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Tag Archives: Artistic Delusions!

I’m a writer–I think.

I like writing…

…I think.

The problem with writing is that it is an attempt to translate the infinite into the finite. This is a source of endless frustration. I have worlds upon worlds in my head, enough material for an endless number of television series (including all the relevant information for casting, costume, set design, combat choreography, soundtrack, photography, storyboarding, and beat-by-beat scene direction).

I know more than one thing about anthropology. And about philosophy. That sounds silly to say–there are not many fields in the world which we can say we know only one thing about. (Hermeneutics might be one of them: all I know about hermeneutics is that Heidegger critiqued it)(that was a joke. I know more than one thing about hermeneutics).

In fact, I know multiple things about anthropology, to the point where it would take more than twelve pages to write all those things down in their simplest possible form. For any given thing that there is, I can say more things about it than I have room for–and I have an infinite number of ways to say it, ways to attack it, ways to think about the problem.

That’s the infinite.

But I don’t have nine hours to spend typing out an exhaustive, nuanced exploration of every political issue on my facebook wall. No one wants to stand around for a week and listen to a 40-hour lecture on comparative religion in response to the question “So why is Princess Mononoke your favorite Miyazaki movie?” And no one will buy my novel if it is an eighteen-part epic that’s thicker than a human thigh. I’m not Alexandre Dumas, and my novel isn’t The Count of Monte Christo. 

My blog post has to be small enough that you’ll read it all without losing interest (it’s gonna be touch and go, here). My novel has to have a number of pages such that it is ecologically viable to print more than one copy. I can’t go around quoting the entirety of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics every time I want to talk about why it’s hard to do the right thing.

That’s the finite.

I have to take this: (please here imagine a Doctor Strange-style expanding wall montage where I make some grandiose gesture and reveal that we are standing in a massive chamber of knowledge which makes the Library of Alexandria look like a rural-Montana Bookmobile from the 1960s), and fit it into this (please now imagine me holding up a piece of paper approximately large enough for two thousand words, single-spaced 12 point).

How does it fit? Well, quite simply…it doesn’t. It never all makes it onto the page. I never fully say what I mean. You never get all of it. No one gets all of it, in fact, not even me, because eventually I have to eat, or sleep, or do my accounting, and then I can’t keep on thinking about this.

That’s immensely discouraging for me. I pretty regularly have a crisis wherein I wonder “what’s the point of the whole thing?” I can’t even fully articulate my own opinion of Starbucks–how the hell am I supposed to put something as big and nasty and complicated as a novel into the world?  And so, logically, I stop. There’s no point in communicating halfway, I think. No reason to engage with politics. Fruitless to write for any reason other than my own enjoyment.

I spend a few weeks like this, maybe a month or two at the most, before I think to myself: “You know…I can’t get it all out there…but I can get pretty close. And anyway…isn’t that the fun of writing? The ability to, in another man’s better words, fit a universe into a grain of sand? To gesture to the infinities present in everything?

And then, I suck it up, grab a keyboard, and start to write again.

So hi, again.

I’m a writer.

I like writing.



Welcome to another episode (?) of the CHEAT SHEET series, an area where I compile entirely random snippets of information that I have found to be useful in the past.  Today on the Cheat Sheet:

How to write a stupidly long paper.

This is a critically important skill if you are an undergraduate (Hell, if you’re a high school student) who is in any kind of writing-intensive class or program.  And like every academic skill, it begins OUTSIDE the classroom.  The first steps of this eight-step How-To guide, ideally, take place weeks or months before you start writing.  But I know that’s probably not how you run your life, so try to do Step 1 and 2 a few days before you start? Please? You won’t regret it.  (You might regret it)

Step 1: This is a critical step. Know what you’re writing. Read what you’re writing about.  Doesn’t matter what it is; there’s literature about it.  Read an example of what you want to write; are you writing an essay? Read an essay. (Montaigne is a good place to start; so is Orwell; both are masters of the essay genre)  Writing a novel? Read a novel.  But the bottom line is, you become a good writer by reading good writing.  Want to write a good essay? Read a good essay.

Step 2: Start writing before crunch time, but don’t start writing your paper.  Don’t write to the prompt.  Write about what you just read for Step 1.  Write about what you think about your class.  Write about anything tangentially associated with the prompt. The goal is to prime the pump and get the juices flowing.  DO NOT THROW THIS OUT. Keep this work in its own document.

Step 3: Now look at what you have written from Step 2, and at your notes from class.  If you’re lucky (and probably even if you’re not) you should have at least a few sentences in your writing that interest you.  They jump out at you.  You think “Hmm. I could say more about this.” Do that.  Grab anything that jumps out at you and plug it into your prompt.  Keep THAT in your Step 2 document as well, but in its own section at the bottom (or the top).

Step 3: You now already have some of your paper written, before you even started writing it.  Dang you’re smart. You go, Glen Coco.  Good on you.  Now it’s time to really begin.  Open up a new document and start writing your paper. I won’t tell you how to structure the introduction, or make transitions, or what voice to use—that depends on what you’re writing, and you already know that, because you read great examples in Step 1.  Write for a while.  Try to get halfway.

Step 4: Now you’re part of the way through your paper.  Take a break.  Do anything that doesn’t involve staring at a screen.  Eat something. Exercise. Build a giant robot. Grow a beard.  Don’t think about your paper.  At all.  You got this; don’t worry.  If you find yourself obsessing about the paper, don’t stress about that either–it’s normal to have it keep running through your head. Just keep exercising, building your robot, or growing your beard, and it will flow out of your thoughts.  Good self-care is key to every enterprise–and that includes writing a kick-ass academic paper.

Step 5:  Now that you’re all fresh and ready to go, return to your writing from Step 2. Look it over again.  Something new will jump out at you.  Maybe you’ll realize that half of what you’ve written was dumb.  Cut it from your paper—but don’t throw it away forever.  ANYTHING YOU CUT goes into your Step 2 document. If it doesn’t have a place in this paper, it will find its way into another one.

Step 6: Okay.  It’s the Eye of the Tiger.  Get into writing mode and slam it.  Don’t worry about quality. Just write until you can’t write no more.  Tie your prompt into everything that interests you about your Step 2 document. You might find some connections easier than others—and you should take advantage of that.  Develop those, and let the trickier ones retreat into your Step 2 doc. Let the writing find its own course. You were halfway at the end of Step 3; now take it the rest of the way.

Step 7: You should now be close to your character limit/word limit/page limit/final chapter.  Take a fifteen-minute break.  This is KEY.  I recommend a shower here. When your break is done, return to your document and READ IT OUT LOUD.  You’ll find a lot of typos that way.  Make edits as you go.

When you finish, go back and make an edit on that one thing that was bugging you.  If a section seems superfluous, cut it and drop it away into your Step 2 doc.  If you are intrigued by something you wrote, develop it.  Any really good sentence can always be clarified, reimagined, repurposed.  What are the repercussions of your thought? What does this mean for your field?  Keep doing this.  As your points grow denser, you’ll glide into the home stretch, and after re-reading it you should have a sense of where it’s going.  Bring it home.

Step 8: STOP.  Your paper should have an ending–I won’t lecture on structure–and you should have a nice fat document full of your fragmented ideas. You can dump that straight into your Academic Journal (if you don’t have one, you should make one now).  The relevant parts of your Step 2 document can be funneled into your next paper–so you already have part of your next assignment written before you start the process.

There are no further steps.  That’s it.  Your paper should be done.

If it’s not done, try one of these strategies for a productive break: 

Take a shower. Again, if necessary.  Sing if you can.

Pick a building.  Run around said building twice.

Build a beehive.

Pet a dog or other small animal.  In lieu of a dog, an undergraduate student will do.

Eat an entire jar of frosting.

Stare at a bright pink object for ten minutes and marvel at how green everything is.







Ave, lector.

Interesting how the mind adjusts to new situations, isn’t it?   Well, you might not think so, but shut up, I don’t care about you anyway.


The college I go to provides each meal each day of the week, except Sunday dinner.  I enjoy this so far, as although the food is not the highest quality it is clearly made with love in every helping.  Also lots of salt.

An interesting side effect of this is the way I evaluate free food now that I have no refrigerator and one meal each week to account for.  Now when I look at an advertisement or event I think “Hmm, how well would that keep just sitting on my desk for a day? No, it probably would not be good to eat on Sunday even if I locked it in a drawer for the intervening 72 hours…” or “No, I won’t be going to that, I only need food on Sunday evenings and I can always just eat toothpaste then.”

I have noticed that reading too much David Thorne tends to make me contemptuous of commas and omit them from many of my sentences.

For example that last sentence could have used a comma or two and is sadly bereft of them in a way which is vaguely unsettling.

Okay. I’m going to stop that now.

Any more violations of unwritten grammar laws in that fashion and I would be forced to make my fingers commit harakiri.  This would have been painful, and quite irritating, as it takes such a long time for fingers to grow back.

I wonder how long it takes other people to grow their fingers back? I should ask someone.

I feel much more whimsical today. Perhaps it’s because I had a legitimate quantity of sleep this past night.

Remarkably, my sleep has been quite sound for nearly the entirety of the previous fortnight.  This is remarkable mostly because I sometimes wake up and then cannot return to the wonderful world of sleep for hours on end.  This is often frustrating, because being awake in the middle of the night trying to fall asleep is boring.

As you can tell, I don’t really have a topic.

I’m just writing whatever floats into my head and EVENTUALLY something will fall out.

I think.

Today I made music.  I didn’t write it down, so, uh, oops, but on the plus side I did record a video of myself playing it.  Now I can transcribe it, albeit slowly and painfully.

I hate writing down music as I think of it.  It takes way too long.  I rather wish I had a musical notation software more formidable than Noteflight, which, although helpful in constructing little pieces, is not at all helpful in swiftly notating music as I play it.

What would be wonderful is a program that would notate music AS I PLAYED IT, taking down the notes and letting me set the rhythm later.  This program has probably already been invented, but I do not have it. This presents an unfortunate problem.

What would also be lovely is a program that will notate music based on ‘hearing’ it played.  This would only work for single-instrument pieces, but it would be a great way to capture improvisation, to simulate an entire orchestra for one musician, and really learn what those people on Youtube are doing.

The sound on my video seems to have dissociated from the video itself. Remarkable, since it was perfectly coordinated when I uploaded it.  I can only hope it is the poor internet connection I possess.

Ah, that’s better. As I write I can see Thorne fading away and Pendergast coming to take his place.  I must say, I much prefer the more cultivated accent of that particular law-enforcement official in my writing.

Mimicking other writers is a bad habit, I am aware, but one which I find myself reluctant to break.


…is there a sadder thing than a segue’ without a purpose? I think not.


By now the next 30 minutes of Sherlock should have finished buffering, and soon it will be time for dinner, so I will upload this rambling argument against the existence of human sanity and begone.


I talk about something!


Did you look at the nature photos from last post, dear lector?  I hope so.  One of the portraits of a waterfall is now my desktop. I realise this does not narrow it down, as there are a number of portraits of waterfalls, but I leave the guesswork to you.

I cannot really say anything about the number of waterfall pictures.  I confess I was rivuleted by the multitude, and I would not brook any delays in the process of downloading at least one to grace my desktop.  I began streaming it immediately.


Farewell, until next time, internet/reader/psyche.


I think I like Montaigne.

I was reading his essay today entitled “That Intention is the Judge of our Actions,” which is basically a brief statement on how not to be a total scumbag.  In fact, it’s so brief, I’m actually going to quote the whole damn thing for you.

“‘Tis a saying, “That death discharges us of all our obligations.” I know
some who have taken it in another sense. Henry VII., King of England,
articled with Don Philip, son to Maximilian the emperor, or (to place him
more honourably) father to the Emperor Charles V., that the said Philip
should deliver up the Duke of Suffolk of the White Rose, his enemy, who
was fled into the Low Countries, into his hands; which Philip accordingly
did, but upon condition, nevertheless, that Henry should attempt nothing
against the life of the said Duke; but coming to die, the king in his
last will commanded his son to put him to death immediately after his
decease. And lately, in the tragedy that the Duke of Alva presented to
us in the persons of the Counts Horn and Egmont at Brussels,
–[Decapitated 4th June 1568]–there were very remarkable passages, and
one amongst the rest, that Count Egmont (upon the security of whose word
and faith Count Horn had come and surrendered himself to the Duke of
Alva) earnestly entreated that he might first mount the scaffold, to the
end that death might disengage him from the obligation he had passed to
the other. In which case, methinks, death did not acquit the former of
his promise, and that the second was discharged from it without dying.
We cannot be bound beyond what we are able to perform, by reason that
effect and performance are not at all in our power, and that, indeed, we
are masters of nothing but the will, in which, by necessity, all the
rules and whole duty of mankind are founded and established: therefore
Count Egmont, conceiving his soul and will indebted to his promise,
although he had not the power to make it good, had doubtless been
absolved of his duty, even though he had outlived the other; but the King
of England wilfully and premeditately breaking his faith, was no more to
be excused for deferring the execution of his infidelity till after his
death than the mason in Herodotus, who having inviolably, during the time
of his life, kept the secret of the treasure of the King of Egypt, his
master, at his death discovered it to his children.–[Herod., ii. 121.]

I have taken notice of several in my time, who, convicted by their
consciences of unjustly detaining the goods of another, have endeavoured
to make amends by their will, and after their decease; but they had as
good do nothing, as either in taking so much time in so pressing an
affair, or in going about to remedy a wrong with so little
dissatisfaction or injury to themselves. They owe, over and above,
something of their own; and by how much their payment is more strict and
incommodious to themselves, by so much is their restitution more just
meritorious. Penitency requires penalty; but they yet do worse than
these, who reserve the animosity against their neighbour to the last
gasp, having concealed it during their life; wherein they manifest little
regard of their own honour, irritating the party offended in their
memory; and less to their the power, even out of to make their malice die
with them, but extending the life of their hatred even beyond their own.
Unjust judges, who defer judgment to a time wherein they can have no
knowledge of the cause! For my part, I shall take care, if I can, that
my death discover nothing that my life has not first and openly declared.”


Now, before I even start to talk about that, let’s talk about the word PHASE.

Now, some people are not FAZED by the fact that there are two words that sound like this, and have decided to gradually PHASE in a new era of interchangeable words, where you could switch PHASES in a paragraph and use either one of two words that have completely different definitions while remaining completely UNFAZED by your own heinous molestation of the laws of the English language.


PHASE: To gradually move into or pass through. Ex: “To phase out the exploding Prius.” Nerdy definition: To pass through something as though it is immaterial; ex: “Kitty Pryde can phase through solid objects!”

FAZE: To cause to doubt, or to doubt. I know the context, probably everyone else does too. Ex: “The cat was unfazed by the sudden appearance of a second laser pointer, and redoubled his efforts to capture them.”



Now back to Montaigne.

In my opinion, if I am going to take anyone’s advice on matters of honor, it will either be a 15th-century Frenchman,  a samurai, or Brad Pitt. I don’t know what Brad Pitt’s stance on honor is, but if he told it to me, I would take his advice, because let’s face it, he’s kinda awesome.

I agree with Montaigne there.  Your actions define your words, not the other way around.  Only what you do can justify what you say. Et cetera.

In other news, I’ve been reading Jung.  I really do love reading his stuff. It’s so nice to be reading a complex (yet bizzarely intuitive) argument against the thought that evil is merely the “absence” of good, or privatio boni, and then to have the author pause and note that the phrase privatio boni sounds remarkably like a euphemism.

I’m not even joking, that actually happened. And it was wonderful.

Now here we go. Finally. It’s been two nights now that I’ve had something to say, but finally we’ve gotten to the moment of truth: I have nothing at all coming to mind. Right now all I’m doing is writing about nothing coming to mind.

In other news, I’ve got the best dinner ever. Forget the dining hall–a big piece of cheese, a big piece of bread, and a pear is all I need. Once I’m done with my evening “morning” pages, I’ll sit down, slap it all onto my one plate, pour some blue Gatorade into my Dalek mug, and chow down while writing my latest story.

Hey, here’s something! A writing tip. I was thinking about it the other day, and perhaps the best bit of advice I got was from a screenwriter, who advised me to try and encapsulate each story I write in one sentence.

Before you start writing.  Before you start mapping out the story, even perhaps before you have characters. Sit down. Write the story in one sentence.

A short sentence; not one of those mideaveal sentences that goes on and on, like all those 15th-century Frenchmen loved to write; sometimes those just grate on the nerves, and you really want to skip ahead, particularly in the greatest and most notorious users of this style: Descartes, Montaigne, and even Alexandre Dumas (one of these things is not like the other!) fall into this category.

No, write a REAL sentence.

Then do three sentences–one for each major movement of the story. Let’s do Lord of the Rings in a sentence.

A band of heroes must come together and carry a powerful object to a volcano in the land of darkness, to defeat the evil wizard once and for all.

Now Lord of the Rings in three sentences, one for each book.

A band of heroes travels through forests, caves, and enchanted woodlands on a quest to defeat the Dark Lord. Even though they are split up, they still possess the strength to change fate and guide the course of events.  Finally, as the world begins to fall into chaos, the dark lord’s greatest weapon is destroyed, and ONCE AGAIN THE DAY IS SAVED, THANKS TO THE POWERPUFF GIRLS.

Can you see how it helps? How it makes the story just a little bit easier to grasp?  Even just a bit of help is good. A bit of clarity in the story-writing process.

Twelve minutes left. Part of me is tempted to go and watch the latest episode of Doctor Who. Who would know? (ha, ha).

But no. I will not succumb.

I actually am running out of ideas, which is a problem.

I’ve just added a metric crapload of music to my ipod. A lot of Irish folk/rock and Beethoven. Interesting contrast, there.

I like Beethoven. There’s an exuberance and a mania to his music that just strikes a chord with me.


But seriously, enough music jokes. They’re starting to fall flat. If I don’t find some sharp-er ones, I’ll be be-clef-t of words, and frankly to continue treble-ing you with bad puns like this would be a base treachery indeed.


I packed six books for college. I brought Lovecraft’s Necronomicon, Hodgeman’s “Areas” and “More,” Jung’s “Memories/Dreams/Reflections,” a collection of Jung’s writings on the subject of evil, and The Ghost Map.  Oh, and the computer game known as Prototype. Why did I bring that? I have no idea.  In retrospect I should have instead brought my copy of Snatch. That movie I would watch every night forever until the end of always.

All the cicadas are dying. It’s sad. I really am not fond of seeing things die. But they’ve had their fun, I imagine–they got to fly around in the sun, getting it on with one another, making really loud irritating noises while we’re trying to study…

Heyyyyyyyy, cicadas seem to have a lot in common with UC Santa Cruz students!


I watched Fight Club last night.


With friends. It was awesome, even if it was a slightly innacurate representation of Multiple Personality Disorder. You see, normally in cases of MPD, I would advise seeing a doctor…and not shooting yourself in the face.  I think that form of therapy went out when Descartes finally succumbed to the crab-person mind-slaving machine that had been stalking him for four decades. The irony is staggering, as was Descartes.

Well, I’ve got 45 seconds left on the clock. I hope this episode of Doctor Who is entertaining, at the very least–I would hate for it to be boring. That would be sad–but so far, I haven’t been bored yet. I’ve had a few “WHAT THE F” moments, but no boredom.



A new year? Again? I just got one a few months ago!

…do you have the receipt?

No, but seriously.

Happy new year! I hope it’s an awesome one for you, who/what/where ever you are.  I wish you nothing but prosperity and happiness, and lots of chocolates on Valentine’s Day.  I hope all of your dreams come true, except the ones about pitiless crusteceanoids from an alien star quietly sabotaging our planet, because those are already all too real.

But I’ve said too much.

I mean, erm..

…So! How about that holiday season, huh?

(awkward silence)


Oh right! Goals! I can talk about those!

I have a few major goals for this year. It’ll be an eventful one, I can tell you that already–I’ll be flying away to some college or other come autumn! But enough about me. Here’s some more about me!

I finally got a full piano transcription of Toccata and Fugue! How awesome is that?

I intend to learn the WHOLE DAMN THING this year.  It’ll be…entertaining.

I also have to get a job sometime in the next few weeks, so that I can get a new laptop. Because, heading into college, a laptop will be a singularly valuable tool. And also because the one I have now is rapidly outliving its usefulness.

I’m currently ‘writing’ a fantasy ‘novel’. I’m about half done after a year of 60% working on it, 10% working on college stuff and 30% being distracted by anime girls and video games colorful objects.

Those are just three of my goals.

A big one here: I intend to update my blog less randomly. I’ll update at least once a week, hopefully, from now on, and I’ll do the same with my DeviantArt page (Check it out! In the ‘Things I Find Awesome’ page. I won’t link to it, because I know you’ll go over and investigate, trustworthy reader)!

Some more include getting a digital design program, so I can actually create my own 3d models rather than just using set ones. And of course a car. And maybe a trial of EvE online.

My question to you, mystery reader, is this:

What are your goals? Do you hold hope for their achievement? Isn’t Prototype an awesome game? Are you ready to RUMBLE sorry I got distracted.  Shiny objects. *_*

That’s all I have to say at the moment.

It’s raining.

Here’s a rant on story structure.

Sadly, a solid grasp of story structure is something that’s missing from a lot of modern science fiction and fantasy–which is a shame, because that’s my favorite genre.  So today I’ll tell you about THE PRINCIPLE OF CIRCULARITY. This is a rather important concept. You see, in a story, events usually take place. These events build up to a climax, where we know the story will end. Thus, tension builds.

But in many stories, this tension is just thrown carelessly aside.  As an example, the first five minutes of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. We see good guys. And a bad guy. They fight. The good guys win, capture the bad guy…and the bad guy escapes. WHAT? We’re being set up to watch the same sequence over again. We’re right back where we started, and all the dramatic tension has evaporated like a snowcone in Baja.  The principle of circularity is this: The same sequence cannot happen more than once in any one story. The anime Bleach does this. A lot. Do I still enjoy it? Yes, but only because of the explosions. The movie Serenity does this–as did the original TV series Firefly–in the movie, for example, we have the “sailing through the Reaver field” scene twice.

So: Don’t do this, please. Just check your story, before you make it into a movie. Make sure that you don’t have the same sequence occuring multiple times. Because it’s painful to watch.

Well, that marks the end of the rant. Here’s a picture of a goldfish.

Happy Holidays!


Some of you may know it as something dearer to your heart than your own family. Or maybe it is your family.

Some of you probably know it as some kind of Japanese art or something.

Some of you have no idea what I’m talking about.

For the last demographic: I’m ignoring you. For this entire post.  Deal with it.  Go get a cookie, read a book, or go outside.  Do something active.  Or go look at this video of a kitten.

Now you guys. The ones here to stare at anime girls. Here’s your link.  Get lost.


Now that the losers are gone, we can talk in private.


The anime serials that I watch/have watched are as follows:


Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

One Piece.

Neon Genesis: Evangelion

And of course I’ve seen Studio Ghibli’s work.  Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Nausicaa of the Valley of the et cetera, and so forth.

But there’s something interesting here;

People who grew up watching black and white TV dream in black and white. Nowadays, people mostly dream in color.

Me, I grew up watching Digimon. I dream in anime style, and so I’m drawn very much to this genre of televised entertainment.   I love how it can switch from comedy to earth-shattering drama and back again in an instant, just like real life.

And from an art standpoint!

You can capture a great deal with a photograph.


The amazing thing about anime is that they capture so much in so little.


No, but seriously. Go look at a picture of an anime character. Like Ulquiorra here.

He’s happy to be here.

Look at the face. How many lines did they use to create a human face? And yet we know what he looks like. The suggestion of shape is taken to its utmost. GENIUS.

And the writing! And the quality!


You don’t see craftsmanship like this in popular American television. Well, not much of it. (30 Rock, I’m looking at you).  One Piece, Fullmetal Alchemist, Neon Genesis: Evangelion, even Bleach all exceed the standard for American media in writing, acting, and directing.  In comparison, the English-dubbing voice actors all sound wooden.

Try it. Watch an episode of Fullmetal Alchemist or something in Japanese, and then in the English dub. It’s not the same. There’s so much emotion charged into every word.

By television actors.

Also. This picture. Really cool. Go to it. The photographer’s not bad either.


To close the post.

Go find an anime. Those of you who like violence can check out the ones I watch–others might want to try something more like My Neighbor Totoro. But seriously. Check it out. It’s awesome.

Or, you know…


Have a nice day. ^_^