What Am I Trying to Say Here?

J.P. Williams
2 min readNov 27, 2023
One of my favorite places is Sanjūsangen-dō, a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan featuring 1,001 sculptures of Kannon-sama, the bodhisattva of compassion. To my mind, the large number of many-armed sculptures suggests compassion for all living things. Photo from the New York Public Library. Public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

In a strident time, I’ve tended to forego polemics. Instead, I’ve taken to including glimpses of my opinions in pieces primarily about something else, more often than not an album review. If there’s an overarching message, something I’m asserting in my own scattershot way, sometimes to my own surprise, it’s the necessity of universal compassion.

The most succinct expression is in a brief review of Black Veil Brides frontman Andy Black’s pop rock solo album The Shadow Side:

Compassion must include, on some level, even the worst people, those individuals whose thoughts, words and deeds we revile. We can become executioners, or we can seek to understand, in some cases help to reform, even when we do not condone. Consider the case of H.P. Lovecraft, father of cosmic horror and hard-headed racist:

That post ends with hope not just for H.P. Lovecraft but for the rest of us as well, because we’re all significantly flawed. Pull down the statues if you will, but whichever figures you put in their place are guaranteed to appall upon scrutiny, as would you and I. Thus, compassion also extends to ourselves:

This theme runs through a lot of my writing, even when it isn’t the focus. In “Demons and Wizards and Witches, Oh My!” I have sympathy for the Wicked Witch of the West, and my horror fiction often features protagonists who have detestable traits but are, in some ways, also hopefully sympathetic.

I don’t like to write about writing, but this has been on my mind: What am I trying to say through all these words, words, words? I think I’ve been trying to stress the need for compassion — or salvation, redemption, forgiveness, fraternité, agape, love, call it what you will — for us, every last one of us.

Note: I wrote this for Medium.com. If you are reading this on another platform, it has been pirated. I quit the Medium Partner Program, so I’m not doing this for money. It is nice, however, to know someone’s reading, so please clap or comment to let me know somebody’s out there. Gladius adhuc lucet.

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J.P. Williams

I write about the intersection of arts and ideas. Maybe some short book reviews for a while.