Tag: magic

Creative Breakthroughs

Hello, everyone! Been awhile since my last post. I guess I don’t really have anything major to say this time, but I thought I would share some recent breakthroughs I’ve had in my writing/creative life. The first one is very obvious and I can’t imagine why I never thought of it sooner. It is a realization I had about daydreaming.

 

I’ve always liked to daydream. That’s practically a qualification of being a writer, isn’t it? Daydreaming is not only fun, it’s very important. A writer needs that imaginative time to create new things and get to know his worlds and characters better. But somewhere down the line, I reached a point where I felt like I couldn’t daydream anymore. It cost me huge amounts of effort to envision my stories and characters, and I could rarely keep myself focused on a daydream for very long. This was extremely distressing and it made me feel like I was less of a writer than my friends. Many–probably most–of my writer friends, including one of my closest friends in the world, daydream without even trying. It comes naturally to them. They just find themselves drifting off and don’t even notice what’s happening in the world around them. I’d reached the point where that never happened to me anymore, at least not for stories. Sure, sometimes I’d daydream about future possibilities, but I could never do it about my imaginary world. Last week, I realized why. Aside from various emotional distractions, the reason is because I was doing it wrong. I had been trying to visualize everything, as if I were in a movie–build the scene from the ground up, see the expressions on the characters’ faces, hear their voices as they talked, or else imagine myself as one of them. But my mind doesn’t naturally think in images. I am one of those people who thinks most often in words; I have a constant inner monologue, accompanied by a (usually) hazy stream of images and deep currents of feelings for the things I can’t describe in words. Many of my friends who I’d been comparing myself to, on the other hand, think primarily with images and feelings, not with direct words. And so, it was only natural that I would have a hard time daydreaming the way they did, because my mind doesn’t work the same. Once I had that realization, I began to daydream in words instead of images, as if I were writing in my head. And it worked. The words swept me away and images and feelings followed on their heels without me even having to try to envision them. At the time I felt rather calm about the whole thing. It was such an obvious realization to come to that I’m still not quite sure why I never understood that before. But I’m excited now! I’m eager to see how my creative life expands now that I’ve realized the way my mind is meant to daydream.

 

The other breakthrough is more of an intellectual breakthrough: I finally stated to myself, in words, in a way I could describe, a vision for my stories and writing. Not all of my stories do or will fit this vision–I will write whatever sounds interesting to me, whether it fits the vision or not. It isn’t exactly something I would call a grand purpose. It’s more of a guiding light. Something to shoot for in my stories. I know that if I’m accomplishing this, the story has been successful on at least one level, even if it fails in others. It’s a comfort to me to have this abstract idea to shoot for, even if I’m not trying to make all my stories conform to it.

 

The vision is this: that I want to bring magic into the everyday. I want to show, with my stories, how magical the mundane world can be, and conversely, how mundane magic sometimes is. I want to inject wonder into things that are not thought to have wonder. I want to throw a veil of mystery back over things that have been made all too clear in the glaring light of reason and pragmatism. Because it is my belief that the veil was never truly torn away, only x-rayed, and if you look closely enough, the mystery and magic will return to anything.

 

That is all. Vale!

 

~ Jared

A New Age Dawns, Part III

Okay, so in the last installment, I talked a bit about life forms. At the end I said I would discuss overall world technological level in this next post, so I guess that’s what I’d better do.

All right! The world so far isn’t exactly suggesting a particular level of technological advancement–the only thing that suggests a particular level is the fortresses inhabited by some of the humans dwelling on the surface. However, these fortresses could be as primitive as cave systems burrowed into mountainsides, or something as sophisticated as NORAD (which, incidentally, is also a cave system burrowed into a mountainside). My initial vision of these fortresses was that they were more like Medieval castles. Huge, labyrinthine stone structures built on easily defensible areas, like mountains and hilltops. That still doesn’t necessarily suggest anything, because they could be very old castles, which the modern people are still living in out of convenience. I do know, however, that this is going to be a sci-fi/fantasy. That in itself suggests something.

Here’s the idea that just sprang into my mind: the humans, on the surface of the world, are not native to the world. They’re the remnants of a spaceship crew, a crew of interstellar explorers. They still have a goodly amount of the technology from the spaceship, but they don’t understand it anymore. They’re able to replicate some of it, but they don’t comprehend the principles it works on. To them, it’s very much like magic. But a magic that is not understood is dangerous, so I imagine there are only a few people trained and trusted enough to operate this misunderstood technology. These elite people would be the wizards, the sorcerers, the mages. Through long study, they learn to operate and recreate the ancient machines, but they don’t really understand how the machines work. It’s like when you get so used to the routine of doing something that you cease to have a conscious understanding of what you’re actually doing.

So the fortress-dwelling humans have some pretty advanced technology, but it isn’t widespread. Their technological level aside from that is, I’m thinking, about equivalent to 17th century Earth. Fortresses have printing presses, but there still aren’t many books; people have guns, but still fight with swords and plate armor; more advanced machinery and vehicles are beginning to be invented, but have not come far. This level of technology implies a certain organizational structure–absolute monarchy, supported by a strong official church. I’m thinking each fortress is essentially its own kingdom, and maybe there’s whole networks of fortresses who have banded together and elected a high king, for mutual protection. Then there could be an overarching church, or possibly a few different churches. These may follow religions which are twisted versions of ones we know here on earth… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Now, what about the nomadic humans? I doubt these people have the “wizards” of the fortress dwellers. A nomadic lifestyle just isn’t conducive to that sort of thing, too much machinery and too many books involved. However, they probably have all the best weapons, since people look up to them for their bravery in traversing the wastelands. I doubt it would be difficult for them to bargain for quality weaponry. Now, how do they travel? I imagine they might sometimes buy powerful, advanced vehicles from the “wizards” of the fortresses, but for the most part, they’d use animals. Some sort of animal native to the world, I’m thinking… insect life seems to dominate the surface, so giant beetles. So these guys ride beetles, are bristling with weapons, and occasionally have more advanced technology, which is so advanced it seems like magic to them. But other than that, I doubt their level of tech is much different then our Bedouins and Touaregs and such here on Earth. They probably live in tents, or maybe yurts, like the Mongols.

Now we must consider the gnomes. Humans who lived fully underground might need a certain level of technology to maintain their existence. However, gnomes are adapted to the underground. It’s their home territory. The gnomes, living a life sheltered from the elements, able to feed themselves from the abundant fungi and to quench their thirst with vast underground lakes, are probably a lot “softer” than humans. I doubt their tech is as advanced…. I’m seeing a general technological level in line with that of the ancient Egyptians, except obviously a lot less advanced when it comes to building structures–gnomes have their structures pre-built, in the form of caves. Well, somehow, they’ve been able to prevent humans from coming and living underground. Aside from indicating that they have a general isolationist policy and a strong central government–although it could be simply a number of tribes with strong traditions–this implies that they have some sort of power capable of resisting human technology.

My first thought is to make this power some sort of magical ability. But the question is, is this ability a “racial ability” of the gnomes, or a more general thing that is inherent to the world, like the Force? The former would lean the world more towards sci-fi, while the latter would lean it towards fantasy. But I just had a thought. What if it’s both? Here’s how I’m thinking it would work: the gnomes have some sort of special organ, or perhaps a gland in their brain, that allows them to respond to signals sent out by the sentient crystal creatures. The sentient crystals are the source of “magical” power in the world. A gnome who taps into the energy field they project  can work “spells” of potentially vast power. Perhaps there are a lot of creatures on this world who can tap into the energy field from the crystals. Humans, since they aren’t native, wouldn’t even know the crystals have this power, much less be able to tap into it. But I can already see a plotline where a mad human tries to graft gnome organs into an unsuspecting kid, thus granting him vast power no human has ever had…

So, humans in general have Renaissance level tech, with a sprinkling of much more advanced technologies which they don’t understand and therefore consider magic; the gnomes have a much lower level of tech, but can access a semi-mystical “power field” to make up for it. I like that, so I’ll go with it. I think I’ll start considering culture in the next post.

I hope this is useful to people! I’m definitely enjoying it.

~ Jared

Words

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ~ John 1:1

And God said, “let there be light,” and there was light. ~ Genesis 1:3

 

Seeing as I have hitherto tried to avoid a religious bias in this blog, it might seem strange for me to open this post with verses from the Christian Bible. Nevertheless, I’m a Bible believing Christian, and what I’m discussing in this post relies on those verses. This is some very theoretical musing, so feel free to disagree… in fact, I don’t care if you disagree with anything I say anywhere in this blog. Disagreement leads to debate, which is generally pretty interesting.

 

Anyway. Words. Words have power. “In the beginning was the Word.” “God said, ‘let there be light.'” Words are eternal. The Word existed before anything else. Everything was made through words. Clearly, words are an extremely powerful thing. Humans have been blessed with the gift of words, of language, of speaking intelligibly and recording our memories in written symbols. Words are a holy thing. I’m sure you’ve always been told to watch your tongue, to choose your words carefully, that words can both heal and hurt.

 

In Webster’s dictionary, “word” is defined as “a speech sound or series of speech sounds that symbolizes and communicates a meaning, usually without being divisible into smaller units capable of independent use.” The origins of the word “word” mean things like “to say, to speak” or, more to my concern in this post, “to call, to name.” Words have been in use since the beginning of time and beyond–the only single thing for which this is the case. In light of all this, the old adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never  hurt me” seems rather empty, doesn’t it?

 

So, words have power. But the difficulty comes in defining that power. Everyone knows how easily words can be used to manipulate others. With just a few words, you can cause someone extreme joy or lower them to the deepest pits of depression. Words can move nations to war, or bring peace and prosperity. They can record things that have long since faded into the past, incite all manner of emotions, communicate all manner of ideas and feelings. Words are the entire foundation of human culture and society, and one of the greatest gifts we have been given. This power at first glance seems like nothing special. It’s what we’re all used to. But stop and think. Is this not an incredible power?

 

But it is my belief that the power of words extends beyond these commonly accepted levels. This power is nothing so spectacular as calling down lightning or casting fire or other such things, which is, in fantasy, often presented as the mightiest culmination of words: magic spells controlled by means of a long-lost language. But nevertheless, the power is there. It may not have significant effects on the outer world, but is not the inner world just as important? One of the chief areas in which words have power is the area of naming. It seems that humans must name everything they come across. Every culture appears to have an obsessive fascination with naming things. This is, of course, a method of categorizing one’s surroundings so that they make sense. But when something makes sense to a human, that human has a certain measure of power over it. He or she may not be able to control the thing, but the human will certainly have the power to properly react to what it does. A great many ancient cultures hold the belief that to know the true name of a thing is to hold that thing in the palm of your hand, to have the power to control it. This belief is one of the oldest in existence. Naming, and its ability to create order where once there was confusion and chaos, is one of the greatest powers that words possess.

 

This power is mental or spiritual, but that does not reduce its efficacy. When it comes to the power of words, this is one important thing to remember… any power words have is almost entirely in the heads and hearts of humans. It might be argued that this fact means words have only as much power as humans grant them. To a certain extent this can be true, but think of it this way: the human head and heart are the center of our race. If someone can direct and influence those, then he has power, regardless of how much people allow him to affect their thoughts and feelings. Mental power, though often amorphous, is no less powerful because of being so.

 

At any rate, I believe that when speaking of powers beyond those commonly accepted, naming is the most important one, and the only one I shall mention here (honestly, I can’t think of many others… if any of my readers can, feel free to post your ideas). Expanding into the realm of fantasy, what if the belief that knowing the true name of a thing gives control over that thing is true? Perhaps the human race has forgotten the true names of things. Perhaps that is why we have this obsession for naming, because some deep part of us hopes to one day stumble across the true, ancient names that we no longer remember, that will grant vast power to those who know them.

 

In the end, then, names have a power that is really quite magical. Writers and orators are wizards in the truest sense, using this power as their tool. Of course, it might be more accurate to say this is a Holy and Heavenly power, seeing as we humans have received our gift of words from God. But call it magic or divine power, the power is there, and it is significant.I tend to have a fairly mystical mindset about things, but I hope that everyone can agree on this point, at least.

 

Well, that all might’ve sounded a bit pretentious, but hopefully someone will find it interesting. I might have more thoughts on this subject to post later, we shall see.

 

~ Jared

 

P.S. By no means take this to mean that I believe I’ll be able to gain magical powers if I can only properly name things. That was just fantasizing. I don’t think there is anything that directly contradicts that view, however, so who knows? Maybe it is true.