The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


The sixth “chakra,”
Anja, represents intellect.  Note that this is separate from communication, which also represents education.  They feed upon one another, but intellect deals with our maps of the world, the way we create symbols and philosophies, our cosmology as well as our epistemology. 

There is an expression in yoga that one can awaken the chakras from the bottom up, or from the heart “out”, but never ever from the top down.  In other words, we can develop our understanding of the world by learning to deal with our fears, learning to ethically satisfy our sexual and sensual needs, learning to provide goods and services for our communities, negotiating the reefs of love.  We learn.

Or, we can begin with a heart-space connection to everything around us.  Love will create the bonds that lead to understanding and growth. 

But when we develop an intellectual picture of the world before we have actually experienced life, we stunt our development: the world is larger than our concepts of it.  That said, it is valuable to clarify our relationship with the intellectual world, and use our theories and ideas to inform our writing.
What do you think intelligence is?  Is not?
Do you believe there are multiple “types” of intelligence?  That it is fixed?  Malleable?
Do you believe different groups have more or less intelligence than others?
Is high intelligence an advantage?  A disadvantage?
What are the drawbacks associated with high intelligence?  Low intelligence?  Are there advantages to low intelligence?
Are genius and insanity correlated?
Is the mind more important than the body?

With each question you devise and answer, you are creating your own map of the inside of your head.  Whatever theories you develop, apply them to your characters, helping you to differentiate elegantly, so that conversations and actions are completely distinct based on their history and attributes.  But remember that the more intellectual your characters are, the greater the necessity to “ground” them in the workaday world of flesh and blood.  It is difficult (though not impossible) to create a story about geniuses sitting around thinking, note that a movie like
A Beautiful Mind used sex and the perception of physical threat to anchor the story of a troubled genius in reality.

What, to you, is the world of the mind?  Open that door, and your characters enter a new realm.

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