20 September 2012

Making Drugs for the Masses...and feeling guilty.

Because life is often interesting and occasionally thought-provoking, I often formulate some aspect of it into an intriguing idea. For some perverse reason, which varies as much as the number of times it happens, I get the incredible urge to share that idea. Much of the time I resist, of course. Other times I cannot hold back and must foist it upon an innocent public.

Thus it begins: the playing with words, the perversions of punctuation, the crafting of crafty messages, the tempting of time, and going to bed with questions that do not satisfy for long. I'm referring to the drugs so prevalent in our society: those fictions.

·         What if two people who are so completely wrong for each other happen to meet, and then have to try to get along? There are bound to be fights. What if that struggle leads one to disaster while the other can be free? (A Beautiful Chill)

·         What if a young man who is intrigued by the Trojan War goes to visit the ruins of Troy and happens to meet an older woman? And what if his name happens to be Parris and hers Eléna—just like the Paris and Helen of ancient times? Wouldn't that be weird! (After Ilium)

·         What if a couple of high school tech nerds happen to discover a tear in the air and step through it into a new world? What if they have many adventures there and learn to dominate that world? What if they then returned to Earth and had to explain things? (The Dream Land trilogy)

·         What if a married man discovers his former lover has his child? What if the man truly believes the right thing to do is go to investigate her death and try to claim his child? What if his wife objects? (Aiko)

Life seems constantly to be throwing “what-if” propositions at me. Some stick and others do not. Life gets busy sometimes, too, and the what-ifs of the world go unanswered. Yet, overall, who would care? Plenty of people. Humans have a strange propensity to empathize with invented humans—or personifications of humans. That creates a market for telling lies, for deliberate deception. And people are making a lot of money selling lies and deception.* People love lies, accept deception; they welcome them. After all, they are powerful, useful drugs. I once was told when I was a young teenager writing science-fiction stories that there is no point reading something that is not true. It’s a waste of time.

And yet we do! A lot of us. A lot of the time. I’ve been thinking of this conundrum for a long time, too. Why do we like to make-believe? Is there something wrong with our ordinary, everyday lives? Why the need to fantasize—or the desire to visit worlds that do not exist, or cavort with cohorts who never existed? There must be some mental disorder that pushes some people, but not others, into a kind of phantasmagoric repose. Sure, I know why I write (well, perhaps...), but why does anyone read these stories?

I write because I must. It’s a mental disorder: hypergraphia (read more here). I write in almost every spare moment. I awaken at night to write something. When I am physically prevented from writing, I write inside my head, intending to commit it to some magnetic ink when I next have the opportunity. It truly is a gradient subterfuge into madness.

I doubt that my affliction has reached severe levels, for I am able to stop writing occasionally and seem to suffer no adverse symptoms. I have gone as long as a month without writing. Yet always it returns, compelling me to invent things that never happened, or could never happen. In the rawest sense, I try to create scenarios that I would enjoy living through—even ones which may, on the surface, seem unpleasant. Doesn’t that seem bizarre? Why would anyone compose fantasies to inhabit? As an escape from mundane reality? I suppose the degree of disability would have to be measured by how much it interferes with my so-called “normal” activities. For me, however, the writing—and its associated tasks of planning, researching, editing, etc.—is my “normal” activity. It is the remainder of the day and week that are my abnormal activities.

If I were to be locked up for some nefarious reason, I think I could be happy and survive it if I were allowed a computer (or, barring that, a manual typewriter and endless reams of paper) and all the time I needed to build a fiction in which I could blissfully reside forever. 

Oh my! Have I spoken too soon? 

After all, I have done such a foul thing already: I have created fictions in which I can exist…through the husks of protagonists and occasionally behind the villain’s mask. And yet, strangely, I still can walk the streets unhindered, without a single word of mockery about my affliction, and in complete anonymity. For I am Everyman…er, uh, everyperson, whatever. I am the drug maker. And, yes, I can sleep at night.

Again, I deeply apologize for my fictionally inept fictionization of wholly fictitious, vilely fictive fiction. It’s an illness so it’s not my fault. Besides, Truth has never held fast for me. The rest goes without saying.

*Some lies are more expensive than others, of course, both in the uptake and in the aftermath.

(C) Copyright 2010-2012 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.

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