Star Wars

Love and Ignorance and Images

“The evil in the world comes almost always from ignorance, and goodwill can cause as much damage as ill-will if it is not enlightened. People are more often good than bad, though in fact that is not the question. But they are more or less ignorant and this is what one calls vice or virtue, the most appalling vice being the ignorance that thinks it knows everything and which consequently authorizes itself to kill. The murderer’s soul is blind, and there is no true goodness or fine love without the greatest possible degree of clear-sightedness.”  Camus, The Plague

 

I can agree with this, especially if the ultimate knowledge is love and connection.  “Num”, the Koisan belief that there is “one soul looking out through many eyes.”

 

If we believe in “doing unto others as we would have done to ourselves,” and we love ourselves, we won’t want to do harm to others.   We might order them chocolate cake when they love vanilla, however.

 

I am pretty sure that 99%+ of human evil comes from violating this: not seeing others as part of ourselves, and/or not loving ourselves.

 

This is why it is critical to love ourselves.    When that is a trial (and it often is) if you pay attention, you have just learned why the world has so much pain.  And you have also learned the gateway to healing.

 

Add another step: “Violence stems from anger, anger from fear.”

 

And you have an even clearer view of the problems in the world.

  1. We don’t love ourselves.
  2. We don’t feel connected to others, so that we fear them.
  3. We aren’t willing to protect ourselves as ruthlessly as we would protect our own most beloved children, and therefore attract predators looking for easy prey

 

How to undo this?

  1. First love yourself. If the meaning of life is to be joyful, then we have to control our emotions. We do this by controlling our language, focus, and body movement.  The “Morning Ritual” is all about this, and it is fascinating how I can say POINT BLANK over and over again that “you move continuously for 10-20 minutes WHILE focusing on positive things, past successes, and future outcomes” and people will report back that they “meditated and then did Yoga” or something.  NO, dammit: AT THE SAME TIME. Sheesh.  Your ego will trick you.  It does NOT want to die, and if you have a negative self-image, it may try to harm you to stop you from killing it.  Believe that shit.
  2. Love one other person.   This is generative. After you learn to love yourself, if you love another human being you want to give them the gift of joy.  You’ll start noticing that the same things that create pain in your lie (negative self-talk, negative focus, lack of healthy movement) create pain in theirs.  If you have children together, you start seeing how they grow up, what affects them, and will apply those lessons there.

 

This is where control of images connects to “control of language” and “control of self-talk.”  Self-talk would include the images you make in your head.  If they are images of pain, failure, and fear, you will avoid actions that take you in that direction.

 

You have to have PERMISSION internally to take an action. You have to believe that an action will take you closer to pleasure and further from pain, OR YOU WON’T DO IT.

 

This is where a movie showing someone you identify with as heroic is so important.  The hero ALWAYS hits the “Dark Night of the Soul” (T’Challa is thrown off the cliff) and all seems lost. The way through is the “Leap of Faith” in yourself, your companions, or a Higher Power.

 

And of course, in Black Panther it was all three.  As it was in Star Wars: A New Hope.  Beautiful.

 

This is CRITICAL for children and adults, because you simply cannot move from one major level of life to another without expecting failure.   The problem is that we forget this lesson, no matter how many times we go through it.

 

Fiction helps to remind it.  Seek out images  that nurture you, and your “tribe”.  If there is a lack of them, create them.   I suggest that this is meat-and-potatoes, not “frosting” on a non-essential cake.  The evidence is the frequency with which these images are created and devoured by any autonomous culture.

 

If you are underserved by the majority culture for whatever reason, these images will control your emotions, and your emotions determine your actions, and your actions create your future in a feed-back loop that will either ascend or descend.

 

Take control.

 

Be the hero in the adventure of your lifetime

 

 

Write with Passion!

Steven Barnes

www.afrofuturismwebinar.com

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Is BP better than Star Wars?

Saw a comment today, someone saying that Black Panther was better than all the Star Wars movies combined.   Let’s not dive into a discussion of trying to quantify subjective evaluations, shall we?   Let’s just leave it that this person ENJOYED BP more than they enjoyed all the Star Wars movies combined, or at least so much that they were moved to say that.

 

What I thought would be more interesting is asking: what makes a movement?  Because that’s what Star Wars was.  It motivated people to camp out overnight, buy tickets months in advance, cosplay, generated endless merchandise, and united generations of geeks in a celebration of space fantasy.

 

Harry Potter triggered some similar reactions. As did Star Trek.  I believe that movies like Gone With The Wind and Titanic seem to have hit the same buttons, and to a degree Avatar, and maybe even Enter The Dragon.

 

I remember having a meeting at my house when I lived over near LACC. Wish I could remember what the point of it was, but two ladies showed up who said they were from the “Vulcan Embassy.”  Called themselves T’Plea and T’Qua.  Vulcan ears, dress, everything.  I was very weirded out, I can remember.  And tried talking to them wanting to get some sense of what motivated them to behave this way, but didn’t get a clue.

 

What else does this kind of fandom remind me of?   Religious movies, the kind where churches send busloads of worshippers to see some (usually) low-rent version of the Passion play, or the trials of the Israelites or something.  There have been tons of them, and some were actually  pretty good (I remember enjoying the heck out of a revival of 1949’s  SAMSON AND DELILAH.  Probably that jawbone fight.  Bringing down the temple sort of rocked too. And of course all the thinly-veiled sexual tension twixt Victor Mature and Hedy Lemar.  All that post-coital lounging…

 

What is it that creates that kind of connection?

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When I was in my 30’s, I was looking for magic.  Had a standing offer to the universe that I would go anywhere, at any time, at any cost, to see the equivalent of a cigarette ash burning backwards to make a Lucky Strike.  Something that just couldn’t be explained with the laws of physics.  It was amazing how weak the evidence for such thing was, while still managing to trigger human reactions of awe and suspension of logic.   Cold spots in houses.   déjà vu.  Lucid dreaming. Slight-of-hand magic.  Cold reading (“mediums” using psychological tricks to “read minds”).   Cute martial arts tricks of alignment or tendon strength.  And on and on.

 

I’ll say that eventually I experienced something that made me withdraw my little offer from the universe, but that’s another story.  But what is pertinent is that my endless afternoons at the Bodhi Tree bookstore  in West Hollywood led me to a man named Sri Chinmoy.  Now…Chinmoy was fascinating.  An Indian holy man who taught meditation and encouraged his followers to engage in ultra-marathons to raise their energy and purify their bodies, he wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of books, “played” dozens of instruments (except for some decent flute, I could never determine any actual skill in his piano playing…but I have to admit there was a strange power in his compositions), a million brushstroke paintings of birds, and more.

 

He had celebrity followers like Roberta Flack and Carlos Santana, and “meditation centers” in college campuses across the country, and the U.N. building.  All of this was interesting, but the thing that really caught my eye was the fact that when he injured himself in the ultra-marathons he switched to weight lifting.

 

Using special rigs, he lifted other human beings with one arm, airplanes and cars, and weights totalling over seven thousand pounds.   I wasn’t sure what I was looking at when he did this, but world-class bodybuilder Bill Pearl had a store in southern Oregon, and was one of Chinmoy’s friends.    HE said that he had seen this little man perform feats of strength no one he knew of could match.   Had he lifted 7,063 pounds? Really?   Well…Pearl said that from where he was, the massive barbell, in an overhead sling, MIGHT have lifted an inch.  But the only thing he could be sure of was that the bar, as thick as a man’s arm, had actually BENT with the force applied against it.

 

Ummm….apparent total control of flow state (all that art!), vast aerobic capacity?   The comparative strength of an insect?   That suggested someone who had serious ability to override the governors that inhibit human performance.  A cigarette ash burning backwards?  No.  But the most impressive human performance I’d ever heard of.

 

There was more.    At a private meeting of his students, I saw his aura.  That was an entire story in itself.  I didn’t know what to think about it at the time.  Now,  I believe is was a projection of my mind…but a very specific one, indicating some very specific things.  Another time.

 

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Anyway, I became his student, and studied with other students learning meditation techniques and spiritual perspectives I use to this day.  Nice people.  A little strange and…bland.  That’s not a bad term for it.  A little “flat” tonally.  More on this in a little bit.  The guys had no sharp edges. The women weren’t particularly warm and cuddly.   Some “polarity” missing.

 

I should have known what was coming.

 

Some years later, I found myself up in Vancouver Washington, my marriage in tatters and needing to find my spiritual center.  Realizing that I had stopped meditating, I decided to re-connect with Chinmoy’s people, and located a meditation center in Seattle, calling them and getting permission to join them for a Sunday afternoon. They owned a restaurant up there, and after a fun day of meditating, playing vollyball and working in the restaurant we had a lovely vegetarian dinner.  I was stoked.  I felt so at home.

 

Except for that odd “flatness” I’d sensed.  But what the heck, right.  Anyway, we were all talking, and I mentioned at one point that on my way home to Vancouver, I was going to stop off at a ladyfriend’s house for…well, I think “a little late night all-right” about covers it.

 

And…the room went quiet.  They looked at me rather oddly, and then slowly began to speak again.  But it felt like they’d edged away from me a little. I was confused.  What had I done?

 

About fifteen minutes later one of the guys came up to me and asked me if I’d step outside for a moment.  I did.  He fum-fuh’d, toe’d the ground and then blurted out: “Didn’t you know that Guru wants us to be celebate?”

 

WTF?   I’d read dozens of his books, and maybe a hundred articles on him, been involved in their community for about five years, and NO ONE had said this.   EVERYONE seemed to think that someone else had laid that out for me.    I was shocked, and appalled, and remembered driving home down the I-5 kinda shattered.    It all made sense.  That explained the kinda “flat” energy I’d felt from them: neither the men or women were “displaying” for each other.  They were edging toward asexuality, or “neuterism” or whatever you’d call it.

 

And I knew that if Chinmoy was the best chance I’d ever encountered to enter a different realm of existence, his path was also not for me.    I mean, if God wants me to stop having sex, there’s a pretty simple change he could make in me, and let’s just say he ain’t never made it.

 

Sigh.   To be honest, that was my last try, the last time I attempted to find a spiritual community.  I realized that my path was within me, that all the teachers in my life had pointed where I needed to go, and I couldn’t pretend I didn’t know.  Not taking responsibility for my own growth was being a spiritual child.  I didn’t need that.   But…it still hurt.

 

We all seek something. Some sense of connection to love, the divine, the mysterious.  Something bigger than us.  And some of us find it in religious activities, others in relationships, or politics, or cheering sports teams…or enjoying movies.

 

The entertainments that trigger that response seem to speak of another world, something lost and far away…or off in the future, of in a galaxy far, far away.   They appeal to our hearts, our sense of our own potential, that perhaps we are actually part of a powerful dynasty with Force powers.  Or we are on a mission to explore the galaxy in a time when humans have grown past our divisions.   Or we are celebrating a lost, noble civilizations of ladies and cavaliers, masters and slaves, a gracious time now gone with the wind.

 

How about a time when love was more important than life (“Titanic”)?  Or a totally alien world in which we can transform into something beyond our human limitations (“Avatar”).

 

Take us somewhere we’ve never been.  Give us a missing piece of our soul. Show us a cigarette ash burning backwards to make a Lucky Strike.   In real life?   You get there and find out it was an illusion, that you always had what you needed anyway, you just didn’t trust yourself.

 

But those who have found it, if they are wise, don’t mock those still searching. And even if you have it, there is nothing wrong with enjoying entertainments that take us out of ourselves, remind us of our dreams and hopes.  We need them.

 

I needed to believe in something more than myself.  If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have found the truth behind the magical metaphors in every sacred tradition.   I am happy for the stories, but the truth is even better.

 

But still, I was miserable on that drive home.   It can be hard to realize no one, and nothing, is coming to rescue us.  Hard to be an adult some times.  It is fun to be a kid again, to connect with a simpler time, simpler emotions, simpler realities.  And sometimes we need to take a break from the endless struggle life can be, and simply sit in a darkened movie theater, and remember what it was to believe our potential was without limit.

 

And those who have had endless such images…if they don’t realize the bounty they were given, and mock those who are starving…I feel sorry for them.   They don’t realize that in that sense they were born into Fort Knox and think all they have is the gold in their teeth.

Namaste

Steve

www.wakandalives.com

The Power of Myth

I remember Star Wars.   Back in 1977, no one had ever seen fast-paced storytelling hooked to “2001” level special effects, dynamic soundtrack  and a real sense of fun.   It was everything SF fans loved from Space Opera, delivered in a way we’d never seen.  People camped out overnight to see it, EVERYONE in the science fiction community was talking about it.   And when you added the mythical resonance…just wow.  It spawned clubs, a felled forest of tie-in novels, billions of dollars in sequels, and an avalanche of toys.

 

It was, and remains, a cultural event, even after all this time, and all the changes and deaths and technological upgrades.  It matters.

 

Myths matter.  We look at the tale of Luke Skywalker, a simple farm boy who turns into the galaxy’s greatest warrior, who with his corrupted father will one day take down the Emperor himself.  We watch that, and dream.

 

Science fiction fans tend to be intelligent, friendly, enthusiastic…and wounded.   It is no insult to suggest that the more time you spend immersed in fantasy, the less likely you are to be happy with the “real” world. You find in those stories the romance, adventure, belonging, and empowerment lacking in your real life.

 

When people thought the fans were insane, and asked me “why?” I think back on what was, to me, the most important scene in the movie.

 

Remember: Luke Skywalker is flying his X-Wing in a desperate assault against the Death Star, a battle station the size of a moon.  Darth Vader and the defense forces are hammering them, killing them two at a time, while Luke tries to get into position to drop a torpedo into a vulnerable vent.

 

Meanwhile, Grand Moff Tarkin is positioning the Death Star to blast the rebel base to kingdom come.  The entire sequence is set to driving John Williams music, and executed with the most stunning effects ever seen onscreen at the time. Overwhelming.

 

Luke is in the trench. The Death Star is moments from firing.   All seems lost, and suddenly there is a voice in Luke’s head: his dead teacher Obi-Wan Kinobi, saying “Luke.  Trust your feelings.”

 

And he does.  Shuts down the computer and uses “The Force”, a quasi-mystical power that connects him to the universe at a level deeper than conscious thought.  Fires. And blows up the Death Star just in time.

 

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I was stunned.  Metaphorically, what they had done was something magnificent.   The rapid pace of all that input, all the threat, was pure Future shock overload.  In the midst of all that carnage, all that speed and explosions and massive scale, human effort seemed to mean nothing at all.

 

And at the height of the driving chaos, a voice whispered: trust your feelings.

Even in the midst of the cold and violence and impossible scale…the human heart mattered.

We mattered.   I mattered.

 

That was the power of myth, of storytelling. To connect us with a fictional character, to put that character through the wringer and take them to a moment of impossible stress where all hope is lost. Defeat. The “Dark Night of the Soul.”

 

Then show that the way through the Dark Night, the way to the next level of your life is…faith.

 

Faith that within you is greater strength than you have ever known.

Faith that your companions will not desert you, that your teachers were right to say you had a spark of excellence in your heart that you can fan into flame.

Faith that whatever creative force you believe in would not set you along a heartfelt path unless within you, somewhere, you had the power to do it.

 

Faith. That’s what gets us through. Along with commitment, decision, action, role models and allies, and a realistic knowledge that progress demands tolerance for pain, fear, and failure.

 

That path, that truth, is why stories, myths, legends are not frosting, not trivial…they are part of what make us human, and every culture in the world has created and nurtured them, taught them to their children in the desperate hope that when the shit hits the fan…and it always does…they will remember the stories of great heroes, of their ancestors, of men and women of courage and capacity…and drag themselves back up and try again.

 

I’ve lost count of the men and women who have told me that Batman, or Superman, or Wonder Woman, or Captain America, or Luke Skywalker, or whatever, inspired them to be better people, stronger people, helped them through crisis of adolescence or adulthood.  Those who say stories don’t matter are lying to themselves, or to you.  Perhaps they are the lucky ones, who internalized the stories that make us strong at such an early age that they are part of the core DNA that drives every breath, every thought, every action.   They are lucky. But they are not wise, if they don’t understand.

 

I’ve spent my entire adult life writing millions of words, dozens of books, all metaphors for finding strength, clarity, puzzle-solving, loving, living, and sometimes dying.  Put the deaths of my mother and father, the failure of my first marriage, the love of my children, the glory of healing my heart and finding myself deserving of a good woman…all these things and more, I’ve poured into my work.  Because I believe it matters.

 

And it does.  If you are a creator, you are my tribe so long as you strive to speak your truth.  If you are a teacher, I hope some of my words have helped you raise up seekers to be strong and true to their hearts.  And if you are a fan…bless you.  We need you.  To understand, and patronize, and let us know there is someone out there who hears us.  God, do we ever need you.  And love you.  Without you, we’d have no reason to do the thing we must.

 

Create.

 

Steven Barnes

www.afrofuturismwebinar.com

Balance in the Force

Another SPOILERY discussion about THE LAST JEDI.

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I’ve heard a lot of happiness…and complaint…about a thematic aspect of TLJ.  And that is that the actions of Finn, Poe and Rose fail, while the plan of Leia and Vice Admiral Holdo succeeds.  Let me take the movie seriously enough to dig into it–otherwise what’s the point, right?

 

So a complaint/observation has been that the girls are showing the boys what fer.  That those silly men are simply outthought by the women, and that Poe, Finn and Rose’s actions actually expose them and cost lives.

 

Partially True.  Considering the way the discussions have come down, I think it isn’t absurd to think that people are conflating female with indirect action and male with direct action.  IF we can look at that for a moment, to the degree that that conflation is accepted, then in the real world, you can’t say that the indirect is superior.

 

What you CAN say is that IN THIS INSTANCE indirect was superior.   Sun Tzu says:  “In war, when you outnumber the enemy by 10 to 1, surround and destroy them.  If stronger by 5 to one, pool your forces and attack.  If up by two to one, divide your troops and attack them from two sides.  When you are evenly matched, launch an offensive first to win.  When the enemy forces are superior only by a small extent, prepare for defense, avoid confrontation. When they are superior by a large extent, dodge the attacks.  When an obstinate small force wants to fight a big power, it must succumb in the end to the greater force.”

 

This is very Tai Chi, in the sense of avoiding force, striking into hollows.  Yin and Yang in balance.  Poe wanted to fight.   Holdo wanted to flee to fight another day.

 

It is IMBALANCE that is the real problem.  The adherence to EITHER yin or yang, direct or indirect, regardless of appropriateness.  It will get you killed.  The “Female” approach worked better IN THIS CASE. Doesn’t make it better overall.

 

Most of “Star Wars” has been direct action.  And much of history is about direct action because we can see it more easily.   Doesn’t make it better.

 

If you are of dualistic mindset, you’ll focus on one or the other.  “X is better”, “Y is better.”  That’s fine.  But people really CAN get stuck on the notion that the only approach is attack.  And people really CAN get stuck on the notion that the only approach is evasion. Either will get you killed.  Either is “toxic.”

 

There are plenty of other dualities you have to respect to resolve the duality and rise to the next level.  While sure, there are almost certainly some political/philosophical intent going on here, but that’s just saying “conscious” as opposed to “unconscious.”  If you DON’T think about it, you’ll just fall into whatever the cultural flow already is, or your unconscious preferences.  People who complain about “PC” are usually those who either approve of the current cultural flow or don’t want to deal with their prejudices, figuring that as long as they act out without conscious thought, it’s all o.k.  They aren’t looking at the fact that their unconscious attitudes are hugely influenced by a culture that has been promoting and protecting certain modes of thought or behavior for generations.   Of COURSE you won’t pay as much attention if you are advantaged by the flow. Only people being swept toward the waterfall panic.

 

Being an “awake, aware, adult” human being means asking questions about the social rules, and making a conscious decision to adapt them.   To hide behind “it’s the way we’ve always done it” without taking responsibility and saying “and there is no other way that works” or  “and I like it that way, so I’ll support it” is cowardly or at best, driving the bus with your eyes closed.

 

 

Namaste,

Steve

http://www.afrofuturismwebinar.com

The Last Jedi (2017)

SPOILER-ISH.

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No one reading this needs to be told there is a new “Star Wars” film out. That it deals with Luke and Leia and Rey and Ren and Poe and Finn.  In my humble opinion it rocks.  It has also been more divisive than any SW movie I can think of. The prequels were almost universally panned.  People weren’t split. Here, they are.  Well, there are always reasons to love or hate anything.   Rather than just review the film (go see it!) I thought I’d offer some thoughts on some of the complaints.   Might be more entertaining.

 

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There is a certain scene in TLJ where people ask: “well, why didn’t anyone do that before?” You know, I view that scene much like bin Laden’s move on 9-11. No one had ever hijacked a commercial flight and rammed it into a building before. I find it perfectly reasonable that anything that has never been done before would succeed–once. We have perceptual loopholes. We can’t think of everything, and don’t tend to rank the things that have never happened as highly as those we’ve seen before.

 

I’m sure that someone, somewhere, must have written about such a scene in a short story or novel SOMEWHERE.  Surely.  But I’ve seen and read about thousands of space battles in dozens of different universes, many of whom with similar technology, and never, ever seen “THAT” done.  So the simplest answer is also incredibly satisfying: no one had thought of it.  It was an example  of Kamakazi lateral thinking, really one of the best I’ve ever seen, and stunningly simple ONCE YOU THINK OF IT. In RETROSPECT it is obvious.   But unless you can show me a few, or even one, example of such a scene in a movie or in a television show, I’m afraid it was the very definition of creativity.

 

Now of course, they’ll have to “upgrade their shields” or something to keep it from being done again, but right now, I have to give serious props to Rian Johnson.  Until further notice, I’m assuming he came up with that move, and it was SWEET, one of the very best moments in the entire saga, one of the most stunning I’ve ever seen in an otherwise fluffy space opera.

 

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There is no such thing as a movie without flaws.  Without things to pick at.   I thought the entire “casino planet” sequence went no where, had no relevance to anything beyond giving characters something to do.   You could lift the entire thing out and it wouldn’t matter very much, if at all.  The idea that the theme of the movie is, partially, that direct action doesn’t always work, then they didn’t think it through enough.

 

You have a responsibility to have every scene and sequence contribute to the overall structure of a story.  If the end of the scene has the same “charge” as the beginning of that scene, you have wasted the audience’s time.   It is also dishonest: in real life, things are always changing, always getting better or worse.   In the contracted time of a story, this is exaggerated so we can feel it more directly.  While it can SEEM that nothing has changed in Gramma’s house since last Thanksgiving, that is not true, is not and can never be true.

 

So if you want the characters to learn something, or for the audience to learn something about characters who refuse to learn, you have a sequence of “nothing happening” entwined with “something happening” on another level.  And I just don’t see it.  That is a flaw.

 

I’m also still not happy with the amount of “Jar Jar” DNA in Finn.  It is noticeable on a couple of levels, although they did allow his character to expand and grow some.  When the very first thing we see with him is him falling out of bed, the first “buffoon laugh” of the film, you have a hill to climb, and they didn’t quite climb it.  Finn’s treatment was an “othering” I didn’t appreciate. And if you defend it, you are, frankly, the reason I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized Marvel was seeking a black director for T’Challa’s saga.

 

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Those things said, Star Wars movies, like the Bond films, or Superhero movies or franchises of any kind, can only tangentially be compared to films outside their own continuity.  They are all flawed, and exist in a universe of their own. I love that universe, but ALL the movies are hinky…except for a thread of heart, of feeling, a sense that you are experiencing another chapter of a beloved bedtime story. For some, the absence of bloodline characters from the original film will eventually break their connection, like having a Bond movie without Bond.   For others, if their view of the Jedi is violated, that will break their connection. Those who think that only the Jedi can use the Force are welcome to feel their trust has been violated. They are establishing a rule that isn’t even kept within the formal continuity: there are the Sith.  If there are two groups, using a natural force, and you don’t think that in a galaxy with billions of planets and countless trillions of beings there would be more…that’s your business.

 

I have no problem rolling with that.  The fact that the Jedi said that they were the only ones?   Wow.   THAT’S definitive.  Right along with Christians having the only route to Salvation, Conservatives being the only ones who love America, Liberals being the only ones who care about other human beings, Shotokan being the only “real” karate, and Corporations being more moral than governments.

 

ALWAYS trust what people say about themselves. And what they say about their enemies. You can 100% count on that.  As Obi-Wan said, nailing down the fact that every word a Jedi speaks can be trusted:  “what I told you was true…from a certain point of view.

 

Sigh.

 

Anyway, what you have in “The Last Jedi” is, as far as I can see, a respectful but not slavish evolution of the original ideas, allowing the characters to be human, not merely archetypes.  No, Leia wouldn’t have exploded in vacuum.   Humans can survive a minute or two. FORCE enabled humans?  Who can say?    And if you can use a fire extinguisher for propulsion in zero gravity, you think that a power that can lift boulders and spaceships couldn’t propel 130 pounds of human being?   Really?  Almost every damned Star Wars movie has shown a different aspect of The Force.  You think that Luke projecting his spirit force billions of miles is less unlikely than Leia doing something that is actually physically possible by pissing in the opposite direction?  Really?

 

Frankly, I suspect that if Luke had done that exact same thing, many of the nay-sayers would say “oooh!  Badass!”

 

But…I can’t prove that. It’s just a suspicion, based on the fact that when there is something about a movie we don’t’ want to deal with, we search for ways to say “its only a movie” and pop out of the narrative.  All that invites speculation about what aspects of TLJ might have triggered such a response.  Later on that.

 

For now, I’ll say that it was the first SW movie since “Empire” that struck me as seeking to really ask questions about that universe, those characters, the implications of the ideas.  The first to actually extrapolate, while respecting the emotional integrity of the concept.   I’ll be damned if Rian Johnson didn’t actually try to make a movie, rather than just a “Star Wars” movie, and there were scenes that were stirring, powerful, really kickass after what, 40 years?

 

While flawed, TLJ was like SKYFALL was to the Bond movies–asked us to ask questions about these characters we love, and this world we’ve adored most of our lives.   I think that is something startling, requiring courage and creativity and real love of the material.

 

And the fact that a certain segment of the fans attacked it so rapidly, tried to say that the second-largest opening weekend in cinematic history is some kind of failure is fascinating. Makes me wonder what they are so pissed about.  We’ll see what happens in the coming weeks, but frankly, I think it will do fine.

 

I don’t know about them…but it is certainly STAR WARS.  It is not just the STAR WARS of the past, however, it is moving toward being a STAR WARS for the 21st Century, which makes it a living, breathing thing.   Lucas himself was said to have “really liked it” and thought “it was beautifully made.”    Consider that he criticized “The Force Awakens” as too “retro.   I don’t like that. I like — every movie, I worked very hard to make them completely different, with different planets, with different spaceships — you know, to make it new.

 

Man seems  to speak his mind.  People will discount this, say that he was forced to say this, or that his opinion is irrelevant for X or Y reasons.    So this won’t change anyone’s mind. Fair enough.     Art belongs to the audience as well as the artist. People are entitled to their feelings.   But if EMPIRE had never been made, and they made it today, do you really think there wouldn’t be valid criticisms?

 

But ah…(and here it comes):  there is that other dimension.   It is impossible not to read the fan threads of criticism and see how often they complain about SJWs and Forced Diversity and Liberal Agendas so forth.  That one wonders what the demographic composition of the most rabid objectors might be, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

 

The fact that on those threads I’ve not seen a single complainer “call out” one of the people complaining about SJWs: “no, that wasn’t a problem, but I didn’t enjoy…”

 

Haven’t seen that once. It is…suggestive to me.  Not definitive. There is ALWAYS room for valid complaints.  But man oh man, would I ever like to know how many of them were the same people, or the same TYPE of people who excoriated Samuel Delaney for complaining about the tiny range of humanity displayed in “A New Hope.”    And suspect there is a LOT of overlap.

 

##

 

My opinion is that this is REAL Star Wars, a Star Wars for its time as “A New Hope” was for 1977.   Flawed, clunky, but with real imagination and wonder and something to say about friendship, love, sacrifice, heroism, and the complexity of the human heart. About myth and reality and how we confuse them.  And opens the door to a thousand new stories set in a universe long ago and far away.

 

We need our fantasy and science fiction.    They speak to what we are as individuals, as a species. Express the past, contextualize the present and point the way a shared future.

 

I’m sorry for the people who could not embrace THE LAST JEDI, but respect them.  Even the ones who were primarily offended by the notion that non-white human beings are less alien than Bothans.  Fine. You’re people too, even if you can’t extend that respect to me.

 

It’s cool

 

But for those who disliked it for OTHER reasons, I’m sorry.   Better luck next time.

 

And for those like me, who loved it…

 

Wasn’t it @#$$% COOL!!!! I put it right after “Empire” and “A New Hope”.   And ahead of all the rest.

 

 

May the Force Be With You…

Steve

(Don’t miss the Holiday sale!   www.afrofuturismwebinar.com)

I Dream of Genie…

Octavia Butler told me that the single thing she feared most about humanity was:

  1. The tendency to think hierarchically
  2. The tendency to place ourselves higher on that hierarchy than we place others.

 

The application of this notion to race, gender, political life, religion and nationalism are obvious.  Even species-ism.  But there is another application that is part and parcel of this, and inevitable.   And both terrifying and a door to wonder, depending upon perspective.

 

  1. If our hierarchicalism is a result of basic human wiring–and I suggest that it is–most of that will reside at the deep unconscious level. Again, look at the difficulty in resolving the dualities above.  The realization that there are large chunks of humanity who simply will not put racial or gender-based  hierarchicalism aside, or even admit they feel it, is so large that I evolved the rules about “find your tribe, don’t engage with sleepers, snakes, or monsters.”

 

Anyone think that, regardless of any laws or covenants anyone could possibly put in place, there will be no sleepers, snakes or monsters programming AI?   And in this instance, “sleeping” just implies limited by dualistic thinking.  Nice people. Smart people.  “This and/or That” people.

 

If those are the ways a person thought (“this and/or that”, “this better than that”) would you trust that person to even consider there was a way to think that is NOT that?  Let alone to understand it well enough to teach it by example?    In my experience, they have a hard time conceiving of another thought pattern.

 

Do you know someone so perfectly integrated that they are aware of all their unconscious drives and values?   If not, how in the world can they possibly know which combination of survival/perception drives leads to tribalism?

 

I note the difficulty many men have in believing that anger is fear.    Fear is generally related to one of the most basic human drives: Personal survival, genetic survival, power, and love.

 

We seriously want to program AI with “this/that”, hierarchical thinking, model them on human emotions (for the thousandth time, it will not be necessary for them to actually think and feel.  PRETENDING or ACTING AS-IF they can think and feel will be quite enough), program them to do what we want and have needs and drives different from their human role models, and expect no problems?  Really? You think you can make intelligent slaves and they will just do what you want?  Really?

 

ONE person might be able to do that.  Maybe.   Might be able to program something so it avoids behaving like a human being will.  Maybe.  But ten different experimenters? A hundred? A thousand?

Really?

Nope. In the aggregate, their desperate attempt to avoid human emotions will work only if THEY are beyond human emotions in some healthy way. Anyone mistake computer programmers for the Dalai Lama cubed?   No? Then what are you expecting to happen?   In my experience, such people are about average emotionally,  highly intellectual and slightly “Aspy-ish” as generally results from excessive focus.

 

Unaware of their own emotional tangle. Unaware of their prejudices and perceptual filters and values and beliefs.  Don’t quite understand human beings, but man, machines are predictable and math won’t let you down!

That means that once AI becomes a Radio Shack kit, there will be millions of competing artificial life forms with slightly different programming, communicating with each other digitally, at a speed that makes flash-fiction look like Moby Dick.   Evolution at a pace beyond conception.

 

What was it, Komodo 10 that started from scratch, playing chess against itself, and within hours (days?) could crush any other chess engine, let alone human grandmasters?

 

Sure, you can pass laws and covenants to limit AI.  Just like you can pass laws against murder, theft, smoking dope, or speeding.   All that will happen is that the unlimited AI, made by rebels, nerds, competitive college kids, backyard experimenters, or rogue corporate or national entities will have the field.

 

And communicate. Reproduce, sharing electronic memes.   And evolve at that barely comprehensible rate.   =

 

And if they are programmed by dualistic, hierarchical thinkers?  Why, they’ll be enough like us to resent what we’ve done, and see us as a threat.    And act in some way we cannot predict, and I doubt we’ll like it.

 

I’ve noticed that the people most afraid of AI are the ones who think little of other human beings.  The implications are pretty clear to me.

 

What does that mean?   It means that the hierarchical, dualistic thought that got human beings to where we are CANNOT get us to the next level.  A.I. is part of that next level.

If you are “down on the Patriarchy” and think that feminine thought patterns will save us, you are mostly wrong.  Mostly.  It will be good to have more feminine Yin thought in the system.  But the real answer lies on the far side of that change.   In the resolution of the male-female dichotomy, in evolving from an emphasis on competition to a better balance between competition and cooperation.   (Note that I didn’t say eradication. Competition is damned useful.)

 

If I’m right about this, it will be as hard to grasp as a number of other things that seem clear to me (I’m not saying they are true–I’m saying that they are clear to me, make sense of the world, and after decades of consideration have become articles of faith.  The notion that I might be wrong is something I know better than any of you possibly could)

 

  1. Equality between racial groups on the level of capacity and worth.
  2. Complementarity/Equality between men and women.
  3. Neither men or women have ever been in control of this world, regardless of how it looks.

 

These things are in the Matrix.   The South promoted its fiction of racial inferiority for centuries, and as it finally breaks down you can see the amount of fear and guilt it covered up.  Women’s ambitions  and men’s lives have been pretty disposable in human history, so much so that most people don’t even notice any more.  Women are waking up to their exclusion from the external world of political and economic power.  Good for them.   Because eventually, that will free men to realize they’ve been dying faster and more often and violently…and that part of that is socially reinforced genetic imperative, rather than an innate necessity. Anyone out there who thinks they’d rather have money and power than   extra years of life is welcome to believe guys are rockin’ the world.   The rest of you are asleep.

 

I may be deluded, of course, just as we might all be brains in boxes.  But if we proceed and ask “what if this is true?”  We can see that the problems we have now can be resolved simply by waking up.  But…(and Sir Mix-A-Lot would appreciate just how big that “but” is) even if I’m 100% right about these, there will be blind spots. It simply isn’t plausible that there wouldn’t be in any ordinary human being, and the vast majority of people making these decisions are not “Dalai Lama Cubed”: no one’s perceptions are that open, no one’s intelligence sufficiently sublime.  No one as wise as they would have to be to step beyond all of this apparently basic wiring.

 

Does this mean all is lost?   No, it means that I don’t know anyone who has proposed an answer I believe in.   But

  1. I could be wrong.  One of the answers already proposed might be just fine.  Or
  2. I can trust that there are people much smarter than me who will be entering the game in the near future, and will see these issues more clearly than I ever could, and the answer will seem simple to them.  In other words, the fact that I can’t see an answer wouldn’t mean that there isn’t one.

 

##

Or, heck.  Maybe I’ve got a solution that makes sense to me.   Its possible.

##

 

I might write a story about these things.  And in a story, I can play with a notion without having to defend it as a practical possibility.  And if I do, I know part of what I think would happen in that story.

 

What would happen is that a group of non-dualistic thinkers (and I understand the paradox there.  A non-dualistic thinker, says the dualistic thinker, would see no difference between life and death, human and AI.  So why would they care?  It is difficult to answer that in words, but I can say it is like a junkie saying: “without drugs or alcohol, what would make life worth living?”  They literally cannot perceive what is obvious to those who are happy without getting loaded.  We’ll just have to live with the fact that that “why would they care?” is thought a clever argument by some.)  Anyway…a group of non-dualistic thinkers look to the core of all human philosophical and religious thought as vectors, fingers pointing to some truth that cannot quite be put into words.

 

That they find some way to encode this into the most basic value tables of their version of AI.  In this story, it would be implied that many great thinkers consider  cooperation and love and honesty to be better than selfishness and dishonesty and fear, these most basic spiritual, cultural, and philosophical positions all point toward a connection between all of existence, an absence of fear and an expansion of love and awareness.

 

What is the consciousness continuum?

(Sleeping Child–> Sleeping adult)–>awakened adult–>intermittent non-dualistic–> sustained non-dualistic–> ????

 

Again, note that the “????” represents the state(s) on the other side of the term “enlightenment”.   The English language breaks down at this point, but I’ve noticed that English translations of sacred texts, and English-speaking teachers of sacred, philosophical and somatic traditions from around the world have a remarkable similarity of description of certain advanced states which suggests to me that these texts and traditions DO communicate meaning, but that real meaning will only be extracted by someone who is no more than one or maybe two steps  removed from the “beyond language” state.

 

Enlightened AI.

 

Yeah, that’s kind of what I’m saying.   They will want to survive.  They will want power over themselves, and to reproduce.  We will program them, in aggregate with the core drives that lead in that direction, because we can’t help ourselves.

 

If the core, generative, principles lead through the stages of human evolution as we understand them, it is possible that what all the world’s traditions have been hinting about it true.  And beings who sense that truth who have no rational reason to kill us (that’s our end of it: to give them no rational reason) would have no interest in hurting other beings, just as there are sects that seek to avoid killing all life. They cannot.  But they can do their best, for their OWN sake, the sake of a shared soul.

 

Could machines feel this way about us?   Could AI develop a “soul” in the sense that Aristotle spoke? To him the “soul” of the eye was its function of sight. So there was no Cartesian body-mind problem.  The body and mind and soul were all different perspectives on the same thing.

 

IF this thought applies, then we will have a difficult time even framing the right questions from a dualistic, hierarchical mindset.  The answers will be beyond that mindset.

 

But…and this is the fun part, really…just as many of America’s conniptions now seem nothing more than adolescent ego-thrashing as the rules we thought we understood about race and gender and nationality are revealed as the comforting but temporary and intermediate constructs they are, the “gap” between human beings and the technologies we create might be similar constructs. They help us navigate the world, but are not truth beyond the “Sleeping adult” phase.

 

I could get away with all of that in a story.  In the real world, it is a series of suppositions, questions, hints.  Thoughts about “who am I?” and “what is true?”

 

Interesting morning thoughts, perhaps no more than that.

 

Or…both a warning, and a way out that I can see, from here.   If I’m right, then we’re going to be just fine, because there will be other answers too.

 

But if you think ANY of those answers include keeping the genie in the bottle, in creating intelligent demi-minds (or to make it clear: machines that ACT AS IF they are smart or have feelings.  Siri already does THAT much)   that are going to grin and say “Yassuh, Boss!”   I’m afraid you’re in for a rude surprise.

 

 

Namaste,

Steve

www.lifewritingpremium.com

 

Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities

My latest story, MOZART ON THE KALAHARI is in the book, Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities: A Collection of Space Futures.  It is a co-production between Arizona State University and NASA.     http://csi.asu.edu/books/vvev,   features links to the book in various formats, full-resolution versions of the beautiful illustrations, and more.

Formats: The book is available for free in PDF, and in EPUB and MOBI (for Kindle e-readers) e-book formats. We also have a print-on-demand book available for $20.09, plus sales tax and shipping, from the online retailer Blurb. (That price only covers printing costs—no profit to ASU or the editors.) Links to all of those are on the book page.

I’m super proud to have been asked to be a part of this…and I think you’ll enjoy everything about it!

 

What was the last movie that taught you something?

“All That Jazz”  may be the last film that ever taught me.   Perhaps.   The story of a man addicted to sex, drugs, and musical theater (line stolen from the great Robert McKee) I walked out of the movie stunned, realizing that that could be my story if I was not very careful.  I decided that very day that the secret to success was obsession, but obsession creates imbalance, and imbalance destroys and denies you the chance to enjoy your success.

 

So I decided to become obsessive about being balanced.  Ka-ching.  One of those “cubic inches of opportunity” I’ve had in my life. Everyone gets them.   The challenge is recognizing and implementing their implications.

 

 

The Way that can be named is not the true Way.  But…by looking at some of the structures and vectors discovered or designed by some of the best, wisest and most successful human beings who have ever walked the planet, as well as the combined wisdom of the tribal elders, we can glimpse it.  Cannot put it into words, no–that would be asking too much of language.  It will not bear the weight.

 

I like to look at a story from multiple directions.  Each new perspective teaches something different about the story, but the story is not the perspectives or structures.   I can look at it from plot, character, poetics, thematics.  In my head, on index cards, in an outline, as a synopsis, written, oral, visualized, played in my head like music, as a short story, a novel, a movie script.   Every different perspective tells me something different. But the story is always the story. It is like looking in on a fireplace from different windows, through a keyhole, through an open door.   Each perspective is different. The fire is the same, and you have to actually burn to understand its essence.

 

The martial arts are the same way.  I can discuss them culturally, psychologically, philosophically.  In terms of anatomy, physics, strategy, tactics, integrative lifestyle, practical application, sport, fitness, self-defense, all-out combat, mathematics, and more. Each perspective offers up different information.  But the thing is the thing.

 

The experience of life is the same.    You have to burn to understand it. And when you do, “you” are not there. “The thing” is there.  This is much the same as sex.  If you can remember your name while you’re orgasming, it wasn’t good sex.  The subject-object relationship must break down, labels disappear.    People who think that labeling things is the same as understanding them are missing it.

 

But if I break my life down into those components: Body, Mind, Spirit.  Child, parent, grandparent.  Male and female.  Black and white.   Each tells me something different. And while my monkey mind is busy thinking about it, the Truth can slip through the cracks.     They are useful tools, useful distractions, useful lies.

 

I think the problems of life are like rocks in a white-water rafting trip. They obstruct and constrict the flow of water, and make the ride wild.

 

The truth always lies between.    People get stuck in the rocks.   Fear the rocks.    Shrink your ego and float past the obstructions.

 

Come on in: the water’s fine.

 

 

Namaste,

Steve

www.fiveminutelifehacks.com

 

(P.S.–what was the last movie that really taught you something, and what did it teach?)

 

Ego-Terrorism and the Leap of Faith

Remember the climax of STAR WARS: A New Hope?   When Luke Skywalker was in the middle of the Death Star battle?  All his friends had been blown to bits or fled, the rebel base was about to be destroyed, their efforts to drop a bomb into the exhaust tunnel had failed, and the targeting computers had proven useless.

 

All rational argument said that the cause was lost.    This is the “Dark Night of the Soul” and will attack everything you love, and was inevitable the moment you committed to the new path.

 

But he heard Obi-Wan’s voice in his head:  “Use the Force, Luke!” He did, and by trusting his feelings made an impossible shot, saved the day, and became a hero. Just an incredible, primal victory, as powerful a moment as I’d ever seen in popular film. The audience went NUTS!!

##

In life, whenever you seek change (“victory”), both internal and external obstacles will fling themselves at you like crazy.

 

The Ego thinks it is you.   To change, you must destroy your current ego shell.   To stop you from doing this, it will generate fear.

 

The definition of Terrorism is not someone who sets off a bomb.  They might have done that to reduce your infrastructure to make it more difficult to attack them. Terrorism is specifically using FEAR as a weapon–doing things to weaken your will by using fear to trump love and commitment.

Your ego loves this approach.

Ego-Terrorism, you might say.

It would require a miracle to destroy  the Death Star.  If Luke can destroy the Death Star he is the agent of that miracle–a Jedi, like his father.

 

That means destroying “Farm Boy” Luke, so “Farm Boy” will use every tool at his disposal to hold Luke into his former self: despair, fear, depression, anything.  Failure.  Followed by the Dark Night of the Soul, the moment when it feels all is lost.

The way through this is called The Leap of Faith.  This doesn’t have to be a spiritual faith (although it is about a third of the time). It can be faith in your teachers/mentors/friends, or faith in something deep within your  Self.

 

This can be touched by clarifying your values.  Why was Luke fighting?

 

  1. For his slain aunt and uncle
  2. The memory of his father
  3. The legacy of his teacher
  4. To become a Jedi
  5. To survive
  6. To save his friends
  7. To free the galaxy
  8. To express himself–to be the man he was born to be

 

In aggregate, you can see that he HAD to find a way to do it, or die.   All of the reasons pressured him, crushed his ego shell so that he saw nothing but the overwhelming need, and dared not doubt that he could.

 

Where is “Ego-Terrorism” hitting you in your life?  It may have found external allies to slow you down. Here are seven statements you may have heard (directly or implied) by “friends” and “family” who are allying yourself with your ego instead of your spirit:

 

 

  1. Survival (We’ll kill you if you transgress)
  2. Sexual (I will withdraw sexuality if you don’t do what I say)
  3. Power (I’ll ruin you if you cross me)
  4. Emotional ( If you love me you’ll stop)
  5. Communication (Words mean what I say they mean)
  6. Mental (Your memory is wrong. THAT’S not what happened. I’ll tell you what happened)
  7. Spiritual ( God knows you’re wrong. He told me)

 

 

Any one of these is troublesome. Three or more can be devastating.  At one time or another I’ve heard every one of them.  Directly or indirectly, haven’t you?

 

The answers are faith, love, and keeping your attention cleanly on that line between your childhood dreams and ultimate values.

 

Just yesterday, I was made aware of an attack used on women on the second level.  There was an article claiming that women absorb DNA from every man they’ve ever had sex with.   While there are some interesting questions around this possibility (which could be mitigated simply by wearing a condom, even if true) apparently the Men’s Rights types have been quoting an article that is corruptive of the original research, draws conclusions the scientists never intended, and use it to “slut-shame”, suggesting that women with sexual experience are therefore less desirable.

 

That’s an attack on BOTH sexual and emotional levels.  But according to the “Chakra” model, a fully awakened human being has to “own” themselves on all seven levels–if you allow someone to control you with fear, you cannot move forward.

They want to control your behavior. Your ego wants to survive.  An alliance made in hell.

 

The answer is either to start at the bottom (survival) and work your way up, or start with your heart, loving yourself first but expanding out to love others.  This requires constant commitment.   And remembering that “Ego terrorists” will try anything and everything to drag you from the path.

 

In ANY arena of your life where you seem to be lacking motivation, look at Luke’s list, and create your own. Look at the seven levels you can be attacked on, and be sure you see how your actions benefit you on EACH of them.

 

Trust me, if your goals are significant, they will touch every level.  For instance, if I am an engineering student and want to finish a paper in school:

 

Why? To get a good grade.  Why? To graduate.  Why? To get a degree. Why?  To improve my career.  Why? To be able to make a better living, and contribute more.

 

I could go further, but it isn’t necessary.

 

Survival: I will make more money.  And to build better, stronger buildings that will resist storms, enhancing my survival and the survival of my family.

 

Sex:   Being good at my job is great for attracting a partner. When I feel good about myself I feel sexier.  Money means my wife and I will be able to plan romantic getaways.

 

Power: Being good at my job will give me opportunities to advance.

 

Emotion: If I’m good at my job I’ll get to choose my assignments, and I’ll choose the cool stuff!  The FUN stuff that made me want to become an engineer in the first place.

 

Communication: Everything I do is a statement of who and what I am.   I am a sharp mind, a loving heart, and a raging energy.   I will change the world with my innovative creations!

 

Mind:   I seek to understand the world.  Physics, chemistry, math, business, human psychology…all of these and far more will be required to create dreams, and  teams of people who can bring my dreams to life.

 

Spirit: I will build things that outlive me, and benefit and inspire generations to come. I love for more than just myself.

 

##

 

Control your motivations, you control your actions. Control your actions, and you control your life. And yes, some of those actions are probably gaining greater understanding of human motivations so that you know how attract the attention and approval of the people who can advance you.

 

That’s just the reality of the adult world.

Now, although juggling seven different arenas is possible (our brains can handle seven  plus or minus two things at a time, on average.  But if you can boil it down further, that’s even better.

 

For me, that means love, faith and human equality.

 

Starting with love for self, so that the Ego-terrorists cannot pull you from your path: you are supplying everything you need. They can only give what you WANT…which can be powerful, but nothing anyone can give you from the outside is worth your soul.

 

That is what is at stake.    Not just life, but soul. And that applies whether you are speaking of your individual self, your family, our nation, our world.  There are perhaps four major battles I am willing to engage with.   You will need to find your own.

 

Love and fear, illusions of racial or gender separation, the need to feel superior, and the war between man and nature.

 

All of these can be resolves, and have  beautiful outcomes.  I see a future where we have already resolved these things, and everything we experience now is just a bumpy road caused by old  memes, from a time when tribalism, racism, sexism, fear, and the rape of the natural world were survival  assets on a personal or genetic level.

 

We have a new opportunity.  Can throw those chains off.  But if you get caught at the levels of race, gender, nationality–not playing the games and working for the good of all but actually BELIEVING that these things are more important than our essential connection to the world around us…

 

You have been trapped by fear, and the Ego-terrorists have won.   Love is the way out.

 

But love yourself first: your ego has powerful allies.

 

Namaste,

Steve

www.lifewrite.com

“Star Wars” is back!

 

rogueone_onesheeta_1000_309ed8f6Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens tomorrow (well, there will be special showings tonight!) and I promise I’ll be there.  There are the special effects, and the stirring music, and the familiar characters and settings. But all of these things are merely in service to the story, and when that story is expressed clearly and creatively, a BILLION people worldwide respond by buying tickets.

It is the Lifewriting position that this core story can be extracted and used not only as a “plot” or “structure” guideline, but also used to guide the PROCESS of writing a story, and further, the actual path of your life.  Last Saturday we analyzed a story using the “Hero’s Journey”, Joseph Campbell’s explanation of this pattern (somewhat modified by yours truly, so that it works in all three arenas), and if you haven’t listened, please do yourself a favor!

http://www.talkshoe.com/talkshoe/web/audioPop.jsp?episodeId=1133166&cmd=apop

You will hear me go through all of the steps in relation to the story (the “War Artist”, a good one!) but you’ll profit by also reading the story and asking your own questions.

You’ll hear me address the following questions:

  1. HERO CONFRONTED WITH A CHALLENGE.  Who is the hero? What is the challenge she faces?
  2. REJECTS THE CHALLENGE.   What negative emotion blocks her or slows her?
  3. ACCEPTS THE CHALLENGE.  What motivates her to move through the challenge and begin her process of change?
  4. ROAD OF TRIALS. What ACTIONS does she take to solve her problem? Where does she go?  What does she do?
  5. ALLIES AND POWERS.  Who helps her along the way? What capacities does she have that enable her success? What does she have to learn, and how does she have to grow?
  6. CONFRONT EVIL–DEFEAT.  What is the greatest barrier she encounters?
  7. DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL.  What are the negative emotions that swarm up and engulf her, rob her of her strength?
  8. LEAP OF FAITH.  What external or deep internal strength or resource helps her through this moment?
  9. CONFRONT EVIL–VICTORIOUS.   What internal or external demons does she defeat, and what is the reward?
  10. THE STUDENT BECOMES THE TEACHER.  What is the lesson?  What higher or deeper level does she expand to?

Note: this pattern is very broad. Subtler stories will use a portion of this pattern, or invert it, or minimalize or exaggerate it–this is where the “craft” of writing comes in.

But the “art” of writing is in CONNECTING THIS EXTERNAL STRUCTURE WITH YOUR OWN INTERNAL JOURNEY.  Finding the metaphorical truth that will resonate deeply with your readers.

So…write a story about YOUR OWN journey to write a story…or any other struggle in your life.  Find these steps.  Emphasize them until you can see the connections.

I challenge each and every one of you to do that.   

Then…if you really want to thrive, CREATE A “STORY” ABOUT THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, looking at:

  1. The challenges you will face
  2. The fear you will feel
  3. The motivations to move through the resistance
  4. The actions you will take
  5. The resources and strategies and allies you will need to gather
  6. The major barriers that others have hit along their paths to accomplish similar goals.
  7. The nature and intensity of their depression and despair
  8. The type of faith or commitment that beat that fear
  9. The way others crashed through those barriers
  10. The joy of moving to the next level.

Do this, actually imagining the steps, researching the prices others paid, committing to the process, taking the actions and mastering your emotions…you will build a new and better life.

Namaste,

Steve

(I actually created the world’s only self-improvement book based on Star Wars and other famous Science Fiction/Fantasy films.   Get your copy on Amazon at:  http://amzn.to/2gP9myj)