Sunday, August 24, 2008

283. Ecopistemology and Comparative, Multi-media Storytelling

Well, ever since I started attending the workshops of Shelly Lowenkopf in Montecito, my mind started to rapidly organize in terms of "mechanisms of storytelling." I started to realize that if I belonged in one line of human storytelling (literature, music, acting, film), I started to realize that the central organizing mechanism of human perception of Reality is through Writing (paralleled with my cartoon drawings mental mappings). If I belong within a "group" within any industry of storytelling, it would be in writing. I started to realize most of the rest of the characters are layers stemmed from writing, and those people are mostly puppets. If you want to meet pure intelligence and people who manipulate reality, best chill with the writers. Took me three years later to find myself rooted in writing once again. When I branch out into multi-media projects, I will say, first and foremost I am a Writer/Cartoonist. After that, I am a writer who composes and records music. Not, I am a "musician." After that, I am a writer who makes movies. Not, I am a "film-maker." I had such a hard time getting together some form of coherent body of information in "comparative storytelling," and I could only do it from the frame of reference of writing. Not film. Not public speaking. Not music. Not elaborate, multi-layered, three-dimensional graphic art. No. No. No. Just writing. The Backbone HTML code to the Reconstruction of Reality.

You know? It gives me some comfort knowing that since the dawn of human cave art-writing chicken scratch, humans have been writers and cartoonists (even musicians, but they had vocal cords for internal instruments, not electronic pianos). So, that's a few hundred thousand years? Million years? Paper and pencil have been around a while. But photographers and film-makers and million-dollar music studios only existed since the 1800s and 1900s. It makes sense to have a writer/cartoonist frame of reference, because the rest are recent inventions and more technology intensive. Evolution of storytelling.

I wrote a dozen or more pages on Ecopistemology and Comparative, Multi-Media Storytelling. Which I will ultimately have to say that (1) it is an essay attempting to define "what is environmental media and why do we need it"? (the whole scientists part of a system called society and planet Earth, scientists as chess pieces, simultaneously trying to analyze the whole game of chess, account for human dimensions of scientific practice and environmental change) and (2) it is written from the frame of reference of a scientist. Hence, I am comparing all forms of multi-media with reference to the practices of scientific writing and the acquired mindframe of a scientist. More specifically, field scientist (aka "fuzziologist").

Friday, August 22, 2008

282. "The Elephant and the Oak Tree" Final Pitch at Agents and Editors Day at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference / Reality Show

Final pitch at Agents and Editors Day. Page 1.
Final pitch at Agents and Editors Day. Page 2.

The accumulation of failures has led to the Illusion of One Success?

With the above abbreviated two-page pitch to the agents, combined with my “visual, professional charm” (ha ha ha, ya right), I was able convince 5/6 agents to take interest in my parable “The Elephant and the Oak Tree.” Two very interested. And I even interested them in the later hours of the afternoon when they were no longer perky or energetic anymore! It was a phenomenal day. It was already amazing to have the ability to meet and talk with real literary “agents.” I have encountered enough scams via email! Well… I found out later that agents, like most humans, are very polite in person, but a few hours later, during lunch, ended up laughing at some work and throwing entire manuscripts in the trash. At least it’s all a personable experience and not electronic form letters. I discovered that literary agents were real human beings. Granted, I learned how to tie my shoes for the first time though billions of people already knew how to tie their shoes, but it’s a major deal for me!

In the end, life is all one big emperor penguin dance (I made a song about this). It’s about finding your “lover,” (academic lover, literary lover, music lover, film lover, evolutionary-build-a-family lover, all the same) your match, your marriage, for a short or long period of time. I got married to Armand Kuris and Bruce Tiffney’s minds as an undergrad. I married the mind of my father a long time ago. And I got married to a few new professors for a few years of grad school. And it’s the same with agents. Agents want to get married to you and you want to get married to agents. Agents can only have so many clients, just like professors can only have so many graduate students. It’s the whole eusocial ecological niche space. And the best way to meet an agent is LIVE at a conference. They are open and you are open, and maybe you can discover you have a match made in heaven. I have a good hunch with some agents in San Francisco. One agent reminds me of my good friend, Lauri Green.

281. Baggage and Backstory for "The Elephant and the Oak Tree" One Success is the Summation of Failures

Mind you. I am writing this entire blog in anxiety. My thoughts may not come out straight. I need to desperately jog, but I need to get this blog out of my system.

The accumulation of failures has led to the Illusion of One Success?
With the above abbreviated two-page pitch to the agents, combined with my “visual, professional charm” (ha ha ha, ya right), I was able convince 5/6 agents to take interest in my parable “The Elephant and the Oak Tree.” Two very interested. And I even interested them in the later hours of the afternoon when they were no longer perky or energetic anymore! It was a phenomenal day. It was already amazing to have the ability to meet and talk with real literary “agents.” I have encountered enough scams via email! Well… I found out later that agents, like most humans, are very polite in person, but a few hours later, during lunch, ended up laughing at some work and throwing entire manuscripts in the trash. At least it’s all a personable experience and not electronic form letters. I discovered that literary agents were real human beings. Granted, I learned how to tie my shoes for the first time though billions of people already knew how to tie their shoes, but it’s a major deal for me!

In the end, life is all one big emperor penguin dance (I made a song about this). It’s about finding your “lover,” (academic lover, literary lover, music lover, film lover, evolutionary-build-a-family lover, all the same) your match, your marriage, for a short or long period of time. I got married to Armand Kuris and Bruce Tiffney’s minds as an undergrad. I married the mind of my father a long time ago. And I got married to a few new professors for a few years of grad school. And it’s the same with agents. Agents want to get married to you and you want to get married to agents. Agents can only have so many clients, just like professors can only have so many graduate students. It’s the whole eusocial ecological niche space. And the best way to meet an agent is LIVE at a conference. They are open and you are open, and maybe you can discover you have a match made in heaven. I have a good hunch with some agents in San Francisco. One agent reminds me of my good friend, Lauri Green.

Baggage and Backstory of “The Elephant and the Oak Tree.”
The Benefits of Failure and a Natural Selection of Ideas

It is possible that the most humble billionaire of this planet is the writer for the Harry Potter series, JK Rowling. Paul Burri, a member of a Goleta Toastmasters section, performed an interpretive reading on her speech to a recent Harvard graduating class. It is so important to discuss te underlying mechanisms of success and failure that are never discussed in the story itself... this "Elephant and Oak Tree" story. Whatever I write will represent the summation of success and survival, but also represents a lot of what has failed--tagged along with severe emotional turmoil. You must discuss the mechanisms of storytelling because then you develop formulaic protocols on what works and what doesn't work. This is what you do and this is what you don't do. It seems like every single success story or completed project of this blog is backed up by a series of three years of behind-the-scenes failures. The benefits of failure--JK Rowling discussed how failure chips off all the things that don't work and pulls through all the ideas that work. Very much a process of natural selection and the perpetration of ideas. Then again, I don't understand how society can perpetrate ideas of Disney Disillusionment. I mean, Rowling's writing is great, but it's the perpetration of a Fantasy World. So much for the Natural Selection of Escapism. This world really is going to hxll. Anyhoo, that is beside the point.

But all things that have failed for me are not forgotten. They are a trail of chaotic dust that lay behind me the last three years, that need to be at least accounted for to some degree. The blog is beneficial to account for, remorse over, and place a more formal memorial on the death of ideas, on your failures that didn't work and were chipped off, set aside, buried. Publications otherwise become a "success."

The Inconvenient Truth Al Gore fil was a very polished presentation, but represents 1000 trials of interacting with an audience, and eeach time, he continues to tell stories about global warming that seem to work (or hit people in the head), and the ideas that don't work he just leaves behind and they were never manifested in the film.... But in blogs, you can mention your failed ideas is if they are the buried notes of your sketch laboratory notebook of failed experiments in human communication.


I am being unreasonable, but I am learning how to adapt to and experiment with society. In order to communicate with people, you have to figure out what people know and don't know, as well as their emotional state. And once you figure out the formula for the societal baseline or "audience baseline," then you start building from there. This is a technique discussed in Dr. Ron Rice's book on public communications campaigns. The Audience Baseline Effect. Dr. Pete Sadler uses it. Pete says that males tend to bluff what they know and don't know (they don't want to admit their lack of knowledge), and females tend to admit what they don't know. They tend to focus on what they know, rather than relish and gloat in what they don't know.

My writing is for open-minded and desperate people. Unfortunately, open-mindedness is highly correlated with people who are desperate and have experienced tragedy. I will continue a later time on my theories of how to manipulate humans and the optimization of dartboard models projected upon the collective human brain!

Aside. Toastmasters is a brilliant test of ideas. Pilot experiments. Testing ground for ideas you would never be comfortable testing around n the univeristy.... You can talk about whatever you want, from the Absurd to the Straight-laced. I can develop singing, and I can also train myself to become a comedian. Whatever! It makes my theorizing SO MUCH FUN! Humor works quite well. Right now I am being in a "literal" phase so the last few times at Toastmasters I have not been in the absurd humor phase like when I first started Toastmasters.

Aside. It seems like whenever I write a disturbing poem, I disclaim ownership and say it's an anonymous poet. Then I place it on my blog and analyze it as if it were the poem of someone else. It's like my brain goes through mental-emotional detachment when I present myself to society. I want people to know certain things and I don't want people to know certain things about me, so blogging is tricky, and sometimes there has to be lots of "bluffing" going on.

Back to Baggage. "The Elephant and the Oak Tree" has so much baggage. Most recently is the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. I had the privilege to sit down with my good friend, Lisa Angle, and I told her the story. Then she guided me how to frame this story as a brief 1-2 page paper pitch to a literary agent. I didn't have time to attend any workshops on how to pitch of an agent because I was busy filming. So essentially, Lisa was so kind to train me!

The most important saving grace from Lisa Angle was that she IMMEDIATELY identified my story as equivalent to the international best seller "Who Moved My Cheese?" (the MD-credentialed author was also a SBWC veteran). That is a thing. I have had difficulty in PIGEONHOLING MYSELF as a genre. So! That took care of that quite swiftly. I was difficult to classify Question Reality. I identified it partly with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. But it's more like a megabook of philosophy 80% philosophy and 20% setting-character-plot development. I found out retroactively the who-moved-my-cheese-story is a parallel about how corporations deal with change and was a parable of subservience. The issue is "The Elephant and the Oak Tree" is a philosophy of thinking outside the box.... There was a double "aha" moment. Not a singe one. One of self and one of the holistic perception of the environment. But both books have a simple beautiful message embedded within an overarching story.

Thanks to Lisa, I have been able to develop a FORMULA ON HOW TO PITCH TO AN AGENT. Agents are essentially like news journalists. They have ADHD (they even openly admit it) and they ony have a stretch of attention pan equivalent to my former advisor at UC Riverside (who thought of me for three seconds and moved on to the next idea... and it was not her fault, she was chair and didn't have time for me).

Speaking with agents basically trains to to TALK TO ANYONE. In other words, assume everyone has ADHD and say things as if you have 15 seconds left to live. BREVITY IS THE SOUL OF WIT. Maybe today is the day I will have enough time to write a short letter! The stakes are high. And I need to rid these ideas off of my chest. It took me THREE YEARS to WRITE A SHORT LETTER!

At one point, I have Lisa an "ELEVATOR PITCH" literally! And I did it right on the first try with Lisa (with three years of failure)! FINALLY! I told her enthusiastically,

Do you see what I see?
If we all knew we were leaf cutter ants on an oak tree and not blind termites on an elephant, then we wouldn’t be doing what we are doing—hurting ourselves and this environment that keeps us alive in the first place. We need to take a step back and look at the big picture.

This simple message shocks everyone into a koanesque mode. I additionally pitched to Paul Fedorko (Trident Media Group), within a one-minute time span, informing him that I am an environmental media Ph.D. student and that my thesis is that the problem of the environment is not the environment itself, but the human perception of the environment. Therefore we must investigate the way how humans think. This bit of information plus my thesis convinced Mr. Fedorko and he told me to send off the first round of materials.

I love my thesis. It will keep me busy for the rest of my life, for sure. Which is a saving grace in concern of "having something to do that is all-encompassing." The best part of my thesis is, even though it may be too late to "save" the world, at least I will get to fxck with people's minds along the way to doom. I am The Ultimate Darwin Award: Suffering from a Satirically Slow Death. Living in this modern world is MENTAL medieval torture. I don't like waking up to scientifically verifying Doomsday.

Anyhow, I learned how to "sell myself" not only from Lisa Angle, but through encounters with other prestigious people who never had the time of day for me. Like impatient agents and managers in Hollywood who only care about image and not holistic neuronal activity (through the International Model and Talent Association).

I also learned how to pitch in 15 seconds through an encounter with Dr. Jared Diamond, who still treated me inhumanely (I was more hurt by his shoo-off than any Hollywood personality, but I can't blame him because he's chronically being bombarded by students and faculty and the media, so why would he have any vested interest in me? I wish I met him before he became "famous").

If I had 15 seconds left to live, what would I say or do? I remember at the Santa Barbara Writer's conference a lady suggesting that I should talk as if I am trying to convince my disinterested, dying grandmother of an idea (capture the interest of a near-dead or desperate person?). Which is in part NOT funny. I would have had to be 15 years old, because my grandmother went out slowly via Alzheimers. So, I would imagine I have to sound DESPERATE, FLASHY, and TO THE POINT. Hook 'em ASAP before they become addicted to lamenting over their doom.

What could be a better way to capture interest than to SHOCK PEOPLE into a THINKING MODE with the invention of a KOAN? Get their minds into a state of "wait a second--" double bind, but not into a state of denial and cognitive dissonance!

Wow. It took me 27 (godforbid) flippin' years for me to sell myself in 15 second with something original. At least to the creative and intellectual crowd. Not to the bonehead Hollywood crowd.

I guess I have to speak "TRIANGLE" with an ADHD society (flashy stuff in the front and technical details in the end) and "HOURGLASS" with the scientists.

I had essentially 10 minutes to talk to four agent, and 2 minutes to talk to two other agents. I also accompanied our conversations with a PAPER. It was like a query letter, but I felt like the conversation was a query letter. My document was essentially a two-page book proposal that contained the following components in brief: (1) title (2) credentials (3) genre (book equivalent) (4) taglines (5) summary-abstract (6) brief thoughts on marketing (7) format of the book (8) who is Victoria (9) contacts. I additionally provided sample artwork in professional-looking manilla envelope, but that is generally discouraged. I know, subliminally though, that a single piece of artwork can inspire great visions of writing. Writing and art are essentially complimentary.

Anyhow, I was able to speak with 6 agents and 5/6 were interested. Two seemed very interested. Laurie McLean and Paul Fedorko I liked in particular. Especially Laurie. What an enthusiastic, intelligent lady. I even had the capacity to meet Angela Rinaldi, the agent for the bestseller Who Moved My Cheese?

But then, at the same time, I heard retroactively that agents place a facade. They tend to be nice and courteous to you in person , but they have a lot of "subliminal" whatever responses and retroactively throw manuscripts in the trash on the day of meeting potential published authors. Wow. Whatever. I don't blame them. They probably interact with a few hundred people every single day.

I remember a volunteer stating that it's good for agents to meet you in person rather than dealing with emails and other electronic mediation because the agents want to make sure you are a real human being, and not some psychotic off the streets of San Francisco.

In addition, I had the opportunity to present "The Elephant and the Oak Tree" on the last day of the Santa Barbara Write-off Competition with Cheri Steinkellner and a panel of "celebrity judges" including, Cheri's husband, Bill (yes! they are the producers and writers for Cheers!). I actually have to send an email to Cheri and provide her my finalized work from the 5-6 days of write-off competition.

Before I discuss the Santa Barbara Write-off Reality show. I placed a very good pitch to Marcia Meyers and begged for the continuation of the reality show next year. Marcia said yes, indeed there would be another round. It was most certainly an outside-the-box experience that stretched me beyond my limits of what I could possibly do and be as a writer. Cheri and her husband inspired me to one day dream of being a part of a writer think tank for perhaps a film or television series. It was most wonderful experience to finally share my brain with other people after all these years of aching isolation! The Write-off competition combined with the Santa Barbara Writers Conference is certainly inspiring me to finish my Ph.D. knowing that there are dream jobs waiting for me on the other side! (I think being in a permanent state of free-floating graduate-studentism is romantic enough!).

In this reality show, I became intimate and deep friends with a small group of twenty people, as all the chaotic ideas slipping through our heads were written down and crystallized on paper. Then shared this snapshot of cognitive-spacetime-in-code among an appreciative crowd. I didn't know I could make deep friends within one week. Sharing writing is like probing deeply into the neurological structures of the human brain. I also wrote in another journal entry "We have come to express our inner thoughts and manifested and shared and external reality, and to intimately bond with twenty-or-so other random humans was by far the most precious experience."

I saw Penny and Christina (two write-off participants) at Shelly Lowenkopf's Saturday writers group and we were buzzing away about the whole phenomenal experience of the pilot reality show. We talked about how our snapshot of writing at the time represented who we we were. Christina Allison resorted to humor (but at age 90, everything must seem absurd and humorous, even the notion of being 90 years old!) (Christina is so hip and witty and in tune with things as a 90-year old, I thought maybe she was 60). Penny resorted to darkness and gloom, which I didn't think so (I keep remembering her for the epic performance of a Mamette simulation. And for me, I was into environmental philosophy and attempts at satire. That is where my head shall be for quite a while, but everything is all a phase. The only way to write myself OUT of environmental philosophy is to KEEP writing... but then again I will always write environmental philosophy because it's not like I can erase my brain of anorexia. I can only build upon it. Or maybe you can give me shock therapy, and I won't remember ANYTHING.

I told Maria Meyers at the writers volunteer gathering. It was super-challenging to co-write a script. It's almost as if this most talented group of writers emerged from the boonies of America. I think having a writer competition reality show would be a saving grace to Reality Television because Intelligence can be re-integrated into Hollywood. Writing involves thinking, and to win, not only you have to be a writer, but you have to be a multi-media Dramatizer of your writing. The judging was wonderful because you were being scored much like how they score olympic gymnasts. In the end, winning is arbitrary, and it simply represents the tastes of the judges.

I started notcing a little bit of biasing in the judges, because the judges knew certain people a certain way and they didn't know me at first at all. Maybe biased judging is a natural predisposition as to how you come to know the person you have judged. Almost like the whole shifting baseline recency-of-memory effect with choosing who wins the academy awards. How can PSYCHOLOGICAL ACCOUNTABILITY ADJUST THE JUDGING OF SCORES?

You could notice the whole span of writing about the human-environmental condition, and writing that spanned into the realm of commercialized slapstick that is instantly recognized as humor rather than detecting humor upon the second look-second read. If I really wanted to adapt to the contest, it would have to be impulsive writing for an impulsive judging. If the reality show were more fair, there would be two rounds of judging (1) one round as impulsive judging (2) second round of turning in writing and judging would emerge in a half-hour of reading. This would account for impulsivity and critical thinking.

It was nice, one participating writer in the reality show came up to me on the side and told me that I was by far a wonderful writer within the group and that don't let anyone tell you otherwise. I think I am occupying a unique genre at the interface of science, art, and humanity, and my writing is trying to send a personal and universal message. I am actually trying to teach something and change something, rather than just entertain. I also met a guy who writes children books in New York and I thought his work was a blast. I can't believe he's published!

In the end of the Santa Barbara Pilot Experiment Write-off, impulsively intellectual humor won. Such was Christina Allison, international playright and opera singer. She deserved it. I am privileged to be in the same writers group with her now. Wow!

Back to "The Elephant and the Oak Tree"! On the last day of the Santa Barbara Write-off Reality show, wer were all invited to the "ultimate challenge." We were supposed to pitch the ultimate Airport Best Seller. A book that Cheri Steinkellner was willing to read when traveing from Los Angeles to New York. Cheri was interested in picking up the book from the airport bookstore.

In this specific competition, we were supposed to share (1) genre / taglines (2) title (3) (opening poem was optional) (4) opening passage (5) sample artwork.

When I read "The Elephant and the Oak Tree" (psychological-environmental thriller children's book for adults), I realized I completely missed the mark. The barebone essence of Airport Thrillers is slapstick writing suitable for chronic distraction in a long airplane ride. Crazy romance novels and self-help books and disastrous medical thrillers were more appropriate. For example, there was a case study that a woman was fertilized in a swimming pool and she had a baby named Chlorina. That was kick-xss hilarious. In the name of Impulsivety, my idea was out of context and forgettable, because it's a story that requires you to look twice, think twice. I also remember Christina Allison's paraphrased thesis: "I'm overworked, overweight, oversexed, and I'm just sick and tired of being sick and tired. I can lose 100 pounds in just three weeks!" Another lady wrote about a Sex-in-the-City that is occurring real life in San Diego, an all woman's writer club that revolves around sex--sex drama, sex jokes. I myself, if I thought about such a subject for a little longer than a couple of minutes would go crazy, wondering as to whether other humans had other forms of operating neurons in their heads. This lady mentioned something... something... something... "clitterini." Gawdzeeks.

Even if I didn't do well for this competition, I am not in the phase to "adapt." As my aunt Jeri Lyn Dillin advised, "Just keep doing what you are doing." You accumulate an audience over time as long as you stick to your theme and your territory.

Anyhow, I was glad to share my pitch for the Reality Show.

There is even FURTHER HISTORICAL BAGGAGE of this elephant-oak-tree story.
In the fall of 2005, amidst my depression and panic attacks at UC Riverside, I had a VERY inspirational meeting with my English teacher, Ann Camacho, who additionally inspired me ever since 9th grade. First of all, she was concerned with my obsessive writing style. I wrote too neatly and I even used the aid of a ruler. Little did Ann know (she insisted that I call her "Ann" and not "Ms. Camacho") that this obsessive, perfectionist writing would lead to my writing credits on a film for Goleta Beach. I am a Living Font, and I am proud of it. Maybe I can sell my Font and my Sunflower to Microsoft. There is even software that can allow me to design my own font... Another day! Not now! Secondly, Ann went through some similar self-destructive experiences as a teenager (seems like females implode and males explode). She wasn't exactly anorexic, but it was something very similar. She then told me two very powerful quotes, which ended up being essential backbones to my Question Reality manuscript: (1) You are not healed from anorexia. You have a long way to go (to my dismay at age 17). One day you'll see it. It peels like an onion. I applied this onion-peeling effect not only to human psychology but to environmental deconstruction and reconstruction. Everything peels like an onion in space and time. (2) "When you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, there needs to be change."

On the late, chilly, December night at a Riversidian Starbucks, I met Ann, and she got up from her seat to give me a hug--ecstatic to see me! At that time, I hovered around 155 lbs (instead of 95 lbs). She exclaimed that I looked great, and at that moment I felt like I walked onto an Oprah Winfrey Stage for Anorexia Makeover. *Whatever!* Blush. Blush. Anorexia Makeover essentially equated to Mental Makeover and EnvironMental Makeover. Ann's compliments meant a lot to me, given that it was my high school English teacher and not Oprah Winfrey. The truth is I want to go back and contribute to my high school--John Wesley North High. The best thing I can do is tell my Elephant-Oak-Tree story as a presentation to Ann Camacho's class and just show the value of questioning, curiosity, and the need to reunite ideas of science, art, environment, technology, and the human experience. I also want to plant a seed to Ann and the class that you can self-publish your books through Lulu and there could even be a collective poetry/essay journal for North High School!

That night at Starbucks, Ann was telling me on how she was working on a script for a book recapping the major themes of great English literature we totally seem to forget, miss the point, and not bother to teach and inspire. "The Big Picture of English Literature" type of book. Wow, that right there is a great title! Ann was also telling me about her "subliminal turmoil" of living in a house that is right next to a major street, I believe Central. It was impairing her sleeping patterns and amplifying her anxiety and hurting her overall daily productivity (it was probably as turmoiling for her 4-year-old daughter). Her family was dismissing it as a real problem (I think), but I think Ann received courage from me that this needs to be changed. Extra background street noise 24/7 can bother you greatly and hurt your basic neurophysiology, even from a scientific surface-value perspective. It's a topic that needs to be pushed to the front, not shoved to the backburner.

Aside from that, I told Ann about my Question Reality manuscript (I also dropped off a copy to Mr. Hunter (my tenth grade English teacher) and Ms. Lieux (my ultimate high school physics teacher)), and her response took in the form of a story: "Plato's Myth of Caves" (besides giving me a list of a few other books I should read, essentially what everyone else was doing). It is essentially a story about a couple of men in a dark, yet warm cave around a fire. One man didn't want to stay in the cave anymore but the other man said that it was dangerous outside. Why not stay inside the cave, where it's warm and safe? The other man suffered from staying in the cave and went outside. It ended up that it was warm and sunny outside and it felt amazing to his skin. Then there is the Indian Parable about science being a bunch of blind men feeling the parts of an elephant, trying to figure out what the whole elephant was. So? There you have it. Two epic stories combined and intertwined with a third brain: my own! I wrote EOT with two ghost writers on my back! Ha!

EOT was still a baby story in 2005, but I wasn't able to elaborate the story until February of 2008, right before the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Boston. I still couldn't finalize it. Question Reality was still a big tumor in my brain. I was able to see the ending of EOT, which was previously unresolved for two years. EOT is like some of my poems. I let them sit for two years, and then I am able to expand upon them after a 1000-day hiatus. Weird.

Now since I have met Tariel, I can see the ending of EOT for sure.

Then there was a rainy day in fall of 2007. Where I was essentially internally in a state of chaos and falling apart. But I couldn't fall apart because I was trying to get into graduate school at UC Santa Barbara. I was the luckiest person to meet Dr. Nancy Kawalek, head of the STAGE program (promoting experimental theater along the themes of science-technology-art-environment), and she essentially asked me how my "dream Ph.D." would look like. MY GOD! Talk about running into the best possible person! Talk about the BLANK SLATE! Talk about CCS! Talk about INFINITE FREEDOM! Not many graduate students seem to be ready to respond to such a profound question (not many people can handle blank slates), but I was ready. I then talked to her for about two hours in concern of my DREAM PH.D. We both agreed right away, just like I agreed with Dr. Dick Hebdige of the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center at UCSB that the construction of art has very systematic, scientific elements about it. The construction of art is also a process of trial and error, coming to conclusions about what works, and scrapping what doesn't work. There's a form of "relativism" and "intersubjectivity" to science, and Dr. Hebdige recommended I read some articles along the lines of intersubjectivity. I found out retroactively that Dr. Hebdige was into the investigation of rebel sub-cultures, and that his masters thesis became a widely known book! Talk about running into the right people.

Part of this two-hour bout with Dr. Kawalek was my elaboration of the elephant-oak tree parable. She found it absolutely fascinating and a potential STAGE script if appropriately adapted.

I also told Dr. Kawalek that I have a dream one day to do a script that is a satire on the fragmentation of univeristy knowledge, and if a female mind had the capacity to re-organize knowledge and bureaucracy at all scales of the university and society, how would Reality look like? From value-language-perception systems to the new structure of rules and human-environmental systems. Call it a FEMININE INTELLECTUAL MAKEOVER OF THE UNIVERSITY, SCIENCE, AND SOCIETY. As if we were taking the university to a beauty parlor--in the extremist of surface-value Hollywood perspectives.

Well hey. Beautiful idea. But not top on my priorities and to-do list right now.

Essentially, Nancy Kawalek was my light of hope in the chaotic darkness of fall 2007.

Dr. Kawalek was inspired to do STAGE when she discovered an improvisational theater company in Canada (was it "black box theater"?) who performed this magnificent play based on the script of two brothers fighting over some toys as kids scaled out to two countries fighting over scaling of weaponry and the race to space. PERFECT ANALOGY. I could see how this theater company could see human society as the mass accumulation effects of individual behavior.

Well, the baggage of "The Elephant and the Oak Tree" doesn't stop there. The last major time I tried to "incorporate" my story was trying to write an abstract for the AAAS Pacific Division Conference in Hawaii. The project would be classified under "New Sciences-Humanities Convergences," which is certainly a theme of the UC Santa Barbara campus! I interacted with Dr. Robert Chianese, a very inspiring English literature professor at Cal State Northridge (where my sister goes to school for physical therapy) and Dr. Interruption--excuse me, an eager anthropology professor in the School of Dentistry of UCLA--Dr. Carl M*ida. Don't get me wrong. He's a nice guy, but he interrupted me quite a bit, and he even bothered to mostly write my abstract for AAAS, framing the emphasis on communications campaigns. Maybe a typical graduate student would be happy that a professor did the work for him or her, but I ended up being extremely pissed off because writing my abstract is a form of "framing" and "brainwashing," just as the Scientology Church was forcing me to write in a certain way, but I wasn't interested in giving in. Training a person on how to write a certain style and order is a form of brainwashing. So, my father brainwashed me, and so did C Hugh Marsh, who taught me scientific writing. But stepping away from the courses, thinking like my father and like Dr. Marsh makes utmost sense to me. So, this brainwashing I concede to. I am not eager to be forced to write a certain way anymore, and if I expand my writing frameworks, I want it to be my choice to break out of my box. Not a top-down force.

I am sure Dr. M*ida did not intend this, but I have the stigma of Scientology all over me, and I think the only way I can learn how to write is that I write everything out myself. Especially when they are my ideas. The abstract was not my own abstract submitted, but moreso Dr. M*ida's. I didn't have a sense of self-mastery of concepts.

After hearing the elephant-oak tree story, Dr. Chianese claimed that I was an epistemologist and a Batesonian--and I didn't even know it. Hence, the blossoming of ecopistemology. Dr. Chianese was more concerned about the content of the story and Dr. M*ida seemed unconcerned of the story and excited about the campaigns theory context. I started to realize that I may use some data and state from communications campaigns studies, but I want to understand modern communication systems from an evolutionary psychological perspective.

The tragedy of all the work and preparation for the AAAS conference is that I never ended up attending the week-long event in Hawaii (next year, it's in San Francisco, and I can definitely attend)! Two weeks before I was supposed to register for the conference, two of the Hawaiian airlines with cheapest tickets (including ATA) went out of business. It was going to cost an-arm-and-a-leg for me to go. Whatever. Not cool!

In terms of the philosophy of writing parables, I discussed in a previous blog the advantages of writing in Parable Form. Big messages in simple, fun, adventurous stories. In terms of "other mechanisms of writing," I discussed several factors in the meeting with Dr. Hector Javkin.

Such is thr Rabbithole of Baggage and Backstory of The Elephant and the Oak Tree. Now the serious part, FINALLY! To write the story. Geeze!

keywords: The Elephant and the Oak Tree, penguin dance, marriage, benefits of failure, natural selection of ideas, audience baseline effect, pitch, brevity, darwin award, triangle, hourglass, brainwashing, feminine intellectual makeover, Dream Ph.D, College of Creative Studies, triangle, hourglass, how to pitch to an agent,

Thursday, August 21, 2008

280. Two Random Epiphanies on Writing and Learning

I don't have my earplugs, and I am a bit distracted, though usually I can focus quite well. I just came from a MicroWriters group with Hector, and walked away with several words to the wise. I thing my mind is also swirling with chaos because I am anticipating watching the Blue Horizons screenings at 730pm today. Perhaps a horrid influx of memories and obligations for next year, and I'll just want to run out of the theater and cry.

Why? I have been working on writing. Not film. I will have to go back to the generous man who gave me a film donation, and I will return the money to him, stating right now I have to prioritize writing. I can only become a superb film-maker on the premise of becoming a superb writer. Writing is the backbone HTML code to the deconstruction and reconstruction of Reality, so lack of writing ability leads to mediocre films. I need to prioritize my own sanity and internalize my high degree of chaos, before I start layering and multi-media-izing my stories. I am a multi-media storyteller. But first and foremost, I am a writer and a cognitive mapper (which emerges at first as cartoon maps).

The Three Stages of Improvisation, Chaos, and Order. I just ran into a professor of percussion and it was fascinating how she told me her philosophy of learning with drums. At first, a beginner's IMPROVISATION is complete chaos. So it is essential to learn BASIC ELEMENTS for sense of CONTROL. Once you graduate from basic protocol of drumming, then you have to UNLEARN EVERYTHING, and then you learn to improvise, which is a form of identifying a beat, getting off beat, and readjusting yourself to a collective beat. IMPROVISATION then becomes CONTROLLED CHAOS. This professor's philosophy seems to be the ultimate philosophy of education in general. As a kid, you are a close-t0-blank-slate of chaos. You are shoved through some kind of standardized education system. And then you go to graduate school, and your professors ask you to QUESTION REALITY. Doubt everything you learn. The first time this happens, you are in a state of shock, "What the fxck?!!" As if twenty years of building a fabric in your mind had been shattered. Welcome to the "behind-the-scenes" of the university! But now, instead of being an unruly, untrained child, you learn how to systematically doubt and dissect and reconstruct concepts and stories. So, then IMPROVISATION is transformed into CONTROLLED CHAOS. I could only break out the box and Question Reality on the condition that I knew the fragmentation of the existing box of my education. So, there!

I still have chaos in my head, so I'll see how far I can get in the next 15 minutes!

279. "The Elephant and the Oak Tree" Unexpected Backstory, Two Poems "Beauty" and "To the Sith"

PDF for the poem "Beauty: On Parsimony and Perfection":
This is an essential guide and tool on how to paint a time-dependent matrix of a story with words.
PDF for poem "To the Sith" or "Out of Date Devotions" not included within The Elephant and the Oak Tree manuscript:
When I looked at my main backnotes, I was shocked to find this "Beauty" poem hidden amidst my scraps. I had to publish it on my blog right away. It will serve as a future guide for all my future works of creative storytelling--writing, oral, or visual arts!

278. "The Elephant and the Oak Tree" Baggage and Backstory (poems, songs, abstracts, summaries, communication theory, pitches to agents, Dr. House)

In a nutshell, I could say that "The Elephant and the Oak Tree" has a lot of "baggage" and "backstory" in terms of historical attempts to write the story (formulation in Fall 2005, three conscious trials to write the story), and attempts to tell the story to notable figures in academia and the book publishing industry. I am hoping now that I have my Question Reality manuscript off my chest, now that I am surrounded by a most inspirational (even mystical and magical) audience (Tariel, Oscar, my roommates, CCS, UC Santa Barbara, Toastmasters, Santa Barbara Writers Conference), that the accumulation of failures of the past shall now lead to some degree of success. Or at least some degree of "self satisfaction of completion" and "an efficiency mechanism for distribution" of such a story.

I will further elaborate "the backstory" in a future blog, but this blog is an organized accumulation of "formalized documents" that were attempts in writing "The Elephant and the Oak Tree." They will not be included in the final bookform product, but are organized enough to see the light of day within a blog. These documents may serve some good use in the (very) near future.

Page 1 of EOT rough-draft 2-page pitch to Agents and Editors Day at the 2008 Santa Barbara Writers Conference.

Page 2 of EOT rough-draft 2-page pitch to Agents and Editors Day at the 2008 Santa Barbara Writers Conference.
PDF file of EOT rough draft 2-page pitch at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference:

EOT abstract first formulated for the a CV/resume application for the Blue Horizons program in 2007:

EOT abstract formulated and modified for the CV / resume application for the Blue Horizons program in 2007:

EOT abstract formulated and modified even further post Blue Horizons:

PDF file for the EOT Abstract submitted to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Pacific Division in Hawaii in June of 2008:

The tragedy is that I was never able to attend the conference. Two weeks before applying for airline tickets to go, two major Hawaiian airlines (included ATA) closed down the ticket prices jacked up close to $1000. I could not afford this. Nor could I deal with two conferences back to back (right around the time of Santa Barbara Writers Conference).

Dr. Carl Maida of UCLA pushed my presentation towards the direction of Communications and Campaigns analysis. I guess more formulated-audience analysis. Dr. Robert Chianese (English literature professor) was more intrigued by the content of the EOT story. I started getting depressed how the communications field parameterized human behavior--religion, race, political affiliation, socioeconomic status--the very parameters I am trying to lift up and disqualify myself from. I think this abstract will serve of GOOD USE in terms of future work with campaigns analysis and any other research under the sphere of Dr. Ron Rice's research. But in the end, I will want to understand modern human communication from an evolutionary psychology perspective.

Two communication theories I subscribe to is "sense-making" and "communicating communicatively," which is figuring out the knowledge baseline of your audience, and building from there. The whole Pete-Sadlerian process of "figuring out what they know and don't know, and then build from where they know." This is such a "duh" theory. I am sure it's a Chinese Koan. But it's nice to know it's formulated now.

PDF files of variations of the "Perceptual Relativity" and "Ecological Relativity" poems that try to identify the image as the "leg of an elephant" or the "trunk of an oak tree":

PDF file documenting the story structure of an EPIC EPISODE OF DR. HOUSE (remember that witty, cranky doctor?! I love him to intellectually emotional tidbits! Hollywood has some hope!)

Though this document will not be included in EOT, it has the SAME MESSAGE as EOT. There is a feedback between perception and language and how shifts in one lead to shifts into the other, which can also lead to effective problem solving. In this case, in the parallel story of trying to identify a stuffed animal as a dog or a bear, Dr. House came to realize that he was diagnosing a patient with a certain disease, which placed a mental frame of perception--leading to no solutions. If Dr. House lifted up the pre-existing diagnosis of the disease "bear" and considered it to be a "dog," suddenly House rushed back to the patient and swiftly figured out the problem and cured the patient of her ailment. In concern of human-environmental relationships, the university suffers from the "same problem" of "original definitions," such that academics are stuck within the mindframe of existing definitions/conventions, but if you find alternative, new definitions, then it becomes much more clear on how to solve and manage problems. The house case study was MEDICAL. My story is ENVIRONMENTAL. That was perhaps the most clever plot out of any of the House episodes. And in final note and quote of House, "Death would be a bad symptom." And Dr. Wilson, "What is rational versus what is the law are two entirely different things. Go ask OJ."

PDF files for the SONG "The Elephant and the Oak Tree and the Rest of the Zoo."

Let's just say I wrote this song OUTSIDE the context of the basic matrix plot structure of the story. It is tragic to think that MOST if not ALL of this song will NOT be included in the parable. The ostrich and the peacock are asides. I don't want to repeat myself too much and the song has repeating messages. I'll see how it goes. In short, the song needs renovation and a total MAKEOVER.

PDF file for Question Reality Long Story Short:
I started writing this also in attempt to write EOT right before the AAAS conference in Feburary of 2008. I think this above document is drawn out. I think I was struggling writing it simply because I didn't have QR off my chest as a concrete, completed manuscript.

Page 1 of Victoria's "Biography Sketch" intended for EOT in the manuscript attempt before AAAS in February of 2008.

Page 1 of Victoria's "Biography Sketch" intended for EOT in the manuscript attempt before AAAS in February of 2008. Here is the PDF file:

I think the Biography Sketch is "whiny" like I was some kind of complaining butthead. I had such a hard time describing myself in a WORD. a BLURB. Now, I just tell people I am a Ph.D. student in environmental media at UC Santa Barbara. It's not official yet, but I am a Commonsenseologist Wannabe in the world outside the university and I am an ecopistemologist (subdivision Ecological Cosmology) in the university. That's it. So simple. I don't need to write a long two-page rant of who-in-the-hxll I am! Oh well. Achieving Brevity Takes a Long Time.

277. Preparation for The Elephant and the Oak Tree: Baggage / Behind-the-Scenes Images of Ants and Oaks

Below is a collection of images that will not be manifested in "The Elephant and the Oak Tree" parable. They were nevertheless influential stepping stones to the ultimate creations!
The cutest cartoon image of an ant I could find. I vaguely remember this character as a kid. Is this a Warner Brothers creation?
The body formation of the Warner Brothers ant is very human-like. I tried creating such an ant with such a morphology, but acquired too much anxiety from making the structure to humanoid. The face totally works, just not the rest of the body. I think the Warner Brothers creature above needs an extra set of appendages... that would be more convincing. What a concept, design of evolution through cartoons! I have ultimate evolutionary control of the morphologies of my organisms! And they can evolve overnight, not in a million years!
I always appreciate BC. I used to read these cartoons more when I had time to. My grandfather would collect them for me and I would cut out my favorite cartoons and pictures. That hobby is done and over with. Unfortunately, there are more pressing issues in society to deal with. I love the simple design of the ants. They are very comical, amplified by the big eyes and big nose. I also like the message of the cartoon. Kids exist to keep adults in check. I think kids are sane and adults are insane and that sometimes the kids should be teaching the adults than visa versa. I think it should be more of a two way street of communication across the ages!
Of course, I must account for the anatomy of ants if I want to be a good evolutionary designer of ants!
The best image of "real" ants I could find on the web. I admire the dramatic poses and it is of my curiosity to investigate such postures and their implications for insect communication. (Opa! There goes my "biology hat" on my head!).
Early cartoon ant I drew. Don't like it. The xss is goo big. Ahem. Abdomen. Whatever. Now my "biologically incorrect cartoonist hat" is on, pissing off my biologist part of my brain!

This ant head is cute, but I still don't like it. Looks too much like my squirrel drawings.
I am disturbed by the proportions of the head size to body size. The overall structure of the ant doesn't make it seem like this ant is very "flexible" and can be posed in too many positions. Looks too chunky.
I LOVE the facial expression of the ant and the reflection effect of the mirror, but still the body is way to chunky and I cringe thinking there's lots of juice and half-formed organs without a backbone inside.
This is a charming image of an oak tree I drew a few months back. I have nothing to complain. I may use the image, or I may not.
Same oak tree. Black and white.
I made a decision that I will not focus on making cartoons for the book this round. The most important concern is that I create an overarching cartoon that can summarize the entire story in one page, which will end up being on the title page. I anticipate making one additional variation of the parable, one that is more detail-oriented and adult like. The other story is stripped down to simpler language... minus details... and is more for kids up to high school students.

I am imagining the ultimate. What if I had a "charming," simple little story in a tiny, Hallmwark size pocket book that could be passed out to every little kid on this planet. The story tells them a simple message to doubt what you learn, and you must put it together yourself, your relations to your surroundings--the big picture. The kids themselves could clean up the education system. The kids themselves can start having a vision since the beginning of their ability to read, to make this world a better place--rather than being drowned by Disney Disillusionment! It's self-perpetuating! Wow. I hope this story becomes a needed "behavioral ecological mutation" for society. What a dream. One day. I think this book can give me the license to be a "guest speaker" to schools and stuff. Even to return to my high school and give a talk there. The Elephant and the Oak Tree is a story that will give me hopes and dreams, and will open the door for me in terms of communicating with people about all the issues that concern me and are bottled up inside.
I saw blips of Who Moved My Cheese and The Iceberg is Melting, parables about how corporations should deal with change. My parable is about how to deal with change, but with a VERY different recipe, and from an ENVIRONMENTAL and PSYCHOLOGICAL perspective, not corporate. Or so I think the recipe is different. I have to take a closer look. I was frustrated by the Iceberg story. It was written in such simple language, and it was written more like a salespitch than an adventure. It just didn't appeal to me. The cartoons were NOT cute, and NOT cool. The penguins looked boring and had no emotional read on them.
Then again, the likelihood anything like this will happen is close to zero. It will most likely become another buried story in history. Oh well. People will acknowledge my existence when I am dead. Acknowledge it and get over it. But I just need to move on to my next projects for sanity!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

276. ECOPISTEMOLOGY: I Invented a New Word, Only to Find that It Already Exists... or Maybe Not

Since I have this amazing track record of inventing something in my mind and then finding out a few moments to a few years later that this novel idea was independently invented by someone on the other side of the planet XX moments-to-years ago (aka I suffer from the "independent origins of common thought" syndrome), I am going to relish this split moment for inventing a word that will fly beyond "Commonsenseologist" that (though may be a joke) may possibly be legitimatized within the university. The word is called ECOPISTEMOLOGY, which is a combination of "eco" (house, relationships, interactions), "episteme" (knowledge), and "logos" (reason, the study of). So, ecopistemology is the study of the structure and organization of knowledge in concern of human relationships with the environment. Epistemology and western philosophy have historically been anthropocentric, and this is now the golden opportunity to be ecopistemological, especially since there is documented fragmentation of knowledge and lack of communication within multiple systems at multiple scales, from language systems, perceptual cognitive maps, and value systems within and among universities, government, and business.

This all started when Dr. Chianese (an English professor at Cal State Northridge) told me that I was into "shifting consciousness" and that I was "epistemologizing" and I didn't even know it. He also claimed I was a Gregory Batesonian, an "Ecology of the Mind" type of person. Mind-mirrors-environment are one in the same. I was driving along towards Isla Vista, when the word ecopistemology whapped into my head. I called my dad a minute later and we talked a lot about it. It's all a joke, but this could become legit.

To me, organizing knowledge ("spacetime") is like my organizing my closet full of schoolwork. Which is a hobby I have been doing... intrinsically. So, ecopistemologizing is within my neurological blood anyway.

I bet Alexios will be thrilled. I heard he was into inventing a new field of study anyhow... along the lines of environmental psychology. But ecopistemologizing is dah-bomb to me. Toastmasters members stared at me as if I were whacko for inventing the word. Grace mentioned that the word is so long that I would be tripping myself up and probably going to the moon and back faster than even trying to say the word.

I want a t-shirt that says I'm an ecopistemologist. Besides, commonsenseologist.

Now will be the fateful moment. All my hope in originality will be pulverized as I look up the world wide web, only to find that ecopistemology already exists. Boohoo. One second please.

I have phenomenal news folks. Just with my musical name "Stokastika," I have invented a word that does not exist on google. I now have given birth to the word and field "ecopistemology." God bless the trees or the trees bless the construction of god, I have the most noble news, my efforts upon the Questioning of Reality shall be classified as a work of ecopistemology. I am going to make up the rules to. This is flippin' fun!

275. "The Myth of Sisyphus, Part 2" Three Poem Versions and Poem "Building a Mountain of the Mind"

Pdf of poem:

Myth of Sisyphus, Part 2, Version 1.
Myth of Sisyphus, Part 2, Version 2.
Myth of Sisyphus, Part 2, Version 3.

I guess I have really obsessed over this piece of poetry/short story. It's an epic story about Alternative Addictions, withdrawal, behavioral-environmental change, and the concept of repetition with the same information, or changing behavior with the input of new information.
I formulated the rough draft outline and the "Matrix" profile for the Myth of Sisyphus prose version. I think I will write that story after writing "The Elephant and the Oak Tree."

274. Merged Poem "Deprivation in Space and Time"

I am not into "smoochy-whoochy" stuff too frequently, but I can somehow relate to this "anonymous" poet (for preservation of privacy). I find it fascinating how she equates to loving someone in the "present" or the "now" is essentially like loving someone forever, even if tomorrow you won't have the opportunity to love this person. I usually don't use the word "love" either, but it's late and I am feeling quite lazy with my language!

oh, i shall love you now, today
even if i can't love you tomorrow
for if i love you now, today
i will have loved you always, forever

deprive me of your skin
long enough
'til madness settles in
o' self-destruct

deprive me of your wits
long enough
'til insanity a'wins
thoughts corrupt

my mind has made you my subgod
can i help it
my mind has made you my shen-soul
can i help it
my mind has made you all my hope
can i help it
unreal, so true, can i ever let go?

I can, I can, I can----
can i help it?

Monday, August 18, 2008

273. "The Scale of Gigi" Edited by Hector Javkin and Submitted to SEED Media Group

Quote of the Day: "If you stop greasing your axles, it is a sign that you have stopped caring for yourself." (from Hector, quote from existentialist folk singer in Argentina).

Yesterday was the first writers meet up between me and Hector, linguistics guru, Santa Barbara Writers Conference photographer, and my close-to-next-door-neighbor. Hector and I are united very deeply by common interests and experiences: (1) academia, (2) cross-national identities (Argentine-Jew and Greek-American) (3) writing stories, and (4) photography.

I have come to realize that sharing stories with other people is a VERY intimate experience. You come to know and understand the structure and content of the human mind through writing analysis. It's amazing to be surrounded by talented writers who are alive (not dead figures all in a different century, my high school literature experience)--and all live in Santa Barbara.

Our meeting yesterday was a very positive, useful experience, and I am excited that we will be meeting this upcoming Wednesday for a short time as well.

This PDF below is the modified version of "The Scale of Gigi," which was commented on by Hector.

Having only two of us at a writers group was VERY constructive for me. Listening to the writing of multiple people is quite overwhelming and difficult to dissect. But if you are interacting with one other person, you really start to think about "the method to the madness," or more so trying to dig into the brains of Shelly Lowenkopf and myself, and discover, and analyze the underlying components that weave together the fabric of superb storytelling. I started making a list below (which I implemented yesterday in my thought processes):

(1). The element that ties all variables together into a fabric is the UNDERLYING MOTIVE. THE PURPOSE. The problem and the drama and the dilemma that intrigues the reader to run the page. The reader attaches to the STRUGGLE and the TURMOIL. The way how I construct characters was through understanding of myself (1) my motives (2) my unique history (3) my current options (4) my current constraints. The whole "god-grant-me-the-serenity-to-accept-the-things-I-cannot-change-courage-to-change-the-things-I-can-wisdom-to-tell-the-difference" effect. Besides viewing a story from externalized factors (outside the brain of the main character), e.g. decriptions of other characters and landscapes, it is important to document the multi-layered internal view of the main character(s): (1) desperation, fixation (2) emotion (3) rationale. If you remain highly internalized, then the internal atmosphere of the characters mind warps external reality.

(2). Other knobs to tweak: "the time-dependent matrix effect" of SETTING, CHARACTERS, PLOT and their proportions and overall ratios of use, which affects pacing. What data to include and not include. Who knows what and why.

(3). COGNITIVE MAPPING AND VISUALIZATION. When reading a story, the best thing to do is to create a series of SYMBOLIZED COGNITIVE MAPS of the story (aka STORYBOARDING), much like when geologists analyze the layers of an outcrop. You invent and include symbols in space and time to assess the level of consistency of events and who knows what. I also see it as VIDEOGAME DESIGN, constructing OBJECTS-SUBJECTS IN A BOX and their interactions (much like how organisms interact with their environments and each other overall). These simple visualization diagrams for a story can be also considered as a series of VISUALIZED FOOTBALL PLAY DIAGRAMS. The other practice that I engaged upon (thanks to Michael Hanrahan and Blue Horizons at UCSB) is that I read the story like a SCREEN WRITER. I pretended that I was going to adopt the story into a movie. I started to identify plot, setting, character components, in addition to setting up what types of shots to be set up--wide angle, close up, pan, etcetera.

Writing is painting a moving picture. It's an investigation of an optimal distribution of pigeonholes in space and time that holistically stimulate the human mind in an optimal way. Hence the whole Dartboard Theory on how to manipulate humans that I presented to Toastmasters a few weeks ago.

For example, with Hector's story, "Identity," I started to create a time-dependent matrix, much like a movie editing sequence like in Final Cut Pro (or even music editing in Sonar Home Studio), and I came to realize that holistically, the ratio of plot to character to setting was a bit imbalanced--too much setting in the beginning let me dangling a bit in terms of "where was this story going." Hector then realized there was an entire paragraph that--though had historical and aside humorous significance--did not tighly intertwine or directly function with the plot and direction of the story.

In terms of traditional writing versus science and environmental writing, I am starting to identify overarching themes: (1) personal experience deeply tied with universal reality, scientists find emotional attachment to universal truths (2) the gradiation from "one death is a tragedy to 1000 deaths is statistics" (3) the "environment" or "setting" is not just "static backdrop" but becomes more connected and intertwined with the main characters and the plot. Emotional connections are being made with landscapes. Landscapes may start to become more described in human characteristics. Well, fxck. Don't go there! HUMANS ANTHROPOMORPHIZE EVERYTHING! If humans label elements of the environment, then they are automatically projecting their HUMAN PERCEPTION on the element or the overall system! Geez shapooey!

I am also interested in writing an essay on "Evolutionary Psychology and New Analytical Techniques in English Literature." Applications of evolutionary psychological knowledge and how humans tell stories.

Having described some mechanisms I started using for literature analysis..... Hector and I both took turns reading our short stories. We only got through one story each, which was great. Before story-reading, we started with a warm-up. I took some cool silhouette pictures of hummingbirds with a mega-lens 17-300mm vibration reduction.

Hector read a story entitled "Identity" (as mentioned before, but to elaborate, there is historical and family significance, a story written by Hector through his grandfather's eyes, Jewish in a non-Jew Argentine landscape, the whole UCSB Gaucho thing), which he apparently read to Shelly Lowenkopf's group. Hector thought I would have no quibbles with the story (which was already critiqued), but I actually had three major qualms: (1) the title needed to reflect the story a little bit more, which I emailed him today (it needs to incoporate the notions of identity, encounter, and the knife, but in a direct or indirect way) (it's funny to think when you title a short story "Identity" the first thing that comes to my mind is some drugged-up-depressed-east-coast-intelligent-prozac-girl struggling to survive the next day, maybe it's my Elizabeth Wurtzel encounter... or something) (2) the setting description was out of proportion with the rest of the story--it was "drifting" for a little bit, with no sense of directionality, which Hector responded well to, and (3) the climax moment of the protagonist's decision (which I won't give away) had emotional disconnect and disjunctness such that it didn't flow. Hector wanted to maintain the element of surprise, but the event and train of thought was so surprising that it was disconnecting. Hector needed to add something such that his grandfather can remain "desperately rational" rather than "schizophreniac." Which I think he did change a few words. But that was all that was needed.

Hector's writing is very concise and to the point. No flowery bullshxt. His scientific streaks emerge in the precision of his writing. He also has very simple word usage, which is very good. I need to work on that a little bit. Well, it depends on the audience. Ugh. I am learning. Learning to write. Adapting and manipulating the audience.

Sometimes I need to remain unreasonable. It's not like people understand Descartes on the first read, but somehow it's still intellectually acceptable to read this guy on pot. I think I need to write a short essay on a Brief History of Western Philosophy: Evolution of Human Thought Mediated by Mind-Altering Substances. Just like the whole Painted Cave, Shamanism thing. Given what they were writing, Plato MUST had been tripping out on whatever hallucinogen, or something. That would be a great thesis: Western Philosophers are equivalent to quasi-secularized Shamans. What a trip! Piss off a bunch of social scientists. Drugs and the evolution of thought. Re-analyzing history of philosophy and science through the perspective of mind-altering substances.

Reading The Scale of Gigi to Hector was great: (1) I did not humiliate myself in front of Shelly's story-driven fiction group, and (2) I became re-conscientious of my own mechanisms of writing.

**For one thing, I am integrating science and the human experience. This story was 10% fiction and 90% philosophy. Just like many great philosophers. But unfortunately not your mainstream style and a more difficult read. It's just where my mind is. There are many authors/journalists out there who make scientists' lives adventure stories. I am sure over time, my writing will transition from 90-10 to 50-50. The most important element right now for my writing is establishing self-sanity. And I will do whatever it takes. I am not worried about writing quick fix airplane blockbuster reads--which is essentially what most New York Bestsellers are nowadays.
**In "The Scale of Gigi" I used too much technical jargon for Shelly's group, but probably just fine for a philosophy of science journal or maybe even science journalism.
**Hector argued that this story was not personal, when indeed it was very very personal to me. My experiences in the world and in the university has trained me to understand myself and my relations to the environment in more universal terms. From an outsider perspective, this essay is a transitional comparison of a character Uabwa (who is a scientist) going from a small Gigi in some forest to a megascale Gigi that spans across the entire globe. Uabwa, who was unaware of her sense of place in small-scale Gigi, acquired a tangled knot in her mind's heart, and she needed to unravel and come to understand why she was mentally struggling so hard in Supersized Gigi. I had come to realize retroactively, the character Uabwa was essentially ME--transitioning from a (non-internet) high school environment to a (altered-technological-communication-regime) megaCollege environment far away from home in Riverside, California. In high school, I had this whole illusion of community and meaning and purpose and when college hit, all of the illusion fell apart. And I found out I was a nothing, nobody. I was a number. I was a sandgrain. I was one of six billion. I still am, but in Santa Barbara, the community is so intellectually and emotionally stimulating that I need to live here and I don't care if the rest of the world fxcks itself over. I am convinced the community of Santa Barbara can still exist in relative isolation from the rest of the global human meshpot. Pardon me for my streak of optimism in a well of pessimism. (aside: high school ritual burn schoolwork)
**The other thing I tend to do is describe human society through "biological parallels"--bryozoans, coral reefs, zooid boxes, honeycomb matrices, primordial ooze, Petri dish full of bacterial, pinball (okay, that's more physics). I have re-projected myself upon human systems based on my knowledge in ecology and evolution. That is why I need these parallels.
**Given my writing phase, I need to get it out, because it's not economically profitable, but more for mental sanity. Upon rewritng and rewriting and re-understanding and assessing the "audience," it is a difficult road to connect the "shallow" with the "deep." To take the public down the rabbithole of science and philosophy, and then to challenge scientists and ask them to take a step back and ask what the big picture is. Right now, I need to clear out my own head, and I don't have much summer left to do that!

Before I left to go home and attempt to "chill out," Hector related a story to me in concern of how he got involved in science. At age 7, Hector's parents took Hector to the Buenos Aires airport (which was very tiny). His father made a claim that all airplanes were the same size no matter what distance they were (some relativity effect). It ended up that this claim turned out to be wrong when a small two-seater dropped from the sky and pulled up to a mega-plane. More relativistic trickery in size and scale! Though Hector loved his parents dearly, he came to realize that they could be wrong and he needed to think for himself. My sister obviously snapped at age 10, with those horrid fights with my mother. As for me, I remained obedient. Obedience to my mother and pleasing my parents and teachers was more important than thinking for myself. Until age 17. Then life and death choices forced me to overthrow people's projections upon me. I was forced to think for myself.

I submitted "The Scale of Gigi" to SEED Magazine a couple of hours ago and thanked them for the inspiration. Otherwise, the story needs to sit!

272. "The Myth of Sisyphus Part 2" Poem and Song

Myth of Sisyphus II Poem. Page 1.
Myth of Sisyphus II Poem. Page 2.
Myth of Sisyphus II Poem. Page 3.
Myth of Sisyphus II Poem. Page 4.

PDF version of The Myth of Sisyphus, Part II Poem.

I just got off the phone with my very good friend, Oscar Flores, and told him how today, after two-and-a-half years of STAGNATION, I finally wrote a poem entitled "The Myth of Sisyphus, Part 2." I cannot believe I was in a 2.5 year--close to 3 year rut of not allowing these ideas to come out! It was in part a negative psychological thing to hold onto ideas for so long, but can also be a very positive thing such that you let ideas sit inside you to formulate to a peak optimal point of development. But this condition I have been in is idea-stagnation. Not only I have peaked with ideas, but even my own brain is BORED with my own creations. It makes it doubly difficult to write, and I usually need a spark from a very recent conversation or experience to establish a fleeting emotional drive to resurrect my interest in the once-stuck mental boulders. Anyhow, writing this poem was very therapeutic, and ultimate. I am sure tomorrow I will feel a minor sense of withdrawal for dismissing the poem. Though I still need to write the official short story to go along with the poem.... But there is immense time pressure to relieve myself of a whole series of constipating ideas. As my friend Tariel would say, I need a dose of "mental laxatives" and he certainly helps with the process!

The basic, yet powerful message of the story (that is trying to over-ride the first Myth of Sisyphus story), paraphrased, is: "Some folks like rolling up-and-down their stones / and some need to build mountains of their own / You gotta find your own Myth of Sisyphus / You gotta find your own happiness."

This story is very important. I think it is the onset of a first set of parables that will summarize in very simple, yet profound manner, my Questioning of Reality. It's my first attempt in writing to connect the surface with the profound, and to summarize a very long book in an adventurous, short story. It takes a long time to write something simultaneously short and profound!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

271. The Most Horrendous and Tragic Epiphany of My Life

I have come to formulate the most tragic epiphany of my life: that the central organizing principle (central frame of reference) of the human mind revolves around two elements: survival and replication. Barebone desperation, and the process of seeking and convincing the kin-trust of another random human. The structure of human brains did not evolve to survive in the ecological condition of a mega-university. Intellectual byproduct (e.g. journal article publications) is just a consequence and condition of the former process: co-existence with another human of the opposite sex.

I have come to master the survival protocols, but I find this whole other element of mental organization to be truly tragic. For all these years, I have painted this image of individualism and self-sufficiency and independence, only to now acknowledge this state of the need to "mentally latch onto at all strings and scales" with another human, lete alone with a meaningful "tribe" of humans. I have come to realize through my experiences at UC Santa Barbara that I have come to mentally and emotionally attach to my "intellectual kin" much more than much of my "biologial kin."

I am still in denial of this dire epiphany (like the religiously devout who preach daily on Absolutism and are in denial that Religion Evolves). Ever since I met a great friend who is a guy, my writing and art started to flow again. I started to function again in a holistic sense. Move on with my systematic progression in life. And I am rationally pissed off about it, though I am going to have to succumb to and accept the mammalian and reptilian properties of my brain. There are some elements of my mind I cannot scoop out. There are some things I cannot change and must accept.


No wonder a small handful of intellects I look up to have asked me, "Do you have a boyfriend?" And in the deeper past have stuttered, "No." Like I am an All-American Cultural Sinner. Go join the QuirkyAlone Club in San Francisco!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

270. "What Do I Know?" Song / Poem Inspired by Watching Gymnastics Television Late at Night with No One Around to Calm Me Down

What do I know?
What do I know?
All I have been
Is shoved in a tunnel.

What do I know?
What do I know?
All I have been
Is shoved in a tunnel.

Send-me back in time
And motions no longer rhyme
With my own words
With my own verbs.

Oh how absurd!

To think I know something
And know nothing at all
Oh how absurd
To think I know something
And know nothing at all

When I'm stripped naked
From the-world's crutches
And so I have fallen,
And so I shall fall.

All they glorify
Are the superhuman tricks
And tend to all ignore
The bare structural gists

Of the core nuts-and-bolts
That keep us all together
So keep your camera turned-away
And the next thing we all shatter.

You are a [pre]Packaged Subgod
On our Conditionality.
You're a Boxed-up Phenom
On Surfacial Supremacy.

But oh, for how long?
But oh, not for long....

For, what do you know?
What do do know?
All you have been
Is shoved in a tunnel.

What do you know?
What do you know?
All you have been
Is shoved in a tunnel.

All you have been
Is shoved in a tunnel....

I wrote this poem last night. I was in great pain. I had just finished jogging around 8pm or 830 pm and my mind already started to shut down. I couldn't hang out with my friend that evening. I tried to continue working but remained to be a failure. I went coffeeshop hopping from the Starbucks to Mojo Coffee in Goleta. I couldn't write another word. Maybe I was mentally choking because I needed to let go of my work and find alternative stimulus. Unfortunately my alternative stimulation still took the form of a screen: mostly youtube videos of Olympics gymnastics and getting the scoop with the Russian-American gold winner, along with the falls of Alicia Sacramone (I still root for her!) a full-time Brown University student (where my roommates Kyle and Karl attended as an undergrad). I started to feel depressed over time watching these films, watching people work hard and have lives. I started to wonder what in the hxll am I doing in my own life? It happens in phases. I just happen to be in a sitting-on-my-xss- and-write-out-all-the-shxt-from-my-brain-phase. Which watching me doesn't look to active, but my brain envisions things, in which later I shall film and resurrect in multi-media!

As a result of being alone at a coffee shop and getting depressed at watching people have lives, I wrote out a poem. Something productive comes out of depression sometimes.

I can't help to think about how my Uncle Chuck took an anthropology class and his professor challenged all the students that we modern citizens knew close to nothing and would not have the ability to live off the land like the more traditional tribal people. Hence the dichotomy between experiential-interactive knowledge and crxp Jeopardy fun fact book knowledge. And to say that tribal people are third world and a typical "educated" human is first world is complete IRONY. Hence, "What do I know? / What do I know? / All I have been / is shoved in a tunnel."