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The Nature and Purpose of People-triggers

While in the midst of tutoring/toying with Clarice, Hannibal Lecter references the writings of Marcus Aurelius, saying, “Of each thing ask, what is it in itself?  What is it’s nature?”

When Marcus Aurelius wrote The Meditations, his original mission was only to organize his thoughts on Stoicism and proper action.  He was only trying to advise himself, and there is little evidence to suggest that he meant for those thoughts to be published.

A couple years ago, I had an interesting “A-ha” moment.  I read Keith Johnstone’s Impro for the first time.  It’s a book on improv performance, written by the man who’s Theatresports troupe was the forerunner of the famous TV show Who’s Line Is It Anyway? The first section of that book deals with a concept called the “status transaction,” which I’ll go into in depth in a later post.  I re-read this section many, many times trying to get my brain fully around his concepts.  To me, it was a brand new way of looking at performance that existed in a separate universe from Stanislavski and super-objectives.

But that wasn’t the “A-ha” I was referring to.  I gravitated to this concepts of status, and the “weak, everyday motivations” that Johnstone explored because it seemed to fall right in line with other books I had read – not about performance, but about marketing and advertising.  I realized that Johnstone’s work had much broader implications than stage performance.  It was the first step towards lifting the veil on the latent, subtle, everyday motivations of people in the real world.

Fundamentally, I want to know why we do the things that we do.  I don’t just want to arrive at some one-sentence answer, like, “Well, it’s all evolution…we do everything to procreate and survive.”  Yes, I’m aware of that.  I want to get into the subtleties and tactics.  I want to know why some advertising zings us in our irrational core, but most of it falls flat.  I want to know why exceptionally intelligent people can still be scammed and conned.  I want to know why we go so completely nuts when we feel that someone is losing interest in us.  I want to discuss the concepts that make for good storytelling AND a broader understanding of people.

Social psychologists and motivational speakers have been blathering about this subject for years with varying degrees of insight.  I have my own thoughts…well really, the beginnings of my own thoughts.  That’s the purpose of this space.  I am not an expert in this area but I would like to become one.  I’d like to take a little inspiration from Marcus Aurelius and have a dedicated space to organize my thoughts and theories, and hopefully generate a little insight.  That is what “People-triggers” is in itself, to paraphrase Lecter: discussion about the core principles of human motivation and influence – the fascinating intersection of social psychology, acting theory and advertising.

There are many people I look up to who refine their thoughts and writing ability with the help of online essays or blogs, and my respect for their writing is a large part of why I’m trying it myself.  I also hope to generate some interesting discussion for the sake of refining these ideas.  This topic is fascinating to me, and I hope it’s fascinating to a lot of people.  So please enjoy, and don’t be shy to speak up.

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