It Made My Day

I just wanted to take some time to talk to you, my readers, old and new. It’s going to be a short post this time around, but don’t get used to it: I’ll be writing your ear off again soon enough. 😉

In fact, that’s what this entire post is really about.

So, a week ago now the first part of my article The Stitching Together of a Mythos: Kris Straub’s Broodhollow got posted by the fine folks of Sequart: which I followed on Twitter only to find that Kris Straub himself had retweeted it. After a brief Twitter exchange my day–then–was made. I thought that, if it ended here, it would be okay.

A day or so later, I posted a few comments on Amanda Palmer’s Blog. She wants to have some feedback with regards to a non-fiction book on the topic of asking that she was, ironically, asked to write. As I was responding to her second book post, I had an epiphany about something. When Amanda asked what I wish I asked for, I rambled a whole lot and then, not as satisfied with the answer I gave her on this post I went on Facebook and Twitter to state that I realized “that, after commenting on @amandapalmer’s Blog, most of my regrets aren’t about things I didn’t ask for.”

A day later, I opened my email to see that on Twitter I got a retweet from Amanda. I have a friend named Amanda and then I did a double-take and looked at this Amanda’s last name.

Another day. Made. In fact, I was told by a dear friend I’d never talked with on the phone before or even seen that–at least for the moment–I gained more Nerd cred than she has: though I have to say she is definitely one to talk and will beat me in no time. ;p

Then not long after that, Miguel Sternberg of Spooky Squid Games was on Twitter complaining about being in a house with no tea with the hashtag #canadianhorrorstories. You have to understand: I couldn’t resist. I ended up writing this: “Short two sentence horror story: The last man on Earth sits in a house. There is no one at the other side of the door with tea.”

Suffice to say, this got retweeted as well.  I wrote a bit more, but he tweeted his screams of terror at me far before that part and that was satisfying in and of itself.

But then I thought: all right. I am totally on a roll here but I have work that I need to do. I’d finally finished playing Christine Love’s Hate Plus and I had to write something for it: I just had to, you know? So I did. It was long and I stayed up late into the night to watch my brain shrivel into the corners of my skull from exhaustion. I’d written a previous article about Christine’s games and I thought nothing of it. I thought I would get a few views or what-not–maybe more because the game had just come out relatively recently–and that would be about it.

So for a day this seemed to be the case. I added stuff and made some corrections and what not. I even added images and had the damnedest time finding a particular image of *Mute in her uniform. So whatever.

The next day …

I’ve briefly exchanged tweets with Christine Love occasionally but this was the first time she had ever retweeted me. Ever. And then I went on my Blog–and this was a few days ago now or however you reckon time when it is very late past what some would consider night–and I see, and I am not joking at all here, I see this … large number of visitors and an even larger volume of views. You get alliteration from this no matter what word you use. And some unintentional rhyme too. See, this is what happens when I write when I’m tired.

Anyway, now that I’m writing up this post to all of you I just have to ask: how many days equal a week made?

I’m feeling really good right now. It’s still confusing and scary, but I can see the hints of opportunities coming up and all of these things–which may seem trivial to some people–are signals that indicate that I am travelling on the right path to … to something. I made something for Andrez Bergen a musician and an excellent writer as well that will … come up on October 9th. I am corresponding with a friend that may be able to help me find some more contacts and connections that I need to begin the process of supporting myself.

I also have two projects that are really experiments to see how much you guys want to see me … make something. One of these would be shared with the public: though I need to look into the logistics of it more. As for the other: I may or may not attempt some …. self-publishing. We shall have to see on that. But the first will definitely be in the form of a question that I will share with all of you whom might be interested.

I might also be … doing something else too in addition to everything you might already know I’m the process of working on. But I have to make some decisions. It seems lately that I am always having to make decisions. A while ago, some friends of mine who were in Vancouver entered their Master’s Program and I entered mine–at least in part because I also wanted to gain that prestige and knowledge (with no little debt)–to feel like a part of what they were feeling if that makes sense: to prove I was equal to them and, more importantly, capable of delving into places by myself.

For a while, especially after still being in debt and a change in circumstances I began to despise academics and wanted to distance myself from it. But it seems as though it will never really leave me, but not only have I learned that I can deal with it on my own terms through this Blog and Sequart and other places but I now feel close to my distant friends in space and time in a different way.

Because, here is the thing: even though I know this is still going to be hard as fuck, I don’t just want a made day, or a made series of days, or a made week, or even made years.

I want a made lifetime. But more than that: I want to make my lifetime.

And now I think it is beginning because, when you come right down to it, it never really ended.

Thank you Kris Straub, Amanda Palmer, Miguel Sternberg, Andrez Bergen, Julian Darius of Sequart and Christine Love for giving me those little extra nudges towards where I need to be. You are inspiring. I also want to thank one of my former Humanities Professors Markus Reisenleitner for endorsing me on LinkedIn. He actually showed one of my posts–Worms and Bicycles Or How People Make For Strange Stories–to his students and that was very encouraging. And I want to thank Gil Williamson for publishing my science-fiction story To Serve on Mythaxis Magazine.

But lastly, I want to thank all my friends and loved ones and all my readers for always being there in some form or another and encouraging me to keep making this Mythic Bios possible. You will be hearing from me soon. I promise.

Looking Outward

On the Dangers and Merits of Sequels: Or a Post in Post-Haste

This post is late. Actually, I’ve had to redo this post at least two or three times already in that I had no idea what exactly I wanted to write about. In fact, I wasn’t sure I was even going to write about anything.

It’s been those kinds of days.

Usually I have some posts in reserve–as I’ve probably mentioned before–or I get one done the very day of Monday or Thursday. In fact, I think some of the few times I’ve been late with an entry have been on special occasions such as holidays: you know, like New Years. This was not New Years: at least I really hope not.

I have been busy. I recently finished writing an article for Sequart which I plan to send to them with some associated images once it gets a look over. I actually got all fancy and annotated it: doing some of the very academic things I swore off because of how tedious and infuriating they can become. Still, it’s kind of like creating a formulaic ritual around your words: either keeping the forces of skepticism out, or binding them inside the circle.

My analogy of academics as formulaic magic aside, I’m pleased with how it has turned out so far and I look forward to showcasing it: one way or another. I’m also now brainstorming more elements for the plot of my Secret Project: though there are some details–both practical and otherwise–that I have to get before I can go forward. I am also working on a short story and doing research for that. In addition, I have had to reread some of my Twine rough draft notes so that I can eventually go back to working on that lovely monstrosity. I almost gave up on it because it really has been a while, but my plan involves finishing one or two “chapters” and then work on one “chapter” that I can experiment with Twine proper. This one chapter will be an excerpt for people to read and play through: or a standalone piece of game writing. I think focusing on this one part captures the spirit of what I want to talk about and will be a good example of what I want to do. So there is that.

As for the rest of it … I guess I can sum it up like this. Sometimes an event in life is like a film. And even if that film becomes “a downer,” it can still be a very good and detailed work of art: something complete in and of itself. Despite the highs and the lows, that film is unique and it has a happy ending: in that it actually ends. Unfortunately, in most cases a film interests people so much that a sequel is created and most sequels tend to be shoddy and derivative shadows of their predecessors. The story should have just been ended while it still had some dignity. But there is another phenomenon to consider: that of trilogies. While some trilogies are degenerations of that first movie, more often than not it is the second film that serves as a bridge to that much more effective and satisfying end story.

So the way I see it, right now my life is The Empire Strikes Back–a very good sequel–and maybe, just maybe I can get to the place where I can blow up AT-ST chicken walkers with teddy-bear Ewoks.

I have quite a few things to look forward to and not the least of which being next week, on Tuesday, when I finally get to meet Neil Fucking Gaiman. Anyway, that’s it for tonight. I’m glad that I got to end this on a more positive note and I will see you all later.

Take care.

Looking Outward

Having to Choose: What to Send and What To Post

There is this one thing that frustrates me from time to time. When I’m not posting articles straight onto Mythic Bios, I am writing stories into the other one: the Other Mythic Bios that I elude to from time to time.

There are stories I make that I really want to show you. There are stories that I want to be seen. But I also want to get published. Very simply: I know that most magazines–at least paying magazines–will not accept stories that have been printed elsewhere in any form. Or if there are such magazines and publications, I don’t know where to find them. It is one of the many things I have to search for at this time.

So basically, there are some stories I have that I need to save in order to send out to publications that may or may not accept them: publications that take time to get back to someone as well. I know that this is just how it goes and I don’t know what the results will ever be, but it can be frustrating.

Especially since I want you guys to see some of these stories.

I realized something else. After I started to truly stop procrastinating and send out my most functional stories, I realized that I didn’t have as many of them as I thought or wanted. I mean, I have stories that I can edit–and good writing is re-writing–and some that I can expand on, but of the ones that I have–the ones that I think are whole so far–I need to actually keep them in reserve.

And I don’t have many people to show them to. Many of my friends are very understandably busy and I can’t share with them as much as I used to. It is very sobering to really appreciate an immediate trusted reader-audience when they are no longer as available.

I also have some works that I am hesitant to even bring out because, frankly, they aren’t ready: in both structural and even psychological terms. I will say though that I am still looking for other comics collaborators in addition to my friend Angela to at least look over what I have planned.

So what it comes down is that I have to choose. A lot of my derivative works–my homages to other creators–go on here because I am not making any profit from them at all, I credit the people that inspire me, and I can show people what I can do–but I also manage to post some stories that I know won’t quite make it in any magazines that I read, but that I still like enough to think they deserve reader-attention and to further illustrate what I am capable of as a writer of fiction.

I have to choose which stories I think might make it in a magazine and which I can afford to hold off on showing a wider audience (at least to those publications that do not allow for simultaneous submissions) and which ones I think will only make it in my realm right here. I do not like having to make that choice, and I am at a place now where I’m beginning to actually pursue another path.

One for thing, I am looking for work and focusing on jobs that can supplement what I’m doing right now. I’m attempting to take the pressure off of constantly feeling the need to send stories out to all kinds of magazines all the time. Also in this way, I’m writing a lot of non-fiction articles and–if you’ve been following so far–I’ve even had one published: with more to come I’m sure. I already have one or two new Sequart articles planned.

It also helps that I have two major writing projects to focus on now: including working on one with the input of a very awesome group of people. I don’t want to say much else about this until more occurs, but it is something I didn’t see coming and I really forward to seeing where it is going to go. If I am full of something, it is definitely ideas. Finally, I’ve been toying with making a collection of stories to make into a printed or electronic book. It’s not the first time I’ve thought about this and I know it won’t be the last either, but it is definitely worth writing here.

And, for the record, I am glad you are all here to see me write my strange, weird hybrid articles that link things together and what elements of my stories and random poetry that make it out onto the Internet. I actually wrote this entire post a while ago, but after reviewing it I’ve realized that for all my frustrations and setbacks, and the collage of rejection letters that I plan to create, I have accomplished a lot and I am in the process of undertaking even more possibilities: and just as you are here for my writing, I hope you will do me the honour of remaining at my side for the rest of this Choose Your Own Adventure I’ve made for my life.

The fact is, you are all awesome. Thank you for reading me.

How to Get Attention: Or What My Readers Seem to Like

I thought it might be interesting to play in traffic today … or, more specifically, look at which topics of mine tend to get the most reader-hits.

I admit: I spend a lot of time looking at my Stats and guessing at who has viewed what and from where based on some pretty bar graphs. So now that we have established that I have very little in the way of a life (though I strongly suspect there are other people who are doing the exact same thing even as I write this out of pure morbid fascination), I want to look at what seems to really “work” in terms of attracting readers on Mythic Bios: and possibly other Blogs.

Well, my first observation is that the recording of Life events really tends to get a lot of attention. It seems as though readers really want to know more about a Blog writer’s actual life beyond, mainly, what they actually record down. For a while I avoided doing that as much, but I recognize the value in occasionally dealing with that part of my self and some of the milestones in my own life offline. I guess the fact that people are interested in other people and specifically people whose writing they follow isn’t that much of a surprise in retrospect.

It also isn’t surprising that there are a lot of hits with regards to my posts on Creativity and the Creative Process, or to be more “nice and accurate” about it: my own thoughts about them. It isn’t as though my thoughts are particularly original, mind you, but I have to be precise in stating that these are my opinions and experiences with the above. Whereas with my Life I tend to find moments where I really need to express or share something, my writings on Creativity are mainly me pretty much talking out loud but–unlike the actual times when I talk to myself (a lot)–I actually want to take readers through something of my process: to outline a bit of my own mind and how it works.

Unfortunately, it also isn’t that surprising that when I wrote my post on Depression, I got  lot of hits for two days afterwards. It is a very common topic–especially in this day and age–and it also feeds back to the idea of the “personal being publicly popular.”

In a lot of ways, all of the above are pretty much the electronic Mythic Bios’ bread-and-butter, as it were. I know that if I talk about these topics or choose a day where the new Dr. Who episode or the latest movie comes out to talk about it, I will get some traffic there. It’s good to know what works and what needs work.

I have some specialized posts that do not always get as much traffic, but they are relatively consistent in their own way. For instance, I find that I get a fair bit of views with regards to my What is FV Disco? and my Worms and Bicycles articles from Eastern and Central Europe due to the fact that I am touching upon an art movement and style that originated in Slovenia, and that–at least at the time I made them–there seemed to be few articles talking about the subject online: never mind with regards to the comics medium.

Speaking of comics, I have been getting some modest traffic with regards to my reviews of comic books like Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum and anything I’ve written on Miracleman. I try to put a little of everything for Geek readers and otherwise: though really it depends on my mood and where I think the flow of the Blog is going at that time. What I mean is: I try to maintain some kind of continuity with regards to which article I place after the last.

And I am really happy to see people reading my stuff: especially my articles on, and my stories based from Video Games: of which my only claim to expertise is the fact that I’ve played some of them and even loved them. It also makes me happy to see the occasional view of my article on my experience with Gwendolyn MacEwen and The Vampire Sex Bar too. I obviously find that my articles on mainstream subjects or things that have become so such as Creativity, Superman, The Doctor and what-not to get more attention while some my more obscure and original articles get less: though it is very satisfying when this last does get some views.

But I think the most gratifying moments for me are when someone reads some of my samples of fictional writing. It just makes me happy to see people reading my most original or at least creatively derivative work. Yet I have to say that, in the end, I am just satisfied to see that anyone reads any thought, poem, review, story, or opinion of mine here. It is the closest I have to bringing you into the world that I created for myself from all of this and my own essential self.

Sometimes I feel like I am not always that interesting and much of what I write on here isn’t that important when you really think about it. But writing and writing to one’s audience is more than statistics, or whether or not you get paid, or how much attention-whoring you do. Writing is about getting yourself out there and expressing it in such a way where you don’t dumb yourself down, but the same time you are not trying to be inaccessible and superior.

I am still trying to find the line between what I want here and what I may want elsewhere. But in the meantime, I have a better idea of how to continue. For instance, I know that if I want to get Freshly Pressed the best way to do it is to write about a topic that is universal or very popular (such as a strange pseudo-serious and somewhat creative meditation on the nature of cartoons), make it short, but also make it stand out by cramming a lot of ideas and resonance into so small a space. An appropriate graphic also helps. Of course I also understand that there are other factors to consider too: such as what the staff of Freshly Pressed is looking for that day or that week and there is only so much you can control or predict.

So I will just end off this post by stating that ever since I started Mythic Bios a year ago, I have a much better idea of figuring out what my current and prospective audience wants to see and how much of that is determined by my skill and my circumstances. But there is still a lot of things I do not understand and you all continue to surprise me in what it is that you like to see. My video game and some of my shorter comics ones come to mind there. And then sometimes–very rarely but very sweetly–I see that some of you go on Google and type in the name of the particular article of mine that you want to see. And that, my friends, is what makes me the happiest of all.

Practicing Ideas and Dress-Rehearsal Stories

There is a character in Sandman who gets to the point where he has so many ideas in his head that he can’t write them out, or express them, fast enough. In my case, I have all of these ideas and they each vie to be worked on first: using the energy that I have to focus on one at a time. You know: that energy. It is the energy of vital immediacy and enthusiasm.

The way I think of it, each idea is like a facet of some interesting inorganic material or small components of living substances that need the immediate energy that is inside you to develop them further: to give them the spark of life and order.

And while I do believe in multitasking, it is far easier to multitask when you are doing several different things as opposed to many of the same. At least, that is what I find for myself. I will also admit that there are times when it is more ideal to be able to make the space and time for one particular task as opposed to several others at once.

Of course, there is the other side to it as well. There are the ideas that need time to grow, or those that remain in a kind of fossilization or stasis until enough future energy and knowledge is built up in order to activate it later on. Which brings me to something else I’ve been thinking about lately.

I think one difficulty that I have as a creator is that my mind acts as a kind of cache: I have all of these ideas that I either need to use, save somewhere else in the hopes that they will be activated again one day, or discard completely. If I have too many ideas that I want to work on immediately, I will either slow down or get paralyzed. It also doesn’t help that I have lately been trying to focus on works to send out to places instead of the larger work that my mind is slowly gravitating towards: regardless of my wishes in the matter.

Me and my Head

It does help when I look at the articles and stories that I write on this Blog. I think of them as not only vessels to contain my ideas, but also as “dress rehearsals”: practice sessions of stories that will either become other stories or whose ideas will be added to make something larger and more complex.

Mythic Bios was intended to not only hone my ideas down and let me express and make things I wouldn’t ordinarily have a space for, but to let all of you also get to see as much of the process as possible. I don’t know how successful that might be, but that was the idea anyway. It also occurs to me that once I write my insights about writing and specific works, I tend to forget about them beyond the gist of them. I do classify them to look at later, but I need to find the time to do that.

But I do think I am on to something here and there will be something larger made as a result of all of this: if there isn’t already in some form. Anyway, this is the end of my “thinking to myself” phase online. I will keep you posted, if you will pardon the pun. ;P

Contains Language: Reader’s Discretion is Advised!

I know the above title is a low blow for attention, but I really couldn’t resist.

Whenever I write something on Mythic Bios, I try to make the language and the content as accessible as possible. I know I don’t always succeed, but in the case that I don’t my hope is that I have a little something for everyone that I am also interested in writing about.

In my later years in high school and throughout my early years at University I was really interested in Philosophy. I liked writing that made me think and that also played around with ideas of varying kinds with regards to, well, pretty much existence. But even then, before I realized how didactic–how dry and rambling it could get–I had one other issue with Philosophy and texts that purported to be as such.

Sometimes, they would reference subject matter that I wouldn’t understand or, in my case even worse, begin to quote a language of what I was not at all familiar. And it annoyed me. A lot. To be honest, it still does.

Philosophical texts are not the only culprit in this non-crime of course. Many literary classics–novels–do this exact same thing: at least from the Modernist era. And, finally, there are comics that do the exact same thing from time to time. Take Alan Moore for instance. Alan Moore is a genius. He creates multi-layered plots that start off very slowly but ultimately become very epic and grandiose. And even though his characters have tended to lean towards the cynical side of humanity, his characterization is very human and excellent.

But I will tell you now: when he has whole passages of From Hell and Lost Girls in German, or I believe Punjabi in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: 1910, or even … freaking Martian in the second Volume of The League I start to get … annoyed.

Don’t misunderstand: I like the authenticity he brings to the characters and the fact that you can clearly see how his well-read nature and research is paying off in the background. Now I am not just talking about his appropriate use of other languages, but his many, many literary and historical references that make me feel very under-read as a reader and overwhelmed as a writer. He simply makes so many references and allusions that I can’t always keep track of them, or even know what they are. I can see how other people would really have difficulty relating to this. I guess it’s like what Austrian Emperor Joseph the Second purportedly once told Mozart: that his work has “too many notes.”

I know that when he has used other languages, I feel a bit … cheated: because I want to know what the hell the characters are saying! It’s that simple. Likewise, I want to get all the references. I’m greedy like that and it feels like I’ve reached a certain level of understanding, and then I hit a wall.

A language is another perception of reality. Really, another language is a different world. This leads me to the other perspective on the matter. Anna Anthropy has said a few times that one of the issues with regards to video games is the very exclusive culture or subculture that has developed around them. More specifically, she talks about how video game design and dialogue around it becomes this interaction of in-jokes and references that people outside the circle do not always get. I would imagine that this is something, especially with regards to games as an expression of art–of language–is something that Anthropy believes we should watch out for.

On the other hand, Anna Anthropy is also one of those who wants to allow for a different voice or perspective in the medium of video games. For Anthropy this seems to have been in the form of making games for different genders and practices outside what was–and still is–the social norm. Essentially, and others like her, use this chosen medium to subvert it and change it: to reveal its full potential through a new perspective.

Alan Moore did something very similar. He, and others like Will Eisner, took a medium that became very associated with superheroes and some two-dimensional character development and morality and injected a whole different kind of perspective into it: using comics to talk about scholarly, metaphysical, philosophical, sexual, and realistic matters as well as still telling a story. Eisner and Moore are known for bringing the idea of the novel to the comics form and–eventually–leading to a place where a larger audience could access and relate to the stories being made in this medium.

In a way, they were making a new language as all languages are made: through innovation of an older dialect.

Anna Anthropy seems to believe that video games still need to “grow up” and deal with these matters as well: with gender and sexuality and life experiences in an accessible way. And one of these ways is to make the audience for games grow by trying not to make so many exclusive references within a game’s structure. Geeks by their very nature are exclusive in that they tend to know many obscure facts and bits of knowledge and trivia, and I don’t think that is a bad thing.

But I would argue with Anna Anthropy–at least with regards to knowledge and not necessarily that sense of shared social experience–that if a player doesn’t understand one element in a game, there are resources online and elsewhere that they can access to understand what is going on. And I suppose that is why, with regards to Alan Moore, there are so many Annotations of his works out there. I do think that it is more than okay, especially with regards to continuity and art, to make references that a reader doesn’t always understand: provided that there is enough that they do understand and enough impetus for them to go and learn something new.

It is strange how my knee-jerk reaction to seeing other languages in a primarily English language comic is a feeling of exclusion and also this annoyance: as though the author is trying to be pretentious and show how smart they are instead of telling a story that I can relate to. Sometimes I feel it to be very elitist. This is the same with references at times. On the other hand, I know–especially with regards to the latter–that I do the same thing regardless of how well I might explain it, and that I should really take it as a challenge.

I don’t want to be talked down to, but I also don’t like it when things go over my head. And this is me as a reader and–as such–I need to keep it in mind as a writer too. I also, as I said, don’t always succeed.

I like to think that Alan Moore doesn’t write in different languages in his works for the sake of being clever, but he actually does it to keep his characters in character and to maintain a continuity in his world-building. Granted, he could <do what some other creators do and but triangular brackets around dialogue to indicate a different language like so>, or make a different font for those words, but it would not be the same. There is no real solution to that, I’m afraid: not for me anyway.

But there is something that my studies in Philosophy also taught me. Whenever I do come across things I don’t understand, as I said I look them up, or I try to find a speaker of the language. I can tell you that it was enjoyable having a German-speaking friend of mine translate some words to me as I typed them out to her so long ago. And when I don’t get a reference, I consider it a real challenge and it is like an easter-egg hunt that allows me to reread Alan Moore’s text and graphics all over again. And sometimes, I find something new I didn’t get in the first reading.

I would never bring up any of this at a signing–should Alan Moore ever come to Toronto one day and I can access the line–because that is not the time or the place. But I do have this place to talk about it. Alan Moore helped take a medium that people did not always take seriously and made it into some serious literature: and as long as “serious literature” is always questioned, always makes you think, and can function on its own merit– and can take you into another perspective–then it is definitely a past-time, and a calling, that I want to continue for my own: because there is always room for growth.

So hopefully this made sense. My Mythic Bios is another world itself and perhaps a language of differing ideas sometimes reaching critical mass, or becoming exercises in poetry. Or it’s that fine line between talking down, and or being the wind over someone’s scalp. I’ll leave that up to you, my awesome readers.

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.

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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. 🙂

What You Are Left With

So not too long ago I read this post from Amanda Palmer which talks about a few things: but more specifically how Bloggers may be “the next writers,” emails are replacing letters as personal correspondence and how it will be challenging for historians and outside archivists to preserve all of this.

You know, sometimes I look at this. Right here. I look at this: I look at all of this–my Blog, social sites, email and the Internet itself–and I realize how really ephemeral it all is.

I am not a technological or computer expert, but some days I just imagine there being some kind of event that overloads information and backups to the point where this–all of this–is gone. It makes me remember that I don’t back-up any of my Blog posts on here. What I mean is, they are all essentially sent directly onto my WordPress, and if anything happens this would all be gone.

Then I think about the reverse. I think about the Internet and computer technology continuing to evolve: to points where we can’t even dream it will go. Imagine a future where technology becomes more intuitive–as though it is an extension of the human body in how you can easily access it like moving your arm–and all that old information comes with it. Or will it? Will old data from ancient systems survive into newer ones? Would it be the same? I know even from my limited knowledge and terrible chagrin that something like an old USB key can go obsolete.

But let’s say that technology will change to a point where obsolete technology and information on it can be easily passed onward: and accessed by anyone with any degree of knowledge. Let’s also say that this information will be documented and recorded by other people who want to write biographies or otherwise examine the lives of users from this time.

I mean, it is already happening to an extent. Archivists are tackling the gathering of emails and data from websites and online archives. Sometimes, as an exercise, I think about and look at everything I’ve typed up on Mythic Bios and I imagine someone in the future–or even now–trying to reconstruct what I was like as a person through what I allowed to be on here.

Does Mythic Bios represent my entirety as an individual?

I would have to say no.

It does represent a part of me. It represents my interests, some of my thoughts, and even some feelings but it definitely doesn’t have the full breadth and width of me. Sometimes it feels like a really carefully crafted shell or a layer of created artifice. And I enjoy crafting that artifice almost as much as I enjoy writing things on here, if that makes any sense, at least from a writer’s perspective. Amanda also mentions on her Blog that she doesn’t like to tell everyone about what she is doing, or reading, or listening to all the time because she wants a piece of herself for her and her loved ones alone. I think that is part of it too with me.

I think it’s also that I know I am just as ephemeral as my Blog. I am going to change. I am changing even at this moment. I don’t have it all figured out either because of this fact. There is something really comforting about writing a narrative where you place down the facts–“just the facts” of your interests and goals–with hints of the person shining out between them from time to time. I am, if nothing else, also a tease. 😉

But facts and stories can be so much more orderly–and comforting in that order–than an actual human life can be when you are in the process of experiencing it: especially when your other impulse is to chaos and destruction in not always a super-villain kind of way.  So I would be almost comforted if this Blog were to be all that was really left of me, but those human moments of ambiguity–that small amount of embossing–would make me feel a lot better about it.

Now if the Net went down, or suffered a few memory-wipe phases of cataclysm and all everyone had to go by me were the personal things I have written down that would be an entirely different story altogether. I mean, assuming they didn’t think I was crazy, they probably wouldn’t be able to understand me: if only because my handwriting is in ancient Sumerian … also known as messed up scribbling.

Sometimes your hand and pen cannot move as fast as your mind or your imagination.

In some of my more depressed moments, I think all I am going to leave behind are papers and electronic weirdness. Sometimes I think these are the best things about me. I don’t really know just how “inspirational” I actually am when you take the rest of this stuff away. I’m not really doing anything that anyone else can’t do. But maybe it’s just the way that I do it, or that others do it that differentiates us. It’s that mystery of “You-ness” or “I-ness.” I still haven’t solved that mystery yet and you know what? Maybe that’s a good thing:  because that means I’ll keep writing and doing what I need to do. I’ll keep going and when I am not angsty or introspective, I’ll just be ad hoc and silly.

And if that’s what comes through, like I said before, I will be more than okay with that: especially if someone else can relate to it.

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And I Won A Very Inspiring Blogger Award From A Very Inspiring Blogger

very inspiring blogger award michael allan leonard public domain blog comics humor nerd writing

So I was just talking with a friend of mine about having been Freshly Pressed and getting the Reality Blog Award not too long ago, only to find that I have been nominated for yet another Award meme. 🙂

It was the very inspiring michaelallanleonard who gave me this. You should definitely check out his Blog because it talks about comics, has an awesome aesthetic and is otherwise very geeky. It even has an awesome title: “Public Domain.” It is difficult to get much more awesome than that, though the challenge is always accepted. He even has a really interesting story as to how it took him “so long” to graciously accept his Award.

I mean, I could tell you that I was trapped in a self-contained pocket universe of my own design where I was perfecting the art of giving a god-like Being an existential moral crisis, but that would be fibbing really. So no, I think my greatest challenge will be actually fulfilling the requirements of this Award. So that is what I am going to do.

But before I do that, I just want to add that I’ve found that some people have posted a Link to my Mythic Bios on their Blogs. I would like to thank you for that. It was really gratifying to see my Blog in a Blog-roll: like it is all professional or at least interesting to other people. Unfortunately for me, mentioning this will not fulfill one of my requirements on this meme, but I wanted to thank you for giving me more attention and helping to bring others to the fun that is Mythic Bios. I really appreciate that.

So enough stalling:  let me try to write something inspiring! 🙂

The requirements of The Very Inspiring Blogger Award are as follows:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.
2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
3. State 7 things about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

SEVEN THINGS ABOUT ME

Now, the challenge here is that I’ve probably told you all a lot about myself already. I also tend to mostly talk about my writing and less about me on this Blog anyway, given what it is. But I’m going to do my best, go into my head, and find something that might not have quite made on here as of yet. So now, let me see …

1) I have issues with technology: in that I am probably one of those people who need to have a tech expert on hand and in person, or very specific instructions as to how to deal with a situation that doesn’t always make sense. It is not innate to me, though I can experiment with things and find some solutions on my own. But sometimes, I’m left frustrated–very frustrated–with “technological stupidity.”

2) Writing and creating for me can become a kind of meditation in which I am caught up in the moment or carrying a thought–or series of thoughts–in my head that I need to write down. Often I’m lost in those moments and tend to mutter the words myself, or speak them out loud as I write. I am also a peripatetic: essentially doing my best thinking when I have the freedom to walk around or pace. I need to go with a thought and move around and I would, paradoxically enough, go insane if I didn’t have any opportunity to do either of these things.

3) I am actually diagnosed with a Learning Disability. It manifests as dyscalculia–which is an inherent difficulty either learning or understanding Math–and spatial difficulties as well. Basically, I can’t multiply or divide without using a calculator and I do mental arithmetic very, very slowly. I also get lost on my own, but I navigate places through remembering landmarks and a lot of time memorizing a place through experience. I’ve been told that my writing and art skills “compensate” for these challenges. I also require more specific instructions and clarifications before undertaking an unfamiliar task. It’s less that I have a disability and more that my brain is wired differently: or so one theory goes. I see it more as an alternate mindset more than anything else and while it can be challenging, I have gone–and am still going far–when all things are considered.

4) I did my Master’s Thesis on Herodotus in Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore’s works: specifically in American Gods and Voice of the Fire. I looked at how they described and created their own worlds and as such I looked at Herodotus’ Histories from a literary as opposed to historical perspective: though that is a very fine line even by modern standards when you consider that all historical documents are created by narrative, and objectivity does not really exist. I am pleased with how it turned out and I got to throw some theories out there about American Gods and its protagonist Shadow that Neil will undoubtedly prove wrong in the sequel.

5) There was a period of time where I used to go out a lot more, and with a few exceptions these days, I don’t go out as often anymore. While I was never what others would consider a “social butterfly” (unless you count making mountains crumble on the other side of the world, insert Chaos Theory here), after a lot of the things I learned and experienced it’s almost like I was another person back then and it’s weird to remember another person’s memories that, you know, were pretty much my own. I mean this in a very metaphorical sense: in that like anyone else I am not the same person I was yesterday.

6) The strangest and most unique thing I have is another person’s lost dreams.

7) I have a pet budgie with the multiple names of “You,” “Budgie,” “The Fluff,” “The Fluff Creature” and so on. Her original name was supposed to be “Squawkes.” She is a blue and white bird who lately reminds me of a sleeping cloud.

MY FIFTEEN NOMINEES

So again, this is another difficult decision. I am not sure who will actually fill out this Award meme, but I hope my choices will prove interesting and excellent. These are definitely people that inspire me, and whose Blogs and writings are some of the most interesting things I’ve seen. At the very least, I hope by doing this I will offer the opportunity for their Blogs to gain even more of the attention that they deserve.

And here they are:

diannaswritingden

clotildajamcracker

Mythaxis Magazine

Ad Astra Per Aspera

Pretty and Putrid

The Bombers’ Notebook

Live simply, travel lightly, love passionately & don’t forget to breathe

Mandy DeGeit

Impressions of a Princess

geekchick77

The Modern Chimera

HillbillyZenDotCom

Just Think About It …

Sarah on the go!

Auntie Pixelante

I hope you check these Blogs out and thank you again Michael for being Inspired by me. I hope to continue the strange, good work here.