Wednesday 8 March 2017

Westworld & Designing my own Narrative Loop!

Have you watched the HBO drama Westworld?

Every so often I read a book or watch a series that worms its way inside my head. Westworld is one of those creations that I find myself pondering over and missing now that season one has ended.

If you are planning on watching it, then don't read on. I don't want to spoil it for you.

The premise is this:

Westworld is an authentic Wild West amusement park populated by lifelike androids dubbed "hosts". It caters to high-paying visitors called "guests", who may indulge in whatever they wish within the park, without fear of retaliation from the hosts. The androids do not realise they are not 'real' and see the visiting humans as newcomers.

Got it?

Fake world populated by fake people who think they are real, visited by real people who know the fake people are fake and therefore think nothing of abusing them.

The androids are given a narrative loop they are programmed to perform, be it brothel owner, or naive country girl, or sheriff. A level of improvisation is programmed into them, so when they interact with the humans, they seem very real.

The humans in the show come off badly, living out their darkest desires. The androids experience pain and fear at the hands of the humans, but their memories are then erased so they can go through it all again the following day.

The androids are not conscious of these narrative loops at first, but as the plot thickens, memories arrive from past narratives, confusing them and making them question their reality.

After watching this show I found myself reflecting on these narrative loops. We aren't androids and yet don't we also get stuck in the same old patterns of behaviour?

It made me ponder: 

Do we actually have free will?
Are we any different from these androids if we aren't aware when we become trapped in a loop? 
And if we are aware and still can't do anything about them even when we aren't happy in them, what good is that?

After getting quite drunk on a Friday evening, I woke up on a Saturday feeling fed up of my narrative loop. It seemed that my loop had turned into trying to achieve something during the week, not quite achieving it, a boozy weekend, feeling tired until Tuesday, trying to achieve something again by Friday and so on...

It dawned on me that what I needed was A NEW NARRATIVE LOOP!

Perhaps I could have reduced this long blog post to one brilliant Einstein quote:

Because I wanted different results. I wanted a sharp mind which would come up with a great novel idea. I wanted my body to work as it should. I wanted a fulfilling social life which left me feeling upbeat.

Westworld got me thinking about escaping the same old patterns and taking steps to designing a new life.

First off, the alcohol can go.

I'm calling on technology to boost my efforts. There are two apps I've downloaded. DrinkControl, which is good for recording your intake if you don't want to give up completely. It shows you what moderate drinking should look like versus what you might think is moderate. Another app is SoberTime and it simply counts the days you've gone without drinking and has an encouraging piece of wisdom every time you open it. 

Next I'm choosing new morning habits which involve meditation, yoga, a big breakfast and morning pages. (Morning pages involves writing three pages of whatever comes to your head.) I apologise if I'm boring the pants off you. I hate it when people talk about detoxes and look at me now!

I'm not under any illusions that I'm heading for enlightenment with these steps. In the end it's just another narrative loop: Emily gets healthy in a quest to discover her full potential!

I want to see what this new loop will do for my mental clarity, sense of fulfillment and all around happiness. 

Lately my narrative has been sounding a bit grim:

Struggling writer uncertain of her fertility, brother being treated for cancer...etc etc  

So I'm choosing a new one. My new narrative will be this: 

Happy writer pursues career with gusto, gets into shape to prepare for future family and looks forward to plenty of good times with her brother, who is recovering speedily from an illness that won't defeat him.

Yes, I like the sound of that a lot more. 

Now what about you, does your narrative loop need a refresh?

*You can find me on - I'd love to hear from you!*


Anonymous said...

Hi Emily, I'm so surprised to read you have a bit of a drinking problem - you always seem to be such a logical and "together " person. Did you know that alcohol can have an adverse effect on fertility? Something your GP should have discussed... "Important Conclusions from Multiple Studies on Alcohol and Fertility. Women and men should avoid consuming alcohol while trying to conceive. Women who consume more than 5 alcoholic beverages a week take longer to get pregnant. Women who drink 5 or less alcoholic beverages a week have lowered fertility." Don't mean to speak out of turn, but it's clear you are longing for a bub.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I think Westworld sounds awful! I'll be giving it a miss!

Emily Benet said...

@anonymous reading it back, it does sound like that! But actually, I don't drink that much in general, but just from time to time overdo it a bit on a weekend. I am a 'together'person. I'm just a very sensitive person and quite hard on myself, so if I do get drunk once, I'll regret it perhaps more than the next person. Yes, I read about the fertility rate but I suppose my brother getting sick made escapism of a bottle of wine rather appealing. Do you have a name?