Posted on

Writing is Not Style, and Three Tips for Writing

This was written for ENG-101, Washington State University for the following prompts, “introduce yourself”, “discuss your writing history and composition process style”, and include 2-3 ideas for visual analysis.

INTRODUCTION

My name is Roy Hodges and I am a student in WSU Global pursuing a major in psychology and perhaps an additional in sociology, if time permits. As an “adult learner”, prior to attending university, I’ve worked about a decade in software startups and digital marketing, then a prior decade living in a martial arts dojo (aikido), and before that, I served in the United States Army and worked in intelligence (yes that one) around the D.C. beltway. I enjoy writing very much, it is cathartic, meaningful, and offers a cosmological sandbox within which perceptions are explored, organized, and navigated. I’ve written poetry since a young boy, and enjoy fine arts, and engage in the production of such too. There is some concern about this course, to be frank. Yet with prior semesters, and summer sessions, this may be alleviated with some occasionally triggering introspections and frankly vulnerable dialogue.

WRITING IS NOT STYLE

Regarding writing style, I feel quite firm in this, I don’t have one in particular, and I find neither pride nor shame in the knowledge of this. In archery one can release an arrow with the assistance of any matter of devices in puncturing holes in targets; even the arrow shaft is a device. There is a style called ‘natural’ where one merely picks the bow up, notches, and fires the arrow by feel, without aim, without sights. I had been promised that this was my ability by a Mohawk elder responsible for teaching their tribe archery in Cornwall, Ontario; yes I hit the bullseye repeatedly. It’s sort of like that, and while one could say, “natural is a style”, I’d urge one to look around, what style does nature have? Really, truly? And there’s the landing, the rock is now skipping across the pond, each time the rock falls, little ripples emanate. It’s like that continuously. I can’t tell you how to write like this, but I can say, just stop and write epiphanies. Regarding planning, I’m more partial to memos, sorting memos, and emergence in the Grounded Theory paradigm (Glaser, 2012). This is neither heavy planning (it’s just right planning), heavy revising (it’s just-in-time revising), and sequential composing (it’s emergent composing). What the audience has not seen is the tremendous curiosity drvien research and living that has gone on prior to writing these very words. Writing is truly beyond style.

 A PRIMER IN VISUAL ANALYSIS

WOLF FENCING

I think the first tip would be “wolf fencing”. This is a computer science process heuristic helpful in troubleshooting bugs, yet is also guided by other heuristics in which to aim the process. Wolf fencing is based on the principle of finding a wolf in an area of land (i.e., park, mountain, forest etc.). Geographically speaking, the wolf could be in one half or the other, so one divides that area in half and searches one side. If it’s not in one side, it has to be in the other, because the “fence” implies it cannot move to the other side. Now one could divide that half and do the same process, and so on. It’s a lesson in iteration too. Wolf fencing is more efficient if one know the probabilities of which “side” the wolf is more probably in, so as to start in that side first. Evidence! Enter the trackers. Yet here is a challenge, how does one acquire the knowledge of said probability?

MEMO SORTING

Enter “sorting”, or rather, the second tip: the ability to decide which is first. Meta-wolf fencing! Sorting ability is profound for visual analysis, and there are various methods to sort. Each method has plusses and minuses (cough, just go for the quick sort as the first try, hint hint). For writing, as mentioned before, I seem to gravitate toward the most efficient style related to the topic being analyzed; it changes often. The gravity of the topologies of the topic offer clues to the sort rather than using preconceived notions of a generalized style of sorting. This is important to me, since each visual representation is assembled by different processes. To analyze the visual representation (be it art, print, satellite imagery, computer code, someone sitting in a chair talking, or a battlefield situation), one “becomes” so to speak, “one with the process” (sounds very zen, doesn’t it?) that generated the visual presentation in the first place. The work of sorting crosses data at various angles and inclinations, leading to inductions and deductions, of which become part of the area studied and considered. “Sorting requires skill, theoretical sensitivity and creativity. Sorting brings out these ability properties of the researcher and sharpens them”, Barney Glaser attests (Glaser, 2014, p. 78). Now one may sit and go, “that’s all great and good, but how does one learn to sort?”

WRITER RELATIVITY

Last tip, is this, and it is most important and comes from antiquity, yet gained much weight since relativity arrived on the scene. Do not forget that the observer influences the outcome. You, yes, you, the reader, is as much part of this topology as that wolf. Congratulations, you are a wolf (and you are a fence), and I will find you, and quickly. This kind of mentality raises challenge, and the tips, of skill thus engendering flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 2014, pp. 146-147). The professor is a Marine, and as we say, “once a Marine, always a Marine.” Marines protect our embassies world wide; writers are the ambassadors of communication, and communication solves problems. The observer can and does effect the outcome, it’s known, it’s true, and it’s supported by empirical evidence. While writing, I include cognition, emotion, and physiology in the writing process; take that, preconceptions! Did you know that Steven King scared himself out of his wits before writing on a typewriter? Why would he do that? What is this curious emotion? It’s joy for the benefit of others, and it is one with esprit de corps. I prefer not to divide audience and speaker. I served in the U.S. Army. We’re in this together. Disarms the arrow, remove the tip, and stop shooting holes which create divisions of “us vs. them”; what was once perceived as the enemy is thy friend. This is part of how this was written, besides, I’ve donated to wolf sanctuaries and have visited them, they are quite lovely creatures and fully deserving of the lands we so share.

CONCLUSION

Maybe the course isn’t so bad, please don’t eat the sheep, for the wool is quite warm and breathable for the humans that protect you (it’s so scratchy!). It’s nice to see you, because it’d be a falsehood to write, “meet you”, for we haven’t really truly met yet; that’s face to face. This is just an introduction. What’s to conclude? We’re just getting started.

Sincerely and with great affection,
Roy Æ Hodges

REFERENCES

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2014). Flow and the foundations of positive psychology. 2014th ed. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.

Glaser, B. G. (2014). Memoing: A vital grounded theory procedure. Mill Valley, CA: Sociology Press.

Glaser, B. G. (2012). Stop, write: Writing grounded theory. Mill Valley, CA: Sociology Press.

Posted on

A Letter to L

Hello L,

“We all have ‘issues’,” has not seemed particularly helpful in the context of life accompanied by affliction; Black Lives Matter movements demonstrate so clearly.

As to growth, what else does a plant dance to the rhythms of? Round and round, dusk, dawn; the short switch goes, rhythms of a guiding light, gone. Dancing is such a switching. A little growth at the tip over here, now just a bit over there, breathe, relax, aim, squeeze… does the calligraphy brush move? How does it then appear as if ink blooms off the hairs’ tips… be careful, it’s beyond both, and… beyond even that, it is beyond neither!

Standing at the precipice, look, a strawberry — letting go, the switch thrown, beyond reckless…beyond embrace, beyond distaste. Echoing down a long dark hallway of time, do “you” hear the sound of the river far off in the distance? Or is it just hearing altruistic, sans self?

There is a reason it is called bright, illuminated; set against the deepest black, beyond even that, mu… is a dance beyond light, beyond dark, beyond “these” entering/in/exiting superposition. Such is an awesome sight, superpositioned with the beautiful black. The yang is, the yin, beyond “is”.

Word salad? Yes please, with a little oil, vinegar, pepper, and… salt… cut and stick, cut and stick… delicious. Satiated, read without rhythms of syntactic switching, cut and stick set aside, it is a slimy mess, decomposing, rotten… to the compost bin, lights… out… either way it’s beyond “we all”, sometimes other-view is the sedan, sometimes mu is the compost truck.

May this be of benefit to limitless beings.

Sincerely,

牙王

Posted on

A Review of “The Moderating Role of Autonomy and Control on the Benefits of Written Emotion Expression” (Weinstein & Hodgins, 2009)

This was written in response to a Discussion Question for Week 11 in PSYCH-210, Washington State University.

INTRODUCTION

This article is pretty fascinating, as it studies autonomy and control as it relates to self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2000). The basic study investigated whether individuals determined “autonomous” whom display interest and self-initiation (Weinstein & Hodgins, 2009, p. 354) also display “higher well-being, higher energy, and lower memory for the disturbing content” as an initial hypothesis (p. 354). Subsequent hypothesis expected displays of better integration of distressing emotions, and after 48 hours, experience the continued display of the initial hypothesis (p. 354). An additional study was executed for individuals determined “control-oriented” whereby autonomy was primed to see if similar displays could be arrived at (p. 354).

DISCUSSION

Overall I thought that the study strongly met the criteria of a research study, and strongly relied on operational definitions throughout. The use of diagnostic criteria from other realms and associated realms of theory lend interdisciplinary utility and application. The study is concise, however could be deceptive, because it relies on quite a bit of measures that have been developed through much rigor. I liked this.

The study really makes use of a ton of meta-data from various diagnostics developed the psychological field. I liked how the researchers pinpointed what was being looked for in each diagnostic without going into laborious history of the diagnostic in the introduction; it left, no pun intended, autonomy up to the reader in investigating each diagnostic. The Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (Pennebaker, Francis, & Booth, 2001) immediately grabbed attention. The use of a handgrip exercise tool to measure “energy or ego depletion” (Martijn, Tenbült, Merckelbach, Dreezens, & de Vries, 2002) was really novel. The authors also controlled as best they could for bias, using BIDR, which was good to see mentioned. They even measured Big Five (Gosling, Rentfrow, & Swan, 2003). These researchers collected quite a bit of data that could be used for different sorts for different investigations, Grounded Theory style, without resampling, this is delightful.

What was not liked was that the theory of “linguistic indicators of non defense and processing” (p. 353) relied on a “sense of ownership” that seems culturally biased. There are languages such as Japanese and Chinese that do not necessarily utilize self-referencing in the conveying of deeply emotional communications. Also, some very effective practitioners of meditation eliminate self-referencing yet are proposed to exhibit high levels of autonomy (hint, research study). I think that overall, perhaps, it might be, that emotional processing could take on different forms. B.F. Skinner’s talks with Carl Rogers for example seem full of autonomy yet devoid of self-referencing. It feels like “pinning self-referencing” on another’s lack of self-referencing is also a form of control orientation. Right here in this text, does the author say “I think it feels like” and reinforce the notion of an independent, intrinsic self, seemingly with a soul that is the schema of a culturally dominant ideology correlated to the use of English or does the author say “it feels like” and reinforce the notion of a dependent, changing phenomena, of that is the schema of dominant-less sans-ideological view that is more scientific and congruent with behavioralist understanding? Let the sparks fly (cough, that’s a hint to the ability to process openly the sparks, and assimilate fireworks).

RECOMMENDATIONS

The author is inclined to propose further studies, however would challenge a team of researchers to break through dominant ethno-centric cultural biases to expose a hidden variable that is driving honesty sans self, integration sans identity, willingness sans ownership, engagement sans aggregation, and a lack of deception in complete open transparency beyond identity. I’d propose replicating the study primarily with 1) different cultures and languages, 2) high level meditators, 3) prisoners, 4) executives, and 5) therapists. Regarding the field, I’d be interested in experiment 5. 

As a final note, I’d recommend executing studies on self-referencing and non-defensiveness, and add in fMRI measures of altruism with different cultures. I think there’s a possible flaw in the theory, because I don’t think “self” is needed for autonomy, and when looking at Carl Rogers work with a client. I think “self” is possibly a linguistic artifact. Regarding methodologies, for once, I’d actually be interested in replicating the same methodology, changing the sample context.

SUMMARY

This work is hugely valuable, it’s really getting at something, and is well appreciated. That said, I think that science would do a huge favor by considering different cultural contexts because as I learned with the polygraph paper, just because something is experimented on, doesn’t mean the public (autonomous) is going to understand the limitations and constraints (control) of the experimental design. The public may just run with the conclusion, write a small article in New Scientist or Psychology Today and lead the public to believe something is true for all cases, because well, the paper said so (for all cases of the sample in the study).

REFERENCES

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227-268.

Filkowski, M. M, Cochran, R. N., & Haas, B. W. (2016). Altruistic behavior: mapping responses in the brain. Neuroscience and Neuroeconomics, 5, 65–75. https://doi.org/10.2147/NAN.S87718

Gosling, S. D., Rentfrow, P. J., & Swann, W. B. (2003). A very brief measure of the big-five personality domains. Journal of Research in Personality, 37, 504-528.

Martijn, C., Tenbült, P., Merckelbach, H., Dreezens, E., & de Vries, N. K. (2002). Getting a grip on ourselves: Challenging expectancies about loss of energy after self-control. Social Cognition, 20, 441-460.

Pennebaker, J. W., Francis, M. E., & Booth, R. J. (2001). Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC2001). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Weinstein, Netta, & Hodgins, Holley S. (2009). The Moderating Role of Autonomy and Control on the Benefits of Written Emotion Expression. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 35(3), 351–364. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167208328165

Posted on

A Letter to Mathew

Dear Mathew,

These men felt they had a future with 5 year mortgages and in a world where CEO’s made 20x the lowest worker’s wages. Fast forward to today where 30-40% of their income is on rent, or set against 30 year mortgages requiring dual or triple incomes in a world where CEO’s make 261x+ the lowest worker’s wages. Many of today’s young men have little hope for a future, seeing promises to their parents not come true for decades of living, hope not come to fruition, in the face of a world overheating ecologically, as reported by instrument and measure. Consumer culture with little lasting meaning to be found and grown, exchanged for the temptations of planned obsolesce. Yes, their feelings are hurt, and of such people, they look not to defend oligarchy and monarchy seen as oppressors, not directly, but indirectly in abdication and neglect of people in favor and greed of brands.

So yes, I feel for them, and for you too.

On this Memorial Day, perhaps it can be remembered and asked, what is all of this truly being built for? Truly, beyond marketing and marketecture, what’s the point if not for the benefit of one’s neighbors, and the common man’s assent to all that is good and meaningful for they and theirs? Perhaps people might be able to remember what those young men fought for, it was 5 year mortgages, quality clothing, locks of brass rather than aluminum, paint for homes disintegrating, and the ability to retire on cash holdings, without exacting tithe to the retirement tills passed by the priests of a religion of market economism. Its chains of abject debts exchanged for stages highlighting hopes of retirement nest eggs dangling like Faberge eggs glistening through two dimensional shop windows beneath castles of steel and glass, in thirty seconds spots between the hopes and dreams of beings lost in mazes of adornments of conceits as “self”.

So yes, I know them, and you, for these are siblings and relations amongst the flow of life and of death. All are welcome to refuge from the ravages of arbitrations of greed and resource to fuel and transform matter and energy into few mens’ shared visions, at the gates of peace, beyond all segregation.

In love and wellness for the benefit of limitless beings,
Roy Æ Hodges

P.S.: To any service member, passed, in honor and memorial, for it is not the land, nor the people, nor corporation, nor paper that the oath is made. It is not for economism, nor house, home, or familial relation. The oath made is to support and defend a contract between a peoples, equal, in that inalienable right to live endowed with this very body to navigate a world harsh, to find a peace happy. Good luck.

Posted on

A Response to a Reflection

Hi [redacted],

When comparing these stats, try backing of[f] what is seen for other perspectives. That statistic is only ever going to be as good as the question it’s answering. So what question do the initial 250 black fatalities and 405 white fatalities stats answer? That is an answer to “how many blacks vs. whites out of the total population are fatally shot by police?” Yet this very misleading.

Well consider a better question with respect to identities, “how many blacks in the black community vs. whites out of the total white community are fatally shot by police?” Suddenly this is where you see that out of each community, using the Washington Post Fatal Force Database… and using Census.gov (2019) statistics… indeed the story is true.

METHODOLOGY 

Curiosity decided to look at the entire history to date from of fatalities (Washington Post, 2021), and constructed a pivot table and found 252 Blacks, and 424 Whites, then rebased this with each respective population per U.S. Census (2021) statistics of 43,984,096 blacks and 250,446,756 whites. Mathematical habit adjusted this per million to move the decimal over a bit for easier comparison. And there it is… 3.384 times as likely to be shot as a black in the population of blacks that a white in the population of whites.

 ABHNOW
Sum of fatality20252168139424
 Proportions of Race to Population 20190.00000572934362   0.00000169297461
 Per Million5.729343625   1.692974614

This is the Thomas Theorem at work, perceptions right? But wait! There’s more… why? Because there’s something odd here. 

IDENTITY MANAGEMENT

There are a whole slew of hidden variables at work, waiting to be discovered, like, what’s the socioeconomic difference between the white and blacks, or how about this question, “in the topology of beings representing ideal <desegregated|homogenization> of race (i.e., ~45-50% racial makeup)  by socioeconomic wealth equality, of these, which represent ideal racial composition, what are the comparable proportion of blacks vs. whites with respect to their total population in these communities that suffer police fatality, where police fatality may be any interchangeable event/status metric that is correlated to measures of happiness and well being (i.e., longevity, cancer incidence, wealth, income, etc.), and where black/white is an interchangeable indicator of any division of life categorized (divided) correlated to perceptions of differences (hence sociological perspective) that lead to stereotypes, prejudiced, and discriminative behavior of any form of identity, where the impact to planetary impact of identity is measured by a value factor with respect to the ecological impact and carbon footprint of identity maintenance over a depreciating curve much like businesses benefit, but individuals do not.

CONCLUSION

It’s not the math degree that helped this thought process. It’s the absence of dividing sensory perceptions of I, you, We, they, self, other, my, your, I am because, You are because, I am because of this in the past, You are because of this in the future… all very metabolically expensive identity maintenance functions that do not leave room to help others… like those experiencing police fatalities more… yet the enticement to test if the fatalities occur more often or not, in ideal conditions, either way, it further sheds light on inequality by socio-economic conditions, or quite possibly another variable correlated to, quite possibly, and most likely, stereotype, prejudice, and discrimination.

NOTE

This kind of work should be paid for in humanity, a kind of clean up crew.

REFERENCES

Washington Post. (2021). Police shootings database 2015-2021. washingtonpost.com (https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/investigations/police-shootings-database/)

U.S. Census. (2021 April 28). U.S. Census Quick Facts United States [filtered by 2019]. census.gov (https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045219)