Tag Archives: psychology

WRITE THE ENDING OF THE STORY YOURSELF …

Deutsch: Zentrale Heterochromie: Grüne Iris, u...
Deutsch: Zentrale Heterochromie: Grüne Iris, um die Pupille herum jedoch ein braun-gelber Ring (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That’s what I often try to do, at least, when I’m not satisfied with the one I’m given.  I don’t rewrite their endings, I just… add onto them, if I find I’m wanting something more.  This is not a special privilege, for us ink-stained wretches alone; you can, and perhaps ought, to do the same: I have found it’s more than just an excellent writing exercise.

Last night, I remembered, a million or so years ago, having wished I could do this with a newspaper cartoon I’d read.  It eventually came as a genuine revelation to me, to work out that it was well within the “unspoken rules” of the writer-reader relationship to ask, “And then what happened?”

I read this cartoon, as I said, that portrayed a middle-aged fellow, working in a service-industry job, who reeled off the educational and other credentials he possessed, to disbelieving customers.  The point of the piece, of course, was to evoke support, even outrage, for this poor, fictional man, who’d had to accept a job that paid him less, in dollars and in dignity, than he had been trained to earn.  At first, of course, I felt sympathy, because I had done the sort of minimum-wage job he was doing; I didn’t like it, either — of course, I didn’t have the graduate degree, and years of white-collar work experience, the character possessed.

Later, after knocking about, trying to gain some wisdom, I grew to feel empathy for him (which, as I understands the terms, is more about identifying with another, not projecting support at him or her), as well as for his current work situation.  I realized that he wasn’t, as my adolescent brain must have envisioned him to be, a victim, after all; his life was still underway.  He was healthy, employed, and certainly, not frozen in place.  Then I remembered that I had the power to imagine what came next.  Maybe, I mused, he grows to like the lower pressure of his service job; maybe, he even likes his coworkers.

Then, one day, a woman who used to date one of his high-tech, white-collar coworkers happens into the place, and she’s pleasantly surprised to find him working there, of all places.  Soon, she’s coming in a couple of times a week, to grab a quick dinner and just maybe, to keep his spirits up… which works only too well, when he decides he’s not getting any younger, and he asks her out.  Her response is “I thought you’d never ask.”  Once they’ve been dating a while, who knows, perhaps he sees no reason to leave the position in such a hurry, after all… or perhaps, at her urging, he starts his own business.  You may be thinking: Pie-in-the-sky thinking, right?  Particularly in this economy?  Sure; this is my ending.  I’m saying you can write your own, too.

Empathy is the thing I’m getting at; it’s the ability to inhabit another person’s predicament.  Philip K. Dick devised a machine that could test for empathy, or the lack thereof, in his brilliant science-fiction novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (though you may know it better under its cinematic title — Blade Runner).   Fiction isn’t the only place that rewards and requires empathy, both for and from the characters; advertising rises or falls on it, if you think about it, because it’s a lot harder to feel much of a desire to buy a product or a service if you feel a distance from the seller.  This is not “dishonest”, by the way; it’s our ability to grasp what others are experiencing, positive as well as negative, that gives us common cause with them.  We want to buy a product, indeed, because we want to feel what the person in the advertisement feels (which is empathic), not something like it (which is sympathetic) — notice the difference?

The man from the cartoon, and the girlfriend I invented for him?  They eventually get married, of course, a little over two years later.  It’s not the story the cartoonist envisioned, of course; it doesn’t pack the punch s/he wanted to throw.  it’s just something I wanted for the man in the cartoon to experience: a bit of success.

  • Empathy (pdinspire.wordpress.com)
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APOLLO XI: THE “STORY” HAS LANDED

Forty-four years ago today, Neil Armstrong did what so many of us have done: he burned up much of his ride’s fuel, looking for a better place to park.  What makes his experience of this stand out, of course, is that he had a T.V. audience of millions – which makes sense, as he was “parking” a Lunar Excursion Module on the Earth’s Moon, for the first time in history.

Armstrong chanced a “hard landing” – a crash – in order to land someplace without so many boulders; a wise precaution, but I’d expect it made for an adventurous descent.  As Michael Collins circled overhead in the command/service modules (nicknamed “Columbia”, after the moon-ship in the 1865 Jules Verne novel, From the Earth to the Moon), Armstrong and lunar-module pilot Edwin Aldrin touched down on another world in their patriotic-nicknamed LEM, “Eagle”, undertaking the biggest little walk two guys had ever taken. They ascended to rejoin Collins, and, less than twenty-four hours after having landed, they were Earth-bound once again, splashing down on July 24.

The Apollo 11 Prime Crew - GPN-2000-001164
The Apollo 11 Prime Crew – GPN-2000-001164 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Apollo XI “Eagle” had not even landed, before some conspiracy theories dismissed the whole enterprise as… a staged hoax.  One legend I enjoy: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration hires Stanley Kubrick, having completed a little film entitled 2001: A Space Odyssey, to simulate the first two manned landings on the Moon… never mind how very different his film’s depiction of lunar terrain looked from news footage.

Six more of NASA’s Apollo missions, between 1969 and 1972, attempted to land men on the Moon; all of them reached the Moon (only Apollo XIII, thwarted by its oxygen-tank eruption, failed to visit the lunar surface).  Evidence of these adventures remains up there to this day: the flags, the LEM lower stages, abandoned effects of the pilots, and so on.  What amazes me is how so many people find all of this material unconvincing.

My mom credits anti-scientific bias for this; I think she’s got a point.  Forget the massive propaganda victory a “faked” American landing would have handed the Soviet Union; it seems like sour grapes to deny humanity this great achievement. It’s an odd thing to believe this didn’t happen, despite all the much evidence we have amassed to verify it, and what’s worse, some people seem to need for this to be a hoax.  This flight of fancy (perhaps fueled by Watergate-era cynicism) is misplaced. Neil, Mike and “Buzz” flew to the Moon; in doing so, they changed this world.

THE HERO’S DAYTRIP: AN “EPIC STORY” EXPERT

Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The hero’s journey always begins with the call. One way or another, a guide must come to say, ‘Look, you’re in Sleepy Land. Wake. Come on a trip. There is a whole aspect of your consciousness, your being, that’s not been touched. So you’re at home here? Well, there’s not enough of you there.’ And so it starts.”
Joseph Campbell

The modern master of myth behind The Hero With a Thousand Faces might add: This could apply to anyone’s life, including yours and mine, because we’re all on our individual quests; even if we think our adventures aren’t so much, everyone has a potential to be Luke (or Lucy) Skywalker, and an exhortation to raid the unknown somehow.

THE STORY ABOUT “THOSE NAMES” FOR THINGS

Blog Post #2 – rough draft:

Tired of putting in simple searches? Try going on a “Hero’s Quest” instead, and cue the soaring music, as the credits roll! Dividing the various from the sundry into categories is “filing-cabinet territory”… I re-branded it “Inner Space”, because then it’s like we’re exploring underwater.  I almost left the “Work” bit in peace, till I liked the sound of Wares” better. Most self-respecting calendars track “The Sun and the Moon”... which sounds like it came from a children’s book (wrote this on a  Wednesday… just GO with it –)

Which is a phrase concerning motion, yes, I know. Perhaps I have to be someplace. Where was I?  Right.  My deal is: Anybody can just pick the widgets that this wizard gizmo provides, use the standard names for each, and go to town (well, not literally, as that would require… some sort of… motion… toward a town – that again), but of course, I just had to be difficult, because when you’re adept at something, you…

The point is: I could have just taken the standard “bells and whistles” one sticks on one of these pages, and run with them.  (Third time with a “traveling” metaphor!  They get it already, man.)  I should make this a lot easier to navigate, if nothing else.  I gave that all due consideration, and I decided: “NAH! Boring. Middle Management stuff. Plenty of that to go around already.”  Figured if I could liven up the place, it would…  be livelier.  Like putting a potted plant in your office, to make the place feel more like you’re at home, that type of thing.