Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Power

Power is energy, controlled and transformed.  Difficult to think of an act being performed, a thing being made or unmade without power.  The source of power is energy.  Throughout history, energy has been transformed into forces that compete with natural events in the sense of causing eras such as The Bronze Age or The Industrial Revolution.

Power is the cause and effect of such conditions as politics.  You could say--and believe you will--that politics, which are caused by power, has a direct influence on story.  You could say further--and believe you now will--that story releases and directs energy within those who read and witness it.  And while you're at it, why not go all the way, by saying story itself is the control and transformation and manipulation of power?

A major theme in story is opposing forces, which takes us to observations governing inertia.  Objects at rest tend to stay at rest until overcome by a greater force or power.  Thus power lurks about the stage, waiting to propel opposing forces into opposition or waiting to give a nudge to such abstractions as Fate, Karma, and Justice.

Story is about two or more individuals in some kind of competition where some kind of settlement awaits, depending on the individuals themselves and the current attitude of the writer who sets forces into motion and away from stasis.

Years ago, although perhaps not that many, you experiences the bumper cars in carnival fun zones as expressions of enjoyable collision, perhaps made more enjoyable because they were ways of working off the pent-up energy of frustration, anger, resentment, and on the other side of the emotional ledger, enthusiasm, joy, commitment, and the energy released from discovery.  As such things go, you could even say you get energy from discovering things about yourself and those about you that did not speak well to the curriculum vitae you wished to present socially.

Someone in story has power over others.  In some cases, the fact of this power being in place may be due to positive social, moral, and political reasons, but such assessments might mean nothing positive to those on the other side of the power.  Even when used democratically or evenhandedly, the mere presence of power may produce resentment, which, you see, is an energy in itself, prompting actions which may be considered anarchy.

Power does not, then, even have to be used; the mere fact of its presence may cause resentment or such other energy sources as intimidation.  Look at that river.  How we going to get across it?  Forget the question of why the asker, the intimidated ones, would want to cross the river for a moment or two, although suffice it for not to say that plausible motivation, say motivation to cross a river, is of itself a source of energy.

Isn't motivation, after all, a driving force in story?  Who would want to kill Uncle Charlie?  In order to find out, we have to examine the relationships Uncle Charlie had with those about him, validating your theory that motive is nascent power.  Someone who knew Uncle Charlie had sufficient energy/motivation to wish him dead, then to act on that wish.

Story is controlled power.  Those in power have and exercise the energy necessary to demonstrate their position to those of lesser rank or privilege.  You don't get to play in the big kid's sand box.  You don't get to eat with the adults.  You must remember, you're the junior faculty here.

Any number of wonderful story moments arise when the power shifts without the one in power realizing it until a bit too late. If one in power is deposed, the energy turns the story toward humor and cosmic justice.  If the focus is on one without power who gains or regains lost power, the payoff is one of triumph, the mood and implications radiant of positiveness.

Story is all about power, power shifts, and things that transform the power into some kind of inertia, either the inertia of stasis or the inertia of movement.

If you look at story as a motor or engine, converting energy to emotional product, you'll have begun to sense story as it ought to be sensed.

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