Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Lack of posting...

I haven't been doing any posting, lately, because I'm so deep into working on Place of Safety, by the end of the day I'm tapped out. Got nothing to say. It's hard even to get my brain to shut down...though going on Facebook and reading some of the inane and idiotic comments on it does give me a good laugh and lessen the madness in my head. I even chime in and get angry and dismissive and enjoy myself for a while. I need that.

As of now, I have the first section of PS completely plotted out, knowing what needs to go where and changing the ending section a bit to make the flow better. My next goal is to finalize the Houston section, then comes the return to Derry. I'm fighting to figure out spots to add in humor and keep the humanity of the piece even as I reference the events that occur.

Aspects of the story keep expanding...especially as concerns Brendan's best mates -- Colm, Danny, Paidrig, and wee Eammon, with a couple of friends who are Protestant...Gerry and Billy -- and going in ways that I hope deepen the meaning. Like it matters, at this point? OT was up to 150,000+ words before I began honing it down to 120K. And truth is, I could have cut it another 10K if I'd taken another pass at it. I think.

That all said, this was a rough week for writing. Not only due to the job I had Wednesday that damn near wrecked me, but the events in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and a small town in Minnesota. It reminded me of experiments done on rats and overcrowding, by John B. Calhoun. He claimed that the bleak effects of overpopulation on rodents were a grim model for the future of the human race. I'm stealing this from Wikipedia, about his Mouse Universe experiment --

In July 1968 four pairs of mice were introduced into the Utopian universe. The universe was a 9-foot (2.7 m) square metal pen with 4.5-foot-high (1.4 m) sides. Each side had four groups of four vertical, wire mesh “tunnels.” The “tunnels” gave access to nesting boxes, food hoppers, and water dispensers. There was no shortage of food or water or nesting material. There were no predators. The only adversity was the limit on space.

Initially the population grew rapidly, doubling every 55 days. The population reached 620 by day 315, after which the population growth dropped markedly, doubling only every 145 days. The last surviving birth was on day 600, bringing the total population to a mere 2200 mice, even though the experiment setup allowed for as many as 3840 mice in terms of nesting space. This period between day 315 and day 600 saw a breakdown in social structure and in normal social behavior. Among the aberrations in behavior were the following: expulsion of young before weaning was complete, wounding of young, increase in homosexual behavior, inability of dominant males to maintain the defense of their territory and females, aggressive behavior of females, passivity of non-dominant males with increased attacks on each other which were not defended against.

After day 600, the social breakdown continued and the population declined toward extinction. During this period females ceased to reproduce. Their male counterparts withdrew completely, never engaging in courtship or fighting. They ate, drank, slept, and groomed themselves – all solitary pursuits. Sleek, healthy coats and an absence of scars characterized these males. They were dubbed “the beautiful ones.” Breeding never resumed and behavior patterns were permanently changed.

The conclusions drawn from this experiment were that when all available space is taken and all social roles filled, competition and the stresses experienced by the individuals will result in a total breakdown in complex social behaviors, ultimately resulting in the demise of the population.

Calhoun saw the fate of the population of mice as a metaphor for the potential fate of man. He characterized the social breakdown as a “second death”. His study has been cited by writers such as Bill Perkins as a warning of the dangers of the living in an "increasingly crowded and impersonal world."

Which also reminded me of stories about the Japanese not having sex...proof of the whole hypothesis that it's the end of the world.

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