About a week ago, I saw John Lennon’s piano in the wood so to speak; the one he composed "Imagine" on, the one that toured in the name of peace. It has come to its final home in the Scottsdale, AZ, MIM.
Physically, it is a unprepossessing and somewhat battered Steinway, but metaphorically it is the womb of legend. In the pristine and silent museum I approached this shrine. Just outside my rational vision vibrated a messy kaleidescope of noise and color. With more than ears I heard the larval notes being played, a few bars at a time, as the tune inspired by Yoko’s poem crawled from the ivory into Lennon’s hand. I was infected and affected and my eyes got a little wet; deep breath to ground me.
It is not hard for me to Imagine. I do believe in magic and the contagion of invisible things, like hope and germs, love and hate, peace or despair. There is a science to it all, and I think it is not coincidence that a belief in magic (albeit some name it faith) has increased in the last few decades as our control of the "meat" world has slipped beyond our usual means. Hope is what we have to sustain us even as social paradigms, religious paragons and political ideals fail to keep our bodies safe or our bellies full. Spreading viral hope is why I still write, even though the days of making my living with words is behind me. Like many modern writers my work has a bit of fantasy in it.
Fantasy literature as a genre is at an all time high, especially among the young readers. The Horatio Alger stories of my childhood and the detectives who only needed to wear the right pumps and follow the clues don’t work as well in a world where the rich and powerful grow ever more rich and powerful as the working middle class become the working poor. Self made men are not believable heroes in a time when success is more often who you know than what you do. To believe in a fairy Godmother gives us Cinderella’s singing voice, so that we can sing into wells and out windows while the corporate step sisters grind our families beneath their bejeweled heels. I too have wished uopn a star and so I understand the increased cultural popularity of fantasy writers; but what of the equally burgeoning paparazzi parade and cult of celebrity. If we seek to escape the wicked tyrants, what explains our then obsessive collecting of every small sequin that falls off these same grinding shoes?
It is the self-same magical thinking that makes us play Elven Avatars, knock wood, and buy lottery tickets that fuels the modern cult of fandom. By being near to, or touching, or even just reading about those who have what we desire we hope to become a little more like them. I understand this magical contagion; just as I was transported by the energy of Lennon’s piano, I attend author signings, have paid for backstage passes to meet the original RENT cast and distributed flyers in sweltering heat to shake hands in awe with the members of Queensryche. I did this to get a little magic fairy dust sprinkled on me. Most recently, I sat at the feet, so to speak of a much admired game designer for an evening sharing my Porter and inhaling his genius like a drug.
I guess it is the choice of pop-culture’s Tinkerbells that puzzles me. The quality of the dust is unrelated to the level of a persons celebrity for me, it is correlated instead to my ability to be transported by the body of their work and where there "magic" takes me. Hence my dismay this morning as i shopped the current crop offerring in the digital cult of celebrity..
It started with me putzing around this morning telling myself I was trying to figure out what to write, (when in fact I was avoiding writing.) I was surprised, may I say flabbergasted at the top ten stories I surfed to with Twitter, LJ and Yahoo. I was even more horrified as these are not what the media is force feeding anyone, it is what the public enmasse are choosing to click on themselves.
Three of the stories were horrific versions of human cruelty that propagated a belief in realistic anahedonia and the rest were scandal mongering. The upside of all this was I was cured of surfing in about 45 minutes which is a very short time for me to be cyber distracted and I was totally re-inspired to Nanowrimo.
Words are my weapon. Naming is powerful. My stories of hope and compassion vibrate when I speak them, even if you don’t hear them. Every Naming matters.Psychology Today ran an article a few years ago about an experiment where people watched the sugar being added to the water and the labels being placed and yet they had a hard time drinking the bottle labeled "poison", the participants also hesitated at the bottle labeled "not poison" since our minds have a hard time registering negatives in the portion where connections are made, although none hesitated to drink and enjoy the bottle labeled "sucrose".
I don’t remember all the details, but the same article went on to tell about it taking twice as many positive connections to overrule negative connections. Maybe I will look up the article when I am done nano’ing. In December I can Google the Psychology Today website, I know it was 2007 or 2008 because of where I read the article. It would be nice to read it again, but for now I will just keep on prepping for Nanowrimo and encouraging and commenting to my nanobuddies, because its gonna take a lot of creative, positive, and hopeful hedonism to get this world back on track. I shift the signed copies of "Medicine Road" and "Here There Be Dragons", knock on the wooden table that displays them, pop in another CD and rock out my gratitude to the divine I am not in this alone. I may never be Tinkerbell or even a Lost Boy, but this november with 50,000 words, I will fly.