Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Something of a Start... A1

For the past two months or so, a new tide of thought has continued to flush itself through my thought life: fiction:: not just any fiction::: fantasy. The strange aspect of the incessantly ungulating notion has been made greater in my mind by the sense that it is important.

Never in my life have I particularly been taken by the fantasy genre. Sure, I enjoy Lord of the Rings as much as the next guy, but I never understood Star Wars obsessions or felt like anything of the like warranted itself as anything more than mere escapism.

Something has changed. I'm not exactly sure why, or what prompted the change. But I can't seem to shake it.

Perhaps it is the notion of 'the road to awe'. What both atheists and many-a Christian appears to lack in this modern age, is a sense of awe. Sure, any of us can stare up at the cosmos and get a sense of how enormous the universe is, but that all tends to get happily compartmentalized in some pseudo-philosophical/sociological/neo-FreudianNeitzcheian moshpit reserved only for quick conversational comebacks when something vaguely profound is needed to fill a gape in the conversational space-time continuum.  It never quite hits home.

 Good fiction (and more severely so, good fantasy) causes the viewer to suspend-disbelief. Me, my atheist buddies, my buddhist gerbil, and the toothless dog from down the street can all simultaneously agree that for the sake of our entertainment, Hobits exist, eat way too many meals, tend to be self-absorbed little creatures (with the exception of the Samwise and Elijah Woods), can be saved from evil volcanic mountains of doom by giant eagles, and can impress old talking trees with their poetic calls to war. BUT bring up faith in God amidst an atheistic ear, and suddenly you've got to disprove the existence of a flying spaghetti monster before you can deal with the Good Lord Himself. Fiction evens the playing field.

Granted, that which falls into the 'Christian Genre' of fiction tends to be more the family friendly, Hallmarkish, mildly-propagandic faire. I'm not really interested in fiction as a vehicle to present Biblical morality. I'm interested in fiction's ability to expand our minds.

And I don't want to go it alone.

I've written in this blog before about the works of both Charles Williams and H.P. Lovecraft. Both dealt with men encountering awe-ful experiences. For Lovecraft, such missions unanimously ended in peril, for he saw the great mysteries of the universe as a "deadly light". For Williams, that mission came to a point as a "terrible good". Although fantasy evens the playing field, in that everyone happily suspends suspicion and skepticism along the way, it still ends in a revelation of one's worldview.

What I'd love to create is a place that moves from the very mundane, the very ordinary, and moves towards a place of ever expanding awe. In some respects, I think this could be done without any 'magical' elements. Looking down the barrel of our computer age alone could suffice. But in order for it to work it would need to grow in such a way (organic-like) that it would breed a society of canon creators.

Part of the problem with the comic book world in my humble opinion, is that the canon for these guys is pretty much nonexistent. The story-lines go against each other. Different writers compete for different versions of Batman, rather than add to a singular story structure. Lord of the Rings is beautiful in that Tolkien's canon is set --- but the problem is it remains closed forever as well. Tolkien was the alpha and omega of Middle Earth.

I've written 3 or 4 'opening chapter/thoughts' to various story ideas that could potentially be the start of a greater mythos. Today I was doodling around with a monologue, and decided to tape myself reading it under really bad lighting conditions! It isn't much on the entertaining side, but it was helping get the feel for a character idea.

Buddhism's first supposition is that life is suffering. What if there was a place you could go to get the anti-virus to that disease? Just like smallpox and measles, the cure for suffering is to be given the dose, the right quantity of it, so that your own anti-bodies could fight it off for good?

Postscript: because I'm slightly embarrassed to post such a low-res video, here's the link to my other ongoing, non-fictional youtube series I've been working on --- more entertaining, less sadnessing, much, much more caffeinated: http://www.youtube.com/user/thecaffeinatedkick#p/u/4/pbBHGt7YdBA


  1. Yes, a road to awe! And a road to truth! Truth in the deepest and most simple terms. I think fairy tales remind the reader of those first principles of beauty, justice, order, etc. to which the soul clings even while the mind and lips may deny such allegiance. Fantasy is effective because it returns us to reality.

    Also, read this: http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/introduction/gkchesterton.html

    Also, Tolkien has a wonderful little essay on fairy tales which you ought to read. [Tolkien, J. R. R. “On Faerie Stories.” Tree and Leaf. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965.]

    Also, for modern critics, check out Maria Tatar and Jack Zipes.

    OK, I'm done.

  2. Ol' GK! My man! Love that guy! I'm completely unaware of these newer folks you mention (Tater and Zipes), but they certainly have cool names -- that's gotta mean something good!