I have been asked what it’s like in my head and where my ideas come from. I’m going to try to explain a little and it’s not going to be an easy or a perfect explanation. It’s one that creative people are probably going to get right away and people who aren’t creative may struggle with grasping, and it’s going to make me sound weird, loopy, a little crazy, but if you know me you already know that.
I live in two worlds. All the time. Every minute of every day. I don’t hop between them, one does not only exist when I dream (although more on dreams later), both worlds are present at any given moment. What differs is the extent I am in each of them, how much of my concentration is focused Here and how much is There.
If I have a glazed look in my eyes, I only seem to be half participating in the conversation, if I wander off to look at a tree or watch the night sky and think, you may say “He’s got his head in the clouds, off with the fairies again.”
Yes, actually. Yes, I am doing exactly that.
To avoid making this too fantastical and to make it quite clear that one world is not less ‘real’ than the other, I’m not going to give one of the worlds an emotive or dramatic name. We’ll call the world of cars and concrete, TV and McDonald’s, cell phones and birthday parties “Here”. We’ll call the world of dragons hiding in the clouds, invisible gods, whispering trees, places that have a quiet that you can feel flowing between your fingers, musical timbres that conjure scenes of ancient battles until you can smell the blood on your hands, we’ll call that place “There”.
Many people only exist in the Here, and for them, There is completely illusionary. It’s a place only small children, religious extremists and tinfoil hat lunatics believe in. Their world is only what their immediate senses and the seven o’clock news tells them. Other potential existences are only depicted for them by the media in movies, TV, video games, and books - if they read. Here-only people are less likely to.
This isn’t an insult to Here-dwellers or their intelligence, but reading is a more active form of engagement than audio-visual and requires a level of There-awareness, even a subconscious one. Reading demands that you engage your imagination to create worlds from words, which is why every person’s engagement with written characters and places is unique. Most people who read a lot are already comfortable with the idea of disappearing into another world. They are, if you will, halfway There.
Film and TV stimulate a different part of you, one that is swept along by the narrative in a passive, observational way, no less passionate and intense, but a little less interactive. Video games are also an interesting beast; they require the player’s input to progress and create a sense of immersion and interactivity that can be very gripping.
But while Here-dwellers are often ravenous consumers of There-fictions depicted in media for them, the ‘for them’ part is important. Here-dwellers are consummate consumers. There-fiction exists only for their entertainment. It’s a fun distraction, it’s a good space for them to sit and blank brain for a while to get away from the white noise of job, career, finances, family, social life, health, relationships. They soak it up because ‘escapism’, but do not participate in it. They are input-only. They may really like a thing but they’re unlikely to engage with the more interactive aspects of fandom. And that’s fine.
Those who dwell between Here and There react differently. There-fictions feed us. They stimulate parts of our brain that are unused or used differently in Here-dwellers. We cannot be passive observers; we must be participants. We cannot only be input, we must be output. The shows we like and the books we read inspire us. Now, some simply copy output. They haven’t honed their brains to produce their own content yet, or aren’t confident in their own ideas, or are just so in love with an established There-fiction that their whole focus is on that.
There’s no shame in this. It’s what fandom and geekdom are built on, but it takes a lot of skill and talent to rise above the tide of regurgitators and there are copyright laws to be considered. When done right, though, instead of just mimicking, the thing you love is elevated above what it began as to what you believe it should be.
Some people I know excel in this to a level that takes my breath away. These are the ones who’ve learned to see into a There outside their beloved fandom and then bring their experiences from There into the thing they love, to enrich its mythology and build it beyond its limits.
But for many of us it’s not only the pre-existing stories we love that inspire us to create. For many of us it’s a constant state of mind that cannot be turned off. The silhouette of a tree on a hill may inspire a scene in a book we’re writing. The scent of a lover’s perfume - or a stranger’s - may become a line of poetry or a splash of expert colour on a canvas. An offhand comment by a friend may lead to a brilliant twist of plot, a composite of encounters with crochety and cantankerous people throughout one’s life may coalesce into a memorable character in our film script.
That’s why I will never refer to There as being ‘in my head’. It isn’t, really. It’s both in here and out there in the world, omnipresent. It is most powerful and pervasive in places of nature and silence but sometimes you can feel stirring under the skin of busy man-made places, too. It’s the scent of red and the voices of trees and the way rain smudges a horizon and the temperature change in the moments just before dawn.
I’ve stood in nigh-abandoned shrines in Japan where the wind rustles the momiji about your ankles and you can feel the eyes of the kami upon you, peering out from the shadows of the trees and the dark cracks in the pavement, wondering what this strange quiet foreigner is doing on their turf.
I’ve stood in a seemingly innocuous park in the town of Buderim, QLD, where the trees arch across to meet each other and become a natural cathedral and the moment you walk in there, the roar and buzz of passing cars only metres away suddenly dissolves and sounds distant and inconsequential. There is a silence in that place that is stronger than the noise of our machines.
I’ve walked in the Outback, and in the pockets of ancient places hidden by ‘civilised’ expansion on the Coast. Places where the voices of the Aboriginal people and their Dreamtime spirits wait, inaudible to the invasive presence of modern, multicultural Australia. Withdrawn, but not defeated. Never defeated; ancient beyond imagining, and wise beyond our comprehension, and patient. Sometimes very, very angry, like the close, still heat before a thunderstorm. I fear the day that storm breaks.
I’ve seen the mist-shrouded mountains around Delphi, Greece, where the original Oracles spoke in forgotten caves long before the great temples were built and where so many secrets and revelations still lurk unspoken. I’ve stood in the highlands of Scotland where the feet of grey stone mountains are still stained with the blood of murdered clansmen and haunted by their spirits. Those who aren’t looking will see and feel none of this, maybe a vague sense of disquiet, of having interrupted something, easily dismissed. They have come close to glimpsing There, and backed away without even knowing it.
"There" is both in our own imagination and engraved very deeply into our souls. "There" is a communication between our world and our minds that many of us shut off or appreciate only superficially. "There" is the place that religion and spirituality endeavor to reach out to, when they aren’t hijacked by human insecurities or human greed and turned into mere social constructs to control people. "There" is the heart of art and music, literature, poetry, dance and song. "There", or rather the dance between Here and There, is the wellspring of mythology and culture.
You can never live ‘There’ completely. Some connection to Here must remain; dreams are the closest you’ll come to seeing There without the filter of Here. You don’t want to live There forever, because it can be very frustrating and lonely to straddle both worlds as it is. People don’t understand why you suddenly need to leave the social occasion or start scribbling words on a napkin at the bar or monsters into the margins of your lecture notes. You can bury yourself in creating your There for hours or days without leaving your seat and then hear the sound of laughter or voices and feel such a pang of loneliness it nearly rips you in two. There has to be a balance between There and Here; between the space where you need uttermost concentration to keep the tenuous link to a world invisible to all eyes but yours, and the space where you need human contact, human relationships, and to replenish your inspiration from the myriad of experiences you will have right Here. It can be a tough tightrope to walk, but I have walked it all my life.
I am not alone in living between Here and There. I am not unique at all. There are others, plenty of them, who walk around in two worlds. Some aren’t even aware of it. Some make it the very focus of their lives. Some make quite a deal of money out of sharing their There with the world. I can tell you though that nobody’s There is exactly like anybody else’s. We who live between There and Here can only share our otherworld by creating it in some tangible simulacrum in the Here. Those who understand this can experience the sheer joy of sharing our There with someone who will take it in and understand it, and the thrill of exploring their own There.
We can bring you briefly into our There by painting it upon paper with words, splashing it upon canvas with paint, whispering it to you in a story or a poem, singing it in a song, sculpting its denizens from clay or pixels, tapping it into a keyboard, or having actors who can see into There and become a different person in your mind portray the people of There for you to see and believe in.
But understand that creation for us is not a hobby, a job, or a distraction. It is a compulsion as important to us as breathing. If we cannot create, we wither and die, and walk around hollow and grey like hungry ghosts. We must output as well as input. We cannot live entirely Here any more than we can live entirely There.
We are the people of two worlds, and we would like to invite you into our imagination.
25 meters wide Octopus from the exhibition Mediterranean Sea at Monaco’s Oceanographic museum
OMG. Duke Karquiolle’s house! </obscure reference only people who played D&D with me close to a decade ago will get>
Via Prehistoric Shenanigans
Catlateral Damage is a first person mischievous cat simulator, where your objective is to knock as many of your loving owners belongings onto the floor within a 2 minute time limit.
It’s a fun little game, and there’s a lot of satisfaction to be had from knocking things over and making a mess (That’s probably why cats do it in the first place). The dev plans to add more levels (rooms) to destroy, but at the Alpha gives you free reign to destroy your owners bedroom for 2 mins. On your marks… get set… destroy!!
Via Prehistoric Shenanigans