Was just searching the meanings behind names, for characters in my novelette. It’s important (integral really) that what I write is careful, and the names are important symbolically. (I certainly do not feel the same about real life — names in reality are unimportant for me, they are attachments to the past, and serve a fine purpose, but are not exceptionally relevant.) However, when you start writing fiction you (might? … well it happened for me) get a sudden change in perspective on names. It’s unlike the real social sphere. In a sense, a writer of a novel is creating an imaginary universe. They are it’s deity. So quite amazingly (to me at first) it becomes a sensitive matter, a matter of deep ontology, to create characters with meaningful names, or cryptic names, or just names that have a special emotional resonance—for you, the writer. They are your creatures, and you owe them some sort of benevolence and respect. Yeah, yeah. This is all a bit dopey and indulgent. A writer is no deity, even in their own mind, in fact sometimes you feel the antithesis of a benevolent demigod for the universe you create. So what? It’s how I genuinely, and unselfconsciously connected to the story I’ve been aching to forge.
There’s a good website here www.behindthename.com/ and I came across Janani Dhinakaran’s blog, The Outsider’s Journey, and bang! It just gave me the inspirational kick to start a blog so that I could ditch my overly introverted journal, and basically unseen F/B pages (which are not great reads anyway) to start a proper journal for my kids to (maybe someday) read. “Oh boy!” I tell myself. This could be hard to write, and harder to read. But thanks Janani, whoever you are. May we happily meet by random chance one day and not even know it, but feel the surge in life’s connected continuous fields (giving us a little buzz somehow) and re-radiate the mysterious happiness of the moment to all around us.
It did not take much effort on my part to have Janani make this divine little influence in my life. Guess that’s what makes people all the more wonderful. They can touch another’s soul without ever realizing it. Now all I need to do to thank her is get my novelette going faster and be true to the imagined humanity of the characters I have and will create. That’s all, pff! ‘s not too much pressure being a fictional deity.
It was the tiniest impulse. Maybe the tipping point was just her blog entry janinthesky.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/starry-night/ which did it? Gazing at the stars was so important for me as a kid growing up in Aotearoa, I had my parents get extra windows installed in my bedroom, so I could watch the stars as I feel asleep. Pretty obvious resonance then huh? But I’ve had loads of tremendously insightful and achingly gorgeous moments browsing the web, so why now? Ahhhh, that’s a little secret I will not yet divulge. Who really knows what one’s motives are though? I’ve read research suggesting most people tell fictions to themselves, stories they believe, to explain their actions, which are (the psychologists tell us) very, very tenuously related to really what drives them.
Professor Sean Lane at LSU says that even being forced to repeatedly deny something has a weired psychological backfire effect—amazingly some people (which includes the mythical yet undeniably impactful “average person”) can be self-deceived into believing the lie in the denial. Here’s a brief except from ScienceDaily.com:
To explain, Lane cited the “illusory truth effect,” the idea that hearing false information repeatedly will make it seem truthful, simply because it’s familiar. His study takes this idea in a new direction.
“They’re telling the truth, they’re denying, but later this thing seems familiar,” said Lane. “They’re confusing the familiarity of the repetition [with the truth], not realizing that those repeated denials are what makes it seem familiar 48 hours later.”
This means that telling the truth can actually lead to a false memory. A man who repeatedly denies being present at the scene of the crime, for example, might actually begin to imagine that scene — where it was, what it looked like, who was present — even if he was never there. It feels strangely familiar to him, and because the repeated denials have slipped from his memory, he can’t explain why.
False memory is a well-documented phenomenon, and Lane has researched it extensively throughout his career. In a courtroom, it can be disastrous. Through studies like this one, Lane offers forensic investigators a deeper insight into this bizarre behavior.
An accessible read on similar psychology is Daniel Goleman’s Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self-Deception. Try the NYTimes review of the book if you are in a hurry.
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My mind has it’s own theory, about why Janani’s blog inspired me, and I believe it to be sincere, since I haven’t thought much about it. I haven’t had time to repeat it to myself to believe it for banal psychological self-delusion reasons. It’s just this first theme for this blog which popped into my head (or should I write “out of my head”?).
Ha! Maybe this is all fiction. Thing is, if it is, I don’t know it!