January 9, 2011
I started and finished reading Interview with a Vampire by Ann Rice this weekend. Essentially the idea is that a boy, presumably conducting an interview for a radio broadcast, has gotten a vampire to record his life's history. The vampire's name is Louis; he was a French immigrant to New Orleans as a mortal sometime in the late 1700s. As a mortal, he remembered when the Louisiana Purchase was signed over to the United States by Napoleon. His brother was a Christian fanatic who died when Louis, the head of the household, refused to sell all their possessions and go on a missionary tour around the world. Louis mourned, and one night was walking in a guilt-ridden rage across the city at night, during which time he was bitten by a vampire we later learn is Lestat.
To become a vampire, Louis needs to consume blood after being bitten; Lestat makes him reabsorb his own blood that he has just taken from Louis, by taking it through Lestat. He the more he learns about Lestat, the more he thinks him a crude and ignorant person, a poor teacher, and unable to appreciate the beauty of the world, but furthermore preventive in letting others experience it. He grows to resent Lestat because Lestat seems to withhold information about the basics of the vampire universe in order to keep power over him. The basic facts of survival include: vampires die if they are exposed to sunlight; they sleep in coffins to avoid this exposure; they feel their victims heart as it expires and view it as the most profound form of intimacy; vampires have to kill at least once every night, and they can share blood amongst each other, but that is only done when really when creating new vampires; vampires can use any animals instead, but most see no point, and often prefer humans; vampires can sink into the death of their victims if they drink too long. Eventually we come to find that Louis is "flawed" in that he has an overdeveloped attachment to his mortal life, consequently resulting in his preference to animals over humans in many circumstances, an obsession with art, literature, and philosophy, particularly trying to determine what he is and who he belongs to.
He grows to hate Lestat, because Lestat continually tells him that there is nothing to know and to understand, only that vampires are and act the way they do simply because. He explains (inarticulately) that it is an existential universe, but Louis still thinks him a clumsy master withholding knowledge over him to make him stay his "slave". Lestat made Louis because he wanted his house and money, but lacked the managing skills to acquire these things except by day-to-day stealing. At one point early in his vampire career, Louis helps a human named Babette (around the Civil War), after Lestat insists on killing her brother. Lestat constitutes his attachment to the family to be a demonstration that something is wrong with him, but laughs it off. He helps Babette several times in encouraging her to be self-sufficient and independent at a time when that sort of thing caused scandal. At the end, when his servants become too suspicious and revolt against him and Lestat, they make Babette let them hide in her basement. She allows them, but after brief dialogue and a little more clarification of what's going on, she curses Louis as the devil when she once called him angel. Louis is devastated, and cries, which confuses her. Lestat captures her and bites her, but Louis gets him away soon enough that he doesn't kill her. Now here, Rice said that it "saved her physical life, but not all of it" or something along those lines. At the time, I thought she'd turned into a vampire too and would come back, but no she's never mentioned, and I assume she just healed from the wound like the other humans Rice introduces later.
THIS is THE DOOR. Louis becomes so unhappy one night that he storms off, attempting to starve himself, but comes across a 5 year old poverty-stricken girl crying beside her long-dead mother. Louis half tries to comfort her, but ends up feeding on her. He describes her life energy as being so strong, that he had to stop for fear that she'd kill him. Lestat catches him in the act, making fun of him that his persistence yielded. A day or so of arguing later, Lestat brings the girl (rescued by an orphanage) home pretending to be her father, at which point he convinces Louis to turn her into a vampire. Louis does not want to do it, but half doesn't want her to die and half can't resist. They name her Claudia, and she becomes his daughter. Louis explains that the reason Lestat did it, and the reason Lestat explained he did it was to make Louis stay.
Claudia started with a child's mind, and over 70 years became very independent, but still possessed a 5 year-old child's body. She added fashion to the three of them, and seduced her humans by making them pity her. At first she loved both Louis and Lestat, but eventually grew to loathe Lestat, because he couldn't/wouldn't answer the questions Louis had started asking. Claudia kills Lestat, or thinks she did. Lestat does not mind being hated, but hates being ignored. Claudia keeps ignoring him, and he consistently loses his temper with her. Claudia tells Louis she's going to killing him, and Louis is afraid and tells her not to do it. Claudia is resolute, and poisons him. He appears to die.
They travel. They later realize that Lestat is scarred but did not die, has created an apprentice and is trying to kill Claudia. Lestat corners them in their house, and they burn the place, thinking he is dead. They debate the grisly possibility that he was actually conscience throughout the whole attempted murder. Shaken, they flee to Europe, searching for other older vampires who might tell them things (Lestat said that they wouldn't tell them anything, would kill them, even if they could find them). THIS is the MIDPOINT.
They travel to eastern Europe, sure enough finding a little town absolutely terrified and obsessed with vampires: garlic and crucifixes everywhere. They meet a red-haired Englishman grieving because they want to desecrate his new bride Emily, because they believe she was bitten and didn't really die. Louis and Claudia go out into the night (the rest of the town thinks they're mad) to search local ruins for the vampire that did it, because they saw the correct marks on Emily to indicate that she was created.
They find a "mindless animated corpse" who attacks them the same as if they were human. They have to kill him to protect themselves, but realize that he couldn't speak or give them any information, because he was essentially an animal. The town thanks him. The red-head was that vampire's victim (he ran after Louis and Claudia without their knowing), but doesn't survive being bitten and dies, never realizing what Louis or Claudia are. Emily is also destroyed. They are discouraged that there are no vampires to talk to in the world, and head to Paris. They debate for the cause of the mindlessness of the one creature they met. Claudia theorizes that if the fathering vampire did not help his creation, and it was left to suffocate and starve until it broke free by itself, it might have suffered brain damage.
In Paris, they eventually are invited to a Theatre of Vampires, a play in which the actors are all vampires, and they kill a human onstage for an unknowing human audience. Claudia and Louis are introduced behind stage to all of the vampires, and what they discover are humans who know exactly what they are, and are sticking around because they have/want to. There's one part with this boy named Denis who offers himself to Louis, but has the strength to pull away before Louis kills him. He lives in a caged room, but very comfortably. That part I didn't really get.
The head vampire who purposely refuses to assert himself as real leader (he doesn't want to have to continually defend his leadership), is Armand. At this point, it's a little more creepy than even the other parts of the book, but I think it's supposed to be taken from a philosophical standpoint, which is interesting. Armand is the oldest vampire currently alive, and I've deduced him to have been turned sometime in the late 1400s. Claudia hates him, and Louis is drawn to him. It's somewhat confusing. There's this weird triangle between Louis, Claudia and Armand, causing Louis to make another vampire Madeleine to take care of Claudia so that he can go with Armand. Claudia convinces him to do it, saying that though they both love each other, Louis wants to be with Armand and learn from him more than he wants to be with her.
I don't remember if it's before or after this decision, but I think it's slightly before: Claudia says that she hates and loathes Louis in proportion to what her love once was. It's a lot of cliches, that are nevertheless quite intricately presented. Louis is devastated because Claudia has "revealed pain" that he caused, which is bad, because she has always been unfeeling of anything. She is angry because she does not know why she exists, and Louis cannot tell her. She is also angry, because she is frozen as a child forever. THIS is PART ONE of the HIDDEN NEED TRIPLET.
I don't quite remember all the aspects of dialogue between then, and the next action, but I think it must be the hidden need. I will present that and all other relations of the literal plot to the Story Template analysis at the end of this documentation. I really should have done summaries for all the books I've been reading this year, so I'd remember them better. Oh well.
Next, Armand and Louis hide in a tower to talk and say that they want to learn from each other. Armand explains the nature of vampirical existence: that it is hollow. Vampires do not populate the earth, because they do not have the emotional stamina to live that long. They enjoy immortality for as long as things make sense, but as a vampire becomes very old, his perception of the world is lost amidst a blur of changing surroundings and fashions. There is nothing to live for but the kill and the passion of the century. If a vampire can not find passion in the century, his mind withers of what is compared to human old age. After several years of depression, he will one day wander out into the sunlight and never be seen again. Armand desires Louis, because he says that Louis embodies the personality of the current era perfectly. Louis then says that he is only an outcast, and has no idea who he is. Armand responds to say that that is exactly the feeling of the current era: the heart break as compared to the self-mockery of the previous era, the era the other actor vampires embody. THIS is PART TWO of the HIDDEN NEED TRIPLET.
I'm going to summarize quickly now, because anyone can look up the basic plot summary, and I want to get to the analysis part. Louis creates Madeleine, and she's a tragic figure who lost her daughter and has been since making baby dolls in her grief, in a way asking for forgiveness. THIS is PART THREE of the HIDDEN NEED TRIPLET. The actor coven captures Louis, Claudia and Madeleine when Armand is asleep. They lock them in their coffins to starve. Armand rescues Louis but cannot save Claudia, so he says. Louis goes back for her, to find that the actors burned her to ash with Madeleine. She is dead, and Louis is stricken with grief. THIS is the SLIDE. The only law the vampire world has is that no one is allowed to kill one of their own kind. Claudia was not only disliked by the coven from the start, but Lestat returns to find Louis, and wants to hurt Claudia out of revenge.
In previous sections about Lestat, Louis notes that he is taken revenge on the world. In early sections, there is a lot about them both caring for their old families until death. Louis sees his aging sister. Lestat is cruelly emotionless, refusing to forgive his father when he dies. It's not quite clear what happened to Lestat, though his father says that he took away his books and love of life. Louis finds it strange that Lestat was once the "best pupil in his class" considering the fact that he sneers at every book Louis mentions.
Louis runs away with Armand, but threatens him to leave him alone and never return to the theatre. Louis returns and torches the whole thing at the very traces of dawn when all the vampires have just gone to bed. He notes that there are no human guards, a fact later revealed to be Armand's doing. All of the coven die, except Lestat who was rendered outcast beforehand and returned to Louisiana.
Armand and Louis travel the world: Egypt, Greece, Italy, etc. until they finally return to New Orleans. Louis notes that Armand have no bond, that Louis is cold, and loves nothing. Armand is being patient, but wants him to return to New Orleans to reinspire that life. Louis goes back to visit Lestat for much the same reason. He sees Lestat with two more apprentices, but he is wasting away, in terror at the reality of the world. He begs Louis to stay again, but Louis says no. AFter a month, Armand and Louis have a talk about the way things are.
Louis says that he has become the mirror of Armand. He says that he has been searching for meaning, for God, for Satan, for what is right and what is evil, and that he sees now that nothing exists. Nothing comes from nothing, and nothing is all there is for vampires or for anyone who lives forever. Vampires are the closest to God that exists. They walk his creation and bring life or death, unconfined as no demon is. Yet, there is no meaning. Louis says that he doesn't even know if there is God. He said that he wanted Armand to be the answer, to tell him why they existed, because he could not accept that they were born of nothing with no purpose other than to exist. He once argued that the only sin for a vampire was taking life, because if life was all there was, to deprive someone of it, was the worst that could be done. That is how he justified drinking animals.
A time before, they were arguing if there was such a thing as degredations of evil as there are degrees of goodness. Armand ends up leaving Louis, realizing that Louis is now completely vampire, because he is detached from the world. The interview with Louis ends at this point. The boy interviewing him is bewildered and jealous, and begs Louis to make him immortal. The boy points to the passion, love, guilt, perspective and general depth of feeling that Louis has had as an immortal that he would give anything for as a mortal. He says that Louis doesn't "remember what it's like to be mortal!". Louis is disgusted. He bites the boy enough to scare him, but not enough to kill him, tells him (not in so many words) to value his life that has meaning, even if he cannot see it, and disappears out the window to hide before the dawn comes. Everything that has been said is still on the boy's tape recorder when he wakes up many hours later.
|Inciting incident when Louis meets Lestat at about 5%|
|10%||Getting used to Lestat's taste and his father|
|20%||Pleading with Babette; she curses him|
|25%||Claudia is turned into a vampire||Door|
|30%||Claudia starts to separate herself from Louis and even more from Lestat|
|40%||Claudia poisons Lestat||Midpoint|
|50%||They meet eastern vampires||Hint of hidden need|
|60%||Claudia shows how unhappy she is in her child form||Hidden need not solved|
|70%||They meet the actors for the first time; Armand warns Louis not to explain their origin||Hidden need solved|
|75%||Madeleine is turned into a vampire||Hidden need demonstration solved|
|80%||Claudia seems happy like a fairy princess with Madeleine|
|Slide at about 85% when Claudia dies|
|90%||Louis destroys the theatre|
|100%||Louis sees Lestat is going crazy; Armand leaves; present day Louis||Resolution|
Monday, January 3rd 2011
Wow I've been writing very often lately. Evaluations are due tomorrow, so I need to upload that. Anyway I've decided on exactly what my character arc will be. I know exactly why Gone with the Wind and Amadeus are so powerful; it's because they couldn't forgive. When I wrote my first most early draft ideas of Titanomachy, I wrote the character arc - or rather lack thereof. It was a very very simple sketch, and I find it strange I don't remember where I got the idea. I remember where each component of ideas for the story world and plot came from, but not that one. It sounds a little stupid when I try to explain it, but essentially my internal conflict was that the main character couldn't forgive someone for not loving her and ended up trying to torture him. Originally I thought she would be successful, and then be disgusted with herself for getting so upset over such weak person. This is exactly what happened between Scarlett and Ashley, though I didn't think of that. In the same vein, it's also what happened to Salieri; he got his tangible revenge, but it was bitter. I suppose a bitter victory is consistent with all antiheroes though.
Scarlett was strong but could not let go, and Ashley was weak, essentially did nothing, and did not understand what was really going on. Melanie did not understand Scarlett either, but she was not weak - why? She was utterly selfless and could therefore not comprehend selfish motives in others. Ashley was just pathetic. He was good and gentlemanly not because he had any passion for goodness like Melanie did, but because he passively admired it, and because being evil seemed to mandate a passion for something that required less than kosher deeds. Ashley was just too passive in general.
I really didn't mean to, but Vivienne is so similar to Scarlett! My question is: which story should I tell: the hero or the antihero? Will she forgive whoever she falls in love with [calling him Tyrian as placeholder for now]. Developing stories always sound so weak when they are explained frankly. I think this little exchange will serve as the hidden need triplet - that's exactly what I had in my drafts even before I knew about the Story Template three years ago. I had that she liked him the whole time - he didn't like her - she "forgave" him because she felt obgligated, but resented him truly. The longer she continues repressing that resentment, the more steadily it grows into express hatred. At some point, she comes into a position of power over him, and that resentment bubbles to the surface, and she tries to take revenge. The thing is, he never even realized there was a problem in the first place with her. She honestly can't believe that he doesn't know what he's been doing to her, and continues trying to hurt him to make him confess or break down or something. I was torn between whether it should work or not. However, I think that I like the idea best where she finally realizes that he really does not have a clue of what she's talking about, and what she's talking about is truly insane. She lets him go. AT this point I'm not sure how he should react. I am not sure whether to have him leave, taking advantage of free will - or if he should be left ruined and now unable to function without her, leaving her with a burden. I think this all depends on her method of "torture". If financial, the second option is quite easy. If her means of getting revenge is ideological and in some way uneffective, then he will just walk away and avoid her.
Gone with the Wind has Scarlett left with the second option as the resolution. She has to take care of a worthless Ashley for the rest of her life, "a turtle on his back", and a sort of ornamental person for whom she cannot see as desirable any longer, because he is not as strong as she. The difference is, Scarlett never sought vengeance against Ashley directly. She never was angry at him, except once when she screamed, slapped him and said she'd hate him forever. From then on, she was just manipulative. In my original character sketch, Vivienne IS very angry at her love interest. Thus the story becomes not so much a plot about figuring out the real definition of love, figuring out the difference between love and infatuation as Scarlett did, but its more is applicable in a broader sense to any case where forgiveness is necessary. Scarlett is never angry or seeks revenge for revenge's sake. She does what she does out of selfishness, but always to accomplish some tangible goal she wants. She is spiteful, but always chooses to use her energy to build herself at any cost rather than use it to destroy someone who knocked her down. That is a very profound point, because her character arc is the fact that short memories are good; loyalty does not exist - or rather that it does not pay off. She befriends the Yankees and carpetbaggers, the same people who tried to destroy her, and the people who ravaged her home and killed her friends, because that is the way the wind has shifted. She makes friends with scavengers and filthy people, simply because they have the power. She is what the South saw as the North: a lack of grace. The difference between her/Rhett and Melanie/Ashley is the fact that neither of them are "gentlemen". They hold their own well being higher than that of any cause or intangible virtue. They refuse to be martyrs.
Vivienne is not the same. She is the south that holds a grudge so to speak. Both Vivienne and Scarlett are bad and doomed because they cannot let go, but they refuse to let go of different things. Salieri is similar to Vivienne, because he seeks revenge as well.
"I was staring through the cage of those meticulous ink strokes - at an absolute beauty."
Salieri: My plan was so simple. It terrified me. First I must get the death mass and then, I must achieve his death.
Father Vogler : What?
Salieri : His funeral! Imagine it, the cathedral, all Vienna sitting there, his coffin, Mozart's little coffin in the middle, and then, in that silence, music! A divine music bursts out over them all. A great mass of death! Requiem mass for Wolfgang Mozart, composed by his devoted friend, Antonio Salieri! Oh what sublimity, what depth, what passion in the music! Salieri has been touched by God at last. And God is forced to listen! Powerless, powerless to stop it! I, for once in the end, laughing at him!
Salieri : The only thing that worried me was the actual killing. How does one do that? Hmmm? How does one kill a man? It's one thing to dream about it; very different when, when you, when you have to do it with your own hands.
"I heard the music of true forgiveness filling the theater, conferring on all who sat there, perfect absolution. God was singing through this little man to all the world, unstoppable, making my defeat more bitter with every passing bar."
To the crucifix, Salieri says: "From now on we are enemies, You and I. Because You choose for Your instrument a boastful, lustful, smutty, infantile boy and give me for reward only the ability to recognize the incarnation. Because You are unjust, unfair, unkind, I will block You, I swear it. I will hinder and harm Your creature on earth as far as I am able."
"Your... merciful God. He destroyed His own beloved, rather than let a mediocrity share in the smallest part of His glory." (beloved in this case referring to Mozart, and mediocrity referring directly to himself).
Scarlett O'Hara may be called a sociopath - unfeeling, unremorseful, never realizing that some things are wrong and others are not. She is the picture of apathy. Melanie (and her mother) are her opposite that Scarlett both hates and loves, because she envies. At the end though, she recognizes Melanie and her mother as the same, and loves Melanie truly just as she adored her mother.
Salieri is knowingly and purposefully being evil. This is what Vivienne is also. Scarlett has many moments of doing purposeful "wrong", but she reasons that it is logical and true to her own philosophy (this is Ayn Rand also). Salieri recognizes it as evil, does not reason that it is right, but does it anyway.
And so: Vivienne's "plan so simple that it terrifies [her]" in parallel to Salieri is to achieve a confession of passion - love or hate she does not care, but passion. After failing to make Tyrian love her, she seeks to make him hate and fear her. Even if she succeeds at the end, the victory is hollow. She might establish fear, but not hate for instance. She does not really want him to be afraid of her, because she wants him, of his free will, to feel passion for her. She wants him to hate her without being afraid of her, in the same way that she otherwise wants him to love her without him being dependent on her for his own survival. In her mind, fear demonstrates weakness. Her revelation when she lets him go could be that he is truly afraid of her, and that is his only presiding feeling.
In an essay for Tess of the D'Urbervilles, I had a stray paragraph in my argument that happens to be relavent in explaining the concept that I could potentially use here:
"Yes, fate does conspire against Tess! Fate conspires against every person. Every moment of reality is a battle between instincts and wills. As this book is centered around and questions the Christian theology, one may explain the competing interests of reality as God versus Satan, each trying to win over mankind soul by soul (see Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis). Humans have free will. Neither Satan nor God can make man do anything if the institution of free will is to remain intact, and it must to separate men from animals. All each side can do is try to persuade man by offering the value and consequence of each decision, and introducing them by making strategic use of fear and love. To be a soul is to have free will, and if a soul is the only thing of spiritual value, then to take away free will is to desecrate all value in the human race for either side – thus it does remain intact. Tess was a victim by her own admittance. Tess was caught in both nets of half-hearted love and fear that tempered the first."
Alright so what that means in the context of Vivienne is that she overmanipulates the situation to the point where she is controlling it completely, and therefore has nothing of value worth earning. This could be the reason she lets Tyrian go - there is no value to winning him over, because she is controlling him.
Now this is all very depressing, and while I love antihero stories because they are so powerful, I am more than half certain her flaw will be resolved in time to defeat the antagonist (making her a hero). I also threw around the idea of having Vivienne's hidden need be solved in her getting too intoxicated and committing murder, finding the wrecks of her old life and repenting that way (all particular to the specifics of the story world). It could be that one conclusion feeds another...
Anyway: I keep getting off on random tangents. I believe I would like my ultimate moral to be something like this:
"With a little time, and a little more insight, we begin to see both ourselves and our enemies in humbler profiles. We are not really as innocent as we felt when we were first hurt. And we do not usually have a gigantic monster to forgive; we have a weak, needy, and somewhat stupid human being. When you see your enemy and yourself in the weakness and silliness of the humanity you share, you will make the miracle of forgiving a little easier." - Lewis B. Smedes
I have a lot of work to do to refine the actual plot still. I haven't worked on it in so long. I find it excessively interesting that I was able to articulate this specific conflict and each of Vivienne's reactions when I did. I was sympathetic and simply enamored of the thought process at the time only for the appeal of its drama, but now I understand exactly how and why she reacts the way she does. I even predicted her reaction to be madness and obsession or intoxication with an idea, but those mean different things when you know exactly how they work and what they feel like. Creepy. But at the same time, very cool. I almost feel like I'm writing horror anytime I work out a character arc. It's the most personal and delicate component to write about, and the success of the work truly hinges on the flaw/solution's complexity/accuracy. Antiheroes are facinating to people I think because they explore all the depths of various sins for a greater period of time than regular template stories. Antiheroes, instead of removing a character flaw, unleash an unrestrained and terrifying, but strangely attractive evil. IT's the same kind of attraction existent in stories that include vampires, Anakin Skywalker, Dexter, the Godfather, or any of these. They are powerful. They are stories in which the protagonist gave into temptation and got exactly what he/she wanted, while at the same time, being cursed for it.
The moral comes in where it becomes clear that giving into temptation is wrong, because there is a greater truth or reward than immediate or ill-gotten gratification. An interesting demonstration of this concept can be seen in "The Chronicles of Narnia: Magician's Nephew" where Diggory brings the apple to Aslan and finds out what would have happened if he had done what the witch did and told him to do.
January 2, 2011
The Story Template is supposed to apply across genres, but I can't help but thinking there are nevertheless signature plot twists that are more common amongst certain genres that serve to identify them. The two that I keep thinking about in this regard are Mysteries and Romances. Biographies can be different, but often vary so greatly as to fit in separate categories, simply because people's lives reflect/are written fit various genres. That wasn't a very lucid explanation, but anyway I'd get back to biography dramas a bit later.
On another unrelated note, I just finished Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel, and just began reading Interview with a Vampire by Ann Rice. I have to read Poisonwood Bible too, but I'm hoping to start Timeline in the next day or two too. I never did a map or analysis of Pillars of the Earth by Kendall Follet, but I'd like to do that sometime, just because the style of construction reminded me of Lord of the Rings quite a bit in the way characters (multiple protagonists) followed separate but very complete plots and individual character arcs.
I've been working on other homework recently, but left the TV on; Matlock's been on, and I was curious and decided to try to analyze it a bit. Of course though what I've been watching is actually an hour long/1.5 hour show, it's still a show, not a movie, and isn't organized in the Template way. TV characters never resolve a hidden need, and that is why they are allowed to continue. TV shows, depending on the show, usually consist of the equivalent of the first act and first half of the second act of a regular story...cycling over and over, except that viewers are already familiar with the world, so not much time is spent on certain components repeatedly in each episode.
I feel like I'm doing an excessively poor job of explaining things at the moment. My hypothesis is that antiheroes have a distinctly different plot twist identity, but still manage to complete a character arc equivalent to what is normally demonstrated in the hidden need triplet. So what is the antihero equivalent of a hidden need triplet? That's my research question. THE ANTIHERO NEVER REALLY CHANGES, BUT ONLY ADAPTS AND GIVES FREE REIGN TO PREVIOUSLY REPRESSED TENDENCIES. My first obvious step is to map an antihero story, and I'm going to pick Gone with the Wind to start. I'll start a very basic one here:
|Ordinary World||Southern belle, Ashley Wilkes, Twelve Oaks; mother's history and reality of "great lady" to which Scarlett aspires, but is not in her heart|
|Inciting Incident||Ashley rejects Scarlett, Scarlett meets Rhett, war is declared|
|Argument||Scarlett yells at Ashley and rejects Rhett, and says war is nothing|
|Door||Scarlett (also Melanie) gets married to inspire jealousy; Ashley, Charles, and Rhett leave for war and to run blockade|
|Acclimation||Scarlett has Wade; Scarlett begins to get frustrated with the monotony of being of the married women's social circle|
|Conflict (sight)||Scarlett learns Charles is dead; her frustration is escalated with the requirement of her mourning; she moves to Atlanta to live with Melanie and Aunt Pittypat|
|Conflict (proximity)||Soothed only for awhile, Scarlett again becomes miserable with the work she must do at the hospital. She manages to manipulate her way into the ball, and later, with Rhett's urging, dances and causes scandal which she quells and decides was not too bad. (Scarlett reads Ashley's letters to Melanie).|
|Conflict (contact)||Rhett is a hero, but then sabotages his reputation by identifying southern motives as purely selfish/economic and not pride or rights. Rhett continues to call on Scarlett and causes more scandal; he gives her with a very expensive hat, and is disgusted to learn he consorts with Belle Watling (handkerchief contribution to Melanie). Scarlett kisses Ashley when he comes home to see Melanie for Christmas. He doesn't resist until she says she loves him.|
|Midpoint||Many were killed at Gettysberg, but Ashley was taken prisoner. Atlanta is seiged; Rhett "rescues" Scarlett as he jokingly said he would; Melanie has Beau; Rhett develops an unexpected streak of Confederate patriotism just as it is blindingly clear the south will fall. Rhett has rescued Scarlett, but he has also abandoned her. She takes the reins, and returns leading Melanie/Beau/Prissy to Tara only by the strength of her own will.|
|Hidden Need Demo Flaw||Scarlett returns to Tara expecting to return to her old home and the safety of her mother's lemon verbena skirts. She breaks down to find her household resources devastated by the Yankees, her slaves confused, her father gone mad, and her mother dead.|
|Hidden Need Solve||Scarlett swears in the turnip field that if she has to "lie, steal, cheat or kill...[she] will never be hungry again". She takes over as head over the household from Gerald. She commands the servants and her sisters.|
|Hidden Need Demo Solve||
Scarlett kills a scavenging Yankee point blank, and admires Melanie for the first time seeing her at the top of the stairs sword in hand. She is surprised at her capacity to kill, but feels no remorse. Grandma Fontaine warns her from experience to "save something to fear" out of fear that she become too cold.
Scarlett approves of Frank's long awaited engagement to Careen. Will, a wounded soldier, is a miracle to Tara's organization and unburdens Scarlett somewhat. Ashley returns home, and Scarlett withholds her lust with difficulty. It is clear that Scarlett has hardened, and is not afraid to stoop to measures of work she would have been to proud to consider in her old life.
|Antagonist Stronger||Carpetbaggers and Wilkerson raise taxes sky high on Tara trying to run her out.|
|Protagonist Weaker||She doesn't have the money.|
|Slide||Scarlett goes to Ashley for help, and realizes that he is too weak to help her. Still, she again tells him she loves him, and this time Ashley admits that he lusts and loves her strength, but that he is not strong, not the same, loves honor more than Scarlett and cannot run away with her. She squares her shoulders, abandons all sense of honor, and goes to Rhett for help. She dresses up, but at the end of her charade (through which Rhett sees), she realizes his funds are frozen and he couldn't help her anyway. She sinks to lower desperation, and steals her sister's beau at first indication that he might be able to help her. She marries Frank, though she thinks he's a wuss, and causes greater scandal by pushing even more boundaries...running her husband's business with immoral practices for the sake of profit. The slide = marker for complete death of her morality.|
|Crazy Plan||Rhett gets out of jail and loans her money to boost her business under the promise that she won't use it to help Ashley. She eventually employs him though to keep him near her, and he is useless, but she is patient out of love. Rhett is angry, and Ashley is humiliated. Scarlett has Ella Lorena, and is forbidden from working at the mill until she is born (very upset). Frank is terrified of her, and the whole town hates her. Eventually Frank is killed via KKK in trying to defend her after she was attacked (Rhett saved them all except him; Ashley is wounded). Scarlett finally marries Rhett.|
|Battles||This includes all continually escalated conflicts in Scarlett and Rhett's marraige, most devastatingly Bonnie's death. I won't go into all of the exchanges here.|
|Darkest (Golden) Moment||Melanie is gone, and Ashley is hers for the taking. Everything is exactly as she once wanted.|
|Help (Destruction) from Outside||Scarlett realizes that Ashley never even understood her. She realizes that Rhett loved her, and she loved him.|
|Resolution||Rhett explains like a "defeated Caesar" that he did love her as much as was humanely "possible for a man to love a woman", but that she has finally eroded that love to death. He leaves her, completely indifferent. She declares she will return to Tara and feed off of her greatest passion, her love of the land, and vows to one day win Rhett back.|
December 31, 2010
Getting ready for new year's tonight, I was thinking about my project again. It's funny how with some ideas, it's actually hard to not think about them nonstop no matter what I'm doing. I was watching House as I was cooking, cleaning and calling people. I don't like him. Who can honestly say that they like House? The point of the show is to demonstrate, not that he is right, but that he is not obviously wrong. He is arrogant, manipulative, and devisive contrasted with Gibbs from NCIS who is also intimidating, but unites his team rather than purposefully destroys people. They are two different forms of leadership. House reminds me of that one Aesop fable where the shepherd thawed a freezing snake and ended up getting bitten.
Anyway the point to this little rant is that I've decided to focus on anti-heroes. I love anti-hero stories more than the regular Template ones, and I want to find out why. Amy Deardon really hates anti-hero stories in general, and basically chose not to even look at them when doing the Template. What are the structural plot twist differences between anti-hero and hero stories? What role does the protagonist's mirror play? I made up that term and concept, but Deardon decided to use it in the template as a relavent device. I love looking at the mirrors; Lord of the Rings had one for almost every character; it was fun. There are only 4 anti-hero stories that I think of at the top of my head: Gone with the Wind, Amadeus, Star Wars from Anakin's perspective, House (but that's a TV show, so I can't include it), and they all worked well. Are there any others? ARe there any anti-hero stories that DIDN'T work? Why didn't they? What about Saw - there's that one character who switches over to help , and maybe he could be considered an antihero, but honestly I'm not familiar enough with the movies to say. ARe the Screwtape Letters considered an antihero story? It's not so much a story... Biblical Judas is an antihero. Medea from Jason and the Argonauts mythology is an antihero. Frankenstein is an antihero too - or rather the Creature, because the Creature is the protagonist.
An antihero story is a story told from the antagonist's perspective...is that all it is? But there may or may not be a "protagonist" in that sense. It's just a story where the true protagonist makes a bad decision, but still solves his hidden need. Smeagol in LOTR is Frodo's mirror, but is he an antihero? He would be if things were told through his point of view. IT's tricky to distinguish between a protagonist's mirror and an antihero, but I suppose antihero's must be very obvious to be considered such.
An antihero/hero story is NOT the difference between a comedy and a tragedy. It is a difference in how the moral pillar is demonstrated. I almost want to write an antihero story. They are always so much more interesting, at least to me. I drafted an alternative idea to my Titanomachy plot that was an antihero story. Very strangely it was how I myself reacted in a certain scenario two years later, but I found it interesting that I was able to draft that prediction before even being confronted with the scenario or any scenario like it.
This project is so different than all the robotics projects I've done. It's almost impossible not to live an breathe it. Once you learn how story is constructed, it's impossible not to pick apart every movie and book subconsciously to predict what will happen based on what is known. I can jump into the middle of a story, and as soon as I get a handle on what is happening at the moment, I can predict what will probably happen in the next scene, how far along in the story we are, what the ultimate conflict will be, and how the character will defeat the antagonist. It ruins the surprise sometimes, but it's an amazing and fun skill to have. It's also funny, because though "reality is stranger than fiction", it's hard not to predict what will happen in different scenarios in real life based on what I know about how a story progresses. It's all very interesting, and a very weird feeling.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
"I feel like I just found out that my favorite love song was written about a sandwich."
Sometimes I wonder if anyone ever reads these journals... Anyway, I found out on December 15th Wednesday that I was accepted to Johns Hopkins University!!!! Alright, so I'm still a little excited - and very nervous. Frankly I don't know how I got in. I have declared electrical engineering as my major. I have decided that one of my goals is to get into the BA/MD program, but I want to own a business. I want engineering to be my background, but not my life. I want to work with engineers and scientists, but not be a drone competing with them. I want to think on a parallel with science, but I want to manage it and be apart from it too.
“I don't build in order to have clients. I have clients in order to build.” – Ayn Rand
“I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” – Ayn Rand
Everything from now on will be hard, yes harder than I know I can possibly imagine, blah blah blah. I just wish I could skip through college and graduate school and start building now, but of course I can't. I don't even know what I need yet.
Alumni day was last week, and I got the chance to talk to a lot of my old friends and other people I knew whom I haven't seen/talked to (most) in awhile. Very interesting experience. I was talking to them and going around with them like I was one of them so long that I felt like I'd already graduated and was visiting something I'd long outgrown. Have I outgrown high school? I hesitate to say it, because I love it so much, but I think I have finally.
In this project, I am an artist. My job is to study morals, people, emotions, and the mechanics behind expressing them. On those grounds I justify myself in saying that, I feel like I have lost respect for something I once held in the highest respect. I feel like I've fallen in love and realized that what I loved was not worth loving in the first place. I feel like I realized that I admired something for its strength only to discover that, though good in one respect, it was nothing out of the ordinary to have been denoted for specific inspiration. Disappointment? Maybe that's it, but different this time, because before it seemed that the ideal that disappointed me only proved to elevate my worth in contrast. Now it's different, because I know that I am not great, and that any ideal that is so weak to pale even in comparison to me must be weak indeed. It's all rather depressing. It feels like I am disappointed, but knew I would be. I feel like I didn't care enough anymore to even be angry, which feels strange, because once upon a time, I was furious when confronted with the same truth. I used to consider restraint of passion to be the highest moral,
"When you will not fly into a passion people know you are stronger than they are, because you are strong enough to hold in your rage, and they are not, and they say stupid things they wish they hadn't said afterward. There's nothing so strong as rage, except what makes you hold it in--that's stronger. It's a good thing not to answer your enemies." -Burnett
and I suppose I still think that's true, however, I have a new respect for courage I think, so much so that I believe that flying into passion may at times be worth its problems if it allows the fulfilled opportunity to go back and indicate that passion was wrong. This of course does not excuse unrestrained wielding of passion, but that it can be justified in indicating something of like value.
Anyway, I have to finish my project to some sort of tangible end... I've been debating certain story structure flaws/virtues with my advisor all morning. She and I have slightly differing tastes. I decided that my favorite characters of all time include: Salieri from Amadeus, Scarlet O'Hara and Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind, and Sara Crewe from A Little Princess. Interestingly, the first two stories are antihero stories. I also like Ender's Game, Lord of the Rings, Screwtape Letters, Chronicles of Narnia, etc. etc. but I think I have a list of favorites somewhere else on here. Amy Deardon severely dislikes all antiheroes, though she agreed that Salieri is her favorite most complex character she could think of.
She was telling me about a romance story she had to edit that she found very boring though the writing itself was not bad. She said it was "because is WAS a romance". I hate them too, but I wonder why? Gone with the Wind is a romance though isn't it? In romances, the antagonist is often severely underdeveloped perhaps, and that's why they make weak stories? But somehow I think it has more to do with personality type. It's the sensory versus intuitive characteristic of the whole Myers-Briggs personality thing. I'm an INTJ, and so is Amy Deardon actually, but I straddle the E/I and N/S where she straddles the T/F and J/P. She hates Titanic, thinks Twilight is ridiculous, finds chick flicks boring in general, and thinks Scarlet O'Hara is a witch. True criticisms on all fronts of course, however I can still enjoy all of these stories to some degree. Titanic was good because of the story world. Twilight was also story world pillar, however weak and shallow, but well suited to preteen minds I suppose...
My theory is that Twilight, particularly Bella, is so faceless that pretty much any girl can imagine herself in that role, and thinking about vampires/subconsciously looking for evidence is a subtle and fitting way to spice up regular daydreams and fantasies for people lacking in the imagination department. Admittably, I was pretty into them for awhile, and still wear the [subtle] t-shirt occasionally, but no longer "gasp when I see a silver volvo"? As detailed as Edward was described, I couldn't tolerate Bella long enough to get through it. No disrespect to Stephanie Meyers, because actually I think her strategy in crafting Bella was brilliant for mass audience purposes. However, I'm sorry to say that as nice as her cast seemed, neither Edward nor Jacob nor Romeo or any other rather wimpy cavalier can match the complexity of Rhett Butler's character. I don't know why, but Gone with the Wind is the only successful romance that I can actually enjoy and respect. The psychology behind both characters makes sense, and at the same time is wonderfully clever.
December 12th, 2010
I've been analyzing stories lately. I wanted to record this in case I don't get a chance to fit it into my paper, but I'm finding it difficult to pick apart certain kinds of movies. I'm not sure how to identify the protagonist and where character arcs occur.
I've determined that certain kinds of stories include a central character who does not change him/herself (character arc) and can therefore not be considered the protagonist. Yet, there are character arcs that take place within that story. Sometimes those arcs happen in close characters surrounding the protagonist, but in others, the "character arc" seems to happen to the community as a whole. I'm not sure how to interpret this. I ran into a similar analytical problem last year when looking at High Noon, because the wife, not the sheriff completes a character arc, but I couldn't rightly say she was the protagonist; she was certainly not the center of the story. How do I interpret these kinds of plots?!
- Field of Dreams
- Forrest Gump
- A League of Their Own
In none of these stories does the obviously "main" character change. Forrest Gump is NOT the protagonist, because he remains the same person throughout. However people who see and hear him, the people on the bus stop, but most noticably Ginny are affected by him; she completes a character arc. Ginny is the character that changes the most, but how can she be the protagonist - she's gone for huge chunks of the movie?
In Seabiscuit, there are three protagonists: Red, the trainer, and the owner. At first glance, I'd say that the owner changes the most, just because we see so much of his history. At the same time though, each of those three characters is given a significant portion of airtime to deepen the character and demonstrate character arcs. Red is a strong choice as well. The trainer is probably the weakest of the three, but he still has enough of a character arc to be considered significant. Everyone is affected by Seabiscuit, who does not change. Ironically both Forrest Gump and Seabiscuit are named after the figures that cause action, but complete no inner refinement themselves.
In A League of Their Own, Dottie would be the assumed protagonist because she has so much time onscreen. However, she does not change who she is from the beginning to the end of the story. She affects her sister Kit and her manager to a lesser degree. It's interesting to note that Field of Dreams and League of Their Own are both about establishing baseball teams. This fact is most likely unrelated, however it may be relavent that both titles focus on a grand theme listing the goal the main character works towards just like the other two examples' titles list the affecting characters' names.
Other kinds of stories I've been looking at are biography-style. These include a main character who does not complete a specific character arc, nor influence characters around him in that regard, but goes through life demonstrating a moral element in the search to achieve some goal.
- The King and I
- Gods and Generals
I believe that The King and I may not rightly go into this category, because his character arc may consist of learning to relate to women. At the beginning he treats Anna like a servant. Later he whips a gift wife for running away to a lover before the king marries her, but lets her go at Anna's disapproval. He comes to see Anna as his equal and by the end, sees women as Western men saw them (ideally). I hesitate to include The King and I as a completely separate element though, because it does have a biographical feel to it in that he intends to become a Western man, and viewing women differently is just a step in that preexisting process. He did not change himself, but only achieved a goal - just like the other two story examples.
In Gods and Generals, Stonewall Jackson holds fast to faith as he serves in the Civil War. He never changes intent or content of character, but the plot lies in his reactions to events of his life. It's a wonderful movie and definitely embodies the moral pillar, but it does not have a character arc. I have yet to do a more thorough mapping to determine if it has a hidden need triplet, but if there is no character arc to be found at first blush, I find it unlikely that there will be a hidden need triplet. The only solution I can think of is that Stonewall manages to affect people around him, causing them to complete character arcs, and thus fit the story into the first category I mentioned. I find this solution to be inadequate though. It's not the same thing.
Luther is quite similar to Gods and Generals! In fact it has the same moral if a moral must be declared. Both main characters struggle to apply their faiths to unconforming worlds. Did Luther complete a character arc though? I would argue not really. He decided to post the 95 theses, a contradiction to his previous belief system, Catholocism, but that took place in the first act. I wonder sometimes if this story has a similar hero development as Tony Stark in Iron Man, because Tony Stark's true hidden need was solved in the first act as well. The thing was though, that Tony had an additional emotional issue solved right where the hidden need triplet usually is. It is possible to have several hidden needs... Does Luther have them though? I require thorough mapping.
Amadeus is a brilliant antihero! As is Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the Wind. Those are quite possibly some of my favorite stories of all time. I read Gone with the Wind again over the summer and loved it. Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings have always been my official favorites though, and A Little Princess is high on my list too. Ender's Game is amazing. I just got an Amazon Kindle electronic book reader, and it's made it so much easier to read that I've been reading constantly, usually juggling about 3-5 books at a time, over the past six months. ANyway I still have to work out the antihero category, because they do not have hidden need triplets, and are organized completely differently to anything I know, but the ones done well are absolutely amazing.
Romeo and Juliet does not have a hidden need triplet. THis makes stories such as West Side Story and New Moon invalid. Love stories are ridiculous in general. O'Henry's Gift of the Magi/Grease style stories don't have hidden need triplets or character arcs either. They drive me crazy. I still don't know what to do about Pygmallion/My Fair Lady or Princess Bride either. Princess Bride characters, though hilarious, are flat and do not complete a single character arc among them. Henry Higgins very nearly changes his opinion of women, a character arc, but reverts to old behavior in the last line of the play asking Eliza to bring him his slippers as if she were his servant.
Those distractions being stated, the following stories have solid character arcs that I will later explain individually:
- A Bug's Life
- Facing the Giants
- Galaxy Quest
- Home Alone
- Ice Age
- My Big Fat Greek Wedding
- Searching for Bobby Ficher
- Second Hand Lions (who is the protagonist????)
- Sister Act
- Star Trek
- Groundhog Day
- Ben Hur
- Iron Man
- High Noon
- Charlotte's Web
The following stories do not include character arcs:
- Father of the Bride (maybe???)
- Field of Dreams
- Flight of the Phoenix
- The Fugitive
- Hunt for Red October
- Jason and the Argonauts
- Lady Hawke
- Heaven Can Wait
- Tora Tora Tora
- Vantage Point
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
- War Games
The next thing I have to do is figure out if these character arcs = hidden need triplet, or if they are only character arcs. The hidden need triplet is a very specific component, occuring at a certain point of the plot and it must be three pronged in just the right way. I know off the top of my head that even if My Fair Lady does constitute a character arc, there is no way it includes a correct hidden need triplet. I'm just worried because there's so much time involved in analyzing each story in so much detail.
To be honest, I feel like I'm dissecting cadavers in the age of witchcraft and humors to figure out the difference between a pancreas and a liver. I can't tell the difference between very basic components, but they are very easy to understand when broken apart and color coded like in a textbook...they will be. Freytag's Pyramid and doing exhaustive character sketching is the equivalent of bleeding a patient. I'm trying to arouse the Renaissance. Frankly it's a bit difficult.
December 6, 2010
Today is only a business week after my last journal, which I decided to leave in the first quarter block, though it really should be considered a second quarter journal. I think I'm confused.
It seems that every time I have a moment to breathe, I wonder if what I'm doing while I'm working seems right. I don't have time to breathe right now, at least I shouldn't. I'm so behind with everything, but then again what else is new. I am horribly behind with my data collection though. I should be done my analysis, have a draft, be planning conferences by now! I didn't do any of that last year.
We had a leadership meeting today, and Mr. Ashcraft was retelling my progress in learning how to give oral presentations. I was so horrible, and now, though I may not be good, I don't get so nervous anymore and in some cases actually like the chance to present. I'd forgotten, but one of my problems was saying the word "actually" too many times when I gave presentations. My brother does it too apparently. As I thought, he's naturally much better than I am. It's ironic though, because he considers serious attention to presentation details almost as academically immoral. He says that the ideas are all that matters, and the more effort invested in presentation, the less effort invested in substance. He hates attention and praise. He calls me a politician, and swears that he will never be like that. I am anything but a politician, but he is more charming than I think he realizes. His problem is that he won't use that humor to his advantage, because he thinks it is a form of false sincerity. I understand, but I disagree. He is cynical on the one hand about many things, at least in explanation - but in practice, he is the most romantic and idealized version of reality I've ever seen. He explains everything like I do, according to rational self interest - yet when opportunities present themselves, he refuses to accept even a fair advantage, because it is in fact an advantage.
This year, in simply looking at the type of research that I have done and the work that I am doing compared to when I first started high school, I keep seeing the blaring differences in my perspective. In 8th grade, my final research paper was 133 pages long (not including appendix which had at least 200 pages, most of which was raw data). My 9th grade manuscript was more organized, though still too long at 97 pages not including a 30 page appendix. My 10th grade paper was even shorter, 60 pages. Last year's paper should not even be recognized as it was only a rough draft. My best paper of all those was my freshman paper I think.
In freshman year, I could not speak well. My 5 minute oral presentation encompassed at least 15 full slides. I couldn't do anything without note cards and having practiced many times beforehand. I didn't like my class, because I was the youngest, didn't know anyone, and didn't really care to know anyone either. I remember feeling utterly incompetent throughout that entire year. The next year was somewhat better, but then worse after I'd gotten that award. Everyone started paying attention to me, and to be honest I felt like I'd literally stolen everything. My project didn't WORK. I didn't understand half of what I did. I felt like I was throwing around big words that everyone else seemed to understand, though I didn't always but still used them correctly enough. I felt very guilty like I'd actually cheated. The day of the award ceremony, I'd been cleaning, and argued with my dad to let me stay home. He told me it'd be very rude to whoever might be generous enough to give me an award if I wasn't there to accept it. I went, and I'm very glad I did, because it would have been endlessly embarrassing otherwise.
During the day of that fair, I was reading Ayn Rand's biography waiting for the judges, and a sophomore from another school came to talk to me. He bought me lunch, and we became friends. It turned out that a month after I came back from the International Fair in Reno, he was going to the National Fair in Alaska. He was born in the Ukraine and can speak fluent Russian, but is thoroughly American. I still keep in touch with him. On my other side that day was the most prominent young Eagle Scout, a year younger than me, in my brother's troop. He had won the Shimatzu prize at the previous Howard County Fair with the same project. We talked for awhile, and became friends too, though I haven't kept in touch with him. During that day as well, I wondered a bit of a ways down the row to talk to another sophomore who was doing a project about glacier ice. I'd met him the previous year at the same place, and we'd become aquaintances during the judging the year that he won the same prize I would win the following year. He went to the ISEF in Alabama, and continued to compete in science fairs the following year. I chose not to, because I didn't want the pressure.
I wonder sometimes if I've been making the right decisions in all this. I feel like I've abandoned a base to investigate a field that almost seems to be a cheap fake in comparison to "real" research. Am I a scientist? Frankly, I'm not sure. I hope so, because that's what I've always said I'd do with my life. Half the time I hate science, but most of that I think I can attribute to the fact I hate work in general. Yet it seems in writing and managing, there are some instances of work that I actually like doing. Is it actually possible to not hate one's career? Perhaps, however I am inclined to believe that it is only possible to hate one's occupation comparitively less than the poor fool who is incompetent at everything. Money cannot buy happiness, but happiness cannot buy food or shelter. I think I'd choose a job that pays a lot over something fun, because payment is practical. That is why I am choosing science. Arts have always been a lottery and luxary of civilization.
I hear from Hopkins in nine days. I applied early decision. If I get in, I am going there for sure. If I don't get in, I have eleven other schools and their subsequent $1000 pot of application fee material to stamp and send - or in this case, electronically submit. I hope I get in to Hopkins, because I just don't want to think about it anymore. I'll get into Hopkins, pay for the 4 years, magically get into the 7 year combined MD/PhD program, spend 3-4 years in residency, and then take a look back to see what I should do next. Somehow it almost seems silly to say that like I'll actually do it all. I want to of course, but it just seems strange, because I have no clue what any of those things are. I still don't know what college is. For all I know, even if I do get in, I could fail all my courses and get kicked out the first semester. Then what? That wouldn't be embarrassing at all . . .
Hopkins, UPenn, Princeton, F&M, GW, Bucknell, Grove City, UVa, UMD, UMBC, UDE and one other I don't remember all have applications either sent or ready to go.