Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Worldbuilding With Fire And Ice Part II

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.

Furthermore, I'm not at all sure I know what my politics is.  I just know that I'll know it when I see it - and haven't seen it yet. What my political position is, though, is very relevant, so if you pay attention you may discover something about me that even I don't yet know.  Listen carefully now. 

Previously in Part I, Worldbuilding With Fire And Ice,
posted on aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com on October 26th, 2010,


we noted how "Communists" had taken over Hollywood and McCarthy went after them in a Witch Hunt mode and created "blacklist" status for people who didn't deserve or earn that exclusion.

I told you that if you don't recall learning about the McCarthy Hearings in school - google it up.  It's important to understand that he created an "Inquisition" atmosphere, "demonizing" people and institutions.

The personal, raging passion he poured into that project obscured any actual truth he might have discovered.  He destroyed the innocent and very often missed the guilty, setting the stage for a real takeover of Hollywood by a very specific group with a very specific philosophy.

Eventually, decades later, anyone who stood against their philosophy was denied success in Hollywood.

Today, projects which would reach vast audiences have to be shaped to exemplify that now institutionalized philosophy.

Audiences are just looking to be entertained, value for a buck. They don't care about philosophy.  It's abstract and irrelevant to the thrill, kick, payoff of the "ending." But when everything you entertain yourself with conforms to a certain philosophy, it becomes an unquestionable truth within the unconscious part of your mind.  It becomes your philosophy by which you make judgments and behave, regardless of what you think you believe or want or prefer to believe.

It's the steady diet that does that.

The entertainment diet has become steady, and it projects the philosophy (via the theme) that there's no such thing as an HEA in real life, and you are a fool or idiot if you believe there is.  You're a mark, a patsy, a sub-standard human being if you can't accept "reality" and understand that you will never be rich, beautiful, or successful.

Only "superheros" or fantasy characters ever achieve. Enjoy it in a story but understand that it's not real, and you can not have it.

Glenn Beck is pointing out (with a copy on his website glennbeck.com ) that the Weather Underground manifesto declares, as an article of faith, that the rich are rich because they "oppress" the poor.  Only certain people are chosen to become rich, and your name is not on that list.

Being rich (i.e. successful, popular, powerful) is only for the elite in this world, and that elite makes it their business to see to it that you never become one of them.

The sobriquet is "class warfare."

Forget the "class" part of that and wrap your mind about the "warfare" part of that concept. 

That concept is built on a specific view of the universe, and can be "sold" only to those who share that view of the universe.

I've discussed that view of the universe in many, many posts here, since my first post in June of 2006.

It is called the "zero sum game" view of the universe.

In that view of the universe (that philosophy) to have anything means that someone else does not have it.

If you win, that means I lose.  Everything has to balance out to zero.  There is only a limited amount of any resource, and it is "human nature" (inescapable) that "life" means fighting to the death with each other over possession of limited resources.

The only spiritual and just solution that Communists and Socialists and other ists and isms can see to this problem (total failure of imagination there - or deliberately misleading?) of Life Is A Zero Sum Game is to take your resources from you.

The view of the universe is simply that the reason "I" don't have is that "You" do have.

The Universe is finite, resources scarce and exhaustible.

That is as obviously true as it is obvious that the world is either flat or bowl shaped, but certainly not round.  I mean, I can see it.  How can seeing not be believing?

And that's how people now view the HEA -- nobody has a Happily Ever After life!  The divorce rate is 50 percent after 5 years.  When was the last time you saw a celebrity magazine displaying a perfect celebrity marriage?

A few decades ago, in the Babyboomer generation, the birthrate of females outstripped the birthrate of males, and as a result we have an adult population with a lot of single women living alone.

The "nuclear family" has disintegrated.  "Leave It To Beaver" and "The Brady Bunch" "The Waltons" were the last of their ilk on TV.  Films do not depict family life, raising kids, and a conflict that originates outside the family unit that the family must pull together to resolve.

Occasionally, there's a heart-rending film of a dog saving some kid's life, of a couple moving to Alaska and learning hard lessons about independence from civilization.

But watch the old classics rerun on TV or downloaded, and you'll see they depict a different world, thematically.

There has been a tectonic shift in the underpinnings and belief systems of the world we live in, and this is reflected in both fiction and non-fiction.

I'm not passing "judgment" on the nature of this shift, just noting it as part of "the problem" we have set ourselves to solve, the problem of the HEA and its place in the entertainment world.

I was in a waiting room recently, and picked up a women's magazine because there was no TIME or NEWSWEEK or WIRED or DISCOVER.  I learned a lot just looking at the advertisements, the ink colors, the composition of pages, the COST vs. PRICE of the magazine, the number of words on a page and the size of the fonts used. I didn't get a chance to do the same to FIELD AND STREAM.

But the women's magazine had several Q&A sections where putative readers send in questions some "expert" then answers.  It's an article style.  The truth is the authors create the questions for most of those columns and use few of the questions actually sent in by readers.

One question was from a woman asking if she really-really had to give her husband oral sex to prevent her marriage from breaking up citing an "ick factor" in the process. 

The answer was an unequivocal YES YOU DO and specific instructions on how, when, where, how to get over the "ick factor" and how much pleasure she could get from getting over her neurosis that is preventing her from giving her husband pleasure which is the only true basis for a marriage.

That is advice geared to or representing a non-HEA worldview.  It is advice that comes straight out of the "zero-sum-game" view of the universe.  There is only one way to win, and you must win or you lose and someone else will get your "possession" that you treasure most (i.e. another woman.)

If you don't win, you lose Happiness.

Furthermore, if your personal preferences and beliefs aren't exactly just precisely SO, then you deserve to lose -- because you aren't qualified to be one of the winners.

Or worse yet - THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS HAPPINESS, there is no HEA, you have to pretend you have it by doing something repugnant to you.  It will always be repugnant to you, but you must do it to keep what you have. Just get over it and be an adult about it. 

It is natural to men to demand a woman do something repugnant to herself; (actually the answer said this) - MEN CAN'T HELP IT. All women have to give in to male "natural" inclinations or lose their husbands. (this article is talking to young women who live among a 50% divorce rate and celebrities who can't stay married more than a couple years). 

Again, I'm not passing a value judgment here.  I'm illustrating how a PHILOSOPHY materializes as a "show don't tell" -- which soaks in and becomes an unquestioned assumption.

Assumptions aren't in and of themselves bad.

We need our assumptions, our shortcuts, or we couldn't function in this rapid-fire world.  Our brains are hardwired to solve complex problems by applying a series of pre-created assumptions to the problem -- you live or die by your assessment of the danger of the saber toothed tiger.

What is problematic (not bad, mind you, problematic and thus fodder for plot-conflicts and resolutions gallore including the inevitability of the HEA) is the "unquestioned" part of the "assumption" matrix that commands behavior.

The "unquestioning" part of our assumption matrix is the meat-and-potatoes of the artist, the writer.  It's the area where you can manipulate your readership - but only if you've questioned your own assumptions to a fair-thee-well.

How do you learn to do that?  Aha, Election Season is an ideal time!  Watch candidate commercials and read the literature carefully, listen to your emotions, watch how they jerk you around, play on sympathies, make their answer to problems seem inevitable, natural, obvious, and the only choice of reasonable people. 

"Only" being the operative word - there are no other solutions because it's a zero-sum-game; we know that because "reality" is all based on football, isn't it?

At the moment, politicians and their advertising and publicity teams are using your unquestioned assumptions against you. Elections are a zero-sum-game - one wins, the other loses, and that's obvious isn't it?  You have an either-or choice to make, black and white, zero-sum.

Elections are set up that way, maybe on purpose.  The reason for that is an unquestioned assumption in our world (one of those assumptions I haven't caught Glenn Beck questioning, and therefore his rants don't touch me persuasively) Life is a zero-sum-game, like football or all sports.  One wins, the other loses, and it has to be that way.  Don't you dare question that.  You might get confused.

Many of these unquestioned assumptions are implanted in school (no matter how long ago you went to school).

Schools are set up to "make it clear" to young people so they won't be confused by things like whether the theory of Evolution is true, or really Creationism is true -- of course, only one can be true which makes the other false, a zero-sum game so it'll all be clear. We have to tell children the truth so they won't be confused. 

Some of your unquestioned assumptions have come from the "steady diet" of entertainment mentioned above. Having only one philosophy represented in your entertainment (Traditional Publishers are pretty close to that now) keeps things clear in your mind.  We can't have you getting confused.

Some other assumptions came from your parents, your religious training, your college buddies, your first sexual experience.

Some have come from corporate training and on-the-job-training in how to behave in a corporate culture.

Many sets of these assumptions contradict each other and thus introduce anxiety sources that are very confusing, so we learn to keep our minds compartmentalized -- religion is only for an hour on Sunday, whew!  We can't have religion in the workplace or workplace values in Sunday School.

We've been carefully trained from grammar school up never, ever, to let ourselves get confused.  Anyone's opinion is just as good as anyone else's, regardless of what unconscious assumptions they're basing their opinions on because we all share the same unconscious assumptions (sobriquet, "Political Correctness.")

In previous posts we've been exploring how we might be able to boost a true Romance Genre film into "High Concept Opens Everywhere Blockbuster" status and "sell" the HEA to the general audience as a true depiction of real life, a plausible and necessary story-ending.

It may be happening as we speak.  Check out this film which I discovered on thegalaxyexpress.net

The Adjustment Bureau

We "know" the HEA is real and true, it's our unconscious assumption, but not shared by everyone.  The artist, the performing artist, the writer must be able to see the world through the eyes of people who have unconscious assumptions (Philosophies) different from the writer's and explain one reader's assumptions to another reader who does not share those assumptions.

I've said this before.  The artist's subconscious communicates with the art-customer's subconscious directly, and does that best when the conscious mind is directed elsewhere (as a magician points at something to prevent you from noticing something he's doing on the other side).

Philosophy resides in the subconscious and over-rides the conscious mind's decisions (that's why it's so hard to stick to a diet unless your subconscious has decided to do it).  That's why married folk have affairs against their conscious will and desire.  The subconscious rules, and so the philosophy programmed into the subconscious is the deciding factor in the HEA problem and argument.

The method we have to figure out how to employ is the method the publicity and advertising folks who work for politicians are using against us -- our unexamined, unquestioned, unknown-to-us ASSUMPTIONS. A philosophy that lurks within the subconscious, unknown to us, can command our life-decisions -- and determine what fiction we enjoy.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg


  1. I'm not quite sure why, but looking at the trailer, my gut feeling is that the movie will have a bittersweet ending, not a HEA.

    Maybe it's because I've grown up in the "zero-sum" era you're talking about, but it seems like in movies/fiction these days, in order for the couple to have an HEA in a thriller like this, something equally bad would have to happen - somebody close to the couple would have to die, or the world as they know it completely changes, or something along those lines - at the very least, their former jobs probably would have to end up being ruined and they'd have to start fresh. Though I suppose if you take the Love Conquers All approach that you've mentioned here, that last one seems pretty surmountable. So would you call that an HEA? And is this what you expect from the movie?

  2. Miriam:

    Yes, you are correct, and that tells me you understand what I've been talking about on this blog -- changing the perception of the general public with regard to the whole Romance Genre, but PNR and SFR in particular.

    If I thought this film would in fact be "the" film we need, I'd just move on to another topic. If it turns out to be that film, I'll move on (boy have I got topics piled up).

    If not, we may find it interesting enough by boxoffice take to slice-and-dice all the data and see if we can position a concept to widen the crack this film may (or may not) make for us.

    Remind me if I don't get back to it.

    Jacqueline Lichtenberg