Archive for December, 2012

Photon-Swan Song for the Moon

An angler spotted a swan with its head underwater apparently dabbling for food. Some time later, he saw the bird still in the same position and naturally, grew curious.

When he went to investigate further, he found that a giant pike had seized the swan by the head and tried to drag it under. The swan had resisted and the pike had refused to let go.

In the end, this tug of war ended. Both swan and pike had died.

Daisies

People often lament the fact that there is so little compassion in the world and that humans are capable of so much hate and cruelty.

The really remarkable fact is that there is so much compassion – we have a surfeit of it if only we allow it into ourselves.

People will make sacrifices to help those who are homeless and starving in places they have barely heard of. The will willingly give food to creatures of another species, even when they don’t intend to eat them later!

Compassion and kindliness are not exotic flowers – they are the daisies of the human mind.

Posted: December 18, 2012 by gustafhesse in Thought for the day
Tags: ,

I’m participating. #26Acts of Kindness
How about you?

A Healthy Dose of V

So we all know what happened last Friday. Everyone knows. I find it very difficult to talk about, namely because my older son is 6 years old, and it is an automatic reaction to place yourself in that situation. It is unbearable. It is easier for me to avoid the coverage and discussion in order to save my own sanity. So I have.

Last night on The Voice, the entire cast did an opening number of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. They happened to do my favorite verses (not the popularly-used ones, after the initial one). Each performer was holding a card with the name and age of a victim. That made me lose my shit. Seeing it in black and white is the most difficult thing, ever. I spent the rest of the 90 minutes basically sobbing. Hell, as I sit here recounting it, I need a tissue.

This morning…

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Seductive Death

 

What’s going on here? In our society, we seem to have become preoccupied with eternal life, death and preserving youthfulness. We have immortal vampires, zombies, angels, demons and various permutations of youth and life eternal. Photoshop, botox, silicon, along with a plethora of ways of going under the surgical knife, all of which I’ve lost count of.

 

Is death the ultimate taboo? People are taking seriously scientific advances that will allow us to live longer, if not forever, then at least much longer than before. What sort of society would this be if this became possible? Would this be a world that is stagnant? Would such a world allow the possibility of growth? Doesn’t growth come from death, from facing one’s mortality? Doesn’t growth come from encountering otherness? And isn’t death the great otherness?

 

Life and death are not two things; they are one.  That is why the Hindus, for instance, saw Shiva as both Creator and Destroyer.

 

We recoil from death but we are foolish to do so. When the time is right, we should embrace it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted: December 12, 2012 by gustafhesse in On Writing
Tags: ,

Another useful post with tips and hints on how to keep your writing short, sharp and pithy.

 

 

 

The Daily Post

About Page 201

Your About page is the perfect opportunity to introduce what you’re doing with your blog — and why it matters — to your audience. In About Page 101: Making Them Care, we looked at getting the basics right in terms of knowing what you’re trying to do, telling a compelling story, keeping things brief, and writing in a style that doesn’t come off as more stilted than your Uncle Joe’s wedding party dance moves. Now we’re going to take all of the hard work you did there, all of the blood, sweat, and tears you poured into making your About page rock, and put them through the meat grinder. Because good enough isn’t good enough for us. Ready? Ready.

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Lee Child signing at Bouchercon 2009 in Indian...

In a recent post in The New York Times, Lee Child writes about the nature of suspense and how he approaches creating the narrative space into which he builds suspense within his writing.

According to Lee Child, the very question: “How do you create suspense?” is inherently a clumsy one – it is unhelpful, misleading and is posed in the interrogatory mode. He goes on to explain:

But it’s really much simpler than that. “How do you bake a cake?” has the wrong structure. It’s too indirect. The right structure and the right question is: “How do you make your family hungry?”

And the answer is: You make them wait four hours for dinner.

As novelists, we should ask or imply a question at the beginning of the story, and then we should delay the answer.

In summary, the tools a writer uses to create suspense are questions posed at the beginning of the narrative: it’s about using the “whats, whos, and hows” effectively. These questions intrigue the reader and makes him/her want to read more, to turn the page and chase down the answers to these questions.

To read more about this, you can visit the article, posted here.

Angry Talk (Comic Style)

Because we are fearful and are unable to eradicate our fears, we get angry.

Anger is a way of  making us feel better about ourselves and less afraid. That’s why inadequate people become bullies.

It’s easy to be angry. It’s easy to get addicted to the adrenaline rush of anger. It is hard to stop anger and, like all other emotions, if you try to suppress it, you’ll only make it worse.

The way of mindfulness is not to attach ourselves to emotions. It is just anger; it is not your anger. You don’t have to hang on to it. If you examine it calmly it will, like all other thoughts that pass through your mind, disappear.

Jack Nicholson in the famous “Here’s Johnny” scene

Why do I love the horror genre? It’s something I’ve often asked myself especially when I see my friends shaking their heads vehemently and declining my invite to watch the latest horror film at the movies.

The fact that some people, like me for example, enjoy being scared out of their wits never ceases to baffle those of us who consider Freddy Krueger A Nightmare on Elm Street a slasher horror movie that should be put in deep freeze.

Cover of "Danse Macabre"

However, to those who love the genre, as well as to experts in media psychology, it makes perfect sense. Stephen King, in Danse Macabre, described “terror as the finest emotion, and so I will try to terrorize the reader.” Stuart Fischoff,  professor emeritus of psychology at California State University, Los Angeles, and senior editor of the online Journal of Media Psychology, adds: “One of the major reasons we go to scary movies is to be scared.” This enjoyment of being scared and paying to be scared applies to the horror movies. As Fischoff indicates, “We know that, in an hour or two, we’re going to walk out whole […] We’re not going to have any holes in our head, and our hearts will still be in our bodies.”

According to a 1995 study, the higher people score on a scale that measures sensation-seeking, the more they like horror films. As Fischoff states,“There are people who have a tremendous need for stimulation and excitement […] Horror movies are one of the better ways to get really excited.”

But does this explain why I continue to enjoy the horror gendre, both in its filmic and written modes? It has been suggested that horror continues to enjoy a resurgence because the genre provides an opportunity for catharsis, offering the viewer emotional release and escape from the real world of bills, mortgages, and the ever-declining economy.

The catharsis theory is an appealing one. Freud had, for instance, suggested that horror was appealing because it traffics in thoughts, symbols and feelings that have been repressed by the ego but which seem vaguely familiar.

There has also been the suggestion that horror films are enjoyed by those who prefer neat absolutes whereby the rights and wrongs are clear.  According to this standpoint, horror movies appeal to those who like predictability  and there is no question about who the bad guy is. And despite the often high body count and gory narrative settings, these movies tend to end on a good note, often with a happy ending. According to this viewpoint, the danger and scares produced by horror movies tend to be reduced by increased knowledge and predictability.

As for me, the reasons why I enjoy the horror genre is because that a good horror movie or book transports the reader/viewer to some other place. Through the process of defamiliarisation, the familiar becomes strange, whereby a sense of otherness pervades our sense of what constitutes the ‘normal’. A good horror movie or book helps us negotiate this sense of otherness.

Posted: December 5, 2012 by gustafhesse in Uncategorized

Another useful post about shifting your perspective in your piece of writing.

landscape

Everyone and everything can be your teacher.

It is said that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. But do not suppose your teacher will be a wise old monk in a saffron robe.

When you have the right understanding, teachers will appear in even the unlikeliest places.