Contributing writer for The Artifice.
The Role of "Celebrity Animals"
What can "celebrity animals" — like Dolly (the cloned sheep), Tilikum (the killer whale), or even the octopus who gained fame on the Netflix Original, My Octopus Teacher — tell us about "the human socially constructed natural world" as Nick Couldry calls it?
Animals (especially charismatic species with which we feel we can identify) can certainly ground environmental issues and cause us to at least feel something for environmental crises. However, there is often unequal distribution of attention that leads to inequality: mediagenic coverage that places certain animals in a positive spotlight allows us to care more for a gorilla or elephant than for an insect or fish, for example.
Media power is prevalent in the operation of animal fame. Given that human animals are the norm in studies of celebrity environmentalism, what difference does it make to consider the role of non-human animals? Consider, with reference to one non-human animal celebrity associated with environmentalism (like Dolly, Tilikum, or others that have come about in mainstream media).
literatureWrite this topic
Novels with complex structures
Mark Z Danielewski’s House of Leaves is probably the most famous oddly structured book. For the most part there’s two separate narratives; the narrator’s own story is told in footnotes, the main body of the text being the discovered critical analysis by Zampano of a non-existent documentary film about an ever-changing house. Zampano’s also blind, btw.
It’s a little bit gimmicky, but at times the Zampano essay is stunning, with some of the most memorable sinister moments in modern literature.
Beside House of Leaves, I was surprised by the twist of the plot and development in these books:
Abraham Verghese: Cutting for Stone.
Orhan Pamuk: Museeum of Innocence. (This is a love novel, and you may not like this genre.)
Benito Perez Galdos: Fortunata and Jacinta.
Theodor Kallifatides: In her Gaze. (First written in Swedish, but it is translated into some other languages. I do not know if English belongs to them.)
Selma Lagerlöf: The Story of Gösta Berling. Repeatedly some one will predict an event that is easily seen to be impossible, unless supranatural phenomena are included. And then the event does occur, but because of perfectly natural causes.
Arnold Zweig: The Fight Over Sergeant Gruschka. (In WWI Gruschka is a deserter from the Russian army and had been living in a German P.O.W. camp. He had escaped. What he is most eager to avoid is to be send back to this camp. A woman eventually advises him how to avoid that – but he will actually suffer worse outcomes.)
The effects that acting/voice roles have had on individuals in their lives
I read another note entitled, ‘The effects of Iconic roles on an Actor and his/her career’ and I was excited that it might be a topic on something I’ve long contemplated on, but the description specified a different interest. So I decided to submit my own topic. I’m interested in hearing about the ways in which taking on certain roles have impacted an actor’s personal life. By acting as someone else, do they find themselves becoming that character at times in their personal lives? Having had practiced traits that were perhaps new to them before their role, does it change them? Does it help or hinder them? Have they learned about new things because of a specific role, i.e. an actor acting as an astronaut – have they learned about space? This might perhaps be interesting to research into child actors as well. Since they’re in a bubble surrounded by adults, is it daunting? Etc. Mainly though how specific roles have impacted their personal lives is my interest.
The Nolan effect- a darker take on the modern superhero film
A modern trend as it would appear, in superhero films-especially those within the DC comic book universe, would be the darker, more realistic cinematic portrayal of the heroes themselves. This trend seemed to be pioneered by director Christopher Nolan in his critically acclaimed ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy which showcased the most critically installment of Batman thus far. This article could discuss these titles as such.
Romanticism and Hippie Culture
It can be argued that Romanticism has continued to persist past the 1800s and continued on one form or another. With this in mind, it would be interesting to see a comparison between Romanticism and Hippie culture. Is Hippie culture a continuation of Romanticism? What are the similarities and differences between these ideals? How does it show up in literature?
Comparing the Differences Between Sherlock and Elemenary
Sherlock Holmes has had many renditions, but BBC’s Sherlock and CBS’s Elementary came out about the same time. BBC’s Sherlock takes the stance that Sherlock is a high functioning sociopath while CBS’s Sherlock is a recovering addict. These renditions affect how other characters in the series were represented as well as how they interact with him. How do these differences compare to the books and do both versions show a strong representation of a version of Sherlock Holmes in their own right?
How is Japanese Horror (J-Horror) Distinct from Other Horror Genres?
Analyze and discuss how j-horror is distinct from other genres of horror, particularly its defining characteristics and notable directors or narratives (i.e. What makes them notable, to you as a viewer and the overall field?) Discuss its historical and recent developments. Have there been any emergent prominent themes? Compare it to remakes.
writingWrite this topic
How to maintain your motivation to write
The struggle with motivation and focus can be helped by habit. I’m a fan of two steps, which has worked well for me, although of course everybody’s different.
1. Have some sort of master plan: an outline, a flowchart, a spreadsheet, a detailed synopsis, an index card for each scene, or whatever other organizational method works for you. Know the whole story before you begin writing; most novels that remain incomplete are that way because the writer started without knowing where he was going and how to get there. For a first novel, a plan is vital. Maybe you can write your second without one, but first you need to know you can finish a work that big.
2. Once your whole story is planned out, try the BIC method. That’s your butt in chair for a set amount of time every day, minimum 30 minutes. (An hour or more is better. You want to write this novel or not?) During BIC time you have two options, and only two. You may write, or you may not write. You can’t be online, have the TV on in the background, read or send texts or instant messages, play a computer game, do writing-related research, read what you’ve already written, adjust your outline, eat, smoke, or anything else. Write or don’t, period. (Those who give themselves BIC of more than an hour can schedule a break if they must have one–but it doesn’t count as part of the BIC time.) If others in the household might disturb you, you need to find a way to make that not happen, like doing it while they’re at work or school, asleep, or take your BIC time at the library or a coffeehouse. Most days, you’ll write. On the best days, you’ll ‘catch fire’ and go beyond your assigned time, which is great. However, you can’t amass credit. The next day, you still owe the same amount of BIC time as every other day.
Teaching yourself to write even when it doesn’t come easily or you don’t feel like it is part of the road to being a professional writer whose work other people pay to see.