Exploration, Analysis, and Theory

People who either explore or analyze, but don’t do both, never construct theories.  Like the effect of three points whose sequential observation suggests a point, then a line, then a plane, theories have three phases of formation.  The first requires exploration, it is when you make observations of things you cannot categorize or understand, things you cannot describe or explain, but you see them anyway, and you make notes, having no idea whether the notes will ever serve any purpose.  You have to do this kind of random, for-fun exploration to be primed for the second phase, wherein you are able to analyze data because you now have data to analyze.  This is the second point of the three; it is where you construct your theory, and only the analytical do this.  If you analyze only, then you never get to the second phase of making a theory.  If you explore only (or if you play only), then you never get past the first phase of making a theory.  After first exploration and, second, analysis allow you to form a theory, further phases of exploration and analysis verify and expand your theory.  But while some thinkers understand this, I think many people, if they do either exploration or analysis with any seriousness, only do one or the other significantly.  There is even disdain held by the merely explorative, by the merely analytic, of the other discipline.  But you have to do both…if you want to construct a theory.

Exploration, Analysis, and Theory

The Moment You Decide You Like the Story

Every proper narrative has a moment when you decide you like the story.  Before this moment you are not sure.  After this moment, you relax, because it is the moment at which you come around to being fully on the side of the protagonist, the moment at which, regardless of whether the protagonist succeeds or fails, you will still be on his side.  That is the moment you are entrenched with him regardless of outcome, because he has demonstrated that he cares about what you also care about, so that even if he fails, he fails trying to uphold something that you, the viewer or reader or audience member, also want upheld.  If any story is about a disruption of an ideal by the introduction of a challenger, wherein the conclusion is the final destruction of one and victory of the other, then this moment I am talking about is the moment that you, the audience, squarely believes in the challenger ideal.  This is not at the end of the story; at this moment you still don’t know which one will win.  But you know, at this moment, that if your hero dies, that he died in a fight you believed in, that his cause was one worth dying for.  In Lost in Translation this is the scene where Bob Harris touches Charlotte’s foot in the overhead shot while they doze off next to each other in bed after their intimate conversation.  In Frost/Nixon it’s the scene where David Frost confides to his girlfriend that his show has been cancelled.  In Lost in Translation, in this scene, we know that our hero, Bob Harris, is fighting a fight that deserves fighting, given the rest of the movie that has played for us…in that case, we know that the intimacy he is seeking can occur, for him, without copulation.  In Frost/Nixon, in this scene, we know that our hero, David Frost, is fighting a fight that deserves fighting, given the rest of the movie that has played for us…in that case, we know that he wants to win the interview, that he has to win it, for himself.  In Lost in Translation, if Bob Harris either didn’t want intimacy with Charlotte or he needed intimacy with Charlotte to include copulation, then the battle wouldn’t make sense given the rest of the movie as constructed.  In Frost/Nixon, if David Frost didn’t need to win the interview for himself or if he needed to win it because of all the people around him who need to win it, then the battle wouldn’t make sense given the rest of the movie as constructed.  Those are the scenes, and in general, this is the moment, at which we see that, essentially, the hero understands the narrative…or the hero is congruent with the rest of the narrative as presented.  It is the moment at which we are sure that the hero we are watching makes sense within the context of the story being presented.  It is before the hero wins or loses, but it is the moment at which we as the audience know that the hero is fighting the same battle as the battle that the storyteller is telling us is being fought, by telling us the story that they have told us up to that point.  After that, you still don’t know what’s going to happen, but you relax at that point as a viewer; and this is the scene that people will always tell you about when they talk about a movie they weren’t sure about at first, if they were unsure of it because of story.  This is the scene, in proper narratives, when the reader decides that they like the story being told.

(When this moment happens in the timeline of a story is telling.  In stories aimed at emotionally mature audiences, this moment will tend to be in the second half of the timeline.  That’s because in that type of story, there is more of a distinction between the internal struggle of the protagonist and the external struggle he’s involved in; also in that type of story, the internal struggle is more emphasized, hence this moment tends to fit later and later in the timeline.  For action movies or comedies with unsophisticated plots, this moment is very early in the story’s timeline.  In simple stories where the struggle is primarily an external one, this moment happens early in the story, even at the very beginning.  In complex stories focusing primarily on inner conflict and inner meaning, this moment happens later and later in the story, even at the very end.  For example, in the movie The Island, this moment happens at the beginning; whereas in the book The Catcher in the Rye, this moment happens at the end.)

The Moment You Decide You Like the Story

10 Reasons It’s Awesome People Don’t Like You

“10. It allows you to be true to yourself. The biggest disservice you can do yourself is shape-shifting to please your audience. It’s exhausting (even to watch) and, more importantly, pointless. No one will get to know who you really are, which will leave you feeling empty.

9. It gives you the power to say no. I truly believe people are good at heart.  That being said, it’s human nature to test boundaries; and it happens all the time in relationships. When you’re willing to be disliked, you’re not afraid to say no as it suits you. Both your yeses and nos shape your future, so choose them wisely.”

Read the rest.

10 Reasons It’s Awesome People Don’t Like You

Not yes

We have trained ourselves to accept whatever deal we are offered and not to negotiate. The only socially acceptable answer is yes, when often the only right answer is no. We click “yes” on legal documents we have not read–saying no is not an option if we want to participate. And we must participate, or we have no life. What would we be if we did not participate (in what was presented to us, without our real agreement, without our part in negotiation or formation of the activity, without our help creating the activity). We must accept the contract offered us by a corporation or we will not have a job. It would be wrong of us to offend our employer by throwing their shitty benefits package back in their face: to progress, we must acquiesce. We must acquiesce silently at that. To say no would be to cast ourselves off, to say no would be to run from the path. The one path, the only path. There is no discussion, no negotiation, no creation; there is only to follow (with a yes) or to die (with a no). But no is the answer.

I have to be on the internet if all my friends are on the internet. No is the answer here too. No is the answer to the internet and the telephone and no is the answer to work and sex and listening and medicine. No is the answer to eating lunch with workmates. No is the answer to working. No is the answer to agreeing to follow laws just because someone wrote them. I can follow laws and I can break them. I can continue relationships and I can abort them.

People who wear ties are ridiculous. Everyone wears ties because everyone wears ties. This is the most horrible reason for doing something that was ever invented, and yet this is the reason most people use to explain to themselves why they are wearing a tie. What does that tell you about most people? Wearing a tie for this reason is required in order to participate with society in the form of having a career, and yet wearing ties for this reason is morally wrong. It’s morally wrong. It’s not simply conformist, it’s unforgivable, it’s illogical, it’s anti-meaning. It is, in total, morally wrong.

It’s socially unacceptable to be outspoken when someone wrongs you. Yet to remain silent is a violation of conscience; it is morally wrong. So you see that to be socially acceptable in such a situation is morally wrong. And yet we’re taught the opposite. Social acceptability is held as an imperative. When in fact it is often morally wrong. It is illogical, amoral, nonsensical. It is, in fact, wrong.

A person is not a form, a response to a form, or a machine built to respond to forms. A person is not a yes to a generic question (how could it be?). A yes to a generic question is the counterpart to a form. A signature is the counterpart to a form. The person’s equivalent of the counterpart to a signature is not a form, or anything like a form. If a signature is a response to a form, if a yes is a response to a form, then what is a person the response to? Not a form. A person has no business responding yes to forms or signing them.

Tests do not tell you what you want to know. If a test tells you what you want to know, then what you want to know is meaningless.

A test is not a conversation. In a conversation, both parties can be surprised. In a test, usually neither party is. The issuing party certainly won’t. When choosing a test as an evaluation method, the issuing party may be aware that they don’t want to be surprised. To choose not to be surprised is failure. It is anti-life. It is a mistake to choose not to be surprised. To choose to issue a test is a mistake. The choice to issue a test is made when the issuing party is unable or unwilling to enter a conversation. This is not of value. It is not a contribution. It is impossible for the issuer of a test to discover something new, something new to them. To proceed that way is false, it is idiotic, it is dead.

To take tests is a lie. To give them is a farce. An invitation to participate in farce is an invitation to lie. The response to such an invitation is not yes.

Not yes