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Invited to the desert

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Kyriakos, Jul 20, 2018.

  1. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    Writing can suck; not due to being a lowly interest, but because one can easily lose sight of what one can do, and end up in some desert where any movement is pretty much futile and will only lead to variations of the same pointless end.
    Recently i have been returning to some actual attempt to write a bit better again. Not that i regard anything i have wrote by now as being that good; but there is always a difference between a slow-moving person, a zombie, and an immobile corpse...
    According to some writers (eg Pessoa), one mostly just has to express oneself - and know how to do so - in order to produce something decent. Moving away from some prototype/influence is always hard (i think that most writers either don't have much reading of classic literature done, or never move past any model they based their own writing on, consciously or not), but it can also seem a bit dangerous. For example i always viewed originality as a road without a map (though i had very specific reasons to do so, since elementary school, and those weren't about writing). In a way you can feel safer by revisiting information or forms you have stored in your memory as crucially tied to other people (eg other authors in this case), rather than moving in a path you identify as more open-ended...

    That said, recently, as i noted, i tried to return to my writing work, and produced three new stories (actually more, but only three survived). One of those is titled "Invited to the desert".
    While it likely isn't even the better one of those three (and maybe none of the recent three will ever be in a book; they may get erased in time or i may not choose them to be in the next book), at least it is a bit more alive than some other works of mine in the last year.

    The story is about (or seems to be, anyway) a person who was invited to a small prison in a province of an emirate, in some region which consists of desert. The prison warden wants to gain influence with a prominent politician, with whom they share some slightly more humanitarian ideas; namely they both want to stop having execution-by-sword in the prison system.
    So the warden means to replace it with hanging.
    It would be enough to do so, so as to be on the good side of that politician, but a problem does appear: the majority of those executed with the new, meant to be less gory, method, end up decapitated by the sheer force of the rope tighted during the fall.

    So the narrator is called there, to try to help. Naturally he is aware of the weight-to-fall ratio to produce a non-gory spectacle in the hanging. (well, a less gory one :) ). But some other problems arise, because he has little access to actual tools, and has to improvise.

    The story ends just as the new execution - now with the important politician present - is about to take place. If it works as planned, the warden will be pleased, and the narrator can finally leave that pitiful place.
    It is inferred, in the final words of the story, that he may be another inmate, imagining all this important role so as to not go insane while waiting for his own execution to happen.

    Do you like this kind of plot?
    Sometimes (like Borges noted) a hidden meaning can be so obscure than it just won't be picked up. And (as Kafka said) some machinations are just so delicate that they fail due to inherent traits. :)
     
  2. Berzerker

    Berzerker Chieftain

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    sword's quicker

    we just cant make 'em small enough for those wasp's necks
     
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  3. Hrothbern

    Hrothbern Warlord

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    Decapitated...
    you mean break the neck ?
     
  4. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    No. A person who has over a set weight, will get decapitated by force of the rope pressing around his/her neck, if the free fall is long enough* :)
    The specific ratio had been studied (irl), to avoid so gruesome a spectacle.

    There are loads of google hits you can read on this, eg https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17645743

    Also the wiki article on (general) hanging.
    Iirc it is termed "involuntary decapitation", and apparently it was also the recent fate of Sadam's brother. Also known, less formally, as "botched hanging" :)

    *
    Having a long free-fall was used so as to avoid the also nasty spectacle of soft-hanging (person dieing slowly/agonizing death), by causing instant death by breaking the neck. But the long free fall makes the force with which the noose is pressed on the neck potentially be large enough to take the head off.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2018
  5. Hrothbern

    Hrothbern Warlord

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    ok, TIL
    But would the simplest solution not be to use steel garrote wire around the neck and add weight (to the legs/feet of the person involved).
    Instead of unreliable calculations because of the always huge variety between physics of people.
     
  6. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    I think it happens with the regular ropes too, eg historically there were many cases of it in Britain and the US, in the 19th century.
    I suppose it is similar to how water falling on you won't move you one bit, unless it falls with great speed; and if it falls with massive speed it can actually open holes in you.

    Not sure what you mean by adding weight to the feet; apparently the issue is the increased weight force (due to free fall), so even more weight would make things even worse. The weight has to be up to a point, for simple neck-break to happen, instead of decapitation.
    Eg in my story, the practice in the prison is to push the person with the noose around their neck, from one of the prison walls. So if their weight is over x it will end in the decapitation. The narrator is invited there to prevent this.
     
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  7. Hrothbern

    Hrothbern Warlord

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    ahhh
    ok
    only had one cup of coffee so far this morning :)
     
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  8. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    For some reason I'm reminded of a conversation I had about a dozen years ago, with someone who wanted to write a Highlander story and asked me what the best way was to execute a late Republic-era Roman Centurion so as to activate whatever it took to transform him from pre-Immortal to Immortal. It had to be quick and violent (slow poison doesn't work), and obviously it couldn't be anything like beheading.

    I did some research and learned a lot more than I ever wanted to know about Roman execution methods. He wrote the story, and to this day I think it's a pretty good one.
     
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  9. luiz

    luiz Trendy Revolutionary

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    I always admired the persistentency of writers. Gotta be one of the jobs that require the most discipline out there.

    I get bored if I have to write more than two pages to explain my business decisions...
    (but I did abolish PowerPoint from my company, every meeting is based on written documents, so I am big fan of good writing)
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018
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  10. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    Well, it is really about persistence, yes. It is (at least in my case) like gaining crucial mass through writing and writing and writing again, until you happen to get a different result the next time you enter the (seemingly) same room you had nothing happen to you while there for so many times up to that point ;)

    There is a downside, though. There actually is no end to how deep one can go in their own imagination. Once one starts falling, the opposite issue can appear: it can be hard to stop the descent, much like it was hard to begin it.

    (that said, the vast majority of writers don't seem aware of such phenomena in the first place).
     
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  11. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Entangled Retired Moderator Supporter

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    If you don't already know of him, read Edward Tufte. His books are quite wonderful. He also hates PowerPoint. There are better ways....
     
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  12. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    One of the hardest aspects is figuring out what to write about and where to start. My current NaNoWriMo story is based on a computer game that pretty much dives right into the story.

    My version starts with introducing the main character and exploring a bit about why she's in the situation where the game takes place. It's my way of getting to know the person I'm going to be writing about for the next umpteen thousand words.

    I've had other stories that never made it beyond an idea and a few disconnected paragraphs. I literally could not decide how to start, and so it went basically nowhere.
     
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  13. Thorgalaeg

    Thorgalaeg Chieftain

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    Ah the garrote, greatest Spanish contribution to humanity along with the autogiro. Both the best solutions in its field but seldom used though.
     
  14. Zkribbler

    Zkribbler Warlord

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    "Jobs?" It ain't no job. It's too much fun to be a job. [party]
     
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  15. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    Unless you hit writer's block or are just having trouble with knowing what's supposed to happen next but the problem is how to get there.
     

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