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Author Shepherd Siegel talks about the creative work in this new book, Tricking Power into Performing Acts Of Love.
I interviewed Shepherd Siegel about his life and profession, the creative process, and what stimulated him to write his new book, Tricking Power Into Performing Acts Of Love.
Tell me who Shepherd Siegel are:
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid-1960s. When I got to university, I decided I wanted to be a music teacher. Music comes from the earth – from human experience which is politics – and reaches up to heaven which is spirituality. This reconciliation between the political and the spiritual has been the theme of my life.
I started playing the cello but soon switched to more difficult things, playing stand-up and electric bass. My first band, Moe Mac and the Melody Wranglers played country music. I played in the jazz trio Swingmatism looking for harmonic and rhythmic challenges, but my big career break came with the power pop group Thin Ice.
However, the teaching seemed to be correct. My first teaching assignment was working with juveniles in custody at the California Juvenile Correctional Facility, the only unpleasant job in idyllic Santa Cruz. I received my Ph.D. from Berkeley, majoring in anthropology and special education. I created Career Ladders, an innovative internship program that helps young people struggling to transition from high school to adulthood.
I learned academic writing in graduate school and have more than thirty publications in the educational field. Seeking a wider audience and serving the utopian dreams of my youth, I wrote Disruptive Play: The Trickster in Politics and Culture, which received awards from Foreword Reviews and the Colorado Independent Publishers Association.
After years of wondering what would be possible by combining a utopian political vision with spirituality, I stumbled upon an epiphany: In a word, you have a trickster approach to social change. The trickster’s blessing comes from the practice of not taking power seriously, making room for more love and less power. Trickster jokes and practical jokes open this portal and path from our current uneasiness of loving warriors to a more perfect society.
When did thou first want to write a book?
I never wanted to write a book for myself. I ALWAYS wanted to help make the world a better place. Having helped schools and adult institutions across the US implement corporate ladders, we knew that writing everything from policy endorsements to implementation details would help them represent them and share them more broadly to make publicly available. So my first book, Career Ladders, was a hybrid handbook justifying such internships and case management programs, but it was also used to train adult education and service professionals.
I grew up in an atmosphere where people were not afraid to dream of a better world, where I learned artistic, spiritual, and political practices as an adult, retaining the ability to play like children, and intuitively drawn to them as a political and spiritual dilemma. Over the years I’ve practiced activism with like-minded colleagues and allies, and as a middle-aged man in my own right, I’ve made it my mission to finally write about what’s important to me.
My personal experiences with radical movements for peace, art, and education have led to research in mythology, anthropology, popular culture, sociology, political history, art history, and more. (a small but inspiring piece of history, 1960-2010). In I started writing, reading, and learning to write non-fiction, and collecting ideas, stories, knowledge, and inspiration from many books. I noticed. I allow myself to be judged and criticized by others. And because brought me the best ideas that I discovered during research and discussions.
This process eventually led to Disruptive Play: The Trickster in Politics and Culture, which ran for about fifteen years. Since then, his companion book, 2022’s Tricking Power into Performing Acts of Love, has only included three more.
Focus on the latest version. What drew you to write Tricking Power Into Performing Acts Of Love?
The original intention – to build networks of connection between people who dream of a better and more pleasant world – has not changed. But Disruptive Play was written in captivity by the heroes of my youth: The Beats, The Simpsons, Abbie Hoffman, Marcel Duchamp, Alfred Jarry, Andy Kaufman, etc. With the notable exception of Lisa Simpson, all white men.
Tricking Power into Performing Acts of Love is a disruptive play add-on that expands the scope of exploration to go beyond Western men and includes scammers.
What were thine biggest challenges in writing Tricking Power Into Performing Acts Of Love?
My biggest challenge was very exciting. Science and Psychology create a personality profile for the trickster archetype that I have developed and expanded upon in both books. But the Tricksters, though ultimately genderless, have been known to play around with it, changing it up when it suits them. But they are usually depicted as males first. A fascinating research question was, therefore, to distinguish when the profile of a folkloric and mythological figure was shaped by the patriarchal climate in which the story was told and when this profile really arrives in the collective unconscious when it transcends cultural prejudices. Investigating a fraudster, therefore, proved to be a complex but worthwhile challenge. I hope that people will read this part of the book with the same interest and enthusiasm that they did when I wrote it.
What was thine research process for Tricking Power into Performing Acts of Love?
Start with books. I love using the library and the internet, but as an author, I have to buy books because a lot of my process involves labeling them and making notes on the book itself. Equally important is making notes, which are a necessary complement to carefully reading the source. We are all human, we all have prejudices and ideas that we bring to this business. But equally important is the integration of facts and ideas that challenge our initial assumptions. These are the basic principles of good science.
How did Thou form book Tricking Power Into Performing Acts Of Love?
Tricking Power has two beating hearts. The first is a three-chapter set, The Triumph of Eshù Elégby, and like this West African trickster god, it features what is arguably the most complex and complete trickster personality in the world. The slaves’ journey from their West African spiritual origins to the founding of black culture, Manifestations of Humanity in Western Art, is a way of fighting, demanding justice and triumphant beauty, and collective spiritual energy illuminating the path to liberation.
Likewise, cheating wives have never had the luxury of the light-hearted, cartoonish, steamy, titillating cheating adventures that populate much of cheating mythology and folklore and genres like slapstick. Like the oppressed sex, they enter the struggle of human politics against a variation on the trickster theme endowed with the moral prerogative of righting the wrongs of sexism.
This second beating heart, A Million Years of Fifty Female Tricksters, is inspired by Nancy Archer’s sexy and victorious poses in Raquel Welch’s 1958 film Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. “Immortal Wonder Fair played by Gal Gadot.In the relieving atmosphere of speculative science fiction, these women sacrifice none of their sexual charms and leave the cliche of impotence that most commonly binds them.
Indeed, female traitors are more likely than males to associate with heroic and warrior characters. Most profoundly, women who cheat increase the chance of trick and rule.
When this work came out, I was able to make “bookends” for two hearts. The opening chapters deal with the crucial role of slapstick in conjuring con artists and the relationship between a very young child and adult con artists. And a chapter about one of the world’s greatest scammers, the most famous person who never became famous, Lord Richard Buckley. The Crutch at the End of the Book is a fun article on the fraudulent attribute of time travel and Bill & Ted’s excellent adventure.
Did you get editing help and how long did it take to edit Tricking Power Into Performing Acts Of Love?
I belong to several groups of authors who help me edit the original work, then have the manuscript checked by a professional editor before submitting it for publication. As I cite all of my sources and include a selected bibliography, an editor must check all of my footnotes and endnotes.
What is the first piece of writing advice thou would give someone that inspired thou to write a book?
Keep the perfectionism for the final design. No matter how snappy, create your first sketch. Make your comments clearer with each post. Read aloud what you have written and/or have others read aloud. This will highlight mistakes and omissions. Look at the sketch. Not everyone needs to describe, but there are many writers who don’t and shouldn’t.
Can ye tell me what other books ye want to write?
I would like to go in and interview people whose power of deception is strong. I want to amplify their voice, their wisdom, and the advice they would give to others so we can develop a movement that goes beyond power.
And finally, are thou proud of thy success? It was worth it?
At the beginning of our interview, I talked about my main intention which is to contribute and inspire people to think about tomorrow and dream of a better world. We need it more than ever. While I am confident in my writing and have done my best, it may or may not be good enough. But with each reader I attract, my efforts grow, as do my gratitude and pride in my accomplishments.
Add any links to thy books, websites, and social media here so readers can find thou:
Blog, purchase options, and the whole idea here at https://shepherdsiegel.com
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