Wednesday, January 11, 2017

first an update, then a gentle gift

The update is about the story I'm working on now, which I've temporarily titled "Slavestyles of the Rich and Famous." If I come up with a better title, I'll let you know - or if you suggest something better and I use your suggestion, I'll give you a free copy of the e-book and a shout-out in the credits. If you'd like to brainstorm with me, here's the basic plot. There's an island in the South Pacific that poses as a self-improvement retreat center (and New Age hippie commune, complete with free love sessions every night) for the richest and most famous people in the world. But actually, every aspect of the retreat program is designed to slowly brainwash participants into slaves who will either be auctioned off or, if they're not desirable enough for auction, become recruiters and/or staffer for future retreats. The brainwashing includes giving the slaves a "mask" personality that they can wear in public, making them seem to be their usual selves, so buyers can use them in any way they like. This includes taking them as public lovers, turning politicians into puppets, making athletes throw games - or anything else the buyer can think up. I have a very surprising, scandalous destination in mind for my protagonist. You'll never guess it, but I think you'll love it. It involves the biggest betrayal you can imagine.

All the brainwashing occurs through natural processes like sleep deprivation and plant extracts that legally and naturally induce whatever state of mind a situation requires. Then, once the participants' brains are softened up, they're led trustingly into hypnosis and neurofeedback exercises that erase their wills and personalities. But since the brainwashing doesn't use any illegal drugs or other methods, the island's mysterious "founder" has total deniability. If she were ever investigated, there would be nothing to incriminate her; and if anyone infiltrated a retreat, they'd end up enslaved just like the rest of the participants.

So that's where I'm going with the story, if you decide you'd like to play the title challenge. You just have to post your suggestion in the comments here so that there's no question of who said what first. And remember, this blog is set up to allow totally anonymous comments, so there's no need to reveal your real identity.

And now on to the promised gift. I've been researching biofeedback and neurofeedback videos since I'm using them in the story, and I've just accidentally found a wonderful guided meditation that's not sinister but does wonders for soothing anxiety, OCD, and depression. It really works. I've just listened to it, and although I started in a state of high anxiety, I feel wonderfully calm now - if slightly lightheaded. I'd recommend this video for anyone who struggles with the kinds of problems I have. But in case you're wondering if there are any hidden suggestions in there, I'll try to ease your mind.

1. The video probably uses binaural beats, since the description says it works best if you listen with headphones. I've been using binaural beats for years, to soothe myself when I get anxious, and there's s nothing scary about them, in themselves.
2. My impression is that the video induce a light state of hypnosis, but I never lost track of what the speaker was saying, and nothing he said was in any way inappropriate. He's just teaching you how to control your breathing and to use that as a way to calm yourself when you're struggling with anxiety, depression, or OCD.
3. There is a transcript of the session below the video. It's one of those automatic ones, which means it's not perfect; but it's pretty close and should reassure you that there's nothing suspicious in what the speaker tells you. The transcript includes a few "mms" and "yeahs," but I listened to those parts again after I'd listened to the video, and even with my speakers turned up to full volume I never heard anything like that. The YouTube ttranscription robot must have pulled those sounds out of the music. Again, everything the speaker says is completely appropriate. He's like a really good psychiatrist, soothing and teaching you without doing anything harmful.
4. The video is 42 minutes long, but the speaking stops after about 32 minutes, and then you have the option of either drifting off to sleep or waking up gently. I decided to wake up gently because whenever my thoughts drifted during the presentation, it was usually to think about how I should this video on my blog. But now I'm going to bed, and I expect to rest well.

I might never share anything this uncompromisingly "nice" again, so take advantage while you can...if you want. This video did me a world of good on a very hard day, and it might do the same for you.


Jock said...

Big fan of both the blog and your stories, so of course I'll have a go, unfortunately, I've spent too long on the internet, so all I seem able to come up with are joke answers. Is there a class clown consolation prize?

The Island of Dr Hypneau

The Naked Gun: The Hidden Story


Yeah, I really am scraping the bottom of the barrel right now, maybe that guided meditation will get me in the right mindset to come up with something.

I feel like the right answer will play on the hippie/self improvement aspects, "think positive, think obedient", "like, listen and obey, maaaan", "The Power of Positive Control (Obedience instead, something else maybe, I like the idea of riffing on a self help mantra and The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance style titles always work well)", "How To Be A Better Thrall in 5 Easy Steps"? This is hard when we don't know the language you use in the story, nor what weight the aspects in the description have in the story.

Onto the story, I get that you're trying to do something different to the usual Scientology-Esque "Its not illegal if nobody has a mind left to complain with" of MC facilities in disguise, but couldn't the resort just be set up as part of a small island nation that they just payoff to do whatever they want? Because whats a hippie commune without normally illicit substances? And on the drugs note, what something thats "so new it hasnt been made illegal yet", those are always fun.

P.S. Why don't you share an uncomprimisingly naughty video with us next post?

Anyway, Im prattling on, Happy New Year Thrall and I hope you find the title you're looking for.

thrall said...

Hmm, I do like "The Power of Positive Obedience." I'll have to think on that one.

As for the Scientology aspect, that's bound to creep into any story like this one, but I'm trying to keep it to a minimum. My protagonist is lured to the retreat precisely because her (already brainwashed) friend convinces her that it's *not* a cult in disguise. But the reason I'm avoiding illegal drugs (other than maybe some hints of weed) is that the Founder is very careful about covering her tracks. She's famous herself (When the book comes out, see if you can guess who I based her on), and she doesn't want to leave any evidence of tampering with people's minds. When her slaves leave the island, they won't have any strange drugs or implants in the bodies; the changes will have taken place solely in their thoughts...although I *have* to include tattoos, but those will be invisible except under very specific, rare lighting conditions. ;-)

I might share a video this weekend. I've had one in mind for a while and just haven't gotten around to it. We'll see.