Tag: personal

Creative Itching, A Life Update, and the Evil of Corporations

Hello, gentlefolk of the internet! Today I am experiencing a creative itch. It’s been there for about a week and it is very persistent, teasing me with vague glimpses of some deep, dark, wondrous place. But every time I try to capture it, it flits away. This happens to me on a pretty regular basis, and I’m sure any other creatives know what I’m talking about. It’s really quite annoying. I can’t even tell myself “wait and see,” because it isn’t uncommon for these fleeting visions to disappear and never return, with no explanation, when the creative itch finally dies away. Frustrating. I really want to create–to write something or to draw something–but I don’t know what to create. So, I told myself, at least I’ll write a blog post.

 

I guess I’ll share a short life update for anyone who cares. Quite recently–almost two weeks ago–I lost my job, and then got a new and much better one a few days later. I had been searching for a new job for a long time, because my old one had ceased to be a viable way to support myself and I hated it in any case. But I’d been hoping that I could leave my old job on my own terms, once I’d found something better, instead of being fired from it before I had a backup in place. But things worked out all right.

 

I’ve really felt a weight lifted from me since I got this new job. You see, aside from the obvious financial strain I was under, I was also working in retail–a corporate-owned office supply store which I’m sure you’ve heard of. For many reasons I was unsuited to this job, in no small part because I am a quiet person who does not dispense friendship readily or immediately and is easily stressed by forced dealings with strangers. But more than that–I hated the lack of respect and courtesy I received as an employee of this place. It was nothing blatantly wrong or truly terrible. Just things which were indicative of an underlying attitude which really shouldn’t be acceptable. For example, I was never told ahead of time when the store’s schedule changed for some reason. I was never asked if I would be able to work the new schedule; it was just expected that I would force my life around it. Then, too, there is the way the employees are expected to suck up to the customers, to be subservient and promise them anything they ask as long as it is remotely within the boundaries of what the store can do. I don’t believe it’s appropriate to act this way; it creates a false expectation and fosters a really deplorable attitude of entitlement in the customer, besides the obvious moral stumbling point of promising something which you aren’t sure if you can carry out. My manager once came perilously close to asking me to be dishonest. This shows little regard for the beliefs or personality of the individual. In fact, the individual is enormously undervalued in this setting; no matter how often the store propaganda tells you that you’re valuable, you know deep down that you’re expendable and the store is what really matters.  It is my understanding that that sad condition is common to modern industry.

 

I’m sure people will say: that’s just the way the world works! (as if that weren’t the most terrible excuse for anything ever) Or they might say, they have a business to run, and seeing as there are plenty of people who would take your job if they could, you really are expendable.  (as if that should cover a clearly undesirable state of affairs) Others may say that I should keep a stiff upper lip and I have no right to complain when children are forced to spend 12 hour days mining coal in certain unsavory institutions around the world. (should a man not complain of stepping on a nail when another man has just had a leg sheared off?) But I would argue that, whether this is a great evil or not, it is still wrong and it still points to further problems in modern society. The devaluation of the individual is truly disheartening. It is perhaps easiest to see in a corporate environment, but it is still pervasive–and this despite persistent propaganda about the importance of being one’s self, “believing in yourself,” and other such twaddle. As children we are told to follow our dreams and believe in ourselves. But when we become adults, the tune changes to “cut that hair! Wear that suit! Be practical! Work that stifling corporate job and have financial security!” In other words, be like everyone else, because the collective knows best. And even when a company claims to place great value on the unique contributions of each employee, there is still a deeper societal norm that they are all following, and this norm is a trend towards deindividuation.

 

We are men and women, full of color and life, eternal beings, not insects to be tiny, insignificant cogs in one great hive. And it’s sickening to see the collective spirit so heavily championed at every turn.

 

Well, and that turned into a little more of a rant than I intended it to. Suffice to say, I am very happy to be free–for the moment–from the world of corporations and retail! And I do hope never to return.

 

~ Jared

 

P.S. While writing this, I remembered an idea I’d had for something to draw. Well then, I suppose writing a blog post was a good choice!

My Holy Grail

Well, one of them.

 

Lately I’ve been asking myself a question: why am I not writing a medieval fantasy story? Whenever I think of fantasy, Medieval fantasy is what I think of. Knights. Dragons. Elves. Goblins, wizards, magic rings, nobility and sacrifice and evil, adventures. Cliched as the genre has become, it, above all things, carries away my imagination. A medieval fantasy world is the world I long to live in. When I want to escape, when I want to lose myself in dreams of adventures and other places, that is the place I want  to escape to. I am still looking for a perfect medieval fantasy story which can fully satisfy that itch deep down inside me. Setting aside all speculations on whether that itch is not really an itch for some deep spiritual thing rather than a certain sort of story, this is the kind of story that I most love and, deep down, most want to write.

 

But I always run into this problem, which is that whenever I start developing an idea that’s going to be a medieval fantasy, I always get carried away with making it unique and original. I come up with really interesting stories and worlds, but by the time they’ve reached the point that I’m happy with them, they’ve passed beyond the point where they are recognizable as that quintessential Medieval fantasy. I don’t want to write a cliched story, but at the same time, work too hard at excising the cliches, and the story is no longer what I set out to write. It’s pretty frustrating.

 

As I was thinking about it earlier today, something that C.S. Lewis said sprang to mind.

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.

So I’m thinking I would be better off if I simply try to tell the truth in a Medieval fantasy setting. Perhaps I should stop thinking about how to make my wizards unique and cool and think instead of what kind of truths I can tell about a wizard. If I treat the medieval fantasy world no differently than if I were writing a story in our own world–if I tell the truth about characters both startlingly familiar and decidedly strange, describe how beautiful the land is, bring up great questions like good literature always does, tell tales of heroism and nobility and evil, without stopping to think about how this is a world where dragons are daily occurrences and a giant could stomp on you around any corner, then maybe I will be able to write that quintessential fantasy that I’ve been looking for.

 

This particular quest is one which I’ve actually only just been awoken to. I get the feeling that it could  be a quest lasting years, maybe even a lifetime; but if so, then it will be a worthy quest.

 

~ Jared