AJ & The Rina Look


AJ & The Rina Look

First, a little history, mine.

We go back some 40 years. Sometime in 1965, I was in college, and I visited Manny Alkuino in his room which was across mine at the Velasco’s Dorm in Los Baños, Laguna, the Philippines, and I saw a copy of Rudolf Flesch’s book How To Write, Speak & Think More Effectively. At that time I was already a voracious reader and I already was cultivating on my own my talent for writing. I borrowed the book and read it and Manny saw that I liked it so much that he said, in so many words, ‘If you like it so much, it’s yours.’ It was mine from the first time I held that book in my hands. (Thanks, Manny.)

If you didn’t know, Flesch’s book is for creative writing, creative thinking and speaking. What’s speaking doing with creative writing and creative thinking? Think of creative speaking. Flesch says you should write as you speak.

Flesch taught me how to think of more things to say when I’m stomped – Writer’s Block. To prevent writer’s block, whatever you have, or are thinking, don’t do the usual: If you’re not inspired, don’t despair because, you may not know it, but you also have The King MiDAS Touch! that you need for creatively working with any idea, concept, topic, subject, item, assignment, campaign, artwork whatever. Arithmetic is My Dear Aunt Sally, right? Multiply, Divide, Add, Subtract. MDAS. Add the i (you), and you have King MiDAS; I add the word King so it’s easier to remember. (While the idea of adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplying in creative writing comes from Flesch, the name ‘King MiDAS’ for the concept comes from me – I just invented it a few minutes ago as I was writing this part of this post; I wasn’t even thinking of inventing anything. That is to say, the invention of ‘King MiDAS’ is itself the proof that it works.)

So you have a topic, or an idea of a topic. You are your own king, so MiDAS it. Multiply it. Or Divide it. Or Add to it. Or Subtract from it. Inject the i there, the you. Try it – it works! For instance, you are thinking of writing about cell phones. Don’t talk about cell phones. Subtract from the cell phones – talk about a brand; subtract from the brand – talk about Siemens; subtract from Siemens – talk about Siemens A65; subtract from Siemens A65 owned by neighbors or friends – talk about your own Siemens A65. To be interesting, always talk about your own experience, the i in MiDAS.

While I just invented the idea King MiDAS today, I have actually been using it since I met Rudolf Flesch 40 years ago. So, with the royal loyal company of King MiDAS, I have never had any writer’s block for 4 decades of writing. (Of course you need practice. The only way to learn is to do. That’s from a teacher – me. I have credentials – I passed the Teacher’s Exam and taught high school and college.)

Aside from the idea I call King MiDAS, Flesch also taught me to change perspective, and to doubt statistics as a science (it’s all logic and, you know, figures don’t lie but liars will figure). He taught me readability – the bad use of long words, except when you want to impress, or except if you have mastered the language and your subject matter and you can be long-winded and yet interesting.

Flesch also taught me one practical advice to avoid writer’s block: Begin anywhere but begin! And continue until you run out of space, time, ink or ideas. Then leave that draft alone, no matter how bad it looks (it looks very bad of course). Don’t forget to do background research. Research means trying out the idea itself if it is a process or technology, at the same time reading, asking people, observing, surfing the Internet, taking down notes. Later during the day, or the next day, go back to it and MiDAS it all over again. I’m sure you’ll find gold at the end of the rainbow. This website alone is proof of that.

About this website, AJ & The Rina Look

On 17 October 2006, I created The World According To Worp, having been inspired by Erin MJ’s own website, which she calls Lylium.org, in WordPress of course, I having been led there by a photo note in Erin’s Flickr account. On my 7th post, I searched in Flickr for a ‘ridiculous’ photo and found and liked Une Chanson Enivrante’s shot which she titled ‘Ridiculously and irrationally naïve.’ Another of her image is also illustrative (above); she titles it ‘Save the horse?’ UCE is actually AJ, Alaina Jacobsen from Winnipeg, Canada. If you read again ‘Ridiculously and irrationally naïve,’ a good acronym for it is Rina, right? The Rina Look is what you see as the very logo of this website, which is AJ with her ridiculous and irrationally naïve look.

The Rina Look will help you be creative as it does me.

If you’re interested in learning more about creativity, how do you acquire The Rina Look so that you can be more creative than you already are? Why, learn from Rudolf Flesch, of course. Not only having your own King MiDAS.

If you need more proof of my having learned from Rudolf Flesch, I invite you to visit the American Chronicle and browse all my 15 articles published there so far. Click this:

or simply click the first link, American Chronicle, that you see on top of this website, to your right. Or click on all those links – except WordPress, they’re all me. Don’t forget I’m 66 and self-taught in writing and editing and blogging and a novice in HTML.

So, how do I do it? Example: I think of a topic, any topic that I pluck from thin air, no holds barred, and just that one, that of which I already have something to say, or something I believe in, or something I am interested in in the first place. It has to be personal. I’m doing it right now, as I write this, and I suddenly think corn meal (I don’t eat it – it’s for poultry & livestock.). Shall I write about how to grow corn or how to cook a meal using corn, or shall I think (write) of corny jokes? I decide on popcorn. And that leads me to think of movies. And that leads me to think of Filipino movies, a dying industry if not already dead. And that leads me to think of local telenovelas, daytime and nighttime soap operas and fantasy series, an industry that is enjoying a rebirth, a Renaissance. And that leads me to think of Captain Barbell, the local counterpart of the American Captain Marvel of Marvel Comics of long ago and far away. That leads me to think of how Captain Barbell’s plot is weak, with not enough characterization and with poor transitions or changing scenes from one chapter to another, or episoding; and that leads me to think of writing about quality, say about how the Filipino computer programmers have learned how to do computer animation that startles the uninitiated, of whom there are millions. And that’s as good as written. All I have to do is fill in the gaps, the missing details. I do that all the time. I did it with this post. That’s how I write.

When I’m reading – and I read a lot, and I read everything – I read with an open mind but with it closed to the pornographic and the dirty minds, dirty mouths and dirty pens – and invite my subconscious to pick up something, anything, and pretty soon something comes up, something to write about. It’s a habit now. What about you? You can’t cultivate a habit unless you start with it, and nurture it. Begin anywhere but begin!

I have been doing this for the last 31 years since my good friend Orli Ochosa gifted me with his copy of Edward De Bono’s book Mechanism Of Mind sometime in 1975. In that book, published in 1968, De Bono explains his discovery of a mental process we are all capable of, which he calls lateral thinking, which is essentially exploring the horizon of possibilities East, West, North, South of the Border, the border being your topic. He tells you to open your mind; you don’t say No even to a No statement; you say Yes even to an impossibility, impracticality, absurdity, insanity, irrelevance, incongruity, inconsistency, even to the contrary notion. If you can accept that, you can be creative at will, not only accidentally or once in a blue moon.

When you’re brainstorming, whether alone or in a group, listen to every word and shut your mouth! Just say ‘Po’ to each idea, says De Bono, emphasis on the possibilities, potentials of an undiscovered gem in an ore, a silver lining in a cloud, a solution to a Gordian Knot. Alexander the Great’s solution was a master stroke, if you will pardon the expression: He cut it with his sword. That was after he failed to untie the Gordian Knot the first time. Did you realize that what Alexander did was make a paradigm shift? He didn’t say there was no solution to it, that it was difficult to solve if not impossible. According to Wikipedia, when first he tried, he failed. As I see it, Alexander was a genius; so, since he couldn’t solve the problem, he changed the problem! The new problem? How to set free the oxcart from the knot, not untie the knot. Again, according to Wikipedia, there is one other legend of how Alexander set the oxcart free from the Gordian Knot – he pulled the knot out of its pole pin. Either way, I say, Alexander was being creative, having an open mind. If he closed his mind to the compelling logic of the requirement to untie the Gordian Knot, we wouldn’t have a wonderful legend or myth like that.

The lessons with De Bono and Alexander the Great are exactly the same: Switch off your logical mind – stop thinking critically – and switch on your illogical mind – start thinking creatively.

Help yourself with an old, color magazine.

Creative thinking can be simply triggered.

When Orli and I were copywriters of Pacifica Publicity Bureau in Makati in 1975 with Nonoy Gallardo as our Creative Director, Nonoy took us copywriters and artists out of the office into secondhand bookstores or corners where we bought years-old issues of color magazines. Why? Because we wanted to read. Because they were cheaper. Actually, what we did was browse or scan the pages and ogled at the pretty faces and figures in those photographs and admired the brilliant copy (headline, teaser, text, and tagline), and envied the expressive designs and layouts, In other words, we were picking up new ideas from those old magazines while we were relaxing. Relaxing is the thing. Browsing is relaxing even if you have a purpose other than merely browsing.

I advise you to read and read books. When you read a book, look for something to appreciate, something you like, even if it’s difficult to do so, and then you’ll find your reading becomes pleasurable. Me, I always think that whatever I read I can pick up something ‘good’ or ‘bad’ from there to write about, to open my mind to any new thought or good feeling.

And yes, I avoid like the plague reading all those major Manila newspapers – except Philippine Star – they are all so negative, so critical you’ll never be creative if you continue to read any of them. And much of their English is dull, if not mediocre. If you want to read news and views written brilliantly, read the New York Times; if you want to read a magazine that will help you write much better, read the Reader’s Digest. Also, I avoid TV newscasts and talk shows here as well as in the United States for the same reason – they love gossips, crimes, innuendos, prejudices, voyeurism, divorces, family quarrels over wealth, executives stealing from their own companies, reality shows, amazing videos (where people die horribly), and life of the rich and infamous.

I read about (and watch) the trials and triumphs of Tiger Woods and Maria Sharapova, knowing that I learn from them more than just winning and losing in golf and tennis games.

When I was very active in the Catholic charismatic movement, I used to read all the Bible versions I could lay my hands on and compare translation to translation. It widened my perspective of biblical teaching, not necessarily that I grasped their messages but enough to appreciate them more.

If reading or browsing doesn’t work for you, take a walk. Talk to someone, anyone. Remember: You have to distract yourself. When you’re distracted, that’s the most creative time for you!

I watch the CSI shows on TV, all 3 of them: CSI Miami, CSI New York and CSI Las Vegas. I like CSI Miami most of all – I can identify with the persona of the lead character, Lt Horatio Caine (as portrayed by David Caruso), as his grappling with the physical and mental challenges of crime scene investigation is something I love. Horatio Caine gets me. But don’t get me wrong. The very act of crime investigation is all logical, isn’t it? It’s all critical thinking. Right. But don’t you realize that in CSI the critical thinking (investigative) takes an inspired leap (creative thinking) once in a while, and that mental leap – in fact, 2 leaps in 1 show, as there are always at least 2 dead bodies in 2 different crime scenes – is what makes it all worth watching? And what’s the proof that it’s creative, or productive thinking? The critical thinking that follows proves it, when it is seen in CSI that everything fits.

In an older universe, in the 1950s and 1960s, mostly thinking alone, Erle Stanley Gardner’s lawyer Perry Mason was brilliant because he could make a creative leap every now and then in each case he solved. The same was true in an even older world, in the late 1880s, of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective Sherlock Holmes: The creative leap comes, and when critical thinking is laid to bear on it, crime solved. You want to solve a crime nobody has been able to solve? Take a creative leap. Don’t think logically – think differently. Think out of the box of critical thinking, out of the box of logic, out of the box of reason.

Faith is a creative leap. I believe what helps me be creative all the time, more creative in fact at 66 than at 55 than at 44 than at 33, is that I have learned to let go and let God. I don’t worry myself to death about problems anymore; I let my problems worry about me. So my mind is figuratively a tabula rasa (tabula, tablet, rasa, erased), a blanked mind. When I switch on to my tabula rasa mode of mind, it becomes ready to accept a creative act. That’s when I take a leap of faith.

Explore posts in the same categories: Blogroll, creative thinking, critical thinking, Edward De Bono, lateral thinking, naive, Rudolf Flesch

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