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Jeremy's journal

Decide that you like college life. In your dorm you meet many nice people. Some are smarter than you. And some, you notice, are dumber than you. You will continue, unfortunately, to view the world in exactly these terms for the rest of your life.

Lorrie Moore


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Tuesday, July third, 2012

Story Idea

towards a business proposal: Maniapedia

  1. Maniapedia offers clients supervised, controlled "Mental Illness Experiences", in a variety of safe settings. Clients will have the opportunity to descend into the pit of schizophrenia/mania/psychosis and to emerge unharmed from its jaws after a set period.
  2. Slogan -- some variation on "Abandon hope all who enter here" which makes it clear that Maniapedia is in the business of hope and growth. "Embrace hope all who enter here" possibly; or something a little faker, slicker. Possibly have the Hippocratic oath on the homepage somewhere, with a sort of implied self-consciousness of the irony/hypocrisy (There's a fine line...) in such a declaration.
  3. Staff of psychiatrists and nurses work to ensure that each client's MIE has only positive sequelae (and we will be up front about the judgemental, paternalistic tone implied here) -- although room will also be made for the occasional thrill-seeker/Mental Illness tourist, the occasional macho adventurer or seeker of validation through stress; obviously we are going after a middle or upper-middle class clientéle, but we can make some allowances, subsidies for struggling artist types and can potentially even broaden our appeal to a more diverse, more urban client base -- commercials will include close shots of staff smiling in the surroundings of our facility, shot through a light amber lens to soften the distinctions between them, to sweeten the gleaming white surfaces of the clinic.
  4. Therapeutic goals --
    1. Understanding of self. MIE and the experience of return to normalcy will provide client with a heightened understanding of his/her internal structures, needs, desires, fears (and, but, is that such a selling point?)
    2. Conquering fear of illness. Fear of mental illness/breakdown is a neurosis* which can prevent the client from living an honest, non-repressed life. The controlled, supervised nature of the MIE allows the patient to confront and master this fear across multiple sessions. Here we will have to include some language about the low failure rate, and I'll note in passing that the sardonic tone does not quite ring true for a "business proposal", if that is indeed what's being proposed, and that the high negatives of the term "illness" may be a way of shooting yourself in the foot, it's becoming an inseparable core part of your strategy.
    3. Vacation from self -- market this aspect of it to the "mental health tourists" segment of the client base mentioned above. (Strictly avoid, of course, too much time spent on this segment, this and the neurotic repeat business, would not be desirable -- we would like to try and paint a more therapeutically defensible picture of the business. But they have to be mentioned when they are, after all, such a key potential piece of our revenue stream.)
    What motivation people would have for using our service is going to be a sticking point if you make it one -- on the one hand it sort of seems obvious to me that people would want to experience insanity if there was a safe out, but --

    I know, not really, right? That would be difficult and unlikely to succeed, for us just to come out saddles blazing, "We know you want to go crazy, come on, give it a try," doesn't make much of an advertisement unless there is already a group of well-off people who want to go crazy and will seek us out -- and if we pitch it that way it will seem more like a form of entertainment we are advertising than a therapy. So instead of trying to justify it we take as read that we will be a success, that everybody's already on the same page... if we can get away with that...

*And of course a key to Maniapedia's success will be getting its client base to accept this formulation.

posted evening of July third, 2012: Respond
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Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Story idea

This is sort of an updated take on Borges' "Los teólogos" I think -- a man is reading and blogging about a book which he's reading in a language not his own (one not available in translation); he manages to create a controversy or at least a bit of publicity around blasphemy in the text which is, however, not actually present in the source material -- it is the product of a fundamental misreading on his part, but nevertheless the controversy necessarily involves the original author of the piece, a contemporary of the blogger's who is not seeking the spotlight. This publicity becomes the author's route to fame or celebrity -- a different fame than he would have had in mind, while the (mis-)translator is of course pretty much ignored in the press and ultimately forgotten by history.

posted afternoon of November 28th, 2010: 1 response
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Monday, May 19th, 2008

Story Idea: "Never Forget"

All I have at this point is the background; I think a good, science-fictiony story could be written with this background but I don't have characters or events yet. A method of memory-enhancement has been developed, I think a genetic-modification method, that leads to a world in which people do not forget anything. However people want to forget a lot of their painful and traumatic memories. So: a method of memory transfer has been developed (note the passive voice: this story is not about these developments, they have already happened in the past), which can move memories between hosts. The memories cannot be deleted -- what is a memory without a host?

A new profession springs up of "bearer of unwanted memories". Practitioners are reviled, kind of similar to how our society looks at prostitutes. People with no other way of making money sell their services at memory-transfer labs. The affluent visit these dens of ill repute to rid themselves of memories of rape, shame, abuse, criminality. The story is about one of these memory hosts and how he gets through the day with all the ghosts in his head.

posted morning of May 19th, 2008: 2 responses
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Wednesday, June 25th, 2003

Story idea

Woo-hoo! The germ, the very germ of a fiction has come to me while I slept last night! Here it is:

The story concerns two bloggers: a male programmer and a female cartoonist. The two interact for a while at the beginning of the story when he finds her site, is interested by the art, they e-mail back and forth; they add each other's sites to their links. Move forward in time, they have not looked at each other's sites for a while nor communicated, but the links remain. Fast forward a year (say) and he comes to be served with subpoena. She is under investigation by the Justice Dept. for violation of the CIPA -- she had begun a very graphic exploration of her identity as a rape survivor which includes images of her as a child deemed pornographic by Ashcroft's minions; a SWAT team has raided her residence and seized her computer with all blog data; and her referral log shows many visitors have gotten there via his link.

Not sure quite where the story goes from there; -- I am not sure how plausible the whole CIPA thing is and how much of a case they would have against her. I am thinking maybe the investigation will go away after disrupting everyone's life for a while. At which point he examines her site, finds it repellent -- he would not have linked to her if this stuff had been up when he first browsed it -- perhaps due to unresolved issues of his own? Maybe they will have further dialog, I don't know how this experience will affect her and her work, though I think clearly it would radicalize her -- I reckon she would have been kind of radical to begin with.

posted morning of June 25th, 2003: Respond
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