The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Tonight's Her Night!

I think Palin will do fairly well tonight. Maybe very well, according to her supporters, but my guess is that the "undecideds" will kind of feel: "o.k. She's pretty good." My take on her is that she has an E.Q. like Bush's--that is, she's REALLY good at getting people to like her. But she's not as smart as Bush (whose I.Q. seems to be about 125). There will be those who don't think that's important. I'm not one of them. My very most basic reason for voting for Obama--I want someone in the White House who is smarter than I am. McCain isn't (although I am perfectly happy to assume he's not less intelligent, either) Biden? No idea. Certainly has foot-in-mouth disease. Palin seems kind of incurious about anything out of a very narrow range. I salute her for considering C.S. Lewis "very, very deep"--I thought that in High School, too. Kind of scary for someone running for V.P., though.


Bought Jason a copy of "Darby O'Gill and the Little People," an incredibly charming Disney Irish fantasy, with some astounding special effects created without opticals or digital manipulation. A series of perspective shots, mirrors and enough high-powered lighting to blow out a Burbank sub-station (really!) created quite a show. An early Sean Connery film, and was he ever young and gorgeous! But I wondered whatever happened to Janet Monroe, the spunky, "cuter than any human being should be" love interest. So I looked her up, and sadly, she died at 38 of alcoholism-related heart problems, emotionally shattered when marriages and her career collapsed. So sad.

"Oh...she is my dear, my darling one

My charming and beguiling one.

I love the ground she walks upon...

My darling Irish girl..."

RIP, Janet. You were a charmer.


I turned in my first script for Vin Diesel's BET animated series "Hannibal", for which yours truly is now the story editor. "Father Steel"--Hannibal's encounter with a murderous, incestuous cannibal (children's TV has really changed! No, really, this is Pg-13 stuff) I had real, real fun with it (what I call "good, evil fun") which I consider the secret to tapping into your purest creative self. Everything else is just technique. Now, Tananarive and I are working on the second episode now, "Last Stand" that will deal with the bad-ass she-vixon that he married, Iberian princess Imilce (hey--I touch history, but I don't have to swallow it whole). This is great. We sat and watched "300" yesterday, and was again impressed by it. People who quibbled at its history (Rhinos at Thermopalae? Absurd!) missed the point entirely. This wasn't history--it was a campfire story, told to stir the soul.

By the end of the film, T and I were both crying a little. The power of myth to inspire is astounding. It places life and death in context, and gives meaning to events that cannot be achieved through linear logic. Any people who don't have stories of themselves as beautiful, sexual, powerful, lethal, brave, compassionate and wise are a dying people, vulnerable to being defined by whoever it is who broke their most central flows of myth.

A healthy people will have stories of their ancestors and contemporaries who are masters of their basic environment, who are sexual and reproductive, who are powerful fighters and successful merchants, who love deeply, love poetic expression, are intellectually brilliant, and who have deep faith in God--or a philosophical acceptance of the Void. Look at the Old Testament, and you'll see a perfect example of this. Deny a people ANY ONE OF THESE, and they literally cannot mature. The more basic the wound, the more juvenile they remain. In a very important way, slavery was the domestication of human beings, the process of turning wolves into dogs. You keep them from becoming fully adult. Keep them dependant. You kill their warriors, and destroy their women's chastity.


What would be a child's approach to the Chakras as opposed to an adult's? O.K, I'll take a shot at that, but only with the caveat that in many ways I'm talking about my own history. And that these are just my opinions.

1)Muladhara--Survival. The creation of basic creation of income without producing goods and services that are of actual value to the community. That do not decrease chaos and entropy. Stealing, drug dealing, etc.

2) Svahasthana--sex separate from relationship or love. In other words--you wouldn't even know if one of your partners got pregnant. Considering sex "conquest." The "Madonna/Whore" split on the other hand, is not childish--it is dysfunction, generally imposed by religious programming IN childhood. Sick, sad stuff. Not taking full responsibility for any children you bring into the world--and that means being there for them every day, not just when it is convenient.

3)Manapura: Power. Wealth separate from production, money for its own sake without concern for the effects of your commerce in the world--and then denying what you have done. Physical power and violence separated from the protective function--a wolf with no cubs to protect. Man-children brag about the streetfights and bar-brawls they've had, just for the sake of displaying dominance and bad-assery. The female equivilent of this can be bragging about the men who get into fights OVER them. Dysfunctional aspects of this CAN be things like Bouncer and Stripper work--both of which can be a means to an adult end--or a dead-end usage of basic physical traits, exploiting both self and others.

4) Anahata: Love. The inability to divorce love from sex, or the inability to create adult relationships, preferring to replicate childhood attachments indefinitely. The inability to see the beloved as an independent and autonomous creature.

5) Communication: lying to self and others as a way of surviving life. Words not matching actions.

6) Intellect: opinions and theories that do not match reality maps. Believing that a political perspective is correct to the exclusion of the opposite view ("liberalism is a disease", "Conservatives are sociopathic monsters" etc.)

7) Spirit: clinging to religious or spiritual beliefs given in childhood, without re-examination in the light of later education and experience. Demanding literal truths in works intended as metaphor. Insisting that others adhere to your beliefs, or that you can "prove" theories that exist outside the realm of intellect.


To me, these things are the hallmark of children in adult bodies, playing adult games. They are dangerous as hell, and I am committing my life from this point forward to promoting means of becoming awake, aware adults. We can afford nothing less.


Nancy Lebovitz said...

I don't think Palin's going to do all that well. I don't think her gaffes are a clever ploy. Her EQ is high, but narrowly focused-- she charms a lot of people, and others hate her on sight.

My guess is that enough of what she says will be so vague and unfocused that she'll lose more support.

Here's a new topic: a murderous, incestuous cannibal (children's TV has really changed! No, really, this is Pg-13 stuff)--

This reminds me of a big cultural change. When I was in school (mostly in the sixties) children were not taught about atrocities I'm pretty sure my experience was typical. My younger friends literally have a problem with wrapping their minds around the idea of a no-atrocities-in-school childhood. Even my Hebrew school didn't cover the Holocaust. I don't know if that was typical.

I view exposing children to atrocities as a big experiment. Any opinions about how it's working out? Good and bad ways to handle it?

I'm not sure it works to frame those problems as being about children in adult bodies-- there are certainly children who aren't in such bad shape. It seems more like abused/neglected children in adult bodies.

Brian Dunbar said...

My very most basic reason for voting for Obama--I want someone in the White House who is smarter than I am

1. I wonder if most of the people smarter than you aren't drawn to activities where brains are rewarded?

2. If every politician had to be smarter than you (I rate your intelligence pretty high) we'd have a mighty small pool of people to draw from for office.

Okay, this might not be a bad thing ...

Josh Jasper said...

The thing about Palin is that she's already appealed to all the people she's going to appeal to - people for whom intellectual curiosity is something that they're told to mistrust. She's using "elite" to mean educated, and her disdain for getting an education shows. It shows in the words of people who support her.

When she's asked anything that requires an answer with thought or education behind it, she fades into platitudes. When she's asked about general emotional issues, she's fine.

That's great for people who liked to beat up on nerds in high school, but not for the nerds.

Anonymous said...

"My very most basic reason for voting for Obama--I want someone in the White House who is smarter than I am"

Regrettably, I have the impression that, since the electorate appears drawn to candidates who mirror their own situation, most voters prefer to elect those who approximate their own mental capabilities.Given the average American I.Q. of 100, this means most elected officials will bear mere mediocre mentalities, which accounts for the nonentities who have besmirched the White House since JFK's demise. A perfect example is the most popular US President of modern times, Ronald Reagan, whose I.Q. the Physician and Activist Helen Caldicott credibly estimated at 100. Sarah Palin merely appears more of the depressingly predictable same.

Pagan Topologist said...

So the McCain campaign tried to pull off a pool-shark type finesse by shocking everyone at how well Palin did, after setting us up to expect otherwise. It did not really work, but it was fun to watch. Her answers often seemed really disingenuous, and Joe called her out on it two or three times.

Anonymous said...

OMG. Steve, did you just equate intelligence with I.Q.?

Josh Jasper said...

Most memorable quote of the evening?

"John McCain is the man we need to leave...I mean lead,"

Freudian slip much, Gov. Palin? Other than that, she wasn't horrible, but Biden was direct, polished, and avoided major mistakes. I think he presented his case better. Polls are saying that whole Palin beat expectations, Biden "won".

It looks like the Obama camp isn't going to loose momentum because of this, and the McCain camp isn't gaining much.

Anonymous said...

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Steven Barnes said...

1) I equate I.Q. with one way of looking at what I call "intelligence." It's a decent short-hand.

2) No, I don't demand all polticians be smarter than me. But we just had a president I am quite sure is NOT as smart as I am. Balance requires that the next one be at the other end of the curve.

3) No, I don't think Palin was faking it. I just don't think she's dumb. My guess? An I.Q. around 110, combined with tunnel vision.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I'm kind of disappointed that historical liberties will be taken with the Hannibal project.

A factual representation would have been entertaining enough IMO.

Steven Barnes said...

Liberties are always, and HAVE always been taken with historical projects.
1) Historians don't completely agree on what happened. Someone is ALWAYS going to say you got it wrong. Always.
2) Drama always rounds "reality" to give it shape. Otherwise it's called "documentary." The purpose of drama is not, and has not ever been, to teach history. It is to communicate emotion. If bending history is good enough for Shakespeare, who am I to aim higher?

Anonymous said...

We already have enough projects around these days that round reality to communicate emotion.

It just would have been nice to see a different approach taken here, is all.