Design Journal: Elohim

 

And let's make them REALLY creepy...
And let’s make them REALLY creepy…

One of the many things I’ve been trying to get off the ground in the last two years, more like three, is the Gnosis RPG. It’s a new game system and campaign setting designed to be gritty, dangerous, and easy to play and set up. The campaign world is the modern world, except it’s really not. See, all those conspiracy theories about rock music being a tool of Satanic cults, or that NASA is hiding aliens in Area 51, or that big businesses are really a front for an ancient conspiracy to rule the world after they kill most of the human population, are actually true.

Yup. Every. Last. One.

Magic is real. Science is being held back. Aliens are constantly trying to invade. Religion is a front. Tin foil hats really DO protect your brain from the spy satellites. And if you try hard enough, you can become the thing the monsters fear, become a monster yourself, or start your own conspiracy.


mocking conspiracy theories by jonathanlerner13 on DeviantArt

One of the things I wanted to do with this setting, though, was to give everything a “real-world” explanation, even if it involved fringe science or a stretch of what science said was allowed. Clearly, conservation of energy, momentum, and all those silly physics laws prevent pretty much all of this from existing, but by minimizing or at least giving some semblance of explanation, even if it’s flimsy, the game seems just a little more real. Respecting established science is one of the best ways to come up with a setting that feels fantastic yet plausible.

Take, for example, the simple matter of angels and demons.

I say simple in the same way that designing the space shuttle from scratch is simple.

I wanted to bring religious horror to Gnosis, and the idea of demonic possession and even angels as alien beings far removed from the fluffy-winged images of modern society appealed to me greatly. They would form two sides of one of the major conspiracies in the game’s universe. However, how to make them semi-realistic or at least sound plausible?

Firstly, I needed to figure out what was an angel and what was a demon.

I quickly settled on the idea that both angels and demons were not so different. In fact, in many myths, demons are fallen angels. That being said, perhaps the difference between both is more philosophical than physical. In that case, I needed a new name for this new creature and settled on the Elohim and that the titles of “angels” and “demons” were just one of the many cloaks they wore when seeking worship, an act that fed them psychic energy. The name is the ancient Hebrew name of God, and I figured a race of beings that present themselves as gods and divine beings would certainly approve of.


Angel or Demon by Reilune on DeviantArt

The most common ability both angels and demons seem to have is the ability to communicate with people despite not being in the same room, so telepathy is a must. Possession is also popular, more so for demons that angels, so that needs to get rolled in there. Barring that, what’s left?

Angels are often described as warriors, but the original texts describe them as beings that would not be out of place in a Lovecraftian horror story. They are supposedly massive, alien, and powerful. To even look at an angel is to invite death and destruction. In other words, their true form might not even be possible to have in-game. Demons are also usually described as horrific, so again there is some common ground between both camps of Elohim.

Of course, maybe the shapes and wild visions of angels and demons in the old texts are not real images, but rather hallucinations and deceit. Maybe Elohim wanted to appear as huge imposing wheels of fire and titanic beasts covered in a thousand eyes. Maybe this is part of how they bring worshippers to their side, and how, as demons, they torture others. Illusions, then, would be another power to have, but just letting them have the power of illusion is too broad. Maybe they can specifically alter the mood of those who see them in order to inspire fear. In high enough doses, that fear could manifest as visions of giant monsters. Consider how someone who is arachnophobic, for example, might see a tiny spider as a beast the size of a horse. Is this power psychic? Hormonal?


Bloodwind Angel by DreadJim on DeviantArt

That brings up the next aspect. Should Elohim even have physical bodies? Making them flesh and blood makes them real, but it also makes them supremely vulnerable. It also makes things like possession more difficult. How to justify a physical being entering and overlapping with another living creature’s body and mind? That pesky mass has to go somewhere right? Making the Elohim energy or gas or something similar would then make more sense.

But what about a compromise? Maybe Elohim are physical beings, but their effects on this world are entirely psychic. The only way they can communicate is through telepathy, providing a conduit for their powers to present themselves as gods and demons. This would also provide a path for the power of possession. Maybe they don’t exactly “possess” a person, but rather use people as puppets, and the sheer mental power from the angel or demon mind is enough to grant the possessed some powers of their own. If they ever actually crossed over into our world, though, then the physical aspects would come into play.

So what are the Elohim like physically? What would our heroes need to fight if these beings ever actually crossed into our reality?

They need to be tough. Very tough. Rhino-hide tough. Small caliber weapons should bounce off them and nothing short of an assault rifle with armor-piercing bullets, or maybe a bundle of C4, should faze them. Humanoid? Maybe, but at least in the sense that Elohim will have legs, arms, a torso, and a head. The proportions should be suitably alien, as should the face. In keeping with the disturbing aspect to the uncanny valley, the face should be somewhat human but alien in minor aspects, certainly the eyes, but also in the placement of features. The skin would likely vary in shade between different Elohim, but that’s a detail I can’t quite place yet. I am, however, a fan of the general color scheme of the angel in the Masters of Horror episode “Cigarette Burns.”

Wings? Maybe, but not bird-like wings, or if they are bird-like, they should be large, powerful, and convey the image that this creature is a killer, a warrior, and certainly not a messenger with fluffy wings. The Elohim would need to be big, too, maybe as ten or twelve feet tall, in order to truly convey the power of an angel or demon from hell. They’re basically going to be organic tanks, super-strong, and with enough psychic power to make people fear them on sight. Most of their interactions with the world will be through their “possessed” victims, and once they actually manage to cross over… things get interesting.

Elohim2
Tentative image for the rulebook!

Figuring out the mechanics is another matter, but at least having a solid image is enough to get going.

Next? Ghosts!

In the meantime, enjoy the feeling of having your imagination bring you real adventure…

Learning How to Spell 10: Characters are Trees

It took years of research to bring characters such as these to life... not the ones in the pic. I mean REAL characters.

April 10, 2012

Characters are funny.

I’ve been writing since I was in fourth grade. And by that I mean stories, not just writing in general. I can’t for the life of me remember the names of any of my early characters, but I can certainly remember the ideas and images that made e want to use them. Characters, I found out early enough, need to be able to breathe. They must feel real and alive.

A character does whatever a character does.

I found this out playing Dungeons and Dragons, too. Most monsters are faceless and nameless thugs, thieves, demons, and occasionally fey who are there to provide a good combat challenge. For the big dogs, though, the characters that become recurring villains, I have to do a little more work. The same thing goes for Charcoal Streets. I need to sit down and figure out what makes these guys tick. Once I do that, I can put them in a situation and see what they do.

It’s an interesting thought exercise, but it’s not something out of reach for most people. If you don’t have time to make up your own characters, try to figure out what two established characters would do in a situation. What would happen if you put Richard Riddick in a maze trap designed by Jigsaw? All the people he could just let die and not care… but what WOULD make someone like that care? How could you raise the stakes?


Epic battle by ~Kalopz on deviantART

When I designed my current D&D campaign’s primary villain, I set to make her something that would resonate with everyone and just let the interactions color future installments.

Her name is Keyleth Greymoon. She was a paladin of light until her xenophobia and paranoia made her leave her unti with several dozen soldiers in an attempt to gather power to “properly protect” her realm. This included trying to free a fallen angel and killing every non-fey in an isolated valley.

At first, she was just a xenophobe. She was particularly sickened by our half-elf rogue whom she called a half-human and, infamously for my players, a “half-breed bitch.”

Two and a half years later and they’re still steamed at her about that.


Weapon 119 by ~Random223 on deviantART

And that’s when I knew I’d made a memorable character. The line was ad-libbed. It sounded like something Keyleth would say, but it struck such a chord among my friends, all of whom abhor any sort of racism or elitism, that Keyleth is still around and the mere mention of her makes their skin boil. There are other incidents, but they all started with a few background notes.

I have similar notes for the characters of Charcoal Streets. Miguel, Carmen, Luz, Father Flores… if you think I don’t know their favorite drinks, hobbies, and hang-outs. You’re sadly mistaken. I know why Carmen prefers Glock pistols. I know what Father Flores’ tattoo means. I know why Miguel lives in that crappy apartment.

It’s all in the details, in the little things that nudge a character. Make sure you know what your characters do. Let them breathe. Let them have a drink, a smoke, and go to bed with whatever or whomever they want.

Characters are trees. You can’t tell where the branches will go. Just let them grow.

And now, until the next post, please enjoy dumb people this month.

Divine by Zero: I’m a Racist!(?)

I'm not. It's just a dramatic way of introducing it.

February 10, 2012

It seems the last video got a lot of attention and a fair amount of heat for a lot of Hispanics going after a single white woman. Except we didn’t do it because she was white. Let me explain the concept of “racism” and “bigotry” and why I will not st

Why Plagiarism is Good 2: The Return

If you squint, you can almost see the public domain rights.

November 16, 2011

As I work on the next Charcoal Streets story and edit the manuscript, I can’t help but wonder at the morality of borrowing characters, ideas, even entire storylines. Every writer’s done it. House? It’s Sherlock Holmes in a hospital. Lion King? It’s pretty much Hamlet with animals. Even my beloved Batman is a copy of Zorro, another childhood hero of mine.

Speaking of which, where did the Spanish and Mexican superheroes go?

Anyway, back to the subject at hand…

Borrowing ideas is not a necessarily a bad thing, especially if you’re just starting out. They can be the launch pad for another, better idea. When I first started writing fiction, it was mostly science fiction and I shamelessly borrowed ideas and plots from Star Trek, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, and anything and everything I could find in the genre. Looking back on those old stories will no doubt show shameless plagiarism, but it was a way to learn the ropes, how to structure a story, characters, etc.


Plagiarism by ~FatesDarkHand on deviantART

One assignment I received in college was to try and imitate a poet’s style. I can’t for the life of me remember who I picked, but I remember thinking that imitation was the last thing you wanted to do at that level. I wanted to find my own voice. However, we found that trying to imitate the style made us aware of our own style, for better or worse. We saw the words we used over and over again and even the type of diction we were more comfortable with.

Such an exercise is good for any writer, or any artist for that matter. If you’re a photographer, try to imitate a style or even a photograph you really like. You may find a new angle or even location filled with opportunity. Painters and other visual artists can do the same thing with famous works of art.

There is, however, a flipside to this exercise. You can easily become enamored with someone else’s style and forget to develop your own. For example, a lot of young artists start by drawing anime-style. It’s a simple, well-known set of designs that people can use to learn things like proportion and movement. Fine. I get that.


Anime by ~AmaraKaiba on deviantART

I don’t, however, get why many people continue to use that same style for everything they draw. I can’t tell the difference between one person’s chibi and another’s manga. This is also the problem with action and horror movies. It’s one thing to try and imitate John Woo or Alfred Hitchcock, but some people never get past the imitation. Musicians can also easily fall into this as they religiously hold on to certain styles. It takes skill to get past that initial exercise and make something unique.

Take the Ravenloft campaign for Dungeons and Dragons, for example. The original setting and adventure are shameless copies of everything from Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. Strahd stands in for the Count just like Adam stands in the Frankenstein’s creature. Over the last several years, though, the setting has been fleshed out. The Vistani, who originally stood in for the gypsies in Stoker’s novel, are now a full-fledged culture in the game with their own rituals, history, and the like. The land of Barovia is superficially Transylvania and any other European country that can’t pronounce its w’s, but now it is part of an elaborate prison for dark forces and offers a lot more than just Gothic locales.


Barovia by ~coyotemax on deviantART

Indiana Jones was a throwback of old pulp stories and tropes. Now, it’s a standard in action-adventure. Battlestar Galactica was a blatant rip-off of Star Wars, but it evolved into one of the most acclaimed SF series in a long time.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It was can also be a wonderful exercise into your own limitations or an experiment to try new techniques. It should not, however, become the end.

Now go out there and do some plagiarism.

Uhm, I mean research.

And if you need a short break, here are a group of guys who took eighteen different genres and turned them into something new and awesome.

Kristen Stewart’s Teacher Problem

If you take a shot whenever she bites her lip in a movie, you'd be dead from alcohol poisoning by the second reel.

October 19, 2011

Aside from starring as one half of an abusive relationship based on sparkles, Kristen Stewart has also helped to turn vampire fiction into something slightly less tame than a Lisa Frank trapper keeper. Now, though, she’s gone and taken a swipe at her teachers.

All of them. They failed her! When she was young and acting, she did not receive the support she should have received! In a recent interview, Stewart claims she had to drop out of traditional school because her teachers would not accommodate her life. When she was away on shoots, her teachers did not send her work and they counted her as absent when she was gone. This, she says, made it impossible for her to continue a regular education.

Yeah, those teachers really dropped the ball. How dare they do THEIR JOB?


school is fhuuuunn by ~Free-Hugz-4-Tobi on deviantART

See, Kristen, here’s what you fail to realize. A teacher has to keep watch over many students. Teacher gives out work. Students take work. Students study and use the tools given to them. Teacher continues to teach and build upon previous lessons, accommodating the lesson as needed for special cases.

Special cases might include things like ESL students, students who do not have a solid grasp of English yet. For example, I will give a full lesson in English. If, after the lesson, an ESL student has questions, I will be more than happy to review with them and, if needed, go over it in Spanish. That’s a reasonable accommodation.

Having a teacher mail work to a location so a student can finish it on her own schedule as she works? Not so much. If a student is sick or has to leave for a family emergency, that’s a situation beyond the student’s control. A compassionate teacher would probably mail or email work out to the student.


EDUCATE by ~Not-A-Tree-225 on deviantART

But acting was a choice on your part, Kristen. You chose to pursue an acting career at eight. You chose to go to jobs that required you to miss school. If you wanted to do this, fine. Get homeschooled. Nothing wrong with that choice.

Just don’t blame your teachers for not catering to your particular needs. They have a job to do, as do the students. Students need to put forth the effort. If I decided to become a blogger in high school and wanted to spend all my time researching and writing and not going to school, I wouldn’t expect a teacher to not count me absent or send me work.

Kristen, you already starred in a (shamefully) hit film series. You’re set for life. Stop whining that American educators did not serve your wishes (not needs) and hand you your education. You made your choice. Now shut up.

And now, let’s look at someone DUMBER than Kristen Stewart.

How to Rewire Your Brain

Show here? Brain power!

October 5, 2011

Even though the Weekly Muse kind of fell through (I plan on bringing it back, though), I used a similar exercise with my ESL students.

For example, after going over the week’s vocabulary and grammar lesson, I usually ask random students to use one of the new words in a sentence. For their test this week, though, I had them do something different. We practiced first, so don’t worry. They weren’t caught unprepared.

I gave them TWO vocabulary words and they had to use it, along with either an adjective, adverb, or preposition (my choice) in a SINGLE sentence. The words could be odd mixes like “bean” and “fur.” It was their job to make sense out of the ideas. Why would I do something so seemingly sadistic, you may add?

Ever seen Chopped? Chefs compete by making dishes with mystery ingredients. Usually, one of the ingredients is a bit… odd. They might be asked to make a desert with ingredients like corn flour, raspberries, and sardines, for example. Check out the following scene for a better idea of what they do.

In many ways, it’s harder than Iron Chef. In Iron Chef, yes, you have to come up with several dishes that feature one secret ingredient, but on Chopped, you have to combine multiple ingredients that oftentimes are not obviously connected. How the hell do you make a main dish when you’re given pork chops, bananas, cilantro, and a small puppy named Earl? A great chef, though, can find the commonality in the food and whip up something extraordinary.

Likewise, I want my students to stop thinking so mechanically. I want them to not only learn the words, but start using them in more than just simple sentences on one topic. Talking and using a language in casual speech is the best way to learn it. It’s the same reason I put such odd things like “Atlantis” and “Mexican restaurant” in the Weekly Muse polls: to encourage people to pick the strangest combinations they can think of. Finding connections between seemingly unrelated thoughts and ideas is what helps the brain think differently.

Take the famous “Sherlock scan” often used by… uhm, Sherlock Holmes.


Sherlock Holmes by *Hideyoshi on deviantART

All the clues are there. All the parts to put together a sentence, or a story, are present in the world. It’s just a matter of training yourself to find the links and put together something that didn’t exist before. Sherlock doesn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, though having a background in science and anatomy helps. Likewise, finding links between apparently different words, finding a sentence to use them in, forces my students to find those connections so new words get easier to integrate. They just need the grammatical rules to put their work together.

In essence, using dissimilar topics forces their brain to adapt faster and faster. A time limit for tests also helps.

Now go out and build those neural biceps!

And now, let’s flex those muscles by combining INTENTIONAL comedy with George Lucas’ meddling into our childhood dreams.

Divine by Zero: Leia’s Sexy Again and Pinhead’s an Idiot

August 25, 2011

As I read through my Star Wars books and look for inspiration for this RPG we’re playing on Saturday, I can’t help but notice that the world continues to turn. Behold, the joys of internet surfing, wasting time, and everything you need to know!

  • You want something truly American? Joe the Plumber and Steven Segal. Granted, one’s a loon who made his mark with the Tea Party and the other is a washed-up action star with an ego the size of a small Pacific island, but still… It’s like pizza and beer.
  • Carrie Fisher has lost for than fifty months in the last nine months? Her goal? Getting back into the metal bikini. Seriously, though, she’s going it to help herself and she looks great. May the Force be her!
  • As I type this, Glenn Beck is in the Holy Land doing the Lord’s work… selling himself and his brand. No, really. If you’re a Christian and still think this whacko has ANY point on anything, please watch him hawk HIMSELF at his Jerusalem rally. He claims it doesn’t take a prophet to see the things he sees. Frankly, it takes brain damage to see the things he sees.
  • And finally, this has to be THE best commercial I’ve seen all year. Just watch it and try to guess what it’s selling.

Dirt Devil-The Exorcist from MrPrice2U on Vimeo.

The Tax on Good Grades

Back in my day, we didn't tax the high GPA makers! That creates more students!

August 19, 2011

Well, it’s back to school again, and, as most of you know, those with the highest grades will be asked to give away some of those GPA points to students who didn’t try as hard so everyone can have a chance at a better education and job later on.

Oh, that’s not how that happens?

Fox sent out a camera crew and recent college graduate to a few campuses to ask students how they would feel if they were asked to give some of their GPA to lower students so the people with lower grades could have higher GPAs. Obviously, this did not sit well with ANY student. How then, Fox asks, do we justify taking MORE money away from the wealthy in the form of increased taxes and giving it to the lower and middle class? Isn’t that the same thing? Taking away from the people who worked for their money and giving it to people who don’t work hard so they don’t get as much?

I think you can already see the problem here.


Students by ~dpoephoto on deviantART

A student earns a GPA over a long period of time. It takes years. To get that grade, you have to study hard, do your work, and if you want to bulk up with transcript, you have to take AP classes that sometimes don’t even give you extra points or anything like that. They didn’t for me, and while part of the Honor Scholars Program at DePauw University, I had to take classes that were an order of magnitude harder than any other class I’ve ever taken, and said classes didn’t even count for extra points. And I still made the Dean’s List several times.

That’s not how taxes and economics work.

For several decades, the upper class has received what can only be called “corporate welfare.” They actually get taxed less than people who make WAY less and can write off any number of expenses. For Fox’s analogy to make sense, students with higher GPA should have had to do less work to get better grades over time AND people with lower GPAs should have had to give up a portion of their grades to people who were already getting good grades.

Let me put it another way. Billy works hard but can only ever get a 2.5 GPA. Tommy lucked out nearly on his freshman year and got a 3.8 average. The school then took some of Billy’s points and gave them to Tommy to keep him in the highest percentile. Now, Billy has to work harder for his points, but Tommy can cruise along knowing the points he gets from the bottom of the ladder will offset his lack of work and keep him higher up.


Fox News by ~Darren-Kelly on deviantART

Students with high GPAs generally work VERY hard to get those grades. I know I did. The upper class in this country gets a free pass and politicians in their corner to make sure they stay up there. There is an entire infrastructure just to keep the rich rich. There is no such system in place for students. Lower grades don’t always mean you’re not working hard. Most students give it their best. Job-wise, I work my butt off and make less per hour than the dean’s secretary. Stop pretending like people who are poor don’t work hard. Try teaching. Try being a sanitation worker. Try being a gardener, migrant worker, police officer, firefighter, or even a babysitter. That’s damn hard work.

People who rely on hedge funds to GIVE them money? Must be nice.

In short, Fox sucks, students rock, have fun on the first week of school, students and teachers, and I’ll see you Monday with the new Weekly Muse story. Keep voting!


first day blues by ~misternow on deviantART

Felonious Use of Carnal Knowledge 2: The Word Salad

...and a lot of people apparently DO let the words hurt them.

August 17, 2011

It’s no secret that the words and language we use color our perceptions of the world. Having grown up in Mexico, my thoughts often start out in Spanish even though I speak more English than anything. That syntax and sound are the things I use to measure beauty in speech. I think, though, that there is no better recent example of this ability for early language to shape our perceptions than this little article.

In short, Johanna Gohmann talks about how her parents used euphemisms for certain words, especially things pertaining to sex or bodily secretions. From her article:

Perhaps not surprisingly, my parents’ modesty spilled over into s-e-x terminology as well. To be fair, we didn’t exactly live in Berkeley, Calif., with 9-year-olds openly shouting, “Mommy, my vagina itches!” This was the ’70s and ’80s in the suburbs of Indiana. Many families employed a certain slang with these words, and not just because “rectum” is a difficult word for a toddler. For many, it’s a given that girls have their “coochie” and boys have their “weiner.” But not us, thank you very much. A brief dictionary sampling displays words that were all our own.

Boo (verb) — to defecate: “Mom! The baby just booed in his pants.”

Tink (verb) — to urinate: “He just tinked into a root beer can while driving!”

Tote (noun) — both the male and female genitalia: “Jo kicked Marty in the tote!”

Bo (noun) — buttocks: “Where’s the Benadryl? A bee stung Graham on the bo.”

Giving him elbows (verb) — breast-feeding: “Mom is busy. She’s giving the baby elbows.”

Did you catch all that? It reminds me of a child a coworker once taught. He didn’t know any words for animals or numbers. He knew the baby words. Instead of dog, he’d call said animal a “bowwow.” A seven? That was a “stick w’nother stick.”

My niece, being all of six years old, is actually a very eloquent young lady who can speak a few English phrases and has near-perfect Spanish diction. Why? Her parents never baby-talked to her. I’m assuming my boss and her husband did the same thing with their daughter, a precocious little thing that has syntax down.


Imagine all the people. by ~audreymarlett on deviantART

I hope you’re seeing the problem with raising a child knowing euphemisms for common, everyday things the rest of us freely discuss. I understand a person might be uncomfortable with certain images and topics, but to alter the word itself will not get rid of that image or that topic.

Check this out. I’m going to substitute the word “Funyun” for “spic,” and all death-related verbs will be switched with “splooge.”

Okay, you see those Funyuns over there? They come here, they steal our jobs, and leave us with nothing. I’m not saying we need to splooge them. No one is saying anyone needs to get splooged. I’m just saying that something needs to get done about the Funyun problem or some of the more radical elements in this country might splooge them if they feel they’ve been pushed too far. And it’s not that I’m racist. My best friend is a Funyun. I just don’t want to see splooge on the streets of this great country.

Back in the third article ever posted here, I said that words have power when we give them power. Unless you have synesthesia, changing one word to another will not take away the meaning of a word. It might make it silly, but it doesn’t mean your subject’s changed.

Don’t be afraid of using the correct words and terms for something. Granted, there is such a thing as being polite in casual conversation, and certain words are funnier than others, but don’t sugar-coat the conversation because the topic upsets you. If the topic is what bothers you, don’t even talk about it. Be honest with yourself. Words have meaning for a reason.

Stop blaming the phonetics and start confronting the vocabulary.

And now, I present to you the only good thing to come out of Final Destination 5. You have to admire the self-awareness these actors and actresses had towards the entire project. They’re comfortable making fun of their movie even before it comes out. Enjoy the campiness!

A Lesson from the 27 Club

Attention, readers! Don’t forget to vote on the new Weekly Muse poll here or go to Facebook and vote through the fan page!

July 25, 2011

Amy Winehouse is dead.

It’s a tragedy to be sure. We saw her self-destruct before our very eyes since, well… since she broke out. As of this writing, the cause of death is unknown, but my money is on her becoming another casualty of too successful and no way to deal with the pressure.

She’s not the first member of the infamous 27 Club, and I doubt she will be the last.

But the rest of us writers, singers, composers, and artists need to be careful to not fall into the trap of thinking this was inevitable. As artists, we already have a reputation as loners, weirdoes, and self-absorbed misanthropes. We don’t need the world thinking that we need the sweet release of cold death to make us go out in a blaze of glory.

That’s what creation is for.


Amy, Amy, Amy by ~Shinne on deviantART

There’s a misconception that real art is indefinable. That a tortured artist is the truest type of artist, a man or a woman who creates something no one truly understands because they lack the artist’ genius, is the stereotype many attribute to our community. That being said, most people really don’t understand art. I’ve written about this on MANY occasions.

But the point I’m trying to make in this little rant is that if you create something no one gets and you see this as proof of your genius, you’re not a genius. If your art doesn’t speak to SOMEONE, it didn’t do its job. Art does not exist in a vacuum. If you do happen to create something that touches millions, something that says or shows something we haven’t seen before, the pressure to perform and create something better can be overwhelming. I’ve been there. The urge to create clashing with the need to perform can turn anyone into a quivering pile of humanity.

That being said, I would appreciate it if people stopped drinking themselves to death or shooting their brains out because they feel they can’t even try.


RIP Amy Winehouse by ~MissRoxyMFC on deviantART

You know what? Art is hard. If the next attempt isn’t as good, is it still good on its own? I recently heard one of my friends say that everything the Red Hot Chili Peppers made after their drug years was crap because it wasn’t as good as their early stuff. That’s a matter of taste between the funk and thrash of early RHCP and later, more melodic music, but it shows the kind of mentality that we adopt when we rate things based on a curve.

Did Winehouse kill herself over the need to be something larger than she was? As of now, I don’t know. If she did, it’s a tragedy, not only because a talented artist is gone, but because we have another example of an artist who, instead of stepping up to the plate and at least trying, went on a slow suicide binge.

And even if it was just an overdose and an accident, I’m still mad at her.

Oh well. Let’s remember (relatively) happier times.