Friday, July 21, 2017

The Alteration of Symbols and What They Represent

   
    When it comes to my love of comic books and comic book characters, nobody comes close to The Punisher. I love the artists that have done work drawing him(Joe Jusko, Steve Dillon, Goran Parlov) and some of his best comics are written by one of my favorite writers, Garth Ennis. So it
’s a point of frustration to see the above image used the way it is. In case you are unaware, this is a popular image used by some groups in support of the Blue Lives Matter counter-movement. I see the decals on the backs of people’s cars, I’ve seen patches sporting the logo, and of course t-shirts. Nothing makes me cringe harder than getting a nod from one of these guys when they see me wearing my regular black and white Punisher shirt. I just wear the shirt because I like the goddamn comics and the character, and you’re bringing some off-brand political reality I don’t affiliate with into this. I’m not here to argue against anyone’s belief systems or question why you believe what you believe, but I am here because this altered logo represents a fundamental misunderstanding of Frank Castle and the overall message that almost all of his comics send. The Punisher is not interested in justice, peace, or a better world. The Punisher is and always has always been chasing a war that will never end. That is the end all be all of his wants and desires: a means to quiet the deafening misery of his own existence. The character behind this symbol and the symbol itself represent a system of ideas that is inappropriate when applied to the real-world context of the altered symbol's use. 

    In 2011, Steve Wacker gave the Frank an official kill count of 45,802 people. An absolutely insane amount of people for one human being, and every single one of them was a character who deserved it in the narratives being told. And you know what he has to show for it? Nothing. The only impact the Punisher has had on the criminal universe is that people are scared of The Punisher. There is no universal justice or dignity in what he does, and his actions undercut the very idea of creating a better society. His process is "treating" the symptoms of criminality, but never the cause. Frank is absolutely reviled in the superhero community for this very reason. His mere appearance in other comics is enough to throw heroes into fits of rage, and there are plenty of stories that revolve around trying to bring him down. Why? Because he is no hero. He barely qualifies as an anti-hero, because the people he does help are only a by-product of his wanton cruelty. He is the catalyst responsible for the creation of more cruelty, more criminality, and a growing resentment towards the idea of reformation.
 
   Personally, I think the true function of a justice system is the reformation, rehabilitation, and reintegration of criminals back into society. This process starts by punishing offenders for what they have done, but the takeaway here is Frank Castle stops at step one. He is uninterested in the preservation of human life if he deems a life irredeemable. And this is reflected in almost every character he interacts with to a significant degree. They end up dead, psychologically damaged, or more vicious and irredeemable than they were before. The criminal underworld doesn’t go away when he murders every part of the criminal element in a city, a new criminal underworld is created…often one worse than the one the one he wiped from the earth. He defies the deeply flawed system of criminal justice by creating a brand new system of injustice that breeds suffering. And this is why I love the literary idea of The Punisher and the symbolism of his stories so much: they take that idea of vigilante justice and they see it all the way through. What you’re left with is an infinite chain of empty conflicts, with no discernible end in sight. And THAT is the heart of Frank Castle’s very personal, never-ending war.

    If you’re someone that rocks this Blue Lives Matter bastardization and you’re thinking “Well yeah, that’s the whole point of his character” then why the hell do you think this an appropriate symbol for a real life counter-movement? Kill em all is not an intelligent, ethical, or even pragmatic approach to criminality. It does not lead me to believe you have the social awareness to be a mouthpiece in support of officers of the law. In the comics, seeing the Punisher logo means one thing and one thing only: You are about to die. It definitely fires up that “hell yeah” part of my brain that kicks off when I see fictional vigilante justice, but this symbol has no place representing any group interested in justice in the real world.


  

Saturday, February 25, 2017

I Want Us All To Be Better Artists So I Didn't Proofread This

If you were to ask me(and it's my post so we can just assume you are asking me), finding your specific creative voice is one of those most difficult things to do in artistic work. It's easy to look at the body of work of your peers, look at what they've created, and feel like you aren't there yet.  I admire a lot of the people around me when I see how they're developing their work, to the point where watching some of you go at it is almost demoralizing. You'll meet a lot of people in your life that are just that goddamn good. And if you are one of those people, I want you to know that it's more encouraging than anything else. But it breeds an internalized insecurity in me when I go back and try to do something new. I feel embarrassed by my own voice, so I start to quiet it down.

Feeling blocked or particularly unskilled creatively is natural. You hear about it all the time; people looking at their instruments of creation, feeling absolutely benumbed. And a part of overcoming the limitations of your artistic self is working despite these feelings; sitting down and working everyday, being ready to create some of the worst work you're capable of. I know I feel that way when I push myself. I'll look at a page I worked on three days ago, and I'll get so embarrassed by it, you could probably use it to blackmail me. I'm not crazy about what I write every time I write, but I'm always glad to put the time in. It's easy to wait for the feelings of passion and mania to inspire you to pump out garbage, but pumping out garbage even when you're scared of creating garbage is key. But  sometimes, you really hear that creative voice of yours, and you make something you're actually proud of instead. It's important to take those little victories in stride. Once you start collecting all of those minor wins, you start seeing what regularly drives you to earn them. Even if your voice changes, where it comes from never does. And if you keep working, you'll inevitably hit it time and time and time again.

I like that this page still exists. Reading some of the old stuff is an great way to induce vomiting, and it's a great way to be real with myself. They aren't all going to be hits, I've accepted that. I think posting on here reminds me of a time when I didn't give a shit about making a lasting, good impression. I just wanted to have fun and play with ideas, maybe make at least one person identify with the complete nonsense I occasionally put out. Before times like how I feel now, where writer's block seems natural, instead of a meaningless self-imposed limitation. So I've already decided to post this no matter what, and maybe that's because I want to be more mortified of my own lousy writing, or maybe it's because I want to help ease the tension some people feel when posting creative work. If I can represent this, I hope that inspires you to express something yourself when all of your consciousness is telling you that it's not good enough. I want to help you fight against any self-decided sense of defeat, and I also desperately need to find my voice as well. And we all have to put out a lot of bullshit with no fear to realize what we want to be.

Or maybe just send me some cool shit and let me look at/listen to it if you don't want to put it out there. I wouldn't mind giving half my friends a good kick in the ass to remind them they're better than they think.


Friday, September 30, 2016

Beauty

  I want to write today about beauty. I spent a lot of my life not being a very great or fantastic human being in any way. For a lot of reasons, I never wanted to be much of anything. I spent a lot of time rejecting beauty, at least by my own definition of it. I saw all of these smart and wonderful people, I saw all of these exceptional and talented people...and I didn’t want to be one of them. I wanted to think that I could escape beauty, and it’s unbelievable allure on our everyday lives. I thought imperfection would make me feel better, make me feel more distanced from the beautiful people. Like I’d won by escaping their influence. Make me feel like I was more connected to the rest of the world. The people that gave me everything I ever had, the only things ever worth having; they were not conventionally beautiful. And in my extremely flawed pattern of thinking, I believed we were just something else outside of beauty.
  However, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize these people in my life were the very definition of beauty. I practically want to cry I feel so stupid for not noticing it sooner. Beautiful people are not perfect people. They are fundamentally flawed, they are the face of every day life, they are the people who make superficial beauty obsolete. And the most disturbing part of all is that they prove this point again and again every single day. They are the ones you want to hold so tightly, a grenade between you two wouldn’t pull you apart. I have always lived to treat my friends as the most important thing to me, but I never understood that they were the most valuable thing. Every flaw, every misstep, every failing...it doesn’t do a damn thing to diminish their beauty. In all of our own respective pits, we become more beautiful than we ever stood a chance of being if we looked at what is considered conventional beauty. I appreciate that now more than I ever have before, and I will fight to the death for the idea of it. I love you all. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Look Back And Laugh

Screaming At A Wall and The FearMonger Experiment were my first real attempts to get my work out into the public since I starting writing my own material 7 years ago. I decided to leave both blogs up after removing a bulk of the unsatisfactory posts, leaving only the ones I was any sort of proud of. I personally don't like re-reading many of them, but I still get a hundred or so views a week, so at least somebody is enjoying them.

And while I may look back at some of these old works with a feeling of disappointment, the feeling is part of evolving as a writer, as an artist. This page allowed me to connect with people, I was given a lot of positive feedback, offers for writing jobs, and I had conversations with people that I otherwise wouldn't have. I'm thankful for all of that, truly appreciative...but it's no longer something that suits me.

In the 1873 publication, Studies of the History of the Renaissance, Walter Pater said "All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music."
What he means is most forms of art can only imitate the world we perceive, the finished product merely being a representation of a representation. It challenges the audience to draw out the essence, and the effectiveness of your art is based on the clarity of it's message.
On the other hand, music bypasses this partition between the corporeal and the intangible essence by being self-representative.
To evoke a similar effect in other mediums is the real challenge of an artist, so that is my goal.
To write works that flow and feel as music.
It no longer holds meaning to maintain a page like this, none of this work reflects who I want to become as a writer. So this is my farewell to this page and to this personality of writing; I'm not nearly as angry and dissatisfied as I was back then. I've moved on to bigger projects, projects that really mean something to me.

So why am I writing this now? Shouting into a desolate section of the internet that has long since faded into obscurity?

I'm doing it for me, and for the one person on this planet that might be able to take something away from it. That's how it started, and I think it's fitting that that's how it ends.

Later everyone, thanks for all the support!


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Growing Up Is Awesome

There will always be people that miss things the way they were back in the day, because they were the best times ever dammit. I'm sure looking back, it all seems like the time of your life; no job, no bills, no planning for your future all the damn time. You saw every single person in your social circle every day, as well as all the people in every other social circle. Every time you had to do anything remotely complicated, there was plenty of people around to hold your hand and protect you from the cold hard truths of reality. Hell, even making your own decisions those days was optional. And while I can to some extent understand people's yearning for the simpler times of their lives, more often than not, the same people that want to be young again are the same people that are unhappy with the way their life has played out so far.

In the more retarded realm of getting another shot at childhood, most people have their own individual tirades about what they would do if they knew what they knew now(You know, like that one song everyone uses in commercials when they talk about life insurance or cars and shit). Naturally, there are some things you could change in terms of actions with direct consequences, but even with the right information you can't really improve your shitty life. Not because of the situation, but because if you were a responsible human being, you wouldn't be relying on a time travel oriented second shot to fix all your problems in the first place.

Being a kid fucking sucks, mostly because: 
-You don't get to dress yourself, and the people that do dress you want you to look as ridiculous as possible, because they resent being your legal guardians.
-Your hopes, dreams, and feelings are taken seriously by absolutely no one(not that this ever changes much when you get older).
-Nothing important happens except for traumatic incidents that will indefinitely shape who you are for the rest of your life. Which is really not good when you consider that some scientists believe our personalities are set by as early as first grade.

Being a teenager fucking sucks even more, because: 
-You can finally dress yourself, but you have no idea what that means and you will screw it up trying to fit in/not to fit in. How people dress in high school is the epitome of trying too hard in an attempt to emulate their friends, idols or role models.
-Your idols and role models are the worst. Seriously, there is no other way to put it. You will go through a very important developmental stage in your life trying to follow the footsteps of people that may not be the most respectable and reliable references for how to live.



                                                   Case in point. 

-You will have friends, girlfriends, and other important people in your life that you will swear undying loyalty towards. You will sacrifice your health, options, and opportunities to strengthen these bonds, and most of them will be gone a few years after your graduate. These studies are all over the place, but most people choose to ignore them because we prefer to think of ourselves as paragons of unwavering friendship.
-You will have a variety of opinions and closely held beliefs that you will fight tooth and nail for. You will rant and rave and research your side of the story relentlessly to prove the things you know are cemented in cold, hard facts. People will come to recognize you as the guy/girl that's all about animal rights, atheism, libertarianism...and that you're really fucking annoying about it. What you don't and won't realize until it's too late is that even your opinions on opinions will change very rapidly over the next few years, and you're going to get all "cynical and skeptical and disillusioned." No, you're just embarrassed about the way you screamed the biological process of a decaying body to a young girl because she said she hoped her grandmother was in heaven.



So no, I don't miss being younger at all, and I wouldn't wanna go back and do any of it over. Being younger is like being a drug addict; you think it's a lot cooler than it actually is when it's happening, and you don't remember what was so bad about it until it's really all behind you. You're supposed to grow out of it. So please, stop romanticizing the past and just leave it where it belongs.


                           And let's leave the libertarianism to Ron Swanson.