The Final Frontier (Appeal To Logic, Emotions, Ethics)

I think it was about a month ago, or it could also be four weeks ago if you prefer, that I started to address a complex topic about logic, emotion and reason. I began this investigation with the intent of fleshing out the details of what a creative passion should look like on paper (read:artist statement) and using my own artistic practice as a backdrop in the means of an explanation.

At the time I promised I would come back with a series of posts outlining my theories on how to accomplish this.

And so here we are.

It Is Only Logical

This stimulating topic we’re on is the three modes of persuasion, and sometimes known as ethical strategies or rhetorical appeals. Aristotle posited that the best types of persuasion are clearly demonstrated. The ways that we accomplish a successful persuasion are by showcasing good character through credibility (ethics), stirring up feelings (emotions), and proving a truth (logic).

So if we want to be successful artists, writers, musicians, et. al., then we have to build a proper case for what we do for a living, that way whenever we are approached by a stranger, and we want to leave a good impression, we can put together the best elevator pitch ever crafted.

After all, you care about your art right? You know that your unique voice needs to be expressed and the best way to accomplish that is by gaining positive attention and proper acknowledgment. And of course, you want to do it in a way that is authentic, unfiltered and real.

Thusly I have given you your first example of using the three modes of persuasion. And through the lens of logic.

A Logical Decision? Probably. But The Right One?

Now I do have to consider that the best way to establish this artist statement for yourself can be overwhelming, and given that we are are going to be spending a far amount of time going over this, I want to make it very clear what’s at stake here. Your integrity for one.

People are most like to identify with someone who looks like and talk like them. But this character needs to be trustworthy too. In films and television, this is why the lead character always has a strong reputation with the authority to back it up. If we look for characterizations of ETHOS we can quickly identify people like Dexter Morgan from the tv show Dexter, who has clear motivations, an a stong demonstration of his skilset, and because we experience his thoughts and feelings, it humanizes him and makes him seem like a “normal guy.”

But that’s kind of a creepy example, and I think I can do it one better.

Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy is the chief medical officer on the Star Trek Enterprise, he is a fourth-wall breaker when the other characters are making strong decisions. He serves as a moral compass for the trio of main characters by talking Kirk off the ledge and challenging Spock’s dry and cold approach to everything.

He is more human than Spock and less of a hero than Kirk, and he is most definitely an authority figure on the ship, who everyone defers to. One of the best quotes attributed to McCoy is the old “Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a [insert job of the moment]”.

I Don’t Believe In No-Win Scenarios

Without an emotional core, we have nothing to go on!

People don’t connect only to logic, nor do they respond to an authority figure just because they have a title, it’s the emotions that impassion a message and give a sense of humanity to whatever the topic at hand.

You know that because I’m fighting the good fight for all artists out there, and that I struggle with doubts but can carry on through passion and sheer force of will that I will make timotheories work and work for you. It’s about justice, imagination and painting a picture of a bright future for everyone that wants to make something beautiful.

PATHOS is for all of the artists who have a fire inside and will never give up. Or surrender.

theories Summarized

There is no way that well go over this all in two posts my friends, just I didn’t think it would happen in one post. But I do hope against hope that this is starting to come together for you.

In case the basic principles of the three modes of persuasion are not clear just yet, I’ll embellish on that Star Trek reference some more. LOGOS is probably the most obvious example and demonstrated through Spock, while I’ve just demonstrated that McCoy is ETHOS, and lastly Kirk is PATHOS. Kirk being the most impulsive and emotive of the three, he takes risks and always acts from instinct, experiences, and a sense of responsibility.

And as I’ve mentioned already, I have a pretty cool theory about how you can take the lessons from those three patron saints of Star Trek and apply their modes of thinking to your own work. But I need to power down for the night creative cuties. These theories don’t running on neverending battery.  At least not yet anyway.

Tim!

Death From A Thousand Papercuts (Self-help Books)

Self-help guides are everywhere. You cannot move within 30 links on the internet without hitting one. On top of that, there are over 240,000 self-help books available for purchase on Amazon. And I’m sure that many of them are fantastic, well-reviewed and considered best sellers.

But the thing is, none of these books are really essential reading. Almost all of them have the same ideas to express to you. You can summarize most of these ideas pretty easily and rather quickly if I’m going to be frank with you, dear readers. I read this great article a couple of years back and decided to summarize it’s summary of this idea for you. So which is greater the summary of self-help books or the summary of the summary of self-help books?

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I guess you’ll find out pretty quick won’t you?

12 Lessons From Self-help Books

No martter what the topic, there are commonalities for all tips of self-help and this list of 12 points should do the trick in laying it all out for you, the ever efficient consumer of information.

  1. You are in control of your emotions and can change how you feel. No one else can do it for you.
  2. Mirror successful people. If you follow the habits of the leader, you will adopt them and transcend your current lifestyle.
  3. The law of attraction is real. You bring into your life what you spend your time thinking about. So think on good things OR use affirmations to get you there
  4. Be present and avoid thinking about the past or future. With presence you stop worry and avoid anxiety.
  5. Leave your comfort zone. You need to evolve and grow through discomfort.
  6. Procrastination is bad – Have goals and to-do lists, work on what matters to get what you want.
  7. Accountability for your actions. Own the things you can influence and work to enforce them when good OR change them when bad.
  8. Value your unique qualities. Never compare yourself to others, instead compare your past self to who you are now.
  9. Treat yourself. Have fun, enjoy things you care about. Life experience is important.
  10. Have gratitude. Life is full of problems, but you turn them into opportunities.
  11. Positive self-talk. I can do this. Tell yourself that every time you have doubt.
  12. Visualize what you want. Visualization is a commonly recommended technique with positive self-talk. It is becoming increasingly popular in therapy as psychologists use imagery to not only work through problems, but change behavior. The basic aim is to see in your mind what you want. Advanced visualization incorporates sight with taste, smell, touch, and sound of having achieved your goal.

Should You Read Self-help Books?

With all of that said, you’re probably wondering if you should even read self-help books now. Well friends, I’ll be the first to admit that as I get older, my memory doesn’t seem to be improving, and in some cases, like for instance if I don’t get enough sleep, I definitely don’t remember things that I should.

So you know what they say right? Well no, no you don’t.

Seriously? I just made that point above and you’ve already forgotten it?

The point is this, motivation is temporary but discipline helps us with ingraining new ideas into our being, if you follow a pattern for more then 30 days it begins to take root and turn into a habit, but 90 days its your primary mode of function.

Even once you know the summary of all of these great books, it doesn’t mean you have the practice down to a science. And let’s be honest, the reason why the knowledge is so frequently referenced is because it is pretty useful for anyone really. After all, just because you read a summary, it doesn’t mean you had a moment of enlightenment, sitting with an idea helps in that process. But that’s just a theory.

 

Tim!

 

 

A Little More Action Please (Joy review)

Have you ever watched a bio pic? They usually do an excellent job of both motivating you to do something with your life, and also to make you feel for the character(s) which the story is based upon.

It’s one of those great guilty pleasures of life which most people are okay with accepting as a “good” pursuit of time when watching film or reading a book.

This week we are going to look at a very recent bio pic and see if it hits the mark.

 

 

 

Joy (2015)

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Edgar Ramirez, Dianne Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini
Director: David O. Russell
released on blu-ray May 3, 2016
****** 6/10

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IMDB: 6.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 61%, Audience Score 56%
The Guardian: ***/*****

David Owen Russell also known as David O Russell is an American director, screenwriter, and producer. He is best known for directing The Fighter, American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook.

This is the third time that Russell has worked with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, and the second time with Robert De Niro.

If you’ve seen anything J Law has been in like ever, then you’ll know she gives a strong performance, and Russell provides excellent direction. But let’s discuss the film in brief first.

Taken from Wikipedia and edited,

In 1989, Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence) is a divorced mother of two, working as a booking clerk. She lives with her children, mother (Virginia Madsen), grandmother Mimi (Dianne Ladd), and her ex-husband, Tony (Edgar Ramirez).

Her parents are divorced, and fight whenever her father shows up. Joy and her older half-sister, Peggy don’t get along but Peggy and father Rudy (Robert De Niro) are very close. Her mom spends all day lying in bed watching TV to escape from her life, leaving Joy to run the household.

After divorcing his third wife, Joy’s father starts dating Trudy (Isabella Rossellini), a wealthy widow with some business experience. While on Trudy’s boat, Joy drops a glass of wine, attempts to mop up, and cuts her hands on the broken glass while wringing the mop.

Joy returns home and creates blueprints for a self-wringing mop. She then convinces Trudy to invest in the product. They make a deal with a company in California to manufacture and Joy also pays $50,000 in royalties to a man in Hong Kong who supposedly has created a similar product. The company repeatedly bills Joy for faulty parts they create, but Joy refuses to pay the fees.

Joy needs a quick, easy way to advertise her product, and is able to meet with QVC executive Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper). Neil tells Joy to manufacture 50,000 mops. Joy is advised by Trudy to take out a second mortgage on her home, in order to pay her costs. The first infomercial fails, but when she goes on QVC, Joy and her product become an overnight success. Things look up for the family, with the mop earning thousands of dollars on QVC.

Joy’s grandmother dies suddenly. Rudy and Trudy send Peggy to California to conduct Joy’s company business. Afterwards Peggy tells Joy that she paid the fees. Joy is angry and travels to California to meet with the manufacturer, who refuses to pay her back. Joy discovers that the manufacturer is about to fraudulently patent her design. Her lawyer reveals that there is nothing they can do to prevent this, and Joy is forced to file for bankruptcy. Joy discovers that the manufacturers have been defrauding her the entire time. She confronts the owner, and forces him to pay her back.

Several years later, Joy is wealthy and runs a successful business. She continues to take care of her father, even though he and Peggy had unsuccessfully sued for ownership. Tony remains a valued adviser, and the film ends with her helping a young mother develop a new invention.

So there you have it, even in the summary of the film, it’s clear that the frontrunner of this story is Joy Mangano, because well, the movie is called Joy after all.

But if you haven’t caught on yet, the ensemble cast is problematic and uneven. There is absolutely no question in my mind that Lawrence gives a great performance, but but we don’t get to see her play off of her natrual chemistry of Cooper, the way it’s promised, and her family is a little bit too zany without the obvious conflict.

Pros: It tells a great story of an underdog gone fierce and her ultimate rise to the top of the pile. You really feel for Joy because Jennifer Lawrence does an excellent job portraying her. Russell also has an excellent crafting which provides that title character development.

Cons: The beginning of the movie is dry and doesn’t feel realistic enough to believe in the flawed characters and how Lawrence becomes their matriarch. Also it lacks a lot of humour, and ironically enough joy.

Runtime: 2 hours 4 minutes

Points of Interest: While the title character is named Joy, she is not, in fact, a biographic version of Joy Mangano. Russell created an everywoman with Joy Mangano as the base, and interwove it with stories of other women changing their lives.

It is an interesting film because it does an excellent job to drive the growth of it’s title character, but because the story is fabricated and not handled in such a way to really develop it’s supporting cast realistically, and with the odd humour of life, it doesn’t quite reach it’s goal.

So Joy doesn’t run on all fours throughout it’s arc. But that doesn’t mean it can’t get to its destination nor does it mean that we should discount it as a great example of overcoming adversity. It just doesn’t fit a perfect mold as a film. If you’re a fan of Jennifer Lawrence I have a theory that you won’t be disappointed by her performance, but if you like the Lawrence/Cooper tag team, I can tell you it’s not really there.

Should you give Joy a chance? Yeah I think so. But there are lots of better bio pics out there. See you tomorrow with some wisdom friends.

Tim!

This Art Is On Fire (Dealing With Burn Out)

Sometimes you work really hard on a project and then you see it take off! Which is amazing and inspiring and has all the good feelings that make creativity worthwhile. Recognition in other words, dear readers!

No matter how many artists I speak with, whether musicians, actors, visual artists or otherwise, they all say similar things about the importance of digging into the form you love with everything you’ve got and expecting a slow climb up that hill. Because while you may find opportunities right away, you also might be a victim of chance and have to wait for those accolades.

Which is legit.

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This post is for those artists, the ones who wanted to succeed right away and didn’t, who work hard night and day to find their place in the world and put up their own time, potentially sacrificing their mental and physical health to do so. To carry that torch for the arts.

For everyone who has the courage to go the distance and shoot for their dreams, no matter what, this one’s for you.

Now, my original plan to start this post off right was to simply include a couple of lyrics from famous songs with the word fire in the song itself and then make a joke about the nature of fire and how it relates to success as a metaphor.

But fuck – there were like 150 plus songs to choose from, and I started to feel old once I realized that all of my “cool and new” references were from the 2000s and now effectively outdated (For instance, one of the examples I was thinking about was from the 2003 album Fire by Electric Six). So you’ll just have to accept this string of GIFs as my effort at peacekeeping – Because I’m also feeling burnt out from this process. Pun semi-intentional.

Mi6sWRs                                   gifyh1c46                                                william

Funny right?

Well, interestingly enough each of those GIFs represents a different scenario of burn out. Yeah, burn out. I’m switching to something serious.

A scary topic that not a lot of people talk about because they don’t understand the full-reaching effects it can have on an individual.

Burnout is the state in which one discovers they have chronic fatigue – It usually starts with a lack of energy and feeling tired quite often. But they will likely experience other symptoms too, which might include insomnia, forgetfulness and/or impaired concentration, physical symptoms like chest pain, heart palpitations, headaches and stomach pain, weakened immune system, loss of appetite, anxiety, anger, and depression. More on the symptoms in this article.

You see, the 1st image is the guy/gal/person who decides to embrace the pain and lean into it as it overtakes them. Then you have 2nd person who experiences the loss and complains about it while not doing anything either, the 3rd person sees the signs but pretends there is nothing wrong, and the 4th person, appropriately might I add, freaks out and does something about it.

Dear readers, let me say this in the most common of terms, you want to be that 4th person. Take the time to honestly assess the state you are in, the amount of stress in your life, and find ways to reduce it before it becomes too much. While burn out is a physical problem, unlike a cold or a hangover, it doesn’t go away over a matter of days, it can take much longer, because it hits two fronts at the same time – your mind and your body.

So what’s an artist to do about it?

Well you need to douse that fire quick or if you’ve already experienced burn out, clean up the ashes and start rebuilding. But for the sake of constructive criticism and because I hate to leave you without some wisdom, I’ll give you a short list of remedies you can use (taken from this article).

  1. Self-care. Get your energy back through salt baths, yoga, deep breathing, long walks in nature, and positive affirmations.
  2. Take a break. Dial back from what you aren’t interested about and take a break until you are ready to come back. Whether it’s days, weeks, or months.
  3. Check your trophy room. Look back at your history and identify your successes. Stop comparing yourself to others.
  4. Enlist support. Hiring someone or get a friend to help out.
  5. Reassess your goals. Rethink your dreams, visions, and goals.
  6. Seek new inspiration. Visit places you normally avoid or spend time with creatives you haven’t considered before. Children for example.
  7. Community. Find a tribe through a class, seminar, meet-up or a studio visit.

And if you want some more resources, look here for suggestions (1 2 3 4). There is definitely a lot more to be written about this subject, and I’ve just scratched the surface, but at the end of the day, no matter what your creative role, you HAVE to take care of yourself. Inspiration and passion are good motivators but discipline requires attention as well.

Now I’m out of theories for the day friends. I hope this post finds you well, and if not, it helps you get back in shape. I’ll see you tomorrow with something timely.

Tim!

Red VS Blue! (How Environment Effects Creativity)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll definitely say it again after this post… but throughout human history creativity has often been thought of by the masses as a gift from another world, not something that comes from the brain and which can be developed and cultivated.

I bet you thought I was making a reference to TMNT, nah, I would never do that.

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Moving right along; as a creative person I’m sure that this concept of creative influence is both fascinating and horrifying for you, because you want to succeed and get support to accomplish your creative goals, but if anyone can be creative, then that means you are no longer a special snowflake.

And I’ll let you decide which one fascinating, and which one is horrifying.

But what if I told you that your environment can be controlled in such a way as to effect your creativity either positively or negatively? What would you do? I bet most of you would jump at the chance to make subtle shifts in how your environment operated.

For instance, did you know that colour can elevate different kinds of creativity? According to this study, red can promote analytical aspects of memory retrieval and proofreading, whereas blue is good for brainstorming and innovation. Also in the same study, researchers have uncovered a correlation between noise levels, distraction, and types of work done – moderate noise and high noise produce more abstract processing vs low noise, but high noise impairs information processing, so moderate noise is the sweet spot for creativity, something which I touched upon in a previous post.

The most interesting thing about this study, of course, is that it demonstrates the correlation between creativity and improvement.

Another article I found recently references other aspects of life which can impact creativity. This is another one which Professor Juliet Zhu has looked into, and is a huge advocate for. Apparently dim lighting vs bright lighting an produce different results. Believe it or no, dim lighting has a positive association with abstract thinking and creativity.

cave-painting

Maybe that’s why cave painting started us off on this creative pathway in the first place?

But the article goes on to demonstrate that temperature and space make a difference too. Choose a cool setting for simple tasks and a warm place for complex ones. Clutter creates less self-control (binge eating for example), whereas organization creates self-regulation and persistence, both useful in their own situations. And that latter topic also happens to be something I’ve written about previously.

Still another article I read described the importance of writing out ideas by hand, which helps with idea generation, learning, and memorization. And apparently taking walks and working in rooms with high ceilings helps to promote creativity too.

But what you may not have considered is the importance that comfort can play in creativity both physical and mental. Having a space which has both small areas of intimacy and large open areas can stimulate different kinds of thought. And of course, you also need to be able to experiment and fail at projects. No one is capable of perfection, but surrounding yourself with individuals that do not support risk-taking stifles creativity quite a bit, so do what you can limit those kinds of interactions.

Jim Rohn said it best with the following quote

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

It is imperative that you consider your relationships carefully, and to be closely surrounded by positive, supportive people who want you to succeed, and it’s also necessary to have critics. Though I suspect we can touch on that last point in a lot more detail and so I shall save it for another day.

What did you think of that theory? Does your environment fit the conditions above? Have I missed anything? Please leave some comments below, like and share this post, and of course please subscribe to my blog for more stimulating ideas about the arts.

Tim!