Friday, February 29, 2008

Our Bodies are Diskdrives

“Karla believes that human beings remember everything. “All stimulation generates a memory – and these memories have to go somewhere. Our bodies are essentially diskettes,” she says.” - Coupland, Douglas. Microserfs. HarperCollins Books: Toronto, 1995. pg 92

Douglas Coupland is a brilliant writer. It’s strange how I discovered him. I had heard of him prior to this book but I had never read anything by him. Then one day when I was at the library with some kids, one of them spun around the bookrack with a lot of force. This book fell to the ground.

I had wanted to find a good novel to read. I picked up the book from the floor and looked at it. I flipped through it and it seemed strange and unique. I couldn’t put it back on the shelf. I knew that I had to sign it out since it had quite literally fallen into my lap.

I love this book. I have collected hundreds of great thoughts from it. The story revolves around a group of people who work at Microsoft. I know every little about computer programming and this wouldn’t have been a book I normally would have read. But it was a great character driven drama.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dialogue Skills

“Much of our satisfaction in life depends on our skills in connecting with other people – skills of dialogue we might call them.” - Bonnycastle, Stephen. In Search of Authority pg 23

Connecting with people is a skill? Does that mean that we can learn how to do it better? I think it does. This quotation is brilliant because it opens up a whole new way of thinking. If dialogue is a skill, that means we can develop it. Any good skill comes with practice and effort. How many of us actually try to get better at dialogue?

I know that it took me a long time to learn how to listen to people. I still don’t do it very well. I am often too caught up in my own thoughts to truly listen. I sometime am thinking of what I want to say instead of actually listening to the other person. I sometimes monopolize the conversation. I sometimes come across as authoritative. I know that these things actually cut me off from connecting with other people.

The other interesting thing about this entry in my commonplace book is the author’s use of the word satisfaction. I know that happiness often comes down to family and friends. In this life, I don’t think there are two more important things. Yet he says that happiness comes from how we connect with other people. Which leads me to ask, what makes a friend a friend? Is it the way that we connect with them? Is that related to dialogue or is there a lot more going on? I don’t know. But in the meantime, I can be more aware of my skills in this area and try to improve them. After all, it couldn’t hurt.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fame is a Drug

“The fame is the worst drug known to man
it’s stronger than heroin
when you can look in the mirror, like there I am
and still not recognize what you’ve become
I know I’m guilty of it too
but not like them.”
- Jay-Z “Lost One” from the album “Kingdom Come”

I really like this song. It has a great message to it. It is very well written and performed. I could have quoted much more of the song. I probably will quote some more of it here in the future.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

How Was School?

“My parents keep asking how school was. It's like saying, "How was that drive-by shooting?" You don't care how it was, you're lucky to get out alive.”

In My So-Called Life, Angela is a teenager girl who makes some great observations about life. She makes this observation in a voiceover at the dinner table.

Monday, February 25, 2008

No Need for Credit

“There’s almost no limit to the amount of good someone can do if he doesn’t care who gets the credit.” - Quiet Thoughts from Leader Magazine

Leader Magazine is a publication that Scouts Canada puts out. My dad used to be a Scout Leader and would clip articles and sayings. This is just one of a few in my collection now. I’m not sure who wrote this one. It’s still a great quotation even if I can credit it to anyone. That strange fact kind of reinforces the quotation all the more.

Happy Monday Everyone!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bias Against Print

“In cold print” is a phrase vividly summing up the distortion inherent in bookish contact with another human consciousness, but compared with the involving, immediate experience that is true personal contact, “in cold TV” and “in cold telephone” are apt phrases. As McLuhan pointed out, Aquinas applauded Christ’s oral teachings because it functioned solely on a person-to-person level, and disapproved attempting to teach through books alone. Would Aquinas or any other oral man praise teaching through TV and computer print out?” - Duffy, Dennis. Canadian Writes: A Subseries: Marshall McLuhan. McClelland and Stewart Limited: Toronto, 1967 pg 36

Yesterday’s post dealt with the telepathy between an author and a reader. I think that the way thoughts are transmitted over time and space from the author to the reader is nothing short of magic.

The above quotation illustrates a bias against print that many people seem to perpetuate. I don’t know why this bias continues to run rampant. Contact is made with another mind through books in a way that really isn’t comparable to anything else.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Writing is Telepathy

Stephen King talks about the relationship between an author and a reader.

“We’ve engaged in an act of telepathy.” - King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Scribiner: New York, 2000. pg 106

This is an amazing book that I think is a must read for all writers. Stephen King has a great story to tell. The book is part memoir, part autobiography. I really like his way of describing the relationship between author and reader.

The writer writes something from his imagination and then years later across different cities or countries, the reader picks up the message clearly, visually, and understands. That is telepathy in action. It is a magic that only the printed word can give us. The thoughts are transmitted from one brain to another.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sink into the Paper

“I start to think and then I sink
Into the paper like I was ink
When I'm writing, I'm trapped in between the lines,
I escape when I finish the rhyme.”
- Eric B and Rakim “I Know I Got Soul”

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I Need You

Andy Brown, a single father talks to his teenage son. This is a heartfelt speech that really was something to see on the show. Andy has two kids, Ephram and Delia and is trying to raise them the best he can after the death of their mother.

“I get angry at myself because I can't seem to make you understand how much I need you. You know when your mom died, a thousand people said a thousand stupid things and I, I just wanted one of them to give me a reason not to die. One night we were sitting there, trying to eat, and you just said, "Everything's gonna be OK". That was the first night I slept.

You're the only one who can tell me everything's gonna be OK and I believe it. I don't know why you're that person for me and I don't know why we don't treat each other better, but at least now you know. I wish I could be the same for you. Instead, you're miserable here, which is my fault and if you go back to New York that'll probably change. You'll probably be happier. I meant that. But I don't care. I want you to stay. I need you to stay. Not just for Delia, but for me. You know, your grandfather thinks I'm only half a person. And if you leave, he'll be right.”

- Everwood, transcribed from an episode

Monday, February 18, 2008

Games Teach

About “This Little Piggy”

“This is played on five toes with a tickle at the end for the noisy pig. Parents who play games like this with their children are conveying several important messages:

1. I choose to spend time playing with you.
2. I like your toes.
3. Toes can be pigs (metaphor).
4. Language can be fun, play.
5. Stories can be physically felt.
6. I am sharing a tradition of literature with you.
7. I enjoy your pleasure.
8. I respect your intelligence.
9. I like to be a baby too.
10. I like to say poems.”

- Gold, Joseph. Read For Your Life: Literature as a Life Support System. Fitzhenry and Whiteside: Markham, 1990. pg 154

Isn’t it amazing all the things that a little finger play with a baby can accomplish? I think that one of the most important things that any parent can spend on their child is time. This passage just goes to show that the little things in life can carry a lot of meaning and importance.

Happy Monday Everyone!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Dialogue as Thought Process

“I have to engage in endless dialogue before I write,” McLuhan explains, “I want to talk a subject over and over … I do a lot of my serious work while I’m talking out loud to people. I’m feeling around, not making pronouncements. Most people use speech as a result of thought, but I use it as the process.” - Fitzgerald, Judith. Marshall McLuhan: Wise Guy. XYZ Publishing: Montreal, 2001. pg 58-59.

I like to talk over story ideas too. I find my best ideas actually come through in conversations. I don’t know why this is, but it does seem to be the case. When I read this quote, I knew that I wasn’t alone in this.

I have solved problems in my class by talking. I have come up with lesson plan ideas through speech. I have come up with behaviour management techniques, routines, and countless other useful things through the process of speech.

I have actually been thinking about starting a writer’s group to this end. I have heard about groups that meet over the telephone on conference calls. It’s an interesting idea that I will need to explore so more.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Win-Win Situations

“Is it logical that two people can disagree and that both can be right? It’s not logical; it’s psychological. And it’s very real. And unless we value the differences in our perceptions, unless we value each other and give credence to the possibility that we’re both right, that life is not always a dichotomous either/or, that there are always third alternatives, we will never be able to transcend the limits of conditioning.” - Barton, Bruce. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Calendar.

I believe in the win-win situation. I think any agreement can be worked out so that both parties can get what they want and feel good about it. Of course, this does take work. We need to realize the other point of view and value it. We need to think, and look for, the win-win situation in our daily lives.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Love for My Foes

“Let me get this off the brain
I got love for some things that I never thought could happen
but anything can change
I got love for my people and everyone one of my foes
and anyone in this game who keeps me fresh on my toes.”
- Classified “Got Luv” from the album “Trial And Error”

This is a great quote from a Canadian rapper. It reminds us how the trial and tribulations of our life help make us become the people that we are. You don’t normally hear a rapper showing any love for his foes. It’s a great line and gives us all something to think about.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Beautiful Death Scene

This is a beautiful death scene. I love the shared dialogue. Spock is trapped inside an engine room. He and Kirk are separated by thick plastic walls.

Kirk, “Spock.”
Spock, “Ship... out of danger?”
Kirk, “Yes.”
Spock, “Don't grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh...”
Kirk, “...the needs of the few.”
Spock, “...Or the one. I never took the Kobayashi Maru test until now. What do you think of my solution?”
Kirk, “Spock...“
Spock, “I have been and always shall be your friend.
[Holds up his hand in the Vulcan salute] Live long and prosper.”
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

The Kobayashi Maru Test is a role-playing game that Captains in Starfleet need to go through in order to achieve their rank. The test presents a no-win situation and is meant to show captains that difficult decisions need to be made and sometimes life gives you a no-win situation.

Only one person in the entire history of Starfleet has ever beaten the odds and passed the test. Kirk reprogrammed the computers so that he would be able to make a decision where the ship did not get obliterated during the demonstration. When asked about cheating, Kirk simply states that he doesn’t believe in the no-win situation. Neither do I. This back-story makes the above exchange even more meaningful.

Monday, February 11, 2008

It Can Be Avoided

“Believing themselves to be helpless, people will endure suffering that could in fact be avoided or stopped by appropriate action.” - Gold, Joseph. Read For Your Life: Literature as a Life Support System. Fitzhenry and Whiteside: Markham, 1990. pg 136

We have the power in any situation to do one of three things. We can,

1) accept the situation
2) try to change it or
3) run away.

We always have these three choices in any situation. Sometime we might not even consider any of these choices, yet they are always there. We are not helpless and have the power in our daily lives to overcome many things.

Read Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now for even more ideas on how to live in the present moment.

Friday, February 8, 2008

People Don't Know

“Joseph Campbell, the scholar of mythology, once complained that people don’t know what a metaphor is so, for these people, a myth is a lie.” - Crumb, R. & Peter Poplaski. The R. Crumb Handbook. MQ Publications Ltd: London, 2005 pg 260

I think this might be why organized religion seems to be going through a crisis as of late. Mythical stories are easy to openly challenge. In our scientific world we can disprove some of the religious writings that we have relied on for our spiritual existence for so long. But if we step back and realize the importance of myths, then maybe we can see the truth in the metaphor.

I remember hearing a minister say that we are not meant to understand the holy trinity of Christian faith. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit being one is deliberately confusing to remind us that we can never truly understand God. And maybe we can never fully reach a clear understanding of the world either. At least, we will always have metaphor.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Clever Sayings Made by One Man

“. . . a Mondo 2000 scribe marvelled that “reading McLuhan is like reading Shakespeare – you keep stumbling on phrases that you thought were clichés, only this guy made them up!”

Here are some of the phrases that McLuhan coined that have become clichés;

“Some people use statistics as a drunk uses a lamppost – for support rather than illumination.
A man all wrapped up in himself makes a small package.
Many a good argument is ruined by some fool who knows what he is talking about.
The short cut is the long way around.
The future is not what it used to be; neither is the past.
The trouble with a cheap specialized education is that you never stop paying for it.
Diaper backwards spells repaid. Think about it.
Only puny secrets need protection. Big discoveries are protected by public incredulity.
History can be changed.
Art is what you can get away with.
Give more credit than you take.
Communication is what people with nothing to say do to people who won’t listen.
You don’t like these ideas? I got others!”
- Fitzgerald, Judith. Marshall McLuhan: Wise Guy. XYZ Publishing: Montreal, 2001. pg 89-90

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Never Follow

“I am recognizing
that the voice inside my head
is urging me to be myself
and never follow someone else”
- A Tribe Called Quest “Steve Biko” from the album “Midnight Marauders

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Think About It All the Time

This is transcribed from an episode. Angela is speaking to her neighbour. Neither of them had been in a serious relationship before. They are young teenagers. This was a great exchange between the characters.

[about sex]
Angela “I mean, I think about it... all the time, but...”
Brian “Wait, you think about it all the time?”
Angela, “Brian! Yes! Shut up... guys don't have a monopoly on thinking about it.”
Brian, “They don't? “
Angela, “No!”

Monday, February 4, 2008

Think and Then Do

“Every time you put across a new idea, you’ll find ten people who thought of it before you – but they only thought of it.” - Scouting in New South Wales

I found this quotation clipped from the pages of Leader magazine. I’m not sure what issue or year, it was published. My dad clipped a bunch of articles from this magazine during his time as a Scout Leader. I enjoyed reading the inspirational quotes and when I found a few of the clippings a few years back, I knew I had to add them to my commonplace book.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Science is Story

“Luria thought a science of this kind would be best introduced by a story – a detailed case-history.” - Oliver Sacks. The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and Other Clinical Tales. Summit: New York, 1985. pg 5

I always thought that the humanities had a lot to say about the nature of reality. I have always been an admirer of good stories. I love literature. I loved studying books in class and writing essays. I don’t know a lot of people who actually like writing essays in university but I loved it. It was actually a bit of a loss when I no longer had to write them. I found that I missed it.

Analyzing stories was something that I had done for almost my entire school career. But now that I had my degree, I no longer needed to do this. It didn’t seem to sit right with me. That was when I realized that story is everywhere. It isn’t just in books. Everything tells a story, even science. This quotation helped me to finally understand what science is, and it started my collection of story quotables. There will be a lot more to follow.