Warning: This post contains angst. If you want to read something better, witty, geeky, creative and otherwise far less personal, any of my other posts will do. Reader’s discretion is advised.

Do not say I didn’t warn you.

Me and my Head

In 2005, I started writing in this notebook. This was long before I began writing my Mythic Bios notebooks and I was in a very different, uncertain, and unpleasant place in my life. In this particular notebook were a series of fragments, thoughts, aphorisms, and a whole lot of bitterness, anger, and bile.

I called that notebook my Dorian Grey: because that was where I placed most–if not all–of the ugly parts of myself at that time. And it wasn’t enough.

It was never enough.

After a while, I stopped writing in it. I just didn’t want to see it anymore and, eventually, after much bitching and angst I moved past it and turned those fragments into more and more unified stories in my Mythic Bios.

I wanted to forget that first notebook so much that I eventually did. I thought I buried it somewhere else, though later as it turned out it had been in my room at my parents’ house–on my closet shelf–the entire time. I vowed, after a time, to never get into the position where I would write a notebook like that. I promised myself never to create another Dorian Grey again.

That is one of the main reasons I’ve tried not to talk about my personal life on my Writer’s Blog. Even oblique mentions of it seem to verge on breaking my own personal code. But I also realize this might be helpful. It might even show others that, in the immortal words of the Face of Boe, “You are not alone.” So here it is.

I am depressed.

This doesn’t come off as too much of a surprise, I would imagine. I have alluded to it. In fact, in a really dark mood, I once wrote this entire even longer post on what my depression actually entails. But I’ve decided to do something else instead. I’m going to describe what it has been like in a Choose Your Own Adventure style of “You,” instead of “I.” But you don’t get to make decisions: seeing as this isn’t a Twine game. Also, I am going to italicize it: to make it distinct from the rest of this post. So if you have difficulty reading a whole series of paragraphs in italics, please skip this or read something else I wrote on this Journal. Anyway, here goes nothing.

You don’t remember how you got like this exactly. There is one memory, though, that stands out at you. You were young: literally a child. You were at your grandparents’  near the entrance to the house, sitting at the old rickety table and its rotary dial telephone with the living room not that far away. You are pretty happy: because when you are here you are actually safe and it is a refuge from that cold place that is school and other children that you don’t really understand.

And then, as you are waiting–perhaps for some chocolate cake with coconut sprinkles that you have to eat in the kitchen along with the tea and milk you were once able to actually drink without being sick–you feel this … pang go through you. It is a strange feeling: like a reverse orgasm. It is not comfortable. It’s what you will later on know to be a painful moment of clarity: of realization.

You understand that this–all of this around you–is going to go away one day. And there is nothing you can do about it.

That is the earliest memory of the shadow and its melancholic length beginning to stretch down throughout the years to where you are right now. You start to bury yourself in old tape-recorded movies in a futile attempt to keep the past present. You immerse yourself in old books and keep them as friends: for they will be more constant and understanding than any flesh and blood companions you will ever have. You try to ignore your teenage years out of existence through books, said tapes, and video games. But the one thing that none of these elements can save you from is loneliness.

You make friends and somehow they keep moving on with their lives faster than you do. Your family tries to shelter you. It doesn’t help that they are religious and have food restrictions. Nor is it particularly helpful that you were born … different, as people keep telling you: in addition to the ethnicity thing. You don’t learn things the same way that people do and later you strongly suspect that you don’t experience things the same way either.

So you already have this predisposition to not trust the outside world at all. And you will be fighting this impulse with varying degrees of success for the rest of your life. You also are both drawn to people because you do not want to be left behind, and you are repulsed by them because they are not you. But those differences also intrigue you: a lot. This is going to be a running theme for the rest of your life: among other things.

So let’s fast forward this a bit. Finally you manage to gain enough inner strength to move out of your parents’ home: though you do need them for more practical matters from time to time. You get into Grad School with the aid of some people who care about you. You feel like you are making progress. You are slowly subverting and breaking free of all of those self-imposed and outwardly imposed restrictions.

But then there is this to consider. You are an introvert and this particular set of relatively simple and straightforward characteristics as set out in this link describes you very well. You now really have to deal with bureaucracy and its complete and utter ineptness. You have not been raised to deal with it really, and it galls you that you have to let it rule a portion of your life. This is the adulthood that you have unintentionally been fearing and loathing even before you knew about it: when you were so immersed in books and films and games in the vain hopes of trying to avoid it. The very frustration and cold reality that your family and school has been trying to shelter you from relatively until now when, suddenly, you have to deal with this shit a lot on your own.

But you persevere despite it. You even make new friends and new lovers. You get to go anywhere you want relatively at any time that you want. You get to dance. You get to hang around with people without curfews. You are working. You have something not unlike an adult life. 

You realize after a while that the depression is not chemical: as much anything in human behaviour isn’t the result of biochemicals in some way. Your depression is really situational and the results of a personal cycle of behaviour. You get into situations where the person you are trying to be is not the person that you are acting like. You begin to emotionally, as opposed to intellectually understand, that people are not constant beings. It’s not so much that they lie–and some of them do–but they aren’t always the same person. Their lives change too.

You’ve always internalized emotions and what you are feeling now is a lot of anger, sadness, stress, anxiety, resentment, and outright hatred. You’ve been led to believe that it is unseemly to display these emotions: as though it is somehow more mature to be in agony all the time but continue to express that socially acceptable mode of behaviour known as adult irony. You’ve always had headaches and migraines. Your stomach bothers you. You have always been really over-sensitive–hypersensitive–and in the worst case scenario the stress only makes it worse: to the point where your muscle-memory has memorized your anxiety and tenseness, and you’ve realized you have actually been having panic attacks.

In fact: do you remember the characteristics of introversion in the link above? Imagine them magnified even more so. You get to the point where you don’t feel comfortable going outside. You feel ill thinking about being in a social function where no one is giving you that “in” to speak and so you don’t go anymore. And between you and others bashing your personal beliefs–which were rosy yet flimsy things at best–you just stop opening up altogether. You used to like travelling around, and you had a certain degree of confidence. It erodes as you sit and you no longer move.

And this is before you realize that you have been eating up your girlfriend’s money by not getting a job, that you’ve been selfish as fuck, and it is hard to relate to anyone anymore. And those books and the Internet are no longer taking the edge off from reality. You can’t escape anymore: or at least not as well as you could when you were younger.

You realize that there is a terrible consistency in telling certain people that you feel as though they are a part of you when you know–deep down–that you have begun, or you are resuming, to hate yourself. You don’t say what’s on your mind to anyone: not really. You begin to believe that no one has ever really understood you and it is less an element of adolescent angst and more of a matter of fact.

Then you run out of money and you have to move back in with your parents. Your privacy and peace and quiet becomes compromised. But you don’t really leave the house like you used to. You don’t like to go out and you have withdrawn from most people: save those small few who come to visit. It is as though you have spent years trying to overcome your introversion and now you are paying the price by not wanting to move at all.

You are in debt because of your Degree. And after getting a Master’s Degree, you have to go on welfare. You realize that the given moralities of hard-work and debt are things that should be questioned in society rather than simply being accepted. You become dependent on a computer again to socialize and then it breaks down and you need to use the public desktop. You will not go anywhere unless there is an accessible restroom of some sort nearby. Your clothes begin to fray and you neglect yourself because, on some intrinsic level, you don’t give a fuck anymore.

You begin to resemble outside what feel like inside. You remember moments of joy and they become poisoned by what happened after. It is hard to remember actually being happy anymore. People keep intruding on your space and asking the same tired old questions over and over again: despite the fact that you are clearly trying to keep busy. Some others, when you talk to them, say that you are over-exaggerating your “complaints,” and they make you feel like others have it worse than you and you should shut up.

You are looking for work and sending in submissions–and you know that is important–but there are days when you wonder if there is any point to it. Because then the depression really starts talking. It tells you that you will never be “this good,” and that this is “too difficult,” “too much work,” and “too confusing,” and that everything you have ever done does not matter–and never mattered–a damn.

It really gets bad at night. You start to miss people a lot: people you will never really be able to speak with again the way you did. You start to feel tremendous resentment towards the people you wish you had told off. You wonder how many opportunities you let pass by you in your brain fog. You have memories of past life: when you were more confident and more assured and then you look at what you are now. The screaming you feel inside you everyday gets much louder at those times.

It is safe to reiterate two facts: that in those moments you hate the world, and you hate yourself.

Of course, there are the fantasies too. Of going back in time and telling your younger self to do this instead of this, or not to to do this ever. That is, also of course, when you don’t fantasize about going back in time and killing yourself at that moment in life when you were truly happy so that you never, ever have to know about the partially self-made hell waiting for you in the future. At the same time, you also know that were a certain TARDIS come to visit you, you would leave without question or regret: that those people who don’t appreciate your complaining or have gotten tired of it and they can keep their precious world.

You basically feel like you are in a prison. Your therapist flat-out calls you on describing it as thus. And if you were to summarize this long, rambling thing into one sentence: Depression is is a prison of your own making where you only remember dancing, only remember contact, only remember fun, you feel like you lost or are otherwise losing everything you ever cared about, where you suffocate on your own inaction and sense of failure, where you are disappointed when you actually wake up the next morning, where you punish yourself, and anyone that you attempt to meet and socialize will see that cycle of self-entitlement, spite, grief, self-recrimination, and self-absorption you’ve found yourself spiralling into–ingraining itself into your bones–and will politely run for the hills.

Because no one likes a person who does not like themselves.

So, I’m going to end that there because it is way past the whining mark and these things tend to wind out of control once you keep writing about them. It is paradoxically this thing that I have been trying to avoid. I’m not trying to glorify it or make myself out to be this innocent victim of circumstance, but it describes kind of some days in a lifetime, I guess? I guess I just feel like I failed myself in some ways and that I have no one to blame–or perhaps more appropriately hold responsible–but myself.

It isn’t all bad though.

I am seeing a really awesome therapist. And I have a 250-word tax to keep fulfilling and at least a half an hour quota of going outside to remember. I keep filling out a worksheet of places I send work to and to seek employment at. I am researching some free-lancing opportunities. And I also speaking with some people from my past again.

I guess I am ironically making a routine for myself: something I sorely lacked when I lived on my own. If I learned anything from my girlfriend before I had to move out, it is that routines can be our friends. As such, I don’t like to deviate from it much. I don’t like to be pushed, or trapped in a small space with someone who likes to control things but to go about matters at my own pace. I’m also working on sleeping better and I am eating better too.

There is another positive even in the negative. I just finished reading Paradise Lost and remembered that part where Satan realizes, even when he escapes Hell, that he carries Hell with him: inside of him. After having the occasion to revisit some of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, I realized that we all do the same. And this fact, my personal hell, gives me the power to motivate and keep making things: to create some kind of … meaning out of all of this. Someone once told me that I create beauty and pain is an excellent material to craft beautiful things from as any kind of creator might tell you. It is one of my sources–if not my central source–of power.

But there is one more thing I want to mention: something that I specifically want to leave you all with. During the period of the Dorian Grey, I was talking with a counsellor at my University about something job-related and she also flat-out called me on being depressed. She told me to make a point of writing about three constructive things that I do in a day. And eventually, after a while, I realized that helps too.

So Dorian Greys can be necessary when you need to purge things out of you, or begin to unleash Hell on Earth, but remembering the useful things you’ve done–the positive and affirmative things you’ve done, no matter how small they seem to be–can be just as invaluable: if not more so.

ETA: If you’d like, please read this link about the care of extroverts. It seems that this world is becoming, or has always been, difficult for the both of us.

Be Careful What You Search For: The Doctor as Psyche

Disclaimer: There be spoilers here.

I’m not going to go into an indepth analysis and look at a particular Doctor Who episode. The fact is: it is an exhausting process and I know I will be missing something from it when I’m done. But there is one theme that has really caught my eye and is really, aside from the weird and zany adventures with elements of grandiosity the central focus of The Doctor as of right now.

The mystery of Clara Oswin Oswald or, in The Doctor’s own words, “The only mystery worth solving.”

So there we are. The scenario is already set and clear: as much as any Doctor Who plot really is. And now I am going to make a mythological allusion: mainly talking about what this quest and its potential results actually reminds me of. It is only fitting that in the last episode of Doctor Who “Hide,” that The Doctor said something to the effect that, “It isn’t a ghost story after all — it’s a love story.” And when he said, I said under my breath, “Yes, Doctor. It really is.”

So is the Myth of Psyche and Eros. There are many variations of the myth itself, but essentially what happens is that there is a princess named Psyche who–through various circumstances–ends up married to the love god Eros (or Cupid as he is better known): though she does not know this. In fact, until her fateful decision, she never even sees what he looks like. Not really. One of the admonitions that Cupid gives her, in fact, is that she is not allowed to look at him.

Don’t blink.

Of course, as I and many others have stated with regards to “The Snowmen,” this myth too sounds an awful lot like a fairytale: and indeed a lot of myths and parables in various ages do. There is always that one thing the character is told not to do, or is made difficult to find and of course–human and sentient nature being what it is–the character eventually seeks it out. As something of an aside, I also think it is very remarkable in that Psyche’s myth may be one of the few in existence where a mortal woman has a recognized heroic quest–complete with various tasks–in pursuing a male deity as opposed to the other way around.

Now, Psyche and The Doctor are not that alike at all. There are different circumstances, goals, influences, character genders, and fears involved on the surface. Psyche is “sacrificed” to a “dragon that harasses the world” due to a vision that an oracle gave her royal father of whom she would marry. There are gods involved. Cupid likes Psyche as well: after being sent to punish her by his mother Venus (the Roman Aphrodite). Psyche is relatively inexperienced with regards to the world and marriage. She is innocent. And it is only when others ask her who her husband is and if he is attempting to deceive her by masking his “hideousness” that she attempts to look at and potentially kill him if she doesn’t like what she sees. So literally, Psyche and Cupid, and The Doctor and Clara are entirely different situations.

Figuratively though …

The Doctor from the very beginning knows that there is something very odd about Clara Oswin Oswald. She should not exist. She was made into Dalek in “Asylum of the Daleks” and then she died, and then she was a Victorian governess in “The Snowmen” and also died. He then realizes that she can potentially exist in another timeline as the same person and species. There seem to be forces that are getting him to find her after some of his own recent losses. He is both fascinated and afraid to find the truth of her. Perhaps when, in “Hide,” the psychic tells Clara that The Doctor has “a sliver of ice in his heart” she is really saying that there has been so much grief that he has a certain level of objectivity and dispassion as a result of that. Remember, in “The Snowmen,” it was a Christmas episode with the TARDIS in the clouds and The Doctor living there away from all people. Even the interior of the TARDIS looks like a cold metal form of ice.

That “sliver” could be fear, but it may be one of those forces that influences him to “figure Clara out,” while trying to maintain a distance. At the same time, The Doctor always loves to solve mysteries and this is one he cannot resist for a variety of reasons: not the least of which being that this “mystery” seems to like him back. A lot. And there are gods involved in the Whovian Universe–although they are known as different things like Eternals, and “sun parasite-gods”–and The Doctor, like Psyche, has had some adventures into the Underworld: not the least of which being his Regenerations and some of the other places he has found himself in.

Psyche had a lantern and a knife to take with her into the Underworld. The Doctor has his own tool.

I do hope though–probably in vain–that this loose comparison ends here. That when The Doctor finds and brings the metaphorical lantern to see Clara in the darkness that, well … it doesn’t end as badly for him as it almost did with Psyche. But knowing The Doctor’s track record and what the Universe likes to do to him: I am a bit concerned.

Because Clara could be a lot of things. She could be, as some fans have posited, The Dalek Emperor reformed by Rose as the incarnation of the Bad Wolf to be a companion for The Doctor as she predicted her importance and absence from his life in that brief time she absorbed The Heart of the TARDIS. She could be a Dalek or alien-made replicant. Maybe she is another aspect of The Great Intelligence. She could also be an avatar of the returning Eternals for all we know. She could also be Romana: the Time Lady that The Doctor once spent considerable time with. Or, when The Master was disintegrating towards his confrontation with the Time Lords, the resulting closure of the time-warp could have fractured and Regenerated him into a new form existing throughout time and space: and we know now that Time Lords can change sex and gender.

Or, much worse:

Clara Oswin Oswald could very just well be Clara Oswin Oswald in the way that she is–human–and existing in different time periods and places. And by dissecting her mystery, The Doctor could drive her away from him and leave him right back where he started. Alone.

And then maybe he will search for her, as Psyche did Cupid, and go through another adventure or so. Or may be I am just reading too much into this. Perhaps that “sliver of ice” might grow again into something more awful in that isolation. We all know that The Doctor cannot be alone for too long. And imagining that shard of ice becoming a glacial heart within the being of The Valeyard … is not too far off the mark when you wonder just how much more hearts-break can The Doctor take before he completely loses it.

Of course, this is as always mere conjecture and as Doctor Who stories go, it will be something completely unexpected. But The Doctor might want to remember something else. As Neil Gaiman has written in Sandman, there is a difference between a secret and a mystery. A secret is a truth that is waiting to reveal itself. A mystery is something–or in this case someone–that just is. And I hope more than anything that he takes a mystery to be someone and gets to know Clara as she is and that the beautiful knowledge of it does not destroy him and leave him alone in the ashes.

ETA: As an aside, the following is a teaser photo from the episode “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS.” I’ll bet you all Whovians will want to read this.

It’s too bad it probably won’t be in chronological order.

Observations of a Part-Time Poet

Believe it or not, I don’t make poetry often. In fact, poems like Berserker and Necromancer usually come very rarely to me and it is even less often these days that I will post them up publicly for other people to see.

Poetry is not easy for me. It is neither easy to force out nor easy to ignore. It can even be harder to read.

Most of the time when I read prose, I read it silently or skim sentences to absorb the whole and get a greater picture to form in my mind. It is hard for me to explain that in any other way, but that is how it is.

Then there is poetry. I used to avoid it like the plague. I once thought that it was all supposed to be formula and rhyme and iambic pentametre all the time. I only rhyme when I want to be clever, make fake prophecies, or when I am exhausted beyond belief: which is more often than I’m going to talk about. I also used to think it had to be sappy and sentimental and all about those dreaded, diabolical things known to and feared by all humankind as … feelings … ;P

Of course, the wonderful thing about poetry that I had the privilege to learn is that it is the ultimate experimental game of language. You can crystallize whole nuances and depths of thought and emotion into as fewest words as possible. If you are really good at it, you can describe a world in a sentence, discover the rhythm of a very catchy phrase or aphorism (a one-line philosophical quote or word of wisdom to make you look smarter than you really are), actually turn a phrase like a musical note, and word-smithing: actually create entirely new words and meanings from old and strange and wonderful things.

I’ll also tell you this: I’m not sure when I started talking as I write or type, but it helps to catch that rhythm and make things sound far less clunky: though I still manage to ramble and not always make sense anyway. Maybe in some part this is because of some of the poetry that I was encouraged to write and then occasionally have to give vent to.

When you write and read poetry, you really have to read it out loud. That is what I have been doing with John Milton’s Paradise Lost so far. Sometimes it feels like I am chanting from a magical tome and somehow making the energy I find in there mine. What really gets to me is that a lot of the time, aside from the fact that some poetry can be very highly metaphorical and charged with so many symbols verging to the point of attempting to record the speed of thought, feeling, observation, and experience is the structure of a stanza.

You know what I’m talking about: stacks of compact, small sentences stacked above each other and separated by line breaks. You can look at my poem above and see that I gave it a stanza organization: though this one doesn’t rhyme and is more free-verse. What I mean by free-verse is that it is not a form poem: I’m not trying to make a sonnet, or a haiku, or a limerick. As an aside, I’ve been told that my form-based poetry is actually better than my free-verse. I’m also told, and I can see that I use a lot of heightened diction. What I mean by that, and what my former teachers also meant is that I use a lot of big words. Either way, I’m just trying to communicate.

But for some reason I know that I myself will be tempted to try and gloss a narrow stanza-arranged poem like I would a piece of prose and my mind will just not get it. Reading a poem like prose can feel like a real chore, and I know I can get frustrated by this seemingly deceptive short piece of writing that you sometimes think you can just scan through and is actually much denser than its “light-weight” stanza arrangement leads you to believe.

So yeah: in case you’ve been skimming past terms like “stanzas,” and such in this post, maybe what I’m saying is that poetry is like Mithril or Valyrian steel: deceptively slight but it packs a punch when it lands a hit or a graze to the mind.

I would definitely not like to get hit with a psychic conceptual weapon made of a poem: though I would definitely like to make one. Take from that imagery what you will.

I’m actually a fan of poetry that shapes itself like prose into sentence structures. You still have to keep reading it very closely, but it just seems more charged and potent for it. The line between poetry and prose is very blurry and I suspect that the first came well before the second.

When I actually think about it more, I wonder if that is how our minds work: if our thoughts are images and impressions that function on a kind of intuitive continuity. And I like that word: intuition. Maybe poetry is from that time when the words were just forming from the symbols and images in our heads that attempted to come into being through our voices and our scrawling. Maybe we dream in poetry and that is why sometimes it takes certain states of mind to understand it differently from one day to the next.

It can be primordial, or mathematically-precise, or the fragments of a life, or whatever it is you need it to be. I tend to think of poetry as a state of mind or perception of reality that can help you write, speak, and express yourself better. But whatever it is, I think is part of the root of creative writing and the clay of expression and as such it is very important. So you may see more of my poems on here at some point. We shall see.

Tired of Tragedy: The Reclamation of Star Wars?

So I’ve been commenting on some Star Wars news and rumours lately. And it has gotten me to thinking–thinking long and hard–about some issues: specifically about the nature of the Saga as an epic structure, the Expanded Universe, and what I want in the former.

The reason I’ve started writing about Star Wars again–and anyone who knows me is aware that it doesn’t take much to get me to go on about it–is that I became aware of a particular rumour circling around about the existence of Star Wars: Reclamation: essentially what seems to be an animated tie-in into the Episode VII is that is scheduled to happen in 2015. Now, I’m not going to argue whether or not this is legitimate or if it is a hoax, or one of many projects that Disney effectively cancelled by closing down LucasArts not so long ago, but the prospect of it is very fascinating.

Think about it. We have no idea what the next Star Wars film is going to even be like. There are, again, some rumours but nothing definite.

Which brings me to my first point.

Star Wars is a space opera. There is music, there are opening scenes, clearly delineated heroes and villains and all those who fall in-between, epic battles, moments of levity, romance, and tragedy. In fact, most classical operas can–arguably–be divided into the genres of romance and tragedy if you really think about it. Romance in itself is not merely about love, but also the sublime and grandiose in nature. It is a great epic adventure that encompasses many elements: especially the mystery of existence. Tragedy can also arguably have these traits, but there is usually a very clear circular arc in the Classical sense: the hero begins from nothing, becomes great, and through some fatal flaw–hamartia as the Greek word goes–the hero gives into hubris and falls: and falls hard. This is also known as a reversal of fortune.


I would therefore argue that the Star Wars Prequels–in terms of thematic structure–are a great big space tragedy: take from that statement what you will. However I know that when I am watching or reading something and I know that many of the characters I see will eventually die, it is kind of hard to really get attached to them or any of the events that are going on. I mean, that has always been my issue with the Prequels and The Clone Wars cartoons: I just see that every struggle is essentially engineered by Palpatine and it just … cheapened it for me. But if you view these adventures as the ancient Greeks might have known tragedy–because every legend and myth that was adapted into tragedy was already known to the audience and were therefore judged by the skill of the playwright–then I can see the allure.

But I guess it doesn’t help that I: (1) Read the EU books and (2) believe that the plot and some of the characters in the Prequels and Clone Wars were not given as much depth as they deserved: though granted I did not see many of the latter cartoons. Now I want to talk about some other influences on Star Wars with regards to “space” and “opera”: and how this influences what I want to see in the Saga.

When I talk about space operas there is also the science-fiction adventure genre to consider. You know: that Sunday matinee serialization of different episodes that people in the 1950s or so would watch. I always like to bring up the fact that Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers influenced George Lucas a lot in creating Star Wars. You can read the posts, I won’t repeat them. But these particular science fiction adventure stories also leave their mark on Star Wars in another way: one that channels an even older idea.

This idea is that of redemption. It is redemption that really stands out in the Star Wars Saga. If the Prequels were a tragic and angst-filled arc, then the Old Trilogy was arguably an adventurous and redemptive arc.

I can argue that while hubris is more of a human trait, redemption is as mysterious as the Force itself. There is so much of the romantic, the sublime, and the grand adventure in the Old Trilogy–of things we didn’t know–and it just opens a path to seemingly limitless vistas: much akin to that sense of wonder that existed in the science-adventures of George Lucas’ youth and so much more. After all: who could see the villain becoming, for one brief moment, the hero: someone to be both pitied and respected? Yes, it was a twist moment and some people probably predicted something like it, but it was magical: just as what happened afterwards.

Now let me get back to the other matter: the Expanded Universe after the Old Trilogy. I’m not going to lie. I know that many of the stories in the EU–with some exceptions–are pretty inconsistent in themselves and aren’t always on par with what I liked about the Old Trilogy. That much I can personally can let go.

But I’m also going to make another admission. After the publication of Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Duology, I stopped really reading the Star Wars EU. I think the biggest mistake was the fact that instead of continuing with what that galaxy contained–instead of bringing back the Sith or a Dark Side threat after the peace treaty with the Imperial Remnant, the authors introduced the Yuuzhan Vong: some extra-galactic sadomasochistic warriors using bio-technology and hating machines. As far as I am concerned, that was the beginning of the end of the EU for me and it only got worse when they tried to introduce the Dark Side in some of the most plot-contrived ways I’d ever seen it.

In the end, they killed at least two of the most interesting characters in the Expanded Universe–Jacen Solo and Mara Jade–with the former killing the latter and becoming a half-assed Sith Lord–and the series and what came after it became progressively darker. It is like the criticism that some people have for comics nowadays: that writers are just copying the grit and darkness of larger story arcs before them. But instead of it being comics makers of DC and such imitating Alan Moore and Frank Miller without their nuances, it is writers working with LucasBooks who imitated the darkness of the Prequels: pieces that at least had structural nuances. The mysteries just became contrived and it became all about the angst: all about the tragedy and an attempt to make something epic out of nothing.

It seriously made me just want to quote Lando and say, “This deal is getting worse all the time.” To be fair, I know that the Sith were supposed to be incorporated into the EU earlier, but apparently LucasFilms had issue with that: probably because of the development of the Prequels at the time. Also, George Lucas generally did his own thing, didn’t pay much attention to the EU, and many of these writers always had to “tow the line” as it were with regards to what innovation they could bring to the stories set in Lucas’ universe.

Really, here is what I want to say as succinctly as possible. If there is something like Star Wars: Reclamation–and that title is fitting on so many different levels–then so be it. I wouldn’t mind seeing most of the Expanded Universe rebooted: or at least given an alternative series of stories as they are doing with The Star Wars comic based on the rough draft of the original film script.

Really, the only elements I would miss about the EU as it is now would be the Legacy comics, Mara Jade, the Solo children, Republic Commando, X-Wing, Wraith Squadron and Grand Admiral Thrawn and friends. The rest of it was pretty mediocre in retrospect. I also really don’t like how Luke settled to be another Old Guard when he had so much potential to become something more.

In some ways, the fact that Disney stopped production of Clone Wars and many of the video games–which I feel are rehashings of old ideas and cycles–may be one of its best decisions yet. Even Star Wars 1313, for all of its excellent graphics and the idea that you are not playing as a Force-user, looked like it was just going to be a shooter game set in the Star Wars Universe: and there are so many shooter games out there already.

It all kind of reminds me of how, when something doesn’t work for me anymore, I just destroy it and start from scratch. I am that scarily absolutist when I am driven to that point. My only regret is, aside from potentially losing some characters I did grow attached to, that this is the closest we will ever get to seeing a Star Wars reboot: the best being a silence about the Prequels or anything to do with them after this.

But I am also skeptical about what might be going on. Even if you look at that Reclamation script excerpt you will notice that certain species from the Expanded Universe still exist. This is also assuming the script is legitimate and will survive the light of day. I am however really leery of the fact that Disney closed LucasArts down and and laid off many of their employees: whatever Kotaku and other sources might be saying about its productivity level. It could be that they are, as they say, focusing all of their talent on the future of Star Wars–which theoretically sounds ideal–but I have to wonder about that.

In fact, the very title of this article is a misnomer on my part. I mean, how can any outside party “reclaim” something that wasn’t originally even theirs?

I know it seems like I am saying a lot of things at the same time. And I am. But here is what it comes down to me for me: I am willing to see a lot of the EU disappear–or be placed into an “Old Expanded Universe”–so that something can be created that will need to something potentially new and good. Ideally, I would like to see the Prequels and Clone Wars disappear or change too: leaving only Legacy, The Old Republic, and Tales of the Jedi and other such more “ancient” stories in the Star Wars EU intact. But that is too idealistic for my own good.

I also realize I have gotten a lot more cynical in my old-age of thirty-one. Once, I would never have even considered wanting the EU to be gone or changed. I was just as much into continuity as anyone. To an extent I still am. Tragedy and angst have their place, but I want to see so much more now. I am not completely all Crisis on Infinite Earths DC where I want to see it all burn–much–but just like the viewers of the old days and their adventure serials I do want to anticipate what will happen next as opposed to the minutiae of what is already going to happen. I want to see alternate avenues, new mysteries, and characters that could go anywhere and whose futures are not seen as written yet: new adventures with depth, romance, and wonder.

That is ultimately what “Long, long ago in a Galaxy far, far away” means to me.

I want wonder, and something to look forward to.

File:Spirits copy1.jpg

ETA: Disney has very recently announced that they plan to release a Star Wars film every summer after the release of Episode VII. Now, the idea is that each film will be a spin-off movie aside from the main Episodes. These are more in line in some ways with the old science-adventure serials of the 50s: in that there are more of them. Now whether they will incorporate some of the EU into their creation, or make a whole other alternate story with them from the books and literature that exist is another matter entirely. And really interesting for it. Limitless horizons indeed.

ETA: According to a LucasFilm spokesperson, Star Wars: Reclamation is not real. This does not surprise me, but at least it made for a good title to my post.


I catch them in a pool
of ruby libation
leisurely prepared
though they try to repent
in haste.

The spirits that always followed
in the grey charnel fields
and faded Edens that trail behind me,
and the ones always loomed ahead
in the spires that haven’t crumbled
and the blankness that is always there
across the furtive lake:
they find the liquid feast
to tide them over before
they return to the repast
of my own mind …

Only to be captured by their hunger.

They scream and cry
as the words come back to them
and they tell me the things
clearly that they hissed
and whispered in the slips
between my vigilance
and the terrible question:

How many red? How many red?
How many … red?

I do not answer what the dead
and the not gone yet already know.

Trapped in silken streams
I take them into my hands
rolling them into my palms
and savour the burning muck
as it finally stains my skin
and self honestly.

I make the pain into a chord
and begin to spread their blended whiteness,
hammering their grey cold feelings,
burning their secrets,
distilling the vapours into an old formula …
until I have all the substance.

Folded edges fold again
upon themselves and each layer,
each wire moulds them
and the sweetness and pleasure
replaces the churning depths of Agon.

For weaving the ghost-metal
into legions of origami weapons:
their stories now my own
to unleash on the planes
of hindsight:
they are perfection every time.

Becoming a Gateway: Or What Anna Anthropy Twines Together

I will say here, off the bat, that there are some video game and article links below that can be construed as Not Safe For Work. Player’s discretion is advised, though enthusiasm is also encouraged. I am also hoping that I can communicate and do justice to these ideas and some of my own creative license as best I can.

I’m not sure how I first met Anna Anthropy. Actually, that is not entirely true. I do remember first being introduced to her when I discovered Rise of the Video Game Zinesters: though how I came across that book to begin with is a memory now lost to time.

I did plan to buy that book eventually, but then life got in the way. One day, after a series of insane events, I found myself brought to the 2012 CanZine Toronto Event by some friends who thought I needed to see it: and I did. What I didn’t know, or what didn’t really bridge the cognitive dissonance in my head was that Anna Anthropy was there with her partner Daphny David and that they were selling the very book that I had been so interested in.

I’m going to admit that I felt sad, but I was still getting used to that endless process of being social again that I tend to find myself in and by the time I realized that they had been there, it was too late. So I bought the book for myself later instead.

There are many very good reviews that detail what the contents of the book were about: how it worked, how it possibly didn’t, and all of those various details. But there were a few things that stuck out at me. The main message that I got from Rise of the Video Game Zinesters was that Anna Anthropy wants there to be more accessible technology and means for anyone to create a video game. My younger self, the boy that really wanted to make games, would have totally agreed with this concept: even if he didn’t have the knowledge at the time to understand many of the other details surrounding it.

Essentially, Anna Anthropy wants there to be a means for a game-making technology or software–a manifestation of communication and language–that is easily accessible for anyone to use for the purpose of, well, making games and creating ideas. Or taking names and kicking ass: whichever definition you prefer. Of course, there is more than that. The idea is that by having different people of different backgrounds, social classes, career-paths, sexual and gender orientations, queerness, life practices, and a wide gamut of humanity that does not necessarily understand coding you can vary up the content and the gaming experience of a game without an industry-ruled homogeneity: where plots and stereotypes are recycled to keep a sure profit.

It is a very seductive idea. Anthropy compares this “much needed” product and the mindset behind it to the creation of the printing press in Renaissance Europe: thus freeing the production of literary articles from the Catholic Church’s scribes and making them accessible to everyone. The fact that the printing press allowed for religious texts to be made with vernacular language–the words of the everyday layperson–instead of a Latin known only to nobles, priests, and scholars is probably an analogy not lost on Anthropy when she brought up the image to begin with when you consider that she looks at games as a language that all men, women, humans, and other sentient beings should be able to relate and have access to.

She also briefly looks at the history of game-making itself and equates video game development with the earliest forms of games: with symbolic piece and board games, carnival games, arcades, all the way to modern board games and more miniaturized computer games. In addition, Anthropy makes a very compelling case as to how video games were and are in the providence of an elite minority: that it was male computer programmer students and the academy that developed code and the games that came from it. Yet it is also clear that there are changes that are–and have been–in the works to that regard.

I’ll tell right off, as some other reviewers of Anna Anthropy’s work have mentioned, I don’t always agree with what she says but she makes some very intriguing observations. There is one point in particular that sticks out at me. Anthropy writes that a single game creator in sole control of their project can make a much more focused and more personal form of art–a game–than a large team of staff members can. I don’t know if I am articulating that thought as thoroughly as I should, but that is what I got from that. What I find really interesting is that Will Eisner, in his book Comics and Sequential Art, also makes a very similar statement with regards to the development of the comics medium and storytelling within it. These are two different mediums, both of which had to fight to gain recognition as a legitimate medium, yet it is really fascinating how two of their advocates come to similar conclusions.

Eisner did mention, however, that there was nothing wrong with a collaboration between two or more artists on a work. Indeed, in his book Graphic Storytelling he goes into a lot more detail with regards to that. And even Anna Anthropy, in her book, mentions that she is writing the book not merely for game creators but for anyone: writer or scholar that is fascinated with her topic. It should also be noted that Anna Anthropy has collaborated with a few other artists in her own works: such as the fun and frustrating Lesbian Spider-Queens From Mars, the very personal and visceral Dys4ia, and the thought provoking puzzle game Triad. While much of this collaboration has been in the form of graphics and sound, even programming for the latter game, it is still a form of collaboration: though obviously not an industry-mandated one. Rather, these are the product of an agreement between artists that respect one another and actually work together to make something cohesive while still keeping the personal element of Anthropy’s own vision.

Now, to get beyond the book and go a bit into Anna Anthropy’s games. I like them. I like the concept behind them: of taking a video game form and using it to communicate a personal experience. There is something really beautiful about that. I know that Anthropy may not be the only person who does this–and I suspect she hopes she isn’t in the only one either–but she is the one that really introduced this to me on more than a cursory level. I think she is one of those who reinforced for me that the games of my youth–that inspired me as a creator–are more than just frivolity or an inferior art-form. Some have said the same thing about comics, about film, and–back in the day–even theatre and other forms of painting and art.

Some people have been giving Anthropy flak about her games: about how they all tend to follow a very similar pattern or themes of lesbianism, BDSM, and transgender issues. The thing is, well there are two things. The first is that all of the above things are not mainstream in video games: at least not from someone who has all of those elements in their own life. The second is the age-old adage: write about what you know. And Anna Anthropy knows about all of this. She writes about and makes what she knows. Her viewpoint is just as valid as anyone else’s and it is more than okay for her to make games about what interests her: because there are others out there who will relate to it.

The fact that she uses similar themes in her work, and I would say never quite in the same way with regards to game play mechanics, is irrelevant to me: because the industry does the same thing for the most part with many mainstream themes and even the best creators make what they know.

I think what I admire about Anna Anthropy and others like her is that although I can’t always agree with them, they do something that is remarkable. Sometimes the people in charge of publishing or video game industries and coding are called “the gatekeepers.” And what Anthropy and others are doing is they are becoming gateways: gateways and fiery Bodhisattvas into alternate perspectives and the potential for the creation and expression of new game experiences.

This is something that I deeply respect and it is a thing that greatly motivates me now. There is one thing I have mentioned before in this Blog: that I am looking into Twine game-making because of Anthropy’s mention and use of it. Twine is a software that lets you create a “choose your own adventure” style text game without a knowledge of coding, or with enough video tutorials to get into it. I want to do the same thing that she and others are doing now. I want to make a game that can communicate my own–albeit different-experiences: ones I’m not sure even Anthropy will always agree with. I want to have the ability to put someone else into my own shoes: as it were. Or use my experience to make something else entirely and let people make their own choices.

So Anna Anthropy won with regards to me: because she has influenced me to make a game. But I think what is also remarkable is how she even affects her reviewers and critics. Take Jenn Frank’s Rise of the Existential Crisis: How One Woman Nearly Never Finished a Book Review, or Cara Ellison’s Choose Your Own Anna Anthropy Interview.

Frank’s article adopts Anna Anthropy’s writing style from Rise of the Video Game Zinesters: emulating Anthropy’s own combination of history and criticism and inter-dispersing it with her own personal experiences in a seemingly scattered narrative but ultimately bridging the gap between the reviewer and the creator of personal expression while Cara Ellison actually makes a Choose Your Own Adventure Game using Twine–Twine–in order to bring her interaction with Anthropy across. Just looking at the styles and mediums used by these two women is utterly fascinating: Frank does not necessarily agree with Anthropy’s statement that everyone should make a game–though she wishes on some level that she had–while Ellison flat out makes a game to express her interaction and her influence from Anthropy’s philosophy in a very demonstrative manner.

I will also say right now that this article was a long time coming. I just didn’t have the words then. But if Ellison’s Twine article further influenced me to make my own game (and I didn’t even realize she was using Twine to do it at the time, another example of my cognitive dissonance), Frank’s article actually encouraged me to write this. And I have been influenced by Anthropy in other ways as well: you will probably see relatively soon outside of this article.

But if I had to sum up everything I have written here, I will say this: that in terms of video-game storytelling, its potential as a medium, and her own potential influence on its future, Anna Anthropy is immensely important.

P.S. My favourite Anna Anthropy Twine game is this one: Hunt for the Gay Planet. There is a story behind its creation that she can explain far better than I, but what really inspires me is the story of a person who tries to find other people like her and goes on a long well-written intergalactic journey. This piece inspired me so much that I bought the Choose Your Own Adventure book from Anthropy’s own site: which is coincidentally on my Blogroll as well.

Participant in One Marathon, A Spectator at Another

Originally this weekend I was going to participate in the 12-Hour Comic Book Marathon at the Comics Lounge and Gallery. I didn’t end up writing anything or collaborating with any artists there. If my experience at the Global Game Jam taught me anything it was that most people there probably already knew each other and either way they would have come in some pre-made teams: those that needed them anyway.

As I’ve said before, I am not much of a graphic artist.

Really, I didn’t want to potentially take up someone’s space on the possibility that I couldn’t find a partner and–to be perfectly honest–I didn’t want to be the odd one out: feeling painfully self-conscious.

Later on, I found out that there were still a few writers and artists who cancelled or were actually still looking for a partner, but by then it was too late. However, it was just as well that I decided not to do it because my brain is full with all the work I’ve been doing and I had never actually been to the Lounge before. I would most likely have gotten lost trying to find it.

Essentially: I wanted to get there, get a feel for the space, meet some of the people there, talk a bit with them, maybe make some connections so that I could participate in a later event, or–really–just get to know people who have similar interests to my own.

I still felt bad, though, that I hadn’t participated as I intended and looked forward to doing. Keiran Templeton–who I saw in her tiara as she held court over an assortment of writers and artists–not only organized the entire event, she also had time to go face book and ask if there were any people that wanted to work with others, and she even told me by email that she would keep my name on a list to let me know about next time.

As it was, I made it up to myself by punching some of my procrastination out and starting to really script out my own collaboration with Angela O’Hara: you know, the comic I keep saying that I am working on. In my defence, I have been working on it on and off with little tidbits of notes here and there: much like every other long-standing story I’ve been dealing with. In fact, for The Project I actually made a rough outline of everything that I want to happen in our first issue.

The key of course was actually beginning to flesh it out. I’m beginning to realize that in industry terms, I work entirely too slow on comics scripts. Even from my limited understanding I can see that they take time and a lot of concentration. But the day before the Marathon, I decided to get into the spirit of it and expand on the very first part: to actually take one segment and go wild with some descriptions and leave room to artistic interpretation in others.

And that Friday before the Marathon, I sent something to Angela via inline text and–if it’s not perfect–it is at least something to start from and a good subject for us to discuss. I look forward to talking with her about it when we find the time and see what she will make of it.

So I had this little bit of positive energy to tide me over as I finally did leave to find the Comics Gallery and Lounge I’d been hearing about for so long. The journey was ironic for me. It seems like so long ago that I used to live on the Bloor-Danforth line: specifically close to Woodbine Station. Even before that, when I was at York, I always found that energy to take various transit to get to find my away to College and Clinton: where the Lounge actually is. It’s only now that I’m in Thornhill–in York Region–again that I decided to go somewhere cool that I’d been putting off for so long.

When I found myself outside the shop, I paced around a bit: suddenly really feeling the nervousness. It was strange: being back downtown on the streets again after basically huddling away in Thornhill. And here I was outside a place with people who obviously loved comics and other Geekery and I was hesitating. It would be helpful to mention that I’ve developed some very crippling social anxiety over the years. It probably has roots to older sources, but after so long dealing with Grad School and being by myself a lot I kind of really retreated into myself. It also doesn’t help that I was shy to begin with and … it’s hard for me to put myself out there.

I also was thinking to myself: what if I go in there and no one likes me? I know: it’s a pretty irrational series of thoughts and I have gotten better at dealing with them. I knew that if I needed to, I could leave at any time I wanted and–it being a Lounge–I brought some work to do as well. My plan was to stay there for the party that was going to happen after 11 pm–when the Marathon was officially over–talk with some people and then leave.

So I walked up the stairs and everyone was friendly. I had to get used to, well, being in a new place and around people I didn’t know but I browsed around the shop and entertained myself looking at comics. There was a very comfortable black couch–most of the inner room was set up with benches so people could work–and I sat down to write. I actually started to feel a lot more comfortable writing and having something to do.

It was strange at first. I’d seen a lot of the people around me on Facebook or the Internet when I was finding out more about the Lounge, but actually being around them in person was just different and cool. It turns out some people were late for the Marathon anyway and, really, they just seemed to have a whole lot of fun doing what they did, browsing comics, and just socializing. I didn’t talk with as many people as I wanted to, but my cousin Shane Kirshenblatt–who made such awesome comics as Dorothy Gale: Journey to Oz–and his wife Sari came in and we talked for a while about comfortable things like comics and writing and creation and all that fun stuff.

Coincidentally, I wrote my first Conference paper partially on Shane’s Oz comic and he inspired me through a conversation to write my first ever science-fiction story in ages: one that didn’t win the Friends of the Merrill Short Story Contest granted, but I am still proud of it to this day. He actually talked with me about looking at a script of his to see what I could do with it: something that really intrigues me.

I even briefly talked with Keiran as she was managing her Empire of comics creators and there was a dog or two, and some cheering, and various geeky discussions. I ended up having a really good conversation that night with Debra Jane Shelly. I had seen her before, like many of the other denizens of the Lounge, on their Blog and Facebook. She really stuck out at me the first I saw her and I knew before I ever talked with her that she was a hard-core comics geek. But it is one thing to know that intellectually, but experience it first-hand in a conversation was entirely different and enjoyable. I barely got a word in edge-wise, but I enjoyed listening to what she had to say and I learned a few things.

For instance: I never thought about the first-impression that people got of Watchmen when it came out in the 1980s. As Debra pondered this, I remember thinking that it was true: it was during this time period that meta-narrative and pastiching were being implemented into comics narrative along with a certain more blatant kind of adult irony.

When you think about the comics that came before, during the heyday of the Comics Code–of comics industry self-censorship–and then you look at something like Watchmen you can definitely imagine a kind of “culture shock” for some readers. But, as Debra put it, we will never really know that feeling ourselves: you know, aside from reading about it through secondary sources. It’s like those accounts you hear about from famous writers and comics creators about growing up with the old Pre-Code Horror Comics: with EC Comics’ Tales from the Crypt, Creepshow, and all of that really fun and twisted stuff. But even though we can read a lot of those twistedly ironic and morbid goodies now, the spirit of Zeitgeist of the times where they were written are not really as accessible to us or perceived the same as someone who was there.

I think it was good to talk with someone who knew as much–if not more–about comics: someone who had read some really good and memorable works. It was sort of humbling, to be honest: to know that wasn’t the only one as insane about this stuff as I sometimes delude myself into thinking. There was a whole room of them. :). I did talk with some more people and then I took my leave as it was about that time. Debra actually made me pose for a picture where I am holding Alan Moore’s Nemo: Heart of Ice: a book I actually got there. As for the reason that she took it, if one is needed, she told me that she likes to take pictures of people having found their favourite books: or something to that effect.

It occurred to me–or I remembered–as I smiled at the camera that I rarely ever smile when I’m in public: especially in Toronto. Sometimes the exhaustion, and anger, and sadness ingrains itself in you so bone-deep that it’s difficult to even smile for real. I thought about just how sad that fact really was.

In any case, I said some goodbyes and then I left to find the streetcar back to Bathurst Station. I missed the car, so I decided: “Screw it! I’m going to walk the fucker!” So I walked by myself all the way from Clinton and College to Bathurst Station. I hadn’t walked that long or been in this area in ages. And as I did so, with my travel bag on my shoulder and my black winter coat covering me I felt more alive than I have in a really long time.

Coincidentally, it took me 16 minutes and there was no other streetcar during that entire time.

I know when I wake up tomorrow, or later, I’m going to be very embarrassed by some of the sentimentality and haphazard writing I’ve left here. It’s no new thing, to be fair. Actually, I’m surprised I wrote so much about–well–doing so little: by my standards anyway. However, I really felt the need to write this out while it is still fresh.

I am definitely going to check out the Lounge again. Here is the Toronto Comics Lounge and Gallery Blog in case you are interested and you didn’t see it on my Blogroll section. Thank you for reading this and, next time, I do plan to make something.

Excelsior, ladies and gentlemen.

Before the Empire, There Was Something Else

This wasn’t a planned post of mine, but it’s amazing how Star Wars makes me do that. Not too long ago, I heard that Disney is shutting LucasArts down. I did grow up with the games that this company made tangentially and it does make me wonder exactly what it is that Disney is planning to do with the Star Wars franchise.

But I don’t really feel like I have much to say on this matter. Yet while LucasArts is currently being dissolved, there is another–perhaps more understated–Star Wars event happening as well. I’m talking about the comics adaptation of George Lucas’ Star Wars film script.

The original draft.

If we go by the theory that the original that a character is based off of has a considerable amount of resonance and power, then these figures will definitely stick to whomever will read this limited edition series.

I won’t go too much into the details of the thing. In fact, if you’d like, you can read some news accounts here or here on the matter. This is not the first time I have heard about or read anything about Lucas’ original script draft. In fact, I’ve seen one or two fanfics take these Star Wars proto-characters and their prototypical universe and make some really interesting things out of them.

But they are, however the writing may be, the root of many of the elements of Star Wars that we recognize today: in the Old Trilogy, in the New, and in a lot of the Expanded Universe.

What we are seeing, in comics form, is an alternate universe in a galaxy far, far away and what was once the providence of fanfiction is now–to some degree–being created and sanctioned by LucasBooks such as it is. It is like finding out that the new J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek alternate universe films were being created in a smaller comics form: save that his alternate universes are his own and not Gene Roddenbery’s.

But what really gets me is looking back on two posts I made on Mythic Bios about Star Wars. I wasn’t really satisfied with Star Wars: Back to the Basics, to be honest, though I do think that my post When You Wish Upon a Star, Far, Far Away does have some merit apart from its rather witty title. I think my issues with the first post were that I had a lot of supposition and hearsay, but not a lot of proof. I wanted to compare Star Wars to Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon: to show that the latter really affected the former from Lucas’ own formative years and that the Prequels were a hearkening back to that original source material. I even had trouble trying to find pictures to make nice parallels: save that at least the “opening crawl” receding into the distance in both the Old and New Trilogies had a parallel with the old Buck Rogers serial introductions.

File:Flash Gordon (1940) - Opening Crawl.jpg

But if you look at the links to the news pages that I attached above with regards to the comics being made from the old script draft, just read how the characters are described and look at the accompanying art work that is being made currently. In my second article, I went into some brief speculation about a Star Wars reboot: much in the way of Star Trek. I doubt this is going to be wide spread and I certainly don’t think the next Episodes will be reboots, but it is worth looking at the fact that in some medium this creator-made “pre-boot?” is being made.

The way this script is described, it not only seems to be closer to the film materials that Lucas was inspired by and are mentioned in the linked articles, but there is something very … Princess of Mars about their aesthetics and attitudes.

If you want to talk about prototypes or preceding archetypes, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ world of Barsoom really influenced a lot of science-fiction: with almost archaic looking costumes, vintage laser weapons, and a lot of emphasis on royalty and nobility even beyond the usual Star Wars: or at least the Star Wars of the Old Trilogy. You can also argue that some of the images in the articles I linked to also look a lot like Buck Rogers aesthetics as well. And Star Wars, while it is epic fantasy, borrows and wears enough of the science-fiction aesthetic to be examined in this manner. I would say that this is an attempt to hearken readers back to a retro-Star Wars, but this “predates” and pre-exists that vintage. A Pre-Boot Pre-Retro? Now, that just sounds bulky to say and I am sure there is a better way to say it.

I think that, in the end, what I find really fascinating about this–in this really simple overview of the matter on my part–is that we are in a time now which is really interested in the retroactive: in Retro itself. For many of us born and grown up in the 70s and 80s, perhaps even the 90s, the present has become the past. I go into it a lot here, but this decision on LucasBooks’ part seems to really feed into that growing niche in popular and geek culture now.

Or this is just a very strange and fascinating look into an experiment that could have been and admittedly has a very limited lifespan: an oddity that has existed for years collecting dust on the shelf and in the recesses of Internet chatrooms and forums which is now really getting acknowledged.

I would never have known about any of this as a child and–indeed–if I had known about either LucasArts’ end and the Original Draft comic coming out a few days ago–on April 1–I would not have believed it. As it was, I read about the Original Draft being adapted to a comic during April Fool’s and didn’t know what to even think about that!

But I like oddities and strange things. I make them all the time. I am making them right now. I thought that the Star Wars Prequels were a hearkening to older space opera shows of the 50s or so, but maybe they were also referencing this older, weirder, prototypical universe: an elder reality. I want to see what will come of this. They would at least make for some interesting toys.

And I don’t know about you, but I want to know if the reptilian Han Solo still shoots first. I’m messed up like that. 😉

Imagination Is Thicker Than Blood

In a post that Vampire Maman wrote, You Transfix Me Quite, she talks about how the character of Jane Eyre would have made an excellent vampire. Vampire Maman has a lot of very interesting and entertaining creative writing, but it reminded me of something I bring up from time to time out of a sense of sheer silliness.

I never played the Old World of Darkness Vampire: The Masquerade role-playing game, but I heard people talk about it and I researched as much about it as I could online. And I always wondered what kind of vampire I would be in that world.

There are many different Clans and, more specifically, Bloodlines in Vampire: The Masquerade. As a result, each vampire belonging to a particular line had different attributes than his or her fellow. Originally I toyed with being part of Clan Tremere because of their knowledge of blood magic and the fact that they seized their vampirism: they weren’t–at least knowingly–turned by another vampire, but rather they were mages that took blood from a captured vampire to make themselves powerful and immortal … though they didn’t count on the fact that they would still possess the inherent weaknesses of the Kindred.

But I abandoned that idea because they are too stratified in social structure and limited in numbers. So I thought I might have been a Ventrue. And indeed, some people believe that I am a very calm, detached, and dispassionate being whenever they meet me offline. I can be calculating and organizational like this Clan tends to be portrayed but this is not my major strong point and not even a fraction of the personality I really have. Still, I can appreciate the Blood Discipline of Dominate: you know, that stereotypical ability to hypnotize or mesmerize another being.

My girlfriend once said that I would make an excellent member of the Toreadors. A Toreador is either a very beautiful vampire that creates a series of social networks and supports various kinds of art, or they are artists themselves that spend their immortality oftentimes secluded and making new things, or they are both. Generally, they are closest to humanity as they like to watch and support their artistic endeavours and fads. Aside from the compliment of being compared to something beautiful and creative, I also share their obsession with a particular object: such as art. Yet they can also be very vain and fickle, and while I have some of those traits, they are not paramount in who I am.

Which brings me to the final Clan I was told about. One day, my girlfriend changed her mind about something. She thought that I could also be a Brujah. Now, I had heard about this Clan. In the Modern Nights era of that world, they were generally characterized as passionate, frenzied vampires that were usually punks, brawlers, and anarchists. However, in ancient times they were known as disciplined warriors and philosophers that embraced a particular ideal: honing body, mind, soul, and altered power to fight for what they believed in. They were not merely turned from fighters, but also lawmakers, orators, and thinkers. I can also see them having turned some artists along the way as well: much like the Toreador.

I would not be a typical Brujah of the modern period, I would imagine and I would probably seem more like a Toreador on the surface with some Ventrue discipline and calculation. At the same time, I would definitely be a fighter and a defiant force: through the imagery of my words.

But all these distinctions aside, would I make a good vampire? The answer is that I probably would in a very reluctant sort of way. I already have difficulty with a mortal life, and immortality would just be inconceivable with my range of emotions. On the other hand, a lot of physical burdens would no longer be an issue and perhaps–just like in this real world–I would have phases of activity and dormancy. Maybe with time I would surpass many mental challenges and blocks as well. It is hard to say what it would like in a hypothetical and fictional situation but, like I said, it is definitely fun to think about.