And that got me thinking…

It may be safely assumed that writers approach their work by different paths. It seems likely that, having once been a scientist, my road is a bit more systematic than that of others. But I am also an artist with more than a passing interest in map making – the art that became a science (if I may borrow the subtitle of Lloyd A. Brown’s book).

While watching the news, I noticed a curious gap in a weather map. The clouds seemed to be consciously avoiding a very large region. When I say that I think visually, I really mean it. This prompted my imagination to follow some curious tracks – musing on fiction and on a dozen different kinds of maps.

Most of my thinking eventually takes the form of a map in one way or another. I could blame Tolkien if this hadn’t already been my habit long before I read any part of his legendarium. So – if the clouds were deliberately leaving at least three States off their itinerary – Why? What’s happening in there anyway? What are those clouds afraid of?

Two maps grew out of these questions:

Mantoacmantoac map

|

|

|

|

|

|

|

|

|

Once I have three novels* off my To-Do List, the saga these maps describe will be the next one on. There are two dozen or so presently hidden layers in the Photoshop file that amount to a literal – visual – outline of the story in question.

My method of musing probably wouldn’t work for everyone. There are a few people I can think of that might find this an odd wending. Storytelling as an art reflects how we see the world and/or how we’d like to. Sharing a story is a very different process than crafting one.

Posts here don’t have maps in their origins. I’m going to save myself the time of wondering what those might look like.

* Working titles: All We Now Hold True, A Song Heard in the Future, and Air Raid Sirens
And, yes, each has at least one map associated with it.
_
☿℞

Advertisements

Reinventing a few specific wheels…

In the early ‘90’s, I accidentally reinvented Robert Plutchik’s “Wheel of Emotions”.

715px-Plutchik-wheel.svgAt the time I was employed as a Human Resources manager. I had taken the position in what turned out to be the wholly wrong assumption that the existence of HR departments within corporations was an admission by companies that they are soulless entities and that some sort of concession had to be made. Presumably, employees have souls even in the soul-crushing environment of the cube farm.

Logic dictated that any visit not involving interviews of those seeking employment would be by someone already with the company who was some shade of mad or sad. Whether we should wish to be glad at all times we do have that wish. So, I knew where visitors to my office wanted to “go” but their exact “point of origin” was too broad and vague. I do not believe that I am unique in not liking to be surprised by people. Wanting to help others as quickly as possible may be somewhat more rare.

I needed to craft a tool that would help me help the employees who came to see me. It was, I suspected, akin to a navigational problem. Beyond that, there were two ingredients to my Emotion Map, the color wheel and a quote from Spider Robinson.

Mad, sad, glad; what else is there?”

Mad is traditionally matched to Red. Similarly, Sad is associated with Blue. That left the healthy hue of Green for Glad. Other emotions were set on the color wheel by making some estimations of triangulation.

What’s twice as far from Glad as it is from Sad? What’s the midpoint between Hope and Gratitude?

I don’t have a background in psychology and, as you might guess from any of my previous posts about Vulcans, approached emotion from an almost scientific stance. I was possibly detached. Emotion was not my field.

It shouldn’t be surprising that my map and Plutchik’s Wheel disagree in terms of placement of specific emotions. But there’s another significant difference. My map places extremes of feeling, such as rage and bliss, on the perimeter of the circle. This is the opposite of Plutchik’s illustration. In the center of his model the colors are bright, fading toward the outside. My map fades to pure white in the center.

I felt that the more confusing, mixed emotions should be in that white space. It’s difficult to tell frustration from apathy. The center of my map was part of the tool; it was the doldrums around which I hoped to help, in my HR capacity, each visitor avoid on their course back to Glad.

color wheelNote: I’ve left labels off a new map as I’m revising it gradually.

Although I don’t still have the original copy of the Emotion Map, and I’m no longer working in HR, I do still use this theory. More recently — within just the past year or so — I’ve begun to revisit it. I’m less detached. I’m feeling more. I am now cultivating the field of my own emotion rather than merely surveying that of others.

And I think that’s making me more effective creatively. Art and writing without emotion cannot hope make an impact, can it?

Bubbling up…

Talented coauthor and dear friend – Leanna Renee Hieber – shared with me an opportunity to contribute for an upcoming anthology. She and I are among those asked to blur the line between fact and fiction in each of our separate pieces. During the writing I was able to refer to a pair of maps I’d made over ten years ago. At that time I was playing an online game that was a little light on details. Maps of Lemuria and Mu were made to assist other players in visualizing the play environment. And since they took a rather long time to create, I saved the files. I’m truly glad I did. LemuriaThe artistic approach for the fabled sunken continent of Lemuria began with a bathymetric map of the Indian Ocean and the coastlines provided by theory. In the case of Mu, there is not a precise border so the coast used a similar process to build out that of real, existing islands. mu mapIn the online game mentioned above, these maps were to record fictional claims on imaginary lands. They were used while I wrote to keep certain details straight. Sunken continents have always fascinated me – at least since 2nd grade. It seems odd that we’re taught the myth of Atlantis before the dynamics of continental drift. Details about the anthology can’t be provided here but updates will be when available and appropriate. I’m curious how each contributed piece (mine and that from Ms. Hieber included) might work together as a whole. When it is released, I believe I’ll be reading it with the same sense of wonder I hope other readers will.

i⁽ᵗ/ᵉ⁾ = :)

Postulate: There is a very easy way to determine if one has an artist’s soul.

The formula/title of this entry presented in words would be – “(the) imaginary, raised to the power of time divided by energy (or effort), yields a smile“.

If – while engaged in the act of creation – one smiles, one is likely an artist or may “soon” be.

“Soon” is a variable. The specifics of the act may also not be a constant. Both the process and product might seem radical and/or irrational. If the creation, intended or not, proves smile-inducing – should it not count as art?

Pandora’s Pets are part of my art and process. As individual creations, I smile at each one as they evolve. I have been fortunate enough to sell nearly 50 of them – not counting the Pets out on consignment.

As a group – and as the subject of an evolving “mythology” – they satisfy the need to remind myself of patience, innocence, and hope. They will also be featured in an illustrated book for inner children (in progress). It deals with emotions and stars Pandora and her bestie, Hope.

Pandora's Pets 3

Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.”
Henry Ford in his autobiography, “My Life and Work” (1922), speaking about the Model T in 1909.

The Pets‘ horns and black coloration are obvious but they are intended and presented as creatures of hope (ἐλπίς, or elpís, in the original myths). Their appearance and presence in my own mythology probably dates to about my first birthday during college.

I can no longer say for certain but they might have stemmed from “personification” of attention to detail. The tiny and good devils in the detail, if you will.

The most frequently used word regarding Pandora’s Pets when I am presenting them to potential customers is “adorable”.

They just make me smile.

Where Did I Leave My Keys?…

As I mentioned on Dec 1, mythology claims Teiresias worked in a bird observatory (oionoskopeion). Whether it was in Thebes or outside the city is a matter of some debate. And I’ve decided to go with Laurenberg’s placement – next to the Citadel.

A Song Heard in the Future*, the working title of my novel, uses TeiresiasTower for many critical scenes. I am painting it as the home and headquarters of the Spartoi, the Seer’s grandfather and great uncles. It served as his tomb until (presumably) destroyed by Alexander the Great (335 BC).

My storytelling has been mainly as a raconteur and presenter before Leanna Renee Hieber encouraged me so effectively. In the past, more than a few of the tales I told were the plotlines of roleplaying games. I never quite left the hobby. A few years ago I became fascinated with paper model terrain and started making some models of my own.

I can handle two birds with one stone – in mapping out Teiresias‘ home and making the paper model kit. When finished, the model will stand about 8 inches tall. If it turns out well, I’ll be selling the kit to gamers.

While writing this post and determining what title it should have, I remembered an old “joke” of mine regarding prayer and how frequently it seems to go unanswered. Imagine that muttering aloud about a wallet temporarily missing during the morning routine counts as a prayer. There could be millions of such distractions in a single day – worldwide. That could eat up a lot of time for addressing more important petitions to the Divine.

It likely won’t be in Song but I can imagine Teiresias might be asked, “Where will I find [missing item]?”

Teireseia's Tower scaleup

* The title is a quote from Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poem, Tiresias.