3, 2, 1, impact…

I found that I’d grown fond of asking the question, “Are there any films that take place entirely within one room?” It wasn’t entirely clear why. In preparing for this  post I found a list of over 100 movies the compiler claims satisfy this query. Of these, I’ve seen barely 10% but none of them precisely tell me the answer is “Yes.”

Most of the movies on the list fall into the jump-scare horror and/or torture-porn buckets. However, the best example of almost one-room stories among those films I have scene would be Rear Window (Paramount Pictures, 1954). Even in this some of the action does take place elsewhere.

Why ask the question?

The central reason is one of motion – as it turns out. Movement is essential to drama. If nothing moves, we have a painting. They can, in a sense, tell a story. They can certain move us – emotionally. But that’s not really the same thing.

Movies can be art in and of themselves. A few spring to mind pointing that out. Segment 5 – Crows – in Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams (Warner Bros., 1990) and Episode 10 of Season 5 – Vincent and the Doctor – in new NuWho (BBC, 2010). Oddly enough both of these examples involve van Gogh.

The quintessential presentation of it, in my opinion, is Cameron at the Art Institute of Chicago.

moved


“This I thought was very relevant to Cameron—the tenderness of a mother and a child which he didn’t have.”

“I used it in this context to see – he’s looking at that little girl – which again is, a mother and a child. The closer he looks at the child, the less he sees, of course, with this style of painting. But the more he looks at it, there’s nothing there. He fears that the more you look at him (Cameron), the less you see. There isn’t anything there. That’s him.”

John Hughes


Seurat’s work was begun in 1884 but took two years to complete – placing it a century before the release of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Migration-Tree-plan

The chart here is part of various “visual outlines” for Astral. This doesn’t only show each of the 62 interstellar colonies of Earth but the factions

As an outline, to me it shows the despair and paranoia of one of the villains. The chart demonstrates some of the incredible obstacles faced by a large portion of the society Astral examines. In making this image more than one scene coalesced for me that I hope will illustrate – in the writing – the suffering of one particular faction stemming from the policies of the powers that be.

Every journey will have obstacles; sometimes it starts with misplaced keys. Any trip might begin in a mix of fear and hope.

Toward the end of May I wrote about woe and joy in travel and quoted Dr. Henri Poincaré with regard to hope having somewhat more weight. He also once said, “The mind uses its faculty for creativity only when experience forces it to do so.”

This is true both of writers and their characters.


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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

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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.
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“Let me sum up.”

An annoyingly catchy tune from 1992, Dizz Knee Land by Dada, has been on my mind for the past few days – but with “Dragon Con” substituted for “Disneyland”.

thom at dragon conNote: I apologize if that song is now playing on repeat in your head.

This will be my second year attending Dragon Con. I will be posting a schedule of the panels on which I’ll be presenting as the date grows a bit closer.

This event is, as you might suppose, always very exciting. It has been a busy year for me since my first time there. I’m in progress on two novels, which readers of this blog are aware. Together with my coauthor and business partner, Leanna Renee Hieber, we have introduced the adorable “feels assistants” – a.k.a. Pandora’s Pets to more than 100 customers and a growing number of stores. I was quite honored to develop the four separate covers for Ms. Hieber’s upcoming release of the Dark Next Chronicles.

DNCWe have both written separately for an illustrated anthology of Lovecraftsmanship that’s expected to launch in October – probably just in time for Halloween. Along with the other two members of PsychWing (i.e., The Nerdy Duo) we are developing a short science fiction film.

combo logo

It has been a year (plus) of dreams coming true.

Note: Until after Dragon Con there may be a slight disruption in my once-a-week posting to Surfing the Zeitgeist.

ceteris paribus…

It is probably reasonable to assume that the faith of our parents, if any, is assumed in our early years to be the only faith. I remember noticing and asking about the different iconologia and emblemata of the 14 houses of worship in my very small hometown. It was a disproportionately large number of options. For reasons that are beyond the scope of this post, I was a member of at least five different congregations belonging to different Christian denominations before the age of 12.

And prior to that age, the United States was ramping up to its Bicentennial celebrations and participating in the first two Olympics of which I was aware (some years before the Winter and Summer Games were split and staggered). On display at home was a vast array of old and newly minted patriotic symbols. Each nation of the more than 90 competing The Games (half the world at the time) had brought an entirely different selection of icons to the stadium.

Surely formal education contributed to an awareness of how much larger the world is than I might have imagined before adolescence. But the diversity of religious and national expression was given sharp emphasis by experience and observation. This has allowed me to acknowledge that dignity can arise everywhere on the planet – from each person who will allow it to manifest – regardless of place of birth.

There is a vogue in political thought here, the notion of American exceptionalism. The nation may unfortunately have been born with it. The soil here is not a magical home plate (to employ the metaphor from our “national pastime”). It isn’t where a person is born or lives that makes their accomplishments special. Accomplishment and the person who achieves it are both special – anywhere. I’m not running for office. I don’t have to perpetuate a myth.

As readers of this blog may have guessed, flags and maps fascinate me. A flag is not just the equivalent of a postal code. It is a declaration of a certain set of beliefs and, it must be said, opinions. A map is more than a tool for where to find things. For me, maps have long and collectively been metaphors for the intrinsic potential of what things may be found.

thank youSurfing the Zeitgeist is intended to share my perspective on the value and mission of creative expression – along with a certain view on the universality of potential. The above map shows the nations from which Visits have been made. I track this as a reminder that there isn’t just one zeitgeist to surf. Each visit is more than a “pin in a map” for me. It’s a vantage point – a reminder that my point of view is only one way of examining the zeitgeist. I’m curious about them all – and I think I always have been.

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.