Unlearning own rules

Arrival-screenplay-Eric-Heisserer-Talkhouse-Film-1024x512

It’s been months since I last read this, but I couldn’t stop thinking of the word ‘mental gear’ used in this article written by Arrival’s scriptwriter, Eric Heisserer:

To acclimate myself, I socialized with linguists and physicists. I spent time around brilliant minds to hear how they talked to each other. And whether they were on or off work, they used jargon and references from their world. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t keep up, this was their normal mental gear. If I asked for clarification on some concept or theory, they were happy to oblige, but it was assumed everyone in their circle knew.

What lit up a neurologist’s eyes, what made a rocket scientist’s day, was sharing an idea. These are people who revel in theory the way my usual circle of friends talks up a new movie or an indie game on Steam. What that meant for me was that I had to embrace the expository moments. Smart people are constant teachers, and I had to unlearn my own rule about avoiding moments where a character stopped to explain or define something. Sometimes it’s welcomed.

I love the word ‘mental gear’ because this is what the pace the scientists are used to, but more than willing to explain when asked and Heisserer in turn doesn’t complaint and is willing to learn and unlearn. I love this sort of compromise and  I wish to see this more in our settings. But because we can’t change others, I will start doing so myself, for starters.

(But also, read the entire article. I somehow lack comprehension today so all I am going to say is it’s very very good, especially if you are going to start working on something entirely new.)

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