Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Worldbuilding With Fire And Ice Part III

Whew! Now the election's over we can drop politics because it's not important anymore, right? Ooooo. Ummmm. Oy, I don't think so.

CAUTION: don't for a moment think that I'm a "Conservative" -- or for that matter "Progressive" or "Liberal" -- the "politics" that describes my personal philosophy does not exist on this Earth and as far as I know never has yet. I'm not arguing either side of this issue.  I'm examining why the HEA is so universally scoffed at. 

We began in Part I of Worldbuilding With Fire And Ice on October 26, 2010, discussing Glenn Beck and noted:

Maybe he's right - maybe not. Our question is, "Does it matter?"

And to whom does it matter? And what can we do with that information?

In my blog post "Glenn Beck Did Not Invent The Overton Window" (October 19, 2010, aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com ) I mentioned that I disagree (personally) with some of what Beck is "selling" (and he uses a "hard sell" technique right out of his enemy's playbook). But I don't disagree with all of it.

So what do I disagree with and why should you care?

As I pointed out in the October 19th 2010 post on aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com Glenn Beck is moving the Overton Window, or trying to, or maybe just doing it inadvertently in response to commercial demands and pressures.

He got the concept of the Overton Window from a Think Tank which got it from some mathematicians researching how to describe the behavior of large numbers of people making decisions.
That mathematics is employed by advertisers to make people buy products. It's proven stuff and it works.

The Mackinac Center http://www.mackinac.org/7504 -- uses this math to describe the political behavior of people by the millions while advertising uses it to shape preferences for brands of toothpaste or perfume. There isn't enough profit in novels to afford to hire those folks to sell a novel -- but film producers definitely use their services.

This math is not just statistics, it's a method of changing what the majority hold to be true and unquestioned. It can change what is deemed "politically correct."

And it has.

The entire technique is rooted in a view of the universe based on the "zero-sum-game" -- which is why this branch of mathematics came from and informs game-theory. (which is why video games have become so popular; they depict and infuse the player with the zero-sum-game philosophy).

That the physical universe is a zero-sum-game becomes an unconscious assumption.

That the social universe is a zero-sum-game becomes an unconscious assumption.

That the economic universe is a zero-sum-game becomes an unconscious assumption.

Nowhere in our mainstream, Hollywood films, Manhattan publishing, nowhere in the big money, high capital cost/high profit margin business models do we see evidence of anything but a zero-sum-game model of the universe.

The biggest TV audiences are drawn by sports - and every professional sport is based on the zero-sum-game model of reality. I win means you lose.

I win causes you to lose.

"There Can Be Only One"

In Part II we noted that it seems (to me, and others) that the Socialist and Communist views of the world are based on this zero-sum-game model.

The reason that some people are poor is that other people are rich.

That's connected as cause-effect. The only way that rich people get rich is by taking away from (oppressing) "workers" who work themselves to death for bare subsistence wages and there is no way for these hard working, upstanding, deserving workers to get rich other than to demand justice from the rich who have stolen the product of the worker's sweat and tears.  (That's not all pure fantasy either.  There is proof it has happened, but not that it must be the only way it can ever happen.) 

The theory is that there is a limited amount of "rich" -- You win means I lose.

Well, I won't stand for that. I'm taking your win away from you right now! And that's only justice. I demand justice.

The clear, clean, beyond question obviousness of this point of view is simply irrefutable.

If you are inherently incapable of questioning the unconscious assumption about the nature of reality rooted in the zero-sum-game model, you can not rationally come to any other conclusion than that the rich are rich because they suck the life-juices out of the poor.

The rich are "winners" and the poor are "losers."

Put another way, the poor are "losers" BECAUSE the rich are "winners." AND THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!!!

It's simply too obvious to be denied by any rational person.

The HEA, the HAPPILY EVER AFTER ending, can not be had by all!

It's pie in the sky. Only certain "chosen" golden children ever dare aspire to happiness, and YOU ARE NOT CHOSEN. Therefore you must fight yourself, using all your energy to subdue your inner self. See the example I found involving oral sex in Part II (posted November 2, 2010 on aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com).

But why is it obvious?

Well, look at marriage, especially through the prism of that item on oral sex in marriage. Look at our most intimate relationships. Look at how parents raise children. Look back on how your parents raised you.

From the child's point of view, "because I said so" is how parents rule -- and parents get their way because they're big.

If parents "negotiate" with a child before the child is really old enough to process all the variables at once, the parent is seen as weak, incompetent, manipulatable, and the child gets an inflated view of Self.

There is a corporate executive training program that companies pay thousands and thousands of dollars to put their trainees and new hires through. The program teaches "YOU DON'T GET WHAT YOU DESERVE; YOU GET WHAT YOU NEGOTIATE."

And it teaches the art of negotiation as a form of warfare.

Warfare has always been practiced as a zero-sum-game. Our professional sports are modeled after warfare. Corporate culture is modeled on football.

Our culture has forced us to adopt the zero-sum-game model of the universe by excluding any other style activities from your notice (yes, such activities exist but you are flimflammed into not-noticing or not-recognizing them).

Now look at the dust-up recently on bullying in the school yards and how much damage that does to children that then subsequently shapes their potential as adults.

Parents have come out passionately against bullying in school yards. Teachers and school administrators must stop the bullying - it's the school's responsibility to protect my child against bullies.

But where do bullies come from?

How many really creative people have admitted in biographies that they were bullied, and thus forced to learn a response?

How many chimp studies have examined chimp tribes and bullying, or jockeying for pecking order among say, ducks.

Should we intervene in the society of children to stop bullying?

It's an unexamined assumption among parents that their child must not be bullied.  (which doesn't mean it's wrong; just not thought out carefully)

It's an unexamined assumption among the parents of children that do the bullying that their child is showing leadership potential, a winner's profile, not a loser's profile, and their pride (however secret even from themselves) knows no bounds. WINNER means NOT LOSER.

Why must our children not "be bullied?"

Recent research on mice has shown us a possible chemical mechanism for the end result of having been bullied.

See my post on aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com on October 12, 2010 titled GENETIC MECHANISM BY WHICH LOVE CONQUERS ALL

Yeah, we're still on the HEA subject.

The mice that had repeated lost fights with other mice in that experiment showed a later life tendency to be timid, not to fight for their place, and not to explore.

Dissection of their brains revealed a chemical in the submissive mice's brains, wrapped around their genes, that wasn't present in the mice that had not lost the fights. These chemicals wrap around the genes and allow or suppress expression of the genes.

So we have a purely chemical (not spiritual or soul-based) explanation of how it is that kids who are bullied in school yards grow up to become submissive - and don't explore.

"Explore" for a mouse is a kind of boldness.

We're talking about the kind of boldness that makes human beings explore questions, that makes human beings question unconscious assumptions being "sold" to them by clever mathematicians manipulating the Overton Window. To question authority, such as teachers.

Because of human creativity, artistic talent, a lot of bullied kids turn out to be the boldest questioners. Maybe they get bullied because they are artistic?

But most don't turn out to be artists.

Allowing school-yard bullying while assuring the parents "we're doing all we can" (God Forbid anyone in this world should heroically exceed their abilities and actually grow as a person and a hero by doing something they can't do - something outside their job description!) is one of many ways to create a pliable and obedient population.

Allowing schools to teach "the truth" (carefully editing textbooks) keeps children from being confused, feeling threatened, and needing to think before deciding or expressing an opinion.

They grow up to be adults who want "the government" (or someone) to keep them safe.

Since they never learned in school that one of the basic principles that made the USA successful as a country is that the police do not prevent crime, they expect to live in a crime free world where police prevent crime.

However, in principle, the police (and all criminal statutes) are aimed only at people who have actually done criminal deeds -- and thus the police (an arm of government) can act only after the fact, lest government gain power over individuals. That is, the majority must never inhibit the exploration activities of any individual. Freedom of thought, religion, speech - all rests on the concept that the Police must not prevent any activity.

Under no circumstances can any arm of government ever be allowed to prevent anyone from doing anything. Government must not be allowed control.

Yeah, they don't teach that in school any more, but it was a core principle in the civics classes in my grammar school, and today it is a fully examined and questioned assumption of mine -- though it started out as unquestioned.

Today, however, "Crime Prevention" (another sobriquet promulgated by those with a very specific political agenda) is lauded, and when it fails people are so offended they throw out their elected officials who failed to prevent crime.  Remember we're talking about the plausibility of the HEA here.  You can't have happiness if your expectations regarding safety and predictability are not met. 

We're missing a social mechanism that damps down if not prevents aberrant behavior, keeps it at a tolerable level where expectations are mostly met.

Today huge, massively funded federal agencies are devoted to public safety - and to protecting consumers.

The government's role is primarily to protect us (seal the borders, for example). Very often we are being protected from ourselves -- pharmaceuticals legal in Europe can't be sold here because they would undercut the market of some big pharma company here, but we're told we are being protected from potential harm caused by our own bad decisions.

But big corporations are seen as bullies because they're big.

Glenn Beck showed (I caught a quick clip of this channel surfing) a cartoon line-drawing animation that is being shown in schools to instruct kids on the relationship between corporations and government.

The government was shown as a small image, a neat, clean straight line drawing, of I think, a building. The corporation was shown as a huge, round, blown-up quasi-human image -- something like humpty-dumpty is often drawn. Bloated and distorted.

The corporations were noted to be bigger than government, and positioned by artistic composition to be menacing the little government.

Any reasonable person, especially someone bullied as a child, would conclude that government must be grown bigger to face down the ugly big bully corporations. That's how we conquer schoolyard bullies - we grow larger, hit harder or get friends to gang up on them with us. 

This is a truth that becomes internalized as an unquestioned assumption.  Government must grow or the world won't be safe.  (maybe so, but who knows?) 

Worse, the assumption becomes unconsciously processed because of the graphics - and I could see the art of this Overton Window mathematics behind that composition in the cartoon. As I said previously I don't see what most viewers see when I watch TV. This image of the relationship between government and corporations becomes UNQUESTIONABLE TRUTH, not merely an assumption, a hypothesis or a theory subject to revision according to new facts unearthed. 

An assumption can never be called into question because you don't know it's there.

It has been presented to the very young in their own language, the language of the bully in the play yard, and presented to be true by authority in the form of the teacher.

Every time a parent says, "listen to the teacher" "sit still in class" "don't act out" "don't pester the teacher with questions, you'll get bad grades" -- every time a parent reinforces a teacher's authority, the result is more assumptions driven into the child's mind that will become unquestionable assumptions later in life (which might be good if the assumptions stay reliable throughout the child's lifetime). 

Was this done to you?

Are you doing it to your children?

Have you ever had to change any "fact" you learned in school?

Look at this:  http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/08/11/discovery-pushes-human-tool-use-years/
Every so often, we have to revise what we know to be true.  Are you preparing your children to do that?

What has all that to do with the HEA?

If you live in the world I've described above, you have been taught by these zero-sum-game based philosophical methods that you are not qualified to live the HEA - that it's not realistic to expect your life to reach HEA.  It's not even "right" to try because if you get an HEA life, that means you took it away from someone else! (zero-sum-game - there isn't enough happiness in the world to go around - you win, someone else loses.) 

It's not realistic because not everyone can be a winner.

How do you know that?

Because in that same grammar school class that taught you about big bad corporations, you learned that only some kids in class can get an A, and a few more a B, most will get C's, and a few D's and F's -- or whatever numerical or euphemistic substitute for those grades is used.

The use of euphemisms like "needs improvement" "excels" etc does not mask the fact that it's a zero-sum-game. School is graded on a curve, and eventually we learn what that means. A few are chosen to be winners, and all the rest of us lose because those winners took away our right to win.

There can be only 10% or fewer A's, or "Excels" in a class. Not everybody can "excel" or "excel" means nothing.

Whether they know it or not, all teachers are taught that statistically humans fall on a bell curve and it's their job to sort out the top 10% for college bound.

The rest are "workers." Oppressed, you will see, if you read the first part of this series WORLDBUILDING WITH FIRE AND ICE on October 26, 2010.

The only way you can ever begin to even wonder if any of that is true is to question the assumption that reality is a zero-sum-game, inherently, intrinsically and realistically, there really is only so much good crop land, only so much drinkable water, only so much gold mine country, only so much uranium, only so much zinc, copper, oil, and only so many can be happy.  The only way to be happy is to "win" -- so that means half lose. 

But if you win, you did it by being a bully, so you have to be miserable with what you've won.  Which half of humanity then can have an HEA? 

We have to organize into countries big enough and mean enough to fight and win those critical resources or we will die.

Our big, muscular HE-MAN MEN must "fight for us" and win, so we can be protected to raise our children to fight and win.

It's all about competing and winning. Competition is the only correct way to organize human beings. It brings out the best in us.

We MUST compete with each other, and we must be the winner.  And only winners then get to have children. 

Therefore, if you hold the unconscious assumption (possibly implanted, possibly actually true) that you are not a winner, you have only one logical recourse - rise up and smite the winners and take what they have (i.e. raise taxes on the rich).

In that universe, there can be no HEA for anyone.

If you win Happily Ever After, it won't bring you happiness because you got it by taking it away from someone else. And you know in your heart that the someone you deprived will rise up and take what you took from them.

Why would it bother you that you caused someone pain so you could win? If you didn't snatch what happiness you can, someone else would take it - probably waste it, too. After all, you can do better with resources than others.

If you live in a universe where the only way to satisfy your heart's desire is by preventing someone else from satisfying their heart's desire -- i.e. you have to GET A MAN by "winning" him away from some other woman in a contest of beauty or fellatio, and the only way to hold a man (whether he prefers to be held or not) is by doing something you'd really rather not do because "men can't help it" -- then your happiness is achieved at the expense of someone else's misery.

Now we elevate this discussion to a dimension few are willing to access.

As far as I know, the only universe of discourse where the zero-sum-game assumption about reality can be questioned (not dispensed with, just questioned) is the universe where the Soul is real.

The part of you that prevents you from exulting totally in causing others misery is what we call the Soul.

OK, maybe SPIRIT. Conscience?

Maybe some other term applies. But it's a non-tangible, immortal part of Self that matters more than "here and now" because its joy and its pain is eternal. It's the part of you that's miserable when you lose, and can't be happy when you win because that means someone else lost.  It's the non-sportsman in you.  It's where your Charity comes from, where your Hope and Joy reside. 

And there is some part of every human's awareness that connects to that dimension.

But that connection is like a switch. It's not always open. Sometimes it rusts shut.

In my personal philosophy, judging whether that rusted-shut switch's condition is good or bad for you is above my pay grade.  I just use it in characterization.

I think there are people who need to be cut off from their awareness of the existence of their Soul, Spirit or whatever you want to call it, at least for part of their life.

There are people who need to be fully in touch. Sometimes switch's rust can be dissolved by Love.

Most people are sporadically and partially aware, or just aspire to repeat moments of contact through an open connection.

Whoever you are and however you are, you're just fine. You'll change when you're ready - opening or closing that contact as you need to in order to accomplish your purposes in life and beyond.

My attitude is, it's none of my business. I have enough on my own plate.

But given the notion that there exists such a thing as a non-material part of a human being, the whole "model of the universe" thing changes.

The worlds you can, as a writer, build to tell stories in become richer, deeper, more complex, harder to handle, but ever so much more realistic (to me anyway).

If the Soul is real, there may in fact be SOUL MATES -- in which case, the HEA becomes an inevitable end-point for each of us, not a ridiculous fantasy that's not "realistic."

If you live your life wearing blinders, refusing to question the zero-sum-game model of the universe because answers would be dangerous, confusing, or doom you to being a loser, then you don't dare accept the HEA except as a pie-in-the-sky fantasy achievable in real life only by the chosen few, and then only temporarily.

If you live your life totally aware of your own Soul, and can see the Soul behind the eyes of others, and know there is a Divine Spirit somehow intimately interacting with this world and your personal life, then when you get to the HEA in a novel that reflects the particular Soul hypothesis you are using, you are emotionally satisfied.

If you live your life putting your blinders on to function in a corporate environment, in the world of science, and peeking around them during your family time, then quickly taking them off for an hour once a week to worship, then the HEA will attract you, reassure you, seem somehow RIGHT, but it's just a novel. Real life is not so simple. But you'll never stop striving for your own happiness without taking it away from others.

Awareness of Soul makes people unable to tolerate being the agent of deprivation and pain to others.

Now, it's true, many people who scoff at the notion of Soul and are committed to explaining all human behavior with brain chemistry and science, people who have been successful commanding the Overton Window to move to where they want it, are equally unable to tolerate being the agent of pain to others.

In fact, MOST of the people involved in "Progressive" or "Liberal" causes, helping the poor, running free clinics, fighting AIDs in Africa, bravely standing up to corporate bullies with Green Peace ships are purely motivated to alleviate human suffering everywhere once and for all and forever.

And frankly, I'd stand with them, put my life on the line with them. I hold nothing back from these causes. They are my causes and always have been. Green energy, anti-global warming measures, reducing our collateral ecological damage -- walking softly in the world, caring for our environment, all of that is core principle with me.

But how many of them are fighting with all their might because they see the world as a zero-sum-game while at the same time feeling their Souls aching for the unfortunate, the poor, and the victims of corporate greed (which is also very real).

How many of them have a good solid plan for what they'll do when they've WON and thus caused someone else to lose? 

On the one hand, you feel your Soul, you know it's real.

On the other hand, you feel your Body, and you know you must fight for the resources to stay alive.

Something is telling you it isn't right, it isn't just, that some people don't have and it's up to everyone to keep all humans safe.

You demand your HEA and won't give up your zero-sum-game fight-and-win scenario.

There's a High Concept film in that conundrum. Think about it.

Turn around now and take another look at politics.

My stand on politics is that no politician should ever be allowed to hold public office.

The steering decisions for a whole country, state, even county, should not be made by compromise. You can't find the right answer to a problem by partially giving up a principle.

I don't want anyone fighting for me, or fighting for my rights, or my anything.

You can't get anything worth having by winning.

So what do you do instead?

Become more interested in what is right rather than who is right.

Argue until you, cooperatively as a group, figure out a right answer. (not THE right answer - there are lots of right answers, usually only a very few really wrong ones)

Govern by consensus not compromise?  That's never yet worked, though compromise has sputtered along for the 200 years or so the USA has used it.  We need to think some more.  

The problem is this Overton Window thing that allows a few people to manipulate consensus to be what they want it to be. So everyone has to be armored against unconscious assumptions in grammar school, trained to be very aware of their personal philosophy but knowing theirs isn't any better or worse than anyone else's.

We'd have to immunize our children to the Overton Window.  It would take a new philosophy.  (Isn't that what SF/F writers are supposed to be doing?) 

Some philosophies though, are more effective and efficient at producing an HEA style life.  Fiction exploring the possibilities could be a "pen mightier than the sword" moment for humanity. 

Think of the Blind Men And The Elephant. The men are all correct, all have an opinion that isn't the truth, but they won't know it until they stop fighting and start cooperating to create the total holographic, 3-dimensional image from all the fragmented points of view.

Right now, we don't combine our philosophies, we fight to win by cramming our philosophy down someone else's throat.

The zero-sum-game assumptions require that we must fight.

Look again at this entire election process and the results, scrutinize everything that's being said, everything "they" are making you feel, and try to see how to question the underlying zero-sum-game philosophical assumption they are cramming down your throat.

Ask yourself who benefits if you swallow their assumption that all life is fighting and not everyone can win.

Now think about all the discussions we've had about Love, and how Love Conquers All isn't just a novel theme, it's actually true about real reality.

Love is the most powerful binding force in the universe.

If the universe is constructed in such a way that Love Conquers All, how can it possibly be a zero-sum-game?

If "All" is conquered, there is only one winner -- ALL.

What is "all"? - it includes you but is not limited to you.

You see why I don't want politicians fighting for me? The more fighting, the less Love.

Fighting doesn't conquer anything, least of all All.

You can't win by fighting, just as you can't get rid of starfish in your clam beds by cutting the starfish in half and throwing the halves back in the water.  The more you fight, the more enemies you have. 

When you start to fight, you lose. If you win, you're miserable because you caused someone else misery. If you lose, you're miserable because you don't have what you went after.

It's the zero-sum-game model of the universe that causes people to reject the HEA, to be unable to feel the emotion generated by novels that lead, however logically, to the HEA.

The zero-sum-game model of the universe has become an unquestionable assumption at the bottom level of our subconscious minds.  You don't even know you believe it, or how it limits your actions. 

To gain acceptance for the HEA, artists must successfully challenge the zero-sum-game philosophy by worldbuilding with Fire and Ice.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg


  1. Stunning!

    I love your presentation so much I'm willing to forgive you for implying that progressives have ownership of all the charitable inclinations on the planet.

    Here is the problem as I see it:

    One one side we have your opposition to the compelling theory of zero-sum. You are asking much of future readers: to believe in an alternative to zero-sum is to suspend belief in their own experiences. To believe their own eyes or to believe you, the composer?

    On the other side, the insistence on HEA, despite the fact that there has been no race won or lost, because the emphasis must not be on competition. Only mutual cooperation can prevail.

    But it must still be entertaining or no one will want to read it! It must break out, as Donald Maass says, with "tension on every page."


    The characters grow from the basic human tendency of working for short-term positive rewards to the elevated knowledge of long-term negative consequences.

    I don't believe in man-made global warming but as Al Gore knows, it's works great in fiction.

    I think Lord of the Flies is another good example.

    Well at any rate, thanks for your time and for giving me such great food for thought. I must go research George Soros now. ;)

  2. Miss Sharp:

    Yes, of course, you have zeroed in on the problem. And you are correct about Maass -- he really REALLY knows his stuff.

    On the zero-sum-game model, any idiot can see for certain that the universe is in fact a zero-sum-game.

    But any idiot can see the world is flat. The sun circles the earth, no question about it.

    The real problem (for fiction writers creating a World by worldbuilding craft techniques) is not whether the universe is a zero-sum-game, but that the READERS hold that as an UNCONSCIOUS ASSUMPTION.

    It's not the assumption aspect that's problematic.

    It's the unconscious aspect that poses a serious obstacle to "suspension of disbelief."

    The HEA is only one example, but a stark one, and one which I see as important.

    It has been my personal observation that those who examine their unconscious assumptions - whatever content or subject may be in there - live longer, healthier, happier more productive lives and leave a legacy that can be built upon.

    Fiction reading (viewing, playing, whatever medium) is one of the exercises that produces the kind of mental strength needed to do that examining -- even when the fiction in question does not examine much.

    The most effective fiction I've found is written by (I know a lot of writers) those who have examined their own unconscious assumptions, or at least attempted to.

    Oh, yes, there's ever so much more to say on this topic, but the unconscious is the substance from which fiction is crafted. If you were a sculptor about to make a marble statue, what would you study?

    Jacqueline Lichtenberg

  3. JL

    I've tried twice to comment (Yes!!!) to your request but your email is bouncing. Maybe comments here come to a different address.


  4. Rowena:

    Thank you - emailing you my gmail address.