Creativity · Mental Health · Writing

Ripple Effect

I don’t think anyone can argue that the world is a crazy place at the moment. Well, crazier than usual. Political partisanship, terrorism, social media manipulation, threats of war, economic instability, climate change…it’s a lot to process on a daily basis. And it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

So for us in the creative realm, what do we do with all this? How does is affect us and our artistic output? What I mean is that, for example, studies have shown that during times of insecurity (like a bad economy or a war happening) there is an uptick in horror-related books, movies, and television programs. Consider back in the late 1940s and the 1950s. This was the dawn of the nuclear age and people were fearful. The result was a bunch of horror movies, many of which were based around nuclear accidents or the results of nuclear testing (THEM!, Godzilla, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms).

With our current state of affairs, I began to wonder if we’re going to see another uptick. I know that I’ve been thinking of darker stories have been having darker dreams. I think it’s a ripple effect…something happens, say a military action in the Middle East. Of course, the media goes nuts covering it with facts and speculation. I watch the evening news and see all this before I go to bed. That night, I dream about being lost in a dark forest, whispering voices drift from the shadows around me, and later I awake with my heart racing and my body covered in sweat.

In a way, it’s sort of like Chaos Theory – a butterfly flaps its wings over the Indian Ocean and it eventually causes a hurricane to form in the Gulf of Mexico. In my case, a bomb goes off in Iraq and I have nightmares about a spooky forest.

Does it affect all creative people like that? Do we all feel some inspiration from the big events in the world? I know we can be inspired and influenced by our everyday lives. Family drama, encounters with strangers, things we overhear in a restaurant, it’s all fuel for the creative fires. But what about those big events? The World Trade Center falling, the Challenger explosion, the tsunami that hit Indonesia, Hurricane Katrina. Or are they too big? Like, are the big events just too overwhelming for us to process?

And no, I’m not trying to start a political discussion here. I try to avoid politics on this blog. However, I do want to mention the recent assassination in Iraq that had many people talking about World War III starting. It was enough of a scare to the general public that the website for the US Government’s Selective Service (military draft) crashed. As I’ve been laying in bed at night the past week or so, all this has been running through my head. There’s the possibility of another war (currently averted), economic instability, political upheaval, neighbors and families arguing and fighting over who’s in the right…it’s a lot to consider. And as I mentioned above, it’s seeped into my dreams, and what I dream often ends up in my fiction.

I expect to be penning some dark fiction soon, probably much darker than I usually write. I’m not going to shy away from it. These events and situations are already in there processing.

Does this happen with other artists? Is anyone else feeling these dark vibes at the moment? If so, what are you going to do with it? Will it end up in your fiction, your drawings, your music? If not, then I’d like to know why you think that is…why aren’t these things affecting you?

Events will continue to happen, disasters, crimes, wars, terrorism. They’re all symptoms of our screwed up world at the moment. And each one of these things is going to have a ripple effect. Those directly impacted are the ones at the epicenter, the ones who witness the event. Then the ripples begin drifting outwards, concentric circles (like shock waves) will flow over the landscape, over the horizon. At some point one of those rings will reach you. You’ll see it on the news on television, or on hear it on the radio, or read about it online, and it’s going to get into your head, into your unconscious mind and you’re going to have to process it. And then what?

Art is just another way of processing reality. We use it to try and make sense of things, of the craziness, the fear, the anxiety. If we don’t do something with this then we risk having it eat us up inside. There’s no avoiding the ripples, but we can control how it affects us.

RB

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