Thursday, April 24, 2008

Worldview books and character developement

Part Three
Insert soul here...

Someone asked me the other day what book influenced me the most, how and why--and then I read Kaige's thursday thirteen and got to thinking how it all related to character development, and building inconsistencies.

Environment builds character--not "characters" but actual character, the way you think and act, what you'd do in a given situation, in effect--your soul. That piece of you that is always you. Hague would call it "essence".

The best way to explain is that to "be more" there has to be potential. Everybody has some, some people--like St. Exupery would say, "wall themselves away". But in the beginning, there's fertile ground. Bit by bit it goes fallow. Maybe life wears away at you, maybe you tamp yourself down--hold to some artificial horizon. Like the theory of abusers having "been" abused, and continuing on to abuse others.

There's a lot to training and de-sensitization, but I think with the right influences, a person can turn away from what looks like his path in life, can form opinions that differ what his environmental norm would tell others he'd become.

Say a person who's been abused and brutalized, who watches everyone around him acting a certain way--maybe grew up in a system that perpetuates abuse and encourages opting out through drugs or preaches control through being the meanest and baddest guy out there, say maybe one day he's flipping through the channels and watches something that resonates on a level he didn't know he had. Maybe it's about honor, or taking a stand--maybe it's the Shawshank Redemption. How despite circumstances, you can be true to your internal core. That maybe--just maybe, there's something more than dumbing down, zoning out and beating on people for still having potential.

That builds inconsistency because changing the core doesn't change the package. A raisin in a candy bar wrapper still looks like a candy bar until you get the plastic off.

The same goes for a kid growing up in a better environment--maybe she's got two parents, nice home in the 'burbs, three game systems, a closet full of clothes and too much money. And no one pays attention to her. She's forming her world view on reality shows and torture porn, because no one cares enough to model decent behavior. Maybe she finds a book at school and read it, maybe it's Robin Hood or King Arthur. Maybe she realizes honor and standards--chivalry and hope--really exists, and she bases her life on the belief that it doesn't have to be this way. There's more to life than the new PS4 and recreational sex.

It's belief. It's finding the right influence at the right time, and being open enough to listen.

Maybe I went a little strange when I was a kid, reading Robin Hood, and King Arthur (lol...). Maybe Man of La Mancha influenced me. There's this women, Aldonza, she's a whore--and Don Quixote, in his madness--calls her his lady, Dulcinea. He believes so strongly, despite her initial rejection, that she feels herself starting to change. Because of his belief, because of his influence, she becomes Dulcinea.

Bujold in her book, Barrayar, has this scene where Aral is trying to explain Bothari to Cordelia. Bothari is this sociopathic personality who at "his" core knows what he is, and knows there's more out there, but can't change or explain what he wants because no one gave him the tools. Cordelia asks, "why me? Why is he fixated on me?" And Aral says, "...when my father looks at him, he sees a retainer, and Bothari plays one, as deadpan as you please. I look at him, I see a solider, and he becomes one for me. But you--you look at him and see a hero. And for you, he becomes one. You create him more than he ever hoped to be."

7 comments:

Unhinged said...

I'm definitely starring this entry in my Google Reader.

Environment
Personality
Other people's reaction to YOU

These were/are my big three influences. Only I know I began life with these three in THIS order:

Other people's reactions
Environment
Personality

I learned how different I was before I even understood what I knew.

Great post, Jodi. Keep them coming.

Kaige said...

Glad I sparked so much with my TT today! I don't think I have the words to respond to this yet. Of course, I suspect you're preaching to the choir. I also need to track down that Bujold book. DH has several of hers, just not that one.

jodi said...

lol, Kaige--I'm just doing the general "mumble under my breath" For some reason, you and the other people who drop by(tha's right, Unhingey--I mean you, too--)seem to understand what I'm trying to get at. I usually get these horribly "blank" looks, like I'm speaking a foreign language.

to synopsis, what I think I'm trying to say is that for some people--WHO they are, depends on what people think they are. They live up or down to what people believe about them. And for some people, who they are is not so obvious because who they are on top is not who they are inside because they formed an "internal core" through outside influences.

hmm...maybe I should expand on that

Kaige said...

I took the info in, and it looks like I processed it correctly, now, just need to be able to formulate a coherent response. =)

BTW, I'm going to reference this post/blog in a reply out in the big pond today. Just a warning if you see some new faces. ;)

Unhinged said...

...what I think I'm trying to say is that for some people--WHO they are, depends on what people think they are. They live up or down to what people believe about them.

Exactly. Exactly. This WOULD be worth a post, too, if you wanna.

Jeanna said...

I grew up reading "The Twisted Tales of Shakespeare" and "The Love Machine." Maybe that's why I couldn't concentrate in English Lit.
Hey, did you know there's a crazy redneck practice called Noodling? You don't eat a lot of catfish do you?

Alice Audrey said...

This is why peer pressure is so effective.

BTW, you've got a great hero and heroine going here. I'd love to get the two of them together.