Synopsis

Synopsis Epigraph:
“The central function of imaginative literature is to make you realize that other people act on moral convictions different from your own.”

William Empson, Milton’s God (1961; repr. London: Chatto & Windus, 1965)

Working Title:
Rationalize This

Sub-Title:
Ripe For Decision,
Beyond Abuse of Judicial Discretion, An Alaskan Odyssey

Genre:
Fiction, Roman à clef, Frame Narrative or Story Within a Story,
The Small Penis Rule, The BIG BOB rule. (See definitions below)

Narrative Point of View:
Knarley Knundrum – First Person Peripheral Vision, Frame Narrator
Westley Enigam – First-Person, Memoir Narrative

Co-Authors:    Pseudonyms
Knarley Knundrum – Frame Story: Prologue, Introduction, Dénouement and Epilogue.
Westley Enigam – Core Story, Memoir with a plot, dramatic arc.

Narrative Time:
2000 – Present

Narrative Place:
Southeast Alaska, primarily the fictional village of Delian

Story Structure:
Dramatic, also called Freytag’s Pyramid

Main Characters:
Knarley Knundrum; mentor, counselor (de facto shrink) for Westley Enigam

Westley Enigam; Protagonist

Narciss Karenko; Antagonist

Chief Catchcya Ubetcya; Chief of Police, Delian, AK

Maraud Adrestia DenRoastu; Magistrate, Delian, AK

Pegulator Praxidike; Superior Court Judge, Juneau, AK

Mr. Dolos Nomos, Esq.; Pro Bono Attorney for Narciss

Mr. Luwee Masqulinez, Esq.; Attorney for Westley

Origin of the Book:
January was a very good time to be away from Alaska for a break. Deer season had just ended, so they had Knarley’s 1000+ acre E. Texas hunting lease to themselves, and the hogs of course. At that time, Westley was practically obsessing over the trauma and drama he had recently experienced and he was writing about it for his own good, to make sense of it, he said. Knarley was already superficially aware of the events and in Knarley’s profession he had encountered Westley’s situation many times. He had read in the professional psychology journals about Narrative Therapy (see definition below) being successfully practiced in Australia. Westley was already on that path, by his own initiative, but didn’t know there was a clinical name for it. Knarley agreed to coach and mentor him. At the time, Knarley hadn’t thought it out well, but his commitment was for however long it took to succeed. Success in this endeavor is subject to interpretation.

About seven and one-half years later, August, 2015, a much calmer Westley visited Knarley again in Delian, at their summer fish camp, and announced his surprise. Knarley was hoping for a couple of belly dancers who would stay the night, something practical, but instead Westley disclosed that he wants to publish the book. Knarley should have seen it coming, and thought of it but didn’t mention it to Westley. So Knarley’s commitment was extended to include seeing it through to publication. It’s Westley’s task, and Knarley is still his coach and mentor, but really Westley has entered new territory with publication in mind, and the new web page and blog, and Facebook page, and Gmail. Now, the story has turned into activism for Westley.

Origin of the Genre:  see – http://bendinggenre.com/

“It is always imprudent to force opinions upon others; if they do not question the arguments they will the authority, and having ventured to examine the one, will feel less delicacy in rejecting the other.” NORMAN MACDONALD, Maxims and Moral Reflections

Westley wrote the story intuitively. When the time came to engage some help from professional editors a surprising conflict emerged. Westley had no prior knowledge of the publishing industry. He attended a writer’s conference in Anchorage to gain knowledge through the sessions offered. There he heard encouragement and words used such as creativity, art, and imagination, break the rules, experiment, write organically, etc. He felt comfortable with those concepts because he felt that he had done those things.

He also got the impression that the big publisher’s goals are market focused, which results in rejections more frequently than acceptance of a writer’s work. Their definition of literary art is what will sell, and they “sell” the concept too. He gained the knowledge that the industry has changed a lot in just a few years, and the rapid change is still in progress and accelerating.

The big publishers appeared to Westley to be trying, sort of desperately in his opinion, to maintain the elitist impression from readers, by down-playing the quality and art within the self-publishing and e-publishing phenomenon.

In that light, the surprising conflict that emerged relating to editors was that they couldn’t place Westley’s writing in a genre box, which seemed essential to them before proceeding. Westley had spent his whole career in a box, so now with this new freedom to write with wings, he was in no mood to think of more boxes of other’s invention. They insisted that Westley identify the genre box, and Westley figured that if it was so important to them, they should do it, which was one of the reasons why he was talking with them in the first place. Westley consulted with three professional editors – two he met through the conference and one in N.Y., on-line. It greatly annoyed him. He thought, “Just what is the problem?”

After his annoyance subsided, he decided to identify as best he could the exact genre of this narrative. There was much to consider. In his opinion, such task and advice should have been routine for editors. First there is the over-riding consideration of identity protection, for the authors and some of the characters. Thus the decision to call it fiction, foremost. The other genre sub-category descriptions are realistic and accurate, but they are also there especially to annoy editors, and the main-line publishers, and provide irony for the reader. Westley is clearly not interested in writing for the mass markets, but is all-in for the sake of the narrative itself, and the relevancy of it.

After all, memory is very fallible and subjective and this story is one-sided anyway, with no pretense to represent the view or voice of other characters fairly and accurately, especially regarding the antagonist. There is no intent or effort to misrepresent them either. They represent themselves through their words and actions. Also, in the “story”, Westley is presented as a somewhat unreliable narrator, especially at the start of his therapy. Memoir offers little assurance that truth is persistent, no more or less compared to imagination, and either may be as easily rejected by the reader so inclined. The focus of this story is the accuracy and truth of the story’s meaning pertaining to human nature, not the literal accuracy or truth of the events or characters. It’s the meaning that the reader may interpret and take-away and relate to in their own self-identity and life experiences. It’s all subjective. The story is one man’s experience and inquiry of it.

“Truth is artless and innocent–like the eloquence of nature, it is clothed with simplicity and easy persuasion; always open to investigation and analysis, it seeks exposure, because it fears not detection.” NORMAN MACDONALD, Maxims and Moral Reflections

PLOT:
Character’s Fundamental Desires:

Westley – Marriage, happiness through his life in Alaska and to remain free of the influence of the moral convictions or mandates of others regarding his relationship with Narciss.

Narciss – To gain permanent residence in the U.S.A. The Good Life. Happiness and education for her son.

The Major Dramatic Questions:
Will Westley and Narciss realize their fundamental desires, and will they be mutual? How will factors such as personality, cultural differences, society, the judicial system, and moral convictions of others interact and affect Westley and Narciss individually and their relationship?

Prologue and Introduction: Narrated by Knarley Knundrum.
The frame story begins with Knarley and Westley discussing the narrative therapy Westley has been engaged in for over seven years. Knarley has served as a mentor and counselor, due to their close friendship before the events of the story, during and after. The location of this scene is on Westley’s lot in Delian Alaska, their summer fishing camp. The fish smoker is going, and they are sitting next to the campfire, enjoying cold beer. The time is August of 2015.

Westley has taken a two week break from a contract job to join Knarley for some fishing and to present his surprise. Now Westley wants to publish the book that has emerged and wants Knarley to continue helping and now with the additional matter of making the story coherent and offering feedback on the manuscript. This is beyond the original intent, which was for Westley to narrate his new course in life and his relationship with the past, with Knarley providing careful guidance. Knarley agrees with Westley’s proposal and instructs Westley to turn his work into a memoir through a series of short stories that link together to form the whole story through the climax.

The focus thus changes to the two authors working together, mostly through email. With publication the new goal, the task before them is to convert the massive amount of Westley’s writing, over 300,000 words reduced down to less than 100,000 words. In some cases Westley had numerous versions of the same story and many allegories and peripheral stories. Almost all of them were excessively long and not organized sequentially.  Knarley’s basic instruction and Westley’s goal was to answer the questions; what just happened and how did he feel about the events as they happened? That meant Westley had to go through everything he had written and cut out anything not directly relating to the story of what happened, and re-write it structured in the dramatic fashion with the intent to reduce it into a story relating to the real world and relevant to the lives of others.

Knarley also narrates the introduction of Westley’s first person narratives, the core stories within the frame story.

Exposition, the initial status quo:
Resulting from the collaboration, the core story, or story within a story begins as Westley narrates his life in Southeast Alaska, living in and working for the village community of Delian. It’s his dream life, his sanctuary, his link with nature, with the good and the not-so-good. He also introduces more depth to his friendship with Knarley through adventure stories, and he adds depth to his and Knarley’s characters. He introduces the Tlingit community of Delian, and  some of the strife.

Westley also foreshadows events to come. He introduces his desire for a wife, and how he got the idea of a foreign bride. He introduces Narciss through the story of their first visit together in Delian during the summer of 2004. Immigration is an aspect of the story. Narciss must return to Ukraine and the process of obtaining a fiancée K-1 visa is necessary to enable her to return to Delian. She is in Kiev for the winter of 2004/2005 and becomes involved in the Orange Revolution, during which time she does not communicate with Westley. Then she moves to Nikolaev, obtains an apartment, takes English lessons and driving lessons. Her living expenses are all paid for by Westley. They correspond frequently by email, utilizing translation software. Westley submits the application to immigration for her K-1 visa and for her to be accompanied by her eighteen year old son, Olek, upon her return trip to Delian, for the purpose of considering her marriage to Westley.

Conflict and Happiness co-exist:
The conflict begins with Narciss returning to Delian and into Westley’s life. The clues are there, but Westley ignores them or minimizes their significance due to his desire for the relationship and marriage to work. He sees Narciss’ redeeming qualities, and the potential for the relationship. The element of denial and gullibility is present for Westley. At first, the relationship between the couple is strained but has many good times and possibilities. Westley’s narrative builds the characters and the plot and the basis for the conflicts.

Rising Action/Drama:
The conflict between Westley and Narciss escalates to the point of apparent no return, for everyone but Westley who maintains hope.

During a few days of hell together in Juneau, the conflict rises to the almost unbearable level, then the first crisis occurs. Westley is arrested for Narciss’ accusation of domestic violence. Westley hired an attorney. The charges are dismissed. Delian magistrate, Maraud DenRoastu, served a 20-day protective order, and Westley endures a hearing for long term protection, Narciss being the petitioner. The petition is denied because the evidence did not sustain the accusations. The damage was done.

After considering options, Westley moves back in the house with Narciss, but the two lived separate lives. Westley hopes and tries unsuccessfully for reconciliation. The strain of two people living in the same house not wanting to be together continues until Narciss solicits an invitation and moves to Juneau and she lives temporarily in the women’s shelter.

Knowing that part of the problem was the dismal winter in Delian, Westley looks for jobs in other locations, and invites Narciss to join him. She seems interested.

But then shocking information emerges, which changes Westley’s attitude, and quells his hope of marriage survival. He files for divorce.

Then emerges his worst antagonist(s) yet, Mr. Dolos Nomos, Esq., a tool for the women’s advocacy group, a pro bono attorney, with no divorce experience, assigned to represent Narciss. All Narciss’ incentive to negotiate reasonable settlement is quelled with the entrance of a free attorney.

The real fight has only just begun.

Judge Pegulator Praxidike presides over the divorce proceedings, a bench trial lasting two days, with lots of drama.

Climax:
The divorce final, judgment and property division decided, then Westley receives the attorney bill from Mr. Dolos Nomos, for his services in representing Narciss. Westley appeals pro se the superior court’s decisions to the Alaska Supreme Court, a process which takes him about two years to accomplish. The primary basis for appeal is that the Judge abused discretion regarding the provisions of law.

In the meanwhile the battle with Mr. Dolos Nomos, Esq. continues and Westley files chapter thirteen bankruptcy. Mr. Nomos makes a mistake, through his aggression, and gets into legal trouble and hires himself an attorney to protect himself from Westley.

Falling Action/Drama:
The Supreme Court decision is rendered, which affirmed the Superior court decisions, in effect sanctifying the abuse of discretion or power of the lower court and the concept as well. The bankruptcy status is stabilized with a five year plan. All Alaska court matters are resolved. Westley retires due to illness, and moves back to his boyhood family farm in Georgia. Westley begins the new status quo routine of spending summers in Delian and winters in Georgia. That routine is temporarily altered when Westley accepts a contract job in Alaska, expected to last a year. The opportunity provides the money to pay off all his tangible debts which originated from the events of the story. This takes the story full circle, to where it began in the prologue.

Dénouement; Resolution, Revelation:
Knarley narrates this section, the other end of the frame, the outer story, and offers the meaning of it all. He answers the question; what was that all about? Knarley gives the lessons and knowledge that Westley learned through the narrative therapy, and the telling of his story. In so doing, Knarley provides the reader with ways to relate the information to their own lives and how it relates to society and our relationship with the legal system. The take-away is really left up to the reader, and can vary a lot, mostly depending on the reader’s beliefs and moral convictions. The intent is to not directly challenge beliefs or attempt to make them wrong, but to provide the reader, to the extent desired, the ideas and distinctions to evaluate their own, in light of the revelations brought forth through this story.

Epilogue:
Knarley narrates this section which is basically the after-story for all the main characters. The reader will find this section interesting. It provides some closure and some clarity and essential satisfaction; emotional, ironical and practical.

Plot Device, aka Plot Twists, aka Turning Points:
Within the story the protagonist discovers unexpected information that resolves mysteries in the plot. The plot points to the probability of such information’s existence, but the protagonist is either naïve or in denial that the existence of the mysteries mean something significant. The existence, meaning and resolution of the mysteries is a reality check for the protagonist, and affects the course of the story and the attitude of the protagonist towards the antagonist, his adversaries and his subsequent actions. These events tighten the character’s relationship, or its further breakdown, their intentions and interactions. It increases the drama, and the motivations of the main characters; present and future, and reflects on the past. In the story time line, the reader becomes aware of the shocking mystery solving information at the same time the protagonist does, so the effect on him is better understood by the reader. The information was known to the antagonist all along.

DEFINITIONS: (Mostly from Wikipedia)
Narrative Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that seeks to help people identify their values and the skills and knowledge they have to live these values, so they can effectively confront whatever problems they face. The approach was developed during the 1970s and 1980s, largely by Australian social worker Michael White and David Epston of New Zealand.  Advocates and practitioners claim narrative therapy to be a social justice approach to therapeutic conversations, seeking to challenge dominant discourses that it claims are subjugating cultural or social narratives, which shape people’s lives in destructive ways.

The narrative therapist focuses upon assisting people to create stories about themselves, about their identities, that are helpful to them. This work of re-authoring identity through the narrative process allows people to ascertain what values are important to them and how they might use their own skills and knowledge to live these values. Through the process of recognizing the history of values in people’s lives, the therapist is able to co-author a new story about the person.

The story people tell about themselves and that is told about them is important in this approach, which asserts that the story of a person’s identity determines what they think is possible for themselves.

The concept of self-identity is essential and fundamental in narrative therapy.

“A person’s identity is defined as the totality of one’s self-construal, in which how one construes oneself in the present expresses the continuity between how one construes oneself as one was in the past and how one construes oneself as one aspires to be in the future” Weinreich, P. (1986a).

The inclusiveness of Weinreich’s definition (above) directs attention to the totality of one’s identity at a given phase in time, and assists in elucidating component aspects of one’s total identity. The definition readily applies to the young child, to the adolescent, to the young adult, and to the older adult in various phases of their life cycle.

René Descartes, dubbed the father of modern philosophy (1596 – 1650) was a French philosopher. His famous mantra: “‘I think, therefore I am’ – or later – ‘I think, I exist’ – have left many to inquire what exactly I is, and if indeed we can derive an I-ness from doubt.”  

Human Nature: Owen Flanagan of Duke University, a leading consciousness researcher, writes that “Evidence strongly suggests that humans in all cultures come to cast their own identity in some sort of narrative form. We are inveterate storytellers.” Stories are an important aspect of culture. Many works of art and most works of literature tell stories; indeed, most of the humanities involve stories. Stories of ancient origin exist from all cultures including ancient Egyptian, ancient Greek, Chinese and Indian cultures and their myths as well. Stories are also a ubiquitous component of human communication, used as parables and examples to illustrate points. Storytelling was probably one of the earliest forms of entertainment.

Flanagan was also one of the first moral philosophers to see the relevance of developments in social psychology to ethics. As noted by Owen Flanagan, narrative may also refer to psychological processes in self-identity, memory and meaning-making.

The approach of narrative therapy presumes the root problem is a person’s identity has become conflated with the problems they face or the mistakes they have made. Further, the approach seeks to avoid modernist, essentialist notions of the self that leads people to believe there is a biologically determined “true self” or “true nature”. Instead, identity is seen as primarily social construct that can be changed according to the choices people make.

The process of narrative therapy seeks to separate people’s identities from the problems they face, which allows people to consider and construct their relationships with problems. Thus the narrative motto: “The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem.” So-called strengths or positive attributes are also externalized, allowing people to engage in the construction and performance of preferred identities.

The narrative therapist aims to adopt a collaborative approach rather than imposing ideas on people by giving them advice. Both the therapist and the people who consult them are seen as having valuable information regarding the process, content and outcome of the therapeutic conversations. By adopting an attitude of curiosity, investigation and collaboration, the therapist aims to give the implicit message to people that they already have knowledge and skills to solve the problems they face. When people develop solutions to their own problems on the basis of their own values, they become much more committed to implementing these solutions.

 Roman à clef, French for novel with a key, created by Madeleine de Scudery in the 17th century to provide a forum for her thinly veiled fiction featuring political and public figures. Roman à clef has since been used by writers as diverse as Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Victor Hugo, Phillip K. Dick, Bret Easton Ellis, Naguib Mahfouz, and Malachi Martin. The term refers to a novel about real life, overlaid with a façade of fiction. The fictitious names in the novel represent real people, and the “key” is the relationship between the nonfiction and the fiction. This “key” may be produced separately by the author, or implied through the use of epigraphs or other literary techniques.

The reasons an author might choose the roman à clef format include satire; writing about controversial topics and/or reporting inside information on scandals without giving rise to charges of libel; the opportunity to turn the tale the way the author would like it to have gone; the opportunity to portray personal, autobiographical experiences without having to expose the author as the subject; avoiding self-incrimination or incrimination of others that could be used as evidence in civil, criminal, or disciplinary proceedings; and the settling of scores.

The small penis rule is an informal strategy used by authors to evade libel lawsuits. It was described in a New York Times article in 1998:

“…For a fictional portrait to be actionable, it must be so accurate that a reader of the book would have no problem linking the two,” said Mr. Friedman. Thus, he continued, libel lawyers have what is known as ‘the small penis rule.’ One way authors can protect themselves from libel suits is to say that a character has a small penis, Mr. Friedman said. “Now no male is going to come forward and say, ‘That character with a very small penis, that’s me!’”

Accordingly, in this story each male character, except Knarley and Westley, has a small penis. However, Westley once admitted that he wished his was bigger.

The BIG BOB rule is an extension (pun intended) of the small penis rule. This rule is also a strategy to avoid libel lawsuits. BOB is an acronym for battery operated boyfriend. In other words, an extra-large throbbing dildo. As far as this author knows, this rule has not been employed previously, or if it was the author used a name other than BIG BOB.

The purpose herein is to provide gender equality, an important concept. The authors believe that everyone has the right to feel indignation from being equally insulted, regardless of gender. Accordingly, all female characters in this story, with any significant role, deploy BIG BOB, regularly.

A frame story (also known as a frame tale or frame narrative) is a literary technique that facilitates a story within a story. An introductory or main narrative is presented, at least in part, for the purpose of setting the stage either for a more emphasized second narrative or for a set of shorter stories. The frame story leads readers from a first story into another, or several, within it.

A story within a story is a literary device in which one character within the story narrates the inner story and the outer story, or frame story, is narrated by another, who may or may not be a character. The two stories are linked together and depend on each other for the integrity of the whole compilation. A story within a story can be and is used in all types of narration: novels, short stories, plays, television programs, films, poems, songs, and philosophical essays.