Not serious ones of course.
When I express a love of cosmic horror, the link between horror and comedy, dark and angry surrealism, nihilism, and all of the other things I over-analyse, it’s an expression of interest and fascination that is – at its core – what geekiness is all about: an open expression of passion for a particular subject or subjects. And as a creative person I like to let free my own reflection of those genres and subjects that fascinate me.
When I started putting my own particular brand of horoscope onto Facebook, I’d been listening to a lot of Welcome to Night Vale, and H.P. Lovecraft, watching Dylan Moran, and Rick and Morty. That, and I was in a mood to write and get weird with it, as I am wont to do, previous examples include corrupted christmas cracker jokes, a crowd sourced poem about being on the toilet, and some early evidence of my own mental health issues before I recognised what I was looking at.
All of this narcissistic rambling to say that for me… it’s a kind of fan art. I ingest the media that I love, and out comes some blended product born of my own creativity. Some examples:
Aries: Check your liver against the colour chart. Are you within the safe zone?
Taurus: You have no power here, only the howling of a chained beast
Gemini: They’re closing in
Cancer: No horoscope this week, seek answers from the Grand Tapestry of Bucharest
Leo: Square peg, round hole; angular logic, circular reasoning
Virgo: Citation needed
Libra: The association are concerned about your recent activity in the temple. Burn the robes and ditch the sceptre before they send in the auditors
Scorpio: Avoid log flumes, better to stay away from all carnival activities where possible
Sagittarius: Are you doing something different with your arms?
Capricorn: Death of a spider, birth of a fly
Aquarius: Hold onto the past, you never know when you might need it
Pisces: Everything will be fine. I am so sorry
I mean… a lot of Welcome to Night Vale.
It’s a thought that should horrify you, that either the stars are so utterly powerful that they can impact the finest details of our lives in a plan they concocted millions of years before our existence, or that we impart such incredible meaning to an elaborate and contrived dot-to-dot picture in the sky that a vast industry revolves around it, and some people think it has greater impact on their nature than – say – rudimentary psychology!
I endeavoured to bring together cosmic horror and cynicism, weave in some surrealist humour, and offset it with just a little profundity that you could believe, for just a moment, that there might be a purpose to it all. And yes, maybe there is – on some level – a little genuine philosophy leaking out, I’ve written dozens of these things, and anything to which you’re willing to commit that much time must be important to you. And if it entertains a few people then all the better.
What do you do to exorcise your creativity? What sources of inspiration do you draw from, and how do they reflect in what you create? Come chat to us in the comments, or over on our Facebook page.
No, nothing is original, because if you go back far enough and dig deep enough you can always find one thing becoming another. Ideas have an ecology in the same way that living creatures do, passing their memetics down from one generation to the next, memes prove successful according to the society in which they thrive, and vanishing where they fail. Occasionally something ancient will rear its head and find a niche, like an intellectual coelacanth, or a pattern will prove so utterly successful that it will reappear in varying forms from generation to generation, like the shark or crocodile.
We all know internet memes, surrealist non sequitur humour, comedy born of masses of minds throwing spaghetti at the internet and seeing what sticks. In so many of today’s memes you can still see the patterns left behind by the Advice Dogs, notably the top and bottom framing font in white Impact with a black outline, and that may still be instantly recognisable there are people joining the internet today who wouldn’t recognise an Insanity Wolf if it stuffed them in a blender and drank the n00b smoothie that poured out. The badly spelled “He Protecc”, you can still see the heritage of Rage Comics, and even the Lolcats that preceded them.
There’s a line of surrealism in humour, the kind of comedy that is seemingly born of chaos and irrationality, through The Mighty Boosh, Reeves and Mortimer, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, back to the days of radio comedy, the Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe, and Peter Sellers classic, The Goon Show.
This is comedy of clever stupidity, a fast paced hurricane of bizarre humour, a few well timed misunderstandings and a subversion of expectations, then a curveball thrown into the plot before a punchline that lands like a damp napkin, an anticlimax to completely subvert the very idea of a traditional narrative, but even they had their patterns and running gags.
The doltish Neddy Seagoon would inevitably fall prey to the criminal machinations of Jim Moriarty and Grytpype-Thynne, the lad Bluebottle would get killed in a blundering and obvious fashion, and Eccles would be told to shut up by himself. These things can be predicted, unlike a competition for a land-speed record in a Wurlitzer pipe organ, or the native britons halting war with the Roman invaders for “rough play”.
Give an episode or two a listen, they’re available in vast numbers on YouTube, and you’ll hear the inspiration behind so many comedy greats of today, the reoccurring gags and characters, the erratic tones of speech and rapid fire delivery. You can even hear the mark upon internet meme humour. If you trace it further back we might have a solid explanation for ancient knights doing battle with giant snails.
Nothing is original. A friend of mine engaged me on the topic of infinity a few months ago, and his sister rather tritely observed what a foolish errand it was. I don’t know why he chose the Matrix as his example as something that has a definite beginning and an end, and yet he could barely finish the sentence before I was asking where the Matrix began? Was it on the day of release, the start of filming, in the writing? Or could it be in all of the works that inspired it, the misinterpreted works of Jean Baudrillard, the philosophies and religions, the anime, the sci-fi, all the contributing factors the have their origins extending from the nineties all the way back to year 0HE and the dawn of culture? All of human history building to one film that has in turn gone on to inspire hundreds, maybe even thousands of other works.
Nothing is original, no, not even this article, which started as a half baked idea at 23:00 the night before publishing as I idly re-watched the Punisher and thought “Damn, I need to write something” and instead shovelling Christmas shortbread into my face. It’s not new to say that there are “no new ideas” to be found any more, nor is it new to liken the spread of thoughts and ideas to the spread and mutation of species. Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating thing to look at media as a breeding ground for ideas, and to see their populations rise and fall.
Comedy is amongst those commonly agreed “markers of high intelligence” as the ability to not only understand but also create humorous content is a highly complex thing that requires a deeper insight into the world around us and to demonstrate it from a new and often exaggerated perspective. It’s also one of the hardest things to do well. Comedy is a heartbreaking thing to try and make a living at, even if you’re considered funny, a lifetime of trawling through pubs and clubs getting booed off stage, or more likely these days getting booed of YouTube, or worse, ignored.
For those few who succeed it’s a life of bringing happiness to others, often at your own expense. The best comedians are often highly educated, cunning observers of life, the world and humanity, and masters of the written and spoken word, but comedy has many shapes. It’s something worthy of far greater study, but for now let’s get just a little geeky on the subject. (more…)