Sunday, August 28, 2016

President Bateson's Vision of Bayside Village

On Day 2 of AlignIt, protagonists Greg and Sara attend an Orientation to Bayside Village, kicked off by President Steve Bateson's welcome address.  The address is significant as one of the key sections setting forth the mission and vision of Bayside Village.  Bateson previews many of the novel's utopian themes here.  This piece, then, is a capsule of the broad aims of AlignIt.

Steve Bateson is president of both the Bayside Village and its Bridge Institute, the graduate research institute housed on the Bayside Village campus on the Richmond shore of the San Francisco Bay.  Bateson was one of the founders of the Bayside Village and Bridge Institute, as he told Greg and Sara the night before at a welcome reception.  He's on the Bridge Institute faculty where he teaches the History of Ideas and a year-long graduate seminar on utopian works.  On Day 3, he'll lead a workshop called Creative Writing with Utopias for Orientation guests.  Just prior to this welcome address, Greg observes Bateson's "tall, slender form and silvery white hair" and his "vibrancy and presence."  When Bateson is first introduced at the welcome reception the night before, the narrator describes him as a tall, slender man in his sixties, dynamic, charismatic.  President Bateson makes several appearances in the novel, always holding the big picture of vision and mission.  He's a wise man, a mature spiritual adept, an exemplar of service to noble aims in this world and beyond.


As to writing technique, I used the welcome address to further develop the vision of Bayside Village.  But having a character read a speech can be tedious.  To break up the speech, I added beats (small actions, references back to the setting and characters) of President Bateson, Greg and Sara.  On several of Bateson's points, I brought in Greg's ruminations about moving to Bayside Village, starting a new life teaching and conducting research at the Bridge Institute.  And I had Greg and Sara subtly interact over Bateson's points--by a whisper, an elbow.  There is a dynamic balance in fiction between telling and showing.  As these techniques serve the story arc, I believe they succeed in rescuing a speech (telling) from being a stranded discourse merely stuck into a story.  In any event, the novel shows the vision in many scenes and actions.  But here in the welcome address the vision is given all in one place.



Follow Rick Whitney and AlignIt on Twitter.  And don't forget to subscribe this blog in the upper left corner. 

Listen to this radio interview with Rick Whitney on AlignIt.  Listen to Dreaming the Future, a talk and reading with Rick Whitney on AlignIt. 


Read AlignIt excerpts on Medium.

Order AlignIt on Amazon.com in book or e-Book format.  And visit Rick Whitney's Author Page on Amazon.com.

AlignIt is now available on Amazon.com. The novel and cover art are copyright 2014 by Rick Whitney. All rights reserved. This blog post is copyright 2016 by Rick Whitney, CC BY-NC. See more here: http://alignit.blogspot.com/search/label/License.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Place for Christians

In this AlignIt excerpt A Place for Christians (on Medium.com, or pp. 94-96), a visiting fundamentalist Christian couple Keith and Leah encounters the theological breadth and inclusivity of the Bayside Village.  This vignette, with others like it in the novel, presents a relief against which the bold, pluralistic vision of AlignIt can be appraised.   For in one sense, Keith and Leah are a pair of outsiders to this utopian community, providing an outsider's fresh and unexpected view.

Greg's notion of "a place for Christians" turns Leah's fundamentalist vision of the world on its head.  In Leah's world, Bayside Village is "non-Christian" because it is not all Christian, only Christian, founded by Christians, and evangelical through and through.  Leah says, "I mean, its not a Christian place."  In Greg's reframe, a place for Christians means a place where Christians, like others, have a seat at the table, a voice in the dialogue, a place at Bayside Village to do their own spiritual practice and to bring their own service to all beings.  But it is not a priori a Christian table, a Christian dialogue, a Christian place.

As Greg notes in this excerpt, there are Christian groups at Bayside Village amidst Buddhist, Taoist, Yogic, and Sufi groups.  All of these groups work alone or together toward similar utopian projects though they believe and practice differently.  Their common work toward social, economic, and technological innovations and demonstrations is, in fact, a chief characteristic of the utopian vision Bayside Village is built on.

I took up a Christian brand of fundamentalism in AlignIt (its a minor theme), but of course forms of fundamentalism can be found in many religions.  I wrote about a Christian form because I know it best and first-hand from my own Protestant Christian background.  I have long struggled with the evangelical-liberal tension which I believe presents false alternatives.  For the nineteenth century liberalism in this dichotomy is modernist, materialistic, and takes up a position against the spiritual, mystical, and metaphysical, while the evangelical often collapses into fundamentalism and exclusivism, and leaves behind what John Wesley called "vital piety."  The experiment of Bayside Village breaks this dichotomy because it is at once progressive and tolerant, and yet intensely spiritual.  This is not a universalism that devolves into so bland a soup that it has no flavor.  It is rather a common platform for bold, serious and devoted spiritual groups whose adepts storm heaven's gates with their practice, and bring something new, liberating, and nourishing into the world as their service and social responsibility.

No mockery or sarcasm about fundamentalism is meant here.  Indeed, in this excerpt protagonists Greg and Sara are kind and welcoming, engaging with Keith and Leah in their struggle to grasp the meaning of a community of advanced adepts from various paths pledged to an integral vision.  In this and other sections of AlignIt, Keith and Leah are met with empathy and invitation.

The outcome of this encounter between fundamentalism and the intense multi-path experiment of Bayside Village can already be anticipated in this excerpt, taken from early in the book.  Leah is hesitant, unsure.  Keith thinks he has found a place for himself.


Follow Rick Whitney and AlignIt on Twitter.  And don't forget to subscribe this blog in the upper left corner. 

Listen to this radio interview with Rick Whitney on AlignIt.  Listen to Dreaming the Future, a talk and reading with Rick Whitney on AlignIt. 


Read AlignIt excerpts on Medium.

Order AlignIt on Amazon.com in book or e-Book format.  And visit Rick Whitney's Author Page on Amazon.com.

AlignIt is now available on Amazon.com. The novel and cover art are copyright 2014 by Rick Whitney. All rights reserved. This blog post is copyright 2016 by Rick Whitney, CC BY-NC. See more here: http://alignit.blogspot.com/search/label/License.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

How I Wrote About the Abjad System

c. Rick Whitney, 2014
Without the classic work The Sufis (1964) by Idries Shah, I would not have been able to write the section of AlignIt on the abjad system and qalb, the heart.  (Read the excerpt here.)  In the 1960's and 1970's, Shah introduced key Sufi ideas and stories to a Western audience.  I have been richly inspired by his work over the years, especially the stories.

Greg's admission in this excerpt is my own: "But I don't know it myself, and I wouldn't know how to encode or decode it."  I would not have been able to write this piece without The Sufis chiefly because I do not know Arabic or the abjad system.  (In the piece, Greg spoke of the "clear light of reality," and the sheikh answered, "Okay, yes.  That is Buddhist maybe, but okay.")  In fact, Greg's admission would have to be mine for nearly all of AlignIt, which is why I relied heavily on classic works.  So how do I write such pieces if I don't know a given system myself?  Here is what I did with the abjad system.

I took the scaffold of Shah's description of the trilateral root QLB (pp. 438-439) and put it to narrative form--a dialogue between Greg and the sheikh he interviewed for AlignIt.  I added some literary "beats."  I then tried to fit the permutations Shah covers into some framework of a spiritual path, unfolded by the sheikh.  Thus I introduced the sheikh's refrain "can you see how..." in order to relate each of Shah's permutations of QLB to some aspect of a spiritual path.  For that I drew from a broad base of psychological and spiritual traditions--Jungian, Gurdjieffian, Buddhist, Yogic, and yes, even Sufi.  I then used Jungian active imagination to move around in the new narrative I built, trying to flesh out what an experience of each permutation might look or feel like for a practitioner on a spiritual path.

The point of this section of AlignIt, like every "meeting with remarkable people" in the book, and like the Raymond Lully Museum tour, is two-fold:
  1. to build up for the reader examples of sacred sciences on which a technology platform like AlignIt could be built (in this case, the abjad system would be part of the ontology and operation of AlignIt), and 
  2. to demonstrate the broad, pluralistic, ecumenical, interfaith, multi-path, integral nature of the spiritual and utopian projects at the Bayside Village and the Bridge Institute.  (See also this excerpt, World Religions and a Temple for the Future.)



Follow Rick Whitney and AlignIt on Twitter.  And don't forget to subscribe this blog in the upper left corner. 

Listen to this radio interview with Rick Whitney on AlignIt.  Listen to Dreaming the Future, a talk and reading with Rick Whitney on AlignIt. 


Read AlignIt excerpts on Medium.

Order AlignIt on Amazon.com in book or e-Book format.  And visit Rick Whitney's Author Page on Amazon.com.

AlignIt is now available on Amazon.com. The novel and cover art are copyright 2014 by Rick Whitney. All rights reserved. This blog post is copyright 2016 by Rick Whitney, CC BY-NC. See more here: http://alignit.blogspot.com/search/label/License.


Monday, August 15, 2016

Rick Whitney has a new Amazon Author Page

Visit my new Author Page on Amazon.com.  The page features a biography, blog posts, and a Rick Whitney forum for Customer Discussions.  Now you can start your own discussion or read what others are saying.  You can also track discussions to receive updates of new posts.

While on the page, see also this discussion thread, How to Spawn Civilizational Creativity, and add your thoughts.  What ideas do you have for creating a new civilization, and how do you nurture them?

To hear more about civilizational creativity, listen to this recorded book talk, Dreaming the Future, at Many Rivers Books and Tea.  




Follow Rick Whitney and AlignIt on Twitter.  And don't forget to subscribe to receive emails from this blog in the upper left corner.

Listen to this radio interview with Rick Whitney on AlignIt.  Listen to Dreaming the Future, a talk and reading with Rick Whitney on AlignIt.  


Read AlignIt excerpts on Medium.


Order AlignIt on Amazon.com in book or e-Book format.


AlignIt is now available on Amazon.com. The novel and cover art are copyright 2014 by Rick Whitney. All rights reserved. This blog post is copyright 2016 by Rick Whitney, CC BY-NC. See more here: http://alignit.blogspot.com/search/label/License.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Meet Jeff Baker, Founder of GameIt

Below is an excerpt from AlignIt featuring a dialogue with protagonists Greg and Sara Cobb and GameIt founder Jeff Baker.  GameIt is a company using the AlignIt technology platform and being incubated in Bayside Village's Research Park.  The dialogue takes place at a game expo that serves for evening entertainment at the Bayside Village Orientation.

“I haven’t had a chance to look around yet, or read your materials or talk to people,” Sara said, “so I hope this isn’t an obvious question.”  She speared a slice of eggplant with her fork. “But did you create all of these games?” 
“No, it’s a good question,” Jeff said.  “Just a few.  I’m a game developer myself.  But only a small part of what’s here tonight is my own creation.  At this early phase, GameIt has scouted out a collection of games like these, based on certain philosophical and developmental criteria.  You could call them sacred science games, though not all of them are.  Much of what’s here tonight is games we’ve found and brought together under one roof, so to speak.  So we identify and sell these games as a short term path to revenue while we’re developing and releasing original titles.”
“That’s good business savvy,” Greg said. 
“Which ones did you create?” Sara asked.
“Mainly, the ones there in the electronic, immersive game section.”
“What’s the other phase?” Greg asked.
“Ah, that’s the part that may interest you.  The second phase is developing new games on the AlignIt platform.  And this is where your knack for sacred science comes in.”
“We have quite some common ground,” Greg said.
Sara cut small pieces of curry squash for Tara and bade her to take bites as she played.
“It amazes me that building sacred science games doesn’t require explanation or warrant for you,” Jeff said.
“Well, it’s a question of what you mean by sacred science,” Greg said.  “But no, on the face of it, I’m quite at home.  Sacred science requires application.  Otherwise its just arm chair philosophy for an esotericist.”
“You can’t imagine how rare you are!”  Jeff said, taking a fork of lasagna.
“Even here?”

“Well, okay—here it’s a little oasis.  I have discussions, give demonstrations, host game sessions.  Most people who come here get it.  They come here looking for it.  But to take our game platform out into the world…Then it’s a question of making connections in the game industry, in education, in other fields where we’re building applications.”  (AlignIt, 137)



Follow Rick Whitney and AlignIt on Twitter.  And don't forget to subscribe this blog in the upper left corner.
 

Listen to this radio interview with Rick Whitney on AlignIt.  Listen to Dreaming the Future, a talk and reading with Rick Whitney on AlignIt. 


Read AlignIt excerpts on Medium.

Order AlignIt on Amazon.com in book or e-Book format.  And visit Rick Whitney's Author Page on Amazon.com.

AlignIt is now available on Amazon.com. The novel and cover art are copyright 2014 by Rick Whitney. All rights reserved. This blog post is copyright 2016 by Rick Whitney, CC BY-NC. See more here: http://alignit.blogspot.com/search/label/License.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Palace -- An Interactive Masculine-Feminine Gameworld




This blog post features an excerpt from AlignIt on a new type of board game.  

"One game, The Palace, caught Greg’s enduring attention.  He stopped there, by two couches with a game table in the middle, and a group of people standing around.  The Palace featured two game boards side by side.  Two women and two men sat playing, rolling dice and moving pieces around the two boards.  One board appeared as a feminine platform with curvilinear patterns.  The other appeared to have a masculine theme with square and angular patterns.  Here the players advanced on the game boards by the role of dice, moving ahead or behind by taking a card with a task or special condition.  Each board had its own card deck.  Listening to the players, Greg distinguished that each deck presented the rules and opportunities for its corresponding game board.  But landing on certain positions on either board meant the player must jump to a corresponding position on the other game board, changing bodies, changing genders, changing lifetimes.  Or was it going into the contrasexual sides of oneself in this lifetime?  Greg studied, uncertain about this.  Clearly, the masculine and feminine game worlds interacted, with players moving back and forth across the boards as chance may land them or choice may move them.  Sometimes the players were affected by affinities or disaffinities, established by the changing positions and qualities of the other players.  Greg felt himself enraptured in the fascinating possibilities in game play, rich in organized, complex patterns.  He stood absorbed, focusing."  (AlignIt, p. 134)

Follow Rick Whitney and AlignIt on Twitter.  And don't forget to subscribe to receive emails from this blog in the upper left corner.

Listen to this radio interview with Rick Whitney on AlignIt.  Listen to Dreaming the Future, a talk and reading with Rick Whitney on AlignIt.  

Read AlignIt excerpts on Medium.

Order AlignIt on Amazon.com in book or e-Book format.

AlignIt is now available on Amazon.com. The novel and cover art are copyright 2014 by Rick Whitney. All rights reserved. This blog post is copyright 2016 by Rick Whitney, CC BY-NC. See more here: http://alignit.blogspot.com/search/label/License.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Greg Walks the Room, Exploring Games


c. 2014, Rick Whitney
Walk with protagonist Greg Cobb through an exhibit of immersive games fed by wearable sensors.  Greg wonders how the games are rooted in the AlignIt platform.  How can the games can be organized ontologically?  Read this brief excerpt Greg Walks the Room, Exploring Games.


Follow Rick Whitney and AlignIt on Twitter.  And don't forget to subscribe to receive emails from this blog in the upper left corner.

Listen to this radio interview with Rick Whitney on AlignIt.  Listen to Dreaming the Future, a talk and reading with Rick Whitney on AlignIt.  

Read AlignIt excerpts on Medium.

Order AlignIt on Amazon.com in book or e-Book format.

AlignIt is now available on Amazon.com. The novel and cover art are copyright 2014 by Rick Whitney. All rights reserved. This blog post is copyright 2014 by Rick Whitney, CC BY-NC. See more here: http://alignit.blogspot.com/search/label/License.