Every now and again, someone adds a concept to the human meme-pool1. Many of these were first postulated in scientific works, but some spring from works of fiction.
Here we look at what these concepts say about the thoughts of the authors and the times in which they were formulated. If we focus on the 19th and 20th Centuries, we discover several distinct themes. These concern society as a whole, individual human behaviour, and what one might call visions of the future. The concepts these individuals created or named are mostly very bleak, concerning the crushing of the individual, the shadow-side of humanity, and the unreliability of progress2.
Sarah McElrath's insight:
Interesting. Wonder what themes today's fiction would show? The breakdown of society?
"As children, fear is a natural part of our lives, but as adults we view fear as a disease. It’s not a disease." - Psychologist Robert Maurer //
“Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.” James Thurber //
Ben Stiller stars in and directs a movie version of Thurber’s famous story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and comments, “At a certain point, you want to be taking chances. That’s when you’re having the most vital experiences.”
Not so long ago, Reddit users gathered around a digital fire to tell horror stories using only two sentences. The experiment demonstrated that the power of suggestion is infinitely more powerful than the explicitness of modern Hollywood gore.
There's plenty of hand-wringing over how technology is affecting communication, but an illuminating article by Clive Thompson argues that technology may be doing more to increase literacy and encourage reading since the rise of the novel.
"As presenters we want people to pay attention, be engaged and remember the message. The key to doing that? Science now says it involves storytelling: Stories stimulate emotions, which may be the key to better learning, attention, memory and decision making.
"When we listen to stories, more of the brain lights up, according to Annie Murphy Paul, author of “Brilliant: The New Science of Smart.” Stories cause your neurons to fire the same way they would if you were doing the actual action talked about. For example, if you were listening to someone talk about kicking a ball, the motor part of the brain that would help you kick a ball in real life lights up."
A good story does have to abide by certain rules and these rules are learned through practice. Andrew Stanton, the Pixar writer and director behind both Toy Story and WALL-E, talks some of these rules in his popular TED Talk, The clues to a great story.
After much consideration, you’ve decided to take the plunge and develop your online presence with a shiny new author website. Now comes the important part— making sure your site is well designed. You want the style and function of your author website to turn curious visitors into dedicated fans. To capture the interest of even your most casual reader, here are five must-have design essentials for your website:
Figment is a community where you can share your writing, connect with other readers, and discover new stories and authors. Whatever you're into, from sonnets to mysteries, from sci-fi stories to cell phone novels, you can find it all here.
Sarah McElrath's insight:
Just purchased by Random House. Great site for teen writers and readers. Educators can sign up for a free account -- see the educators link at bottom of page.
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