Madness: An Appeal to Accept Superiority of Reason in Daily Life

Operational definitions are fun. Well, okay, they aren’t. But they can be. The term basically means you will define how a word might be used in a study. For instance, as a psychology major  in one class we had to get together in groups and decide what “hunger” meant in case we wanted to study how huger affected something, such as concentration. One group decided it meant you hadn’t eaten your last scheduled meal, another decided three days of no food. I would not want to “eat only when hungry” in that group.

When I was in college, I had the joy of taking Freshman Composition with a smart-ass who encouraged smart-assery. He didn’t like to be called Dr. Raynor and encouraged us to call him Ernie or Professor Raynor, so I called him Dr. Ernie. He did his duty and made sure we had an operational definition assignment, and said we were free to use whatever word or definition we wished. I dusted off my mad social scientist hat.

Now I present you the results, and I encourage you to play around with your own definitions, because this was a blast. Part of the assignment was that the first and last sentence would serve as the intro and conclusion, starting with a general concept that is narrowed down once, and then again. The last sentence mirrors it.

Madness

An Appeal to Accept Superiority of Reason in Daily Life

 Madness, a near-continuous flash of insight and superior reason, is often sadly mistaken for simple genius.  Consider the worthy goals of the legendary Dr. Victor Frankenstein; clearly a pilgrim in his quest to defeat death, held back tragically by the puritan dogma of his time.  While he is a literary figure, he embodies the very essence of madness, the clarity of mind and purpose necessary to achieve this lofty state.  In all obviousness, Dr. Frankenstein transcended simple genius into iconic madness, his reason sharpened to perfection and his inspiration a thing of beauty.  His diligence proved fruitful, yet catastrophic due to the inability of his peers to comprehend the usefulness and value in his creation.

However, one finds it refreshing to see a rise in the acceptance of madness and its inspiration by witnessing the growing popularity of the subculture identified as “steampunk.”  The steampunk movement reveres the ingenuity of the industrial revolution, particularly the inventions of science and the byproducts of the so-called “mad” science.  This veneration is evidenced in preferring to wear the period clothing of the Victorian era, as well as a more classical flavor to the music, video games featuring gadgetry, and literature that depicts the creations of mad scientists.  The popular internet based steampunk comic “Girl Genius,” found at http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/, categorizes mad scientists as “sparks” and places them at the apex of  society.

One can also find how madness is mistaken for genius in a quick glance at the late, great Dr. Albert Einstein.  Upon investigation, one can find how the good doctor held dear the goal of defining reality itself for use in science.  Such powerful knowledge has much potential for bending and breaking the very fabric at the core of existence, we might entirely recreate the laws of “reality” in a manner potentially similar to the aforementioned Dr. Frankenstein.  One finds it tragic that he and the fictional Dr. Frankenstein could never work hand in hand.  Clearly, we must strive to glorify and exalt on high this state superior to simple genius, this flash of insight near-continuous, this madness.

Getting back into the swing of things.

This week, with my usual inclination to play while doing adult things, I chased plot bunnies and dinosaurs. Jurassic World has a Pokémon Go type game out now y’all, only it’s better than Pokémon Go, because it isn’t boring. Here, I’ll show you how excited I became.

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It turns out, dinosaur hunting is better than nature treasure hunting for a reason to get out of the house and move around. You can really stretch your legs between spawn points instead of meandering across a field. And, you can still play around in the spawn points and find little nature treasures. When I move, spawn points are probably going to be where I seed-bomb first.

I absolutely have got to walk more. Reclaiming my previous physical strength, which softens the soreness of fibromyalgia, is a pretty big goal right now. I’m about to have a lot more freedom to possibly travel and maybe even (hopefully) take up camping as a hobby.

Besides, I need to be able to hike without coming to tears, even if it’s just to walk around New York seed-bombing to feed pollinators. Before meeting Joe and becoming his softened spoiled brat, I would walk or bike for a few miles carrying groceries, so I know it’s possible to get into hiking condition. A big rare dinosaur showing up just around the corner, followed by another desirable creature just over that hill, has ended up being exactly the motivation I need to get me there.

I have way too much fun with it, pretending the ghetto bird helicopters are my team members in on the action as I save the hood from rampaging horrors to a (and this is the best part) theme track of adventurous dinosaur hunting music. (I need a safari hat. My wicker gardening hat is all full of holes anyway. It’s starting to get comments.)

In fact, I had so much fun that I overdid it, and ended up having to force myself to turn off my GPS unless it was time to walk. I would spend so much time dinosaur hunting that I didn’t spend time doing chores or writing. It was great though, I did the whole going through pain while raising my physical limits thing, I look forward to working in a day to overdo it every week. Balance it with light chores and yoga the next day. I can plan it all out in my new bullet journal.

This bullet journal has been a lifesaver. I stopped keeping a physical journal when I got a laptop, thinking I would be more productive if I planned out my creative projects the same way I did my papers in school, digitally.

At the time it felt productive, as I type faster than I write by far. I’m thinking now that was a mistake, and I regret thinking bullet journaling looked “too complicated” when I ran across it before. I didn’t realize the whole concept can be explained in a three-minute video. Pie is more complex.

So now I’m well on my way to using it to adapt my routine into something that will help me meet my physical goals, keep on top of household tasks, and be creative while I am doing it. All I do is start the day with a creative writing prompt and begin a collection page for it, then as I clean (while dancing for cardio) I can daydream and jot stuff down.

That’s three goals at once. It only works well if I also make sure to stop doing everything and journal while I rest, allowing me to refresh my focus. It’s a great time to doodle and daydream. I also don’t count it as exercise time, that’s deserving of undivided attention as well. But it helps ideas flow while I clean, and I stop and rest while I clean a lot anyway.

Much more fun than keeping the laptop open to stop and write when I had time. I had methods I thought were organized, but they ended up with me feeling like everything was chaos and unmanageable. Now I have a book I scribble in, and I feel like it’s all slipping into place just fine. It looks like a wreck but it’s the smoothest sailing ship in my fleet so far.

The biggest way I’ve been using it is to set it up with a writing prompt in the morning, daydream up plot bunnies, which I then can write about during Her Fussiness’s afternoon nap. Then, when she wakes up, I take notes on how to develop the idea further, or come up with more plot bunnies while I continue with my normal routine. Then I revise my notes in the evening at the kitchen table while dinner cooks.

I finalize the day with tasks that help me feel closure, like a little yoga and checking off the completed tasks for the day. Pleasure reading then stops the flow of ideas or I never sleep. I know writers are supposed to be open to the ability to take notes at 3am, but if I let my brain stay active it will never let me get any rest. Letting it have the freedom of my entire day instead seems to be working out well.

My prompts have been coming from Naming the World: And Other Exercises for the Creative Writer, edited by Bret Anthony Johnston. I browse it until something strikes me as I sip my coffee, then I put the book down and set up a prompt page.

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This page about Thisbe Nissen’s Fiction Through Artifacts prompt turned into a board on Pinterest. It’s devoted to collecting visual prompts for plot bunnies. I’m doing her postcard exercise from my gallery today. I also have a bullet journal section in my journal gallery. If you have anything similar, leave me a comment so I can check it out.

Which all sums up my current plan. Shake up my muse a bit for a few weeks, until I have some plot bunnies that are shining, prized gems. The next step will be working on them one at a time, then after a bit I’ll pick up alternating quick projects with the larger projects I have resting. For now, I’ll have tons of fun, and a schedule that allows me to create while organizing for the move.

P.S.- I highly recommend Abney Park (a steampunk band) as background music to dinosaur fights, I can stream it on Spotify and still hear the dinosaur sound effects. 60s music also gives it a nice surrealistic feel.

Happy Father’s Day, Joe

I can’t be there to give you a gift or a back-rub today, so I wrote you some crime genre flash fiction. We love you and miss you. See you soon.

Carnival Prize

Oh, that’s an heirloom from my husband’s side of the family. Oh, no no no, that doesn’t belong to a girl, no that’s nothing worth stealing. Are you thinking he bought stolen goods? No, that’s from a trip to his mother, she’s in a nursing home and he went to visit her last weekend. He hadn’t seen her for a while, so they had a long chat and at the end of it, she gave him this. It was her sister’s, she passed last year, bless her heart.

Oh, no, he doesn’t go out to visit her regularly. Actually, he hasn’t seen her since he was a teenager, to tell you the truth. He got mad about something that he won’t talk about, but I know he thinks she raised him wrong, but I know how important it is for your mental health to bring those things to a conclusion and he’s been so stressed I told him maybe a reunion with his mother would be just the thing he needed. And he didn’t want to listen at first, but he thought about it and agreed so he spent last weekend away and visited her.

Anyway, it isn’t very valuable so if you’re hunting stolen goods, I don’t think you have to worry about this one. It’s from a carnival his mother and her sister went to, they won a knickknack in a ring toss.

It’s an heirloom, but only because it was passed along in a will. Nothing valuable. I asked and that’s what Mark said it wasn’t that it was old, it’s sentimental from a trip they took together to Tampa, nothing worth stealing.

No, I’ve never heard of her. Is she a resident at the nursing home? Dead woman, no we don’t know any dead women, young or otherwise. What, no it doesn’t belong to some girl. I just told you.

He’s not sleeping around on me, if that’s what you think. He didn’t take some girl to the carnival. He never smells funny or makes odd phone calls. He hasn’t been distant, or clingy, or guilty, I’d know, there are signs for that.

Look, even if there was an affair, so she what? She calls the cops to retrieve this five-dollar piece of junk? Why would she do that, why wouldn’t she just call me?

What? Oh yes, you said she’d passed. Well anyway this isn’t hers and we don’t know any dead women, so thank you for your time and I need to get back to my chores now, there’s only so much time in the day.

No, I told you. My husband doesn’t know any dead women. I’d know, he would have told me. Obviously, he would have mentioned if a friend of his died.

And see there, that proves it wasn’t an affair, he would have wanted to go to a funeral. He would have kept an affair secret, he would have lied about their relationship, but he’s a kind man, he would have gone. He would have said she was a client from work or something. Well, see there you go. If you don’t even think he knew her then why are you bothering me?

Okay, so a girl was seen holding a toy like this one and walking with a man who looks like my husband, but having an average appearance isn’t a crime, she’s seen holding this toy and walking with a man she just met that night, and she ends up dead. That’s a shame. That’s a very sad story but this thing is a cheap carnival prize from the boardwalk, why would you think it’s the same one? That’s ridiculous.

No, he wasn’t seen at a carnival last weekend, it was a man who looked like him. I told you, he went to visit his grandmother. Why would you need to search the house? What other girl? What toy rabbit? The one I got for Valentine’s Day?

Oh Look, You Made It Here

Assuming you’re one of the handful of people who ran across my previous blog and saw about the move. I shall honor the occasion with a poem about my favorite plant.

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Suburban Sunshine

Across the lawn, a man of gold did flow

His grace spoke soft, his strength gave truth

He sang his hope, his pride of glories grown.

But lo, behold, the putrid waves of smoke

Tendrils of bitter lion’s teeth entwined

He fell to monsters beneath soft blue grass

His cries lost to the raw eldritch madness

Into the soft embrace of well-fed soil.