I’ve perused Mr. H.P. Lovecraft since before his works were readily available in the Fantasy/Fiction. I have compiled works of his from the mid-90’s, and I’ve loved it since I first picked up his book. His body of work encompasses three phases of his life, with a “Poe cycle”, a “Dream cycle”, and a “Cthulhu cycle.” As a passive researcher (I think we all are), I’ve found his insights, inspirations, and unique style of Weird fantasy worming its way into many aspects of the entertainment industry. And this makes me happy.
…isn’t really fantasy at all. Magical realism, perhaps?
I recently re-watched Constantine (starring The Man of One Face: Keanu Reeves), where the protagonist spends his life fighting to keep the balance between heaven and hell via magical relics, know-how, and insight into traveling to hell and back. He’s dark, brooding, quippy, and so self-destructive he’s dying of lung cancer. It’s a delve into what I consider magical realism: people, many people, believe wholeheartedly that the ability exists (even if it’s only for one person) to… insert random miracle here. Be it travel through hell, talk to the dead, turn water to wine, transform into a totem-animal, talk to rocks, converse with ancestors long dead, see auras, dowse, possess another person/animal.
A lot of people don’t. And that’s cool. A lot of people pursue religion as a form of self-government, so instead of spending the time to understand themselves, they look to religion: “This is bad (according to the Book), so I won’t do it.” It also kills multiple birds by creating a community of similar-thinking people, which reinforces the feeling of “this is right.” Which is cool. That’s what certain governmental bodies do. And we’re governed by many circles, be it personal, family, friends, religion, spiritual (separate from religion), communal, work, local, federal, world. And that’s just what I pulled off the top. This is a digression and I’ll stop it now. I’m trying to show how this also holds its own forms of power: any single one of these bubbles could specify “this is bad” and a person follow it simply because, well, someone says to. Even the “personal” circle. Which in itself is a form of mind control.
I had a simple purpose when I began writing twelve years ago: have fun, connect with people, share my thoughts. It’s still the same purpose, albeit a little evolved. My thoughts developed into something a little stronger: magic is real. Some magic is real. Not all. Magic Missiles and two hundred foot orc giants with enchanted tree trunks for armor isn’t. Science keeps trying to say it has all the answers worth knowing (while people touting Science as the new religion also try to say, like a marijuana enthusiast, Science has ALL the answers), but it doesn’t. Neil deGrasse Tyson recently said, “That’s what’s so great about science. You don’t have to believe in it for it to be true. It exists without your permission.”
I know enough about Science to know the importance of “observable” and “human fallacy.” I’ve been reading about human beings having more than five senses. More like nine. Pressure, balance to name two. It really doesn’t matter how often Science revises what truths it accepts as fact. What matters is it’s always changing in its definition, always updating its databases.
Next, to define science into two subcategories: hard science (physics for one) and soft science (psychology for two). I know too many well-meaning Science worshippers who put it all together. Soft sciences, the stuff our thoughts are made of, the stuff of our dreaming, of our extra-sensories, of our deeper knowledge, of our abstract pattern recognitions, is very wide open and mostly unexplored, despite the 100 or so years we’ve had to study it. Why? Unobservable. Or, difficult to observe. Assumptions based on calculations and patterns of tests.
Magic is a soft science. In fact, eventually, all that “magic” will fall into some sub-sub category of either a sense or quirk of one or two chromosomes in some errant mutative family line (or, you know, something a person develops through meditation and a proven set of practices). Since our realities are subjected to the extent of our senses, there is nothing–absolutely nothing–to say I can’t dream another person’s dreams, for example. Or travel a place constructed wholly of peoples’ thoughts, over time, like a great big living world placed overtop our own. Or fight constructs of modern religion with sheer self-certainty alone.
We all give off energy. That’s a fact. We exist because of it. Byproducts of processes going in in our bodies. We can’t see it. We assume the effect of said energy release is negligible to our surroundings simply because, since we can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.
I find a new awakening going on, in this culture. In this society. A long, long time ago, during the time of the birthing religions (200 BC to, say, 1000 AD), the understanding exploded of a second, third, and perhaps even fourth sublayer above the Real. This is the stuff of the new old religions. It is the backbone. Now that religion is failing so many people of this time of “Scientific Certainty,” they’re turning to Science and Atheism. Which is cool. They do their thing. As long as they aren’t killing in the name of Neil deGrasse Tyson, it’s all gravy.
The New Reformation, I guess, comes. Or a Second Enlightenment. I’m only sorry I don’t get to know it fully.
So the magic I use in my writing comes from a deep place, a sub-tonal to the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the Gitas, and the Books of the Dead, and whatever else. It comes from a constructed place–a governing place similar to those I listed–where the reality is multi-faceted, science is currently too short-sighted to involve itself, and energy talks with the voice of long-dead preachers. The magic I use is energy, plain and pure, built up on the shoulder-plates of imaginative thinkers and socio-pariahs like Einstein and Twain and Jung who, in another century (or life), would be heralded as prophets or even gods.
My brand of fantasy magic comes from the coupling of intelligent thought and passionate realization, of fever dreams and deep stillness. My brand of magic is the extent of the human condition, of spirituality that exists for itself, of ripe power sieved through governing filters. And that’s just in the reality.
In my writing, it collects the results of What Ifs and runs tests until the pattern is undeniable in its repetition.
Sorry. Magic is a lot of things. For me, it must stem from reality. It must stem from science and its branches are religion. Its fruits are you and I, the readers and writers, and it’s more than simply an axe-like tool. It’s a whole undiscovered place, like a continent with slightly different rules. It’s a way of breathing. It’s a way of bleeding. It’s a way of interaction.
It’s so. Fucking. Sexy.
Before I was engaged, I knew a girl. This girl was intense, complicated, and extremely self-serving. We had communicated for nearly seven years–since I was in high school–and we had shared crushes with each other in some capacity or another. We finally met in 2009. I wanted to date her. She wanted to have fun, and not with me.
Long story short, the relationship, and the friendship, went sour before it began. Seeing someone face-to-face is miles away from typing letters. She wasn’t into me, I wasn’t into her, moving on.
But for some stupid reason my subconscious isn’t. She’s been out of my life entirely for the past three and a half years. Sparse communication–she sent a letter or two–and that was the extent of our interaction. I never replied (out of respect for my then-girlfriend).
Of all the people I’ve known my whole life, of every face-to-face relationship or not, she has appeared the most in my dreams. I do not long for her, have no hidden candle for rekindling anything, do not secretly pine or hope. She has much to offer the world, I guess, but nothing I deem valuable. I have no lust or love for her. Yet for the past three nights I have woken from a deep sleep and a chance encounter with her. Usually she’s in groups, in a crowd, shaking my hand and moving on. Once I was being given a tour of a church and she was in the same tour group. I felt no flush of interest, no vibrant excitement. She was there, trying to get my attention, and for the most part, I ignored her.
In my writing mind (perhaps separate from my living mind), I have had an entire, new, friendship with a facsimile of her in my head. Since we cut off communication, I’ve had nearly twenty memorable dreams about her. Any kind of spiritual person would say, “Ah. I know exactly what this is.” Perhaps this is the side of her she wanted me to know. Perhaps, somehow, she’s projecting herself toward me.
Regardless, the premise of such an environment would make a pretty incredible book. If only my thoughts were different, I guess. If only I gave a damn. I don’t know why it’s happening, but I believe it’s an integral part of human relationships and interactions. I believe we, as people, do this far more often than we care to say.
To the writers, don’t discount this as unimportant, if this happens to you. To everyone else, embrace it. I guess.
I had a powerful dream last night, where I hung by one hand off a bridge seven miles high. I spent the whole dream remembering my life–a life I never lived–and making my peace with all the wrongs I did. At the end, when I gave up holding on, I fell the opposite direction, into space.
That’s the short end of it. I woke vitalized, and much as my peaceful emotional state in my dream, I did not wake mourning, but meditative.
After waking from every in-depth dream, I am motivated to write. I study the world differently. I absorb again, much as I did when I was a child chasing lightning bugs at twilight. Everything shows me its potential. For the day, at least, I am a different person–the person from the dream given fresh life, a second chance, a new opportunity.
An imagined person being given life through my eyes is a complicated thought, and one that requires more than a little thought to understand. My dreams have always been the backbone of my writing because they’re so defined, and when I wake, I truly feel changed. Perhaps it’s my propensity for the chameleonic (No. Not a word), or perhaps it’s because I’ve spent so much time putting myself in others’ shoes, but I find no better place, or time, to write than after one of those dreams.
I am not the norm. I don’t believe more than 10% of writers write the way I do. In fact, with historical exceptions here and there, I’ve found none (Bradbury was one. Lovecraft, of course. Poe, possibly. The makers of the game Myst and subsequent publications. Tad Williams. Possibly).
So I ruminate, percolate, delve and dream. I spend my day working, but working through his eyes. (Some days, it’s her eyes.) I freely admit it’s an off-putting thing to talk about, or even consider. I promise you if you met me in real life you wouldn’t think a thing. I believe we all do this, to some extent or another, giving voice to the quiet whispers, putting ourselves in others’ shoes, empathizing, and even projecting. I believe it takes a chameleon’s mind to study it on a fundamental level, to glean the personality from the thing.
If I were a salesman, or a businessman, I’d use this. If I were a police officer, or social worker, I’d use this. It’s not only a writing thing, yet I’ve found ways to use it as efficiently as a pencil, a scalpel, or a pair of shoes.
The dream also effectively answered a question I asked the night before: should I continue banging my head against It Gave Me a Name or should I change gears to Mr. Roadkill (currently titled Red Wing Black)? The answer was, unequivocally, for change.
This is when I make note my work on IGMAN is at a stopping point (because I say so, per the signs) and the Hanged Man (yes. Delicious symbolism) has put me in the shoes of my other MC, and yes, he will hang.