Saturday, September 8, 2012

Thesis statement for a Philosphy class. My role as a designer.


My Role as a Designer

September 11, 2012

PREFACE         
Certain aspects of this Philosophy class entitled “Senior Seminar” have been extremely challenging for me.  In writing this final paper I’ve spent over 40 hours of researching and trying to find scholarly articles or scientific proof to a theory that I have been developing for 33 years.  To say that life experiences, years of reading a variety of books and magazine on every subject, watching documentaries, and  the millions of tiny lessons we learn throughout our experiences offer no validity to my philosophy of   “My role as a Designer,”  is an assault to my senses.  Though I do not have my official BA from the Art Institute of Portland yet, I know that my knowledge base from 20 years business experience and 20 years parenting experience are on par with many degrees.
Another issue I have is overcoming my skepticism towards the idea of someone being an expert and taking the articles given at face value?  Since my opinions already have deep existential roots taken from basic concepts about Metaphysical Nihilism, The Law of Attraction, Quantum Physics, how on a subatomic level everything is made of energy -including thought, as well as how energy never dissipates it only changes form. These beliefs and a natural instinct I’ve had since childhood automatically motivate me to question every authority that I come across.
These tendencies have caused me to be stuck in a feeling of pointlessness towards the assignments not unlike certain forms of nihilism because I feel the theories are based in a world of basic given beliefs disqualified by my own core belief system. Regardless, I’ve taken some time to read about some of the great Philosopher’s in “The Philosophers, Introducing Great Western Thinkers”, Edited by Ted Honderich” ,  and found a common thread of skepticm with at least 3 great philosophers. For example Socrates “I do not know anything”(12).  Plato’s tendency to develop a theory and then disqualify it “The second part of the Parmenides is a riddle. It draws bewildering array of contradictory conclusions”…”then just ends without further comment”…”Although the late dialogues begin with two enigmatic and self-critical pieces in which Plato’s own position is once more unclear” (19-20).  Even Aristotle’s theories “also exhibit considerable reflection on the nature of philosophical activity and the goals of philosophy itself”(24).  Reading about the skepticism of the greats validates my skepticism and empowers me to develop my own theories without solely relying on other so called “qualified” sources.
Now that I have laid my philosophical stance out in the open I hope to make sense of my argument which has been a common thread throughout all of my papers this term and that is that I believe everything is subjective. Each of us is the center of our own universe, guided by our own life experiences, and prejudices whether we are aware of them or not. Hence no one is an expert or another way to look at it is everyone is an expert on only one thing, their own life.   I realize this preface is not a requirement of this assignment but I felt compelled to provide it.



INTRODUCTION
What inspires and motivates people to do something positive for themselves or their community? In this paper I will discuss how as a Filmmaker I intend to make films that inspire and connect with people in a deeper way and how I might go about doing so.  I believe that inspiration causes people to act in a way that betters themselves and their lives and therefore betters the world.  In order to inspire people you must connect to them.  The question is what element(s) in a film connects to the audience?  After I identify what connects and inspire the audience I plan to implement these features into my films to initiate positive thoughts and feelings that prompt action.
BODY
Are movies that inspire a genre or a story line? At the movies many people enjoy blockbuster and horror movies as a source of entertainment. These genres may offer a break from our everyday worries but are they beneficial or truly just a distraction from everyday life that holds no lasting positive impression? It would be a rare instance if a person walked away from a blockbuster or horror movie motivated to make changes, help someone, or their community. Though those 2 genres may have less chance of motivating the audience I hypothesize that inspiration is not related to genre but more closely to story line. Each of us in this world has one thing in common, and that is the relation we have to our daily life.  When asked hello by a friend or acquaintance the thing that is always on our minds is what is going on during that day or week.  We all have a relationship to what happens in the day and an opinion about our experiences and social interactions.  
Author Andrew Sayer starts his book entitled “Why Things Matter to People” with some very interesting sociological points that seem as if they should be held as common sense, but are apparently not the current belief in sociology.   Sayer says we are “evaluative beings” who “don’t just think and interact”. We make decisions based on a deeper need ”we are also vulnerable and susceptible to various kinds of loss or harm“(1). Sayer’s main thesis of the book is that people make decisions and hold values based on their concerns for what is going on in their daily life “we are beings whose relation to the world is one of concern”(2).  As humans, social interactions affect people on many levels including values.  Sayer says that to get deeper into how people decide their values you must consider 2 common sociological viewpoints towards values;  Emotivism and Conventionalism. Emotivists believe that people form values based off of random moods. Conventionists believe that people’s values are based off what are commonly held values by peers or their community (33).  Both attitudes seem to give a negativity on how people form their values (34). Both theories try to imply that emotions are not important and imply irrationality to forming values.  However as Sayer points out our emotions do serve a very practical purpose, “emotions are not merely an irrelevant accompaniment to what we are doing, like muzak in a supermarket, but a kind of bodily commentary on how we, and our concerns are faring “ (39).  Sayer rejects the common opinions of Emotivism and Conventionalism and makes a point that if we do not delve further into the subject of how people form values we will not be able to understand what motivates people (24).  I hypothesize that regardless of genre if I can write stories that take you into the  reality of the moment when a character experiences concern about their family, health, job, and relationships; this is the first step towards action.   
In my research I’ve come across several inspiring websites that are about making films and screening films that change people’s lives. One of which is filmaide.com who screens films to refugees to educate or entertain for a few moments from their life of war. Another organization is mediamatters.com.  Media matters has a very simple saying “An image captures a feeling, A story shares a message, A movie becomes a movement.” (about page).  Though this website does give some insight into how to inspire people you really have to read between the lines.  I intend to make narrative films as well as documentaries and I think documentaries have a particular kind of audience that is akin to taking action, the larger challenge here is making a narrative film that inspires.
This has brought me to the Ted talk and author Simon Sinek of “Start with why” on his website www.startwithwhy.com and in his Ted talk he says “people don’t buy what you are doing they buy why you are doing it.” This brings up an interesting question for myself, why is it so important to me to inspire people to take action?  Simon states at minute 2:30 that there are 3 components to the differences between companies or people that inspire and the ones that do not. The 3 components are the what they make or want to do, next is how they want to do it, but most importantly he says the why they want to do it. That is the difference between inspiring and innovative people versus everyone else. Sinek goes on to explain what the why is “and by why I don’t mean to make a profit that is a result, it’s always a result. By why I mean  what’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist?” Simon gives this example with a diagram of a circle with why in the middle, how in the next ring, and what in the outside ring. He says that most companies or organizations approach everything in the order of what, how, and then why. But, inspiring leaders start with why, talk about how, and then say the what they are doing.  My research on this subject has been most difficult to find when not in relation to business. In the end I’ve finally come to the conclusion that making a movie is the same as business and Simon Sinek has given me a great lesson.
CONCLUSION:
            The state of our society seems to be encroaching into a bleak outlook of hopelessness reflected through the common theme of zombies, vampires, and murder permeating the entertainment industry.  Diagnosis for depression and thousands of other personality or mental disorders is at an unprecedented level.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health 1 in 4 people have a mental disorder of some form (NIMH).  Pharmaceutical companies offer a magic pill to fix everything.  But I say the issue does not need a pill. What society and the human race needs is an influx of hope and faith.  
At the very young age of 8 years old I experienced an important lesson. I sat in the principal’s office waiting to hear my punishment for something I had done.  In that moment I had an epiphany, ‘time passes so don’t worry about getting in trouble, soon 3 weeks will have gone by and this will all be over.’ With that thought I relaxed.  This experience was the start of my life philosophy which is “What you believe in makes up your world.” Throughout my years I’ve learned and built onto my knowledge, cultivating positive thinking techniques. I believe what you spend your time thinking about and what you hold as your belief is what will be true for you.  This is a very important thing to acknowledge and in my opinion one of the most important issues of our existence. So as I always say, be careful what you believe in. This concept is the reason I want to inspire through film. I feel it is important to acknowledge the influence art has over people’s lives even without them realizing.  People watch film to entertain and If I can make films that relate to peoples everyday lives, families, relationships, and values, while weaving in an underlying message of hope and faith that everything will come out ok in the end. Perhaps I can in some way help to uplift a part of humanity.




Works Cited
"FilmAid Music Video - A Heavy Abacus." FilmAid Music Video - A Heavy Abacus. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Sept. 2012. . Communities in crisis need information and empowerment. FilmAid provides both, to millions of people suffering the effects of war, poverty, displacement and disaster. Films offer a way to reach many people at once, overcoming language and literacy boundaries, providing information where it is needed and inspiring hope where it is lacking. In post-crisis emergencies and protracted situations alike, FilmAid produces and distributes community-based films on critical public health and safety issues such as maternal health, HIV, cholera, gender-based violence, conflict resolution, and more. Using inflatable screens and other ‘Mobile Cinema’ units, FilmAid screenings provide psychological relief and healing to refugees and other communities ravaged by trauma and lacking traditional media and information sources. Through FilmAid’s training program, young people develop production skills and self-empowerment that will outlast displacement and gain a platform to tell their own stories, in their own voices. FilmAid was founded during the Balkan crisis in 1999 by award-winning producer Caroline Baron (Capote, Monsoon Wedding) after she learned the most prevalent problem for the hundreds of thousands of Kosovar refugees was trauma and unrelenting hopelessness. Since then, FilmAid has worked in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other global aid organizations to bring psychological relief, critical information, and training to more than two million people worldwide. FilmAid currently works in Kenya, in the large refugee camps of Dadaab and Kakuma as well as informal settlements in Nairobi and Mombassa; with Burmese refugees in Thailand; and in Haiti. FilmAid is a global federation of nonprofit, charitable organizations with a shared mission to use the power of film and media to transcend language and literacy, bringing life-saving information, psychological relief and much-needed hope to refugees and other communities in need around the globe. Members include FilmAid International (the founding organization), FilmAid Asia, FilmAid Kenya, and FilmAid U.K. FilmAid International, Inc., established in 1999, is a nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
"Media That Matters Film Festival: Short Films That Inspire Action." Media That Matters Film Festival: Short Films That Inspire Action. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Sept. 2012. . The Media That Matters Film Festival is the premiere showcase for short films on the most important topics of the day. Local and global, online and in communities around the world, Media That Matters engages diverse audiences and inspires them to take action.
"The Numbers Count: Mental Disorders in America." NIMH ·. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2012. . The mission of NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure. For the Institute to continue fulfilling this vital public health mission, it must foster innovative thinking and ensure that a full array of novel scientific perspectives are used to further discovery in the evolving science of brain, behavior, and experience. In this way, breakthroughs in science can become breakthroughs for all people with mental illnesses.
Sayer, R. Andrew. Why Things Matter to People: Social Science, Values and Ethical Life. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2011. Print. Andrew Sayer undertakes a fundamental critique of social science's difficulties in acknowledging that people's relation to the world is one of concern. As sentient beings, capable of flourishing and suffering, and particularly vulnerable to how others treat us, our view of the world is substantially evaluative. Yet modernist ways of thinking encourage the common but extraordinary belief that values are beyond reason, and merely subjective or matters of convention, with little or nothing to do with the kind of beings people are, the quality of their social relations, their material circumstances, or well being. The author shows how social theory and philosophy need to change to reflect the complexity of everyday ethical concerns and the importance people attach to dignity. He argues for a robustly critical social science that explains and evaluates social life from the standpoint of human flourishing. ANDREW SAYER is a Professor of Social Theory and Political Economy in the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University. His most recent publications include The Moral Significance of Class (2005) and Realism and Social Science (2000)
Sinek, Simon. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. New York: Portfolio, 2009. Print. With a little discipline, anyone can learn to inspire. Start With Why offers an unconventional perspective that explains WHY some people and organizations are more innovative, more profitable, command greater loyalties from customers and employees alike and, most importantly, are able to repeat their success over and over. These are not the one hit wonders. These are the ones who change the course of industries or even society. Because it's all based on how people think and act, this unique view of the world has application in big business and small business, in politics and non-profit. Though some people have a natural ability to start with WHY, this book offers compelling evidence that, with a little discipline, anyone can learn to do it.
Taylor, C.C.W., David Bostock, and David Charles. The Philosophers: Introducing Great Western Thinkers. Ed. Ted Honderich. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999. Print. The Philosophers introduces some of the most brilliant minds in history and shows the enduring fascination of their ideas, which shaped our civilization. An illustrious team of authors offer concise and illumination tours through the lives and thoughts of the twenty-eight greatest Western philosophers from Socrates to Sartre
"TEDxPugetSound - Simon Sinek - 9/17/09." YouTube. YouTube, 28 Sept. 2009. Web. 08 Sept. 2012. . Simon Sinek - Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action a discussion about his book of the same name.