Those who say ‘Yes’

Those who say ‘Yes’ are rewarded by the adventures they have, and those who say ‘No’ are rewarded by the safety they attain – Keith Johnstone


7 minutes

I can’t let the passing of Keith Johnston go unremarked.

I never met the man – but I know people who did. I’ve read a couple of his books, most recently Impro for Storytellers. His influence on my life (and the world really) has been significant.

Alongside Vitoria Spolin, Johnston was a pioneer of improvisational theatre. I can’t imagine what seeing his “The Theatre Machine” staged in the 1950’s must have been like. We may all have some sense of ‘yes, and’ or other rules of improv theatre in 2023, perhaps think it cringe or pedestrian but Johnston was a radical.

You may remember back in my 301 about the Theatre’s Royal I mentioned that Lord Chamberlain’s office needed to approve the scripts for all public performances in England from 1737 until 1968. Performing fully improvised plays in the UK back in the 50’s was therefor impossible.

Keith apparently wrote the Lord Chamberlain a letter suggesting that one of his “lackeys” sit by the side of the stage during their shows and ring a bell if anything occurred of which he disapproved, but got no reply.

His Trance Mask exercises had a huge impact on a friends life after he studied directly with Johnston at a workshop.

The trance mask knowledge filtered back to us and my creative social circle. It’s teachings echo though, and down, in to several friends work – my own included. (I’m currently reviewing 20k words of text I generated over a single moon cycle last year that has echos of trancemask work in its creation)

All improv I did in my early 20’s helped me develop my aspie asses social skills. Which in turn helped me navigate the office environment I was working in for the first time in my life.

Here’s one of my favourite Johnstone quotes:

There are people who prefer to say ‘Yes’, and there are people who prefer to say ‘No’. Those who say ‘Yes’ are rewarded by the adventures they have, and those who say ‘No’ are rewarded by the safety they attain.

Keith Johnston – Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre (2016)

Its funny I do a podcast about UK politics and my DMs are filled with feedback and discussion. Yesterdays show has been hands down one of the most generative in terms of conversation for months.

The image on the right arrived via chat, echoing something I said in the show. “It’s working. The 100k racists drifting from Reform”

I can see why people post and write about politics online tbh, it’s a real traffic generator. But a sure fire way of turning yourself in to a babbling mess.

I’d rather follow the plan. Touch grass and make whatever I want to make.

Permanently Moved

Left, Right, Capital, and the Fash

The anti-refugee legislation proposed by the UK government is dangerous, and the suspension of Gary Lineker by the BBC for speaking out against it is ridiculous.


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Photo 365


So my holiday last week was super nice, the break was relaxing and all the tension drained out of me the evening of day 2. I need to see if I can find a way of keeping my neck this loose! Might post a photoblog as I took some bangers whilst we were away.

The Ministry Of My Own Labour

I’ve been all over the place since I got back from holiday. A real bad case of the Mondays.

  • Prepared 20k worth of rough draft of text that i’m going to get printed at Mailbox tomorrow so I can review it IRL.
  • Finished first pass layout of the new issue of the zine
  • Bought another new webdomain to house a little manifesto thing
  • Calls

Terminal Access

Simon sent a good Newsletter about Spotify’s announcement that artists can accept a lower royalty rate for an algorithmic push:

That’s the frustrating crux of the matter. The β€œmiddle class” of creators are missing. It’s part of a larger thesis in how the web completely changed how status games got played around culture.

And frankly, I don’t know how to solve this problem? Should it be solved even? I think we’re still better off having a longer long tail at cost of bigger big creators. But, can it be better?

Enjoyed Warren’s thoughts posted this week about building a blog without social media. Rhymns with what I was thinking about in my last weeknotes.

some of us want to write complete statements in places we own and control, and garden our own thoughts and experiences in an interlinked, searchable way.

Dipping the Stacks

The Orbital Mechanics of Enlightenment – A Lamp in the Underworld

This is a Thelemic concept related to one’s Destiny, and the harmonious path which one takes to arrive there. I’m not going to attempt to explain it in this article, as there have been entire books dedicated to its meaning.

Instead, I would like to construct an analogy for what happens during spiritual growth toward enlightenment in a visual manner.

TikTok and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Cross-Sectional Study of Social Media Content Quality – Anthony Yeung, Enoch Ng, Elia Abi-Jaoude, 2022

Approximately half of the analyzed TikTok videos about ADHD were misleading. Clinicians should be aware of the widespread dissemination of health misinformation on social media platforms and its potential impact on clinical care.

Why the Web Won’t Be Nirvana

Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic.

Jane Wakefield: Keep on believing the Internet hype | ZDNET

Soon we will be describing ourselves as “former users” and thrusting our noses in the air at the outmoded use of the Internet for such things as banking, shopping and email.

On Music Criticism + Failed Internet

Internet failed at being a place for democratizing music because the internet has turned into a capitalistic funnel.


Whilst away on holiday I used the environment to act as an absurdist juxtaposition to finally read Hospicing Modernity by Vanessa Machado de Oliveira (Andreotti). What an incredible book. So many people in my social circles have read it and there is a clear before//after in their writing and their work. I feel the same.

I also read The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne. It’s a structured to help people analyze stories and generate helpful and productive editorial comments. Its also a fascinating discussion around ‘deep story’ and why some narratives work better than others. Coynes term ‘Narrative Velocity’ has been really helpful and unlocked a lot for me.

On the plane home I started listening to The Iron Kingdom the 5th book in the Dawn of Fire 40k series. Haven’t finished it yet as I’ve been busy.

I started reading Rebecca Blood’s 2002 book about blogging The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice On Creating And Maintaining Your Blog its funny to see how much is still true 20 years later and whats changed. Remarkable how ‘microblogging’ IE Twitter just wiped out a whole ‘way of using the web’.

Music Spotify Playlist

Scry – Cole Pulice

I have been totally obsessed with this 2022 album by Cole Pulice this week. Its so beautiful. It makes me feel uplifted. Taken as one unit, to my very receptive ears the album sounds like psychedelic devotional jazz, but performed on circuit bent keyboards. Tho I think it’s a highly processed Saxophone.

There is so much going on across this album. So much communicated via its dancing melodies. Wonderful.

HP/MP below is only 1:11 long, but so so beautiful.

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One response to “Those who say ‘Yes’”

  1. […] We are now well into the second decade of Autotune as a stylistic production choice made by artists of all kinds. My current favourite example being jazz saxophonist; Cole Pulice’s use of it on opening track of the 2022’s – Scry EP. […]

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