Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Playing With the Concept of Time

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I’ve recently been thinking a bit about the idea of time and trying to imagine a world where it’s not linear (if you ever wondered where writers get their ideas, it’s because they spend their time thinking about this kind of nonsense). So, what might that world look like?

Let’s start with the assumption that linear time is a construct adopted because we live on this earth for a finite period and then die. In other words, it fits the paradigm of birth, life, and death. Seems logical, no?

But what if we took the constraints of a finite life span out of the equation? What if we lived forever? What if everything has already happened? If there was no linear time, what if everything was/is happening all at once? (You can see that tense no longer seems relevant—or, rather, it’s only relevant to whatever one is experiencing at this moment).

Now, if everything is happening all at once, perhaps we could simply choose where we want to exist on this spectrum at any given moment? But if the future has already happened, there can’t be free will, can there? That’s no fun…

Wait a minute: What if the past is fixed (we can’t go back and change what’s already happened), and in the present, we get to make choices as to how we move forward? Wouldn’t that mean that the future (based on wherever we are at the moment) might exist as an infinite number of permutations—after all, every possible outcome has already occurred—so the real future is still (somewhat) under our control?

Ok, my head is starting to hurt, so I’m shutting this down and going to the gym.

See what writers do?

Training Data (Part 1)

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AI LLMs (large language models), generate their responses to prompts (questions) based on the data they’re trained on. So, their accuracy depends on the veracity of the information they’ve “read.”

Major newspapers like The New York Times have sued Open AI for using their reporting as part of their chat bots training set.

See the problem here? The Times reportage, while not perfect, has at least been researched and vetted by fact-checkers. Taking that out of the AI’s training set can’t be good for the systems accuracy…

George Miller on Story

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”Storytelling is the well-orchestrated withholding of information. It goes back to: What does the audience need to know, and when does it need to know it?”

– George Miller on “Furiosa”

Preparation

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”I remember going back to Hitchcock, who storyboarded his movies. He would say that, by the time you start shooting, all the work has been done. All the rest is execution. You try to get to that point, but of course it never happens. When you’re finally shooting, you get reality checks, and then when you get to the cutting room it’s even more brutal. You have to confront your failures. But you should go into the shoot thinking you’ve licked almost every problem.”

– George Miller, on shooting “Furiosa”

Stasis=Death

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Ok, that might be a little strong, but not by too much. Recovering from an injury here, a state of affairs I’m all too familiar with.

Resting injuries is a therapeutic part of the process, yet paradoxically, movement of the affected area is also critical. As soon as possible. This is to maintain flexibility, increase blood flow, and prevent scar tissue.

The process is not intuitive, even for people experienced with exercise. Re-injury in this phase is all too common with fit individuals.

Time for PT. It’s important to acknowledge one’s limitations.

Not exercising is not an option.

What Makes You Feel Whole?

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You know—what’s the thing that, if you don’t do it, you start to feel antsy?

Make sure you do that. Preferably every day.

And while you’re at it, don’t monetize it. Yeah, that’s right. Asking for the thing you do to feel whole to make you money doesn’t seem realistic. I’m not even sure it makes sense. We just established you need to do this thing, right? So why not just enjoy it?

Isn’t that enough?

Why ruin your love for something that makes your life whole by putting a monetary value to it? It’s like saying “If the person I love doesn’t make me money then the whole relationship is a failure.”

Sounds pretty fucking stupid to me.

Anthropological Authenticity

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”For any story to have any worth, there must be more to it than meets the eye, there has to be a lot of iceberg under the tip. There is a kind of anthropological authenticity that we work really hard to get in there. Everything that is on the screen—not only the character but each piece of the wardrobe, each prop, each bit of language—has to have a backstory. The guy who plays the guitar—I can tell you who his mother was, how he survived the apocalypse and came to work in the service of the Immortan Joe. I can tell you where his guitar came from; it’s made of a hospital bedpan. And everything has to be multipurpose if it is to survive, so the guitar is also a flamethrower.”

– George Miller

News Flash (Part 2)

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Human history is filled with impressive, undeniable achievements. But there is a dark side to our nature. The existential threat we represent not only to ourselves but to the planet itself only grows as we continue to evolve. For a heart-stopping reminder, see investigative journalist and 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist Annie Jacobson’s book “Nuclear War: A Scenario.” Hint: Get a prescription for Ambien before reading if you ever want to sleep again.

When asked for possible explanations for why the SETI project has failed to turn up any signs of intelligent life, I remember reading a quote—I believe from MIT professor Max Tegmark’s book on AI—that goes something like this: “It’s possible that the nature of intelligent life is to destroy itself…”

So, I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s at least pondered the idea that AGI may actually SAVE humanity, not destroy it.

We’re more than capable of handling the destruction part on our own.

What To Shoot For

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“I can’t believe they just said what I’ve thought in my deepest thoughts but never articulated.” — Anna Stein, literary agent.

All I can say is that if I read the first few pages of a novel and think, “Jesus Christ! Who the fuck is this person? Why are they letting me read this?” then that person is onto something. — Peter Steinberg, literary agent.

Duly noted.

Great Cliche

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Comedy equals tragedy plus time.

Yeah, that sounds about right. And probably a good sign that you’ve processed your trauma and moved on.

It’s all gonna be okay.

First Query Response

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“I’ve read 15 pages.
You are a very good writer.
Tell me more about you.”

Whatever else happens, I can always look back at this to revive me after getting knocked down.

Now, back to work!

Non-Linear Storytelling

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There are lots of great examples of this in film: Christopher Nolan’s unfolding of the narrative in reverse in “Memento,” Quentin Tarantino’s interrelated three-story structure that all comes together in the end with “Pulp Fiction,” and Tom Tykwer’s use of the same story being told in three different timelines, each with different outcomes, in “Run Lola, Run,” his kinetic thriller from 1999.

Tykwer wrote the screenplay for his film, and its conceit is provocative: the protagonist, Lola, has 20 minutes to save her boyfriend from murder. She must reach him by running through the streets of Berlin; without spoiling it, I’ll just say that her journey explores how seemingly tiny decisions can lead to drastically different outcomes.

In all cases, telling the tale in a non-linear fashion enhances the story itself. No small trick, but when done right, it packs quite a punch.

Grinding It Out

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The process of putting your art out in the world is a long-game endeavor, like walking across the country. One foot in front of the other.

Rejection is the norm. Over time, the question becomes: How does one keep from being crushed by the world’s indifference?

Here’s the answer: By believing in the worth of what you are doing and continually working to become better.

Of course, the process of creating is its own reward, but you already knew that.