Monday, March 31, 2014

A**hole theory

I'm not starting a new branch of philosophy, just musing. And it always gives something the aura of intellect to put "theory" after it.

I live in Los Angeles, and used to live in New York, and there is a type, usually in a position of power, that I have encountered. 

Disclaimer - I'm not saying I currently work with any of these types, or even have in the past. Blessedly I've been fortunate to work with some great people here and in New York, in positions of great power. That does not mean, though, that I have not been a bystander, sometimes in a restaurant, sometimes in the street. 

I have always been interested in ego. I'm confounded, at time, at the self-interest that people can show. We all have it to some degree, but the particular type I'm concerning myself with here has it in spades. 

I've watched these people on both coasts, though I don't believe you have to live on a coast to be one. I do, though, wonder at the short-sightedness of this particular ego-maniac, though not too much time as life is short. 

What I'm figuring, though, is that they are in pain. Rich or poor, the a**hole must be in some pain. It's not easy to be them.  And seeing them in action, I wonder that they are given things for behaving this way.  This is my charitable assumption. but only because, it makes it somewhat easier to deal with them. I figure that people, at their base level, want to solve pain when it is presented to them.  Therefore, when they are presented with someone who seems to be always dissatisfied and angry about it, they want to help them. That help is usually in the form of giving them what they want, so they will hopefully be released from their pain.

I've heard it said that Chekhov plays are peopled with two types: those who only need one small thing to make them happy but will never get it, and those who have everything but will always be dissatisfied.  You know, a**holes.

Unfortunately, for the afflicted, they are not released from their pain.  Acquisition only makes them more dissatisfied, and dissatisfaction is their main tool for obtaining more. Nothing can assuage them, as they are just an a**hole.

Sad, really.  I'll keep you posted on more areas of this exciting new scholarship, but I like to spend as little time as possible thinking about them, so it may be a while.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Not to navel gaze too much here, but I've been thinking about a test I took in 4th grade in Omaha, which purported to predict what our best future career would be.

My answer: Philosopher

I had to look it up. It's possible that it was psychologist, but I think it's philosopher, since my first thought was, "Do I have to wear a white robe?"

I think of this when I think about blogging here. I've gotten okay at short posts, but I mostly want to struggle with questions of the God idea, why we believe what we believe, what's happening that's splintering America, how our brains are changing when we spend our time in front of machines.

So, philosophizing.  My concerns are two fold: length (no one reads anymore. I've been repeatedly asked at work to bullet point things, as my writing is style is, to put it kindly, verbose) and opinion. There's a fear of putting some opinion out there and then having to stand behind it.  The web seems like a crazy place. Of course, anyone reading this would probably understand the tone in which something was intended, but you never know.  They always say you can't control tone. Though they could be wrong, some writers do it well.  And I guess it's really the third thing - I can't argue a point without trying to look at the other side. Usually I can see it.  Not always. See, I'm even noncommittal in that.

I resisted the impulse to put a smiley face there.  Controlling tone through emoticons; what a tool that's been lacking for years.  I'm sure the British would have taken the Declaration of Independence completely differently if it ended with a smiley face. Or a #sorrynotsorry.

Anyhow, I may just start writing on metaphysics or something here. So don't be surprised.  I'm very interested in it.  And I'll try to keep a straight face.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

More advice

A friend posted Stephen King's Top 20 Rules for Writers on Facebook, a site that is quickly becoming a danger zone to me, but that's another story.  I like these.  They're  pretty much what you hear from everyone - take time, be in the world, turn of your TV, learn how you work.  That last one is elusive to me lately, as I seem to be not sitting down. Sigh.

I finished my short, and began submitting it to festivals.  I was not invited to a screenwriting lab I submitted to, but I did write the ten pages and the outline I was asked to. I'm taking a pilot writing workshop and did my outline for that. I just have to sit down and write the dang thing.  That's the way.  So I guess when I say "I'm not doing anything" I'm actually doing things.

I should make more lists.

The whole reason I'm posting this Stephen King thing is this last bit he wrote:

"Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink."

The water is free.  So drink.  I forget it's that simple. So good to be reminded.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bradbury and writing

A friend forwarded this great post about Ray Bradbury, including some wonderful video of him talking about writing, including a short documentary called "A Conversation with Ray Bradbury" and another short doc from the 1960's.

It's great to watch, but this quote struck me, blurbed at the top -

‘I never went to college — I don’t believe in college for writers. The thing is very dangerous. I believe too many professors are too opinionated and too snobbish and too intellectual, and the intellect is a great danger to creativity… because you begin to rationalize and make up reasons for things, instead of staying with your own basic truth — who you are, what you are, what you want to be. I’ve had a sign over my typewriter for over 25 years now, which reads ‘Don’t think!’ You must never think at the typewriter — you must feel. Your intellect is always buried in that feeling anyway.’”

This reminded me of something my singing teacher used to say: "Sing Stupid."  She said some of the best singers were not that smart, or could turn it off, because the minute you start thinking about it you seize up a lot of creativity. 

I also remember reading something about the facility for language being the closest to the rational brain, so when trying to write (creativity) using a rational tool (language), it's harder to be in that creativity than when creating art or the like.  So, write stupid?

Or maybe, "Write, stupid."  Though that doesn't sound very nice.  And easier said than done.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Character is Destiny

I went into my garage to look for a book for a friend this weekend.  As can happen, I opened one box and found a bunch of old notebooks from college. I once wrote a four page poem of rhymed couplets about an overdressed 18th century noblewoman losing her battle with nature, so whenever I stumble on a box of old papers I haven't sifted through, I stop and take a look.  I didn't even know I had some of this stuff, or why I've kept it.  Most of it had been at my parents house until the last ten years or so, but it's a long time to have old notes from drama classes and blank paper. I have several dittoed syllabi, which dates me.

Looking through my notes from one of my drama lecture classes, I saw the note "Character is Destiny" writ large in the middle of the page. I don't know why that particular line stood out, except that I'm trying to develop a story, and I'm having a difficult time with it.  The line seemed so simple - character is destiny.  All stories come out of character.  It sounds easy, doesn't it?

Today I was reading a New York Times Magazine interview with Phillip Roth, and what should he say during the interview, but "Yes, character is destiny, but everything is chance."

Character is destiny twice in as many days.  What is the universe trying to tell me?  Probably nothing - a happy coincidence.  Especially if everything is chance.

I'm hoping this helps me in some way, and not just to wonder what my character will reveal or has reveled about my own destiny.  It's hard not to wonder.