Cusp of Reality Blog

The Psychologist Looks at Characters

 

 

An Emerging Character

Internal Conflict

Something emerged as I was writing the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. It was a tug of war between a writer and a psychologist. One might think immediately that this conflict could be a real asset. The truth is much more complicated than that.

It seems likely that similar conflicts exist in other creative enterprises. My dissertation dealt with painters and how their personality might influence their work. In fact, using the personality typology of Carl Jung, it was clear it does influence their work. Is that information useful to the artist?

Might he or she step back and do a different kind of analysis of the painting taking shape? They might, but their art is not a cognitive enterprise. It seemed best for them to let their creative processes flow. I doubt the person considering their painting would really be interested in those kinds of contributions for something to hang on their wall.

A Different Kind of Challenge

The written word brings a different kind of challenge. Of course it is reflected in the particular form of that written word but a similar tug of war can take place. The very matter of plot and character interactions lends itself to construction and it is easy to slip into analysis which may affect content, direction and style. With characters we hope the reader will be attracted or repelled by them depending upon their role in the story.

As a psychologist there came a point where I had to deal with my own inclinations. In life I have to contain my analytical tendencies. In seeing friends or in social occasions doing dispassionate analyses of the people with whom you are interacting is not typically a good idea. In fact it gets in the way of life.

I have, from time to time, been told a person was disturbed by the feeling that I was analyzing them. Most of the time I was doing no such thing. That is, unless there were warning signals which indicated I needed to be on my guard for one reason or other. Sometimes you meet someone who seems intent on manipulating you and the situation. My inner psychologist kicks in at once.

Around the Edges

In developing characters there is an essential conflict. Spending too much time on the analysis can be stultifying for the story. Often there simply needs to be a flow. The character has to live within and emerge. At least that is what I’ve concluded. There may be other approaches.

A good example for me relates to my lead character in book 1 of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. Avery is a bright, dedicated young woman but in the background is the fact that she had lost her parents in an early part of her adulthood. She wanted them back and had felt abandoned.

When she finds that she has another kind of family I wrote her as doing a lot of whining. Such a reaction under the specific circumstances of this story is completely understandable at least to me. But most people would contain it inside which is what I was relating to. When it became clear it wasn’t working I had to reconstruct her. It worked a lot better. Sometimes reality in storytelling simply does not work.

The Bottom Line

This example is what I, as a psychologist, had to view. I’m sure many writers have things they have to face in their writing—things that are coming from inside of them. It was not a matter of my personality but reflected my training. Each form of art has its own pitfalls and I suspect that many writers of fiction have to wrestle with components coming from within themselves. In some instances it may enhance the work or it may yield flaws which must be dealt with.

In what ways does the “inner you” affect your vocation or art?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The Promise of Interregnum

Into the Future

 

Can you see the way forward?

Some of the next few posts are a departure but are related to the essence of the blog Cusp of Reality but also the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. This is not a time of clear stability, to put it mildly, and one of the underpinnings of the Trilogy is that we are shortly to embark upon a very new era. This perception has led me to do broader explorations. And what I found is fascinating.

It would be simple to sit back and observe recent events and shake our heads at the seeming futility and foolishness. We are beset by a political cycle in which the key elements are pandering and manipulation. We may view it as futile or may see in it a transition. There is talk about politics but it is reasonable to take a larger view and that we are seeing a new wave developing regarding not just the United States but the world.

Below you will see a quote from Jonathan Taplin in which he indicates that his view relates to the last gasp of the “establishment” and that we are in what he calls an interregnum. I believe in the essential validity of his perceptions.

And in the next post I include commentary on two items drawn from Wikipedia which relate to defining and describing neoliberalism and neoconservatism. The evidence is right before us. We see in these descriptions a great deal which gives us clarity about recent events. And later I will present material from Paul Mason’s book Postcapitalism. The case he builds for what is coming is supported by much of what we have already seen.

As difficult as these times are, this material presents the idea that this is a transition of great importance. Gradually all its components will be revealed including the role of women in the future.

Interregnum article:
View story at Medium.com

The Establishment’s Last Gasp By Jonathan Taplin
“The Italian philosopher, Gramsci defined the concept well:”The old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum many morbid symptoms arise.” This sense of being trapped between a dying establishment and a new order that is not quite formed, plays itself out in four areas. In our domestic politics we see a populist dead end battle as an older, whiter America invests its hopes in Donald Trump and such people as Ted Cruz to stave off the multicultural state filled with immigrants and young people in which they are no longer the majority of citizens. In the world of business we see the giants of the carbon economy (Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries, Peabody Coal) fighting to preserve their businesses in a world that must transition to a clean energy economy. In fact that economy is well on its way. Similarly, the giants of Wall Street and Silicon Valley are fighting against real regulation of their businesses and serious taxation of their billions in capital gains. And finally in the world of international affairs we see the forces of the military industrial congressional complex battling to keep an $800 billion military budget in order to preserve America’s status as the sole hegemon, even as they realize that the future is a multipolar world.”

Do you feel trapped, hope or something else?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Adventures in the World Pt 1

 

Engaging Europe

About here I thought a change of pace and focus might be desirable. And so let me begin with some observations from times my family visited Europe when I was young. It began just after World War II. I was very young during the war and could not grasp the horror. I saw films but in person it was quite different.

Awakening

Of course there were no Nazis goose-stepping around. There were people working to put their lives back in order. In London we had dinner with a doctor friend of my father and his family. It was cold cuts. There was still rationing and meat was precious.

London itself was a shock. Yes, I had seen pictures, but walking through cleared streets with great piles of rubble on all sides was humbling.The people were pleasant and welcoming but, even after all these years, I have to say there was a sense of silence as if they were trying to regain a view of what the future might be.

Rather than go into greater detail and sequence, let me just touch on some recollections.

Vignettes

Paris was pristine and beautiful. I mentioned earlier seeing a haunted shop girl and I’m sure there was an undercurrent I could not appreciate. It has to take time to recover from such a dreadful occupation. I know the answer but thought about the absence of a statue in a square to thank the German general who declined to act on Hitler’s orders to destroy Paris.

In a later trip we went to Germany. By then repair was well under way. The people were generally welcoming. I think the fact that the Marshall Plan helped them recover must have been crucial. In Munich I saw my father talking at length with a man he was buying a camera from who was deeply scarred. He had been a tank commander during the war and was forthright. Outside I could see deeply scarred buildings sitting next to glossy new buildings. Scars of all kinds were everywhere.

We encountered another component of lasting conflict. We went to a restaurant for lunch and were seated. Nothing else happened. We were ignored. We finally simply left understanding that not everyone was going to be welcoming after such a conflict. Devastation of all kinds can be enduring.

Dreams

Looking back I can see that those trips were unlike anything else I experienced. Too often we simply go somewhere and hang out at a resort. On those trips we had in depth experiences for ourselves and those around us. We could not know the full extent of the personal suffering nor did we really want to know.

But the richness of cultures in Europe ofter lead us to dreams. Depending upon your age there will be dreams which are touched and enhanced. In Rome I loved to see the Alfa Romeos streaking around the streets. Their guttural sound was stirring. Of course there were the romantic films at the time. And so at night I could lie in bed listening to the echoes of the sounds of these sprightly cars and dream of driving one someday while I appreciated the lovely young woman next to me.

I’ll leave it there. I just seemed to have needed to share a little of things from long ago which give glimmers of our lives, who we are, and instruct us. They deserve gathering and consideration.

What are your most precious memories?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

 

Regarding the Cusp of Reality

 

 

What do you explore in your life?

The Blog

Humankind does not simply exist on earth. We may in time cease to exist as a species or we may continue to evolve as we have in the past. Our time on Earth is a voyage of exploration and it seems valid to believe that we may face not just future crises but also substantive remarkable changes.

This blog is a thought document given to guide our exploration of where we individually and humankind may be going. It comes in the form of a “what if” and the name of the blog indicates that truth is often ephemeral, personal and social just like the fact that our currency is backed by nothing other than trust. Thought informs us and so do stories such as in myth or romance. And so we seek direction and substance as we can find it.

One of the vehicles for this exploration is the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. The books compose more than a story but also contain a philosophy and hope including hope for true partnership. The themes chosen grow from my experiences over the decades. Their exploration may help inform our perceptions of future efforts.

The two most important themes relate to the empowerment of women and the probability that we are on the verge of unprecedented change.

The Promise of Humankind

This is a deeply troubling time. Not long ago we were heartened by events in the world. They included the Arab Spring, emerging nations, rapprochement with Russia, the rise of Africa, China opening to the world, among others. But it is as if the edifice we were building has crumbled. Much of the promise internationally has proven to be ephemeral. And domestically we are mired in a seemingly insurmountable political confrontation built on obstruction with no goal holding clear promise.

In the coming posts I will continue to explore components of confrontation and failures along with the elements of future possibilities. There are a number of ways to do it and I chose two paths. One is information which is definitional in part and includes thought documents born of my belief in asking the what if. So, it will be approached from the real world but I also believe in exploration through mythology in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy where there is often illumination and fundamental truth.

Also statements will be included regarding what I call the wave format in human development and history. Human development has hardly been glacial with slow steady movement into our future. Rather, it is fitful and I view it as coming in waves which may be destructive but also can move us forward easily or dramatically. And, just as we see at the seashore, there are moments of peace and consolidation.

Interregnum or Denouement

Thus, we embark on an exploration in the real world and the world of myth. I hope you will find it interesting and it includes the gift of hope and promise. You will now see definition and related thoughts regarding our present circumstances. I believe the next wave is on the horizon and a key part of its promise is that it bears the fruits of the empowerment of women.

It appears valid to call this time an interregnum and in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy I term it a denouement. In Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called we begin the exploration. The two pillars are demonstrable as we inspect real world events and inspiration using a mythological cloak where women are central.

Do you believe we are on the verge of substantive change?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

 

Origins and Sources for The Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy- Part 1

Inspiration and the Author

Whatever That Means

As soon as I input the word inspiration, something inside of me asks, “what?” At once I understand. Inspiration is defined by Google as “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative”. Does that help? Not for me. Like so many things, it raises more questions than answers and the stimulation is not just mental.

A familiar image is of the author sitting before a typewriter (now a computer) waiting for something to stir him or her or give them direction. First off we have to wonder why the author came to sit there if there was no clear inclination of direction or clarity of substance.

Inspiration does seem to have an independent life of its own. Partly because books of fiction have roots inside ourselves. Nonfiction may be simply our need to give clarity to a real world subject. But fiction is another matter.

A Process Without Clear Delineation

At the same time it just may be that we are wasting our time trying to define inspiration because we are led into a cave with a myriad turning points and possibilities. Sometimes it just may be that we have to accept that we are being stirred by something we cannot immediately define. It may be that where we begin may be nowhere near where we end up.

As such it may be best to see what we can do to focus an idea no matter how vague and see if an outline of some sort may emerge. As a psychologist I often come back to the idea that things are often not what they seem. What we call reality has anything but a hard edge and certainly inspiration may be fuzzy. We may have to simply take inspiration off its leash or find a way to do that.

A Road or An Adventure

In fiction we are certainly looking for a way down a road, an adventure of some sort. The beginning is to simply start down the road. And the road we choose may be very different depending upon the stage of our lives. We may be searching a purpose for ourselves, looking to reveal something to others or even doing an assessment of where we have been and its meaning.

Finding a Beginning Point

Looking back I have to wonder where the beginning of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy really was. There were just two general thoughts. One was that in my life I search for possibilities and that I’m entranced by mythology. The simple explanation was that I found myself focused on the meaning of mermaids. In their own way they are so prominent. As a story began to develop it became clear that women were central and that another root was the matter of the empowerment of women.

From there I found an outline was becoming insistent and steadily clarified as it grew and grew and grew. Since I am hardly at the beginning of my life I had to realize I was doing an assessment and was turning pages to think further about what may lie in our collective future. Together we can see where it leads and search out the substance of meanings.

What is inspiration for you?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt