Re: [mythsoc] A little dark, a little light
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, August 29, 2000 6:13 PM
Subject: [mythsoc] What we're all about, I guess ... ?
> Hi, I have a few sort of questions all muddled together. The premise
> them, I suppose, is that, for some of us, the mythie/writing life has at
> least loosely Christian underpinnings. Whether one is strictly Christian
> generically looking towards the Light, are there certain fundamental
> guidelines we should look to be following? Or something like that...
Guidelines? Let's see. Good plot, characterization, style and the like. I
think if you're working for "The Maker of All Worlds" and wanting to
imitate, doing the best you can is an act of worship. "Whatever you do, do
all to the glory of God." (Even if you may not believe in the traditions.)
Asking questions that make all of us think---whether we agree or not. My
vision of joy and delight is not yours, but the fun comes from sharing
visions, and seeing something new in each.
> One question is related to Sheri S. Tepper and authors, the other is more
> related to writing. I will set them both out below, as beset (typo, but
> how appropriate), I mean as best as I can:
> 1. We've discussed Tepper a little bit, and offlist one kind soul has
> me a little more about her personality. I'm wondering a little whether I
> want to encourage an interest, in myself or others, in literature and
> that says that ultimately, we are on a downward spiral. (Not that I don't
> like her books; they are haunting.) I am not sure whether that furthers
> depressive thought or jars one to break the bad habits now. I hope this
> question make sense. Probably I should read more "dark" fantasy to fuel
> query, because maybe it could help.
That's possible. I can take some "dark" fantasy, but need to leaven it with
something lighter to lift my mood. As much as I like Gene Wolfe, I don't
think I could read him continually. We need a change, simply because that's
part of being human. Balance is the key. I am curious about Tepper's
personality. She strikes me as being rather doctrinaire, but passionate,
something of an Ayn Rand (or rant?) of the left. Very much a "male-bashing"
feminist. (That may be my perception, not truth.)
Of course, dark fantasy can be seen in a hopeful light. Horror and comedy
work on the same principle. You have a decidedly outrageous
situation---monsters roaming the area, horrible events going on---or Lucille
Ball concocting one of her outrageous schemes---and it elicits the emotions
of fear or laughter (often based on pain). But there's always a "voice of
reason," and in the end---normalcy is restored. At least for a while. Even
at the end of Elizabeth Hand's *Glimmering,* one of the most "hopeless" of
dark fantasies I've read of late, there is a child born, and some measure of
hope and normality in the end. The question is "how much hope do we
envision." Dean Koontz shows a lot; Tepper may not show much unless it's in
her own political context (and we all have one of those).
> 2. Taking this argument over to the writing life. Some of us feel that
> IS ultimately futile, that maybe there ISN'T a God or any of the good
> we write about and hope to be true. Is it then hypocritical to write as
> it were? Or is it the working of the Will over the Emotions, so to speak?
No, I don't think it's hypocritical. For two reasons.
1. There is something to be said for acting as if God were there, and in
time (God's time, not ours) that faith will be rewarded. (This turns up all
the time in CSL.) I admit I don't share the "all is futile and hopeless"
view, and perhaps it's hard for me to comment, because I am so convinced the
other way, though I don't always feel "on top" all the time. No one does.
However, you have Biblical precedent. Ecclesiastes is squarely in the
"vanity of vanities, all is vanity" camp. "Nevertheless, I will praise
God," as the Psalmist says, though that's hard to do when I can't get
somewhere I want to go, I'm late, and I've just missed the bus!
2. It's useful to write something from the other viewpoint, to get an
understanding of that emotional or philosophical matrix. It would be the
same for any viewpoint. Not all characters are going to be happy campers,
and a good author can get really good character depth from exploring another
viewpoint. Of course, viewpoints can change!
Emotions can sometimes be smokescreens for our desires. There's this:
"Lord, I want to believe; help my unbelief." It ultimately comes down to
what you want. Do you want hopelesness? Or hope? A rather interesting
exercise: Ask yourself what you get out of / how you benefit from feeling
dark and hopeless or believing there isn't a God. Do this very quickly, ten
times, and write down the first thing that comes to your mind. Don't censor
As long as I feel dark and hopeless I ______________________________.
As long as there isn't a God, I ______________________________.
Then, do the opposite (but wait a few days in between).
As long as I feel light and hopeful, I ________________________.
As long as there is a God, I ____________________________.
You may be surprised at what you find out! ---djb.