The following is a presentation given in my Alchemy class (led by Dr. Evans Lansing Smith). It was intended to provide an analysis of a selected image from the Splendor Solis, an alchemical text by Salomon Trismosin and written in the 16th century. Naturally, I selected an image depicting the Muse (plate II-6): Here we see the usual arts we associate with the Muse: painting, writing, music. But we also see architects, craftsmen and merchants. This is because the Muse is found not only in the arts but in every facet of human life that requires thought. Creativity and inspiration abounds in all activities and comes in many forms. At the top of the painting, Hermes/Mercury is seen presiding over the realm of the Muse. Hermes is, of course, the trickster. He presides over speech and problem solving, for he is the messenger. He is also the god of liminal space: of creating and breaking boundaries. Both Hermes and the Muse are in blue which, in alchemical symbolism, is the final color of the stages of transformation. It represents transcendence, the ascension of thought, the ascension of the spirit onto a higher plane – onto a realm of the unconscious …

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The following paper was written for my Buddhist Traditions class, led by Dr. Patrick Mahaffey. The original presentation that inspired this paper can be found here. Tintin in Tibet was written in 1960 by Belgian writer Hergé, neé George Remi. The comic features the title character Tintin in search for his friend Tchang, whose plane has crashed in the Himalayas. When the search turns up nothing, Tintin fears the worst. Despondent, he takes refuge in a Buddhist monastery to recover from his grief and his near-death experiences in the mountains. The ageless and inquisitive reporter is the subject of numerous comics spanning over five decades—from the late twenties to Hergé’s death in the eighties. The comics’ popularity is due in part to the comics’ sweeping international landscapes, daring adventures, and Hergé’s expressive artwork; but the character of Tintin is one that draws people in. He is the iconic youth, always optimistic and progressive (as symbolized with the forward and upward style of his hair—an icon in itself). Along with mystery and adventure, the stories express central themes such as tolerance, chivalry, and most importantly compassion. His selfless defense of not only his friends but of the oppressed is an example …

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Well. That was an intense six days. Two days at Dev and four days at Prime. I have as many pages of written notes from the last six days of PAX as I do from the last six months of class. I’m having difficulty figuring out what to write here because there is so much information packed into my head. I met some amazing people and attended some career-enhancing panels. First and foremost, the people at Bioware taught me how to put together my portfolio. So that focus is in my sights now. While this blog will still be dedicated to my dissertation, my Tumblr blog (mythandmayhem) will be dedicated to my creative works in progress. There will be glimpses into the creative process with excerpts, pictures, and the occasional video. I have some great ideas in the pipeline, so look forward to those. Did Someone Say Dragon Age? Speaking of Bioware, I will admit I barely left their booth in four days. So many events! My little heart was a-pitter-pat. I even got to take my picture with the enormously generous Mike Laidlaw, creative director of Dragon Age: Inquisition. Oh, and I made a new friend because we were …

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In honor of spending the next few days at PAX Dev and PAX Prime, I thought I’d go on a little rant on that which shapes everything I think about and everything I do: narrative. The transcript of my presentation, “The Future of Video Game Narrative: Player, Agency, And Negative Space Storytelling,” can be read on Academia.edu Story and the Future of Video Game Narrative Video games are the next step in the evolution of storytelling. But like the first fifty years of cinema, we have yet to crack the perfect form of game narrative. Each time we discover a new medium to tell stories we have to experiment with the best ways to use that medium. I have read articles that argue that we have reached peak evolution for video game narrative and that there will never be any quality game stories. I disagree; we just haven’t experimented enough because we are too hung up on trying to tell the story like we would in films. The birth of cinema saw the same problem: they were too stuck in trying to tell the story like they would on stage. But there is big difference between the most effective ways …

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My dear readers who do not follow me on Facebook or Twitter may not know that I have started teaching at the North Seattle College Continuing Education department. The first class I am offering is a two-session class in Archetypes in Writing, though I hope to add a few others to my list such as Mythic Fiction and, perhaps, Playwriting. The wonderful Cole Hornaday interviewed me about the class, what will be covered, and archetypes. I have posted partial answers here, and if you wish to read further you can visit the NSC blog.   What is an archetype? Archetypes are patterns, but there is so much more to it, and to fully utilize archetypes we need to understand where they come from and why they are important. They come from what psychiatrist Carl Jung called the Collective Unconscious and are the building blocks of any story that is told—be it a creation myth, an epic fantasy novel, a Nobel-winning literary fiction, or a memoir. An archetype can be a type of character, such as a mentor, trickster, or hero, but it can also be an experience, such as coming of age or transformation through tragedy. Emotional states such as …

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The following (brief) presentation was given to my Buddhist Traditions class, led by Dr. Patrick Mahaffey. I originally wanted to be assigned the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo Thodol in its original language) for sentimental reasons; it was one of the books I inherited from my cousin when she died. However, when I actually received it (through a synchronistic luck of the draw) all I could think about for some reason was Tintin in Tibet. And then of course Ginette Paris mentioned Tintin in class the very next day and I decided it had to be done: Tintin and the Tibetan Book of the Dead. In the original 1960 comic by Hergé, Tintin makes an emergency trip to find his friend Tchang, whose airplane has crashed somewhere in the Himalayas. Struggling through a harsh landscape, sudden blizzards, and local rumors of a Yeti, Tintin is forced to presume his friend dead and eventually ends up at a Buddhist monastery. I was originally planning on drawing panels in which the Lama reads the Bardo for Tchang’s soul as Tintin sits and listens, but as I read the Bardo for myself I instead began to picture the mandala described: that of the …

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It seems to me that to be a good writer one much be a little bit of a sadist. We create characters, nurture them, love them, and then do horrid things to them or the story will be crap. I’ve never know a writer who doesn’t take at least a little (usually a lot of) pleasure out of this. Also, I have seen Quills far too many times. Yes, these thoughts are directly related.

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I took part in an author chat using the new software Aeon Timeline for this year’s NaNoWriMo. The developer, Matt Tobin, was kind enough to release a demo to help prep this year’s NaNoNovels, and a few of us volunteered to talk to him about it, our projects, and our methodology. How many years have you participated in NaNoWriMo? This is my fourth year participating. I won my first two years when all I had to balance was a full-time job and a social life, but last year I lost miserably. I was not prepared for the work load that my first year of grad school entailed. What are you writing for NaNoWriMo this year? A contemporary fantasy heavily founded in mythology, which is what most of my projects tend to be these days. This year’s novel is about power, corruption, and the sacrifice kings. More specifically it’s about what happens when the gates to the Underworld are opened. How do you plan for an event like NaNoWriMo? My first NaNo I pantsed it. I did finish the novel, but I wedged myself into a corner so badly I still don’t know how to fix it. Now I have learned …

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EElectrocuting dead bodies is fun. Well, the smell isn’t so nice, but hey! They twitch. That’s what matters, right? In fact, this so excited European scientists at the turn of the nineteenth century that they thought electricity must be the Spark of Life. Sound familiar?   One of my favorite novels is Frankenstein, Or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley, published anonymously in 1818, then republished (with edits) under her own name in 1831. It was a landmark piece of work, the first-ever science fiction novel, and a treatise on science, politics, feminism, mythology, religion, … need I go on? Those who know me well know this has been brought up because I’ve been applying for graduate school again, for a PhD in Mythological Studies with Emphasis in Depth Psychology. As part of the application process I needed a ten page writing sample. What better subject to write about than a modern myth that has continued to evolve for two hundred years? After all, science was changing the world and breaking the barriers of superstition. And yes, I’m talking about electrocuting dead bodies. They called it Galvanism. Catchy, isn’t it? Edit: This paper certainly does not reflect the …

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