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The Column icon The Column: Issue 20

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The Column is a monthly feature that explores the world of creativity and aesthetics.

Write from the Heart
Mike de Sousa, Director, AbleStable

All writers start off with a desire to touch the minds and hearts of others. I investigate why our personal narrative is a vital link to ensuring our creative voice remains vibrant and lasting.

Our Life As Narrative

Our daily experience is the prime connecting mechanism that informs all creative activity. Our experience is as much molded by a trip to see a great movie as it is through our contact with others: family, friends, neighbours, strangers. We might be tempted to dismiss this statement, after all, a book or movie can't compare with real life, right?

We define our lives through narrative. Our experience is gathered each moment and filtered into memory. Our very core of who we are is defined by our memory. Memory is identity, and without it we are lost. We order the chaos of experience with our own self made narrative. Stories of our childhood, stories of our first love, stories of our hopes, our fears. These stories rarely have beginnings, middles, and ends, but as we grow, so these fragmented narratives inter-relate. Perhaps much of the mechanism of this 'bringing together of narrative' occurs in our dream time where creativity and imagination is at its most instinctive and furtive.

Our personal narratives are schooled in many ways, from the earliest stories our parents tell us, to the use of conventions and techniques we find in the composed narrative of literature and film. We use all this knowledge to construct our own story and place in the world. The stories of others then, are of profound influence.

Go Boldly

Some switch off the moment Star Trek's mentioned, but wait. You might feel it's uncool to even contemplate the Borg, or perceive a certain 'soft edge' morality that you don't like about Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Michael Mann's Collateral might be more your scene. That's cool. My interest for this column however is that Star Trek provides a more well known and popular body of work that allows me the opportunity to discus some ideas about creating from the heart.

  Star Trek movies, despite their many flaws, all follow one central theme: to explore the human condition through story telling. For some the backdrop of space works, for others it misses the mark, but when all ten movies are taken together, they show our friend and enemy, time, is always the key component in the way audiences experience narrative.

Tick tock

Time in Star Trek is all important, not only from the perspective of the closed filmic futuristic narrative, but also from the perspective of our personal narrative. I first watched Star Trek on its syndicated release when I was around eight years old. I never tired of the repeats, and my understanding of the philosophical issues the series investigated increased as I entered my teens and I became more conscious. I'm a child of the 1960's, a time when space exploration caught the imagination of a generation. Star Trek is therefore inextricably linked to my personal history, experience of the world, and hopes for it.

There are many who find Star Trek movies derivative, tiresome, and warn out, but there are others who find each story at the very least, thought provoking. Whatever your personal feelings, it's valuable to consider why Star Trek continues to enjoy such a high level of interest.

The Genuine Thing

One thing that's always struck me about Star Trek is how there's a palpable passion of writers, directors, actors, and composers to convey a shared purpose and vision. Sure there are commercial constraints, politicisation, and compromise, and it may be the end result fails to deliver what you hope it might, but it's clear the creators of Star Trek aspire to achieve far more than the vast majority of Hollywood hacks, and it is this above all that people recognise, instinctively. People can judge fake goods from the real thing, when it comes to the real McCoy there's simply more care and attention to detail.

The Discipline of Effort

One thing I'm constantly mindful of is maintaining 'best effort'. There are so many occasions when it seems 'this will do'. It's at that point I need to push myself forward, to find the heart in what I'm doing. What ever it is, in whatever medium, about any subject, it is possible to tell a story that connects both mind and heart. It just takes that extra effort...


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Authors background
Mike de Sousa is the Director of AbleStable®. Mike has been commissioned as an artist, music composer, photographer, print and web site designer, and author.

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