We understand we world through stories. Since we are children we are told representations of our ancestors and how they link to our present. They are probably the most powerful tool we have to ignite our creativity.
These stories shape our realities: A child might think he or she is dumb, because of the story they have been told. Or the other side, another child might think nothing is impossible. Or grow up thinking they deserve better than anyone.
Sharing stories becomes a tool to unify or divide large amounts of people. These beliefs are shaped by stories we tell each other until we cannot differentiate what is real from what’s a fantasy. Just like creativity, storytelling can be used for unifying or for dividing. For selling or for sharing. For peace or for war.
Making a story made me realize the potential of creating alternate realities can have on shaping the connection between people. Both internally and externally.
Make a story
For this exercise, I decided to make a song telling the story of River (my character, specified later). An entity from a different plane comes to earth looking to learn what it means to be separated from one another.
A story about River
Their name was River
Their blank eyes just makes me feels strange
They say they comes from very far and very near
Where there’s no time, and there’s no space
And they were a bit chaotic, sometimes quite neurotic
I might never understand why he was always picking cans
They seemed like a purple being
I don’t really know how to explain it
They were studying separation,
But it looks like plain isolation
Just looking at people in the eye
Like they could look through them
It was very strange, but somehow very calming
They used to go to sleep on the hill
They liked to watch the city lights
They never cared what anyone said
At some point I feel they were actually trying to be excluded
They were not afraid of anything
But they seemed to be a bit hurried to learn
With those dirty and rugged clothes
I felt they knew so much more about everything
They never remembered my name
Or even my face sometimes
But they never reacted angry
Instead they were quite friendly
And they never seemed to need anything
They smelled like a forest that I never visited
An organic feeling of life
They seems always happy
They draw a triangle on his hand
They say it helps them land
And there was a very nice story
They tell me over and over
They where 10.000 ways
Not bounded by time of space
They were here to learn
What it means to be a human
Every one with their own dreams
Collective and in between
That separation as an illusion
Will help them understand the opposite
That when everyhting is one
Going deep becomes a bit hard
I really liked that personStory by Samu Carvajal
I don’t know where did they go
They told me that I shouldn’t worry too much
That everything in this life, too shall pass.
Create a character
Part 1: build your character
For this exercise I let my imagination go wild and started taking notes based on the directions provided. I came out with a character described as follows:
- Name: River (it doesn’t have the last name)
- History and family life: They were an entity from a different plane of reality that needed to come to live a human experience to understand the concept of “separation”. Their family is themselves. Back home, separation doesn’t exist, therefore all their family is happening at the same time and space.
- Quirks: They tend to be very direct and quite chaotic. They don’t understand boundaries or personal space. They can read your mind too.
- Tweaks: They think they are very behind on learning this stuff. They think everyone knows everything already and that they have to keep up. They are not afraid of anything (cause they don’t know fear) and trust everyone.
- Dress: They dress like a homeless person, with rags and dirty clothes.
- Nuance or surprise: They don’t have superpowers. River’s culture has already transcended the illusion of separation, therefore they can’t differentiate between you and me. They forget names and faces. They are very good at knowing what a person is feeling. They smell like a forest, even though they are always dirty. They have problems speaking.
Part 2: Observe a character
For this exercise, I spent around 15 minutes quietly observing a homeless person in Hide Park, Sydney. I stopped when they spotted me taking notes.
- Look around: There is a person in Hide Park, on the way from Town Hall station. He has a big long deadlock and a hat. He has a big belly and seems to always enjoy being on the floor.
- What is being worn: He wears a grey jumper and some very old jeans. He doesn’t wear shoes, belts or socks. He smells very bad (to me). His clothes are rugged and dirty and seem to be worn for a very long time.
- Imagine putting yourself in these clothes: I think if I was in those clothes I would care too much about anything anymore. All the concepts of status, money or fame wouldn’t matter. I would be free to explore myself in relation to my environment. It might be hard, and I would feel a bit sad.
Scenography as story
The atmosphere I’ve chosen for this story is a surrealist-sombre reality, in which in one part we are part of a decaying society (architecturally) and on the other hand, there is a window of opportunity to a different (and surrealist) reality.
This exercise allowed me to set the tone and intention of my song. This shows the material feeling that River is immersed in. Even though we interpret these images based on our reality, we can understand where our character is situated.
The character that I’m going to use for this exercise is (obviously) River, an interdimensional entity that wants to understand what separation means. He is trying to learn what is “space”, “time” and the difference between “you and me”.
1 – First Ritual: Morning
Every morning River wakes up feeling like part of the whole (what some spiritual teachers would call “enlightenment”). They start their day by doing a strict set of rituals that will allow them to further advanced their studies of separation.
- They draw a triangle on his left hand: This is the first thing in the morning. They call this method an “anchor”. This little drawing reminds him constantly that he has to work hard on feeling separated from everyone.
- They get up and start walking around observing people in the eyes: Their eyes are white, like people with cataracts. So people get scared of them.
- After that, they start meditating (in a different way). Their meditation is based on touching their face and their legs, pinching them. This is aimed to feel their body. The need to feel separated makes this point crucial.
2 – Second Ritual: Afternoon
After the day starts running, River goes on a hunt for cans. This can be any kind of can, but aluminium works perfectly. Al 5182 is the specific element that allows River to study. This is a material that is not available in his universe.
When Rivers touches an aluminium can, since is a material so alien to them, it creates a tension between the metal and their body. This process allows River to feel more separated and allows them to study this strange new feeling.
The process of this afternoon ritual goes like this:
- They go on the hunt for some aluminium cans at around midday.
- They fill their bag (a recycled bag from Woolies) with cans (around 27).
- They go back to their place in Hide Park.
They don’t do anything strange with the cans. They only take them with one hand for around 3 minutes and then place them in any bin near them.
3 – Third Ritual: Night
River don’t need to sleep or to rest, but their human body does. Every night they leave their body and go back to his universe. To achieve this they need to follow a very specific set of rules that will allow them to travel interdimensional.
- They need to go to the highest point of the city they can.
- They need to focus on the sky for around 30 minutes.
- They put their body in a resting position and relax.
- After this, they are already travelling interdimensional.
All these rituals allow this character to keep working towards his goal of experiencing separation. This is not an easy task: it requires a lot of persistence and patience. It requires them to be aware of the modes we take for granted and work constantly to make the invisible, visible.
All these exercises are included (in some way on another) in the final story.