Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Little Voice by Joss Sheldon - A Rare...Real Look at Humanity

Yeah, I really liked Becky. I really liked all those activists. They all had hearts of gold.
So I still went on those protests. I went on those protests in order to spend time with those great people.
I went on those protests until one gnarly autumn day, when the trees were all full of rusty leaves and the sky was filled with a hazy rainbow. Ominous shades of blue, indigo and violet provided a grisly backdrop for our angst-filled chants. And lines of orange, yellow and green, brought forth little flickers of hope; hope that we'd actually be able to make a difference, and improve our broken society. I ignored that rainbow. I was indifferent to it. For me, it was just a prosaic part of the background. I was totally focused on our protest.
Our group of activists walked down the high street and then tried to enter a job centre, to stage a sit-in. But a line of burly policemen, blocked the front door. They     stopped us from exercising our legal right to stage a peaceful protest.
Political rap boomed out of a ghetto blaster:
"Forget what they told you in school. Get educated!"
"It's Akala. Swampy told me. "It's good, eh?"
"Yeah," I replied. "Conscious lyrics man!"
Swampy tapped his sandal-clad foot in time with the music.
"That guy is a Pied Piper for revolutionary rats." I smiled.
"His songs are rebel anthems for the disenfranchised youth."
I winked. Baffled locals pretended not to stare.
And a protestor threw a handful of confetti over the policemen...

"The most rebellious thing you can do is get educated.
Forget what they told you in school. Get educated!
I ain't saying play by the rules. Get educated!
Get educated! Get educated!
Break the chains of their enslavement. Get educated!
Even if you're on the pavement. Get educated!
What a weapon that your brain is. Get educated!
Get educated! Get educated!"
--AKALA, Knowledge is Power

"Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?"  --Danielle LaPorte
The little red guy hanging from Yew's leg is Egot!

Yew, the main character, provides readers the synopsis
Dear reader,
My character has been shaped by two opposing forces; the pressure to conform to social norms, and the pressure to be true to myself. To be honest with you, these forces have really torn me apart. They’ve pulled me one way and then the other. At times, they’ve left me questioning my whole entire existence.
But please don’t think that I’m angry or morose. I’m not. Because through adversity comes knowledge. I’ve suffered, it’s true. But I’ve learnt from my pain. I’ve become a better person.
Now, for the first time, I’m ready to tell my story. Perhaps it will inspire you. Perhaps it will encourage you to think in a whole new way. Perhaps it won’t. There’s only one way to find out…
Enjoy the book,
Yew Shodkin

It was my sixth birthday when the little voice first spoke to me. 
Please do understand, dear reader, that it wasn’t an abstract little voice. Oh no! It belonged to a little creature who lived inside my brain. But that creature had not, up until that point, ever said a word.
That creature wasn’t human. Far from it! Although its eyes were identical to my own.
If I’m to be totally honest, I must admit that I’m not exactly sure what it was. I’ve always just called it ‘The Egot’.
The egot’s skin was as red as hellfire, its hair was as bright as the midday sun, and its belly was as round as a pearl. It had webbed feet, elfish ears and lithe claws. I assumed it was male, but it could’ve been female; it was impossible to tell.
Yet, despite its peculiar appearance, I felt comfortable whenever I saw the egot. It possessed a powerful sort charisma which always put me at ease. It’d lift its flat cap, bend one of its spiky knees, and wink in a way which made its eye sparkle. Just seeing the egot made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
The egot was familiar. It was a part of the scenery of my mind. My companion. My friend.
But it had never spoken. Not until the day I turned six.
 was at school when it happened, sitting at the set of desks which I shared with five other pupils. The waxy floor was illuminated by white light. The smell of pencil shavings wafted through the air.
Our teacher, Ms Brown, was standing at the front of that prefabricated space. She was scratching a tiny nub of chalk along an indifferent blackboard.
“As soon as those brave explorers stepped foot on that distant land, they were attacked by a group of wild savages,” she told the class through a cloud of chalk dust.
“Ooh! Ooh!” screamed Snotty McGill.
I liked Snotty McGill. I liked all the children in my class. Back then, I think we all just tacitly assumed that we were equal. That we were all in the same boat. We didn’t really think about our different genders, races or classes. We just co-existed, like one big family.
I think Snotty McGill was actually called Sarah, but we called her ‘Snotty’ because she always had a cold. An hour seldom passed in which she didn’t either sneeze, pick her nose, or wipe a bogie onto her snot-encrusted sleeve. But she had such a lovely colour. That pink glow which comes with the flu used to engulf her like an aura. It suited her. She always looked so damn effervescent.
Anyway, as I was saying, Snotty McGill was waving her hand above her head.
“Ms! Ms!” she called. “What’s a ‘savage’?”
Ms Brown turned to face us. She looked chalky. Everything around her looked chalky. The floor was covered in chalk-dust and the skirting-boards were covered in chalky-ashes. Chalk residue glistened in Ms Brown’s bushy hair. It coated the points of her fingers.
“Well,” she said. “A savage has the body of a man, but not his civility. A savage is like an animal. He doesn’t wear clothes, live in a house, study or work. He follows his base urges; to eat, drink and reproduce. But he doesn’t have an intellect. He doesn’t have any ambition. He’s smelly, hairy and uncouth. He does the least he can to survive. And he spends most of his time sleeping or playing.”
Snotty McGill looked horrified. As did Stacey Fairclough, Sleepy Sampson and Gavin Gillis. Chubby Smith looked like he was about to start a fight. Most of the class looked dumbfounded. But I felt inspired.
‘They don’t have to go to school!’ I thought with envy and intrigue. ‘They spend all their time playing! They sleep for as long as they like!’
It was as if I’d stumbled across a species of super-humans. To me, the savages sounded like gods. I knew at once that I wanted to be one. I’d never been so sure of anything in my life.
The egot smiled mischievously. It rolled a whisker between its skeletal claws and tapped one of its webbed feet.
Ms Brown continued:
“Well, when the explorers stepped ashore, a pack of savages came hurtling towards them; swinging through the trees like monkeys, beating their breasts like apes, and howling like donkeys. They flocked like birds and stampeded through the dust like a herd of untamed wildebeests.”
That was when the egot spoke for the first time.
It leaned up against the inside of my skull, just behind my nose, and crossed its spindly legs. Then it began to talk:
“If you want to be a savage, you should probably act like a savage. You know, you should probably stampede like a wildebeest. Maybe beat your breast like an ape. Perhaps you’d like to howl like a donkey? Yes, yes.”
The egot’s voice was so… so… so… So far beyond description. So subtle. So calm. So quirky. So eccentric. And so, so quiet!
The egot accentuated random letters, as if it was shocked to discover their existence. It swilled its words, like a Frenchman mulling over a glass of confused wine. And it stretched random syllables, as if it was saddened to see them go.
There was a certain melody to the egot’s voice. It didn’t so much speak as rhyme, like a Shakespearean actor on a crisp autumn night.
But the egot was quiet. Its voice was such a little voice. A little voice inside my head.
That little voice struck me dumb.
The egot strummed its lip, like a pensive philosopher, and waited for me to reply. But I was in a state of paralytic shock. I couldn’t have replied if I’d wanted to. So the egot folded its arms, in a gesture of mock offence, and then continued on:
“I’m only telling you what you want to hear,” it purred. It swirled the word ‘telling’ so much that the ‘ell’ sound reverberated five times; ‘Tell-ell-ell-ell-ell-ell-ing’.
“You don’t really want to succumb to civility. No, no. You want to be a savage. I think you want to jump between tables, like a monkey swinging between trees. If you thought you could get away with it, and no-one was judging you, you wouldn’t think twice.”
It was a moment of clarity. Bright white, unadulterated clarity. Silent. Outside of time and space.
Please do allow me to explain…
I’m a big fan of the founder of Taoism, the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. He was a wizened old gent. His hair was as white as virgin snow and his eyes were deeper than any ocean on earth.
Well, Lao Tzu once said that ‘Knowing others is wisdom. Knowing yourself is enlightenment’.
Dear reader, that’s exactly how I felt! In that moment, I felt that I ‘knew’ myself. In that moment, I felt ‘enlightened’.
Everything was clear. It was clear that I’d been living in a cage. It was clear that freedom was mine to take. It was clear what I had to do. The egot was my clarity. Everything was clear.
I remember a sense of otherworldliness, as if I’d stepped outside of the physical realm. My legs lifted my torso, my frame stood tall, and my spirit stood still. My body melted away from my control.

I watched on as it broke free. As it leapt up onto our shared desk. As it pounded its breast like a valiant ape. And as it puffed its chest like a swashbuckling superhero.
The faint sound of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony started to fill my ears. Delicate violin strings provided a melodic backdrop for the ballet which was unravelling onstage.
My body performed a pirouette.
White paper rose up beneath my feet and span around my shins like froth on a choppy ocean.
I felt an all-encompassing surge of bliss.
One leg rose up in front of my body, forming a sharp arrow which pointed out towards an adjacent desk. I held that position perfectly still, whilst lifting my chin with a pompous sort of grace. Then I leapt like a spring deer, in slow motion, with one leg pointing forward and the other one darting back.
Beethoven’s Ninth sounded glorious as it purred through the gears. Violas joined violins and cellos joined those violas. Double basses began to hum and flutes began to whistle.
I landed with my feet together; an angel of the air, a demon of the sea.
My mind floated atop an infinite ocean.
My legs leapt on through the infinite air. They bounded from table to table with ever-increasing speed; gaining momentum, gaining height. I could see my monkey soul. I could hear the monkey calls which were emanating from my open mouth.
I could hear Beethoven’s Ninth reach its first crescendo, as the brass section began its battle cry. Flutes became one with clarinets. Bassoons boomed. Trumpets and horns squealed with uncontrollable delight.
I howled like a donkey at the moment of sexual climax.
My lungs filled with pure spirit.
I landed on all fours, looking like a bison. My shoulders were bulging out of my back and my temples were as erect as horns.
I leapt like a giant frog. And I stampeded between desks like a herd of untamed wildebeests; leaving a trail of overturned chairs, twisted students and miscellaneous debris in my wake.
Beethoven’s Ninth called out for redemption, glory and release. It was an impassioned cry. It was a fury-filled yell.
“Yew! Yew! Yew!” Ms Brown yelled. “Yew! Yew! Yew!”
Ms Brown had been yelling since the moment I stood up. But I’d been on a different plane. I hadn’t heard a thing.
My teacher’s voice pierced my ether, burst my euphoria, and threw me down amongst the shards of my shattered pride. To my left; a small calculator bled black ink, a wonky table rocked back and forth like a sober addict, and a potted plant spewed crumbs of soil all across the vinyl flooring. To my right; Aisha Ali was crying into her collar, Tina Thompson was rubbing her shin, and Chubby Smith was holding his belly.
“Yew! Yew! Yew!” Ms Brown yelled.
(I’m called Yew by the way. I think I forgot to mention that).
“Yew! What on earth do you think you’re doing? What’s come over you? I, I, I…”
Ms Brown choked on her words, lifted a hand to her throat, coughed up some chalk-dust, and then gulped down a stodgy chunk of passive air.
She shook her head.
“You’re usually such a good boy!...”

The Little Voice
By Joss Sheldon

On my birthday, I wrote the first article in my blog, Just My Personal Opinion, Of course, which started... Today is my Birthday... I was wondering if I was now old enough to be myself...Me, I, Moi... You know? I was 70 at the time. Are you like me? Are you also like Yew, the main character in a new book out by Joss Sheldon, The Little Voice. Do you remember starting out your life as a child, happy and content and loving? But then things began to change, a parent or an older sibling might have started bossing you around; i.e., discipline started...big-time... The first time you went to church, you realized that was the beginning of being involved with lots of different people, all supporting and teaching about one religion that you were to follow.  Then, in school, it became even more stifling as you were set into a schedule of activities that was totally controlled by someone outside of your home...

Then, if you're like me, you immediately moved into a job (or went on to college) where you were not only on a set schedule, but each and every day, you had a supervisor who controlled your life from morning to night, minus two 10-minute breaks and a lunch time...

It had happened long before I reached 70; I was tired of being controlled by other people. I was tired of being somebody that was in response to what other people wanted and expected...

Yew began to rebel a lot earlier than I did, however...The first time was when he was six... But, let's stop there a minute, because this book grabbed my attention right away... Then I began to think about the main character, Yew...You...Yew... Then I started to think about what was inside of him, Egot...Ego...Egot... Hey, Joss Sheldon is writing about each of us! He's writing about me...and you and you and you... And he's sharing about how his ego was first, alive, and then died...

At first I thought this was a biography and perhaps, in part, it is. Then I thought it was a self-help story and, perhaps, in part, it is... What I do know is that Joss Sheldon is writing about those of us in today's world...he's dramatically writing about how we are slowly changed from children, secure in being loved, secure in being happy...playing...enjoying the freedom of dreams, fantasies, and living in the world of sunshine and nature, seeing the flowers growing, blooming...only to be followed by a fall...

Yew (You) would have gone to school when you're around six. Thrown into a group of people you didn't know, with one who proclaimed quickly that he/she was in charge of your day and what she would be required to teach you... You may have begun to like some of the children, but others might have been mean, with you wondering why...
Yew was the child who had just started school, but he had a little friend who lived inside of him, named Egot. He was real to him and when he started to talk to him when he was alone, there in the midst of other children and teacher, Egot started to guide him...But he did it through persuasion. What did Yew want to do, really?  Of course, Yew didn't know that everybody didn't have a friend inside, rather that we have an inner life and our own small voice, so when he got in trouble and people started to ask him  personal questions, Yew willingly
shared about Egot...immediately he was questioned, do you mean like having an angel on one shoulder and a demon on the other? Interestingly, Yew didn't even understand the question...there was only Egot, that kept Yew company... Yew was sent to see Dr. Saeed every week and put through tests, questioned, and more...Soon he realized that the only thing he could do was lie and say that he had made Egot up...That he didn't really exist... 

Perhaps that was the true beginning. Because Yew didn't understand the difference between right and wrong. What he learned quickly though was that if he did something that somebody didn't like,  then he soon began to be disciplined. Yew wanted to be liked so he started doing anything and everything he was asked to do. Yew figured out that he was doing the right thing because everybody started calling him a good boy again... He liked being liked; but he was not happy...

Tell me, do you see a little of yourself in Yew's story? If so, I highly recommend this book! Readers are going to learn about Yew's life from first grade on through college, into the work environment...and then into loss and a resulting choice to use drugs...

And then he met a beautiful nurse while he was in the hospital...beautiful in a spirit that comforted him, made him feel comfortable with her...made him begin to care again. He asked her how she got to be such a beautiful person and she gave him a book. It happened to be a philosophy book by Lao Tzu. He began to read and apply what he was reading to what had been happening in his life!

You know, this particular book is what made Yew start thinking... Well, what you might want to consider is that The Little Voice could be exactly the book you should read... Or at least the first. I'd read many comparable books throughout my life and knew that what I was reading related to my own life. Like I said, it was 70 when I started to not only accept myself... but to ACT and SAY what I wanted and needed to say.

We are so wound up in social norms that are being established by people who we do not even know. We all need to find our inner self once again... Find that inner voice inside us that will guide us. Much of what guides me is from God; but, to do that, I had to find my way through much religious dogma that I had never been able to accept... and find my own Helper to guide me through today's world... I'm glad to have read The Little Voice. If for no other reason than receiving a confirmation of decisions I've made myself... Make reading this book a priority so you don't get to my age before you act to once again find your inner little voice! 😇


Joss Sheldon is a scruffy nomad, unshaven layabout, and good for nothing hobo. Born in 1982, he was brought up in one of the anonymous suburbs which wrap themselves around London's beating heart. And then he escaped!

With a degree from the London School of Economics to his name, Sheldon had spells selling falafel at music festivals, being a ski-bum, and failing to turn the English Midlands into a haven of rugby league.

Then, in 2013, he went to McLeod Ganj in India; a village which plays home to thousands of angry monkeys, hundreds of Tibetan refugees, and the Dalai Lama himself. It was there that Sheldon wrote his first novel, 'Involution & Evolution'.

With several positive reviews to his name, Sheldon had caught the writing bug. So he travelled around Palestine and Kurdistan before writing his second novel, 'Occupied'; a dystopian 'masterpiece' unlike any other story you've ever read!

Now Joss has returned with his third, and most radical novel yet. 'The Little Voice' takes a swipe at the external forces which come to shape our personalities. It's psychological. And it will make you think about the world in a whole new way. As the Huffington Post put it, The Little Voice is probably "The most thought-provoking novel of 2016"...

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