Saturday, February 15, 2014

Creativity vs. Banality (or, my thoughts as to why it matters)

Two diametrical ends of the same spectrum; an endless battle in today's world...

This is going to be, I hope, a two-fold answer to some important questions that I have been asked. I guess before I start my rant, I need to define the two boundaries that I'm about to tackle. And I want to burst some bubbles of people that have a misunderstanding of the creative process. First is creativity, defined as such -

cre·a·tiv·i·ty [kree-ey-tiv-i-tee, kree-uh-], noun

1. the state or quality of being creative.
2. the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.
3. the process by which one utilizes creative ability

...and banality, defined as such -

ba·nal·i·ty (bə-năl′ĭ-tē, bā-) n. pl. ba·nal·i·ties
1. The condition or quality of being banal; triviality.
2. Something that is trite, obvious, or predictable; a commonplace.

(both definitions are taken from this on-line dictionary )

Call me jaded, but it seems to me that our modern world is so full of banality – it is being taught in our public schools, supported by popular media, and infecting everything and everyone. To me, this is a very negative influence – not just on me – but on everyone. Now, for just a minute, let's all put on our conspiracist tin-foil helmets. Ok, ready? There is a science behind all this, called psychology. Media outlets, corporations, and even governments uses psychology to manipulate their consumers, to achieve whatever ends they are after, and to influence your actions and thoughts. I can't say for certain that this isn't an unexpected side-effect, but it seems to have the effect of slowly crushing the imagination factor.

I like trying to be well-read, on important news worthy events, scientific progress, and humanitarian events. I try to exclude pop-culture events, soap operas, and pop-icon drama (unless it's causes me to giggle). But this, in and of itself, can be overwhelming when you try to be as objective as possible. Instead of gleaning my news from one source, I feel the need to read four different web sites – on just one topic! Today's news-feeds seem to be very subjective, for the most part. Call me bland in this aspect, but I prefer my news kinda like Joe Friday preferred his witnesses - “Just the facts, just the facts.”

21st century Earth has a sensory overloading banal-vibe, where originality is suppressed – even regarded as a handicap by some. I suppose in ways, it can be, but with out creative people, our world would not have the man-made wonders of which most take for granted. Which brings me to the positive end of this spectrum. (You can remove your tin-foil helmets now)

Creativity is your mind at play; it is both a release and a builder for stress. The release part is you doing what you want to do, when you want to do it, how you want to do it. The stress comes from doing something for someone else, on their time schedule, and the way they want it. This can be one of the few positive stresses that I've discovered during my life – this is a structured challenge. And who doesn't like an occasional creative challenge, right?

But in today's world, I find days that my creativity is struggling to survive, being humbled by the corporate world and it's lurid burden. Part of that is an inter-personal difficulty of my own making – I love logic, and science, and deconstructing manufactured stuff – electronic, mechanic, pneumatic – it doesn't matter. I admit it – I'm very curious about stuff in general. I strive to know, to read – to understand. And that is my own double-edged downfall.

When I draw things, when I design things – they must make sense to me; they have to look like they would work – even in a world full of magic, they would still have to work in our real world. Without me realizing it, the this is caused, in part, by the two hemispheres of my brain working against each other. One half is logic, and science, and physics, and real world stuff. The other half is fantasy, imagination, make believe, and things that could be, should be, would be – in another dimension.

This, needless to say, irritates me to no end. That is, until I realize that I'm working against myself. Sometimes, I start out in synch – I harmonize my brain and flow right into my work. Most times, I'm distracted when I start and it takes me a little bit to synchronize my cerebral functions. I allow myself to be distracted by the – you guessed it – banality of reality. I feel like this is an almost life & death struggle to keep my creative juices flowing. Some days it's worse than others. Part of this could be my paying job, part of it could be that there is very rarely any good news in the news – it's all horrific, showing how bad people and the world can be. It's almost enough to make some want to crawl under their blankets and stay there. Almost.

But are those good enough reasons to quit? I'd have to say “No!” in a rebellious way. Engaging stories, captivating visuals, and enchanting music is a way of freeing yourself from such slavery, such revulsion. I remember as a child, waiting on the next comic to hit the stands; the next episode of Batman on TV - a sense of wonder and excitement. I can recall the adventure of opening a new book to read, or the soothing effect (or adrenaline rush) of a certain song. Then later, I discovered crafting things with my hands, forging weapons, building houses, working on cars – I loved these activities as well! Looking back now, I see them all as a creative process, something that has enriched my soul over all these decades.

These are some of the reasons as to why I choose to create – I want to use my experiences in some artistic medium to share some of this energy, and hopefully give that to others. I like to think of my public work as helping against the mundane element of our modern life. To what degree? I can't say, but I hope it is just enough to help others with their creativeness.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Inside Fort Armistice

Our heroes deliver the message they received in the last chapter, which potentially opens up another job opportunity for them. And possibly adding two more members to our group of adventurers.

Ever get to the point with something, your attitude just goes to “meh” before you get finished? Yeah, that's what happened with this page. I just got lazy and didn't do any shading or highlights.  Although, in my defense, I have done some updates on the About and the Archives pages.  I'm also in the process of doing to updates foe the Encyclopedia page.

Until next page,
      same arcane time!
             same arcane site!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Meanwhile, back to our main story

End of the cut scene and back to our main characters.  An uneventful river journey from Bone Marsh to Fort Armistice, to deliver a message from Brigga.

Mostly happy with this page, although looking at it on-line, I should've put more action, and background people, into the scenes.  *shrug* Oh well, maybe next time.