The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cloverfield is coming...

Glad to see the Dems acting more civilly last night. At this point, it looks much as if the only way they can screw up their chances is if they shoot themselves in the foot. Don’t want that: I think that eight more years of what we’ve had, and this country won’t right itself in my lifetime.
“Cloverfield” looks like it’s going to be fantastic, “The Godzilla Witch Project,” a gigantic film told in completely personal terms. The buzz has been great, and it’s been too long since I’ve seen a really good giant critter movie. Can’t wait!
Speaking of “Cloverfield”…got off on Cloverfield avenue yesterday to work at Moonview Sanctuary. Their new marketing coordinator, Alexandria, asked me lotsa questions about what I do, and I had to laugh. I can barely describe it. But the approximate narrative goes something like this:
I knew that I had some big holes in my psyche, from the lack of a father in my home, the lack of cultural support, and a profound sense of fitting no-where. The physical violence (not severe, but chronic) sent me into the martial arts. Emotional problems there inhibited my ability to express motion freely, and I went looking for those missing pieces. NLP, Eriksonian hypnosis, Transcultural Shamanism, yoga, therapy, various meditation forms and almost anything else you can think of followed, for decades. As a science fiction writer, I was most interested in human mental and physical development, so I got to “cheat,” both theorizing about transformative technologies and interviewing experts for my books when what I really wanted was answers for myself. The introduction to Harley “Swiftdeer”Reagan was a major threshold—he taught me to connect the inner and outer worlds through concept and ceremony. But it was meeting Scott Sonnon, whose “Be Breathed”, “Flow State Performance Spiral” and “Fear Removal” ideas finally created a critical mass of all I’d studied. It collapsed into a singularity, and suddenly I understood what my teachers had been talking about all these years. In terms of my clients, I seem to have an understanding of something that can’t quite be put into words, and can communicate, or “conduct” it through personal, interactive work combining visualization, FlowFit, and Push-Hands type exercises combined with a theoretical framework tailored to the client’s background and needs.
## do I work with a client? First by getting them to define goals in all three major arenas. What would their lives look like if their problem didn’t exist? Then they commit to reaching their goals. Second, I teach them the “Be Breathed” exercise, moving so that the movement itself creates compressive exhalations. This allows you to train your body to get exactly the amount of air it actually needs, as well as returning you to a pre-intellectual breathing pattern similar to that of an infant. Third, I put stress on them (through complicating the “Be Breathed” into FlowFit, or using Push Hands drills to impact them emotionally) until they lose their breathing pattern or posture, then I re-integrate again and again. By giving them home-work to breathe five times a day (The Five Minute Miracle) for sixty seconds, we start re-wiring their nervous system, so that eventually we get a Pavlovian stimulus-response loop between Stress and re-integration.
Here’s the beautiful thing: if you confront the challenges that stand between you and the next level of your life, and can keep stress from becoming “strain”, the only thing your body and mind can do in response is grow, change, evolve.
That’s it. That’s all I do. I assume that within each of us is the strength and skill we need to reach any goal we can hold in our hearts and minds. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. I just love working with people. This year, I want to start making a shift toward making my Coaching work my “full time” job, and my writing a hobby. A hellaciously profitable hobby, to be sure…
I notice that I've been accused repeatedly of saying that "blacks have it worse than women," or "race is a more important issue than gender." Wow! Did no one notice that I never said that? NEVER. But that is what people hear. My point is that the only group who can judge are black women, since they are members of both groups. It's interesting how strongly people distort what is said, even if it's said repeatedly. I suspect that this particular problem arises because most people cannot think in terms other than "Y versus X". Without a hierarchy, they aren't comfortable. My dear friend Octavia Butler once said that she thought this tendency would be the death of us. She may be right.


Anonymous said...

My point is that the only group who can judge are black women, since they are members of both groups.

I'm not so certain this is so, Steve
because the 2 variables are confounded. . .

many black women are/have been
treated like shit by black men
(and, so I've been told, vice versa)

I think the
"who's had it worse" is one of those silly dichotomizations
that really gets us nowhere
the "how they had it"
and the degree and consistency of suffering
differing from person to person
and place to place


Steven Barnes said...

Of course many black women have been treated like shit by black men. And vice versa. And white women by white men. And vice versa. I don't see how that makes my point invalid. Everyone else: white men, black men, and white women, are looking at the issue from the outside, or from partial experience. Every other group gains something if it's X or loses if it's Y. Black women strike me as having the only hands-on ground zero experience. The rest of us are observing and guessing. PLEASE tell me precisely how and why you think this is inaccurate.

Steven Barnes said...

And by the way--I don't suggest that we can ever come up with an answer everyone would agree on. Or even that we SHOULD look for an answer here, or that any answer is ultimately reachable. Just that if you DO want an answer, and you haven't spoken to this group, you're kidding yourself. Ultimately, you can't determine anything: whether women have it worse than men, blacks worse than whites, poor worse than wealthy, dead worse than living. But nonetheless, we devise standards and comparisons, and many of them are broadly accepted. The "black versus women" thing is unanswerable in my mind, but the first major salvo was fired by a woman--Gloria Steinem. I think it's completely legitimate to say why I think she's full of shit.

Sean said...

Steve -

Best of luck with the coaching. As someone who participated in your Path seminar last year (i still cant believe it was that long ago) I can attest you are a _very_ engaging and fun teacher.

But as a fan (streetlethal, Fusion) please please please please keep writing :)

Steve Perry said...

How do you divorce one from the other? Are you being treated badly if you are black woman because of a) being black; b) being a woman c) being both or D) because you are from Mississippi?

How does a person separate out the experiences? Well, he didn't hire me because I am black. How can you know that it wasn't because you were a woman. Or a black woman. Or from Mississippi?

How can you observe the action objectively?

At best, the people in the group will be guessing, too, and that they are closer to the action doesn't give them any more clarity I can see.

Steven Barnes said...

Let's say a black woman experiences negative stuff from both white men and white women. That's racism. Let's say that most of her pain emerges from interactions with white and black men, but in interactions with white women, she feels comfort and understanding. Gender. If she fails to be promoted as white women around her are. Race. If she and other women are promoted as white and black men are. Gender again. It wouldn't be that hard, Steve. I spoke to about six black women (too small and slanted a sample for me to think I've come to any conclusions, and I don't really care to, anyway) and they had no problem separating the stuff out, really.

Steve Perry said...

Well, not to belabor the point, but the experiment's parameters fail short of science. The factors don't divide out that neatly, and you are shading them in ways that don't necessarily compute.

Maybe she didn't get promoted because the boss has nothing against blacks or women per se. Maybe the white woman was better qualified (or had bigger tits.) Maybe the boss promoted the black over because he has trouble working with any woman, white or black.

Maybe the white women comfort the black woman not because of her gender, but because they are full of liberal guilt. There's a host of things that don't lead to the next.

We used to see this from the fed -- marijuana is a gateway drug to heroin. No, it isn't. They can say, well, most heroin users once smoked dope therefore ...

But all heroin users once drank water, therefore water is a gateway drug leading to smack ...

You could go into a Chinese restaurant, have a nice meal and go home, get sick and throw up. It might be the food, or it might be a case of the flu that happened at the same time, and while you could justifiably choose to blame the sweet and sour pork, you could be completely wrong.

I think this is too complex to tag it with simple either/or solutions. Yeah, my intuition says that probably black women have hard rows to hoe than either white women or black men, in general.

But -- the plural of anecdote is not evidence.

Steven Barnes said...

Absolutely, the plural of anecdote is not evidence. Except...
To a certain degree, the question of what things one values in life (freedom over security, self-expression over community, whatever) will determine what circumstances one finds good or bad. What do women find most important? We would need to ask them before we could create a standard. Then: which of these things do men control, or have more of? Which of these things do blacks have more of, or control? There is some objective standard for facts, but which facts make for a "good" life is far more subjective. I maintain that IF it is possible to come to a conclusion (and I'm not saying it is) the only group with the bona fides to answer it are black women. Otherwise, it is inanswerable, as is any question of whether human group A and B can be compared at all.

Steve Perry said...

There's an old Hollywood joke: Stop ten people on the street in L.A. and ask them how their screenplay is going?

They'll all tell you ...

Stop ten people on the street in Omaha and ask the same question, probably you get a lot of blank looks.

But yet they are all people, right?

You know the other joke -- All broad generalizations are bad -- including the one I just made ...

If I want to know what black people think, I can't pick one as the rep. Any more than somebody could point at me and say, "Hey, you're a white guy, whaddya think about racism?" and expect my view would mirror that of the other white guys.

Now, if you wanted to ask what white cracker science fiction and fantasy writers from Louisiana who live in Oregon and have two Corgis think about racism, I can help you; far as I know, there are only one of us and I'm the guy.

I think there is probably ten tons of evidence that could be brought forth to justify a statement like "Black women have it harder than either white women or black men, when it comes to _________ (fill in the blank.)

But you will need a forklift and a willingness to us it to sift through it.

Asking a handful of your friends ain't the way to produce a result you can justify as remotely accurate. Sample is too small; that they are your friends taints it, because you are apt to have standards for friends that aren't as wide-reaching as "black women."

I know, you work with what you have, and do the best you can. But this isn't a question that can be answered without a lot more research, and in the end, I'm not sure what it would accomplish.

On some level, I think most people in most groupings feel as if they have it harder than other folks. I've had a guy making a couple hundred grand a year, up at the top of the white-collar food chain seriously whine at me: Why is my life so much harder than everybody else's?

It's the nature of the beast, Steve.