The Daily Post 11: “Climate Control”

 

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I’m actually doing one of these BEFORE midnight! Which means I might actually get it done and not fall asleep in a lump!

 

Have fun~

 


 

 

Title:

Prompt:

 

I definitely say that climate has some kind of effect on people’s moods. I mean, ba-dur. It doesn’t have to make any kind of consistent sense, though. Like how some people love hot summer days and I think that just outside of the window is the world slowly being baked to death beneath the unflinching fire of the sun. So to heck with that, time to completely steer myself away from this original point!

So I prefer to think about how weather can affect your thought processes and imaginations. Like how storms for me charge up something deeper and more brutally natural about the world. So, I’m further developing a philosophical trend of thought for a novel/novel pair of mine that involves the trinity of Machine, Sentience, and Nature and Nature certainly isn’t the way we like to think about it on our padded modern world. Nature, as we like to think of it now, can be easily corralled and persuaded to move or be removed so it can fit neatly into our little gardens or groves out behind our homes and other nice stuff like that. When in reality, if nature had its way, it would tear off our faces and wear them as trophies after sucking all the nutrients from our brains, of course. So when I see stuff like thunderstorms and droughts and snowstorms and hurricanes, I can’t help but be reminded just what the ruling of the world’s natural order is:

Humanity likes to think it’s at the top because of its creation of machines that allow it to survive the natural world. And yet, without that assistance, humanity would be consumed in an afternoon by a system that doesn’t care if it lives or die. Nature doesn’t care for art or culture or great legacies because it created all of those things in its earthy, pulsing womb. All that has been created or ever will be created is the product of the natural forces around us that provided all of the atoms and materials and the laws of physics and energy that makes every one of our human creations (from the material to the imaginative and existential). Again, when I see storms blasting bolts of sky-splitting energy or a rainstorm turning a desert into an ocean of flowers (Have you seen those Atacama Desert pictures? That’s what I’m talking about!), it makes me realize just how tiny we humans still are, even with all of our machines. Everything that we make seems to have an edge of disdain for it- disdain for the natural world that seeks to disempower and unmake us at every turn. I suppose that’s something that we humans can be thanked for, the feeling of scorn that drives us to pursue progress at an almost homicidal rate just to ensure that we aren’t subsumed by a force that can crack the freaking sky open with a flick of its finger.

I think I had an ultimate point I was going to try to get at with all of this but now I’m afraid I’ve lost it. Oh well, that’s part of the fun of doing these- the point arises from the process. It also helps that this is usually how I make my little diatribes. I usually just make noise and say things until I realize there was a point there all along that I just wasn’t able to see.

I suppose I could say here that it’s not just weather that affects our moods but our moods affect how weather appears in our eyes- from something to be afraid of or annoyed back to something from which all awe and self-reflection as a person and as a species springs.

If that was all a bit too high-brow of you, here’s a stupid thing I made up recently:

Being killed by Satan should now is called (by me and nobody else ever), “brimstoning.”

 

 

THE OTHERS

 


 

<a href="https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/climate-control/">Climate Control</a>

 

 

There was another dumb thing I made up that I wanted to add up there but then I forgot it. You’ll be spared, readers, this time.

 

 

Good luck, you brave writer folk!

 

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Daily Prompt 9: “The Power of Touch”

 

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I got nothing. Not even two thought-nickles to rub together.

 

Have fun~

 


 

 

Title: The Power of Touch

Prompt: “Textures are everywhere: The rough edges of a stone wall. The smooth innocence of a baby’s cheek. The sense of touch brings back memories for us. What texture is particularly evocative to you?”

And thanks to Laura Thompson, I guess.

 

 

So, I’m gonna be a rascally little scamp and totally avoid the question.

I’m going to come right out, in some semblance of answering the question anyway, and say that I think that marble, the stone kind, has a very pleasing texture to me. But never in the way that I think it will. To try to explain and sound less insane as a result, whenever I see a marble statue or floor, it always looks and feels, in my mind, smoother than it actually is. I expect it to be the apex of smoothness and the slickest thing since the Fonz. Hey, that’s not registered as a typo- that’s pop culture for you (D’oh, on the other hand, is still seen as a typo).

In other words, what I think I’m going to feel is not what it really feels like. Isn’t that a little bit odd? I mean, to have your brain just manufacture a better feeling of a stone you maybe see once every couple of days and in very small quantities compared to everything else you could possibly touch? I can’t imagine it’s a very survival/evolutionary-based trait.

Oh, and here’s a bizarre side-note: I sometimes have the urge to bite into really smooth surfaces, such as marble and smooth wood. Seriously, it’s true! As a kid I used to try to sink my teeth into the smoothest parts of my bedpost. The teeth marks are still there. I’m looking at them right now! I was a strange kid but no less strange as an adult a physically-larger child.

The feeling extends to wanting to sink my nails or various sharp objects into such surfaces.

I mean, isn’t that just kinda freaking weird? Like, to really put it to paper like this makes it sound even more out of its mind. Not like I mind, this since this stuff really turns heads. Quick, now that everyone’s looking at how much of a freak you are, insert some kind of deep philosophical and humanitarian message into the post!

Later, child, later.

For now, I’m tired and frayed at the edges like paper passed through a tumble drier. I think most people call this phenomenon, ‘Thursday.’ I call it a rallying cry, waking me up to realize that I don’t belong in this nine-to-five, two-day-weekend, world. It’s burdensome enough just living with this council of idiot geniuses (or is it genius idiots?) stuck inside of my head, so all of their stupidly brilliant (or brilliantly stupid) words reflect off the unflinching walls and, with each echo, they gain momentum like a hail of reaping arrows falling down upon the heads of marching knights at Agincourt.

 

Huh?

 

 

THE OTHERS

 


 

 

Pingback:

<a href="https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/the-power-of-touch/">The Power of Touch</a>

 

I wasn’t kidding before, I don’t have anything to say here for once.

 

 

Good luck, you brave writer folk!

 

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Daily Post 8: “Secret Admirers”

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Secret Admirers.”

 

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I am having a disproportionate amount of fun making power grids and generators in Fallout 4.

 

Have fun~

 


 

Title: Daily Prompt 8: “Secret Admirers”

Prompt: You return home to discover a huge flower bouquet waiting for you, no card attached. Who is it from — and why did they send it to you?

 

So I usually try to tackle Daily Prompt posts that immediately appeal to me in that I know what to write almost right away. This time though, I figured I would try a prompt that I have very few ideas about.

 

For instance: I’ll just go ahead and say that I have no idea who sent me those flowers. The real question becomes then- who could send me those flowers. With no logical answer presenting itself, I must find a way to extrapolate on what I know and determine who could be the one with flowery fingers.

 

I’m just going to go out on a limb here and discount any and all of my friends. Dearest Liezl may seem like a suspect due to her caring nature and appreciation of her friends. And I’d like to think that we became very close over our Senior year in college. However, she has a boyfriend of many years that she would be much more likely to give flowers to. Not to say that she wouldn’t give flowers to anybody else but flowers have a specific romantic connotation.

 

Again, I seriously doubt Scott (read as: Scoot) would care if she sent me flowers, but with no real evidence against her, I shall be striking Liezl from the list of suspects.

 

Nobody else even comes close to being one to send flowers. Funny pictures, texts full of nostalgia, or inside joke presents, but not flowers. Not even my goofy ex-boyfriend. He wouldn’t do anything so conspicuous.

Something I’m well and used to by now!

*sad rimshot*

 

Okay, so, there’s no real reason why my parents or family would send me such a thing with no card or anything attached. And if they did, they would be sure to tell me it was from them relatively quickly after my seeing it. So they’re off the list.

 

I’ve narrowed this down, then, to the only suspect remaining. And it’s a troublesome revelation.

 

The flowers must have come from one of the surprisingly many people in my life that border on creepy. Yes, those exist. Small in number but unpredictable as a summer storm. Sometimes they go entire years before giving me a questionable Facebook message…

But even that seems unlikely given my general obliviousness to them all.

 

Let’s just say there were sent by me from the future just to see how I’d react. That seems the most logical suspect of this tomfoolery-myself.

Guilty Part: Future Me

Sentence: Condemned to be created by Present Me

 

Gotta say, I don’t envy the guy.

 

 

THE OTHER ENTRIES

 


 

Pingback:

<a href="https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/secret-admirers/">Secret Admirers</a>

 

Oh the worries of a man on his day off. How shall I spend it? Writing? Archery? Fallout 4?

Will these worrisome conundrums never end?

 

Good luck, you brave writer folk!

 

 

END TRANSMISSION.

 

Reflections of an Amateur Novel Writer: Part 1, “Miracle Seeds”

 

This reflection refers mostly to my 2014 novel, Garamoush. Follow the hyperlink to the full page about the book itself.

 


 

 

Well, somewhere on this blog I promised all of nobody that I’d be making more reflections about fiction soon enough and here I am, fulfilling the obligation that I made to air. So, after publishing my first book, Garamoush, through Amazon, I figured it would be an absolutely prime subject for new blogging material. In fact, aside from general impatience and a lingering feeling of immobility, I mostly published Garamoush now in my totally-unknown state for the sake of having something to base my incoherent ramblings off of. The book itself is less incoherent than this, I swear.

So, I decided that with this first entry into this new series of reflections, a new beginning of sorts, I figured I should start from the beginning of the creative process as well. That is to say, I want to talk about brainstorming and the very early stages of a creative work.

 

  • As an aside: I really want this post in particular to be a conversation-starter. I’m quite fascinated with how other people’s brains work. I am also extremely squeamish, so becoming a neurologist and poking at physicals is out of the question! So, I’ll just take everybody’s words for how they get their creative juices running. So please, offer your insights below about this whole odd process!

 

As I reflect, I’d like to rewind the clock to early March 2014. So, about four months ago nearly to the day, in fact. I was sitting in my dark dorm room at Illinois Wesleyan University in my swivel chair (named Winston) at about 12-1 AM on a weekend night with music playing (the wonderful Jo Blankenburg’s Elysium, if you were wondering), all with my eyes closed. I was just letting the music wash over me, as Jo’s creations are wont to do, when my mind started to wander and I found myself cresting a large grassy hill by the seaside. Below me, I noticed an utterly enormous shell of a creature that I had never seen before- it looked like a tortoise’s shell, but the shell of a tortoise isn’t bigger than most mid-sized towns. Silver veins ran along its black exterior and a mixture of wildlife, from seagulls to young children, congregated around the vast shape. The creature that wore the shell was just as odd- it had four enormous arms, two legs, and a massive beaver-like tail. Its head was partially hidden by the shell, but this was a daydream, so I already knew what it looked like. If somebody spliced together the appearance of a man’s head and a turtle’s, it would get this creature’s head. It was bizarre, but gentle-looking.

  • Aside: To keep a running tally, my first “glimpse” into this idea was inspired by midnight daydreaming with music playing.

Naturally, I immersed myself further into what I was seeing. The midday sun was warm, the grass was tickling at my ankles, and the wind was cool against my face. Whatever the creature was, it wasn’t anything malicious. It was also immobile, which I took to meant that it was either dead or asleep. Given the beautiful day that was all around me, I suggested (and decided to keep) the latter.

  • Aside: Now that I have seen this incredibly arbitrary image playing in my mind, I have decided to try to immerse myself into it and decode it. What is this creature? Why is it here? What is its name? Where did it come from?

With that in mind, I continued on in my musings. Now, there is a Youtuber that I watch pretty avidly by the of Markiplier. I recently watched his video called Murder at Masquerade Manor. It’s a murder mystery game featuring a character named Scaramouche, benefiting his chosen masquerade that he wears in-game. I thought that name was a bit strange and interesting sounding, but I couldn’t remember Scaramouche’s name correctly.

Given the name of the novel itself, I think you can all assume where this is going. I was trying to figure out this creature’s name when “Garamoush” showed up in my head. I knew that “Garamoush” wasn’t Scaramouche’s name, so I just said “I guess that’s this thing’s name now!”

  • Final Aside: Garamoush’s name came from a misunderstanding and a mishearing my part. Therefore, the name was largely arbitrary and accidental.

I didn’t start composing the deeper “why?” questions about what I saw until later, after I wrote everything else down that I had already seen. When I started writing all of that stuff down, I was a bit more conscious of what I was doing, so I had an eye turned more towards understandability.

 

So, to sum everything up: An entire novel was constructed out of random, arbitrary images and words that came into my head in about the space of ten minutes. What I find particularly interesting about this process (if it can even be called one) is that nearly all of my biggest ideas for fiction come from the same humble/awkward roots.

Here’s a list, for consistencies sake. None of these titles will really make sense since they’re never really been talked about before, but I’m mostly just proving a point with these.

  1. Fancy Lads (2009, science fiction novel series): Born from the mishearing of the sentence, “If I don’t turn in my homework, Miss Saubur will give me a frown face.” Sauburn is the name of the main character and Frown Face was a comic I drew that grew into Fancy Lads as it is now.
  2. Sewn Together (2010, science fiction graphic novel): Born from an improv conversation I had with Death while I walked to the school bus, asking him about the various nature of things. The main character’s name is Michael, because the theoretical conversation was between Death and myself at the time.
  3. Garamoush (2014, fantasy novel series): See above, naturally.
  4. Barely Divine (2013, short film series): I mused at the nature of divinity (again) and wondered what if gods/goddesses were given their powers based on points they gained from the greatness of deeds they did in their lives.
  5. Terminus (2012, fantasy novel series): While listening to Jo Blankenburg’s Elysium, I saw what looked like a gargantuan phoenix getting reborn. It breathed new life into the world, but killed a woman’s dragon as a catalyst. The woman was unaware there would be such a cost.
  6. Regalia (2013, Console RPG): While playing Dark Souls, I misread multiple descriptions for equipment, so I just started making up my own personae for item sets I was wearing- a murderous anarchist peasant, a golem with its face in the shape of the sun, and a witch-hunting assassin.

To clarify, this recent story should be a prime example of my “chronic writing.” When I create ideas like those you see above, I go all-out. They’re not just short stories or quaint proof-of-concept ideas, they’re fully-fledged ambitious rides into writing development hell. I write and create without imposing barriers on myself, so long as clarity and pacing isn’t threatened. I turn random flickers of thoughts into huge epics and enormous projects. Even Garamoush was supposed to be a 30-page short story assignment for my 300-level fiction-writing class. I turned in 124 pages (the reason for why will be in a different reflection post) instead.

I find this all very funny to think about, I suppose I do because when I think of the big high-fiction authors (George R.R. Martin, Stephen King, Douglas Adams, etc. etc.) sitting down to write, I feel like they’re much more methodical in setting down the entire story from the beginning.

They say, “Okay, I’m in a mystical-horror kind of mood. Let’s see here… well, I’ll put the story in colonial England around the time of the East India Company and… well, I read a book on the tea trade once and the trade of Chinese to English culture, so let’s say that an English dockworker named Oliver thinks he sees a Chinese spirit getting off the ship. That night, a fellow dockworker named Charles is murdered…” and so on and so forth until it becomes a bestseller.

See, I simply can’t think that way. Character’s names are thought up on the fly and edited later in retrospect, if need be. I don’t lay out character’s personalities or a full plot arch or central themes I want to follow- they all just sort of appear over time. My ideas stem from the proverbial “miracle seed,” a little seed that, before planting seems inconspicuous and fleeting but then grows into a great tree before I know it.

Looking at the kinds of genres I generally enjoy reading, watching, playing, and writing, I can only assume that my interest in the “high fictions” to be what gives strength to my janky form of brainstorming. Because of my interest in the fantastic and the strange, letting my unconscious mind run wild with doing whatever it wants and then tasking my conscious mind with picking up the pieces really only makes sense. As I’ll talk about in a different post, nothing kills “high fiction” like generic stories/characters/worlds and boring plots/world history. So, perhaps my mind is looking for those special, imaginative worlds within itself- partially stemming from my own imagination and my desire to create something that I have never seen before.

I think that my creation of Garamoush, the novel and its title character, was fueled by both of those things I just mentioned: My unconscious mind created something strange and fantastical, which is typical of an imaginative, highly-active mind. My conscious mind took what was created by the unconsciousness and molded it to form something that separated itself from everything else I had seen before.

This is the same with all of my other works. The humble seeds of the unconsciousness grew, with conscious tending, into a plant large enough to bear fruit. However, my tending of the plant never really followed any kind of strict path. Fancy Lads, for instance, though it is now my favourite and most-tended-too idea, did not even have a central plot or realized world for about two-three months. Granted, I was younger than and had less of an idea about what to do when actually writing, but I don’t think my methods have changed very much. I always just let the story develop naturally, adding characters, pieces of plot, and world information sometimes totally at random.

Looking at it now, it certainly seems as though that method of creation is a bit… well, random. It appears as though I have little to no control over the actual flow of information. However, that’s perfectly alright by me. By letting things develop on their own, I feel like not only do they stay truthful to the original idea that spawned the creation, but I think they also reflect myself as a person.

For instance, if I were to add an extremely lawful character who sought to revive a respect in justice and equality into a story, I can reflect later and see that the character might have been born out of my lack of faith in the justice system at that time. I think it was Aristotle that said that art is really just a reflection of real life and I am inclined to agree with him.

 

Now, certainly, I don’t think that this is the best or only way to brainstorm and get ideas for writing fiction, which is why I mentioned early on in this post that I would love to hear everybody’s take on how they brainstorm and start creating their larger ideas. I want to devote another reflection to the writing process and how things grow that way, but if that process of growing whilst writing is important to your brainstorming, feel free to talk about it.

 

Hmm. This is about the time in a blog post that I have official run out of things to say and I have run down my whole mental list of to-talk-about things. So, I think that means that this blog post is just about over!

Huzzah, throw some confetti into the air, you brave folk who survived reading all the way down to here. You’ve earned it after braving those depths.

 


 

 

So yes, talk amongst yourselves below! I’m really interested in hearing how you other writer folk get your ideas and how you run with them.

 

Good luck, you brave writer folk!

 

END TRANSMISSION.

Development Diary Day 1

 

Note: This was originally published on December 20th, 2013. I’m re-posting it because I neglected to add tags to the original post.

 

Hello hello, it’s been a while since we’ve talked, hasn’t it? Well, finals time and Christmas Break will do that to one I suppose. Anyway, I’m here to talk about a new project being worked on- a movie, of all things. Not too surprising, I admit, but there are some odd motions that this dance is going through. You see, my friend Alec and I were making a film called Dauntless. It is ultimately very similar to the other Dauntless film on this blog. However, it is expanded to have five characters and a much larger, more complex plot.

However, there are five characters, two cameras, three people in cast/crew/acting/editing (myself and Alec and our friend Alex), about 30 pounds of medieval armour to equip and the cold and the snow to fight through. Yeah, I don’t know why we didn’t see it before, either. And unlike most of my random rantings, potentially because it’s 3:30 AM here right now and I’m not exactly full of beans like I usually am, but there will be a greater insight at the end of all of this.

So, as it turns out, Alec and I have become disillusioned with Dauntless after just that one day of filming. Now, you may be asking (and rightfully so), how can you give up that quickly? It was only your first day of filming, how could you just abandon your project?

Very well, here is why:

Ambition, my dear friends and readers, destroyed us. It’s always good to believe in oneself. Hell, if it was a bad thing, then independent writers, game creators, and musicians would have never flourished. However, as Alec and I tried to chug our way through the first scene of Dauntless, our limits became outrageously apparent.

Now, Alec and Alex and I are all completely used to this uncomfortable reality. We have “made” close to half a dozen larger projects that ultimately amounted to nothing once we realized how far they were beyond our capability to create. Curiously, but also perhaps understandably, all of those projects had either been science fiction or fantasy based. Dauntless was no exception, being fantasy themed.

Looking at this theme first, Alec and Alex and I have found a strange balance in the scales when it comes to doing genres between our ability to invest ourselves into it (we freely admit that we’re all pretty much big fantasy and science fiction nerds) and the difficulty in actually pulling them off. I mean, it really can’t be too easy to film a giant fantasy epic in suburban Illinois can it? No, not at all. But we have tried four times now to create that one fantasy epic that will work. We’ve cut down the cast, locations, plot, and effects each and every time, making it slimmer, sleeker, and neater than ever before, but there is always that shadow of ambition that hovers over us all.

I feel like this feeling can pervade to various strata of creative endeavors. It’s easy to say, “I’m going to write a novel!” and then write the first two or three chapters before the high of creation simply putters out. It’s a totally normal and human thing to do. If Sturgeon’s Law has anything to it (spoiler: It does), then creative ideas are subject to the same ruling. During the six or so years of independent film creation, often involving no more than the items in our houses for props and our basements for sets, a certain kind of palette develops for figuring out which ideas will and will not work. It’s a huge skill that can’t really be learned, I feel, but simply experienced.

So, despite everything quite frankly being in our favour, we still managed to be defeated by our own mighty ambitions.

Remember that insight I promised you before? Well, here it is! I think it is absolutely vital to never work down to an “approachable level” as a maker of creative works. Whether you are a novelist, a filmmaker, a game-maker, songwriter, or whatever, it’s incredibly important to never let yourself think that the only way you can succeed is if you lower your own expectations. Tackling giants is the best way to prove to yourself that you can stand up to the even the greatest of challenges. But you must be prepared for the failures, which will come early and often. But if you’re truly committed and invested, those failures will never be true defeats, only new beginnings to re-assess how you CAN kill that giant- how you can be the David to conquer that Goliath.

Of course there are limits here. As in, don’t go trying to make a full 3-D Fantasy MMO all by your lonesome, but keep those dreams alive. Work yourself up by never working yourself down.

Then again, I’m probably not the person you (whoever “you” happens to be in this case) should be seeking life advice from little old me, but hey, I’m just here to rant and make noise so I’m just going to shrug and hope!

-END TRANSMISSION. GOOD MORNING, GOOD AFTERNOON, GOOD NIGHT-

The Blackout and Adventures of Ideas

 Okay, so yesterday, there was an enormous storm that wracked the entire midwest, our campus included. The wind and rain damage wasn’t too bad here, but the power went out to everywhere on campus except for my dorm hall and a couple other buildings. The rest of the area was out too, for the most part and most of the power is restored now. So, while the damage wasn’t too bad here, the blackout gave me an entirely new perspective in the form of the adventures in the dark. As a writer of adventurous fiction in fantasy, sci-fi, modern fiction, alternate history, etc., I am often writing, well, adventures. However, it strikes me as odd that despite that, I have never really had much in the way of adventures myself. 

 As a side note, I find this strangely paradoxical. As a writer of adventures, I must question whether or not I have created my adventures in order to vent my inner desire to have adventures myself or if I simply create adventures then want to live them out as a result of seeing them in action. That was just me being unnecessarily philosophical and introspective, FEEL FREE TO IGNORE IT. 

 Back on track, I was with my friends and fellow students in our desires to not see the lights and power come back on to campus. Whilst most of my friends were more looking forward to a lack of class, I was more enraptured with the idea of living the life unplugged.  In fact, I would have loved to have class today, even with the lights off. Granted, this would have left both of my classes today unable to function, but that’s beside the point. I don’t need your witch logic!

 Although my dorm was still endowed with power, I chose to go to my friend’s dorms out of the prospective adventures. Well, needless to say, I shouldn’t be making this all sound so fantastical. It really was just a bunch of scared romping through dark, quiet, empty (of people) buildings with only tiny flashlights to light our way. On the other hand, it was one of the most enjoyable experiences in recent memories. It felt like an adventure was really coming to campus (naturally, it had to be unplanned, planned “adventures” don’t feel like adventures at all to me. Because shut up, that’s why.) and it was going to be a rare opportunity to get away from Facebook and television and everything that keeps us people of the modern world at arm’s length from one another. 

 To my extreme dissatisfaction, though, as soon as the lights returned, the budding feeling of community and togetherness we were all starting to feel throughout campus (eating the improv dinner at the Welcome Center, sharing the power of the dorm in which I live, traveling in groups by flashlight) was swept away almost instantly. It was as if the adventure of the last several hours had never happened and one could go back to Youtube, Tumblr, or hell even this site. MAYBE EVEN THIS VERY BLOG. But probably not.

 I suppose it irked me. Mostly because I still wanted the adventure to continue. Then again, I’m a nutjob, so I’m probably the only one who felt so disturbed at the reaction of the return to normality. Darn it people, you should lament! LAMENT DARN YOU. 

 WELL GO ON! LAMENT!

 

ANYWAY, during that time in the darkness, my laptop was still charged and all that jazz, so I decided to take down some immediate thoughts of a romanticized blackout occurring on a college campus at the height of a flu epidemic. Interestingly (subjectively speaking) enough, a flu-like disease called the “Three Week Cough” if I remember correctly just ended on campus, so the inspiration was from the real-life events. I just decided to amp up the intensity. 

 I’ve decided to arrange them so that they each section pertains to a certain aspect of said blackout. So, ENJOY. Or don’t. But if you don’t my soul will cry. YOU WOULDN’T WANT THAT WOULD YOU? Oh and the “he” is the main character. Whoever that is. IT’S NOT ME I CAN ASSURE YOU.

       

           The Darkness: The darkness was, in a word, absolute. Like staring down the gullet of a great beast, the hallway stretched into a shadowy oblivion. His tiny keychain flashlight couldn’t reach down half its length. Every step left an echo that spread like a drop of blood in water. A dozen little ghost voices copied what noises they heard and a terrifying limbo between reality and imagination started to set over his mind.

            He almost wished that his little flashlight would just flicker and die. Then at least he could face the darkness in all its strength and he wouldn’t be cowering by the pathetic little light.

 

            Welcome Center: The Welcome Center had turned into more of a disaster relief zone. Students and staff alike filed in with sullen faces lined with worry. Their eyes lit up for a moment when they saw the quaint little banquet set before them, but much like the lights throughout campus, their sparks of life flickered, then faded.

           

            Sickness: He knew that the sickness was bad before, but the coughing that had been stymied by lozenges and pills and liquid medication was rapidly turning into hacking. Perhaps fittingly, the sick and the weak all seemed to group together into their own little room. There they tried their best to swallow their food despite their shaking hands and heaving bodies.

           

           Storm: Frankly, the thunder was like a wrathful god, angry and omnipresent. It took him a few minutes to realize that there wasn’t just a fleet of jumbo jets flying overhead. (I wanted to expand on this one more, but it’s not as atmospheric. So it gets NO LOVE.)

 

-END TRANSMISSION. GOOD MORNING, GOOD AFTERNOON, GOOD NIGHT-

The Nature of Horror

 (Pre-reading note: I have no idea if any of this rambling will make sense. There might be huge holes in my arguments/paragraphs/basic sentence structures, but if you want to brave the danger, then GO RIGHT ON AHEAD. SEE WHAT IT GETS YOU.)

 

 Lavender Town theme. There, I’ve just managed to send shivers up the spine of just about every American 90’s kid. Now, you might be asking “why”? Potentially out of anger for my inflicting that memory upon you, potentially out of curiosity. 

 Well, I’ve been reflecting on the nature of two very different, very distinct brands of horror, one of which is unfortunately under-represented in the world of movies and video games (in particular). 

 

 Brand of Horror 1: Dangerous Horror. This is categorized as horror that revels in “the chase.” This is where the monsters are going to destroy the protagonist and the audience feels an inherent desire to see said protagonist survive by avoiding all of the pain coming their way.

     Examples: Amnesia the Dark Decent, Silent Hill, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, Saw

 

 Brand of Horror 2: Sad Horror. This is, surprise surprise, the under-represented style I spoke of earlier. In this version, the Dangerous Horror has already happened or is going to happen, but never to the protagonist. The damage is inflicted on those that are important to the protagonist. 

     Examples: Snow on Mount Silver, Lavender Town Theme, Pokemon Strangled Red

 

 I turn my attention to Sad Horror because, once again, I believe that it is very under-represented. But enough of my redundant rambling, time for some non-redundant rambling! 

 -BEGIN STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS-

 

 So, the funny thing about horror is that the idea of what is “horrifying” is relatively nondescript. When somebody says that something is “horrifying,” a million different images appear in a person’s head based off of their own experiences, fears, etc. 

 Sad Horror has something within it that, I feel, makes it even more powerful than Dangerous Horror. I suspect this has to do with the idea of psychic distance. To the non-English majors, psychic distance is the term used to describe how closely the audience can see into the mind of the characters based off of point of view. An important distinction to make, however, is that a story told in first-person can still have a far distant psychic distance. If the character often shuts out the outside world, it can make him/her hard to understand (which is not necessarily a bad thing, of course) regardless of the POV.

 But yes, Sad Horror invokes something within us that can make horror be truly terrifying: A feeling of helplessness. Say you’re playing Amnesia and a Gatherer comes barreling after you. Naturally, you try to run. You want to avoid having your guts turned to pudding by this horrible monster. True, you are playing as the English gentleman Daniel in the early 1800’s, but you still feel for him, yes? You live through him and you take matters into your own hand, steering Daniel/you away from the creature in order to survive. 

 This is actually similarly observed in film audiences, I’ve noticed. When watching Alien, we all root for the good Ellen Ripley to escape her pursuer and avoid being put into a big wooden bowl of pain, tossed around with the salad-forks of agony, and turned into a salad of gore and guts. I’m just rolling in the analogies tonight aren’t I? HOWEVER, the point remains. We feel as audience members, actively participating or otherwise, as though we have the ability to influence the events of the story. This extends to the earlier idea of Dangerous Horror being “pre-apocalyptic,” The ultimate danger of the situation boils down to “oh god what happens if that thing catches me?” We don’t know and that’s what makes us afraid- the horror of the unknown and the pain it can bring. 

 In all, Dangerous Horror is very primal. It invokes out “fight vs. flight” instinct and sends us running from danger. Sad Horror, however, does something much more complicated. 

 

 Saunter on over to Youtube and listen to the Lavender Town theme. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

 

 WELL, I’ll just go ahead and assume that you’ve done so. It will help with the atmosphere of this argument. Listen to that song (DO IT). Of course it’s extremely creepy and eerie, but one might ask “why.” Yes, time to finally answer that question which I first injected a laboriously long time ago. Well, if you know the lore of Lavender Town (hint, it’s essentially a giant graveyard town), the sadness of the song becomes apparent. It’s a very sad song. Now, to backtrack, how does sadness arise? From past horrors, of course. Sure, they could be “mundane” horrors, i.e. it wasn’t Jason Voorhees’ fault. The death of a loved one resonates the strongest with most people and, indeed, with Lavender Town itself. Back on the original point, isn’t it odd that sorrow is something that is so distinctly different from our perception of being horrified and yet a simple song like Lavender Town’s theme can inspire such feelings of dread, unease, and also, well, sadness? Allow me to make an English-Major Stretch here and bring this full circle. We can still be horrified at something, be positively filled with dread, after the horrific event has already been committed, i.e. a “post-apocalyptic” viewpoint. 

 The Creepypastas Snow on Mount Silver and Strangled Red seem to be on my mind right now. This is probably because I listened to them all of two hours ago. Nevertheless, it is a fine example of Sad Horror. We as the audience see the aftereffects of some horrible event. Spoilers:

 Yes, the player’s Pokemon (talking about Snow on Mount Silver in this instance) mutilated, bleeding, freezing to death, yadda yadda blah, but what can hit an audience harder is the duality experienced as a result of that. These are the best friends of the player character and they are all dying in horrifying, gruesome ways. I cannot help but think that the fact that we don’t actually see his Pokemon being killed really very much helps the Sad Horror idea. The focus of the horror is no longer on HOW the protagonist(s) will die, but more on the WHAT that comes afterwards. 

 It’s a terrifying thought to imagine one’s friends or loved ones laying in various stages of agonizing pain, so imagine the destruction it would wreck on one’s soul to see it personally. There’s the horror aspect: The, well, horrifying death of the cherished ones inspires revulsion and disgust, a much more subdued kind horrified feeling. Those aftereffects, however, of feeling the sorrow about the dead is what completes the Sad Horror picture.

 I think this all relates back to the idea of psychic distance. In instants of Sad Horror, we absolutely cannot help the protagonists, we are utterly helpless. We cannot yell “don’t go in there!” or “he’s right behind you!” hoping, perhaps against hope, that the hero will survive. The deed is already done, the loss is already inflicted. Now we can only watch the aftereffects and let our sympathy cause us even more discomfort. From there, the hero must deal with the horror of the event in addition to the mind-breaking sorrow that comes afterwards. I find myself sometimes disillusioned with horror films and games when they seem to fail at conveying the enormous mental damage that would be inflicted on participants of a “horror” situation. BUT I DIGRESS. That is for a different time and place. 

 I feel like I’m starting to talk in circles now and this post is becoming worryingly long, so I think I shall end it here. Suffice to say, I feel as though the sadness and horror put together (I’m just noticing now that all of the supporting media I have for Sad Horror is Pokemon related. God my generation has issues) can create something much more profound than just the regular “scary” Dangerous Horror.

 

 Now begone with you! I have finished my ranting!

 

 

 -End Transmission. Good morning, good afternoon, good night-