Reformatting Life: Confronting the Subtext

Dr David, Publisher / Editor Lokkal

As publisher/editor of San Miguel Events/Lokkal, I spend too much time in front of this computer. Just like in the movies, sometimes I even have two computers on at the same time. Sometimes I'm coding pages. Sometimes I am writing articles. Many in the movie business have said that there are really only three or four movie plots. Kabbalah teaches that there are a limited number of patterns, and that on these few patterns all existence is based. Today I found one that underlies both virtual and actual reality.

When you copy text from a website and paste it into a text document (Word, Open Office...) you might notice something strange, the text keeps the font color, size, type and paragraph structure it had on the web page. This is because you've copied not just the text, but also the subtext, the formatting commands in the computer code that displays the text of the web page.

This might not bother you at all. But if you are already writing something and then paste in another bit copied from a web page, it can be annoying to have to adjust the style of the pasted text so it matches what you already have in your document.

(Word and Open Office documents have their own code very similar to web pages. Every time you leave a blank line on your document, the code behind the page indicates that blank line by < P >. When you change font size or boldness or color or anything there is a corresponding command inside of pointy brackets.)

There are programs (for example, Brackets, designed for coding web pages) that have no hidden formatting commands. Copy text from a web page, paste it first in Brackets and then copy it back from Brackets, and the text is neutral, stripped of all formatting. All those hidden commands are erased.

People also have hidden formatting commands, subtexts, that influence what we think and say. The Buddhists call this Conditioned Mind. Similarly to copying text from web pages, usually, we have picked up those hidden codes without knowing it, unconsciously, usually while copying (or reacting to) the behavior of those around us.

These unconscious codes often give an unwanted tone, color and emphasis to what we think or say. Perhaps we upset someone with the tone or delivery of what we say. Perhaps our thoughts are unduly excited or depressing.

The solution is the same as it is with the word documents. Witness the phenomenon. Become aware of what just happened. Realize that that's not what you want; you don't want to snap at your loved one or to be so hard on yourself. Then, take steps to erase those hidden commands, to harmonize thought or word with the larger picture.

Practically speaking, again, as when copying and pasting a web page, you will need to go back and say or think it again, correcting the style of the text. Stop and say you're sorry, to the other person or to yourself. Then rethink or respeak the text. Say it with more awareness, kindness, patience, love... Think it over with more perspective.

Of course, this is easier said than done. I have some great strategies for accomplishing this transformation in my The Poetry of Disease. Still, it all begins with becoming aware of the need to do something about it, or something for it.

You'll be surprised that practice makes perfect, or at least, better. Stop and say you're sorry and do it over in a better voice, and the next time it's easier to stop and say you're sorry and to do it over in a better voice.

This is the manual approach, piece by piece. But as with with pasting text, there is an automatic approach. There are techniques that help activate other parts of your brain. These include, counting to ten before speaking, meditation and directly addressing the negative tendency through art (The Poetry of Disease). Like the Brackets program strips out hidden commands in copied text, these consciousness-raising programs do a good job of neutralizing the offensive underlying code en masse. With these you come to terms with your subtext before you have to apologize. With regular practice you'll find the text and the subtext behaving much more friendly.

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photo: Alessandro Bo (cropped)

Dr David started this magazine because he could write and liked to communicate. He fully expected that in a town like San Miguel he could find authors to publish in addition to himself. Well, practically no one is submitting anything. Stubborn as he is, he continues, now publishing himself, and a faithful cadre of authors and photographers. His motto continues to be, "It's hard to be ahead of your time."

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