Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Stories I have yet to tell but would like to someday pt. 2

So, in the last five (actually more than five) years, the latest story lines I've pondered have had to do with angels. Loosely biblical in that they all have jobs they are born into (via creation)--which is their title--and serve God (an amoral being in this fictional setting) these angels, also have powers associated with their jobs. I've thought about and began developing a string of characters for one story line, while the other is still in the stages of being imagined out. Both are in serious need of being fleshed out. My fatal flaw in doing this is that it's easier to imagine the stories in my head (and super cool scenes that could be in them) than it is to write it out and actually grapple with making sense of all this madness. But on to the ideas...

"Untitled" (seriously I don't know what to call it yet)--generated during undergrad years

I probably developed too many characters for this one--and have toyed around with separate stories and story lines that deal with them in groups but the overarching story line deals with this premise:
Heaven and Hell are planets hidden from Earth (a purgatory of sorts for both planets) by gateways. Heaven is the home base for God and the angels. God is not present in these story lines but the laws of God are (all of which I have not yet firmly established). Angelic beings found in violation of these laws are sent to Earth in a sentencing ritual that takes place at a gateway found in the middle of the planet. Senders (an angelic job class) are tasked with handing down the sentencing and forcing the guilty party out by way of a giant hammer which has an embossed halo at its end that is inscribed into the Fallen's  body when hit with it. This parting blow sends them through the gateway to Earth shedding them of their angelic flesh and becoming a human soul to be born somewhere on Earth to begin their atonement.

The ritual is so devastatingly violent that a large amount of the Fallen forget their origins and simply grow up and live as humans. There are few ways in which they are able to recognize their true origins 1) they are contacted by Communicators on Heaven and given a task to fulfill--the completion of which allows for their record to be reviewed for re-admittance into Heaven 2) they make contact with another that has shared a significant connection with them while on Heaven and 3) they sustain a connection with their status for a significant amount of time on Earth that awakens memories of their status on Heaven--something that often occurs in adulthood. Once their origins are recognized, these individuals have a choice to make--fulfill the duties they were sentenced to fulfill in order to be reconsidered for re-admittance into Heaven, or simply continue living on Earth and being judged upon their death for admittance to Heaven or Hell (not a terrible place but a dystopian one nonetheless).

Whew! And that's just the premise!

So with this story, or series of stories, I follow several individuals who have become aware of their origins and thus their associated powers. Angelic categories developed so far include: Guardians (which includes Humanes, Plantaeous, Earthers, Animalia, Insectors, among others; each has a breakdown of sub categories except for the Humanes), Seraphs (or Archangels--which I have taken to mean the bringers of death),  Elementals (for their control and guidance of Earth's various elements), and Cherubs (bringers of love--and not always the stereotypical kind).

When accessing the powers within their souls, their eye color changes and is associated with their angelic class.

With the varied realizations is a coming to grips with their "crimes" on Heaven and their lives up to that point. Some have hungered or have been haunted by the need to establish a connection with another Heavenly being in order to do right by them, or bring to close the situation that led to their exile in the first place, regardless of whether or not it gets them back into Heaven; like Isis, Psyche, Focus, and Twadeah. Others have hungered for some sense of worth through which near self-destruction has led to their awakening; like Halo, Nova, Zero, Panther, and Feather (that's right I began character/name recycling). Others have started their own underground organizations which the Fallen become involved in in order to assist humanity (mostly  Humanes), Earth in general (an amoral undertaking at times by the other Guardians), or simply reconnect with their past lives as Heavenly beings; like the Bluebird Assassins which primarily consists of Seraphs like Canary, Sparrow, Redd, Falcon, and Stellar.

Sometimes these groups interact with one another in positive and negative ways. But I wanted to follow and develop stories, and adventures surrounding individuals who at one point were hapless but become empowered, all while struggling with what it means to be who they are, what they really want from life (to return to Heaven or just live as beings with angelic souls), and how they should live knowing what they do.

Other "Untitled" story--graduate school years 

Taking off from parts of the premise that involves angelic beings and planets Heaven and Earth, I came up with a different story line. This one chronicles the lives of angelic beings before they were exiled onto Earth to be born as humans. As they grow up, these beings--in their infantile stages up to the moment of childhood where they completely cease speaking gibberish--still maintain memories and the languages (observed as gibberish by adults) their home planet; however their infantile brains are incapable of full articulation or being understood by humans, which leads to much frustration by some of these infants. This is something that fades as they mature into their human selves and is forgotten completely once they stop speaking gibberish--or practicing the last remembrances of their connection to their angelic selves and planet.

I got this idea from listening to my Sonny Buns make up his own language and at times going on an on in gibberish (he's four by the way and so far an only child) in ways that make me think maybe his is saying something in some other language. Maybe growing up is the severance of our connection to heaven or at least ourselves as angels in heaven.

Backbone Snacks: Misadventures in Dystopia (title still being revised)--graduate school years

This story chronicles Sun's (short for Sunshine) journey through a Societology seminary where she hopes to become a priest that can help others. Aided by her closest friends Santos and Feather, she struggles through the first of three trials--Design (the others being Mastery, and Faith)--in order to validate herself to the other Priests and Father--the head of the seminary (now a status fulfilled by any gender). During this time, Sun and the others are aware that the Priests, the Father, and other Acolytes (the status of Priests in training), learn to maintain their status by un/knowingly consuming the backbones of others that are powerless.

One's backbone  is a source of strength and ability to stand one's ground--one's dignity resides in their backbones, which are mercilessly harvested by the powerful. This essence is ripped from one's spine making it a violent and traumatic occurrence (I was thinking of the stripping of Wolverine's adamantium in "Fatal Attractions" as a depiction of this act) that can wipe out a good amount of one's memories of the event and what led up to it. At its worst a person can be gravely injured and loose a significant amount of memory.

Additional aspects of this dystopian world include one's soul being housed in an orb separate from their beings, Acolytes that are housed directly at the Seminary of their choosing (there are tons of specialties to become a Priest in) enhancements through cybernetics which can result in deformities on the body and or mind--where most implants are placed.

This is one story I've actually begun writing. It might end up being a short story but is quite lengthy based on what I have to add. Haven't touched it in a few months, but I liked the direction it was going. This was my autoethnographic fictional piece that chronicles my trials and tribulations experienced in graduate school (not much of a secret for those of you that know).

Well that's all for the story ideas at the moment--minus the super cool action sequences I dreamed up for the angelic sagas. Just had to get these ideas down on internet paper. Cannot keep track of them in my brain.

Thanks for listening.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Stories I have yet to tell but would like to someday

So, after reading this series of posts, I've decided to at least chronicle all the stories, starting from eighth grade, I've attempted to develop and ideas I've had in my head. Most of these involve super-powered beings (what can I say? Reading Marvel does things for the imagination sometimes). So here it goes:

"The Crew"--eighth grade
This story featured an alter-ego of me. The main character, Panther (that's right my power was that I could either partially or fully morph into a panther), after finding out her powers as a teenager, runs away from a crappy existence at home and stays with a friend Canary who--along with her family--so happens to be part of an espionage network of people with and without powers, The Crew. Panther and Canary (no powers) join a team that includes Redd and Cosmo, and the four have awesome adventures and a few close calls. Needless to say, her life gets interesting as she gets to meddle in affairs that the rest of humanity knows nothing about--you know, monsters, aliens, and the like, kicking ass the entire way. I intended it to be a comic book series.

 Just one of those fantasies a kid has after watching Foxy Brown and James Bond flicks--fantasies of being taken seriously, kicking ass first and taking names later. You know, the complete opposite of my then crappy life.

"Bluebird Assassins"--high school
This was more of an idea I had about a group of young adults that find one another after discovering their parents were part of an assassins network and that they have been genetically enhanced to one day continue doing their jobs--something that manifests in the form of a mind trigger once they are of age (18) and the parent in question has been offed (if this were to happen while under-aged, their trigger wouldn't happen until they reached 18). Part of this trigger puts in the possessor a need to find something that has been lost, something that they are attracted to--their parents' secret arsenal which has a video that, once watched initiates them into the group Feather. Oddly enough this occurs with three of the kids at once (Stellar, Crowe, and, Robin), whom bring in the other two (Blue, and Jaye--twin girls) after finding out their parents were killed as well.

Things are fine for awhile as they find their way in the world of assassins, but the story ends up being about Blue and Jaye going their separate ways as Blue wants to trade this way of life for one of atonement while Jaye is more than okay with fulfilling the role she was designed to fulfill.

Again another fantasy world of action and adventure where my alter ego Blue is once more empowered and awesome, even in her quest for some sense of agency in her life.

Up next--recent (5yrs to present) stories and ideas

Monday, December 5, 2011

Reviewing/Revising(?) the "Relationships" post

After reading The Art of Loving (again with that book? I know, I know) I realized part of what I was trying to articulate with my post on relationships (in which clarity is a major issue). This articulation is prefaced by a question asked by Fromm:

"is the social structure of western civilization," and the "spirit resulting from it...conducive to the development of love?"

I would replace civilization with society, but other than that, when considering the love described by Fromm and bell hooks posited on a previous post, this question applies to the functioning of relationships as well. When considering, as Fromm does, that the social structures of western society are rooted in capitalism, and all the characteristics implied (I'll get to that in a second), it is not hard to come to the conclusion that the way western society functions, and the ideas, values, norms, and beliefs that stem from it, which are instilled in its people, is incompatible to the development, let alone imagining of love or the relationships that can result from it.

What characteristics of a society rooted in capitalism do I mean?

For one, consumption. I've observed love to be a major act of consumption, not just of things but of one another which lends itself to another characteristic, ownership. As I mentioned in my first take on relationships, we do all sorts of things to make ourselves worthy of consumption, which alienates us from ourselves (alienation is another characteristic). We've been trained to live a life where we are complacent with alienation from ourselves and others, from the work we end up doing, so its easy for many of us to do so in many situations, even relationships. It is as if knowing ourselves and being sure of ourselves is less important when it comes to establishing a relationship. At the same time we are highly individualistic and self-centered; taught to believe that we should live for the moment, which amounts to living for ourselves. While teamwork is prized, it is hardly a training ground for the sense of communalism needed to relate well and for a sustained amount of time with Others. Indeed I think "teamwork" is an activity that is conjoined in alienation  when the goal is the production of some thing or another--getting the job done. Contradictory they may be, but we function with characteristics like these pretty well.

All we learn about love and relationships it seems is from areas steeped in consumerism, especially the media.  Love is this prize to be won in the form of an individual. We want to be accepted for who and what we are without understanding who or what that is too clearly ourselves. Love is that thing to be put on a shelf with the rest of our possessions, to be controlled and shaped just how we want it to be, forgetting, that we are dealing with another person the whole time.

It is difficult to imagine transcending the very social structures we live in, especially when we know the negative sanctions hurled our way for even trying. Yet questing for the love that transcends ourselves, and perhaps, begins with ourselves (which isn't selfish by any means) requires thinking and acting outside of the box.

This has led me to books like The Art of Loving, which gives the point of view of love being viewed as an art form  to be understood and practiced meaningfully. I've decided that this practice begins with me before I can be confident and competent with doing the same for others (I'm sure my Mate would appreciate that). This is a slow and difficult process (especially in confronting my roots as an individual), but worth engaging in so I can better understand where I am coming from and where I want to go to: a place or at least a state of being structured by care, respect, responsibility, knowledge, and supported by commitment, trust, and open honest communication.

Next up for reading on this topic:
Strength to Love  MLK jr.(need to finish)
Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community MLK jr
Pedagogy of the Heart  Paulo Freire
Communion bell hooks (maybe)

other suggestions?
general feedback?

Until next time...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Theme of current path of study

Lately, I've been thinking, reading, and writing about love (for example....). I've learned that self-love is important to being able to act lovingly towards others. When talking about love, I mean to abide by lenses provided by Erich Fromm (2000) and bell hooks (2000) on the matter. Specifically, that love is an action that involves care, respect, responsibility, and knowledge, which is aided by commitment, trust, and open honest communication. I've come to the temporary conclusion that in order to do this effectively, it is necessary to begin with self-love, which requires critical self-examination. How can I consider myself capable of acting out of love for others through my endeavors when I cannot do the same for myself? This is how I've arrived at the conclusion that acting confidently in and out of love requires that I am able to do this with myself first. But maybe this is a journey that makes acting on self-love and love of humanity simultaneously more possible than I realize. Or maybe it is a necessity that I treat my endeavors in this way.

In any case, I realize how estranged I am from myself--mind, body, and spirit--and how necessary it is to critically examine who I am and what guides my actions, good, bad, and everything in between. Acknowledging all aspects that make me who I am, I've determined, will allow me to comfortably do the same for others regardless of who they are. I am currently grappling with the more negative aspects of myself--the stuff I feel I could do without--and what it would mean to accept these things instead of reject and sever them from my being. After pondering about this in relation to Full Metal Alchemist (did I mention I love that show? Both of them?)  I know I should be intentional about accepting all of who I am and working with what I have, not matter how detestable my negative elements may seem. I'm still not sure if this means finding the positive in these not-so-desirable attributes but maybe accepting them is all that matters.

Wanting to recognize and accept this wholeness that is myself so that I can do the same for others brings me to this song, which I find to be about the desire for human connection be it with the self, with others, or with the self and others simultaneously.

At the moment, I find this song to be about opening up and transcending isolation by acknowledging those aspects that are essential to making us living human beings and all that implies (again, whether this occurs on an individual or group level).

(not the video I was going for  but it's the song that matters here!)

This is the kind of elation I feel when I connect with others in meaningful ways, and when I find those things, be it books, music, etc. that connect with something within myself. This is the type of elation I'd like to continue to encounter as I move forward.

Recommended readings?

Well, until next time...