Julie R Butler
I am child of Colorful Colorado and a citizen of the world.
I am always searching for truths that we can all live by, which celebrate diversity, respect individuality, and promote real democracy.
I love to play with language, images, and ideas.
I believe that knowledge does set us free, and that the manipulation of knowledge and fear is a large part of what has held humanity back from solving problems that are enormous, but not unsolvable through patient perseverent progress.
I see the universe as infinitely interconnected, incomprehensibly complex, but not in and of itself incomprehensible.
I am currently living with my wonderful, funny, wickedly-smart and dashingly handsome husband, Jamie, in a quaint beach town in Rocha, Uruguay.
My essays and the occasional poem can be found at the following locations:
The philosophy anthology, "What Do You Believe?" (edited by Derek Beres Brooklyn, NY: Outside the Box Publishing, 2009).
(http://connectivelyspeaking.blogspot.com), my current social issues blog.
"we fear what we don't understand" (http://julierbutler.blogspot.com), my socio-political blog.
"Because The World Is Round..." (http://thebecausetheworldisroundblog.blogspot.com), my blog about my life and travels in South America.
Where to find Julie R Butler online
Nine Months in Uruguay: Past, Present, Progress
While my husband and I lived in Uruguay, I wrote. Not only did I maintain our blog, “Because the World is Round...,” but I found myself composing poetry, to my own surprise. It was a contemplative time, and as I tried to identify what it was about Uruguayan culture that I found so beguiling, as I dealt with loss, as the birds, the ocean, the sun and the moon spoke to me, a philosophy became.
No Missing Links And Other Essays
5 essays celebrating complexity and the connective principle:
“Gandhi Remix” reformulates Gandhi’s Seven Social Sins
“Small Change” puts the health care reform into perspective
“Too Many Notes” is a short essay on concision
“Constructive Universalism” compares this Uruguayan art theory to Ayn Rand’s "objectivism"
“No Missing Links” unveils the illusion of separation
Secrecy, Democracy, and Fascism: Lessons from History
A nation that went to war thinking that it would be quick and easy, but then getting bogged down, becoming polarized, falling into financial difficulties, losing confidence in their government, looking desperately for strong leadership, and falling for conspiracy theories and false accusations about those within and without who oppose the romantic call for cultural purity and supposed morality...?
Julie R Butler’s tag cloud
Julie R Butler's favorite authors on Smashwords
Smashwords book reviews by Julie R Butler
- A Thousand Lies: Lies Every Good American Must Believe
on Sep. 20, 2010
I wish I could just ignore mindsets like the one Dave exhibits here, (the government is being run by a nefarious, secret, satanic cabal that is enslaving us all without our realizing it; misogyny; homophobia; tribalistic nostalgia) but it is far too important to point out its dangers. While Dave laments the fact that no one seemed to have tried to stop Hitler, his lack of historic perspective or interest in investigating issues in greater depth leaves him ignorant of the way that his thinking is very similar to the situation in Germany that lead to Hitler's rise to power:
"A nation that went to war thinking that it would be quick and easy, but then getting bogged down, becoming polarized, falling into financial difficulties, losing confidence in their government, looking desperately for strong leadership, and falling for conspiracy theories and false accusations about those within and without who oppose the romantic call for cultural purity and supposed morality that drives mass hysteria and leaves reasoned decision-making far behind in favor of emotional impulsiveness..."
Rants like Dave's beg for some investigation into real facts (like the fact that gold was never made "illegal to own," rather, the amount was limited so people would not horde it) and not through whatever dark corners of the internet by which conspiracy theorists are all trading their ideas and about how the world functions, but at the library, in actual history books, science books, philosophy books, or from other reliable sources that are not corporate sponsored, as well as begging the bigger question, in the context of Dave being a person who lives in an imperfect democratic society rather than in Afghanistan or Somalia, where one does not have to fret about "big government" or any pesky immigrants who are trying to improve their lives, where men are men and tribalism thrives, "and what if you are wrong?"
See my book: No Stranger To Strange Lands: A Journey Through Strange Coincidences, Connective Thoughts, And Far Flung Places.
See also: my essay: Secrecy, Democracy, and Fascism: Lessons From History.
- The Travelers
on Oct. 05, 2010
Once I started reading The Travelers, I couldn’t stop. It is a riveting story about a topic that is even more pressing today than it was twenty years ago, when the events depicted in this novel take place. This tale uncovers the many underlying currents of the issue of illegal immigration, and Walt does a beautiful job of humanizing all of the diverse factions that are involved – from the hopeful immigrants, to the group of smugglers that comprised a mixed bag of opportunists and Good Samaritans, to the community in southern New Mexico whose citizens are inextricably entangled with it all.
Unfolding a deliciously full-bodied portrayal of one of those perceptive individuals who instinctively knows how to take advantage of the holes in any given system, the depiction of this main character’s inter-relationships within his community reveals how burred the line is between the “good” guys and the “bad.” Henry “Mickey” McAllister’s often cynical reading of human nature has served him well, as long as he remains aloof in his simplified bachelor’s reality. Yet, despite his mastery in navigating those blurred boundaries upon which society seeks to define itself, always self-confidant and fearless in the face of uncertainty, Mickey finds himself treading into what are, for him, murky waters, acting uncharacteristically, doing things that he never thought himself capable of, such as actually CARING.
The title of the book is indicative of the carefully neutral tone that the narration takes as it reveals the lives and perspectives of a bountiful cast of characters. The people who are so often referred to as “wetbacks” are, in the context of this story, travelers on arduous journeys from places where they were linked to the United States in ways that are difficult for us to come to terms with. Many of their stories make clear that their coming to this country is connected to the history of the United States’ hand in helping to create the harsh social situations they are escaping, and the people who are involved in aiding them in their travels are just as surprised as the reader might be to discover that a large portion of the travelers come from even farther away than our beleaguered neighbor just south of the border – that is, from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Yet the narrator makes no judgments, giving equally careful attention to the concerns of individuals who are fearful of the consequences of allowing an unmitigated flow of undocumented people into the United States. It is left to the characters to pose their own questions about what factors may be motivating the anti-immigration movements, where legitimate fears converge with racism and xenephobia, and what the government’s role should be.
In The Travelers, Walt artfully weaves together the lives of many individuals, speaking with an easy-going lilt, including vivid details that make the story very real, crafting a tale that is moving, suspenseful, keenly sensitive, and always engaging. Such a complex issue as illegal immigration deserves just the kind of in-depth literary treatment that Walt Long offers from this uniquely intimate perspective.
- The Unauthorized Autobiography of Richard Burns
on Dec. 29, 2011
Walt Long’s book, “The Unauthorized Autobiography of Richard Burns” is a portrait of a bright young man whose sense of alienation and rebellion against the mindless conformism of 1950s America sends him on a wild adventure following Beat Generation experimentation with self-expression and rejection of social norms.
His is a poignant journey that leads from an affectionless family life to an iconic pilgrimage through San Francisco, Greenwich Village, and Mexico, during which the once liberating Beat lifestyle degenerates into a prison of criminality fueled by unapologetic heroin addiction. Then, in his darkest hour, it is with that core element of “normal” society that the Beats were so vehemently rejecting called RESPECT – for authority, for others, for himself– that the protagonist finally finds his peace with the world.
The weight of the fact that this journey begins when his father, a pipefitter, moves the family from the Bronx to northern New Mexico in 1943 to work at Los Alamos National Laboratory will not be lost on those who see the invention of atomic bomb as one of humanity’s most troubling problems, with the fear-inducing “Duck and Cover” exercises having left an indelible mark on the psyches of America’s schoolchildren for decades to come. As indicated in the prologue, this is one of the reasons that young Richard Burns is so disaffected. Being a particularly sensitive human being, he feels this great weight of the world on his shoulders.
But despite its subtext and theme, this book is truly refreshing and uplifting. Walt’s narration maintains an easy momentum, as he remains self-reflective while refraining from moralizing or delving into judgmental social criticism. The openness and honesty on display by this narrator draws the reader in, as does the thoughtfulness, intelligence, and charm that paint the miscreant Richard Burns as a very sympathetic character. The narrator further holds the reader’s attention by speaking in the knowing voice of a disenchanted rebel who has found his way back into the graces of society, who is self-aware of both his personal strengths and his fatal flaws, an adventurer telling of his voyage into the unknown and then making his way back from the abyss as if he himself can barely believe that it all happened.
And it is an amazing story, not just for the plotline, but also because of the amount sheer luck that Richard seems to have on his side during all of his misadventures. He finds himself in the right place at the right time to experience a life so extraordinary that the visionary film director who, beginning at the dawn of the “talkies,” revolutionized the use of the camera itself and later, color, to create emotion on film, Rouben Malmoulian, (who Richard just so happened to bump into in Guadalajara, Mexico at a key moment in his life) was so enthralled by his story that he went out of his way to help Richard retrieve his notes from the Jalisco State Penitentiary, making him promise to write it all down to share with the world.
The Unauthorized Autobiography of Richard Burns is a beautiful promise kept.