Hero under fire

Hello everyone, yes yes, I was away for a moment. Yes, I was busy with my “day job” as well as with work on what is now the fourth draft of my book.

During this time, I allowed myself the occasional stroll down Facebook lane and the corner of Twitter ave, just to check that the universe hasn’t in fact blown away in my absence. Good news everyone! The world is still there. At least to the best of my judgment.

Now, during one of these strolls I stumbled upon a post that was shared in a writers group in Facebook. The title itself caused the predicted knee jerk reaction. You know the one where you just HAVE to comment on the post. But since I have matured somewhat in recent years and learned to count to ten, I bravely fought that instinct and held my tongue until I had the time to… you know… actually read the post.

By the way, the post in question was titled – Eight Reasons Why The Hero’s Journey Sucks (Link at the bottom of the post – please visit and read).

Hence the title.

Since I’m not one to just bash anyone’s opinion I decided to take the time and respond to that post right here, with some depth, rather than whatever thought I could’ve half-assedly compiled in a distracted Facebook comment.

Ok, let’s dive in to a journey, eight points long to see if we can help our hero (Not that our hero is really being attacked, mind you – nor does our hero need my defense):

*Disclaimer: I will do my absolute best to speak to the topic, not at the author (though will make reference to quotes from the author for… well… reference). None of that is meant personally obviously. The writer wanted to spark debate and I’m only too happy to jump in.

  • It’s a formula – Well, no argument here. Since Campbell looked for similarities, it makes perfect sense that at the end somewhat of a formula would evolve. Now it’s easy to take George Lucas as the example and dub the use of this formula “lazy”, though I’d argue with anyone that Star Wars holds some aspects that are nothing short of genius, with depth that rivals any masterpiece both ancient as well as contemporary. Why not take other writers’ adherence to this formula as an example? whether by choice or by default? The simple truth it, it works. It works very well. And really, I can put many things into formulas, including love life, painting, mix martial arts. Which leads me to…
  • It discourages originality – I beg to differ. I don’t call Star Wars mythic because it’s about a hero who’s singled out – as the original post accuses – again, not every story written based on Campbell’s hero’s journey is Star Wars. Some are quite different. Some are considered – with pretty good reason – classics. Some (Lord of the Rings for example) are super original. Moreover, in quite a few of them our hero is definitely NOT singled out. He or she (we’ll get back to that one shortly) might be accidental heroes. Now, we can definitely champion great stories, based on the journey or not (and I have). That in itself does not make the journey suck.
  • Why is one hero so special anyway? – I apologize, but this point I don’t really understand. I read a couple of books in my life and on so many more than one, our hero does not come pre-installed with every skill and good quality known to man… In fact, I like it far better when our hero is just a simple person (just a slob like one of us…). Nowhere in the journey does it prohibit such a hero. So not sure what the complaint is about… Next, the author of the original post asks the following questions – What about a hero who’s the greatest because she decides not to put up with the shit that everybody else is putting up with? Like 1984’s Winston Smith or Fahrenheit 451’s Montag? Yep, they’re way up there on my favorite protagonists list. What about a group of people who decide to work together to change the crappy status quo? Excellent, now I hear that one quite a lot. Here’s what I have to say about a “group”. A group has no personality, nor characteristics. A group is not an organic being. A group is made of more than one individual. So my suggestion is – If you’d like to make a group your hero, in my mind you have two options: Either you focus on the most interesting character who’s part of that group, giving her the fair treatment of a character the reader can get behind, Or – write as many books as there are people in that group, dedicating each book to a member of that group. Here’s my question – who was the hero? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? or “the movement”? I’m by no means saying that the millions of people who rightfully supported Dr. King are any less important. I’m saying, that people rally behind an individual who represents these values we hold dear.
  • The “hero” is always a d00d – Really? Really? That’s because of Campbell’s Hero’s Journey too?… Silly me. Here I thought it’s because society is still mostly chauvinistic. These are concepts. Yes, the goddess can be a dood… It’s up to the writer.
  • It’s cheesy as hell – Well I can’t help you there. What you find cheesy, I may not. Tomay-toes / Tomah-toes and all that. However, new-agey or not, there’s nothing wrong with looking into the soul of our characters (Hold that thought as we will get back to this in the last bullet point).
  • He shoehorned a lot of myths into his theory – Again, I do not see this as a contributing factor for the suckiness of the journey. The fact that Campbell might have not chewed our food for us does not make it suck. As the author says, he consciously looked for similarities only. Which alone can say that there is a lot of room for differences, which in turn might say that the formula is not the limiting cookie cutter the author makes it out to be.
  • It confuses personal growth with solving problems – It does not confuse. It claims that in order for the story to be more than a sequence of “things” happening, and in order for our hero to be more significant and identifiable (i.e. more like a real person) to the reader, the hero should learn something, some things. Does it not make sense that the story would be far more compelling if the person we cheer for is a little more than a device? Even when the solution to a problem is – as the author says – “fighting like hell and doing what has to be done, and there’s no time to meet the goddess or touch your magic wand or any of that stuff“, wouldn’t the hero need to know when to fight? Wouldn’t the hero need an ally? or allies? Wouldn’t the hero (since we don’t want an Ender Wiggin type chosen one hero) need to learn anything before going into a fight? and would it make any sense at all to the reader if that hero wins the fight (which should be a significant one) with zero development? and most importantly, if we don’t look at that new-agy, physiological “stuff” and reveal to the reader some things about the make up of our hero, background, past experiences, state of mind etc. would the reader care to follow her into battle? I think not.

Bottom line: Yep. If one thinks about the hero’s journey as a manual, takes every word literally, ignores the importance of building a character who evolves during the story, focuses on the less stellar examples of the use of the hero’s journey and forgets that at the end of the day it’s up to the writer to write the story then yeah, the hero’s journey sucks. Only it doesn’t.

HERE is the LINK for the original post.

Comments, like, shares, they’re all welcome of course.

And until next time,

MUSE – As Advertised

Welcome good men and women.

Today, I thought I’d share some of my appreciation for a band I learned to love and respect.

I won’t try to convince you that their music is awesome (it is), or that their concerts are great (they are). I’m not really going to talk about their music at all.

I just happen to find their name choice very appropriate.

I want to show what I mean, through two of their biggest hits (and the fact that they are hits is important).

Resistance:

If we live a life in fear
I’ll wait a thousand years
Just to see you smile again

Kill your prayers for love and peace
You’ll wake the thought police
We can’t hide the truth inside

If you’ve heard these lyrics and didn’t immediately think about George Orwell’s 1984, I believe there are two options. You either didn’t read the book, or you weren’t listening very well. Not just the specific term “Thought police”, but the whole piece. To me personally it screams Winston Smith and Julia. Their secret struggle and yearning to experience life to its fullest, the hopelessness of their predicament.

Here’s where a listener can listen to one song and be inspired to read a powerful and thought provoking book. Muse.

But it’s not only inspiring in a direct link to the book.

Love is our resistance
They’ll keep us apart and they won’t stop breaking us down
Hold me
Our lips must always be sealed

At times, this world seem to be weighing down on everyone. External forces of every kind try to “put us in our place”, to keep us “in line”. We’re limited by laws and rules, by norms and expectations. “They” can try to keep us apart and break us down, but they can’t control our hearts. Love is our resistance.

Uprising:

From the opening lines, it’s clear that these guys aren’t settling for the “official version”.

Paranoia is in bloom,
The PR, transmissions will resume
They’ll try to, push drugs that keep us all dumbed down
And hope that, we will never see the truth around

In a world as cynical as it’s ever been, I personally feel good when I see  that there are others who can see past the spiel the media is feeding us. I only hope that many would listen, really listen to this song and at the very least acknowledge that things aren’t what they seem, and that just by being aware, we can start to take the power back.

Rise up and take the power back
It’s time the, fat cats had a heart attack
You know that, their time’s coming to an end
We have to, unify and watch our flag ascend 

I love music for many reasons. But every now and then, there are musicians who inspire. I hope this made sense to you as much as it did for me.

  • What do you think?
  • Who else inspire you through music?

Until next time,

MORE MUSE:

Better than a thousand hollow words

Welcome back folks. It’s nice of you to drop by again.

Today, I want to share a conversation with you. Just a normal Q&A, back and forth, chitchat between two people.

One of them is me. The other one, we will call M.I.F for reasons which will become apparent as you read.

This conversation took place in Facebook, as many these days do. Between two friends who have never met in real life. In light of this, the nature of the conversation is of course, trying to understand who the other person is. What he likes, dislikes and to try and get a peek into his views of the world. Just 2 guys talking here. Also, please excuse some grammar and spelling errors. Both of us speak English as second language.

Here goes:

Gil: Please recommend three places to visit in your country.

M.I.F: To Americans, Israelis and perhaps British, I recommend the following. I said America and Israel cause they have a bad image (perception) of Iran. Not all of them but I know many of them do. These three countries can meet the real Iran. We like guests. We’d especially welcome Israeli people, because in the past, before the Islamic revolution of 1979 many Jews lived in iran and also thousand years ago there was a really good relationship between Persians and Jewish people. Even now in Iran, there are many Jews, Muslims, Christians, many atheists and then Zarathustra live in Iran. We want peace with America and Israel, don’t listen to the media outlets, maybe about 70% Iranians are the friends of peace and they do not agree with this Islamic republic of Iran, and about 70% of Iranians disagree with these Islamic rules and this regime in Iran. They are not happy with that because before 1979 Iran was a free country like the west and we NEVER, EVER had any Islamic rules in Iran and these Islamic rules came to my country from Arabic countries. You can read about this also and make sure my words are correct. Any way, I would welcome all guests to Iran and i hope to see a good relation again between Iran, Israel and America.

Gil: What kind of music do you like? Any favorite artists?

M.I.F: I love sonati (traditional Persian music). I listen to rap, rock, Reggae, and all kinds of music. I don’t hate any kind of music, If that music gives me a good feeling i will listen to it (lol). My favorite artist is Homayoun Shajarian, a Persian singer who sings sonati, and also the Persian rapper (hichkas). I like 50 cent, Bob Marley, Eminem, and many other artists.

Gil: What sports do you like (If you do)? Any favorite teams? Athletes?

M.I.F: I love cycling as I was a cyclist, cars racing, swimming and many kinds of sport, my favorite team is the biking team of Astana, lotto, Columbia htc team etc. My favorite athletes are Marco Pantani, Alberto Contador, Mark Cavendish, Lance Armstrong etc.

Gil: What was the last movie you watched? Would you recommend it?

M.I.F: As i love comedies, my favorite movies were Dictator, Ted, The hangover, American pie etc. I recommend these movies if you didn’t see them (lol).

Gil: The lonely island scenario. What book would you take with you?

M.I.F: (lol) Weird question. If i was there, I think i wouldn’t need Quran(koran) or any holy book cause there is no Allah or god in that time to help me or any different god from different religion. This is my belief. I’d want a book about: how can i live in The lonely island and what can I do and what do I need and how can I run away from this hell (lol). Also, to spend my time with other books, I prefer to read the beautiful Persian poems from Maulana Rumi, Saadi, Hafiz, Omar Khayyam, Ferdowsi etc. I love Omar Khayyam and I think his book is good to spend my time. Let me write one of his poems:

 Khayyam, if you are intoxicated with wine, enjoy! If you are seated with a lover of thine, enjoy! In the end, the Void the whole world employ Imagine thou art not, while waiting in line, enjoy!

Meaning: In life devote yourself to joy and love Behold the beauty of the peaceful dove Those who live, in the end must all perish Live as if you are already in heavens above

Gil: Who was (or is) your greatest inspiration?

M.I.F: My inspiration person is Cyrus the great father of Persia (Iran) from 2600 years ago. When he said respect to all people with any beliefs and anyone is free to choose his/her religion or way and many beautiful words he said on his first charter of human rights in the world about 2600 years ago. He was a great man. I also love Maulana Rumi the Persian (Iranian) poet when he said: Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen. Not any religion or cultural system. I am not from the East or the West, not out of the ocean or up from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not composed of elements at all. I do not exist, am not an entity in this world or in the next, did not descend from Adam and Eve or any origin story. My place is placeless, a trace of the traceless. Neither body or soul. I belong to the beloved, have seen the two worlds as one and that one call to and know, first, last, outer, inner, only that breath breathing human being. or one of other poems of him is:I profess the religion of love, Love is my religion and my faith. My mother is love My father is love My prophet is love My God is love I am a child of love I have come only to speak of love. Etc.

Gil: What did you (or do you still) want to be when you grow up?

M.I.F: Well I am happy with what I have and so it should be. I have my 2 shops as I’m 21 years old. It’s true, we say people have many dreams to have all they want and each one of us has different wishes. Some can and their dreams will come true as they work hard for their wishes and some can’t because they didn’t try, or maybe their life changed by other things and they couldn’t do something to make their dreams come true. This world is too weird. My dream is peace between everyone. Each one of us, different countries, and I’m trying to help this world to be in peace. A big/hard wish but I hope slowly this wish will come true too, and many wishes I have which are not just about myself, but rather about the world or even my land Iran. I’m not selfish so i don’t have too much dreams for myself. I am happy with my life.

Gil: If a movie was made about you, who would be playing your part?

M.I.F: I’d prefer that I act in that movie (lol) because I think I can be a good actor and that movie will be more appealing, as it’s my life and I can act all feeling so true, and it will be just the true feeling in each part of my life in that movie.

Gil: What do you value the most about your friends?

M.I.F: Friends always help each other. With my good friend, we help each other, we have fun, When he or she is sad I’m sad, the valued thing with the real friends is that they don’t leave you alone and in the lonely moments they are with you.

Gil: What do you consider the most important lesson life taught you?

M.I.F:As I’m silly sometimes, I do stupid things. Don’t  laugh (lol). I’m sure you did too because we are all human and each one of us do the wrong things sometimes. All of humans, even the biggest persons. Experience – that’s what we get, sometimes. When I make mistakes, I will not be sad about it, maybe you can’t believe that, but I will be happy because it will be experience and is like a medal for me. Or an achievement (lol). It’s true and I’m not kidding. We should never be sad for making mistakes because any mistake is a step towards victory. I believe that we should never give up.

M.I.F: Which places do you like to visit? which place you choose for living (except the place you living now)?

Gil: I appreciate the greatness of nature Vs. the contrasting humbleness of men. For that reason, places that interest me are places where that contrast is evident. Examples include the grand Canyon in the US, the Amazon, Antarctica. I will likely not make it to most of these, but would be happy to see some. If there’s one place I’d like to live it’s the Golan Heights at the north of Israel. A beautiful place.

M.I.F: Which pet would you like to have? which pet wouldn’t you like?

Gil: As far as pets, I’m a dog person. I had a few and loved them. Currently taking a break from pets as I have enough on my plate. I don’t particularly like cats (Sorry internet :)) and I’d never keep a wild animal captive.

M.I.F: Out of the books you read, what are your favorite books?

Gil: Good thing you asked in the plural form, as I have quite a few. The books that really had an impact of me include: 1984/George Orwell, The Man In The Maze/Robert Silverberg, Lord Of The Rings/JRR Tolkien, Otherland/Tad Williams and Foundation/Isaac Asimov among others.

M.I.F: Which behavior don’t you like with people?

Gil: I will phrase it that way, people who do not have capacity for compassion. I feel sad for these folks. No matter what happens in our lives, there’s always someone who might have it less fortunate.

M.I.F: Which person is your biggest inspiration person? and why?

Gil: I’d have to say that on a personal level, my father was and still is my biggest inspiration. A person who’s done his best to be positive, honest and hard-working, who put his family’s needs ahead of his own. A person who fought Cancer for years, so he can see his kids reach a stage in their life where he could let go. A person who did not need anyone’s approval to be a good person. Another person who I’ve always thought highly of is Martin Luther King who showed that non-violence can achieve great things and overcome great wrongs.

M.I.F: What kind of music do you like to hear?

Gil: I love Rock music of many kinds. Some of my favorites include Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Bruce Springsteen, Nirvana and many many more. I’m also a big fan of Israeli singers who mix rock, and other western styles with middle eastern influences. Look up ‘Ehud Banai’ (Who I believe is from a Persian descent) in YouTube 🙂 Another Persian Israeli singer is Rita. Whether I like her style or not, her voice is simply amazing.

M.I.F: What are your dreams and wishes?

Gil: I am very modest in that regard. I believe I share the great dream of being happy. I do my best to be happy at all times, regardless of circumstances. I find that negative feelings tend to invite more such feelings into our lives. Outside of myself, I hope that people will find a way to live with each other in peace. So many lives, so much energy, money and resources are directed towards hate… it makes me wonder how can we not see that directing these to peaceful and productive existence would make this world so much better.

M.I.F: What is your purpose in life? And tell me about ultimate goal in your life.

Gil: This is a question I am still trying to answer myself 🙂 My ultimate goal in life is to try to live in peace with myself and others.

M.I.F: Which person did you want to be? and why?

Gil: As a youngster I wanted to be a DJ on the radio. I love music and always wanted to be the one to share it with people. These days I just want to be the best me I can possibly be.

M.I.F: Tell me about the biggest and important thing you learned from this world.

Gil: There are many great lessons I learned (and I have plenty of room for more). Perhaps the most important thing I learned was to understand that I’m responsible for everything in my life. To realize that nothing in the past could be changed and that the future is not here yet, therefore, I can only change what I do in the present. Because of that realization, I choose to avoid falling into the pitfall called regret, forgive myself and others and do my best at present time.

I hope you enjoyed our conversation. To complete Buddha’s quote in the title

Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.

I hope you did not find any of these word hollow. Each one of these, and so many more that are spoken every day, are meant to bring about the goal of many in the middle east – Peace.

My Iranian Friend could not be named in this forum to avoid persecution in his homeland.

I’m grateful for your cooperation my friend!

We both met on Facebook as part of the Israel-Love-Iran group and one of the goals of this group is to encourage communication between people of these two countries. I wanted to share this, and encourage others to have more of these! We are not our leaders, we are not politicians, we’re people and as you could see above, we have no problem with each other.

Feel free to share this post, spread the word. Hopefully one day, we could meet in Tel Aviv or in Tehran and chat over some coffee. Until then, Peace, Shalom, man solh raa arezou mikonam.

Come on and ride on the peace train!

What have you done for Peace lately?

Until next time,