Posts Tagged ‘possibility’

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Philosophy Tuesday

November 20, 2018

“From time to time we receive letters from readers who wonder why there’s so much moralizing in our mags. They take great pains to point out that comics are supposed to be escapist reading and nothing more. But somehow, I can’t see it that way. It seems to me that a story without a message, however subliminal, is like a man without a soul. In fact, even the most escapist literature of all – old time fairy tales and heroic legends – contained moral and philosophical points of view. At every college campus where I may speak, there’s as much discussion of war and peace, civil rights, and the so-called youth rebellion as there is of our Marvel mags per se. None of us lives in a vacuum – none of us is untouched by the everyday events around us – events which shape our stories just as they shape our lives. Sure our tales can be called escapist – but just because something’s for fun, doesn’t mean we have to blanket our brains as we read it!

Excelsior!”

— Stan Lee

 

Storytelling is one of the, if not the, thing that makes us human.  It is one of our greatest gifts.  A good story can excite us, can move us, can inspire us, can make us feel all manner of feels.  Stories can touch us deeply.  And, most importantly, it is through stories, both heard and our own, that we come to know ourselves and our world.  Our very identity and relation to the world is codified through story.  This conflux of narratives is what gives us our experience of life.

Storytelling is something that is to be honoured, cherished, nurtured, supported.  The stories we tell are just as important as the equations and knowledge and skills we teach.  Entertainment is fabulous!  And entertainment is never in opposition to great and intentful storytelling.

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Philosophy Tuesday

November 13, 2018

If you want to draw water,

You do not dig six one-foot wells.

You dig one six-foot well.

Variations on this phrase have been attributed to many great philosophers and thinkers over the years (be it Sufi or Buddha or some other), but no matter its origin (which I’d wager is more likely to be pedestrian rather than profound), it remains a lovely little didactic parable that nicely encapsulates a number of philosophical hooks to leap from.

For one, it can be taken as a tale of intention and perseverance: “To flit about and abandon things quickly may not always yield that which will slake your thirst.”

It may also be taken as a tale of collaboration and unity: “When we dig only for ourselves, we come up short; when we dig together, we can reach rewards of superabundance.”

And for me, the most profound comes when I take it this way: “Remember that there are many valid paths, and everyone ends up drinking from the same water.  We don’t need to divide ourselves based on the specific well.  The important part is that we are digging our well, that our well aims true, and that we dig deep enough to reach the water of spirit and enlightenment.”

In both martial and philosophical arts, I have found that any “style” or “method” or “philosophy” developed to a high level begins to sound the same.  They start talking about the same things.  They have to.  Because we are all the same human body, and the same human being.  They may talk about things differently, or have different conceptual frameworks, but ultimately they are all pointing to the same thing.  The same water.

Search to find a good spot for a well.  Set yourself down.  And start digging.

When you find another drinking from a different well, revel in the water below.  Look down their well to see what new things might reflect back for you.   Share the experiences of the waters you have reached.

When we cease our flitting, begin our digging, work together to bore downward, and support each other in our well building efforts, we can all reach and revel in that sweet, cool, water below.

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Gaming Thursday: Conveying the Rules

November 8, 2018

Over the past 6 years or so, I’ve had fun trying out many new game systems.  From role playing to pure tactical, from the crunchy to the more narrative, they’ve run the gamut.  Through this all I’ve been reminded of two very big things:

  • Crafting a smooth, engaging, fun, and enabling game system is an art.
  • Conveying those rules with clarity and structure is an entirely separate art.

Neither of these are revelatory, of course.  But while most of these new systems I’ve come to enjoy and find quite well done, almost all of them suffer greatly in the second department.  Often, horribly so.

It’s a strange phenomenon to me, this consistency to which rulesets these days (in my experience, at any rate) are both poorly explained, with awkward, ambiguous, and poorly worded statements, and poorly laid out, with the most egregious (and, again, common) being interlocking rules elements that are strangely separated in the book by whole chapters and further compounded by meagre, or worse, no index so you can’t readily find things mid-game.  It is one reason I’ve been making so many cheat sheets – designing them allows me to see and learn how the game rules actually fit together*, with the in-play for quick reference being almost a bonus feature.

This may be starting to sound a bit like a rant, and truly I don’t mean it to be.  Instead, these two things have been great reminders for me of the importance of finding and trusting good editors and, even more importantly, being aware of what we’re good at, and what we’re not.  We may be brilliant at designing rules, but we may stink at writing them down (or vice versa).  Hiring people to aid us in those roles where we are weak can be the best thing for us and the game.

It is also a reminder that when I do find a game that excellently handles both bits, celebrate both the rules but even more so the authors/team who wrote them and laid out the book with such elegance.  For it is most certainly not a given.

 

* To which really allows one to see just how strange the organization can be by noting how many times, forty or sixty pages later in the book, you need to go back and add something to a part of the cheat sheet you thought you were done with.

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Philosophy Tuesday

November 6, 2018

It is like tuning an instrument

 

You cannot expect to do it just once

And have it stay perfect

 

You have to do it ongoingly

Daily

Tuning

And adjusting

So that it sounds better and better

 

So too with life

 

You cannot expect to transform something

Learn something

Gain wonderous insights

And get something, once

And have it stay perfect

 

You need to keep doing it

It is a practice

 

And with practice

You approach that more perfect state

Leading to evermore beautiful harmonies

And to evermore beautiful lives

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Philosophy Tuesday

October 30, 2018

Every person you meet meets a different you.

On the one hand, that doesn’t seem right.  After all, it always feels like I am me, and the me that walks around is always there.  So, clearly, whenever we meet someone they must be meeting the “me” that I am.

On the other hand, well, we often behave differently around different people, right?  We present ourselves one way at work, or another way at home, or a third way to our church/club/team/drinking buddies.   So, ok, maybe it makes sense that there are at least a handful of “me”s out there to meet.

Turns out, there’s a quite the many more than that.

Every person that you encounter creates a version of you in their heads.  Some of it is based on your interactions.  Some of it is based on their prior experience and projection.  But it’s a distinct, individual, you.

Therefore you, I, we, are different people to each our parents, siblings, friends, acquaintances, coworkers, neighbors, and the regular clerks at our stores.  There are thousands of “you”s and “me”s out there, in thousands of minds.  Created by thousands of beings.

There’s a you that exists in each version, but it isn’t the same you, and “you” aren’t really a “someone” at all.  Which makes the idea of knowing yourself all the more interesting…

The corollary, however, is perhaps even more profound.

Every person you know is also a thousand different people.  The individual you know them as is your personal them.  They are not that exact person to another.  All their gifts and all their faults are, in many ways, particular to you.

Meet them fresh and under different circumstances, and you might create them totally different.  Let your views be fresh, and who they are may completely shift.  They may grow.  Or they may shrink.

There’s a lot that opens up in this understanding.  Empathy. Delight.  Choice.  Deepening relatedness.  Clarity.  And a realignment towards authentic selves, both for ourselves, for theirselves, and for all the “you”s that exist out there.

 

* Apologies for all the I/you/we perspective shifts up there…

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Philosophy Tuesday

October 23, 2018

There was this great ad for Ikea from years ago, directed by Spike Jonze:

Objects cannot make decisions.  Objects do not grow.  Objects do not make meanings in their lives.  Objects do not possess agency.  Objects lack emotion.  Objects cannot create and act and cavort and cry and all the things people (and other living things) can do.  Objects are fixed, predictable, unmalleable.  Objects are either working or broken.  Objects can be thrown away.

People are not objects, of course.

But we turn people into objects all the time.

Whenever we act like how we see, label, relate, or think of someone, and like the meaning they have for us is the right one, the true one, the one and only one, we’ve turned them into a thing.  An object.  An other.

We do this to our coworkers, management, professions, and the clerk at the store.  We do it to hobby groups, enthusiasts, and fans of a thing.  We do it to genders.  We do it to whole cities and whole countries just as readily as we do it to our siblings, parents, friends, neighbors, and lovers.

When we objectify, we exterminate.  The vital being entity that stands (metaphorically, perhaps) before us is snuffed out, and a thing is all that remains.

And the trouble is, we don’t treat things the same way as we treat people.

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Philosophy Tuesday

October 16, 2018

Bravery

Has nothing to do

With being fearless

 

Being brave

Is not the absence of fear

 

Being brave

It is having fear

And doing it anyway