‘PS comma’ is how to read my little title; it’s a mantra born in my mind just this morning, March 24, Manila time. It is a new mantra for creative thinking; reminiscent of Edward de Bono’s ‘Po’ (no comma), I’m offering it as a mind-blogging phrase for you to mine your gray matter and come out with copious ideas. The service is free – it comes from you; you help yourself.
Contrary to grammatical rules, my comma is not meant to indicate a pause, a temporary stop; instead, my comma is meant to be a prompt, to indicate a request to finish a silent ‘and?’ and a silent ‘so?’ and a silent ‘however?’ and a silent ‘nonetheless?’ and a silent ‘nevertheless?’ and a silent ‘but?’ and a silent ‘for?’ and a silent ‘nor?’ and a silent ‘yet?’ and a silent ‘or?’ Silence means ‘Yes?’
If nothing else, ‘PS,’ reminds you to relax, to be not serious. I’m not serious when I’m brainstorming, and that’s exactly why I’m creative! No Writer’s Block whatsoever.
Of course, my ‘PS,’ comes from ‘PS, I love you’ – which I have explained earlier in ‘A Thinker’s Faith. Rebel Thinker Writes, ‘PS, I Love You’ (frankahilario.com) – where I first presented ‘PS’ as a mantra for creative thinking. If you have ever written a letter, you already know that ‘PS’ means postscript, that which is done after writing, something you remembered to say after you have written your complimentary close. As I use it here, ‘PS’ means prescript, that which is done before writing. This morning I came up with the comma after ‘PS’ and that I will explain in a little while.
In Hindu and Buddhist practice, a mantra is ‘a sacred word, chant, or sound that is repeated during meditation to facilitate spiritual power and transformation of consciousness’ (Encarta Dictionaries 2007). A mantra is a ‘mental device, instrument of thought’ (iivs.de). Often, a mantra is only 1 or 2 syllables (buddhanet.net), but it can be a series of syllables (well.com). My ‘PS,’ or ‘PS comma’ is 4 syllables, so number is not a problem here.
Now, why am I offering ‘PS,’ as mantra? Because I had a flash of insight. Because it’s a very simple way of reaching any level of consciousness in creativity. ‘OM’ as mantra to reach the ‘7 levels of consciousness’ (swamij.com) is too serious for me, but you get the idea. Saying ‘PS comma’ is in fact fooling around with the mind, about which I have already written (‘PC Fools. The Rebel Writer Writes Of Slaves & Masters,’ frankahilario.com). With ‘PS,’ you are in fact trying to seduce yourself into a mental state of creativity, if fleetingly – and that’s all the time you need! Believe me. Been there, done that.
‘PS’ – noon today, when I was trying to collect notes on the acronym, I thought of Sony’s PlayStation and, surfing, clicked on Wikipedia. And now, here is a lesson in creative thinking from my Serendipity X and their Wikipedia on the subject of Sony’s PlayStation (PS). The head note on the PlayStation section says (en.wikipedia.org):
The current version of this article or section is written in an informal style and with a personally invested tone. It reads more like a story than an encyclopedia entry.
Very funny. What Wikipedia does not encourage is exactly what I do encourage because that’s how I write: personal, fervent.
So, according to the watchdogs of Wikipedia, an encyclopedia entry should be written in a staid, no-feelings-seen-no-bias-shown manner. Boring. That’s why nobody reads the encyclopedia. And yes, I now understand Wikipedia doesn’t want to be read either! That is to say, like all the other encyclopedia makers, they don’t want their sentences to be relaxed; they are not trying to impart knowledge on the reader – they are merely trying to impress him with their erudition.
Now, repeat after me, say ‘PS,’ – what I’m trying to do is get you to relax. You can’t be creative if you can’t relax. ‘PS comma’ is a non-threatening, low-cholesterol, high-energy diet that when you get a taste of it in your mouth you’ll want to experience it again and again. It’s a highly consumable non-consumable. This is a case where you can have your cake and eat it too.
‘PS comma’ – yes. Don’t underestimate the comma. We are told by the English Language Centre Study Zone of the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada: ‘The comma ‘is one of the most important punctuation marks in English’ (web2.uvcs.uvic.ca). Aren’t they all?
Look at my strange-looking title again; today, I have come up with a Writer’s Unblock, a radical use of the comma, as the comma in ‘PS,’ is a come-on, an invitation to a dance of the mind, an encouragement to come up with 13 new blades of ideas where none grew before. The comma in ‘PS,’ means, in brief: ‘What else?’ The comma asks you: ‘What else can you see? What else can you not see? What else is there? What else is not there? What else can be done? What else can not be done? What else do people say? What else do people not say? Etcetera.
In my previous essay, ‘A Thinker’s Faith’ that I uploaded yesterday, I gave you 30 examples of how to use ‘PS’ as a device for creative thinking, accompanied with a colon – ‘PS:’ An unfortunate incident, I realize that now. As a device for thinking, the colon is not really a come-on to start with but a warning to stop and think more logically, which was not my intention. To begin to think logically is to stop to think creatively.
And now let me put to the test my ‘PS,’ mantra, and try to generate as many entry points to begin to write as many creative essays as I can from a bit of unpromising news. ABL Lorenzo reports on the uncertain situation on the supply of rice for us Filipinos (March 24, gmanews.tv):
The government is looking to boost spending on rice to ensure a sufficient supply of the staple, Finance Secretary Margarito B Teves said. ¶ The country’s economic managers, the finance chief said, would be meeting with Agriculture Secretary Arthur C Yap to discuss measures to prevent a rice shortage and keep prices under control.
Applying now my mantra, I can write at least 13 different happy/sad essays (I prefer happy) on the basis of only those 2 sentences I have quoted of the discouraging news:
(1) PS, what happens when you ‘boost spending on rice’ – and what exactly does the phrase mean? Given the same budget, when you boost spending on A, you inhibit spending on B, right?
(2) PS, how do you predict a rice shortage? Don’t tell me there is only one formula for computing. Whose formula are you going to use? Why?
(3) PS, where is the supply of rice coming from today, in and out of the country? Why not instead boost the growing of more rice on idle lands? (100 days and you have a harvest.)
(4) PS, what is ‘a sufficient supply’ of rice anyway? Why do we have an impending rice shortage now when we didn’t have such in the last 100 years? Is this the effect of Typhoon Milenyo?
(5) PS, how much are we spending now for rice, and how much for French fries? Or Shakey’s pizza? Or Kentucky fried chicken?
(6) PS, why are they saying ‘rice shortage’ – are they trying to scare us people? When was the last time there was panic buying in the Philippines because of a shortage predicted or suggested?
(7) PS, why can’t we simply import rice from Vietnam or China or India maybe? How much can we afford to import?
(8) PS, how do you keep the price of a basic commodity like rice under control? If you say you can do that, can you give a historical example? What happens to the growers of rice?
(9) PS, the country’s economic manager: Do they really agree on what to do? Why or why not? How much really can they do? What about the economic law of supply and demand?
(10) PS, what’s the relationship between the population of the Philippines and the impending rice shortage? Can you relate the two scientifically – and convincingly?
(11) PS, why can’t we eat corn instead? Or rice with corn? (It tastes nice, really.)
(12) PS, why can’t we stop importing corn and import rice instead? (The poultry raisers will get mad, I can imagine.)
(13) PS, why can’t we reduce the cost of producing rice by using less and less fertilizers and pesticides and still harvest more and more? (When scientists disagree, what is the intelligent farmer to do?)
So: With ‘PS,’ as my mantra, I can generate 13 beginnings of 13 essays on the basis of bad news. Watch out when I work that magic spell on some good news!
So: Look at the title of this little essay on my own creative mantra again. It suggests a little engagement yet to be consummated, doesn’t it? I like my mantra to be like that. A tease. What else? Listen to the Beatles sing their greatest song, ‘PS, I love you.’ This one is a standing invitation to a dance. RSVP.