Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Games Your Characters Play--with Themselves and You

 Eric Berne's 1964 study, Games People Play, set your early mind into a whirl, offering as it did a magnifying glass enlargement of relationships with which you could eavesdrop in much the same way you did when attending a play or watching a feature film with some pretense at seriousness of intent. Berne spoke of transactions among and between people, some of which--people and transactions--were quite functional, others which were quite the opposite.

Even without the emergence of a psychological firestorm of discovery, you knew you wished for functional transactions with others, understood how the success of these transactions, in particular those you initiated or wished to initiate, began somewhere within terrain you wished to explore as one of your childhood heroes, Admiral Richard Byrd, explored the South Pole

You could--and did--look at your own relationships with those about you.  You were at an age where you were still afflicted with a symptom you liked to think of as psychological hypochondria, from whose murky depths you sought and often found evidences of trespass into terrains from which you hoped to retire.

This brought you into contact with other works, often shelved in bookstores as Self-Help, such as I'm Okay--You"re Okay, Men Are from Mars--Women from Venus, and the more humorous than psychological works of Stephen Potter such as Gamesmanship and a work you wished you'd had when your university minor subject was political science, One-Upsmanship.  

For at least a semester in political science, you were determined to be first in your non-English-major classes, actually were, and found a temporary regime of faith in the notion that political science was the art of getting what you wanted from people and making them like it.

You read all these titles, took copious notes on and in them, and, as a result of a conversation between you and a potential editorial client, folded into the mix the sense of martial arts being a form of political science.  You were encouraged to see martial arts as a means of having your opponent perform in the courses of action you dictated.  

Well, you were tall, well-built, and young.  You actually had a job that resulted in you being requested to give speeches of one sort or another to individuals with whom you had the fondness of reading and of writing in common.  In the interests of brevity, you'll leave those times with the awareness that you felt they--and you--were somehow manipulative, a thing you did not wish to be.

"There is a difference,"  an associate told you, "between being charismatic and being manipulative."  You agreed with his thesis, but in the interest of distancing yourself from being manipulative and connecting charisma with the kinds of ego you did not have nor wish to acquire, you moved away and onward to a point where you wished to establish a healthy and cordial relationship with characters.  

You wished that relationship to apply with the characters about whom you read, the ones you encountered in manuscripts you were called upon to evaluate as an editor, and most important of all, the characters you hoped to bring to your life in works you hoped to bring to life.  

In effect, you've begun to essay your own parallel study to Dr. Berne's, thinking of yours as The Games Characters Play:  Partners in Dramatic Confrontation.  This is not so much a book as a philosophy, where you enter with as complete an articulation of your personal narrative as possible.  

The next step is to bring characters into your terrain who may not be well prepared for it or you.  They should have their own agendas, their own Grail to seek, their own inner gasp of despair at the discovery that some apparently safe platform has given way under their weight.

The toxicity or health of your characters goals are not yours to decide, rather their actions in pursuing or avoiding them become the determining factors.

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