2014-04-22

模倣子 Emptor Gratia Artis

Memetic Index

I just got back from Sakura Con ( nerd Japanese anime and manga = animated film / tv and comic books from Japan ) where I volunteered as an interpreter.

Thanks for the link.  I had a quick read and it seems to be very much in line with the brain physiology associated with story and empathy that I have been looking into lately.  It's a very good point, and it's helpful to me to hit it from multiple subtly-different angles, i.e., that the brain responds to story in a deep way and that it's related to empathy and the formation of group membership identity.

There is such a passion for written / oral narrative but also the graphical representation of stories and reality as well as the thespian aspect.  It goes beyond mere "hobby" interest -- it is not a passing fad.  This is common shared wisdom in the film industry, i.e., that film is somehow fundamental, transcendent, immune from economic vicissitudes, the gathering with others to witness the telling of a story, is not something transitory, like some gadget or other passing fashion.

I imagine that the two of us share that understanding.

I have been working on some theories in the realm of anthropology, sociology, psychology, neurology and memetics to somehow explain the human attachment to narrative in all its forms.

What occurred to me over this week-end was that graphical printed medium only became "mainstream" or Guttenburgized (circa 1450) maybe at the earliest the beginning of the 20th Century.  Much before that, the printing technology to take "quickly" drawn story-oriented illustrations, where the illustration was the bulk of the story-telling medium as opposed to mere decorative lithographs, did not really exist prior to that, so we can expect that it's safe to say that it didn't start to become "mainstream" prior to 1950, or even thereafter.

And yet graphical narrative may fill some deep human need, much as written / oral narrative, c.f., the paintings of the caverns of Lascaux, going back 20,000 years.  We only now have the technology, however, to produce those cave paintings for widespread consumption, by the way.  Why the appeal?

I suspect that it's a lot to do with "Dunbar's Number" (the maximum "tribe size" allowed by the neural size of our frontal lobes) and our "monkey-see / monkey-do" way of interacting with one another and learning from and teaching one another, the seat of our ability to feel empathy.

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"CONSULTING" ACTIVITIES:
I envisage a new kind of consulting firm, much like the kind of PR and marketing firms that took millions of the U of Idaho's money to tell them that they should get rid of the sunburst logo and change their slogan to "no fences" and then realize that was a completely stupid slogan for an ag school and take more millions more to change it to something else, or millions from my university (Carnegie Mellon) to tell them that they should lose their beloved "Carnegie-Mellon University" hyphen and change theirlogo to a red square at a 14-degree tilt.

Companies spend zillions for similar services, so the precedent is there for a well-remunerated consulting effort, or to take a less pecunious perspective, it's an activity that has a solid track record (even harking back to Medieval heraldry and such) of being highly valued by organizations, i.e., that of creating a sense of group identify and focus through the use of iconic graphic and literary / poetic imagery.

The age of the economic marginalization of the English major / poet may be at its end.

"INTERNAL BRANDING"
Point being that since organizations are willing to have consultants come in and analyze them, interview their members, and produce some kind of "this is who you are" statement and set of pictures, images, and logos, then this could translate to the kind of activity that I am envisaging, i.e., creation of a "Tale of..." or a mythology and even a concommitant memetic system with the focus of creating a tight team focus, maximizing efficiency or whatever other property (quality, design, innovation, profit, cost saving, health, communication, visibility, high throughput, fast turnaround, international cohesion, staff retention, rapid and efficient induction of new staff, safety, etc.) the client wants.

It perhaps bears special mention that a "mythology" much like the Christian Bible, could have tremendous value in pulling together international divisions of the same company, which is a HUGE problem.

An individual or a team of artists and literary writers would interview members of a company or department, get their stories, fictionalize them, edited them, create a "mythology", including in the more high-end cases, graphic novels, even children's books that promulgate the corporate identity to be read by employees to their own children, even animated (or live action) productions.  Return of the jingle writer?  Poetic outlet?  Poetry is easier to remember due to regularity, rhyme, etc., and so could be ideal for inculcating corporate slogans.  If written by professionals, it could have much greater impact.

A cycle process of the employees reviewing and reading their stories, then feeding back as to whether they represented them well, until they did at the end of the process.  After that, the organization would probably want to build a focus towards improving their processes, since they would be able to see the problems they had, then the team could come back for more billable hours and create an updated mythology with a transition from the old one to the new, better one.  This would take time to run in, then the consultants would be back.  This would almost certainly be a permanent gig, a permanent relationship with every client, since their business processes would never be static and would never be perfect.

This process could probably be called something like "INTERNAL BRANDING" since it's like creating a brand or trademark for a company or organization (on which they already spend billions) but for internal use, i.e., it would not be exposed to the outside world, only within the company.

This is what the Japanese do, by the way.  This is what they have, anyway, and it has widespread repercussions in terms of efficiency, company loyalty, and staff retention.  Historically, and this is still true to a big extent in Japan, although it's been in the rear-view mirror for a few decades in the US, it was unthinkable to leave one's company to go somewhere else.
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THINGS I NEED:
I need to work out what to do next to engage the folks who are going to provide the stories, e.g., interviews.  How to conduct them, what needs to be in them, etc.  How to write them up?  How to plan how many interviews and how many staff need to be involved.  Is there a way to present to the managers who will greenlight it what the finished product might look like, why they need it, what needs to happen.

Who could / should be on the team?  I can do the writing, but perhaps help would be welcome, in terms of writing stories, poems, etc., and perhaps illustrating graphical stories.

What's next?  It seems that a lot of the value of this process would be the "second iteration" where the organization takes stock based on the initial "narrative analysis" which would:
1.  depict what the organization is like NOW
2.  This will help enormously in inducting and getting new staff up to speed, which in itself might be worth the candle.
3.  illuminates stepping stones to possibly improving their processes

The second iteration would be a "design" phase, where the "story writers" / "mythologists" would design a new "story line" that depicts what the client wants to see the organization transition into (more efficient, etc., see above).

Once again, the product would be a collection of the output of the fine arts tailored to a client organization to depict a kind of "mythology" or Weltanshauung both of how they are (for new hires) and how they want to befor organizational kai-zen.

Rather than ars gratia artis, perhaps something like emptor gratia artis  (art for the sake of the buyer, to take a page from Michelangelo).

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