Tag Archives: Imagination

The Secret Singularity – The Price of Admission

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The measure of the fan is sincerity. Sincerity has many means of measure. Time spent or insight into a chosen area or artist are certainly ways to show devotion. These however are surpassed in the early 21st century by objects. How many box sets and collectors editions, how many restored texts or retrospectives do you own? Do you have a special shrine set up in a den or rec room to the item of adoration? Do you drink from a decorative glass in a commemorative t-shirt? If not, your devotion is suspect: the sign of the dilettante is a severe shortage of merchandise and a distinct lack of uniform. To live to the full extent of the definition, to earn the rest of the word fanatic, it is necessary to have the complete works. No gaps, every instance or appearance, all the best of compilations, every figurine, and shot glass. Websites and mailing lists are maintained to make sure that when you are away from this ever growing stack of memorabilia items, it is never far from your thoughts. Besides lines of information must be maintained to keep aware of new releases.

Now it is not that bad all the time, of course. We can connect with other lovers of the things we love at conventions and through correspondence. We can use mutual adoration to locate people like ourselves, holders of shared interests and values. There is certainly a joy of meeting those who are in the know. To adore a book or movie with family and/or friends is an incredible bond. It sets our lives in sync, it gives context.

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It is in these deep roots that works of art, popular or obscure, where the insecurity sets in. No matter what or who you love, there is a sense of exposure in the identification. Easing up on the defenses, admitting to the emotional connection, often makes us aware of how out there on a limb these affinities make us. And with that new merchandise we are required to accept, that certificate of authenticity has been re-issued. It becomes less a matter of are we still in on that unique reality principle than it is about price. The more investment the more justification is required. Don’t believe me? Just ask anyone who has ever snuck another graphic novel or box set into their own house to avoid questions from a loved one who doesn’t have the “bug”.

In the collection itself is the confusion. The Marketplace consistently tries to pander the discernment of the fan, that at the heart of it, the fan is the archivist. That it is in the progression of works, in the creative choices made and discarded, that the superfan truly knows the totality of love. And what a miserable love that is. To accept this point of view is to be forever isolated, forever casting yourself onto even more distant islands of exclusion. Yet many of us have done it in the past. As children, we knew a select group of people as clueless based on entertainment choices. Not that this game of brinksmanship ceases with age. In this media saturated world it is known as buzz, a tension based in anticipation of the current new. The way that anticipation plays out is the basis for many a personal story. I’ve seen cassettes half listened thrown from moving cars as a final review. It’s not always a negative thing for the fan either. Often the success of genre franchises is based on delivery of the expected to the audience. I have seen serial fiction scooped off the shelf by the armload without even looking to see who wrote it. In our entertainments, it is often about approximation of the tingling nerve or emotional rush of that first flight of fancy. To pay again and again for that is a price of admission. We are willing to make that purchase as long as we feel treasured and not taken advantage of by market forces. To consider this ‘plight” a burden is to live in a rarified state, a private amusement park where all the rides are always closed for repairs.

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As I stated earlier there are other ways to show devotion to these articles of imagination. When these means are embraced fully, a less stressful means of appreciation is possible. I have to constantly remind myself that the engineered culture clashes of the entertainment complex are more about them than they are about me. Enjoying the abundance is about engaging the extremes of head and heart not just adding to the pile. Without having others to enjoy the works of wild dreamers and talented craftsmen, what is the value of our collections? To share these special things that we have uncovered is to give of ourselves, to issue guest passes to our most prized dreams. To do otherwise is to mistake wealth for riches, to see pricelessness as cheapness. As a hobby shop owner from my childhood used to say, it’s collector’s market and things are only worth what a collector is willing to pay.

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The Secret Singularity – Confusion or Delusion

The other day I was deflated by the fact that someone had already gone to the trouble to break imagination down into several types. As someone who has always lead a life engaged with my own bit of surreal estate, I often become so enamored with a concept or conceit that I don’t realize it is a museum piece. This often becomes the end of the fascination. That the latest was an ideas about imagination has given it some resistance to the cruel way dreams are some times treated.

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I am not claiming to be the creator of anything new. I am not make large efforts to connect it to the rubric of ideas we all live under. This is not about claiming great ancestors but rather seeing how the imagination operates in the wilds of the mind. It could be said that it is this ability of the imaginative mind to pull ideas and connections from the ether which has lead to the death of the fact. In current conditions in my part of the world, fiction has only just begun to breed lethal strains again. A whole complex of ideas has shielded the majority of two generations from the extreme consequences of associative thinking. Dream thinking has teeth: just asking anyone suffering from addiction or mental illness about the connective power of the mind.

Now playing my own devil’s advocate, I need to note that the foundational ideas which create defense from harmful delusional strains of thought began as guesses. At some point, a dreamer took a step off a cliff and kept walking. How long it takes for a value to emerge is an intriguing side road, it is not the idea that has brought these words together before us today. I wanted to talk about the species of imaginary things not the environment so much. This act of recognition has to be addressed. 

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When considering Imagination, we often forget to consider whether we mean upper case or lower case. The Capital I version is all about boundless extravagance, the garish parade floats of the daydream. This is the imagination of eye candy, an amoral sprawl with ego at the center.  This is the place where desires are slacked without consequence. Many people love it for this reason, though they don’t recognize it. There is something more obscure than that rapport, the lower case imagination.

To know lower case imagination is to know it by another name: intuition. This is an associative leap made through memory connections. Building an understanding of the future by seeing the past in the present is alchemical: it happens in a mental space where structure is a mirror of social processes. We know how someone will act or a situation will play out based on a comparison to our ghosts. Whether or not this is positive or negative experience is outside of the fact that intuition and imagination are entwined. 

It is bothersome to do all the discerning required in life. Is it imagination or intuition? Is it beneficial or malignant? Often they are entwined. Though It is not a polar condition, we often ask ourselves the question is it love or confusion: it is a dangerous proposition in a world that can turn harmful with little provocation. It is not one person trying to determine meaning but a mesh of interpersonal groups looking to express a collective dream in the well lit waking world.

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The Secret Singularity – Buried Image

Facts 360 B.C. -A.D.2012 is a personal time marker for me. It is a reminder of when things really started to change in the world. Perhaps only when I noticed it but thankfully I do not have to believe in that difference. It felt that way so hence it is truth.

Truth , be it upper case or lower, is considered a transitive property these days. I would be remiss to say that I have been known to make this mistake, to believe the light of my ego is the only illumination. Through the dim powers of recollection, I connect this idea of transitive reality to R.D. Laing‘s The Politics of Experience. Forgive me if my recollection is blurred. I read this in high school so I make no claim of authority. Besides in a bit about the rubber-ization of reality, too much research is besides the point. Laing’s postulation of how the interior world of the schizophrenic as having an internal consistency is probably my first contact with surrealism.

The idea of dreams being the computer code of the brain makes this claim very hard to substantiate. I have memories of watching a bewildering documentary of Dali that was created by the man himself throws this idea of initial contact into question. And further more does it matter?

In the 21st century, Psychology is deemed psychic pest control, a means to root out buried evils, only inches away from fortune telling, which oddly has a better rep. To my thinking, the greatest value of this science is proof of the interior thought, the buried image. Instead of careful regard, this psycho-geography is feared and ridiculed. Somehow if we do not look in its direction, we will be protected.

Ignoring something has a limited usefulness. When thinking of surrealism, or its ancestor dadaism, focus is not the first thing that comes to mind. It is about the panic of the traffic jam or detention in a foreign country, where none of the words sound like your language yet decide your fate. Movement through this interior space is about understanding the shape of the imagination. Without understanding, facts and imagination become one and the same, an expression of control, a road to ruin.

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More Two Imagine

Okay here’s the last set. Sorry for the wait. Hopefully it was worth it for all of us.

The Land of Nod

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While considering what to say about The Land of Nod, I thought of how much being a game writer has to be like being a singer/songwriter. There are clear expectations about what you do and yet, somehow, you have to make it new. The Land of Nod locates the elements of fantasy and pushes them ever so slightly in new directions. The levels of imagination, professionalism, and good humor that radiate from this work is really all that any major roleplaying game need offer.

I will admit to a sense of the particular when it comes to Fantasy. I am always grateful when gaming material stays on the side of setting rather than metaplot, teasing out possibilities instead of novelizations. As I’ve been puttering about with my own material this has been very helpful for covering things that needed covered and improving on what I was developing. The ideas and locations presented are easily popped from their frame and can be plugged in. Solid useful material on site and in magazine (print/pdf) format.

The Savage Afterworld

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I must admit I am in a kind of awe of the community surrounding Gamma World and by extension Mutant Future. I have fond memories of GW 2nd edition. there was just something about its technicolor apocalypse which resonated with me and my friends tween-age heads. We thoroughly enjoyed it. But it is nothing compared to the levels of invention and depth that GW/MF players bring to it these days. It is very cool how this retro flavor has aged so well.

And as I surfed around and marveled at the next level gonzo of the post apocalyptic OSR, my exploration of it always winds up back at The Savage Afterworld. This site is not out to do anything more than keep this vibe alive. Creatures, encounters, news bits, and, not to mention a Thundarr the Barbarian expansion for MF. Great solid fun read.

A Field Guide to Doomsday

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I am not a big miniatures guy. That being said the Field Guide to Doomsday is amazing! The work that goes into this bestiary makes me come back just to see the latest creation.

Tightly focused in a way that my mind can not manage, it is clearly devised to keep the creature deprived GM stocked with unique denizens for their illuminated Post-Apocalyptic
wastelands. I could keep chaining adjectives together or you could just see for yourself!

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I guess all this apocalypse talk is getting me in the mood! But seriously in these stressful times, I have found a bit of solace in these websites, these monuments to the Imagination. I find a lot of joy in seeing that people still find the time to dream of something greater.

A phrase that all ways makes me roll my eyes is “thinking outside of the box”. It may have meant something the first dozen times but now to me it often sounds like an empty platitude.
To place yourself outside of your own tiny circumstances is not simply to escape but to transcend. And by trying to see anew, there is always hope for a future.

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Five from The Fugue: Imaginary Orbits iv

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I am more interested in grand concepts than “hey look me” soul bearing. The trick these days is to even get to those stars, you have to at least stand on a chair. How we all get to these abstract places is through the concrete. My resistance to give a little on the human side has been blocking me up. I am at a point where most of my own biographical stories bore me. I never got nostalgic because I am always waiting for the latest edition.

I have realized that liking specific modes or styles of expression does not make me wish to live in a specific time or place. A long standing love for 70s cinema has not made want to dress in that style or that I believe it was a better place. A preference is not always a wish to return to a perfect childhood world. The availability of culture artifacts, due to our friend the internet, has made all of history a current event if we allow it to be. (And in some ways, we may not have a choice.) When we had to pilgrimage to these personal or institutional archives, the myth of inclusion was easier to maintain.

Those remote locations of pop culture in late 70s and early 80s were places one had to journey to. It was where one had to display themselves to their preferred subculture. The comic shop, the record store, the hobby shop gave these niche cultures a human history, a stage to play out upon. And that was where those seeds of yesteryear’s dream were sown.

While this all sounds very nice and purple, I don’t think it was exactly like that for me. I have always been an introverted person. Often I would venture into these places just to get my comics, to get my records, or to buy my dice. Raised to be a reader, I have always found seclusion in the imagination. Not just my own daydreams but the collective consciousness of the arts. That place has always been open to me.

The purpose of the arts is not isolate but open up. To show there is a universal nature to humanity that extends beyond all boundaries. And that to regard this can be an enjoyable experience. That concept has been an impetus for why I have struggled with blogging about pop culture items I enjoy. Even the idea of considering the boundaries of pop culture had lead me to running in circles. Obscurity nowadays is measured in degrees of persistence and circumstance more than proximity. That style you love is just a fugue away.

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Quote Me #23

My personality was forged by the war, by my exposure to religion, by a partially frustrated sexuality, by my family and social background, by the people I know, by love and by the ever present shadow of death. All this is reflected in my films as well.

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Five From The Fugue: Imaginary Orbits I

I have a contradictory relationship with the pop culture/media list. While I love them in a way, I rarely find the numbering to be accurate. Maybe it has nothing to do the veracity of a given list but the idea of there being a hierarchy. Often the list consists of obvious choices at the top and preferential jockeying at the bottom.

Does anyone bat an eye when they see Night of The Living Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Halloween atop a horror list? The filtering of any given list can shake it up. This never quite works for me though. If I make a list called Best of 70s horror, I’d still have trouble assigning numbers. This leads me to consider any list I make to be in no particular order. I am trying to plot a fleeting sensation. I may think the aforementioned three to be classics but that doesn’t mean I want to list them. (More on this in part two)

The trajectory I like to chart is not one I have already traveled. I want new kicks! I understand the idea of giving credit to the classics but when I read lists I am looking for something I missed, a constellation not yet charted. An easy list is just affirmation of what we all “know”.

It is a common assumption of this knowledge which causes all the problems. While I enjoy horror films from all decades, I am hesitant to call myself a fan. Fan is, after all, short for fanatic. This does not denote that you are particular instead the implication is the opposite. I am predisposed to horror so movies in this genre generally mod up.

Genre bias does not make two fans equivalent. It is a necessity of the marketer to consolidate fans into a type. From music to actors to product placement, this typing drives decisions. Often the false equivalency limits a list’s contents to all the usual outposts along the edge of the imagination.

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