The UC Berkeley Classroom of Professor Imma Galaxy.
Alice Coltrane / Translinear Light (2004) Jagadishwar
It’s an interesting time for me now. The final four months of 2022 were filled with intense, work to complete a book started in 2013, abandoned for almost a decade, and then completed at the end of 2022. Now, in the first part of 2023, the manuscript is being sent out for comments on it before further steps. Next step if indications go, then considering a publisher or publishing it myself as done before.The title of the book is Hollywood Safari: Navigating Screenwriting Theory. It’s a survey of the key books on various aspects or approaches to screenwriting. So one might imagine that my head right now is exploding with screenwriting theories.
But more than one has called today’s screenwriters the real storytellers of tomorrow. Not surprisingly, screenwriting comes closest to the modern visual media, employing various senses in the ancient activity of storytelling. In a sense, Hollywood Safari puts together my ideas on media theory, symbolism and screenwriting into reviews of the various leading aspects of screenwriting. It is the largest survey ever undertaken on screenwriting books to my knowledge. A much needed book it seems to me in the outbreak of various screenwriting theories and story ideas in Hollywood. A few major guru screenwriting brands it seems to me.
Somewhat sadly, in our society and culture today, there is emphasis placed on diversity. Seeing larger patterns is something not encouraged in today’s culture. Survey books of areas of knowledge like Hollywood Safari introducing any reader to a deep knowledge of what is going on in the world of screenwriting. Or in the world of our future storytellers not just on screens but everywhere. Writing the script for the national narrative. (As if they don’t already do this in many ways). If any area that storytelling in the future will come from it is screenwriting.
So, for those with an interest in the future of storytelling, Hollywood Safari is meant to be a good place to start. The book offers an unbiased perspective on the landscape of contemporary screenwriting. why not focus on it in a survey, reference guide and review of the leading books on all approaches to screenwriting theory. For the first time, puts these approaches into categories. In much the same way the new book Anatomy of Genres by John Truby places films and TV programs into categories or types, so Hollywood Safari attempts to place screenwriting theories and books into types we list with the one word titles to the various chapters in the book.
Anyway, the book is being sent out for comments on it. Happy to send out review copies of Hollywood Safari: Navigating Screenwriting Theory. Simply reply back to this email and you’ll recieve a PDF of the manuscript. Comments appreciated. Nothing is written in stone yet.
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All of the above, gets me to the real heart of this post. It relates to the fact that my present state seems to relate much to my absent Professor Imma Galaxy above who is absent from her loyal years of always coming to her class on time. In the diorama scene above, Imma has written a note on the board to her students under notes on the size of our universe. This size factor is demonstrated to the absent class by the small little blue ball on the pedestal and the giant yellow ball that fills the right side of the photo.
An interesting question as to why I brought up this particular diorama of mine from the basement. Created four years ago during what was known as “John’s Diorama Period.” All posted onto our site Midnight Oil Studios site on the above Diorama Page. I attribute some things like going down into the basement and picking out this particular diorama from all down there, to something similar to that mysterious force Carl Jung discovered called Synchronicity. As he called it, the acausal connecting principle, or, something that does not involve causation. In effect, the behavior of atoms, according to this interpretation, is random and therefore acausal. (K. C. Cole, First You Build A Cloud, 1999)
The truth is, I’ve always loved this particular diorama as it expresses so much in it. There is a particular drama going on in the image of her deserted classroom. But the drama was a greatly increased with these three small lights and tripods and various devices that Hollywood films put over lights like snoots to direct and really focus the light on particular objects. I just got this little set a month ago and this seemed a perfect scene to test them out. I pointed one of the snoots to the bottles on the table. The other, to the blackboard. Another, without the snoot on but the rubber filter over the light, focused on the great ball of the sun in the image. There is a large group of Jungians who believe in the idea of expressing internal ideas through “sandplay.” Is the above scene, in effect, my own form of Jungian sand play?
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So, the professor has left the building.
Will the Professor return?
And, if so, what with?
It is not possible to stop the screenwriting ideas I’ve been living with for four months (really ten years) to leave my mind. What is to become of this work not only for other readers of it but for me? That rare work that suggests so many new questions of “probes” as Marshall McLuhan approached life with.
But so many in culture demand ready-made answers before the “question mechanism” can ever kick in. This is not the period of broad surveys of whole areas of knowledge today. Like screenwriting. Yet, many key people in the industry have given it great reviews. It is a very different perspective on Hollywood. From an outside perspective but someone who has always collected screenwriting books like someone else might have a coin or stamp collection.
Reading these books had the effect of moving me farther and farther away from my own story in life to those that Hollywood wanted to buy. This seems to me an always pervasive force in Hollywood. (Where I was born and lived the first two years of my life just blocks up from Sunset Strip). We continue to hear more and more story ideas today. There is not attempt to survey all of them. No attempt to organize them into some various forms. Or, as John Truby might say, types or genres of screenwriting theories. It’s and interesting question of how they might match up (or not) to the film genres of Truby’s Anatomy of Genres. I have a copy of it right next to me right now.
The “Detective Story and Thriller” Chapter of Truby’s The Anatomy of Genres
It is still difficult about what to make of this 710 page book. Truby claims much for it with his subtitle stating “How story forms explain the way the world works.” Not just screenwriting. In so many ways, it is a book about symbols and how they are ushered forward in stories.
Currently, reading over (and over and outlining) the Detective and Thriller chapter of the book. So much in it, almost best to write with the book open to the particular plot point for Truby’s thoughts. A brilliant book and wondering if that next project I’m searching for right now (like so many other artists/writers after completing a project) is contained in this chapter from Truby’s book. His latest book on genres gets much attention in Hollywood Safari. But I feel, rightly so.
But for me, the test might be as to whether I can translate this pretty brilliant chapter on Detective and Thriller genre in his Anatomy of Genres (2022). There’s an idea. Perhaps the best advice Truby gives is to work out the opponent’s plan first in this genre.
I started thinking of this tonight. He’s a billionaire, inventor, exhibitionist. (Think Musk) He has come into his fortune in a corrupt way. There is a whistleblower who threatens to expose his corrupt way. The threat is to his entire empire and this person must be stopped at all costs.
We’re living in the era of whistleblowers. When truth comes not from straight forward communication but rather from the particular “leaks” from the national narrative. The national screenplay. The national story. And the leak? The truth behind the national screenplay, the national story.
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Then again, this is not a topic too many movie goers these days are interested in these days. One day, the topic might be explored by screenwriters. But then, they are off writing stuff in the various genres that Hollywood buys. Does Hollywood buys or promote comment about itself? This might be one of the major questions determining the success of Hollywood Safari in the marketplace.
Anyway, I started thinking about my idea tonight.
Just thinking about it.
One of the best times in all of the world.
That period between.
The end of one creation in your life.
The beginning of another.
Just thinking about it.
Lighting the Imma Galaxy Set