Yesterday evening, as I browsed Facebook and Twitter, I became aware of, and then part of, something strange. I had already heard something about Clint Eastwood’s debate with an empty chair at the US Republican convention on Thursday, which struck me as an odd thing to do, but living on the other side of the Atlantic, had not yet had a chance to watch it. When I did, I was initially saddened to see that one of my all-time favourite Hollywood tough guys might have overestimated his talent for comic oratory, although if better informed (or scripted) and perhaps twenty years younger, I’d like to think he might still have pulled it off.
Then I received a tweet asking, Is Eastwooding the Next Planking Internet Meme? linking to a number of photos of people apparently conversing with empty chairs. At this point a number of thoughts went through my mind:
Photo by Adam N.Ward
The origin of artistic inspiration has been a subject of fascination since the ancient Greeks, who wrote of nine goddesses or muses without whose benevolent gifts of insight, aspiring writers and other artists would presumably have been left creatively bereft.
Before I started writing my first novel, I’d heard authors talk of how their books sometimes seemed to write themselves, but I never really believed it. Instead I assumed it was just a false show of modesty following the laboured completion of what must actually have been a far more complex and arduous process of creation. This made the experience, when it first occurred to me, all the more remarkable. More
Gwen Stefani and baby Zuma
In the first part of this essay, I briefly introduced the idea of an empathy continuum, before diving straight into what might have seemed like a totally unrelated topic – our stress response system. In this post, I will try to explain how these two things are crucially connected and what this means for us all.
So what is Empathy?
The word “empathy” is thrown about a lot these days, often in vague and imprecise ways to cover to a variety of things from sympathy to compassion, but true empathy refers specifically to a natural capacity found in humans and known to exist in other mammals, allowing us to literally feel for others. To empathise is to place oneself in another’s shoes, see things from the other’s perspective, and to some extent, to actually feel what that person is feeling. Before we look at how this works, perhaps the first question should be why.
Why did humans evolve empathy? More
Lee Evans, during his UK stand-up tour, BIG.
Profiling the central characters for my next novel has directed research into the fascinating subject of empathy and the hugely varied personality traits / disorders which can arise from our relative positions on what I’m now seeing as an empathy continuum. Not only is this providing useful material for the book, it has also sparked some introspection, illuminating and perhaps connecting a number of physiological peculiarities from which I’ve suffered over the years.
So at the risk of revealing a little more about myself than I might otherwise, I thought I’d share with you a little of the arm-chair self-diagnosis in which I’ve been indulging recently. While none of the following symptoms have ever led me to seek medical attention, they have nonetheless caused varying degrees of irritation, embarrassment and curiosity: More
One of the brief moments last week when it stopped raining long enough to take a photo.
On a recent road trip through the breathtakingly beautiful (and relentlessly cold, rainy and misty) Snowdonia national park, I was once again, like so many times before, struck by the awesome majesty of mountain ranges.
I’ve always been intrigued as to the origins of aesthetic beauty, whether manmade (music, dance, sculpture, fine art etc.) or the abundant natural beauty of this Universe we inhabit. Although any expanse of verdant countryside might be considered beautiful, why is it that when such land is extruded thousands of feet into the air to form mountains, we are filled with such powerful emotions of wonder and awe? After all, except for the fact that it’s inclined at 45 degrees or so, it’s really not so very different to the rest of the countryside.
There are different approaches to answering such questions depending on whether one is inclined to romantic, poetic, religious, or scientific explanations. More
I published my first novel, Connected, in June 2012 on Amazon. As a launch promotion, I offered it free for the first five days, during which, to my great surprise, over 4500 copies (Kindle version) were downloaded. This sent it straight to Number 1 in the Amazon UK rankings for both Thrillers and Science Fiction. I was even more astonished when, following the free promotion, people continued to purchase the book in surprisingly high numbers! Encouraged by this unexpected success, I am now busy planning my second novel.
Synopsis of Connected What others are saying Where the idea came from
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