The Soul in the Search #1 – Sun 20th Jan, 2019 (Super Wolf Blood Moon) #soulitsearch

“Soul in the Search” is a shared reflection on your recent browser history!

[Expectation management note: this one isn’t funny! I’m getting a feel for the vulnerability format first. :)]

Gosh. Well here we go! First up, why do this?

RATIONALE

I created this system to answer a few needs. One lesson I have learnt regarding design, is that broad-spectrum or multi-function solutions are the most effective. It takes longer to figure out how all of them can be satisfied, but honouring the complexity of a situation facilitates resonance. What are the needs?

  • I want to reveal more about the challenges I face; but I often find social media to be inappropriate. For instance, I recover from obstacles and upsets pretty quickly. It may be minutes, or hours. But I process them pretty quickly. This is a capacity I have developed over time. I have seen this described as “Positive Intelligence” — which refers to “the percentage of time your mind is serving you as opposed to sabotaging you”. It makes it weird for me when advice keeps coming in, as if I’m in the same place. So I want something that shares glimpses of the processing, so the emphasis is on how one faces challenges rather than what the challenge is.
  • I want to share more about the wonderful things I read, watch, listen to, and play. It would be too time consuming to share everything, but I want to find a way to do this that gives an insight into how I’m experiencing the work. Once again, in social media I retweet and share a lot of wonderful things other people have posted, but not always what I have discovered. There are a few reasons for this. The research I undertake is often drawn on by colleagues who do not return the gesture. For instance, I have seen many PhDs or academic articles, or industry articles and so on, that are citing a collection of items from my work but rarely cite me. There isn’t a good system for recognising the work that goes into someone’s bibliography, but for me it comes down to balancing the influence by at least quoting the person. And if there is some nincompoop out there who thinks “how can she know the sources are from her?”: it is obvious. I have an eclectic mix, and they often don’t have hardly any other references. I’ll confess something here. I noticed this was happening over a decade ago with my blog, when a few crossmedia/transmedia books came out. I started posted red herrings to catch them out for myself, and I did. If you think this means I don’t want to share what I discover, then you’re not familiar with my work. I cite so many people in my work. It is more important to me that I recognise the work others have done, than to come across as being a sole expert. I want to honour the work of others, even if they’re not “popular”. And who is popular is often a male. The routine erasure of marginalised folk renders the sharing of ideas a maintenance game. The other issue I find is that I want to hold off until I’ve formulated my ideas. I think “oh I’ll wait until I can explain how x, y, and z form together”. This takes too long.
  • I want to share a mix of my inner and outer life. I don’t want to just write about what I’m thinking. I want to share what I’m discovering out in the world, and how the world is impacting me.
  • I want to share and reflect on the progress on my projects. But I don’t want to have to do substantial posts. While the process of sharing and reflecting is beneficial, if I do it in the form of a longer post then it takes too long.
  • I want to share a range of things I’m exploring. I don’t want to just post about one thing, but many. The combination of all our interests and activities are what is more truthful and alluring I think.
  • I want to share what is feeding me at the moment, not just what everyone else is sharing. Since I’m in the habit of sharing what others have posted, this misleads what is actually happening. I don’t just take inspiration from what is happening out in the world, I am driving internally to seek things. It is important to share the things that are driving us personally, rather than perpetuate a loop of other.
  • I know the power of reflection, and shared reflections that are designed to give value to others. They help ground insights, and encourage a culture of growth.
  • I need a dynamic that gets me sharing on a regular basis, but in a way that maintains the complexity of all of ourselves.
  • I want to encourage sharing of my vulnerabilities, the things I don’t usually share for various reasons. This is to get continue my deliberate practice of revealing parts that I have hidden. It is such a relief when they’re out in the open, and I want a system to facilitates that.
  • There are other reasons I can’t remember right now. I’ll update as I think of them.

So my solution to these issues is to come up with the “Soul in the Search”. Using my recent browser history as a constraint, I’ll share a sampling of what I’ve been looking at and why. There is no way to include everything I have looked at, and so there will be a selection process. But both you and I can tell when the overall shares maintain a conventional public self. I’ll aim to do this weekly (for 3 months), each Sunday, so I don’t make it a long post and I get to release the things I’ve found and done!

So here goes!!!! 8o


Soul in the Search – Sun 20th Jun, 2019:

  • Society for Artistic Research: Henk Borgdorff – I was researching Borgdorff because I’m dealing with the frustrating situation of a department that doesn’t respect or understand creative practice as research. I knew there would be a pushback as soon as I left the overseeing committee, as they didn’t bother to replace me with another artistic researcher. It is so frustrating dealing with people who don’t listen when you tell them about the short and medium-term effects of their actions. They think it is magic or foolish projection, as opposed to DESIGN. I remember seeing this great approach to explaining it in an article I cannot recall right now. It had a table. Across the columns were the headers (wording from memory): “The Problem You’re Addressing, The Action You’re Taking, The Intended Effects of The Action, The Actual Effects of the Action.” In other words, you think you’re doing THIS, but you’re actually doing THAT. Anyway, with the problem I’m facing right now regarding the pushback against creative practice at the postgrad level: Borgdorff’s popular definition of “artistic research” is a good one that honours the interests of both practice and research. In particular, this criteria stuck out to me: “Art practice qualifies as research [when it] begins with questions that are pertinent to the research context and the art world.” Now a qualifier for me is that the project doesn’t begin with a shared question. A project can have spark from any number of origin points (research or practice-inspired). But what brings them together is a question(s) that is pertinent to both worlds. This resonates with what I do. The thing that takes time if the project began in practice, is choosing what research field/theory to use as the question. I’m interdisciplinary both in practice and research, and so the range of possible angles is numerous. It takes me a while to choose which avenue to take.
  • I Ching – Wikipedia – This was the end of process to answer a personal question I had about dealing with some work inquiries that were coming in. I spent the last six months of last year saying yes to every (paid) job that came my way. I was very busy, but I loved being so open and positive to what the world was offering me. The big con of that was the less time I had to work on my two (own) studio projects: my book & my boardgame. So when new (unpaid) inquiries started coming in for the new year, I would vet them and decide whether to go ahead with them or not. I chose not to, but I wasn’t happy with my reasoning. It is easier for me to block or push away, as this is a habit I’ve developed (it has served me well in the past). But I didn’t feel it was working anymore. So I posted in twitter, and I got some feedback in a closed group I’m in. Both sources were helpful, but because I wasn’t able to provide all the information the advice was based on a small snippet of detail. I needed to go inside myself to find the real answer. So I tried a Rune. That worked somewhat, but didn’t really cut it. The the following day I felt drawn to the I Ching. Now THAT ended up being exactly what I needed. I figured out what I need to do, which I’ll share with you: I needed to widen the strategies I use to deal with problematic clients. I wrote down guidelines for these. This was great. I’ll make a note here for those unfamiliar or biased against oracle tools. I grew up with these around me all the time. I tried to figure out how they were working. The thing I came to in primary school was this: they are tools to access your inner guidance. They don’t give you the answers. They’re oblique on purpose. Instead, they can sometimes be like a group of mates offering ideas. It may not be the ideas they’re offering that work, but what further idea you come up with in response. Divinity tools do many things, but this is one of the most powerful I find. A reflecting mirror to my wise unconscious. On top of this I also realised the I Ching system may be the answer to the game design problem I have been dealing with! I’m trying to get a sweet spot of design where improvised storytelling can have a feedback loop that doesn’t quash openness and play, and also doesn’t go the other extreme of just being arbitrary/chance. I have been exploring the Fate Dice system, after a colleague recommended it in my last run of DIYSPY playtests. But then with the I Ching, I realised I could transpose the variables from the dice to the choices the player makes through the game. These combine to produce an outcome. This is most likely too oblique here, but I’m talking about using the I Ching system of combining dashes and dots to form a hexagon symbol (an outcome) — just like the way the Fate Dice operate with their ++s and –s. I was looking at the wikipedia page for a quick look at the calculations. Then I thought about another oracle tool I have. That one is about choosing a personally resonant symbol. I am thinking of combining the two.
  • Ep 43 – Infirmary – I finally got around to listening to the podcast about an immersive experience by Triage Live Art Collective I went to in November. I loved the experience. It wasn’t a worldview shift for me, because I have been interrogating death for a while (in particular after my mum died). I previously wrote a pre-mortem/soul review for taking advantage of the insights when we gain when I fully comprehend we’re going to die. But I still totally loved the experience. It was beautiful and so well crafted. One of the best I have been to in many years. I also loved the podcast, which gave a first-person insight into the immersive experience. This is all part of my research into projects and commentary around creative works that facilitate transformation.
  • Lab of Misfits – Experiential Experiments – I received info about this in an email, and it looks juicy. The results were actually released mid last year but I didn’t come across them. It was an experiment with participants at Cirque du Soleil. They studied the experience of “awe” and found things such as it increases “prosocial” behaviour. In my work on the promises and drives to creative works, I have invoked “awe” as the core experiential principle behind “spectacle”. This research helps nuance why spectacle (some special effects) don’t always work, and what it does when it does (and so when to utilise it).
  • Ep 25 – “The Secrets of Writing” from 24 Industry Professionals for Star Wars, Marvel, Netflix, etc – I am settled in my new home in Melb. I am very happy here, and have set up a writing-friendly home. Every morning I get up and do a shared online meditation in a closed facebook group, then I have brekky and ride to the gym to do a class, and then I return to do writing. After that I get to client work. I love this morning system. I had some days where I didn’t get straight into my writing, and so to get me into the zone I love listening to podcasts by writers for writers. I have just recently come across this podcast series, and loved this episode. Lots of juicy advice that had me nodding along.
  • Playing toward partially pre-established outcomes – Story Games – I was researching what players and designers have come up with to deal with the design problem of facilitating emergent storytelling whilst also having outcomes, and came across this forum. I don’t recall seeing this before, and spent hours reading through the discussions. Some really helpful threads in there.
  • 4 Key Stages Of Healing After Narcissistic Abuse | Melanie Tonia Evans – I have been following Evans for a few years now, every since I realised I had just left a relationship with a partner who had malignant narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). The real mind fuck was when I realised almost all my long term relationships were with partners who had this personality disorder. People who are unfamiliar with it, don’t understand how one can know if their partner has it. People who have lived with them intimately, know. The biggest thing I have done through that process of discovery was spend time working on myself. I definitely researched everything there was about the disorder (after researching every other one before getting to this one). If my partner had not told me that he was (incorrectly) bi-polar, I never would have gone down the route of investigating psychological health. Up until then I naively thought that people were pretty much what they said they were. That people could lie sometimes, but not all the time. And that nasty people are recognisably cruel, and charming and clever people are just as they present. So long story short, for the last few years I have been working on myself. I started off researching NPD, and then focused on myself. I also developed the ability to identify a person with NPD (and over time, sociopaths, and also people that are just stubbornly jerks). I recently shared in a closed group a link to Evans’ book, as I wanted to share the wonderful gifts she has given me. In my short post, I also boasted that I could identify a person with NPD from afar. This ended up attracting criticism from two people (one I have a past with, and another a stranger). Their criticism was that I was engaging in “armchair diagnosis” and that it isn’t possible to be able identify someone with NPD. The thing that concerned me about that situation was the harm that it would do to the women-identifying people in the group who need to be able to recognise this if it is happening. The suggestions were to get the partner to a therapist, but that will never happen with someone with NPD. You of course go to a therapist yourself, but getting the partner involved in another thing. I think part of the problem is people are presuming a lot about what you’re doing with this “armchair diagnosis”. I don’t tell other people (EDIT: I did post about Trump being a malignant NPD when he ran his campaign). I would like to warn others! I know the pain they will go through with them. I don’t wish it on anyone. But I have been warned myself, and didn’t listen. I think part of the issue when you’re attracted to someone with NPD, is that we don’t care if they’ve got a disorder because we’re tough and can deal with anything and we’re special. We also completely underestimate what is happening and what will happen. It gets progressively worse, to killing you if you don’t get out. So I’m currently thinking about what a better warning than “he is dangerous” may be — it has to do with the need to get to their true self (as that is the great gift you can gain from coming through the NPD abuse experience). When I recognise a colleague fitting the traits, I still have meetings with them. I still interact in social media. But I don’t take on any direct collaborations. So it isn’t as if recognising the traits means you then defame them. Anyway, to get back to this particular blog post. I realised with Evans’ recent posts how recognising a narcissist doesn’t actually help you in the end. At the beginning it is necessary crutch, because it enables you to see their games and not be taken in by them. But over time, you develop the ability to not be affected by them. This is because you have a strong sense of yourself. I am not completely at the point where I am immune to pathological behaviours, but I am certainly down the road. As Evans talks about, you have know who you are and live your life. You have to be your true self to be immune to their manipulations. My surviving (indeed thriving) has been one reason why I have been searching my soul. So in the future I won’t mention the identification traits to general readers. It is a complex issue that can do more harm than good for all sides of the story. Instead, I’ll skip that and continue sharing the emphasis on the inner work. Here are some of things I have observed in myself, that mean NPDs (and any abusive relationships) rarely work on me anymore:

(1) Before I used to think that “being in love/staying in love” was the most important thing. More important than my own happiness. I thought I would become happy if I learnt what love had to show me. I guess I associated love with pain. Now I’m fine with walking away from what seems like a “great love” if it doesn’t feel right. 

(2) Now it doesn’t matter if the other person doesn’t see the harm they’re doing. I don’t need them to agree or see, I trust my own responses and feelings.

(3) I am also not interested in trying to change them, to make them understand. If they don’t see the harm, I walk. 

(4) I notice red flags or anomalies for what they are. In the past I would come up with justifications for them (they’re insecure, they’re naive, I don’t understand them, etc), now they go in the “behaviours to be understood” box. I don’t smooth them over for them, or deny they exist. They’re open questions to be resolved with further information.


Well, this has taken a bit too long to be a weekly thing! So I’ll stop now and must go shorter next week. But you get the idea!

I wonder what your response to this is — to what I’ve linked to, my narrations, or the “soul in the search” system? And if you feel like doing your own, go for it!!! Let me know, and also share any system tweaks too!