Friday, November 21, 2008

The Blue Pill or the Red Pill? -- Writer's Poke #128

For Writers:

In the move The Matrix, Neo is offered a choice. He can take the Blue Pill and continue to live in ignorant bliss, or he can take the Red Pill and learn the painful truth.


Why would anyone purposely choose pain over bliss? Yet there seems to be something hardwired in the human brain to do just that. We expect, however, to be punished for our choice.
This is what the Genesis myth is all about. Adam and Eve were basically told not to take the Red Pill. But they were, in essence, still given the choice -- and the right (the expectation) to be punished.


Now consider this: What value is being given a choice if you have no way of knowing the consequences of your decision? Neo cannot really know what will happen when he swallows the Red Pill, any more than Adam and Eve could know what would happen when they chomped down on God’s Apple. All that these characters know is ignorant bliss; but they also know that bliss without truth isn’t enough.


What pill do you choose, and why?


“The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance.” – Socrates

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Why I Don't Write Poetry -- "Zugzwang und Zwischenzug" (circa 1994)

Yes, I've taken more than one creative writing poetry class in my life; I think they're fun, but I'm by no means a poet. And yet here's a poem that just won't die. My droogie Vikram has posted it to different Internet sites over the years, and so it's still out there. Did it really leave such an impression on him that he continues to feel the need to share it with the world?

When it was originally being reviewed in class, one of the girls in class said: "This sounds like you're trying to be pseudo intellectual." Well, really. Does anyone "try" to be pseudo intellectual?

Not me. I just had a number of things working against me. 1) I was young, 2) I knew I couldn't write poetry, 3) I liked German, and 4) I played chess. Put it all together, and you end up with the following poem.


"Zugzwang und Zwischenzug"

- Freedom or love: which do you choose?
Pretend for a moment that Life is the Let's Make a Deal game show,
and the God is none other than his Holiness, Monte Hall.
Imagine further that He presents you with the following offer:

- Will you take this tiny little box of love?
Or
Will you go for the door which leads to freedom?

If you take the box of love, you must make that box your home.
But it looks like such a small cell -
who would want to make their home in such constriction?
So maybe it would be wiser to escape through freedom's door -
and not worry about love at all.
But then you would be homeless, loveless, lonely, and exposed.
Freedom and love prove to be pejorative unless taken together.
What do you do when you're caught in zugzwang?

- Freedom or love: Which do you choose? We're awaiting your reply.

"I guess... I guess I'll take the tiny box of love."

[Bells and sirens go off, reminiscent of East L.A. after Rodney King.]

- You're in luck! Since you picked the tiny box of love,
you win the door that leads to freedom as well.
Had you chosen the door, then that's all you would have gotten.
Thank you for playing our game! Zwischenzug!
Love leads to freedom, but freedom does not lead to love.
That deceptively tiny box is in reality quite roomy.
Big enough to contain not only love, it also admits access to real freedom.
For in that tiny box of love is the key to freedom's door,
and the key to happiness.

(18 June 1994)

http://www.yelp.com/topic/san-francisco-love-or-a-career

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hairy Super Nachos -- Writer's Poke #127

For Writers:

Nothing beats Denny's in the middle of the night. The people, the atmosphere, the food...

One particular summer night, we decided to hit the local Denny's for some burgers, and we ordered the super nachos as an appetizer.

The waitress brought out the super nachos, and boy were they tasty. After consuming about half of them, however, I noticed a hair hidden in the cheese. I pulled on said hair, and I pulled, and I pulled. To put the length of this hair into perspective, if it were growing out of my head, it would have easily reached down to my ass.

Finding a hair in one's food can be quite off-putting, but finding a six foot hair hidden in my nachos made me want to go back into the kitchen and strangle the cook with his own offending hair.

But I didn't. I paid good money for those super nachos, and I just kept on eating them.

What is the grossest thing you have ever found in your food? Or, what is the grossest thing that you've ever (knowingly) ate?

"I ate a bug once. It was flying around me. I was trying to get it away. It went right in my mouth. It was so gross!" -- Hilary Duff

Monday, November 17, 2008

Learning How to Live -- Writer's Poke #126

For Writers:

They threw his body off the bridge just a couple of miles from my house. Later that evening, someone discovered it, and three suspects were quickly arrested.

Shane was one of the first people I bonded with when we moved to Mattoon. He came to my birthday party in 5th grade, but we didn’t remain friends for long. School wasn’t his top priority, and by middle school, he had been placed into one level of classes, and I had been tracked into another.

He grew his hair long, and got involved with people that weren’t always looking out for his best interests. By the time I entered college, he was totally off my radar. But apparently at the time of his death, he recognized his life was heading in the wrong direction. He enrolled at the local community college, and he started making a different group of friends.

The changes he was making came too late, and three or four of his “friends” bludgeoned him to death. Drugs and booze were probably involved.

I went to his funeral, but not too many people from our class attended. I looked at his body, and it was difficult for me to believe that someone my age had been murdered. The physical evidence was right there before me, and I wondered if I was somehow responsible -- for not caring about his life when he was still breathing. Now that he was dead, what could I do about it? And, was my concern for his death genuine? That is, did I care about Shane, or was my feeling of grief more self-serving?

Whose death has left a lasting impact on you?

“Our life is made by the death of others.” – Leonardo da Vinci

A Closet Full of Money -- Writer's Poke #125

For Writers:

God, I believe you exist. But just to prove it, put a million dollars in my closet. When I open the closet and find the million dollars, then I will know that you really exist.

I opened the closet door, but no million dollars – just the same dust pan and broom, and bottles of pepsi that were there before my prayer.

Did my eight-year old brain really expect God to prove His existence to me by poofing a million dollars into my closet? Not really, but that didn’t stop me from being angry at God for being so stingy. What was a million dollars to God? After all, didn’t God own the universe? Was my request really that unreasonable?

Over the years, my belief in God has varied – to the point that it doesn’t much matter to me one way or the other. No matter what happens in my life, I’ve learned not to expect miracles. God may exist, but not in this life.

Do you believe in God? Why or why not?

Or, does belief in God matter in your daily life? Explore why.

“I don’t know if God exists, but it would be better for His reputation if He didn’t.” – Jules Renard

Snow Insanity -- Writer's Poke #124

For Writers:

Vikram and I decided to spend a few days with Patrick at his place in the Peru-LaSalle area. It was late December in Illinois, and we ended up getting snowed in. We tried to shovel the drive with Patrick’s plastic toy shovel, but we quickly broke it in two.

When did Patrick get so anal? That’s what Vikram and I wondered after being trapped in Patrick’s house for 18 hours. Take your shoes off, he said. Put this and that back where you found it, he said. It didn’t take long for tempers to flair. We had been friends for ten years, but we weren’t used to living together in an Illinois snow prison – especially with Patrick as the Warden.

At one point, Patrick went into his bedroom, and when he came back, he pointed a gun at my head. This was rather unexpected, but he wanted to make it quite clear that this was his house, and he wasn’t going to take my sass any longer.

As it turned out, it wasn’t real gun; it was just a starter’s pistol, but he had made his point.

If you were stranded on a desert island, who is the one person that you could live with that you wouldn’t drive crazy (or that wouldn’t drive you crazy)?

“Whom God wishes to destroy, he first makes mad.” -- Proverb