August 10, 2019

Muses and Themes

The very moment that I hit the Publish button for my previous entry, I already knew that something was off. Or rather, that I didn't think through the themes as well as I could have. So I spent more this week to flesh things out a bit more. While I absolutely love exploring the topic of inequality, I think the story is better served if the external conflict/social mirror revolves around the theme of Perspective. Or rather, fractured perspectives. You might be wondering why I'm making this switch. It's simple, really. My muse told me. 

Wait. Let's back up a sec and talk about what a muse really is. The modern, public perception of the word muse is one of a woman whose unsurpassed beauty would cause nations to go to war. Helen of Troy, anyone? The reason I bring her up is because the word muse itself comes from Ancient Greece. According to mythology, the Muses were goddesses who provided inspiration to those who wanted to express themselves through art (or gain knowledge). So that's where the "female" part of that perception comes from. It's pretty baked in, I guess.

Of course, we should know better. While a person can certainly be the inspiration, the person him or herself isn't the muse. The act of creating something arises from an obsession that the artist cannot shake. It could be about a grudge, or a desire, or discontent, or serenity. My muses for the past few years have been about brutal wars, oppressive governments, and societal inequality. The point is, the muse is a beautiful torment simply because it demands your attention, and when these thoughts come parading into your head, there's no way to turn them off or let sit.

So then why insanity as the theme? Well, put simply, some people just fucking drive you nuts... I met a person who literally drives me crazy, and I cannot stop thinking why. And thus, a new muse is born. But that's not the only one. Another thing that has been seriously chewing on my brain lately is this concept of perspective. Recently, I was involved in a conversation where, in the middle of it, I realized that my perspective was completely ignored and brushed aside. That it wasn't valid because it didn't match their perspective. It was infuriating and depressing at the same time. The tricky thing is that differing perspectives don't make one or the other more or less true. Sure, some truths are shared, but all perspectives are unique to everyone. Dismissing them is just plain wrong.

This isn't limited to just a couple of people of course. It isn't difficult to imagine a society whose perspectives regarding each other is significantly fractured. We have people in power who are deliberately confusing the public in order to manipulate their perspective in order to protect their self interest. They are incredibly adept at it. If someone is relentlessly told that something is true over and over again, especially if by everyone else around them, then it isn't long until they'll capitulate. At some point they get so far deep that convincing them that other perspectives actually exist becomes an impossible task.

Which brings us to the external theme of this story, finally. While the main character struggles with balancing their power versus their insanity, the world struggles to maintain itself due to a violently fractured populace. That said, the dystopian cyberpunk setting doesn't really fit well now, does it? I'm thinking it's more of a semi-surreal apocalyptic setting instead. I've expanded a bit on the basic premise I hit on last week. The setting is that the real world - our world as it is right this moment - is being slowly "invaded" by a digital world. Creatures and objects start appearing out of nowhere, while people and places start disappearing on our end. What's really happening is that the two worlds are being forcibly merged together in a process that will take, say, 10 years. For reasons unknown, but of course it will be related to the overall theme of Corruption. Let's just say Someone is trying to escape Something, and they'll do whatever it takes.

Anyway, the beats I've laid out for the first chapter will go a little something like this: the story begins 10 years ago, and the main character and supporting character are in a heated argument where emotions are flaring high. At the peak of their breaking, events kick into motion, and the worlds start to merge. With little explanation, violent unidentified creatures come out of nowhere and attack everything around them, causing mass panic. People are slaughtered left and right as emergency personnel try to create some order from the chaos. Our two characters start to get headaches, and they realize that they're changing. As they run, hide, or fight their way away from the madness, they understand that they're gaining psionic powers. The supporting character is quicker to understand how it works, and rapidly becomes adept at using it. It also allows them to sense other people, who they decide to meet up with. There might be a lot of distrust, but again they use their powers to overcome this. Just as everyone decides on the best course of action, they're attacked by an incredibly powerful psionic creature, drawn by the supporting character's growth. They realize this, and decide that the main character will flee with the people while the supporting character distracts the beast away from them. This is a classic "Draw Aggro" trope where the supporting character faces off against the Big Bad in a literal duel to the death. The main character, beset with a debilitating migraine at this point, struggles to remain conscious as the supporting character and the psionic creature obliterate each other. They dramatically implode themselves just as the main character falls unconscious. Chapter two starts with the main character waking up in present day - that past event that traumatized them has become a recurring nightmare that they suffer from. This is the insanity that forms the core of their incredible psionic power.