Berserker

Unhappiness grows within me,
deep inside until, in the end
it becomes mine.

Unfurling through my being,
it ingrains itself deep into the bone
and the still lips of my mouth.

My face unlined, unsmiling
it hollows out the bore
within the centre of my chest:
leaving only emptiness.

But it is not nothing,
for the blackhole is the prelude to an
exploding star.

Anger turned inward
by powder-pegs of savoury bitterness
and the elegant fabric of contempt stretched thin
rips inside out into the red light
of vital defiance.

I taste it on my tongue
and my faceless mask twists
into a quirk of disdain
and then a tight, tight grin.
And I laugh.

The sound is high and cold, encompassing,
and all inclusive.
For the wound-womb of my soul,
shaped by my unhappiness,
is filled again
with the culmination of all these things.

With bloody glee.

With fire.

With power.

It is perfect symmetry
this force that I use,
that uses me,
that I let use me,
to smash the faces of cowardice,
and treachery, of hypocrisy
and promises never made.
And I enjoy their pain.

Especially my own.

Each blow I make is hard
and potent beyond endurance.
It strains and snaps a part of me,
burning edges of myself away,
as I dance.

But I do not care as I am too caught
in the moment to feel the pain
save for how it adds nuance
to the beauty of my rage.

The shadow of me quickly
becomes the dancer of obliteration.

Then all that is left is destruction:
immune to appearance, to sentiment, to reason,
to responsibility, and to conscience.
And I laugh, and laugh, and laugh
gloriously: because it is good …

Because it is freedom.

My hatred is pure,
purging and scouring fire
leaving no mistakes, no good memories,
nothing behind as it starts from
Before: from Ground Zero.

And the small part that wants
someone to stop me only adds
to the meaning of what I do.
Because finally,
when the world matches the darkness
inside of me,
and hatred finally dies,
perhaps then all that will be left
to fill it is love
and compassion.

If not from me,
then from someone better.

Exhaustion takes me:
and the spot made from my unhappiness
lets me come into itself,
as I curl into the warmth of its comforting shadows.

For Red

Her first eye is Gaia and her second is Oceanus.

This, above all else, is the gaze I recollect underneath the plumage of the firebird and the lash of the Eumenides that occasionally comes out from her generous mouth. Yet the red also reminds me of Prometheus: of audacity and the cackling thievery of fire. However, even the Titan himself was punished by the slow, cyclical eating of his liver … save that her fate is more arbitrary than the whims of gods and her own body is not as infinite. I always fear for the day when Medusa might catch her chimeric gaze and the reversal of Galatea might come fully upon her.

Yet even the Gorgon cannot fully meet the eyes that mirror the ancient and glorious horrors of the Bacchanalia. For she who drinks the wine of blood and bathes in its ochre depths dances around the whole of humanity as though skipping through a grove of statues.

So full of utter gall and mocking bile from her revels, she grins at the carnal carnage before her and the perfect white sickle of her smile becomes the blade that castrates her own fear.

I Am Made of Words

About five or six years ago in Niagara Falls, I received a Tarot reading from a lover of mine: the first person I ever went to visit on my own. There aren’t many details I remember from the time except for one thing: the majority of the cards that she drew from her deck–a deck that she ultimately gave to me–had a Sword aspect.

File:Swords01.jpg

We were sitting on my bed and here I was staring at a hand of Swords in front of me. I know we had theories as to what it might mean in the purely open-ended mode of interpretation that you have to use when examining any kind of symbol. And while we agreed on a few things, in the end it was left to me to link things together and make patterns that were–or were not–there.

During or after the time we met, I began watching this anime at the York Anime and Manga Association (or YAMA) called Fate/Stay Night. In this anime was a character named Archer: a heroic spirit who could project and create bladed weapons. He gained these from a Reality Marble: a small pocket-universe that developed inside of him due to his dedication and sheer strength of will. When he fully summoned this place, a sphere of flame, turning cogs, and blades consumed the area that he and his opponent were fighting in. In other words, Archer took his inner world and imposed it on the external for a brief period of time.

In this world I describe, he has access to every mortal bladed weapon–every sword–that he has examined and ever replicated with his magic. He stores them all in there and either uses them one at a time–knowing what its history is, the thoughts of its owners, and even their secret abilities–or he can summon and throw them at his opponent all at once. I really admired this anime character and when I did further research on him … I realized that I related to him a lot more than I thought.

I still think that Archer could have done a lot more than simply imitate weapons and memorize their patterns. I think that, even modifying some of them into arrows, he could have used his knowledge of them to create new weapons entirely: new tools and devices to accomplish his goals. He even admitted that his weapon was his own imagination and we all know that the imagination is limitless.

You see, I make weapons too. I make weapons and tools. And they are my words. I’ve spent years honing them: making prototypes, re-making others, imitating more, and learning from my mistakes. I seek to bury my demons in a torrent of words. I desire to make an Empire out of them: to expand my own little world into this one in the best way that I know how.

For a really long time, I have been a very passive individual on the surface. But after Niagara Falls I decided to stop ignoring my natural aggression, my dominant side, my ambition, and the fierce defiance that I realized I’ve always had inside of me. I think that sometimes the manner in which I honed and sharpened my words and that ferocity I view the world at times–as though to defend my own childhood awkwardness and lack of social skill years ago–has ingrained itself in me so much that I seem aloof to people and perhaps a little intimidating. Perhaps that is why I might seem so combative towards life at times.

I grew into my own. I began to see that I was physically attractive, intelligent, creative, and I build a whole world that I can sometimes share with other people. I was told by a friend that in some ways it made me dangerous, but in other ways she greatly admired what I was becoming: whatever that is. When I look back, “aggression” might be too strong word. Perhaps what I was really looking for, and what I still have to fight for– is “confidence.”

Not too long ago, Cristian Mihai wrote a post called Art and Life: where he talks the fact that while he may have done many things in his life he might have regretted, he never regretted any of his stories. It’s very close to those moments where I think the best thing I have ever done with this life of mine so far is write.

So I keep building my world, every day, one blade at a time: because underneath this inconstant fleshy matter of mine and to quote a fictional character, “I am made of swords.” And even though I know I’m not made of weapons, even though I’ve suffered defeat and pain, I’m going to keep fighting because–in the end–I know I am going to win.

File:Swords14.jpg

So when you take the “S” away from Swords, that is what I am made of.

It Was My Birthday and What the Hell …

I turned thirty-one this weekend.

I’d like to say that it came at me by surprise, but I did manage to see it coming. 🙂 It makes me realize that a lot of things have happened between thirty and thirty-one.

I’ve gone from just talking about sending stories out as magazine submissions to actually doing it. I’ve also went from just talking to actually creating a Writer’s Blog with over a hundred articles that has been Freshly Pressed and I’ve gotten peer Awards from some of my most devoted readers. I made a place to put ideas that I originally had no room for. I participated in my first Game Jam. I wrote two ad hoc mini-operas for a contest that Neil Gaiman was one of the judges for. I also got my Master’s Degree and decided not to go back to University.

I wrote some articles for some really excellent producers and writers and on subjects that deserved more information on them. I helped someone in a contest to achieve their dream and made a new friend in the process. I’ve reconnected with my old friend Angela and I will continue my part in working on our comics collaboration once I’ve done some more of my own work. And there is so much that I still have to do, you know? It’s ridiculous. I know I have made a lot of progress and growth this past year, but I feel like I have to keep at it because sometimes it just doesn’t feel like enough.

I’ll admit: this is not where I thought I would see myself at thirty-one. Sometimes I feel like I didn’t have enough time to experiment with my life and now I somehow have to be an adult and, you know, be more responsible in some way. I don’t have a paying career yet and I live with my parents again. A lot of other things changed during that time as well and I feel like I lost a lot of what I once cared about. I’ve been more anxious and more shut-in these days while also working on my projects, sitting on the Internet, and just enveloping myself into a steadier routine. I know I will be facing some more challenges–some of them uphill battles–and I miss the things, relationships, and people that I did lose along the way. It cost a lot to get to this point in my life: as I suspect it always does and it always will.

But these are the things that happened, the things I did during a year’s time, and what I am thinking about now. Sometimes I think that my options are more limited now that I am older. But let’s face it: I was a grumpy old man even before I had a thirty-one year old body and I am set in my ways about some things … more specifically things that I plan and I want to do. I know I want, and I am going to seek for more. So in conclusion, as if this were some kind of formal essay, all I can add is that I will continue doing what I have to do or, as a character of mine once said, I will do what I feel that I have to.

Thank you for reading me, liking me, and Following me. I hope to continue some good journeys and explorations together. Take care, my friends.

Looking Outward

Film Review: Oz The Great and Powerful

So I went off to see the Wizard this past weekend.

I was very eager to see it. I’ve loved The Wizard of Oz for most of my conscious life. I was introduced to it through the famous 1939 film that many know and love. Then I read as many of the books as I could to stay with my friends as much as possible. I also read and saw the Musical version of Wicked: the former of which I respected, and the latter of which I utterly loved.

Now, my two favourite Oz characters have always been the Scarecrow and The Wizard himself. I liked The Wizard because he, well, had a hot air balloon that took him into a magical land. I actually tried weaving a balloon (out of felt and other cloth, not completely aware of what materials a hot weather balloon actually required) but it never got far. Even then, in those days, I wanted to escape this world and go to a better one.

But later on, I liked The Wizard for other reasons. He lacked any magical abilities, but he was a master of sleight-of-hand, illusions and artifice. And for all of his manipulative and deceptive aspects, he just seemed like a kindly old man that actually helped Oz through making himself a symbol if nothing else. He was the one who taught me that the seeming of power can create the greatest form of hope to others. Also, I would like to posit that he was in addition to being a highly flexible thinker and canny stage magician that tricked others–including beings with actual magic–he also was a brilliant artificer: because I am pretty sure the Emerald City’s technological innovations were his doing from his knowledge of late nineteenth century Earth life.

Suffice to say, he was a crafty old man that created a brilliant show as The Wizard of Oz. The Wizard has been depicted in a few ways: as a charlatan, as a villain, and a hapless man trying to figure out what to do in a strange magical land. So I wanted to see what he would be like, as the main character and hero no less, in Oz The Great and Powerful.

Now, I would suggest that, if you do not like Spoilers, you stop following this yellow brick road any further.

All right. So when when we first come across Oscar Diggs, or The Great and Powerful Oz as his magician stage name goes, he is in this black and white world representing 1880s Kansas and looking not unlike the Impressionist world of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

As for Oscar Diggs … what can I tell you? He is supposed to be a complicated man: a rogue and a con artist, a consummate huckster, illusionist and magician, a master of misdirection, a womanizer, but also someone who knows that he is a bad man and feels powerlessness when he can’t help a child and acceptance when a woman that he actually loves is going to marry a better man.

Unfortunately, for the most part the slimy elements outweigh the charm and … he really just comes off as rather, well, less than endearing. Think … less humbug and more … scumbag. Even his jokes, and indeed a lot of the jokes in the world movie situated around him fall a little flat when you right down to it: so much so that you have to force yourself to laugh at them.

Structurally, the film is clever and deals with a lot of misdirection and hood-winks. Aside from the change from black and white to colour–a homage to the 1939 version of Oz–there is also the fact that most of the Wizard’s companions are Oz versions of the people he knew and met in Kansas: much like Dorothy, the farmhands, the travelling conjurer and the mean old woman Elmira Gulch. And then there was the matter of the villain, as far as I’m concerned the person who was becoming the star of the antagonist role …

All right. I liked the scene with the China Girl, Oscar laughing at the people pursuing him as he escaped in a hot air balloon, the little bit of misdirection that Evanora used to try and get Oscar Diggs to do her dirty work for her, Evanora’s green Force lightning, Glinda’s cleverness with the wind and the field of poppies, the Wizard’s scheme in making himself appear to be much more than human towards the end through his old friend misdirection, and some of the more touching scenes like Oscar admitting to what he is. I also really like the parts where he realizes that he has a great advantage over the Witches in terms of technological knowledge and trickery. Oscar asks Glinda, who helps him gather a group of farmers, bakers, inventors, and munchkins together how he is going to defeat the Emerald City’s armies with what he has. But the good Wizard, given the time period where he came from, should have remembered that the most powerful empire in the world at the time was at one point “a nation of shopkeepers”: carrying or having access to most of the resources to not only win a war, but rule a kingdom.

But there were points that really annoyed me. I mean, really annoyed me. For instance, when Oscar finds himself in Oz and hears Theodora talking about how she is a Witch, and then later seeing that she can throw a fireball, my first thought would have been acted out something like this.

Diggs: So … you are a Witch.

Theodora: Yes.

Diggs: And you can use magic?

Theodora: Yes, well, I can.

Diggs: Well okay. I showed you mine. Now show me yours.

Theodora: Um …

Diggs: Show me some magic.

Theodora: Oh ok.

Theodora throws a fireball at something. The Wizard’s jaw drops.

Diggs: That was … incredible …

Theodora: Oh, really?

She blushes.

Diggs: No I mean, you can throw fireballs. Effing fireballs. I mean, pardon my cussing and all, but … just … wait a minute. Just wait one moment. You mean to tell me that you could have thrown fireballs–fireballs–at the winged monkeys attacking us at any time–any freaking time–and you waited for me to sacrifice my poor bird instead?

Theodora: And it was brilliant magic. As expected from the Wizard of prophecy.

Diggs: Yes but … oh dear god, I faced a lion down with a parlour trick and you could have just thrown a fireball at …

The Wizard of Oz spends most of the time walking back trying not to bite through his own tongue at Theodora’s stupidity.

Or something like that. Not that I have anything against Theodora, mind you. She was naive, but really nice: almost unrealistically innocent and Oscar screwed that trust up pretty loyally. In fact, I had more sympathy for her than I did for him and turning into the fucking Wicked Witch of the West with a green apple seemed almost as much of a cop-out–and an excuse to place another major iconic Hollywood fictional figure into a movie to give it credence–as it was magically putting Anakin Skywalker into a freaking Darth Vader suit that just happened to be there in case he got amputated and burned alive. I mean … Gah!

I do like the hint of her nature and it works: that her own tears burn her like acid and she wields fire. There were hints and I erroneously believed she would be the Witch of the East at that point and Evanora was the Witch of the West.

In fact, I thought that Theodora was the North Witch and Glinda the South and Evanora the West with the evil Witch in the outlands being the Eastern one, but Disney decided–like the 1939 film–to just have three witches instead of the four from the books. What I can say: even before this film started I over-thought it.

But anyway, aside from the fact that Evanora could have probably had Glinda killed whenever she wanted, given that she could probably find her in the Crystal Ball, and waited for a man who she knew was a fake Wizard to do it anyway, and the fact that her winged Monkeys are freaking incompetent in not following Glinda and the others off the cliff they jumped from, I have another “What the hell are you doing, you are a Witch!” moment.

So yes, speaking of Glinda. She, Oscar, the China Doll, and Finley the Winged Monkey (what is he anyway, a less feral version of the Winged Monkeys of the Witches or another more docile species?) find themselves surrounded by Winkie soldiers and then the monkeys. So here is another hypothetical scene.

Diggs: So, we’re surrounded by soldiers and flying monkeys.

Glinda: Yes. That seems to be the case.

Diggs: Well, you are a Witch, right? I mean, I know you ladies aren’t warty or fly broomsticks but … you do have powers right?

Glinda: Well yes. Perhaps you have a power we can use here Wizard?

Diggs: … um, my powers work a bit differently from where I come from. Maybe you can do something?

Glinda: Hmmm …

So they run to the cliff and the Wizard freaks out about having to jump off a cliff after Glinda jumps. Then he follows them all and they come up in floating bubbles.

Diggs: Wow! Now this is impressive trick! Woooo! Hey wait … couldn’t …

He dodges a cloud.

Diggs: Couldn’t you have done this before!? You know, like when we were all on the ground running from enemies in the fog?

Glinda just smiles at Diggs.

Or later when we see that Glinda’s wand can Force push or block magic. You know, a good Force push might have been excellent against, well, an army. Of course, we can be nicer about this. Glinda did mention later, much later, that no citizen of Oz can kill anyone. I would imagine that the Wizard and anyone outside of Oz is exempt from this geis: this magical rule that keeps all of this from happening? Maybe Theodora also knew this or was too self-conscious to use her destructive magic to defend her and the Emerald City’s potential saviour. If she did, she and Evanora neglected to tell him that. And, for that matter, if no one in Oz can kill anyone, doesn’t that just neutralize the point to an army of Winkies or Winged Monkeys? Does Glinda mean that Oz is a world that prohibits killing, or is Oz just concerned to be the land around the Emerald City and killing happens everywhere? Also, wouldn’t the destruction of the China Girl’s whole village be considered killing? Or the murder of the original Wizard King of Oz?

Perhaps I was missing something. I have been told that the Witches, while they are also citizens of Oz, are also exempt from this rule due to their unique nature. But let’s operate on the assumption that Oz–in this film–prohibits killing from its residents and the Wizard can in fact kill. There is one scene where the Wizard is teaching engineers how to make black powder. Black powder is used–as it was in the film–in fire works, but also as gunpowder and … explosives.

If the Witches’ army if hand-held ornamental weapon wielders and winged monkeys encountered a group of people with muskets and hidden explosives, they would have been decimated. Period. If I had been Diggs and I was being threatened by Theodora *coughtheWickedWitchoftheWestcough* I would have shown no hesitation in destroying their armies. And maybe Oz Witches are immune to explosives or guns, but considering how the Witch of the East got squashed by a falling house and the other one would have to avoid rainfall and I am sure that Glinda knows their weaknesses (such as she did with Evanora), this could have been a whole other kind of story.

Of course, this was supposed to also be a child-friendly film and Disney had to follow certain legal matters. You know, the ones that kept the ruby or silver slippers from being on Evanora: the Witch of the East. It also makes me wonder if that’s why she didn’t have the Golden Cap: the artifact that allowed the Wicked Witch of the West to even control the Monkeys to begin with … although the 1939 film didn’t have that one. I also feel somewhat sad about those cynical ideas above because I would never have suggested them being implemented in the books or the 1939 film.

But this film just … I really wanted to like it. But it is getting a 3/5. I liked the art and the structure and I recognize what they tried to do, but the Wizard was less a lovable scoundrel and more of a douchebag, Theodora’s transformation was forced, and as a friend of mine stated it didn’t have that resonance of a gauche “camp” feeling that is identified with the film and the Wicked Musical too. It is its own world and it wouldn’t really fit into the main series of Oz, but it was an interesting attempt to make a new story.

Even so, I have to state that in the end, if you have followed the old film or the books, there is no place like home.

Let’s Play

I have a friend who believed that he could gain enlightenment from a video game. He sat in the school cafeteria and the quad every day: just plugging away at his old Gameboy with its off-white frame, chartreuse buttons and yellow green-grey screen. Come to think of it, I don’t think there was any place I hadn’t seen him playing that game, except after … stuff happened.

His favourite game was Link’s Awakening: the first of the Zelda series ever made on Gameboy. I’d see him there–especially in those latter days before graduation–immersed in piping miniaturized synthetic tones and colourless 8-bit sprites as he sought Link’s sword for the millionth time … and attempted to find something else as well.

He didn’t always play it, mind you. We table-top role-played as well: old-school gaming with paper, pencils, Lego figures and dice. We were part of a group that even now still meets up from time-to-time whenever our schedules allow. My friend was–is–a good, quiet person: the kind of guy that you could always talk to. At the same time, he would sit stiffly and tense: as though uncomfortable in his own body … or his surroundings when he wasn’t occupied with something. But this all changed whenever we had a game on. You just couldn’t get him to shut up. The tension, wound in him like a spring, would uncoil and he’d get crazy energized. He got aggressive and vicious in-character: becoming this very manipulative, charismatic monster of a mage or dark warrior.

It’s funny how an introvert who liked to play Zelda games also liked to play the bad guy.

One time, when we were bored, I asked him why he kept playing that one video game. I mean he passed it several times at that point. Of course, he was still playing it while I asked him that question, but looking back it was one of the only times he really started talking about anything else outside of our game sessions.

He told me that Link’s Awakening was the only game where you got to see Link develop as a person: a person not defined by rescuing a princess. The way he saw it, Link left Hyrule and Zelda to find himself again … or even find himself for the first time. He argued that Koholint Island–the place where Link finds himself marooned–is a space inside his own head where he could confront his personal demons and know who he is.

My friend also told me that every time he played the game, he found something new: some small detail that he’d missed during his last few playthroughs and that over the years many of the challenges, as well as the in-and out-of game references started to gain more sense and nuance with time. He said that the puzzles became like koans that he meditated on through interaction: small little mysteries that he liked to solve.

Although he didn’t go into much more detail than that, which was deep enough, I also think he liked the repetition of it: the symmetry of those puzzles, the rhythm of the battles and the cycle of music that played and linked it all together. It’s really fitting in retrospect that he used the word “koan,” because I think these elements more than anything else let him come close to a Zen-like calm while he played his game. It was probably the most at peace I had ever seen him.

The more … stuff changes though, the more it stays the same.

My friend doesn’t play that game anymore. In fact, he doesn’t play any video games these days. Now he only watches “Let’s Play” YouTube videos. I’ve seen him. Sometimes he looks satisfied watching other people resolve conflict, combat, and puzzle solving in nice, immaculate patterns. Other times, he gets utterly exhausted and falls asleep in front of his laptop: with the forlorn beauty of a nostalgic 8-bit track playing in the background on a feedback loop. But there still many more times where it’s like he’s watching for something, looking intently at those video recordings while trying to find something new or rediscover something lost with a silent kind of desperation.

Ever since he stopped trying to help Link awaken, my friend is a different man. He’s still polite and helpful, but he’s somehow quieter, less tense, but … emptier somehow, and very, very tired. When we role-play nowadays, he doesn’t play villain characters anymore. Instead, my friend likes to play heroic characters with good and honourable intentions: even when they go horribly wrong.

That, more than anything, says something to me. In fact, it speaks volumes.

A Game of Statues: Amanda Palmer, Persona, Expression and Life

When I was in Kindergarten, in a school called Adventure Place, we used to play something called “A Statue Game.”

I knew it as The Statue Game. We would listen to this song–which I now know to have been created by Sandy Offenheim and Family–move around and when the song would tell us to stop, we would freeze in mid-motion. We couldn’t move and the song would tease us, play games with our minds by implanting the suggestion of itchiness or needing to scratch our heads, and then it would start again and we would be allowed to dance and hop around as we did before. It turns out that this music and this game are still being played to this very day: and it is a fact doesn’t surprise me.

There is a reason why I’m bringing this up and I will get to it soon. During Amanda’s Art of Asking TED Talk, we got to see a picture and a little bit of a demonstration of Amanda in her previous occupation as a living statue. This is not the first time I heard her mention this: chances are I probably read it on her Blog or in her Introduction to The Absolute Death. But there were two things that struck me about her time as a living statue.

The first is how, in a way, we are all conditioned to be living statues. At least, that is what looking at “Let’s Play a Statue Game” as an adult makes me feel. I mean, think about it: the song and game is really rather instructional. It teaches children pacing and rhythm. It delineates a time for play and then moments of formalism: of needing to be still and having to listen. Making it a group game also socializes children into a group calisthenic: tapping into that unconscious place where we all unknowing imitate and synchronize with each other. It teaches a time for play and stillness, but it also allows us the space and the capacity to laugh at ourselves. I’d argue that it is one of those early methods of making social interaction into a game that everyone plays along with and is both half-joking, and half-seriousness.

Yet what really grabs my attention is that rituals like “The Statue Game” encourage us to build those early personas: a social facade that allows us to interact with fellow human beings. Personas are not illusions nor are they fake in any way. They are just different aspects of us or personalized mask-tools that we use in different situations of interaction. We make these masks from childhood and things like “The Statue Game” allow give us the basic tools, mental shapes, and situations to do so. In other words, you can look at all of this as an experiment not only in socialization, but in communal art as well.

Of course, some of us have a lot of difficulty with these games. Some children do move under suggestion of the song. Other children have slower reaction time or a different sense of movement, balance, and rhythm. And some just plain get itchy regardless of any song or suggestion. Yet the rules of “The Statue Game” still have an effect on them: they either learn the communal rhythm or make one of their own.

That is what artists do.

So let’s get back to Amanda Palmer. I have imagined her, and now seen images of her as this eight-foot living bride statue holding out a flower and trying to make eye-contact with those people who passed her by. On an intellectual level, I think it was brilliant and an excellent metaphor for an artist learning to keep being relatable to a prospective audience.

Also, it was very subversive of her. Think about it like this: what is an eight-foot living statue of a bride? It–and she–are symbols of of a communal making: an archetype of certain expectations and theoretically immutable traditions. Yet there Amanda was, in a role of monetary exchange granted, using eye-contact and a simple gesture of holding out a flower to appeal to an individual on a basic, human, empathic level. It is ingenious: just as ingenious as making a game for children teaching them how to learn to act as statues and feeling people at the same time. And she was taking that philosophy and applying it to the rest of her work.

She appeals to people directly: or as directly as one artist can to her audience. In addition, she takes the role of a statue–of an untouchable celebrity–and subverts it to remain relatable and to appeal her present and potential fans. Originally, what she did with a statue pose and costume she now does through Kickstarter Projects and her Blog. But one lesson that seems paramount for me is that she originally managed to create this appeal, to hone and develop her own art of asking, but not saying a word. She simply held out a hand and expressed emotion through her facial features and her eyes. It is an experiment in empathy: in relating to people through song, action, and expression through gesture.

Now I’m going to look at how this relates to me.

In a similar way to how her own Blog and Kickstarters function, I have my own 8-foot statue through Mythic Bios. I have admitted that I combine a lot of myself and my observations to make this Blog. I’ve also admitted that I make this Blog to order to find an audience and to relate to them. However much I’m successful is a subjective question. I mean, after all, this Blog still accords me a certain level of distance from everyone else and the role that divides us is still there. I am a writer and you are an audience and sometimes we correspond and sometimes we don’t.

This also functions the same for me offline. One thing that “The Statue Game” does teach children who grow into adults is that there is a distance between us–as fellow statues–but also a closeness in our similar natures. In our statue roles and in a best case scenario, we are polite and formal with a certain social ingrained amount of common decency. But when we get to know each other and playtime happens, we bounce around and jump and sing and dance and cuddle and do all of things kinds of things.

For me, it goes further. Sometimes I feel more like a Weeping Angel from Doctor Who: in which eye contact will freeze me into my vaguely uncomfortable distantly formal polite statue-form, but when others turn their backs I am more like my crazy, warped creative self. Then people leave and I eat the time potential that they leave behind: writing up whatever I glean in different kinds of stories.

Amanda mentioned in her TED Talk that sometimes when she was a statue, people came her way who probably hadn’t talked to anyone in weeks. The Doctor once described the Weeping Angels as “the loneliest beings in the universe since their quantum-lock reaction makes it difficult for them to socialise.” It gets too easy to be the statue and to regain animation when other people are no longer around: a statue that forgets to play or can only dance by themselves now.

https://i1.wp.com/www.caddicks.com/blog/wp-content/weeping-angel-hands-e1351558624422.jpg

I’ve been, and I am one of those statues. So I ask myself what I would feel when someone like Amanda Palmer can actually see through that facade and acknowledge my feelings? I would … feel some discomfort, to be perfectly honest. A statue is often also how we like to present ourselves to the world. And having someone see how I feel makes me feel very … vulnerable.

Don’t misunderstand. I have a lot of people who just see the statue or simply do not get what they see, or ascribe characteristics to it that frankly do not exist. Whenever I acknowledge them, I have plenty of ignorant and misguided people telling me how I feel to last for sometime. But having someone see me for what I am–feeling as though they can see my anger, bitterness, sadness, awkwardness, and general bullshit–makes me feel vulnerable.

I’ve been taught to view the world a potentially hostile place where you always need to have your guard-up–where you always need to save face–and where vulnerability is seen as an exploitable weakness … even when you want, and have the need, to reach out.

On the other hand, I am also an artist. I can write about all of the above through the medium of my Blog and find people who relate who can relate to at least some of it. Artists, to some extent, are empathic beings and have the potential to take their statue-form and open it up to relation. I imagine extroverts and positive, optimistic thinkers who wholeheartedly trust people are better at this.

I am obviously not one of these.

However, I can cheat. I can pretend to be optimistic for a while. I can, as Kurt Vonnegut warns, become what I pretend to be. And I don’t have to pretend to like what I do: because that much of it is true. Also, there are many ways to express vulnerability as strength and I’ve already found a few of these. And as long as I can express it in the best way I know how–through writing–then I will be okay. But more importantly, I am building up to the point where I can ask for help when I need it.

Make no mistake, if I want to move forward in my creative endeavours I will one day need help and I will ask for it. And if I can express vulnerability to the point that Amanda Palmer as: to the point of making other people smile, cry, or feel an uncomfortable, awkward, and twisting form of sympathy–of realness–then I will have begun to do my own job.

So when you get right down to it, and look past all the mixed metaphors, analogies, and references here I’m going to say this: for just as Amanda Palmer states that there should be no shame in asking for help, there should also be no shame in striking an honest pose … itching, sneezing, and all.

P.S. I just want to illustrate what happens when Weeping Angels play the Statue Game.

It’s not very pretty. Or maybe it is. They did ask for it after all.

The Art of Asking, Spreading the Love, and Sarah’s Walking Dead One of a Kind

A few days ago I watched Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk The Art of Asking twice. It left me with a few thoughts and I have to be honest with myself and say that there is no way in hell that I am going to make all of those thoughts into one cohesive post: it is just not going to happen.

Instead, I’m going to do something else. Amanda mentions in her Talk that it is very hard to ask for help and while in context she was actually referring to artists–and I will definitely be getting back to that point in another Blog entry–I think this can be applied to the main act of asking those to help you attain your dream.

It is hard. It has certainly been hard for me for a variety of reasons that can ultimately be shored up to shyness, introversion, and a need to not intrude on other people’s space. I also tend to fall back on the mindset that most people are self-interested and will only help if they see that they can get something out it for themselves. And that’s okay. The fact of the matter is a mutual exchange of getting what you want and need is a good thing. In fact, in a lot of ways it is how we relate to other people.

A little while ago, I found this WordPress Blog called Sarah On The Go! during the great influx of people, Followers and “Likers” that were reading my own Blog when I got Freshly Pressed. [Edit: Actually Sarah found me through my What is FV Disco? post but anyway … :)] I came to know after perusing this Blog that Sarah is a major Walking Dead fan. I’ve heard enough about the show and the comics to be really intrigued by this series. In fact, I’ve been meaning to actually find a way to access the comic books first before watching anything.

But the main point that I want to make is that Sarah is essentially a Walking Dead fanatic who has entered The Walking Dead Always One of a Kind Fan Contest. The grand prize of this contest is for the winner and their friends to be flown down to Los Angeles in order to meet the cast of the show at premier of Series Four. Each contestant creates a 60 second video explaining why they are “the greatest fan” of the show and why they should win the contest. Then, every 24 hours someone can click to vote for this person and the videos with the most votes will be judged by the series’ writer and producer Robert Kirkman. It is, more or less, that simple.

I happen to like zombies. I even like writing zombie stories. I also know what it is like to really want something–with all your heart–and have draw on your own sheer will to ask for the help in getting it. This is Sarah’s Video entry and you can examine her amount of enthusiasm for yourself.

But I am voting for her. Why? Well I can say that if she does win, I can imagine that she would make a good write-up for the experience on her Blog: along with her detailed reviews of each Walking Dead episode so far as I can see. But that’s not it. I do not follow her Blog as often and I don’t really know her that personally.

Ultimately, the reason I want to help her–to get her entry out there for more people to see–is because I want to.

Or, more simply, because I can.

It is an empowering feeling: probably almost on par with the zombie urge to “spread the love.” Either way, I look forward to seeing where this goes. I admire your continued courage to express what you want, Sarah, and I wish you luck. May your own fans continue to spread the love … and continue to ask for it. 🙂