a small poem I wrote about a common whitetail dragonfly on the summer solstice of 2017.


​They say it’s a sign of the future, and a turn for the better.
So I was glad to see it ahead of me,
The same colour as the road, split in two tones,
Black and grey, or rather, black and neutral.
As I got close to it, it pulled away and disappeared, perfectly camouflaged.

The poem concerns renewed hope and a healed perspective. But it includes a warning, because that moment of survival may involve camouflage and self-delusion.

That is, when you break new ground, you cannot be sure that you are on the right track.

There is an arrogant attitude on the Internet that merely lashing out at the old order constitutes automatic neo-enlightenment. The Red Pill answer to our problems is a blanket negation of the system and established authorities. This is no guarantee of having learned or accomplished anything at all.

You may instead have disappeared into the long grass. You can, in seeking to overturn everything that is not working, simply become a revolutionary whose knee-jerk opposition only mirrors the existing system, and hence becomes an extension of it, while you become invisible to yourself. You may think you are part of the Great New Hope when in reality, you have simply gotten lost.

This is why it is so difficult to operate in uncharted territory. The Buddhists and Taoists call that challenge the pathless path. Deepak Chopra explained how the pathless path begins:

"The pathless path isn’t a straight line; it doesn’t even lead from point A to point B. The journey takes place entirely in consciousness. A mind overshadowed by fears, hopes, memories, past traumas, and old conditioning finds a way to become free. This sounds impossible at first. How can the mind that is trapped by pain also be the tool for freeing itself? How can a noisy mind find silence? How can peace emerge from discord?

The Buddha offered his answer, which is a variant on an even more ancient answer from the seers or rishis of Vedic India: transcend the personal mind and find universal mind. The personal mind is tied to the ego, and the ego is forever swinging from pleasure to pain and back again. But if you look at awareness when there is no pleasure or pain, when the mind is calm while simply existing, a fascinating journey begins. You have made the first step on the pathless path."

Water and Stars

Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, Trance (2015; watercolors, ink, metallics, gold). Image Source: Shadowscapes/Stephanie Law.

To respect the uncertain experience of transition and change, you have to have a way of accurately describing it to people. You can't just say, "I'm sorry, I'm responding to global transformation by going through a period of uncertainty." You have to start creating in the rubble and the void, and offer new reference points.

There is a writer, G√ľnter Eich, who wrote a poem called "Inventur" ("Inventory") about starting from nothing in the ruins of Germany at the end of the Second World War. Sleeping rough in a POW camp, he was in a one-thousand-uses-for-a-coffee-can moment. At this Stunde Null (Hour Zero), he started from the point of obliteration with a pencil lead and a scrap of paper, and those objects and the act of writing became the focus of his whole world.

When everything changes, and roles and structures crumble, we are thrust into a mystery. This uncertainty cannot be understood in terms of conventional systems of thought or old modes of analysis and accounting.

This blog reveals how I write about that mystery, especially its elements which cannot be described in any way we have used before.

Part of breaking new ground includes accepting - without pride or ego - uncertainty within oneself and the outer world and to persevere anyway. My symbol for this challenge is the dragonfly.

Some European cultures fear dragonflies and consider them to be sinister. I prefer the Asian interpretation. In Japan, they represent courage, happiness, resilience, a fresh perspective. They symbolize the search for positive outcomes despite challenging circumstances. They describe an ability to adapt, based on how the insect can change course in mid-air.

Another aspect of dragonfly symbolism considers how the insect reaches adulthood. As aquatic wingless nymphs, dragonflies spend two months to five years, depending on the species, swimming around, moulting and eating water-based prey, like mosquito larvae, tadpoles, and tiny fish. The exo-skeletons that dragonflies cast off during ecdysis are called exuviae. After this purgatory, their last moult transforms them into a gem-winged flying creature. Tennyson wrote a poem about the insect's incredible moment of ascension.

The insect's final form is a reminder that accomplishing anything substantial immerses one in a mystery, including the inability to know one's reality on the other side of change.

Consider the wingless dragonfly nymph, swimming underwater in its fifth year, breathing with gills. How can it even imagine the world of air above the pond's surface? How can it see it or know it? And how does it then transform in a completely aquatic environment to become perfectly suited for the ethereal atmosphere beyond?

This is why it is important not to underestimate oneself or others, because things in the muck are never what they seem. Who knows what is percolating under the surface of the predatorial cesspool?

There is something to be said for that position of uncertainty and possibility. In New Age thought, there is a theory that thoughts become things. Every created thing starts as an idea in someone's head. Thus, there is a great emphasis on 'mindfulness,' on watching your internal narratives and the stories you tell yourself and others, because they become self-fulfilling prophecies.

In the New Age, there is respect for the imagination, for the incredible power of ideas before they take final form. They can take you to unexpected places, long before you find any resolution or answers. Too often, we are judged not for this imaginative journey, but for the end product, our material output.

The truth is that all things - alive or not - are elements in process, and we see only their stop-motion moments. Everyone and everything embody secret stories regarding their capabilities and destinies.

"Zyxomma petiolatum, Brown Dusk Hawk, is a large brown crepuscular dragonfly with long thin abdomen and brown tipped wings that fly after sunset. Eyes are brilliant emerald green. ... It is not easy to spot as it tends to hide away in the bushes close to water and is very well disguised." Taken at Kadavoor, Kerala, India and Hooghly-Chinsura, Hooghly District (Pashchimbanga), West Bengal, India. Image Source: Jeevan Jose/Asim Mitra/Odonata of India. Citation: Anonymous. 2018. Zyxomma petiolatum Rambur, 1842 – Brown Dusk Hawk. In Joshi, S., P. Koparde, P. Roy, and K. Kunte (eds.). Odonata of India, v. 1.10. Indian Foundation for Butterflies.

If dragonflies represent potential and transformation, they also emerge as camouflaged creatures, built to survive and to avoid being gobbled up by birds. The instant they leave the water and become animals of the air, they change to look exactly like plants lining the breezy surroundings near waterways.

As nymphs and adults, they indicate that we are surrounded by mysteries which lie in plain sight and shape our existence. Those mysteries are also inside us, and can be recognized only when we unlock the meaning of a larger process of self-realization. And yet ironically, that process remains a thing unseen to itself and equally unclear to others.

One of my projects about this process is entitled, Water and Stars, an illustrated book with artist Jude Prashaw. It includes the Dragonfly poem. We see it as an updated Little Prince, bringing solace and renewal to the new Millennium. Water and Stars is a collection of dream-stories about how we can be mysteries to ourselves and others, and about the journey we follow before we recognize (or remember) who we truly are.

Next: Realism Challenges Rationalism

Visit me on social media!

-Main Website:
-Google Plus
-My original blog: 
-And this blog:


  1. Congratulations on the new blogs! Excited to read it. i have a shirt design about the importance of our freedom from symbols. I'll let you know when it is ready.


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