November 16, 2009

The Substance of Story

Hey All!

I know, it's been what? Two weeks since my last post? Well, I'll try to do better from now on. It's been pretty hectic then, right after, I went through a lazy-phase (yes, I know, I tend to go through those pretty regularly--can't help it, it's addicting!).

As I've mentioned before, while I'm finishing up the edits to my novel, I'm also developing a movie script. Yep. It's turning out to be a lot of fun, and a lot more complex than I had anticipated (my story, that is, I'd always imagined making movies to be difficult to begin with^^).

BUT, I found this super great book to help me: Story by Robert McKee.

Already in the intro he gives us the gist of what a story truly is and, as a learning storyteller myself, I thought I'd share some of his points with you:

1) Story is about principles, not rules. That is, your story should be well done and should follow guidelines, but it doesn't HAVE to do anything.

2) Story is about eternal, universal forms, not formulas. Yes, I believe that's a jibe to a lot of movies (and dare I say? books) out there, that are pushed forward because they follow a successful trend but end up being just so much fluff.

3) Story is about archetypes, not stereotypes. In Robert's words, "[a]n archetypal sory creates settings and characters so rare that our eyes feast on every detail, while its telling illuminates conflicts so true to humankind that it journeys from culture to culture."

Note: have I mentioned this author has a super awesome way with words? No? Well, he does! (end of note)

4) Story is about thoroughness, not shortcuts. This one's a hard one for me to swallow. I mean, come on, we all know I'm so not the patient type! I'm a product of today, I want immediate gratification.

5) Story is about realities, not the mysteries of writing. In other words, there's no secret to good writing, it's a craft you need to work and rework--like everything else in life you want to do well.

6) Story is about mastering the art, not second-guessing the marketplace. I think this one's linked to points... uh, looks like it's linked to all the previous points :)

7) Story is about respect, not disdain, for the audience. Seriously, people out there aren't that stupid. Yes, that includes me, come on. Haven't you heard of the expression "don't judge a book by its cover"? So they'll get your subtle points, no need to over-explain (hu-hum... yeah, that last one's for me, really. I have a tendency to repeat myself in my book, I've noticed, which makes for dragging scenes sometimes...)

8) Story is about originality, not duplication. Need I say more?

Well folks, guess that's it for tonight. Wasn't this fun? But before I go, I want to mention that it's because a lot of "would-be writers," according to Robert once again (and I'm not contradicting his words) don't think about these points when writing a story. That's why, especially nowadays, there's an over-reliance on technology or the musical score to carry the story along when it is itself lacking.

What do you think about that?

--The Writing Apprentice

PS1: For more info on Robert McKee, check out his website.

PS2: I dunno what the story's going to be like with this movie, but I don't care: I'm gonna watch Ninja Assassin. Period. Nothing's gonna deter me from that!

October 27, 2009

Some Pointers Direct From Pixar

Hello Folks!

So guess what? November's here, and with it the opportunity to do more. More writing that is :)

And not just novel writing (yes, yes, I'm still working on my novel, finishing it up--I'm shooting for the end of 2009 to get it completely done, till an agent or editor makes recommendations, that is), but other forms of writing as well. My goal is to work on a few short stories, and... screenwriting.

Yep, you read it right. Screenwriting. I'm excited and anxious to start on this project at the same time. Nervous because I've never seen a movie script before (though I've seen my fair share of movies) and have NO idea where to start (no worries, I'm gonna do a little bookshopping ^^ More quivers to my arsenal, you know?). Excited because I know I'm going to have a lot of fun writing this too and developing this story (remember the time I told you about this friend of mine who'd made fun of me, well, it's the idea that spawned off that!). Of course, I'll let you know how it goes, what I learn from the process and all that. Most definitely will be asking for help too :)

Ah-nyways, I just read this article which describes how the people at Pixar go about developing their awesomely-wonderful movies, and here are a few tips from the big guys themselves:

1. Empathize with your main character, even if you don't like all of his/her motivations or qualities.

2. Unity of opposites: each character must have clear goals that oppose each other.

3. You should have something to say. Not a message, per se, but some perspective, some experiential truth.

4. Have a key image, almost like a visual logline, to encapsulate the essence of the story; that represents the emotional core on which everything hangs.

5. Know your world and the rules of it.

6. The crux of the story should be on inner, not outer, conflicts.

7. Developing the story is like an archeological dig. Pick a site where you think the story is buried, and keep digging to find it.

8. Only tell what's vital.

And with this advice, I shall let you go back to your devices. Yay for writing! \(^.^)/

--The Writing Apprentice

October 26, 2009

Preparations to World Fantasy Convention

Good Evening Everyone,

Not much to say today, just got Very Busy. Now getting ready for the World Fantasy Convention coming up at the end of this week. I am both excited and anxious. I have no idea what to expect of this trip, I'm just hoping it's all good, or even better, GREAT!

One of the highlights will be that I will finally be able to meet Ken Scholes, the writer of the fantabulously contorted Lamentation, which I loved (I kept on trying to figure out what was going to happen only to get my theories flung back in the face--Awesome!).

I will let you know what happened, who I got to meet, things I got to do or not... When I get back. Which will be beginning November (already T^T time sure flies by, doesn't it?).

Until then, make sure you make plenty of good stories of your own (filled with laughter...laughter's always a must!).

--The Writing Apprentice

PS: If anyone has any tips or pieces of knowledge on this convention, please feel free to share them. I can tell you they'll be GREATLY appreciated :)

October 20, 2009

How to Stay Motivated?

Hello all. I know, I’m a day late. Apologies. Huh, looks like I’m doing that a lot lately. Well, to tell you the truth, this past month has been pretty hectic, what with me trying to finish my novel and . . . and that’s it. Sigh. It’s pretty sad, isn’t it?

Yes, the thing is, I’ve realized that motivation comes to me in cycles, and not all of the same length. Which makes things pretty difficult.

Granted, that’s a nice way to say that I have a major Lazy Gene that’s part of my DNA, and I’m having the toughest of times eradicating it (I mean, seriously, how can ANYONE resist watching Korean drama, huh?).

But now it’s back on, and right on time to put the (I hope) final touches to my bebeh before the World Fantasy Convention. Yep, I am pretty much looking forward to that one.

But let’s get back to our sheep, shall we (sorry, couldn’t resist doing a literal translation of a French expression a teacher of mine used to say all the time, back in the olden days) . . .

Motivation. That one’s a slippery suckah. If I don’t concentrate, it just escapes me and I have to hunt for it all over again.

But there are some tricks to catching it (Motivation is a Very Wild Beast, I have found, and thus not easily tamed), and I figured I’d share a few of them with you:

1) Think about the final goal you want to achieve and break it down into smaller parts that are easily and realistically manageable. Then you won’t feel so Sisyphus-sy.
2) Find a point about the task at hand that you find really exciting and focus on that.
3) Think of the hard parts as mini challenges and you are a mighty night of the round table about to bring that beast down. Boo-yeah!
4) Surround yourself with positive people who give you energy instead of taking it--this step is VERY crucial and constantly plays a major role in my life. (Yes, I thank you ALL so very much for being so supportive!).

Well, that’s all folks for today. If you have any other ways you can come up with that help keep you motivated, please share in the comments section.

--The Writing Apprentice

PS: I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted a “research” article in here. It’ll come, but probably not till November as I find these Quest Posts way easier to write than the others (I take it it probably means these are also a lot easier to read, huh?).

For those of you who are stellar procrastinators, like me :)

October 12, 2009


Dear Blog Reader,

Tonight I'd like to make an apology--I am sorry for disappointing you, as I won't be posting anything more meaningful than this tonight.

Reason: tonight is critique night and I'm not busy revising my manuscript according to the comments I received (all of which were awesome, by the way). I have a lot of work still to do, and I have to be done with my book by the end of the month (self-imposed date, in case you enquire).

I do hope to see you next week (and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will be an insightful post and not a meagre excuse like tonight).

Still, I appreciate your patience and understanding, dear reader, and will do my best to make sure my manuscript makes up for the disappointment you're feeling now (and if you're not disaapointed at all, well, no need to let me know^^).

Your ever-trying-to-be-diligent,


October 5, 2009

Writing Diet

Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don't start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a
great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
De-accession euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague
~William Safire, "Great Rules of Writing"

Yep. That’s where I, the almighty Writing Apprentice am standing regarding my novel. Editing’s friggin’ tough work.

Before I started writing, or writing seriously let’s just say, my idea of being an author was of someone spending 75% of his/her time daydreaming, and the rest of the time putting words together in an easy, pleasant atmosphere (hmmm, how about by the crackling fire when it’s pouring outside?).

Reality: Totally. Not. It.

Writing’s more about re-writing. And, in my case, (re^25)-writing. Yep. Currently am on my 12th draft. Over half of them was about me finding how I wanted to bring about the story (example: points of view, which characters to put in, etc), and how I wanted the story to develop (yeah, I know, a minor detail).

And what does this draft consist of? Cleaning. Yeah! I’m my own manuscript’s maid! I’ve never been that fond of dusting or doing the dishes (except for the soap bubbles that come out of the bottle--I always have fun with those) or vacuuming or doing the laundry, but writing cleaning is turning out to be fun!

Don’t believe me? Well, it’s true. Why? I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA. Trust me, it’s hard work, and there’s (sadly) still a lot for me to do to tighten up my novel, and to give you an idea of what lexical calories I’m shedding I’ve decided to give you my recipe (gathered from various sources over the internet).

1. A good word should only be used once in a book. Same goes for an expression or a turn of phrase, no matter how enamored you are with it.

2. Try to avoid repetitions, they do get noticed.

3. Flat writing is a sign your story's dragging.
Red Flag: you’re bored with your own writing. I’m not kidding. That actually happened to me in Draft 2. I was so bored with my own story I couldn’t come up with what to write next. I’d killed off my muse.

4. Be brief.

5. Be specific: don’t use “it,” “someone,” or “something.” Generalizations are annoying and can turn into clichés (yes, I’m guilty of that as well).

6. Avoid passive verbs/‘To be’ words. Passive: The gun was taken up by the meanie and the poor princess was shot. Active: The meanie took the gun and shot the poor princess. Which one do you like best?

7. Resist using too many adverbs. These are most of the ‘-ly’ words. I’ve noticed that in most cases dropping the adverb is more effective than leaving it in there. Sometimes, this requires finding a better verb to describe the action (note: having a thesaurus at hand is recommended). Ex: He walked slowly and with difficulty through the mud vs. He trudged through the mud.

8. Other types of words to use sparingly:
a. “-ness” words
b. “-ize” words
c. “-ing” words
d. “-ingly” words

9. Avoid intensifiers: very, so, quite, extremely, really, absolutely. . .

10. Avoid qualifiers: just, sort of, quite, somewhat, usually, always, never. . .

11. Avoid lists.

If you decide you’ve arrived at a good point to give a good description of the place in which your hero stands, pretend you’re him and describe what HE would see. Would he notice everything? What details would he find striking? Which ones would his eyes glaze over?

12. Show, don’t tell: makes for longer passages, but these are so much more dynamic as they allow us to feel like we’re really there too. Hence think about how your senses would be affected if you were to be in the character’s situation. Showing can also be done through dialogues.

13. Dialogues shouldn’t be phony.

Try to make your main characters distinctive through their speech as well. Even then, however, you want to use short sentences, avoid pleasantries (how do you do? Well, and you? Awesome, this is such a beautiful day! -- Bleah, oh-so-boring!).

Don’t overuse names (I totally have the habit of doing that!). And they’re an awesome place to bring in tension too, as characters can come directly into conflict here.

14. Have people take action: don’t have them “begin to” or “decide to” do things. Even scratch “knew that”, “sees/saw that,” or “ seem.”

15. Reduce speaker’s attributions (helps reduce the “-ing” words at the same time. It’s like buying 2-in-1 shampoo!).

And it’s by following these guidelines that I’m purging my own writing. A lot of work but, in the end, doesn’t it feel better to have a shiny, nice-smelly, smooth-touchy piece of work?

--The Writing Apprentice

When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing. “ ~Enrique Jardiel Poncela

September 28, 2009

Sound of Music in Belgium! - Music of the Spheres Entr'acte

Hello All!

I almost decided to post a "Out of Service" sign for today's post, as I'm too busy finishing up my novel to dig up more research wonders, when I remembered about this really cool/fun video I was sent. So OK, videos like these have sprouted all over youtube, but this one's different. Why? It's set in Antwerp, Belgium (my home country, or one of them anyway^^). Hope it makes your day even better!

Enjoy :)

September 21, 2009

Collecting Ideas or the Art of Avoiding Writer's Block

Dear Readers,

Over the past few years (I’m thinking 3 or 4, I know, it hasn’t been that long for me to forget but I have a faulty memory) I’ve been constantly keeping a notebook on me (preferred size: compact) just in case. . .

Just in case I ever come up with cool ideas for the current story I’m working on, or for future stories. It doesn’t matter.

I have learned that it’s a great way for me to keep track of everything. Yes, especially since I have a bad memory (oh, I already said that) and so KNOW I’m going to forget about 95% of the cool stories I come up with (or ideas for stories anyway).

And it really works! First of all, don’t ever be scared to jot down any idea, however stupid it may sound, that comes to you. Seriously, I get ideas doing just about ANYTHING! A lot of times, it’s not when I’m thinking about writing that I come up with really cool stories :) (Ok, not sure if they’d be cool to you, but they are to ME, which is what matters--after all, what’s the point of writing a story if you yourself don’t enjoy it?).

For instance, the other day a friend of mine was making fun of me for. . . well, really it’s too embarrassing to let you know but those involved will know what I’m talking about (and please, PLEASE don’t put any incriminating names in the comments section!). But yes, she was making fun of me and, lo and behold, it spawned this (what I believe to be) amazing storyline which I’ll develop into a movie script beginning November.

But it didn’t all come out at once. I got the basic, very crude lines in through that personal jab (and no, I’m not offended in the least, since I know how ridiculous I was too, still am in fact, so the teasing was TOTALLY deserved--AKA: no hard feelings ^^). Wrote those down in my preciousssss little notebook (no. 2) and a few days later, as I was explaining my super-awesome-I’m-so-excited-about idea to some other friends, I came up with more ideas, which I jotted down.

Because you see, even though your brain might not be working on the story all the time (or in my case might not be working, period), your brain subconsciously still works on it (assuming the story’s of interest to you) and you’ll come up with GREAT ideas at the strangest of times! (And yes, they can come at very inopportune times too, like when you’re out surfing, in which case I recommend waterproofing your notebook)

And this way, I’m never afraid to forget about a fun story, AND, guess what? (No, not “what,” you’re actually supposed to guess something!) Well, this has allowed me to come up with lots of ideas for tons of different stories (can they actually be weighed, or should I say “loads” instead? Ah, semantics. . .) which means that whenever I’m done with a story (which is coming up soon--end of October, I’m SO excited!), I know I won’t have a problem to start on another story right after. Rather, the problem might be you won’t be able to choose which story to work on first! Seriously!

You see, by keeping notes of all your ideas (and you can jump from one idea to another and back again as your imagination works out more plot ideas and twists), you’ll also be creating a way to avoid writer's block :)

So, where do you get ideas for stories?

--The Writing Apprentice

writer's block

PS: I have been notified that notebooks can be lost. Which is true, like everything else. Recommendation? GPS tracking device. Which could prove a little cumbersome when you have over 10 such journals, but hey. Better than nothing, right?

September 15, 2009

The Apprentice Writer's Chronicles - Intro

Dear Blog Reader,

After much pondering, I have decided to chronicle, in an un-chronological order, my trials as a growing writer (well, I certainly hope I'm growing...).

So what does this entail? Basically me ranting and raving about all the hoops (original French swearword edited out) I have to jump through to make it in this crazy, torturous world.

Just kidding.

It'll basically be me explaining/telling of my latest tribulations, what I've learned, etc, etc.

So why do this? Well, first off it turns out my research posts aren't as popular as I'd hoped them to be (which I think is a real shocker 'cause seriously, who doesn't find science--pseudo or other--fascinating?). Then, I figured perhaps some would be interested to see the writing world through my mildly myopic eyes (well the left one at least).
Ah-nyways, that also means I'll be posting more often (at least once a week) and NO, before you ask, I won't stop with the research pieces, I'll just alternate them :)

There you go. Hope you're happy!

--The Writing Apprentice

September 14, 2009

Kepler the Musician - Music of the Spheres Part 4

"The heavenly motions...are nothing but a continuous song for several voices, perceivednot by the ear but by he intellect, a figured music which sets landmarks in the immeasurable flow of time." (John Banville: Kepler, Minerva 1990)

Once upon a time, there was a boy who grew up in 16th century Germany. His name was Johannes Kepler. Being weak physically, he decided to beat all the other boys in school with his smarts. So, a few years later, he joined the Tübingen University’s student body where he figured out Copernicus was right: the center of our planetary system was not Earth, but the Sun.

Back in those days, the study of astronomy and astrology was one and the same. In any case, Kepler ended up studying our planets and the stars quite closely.

Then one day, as he was giving a math class (see how wonderful math is?), he drew two circles with an equilateral triangle (3 sides are same length) in between and realized that the ratio of the two circles replicated the ratio of the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn.

He tested out his theory, convinced of this geometrical relationship but realize that it wasn’t perfect. His major breakthrough took place when he realized that his predictions for planetary movement turned out better if he used elliptical orbits rather than circular ones.

This came as a shocker, because hello, circle’s better than ellipse, right? However, after many nights of getting sick at even the mention of it, “the elliptical orbits eventually revealed a scheme of celestial harmony more subtle and profound than any that had gone before.” (1)

Ok. I’ll talk more about Kepler’s ellipses in the next blog post. Yes, this one will be 2 weeks from now (and not three, but last week was Labor Day, you know. . . and I felt compelled to follow it^^).

Hope you had fun reading this, and don’t forget to post comments if you wanna talk some more.


PS: I’ve had complaints about the lack of math in the past posts, so I’ve added some here. . .

Same story, more math:

Blah Blah Blah. . .

And so one day, as he was giving a math class, he drew tow circles with an equilateral triangle inscribed in them. Noticing that the ratio of the two circles represented the same ratio as the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn, he decided to test other planetary orbital relationships with various regular polygons.

If the circumscribed circle has a radius A and the inscribed circle a radius B, then for an n-sided regular polygon the ratio B/A = Cos[Pi/N].

Ex: If N = 3 (triangle), then the ratio B/A = 1/2.
If N = 4 (square), then the ratio B/A = 1/[Sqrt(2)].

By following this logic, it appears that the ratio of the planetary orbits around the sun approximate circles inscribed with either a triangle (Mercur/Venus, Venus/Mars, Jupiter/Saturn, Saturn/Uranus, Uranus Pluto), a square (Venus/Earth, Earth/Marsh, Uranus/Nepture) or a pentagram (Neptune/Pluto).

Etc etc etc. . .


Kepler and Math

Kepler and the Music of the Spheres

August 24, 2009

Musica Universalis - Music of the Spheres Part 3

Good ________ (insert time of the day)!

Glad to have you all back here for today’s topic. Oh, wait, I see a few heads missing. Don’t tell me I’ve lost some of you to math?! Nooooo! Why oh why did you leave me?

*Coughs a few times*

After learning of your impending genius two weeks ago, I want to talk about harmonies beyond music. That’s right. The proportion between “perfect” frequencies cannot just be observed in music but on a much more macroscopic level as well. . .

“The Pythagoreans used music to heal the body and to elevate the soul, yet they believed that earthly music was no more than a faint echo of the universal ‘harmony of the spheres’.” (Kepler and the Music of the Spheres).

So how does that work? Well, basically, each planet = different note. The note depends on the ratio of the planet’s orbit around the sun.

This approach to our world was taken up by Copernicus (known for having confronted the fundamental belief of an Earth-centered universe). He used it to construct a first model of our solar system, using the harmonic ratios to predict the celestial bodies’ circular course around the sun.

There was just one problem: when looked at closely, it appeared the planets weren’t following those circular orbits. . .exactly.

And that’s where Kepler comes in, but that’s another story for another (next--to be more precise) time!

In the meantime, try to figure out what else in our lives follows the same harmonic proportions as musical notes :) (yep, I figured we’d end the blog entry with a fun game^^).


August 10, 2009

The Sound of Music - Music of the Spheres Part 2

Hello all! Finally, another post is ready (or rather I’m working on it, but by the time you read this, it’ll be ready . . . yeah, ok, you got it right?).

Moving on to musical notes and their sounds . . .

Pythagoras (yes, the infamous Pythagoras that devised the Pythagorean Theorem used in math) loved music too. At least, I suppose he did, for he investigated it quite a bit. And I mean, who would investigate something so profoundly unless he/she liked it? Well, actually, I just read (on Wiki) that he thought Greek music wasn’t really nice and wanted to make it sound better, using his super-mathematical-scientific-mystical-etc-power.

Anyways, he figured out that the pitch of a musical note depends on the length of the string being plucked (think about the lyre). So let’s say the musician plucks his string, and it produces a LA note. Well, if the string’s cut exactly at midpoint and the musician plucks that cord, then it’s also going to produce a LA note, but one octave higher (meaning 2 times higher). Pretty spiffy, huh?

Why does it work that way? Because the first string (the longer one), vibrates at a certain frequency which is ½ slower than the frequency of the shorter string, or, in other words, the second cord vibrates 2 times faster! This relationship is expressed mathematically as a frequency ratio of 1:2.

Of course, there are other ratios which Pythagoras thought were of the utmost importance, namely:

(1) the perfect fifth: frequency ratio of 2:3
(2) the perfect fourth: frequency ratio of 3:4

And these are the basis of musical harmony.

So, the key to this whole message, is that Music = Math.

Awesome, isn’t it? Basically, I postulate that anyone who likes music likes math! Yep, that’s right. Aren’t you amazed? You’re all innate mathematicians! Isn’t that one of the best things you could have ever found out about yourself? :)

With that, I’ll let you go!


August 8, 2009

Update on Blog

Good Morning/Afternoon/Night/Etc.

Quick news: because of time constraints (I finally realized how busy my week days, and Fridays in particular), I have decided to move the posting date to every second Monday.

Yeah, I know. I already can hear all your sighs of disappointment ('cause I just know how anxious you are to read the next episode of the Music of the Spheres series), but fear not. It's continuing, just a couple of days behind.

Also, the results for the poll are in (thank you to those who voted), and it looks like there will be some math on this blog. Yay! ^^ So for those who don't want any, well, sorry, you should have cast your vote. It's too late now to go back. But don't worry too much, I will do my best to simplify everything and explain everything AND, if you're still not satisfied with that, you can always post your questions in the comments section and I will answer them there :)

All right, my work conference is waiting for me. Hope you guys are all having loads of fun while I'm slaving away!


PS: You like the flowers? It's my way to apologize to you :3

July 21, 2009

Music Of The Spheres - Intro

“There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres.” (Pythagoras)

I’ve already mentioned how music affects water and, thereby, ourselves through our DNA. But what is it about music then, that makes it “the universal language of mankind” (H. Wadsworth Longfellow)?

Or, more specifically, what key to our universe does music contain?

Centuries ago, a group of mathematicians/philosophers/astrologers/etc. in Ancient Greece lead by Pythagoras came up with the first theory (or at least the first one we currently know of) that linked music to the rest of the universe and has hereby been known as Music of the Spheres or the song of the angels.

“[The Pythagoreans] saw that the . . . ratios of musical scales were expressible in numbers [and that]. . .all things seemed to be modeled on numbers, and numbers seemed to be the first things in the whole of nature, they supposed the elements of number to be the elements of all things, and the whole heaven to be a musical scale and a number.” (Aristotle)

Ok, so technically, it sounds more like the universe boils down to math instead (The Matrix, anyone?), but math = music, right? So it really is just the same thing :)

Oh, before I forget, the next few chapters on this topic involve math. However, I’m not too sure if you’re all too keen on seeing math equations (which I’d simplify a maximum and keep to a minimum) on this blog, so I’ve created a survey (see left column, below the “Subscribe To Blog” section), which will end on August 7, at midnight.

Now, let’s get back to our topic at hand.

It is said that the Pythagoreans (a secret society following the teachings of said Pythagoras) used music for a number of things, including healing (oh, did you know that studies show cows produce better milk after listening to Mozart?). But that wasn't the only application of music they used.

In ancient cosmology, the planets were seen as spheres that corresponded to different notes on a grand musical scale where the tones they emitted corresponded to the ratio of their respective orbits and rates of rotation. These had a deep impact on mathematics, architecture and art, astronomy and astrology.

How? More detailed explanations will follow in more posts.


PS: if you do already have questions though, please feel free to put them in the “Comments” section below.

PS2: don’t forget to fill out the survey on the left: math or no math in future posts?

July 20, 2009

Update on Blog

OK, it only took me about (wait a sec, I'm counting) 7 months to figure it out, but one of the goals of creating this blog was to start discussions on the topics mentioned here. But, considering I was monitoring each and every comment on here before allowing them to show up, wel... let's just say that practice wasn't very conducive to it.

So as of today, you may now post your comments and they will immediately show on the blog. Of course, I still reserve the right to delete anything that's inappropriate (I apologize in advance if this outrages any of you, and you can give me the whole 'freedom of speech' soliloquy but this is my blog).

There you go. That's my Happy News of the day :) Enjoy!


PS: the picture's taken from Cowboy Bebop an AWESOME anime series that I watched when I still lived in Belgium. And, yes, they're making a movie out of it and Keanu Reeves is playing the lead role. Now that's going to be interesting!

July 10, 2009

Effects of Music on Water And, Ultimately, Ourselves - DNA Series Part 5

Hello all,

Last time, I mentioned how our DNA interacted with light. Today, I’d like to talk about how it actually resonates with music.

Yeah, I know, I’m short on time today so I’m jumping right to business. Sorry, no easy intro for once :)

Why does it resonate with music? Is it because music is just a form of wave propagation that thereby interacts with the waves created by our own human system (and I’m not just talking about our eardrums here)?

Frankly, I don’t have the answer (I never really do, I just transmit hypotheses emitted by other, smarter people than me), but here are some interesting facts that I gleaned over during my book research.

1. We are mainly made out of water. Okay, nothing new, and I actually knew that before setting out to writing my book. Seriously people, I already knew that!
2. Water forms crystals when it freezes (i.e. snowflakes), and no two snowflake is ever the same (I admit it, I knew the first part of this statement, but not the second).
3. Different types of water ends up creating different types of crystals: the purer the water, the nicer the crystals are, the more polluted it is, the more deformed the crystals are until they actually stop forming (the water just freezes over without going through a nice snowflake-crystallization faze, which I find really sad, because snowflakes are sooooooooo pretty, don’t you think?)
4. When Dr. Masaru Emoto decided to test how water would respond to different types of music, guess what he found?

Ta. . .ta. . . taaaaaa. . .

The suspense is killing you, huh? Just admit it!
Okay, enough playing. This is what he found out:

1. Water subjected to beautiful, classical music (such as Beethoven, Chopin or Mozart) ended up creating beautiful, sometimes very frilly crystals.
2. Water subjected to heavy-metal music or other types that aren’t, well, peaceful, ended up creating distorted crystals that just weren’t very pretty to see (just like the Genie in Aladdin when he pretends to be coming back from the dead).

So what does this say about us? Well, consider the fact (already mentioned, I know, I know, I have a tendency to repeat myself) that we are made mainly of water. Now if we listen to “bad” music, it’s going to pollute our body (for lack of a better way to express myself--again, I’m sorry, but I am in a hurry).

Now the link with DNA? Not too sure, really. But what I can say is this: if music has that kind of influence on water molecules, imagine what it can do to smaller objects, like our DNA. . . Yeah, sca-hary stuff!

Well, while I let you ponder all this fascinating info, I’m gonna go get ready to go clubbing and, yes, I guess to pollute my body as well with all that unhealthy music :)


A better explanation for this can be found here.

June 28, 2009

Beings of Light - DNA Series Part 4

First of all, I would like to apologize to all of you for missing the Friday deadline. I have no excuse except that I was away on a business trip and our bi-weekly rendezvous completely skipped my mind. Hontoni gomenasai!
Last time, I mentioned how our DNA actually acts like some super conductor, the power for the incredible machine that are humans. In my post-scriptum, I’d started a sort of contest to see if any of you would know what else our DNA reacts to/with/whatever. Unfortunately, turns out no one was interested enough in it to venture a guess. Zannen desu. But oh well, you all still get another post from me, I won’t be so easily discouraged :D

Dakara. . .
Let’s move on to the next topic, which I think is just as interesting. Which is that our DNA actually reacts with light.

Yep, you’ve heard me right. (I know, I’m really excited about this topic as well!)

“Russian scientists have had a long history of looking at DNA in a . . .holistic fashion. Rather than just regarding it as a chemical structure, they have researched its vibrational and electrical qualities. Understanding that light is vital to life, they have discovered that the DNA molecule responds to photons of light. They claim it actually receives, harmonises, stores and transmits light - mainly in the blue part of the colored spectrum that we see in a rainbow.” (The Human Antenna, Dr. Robin Kelly)

Pretty crazy stuff, huh? I mean, don’t you feel like we’re in a Star Trek episode right now?

Jitsuwa it doesn’t seem that farfetched to me. Or the concept, at least. After all, wouldn’t this explain the hole aura notion? If our DNA can interact with light and even transmit it, then it would explain why our bodies have a double: one made entirely of light.

Mochiron, I have no idea how this transmits into different colors as well (aren’t auras supposed to have different hues?). Except that there’s a whole spectrum of colors associated with different frequencies of light, so maybe depending on our moods or health, the frequency of our DNA could potentially change the frequency of the light it emits, thereby changing the color of our aura?

Oh, ima sugoi meian ga ukandazo!
What if we could actually control that, so perfectly that we actually can cast a double of ourselves elsewhere? I mean, what if we could vary the vibrations of the light we transmit so that it’s projected away from us in a shape that looks exactly like us? Waah, that would be SO cool! Imagine all the possibilities associated with it. If I’d known how to do that before, I’d definitely have played lots of tricks on my brother and parents while growing up. Or. . . perhaps I could use it to pretend I’m at work, when in fact I’m lounging on the beach :p

Sore yori, that’s something to think about, ne?

Kimi no iken o kikasete kudasai!


PS: Yes, I’ve used this blog post to practice a little Japanese. Doesn’t it make it more fun to read?

PS2: OK, fine. No need to get angry. Here’s the translation for all the Japanese words/sentences used. No need to get violent now!
1) I’m truly sorry!
2) It’s too bad.
3) Therefore. . .
4) To tell the truth
5) Of course,
6) Oh, I just came with a great idea!
7) Anyway,
8) right?
9) Let me know what you think!

PS3: Wow! I had no idea I’d used so much Japanese. Must mean I’m learning somewhat. Hontoni ureshii!

PS4: I put the last picture here because I thought it looked really cool :)

June 12, 2009

Billions of Powerhouses Within Ourselves - DNA Series Part 3

In the last post, I talked about how emotions can alter our own DNA as well as that of others. (So please, be kind when you read this blog and only project good thoughts :) )

Today, I’m going to keep it short and, hopefully, sweet.

Huhuummm. ~Clears throat~

Everyone knows that our DNA’s a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development of functioning of all known living organisms and some viruses, which works as a long-term information holder and is composed of sequences of nucleotides: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T).

Okay, I actually cheated, I got all of that off of Wikipedia.

Still though, we all sort of have an idea of some kind of concept of an understanding of what DNA is. Right?


But I bet not many of you know that it actually, “under certain conditions behaves as a superconductor.” (The Human Antenna, Dr. Robin Kelly).

Yep, that’s right. Maybe that’s why we sometimes attract lightning upon ourselves, do you think? Or is it just because we’re mainly vertical creatures? You know, now I really wonder why we get struck by lightning. Anyone know?

Anyways, superconductors conduct electricity without resistance below a certain temperature, thereby reducing energy loss. Once set in motion, the current will flow forever in a closed loop made out of a superconductor (you can learn more about superconductors here).

You see, pretty nifty stuff, huh? (Even though I have no idea what they use those for. Electric appliances? Hmm, not sure I’d want a vacuum cleaner that never stops. . .)

“Because superconductors conduct electricity so efficiently, the magnetic fields generated around them are huge. . .. [And] when DNA is extracted from a living being, dried and added to a superconducting compound in the laboratory, it appears to enhance that compound’s superconductivity at the temperature nature prefers.” (The Human Antenna, Dr. Robin Kelly).

So basically, our DNA turns superconductors into megasuperconductors. Amazing, right? We have AMAZING bodies! I think the Matrix got it right: we should harness the electricity our cells produce, it would be way so much greener than ANYTHING else, right? So, you’d have a plug at the base of your skull, and then plug all your appliances there: already mentioned vacuum cleaner, computer, car. . . The possibilities are endless!

But that’s not all. No sirree! It doesn’t just react with electricity, but with something waaaaaaaaaaaay more awesome too!

But that’s going to be the subject of the next blog.

See, I told you this one would be short, huh?

All right, off to have some fun :)


PS: OK, here’s a hint of what else it reacts with, so you can have an inkling of what I’m going to talk about next: you see it every day.
Ha! Try to figure that one out (you can leave your guess(es) in the comments section below).

May 29, 2009

The Cosmos Inside Our Cells - DNA Series Part 2

So how many of you guys got freaked out by the last post? Ok, ok, you know what would make a fun story? If as well as reacting to our emotions, our cells that have gone AWOL created a 3-D holograph representation of us. Now that would be spooky, don’t you think?

Anyway, the reason for today’s post is that I want to talk a little about this one experiment:

“[Experiments] conducted between 1992 and 1995 ... began by isolating human DNA in a glass beaker and then exposing it to a powerful form of feeling known as coherent emotion. According to Glen Rein and Rollin McCraty, the principal researchers, this physiological state may be created intentionally by ‘using specially designed mental and emotional self-management techniques which involve intentionally quieting the mind, shifting one’s awareness to the heart area and focusing on positive emotions.’ They performed a series of tests involving up to five people trained in applying coherent emotion. Using special techniques that analyze the DNA both chemically and visually, the researchers could detect any changes that happened.
...The bottom line: Human emotion changed the shape of the DNA! ... ‘These experiments revealed that different intentions produced different effects on the DNA molecule causing it to either wind or unwind.’” (The Divine Matrix, Gregg Braden).

So it appears that the reason for our cells reaction to our emotions is because our DNA reacts to it (it sounds so very mathematical, doesn’t it? What affects the whole affects its individual elements as well. You know, the whole Venn diagram stuff).

But if it can react to positive emotions, I’m sure it can react to negative ones as well. If only we knew how to interpret those changes in our DNA, how they affect us, our health, our psyche.

And this brings me to another study that has been undertaken that sheds some light on this question (I know, I know, I said I’d only talk about one, but bear with me, please--I apologize for the extra work m(_ _)m ):

“There is now strong evidence that our perception of how much love and caring we receive as young children from our parents can be a major influence on our health later in our life. One famous study has followed the health of Harvard graduates from the 1950s to the present day, and has found an increased incidence of hypertension, coronary heart disease, duodenal ulcers and alcoholism in those who, as students, used few positive, loving words to describe their parents.” (The Human Antenna, Dr. Robin Kelly).

So here is what I posit: the fact that our propensity to become sensitive to more serious diseases as we age is linked to the emotions we’ve felt growing up to that point, as it has affected (either strengthened or weakened) our DNA and, thereby, our cells.

So to lead healthier lives, we need to be positive, try to shed away our fears, our negative feelings, all these emotions that basically bring ourselves down. And we need to act the same way towards others as well.

I know, easier said than done. So I promise to try not to get angry with idiotic people on the road anymore, even if they should not technically be on the roads. And I promise to try not to berate myself so much in life anymore.

Obviously easier said than done, but I will sincerely give these resolutions a serious go. I like being healthy and happy and all that jazz. And after all, don’t people say the human body is a divine temple?

May 15, 2009

Blood Is Thicker Than Water - DNA Series Part 1

Growing up, my brother and I (like many other siblings I expect) used to get into quite a few skirmishes which, at the time, could sometimes seem quite big (I would go upstairs and slam my bedroom door repeatedly and vow never to speak to him again).

Well, on such occasions, my dad would often talk to both my brother and me, saying that we needed to care for each other for, when he and mom were gone, we would be all we got. And that what kept us linked was stronger than anything else, stronger than what we’d have for our respective spouses.

Yes, my brother and I have mended, about a million times by now. But I wonder whether, apart from growing up with each other, perhaps my father’s words did have a deeper meaning than at first believed, one that is etched into our very own genetic code. . .

We’ve all heard those stories of identical twins living separately who ended up having very similar lives in the end (sometimes even having the same sorts of things happen to them in the same year and ending up with wives with the same first name!). Could this be a “subtle” sign of how our blood really does link people of the same family together?

Here’s an experiment recounted in The Divine Matrix by Gregg Braden that has interesting possibilities, if true:

“In a 1993 study reported in the journal Advances, the Army performed experiments to determine precisely whether the emotion/DNA connection continues following a separate, and if so, at what distances? The researchers started by collecting a swab of tissue and DNA from the inside of a volunteer’s mouth. This sample was isolated and taken to another room in the same building. . . . In a specially designed chamber, the DNA was measured electrically to see if it responded to the emotions of the person it came from, the donor who was in another room several hundred feet away.
In this room, the subject was shown a series of video images. . . . While he was doing so, in another room his DNA was measured for its response.
When the donor experienced emotional “peaks” and “dips,” his cells and DNA showed a powerful electrical response at the same instant in time. Although distances measured in hundreds of feet separated the donor and the samples, the DNA acted as if it was still physically connected to his body.”

Isn’t that insane? I have to say that, ever since I’ve read this, I’ve felt really guilty about all the hair and dry cells I’ve left all over the place since being born. I mean, what if I’ve made someone really upset one day ‘cause I was pissed off about something and he/she ended up stepping on my lonely strand of hair at the same time and ended up getting all pissed off too?

Anyways, the author goes on to wonder whether this effect could explain why some people have been said to change personalities after an organ transplant that can be traced all the way to the donor. So wouldn’t it be the same for identical twins and, to some extent, siblings who share the same parents and, thereby, the same “blood?”


PS: Here's an awesome picture of a nebula that looks like a DNA strand.
You can find the National Geographic article about this nebula here.

May 1, 2009

There is no instinct like the Heart. - Lord Byron, Don Juan.

Why is it that when I get scared, or excited, my heart starts beating faster?

Why is it that when I feel sad, or filled with love and compassion, my heart squeezes?

People used to think that emotions came from the heart. Yet, along with the rise of science, came the conviction that all our emotions are the product of our brain, of the chemical changes and release of hormones instigated by it. And that the heart, is just a muscle whose only purpose is to circulate blood (yes, Count Dracula and his vampiric horde, I’m sure, are very grateful for this essential tool that keeps their drinking founts alive).

But is this fact entirely true?

“Although scientists over the past 30 years have never disputed the fact that the human heart is indeed a pump, they have also discovered it to be much more besides. It is now known to be a hormone-secreting gland responsible for producing chemicals that balance the autonomic (or involuntary) nervous system. It is also an organ littered with receptor sites for molecules of emotion.” (The Human Antenna, Dr. Robin Kelly)

So technically, we have 2 brains in our system (put that way, it sounds a little creepy). Although one could argue (based on a previous post) that we have three brains. Which could explain why I so often argue with myself.

Now that I mention this, I wonder whether those stories of people who’ve received a heart transplant and suddenly find a change in their behavior (kind of like in the movie Return to Me) could be linked to this whole brain = heart thingamajig?

But that’s not all of it. (Thought you could get off that easy, huh?)

No, what’s really intriguing is that it has been found that “[t]he heart is our body’s energetic center, with an electromagnetic field 5000 times stronger than our brain.” (The Human Antenna, Dr. Robin Kelly)

How cool is that? So not only does our heart work as another brain, but it also has its own electromagnetic field which, as it turns out, is way stronger than the one around our brain (for the sake of avoiding arguments, let’s just call the brain in our head the “Main Brain”). And it extends a lot further too.

Which is probably why evidence suggests that “the electromagnetic signals generated by the heart have the capacity to affect others around us. [The Institute of HeartMath’s] data indicate that one person’s heart signal can affect another’s brainwaves [(even when not directly touching, as long as they are close to each other)], and that heart-brain synchronization can occur between two people when they interact. Finally, it appears that as individuals increase psychophysiological coherence, they become more sensitive to the subtle electromagnetic signals communicated by those around them.”

A lot of blah-blah to say that we communicate through our electromagnetic field (just as I suspected), and that the strongest of those fields is the one created around our heart.

So perhaps Professor X's secret to his incredible power (see previous post) was not that he had a super powerful Main Brain, but that his heart was really strong.

And maybe that is another reason why we should generally follow our hearts rather than our minds (is anyone else thinking about The Lion King right now?).

"Since emotional processes can work faster than the mind, it takes a power stronger than the mind to bend perception, override emotional circuitry, and provide us with intuitive feeling instead. It takes the power of the heart." (Doc Childre, Founder, Institute of HeartMath)

-- Alessa

PS: Of all the vampires here, which is your favorite?

NB: For those of you interested in this particular topic, I recommend reading, on top of the book mentioned above, this site here (where I also found the electromagnetic field surrounding the heart):