“And it’s a human need to be told stories. The more we’re governed by idiots and have no control over our destinies, the more we need to tell stories to each other about who we are, why we are, where we come from, and what might be possible.” ~ Alan Rickman
“Fairy tales are more than true not because they tell us that dragons exist but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” ~ Neil Gaiman
I’ve been thinking for a long time about making some changes to this blog. The subtitle for what I’ve been writing is “The Arts, Spirituality, Life.” I chose those things to focus upon because they gave me a great deal of leeway. I could write about anything that came into my head and whatever I wrote would fit into one of those categories. But I’ve become restless of late. I needed a better focus for what I was writing. Over the next few weeks I’ll be changing the focus and look of this site. I hope you’ll stay with me on this new adventure.
After a lot of thought, I realized that I’ve been in love with stories my entire life. Our family would watch movies and then discuss them. Eventually it was just my dad and me discussing something we’d watched together. Those discussions could go on for days afterward. They were a great way to understand my dad’s philosophy of life, and to connect with him on a deep level.
I didn’t realize this at the time, but I gravitated toward degrees that focus on story telling because those discussions with my dad helped me understand human behavior and interactions better. I loved that I could have experiences, make mistakes, and learn things all from the comfort of my couch. Eventually I also fell in love with books for the same reason.
So, from now on I’m going to share things I learn about being a human from the books I read, the movies, TV shows, and plays I see. Stories will be my way to examine the big questions that baffle me, or insights, or new perspectives I gain from consuming them.
Having written that, I’d like to write about an Amazon series that I’ve written about before. It’s The Man in The High Castle. My sister and I were discussing it because she and her husband have begun watching the first season. Our discussion brought back so many memories and insights I gained from watching.
The series is based on the book of the same name by Philip K. Dick. It’s a dystopian story which takes place in the 1960s in an alternate reality in which the Nazis and Japanese won WW II and divided up most of the world between them. The former United States is ruled by the Japanese in the West and the Nazis in the East with a neutral zone in the Rocky Mountains. A key point of the plot is the existence of news reel type films showing events in the reality we know where the Allies won the war. The Nazis and to a lesser degree, the Japanese want to find “the man in the high castle” and end the distribution of these films. The reason is obvious, they challenge their power. And it’s this idea of the different kinds of power that my sister and I were discussing.
In the book Seat of the Soul, by Gary Zukav, which we have both read, Zukav outlines two kinds of power. External power is based on our perceptions of the five senses. The idea is that, there is not enough to go around, so I need gather as much power as I can to protect myself and my loved ones. The Nazis and most of the Japanese characters are driven by external power. They need to control external circumstances to make themselves safe.
The other kind of power that Gary Zukav says we’re moving toward is authentic power, that is based on the perceptions and values of the spirit. In other words, what is good for all of humanity is good for me too. This power comes from within each of us not as power over anyone, but power to cultivate creativity, compassion, and trust. Though the various resistance groups struggle with trust and how to accomplish their goal of overcoming the superpowers, their main focus is to make sure everyone has the necessities and opportunities they need to create good lives.
The book ends rather abruptly when the main character, Juliana Crain, finds the man who has been distributing the videos. But meeting him doesn’t answer the question of why he’s doing this. It doesn’t seem he has any purpose except to cause chaos. The series, on the other hand, uses the plot device of the videos as a way for various resistance movements to gain momentum in their fight against tyranny. The man is producing and distributing these films attempting to foster an evolution to authentic power. He is spreading hope that love and brotherhood is more powerful than the fear the Nazis and Japanese dish out.
An interesting part of the story for me are the traveling characters who can travel between dimensions or timelines. One of these is the Japanese Trade Minister. He and Juliana have an interesting relationship, sometimes bridging the two timelines. All the characters who travel to the timeline we know, either gain strength from their visits, or are confronted by the bad decisions they made. And those kinds of character studies are always interesting to me because some characters make expedient decisions instead of thinking of the consequences they will face further down the road. When their lives end up badly, it’s like a warning sign to the audience, “Don’t make these mistakes.”
It seems to me that stories can also help us make sense of what we experience in the outer world at the time of their creation. The Man in the High Castle is a piece of art that shows us a version of what we are experiencing right now. There are leaders who want to control their citizens by denying their basic needs. They control by using fear to keep the population down. On the other hand, there are leaders who seem to feel the trials of their fellow human beings and want to do something to relieve their suffering.
Stories give us a chance to explore the consequences of the choices the various characters make without experiencing them personally. Sometimes mental distance can be a good thing.
I hope you will stay with me on this ride. Stories permeate our lives and as the quotes above advocate, we need them. We need them to give us courage, or to weigh possibilities, or to help us get new perspectives, or even to connect emotionally with people (characters) we might never encounter in our real lives. Stories help us develop empathy. And in my estimation, we can use a lot more of that.
So, welcome to my new followers. Thanks so much for reading. Please leave a comment or a like, and if you feel so inclined, share this site with your family and friends. I’m a story nerd and would love to discuss the stories you love too.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2020
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Except that Jenna’s life is shattered and she must put her life back together. When she finds old journals as she’s clearing out her mother’s house, she joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan. She is able to come back to her own life at intervals and apply what she’s learned to heal and forgive.
The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published.