A New Media?


Water Meter

A Friends Smart Meter in Mill Valley, California






Been very busy but did get around to reading the link you wanted me to look at below. Fascinating and difficult to respond to this link with less than a full novel. Or screenplay. Or long blog post. I haven’t finished reading but reversioning story structure as problem solving is certainly a fascinating idea. One at the heart of the story machine it seems to me. Perhaps if we can obtain a pair of Google Glasses when they go briefly on sale to the public in a few weeks.

I think there is so much in the books and the links you include in this particular blog of yours offers much towards a new type of theory on the motivation of the story machine it seems to me is at the heart of your system.

Just this particular part is worth the blog pieces weight (?) in gold. The brilliance of EO Wilson, our greatest living biologist’s take on the “biology” of story from the beginning and through history. The myths frequently cited myths he mentions below are the key symbols within our current culture. It is these twelve symbols that we need to get back to building our stories around instead of all of the false children of these original myths that have scattered and got smaller and smaller through time. Like the growing number of cable channels on the home screens. I think the below lays out a pattern for major stories in our culture. As I suggested before, a type of heart of the system, the motivators. The key myths of culture. The largest symbols of the time.

I’ll have more to comment to you on your link later. But a new theory of popular communications should base itself around original parent, core myths of mankind and civilzations rather than their offspring, generations from their originals. Keep posted with my column series in Script magazine. I think its at the center of these new story ideas. Talk to you soon. Great link!




9:35 pm PST  (sent)


PS … in a windy Palm Desert, California a few miles from what has perhaps become the greatest outdoor concert going today. Coachella in Indio, a few miles to the east…. half a way around the world from where you are in Australia!


* * *


The current link you asked me to respond to …




A key part from this new link you sent …


Consilienace: The Unity of Knowledge

EO Wilson


`The epigenetic rules of human nature bias innovation, learning, and choice. They are gravitational centers that pull the development of mind in certain directions and away from others. Arriving at the centers, artists, composers, and writers over the centuries have built archetypes, the themes most predictably expressed in original works of art.

Although recognizable through their repeated occurrence, archetypes cannot be easily defined by a simple combination of generic traits. They are better understood with examples, collected into groups that share the same prominent features. This method—called definition by specification – works well in elementary biological classification, even when the essential nature of the species as a category remains disputed. In myth and fiction as few as two dozen such subjective groupings cover most of the archetypes usually identified as such. Some of the most frequently cited are the following.

In the beginning, the people are created by gods, or the mating of giants, or the clash of titans; in any case, they begin as special beings at the center of the world.

The tribe emigrates to a promised land (or Arcadia, or the Secret Valley, or the New World).

The tribe meets the forces of evil in a desperate battle for survival; it triumphs against heavy odds.

The hero descends to hell, or is exiled to wilderness, or experiences an iliad in a distant land; he returns in an odyssey against all odds past fearsome obstacles along the way, to complete his destiny.

The world ends in apocalypse, by flood, fire, alien conquerors, or avenging gods; it is restored by a band of heroic survivors.

A source of great power is found in the tree of life, the river of life, philosopher’s stone, sacred incantation, forbidden ritual, secret

The nurturing woman is apotheosized as the Great Goddess, the Great Mother, Holy Woman, Divine Queen, Mother Earth, Gaia.

The seer has special knowledge and powers of mind, available to those worthy to receive it; he is the wise old man or woman, the holy man, the magician, the great shaman.

The Virgin has the power of purity, is the vessel of sacred strength, must be protected at all costs, and perhaps surrendered up to propitiate the gods or demonic forces.

Female sexual awakening is bestowed by the unicorn, the gentle beast, the powerful stranger, the magical kiss.

The Trickster disturbs established order and liberates passion as the god of wine, king of the carnival, eternal youth, clown, jester, clever fool.

A monster threatens humanity, appearing as the serpent demon (Satan writhing at the bottom of hell), dragon, gorgon, golem, vampire.


If the Arts are steered by inborn rules of mental development, they are end products not just of conventional history but also of genetic evolution. The question remains: Were the genetic guides mere byproducts—epiphenomena—of that evolution, or were they adaptations that directly improved survival and reproduction? And if adaptations, what exactly were the advantages conferred? The answers, some scholars believe, can be found in artifacts preserved from the dawn of art. They can be tested further with knowledge of the artifacts and customs of present-day hunter-gatherers.

This is the picture of the origin of the arts that appears to be emerging. The most distinctive qualities of the human species are extremely high intelligence, language, culture, and reliance on longterm social contracts. In combination they gave early Homo sapiens a decisive edge over all competing animal species, but they also exacted a price we continue to pay, composed of the shocking recognition of the self, of the finiteness of personal existence, and of the chaos of the environment.’

(Wilson 1998, pp. 243-5)


* * *


April 14, 2014

9:49 PM PST


Is there a type of scale of gravitational pull for various links sent at us and asked to pursue. Most times the links are trashed. Some we read briefly. A very few, beckon us to follow where they might lead. Their offer is the most interesting. Mostly interesting because they don’t know where they’re going. There’s that possibility of discovering something new in the world. To me, a constantly intriguing thought and eventual hope.


Notes for A Story

Epistolary – of or relating to a letter : suitable to a letter: written in the form of a series of letters. EX: of, relating to, or suitable to a letter: contained in or carried on by letters; an endless sequence of…epistolary love affairs. Written in the form of a series of letters. Merriam-Webster.

The original note is written as a way to present a number of items to the reader similar to the various items (memos and journal entires mostly) presented in Herman Wouk’s The Lawgiver. A brilliant new there for the modern novel by a famous novelist is 96 when he writes this book. Mostly fact of the life of the author and his wife and literary agent over 60 years. His years in Palm Springs. There is a wonderful article published on Wouk in The New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/13/books/herman-wouk-on-his-new-book-the-lawgiver.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0. And also a good article on his in the Washington Post at http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/the-lawgiver-by-herman-wouk/2012/11/01/b642defe-1c6a-11e2-ba31-3083ca97c314_story.html.

I last wrote about the a long-term love story of Hopalong Cassidy and his wife in story “The Dark Knight.” In a sense, “Boots McKenszie” is about another older couple who got separated and came together. The Dark Knight is the story of a long-term partnership. Boots McKenzie the story of the beginning of a partnership that should have been.

The key idea of the The Lawgiver is not necessarily placed in the common content of the book where one usually conducts a literary search party. Rather it is contained within the medium that the 96-year-old author chooses to use. A post-modern collage of the various modern ways of communicating. And might this just offer a new way of communicating in a writing world between screenwriting and literary writing.


* * *


If Marshall McLuhan was still around I am sure he would label it as a modern example of the piece that requires participation by the respondent of the story. The reader. The audience. The listener. The forced listeners with the bonds of institutions of relationships. And those that truly listen on their own terms and open themselves to new ways and forms of communication. One of the most interesting observations I thought McLuhan made in Understanding Media (1965) was the following quote:

Francis Bacon never tired of contrasting hot and cool prose. Writing in ‘methods’ or complete packages, he contrasted with writing in aphorisms, or single observations such as ‘Revenge is a kind of wild justice.’ The passive consumer wants packages, but those, he suggested, who are concerned in pursuing knowledge and in seeking causes will resort to aphorisms, just because they are incomplete and require participation in depth.

The quote seems prescience to me of the change from one-way broadcast media to the two-way, interactive, digital age. The idea of Bacon was really behind much of his idea of a “cool” interactive, participative, aspect of media. It was not possible in Bacon’s time. But he seems to have foreseen a coming interactive age in this quote McLuhan gives us.

Perhaps the old one-way broadcast type of story of old perhaps was giving way to a new type of story that required participation of the reader in helping create. The old one-way broadcast of the old story was now becoming a two-way interactive element. A lot more in tune with the times than the old form of one-way, broadcast, propaganda story. The digital world seems the great bastion of freedom for the individual today. There is little political freedom. Government control continues to spread to all parts of culture. Yet, there still remains a great bastion of freedom in the relatively untouched digital world. A world somewhat confused right now. Both friend and foe of the politcians. Not sure where it’s real soul is at.

The normal trail into the story presented by the first note of the author to a person named JT. Just JT. This is all we know about this person at this time. (Later, we find out that he is a filmmaker and PhD student at a university in Australia. His new theory of screenplays is the topic of his thesis. But best to hold out a while this background on JT making the reader work in constructing JT’s image in their own minds.

The author originally sees a post by JT on this List Serve called The Screenwriting Research Network. The author is responding to a long response from JT to the first contact email the author sent to JT. In the response, he has been sent back a link that JT has asked him to investigate. The author reads only half of it before he send back the above note. There is another half to go and he hasn’t even tried to consolidate all that is on the link. A whole world of insight is contained on it and in the links it sends you to. A fascinating link in his overall project under a master link. Here, merely one post from a much larger project of JT.

By going to the link in the above post, the reader is taken into a whole world that a person in Australia has created. By pursuing the link in the above post, the reader will quickly find the link he/she lands on is like another world with grand books scattered throughout and grand quotes from books. And thoughts and suggestions for links. The one link the author follows leads to a link that leads to a master link containing the ideas for the a person named JT’s new thesis on filmmaking.

There are great possibilities in the writing/story method of presenting pieces of evidence rather than a straight narrative. Much great reader participation is required in the epistolary genre of fiction writing. It is a very interesting genre because it pretends to have the thoroughness of a type of literary CSI agent and yet it is the author’s overall creativity arranging the various pieces of evidence.

And creating them at the same time. He/She tries to hide from the creation of the content on the pieces of evidence that make up the new type of story, novel. The reader looks intently at the content on the pages of the 96 author’s pages in The Lawgiver. But Wouk, never puts the real theme of The Lawgiver on the pages of the book. But rather what the pages represent. Not really pages in a traditional narrative book. Rather more of a scrapbook, a collection of memos and mixed with entries to a person journal. Internet links tossed into the mix. The book written only a year before he was to lose his wife of 60-years. She was his editor. His literary agent. His best friend. The old author tells the correspondent from the Times he is creating a new novel beyond The Lawgiver

Herman Wouk’s The Lawgiver by a 96-year-old man, probably America’s oldest great novelist, storyteller, is that example of the “cool” media Marshall McLuhan foresaw so many years ago in that ragged copy of Understanding Media I carried around with me so many years ago. A true interaction in the search for a story between the reader and author. This seems the best (the only) way forward in modern story form and theory to me.

The collection of pieces of a story, like that bug collection required our summer summers in the eighth grade by our biology teachers So, years later, an old author has us collecting pieces, evidence, of a novel. Just pieces and evidence. As much of what the real modern story might be. Just as much as the wise old storyteller is willing to give us. For more than anything, Herman Wouk seems to be The Lawgiver himself really. Another twist on an already (brilliantly) twisted plot. Strining it together presents the same type of modern challenges that faced readers of Hesse’s Glass Bead Game.

* * *


April 12, 2014

11:42 PM

What are the distinct steps I came into this particular story? There was my first contacting Jule Selbo for inclusion of her business partner’s book in my screenwriting survey book Hollywood Safari. Jule suggested me joining a particular List Serve called the Screenwriting Research Network. I joined. A post to the list from a JT (Joe) Velikovsky got my interest and I explored his website. He proposed a radical new way of looking at stories on his website. The site consisted of blog posts that were part of his thesis for his doctorial degree. I wrote him that I thought it was all pretty brilliant and gave him a link to my site. He wrote back saying he really liked my site and my articles in Script Magazine. He sent me a free copy of his new book on screenwriting. In the post he asked for my opinion on a link he encloses. I go to the link and find it to be one of the most fruitful pieces of writing I have seen in a long time. It moves towards a new type of theory using powerful arguments. Some of the content is selected pieces from leading world intellectual figures like EO Wilson. I write him back pointing out all of this. I happen to be reading a book by one of the greatest living novelists in the world that uses much the same method he uses with his website in his search for the truth. An assemblage of pieces. Quotes. Arguments. Like notes for a high school debate. Synchronicity again seems at work with both JT and Herman Wouk (and Marshall McLuhan) making appearances in front of me at the same time.


One thought on “A New Media?

  1. Dear John,
    Many thanks, for your fascinating and very thoughtful (and, very thought-provoking) reply.
    And, I am very much in agreement with you – many of our core myths and symbols (as noted by EO Wilson in `Consilience’) seem to have been `diverged from’ in popular culture, over time; it seems likely that a return to these `core myths and symbols’ would most likely reinvigorate contemporary popular culture… connecting us all back to our shared universal humanity.
    Also, just as a passing thought (which I am also sure would have already occurred to you John), I wonder if the story in the currently-screening film `Noah’ owes some (or even, much) of its potential resonance, to tapping into (whether consciously, or otherwise) so many of those 12 timeless myths, symbols and themes that Wilson notes…
    Wouk’s `The Lawgiver’ also sounds fascinating; I have now added it to my “To Read” list.
    (and, I am also certainly a great admirer of `The Glass Bead Game’.)
    Coachella sounds fascinating as well: http://www.coachella.com/experiences/
    I’ll certainly look forward to reading more of your posts at: http://www.scriptmag.com/features/columns/script-symbology/
    PS – I very much agree with your interactive/`cool’ media/McLuhan concept as well.
    PPS – There certainly does seem to be some synchronicity at work; I had just finished re-reading Dan Brown’s `The Lost Symbol’, that same day, when your first email arrived; I was then very pleasantly surprised to see you had also consulted on the film of `The Da Vinci Code’… https://greathousestories.com/about/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s