Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires

[[something more in keeping with the original intent of this particular blog…]]

Tales Told 'Round Celestial Campfires by Joseph CarrabisFor those of you who either didn’t know or forgot, I use to write fiction. According to my editors and readers, I was quite good at it.

Your writing is very moving. Tears came to my eyes when I read the last page of Dancers.

You have such wonderful imagery!

WOW! What beauty! I was completely hooked before I finished the first story.

You take readers on such wonderful journeys and your writing contains such wonderful lessons.

These stories have the flavor of an old sea tale, or something told around a campfire late at night. You have a wonderful distinctive voice.

After 20 years, I’ve decided to get back in the game. My first work of published fiction is Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires and you should all go purchase copies for yourself, everyone you care about, people you know intimately or just in passing, especially those you’ve either linked to or friended and have basically forgotten exist. Sharing your sense of wonder over Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires is a phenomenal way to get back in touch. Imagine the joy you’ll spread when you reach out to all those relationships both remembered and forgotten with “I’ve just heard about this amazing book, Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires, and it’s a must read!”

Your writing has a tenderness most men can’t master.

Wow! Terrific! Beautiful storytelling!

Your stories show the power of love.

Extremely powerful storytelling!

Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires contains fifteen stories. Most are love stories. Not romances, just love. Love in the form of acceptance. Acceptance of yourself, of others, of situations. Self-awareness is also a big theme with me. Even when self-awareness is painful or catches one unawares.

I love the way the reader gradually realizes what it is with your stories, and I love what it is.

I loved the feel, the tone of your writing – it is very sensitive, ethereal.

You’re a writer of genuine feeling.

Wonderful, entertaining and teaching. Amazing!

I really get the sense that I’m sitting down, listening to a storyteller weave the pattern of a story. That’s really neat. It’s a real pleasure to read your stories just for the beauty of the words.

Here are the first pages from four of the stories to give you an idea:

Dancers in the Eye of Chronos

Dancers in the Eye of ChronosHyphi and Gal parade onto the great hall’s floor, he half a pace ahead, she half a pace behind, their legs moving like a cat’s caught in headlights while their torsos remain straight and even. They pass the crowd among applause and hurrahs then pass the judges. Eyes focus on their clothes as well as their steps and the DJ looks to the judges for his cue. In mid-stride, the great hall rumbles as the DJ’s turntables engage.

Hyphi and Gal rumba. Gal wears a tasteful nuevo-Italian suit. Triple pleated frost brown pants with matching European cut jacket – no vent – brightly mottled red-and-yellow-on-black wide tie with double Windsor knot, ballooned creme shirt, pocketless, white gold with diamond eye studs, brown rattaned alligator Freeds – no Capezios here – frost brown silks, slightly darker than the pants and lighter than the shoes, easing the transition from one to the other. Tall. Broad shoulders, narrow waist, legs like tapered pillars and arms strongly anguine like boas, his hands and fingers long and graceful. His hair is salt&pepper, the salt like snow and the pepper like star studded night. His eyes are cyan iris against white orb like the sky seen through a cloud at sixty thousand feet. His skin is olive smooth, colored by a heredity so obvious it can’t be placed.

Hyphi’s head comes to just under his chin. Perfect for slow dancing. Perfect for sow dancing. Pale blue, three-ringed ruffle waisted skirt, line-thin lime green hip hugger belt, tight bodiced lime green blouse, ribbed and expanding beneath the breasts, showing the shoulders, white gold Bubo with emerald diamond eyes and hematite beak, tiny, clutching her throat on a slivered black band, finely silked scarf hinting at slipping from her softly muscled shoulders, pale earth tones of calmly pale earth scenes, dryads and naiads hiding and peeking as the scarf folds and unfolds to her dance, unnaturally natural blonde hair, eyes like his and skin the same, slightly lighter, yet the same. He smells of oceans and she smells of mists.

Those Wings Which Tire, They Have Upheld Me

Those Wings Which Tire, They Have Upheld MeCowan was walking in the woods the first time he saw Angel. He was really looking for a haunted house the real estate lady told his parents was back there and he’d walked further into the woods than he’d ever gone before.

There was an inch of snow on the ground except where the sun came through the trees for most of the day. In those places the ground was muddy. Cowan felt the crisping of the snow under his boot and looked at his footprints, trying to remember what they really looked like when he could really see them.

He took off the wrap-around sunglasses he wore to hide the holes where his eyes had been, thinking maybe the sunglasses stopped what he used to see from getting through. He still smelled the woodiness of the trees, still felt the cool air on his face and his breath misting as he exhaled. His breath didn’t look right, though. That was because of the Cap.

Dr. Hargitay said the Cap was best at least until they were sure the cancer didn’t come back. After that, Dr. Hargitay told Cowan’s parents, maybe they could transplant.

But until then it was the Cap. Cowan felt funny wearing the Cap. It itched.

Cowan’s family moved closer to the hospital that previous winter. Mom and Dad wanted to be with him more and this was the only way to do it. Cowan knew there were lots of other kids whose parents had moved closer to the hospital, but few of those kids ever came out.

He sniffed and wiped his nose on his sleeve.

When Cowan showed up in his new school after Spring vacation, Kevin, who wasn’t even in his class and had stayed back twice, followed Cowan all over the playground, just walking behind him and sing-songing “I can’t See, I can’t See” until Cowan ran back into the school. Ms. Flanders heard him in the boysroom and sent in Mr. Horly, the janitor, to see if everything was okay.

Canis Major

Canis MajorIggie dropped from the tree onto the fawn, his weight breaking its two hind legs. It tried to run anyway but its forelegs only clawed up the moist, dark forest floor, clouding Iggie’s thoughts as the rich earth aroma wafted into him. Iggie didn’t want the animal to suffer and bit into its throat, tearing out esophagus, jugular and various muscles. Still the fawn tried to escape. Iggie grew nauseous by the mix of his needs and the fawn’s attempts to break free. This wasn’t what he wanted. His father had told and taught him to make his kills quick and clean, to spare creatures any pain. Iggie curled one forepaw into a fist and punched through the fawn’s ribs, crushing the heart. The fawn stopped moving and Iggie, gazing up at the dark, star filled sky, let the blood trickle down his muzzle, dribble into his nostrils, and cover his fur from flews to belly as he dined.

TALL, HANDSOME, good build, good humor, able to stand on a rocking ship with my hands at my sides. Brown hair, brown eyes, black beard, white skin. Have been mistaken for a brown bear when I bathe in mountain streams, well educated (past 6th grade), still have all my teeth but not all my marbles. Looking for a well-rounded, buxom woman. Buxom men need not respond. Applicants should know by this that brains are more important than brawn. Dinners, dancing, demitasse, and dramamine. Send resume and salary history.

The ad sat on Iggie’s desk for two months. The first month he’d written it by hand and crossed out several portions. The second month he’d typed it into his computer, made several more edits, and returned to the forest.

He stared at the screen for some twenty minutes this time, ran the spelling checker over it four times, read the ad backwards to check for additional misspellings, and printed it out.

Winter Winds

Winter WindsIt occurred to me, as I sat watching, that the scene was not as it should be. The winds played oddly on the landscape, and even the patterns of the falling snow were different. However, it wasn’t until I turned off the floodlights, which are white, and turned on the ground lights, which are pink, that the entire scene was revealed to me.

You must remember that this was a very typical wintry night. The snow was falling in one of the worst – or best, according to my son – blizzards of the decade. But it was one of the heaviest snowfalls in the century, according to the weather service.

Anyway, my son and I stood by the glass doors that led to the backyard patio. we were watching the snow fall. He and I talked about skiing and sledding and tobogganing – I from memory and he from anticipation. As we talked, he pointed to something out in the field. We looked, but I couldn’t see anything. He wasn’t sure that he had seen anything, either, so we went back to a discussion of which broom to use to sweep off the pond.

We fell silent then, the late-night stillness of the house being interrupted only by the slurps of hot cider. We had pulled my big lounge chair around so that we could be comfortable. Suddenly David leapt to his feet and pointed out to the field. “Dad! Dad, look! What is that?”

His excitement startled me, and I jumped up from the lounge chair, nearly spilling my hot cider. I rubbed my eyes and looked. Then I rubbed my eyes and looked again. Something was moving out there on the field. Something…

“What is it, Dad?”

My first reaction was to take off my glasses and clean them. When I put them back on I saw the same basic picture. Only now the form – whatever it was – had moved farther across the field. “I’m not sure, Dave.” That was an understatement.

So please take a few moments to a) go get a copy of the book or any of the Kindle books and b) tell all your friends about them. Forward this email to them, link to my Amazon page, my GoodReads page, put it on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube and all the other social networks you’re on.

It’s appreciated.


Find me on Find Joseph on Amazon and Find Joseph on Goodreads (and write good things!).

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Joseph Carrabis on Neuro-Economics and Reading Virtual Minds Part 1 of 2

[[Another for completeness sake. This post is a resurrection of a post on another blog that’s gone into the great internet of the west. We’re reposting here because completeness is a big thing with us. By the way, you should buy and read Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation. We also suggests everybody pick up a copy of Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History because that’s what completeness is all about.]]

You’ll need javascript and flash enabled to hear this amazingly erudite speaker discussing the most fascinating topics

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The Lost Postlude to ‘Social Media: Exafference – Passive Participation (the “They’re Giving You Their Time” Part) – and Reafference, or Creating Active Participation’

[[First, we’re not sure if this ever saw the light of day and are publishing it simply for completeness’ sake (that’s a big thing around here, completeness). This post completes an arc started in The Lost Prelude to “Human Nature Meets Social Media – The Brain Science Behind Participation by Joseph Carrabis, DishyMix Guest Blogger”, followed by Human Nature Meets Social Media – The Brain Science Behind Participation by Joseph Carrabis, DishyMix Guest Blogger and Social Media: Exafference – Passive Participation (the “They’re Giving You Their Time” Part) – and Reafference, or Creating Active Participation. While we have your attention, you should buy copies of Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation and Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History because we’re doing all this resurrecting and publishing because of those two books.]]

So, distilling the 20+ pages of notes I made in order to answer Alex’s question, we tie it all together with some simple rules (bet you thought I’d never get here, huh?). These rules work in print, in text, in audio, video, rich media, poor media, social media, your choice…

  • When communicating to your audience and wanting to motivate them you must be motivated yourself
  • When communicating to your audience and wanting them to take action you must be active in the way you want them active
  • Be like Hemingway – keep it simple with as little embellishment as possible
  • Be confident – watch what you write, use as images, use as podcasts, use as video and make sure everything is consistent, not in the large but always in the small
  • Video/Podcasts – let your guests correct themselves, don’t correct them (unless it’s a glaring error)
  • Video/Podcasts – keep self corrections to a minimum (again, unless it’s a glaring error)
  • Video/Podcasts – when you become aware of an error in a previous episode mention it publicly and hopefully before your audience brings it to your attention
  • All forms – show concrete images, use concrete terms, etc., to cause people to take action
  • Direct Address – when asking people to take part make sure they know it’s totally up to them (taking part is their choice)
  • Direct Address – when asking people to take part make sure they know there’s no ongoing commitment on their side, they are under no obligation (this is a biggee as both research and business studies show people are more likely to take part in an endeavor if they believe it to be a one shot deal even though they usually habituate to the activity)

Further suggestions on this subject that are highly specific to social media can be found in my SNCR Awards Gala presentation (and don’t be surprised that the crux of encouraging activity on a social media site should involve common sense and good manners):

  • Give Credit Where It Is Due
  • Admit Your Mistakes
  • Manage the Discussion
  • Be Honest
  • Lead the Discussion
  • Explain Everything

There’s actually a lot more that gets into very specific areas:

  • Keep overt competitiveness to a minimum of at all on female-oriented social media sites
  • Demonstrate reciprocity on male-oriented social media sites
  • Demonstrate the actions you want members to engage in several times in several ways across several elements of the social media site
  • Reward employees for taking part in company social media activities (studies show such employees are usually happier and more productive)
  • There’s a wide variety of social networking factors involved (many of which I’ve documented elsewhere)

Let me know if there’s a serious interest out there and I’ll schedule a series of podcasts or webinars or some such that will cover this material. People who’ve seen my conference presentations know what those can be like.

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Social Media: Exafference – Passive Participation (the “They’re Giving You Their Time” Part) – and Reafference, or Creating Active Participation

[[This is a resurrected post from another blog. We’re ressurecting it because J references it in Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation and the other blog is kaput. By the way, you should also get a copy of Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History because he likes royalties.
PS) This is the third part of an arc that started in The Lost Prelude to “Human Nature Meets Social Media – The Brain Science Behind Participation by Joseph Carrabis, DishyMix Guest Blogger” and continued in Human Nature Meets Social Media – The Brain Science Behind Participation by Joseph Carrabis, DishyMix Guest Blogger.]]


  • Getting people to move from exafferent (passive) to reafferent (active) social media involvement has to do with fair-exchange. Fair-exchange means the site owner/management has to take a “personal” stake in building and maintaining the relationships that are the core of social networking and social media usage.
  • The nature of our species is that once women feel safe in a social network they will add content more readily than men will. One of the principle aspects of this safety is that women will generally feel safest (nonconsciously, anyway) in a woman-woman network than in a mixed gender network.
  • People become socially active in proportion to their recognition (and the type of recognition they receive) in a given social group (network). This means site owners/management need to demonstrate that each person in the network has value to the network. There are an incredible number of ways to do this and which ways to use are dependent on the type of network, its purpose and goals. Note that the purpose and goals to members may be (and usually are) quite different from the purpose and goals as defined by site owners/management.

I was going to start this installment with a description of “direct address” and I saw that Susan Bratton was already there. Her Rally for Suz: Help Me DOUBLE My DishyMix Audience [[Thankfully deceased]]blog post is an excellent example of direct address; simply stating what you want. I wrote in The Stephane Hamel, Susan Bratton, Eric Peterson Convergence and more “Thoughts on Blogging” “Direct address is something NextStage and others’ research has indicated is a powerful motivational tool in social networks — simply asking people to take part. Works 99.99999% of the time and is an element of what NextStage talks about in “Using the 10 First Contact Marketing Messages” [[Check our Training Schedule to learn when this class will be offered. Make believe you’re voting in Chicago, check early and often]]. This is also something that shows up in NextStage’s Principles as “People who don’t ask for what they want deserve what they get.”

One of the things NextStage’s tools can do is determine when “direct address” should be used in marketing material, on websites, videos, speeches, in trainings, whatever, to reach and motivate audiences into action. Direct Address can take the form of text, music (anybody who’s been in a gym club aerobics class has heard someone’s best attempt at using direct address music (and often without knowing what it’s really about, sad to say, hence with mixed results), or audio (listen to a well crafted political speech (regardless of language) or a “motivational” speech (ditto)), visual/video (some of the best examples I’ve ever seen are the plays/movies of Neil Simon and David Mamet. Another excellent example is the Peter Falk-Alan Arkin version of “The In-Laws”). You can read an example of using sonic (sound, music, audio) direct address at The Investors Heard the Music [[one of the sections in Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History and you should get a copy because J never lets up on this]]. The best use of direct address is with a mélange of all forms, just make sure that mélange is highly orchestrated for effect. And of course I’m limiting this discussion to a western cultural audience.

Direct Address works so well because it’s part of our evolutionary history – we’re designed to communicate directly with each other, in person. The advent of exafferent communication methodologies (print, radio, video) means we had to learn ways of communicating “direct address” when we couldn’t receive the other person’s response cues (we didn’t know how they were interpreting our message).

What did we do? We went back to our primitive origins. Think back to prehistoric images (prior to writing forms regardless of their usage), things like the Trois Freres and Lascaux paintings and their counterparts worldwide. There are no images of thoughtfulness, of “sedentary” acts. All depictions are of action. Flash forward to TV commercials when TV was young. Did they want to sell you a washer? Then they had a spokesperson showing you how to use the washer. Later on they thought they were becoming more sophisticated and they didn’t show you mom washing until near the end of the commercial. First they showed you kids and dad getting dirty.

Today we applaud and honor witty and cleverly done commercials and I always wonder “What were they selling?” If the average exafferent participant can’t figure out what the commercial (print, audio, video, whatever) is selling within the first ¼-1/3 of a commercial’s run time or scan time then the marketing message is lost.

Fortunately direct address is done fairly easily and in many obvious ways (I’ve demonstrated several examples at eMetrics, IMedia and other conferences). Examples of direct address are well documented in studies of verbal signaling, directional processing, cognitive distancing, …, things that psycholinguists and semioticists deal with daily. You can find them used in law enforcement, security work, litigation, interrogation techniques, most investigative work…and successful marketing practices.

(I often get a kick out of audience reactions when I demonstrate that interrogation techniques are simply an intensified form of marketing practices, or that the most prevalent form of direct address that most people are familiar with in modern society is pornography. Does interacting with pornography cause a reaction in you? Welcome to direct address, the act of getting you to respond whether you want to or not. (and I’m not justifying pornography, only recognizing it as a cultural phenomenon and influencer))

My next post in this series will share some of the simple and easy to follow rules for getting people to participate in social media that fall from everything we’ve discussed in this thread so far.

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Human Nature Meets Social Media – The Brain Science Behind Participation by Joseph Carrabis, DishyMix Guest Blogger

[[This is a resurrected post from another blog. We’re ressurecting it because J references it in Reading Virtual Minds Volume II: Experience and Expectation and the other blog is kaput. By the way, you should also get a copy of Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History because he likes royalties.
PS) The prelude to this post is in The Lost Prelude to “Human Nature Meets Social Media – The Brain Science Behind Participation by Joseph Carrabis, DishyMix Guest Blogger”.]]

I left off with some redefinitions based on reframes. This might be semantics to some and I won’t argue that, only offer that semantics is extremely important and increases in importance the larger the social frame in which statements, observations, etc., are made.

For example, I wrote “The reframe you want is ‘interactive members'” and offered that it is an example of part of the answer to your larger question. Both NextStage and related research has demonstrated that men and women will respond to that simple statement quite differently, different age groups will respond differently, different cultural groups will respond differently and, what’s the killer for most marketers, those responses will occur at a non-conscious level. People will have a positive or negative take on it, not even be aware of their own reaction yet act upon that non-conscious reaction as if it were stated fact. It doesn’t matter if the audience understands, accepts or shares the meaning of the language used in communication. We’re not talking about logic or truth. Especially when it comes to social networks.

Referencing my last post again, “The reframe you want is ‘interactive members'” is a male oriented statement, “The necessary reframe is ‘interactive members'” is a female oriented statement.

I can offer an in depth explanation why the former is male and the latter is female based on Modality Engineering if people want and the simplest answer is that the former establishes a linear relationship between me and thee, speaker and spoken-to. The former – completely without meaning to – will perceptibly raise people’s blood pressure, increase pulse and respiration, …, and those are just the macro sympathetic nervous system factors. Blood chemistry will change for all but a few people because adrenaline and a host of other proteins, enzymes and peptides get released.

All from a simple statement? Yes. That simple statement is hierarchical and depending on tone, situation, inference, etc., is adversarial. Use it wisely or not at all.

The latter statement does many wonderful things. It completely removes any adversarial aspect between speaker and spoken-to by removing “you want” as the action clause. It further supplies information without involving persons or personhood. And it directs attention to the transitive phrase and away from speaker and spoken-to via the adjective “necessary”.

I offer all this because it’s part of the answer to the larger question. The easiest way to get people to take part, to become interactive, is to demonstrate their value directly, is to make it obvious that the site owner/management recognizes them as “members” and not just an “audience”. This brings us to exafference and reafference, something I wrote about in Branding in Online Video. Online video and social media both deal with exafference – passive participation (the “they’re giving you their time” part) – and reafference, or active participation. How the two deal with exafference and reafference differs and the principles are the same.

The original question contained “…there are different reasons for contributing…” and listed several ways of contributing. Remembering that I suggest we invite members to add and share, we need to acknowledge that nobody does anything unless they feel safe first. Even people who routinely engage in risky behaviors do so because they feel safe in their own being (this is the “Twenty-One and bullet proof” concept young people tend to have)

So people become reafferent (interactive) when they feel safe first. Social media conveys safety by demonstrating it. People responded to Susan Bratton’s call for questions because they feel safe with her and via extension, with me. I’m benefiting from Susan’s reputation within her existing social.

People submitted questions for me to answer because they trust Susan to value their time, their input, their reputation, so on and so forth. This trust equates to safety in the guise of pleasure or pain on an interesting slider.

Pain to Pleasure Trust

I’ve written in several places that the brain determines trust and never distrust. People may say they don’t trust someone and what the brain is registering is that they trust that someone to cause them pain (and the implications this has for online and brand loyalty are enormous).

The core issue, though, is that safety and trust have to be demonstrated. Susan gets to demonstrate this by having you folks post questions and get responses. This is a demonstration to others that they, too, can feel safe asking questions and getting responses on Susan’s blog.

This form of reafference brings us back to “direct address” again.

(more to follow)

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