Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Little Story At The Writers Guild West

   - Welcome to the coffee corner.
- I have to relax. I've been rushing all day. Though I suppose coffee doesn't make people relax.
- Drinking coffee can be relaxing when it's a ritual. A ritual is something you do regularly that let's you play out a scene of regaining control. Any irritant - coffee is one - will do to be what you take control of. After many experiences you look forward to the taking control, and recover a sense of security right from the beginning of the ritual.
- Are you a writer?
- No.
- No?
- Are you?
- No.
- We're two ordinary coffee drinkers. What brings you to the Writers Guild Theater?
- My friend's a writer.
- A movie writer?
- Yes. You're not a writer?
- I write little stories.
- I thought so. What kind of little stories? How little?
- I'm looking around for the littlest possible story. The story behind all stories.
- Do you think there is such a story?
- Maybe. Ritual is part of it.
- How?
- You know relativism, the idea that there is no truth, everyone has his own view?
- Yes.
- "The truth is that there is no truth" - "I take the position that there are no true positions" - "I am right that no one is right including me" -  "I am saying that I am not saying anything". Have you ever thought of how it is possible for human beings to be so inconsistent?
- People don't think. They get on with their lives, say whatever pops into their minds.
- They can say whatever pops into their minds because they've forgotten what was in their minds the moment before. To say, "it's all relative" is to perform a ritual, and rituals make us forget the bad times we had before performing our repetitions and again feeling safe. Stories begin from this forgetting.
- Remembering ritual?
- Constraining ritual. Let's say you wanted to start a democracy. Give everyone a chance to speak, give everyone a chance to veto any proposal. Those are two rules, which have to be remembered before any individual can have freedom to speak and veto.
- You said "remembered".
- Yes. To point out that people can't be allowed to enjoy the good feeling of ritual and forgetting if they want to enjoy the freedom of democracy. People can practice ritual, but not in the beginnings.
- In their spare time. So if you are looking for the beginnings of the littlest possible story....
- Everyone has the freedom to speak and veto but no one has the freedom to speak forgetting those rules.
- Why is that a story?
- Because people are always setting each other straight about breaking the rules that defend our freedom.
- "Rules that defend our freedom". That's like, "It's true that there's no truth".
- But it's not. It could even be that little story I am looking for. Only two things happen: first, ritual is forbidden, second, now say whatever you want.
- And there is no story to relativism? Beside the story of how we forget?
- We can tell stories, really strange stories. We happen to be in the right place for that kind of story telling. Did you see the movie last week, "Oblivion"?
- I wasn't able to.
- It cost 150 million dollars to make, with one studio, then another, paying a fortune for the story, a comic book, before they even got started. The movie is wildly inconsistent. Almost every movie that's showed here is.
- But they're not all named "Oblivion".
- No. The individual elements in the movie are chosen for attractiveness to particular audiences, and then the elements combined with no concern for what the movie is as a whole.
- Isn't there an audience for a whole movie?
- That would be an audience of people who were willing to stop forgetting long enough to agree to the rules that gave them freedom to speak and be heard.
- The studios want to make money and they have the formula.
- And what is making money?
- What?
- Forgetting. Every money risk is the irritant at the beginning of a ritual of recovery, recovery from the risk, and then achieving the security of profit made.
- What is being forgotten?
- Remember we're talking about money-makers here of the kind that makes these movies. As the movies forget to have a story, so too do the movie makers forget that making money is for the purpose of having a story in their lives.
- They make money for the sake of making money.
- And go on making money because they need to forget that there is no story to their lives.
- Why do they bother pretending their movies have stories at all?
- Why does our government go on pretending it does anything it's not bribed to do?
- We expect movies to have stories, we believe in our government.
- Yes. And if we think about it at all, we think the money interests are organized against us. But if what we're saying here is correct, they can't come up with a story any more than the movie makers can come up with a story. They can't create a world or country that is economically successful, they can't even come up with a plan to make themselves as a group collectively successful. They might organize, have meetings, but organize and meet without any continuity, as the world economy gets worse and worse....
- And they themselves are getting richer.
- But there are fewer of them, like there are fewer bigger and bigger movies.
- What are we supposed to do?
- Start from the beginning. Look for the littlest possible story.
- I don't get it. How are money makers preventing others from talking?
- By crowding us all into participating in their rituals.
- How are they? You said they can't organize any more than tell a story.
- Their individual rituals are making money, buying property. The more successful have more power and are able to drive out the less powerful. People who have their own stories to tell are not good participants in rituals. But if they have no property they have to be in if they are to go on living.
- It's funny. When I was in school literature, art, psychology, everything was explained by politics, by power. Ideas, words, history were lies. Relativism, as you say. You're turning it around, explaining politics by literature. I like it.
- It's a good story.