Recent blog posts in the category Uncategorized / General:

It Ain't Me Dept.

Are you your characters? And should you apologize for them?

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2014/09/27 19:00

Rob Barba has a post in which he talks about not being apologetic for the excesses of one's characters. I think this goes almost entirely without saying: you are not your characters, and so just because you create people a certain way doesn't mean you are advocating the kind of people they are, etc.

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Tags: characters fiction writing


Here's Your Engraved Invitation Dept.

Writing: there's a best way, a right way, and in the end, your way.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2014/09/26 10:00

Over at Brad Warner's blog there's a discussion of that old standby, the Right Way to Meditate. His take on it, as best I understand, is that the first mistake is assuming there's a right way, and the second mistake is assuming a right way can be taught rather than discovered independently.

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Tags: Brad Warner Zen creativity writers writing


Nonbiodegradable Dept.

On ephemeral culture that never gets around to being ephemeral.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2014/09/21 10:00

Not much time to blog the last couple of days, but I did want to circle back to Wednesday's post, where I touched on how we are creating a world in which nothing is ever really ephemeral or disposable. Culture has become like that garbage patch in the Pacific that never completely goes away, because of the disturbing preponderance of stuff flung into the ocean that doesn't biodegrade.

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Tags: creativity culture


Do It One More Time Dept.

On the philosophy of sequels (and why I'm on the "against" side).

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2014/09/17 16:00

Why Back To The Future IV never happened | Den of Geek

What else do we really need to know about the adventures of Doc Brown and Marty McFly? We spoke to Travis Knight, who runs the animation company Laika [Boxtrolls], about sequels in general. His company has never made one, and he specifically said that "when you look at a story, ideally, the story should explore a pivotal moment in the protagonists' life. If we're doing a sequel, by virtue of what it is, it's going to be a diminishment. The second most pivotal moment of his life?"

This is as succinct a statement of my own philosophy on the matter as I'm ever likely to come across or utter on my own. A story has at its center a character, and the story is about something momentous in their lives. Everything after that tends to be, as far as drama and storytelling are concerned, "the second pressing of the grape" (as John Wayne once put it so floridly in his gloriously awful Genghis Khan pico-epic The Conqueror).

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Tags: creativity sequels


Men Of War, Men Of Peace Dept.

On the contradictions (?) between Buddhist nonviolence and the violence that protects it.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2014/09/16 10:00

Monks and Laypeople, War and Peace | Hardcore Zen

... [Buddhist practitioners are] able to live lives that allow us to self-identify as special, peaceful people in contrast to those awful, violent people out there. ... We’re able to create the illusion that we live in a bubble of peace and we start thinking, “If only everyone else could be just like me, the world would be as one!” We fail to see how we can’t be barefoot Zen hippies unless someone else is willing to be a tough-as-nails, jack-booted cop to make sure nobody messes with our fantasy world. That’s a shame. That’s us retreating from reality rather than confronting it.

This is a fascinating insight, one Brad has raised a number of times in the past before, and one that I also think sticks in the craw of people who consciously identify with Buddhism or "peace"/nonviolence generically. We depend for protection on the very things we deplore; without them, we don't get much of a chance to do anything. How to resolve this contradiction?

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Tags: Buddhism Zen sociology war


Die Neue Mensch Dept.

The new American man doesn't have to be a dudebro or a feminized wimp; he can be a step in the right direction.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2014/09/12 10:00

The Death of Adulthood in American Culture - NYTimes.com

It is now possible to conceive of adulthood as the state of being forever young. Childhood, once a condition of limited autonomy and deferred pleasure (“wait until you’re older”), is now a zone of perpetual freedom and delight. Grown people feel no compulsion to put away childish things: We can live with our parents, go to summer camp, play dodge ball, collect dolls and action figures and watch cartoons to our hearts’ content. These symptoms of arrested development will also be signs that we are freer, more honest and happier than the uptight fools who let go of such pastimes.

Most of the rest of the essay is the usual potted Hollywood sighing and hand-wringing, but this part was interesting, and I think for reasons that Scott was not himself conscious of when he wrote it. Maybe he was trying to be ironic.

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Tags: culture sociology


Critique Is Magic Dept.

My Little Insight: "'there's a point where a pleasant lack of cynicism ... becomes insular naivete.'"

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2014/09/11 10:00

A point to consider:

A BRONY TALE Movie Review: Cynicism Versus Naivete In The Land Of Equestria | Badass Digest

... there’s a point where a pleasant lack of cynicism (cited in the film as a principal reason for being a My Little Pony fan) becomes insular naivete. My Little Pony fans - as presented in A Brony Tale - are characterised by steadfast and all-consuming devotion to their fandom. Devotion is often an admirable trait, but it’s important to be able to critically analyse the entertainment you consume. Being able to pull apart your favourite pop culture is a step towards doing it to the world you live in, which I believe is absolutely vital to functioning in today’s society.

Emphasis mine. This is why I enjoy getting all these sidelong ribbings from people -- some of whom know me well, some of whom don't -- along the lines of "C'mon, it's just a [movie|book|TV show|comic|advertisement], why you gotta take it so seriously?" Well, that's the problem, isn't it? Nothing is ever just such a thing; it's a contextual part of the world it comes from, and once you've been woken up to how such a thing manifests, it's hard to close your eyes and go back to sleep.

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Tags: criticism culture


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