November 12th, 2005


Plot Consequences and Structure

Writing: This morning, I watched a bit of The Englishman Who Climbed Up a Hill and Came Down a Mountain.

What struck me about this film was how clearly I could see the consequences and minor plot obstacles which move the film along.

1. You've got these two cartographers who show up in a small Welsh village. They want a pint of ale or two, so they stop at Morgan the Goat's inn.
2. Because they talk about their jobs, the villagers inveigle them to check out the local mountain.
3. Because their car breaks down and will take a while to fix, they are stuck in the village.
4. Because Hugh Grant's character meets a pretty girl, he doesn't mind staying.
5. Major plot problem--the mountain is only high enough to be classed as a hill, which the village doesn't want to hear..
6. The villagers become motivated to make their hill tall enough to qualify for mountain status.
7. From there, the plot becomes the villagers' attempts to stall Hugh Grant in town long enough for them to get their hill to the correct height, causing much fun and merriment.

I need to arrange or rearrange the plot elements in Avriet to reflect this sort of clear structure. Allistaire's release from the dungeons needs to kick off a whole lot of stuff--and it may be doing that, but I'm not seeing. Right now, I mainly see it kicking off a lot of speculation about Allistaire's medical condition, and it needs to do more than that. But darn it, when you've got a truly ill man, it takes a while for him to get into action. And he needs to be ill, because what he's ill with is necessary to the plot, part of his illness is to be an obstacle, and the other part of his illness helps him figure out the curse.

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    working working

On Handling Inner Religious Conflict

I have a friend whose therapist counseled her to switch to a different religion. The friend is justifiably pissed off by this and is, I think, looking for a different therapist.

I know nothing of what induced the therapist to make such a suggestion. However, having read my friend's journal posts, it doesn't seem to me that her religion is causing her any great emotional turmoils at the moment. I could be wrong, of course, but that's my impression.

The only time I would ever make such a suggestion to a patient, if I were a psychological therapist, would be if my patient were clearly in deep emotional distress to the point of contemplating suicide. Then I would have something to say. Presuming my patient's religion was Christianity, though the basic message is applicable to anyone of any faith, my advice would go a bit like this:

"God did not put you on this earth to be miserable. You have a right to happiness just as much as anyone else does. I want you to think about something. There is faith in God, and there is religion. They are two entirely different things. Faith in God is something that exists in your heart. No one has any say in that except God and you. Religion, on the other hand, is an artificial construct. It has priesthoods, and hierarchies, and rules, and writings--all of which were created by human beings, who created these things with all of their opinions and prejudices intact.

"What you need to decide is which of these two is more important to you--your private faith in God, or your adherence to a man-made religion that is causing you much unhappiness--unhappiness that I don't think God ever meant for you to have to feel.

"Sometimes, people regard periods of deep unhappiness as a crucible, as a way to strengthen their faith. But other people are broken by them. I don't want this to break you. God doesn't want this to break you. So think about it. Fairh or religion? Your lifestyle need not be a part of the choice unless you want it to be."

Anyway, as a therapist of the completely unlicensed, armchair variety, that's what I'd advise. It would not be as simple as I've put it, of course. People who are deeply distressed are often not rational, and the message might not get through, despite the therapist's best efforts. But I think this is a heck of a lot better than telling a patient, "I think you should just stop following X religion, and go to something else." I mean, geeze!
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    contemplative contemplative