Heart Foundation Tick !

This blog focuses much of its attention on how the narratives we absorb, define our identity – not only as psychological beings, but also as social and collective beings. Stories form our national identity, our religious identity and our ethnic identity.

Not only do the stories we tell describe our world and viewpoint, but in turn inform our action in relation to this world. It’s a cyclcial, a dialogic relationship.

So keen attention to our art and cultural forms such as narrative is vitally important to our heart: our social and psychological health.

Ode to Charlie Kaufmann

Every now and then you read/ watch stories that are just so unique, creative, odd and freakishly brilliant that you sit up straight.

This is the case when you watch a Charlie Kaufman movie.

Screenwriter for Being John Malkovich [1999], Adaptation [2002] Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind [2004], and more, his stories explore the surreal, and often absurd inner worlds of artists and loners.

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Being John Malkovich, his first major success, is perhaps also his most bizarre and most genius work. It  features a down on his luck puppeteer, Craig, who discovers a secret portal into John Malkovich’s mind, on the 7 1/2 floor of his workplace. Chaos ensues when he begins to tell others of the portal and begins to sell access to it. Craig, uses the portal to live vicariously the life of a successful artist; however, the discovery that the portal can be used to prolong one’s life signals the beginning of the end for this over-reaching mortal.

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Adaptation tells of Kaufmann’s own experience attempting to write a screenplay of The Orchid Thief. Originally Kaufmann suffered writer’s block on the project, and instead used the experience to later write Adaptation. In the retelling,  Kaufmann added a fictional twin brother Donald, obsessed with screenwriting a block buster screenplay. Charlie, determined to be true to his art-form suffers terrible writer’s block while Donald succeeds in selling a six or seven figure script for a cliched psychological thriller. The film is full of angst and self-examination about art, success and the self loathing and jealousy involved in creating commercial work.

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The Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind tells the tale of Joel and Clementine, two strangers who meet on a train and are immediately drawn to one another. Through flashbacks, we learn that the pair are ex-lovers who after a break up, underwent a  procedure to erase their memories. We see Joel even while unconscious, battling against the procedure and attempting to hide memories of Clementine in the recesses of his mind. As each memory is subsequently erased, we learn that the technician delivering the procedure, Patrick, is at that time dating Clementine, and illegally viewing Joel’s memories to gain romantic advantage. Another technician, Mary, finds this out and confronts Patrick concerning her own memory erasure after an affair with her married boss. In protest to Patrick’s breach of confidence, she steal all the company records and mails them out to all customers. Joel and Clementine receive their records soon after meeting on the train and despite being strangers to one another, consider rekindling a relationship together.

Kaufmann bears his heart on screen. He explores all his own insecurities, and like other Jewish writers and comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and Woody Allen, turns it into beautiful art.  Amongst the notes of angst and introspection however,  he adds a magical realism that transports the viewer viscerally through the mind and memory.

 

How to Write an Novel in 30 days.


… the secret is not to go to sleep until you’ve written your words for the day. You might be sleep-deprived, but you’ll finish your novel.

Now is my book the next great American novel? No. I wrote it in a month. It’s awful.

But for the rest of my life, if I meet John Hodgman at a TED party, I don’t have to say, “I’m a computer scientist.”

No, no, if I want to, I can say, “I’m a novelist.”

 

This inspiring TED talk was given in 2011 by Matt Cutts, an engineer at Google. He convincingly argues that 30 days is just about the right amount of time to add a new habit or subtract a habit.

What are you waiting for? The next 30 days are going to pass whether you like it or not, so why not think about something you have always wanted to try and give it a shot.

Paolo Freire and “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed”

Any living or breathing creature cares about the plight and welfare of others, especially the equality [or inequality] of wealth, resources and services such as health care, education, freedom of speech, etc.  How to achieve equality of resources though is a much debated issue, especially around election times.

Do we budget tightly and stimulate business at any cost [capitalists views], or do we tax the wealthy to redistribute wealth to the disadvantaged, in an effort to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor [socialist views]?

Articles such as this, from the Quora digest this week, address the problem of the distribution of wealth:

So “redistribution of wealth” is a tricky thing.  Money isn’t wealth, and if you redistribute it, it doesn’t really change anything.  You need to redistribute (or even out via other means) ownership of the means of value-creation, which is a far more complicated thing to do – you can’t easily tax a rich guy a portion of his factory (not as easily as you can tax liquid profits in the form of money). Thus, the real problem you’re looking to solve is “how can I make it so that the poor control a larger proportion of value-creating power?”

http://www.quora.com/Distribution-of-Wealth/Why-cant-the-poor-be-handed-out-lots-of-money-to-make-them-rich

The term “value creating power” is an interesting point to dwell on. If not simply referring to production power [factories] alone, could it mean value in the form of information power, wealth of mind, of heart, of connections, of knowing and of being?

How then does a society create equality of consciousness among people?

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Paulo Freire [1921-1997] was an Brazilian educator and philosopher who believed in the power of education to allow the oppressed to regain their sense of humanity. His seminal work “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” [1968] questioned traditional education methods, which might simply replicate prevailing power structures. He labelled this a “banking model” of education in which the student is treated as an empty vessel to be filled with knowledge. Instead, he advocated for a “co-creation” model of education. This model, particularly used in literacy projects amongst adults, enabled the learner to question social domination of race and class that is woven into traditional education systems.

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Having grown up in colonial Brazil and experienced poverty himself first hand, he acknowledged that the powerless in society can be frightened of freedom. He writes,

“Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man; nor is it an idea which becomes myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion”.

So the redistribution of power and wealth comes through struggle on behalf of the socially disadvantaged themselves, a struggle first for belief in their own spiritual and moral freedom to be agents of change. Interesting.

In 1961, Freire was appointed director of the Department of Cultural Extension of Recife University and in 1962 he applied his theories to literacy programs, when he taught 300 sugarcane workers to read and write in just 45 days. His successes were both supported and and at points censored by various governments.

Freire believed that,

“education makes sense because women and men learn that through learning they can make and remake themselves, because women and men are able to take responsibility for themselves as beings capable of knowing—of knowing that they know and knowing that they don’t.”

Freire’s work explains how and why the mere re-distribution of wealth away from ther rich to the poor is not sufficent to create equality. Equality exists as much in the struggle of the mind and heart. Once adults can not only read and write, but have the power and strength to accept their own freedom, then they can question power structures of race and class and reclaim not only “means of value creation” such as businesses and factories but also, books, films, stories. They can bring others of the “oppressed” with them and fight for the equality that every human desires.

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