Complexity and depth help engage and involve the audience.

“The nature of a novel is that it has no opinions, only the dialectic of contrary views, some of which, all of which, may be untenable and even silly.”

Anthony Burgess   

 

MEANING

 

  DEEPERIN FICTION

 

 

Q. What are imagery and symbolism? 

A. You’re always saying more than you know. So, make sure you’re saying what you mean. 'Symbolism' refers generally to metonymy, one way or another, one thing howsoever suggesting if not signifying another, however similar or different, the systematic utilization of symbols in order to represent or allude to something or anything else, particularly as a rhetorical device central to the meaning of a written work, and especially including the revelation or suggestion or Objective Correlative of intangible conditions or truths by just such artistic invention.

Indeed, the range of art ever extends from the sensory to the cognitive, the prosaic to poetical, and the concrete to the abstract.

Religious experiences such as possession, trance, visions, dreams, miraculous healings, dramatic forms of conversion and various shamanic experiences in diverse setting and milieu, often take narrative form. Symbolic Anthropology is a field of Cultural Anthropology exploring verbal and non-verbal symbols including narrative, dreams, myth, ritual and icons. Anthropologists examine the link between symbols and a society's cognitive structure or worldview/POV, rules of moral conduct and patterns of social interaction. studying the meaning and the structured interrelationship of symbols. Symbolic play, is such as wherein toys or props may signify and stand in for other things and phenomena.

Indeed, the poetical sensibility of art often entails pondering and reflecting upon ideas and problems but via the unique conceptual medium of images, visualizations, sense memories and the like, as opposed to rhetoric, conceptualizations and linguistic abstractions otherwise. Indeed, imagery may be employed to remind us, by approximation, of whatever meaning said imagery may represent, either conventionally within a culture, intentionally by the invention of the writer or even quite surprisingly in reception by an audience, depending upon one one asks, because in delving layers of subtext and ambiguity the experience thereof becomes richer and more thought provoking.

Layers of subtext and ambiguity render the experience thereof that much richer and more thought provoking. Of course, all such subtexting does also run the risk of somewhat questionable free association and projection, actual creativity rather than wholly reliable deduction, perhaps occasionally somewhat far fetched, no matter the various different Factors Affecting/Effecting the Reading of Texts. For, one way or another, art usually strives at communication. And The Problem of Meaning in Literature begins with the age old conundrum of layered text, context and subtext, of whether meaning is simply recognition of authorial intention, text content , or even created by the reader in response either thereof, each and all along with the Pathetic Fallacy respectably rejected as THE 4 DEADLY FALLACIES in favor, instead, of an hypothesis of reciprocal creative misunderstanding from fecund ambiguity.

Zen  in rejection of explanation as such, likewise strives for clarity and preciseness of allegorical imagery, pointing to that which defies direct description, all in the ardent cultivation of immediacy and awakening to mindful heightened awareness of experience, and thence the rejection of conceptualization as burdensome self-conscious encumbrance and suffering, wherein the Zen quests for the complete abandonment of understanding as such. Indeed, the draw of cult initiation into the quest for enlightenment and the snares exploitation alike, is in the hope that with perseverance all that is nebulous, obscure and even dubious, will become intelligible and important later on.

The common Sophistry is in how any manifest contradiction is readily defended by appeal to the ineffable and inexpressible of poetical metaphor not intended as literal. For Mystical traditions such as of the Zen, typically condemn Philosophical theoretical abstraction in favor of their own claimed genuine Mystical insight that they cannot share with the uninitiated. Of course, in actuality, poetical metaphor and symbolism is analyzed, interpreted and debated extensively, only every day! Indeed the Faliblist science of Psychology, rejects perfectionist verificationism, freely conjectures and never surrenders the struggle for better abstract articulation, even of the conundrums of inner life, despite the perpetual inevitability of imperfection, error and inadequacy, even of bias because of necessary context whereof science seeks no utterly fresh start and makes no Zen struggle for emptiness in clean sweep of the maya. The scientific quest for truth is by systematic doubt, but not transcendental, ongoing error detection and course correction, not by any attempted renunciation.  

For the truth remains that imagery is hardly actually necessary to begin with for abstract thought, and indeed even seemingly somewhat unwieldy, indeed perhaps among the least practical of intellectual tools, but actually only the more challenging. And so, where is any advantage therein thereby? The answer is, emphatically, that the entire point of employing imagery symbolically or evocatively nevertheless remains in howsoever greater economy, stronger impression or greater familiarity with whatever selected images, than with whatever more difficult and as yet indistinct ideas represented for examination in order to be clarified.

Moreover, an image may be rendered so specifically in its focus and particular selected descriptive detail as to render all other broader aspects vague and alien, indeed, to increase the difficulty, effort and length of imaginative perception as an aesthetic end in itself in order thereby prolonged, all in quest of unfamiliar new recognition even of the most familiar and thereby to express anything more.

For in art for it's own sake, in authorship no less than performance or presentation, and beyond howsoever polemic, the experience of the process of construction may be the salient motivating goal ever put forth the more so than whatever finished product or end impression.

As another artful way to show, don't tell, symbols arise and enrich from analogy, allegory and imagery, events even forshadowed by anticipatory imagery, even to the point of Pathetic FallacyHence, the symbolist movement sought to convey very personal, irrational, and dream-like states of consciousness, relying heavily on metaphorical language, and the interpretation of symbols and metaphorical association also plays an important role in psychoanalysis, especially as envisioned by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Of course, all such subtexting does also run the risk of somewhat questionable free association and projection, actual creativity rather than wholly reliable deduction, perhaps occasionally somewhat far fetched.

In 'The Forgotten Language' (1952) Erich Fromm distinguishes between between three distinct types of symbol:

Even though in the most literal sense, all language is symbolic being metonymy, generally symbolism refers to the use of iconic figures with particular and even conventional meanings. Symbolism is an important element of most religions and the arts. Indeed, many cultures incorporate complex symbolic systems which assign certain attributes to specific things, such as types of animals, plants or weather.

Well rounded fictional characters like unto the real people they generally represent, are wont to associate emotionally to setting via meaningful key "objects" or personal symbols, not only real physical props, decor, senses, smell, mood, ambiance, light and sound, but also triggers of memory and motivation perhaps focused thereupon, sentimentality after a prolonged absence, or to heighten or show any range of affect and motivation from tragic loss to pleasant anticipation.

Not only is symbolism employed in the euphemistic description of sex, but sex, likewise and conversely, is often symbolic euphemism, deftly sublime or tastelessly inept, and for all manner of other relations and phenomena, sacred and profane. Moreover, waking or dreaming, every aspect or nuance of human relations, sex especially, is often imbued with any range of extrinsic significance, even far short of fetish and paraphilia.

Indeed, just as the saying goes, sex sells. And potent symbols are deployed in advertising media for consumers to manifest self-image and crucial personal development or progress via the ongoing acquisition of significant possessions. As ever, marketing often strives to confuse and inveigle the consumer in to compensation for genuine underserved needs, via the elicitation of positive associations and mystique, seldom actually substantiated in whatever goods or services.

 

symbolism and polysemy

And whereas a word seeks for definition and disambiguation, as professor of British literature William York Tindall observes, a symbol, rather, by it's nature and usage, polysemic and freighted with multiple, related meanings, strives for expansion in reflection of the ambiguity and and often value loaded abstraction out of memory association and personal constructs of social cognition built from successive red herrings, innate naturally flawed Epistemological Methodology, the ambiguous diffŽrance of symbolic condensation allows for a host of potential responses depending upon context, textual, cultural or entirely personal and individual to the reader. Integrative symbolic compositions are often evocative rather than merely indicative, abstract rather than concrete, to encompass both thesis and antithesis as in the Zen dualistic opposition of Yin and Yang, often somewhat vague in sheer expansiveness even of the fragmentary, religious modes of being and transcendent mystical connection or associations including mythic magical rhythms of existence, powers and influences of similarity and contiguity as exposited in 'The Golden Bough' A Study in Magic and Religion by the noted Anthropologist Sir James George Frazer in 1922.

Indeed, the symbolism of the Pathetic Fallacy brings to light the entirely subjective, either to character POV or authorial voice. -At least barring anthropomorphic prosopopoeia, or literal personification of Fairytale unpremeditated magical realism. Even if perhaps melodramatic and implausibly convenient, the Pathetic Fallacy is an aspect of writing style finding typical particular utilization most saliently pertaining to setting and even situation wherein descriptions are often intended to reveal moral or psychological aspects of character.

Because motivated characterization is shown by external description of physical appearance including physical characteristics often constituting symbolic elements along with meaningful names, Setting The scene and more, along with relationships and contrast between characters (foil), perhaps symbolic of any larger abstraction, with development or not, and any better hidden revelation and understanding gleaned from the reactions of others, dialogue and action; but also revelations of any character's own thoughts and feelings, via straight exposition or rhetorical discourse directly providing needed background information from the authorial POV, introspection of any character's private inner most thoughts and feelings from the POV of inner life, even interior monologue attempting to portray or convey, in words, the process of consciousness or thought as a means of narrating a story, even stream-of-consciousness of experience, the entire subjective Phenomena, as it passes by, often quite at random. All of which may be rife with personal symbolism and imagery.

A glove may represent the hand which wears it, or a portrait, no less obviously, the person depicted. Or a symbol may come to stand even quite distinctly, say, to equate for whatever the point however said symbol may come, one way or another, to show by demonstration, for example, as the practicality or impracticality, or any other function, priority or value, for example, of a possession for said quality likewise of the owner. Setting and even mood, likewise.

However, more generally, meaning arises less from however so precise correspondence or identification of sign to object of meaning signified, than at all adequate differences and distinction of one category from another. The multiple meanings symbols admit, (to reiterate) poetically, with ambiguity and abstraction out of memory association and personal constructs of social cognition built from successive red herrings and innate naturally flawed Epistemological Methodology, remain indeterminate, even ambiguous, and thereby, resonant in metaphor, theme, tone and subtext; POV all redolent in theme.

By contrast, excessively pat, trite, glib and superficially complete allegory insults the intelligence, and often at the expense of unique and original well rounded and multifaceted characterization.

 

Q. What arevalues?

A.   Click here

 

Q. What is meaning?

Man is the measure of all things.” Protagoras

A. creative human intelligence ever strives for meaning by way of association, for interference of connection between aspects of experience that brings about comprehension in the mind. For Socrates such is the quest for truth, but for Protagoras, an Evolutionary Epistemology favoring adaptive fitness and better function in perception and understanding, not truth as such. Either way, the ineffable, even knowable, even transmissible, nevertheless defies explanation or description. And living knowledge (as opposed to poorly indexed knowledge impractical to retrieve at will, that is rightly called: inert), serving renewal and vitality, is growth, the experience of change put into practice, learned behaviors never immutable but ever subject to re-adaptation, emergent in collective interaction, tacit, highly charged and redolent, profoundly with the sensibility of drama, may even skirt the ineffable, often defying ready articulation let alone routine management via knowledge-driven Epistemology. As Popper observes, even the literal meaning of word or term, being at all intersubjective, can be inferred only Empirically from observation of usage.

Because even if literally Jonah in the Bible was swallowed by a giant fish, we now better know and understand whales in reality to be, like dolphins and porpoises, mammalian cetaceans, sea going bovines, aquatic cows! Which makes more sense, because whereas whales hold great volumes of breath, however fetid, by contrast inside of a giant water breathing fish, Jonah would have quickly drowned even before being digested! Likewise, regardless of "Pro-Life" antiabortion propaganda exploiting the ill informed etymology of the very word 'conception' as the beginning of new life, actually conception is merely the inception of development of a new individual of whatever species. Actually life in and of itself, through fertilization, remains continuous beck from the very origins of  life on Earth up until the preceding lives of the parents and thence via their very much already living zygotes into the inception of the development of a new individual of whatever species, as yet unformed into existence, and yet to develop any consciousness. For just as with logic, without Empirical data, language alone cannot discover truth which is correspondence to reality in assertions. That is why Popper rejects the quest for meaning in favor of the investigation of reality

Ideas are DESIGNATIONS or TERMS or CONCEPTS or else they are STATEMENTS or PROPOSITIONS or THEORIES. And STATEMENTS or PROPOSITIONS or THEORIES may be formulated in ASSERTIONS, perhaps TRUE (correspondent to reality) and even in turn reducible by DERIVATION to simpler PRIMITIVE PROPOSITIONS ultimately unto infinite regress, but never to any mythic first principles. Likewise, DESIGNATIONS or TERMS or CONCEPTS may be formulated in WORDS, perhaps MEANINGFULLY and even in turn reduced by way of definitions to concepts in turn begging further definition likewise unto infinite regress and never to any mythic self evidence. Meaning is not a property of real phenomena, rather meaning must be created and assigned in the mind, interpretively. Indeed, Plato held that patient reflection upon the whys and wherefores any instance or experience of subjective beauty can reveal some meaningful truth in an idea.

Nevertheless, meaning in the poetical, Philosophical and literary deepest sense of human implications and consequence vests the dharmic neutrality of the indefinable and classifications of merely physical and implicit consequence of mechanistic causality, grappling with the dharmic and karmic indefinable classifications of causality, and ever best achieving "unity of action", Sequence and plot logic with relevant karmic value, point, the meaning of life, inspiration and motivation of howsoever pleasurable and even euphoric engagement, susceptibility and stimulation of the mind or exaltation of the emotions to a high level of feeling or activity even to sudden exciting thought and spontaneous creativity, with purpose, interest, engagement and satisfaction howsoever in the doing instead of the dreary and painfully meaningless and futile drudgery, empty diversion, interpersonal superficiality and sheer boredom so many endure; perhaps such as beyond self, connection and contribution, even Altruism in service to others. 

Because meaning, including value, none the least morality and even esthetics, are Phenomenal and contingent subjective experience no less than comprehension and reflection along the arc of motivated character growth.

The vital importance of meaningful conversation

Meaning of values: THE THIRD FUNDAMENTAL  as relates to boredom

striving for arête: mastery and meaningful purpose and value maximization.

meaningful but fraudulent: Existential Validation

Of course, to quote Jacques Monod in rejection of the Pathetic Fallacy: "The first scientific postulate is the objectivity of nature: nature does not have any intention or goal."  Indeed, in the immortal words of Protagoras "Man is the measure of all things"  because there is no intrinsic meaning in any sense; for meaning at all, let alone value, is an aspect of human experience and comprehension that the Zen mystics strive so quixotically to transcend as unjustified. Indeed, desirable values even as far as sheer necessities of life at all, let alone any further amenities or loftier concerns, are not logically reducible, but simply a matter of human nature, ultimately as innately biological and therefore arbitrary as survival instinct to begin with, let alone pleasure principle or meaningful engagement. But we are all still biological.

By howsoever suitable interaction, somehow adequately to associate and partake in anything oneself admires, esteems, howsoever values even exaltedly if not transcendently (never mind ever impressing anyone else, uplifting as it ever may be to share and express), thus is meaning even in the deeper sense no less, all the more created and discovered in the mind. And therein lies any prospect of communication and propagation, expression sharing such values and aspirations, but also the possibility of error and the opportunity for manipulative fraud.

The upward arc of dramatic structure applies to literary meaningful drama plumbing greater depth and substantive revelation, often via subplot, similarly as with the more transparent buildup of tension and rising action in any ripping yarn. And each must be formative in character development, growth or at least definition. Just as, beyond serving as pretext for whatever preceding action, the solution to a mystery must satisfy novelty, pathos and plausibility, and just as every story requires a dramatic apex, so too does even the most latent, trite, trivial or light weight, light hearted narrative still cry out for some surprising thought worthy meaningful and revealing apex of understated Literary depth and insightful subtext into character interaction, some clever pearl of micro-satori or: theme, however fleeting and tiny, anywhere at all along the way, again, often via subplot.

Indeed, Plot situation and character motivation, together equal dramatic destiny, because the literal oxymoron of inherent meaning as a poetical figure is inherent only dharmicly implicit in causal consequence, the function and importance of plot logic in drama, while, dualistically, simultaneously, as a matter of POV, subjectivity, reflection and Representation of consciousness, also alluding to purpose of personal fulfillment, Perceiving What's at Stake in Your Story along with the six core motivations for dialogue, all relevant value, what matters deeply, none the least of which being classic reversals as in the estrangement of the bullied idealistic whistle blower, pressing positive disintegration and growth if not towards the highest self-actualization then at least to realer freedom and autonomy, all without which life itself threatens Zen futile Ecclesiastical vanity! and such literal meaning, only then, as may be expressed, also, in the intention of deeds, including that which is most broadly signified in the act of communication of any message with the six core polemically purposeful and dramatic motivations for dialogue, TEXT and subtext all in CONTEXT, information content, ideas, indeed conveying Phenomenal subjective experience or understanding, unless, most narrowly, scientifically, literally and precisely, denotatively or referentially, that which is signified and thus conjectured, is simply and clearly whatever corresponding objective reality, Ontologically, hence, also, implication, inference of evidence, and logically inherent and implicit consequence and Deterministic inescapable causal effect, that inspires bleak fatalism but also liberation, optimistic hope in better knowledge and even wisdom, for discovering better choices, autonomously.  

Hence, misdirection, whether error circumstantially and honestly, by deliberate manipulation or even hamartia and self-deception, is key in moving from promise to catastrophe. Frequently, the self conscious illusion of individual will is only the burden of responsibility in hindsight, an artifact of the personal narrative facilitating growth.

Some say that one becomes addicted to shame when another's heart is closed to one, because, however excruciating, the sheer megalomania of taking the blame protects one from the ugly truth that we really have no control over others and the universe or God. We can't make either love us or, ultimately, even protect those who do. Put more simply, then, and in complete good faith, powerlessness, the impotent helplessness of the human condition is terminally demeaning.

And beyond direct action, our influence upon others may often be even the more misguided and deluded. Life can only be lived forwards, but only understood or recognized in hindsight.

Existentially, what then is freedom, indeed for whom is freedom? The dramatic scene breaks down into Motivation-Reaction Units: Immediate reactions are often reflexive, but then conscious deliberation ensues upon what action to take next. Or does it? Life can only be lived forwards, but only understood or recognized in hindsight. Indeed, do we consider our options and consciously take action, or do our actions simply come upon us as we react to situation, and only then rationalize afterward? People often make their most important decisions with their heart but only then rationalize intellectually. Motivations and goals as ever set forth thereby, meaning as only created in the mind, interpretation, values, moral sympathies and empathies included, so often ambivalent, are not willfully intended in free agency but received and imprinted in receptivity as we discover ourselves subject all thereto. Most dramatically, relationship, the impression made by characters upon one another, often dawns upon the individual in emotional response to events unfolding. Only then is action undertaken, consistently with characterization, often giving rise to conflict and Setting The5 scene.

Hence, Problem Solving and Justification are reciprocal functions, and one must be shaped to rationalize the other, with integrity or else into hypocrisy.

In the words of Toni Morison: “The ability of writers to imagine what is not the self, to familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power.”  For as Eve Tushnet points out in Eros and Education, even so integral and elemental a vital impulse as sex is meaningful expression of Eros, more than the quest for completion and transformation, the oft frustrated desire for connection, liberating union with alien difference inevitably first demanding resolution out of conflict on every level arising from any dread of the vulnerability entailed.

No less than sound Epistemological Methodology, likewise the very dawn of comprehension, even the incipient discovery of meaning, all demand more than the mere Inductivist agglomeration of unparticular data.

For if it is, indeed, true that there is, after all, no disputing tastes, just as goes that annoying vapid old canard, then Esthetics at all, much less Literary criticism, is null and void, futile, actually worse off than xeno/exo/astrobiology, the famous discipline without a subject, because even until extraterrestrial life forms are ever discovered, at least said remains at all conceivable. But if beauty is, indeed, merely in the eye of the beholder, entirely subjective, then, objectively, it would seem that there can be nothing to sensibly discus, let alone ever find in all the universe.

But then, meaning, including value, none the least morality and esthetics, are Phenomenal and contingent experience no less than comprehension and reflection.

Indeed, there may be hope that the arts are not completely arbitrary, because of cutting edge studies in musicology, defining the characteristic patterns in what makes a melody pleasing. For this suggests that the preferences of taste are only partially personal and idiosyncratic, certainly in large part cultural, but also confirm that taste, after all, is an aspect of character, psychology, hence partially biologically innate and in common to the human species and intersubjective. Otherwise, art would never evoke, much less communicate, meaning and value.

So, how does any of this apply to the art and discipline of fiction writing? The answer is  in the suggestion that the age old dictums of drama and the writing discipline, are not, after all futile or without value, but simply insufficient, incomplete like the fixed biological component of musical preference, a manifest beginning for the exploration of conjecture even if not the last word.

In science exceptions constitute refutation. And yet, even then, verisimilitude, imprecision approaching truth, may yet persist, as with Newtonian gravity until anything better came along, despite observations in contradiction, for the indispensable uses it still had. Or, more saliently, psychology remains, even to this day, hit or miss, frustratingly imprecise for testable psychotherapeutic predictions, and yet viable hypothesis of profound explanatory significance and still the most viable hypothesis supported Empirically. Moreover, much of the most sophisticated psychology remains manifest in the sagacity of great novelists, a sensibility. Indeed, what is drama, save lies pointing to some truth, however obvious, elusive or both, of the human condition? Indeed, such are the age old dictums of drama and the writing discipline, always subject to exceptions, because life is the study of exceptions, because there is always more to it not less, the art, soul and genius, along with the indispensable discipline of fiction writing, that nevertheless, soulless, churns out only hack.

After all, allegory, as in fiction, endures as the most elusive of techniques, constantly seeming to be other than what it is, redolent with the ambiguity and uncertainty of the world depicted.

And all of that is only why any sort of genuine writer must strive for competence, ever standing at the ready to pick apart technique in order to be able to exchange criticism, meaningfully, so as to however grow in awareness and appreciation of how and why any fiction at all in whatever medium ever held their attention and reached them, and how to apply the same principles and techniques as a fiction writer oneself. 

Layers of subtext and ambiguity render the experience thereof that much richer and more thought provoking. Of course, all such subtexting does also run the risk of somewhat questionable free association and projection, actual creativity rather than wholly reliable deduction, perhaps occasionally somewhat far fetched, no matter the various different Factors Affecting/Effecting the Reading of Texts. For, one way or another, art usually strives at communication. And The Problem of Meaning in Literature begins with the age old conundrum of layered text, context and subtext, of whether meaning is simply recognition of authorial intention, text content , or even created by the reader in response either thereof, each and all along with the Pathetic Fallacy respectably rejected as THE 4 DEADLY FALLACIES in favor, instead, of an hypothesis of reciprocal creative misunderstanding from fecund ambiguity.

 

 

Q. What are Active Reading and Listening?

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.   Simone Weil   

A. Reading comprehension frequently demands that much more than simply decoding of the very words and then parsing of phraseology. Indeed, motivation whatsoever, the passion persuasive at all of taking a focused interest, remains ever crucial. While difficulty does not automatically confer greatness, nevertheless often worthwhile content and fuller experience thereof, can demand some greater effort also of the readership and not only from authors ever striving to find, involve and engage their audiences rhetorically and dramatically.

In an experiment with the formatting of text, it was discovered that some prefer shorter line length facilitating “faster” reading, easier because it requires less eye movement, while those preferring longer line length appreciate having more information readily available on a page all at once.
And in all likelihood, the same principle applies even to sentence structure:
Short sentences in succession may seem more readily digestible, but longer compound sentences help relate more ideas at a glance.

Indeed, one common impediment to
speed reading, either skimming quickly for an overview or scanning briefly for specific information, is sub vocalization while another is the tendency for the eye to scan every word. And remedies include actually passing ones finger over a line of text faster than one can sound out the words. Also try looking slightly above the line in order to focus upon grammatical clusters of words. With practice one can accustom oneself to see and understand phrases simply even by glancing over them. But that requires practice and may find only somewhat limited application to complex materials. Instead, deciding what seems useful or not, "Key Ideas" to ferret out include causal connection, as in plot, but also theme.

For the Strategies of Active Reading no less than engaged Effective Active Listening,
is reading such as involves active cognition and comprehension, indeed, reading with purpose. -Conscious effort to hear, observe or read, then analyze, assign meaning to and respond, as applicable, to what is being communicated. Just as the mind is more than a passive receptacle of knowledge, likewise there is more to be gotten out of reading than simply decoding written text.
 
The memplex of taboo, first and foremost, recursively prohibits by behavioral conditioning, all explicit expression of of taboo. Hence, vagueness may be the instinctual danger signal of taboo, awkward questions and worse answers. Indeed, lip service notwithstanding, that after all, we only learn from our mistakes, formal education systematically rewards right answers and punishes mistakes. The resultant taboo upon question towards clarification of whatever may not be fully understood, relegates conversation to the comfortably familiar, ruling out novelty and discovery in the Dialectics of conversational adequacy in cooperative miscommunication detection and repair, even active reading and listening at all. This amounts to an effective taboo upon reason itself and honesty as well.
 
Tip: We all understand how fluent literacy entrails ability to read without sounding out the words. Indeed speed reading requires not even hearing the words mentally, because that takes more time and slows reading down. It is my hypothesis that Active Reading, particularly may run afoul of a similar and seemingly common sensible bad habit: that of reading sentences into short term memory before parsing them. This may accrue needless difficulty with longer sentences and expressions, regardless of grammatical correctness and sound composition, let alone additionally any possible errors or ambiguities. The solution is simple: Do not try to read whole sentences and expressions into short tern memory before parsing them. Instead, better mastery of the written language, entails a significantly different process of better concentration in active reading, even quite unawares and by second nature: that of scanning the text, eyes darting back and forth over the text, continually, either until the message resolves and the meaning is decoded, or until whatever errors or ambiguities are detected and identified. In this manner, instead of over burdening short term memory resources and raising needles anxiety, the text itself is used like extended RAM, to reduce the burden upon short term memory and amplifying processing power for active reading, comprehension and intelligent response. Moreover, whatever problems become more intelligible for the dialectic process of Miscommunication Competence, detection and correction of errors and clarification of ambiguities.
 
Ironically, this very ability is the very opposite of the sort of thing they usually test for in diagnosing learning disabilities predicated upon weakness of short term memory "like writing on water". The better solution is not in seeking metaphorically to freeze the proverbial water to make it a better cognitive scratch pad, but instead to make full use of the external memory device that is the written language. By this method, texts that really should not be so difficult, no longer will be. You might say: The eyes have it!

Tip: More intuitively, in case of incomplete comprehension, Improv, actually pretend, play-act understanding and then explain, either to another or to yourself, out loud, silently in your own mind or most productively, in writing.
 
Often we understand more than we think! Note what does and what else does not make sense. Subtext clues: Consider context and background. Articulate questions as to whatever remains unclear. And whenever you find yourself still really getting stuck, just mark or note the section and take a much needed breather.
 
The very opposite of engaged Effective Active Listening might be Constructivist Listening, a process of passively allowing a person to talk without being interrupted, with nary ever a care regarding Miscommunication Competence or Conversational Adequacy, indeed wherein listeners neither overtly respond nor interpret at all, neither to paraphrase, analyze, proffer advice nor seek to relate via personal stories, all because people are simply held to be capable of solving their own problems by thinking aloud. -All very much in accord with Nihilistic value destruction as implicit to the Solipsistic Zen position upon dialogue.
 
Indeed, bearing in my mind that listening is to be for whatever the other's benefit, in Constructivist Listening one simply does not ask questions for one's own information at all, nor need much care. Constructivist listening, then, seeks the benefit of expression but without valuing communication. An applied Narcissistic Solipsistic Zen paradox of taboo and the intimately impersonalized.
 
And as much as genial good listeners may be pleasant to be acquainted with in real life, nevertheless, in dramatic writing, naturally all such characters must be poisonously dull.
 

“A man who listens because he has nothing to say can hardly be a source of inspiration. The only listening that counts is that of the talker who alternatively absorbs and expresses ideas.”

Repplier, Agnes

 
Relevant living knowledge (as opposed to knowledge that is rightly called: inert), serving renewal and vitality, is growth, the experience of change put into practice, learned behaviors never immutable but ever subject to re-adaptation, emergent in collective interaction, tacit, highly charged and redolent, profoundly with the sensibility of drama, may even skirt the ineffable, often defying ready articulation let alone routine management via knowledge-driven Epistemology.
Fully reading, no less than really listening, is hard work, the effort of sustained engagement born of concern and involvement, which takes a lot of time  

 

 

Q. And what was the question?

A. Aye, there's the Existential rub! Just what is the question -of Literature?

Or is the very endeavor of Literature effete and pretentious virtuosity for it's own sake? Is writing to an educated audience merely incestuous? Did you know that firemen actually used to actually rescue burning books?

Literary fiction concerns itself with multidimensional characters and circumstances or situations, even however perplexing ambiguity allowing room for interpretation, yet memorable and timelessness in how one relates either thereto, but beyond mere and simple pandering to pathos, indeed, promoting learning and growth, self discovery, and lasting impression changing something however little; all best accomplished by plumbing far-reaching themes, penetrating deep and powerful characters, unfolding complex plots, and all most beautifully and by the exercise of exceptional and consummate skills and writing style.

The question of meaning in the deeper sense, as in the proverbial meaning of life, actually pertains to motivation, signifying whatever valued prospect of fulfillment or else only sheer futility, Ecclesiastical vanity.

The upward arc of dramatic structure applies to literary meaningful drama plumbing greater depth and substantive revelation, often via subplot, similarly as with the more transparent buildup of tension and rising action in any ripping yarn. And each must be formative in character development, growth or at least definition. Just as, beyond serving as pretext for whatever preceding action, the solution to a mystery must satisfy novelty, pathos and plausibility, and just as every story requires a dramatic apex, so too does even the most latent, trite, trivial or light weight, light hearted narrative still cry out for some surprising thought worthy meaningful and revealing apex of understated Literary depth and insightful subtext into character interaction, some clever pearl of micro-satori or: theme, however fleeting and tiny, anywhere at all along the way, again, often via subplot.

And in case of just such Ecclesiastical vanity, utter futility, then there is no use even bemoaning thereof. Yet so much as the aforesaid common sense may seem easier said than done, given actual human nature and behavior. And indeed, the embrace of and surrender to futility is the primary motivating goal ever put forth of the Zen. Ecclesiastical vanity in the face of the quest for meaning has been a theme of narrative and philosophy from time immemorial.

One way or another, literary writing tends to invite attention to the message itself.
Mainstream Literature (as distinguished, narrowly defined and signified by the much vaunted capital "L") strives for the depth and meaning of psychological realism, even amid life at it's most prosaic and private. But Modern Literature, with however much sympathy and sensitivity, may, instead, seek to confront the deep failure of meaning
 
Indeed, Literature (as distinguished, narrowly defined and signified by the much vaunted capital "L"), especially anti-drama, may actually fail or even violate the needs of drama, let alone action-adventure, taking a more introverited POV or Point Of View so that study of growth along the Character Arc and the human condition dominates, even if the situation remains somewhat stagnant and unresolved and consequently the plot goes nowhere, indeed, as all too often in real life. 

However, true shaggy dog stories are very, very long drawn out allegedly humorous anecdotes building up to a punch line that distinctly fizzles, a groaner. Whereas, the emphasis in Minimalist stories is upon inner conflict, and the central characters are often reactive rather than proactive, so that Minimalist, open and unresolved vignettes, indeed, even aimlessly wandering anticlimactic shaggy dog stories that do not effect change in the lives of the characters, who come away much the same as when the story or sequence began. For such is the flatness in Raymond Carver's blue-collar fiction, in which characters wander in and out of otherwise unoccupied rooms, houses, or apartments, failing to transcend the banality of their situations, affect their outcomes, or make their lives meaningful, all such conventional dramatic contrivance and cherished illusions abandoned perhaps in favor of local dexterity. Indeed, if any of the questions raised in the story are answered, others remain for the audience to ponder. Indeed, the Existential Zen-like, New Wave, Phildickian, Surreal Anti-drama or Anti-Structure deals in conflicting realities, delving into meaningless absurdity, likewise, effecting little change, however character development  or growth. Time frame is often broken up randomly, and coincidence seems more common than plot causality.

If it is only language itself, and not any timeless truth of innate human nature, that is central to culture, meaning and identity, and, indeed, as Heidegger remarked, man does not speak language, language speaks man, then we are entirely constituted Phenomenally in meanings of our contingent relational patch-work sign systems. And yet it seems, however, somewhat unlikely that culture is so utterly and consistently incestuous, so God-like in complete self-creativity in a vacuum, so as never to reflect or respond to biology (definitely including onstage sex!) among other matters of Ontology at all, even simply as aspects of situation. Hence all such consideration may be deemed inclusively relevant to literary studies, after all. And so, it may be that any Post Modern revival and recapitulation of linguistic Zen futility unto Wittgensteinean paralysis, will be long in ever finally extinguishing human drama completely, after all.

While beyond and distinct from drama yet nevertheless redeemed at all by Faliblism of sheer Postmodern Nihilism and utter Existential despair, in Literature (As distinguished, narrowly defined and signified by the much vaunted capital "L"), all the indefinable and classifications of plot causality ever best achieving "unity of action", Sequence and logic, plus character development, tone and subtext are even the more thematic towards effect upon inner life, drama of a sort, but introverited, specifically requiring such sequence and relation of events as to cultivate meaning in the mind and experience of the characters and/or for the reader in the experience of reading the work, even so far as eliciting that extra added effort in active reading that is sometimes referred to as the reader's partnership with the author that can even go beyond simple information transmission and begin the creation of fresh Philosophical insight, narrative that not only challenges the reader's higher level interpretive and analytical faculties in processing but then evokes the construction, reflection and experience of differing individual emotional response and opinion and even subsequent debate, engagement with ideas well beyond simple assimilation of story information and all the more obvious sympathy triggers or pathos in time tested sequence.

Layers of subtext and ambiguity render the experience thereof that much richer and more thought provoking. Of course, all such subtexting does also run the risk of somewhat questionable free association and projection, actual creativity rather than wholly reliable deduction, perhaps occasionally somewhat far fetched, no matter the various different Factors Affecting/Effecting the Reading of Texts. For, one way or another, art usually strives at communication. And The Problem of Meaning in Literature begins with the age old conundrum of layered text, context and subtext, of whether meaning is simply recognition of authorial intention, text content , or even created by the reader in response either thereof, each and all along with the Pathetic Fallacy respectably rejected as THE 4 DEADLY FALLACIES in favor, instead, of an hypothesis of reciprocal creative misunderstanding from fecund ambiguity.

Indeed, is bypassing, exchange which is not genuine communication because it lacks sufficient intersubjectivity and does not carry at all the same meanings or even purpose, intention or point at all between the participants, all there really is, as according to the Zen?

But then, hair splitting and the painstaking negotiation of reciprocal incomprehension have no place in the Zen, given that originality and novelty are taken as entirely subjective inspiration, intransmissible, with, objectively, Ontologically, no new thing under the sun.

However, not all thinking is so pessimistic and isolated.

Indeed,  as Eve Tushnet points out in Eros and Education, even so integral and elemental a vital impulse as sex is meaningful expression of Eros, more than the quest for completion and transformation, the oft frustrated desire for connection, liberating union with alien difference inevitably first demanding resolution out of conflict on every level arising from any dread of the vulnerability entailed.

six core polemically purposeful
and dramatic motivations for written
expression or dialogue

 

Q. What uniquely profound level of conflict is most intrinsically Literate?

“A good education teaches us to hold contradictions reflectively rather than reactively.” — Parker Palmer, Healing the Heart of Democracy

A. ambiguity

For: Whereas, in dramatizing controversy, POV facilitating levels of inner motivated conflict and dramatic dialogue makes it hard to tell who is right and who is wrong. "In a good play, everyone is right."  But how far would they go? Or will they change and grow? For in the words of Albert Bandura: “People's level of motivation, affective states, and actions are based more on what they believe than on what is objectively the case.” 

"The nature of a novel is that it has no opinions, only the dialectic of contrary views, some of which, all of which, may be untenable and even silly." — Anthony Burgess   

Of course, it is often a transparently manipulative propaganda ruse to appeal to ambiguous cases when whatever case at issue is actually unambiguous. For the creativity of finding and exploring ambiguity is quite another thing from sheer obfuscation. Or is it?

Beyond and aside from dramatic vehicle for dialectic, Literature as distinguished, narrowly defined and signified by the much vaunted capital "L," opens further sophisticated repertoire of tension, that of sublime ambiguity of symbolism in expanding usage, subtext against TEXT and CONTEXT, even howsoever of POV, subjectivity, reflection and Representation of   consciousness, problems explored in theme under guidance of premise, even Existential Anti-Structure of Anti-drama, even seeming contradiction in reality itself, with symbolism, abstract rather than concrete, even as to encompass both thesis and antithesis as in the dualistic opposition of Yin and Yang.

Layers of subtext and ambiguity render the experience thereof that much richer and more thought provoking. Of course, all such subtexting does also run the risk of somewhat questionable free association and projection, actual creativity rather than wholly reliable deduction, perhaps occasionally somewhat far fetched, no matter the various different Factors Affecting/Effecting the Reading of Texts. For, one way or another, art usually strives at communication. And The Problem of Meaning in Literature begins with the age old conundrum of layered text, context and subtext, of whether meaning is simply recognition of authorial intention, text content , or even created by the reader in response either thereof, each and all along with the Pathetic Fallacy respectably rejected as THE 4 DEADLY FALLACIES in favor, instead, of an hypothesis of reciprocal creative misunderstanding from fecund ambiguity.

 

Q. Plot, what plot?

A. To  Plot or not to plot? That is the question...

For some particularly sophisticated Literature may be more experimental in nature, narrative with conventions of plot, readily recognizable conflict, characterization and narration being even abandoned perhaps in favor of local dexterity. Unplotted stories, vignettes or word pictures, are short character pieces that may reveal insights into life by reporting daily life events; well structured with meaningful themes, essential understanding or recurring concept, (often conveyed via some symbolic Objective Correlative motif or topos) and revealing insights into the main character(s).

Unplotted stories may even be expanded, nested and interlayered, meandering into an outward expansion of scenes, moments and passages of Episodic Writing (perhaps even product of the pod story technique), more like real life, without defining moments and never building to final culmination and climax, perhaps, instead, set pieces bearing emphasis on atmosphere and tone.

Conventionally plotted stories also aim at creating a specific emotion in the reader, but the successful unplotted story may create its effect by presenting an incident or a particularly interesting or evocative situation or an emotional experience, even inner life, a meditation.

Or events, if any, such as they may be, only culminate in illumination.

And there is narrative that is even purely symbolic, and therefore, symbolism is all that need culminate.

None of this necessarily renders the story meaningless or arbitrarily obscure, but even if not, it does mean that there may well be more work for the reader in trying to fathom or interpret just what the work is trying to get across. Yet there is usually some kind of tension-creating structure beneath the surface in a good story to hook the reader, usually well planned to meet certain other criteria most of which have to do creating a single emotional effect or appetite and satisfaction.

Layers of subtext and ambiguity are richer and thought provoking. One way or another, the writer has determined the intended tone, mood or feeling to evoke and has aimed and carefully chosen every word of the story to that effect.

 

Q. What about pacing and style? 
A. Click HERE! I know you might not want to! 
But isn't the suspense just killing you?
 

Not just punctuation and clear presentation, but various extensive and dynamic "show don't tell", 'voice' and Point of View techniques, tips and pointers...

 All that is key  to
               fundamentals delivered via
                                 Writing Great Dialogue

 

'Insight into Bohm Dialogue' begins it's adventure into meaning and futility, from canny observation of common real life conversation and even what often passes for argument, in all of it's empty, cagey and insecure banalities safe from all the social dangers of candor, what it actually reveals and where it all breaks down and fails. 
 
But, not unlike Edward de Bono, instead of aspiring however to the emotional growth and to brush up on the Socratic Method and to welcome conflict only so long as such be important or meaningful controversy, they seemingly abandon hope for all deadlocked argument along with mere dreary small talk, the metaphorical baby out with the proverbial bathwater; embracing in it's stead, cornball Zen cliché, and worse, blithely flirting with Wittgensteinean paralysis. But, then, just such pompous silliness is also a telling part of real life conversation, and often most amusingly captured in fictional or fictionalized dialogue among typical schooled fools.
 
Bohmian Dialogue demystified
 
Bohmian Dialogue or Bohm Dialogue or, simply "dialogue" to it's adherents, seeks to provide an antidote to our Existential situation of real life drama, the destructive consequences of living in a monological world, a world in which downright irrational people talk without listening to each other or even to themselves.

Standard explanations of Bohmian Dialogue actually highlight the very problem confronted by Bohmian Dialogue to begin with, because just such standard explanations of Bohmian Dialogue that begin with the ego tend thereby to be confusing because the intended problem or implication of just such standard explanations of Bohmian Dialogue is not exactly
Zen
preoccupation with escape from self consciousness, but only and more specifically of self reflection and the ego as filter, of how preconception which provides context for intelligibility at all, is also often prone to error, or, more specifically, of misunderstanding and distortion, however gross or subtle.

All variance, in it's probabilistic approximation, which David Bohm actually compared, metaphorically, to quantum indeterminacy. Indeed, Bohmian Dialogue often initially requires uncomfortably long tolerance of awkward self-conscious ambiguity.

Indeed, even more precisely, the challenge undertaken by Bohmian Dialogue is to resolve the variance in meaning, shades of misunderstanding and common misapprehension in verbal communication between different people. And the technique is one of free association and added comment until a more complete shared meaning or: intersubjectivity is achieved and reinforced.
 
Excellence in Miscommunication Competence and repair for extreme Conversational Adequacy is actually striven for in Bohmian Dialogue only by heroic effort to meet the impossibly high standards of Zen Epistemology for fidelity to oneness and totality of being, all via comprehensive holistic polysemy. And such impossible dependency upon veritable completeness of data sampled, smacks, rather, of Inductivism. -Still, just perhaps all better than utter capitulation to Wittgensteinean paralysis, one must suppose! 

Bohmian Dialogue, pressing the encounter group to an extreme, thus strives to circumvent the inadequacy of conceptualization as according to the Zen, specifically as applicable in the effort at dialogue, only by protracted and arduous efforts of reciprocal Zenning of one another.
For beyond all or any of the above, in Bohmian Dialogue the attempt is made at "radical honesty," lowering barriers even to the point of painstaking reflection upon self observation of intonation and bodily speech nuance, even like unto one's own onboard polygraph or voice stress analysis, in order thereby to expand polysemic meaning, all that which is signified, into every branch of the six core motivations and intentions for any dialogue, to unearth unconscious blithe assumption and thereby improve self awareness and candor as well as listening skills.

Hence, Bohmian Dialogue may eschew the advancing conflict metaphor on any level, of progressively consolidated persuasion even including mere rational argument, in order more candidly to relate to others by effective listening, attending upon subtext, verbal and nonverbal via better and more meticulous awareness and understanding of one's own emotional reactions provoking one's own subtle physical responses, word by word and step by step. Indeed, in Bohmian Dialogue anger, tension and conflict are to be welcomed, neither avoided or suppressed, but only for the opportunity of sociological observation thereof, not for resolution nor any other constructive purpose of adversarial process of controversy and Evolutionary Epistemology in the crucible of truth.

The problem remains, however, just as in the underhanded and dishonest abuse of brainstorming, that any suspension of argument is so easily co-opted into consensus manipulation by the concealment of controversy, even antirational rejection of reason and reality, exactly defeating every intended constructive and uplifting purpose of honesty, candor and the quest for truth even as via Bohmian Dialogue. Hence the enduring value of the Socratic Dialectic, however adversarial, and of disambiguation via Empiricism and truth which is correspondence to external reality regardless how often and unsportsmanlike impugned will be the motive of mere egotistical gratification derived from "scoring" good points

 

Q. What is subtext? 

A. Subtext is so obvious, that's why we never even mention it.

In the end, it can't look like acting. "Writing on the nose"  is an old Hollywood pejorative expression denoting dialogue lacking the subtlety of subtext, unsubtle as a punch in the nose. After all, in real life, people rarely just come out and say what they really think. Subtext is emphasized by interpretive performance or presentation. Therefore, motivated characters shouldn't either. Interesting dialogue is often oblique with tacit meaning. In real life, we often fail to express ourselves fully, and even choose our words somewhat poorly, with a sense of awkwardness and distance. Often cagey and confused, subtext ambivalently struggles both at expression and obfuscation In all that is spoken and unspoken, without being blatant, so that context comes to light in the way that people talk to others consistently with how they take measure and relate to whomever they are talking to, including nonverbal body language, thus revealing as to how they feel about that person and perhaps as well, whatever the topic of conversation. Because the dramatic efficacy of revealing and motivated subtext is in frustrated desire, giving rise to need and ingenuity.

Indeed, manipulation is best defined as undue advantage from trickery via the exploitation of affective innate and conditioned triggers or "push buttons" to undermine and overwhelm, even barrage, resistance, better judgment and autonomy of the target, via subtext of emotional incentive and disincentive. –As distinct from open coercion alone or substantive disinformation, lies. Typically, the manipulator obfuscates perhaps even from themselves, the nature of their coercion exercised, along with whatever self-serving advantage thereof. \

Indeed, Transactional Analysis deals with the subtext of Ulterior Transactioms or: headgames.

'Ted'

For either dramatic or comedic effect, subtext may specifically refer to what is artfully perceptible by the reader or audience or else looming mysterious in the undertone of pathos and levels of conflict as expressive yet oblique dialogue, indirect transfer of deep motivation of a character in regard to one set of crucial circumstances and making them somehow fit onto something else entirely that the character speaks of, even however incidental or trivial.

Subtext most often denotes non verbal communication. But subtext most generally refers to the implicit meaning or theme, essential understanding or recurring concept often conveyed via some symbolic Objective Correlative motif or topos, of a literary work, the tone, underlying personality of a dramatic character as implied or indicated by a script, text or dialogue, and interpreted by an actor in performance, or any coyly hidden, (understated or overstated!) or simply less obvious meaning, innuendo, implied deliberately, let slip accidentally, blithely assumed (as, for example, cultural attitudes, norms and outlook even as revealed without explicit statement in routine historical documents and paperwork), or otherwise unselfconsciously implicit, or even as emerging from subtexting or Literary (with the capital 'L') analysis, dissection and deconstruction, by interpretation in the partnership between the author and reader, unperceived sources working from the smart subconscious, even such as risking somewhat questionable free association and projection, actual creativity rather than wholly reliable deduction, perhaps occasionally far fetched. Layers of subtext and ambiguity are richer and thought provoking.

Layers of subtext and ambiguity render the experience thereof that much richer and more thought provoking. Of course, all such subtexting does also run the risk of somewhat questionable free association and projection, actual creativity rather than wholly reliable deduction, perhaps occasionally somewhat far fetched, no matter the various different Factors Affecting/Effecting the Reading of Texts. For, one way or another, art usually strives at communication. And The Problem of Meaning in Literature begins with the age old conundrum of layered text, context and subtext, of whether meaning is simply recognition of authorial intention, text content , or even created by the reader in response either thereof, each and all along with the Pathetic Fallacy respectably rejected as THE 4 DEADLY FALLACIES in favor, instead, of an hypothesis of reciprocal creative misunderstanding from fecund ambiguity.

Indeed, is bypassing, exchange which is not genuine communication because it lacks sufficient intersubjectivity and does not carry at all the same meanings or even purpose, intention or point at all between the participants, all there really is, as according to the Zen?

For as Eve Tushnet points out in Eros and Education, even so integral and elemental a vital impulse as sex is meaningful expression of Eros, more than the quest for completion and transformation, the oft frustrated desire for connection, liberating union with alien difference inevitably first demanding resolution at levels of conflict arising from any dread of the vulnerability entailed.

“People's level of motivation, affective states, and actions are based more on what they believe than on what is objectively the case.”   Albert Bandura

In drama, the conflict inherent to situation, there are four elements of thirteen possible motivations:
What do characters want, goals ever put forth, and why, what motivates them? And what aids or hinders whatever their quest? In dramatizing controversy, good motivated and dramatic dialogue makes it hard to tell who is right and who is wrong. "In a good play, everyone is right." But how far would they go? Or will they change and grow?

Just such levels of conflict even beneath the surface TEXT and CONTEXT may, nevertheless, emerge through subtext, as spoken and unspoken, What Lurks Beneath, shown by way of each of the senses in setting, action and atmospheric tone along with the Subtle and Delicate Art of Doublespeak dialogue, may either harmonize with text, or in true Method subtext, even disagree with text, subtly, so as to draw attention into a  deeper vein or level of conflict by being subtly wrong, key to show or evoke characterization, wherein motivation should be apparent, even through thoughts, however expository.

So, navigate the various possible paths and dead ends and to find stories always dig deeper for insight into difficult struggle.

 

 
 

 

 

“The world is his, who can see through it's pretension.”  — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Q. What is sex appeal
-Or, Was it Good for You Too? 
“A dirty mind is a joy forever.” Oscar Wilde
 
   A. Click HERE! You know you want to! 
Because: yes, of course, subtext often refers to submerged sexuality and innuendo.
 
Discover why sex really is quite possibly the most important thing!

 

Q. What is theme? 

A. Plot must intertwine three principle threads, any or all unfolding and in doubt, of revelation, the outcome of suspenseful drama, the many levels of conflict inherent to situation, action, excitement, spectacle, the whys and wherefores of character growth and pathos, but all together with the meaning of some memorable theme.

Drama requires characters each with whatever their own motivating stake in the issues, decisions, dire yet at all free choices to make and the looming consequences thereof. And, to build tension and maintain interest and exploit every Technique of Suspense plotting, all attempts to back out must deteriorate and fail, but without such glaring plot holes as blithely overlooked or ignored obvious opportunities.

People understand and relate to plot logic, the linear causality of stories, even though events in the real world unfold as the confluence of all manner of even dharmic and karmic cofactors in the outcomes of complex systems, perhaps even amenable to some common theme, similarity or generality, if not any other serviceable narrative.

-Theme being whatever central question or inquiry, must correlate with some dramatic issue that must be compelling, credible and untenable conflict of values escalating naturally through increasingly high-stakes of any problematic situation.

Many a classic theme is reducible to proverb.

Character and setting INTERACTIONS include the Phenomena of POV, Point Of Viewsituation of Epistemological "Given Circumstances" of information ever available to any given character, plus filtered perceptions superficial or deep Viewpoint with ambiguity and often value loaded abstraction out of memory association and personal constructs of social cognition built from successive red herrings, innate naturally flawed Epistemological Methodology and elements of narrative even including Pathetic Fallacy, all redolent in theme, perhaps even sublimely hinted at by isotopy.

To be relationally bullied, manipulated, confused, invalidated, isolated from connection, and robbed of ones voice, is estrangement from the world, classic reversal crushing unto despair. Whereas an author finding ones own voice, even identity and POV, Point Of View, beyond tone, syntax and structure alone, that is the moment, finally, of the lucid and vivid articulation of theme, gaining momentum and central clarity from whence all else unfolds smoothly and powerfully.

The insight gained, the understanding essential to the theme, essential understanding or recurring concept often conveyed via some symbolic Objective Correlative motif or topos, similarity or affinity, larger Philosophical problem or Existential dilemma, is whatever unifying idea that is a recurrent element, the thought-provoking pivotal idea filtering through, what matters deeply, the foremost penetrating integrative principle or dominant question or exploration -perhaps of the querant, the central unifying element of the story which ties together all of the other elements in a literary or artistic work, driving the story, or more properly a general hypothesis in answer to or larger Philosophical problem or Existential dilemma that is actually the theme, exploration or question, however well or poorly stated.

In rhetorical plot logic, theme is knowledge-driven Epistemology.
Retrospective elements are those which incorporate previous events into the action. But a story that returns again and again to theme but heavy handedly, and even with little or no regard for plot logic, is ponderous and trite. Nevertheless, fiction that finds no controlling idea or theme probably isn't very good, either. Indeed, generic hack, in it's banality, may not bother to develop serious themes at all. For a story to best serve as vehicle for whatever vital core content, to build a story around a theme, stage only those events which advance or illustrate said theme.

The inner journey must match the outer journey, beginning from the Emotional Disturbance that is is internal corollary to it's trigger, the out-of-whack event, or vice versa. Problem Solving and Justification are reciprocal functions, one must be shaped to rationalize the other, with integrity or else into hypocrisy. Now, in either the plot oriented or character driven story foci, people react to events or situation, particularly crises. But motivated characters can also also be proactive. Indeed, beyond approach, avoidance and even rising to a challenge, motivated characters may even seek and find challenge or challenge themselves, perhaps even from the need to grow.

Tautologically, nothing matters unless it matters to somebody somehow. Meaning and importance, those most cherished illusions to which even drama panders, all conceivable priorities and values, unless they are one way or another decisively intellectualized, profoundly detached and disengaged in the extreme, ultimately emanate from needs and desires, attraction or aversion, fundamental motivations, selfish or altruistic. Otherwise, there can only be apathy and hence no problems to relate to at all. Deeper motivation, even world view, however characterization, growth and the Philosophical questions of drama, as distinguished by their dramatic gripping inherent conflict on many levels, are all contextual function of the human condition or situation that has changed so drastically from the past that is the setting and milieu of historical fiction and into any modern time frame as reflected in contemporary culture, and most certainly will change into the future that is frequently subject matter of Science Fiction and futurological scenario planning.

Motivation is human need defining the human condition, or, in 'Star Trek', the enigmatic and irresolvable "Human equation". Beyond practical interests, identity and principles not easily put up for trade and flaws that threaten all they hope for hold dear, that unique and original well rounded and multifaceted characters, just like real people of any depth, guard even at the cost of practical gain and happiness. 

“People's level of motivation, affective states, and actions are based more on what they believe than on what is objectively the case.”  - Albert Bandura

In drama, the many levels of conflict inherent to situation, there are four elements of motivation:
What do characters want, goals ever put forth, and why, what motivates them? And what aids or hinders whatever their quest? Good motivated and dramatic dramatic dialogue makes it hard to tell who is right and who is wrong. "In a good play, everyone is right." But how far would they go? Or will they change and grow?

Just such conflict even on levels beneath the surface TEXT and CONTEXT may, nevertheless, emerge through subtext, What Lurks Beneath, shown by way of each of the senses in setting, action and atmospheric tone along with the Subtle and Delicate Art of Doublespeak dialogue, may either harmonize with text, or in true Method subtext, even disagree with text, subtly, so as to draw attention into a  deeper vein or level of conflict by being subtly wrong, key to show or evoke characterization, wherein motivation should be apparent, even through thoughts, however expository.

The theme or essential understanding or recurring concept, often conveyed via some symbolic Objective Correlative motif or topos, being the general question, the moral of the story even however propagandistic, if any at all, comes as a perhaps pat answer or resolution. Or else perhaps not.

A story's setting, action, characterization with POV, and use of imagery can all be used to bring forward whatever theme(s), essential understanding or recurring concept, often conveyed via some symbolic Objective Correlative motif or toposTheme should come through to emerge in the readers consciousness, without blatant exposition thereof.

Therefore, it may often be of value to ponder upon how each and any incident in a story relates to the theme, essential understanding or recurring concept, often conveyed via some symbolic Objective Correlative motif or topos, no less that how any of the above advances the plot or turns upon motivation to highlight characterization

A story can effectively and evocatively reinforce and return to theme, essential understanding or recurring concept, often conveyed via some symbolic Objective Correlative motif or topos, but with subtext and variation, avoiding needless redundancy. Indeed, the THEMATIC PREMISE SHEET demonstrates how thematic at all deeper essential understanding or recurring concept, often conveyed via some symbolic Objective Correlative motif or topos, is central to levels of motivated conflict in any truly dramatic plot.

                Theme in Literary Fiction

             Standard dramatic themes  

             Many a classic theme is reducible to proverb.

                The moral of the story in contemporary playwriting

             Who Controls the Media and their Meanings?

Transparency "a web site which tries to make things clear" proffers a wide and sophisticated exploration of themes in different works and media as well as their importance and persuasiveness.

 

Q. What is premise?

A. A premise/premiss or premi/praemissa, literally as in Logic, only means whatever assumptions, propositions or suppositions, in any way or sense set forth before hand, postulated or stipulated if only for exploration of corollaries and consequences, propositions in a deductive argument, upon which an argument is based or from which a conclusion is drawn, rhetorically persuasive or polemic Logos  from which an internally consistent and valid conclusion, be any of it actually even remotely true in reality or not, then may implicitly or otherwise follow or however signify or, given formal incompleteness, then at least, may be allowable, probable, possible or plausible.

A story premise, however, is either conventional initial causation or else more Teleologically akin to Aristotelian final cause or intentional purposeful outcome: Either what if? or so what? Creative provocation in quest of either problems and opportunities to motivate plot or else plot as however polemically contrived to support an intended implicit assertion, point, message or even a moral to the story.

Storycraft: IDEAS into PLOT as in Science Fiction, is concerned with putting imagination and premise, extrapolation and problem solving, into the practice of plot development.

The most obvious schema of classification would be to begin at the beginning, with premise, and then continue with the elements of plot. But premise is actually only subtly distinguished from meaningful theme, essential understanding or recurring concept, often conveyed via some symbolic Objective Correlative motif or topos, hence all treated together, herein.

Indeed, there are different basic types of premise. As in Science Fiction, the premise may be speculative, even scientific conjecture, whatever point of departure, both chronological and conjectural, raising questions of whatever ramifications or consequences. The premise may be how the plot turns upon any of the thirteen plot motivators or whatever inciting incident in Act One at or shortly after the opening, or even in the teaser, particularly as in high concept, or at some prior time frame or occasion, in "Act Zero."

The "mini-crisis" is the setup at the beginning of the story  in which the dilemma is established, comes to pass or is discovered by the protagonist or just the audience, if it turns out the protagonist knows all along. Also the characters' reactions thereto.  

Or the premise can be any assertion, however general, particularly as regards life and the human condition, such that the story as the plot unfolds, dramatically, only serves as demonstration, that such a premise, in a story built around a theme or moral, essential understanding or recurring concept, often conveyed via some symbolic Objective Correlative motif or topos, that may be learned, emerging in the readers consciousness, without blatant exposition thereof, via pathos or even just propaganda outright. Such a premise, then, is actually treated more in the nature of an argumentative conclusion or destination of the story. If not a causal beginning, the premise, then, may actually even assume more the nature of telos, the Aristotelian final cause or unifying end purpose, any motivated goal ever put forth, point, message or theme, essential understanding or recurring concept, often conveyed via some symbolic Objective Correlative motif or topos, driving the story, or more properly a general hypothesis supported by the a any sort of practical demonstration in the events as the story or fable unfolds, called the thematic argument, in answer to or larger Philosophical problem or Existential dilemma that is actually and more properly the theme, exploration or question, however well or poorly stated. -In which case any "Act Zero" inciting incident, if any are even at all known, may be more mythologically explanatory in nature than causal or speculative, let alone scientific.  

But a story that returns again and again to theme but heavy handedly, and even with little or no regard for plot logic, is ponderous and trite. To build a story around a theme, stage only those events which advance or illustrate it. Because the inner journey must match the outer journey, beginning from the Emotional Disturbance that is is internal corollary to it's trigger, the out-of-whack event, or vice versa. Problem Solving and Justification are reciprocal functions, one must be shaped to rationalize the other, with integrity or else into hypocrisy.

And it was James Blish who suggested that the best way to derive plot from premise begins by determining: who gets hurt? -as a consequence of whichever sort of premise, creating all important conflict on many levels, pathos, tension, Technique of Suspense plotting, anticipation or doubt, even discomfort and aversion. Indeed, to that end, a good story may also incorporate an opposing or contradictory Counter Premise or Antithesis. For better and more dramatic and engaging conflict on many levels in fiction, even diametrically opposing views and tendencies, indeed if not represented in the agenda of an antagonist or villain outright, may even be embodied by the foil and related character for story to effectively frame or stage any sort of more engaging debate, than just a one sided lecture or or object lesson with no tension, suspense, or doubt to resolve. After all, In drama, the conflict on many levels inherent to situation, there are four elements of motivation:
What do characters want, goals ever put forth, and why, what motivates them? And what aids or hinders whatever their quest? In dramatizing controversy, good motivated and dramatic dialogue makes it hard to tell who is right and who is wrong. "In a good play, everyone is right." But how far would they go? Or will they change and grow?

“People's level of motivation, affective states, and actions are based more on what they believe than on what is objectively the case.”  - Albert Bandura

But without guiding premise of one kind or another, or until such is found by the author, no matter, even moving from one situation to the next or varying upon an idea, the story will be doomed founder, aimlessly, even anticlimactically, intentionally or unintentionally, a shaggy dog story.  True shaggy dog stories, after all, are very, very long drawn out allegedly humorous anecdotes building up to a punch line that distinctly fizzles, a groaner.

 

Q. What is meant by thematic premise?

A. If denotation of the word premise will be restricted to the literal sense of initial hypothesis defining whatever aspect of initial situation, inciting incident and back-story, or circumstances and plot points, and usage of the word theme is likewise fully dilated to mean the scope of subject and exploration in narrative works, essential understanding or recurring concept, often conveyed via some symbolic Objective Correlative motif or topos, then by intent, the hybrid term thematic premise has entered usage to signify any implicit broader dramatic concept, but less specifically, as regarding concrete initial situation or circumstances, than any broad systematic or Philosophical assertion or observation addressing some broader underlying karma, all the indefinable and classifications of plot logic and causality, ever best achieving "unity of action," Sequence and Logic, and human nature or values and morality, though perhaps nevertheless broader and more sophisticated than any pat cautionary.

In brief, then, thematic premise has come to denote specifically, any initial premise of situation (as opposed to premise in the sense of argumentative point or conclusion, telos, ultimate end or final cause), that remains, nevertheless, at all thematic, indeed a situation but not a probable or metaphor, exploring any problem or articulating some insight.

 

  Overview / brainstorming.

Q. What are The Fundamentals of Fiction Writing ?

A. Click the links to return to the the fundamentals of fiction writing, from conflict to drama and plot, then:

Motivated characterization

Q. What is the speculative element crucial and unique defining Science Fiction that may even challenge or even violate, outright, so many of the writing values, maxims and priorities traditionally central fiction writing?

A. CLICK HERE 

Q. Is there any recommended linked resource offering pointers on good Science Fiction writing technique?  

A. Browse Constructing an SF Universe

 

Q. What are the different options and their pitfalls, in various approaches to fiction writing and collaboration?  And what better alternatives are there?

A. Here is an Overview as to why, quite frankly, we'd all be best off brainstorming.

 

Q. What is all this STAR TREK crap? 

A. There is nothing wrong with 'Star Trek' except bad writing, and seldom ever anything right with 'Star Trek' that does not begin with good writing. Same as with anything else... 

So, why fanfic? Because Television provides a convenient modern folklore familiar to all. 

 

Q. But what if I ever hope to be published?

A. Obviously, fanfic is in all likelihood, inherently unpublishable, given whatever issues of prior intellectual property. Because the publication of fanfic is only ever tolerated in whatever limited exposure and amateur context.

And so, going beyond whatever pure calling or sheer amusement and edification of fiction writing just for it's own sake, and given any motivating goals ever put forth of professional publication, fanfic can ultimately be no more than a brainstorming point of departure, purely an exercise to ultimately feed into all new projects concurrently or later on that will be unencumbered by bothersome restrictions upon prior intellectual property.

And, indeed, a selection of all new concepts are already also to be found included along with the fanfic in the collaborative fiction brainstorming open projects menu.

 

 

Q. What distinguishes the Star Trek: The Ship of Fools  format in particular, from other STAR TREK series, in any media, fanfic included?
A. Star Trek: The Ship of Fools in particular, from other STAR TREK series, in any media, fanfic included?

Beginning with the outline for introductory six part mini-series also serving as series "bible" for Star Trek: The Ship of Fool, no effort has been spared by glossing over that which is merely perfunctory and dull. Nothing should be included unless it is interesting, provocative or dramatic. To provide new and colorful motivated and even unique and original well rounded and multifaceted characters, and to speculatively advance the ramifications, or at least take over the top rather than simply rehash or further trivialize, the most appealing STAR TREK tropes. 

And that  Star Trek: The Ship of Fools outlines and drafts are truly unfinished, with much to be added and changed, rich with points of creative departure for anyone to join right in a real ongoing online writer's bull session. Not just dullardly anal formulaic filling in of the blanks with the obvious simply for the sake of completion in immersive detail, even however arbitrarily.

Q. Why the title? 

A. The Ship of Fools, sacred fools, is a classical allegory of the human condition, blind and impulsive in hopes of salvation. And Star Trek: The Ship of Fools is a tale of encounter with the unknown from Rashuman-like multiple perspective, and corresponding dramatic conflict on many levels from clashing motivation

Hieronymus Bosch Annotated schooled fools yellowdog

 

 

 

Copyright 2001 - 2017 by Aaron Agassi