Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Death

Now Playing: SOLES - Love Will Have Its Sacrifices (Carmilla soundtrack)

This has nothing to do with anything and I don't know why I'm writing it now (because Lindsay Ellis just took out a video on it, quit trying to be mysterious, bro) but-

Since sometime last fall, I kept thinking about the danse macabre and general personification of death.

Back then, it was still a few months away from NaNoWriMo, so I was toying around with different ideas of what I was going to write. I needed to settle on something quickly because I figured I'd want about a month or so of prep before jumping into the writing marathon days, but I didn't want to pick yet another story that I'd grow disinterested in within two pages. And in contrast to previous years--I had no ideas. Not one!

But eventually, for whatever reason, I was starting to get weirdly invested in the image of this girl carving her eye out and using it in some kind of spell--to see the future or something. She looked...I don't know, there was something off about her, about the way she carried herself. She'd wrap her arms around herself, curl into a ball, rock back and forth. She slouched constantly and she swayed in place a lot. Her eye usually looked half-open, like she could barely stay awake, and if not, it'd be wide open and darting, searching, like the adrenaline was just pumping through her body and flowing out her eye socket. There was no in-between with her. She looked constantly fidgety, even when her expression made her appear on the brink of collapsing.

And she kept seeing this black cat with a red stripe across its back, over the head, down to the tail, like an outline of its spine. Then an owl with a red stripe, over the head, down the back. Then a wolf, a horse, a spider, a raven, a butterfly--I think it almost turned into a dragon. It was briefly a young girl too. And she...also didn't behave exactly right. Even now, every time I see her, she's leaning forward, knees bent, hands near the ground, and she's laughing or giggling but nothing funny's happening. (And her black hair has that red stripe down the back).

So what does this have to do with anything?

I kept seeing little moments like that which made me think--is this story about death? Is that a big part of it? Because the only reason I even came up with it is because I was thinking about the dance of death and massive epidemics like the black plague. The thing is--neither of those girls was Death itself. I wasn't remotely considering it as a possibility. By the time I got around to trying to discover more about them, I was coming up with things that said yes, they were human. Humans with powers, maybe, but human. I never came up with names for them, so for a bit of a while they were just The Witch with the Sight and The Shapeshifter. And I had to ask, "okay, they're here. But what's their story? And what does the dance of death have to do with it?"

I never came up with an answer. Mostly because idea number #2 was floating around. Then I listened to Covenant Dance from the Halo soundtrack and thought, "hey wouldn't it be cool if all my A.I's were in one story and if that story had the two twin planets and Dr. Monroe was in it-"

And by then Vanguard's Exodus just completely slapped the shit out of the other idea and yanked me in the other direction and didn't let me go until...well it still hasn't let me go. And actually it's acting very selfish and refuses to come to an end even though I have a second writing project I need to attend to.

Anyways--I don't really know why, but even after I decided I didn't know nor see enough of that story to want to write it, the atmosphere of it still clung to me. There was something weird about it. Morbid, maybe, odd, dark, whatever. I can't be specific in how, it just felt weird. (That carving of the eye might have had something to do with it).

I thought again about it today. Not about the story, or the witch and shapeshifter, but about that strange feeling that rose every time I thought about those two. It's uneasy.

The personification of death is kind of a known device, explored in a million ways and one. Aside from the skeleton in the black cloak thing, I think Death and Satan usually get around the same kind of physical manifestation--some old white guy with a really cool and deep voice. At least that's how I usually remember it. But the approach to who or what he is, his personality, whatever, varies. Sometimes Death isn't even a "he."

People write about tricking Death and then accepting Death or running from Death or if he/she/they/it is inherently evil or inherently a pretty nice guy/gal/abstract entity.

Sometimes death and/or the reaping of souls is treated with humor, other times it really embraces the despair or hopelessness or whatever negative emotion you can come up with.

That's the thing--it's always a reflection of how the author/creator sees the concept of death. Are they afraid of it? Are they trying to understand it and therefore come to accept it? Does the concept of death make them appreciate life more? Or does it bring further emphasis to the futility of life? Does it test, weaken, or strengthen their faith?

So here I am, thinking about writing about death, wanting to write about death, and realizing--I have no idea what I'd write. Never mind plot, I don't know what tone I'd pick, I don't know what Death would look like, I don't know how they'd behave, I don't know what abilities they would have, I don't know what type of person they'd be-

And that's...just...cuz...I have no idea what my feelings are toward death.

I mean...I accept that it is a thing that happens and sometimes it sucks and sometimes it's okay because you might have already lived a long life and most people would totally fail at immortality. I don't really believe in an afterlife or a higher power and I'm not scared about that. I don't despair at that idea. I have no faith to test or weaken or strengthen. I don't even care what'd happen to my rotting corpse after the fact because it's not like I'd have a functioning brain to be offended or appalled or happy or whatever. (So, like, bury me under an acorn tree so I can provide nutrients to the earth or whatever, or cremate me, or kick me down a gutter and hope I decompose properly. I won't care. I'll be dead).

But do I really not care?

Because the weird thing is...I kept returning to those two weirdos with the sight and the shifting because they were unsettling. But fascinating. They looked kind of sweet at times, and then they kind of looked really fucked up. I'm as indecisive about them as I am about death. Overall? It's just weird, man.

Clearly, if I'm going to write about death, it's because I have something to say about it, right? About accepting it or laughing about it or about defying it as long as possible--I don't know something. Anything. My version of Death can't be so damn lost and confused, right?

Usually, people write because they have something to say--to themselves or the universe. If it's not a message, it's just a story that's begging to get out, a cute moment, a funny scene, a tearful event, etc.

But maybe not knowing what my thoughts are on death is a good enough reason to explore it? I've never tried anything like it, but it could be...interesting.

This is dangerous territory. I have a book to finish. I have another to edit. I already have characters for a third. I should probably rewrite this other one. Not to mention actually published and awesome books that demand my attention. Besides, writing something Just for Myself is a sure way of writing something That Will Never Ever Go Anywhere.

Now that I'm considering it, though, I kind of want to try. And this song isn't helping. (Love will have its sacrifices? Why the fuck...? Who the fuck...? Who does Love think it is...? Wait, what).

If it's in a notebook, it isn't official. I'm not officially writing it if I'm not typing it. The Word documents of VE, MG, Ataraxia, etc, make them my official projects. Even the side short stories that feature characters of larger narratives are more official than what's in my physical journals.

I don't know if I'll even get a sentence in or if this whole affair is (ugh) dead on arrival, but even if I can't get anything down, I do have to wonder-

Am I ever going to form a concrete opinion about death? Or is that just...a thing I'm going to be confused about right up until the point it claims me?

Probz.
~Becky

P.S: My Death probably looks like Gaiman's Death. Pretty girl drinking coffee.

...man, I need to read Sandman. It has a character called Dream. (Like...it's practically calling out to me).

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"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.