An Open Letter to Aaron Sorkin about My Ex-Boyfriend and Battlestar Galactica

1. Aristotle’s Poetics

You point people to Poetics.

You tell people that if they’re having trouble writing, it’s because they’re breaking one of the laws in Poetics.

If we would just read Poetics, we’d find our answer.

2. This Is Why We Are Exes

Catching up with an old boyfriend, one of us mentioned Battlestar Galactica; we both really liked it.

I have never had a better example of why the two of us are not together.

We both liked the show.

And when he explained to me everything he liked about the show, I renewed my resolve that we should not be together.

Each thing he picked out of the show was something useless to my eyes; he was missing the point of the show.

I could watch the show and extract usefulness from it. He watched the show and liked the show and did nothing with it. At least nothing I could see at the time, we were in our early 20’s and that’s a categorically unimpressive age in terms of being able to chart a path to making a worthwhile contribution with our lives.

Imagine if we had just stopped at agreeing that we both watched Battlestar Galactica and both agreed that it was good.

I would have assumed with both grew tremendously because of watching the show, extracting lessons we could shape our characters by, but that’s not the show he saw.

Because he and I watched shows differently back then.

So if there was good to be extracted from the show, it’s an unwise decision on my part to assume that everybody who saw the show, got what the show really offers.

3. Terrible Questfinding In World of Warcraft: Vanilla

World of Warcraft is a huge game.

Game’s aren’t like other media. They get updates.

Games or products with huge audiences, can end up bifurcating the audience.

At any given time at least one section of the player base is unhappy.

World of Warcraft’s solution was to rerelease the original game for that the people who hated the changes and updates to the world.

Finally they could play the original game, the Vanilla edition before anything had been added to it.

I continued taking the updates.

Some people really like how difficult it is to understand what you’re supposed to do in original, vanilla World of Warcraft. They like that you have to sit there and puzzle it out.

They like that the majority of the quality of life features hadn’t been invented yet.

They like the stymie.

But they have the option to play the classic, and they have the option to play the updated game which is clear, and sends you where you need to go, and allows you to play without confusion.

The only option I have is to read the original Poetics, which you say is where the solutions live.

If I really cared about what I saw in Battlestar Galactica, if I really thought still that it was the answer to many people’s need, I would feel a responsibility to offer the world a choice.

Right now they can watch the show, and I can hope that they find their way to useful conclusions and strategies that I saw showcased back when I watched that show.

Or I can use a strategy other than hope.

4. A Post-Hope Poetics

Hope is not a marketing strategy.

Hope, without smarts to back it up, is why the good guys lose.

All evil needs to succeed is for good men to think the rightness of their ideas is enough, and stand by and not develop their skill at teaching and being understood.

I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about in Poetics having every answer.

I tried reading it man, but it’s like a game that hasn’t had an update in several thousand years and also isn’t in the original language.

I like an update. I play the most up-to-date World of Warcraft, because it’s made by people living in this century, and the game can be a response to the relevant world.

Aristotle’s Poetics has no update. It cannot hope to be fitted to the modern world.

I believe you: that answers are in there.

But if you think it’s enough for you to be right about Aristotle being right, then there will be people who are less-smart because of it.

You’ve talked around the concepts you see in Poetics, you’ve got an AMA and a Masterclass.

But a real teacher knows that, like Andre Gide said, “Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”

Real teaching is repetition.

Real teaching is about knowing the precipice that your student faces. Understanding what their next-step is, and why with all their agency and smarts they haven’t taken that step on their own.

Listen to the people you want to help, until you understand their problem better than they do. Then build your bridges between the wisdom you extracted from Poetics, and what a person is ready to hear in the 21st Century.

Thank you for letting me berate you about this. -Noah Wizard

The above post was an entry for Paul Scrivens’ 30 Day Prompt Challenge.

Prompt: I hand you an envelope. It’s a magic envelope. It can go anywhere at any time.

It can go to the past. It can stay in the present. It can travel to the future.

You write a letter to someone and put it in the envelope.

Who is the letter to?
When is it going to be opened?
What does it say?

Author’s Note:

This prompt identified a big problem to me.

As much as I know the things I wish we had done differently in the past, it’s extremely rare that you could change the things you want, just with one letter.

The magic envelope doesn’t befriend the person for you, or help them understand what you mean in any way. They’re still a cold audience, and you’re trying to persuade them from no mutual momentum together.

And if you convince that one person, then they have to cascade a series of effects based solely on the words you wrote them. So they’d have to already be someone with a lot of leverage in their time to make an impact.

Same basic problem in the present though. If the magic envelope gets my letter to the person’s desk, it’s still a cold-call.

Is there truly anyone out there who is asking or willing to accept my help and my help is ready enough to change something big for them in one letter from a stranger?

The best I could muster, was writing a letter to Aaron Sorkin the creator of West Wing. A letter which, I do believe would earworm him into change, if it were to bypass his gatekeepers and reach his desk.