A New Beginning Trailer

  

   As I mentioned two weeks ago, sometimes past memories bubble up and explode into my consciousness.  That process has happened again, only this time it was not a memory: it was A New Beginning….  Having worked everything through in my mind, the time has come to complete what began long ago.  One last time my “Ancient Eyes” peer into the dark cavernous cave in my mind, seeking to illuminate the path that culminates with “The End of Time.”  As 2013 dwindles, my optimism grows and the feeling that I’ve been here before engulfs me.  For now, I depart on my journey to complete this project before the walls tumble down and I forget where I began….

Literary Influence No. 4: The Prince

        One of the most notorious books of all time, The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli introduced the concept of the end justifying the means for the first time in writing.  As Machiavelli points out repeatedly in the text, though, the concept had been employed many times in the past (and in various ways is still employed to this day).  Most notably, perhaps, in the case of Cesare Borgia whose court Machiavelli spent time at during the fall of 1502 and winter of 1503.  In many ways, the methods and historic fall of Borgia are the central theme of The Prince.  Personally, I found The Prince to be one of the most intriguing historical texts that I have read.  Not because I secretly harbor a desire to employ cunning and duplicity to achieve my ultimate goals, but because I seek to understand those who do.

        Having read The Prince, though, I actually interpret it much differently than traditional historians.  To me, Machiavelli lays out and identifies the way in which princes (royalty) must behave to keep their empires.  Does he condone this behavior, though?  Well, that all depends on how you read and interpret the text.  I believe Machiavelli gives away his beliefs by dedicating the text to Lorenzo de’ Medici (clearly sarcastic), and the fact that in the beginning he explains that he will not discuss republics, but in fact does discuss republics in many places (slight of hand).

        When it comes to the dedication, why does Machiavelli dedicate it to Lorenzo de’ Medici?  The simple answer is that The Prince was a gift to Lorenzo.  The more complex answer is that Machiavelli desired nothing more than the reinstatement of the Florentine Republic with himself resuming a role in it.  That being his motivation, I believe that Machiavelli subtly argues for the republican form of government by pointing out the flaws of princely states, perhaps, hoping de’ Medici would see and understand this argument (of course, he didn’t and neither have many others).  It seems to me that Machiavelli gives this away in the end when he praises the characteristics of the people, in spite of historical references to the contrary.  Machiavelli does warn the people, though, with this line: “The mob is always impressed by appearances and results, and the mob is the world.”  Definitely a means for princes to gain power, and something we need to remain wary of today.  There are numerous other ways that Machiavelli subtly chastises princes, but for today the previous reasons are sufficient.  In a future work, I’ll explain more thoroughly.  For now, take my word that Machiavelli identified the characteristics of psychopathic princes so that the people being aware of their tricks might live in free republics in the future (Unfortunately, he also gave would be tyrants a game plan to build power; darn unintended consequences).

        Like Machiavelli, I don’t want to be ruled over by a pious prince who derives his power from appearances and results that are not in the best interest of the people.  My response to Machiavellianism, an unfair term that I believe should be called princeism instead, comes in the form of my poem: “The Lost Garden.”  Indeed so much has been lost over the years; the future, however, is still unknown.  For now, we make take solace in the fact that we will never be royals, and there is now a great song to go along with that line.

Film Influence No. 3: Memento

        What is real, and what is imagined?  Scientifically speaking, reality depends a great deal on the inner workings of our minds.  Since our mind processes what we see more quickly than what we hear, our brain constantly adjusts reality in the effort to synchronize our perception of the world.  That being the case, we are always a split second away from true reality.  This, of course, means that reality has a great deal to do with perception.  Now imagine that you are Leonard Shelby, the protagonist of Memento, and you no longer have the ability to make new memories.  What would your reality be?

        As you may have noticed, I’m a big Memento fan.  One of the reasons that I liked the film so much, is that it kept my mind working trying to figure out what was going to happen next.  A great deal of the intrigue has to do with the nonlinear narrative structure.  In the film, there are two different sequences (past and present) flowing in different directions.  The sequences meet at the end of the film bringing the story together.  I found the technique to be very intriguing, which is probably why I incorporated a similar structure into A New Beginning….  When it comes to my story, though, two sequences just wouldn’t do.  No, I needed one sequence more (the future).

        Speaking of my story, I suppose I had better get to work.  The summer is almost over, and I still have work to do (like Christopher Nolan, I have another project in my back pocket that would like to be born some day).  In the meantime, enjoy the trailer for Memento.  If you haven’t seen the film yet, I would suggest doing so.  I believe you’ll like it.  Oh yeah, while we’re on the topic of the inner working of our minds you might as well enjoy the video for “Hurricane” from MS MR as well.

Film Influence No. 4: Dazed and Confused

        I’ve always been fond of of anything that explores the topic of what Pete Townshend called the “teenage wasteland.”  In fact, my poem “The Wasteland” probably has more to do with my formative years than the dusty Central Oregon landscape.  In my mind, Dazed and Confused is one of the best films to ever explore the topic.  It also doesn’t hurt that the film has by many accounts achieved cult film status, and features a number of actors and actresses who went on to become stars.  One of my favorite lines in the film is spoken by the character Cynthia: “You know, I’d like to quit thinking of the present, like right now, as some minor insignificant preamble to something else.”  I couldn’t agree more.

        When it comes to “A New Beginning…”, there’s definitely a “teenage wasteland” component.  Divided into three parts, “A New Beginning…” delves into the past, present, and future.  Sound familiar?  The past, of course, is where the “teenage wasteland” component comes in.  By contrasting that component with both the present (middle age) and the future (old age), I explore the human psyche in its three most prominent forms.  I’m not going to lie, sometimes I feel like my writing process is a psychological experiment gone awry.  That, of course, is what I’m going for and what makes it fun.  Every now and then, though, I have to take a break and just enjoy life.  I’m on a deadline, however, so I suppose I should finish up Part Two.  While I’m working, enjoy the “Baba O’Riley” video below:

Musical Influence No. 1 “More Than a Feeling”

        A long time ago, I heard someone say “it’s easier to swim downstream, than upstream.”  That statement was based on the idea that we need to find the things in life that we are good at doing, and let them carry us downstream.  That, of course, is much easier than constantly fighting the current.  I suppose, though, it all depends on where the stream is headed; as it’s always a good idea to swim away from waterfalls….  Boston’s song “More Than A Feeling” reminds me of this philosophy, and consequently has greatly influenced my writing.  I’m sure I’ve heard the song many, many times, but it was only a few years ago that I made the connection.  I suppose you might say:

“I looked out this morning and the sun was gone
Turned on some music to start my day
I lost myself in a familiar song
I closed my eyes and I slipped away”.

        After making the connection, I decided that writing was one of the things in life that I was good at doing (or, at the very least, enjoy doing).  Not long after, I started writing my collection of poetry.  Since that day, I have to admit, I’ve had the feeling that I’m flowing downstream instead of upstream.  As it turns out, though, occasional rapids are impossible to avoid.  Fortunately, I’m used to them now.  No one is perfect, nor is the world, and occasional bumps are to be expected.  It is easier to deal with them, though, when you’re facing the right direction.  Even then, however, you should never underestimate the value of proper training.

        One of my favorite poems, “The Cool Morning Air,” deals with a similar theme.  On the surface, the poem appears to deal with the morning waking process.  Going deeper, though, the poem addressed the awakening of one’s consciousness.  Through this awakening process, the hidden path, or the current you are meant to follow, becomes visible.  I recently wrote another poem that dives deeper into this idea.  That poem, though, is an integral part of “A New Beginning…”, so I can’t discuss it yet.  In the meantime, I leave you with these words from Boston:

“It’s more than a feeling
(More than a feeling)
When I hear that old song they used to play
(More than a feeling)
I begin dreaming
(More than a feeling)
‘Til I see Marianne walk away
I see my Marianne walkin’ away”.

Musical Influence No. 2: “Madness”

        Sometimes ideas have strange beginnings.  The idea for this blog was indeed strange.  Of all things, it began as the result of a soccer competition with the band Muse.  I was chosen to be the goalie for the competition, which involved Chris Wolstenholme and other members of the Muse entourage versus some lucky fans, myself included.  Needless to say, I had a great time.  So did my wife, who was my guest, and she wasn’t even a Muse fan before that night.  Here’s a link to a video of the competition.

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        I had finished my poetry collection a few weeks before the Muse event, and was in the process of researching avenues to publish my poetry.  It didn’t take me long to figure out that 99% of literary agents do not accept poetry.  That weekend I celebrated the Muse event, and the upcoming culmination of the American version of football, with some rum.  When I woke up, “The Past, Present, and Future” as a blog had been born….  When describing his writing process, Hunter S. Thompson once said he was a “binge writer.”  You’ve got to love dual meanings.  I suppose I’m a bit of a binge blogger. Definitely a strange beginning.

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        When it comes to the music of Muse, two of my favorite songs are “Uprising” and “Madness.”  I selected “Madness” as this week’s influence for two reasons.  Since writing and publishing this collection of poetry, I have definitely felt as though “some kind of madness has started to evolve.”  Additionally, I have come to the conclusion that the past is the past, the future in unknown, the present is all that we get, and love is what we all need.  In the end, I suppose that is what the whole collection is about.  Anyway, thank you to everyone who has read this blog.  Without you, I would have closed it down long ago….  Until next week, enjoy the “Madness” video below:

Musical Influence No. 3: “Trojans”

        Every story has a beginning, and an end.  The same can be said for my collection of poetry.  Last December, I found myself searching for a way to end the collection.  My writing philosophy centers around the idea of letting ideas develop themselves.  It can be frustrating at times, but every time I try to push an idea forward it doesn’t feel right.  This process has led me to develop the mantra: It’s not about you; it never was.  I like to think of myself as an idea generator.  Once I’ve generated an idea, I try to separate myself from it as much as possible.  From that moment on, the idea becomes its own entity.  I then go back to the familiar role of reporting.  In that way, I try to stay as true to the idea as my ego will allow.  Of course, sometimes its easier said than done and at times can bring the writing process to an abrupt halt.  That is exactly where I found myself last December.

        As it turned out, I found the cure at an Atlas Genius concert in Portland’s Crystal Ballroom.  I don’t know if it was the music, the beer, the “floating” dance floor, or something else entirely, but I do know that I found what I was looking for.  That dark December night, I found the inspiration for the poem “The Convergence.”  Not long afterward, I wrapped up the entire collection with the last two poems.  Little did I know at the time, the idea was merely a seed that would continue to sprout in my subconsciousness.  Eventually, that seed grew into the climactic scene of “A New Beginning…”  Truth be told, the idea and theme behind “The Convergence” is what the entire collection of poetry and “A New Beginning…” are about.

        I would explain further, but I can’t give everything away….  For now enjoy the music video for “Trojans,” which was the song performed by Atlas Genius when I first became aware of the presence of the seed in my consciousness.  If you like, you may also contemplate how it was that I stood alone in a sea of people as “The Convergence” overtook me.

Musical Influence No. 4: “Satisfaction”

        Mick Jagger and Keith Richards may not have been thinking about the writing process when they wrote “Satisfaction,” but in many ways they summed up what the writing process has been for me lately.  As I continue writing my book, I can’t help but think of The Rolling Stones singing:

“I can’t get no satisfaction
I can’t get no satisfaction
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no”

        They, of course, were referring to a different kind of frustration, but the parallels to the agony of the writing process are all I can think about currently.  Indeed, I can “get no satisfaction” when it comes to writing my book.  The problem that I have is that my brain never stops polishing the story.  One day I’ll write what I think are perfectly good pages.  Then, inevitably, the next day a new idea will pop into my head.  As a result, I’ll have to go back and change my outline and the story.  Every once in awhile, I have to throw out perfectly good pieces of writing because they no longer fit into the grand scheme.  I suppose that is what the writing process is all about: polishing everything until “you get what you need.”  OK, I couldn’t help but add in another Rolling Stones reference.  In the long run, I know that all of the agony is for the best.  Sometimes, though, I wish my brain would take a break and stop trying to fix things that I didn’t even realize were problems.  Of course, if my brain did that I probably wouldn’t be a writer.  I’ll just have to live with the nervous breakdowns for now (I had to add in another reference for good measure)….  Enjoy the “Satisfaction” video below:

Musical Influence No. 5: “Radioactive”

        I’ve always been interested in apocalyptic themes, which is probably why such themes show up in my writings.  This interest may also explain my fascination with the new song from Imagine Dragons titled “Radioactive.”  According to the song, “this is it, the apocalypse.”  Just last year, many people believed that the apocalypse was in fact upon us.  Aside from generating a few hokey movies, the Mayan apocalypse that was supposed to materialize was a bust.  Fortunately, for writes such as myself, apocalyptic projects still seem to be very much in vogue.  This year alone, films such as Oblivion, World War Z, and This Is the End have or will hit theaters.  There’s also a chance that Jaden Smith’s performance in the post-apocalyptic film After Earth will actually cause the apocalypse.

        My best apocalyptic work has come in the form of “Population Zero,” and “The Empire Falls.”  I also have a few apocalyptic story ideas floating around in my brainstorming notes.  A New Beginning…, though, doesn’t focus on apocalyptic themes.  Similar to my collection of poetry, they exist but only on an ancillary level.  Like the poetry collection, A New Beginning… is a coming-of-age story about a boy and his dog.  OK, I couldn’t help but crack a joke since I didn’t get to do that much in my poetry.  A New Beginning… is an existential journey about awakening the humanity within us all, of course, with a little bit of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll mixed in for good measure.  Speaking of which, I have some writing to do….  For now, enjoy the Imagine Dragons video for “Radioactive” below: