HIGHER FORCES - When Sex, Tech, Spirit and Suspense Collide
HIGHER FORCES is finally finished - whew. This novel has been a very long time emerging - ever since I conducted brain and LSD research with Humphry Osmond MD for NIH, I've been possessed with a particular vision of the future - and that vision was (and still is) in many ways ultimately scary. Really - what if our own scientist good-guys actually did decide to take history in their own hands, and manipulate our out-dated reptilian impulses (think Trump) - supposedly for the universal good?
In the opposite direction, in 1979 I spent the year in Guatemala living with a Mayan tribe way up in the mountains. That's where the brujo witch-doctor character in Higher Forces came at me in real life - and almost did me in. That's also when I met the young woman who would later evolve into Mahalena. She changed my life - she woke up a new vision, her 'a la nueva' vision, that has grown within me through my years as a therapist and couples counselor, and finally now emerges as the central driving vision of this psych-tech novel.
In 1982 I moved to Europe for 7 years, and wrote an early version of Higher Forces called Powerpoint (the title Warner Books insisted I use). In Europe my encounters with several remarkable women helped evolve and transform my California cowboy male edge. A film director in Germany bought the rights to the book and we further advanced the more occult edges of the tale, working with both the male and the female brujo characters - who finally come to rather drastic fruition in Higher Forces. I'm also forever thankful for the influence of Carl Jung and Wilhelm Reich, whose disciples during that period helped me advance the 'a la nueva' philosophy that drives Higher Forces.
In 2011, after 20 years in Kauai raising my family, developing my own mind-management programs, and exploring the kahuna tradition with my wife's hula master, I returned to San Francisco to see if the short-form mindfulness meditation programs I'd developed would be of value in the tech world. Working in several corporations like Microsoft and Plantronics, I found out 'things' that have now also pushed their way into Higher Forces via the Google/Alpha characters.
The Google Element
One of the great challenges in writing a novel is knowing when you've done your best ... and it's time to send it off. I just spent a month, following reader feedback and personal insights, making the specific Google dimensions of the story flow with more clarity and dramatic impact. In fact, I discovered an entire new layer of the story that wasn't visible before - thus the highly unusual ending of the book.
People ask me if I drew any of the Google executives in this story from real life, or are they purely imaginary? The answer is right in between. I've worked with quite a few senior executives both here and in Europe, usually as their private therapist, so I know their general personality types and situational stress disorders. But these fictional Google/Alpha characters also came from a deeper source that I think will bear revealing. Here's how these Google characters came to life for me in this novel:
Larry Bish, head of research, is a composite of three similar real-life people, they know who they are and are mostly pleased with Larry's behavior. At a certain point in the story, Larry reaches a crisis and phones his superior, Randall - and as Larry dialed his superior's number, I the writer just opened up and blindly wrote the scene, listening to the voice of this new character as he emerged in my mind and in this novel.
Characters Set Free
Yes, Russell does closely resemble several people in real-life business circles, but as in all living fiction, this character definitely takes on his own personality as he responds to the unique extreme challenges being thrown at him in the plot. Sometimes we think characters drive plot, but equally, characters must adapt and change and serve and merge with the inextricable flow of the plot, if they're to function as an integral part of the greater novelistic whole.
Later in the story Russell in turn reaches a point where he must phone his own superior. Suddenly a new character is present on the line, and he step by step reveals aspects of his personality that usually are never seen in the office. I've let these characters speak their own thoughts rather than trying to make them walk the company line. That's what they get paid so much to do - think their own thoughts. I just play this further out to its dramatic fulfillment. And a final shock of the novel comes in the very last scene where we find out who's really totally behind the scenes running this giant company, and yes - this situation is taken from real life too, but in a quite different context.
In sum - this final rewrite and polish of HIGHER FORCES (renamed from Google Beta 3/The Jade Phallus for this edition) is now complete, and I have sworn upon a stack of somewhat holy books not to ever do any more work on this novel ... time to move on, I'm seriously eager to jump into a new plot flow now ... and step back to let readers jump into this one.
(I might also note that I'm now writing a first-person version of this whole story, from Jack's point of view, focused primarily on his action and love scenes with Mahalena. This is going to follow the basic plot, but I'm making the story softer and less thriller-oriented, so that I can get right down deep into what Mahalena is teaching and doing with her life - check out HIGH HEART if you want a parallel version of the story that ends up in quite a different place and resolution ... the two versions together tell the whole story!)
For the records, I have changed the name of this novel twice now, from Google Beta 3 & The Jade Phallus to Higher Forces - why? Because because even though the plot of the book is in fact driven by the jade-phallus carving, and even though Google as a fiction character is essential to the plot, from beginning to climax this story aims higher - toward presenting a female character who is indeed evolved spiritually, in the 'Teal' format of living a life that's continually responsive to the higher forces that underlie and inform the physical universe. This story is ultimately about traditional male power being abused over the ages - and our current revolutionary situation where female power is rising up - hopefully in the 'a la nueva' spirit of balance and compassion and fairness and all the rest ... we shall see. Meanwhile, Mahalena expresses as best I can, the spirit and action and heart of this new 'a la nueva' era.
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