David Marcoe Announces TriCon

ADDENDUM: Mr. Marcoe will be on a pilgrimage in Poland and out of electronic contact with the world until the 17th, but in the meanwhile has started a blog at triconference.wordpress.com which basically contains the announcement below.

David Marcoe is organizing an interdenominational Christian conference for novelists, playwrights, screenwriters, comic book writers, game designers, and the like for late in this summer. Here is his announcement:

Studying here in Rome, I live in the the midst of ancient beauty. In fact, I’m just down the street from St. Peter’s square, which I walk through on the way to my job or architecture class. The church around the corner, where I attend several classes, is home to a lively local parish (the priest is a real character) not much different than my old congregation, except that the is Baroque building that could serve as a picturesque movie set. Indeed, we’re saturated in beauty, as we study the words of Virgil, Dante, and Shakespeare. I’ve laid eyes on wonders, on the works of Caravaggio, Bernini, Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo, and others. And you can see them quite by accident, walking off the street and into practically any church in the city.

And as I experience all this–that vast tradition of Christendom’s art and literature–I think of the business of “culture making” today; at least ninety-five percent of the major commercial works dealing with mythic, moral, or religious subject matters are being made by non-Christians, with Christians coming along to produce second and third rate “me too!” knock-offs. I think it needs to stop.

So, what I’m doing is contacting people I know and organizing a professional get-together for Catholic and Christian writers–novelists, playwrights, screenwriters, comic book writers, game designers, etc.–for the late summer. Why? Because Catholics and Protestants lack on either side of an equation that needs to be balanced. Protestants are generally more entrepreneurial and comfortable with engaging the popular culture, but lack a significant aesthetic tradition to draw on. Catholics have a vast tradition to draw from, but have trouble translating that tradition into a contemporary context. So, in organizing this conference, I want to approach the problem from three directions:

I. Artistic – How to bring forward that vast tradition into a contemporary context? For instance, how can a traditional liberal arts education improve the technique of a novelist? Or how can it be applied to the art and narratives of video games, graphic novels, and movies? What can the great repository of Christian thinking on art and poetics teach us about “baptizing the imagination” and sanctifying the culture?

II. Entertainment – How do we make a better product? How do we improve our product for a general audience? What makes the best commercial fiction? What are the strengths and weaknesses of different mediums (novels, movies, games, etc.)? How do we grow our market share?

III. Business – How do we monetize and leverage our content? How do we compete in mainstream markets? How do we utilize new methods of funding and distribution? How do we take advantage of new types of business models? Where do social media and new media come into play with advertising and content delivery?

In practical terms, art, business, and entertainment are the three legs of the stool, but there is also the triad of the creative process (as conceived by Dorothy L. Sayers), in the Idea, the Energy, and the Power, analogous to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I want to combine the theoretical with the practical, the academic with the commercial. I want scholars to rub shoulders with working writers, and to share insights from their particular fields of expertise Think of it as the Inklings on steroids.

For these reason I’m calling this professional get-together Tri-Conference, or TriCon. Granted, such an effort may simply start out fairly small–to be expected with something new–but just as the great medieval universities started out as associations of students or professors who gathered together to study and debate, I’m hoping this might be the start of something larger. Right now, I’m just beginning the process of looking for a location and funding to meet minimal costs. If you have an interest in helping or in attending, or have any leads, feel free to contact me through triconwriters@gmail.com