Monthly Archives: December 2017

Solnit on Silence

Screen Shot 2017-12-21 at 1.32.18 PMSilence is the ocean of the unsaid, the unspeakable, the repressed, the erased, the unheard. It surrounds the scattered islands made up of those allowed to speak and what can be said and who listens.

Silence is imposed vs quiet which is sought.

“We are volcanoes, when we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change.” Ursula K. Le Guin

If our voices are essential aspects of our humanity, to be rendered voiceless is to be dehumanized or excluded from one’s humanity. 

The history of silence is central to women’s history.

Liberation is always in part a storytelling process: breaking stories, breaking silences, making new stories. A free person tells her own story. A valued person lives in a society in which her story has a place. 

Who has been heard we know; they are the well-mapped islands, the rest are the unmappable sea of unheard, unrecorded humanity. 

If libraries hold all the stories that have been told, there are ghost libraries of all the stories that have not. The ghosts outnumber the books by some unimaginably vast sum.

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Notes on Narrative and Identity

Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 12.29.10 PMNarrative construction of reality – the ways in which we construct narratives in order to bolster our world view (Didion/We tell ourselves stories to survive).

Narratives that support the arc of inspiration –

Insecure people have an ability to upset balance.

Dramatic Pentad: An agent – An act – A scene – a purpose – An agency.

When the ratio between elements becomes unbalanced trouble ensues. Trouble provides the engine of drama.

Everyone has their own version of the narrative

Sources of the Self: The Making of Modern Identity

The Narrative Construction of Reality by Jerome Bruner

Paradox in the context of complex emotional clarity.

Integrity: Courage to tell the truth as you see it.

Promethean Power: To create something that never existed before.

The tension between being and becoming (is where the story usually sits).

“The gaze” to claim power over the many dimensions of sight and seeing.

Drucker: Theory of female pleasure that can emerge from production. Laying claim to the marvelous, entering the space of meaning, the right of vision, clairvoyance and agency. 

Women are the “Silent bearers” of ideology in Western literature. Women have made the “necessary sacrifice to male secularity” which finds its expression in materialist, public activity in a world that cannot – indeed will not – accommodate a woman of action.

Male action/personal fulfillment requires: Selfishness, hardness, ingratitude.

The duty of women is to live for others. Those who indulge their ambition often grapple with self-loathing.  Male action stereotypes the majority and silences the rest. Result for women is anxiety of authorship.

To paint, to write, to think — is to take authority.

The woman who moves, who acts, who copes with vicissitudes and seeks adventure is the minority.

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Evolution of God

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Even in the ultimate Abrahamic theological refinement – monotheism itself turns out to be a feature of the bible that comes and goes.

Edward Tylor – founder of Social Anthropology.

Early religion: Did what good theories are supposed to do; explain otherwise mysterious facts economically.

Radcliffe-Brown observed that Andaman Islanders were reluctant to awaken people, since illness might ensue if sleep was interrupted before the soul came home.

Human nature has two basic innate mechanisms that incline us to treat people nicely: Kin Selection – evolutionary dynamic that leads us to sacrifice for close relatives. Reciprocal Altruism – leads us to be considerate of friends.

Hunter- gatherer religions don’t consider their beliefs to be a religion. Rituals and beliefs we label as ‘religious’ are so tightly interwoven into their every day thought and action that they don’t even have a word for them.

The general absence of moral sanction in hunter gatherer religion isn’t puzzling. They lived in intimate transparent groups (30-50 people). Wrongdoing was hard to conceal – and this is how we are hard wired to live.

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Narrative Fallacy

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We like stories and we like to summarize. We also like to simplify and reduce.

Our vulnerability to over interpretation and our predilection for compact stories over raw truths, severely distorts our mental representation of the world – particularly acute during the rare event (i.e. Black Swan)

Information wants to be reduced. Explanations bind facts together and help things to make sense – but this is where it goes wrong because it increases our impression of understanding.

Problems of Induction: We must examine what can be inferred about the Unseen; what lies OUTSIDE the information set – then we must look at the Seen.

We can get closer to the truth by examining negative instances vs. observed facts.

What you don’t know is far more relevant than what you do know.

The very nature of randomness lies in its abstraction.

Avoid learned philistines: They are the blue collars of the thinking business.

When dealing with uncertainty – the worst thing you can do is to FOCUS.

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Hilma af Klint.

193 abstract paintings divided into groups and subgroups making reference to contemporary developments in the world of science and religion.

Codes and Symbols: Logarithmic spirals and tendrils represent evolution. The letter U stands for spiritual world. W= Matter. Overlapping discs signify unity (creation and invisibility of genetics). Yellow roses= masculinity. Blue+lilies=femininity. Green=blue+yellow+ male or female/good or evil.

Themes: Duality, the pursuit of an original oneness. Reconciliation of divisions. Reduction and purification. No traditional narratives.

“they portray the astral plane in color and form”     “Systemic visualizations of complex philosophical ideas and spiritual notions”    “Imagery intended to lead the viewer to other levels of awareness.”  “… to glimpse another universe”

She had no lobby, no market, no internal support, no collections, no museums directories — she hid her work. As if it was one big thought experiment and yet in her journals she openly describes herself as a pioneer.


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Notes on Screenwriting

1st question for every scene:
What does the protagonist want? This is the super objective.

Next – break scene into shots and assign meaning or an essence to the beat.

What are they literally doing?  vs. What is the essence of what they are doing?


The purpose of each scene is to create order – so start with disorder and let the beat be about the attempt to restore order.

Trust yourself to judge if something is any good.

The process for each scene is re-forming the super-objective to better understand the beats (essence) and then reframing the beats to clarify the super objective (ultimate want).

Try to avoid a lot of dramatic structure within a scene.

You will be humbled by the constant screaming demands of the craft.

What happens next? That’s all we really want to know.

Tell a story. Don’t make it sloppy or trivial.

Let the story tell you how to write it.

The story will fight back – it KNOWS how it wants to be told.

There is the objective of the scene and the meaning of the beat. When you really nail these and put in effort to figure them out your subconscious will reward you with answer. But you pay for subconscious help by agonizing over structure.

Don’t narrate with dialogue.

Strive to make a silent movie.

Answer the most important questions first. Then reason backward and answer the smaller.

Most emotional situations call for restraint (not all).

Do NOT split focus in terms of a protagonist’s need. And do NOT repeat the same incident in a different guise.

Show the struggle of the character NOT her idiosyncrasies/wacky habits/odd knowledge.

What the character is literally doing (the doable action for the actor)

What is the essential action (the deeper meaning behind the literal action)

What is the nature of the relationship between the characters (define it)

Eliminate all ideas about what the character feels in favor of what she is trying to accomplish. Then the scene becomes about the degree to which she succeeds or fails and the reaction of the other person while she’s trying to fulfill her action.


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First Symphony: Listenable; somewhat modern. Tonal – but tonality shifts – characterized by a moderate amount of harmonic dissonance.

Second Symphony: To “October” – B Major (scary key). No recognizable melody or tonality. Structure and instrumentation are new: It is in one movement and finishes with a chorus.

A constructivist work: Totally independent movement of various instrumental parts – inclusive of things like an F# factory whistle.

Third Symphony: “First of May” Unifying Rhythm rather than a musical theme. A tonal work. No fixed key (polytonal – but E flat Major) Mild harmonic dissonance.

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