Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Worldbuilding From Reality Part 7 - The Cord That Binds Our Hearts in Love

Worldbuilding From Reality
Part 7
The Cord That Binds Our Hearts in Love
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Here are previous posts in this series:


Part 5 is the "Realistic Happily Ever After" post from November 2016.

Part 4 - Creating a Story Canvas

Part 3 Creating Future History

Part 2 Advertising Video Writing


The silken tie that binds our hearts in love is probably a fiber optic co-ax cable wrapped in serious insulation.

What do I mean by serious insulation?  And why do we need such a thing?

Love is intense, the vibration that carries the divine voice, or maybe the divine voice itself.  Remember the story of Mount Sinai where the Ten Commandments were spoken by the divine Voice and the hills danced, souls flew out of bodies, and senses were scrambled -- rivers flowed backwards.

Just consider what that imagery means.  What are those words trying to "depict" -- as we depict Romance wrapped in science?

Here is the series on Depiction:


And in the series on Theme-Symbolism Integration we examined the issue of "Why Do We Cry At Weddings?"


What happens inside you -- all the way from the purely animal body to the highest level of the divine soul -- when the tears just burst forth and flow down your cheeks?  Why is that effect so prevalent at weddings and when else in life is it common -- and why?  What exactly is happening in that moment?

We gave those questions microscopic examination and progressed to the use of symbolism.


So now let's glance back at everyday reality as a source of material your reader has in common with you -- the news headlines from which you rip your story.

As we are discussing Science Fiction Romance, the science of romance is a core source of story ideas.

The world you build around your characters has to include some real world science -- extrapolated just a bit, perhaps in defiance of a direction that the current science steadfastly endorses.

For example, a novel set in a Globally Warmed World - where everyone is fighting for their lives because of ocean rise and storms -- is not SCIENCE FICTION, but rather just science.  Science FICTION is produced by taking a theme such as A) aliens arrive and fix the climate for us (over our objections), or B) the science is all wrong and we're going into an ice age because of solar activity or C) the current science is correct but a genius arises who jiggers with the atmosphere (sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere) and for a while everything is fine -- except in the "now" of your story, his disastrous mistake is exposed.

And there are other possibilities -- but you get the idea. To write science fiction, you FICTIONALIZE the science.

Therefore, to write romance, you FICTIONALIZE the romance.

But to fictionalize, you must first grasp the real world version your reader lives with.

In our real world, it is very well accepted that the best, longest lasting and most inspiring marriages are based on trust.

Even when trust is betrayed a few times, the vast multitude of times it is faithfully upheld keeps a marriage together.

Over the last few years, lots of foundation grant money has been flowing into brain research - neuroscience.  So not only do we get an avalanche of papers in peer reviewed journals none of us read -- but they overflow into more widely distributed sources.

One such widely distributed source is the Harvard Business Review.

Yes, the Harvard Business Review published an article about LOVE CONQUERS ALL and the HAPPILY EVER AFTER -- though I seriously doubt anyone involved in the research or the publication had any idea at all what they actually said!  They thought they were writing about business.  I'm certain of that -- they really thought they were writing about corporate culture and business practices in managing employees.

Isn't it a marvelous world we live in?  They even illustrated the article with a LOVE CONQUERS ALL symbolism!

Here is the URL of the reality based article upon which you can easily build multiple fantasy worlds or fictionalized science based worlds for your characters to romp through.


The Neuroscience of Trust
Paul J. Zak

It says that employers are twisting themselves into knots to empower and challenge employees.

There are a number of wondrous fallacies embedded in the unconscious assumptions behind that opening sentence that are obvious to a science fiction writer and invisible to everyone else.  For example, nobody can "empower" someone else -- certainly not be "letting" somebody else do something!  If you "let" then you retain ALL the power, the power to set the agenda, to populate the dropdown from which the other must choose.  Employers and managers have to stop "letting" and start abolishing blocks.  Employees who are power-users will surge through the gap first chance they get (and terrify all the control freaks!).

Remember we discussed how a fiction writer can use fallacies in a sprawling discussion over many indexed topics.  Here are a few:

Theme-Plot-Character-Worldbuilding Integration  Part 6 Fallacy, Misnomer and the Contradiction

  Here is the Fallacy of Safety

Here is the fallacy of trust

Always be on the lookout for fallacies embedded in culture, language, and even science itself, because "love conquers all" is not just a big theme envelope, but an actual fact of reality that connects you to your reader.

So neuroscience has been studying the human brain (and brains of various creatures) to explain how and why we respond to other people (or not) as we do.

I'm sure there are many objectives behind this, but be aware of the giant amounts of money directed into this research by Foundations championing a wild variety of political causes including things like proving that God does not exist, that there is no such thing as a soul (therefore no soul mates), or that there are many handy ways to control the behavior of humans.  Most of their activity is charitable or academic, so they are tax exempt foundations that occasionally lobby for or against political causes.

The gigantic sums (billions of dollars) involved in non-profit foundations and corporations, and the huge amounts of grant money for special activities is really the tail that wags the political dog.  Use the mysteries of "follow the money" accounting as a plot device to bring your couple together -- for ideas, watch the TV Series SUITS.

Oddly, SUITS is a TV Series that comes up on #scifichat on Twitter on Fridays, and like BURN NOTICE has garnered a science fiction romance fan following.  Watch how SUITS plots turn on forensic accounting.

Also on #scifichat on Twitter, we have discussed, in connection with SUITS,  George Orwell's 1984.

1984 is a novel with a vision of a future written in 1948 that presented what humans of the 1940's would do with the technology we have today (drones with internet connected cameras, every computer in your house able to see and hear you at all times, phones that track your whereabouts).

The Surveillance state is a reality waiting to happen...
...and people will grab for it to feel safe from their neighbors who might turn into terrorists overnight.

Technology is both the enemy and the safety net.

Star Trek, in the 1960's discussed the dire threats of technology alongside the vast benefits -- a 3 year long contrast/compare essay on technological advancement.  Technology is just applied science -- commercialized uses for odd things discovered in laboratories.

Was George Orwell correct that the ability to spy on everyone would inevitably lead to government spying on everyone?

Why would anyone want to spy on someone else?

In a promising Romance, do the people spy on each other?  Well, in novels, yes -- if you are rich enough, you hire a private eye to do a background check on anyone approaching in a romance.  The rich don't stay rich by being stupid.

But where gold-digging is not the prevalent danger in a new relationship, do the really promising relationships proceed through spying on each other?  Sneaking into their phone, riffling through a pile of mail on the hall table, dropping into the place they say they work to see if they are really employed there, chatting up neighbors to see how well they care for their dogs?

Do we fact-check people we meet casually at parties before accepting a first date?

How distrustful of our information sources are we?  Yes, most of us have developed a distrust of commercial news sources, but has that distrust (yet) leaked into our everyday relationships?

According to this article in the Harvard Review, lots of money has gone into a study of business management practices and the results of TRUST in the workplace.

Alarmingly, a substantial fraction of the businesses the scientists studied do not exhibit trust to their employees.  Predictably, such businesses have a harder time holding onto good employees, and their productivity is not as high as businesses run on trust.  Thankfully, many businesses (largely tech related) do emphasize trust, assigning projects and encouraging creative problem solving.

Likewise in marriages, as we all know, good families run on trust, not fact-checking.

And likewise in Romances before marriage.  If you detect dis-trustfulness in someone you are dating, you generally consider dropping them, just as an untrusted employees starts cruising LinkedIn and Monster.com .

Trust is the bedrock of relationship.  It's not something that develops over time, but something that must be there right at the beginning.

Trust is the silken tie that binds, one of the fibers in the fiber-optic cable that carries the force of  Love to blast through any barrier and conquer any challenge.

Trust is only one of those fibers, but if it breaks the others will fray with time.

---------quote from Harvard Business Review article-----------

Leaders understand the stakes—at least in principle. In its 2016 global CEO survey, PwC reported that 55% of CEOs think that a lack of trust is a threat to their organization’s growth.

---------end quote---------

In previous posts on the Art of fiction writing, we discussed how the artist's eye finds symmetry that others don't see, and how the artist's job is to reveal the import of such symmetry to readers.


Here's an example of such a symmetry -- all the political polls show the country divided on most issues 44% to 44% with the rest vacillating in the middle.  The most solid consensus you see these days is about 52% agreeing on an issue -- 55% is overwhelming agreement.  (that has not been the case in about a century -- consensus should be way up in the 60-70% range).

Note how this scientific study of corporate culture's usage of TRUST comes up with a mere 55% see lack of trust as inhibiting growth  -- while the science reveals lack of trust definitely inhibits growth.

The article is about the research involving a chemical, oxytocin, which we produce naturally (as do rats) and is abundant when trust is in play, and brain studies trace this neural activity.  This chemical, administered to humans via a nasal spray, inclines humans to exhibit more trusting behavior.

In other words, people can be forced to behave "properly" by introduction of a chemical agent.  The article is about managing trust by having managers adopt 8 behaviors.  It is a 7 page article, summarizing work done between 2001 and 2016, and it is quite dense but readable.

Former Herman Miller CEO Max De Pree once said, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant.”

The experiments I have run strongly support this view. Ultimately, you cultivate trust by setting a clear direction, giving people what they need to see it through, and getting out of their way.

It’s not about being easy on your employees or expecting less from them. High-trust companies hold people accountable but without micromanaging them. They treat people like responsible adults.
---------end quote---------

That quote from Max De Pree struck me as the perfect description of what a science fiction romance WRITER must do.  The way we say "thank you" to our readers is to deliver a plausible Happily Ever After.

But how can readers accept the plausibility of the HEA in today's world where distrust is rising?

Our media is fostering distrust, and our government appears to now run on distrust, alternative facts, fantasy reality.  It may not be a recent development but just a surfacing of an attitude shift that has been brewing for a generation.

Government is the last place you'd expect a trend to show up.  Family, and romance, is the first place a trend originates.

The silken cord that binds our culture -- trust -- going to shreds indicates a shift in the marketability of the idea that you shouldn't date someone who distrusts you.  And that you shouldn't distrust someone you're dating.

That prevalence (44%) of distrust in personal relationships could account for the divorce rate or the "living together" but never marrying rate.  Check the current numbers.  How can you marry someone you distrust?

If our modern culture has drifted as far as it can go into dis-trustfulness (letting fact become a matter of opinion, and your facts are as good as mine), then the science fiction romance writer has an opportunity to depict a future the exact opposite of what George Orwell depicted in 1984 -- a tech-surveillance culture where trust reigns supreme.

In other words, a tech surveillance culture in which everything is recorded, but those records are accessed only when the subject of the record demands it.  Build a world around that theme.

People could come to TRUST that dash-cam video etc would remain private and personal unless the subject wants it put into public record.

For example, in a car accident that isn't your fault, you can demand access to video proving it is not your fault but if it is your fault you can prevent access to the video proving that you are guilty of (whatever).  So the two people (or A.I.'s driving the cars) would end up head-to-head in court arguing over access to private records.

What kind of world would that be?  Maybe one where you have to prove your innocence but nobody has to prove your guilt?  That would be a science fiction premise because, as noted above, to fictionalize science you adopt a thematic stance opposite to the accepted reality.

Today, we still subscribe to the concept that nobody has to prove innocence because it is impossible to prove a negative.  The burden of proof lies with the accuser (or the government) not the accused.  The accuser must prove you are guilty.

Today, headlines scream "alleged" this or "accuses" that or so-and-so is "being investigated for" whatever.  The mere whiff of an accusation or investigation is immediately treated in the text of the article as presumed-guilty.  Surely nobody would waste taxpayer money investigating someone who is not guilty of something!

But with universal surveillance (1984 ) it could be possible to prove innocence but impossible to prove guilt.  And of course, what about hackers tampering with the recording?  There is so much for Love to conquer in these possibilities.

That leap to guilty until proven innocent ( and it is up to the accused to prove innocence) is rooted in that 45% of the people living in a distrustful world that mysteriously and inexplicably does not "grow."

It is not the kind of thinking employed by the 55% cited in the Harvard Business Review article as thinking that distrust inhibits growth.

To thrive humans must trust.

How can we repair trust in our culture when sworn enemies publicly threaten to put an invading army on our shores buried amidst refugees whose plight melts our hearts in love and whom we trust would make good Americans?

Consider the Romances currently happening among those millions of non-combatants fleeing explosions and starvation.  Babies are being born among them.  What sort of love-life will such children have after spending their formative years amidst such a ravaged culture?  Will they be able to trust?

Waft your answer to that question into the Galactic setting, and build a world where non-humans respond differently to trust, but meet up with humans who do trust (with certain glaring exceptions, of course.)

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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