Inside the process of how story and math change our world

historical geniusesHeisenberg’s uncertainty principle applies equally to particles, parabolas, and prose. To describe – which is the common goal of any story or mathematical formula – is to influence the object of observation. Our reflection of reality becomes our measure of the world. isaac newton caricatureBut while Heisenberg’s electrons were thrown off course by photons, the change in our reality is essentially rooted in perception. And because perception is our brain’s only way of interacting with the universe, a change in perception equals a change in our world.

Truth is variable according to our experiences. Our experience of ideas, concepts, and proofs come together to pattern our perception of the truth of our reality. ernest hemingway caricatureWhen not individualized through direct sensory exposure, this ‘experience’ is communicated to our neural networks through a language of symbol: story through words, math through numbers. Both math and literature humanize a universe fraught with chaos by translating it into patterns of information compatible with the structure and function of our brains.

The only difference between story and math is the path of emotional access. Both words and numbers are symbols loaded with meaning and expectation of pattern of connection (eg. sentence structure/ B.E.D.M.A.S.). albert einstein caricatureHowever, words have broader associations and are linked with emotions that, when activated, open and extend our logic parameters to create new suspended realities. We can choose to incorporate these new worlds into our own (The Globe and Mail, religion, this post) or simple abandon them when we get to the last page (fiction, Calgary Sun). Mathematical symbols have a much stricter pattern of expectation that, upon entering the brain, must first be vetted by the logic system in our prefrontal cortex before giving us an emotional response/release in the form of soothing contentment (eg. simple beauty of E=mc2), or that sick feeling you get in your stomach when a formula turns out to be bullshit (eg. string theory… don’t get me started!).

virginia woolf caricatureInterchangeable except for path of emotional access, every story and mathematical formula use a shared humanized language of symbol to communicate novel patterns of perception that, if adopted as truth, change our world.

Make love to the world or make the world’s perfect salad?

terry richardson perfect saladDon’t get me wrong, I’ve worked jobs in both industries, but there comes a time when a girl’s got to break free and make the choice to say THIS is who I am…

Yes, that is sweet potato, and yes, it was perfectly deliciousThis brain is blessed with the genetic trick to be able to translate the raw violence of our humanity into short black strokes on a page. Words. I’ve teased them, held them, rolled them around in my mouth until they’ve begged for release. But it is never enough.

The same brain, the creator of worlds, demands a physicality. I have clothed my body in my own designs, used objects and images to pull people into exotic, intoxicating paradigms – where I’ve teased them, held them, rolled them around in my mouth until they’ve begged for release. But it is never enough.

The same brain, the woman, craves the deepest connection. Love. Faith. Family. A loyalty and consistency so in conflict with the gnashing Rimbaud mind. Love. I tease him, hold him, roll him around… But it is never enough.

Yes, that is sweet potato, and yes, it was perfectly deliciousI live for ideas, and for story. I am an exploration, and I am a woman. There is no ‘happy middle ground’. So what then? Be Lee Miller? Blaze through my own physicality, run a bath at the high point, then submit to decay? Be Terry Richardson / Olivier Zahm? Run around with a camera in one hand and my manhood in the other? Flash a nipple once every dozen posts or so, just to keep my audience hooked? No.

Perfect salad?Do I blog my way to the world’s perfect salad? Harness my creative intellect and train it down, tame it down, to service the ultimate temporal/individual subjective? Just to make everybody else happy and safe? No. Not when the perfect salad is a frank impossibility, especially when compared to the tempting universality of the perfect blow job. NO.

Take ‘time’ out of the equation and the ‘world’ disappears. There is only this moment of interaction, you and I, giving and receiving. What if I told you I’ve found a way? Not to straddle, oscillate between, or deny these conflicting extremes of existence, but a format for their expression and a place to mediate alternative, individualized, solutions? Would you believe me? Would you dare? After a dedicated program of study in current brain science and the historical evolution of ideas, the time has come for me to say: “Let’s both have the balls to find out.”
good times?If the only way to draw instant creative  success in our current cultural paradigm is for me to dance naked down the street with BlankCanvasLiving.com plastered all over my body, then no. So it might be just us for a while. That’s fine with me. I’ll do my very best to tease you, hold you, roll you around in storied ideas until you beg not for release, but for permission to take our warm, close world into your own.

The exact moment I realize I’m wasting my life

Spinning with the Earth at 1675 km/h, we humans are always and only ‘falling through time’. We feign power and control over our most precious, non-renewable resource with an abuser’s vocabulary – using, taking, spending, wasting… killing. In contrast, the words associated with our time efficiencies and generosities have somewhat religious overtones – saving, making, creating, giving. We express love through the valuing and sharing of time. And if we love ourselves, deeply, truly, is killing time the ultimate betrayal?

Slow day at work… do I write my future or stall it through distraction? The word search is almost too easy to rationalize. The 60 words are 60 novelists, so I’m not killing time… I’m learning. Ya, that’s it! Schooling myself for writer street-cred name dropping with a two-birds-one-stone pleasant pastime, the very essence of intelligent efficiency.

endless wordsearchALCOT, AMIS, AUSTEN – there’s HEMINGWAY in the middle there – BAINBRIDGE… BUCHAN is taking some time, no matter, I’m leeearning. Oh, there’s ORWELL along the top, but where’s BUCHAN? I dedicate myself to BUCHAN with full intensity pattern recognition/scanning, picking out all the BU’s and CH’s. Minutes pass… I start to get the same sick feeling in my stomach I used to get after too many Saturday morning cartoons (and still get after too much celebrity gossip). Screw it, we’re going old school here, line by line…

I do this twice. There is no BUCHAN! WTF?? This is so wrong it hurts. But just as stubborn as Rihanna going back to Chris Brown (don’t get me started!), I deny the atrocity and jump right back in. Sometimes the universe sends you a message, and sometimes that message is ELIOT with one L in the list, but two in the grid!?? This is officially BULL! with two Ls anywhere you find it!

I sit staring at the word search in numb disbelief. This is against all the rules! The contract of trust is broken. How can I ever commit to a word search again? Maybe crosswords aren’t even sacred! Two more go-to distractions tainted. But this is a wake-up; I can feel it in my bones. I can’t waste any more time.

I do the only thing that’s ever made my stomach stop churning. I put the story into my own words.

Risking everything to get from Here to There

Once, on stage, I blanked out. I stood there stupidly, holding a silent, quivering flute, cantilevered out into nothingness.

Once, before a deadline, I blanked out. I sat there stupidly, hating my hands for shaking, this time over a keyboard, poised over an article that would never be written.

Now I sit here risking everything promised by our current paradigm, but my hands are steady. These words are my own. There is no fear beyond the slow, mild panic of a human engaging her humanity. There is no composer’s melody to forget, and no interviews to transcribe. There can be no ‘blanking’ out because this is Blank Canvas Living. This is a living dialogue. This is a brain exploring, within and without. This is freedom.

Who are you? Who do you want to be? Risk asking.

But more than that – risk knowing.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom – Anais Nin

To blossom in this world takes a sharp act of will, fierce and unwavering. There can be no permission. Blank Canvas Living’s  tips/techniques, personal style guide, creative living exercises, and experiments in engagement are designed to loosen our jumbled neural associations and give us the freedom to learn our brains, love them, and blossom according to our most primal coding. Backed by a five year dedicated study into the evolution of ideas (from prehistory through to today), and ongoing philosophical field testing, Blank Canvas Living is an interactive forum for passionate people who share a high need for cognition and sensory/sensual involvement.

Blank Canvas Thinkers: Robert Ludlum quote about writing for an audience

When Robert Ludlum turned 40, he went rogue. Not an easy age for any man, Ludlum’s crisis was compounded by the ugly realization that he could no longer support his family through his theatre work. What happens when doing what you love won’t pay the bills? Deep, unremitting, soul crushing despair, and then you move on; most to a staid mediocrity within the system, but some, like our hero Ludlum, just say ‘to hell with it’ and pick up a pen – because writing is so much more lucrative than acting… suuure. When he told his wife he’d been thinking about writing for a living, her response was this: “You’re either going to try it or you’re going to regret (not trying) it for the rest of your life.”

The man gave it his all – how could he not with such saintly support? Just imagine them lying together in the dark, both stressing about money, and he rolls over and suggests writing as a solution – miracle she didn’t smother him out on the spot! But she must have known the secret, his edge in an age of self indulgent novelists, that a true entertainer can work his craft in any medium. And so, like his best known literary creation, Jason Bourne, Ludlum used the skills, talents, and training of his past life to find a new creative identity within a different world.

Click Here to watch an excellent short biographical documentary on Robert Ludlum… bestselling author, master of suspense, chronicler of heroes, and one of the luckiest husbands in human history.

How to choose the right header image for your blog

The visual ingredients for your blog’s best/perfect/ideal header image may be right in front of you, literally. Essentially, a great header should communicate your viewpoint and give atmosphere to your blog, while giving you the freedom to explore a wide variety of subjects and moods below the banner. A blog is an online reflection of its author, and there’s a good chance you’ve already created your perfect header on the ‘real-world’ side of the mirror. Where else in your life do you “explore a wide variety of subjects and moods”?

I looked up from my desk and saw my ideal header staring back at me. My wall at work is a collage of inspirational pictures/drawings/quotes, bits of my brain playfully arranged as an external representation of my creative process. After previous indulgences (involving a rather humiliating self-photoshoot in a Saturday morning park in front of curious children and their visibly concerned parents) it was a relief to find that most of the work had already been done.


This time it was my coworkers’ turn to be curious, and visibly concerned, when they found me perched precariously atop a stepladder shooting a composite collage to fit the proportions of my chosen blog theme template. After cropping, and some minor photoshopping, Blank Canvas living had its personalized header.


Note: Besides my office wall, my sketchbook sacrificed many of its pages for this project. Tragically, Aristotle’s creepy stone eyes prevented him from making the cut. Another missing player was the quote from a rescued Al-Qaeda prisoner: “When you know you’re going to die, it’s different from wondering whether or not you might die.” I can’t quite explain why, but I’ve always found this quote particularly inspirational.