Ξ August 23rd, 2008 | → 0 Comments | ∇ Creativity |
I got teased! A friend was passing through the Blog and commented that perhaps I was being a mite “precious” with regard to my views on Creativity being (essentially) a Gift, and the resultant Art-Works being gifts to humanity. I’m kinda paraphrasing but I gathered that was the gist of it. Well… I guess I do take it seriously. I do (perhaps over-zealously LOL) gratefully receive and appreciate them as I would presents, so… yeah.
But rather than run about like Neil from “The Young Ones” moaning, “Oh wow man, I’m being hassled!!!” I thought maybe I’d reply in a more reasonable manner
Ever since we gathered around the fires we built for our damp, darkened caves we have treasured our shared stories, enjoyed “movies” made with our fingers cast upon the rocky walls, and reflected upon paintings drawn with charcoal-covered sticks. The depicting of stories and scenes collected from our imagination has always been our entertainment, and have always sought to evoke and provoke emotion, amusement, suspense, fear, and every other conceivable feeling. The sharing, the presentation, has been the manner of transmitting these art-works among us and thus stimulating the ones who receive, witness and discuss, and then share further on.
In these cynical and crass modern times we all too often neglect or ridicule things which have intangible “worth” and even need to enquote words which formerly would have been appreciated but now are considered incomprehensible. As if people are thinking, “what, a story has value besides monetary?” In the immortal words of that sage Homer Simpson, “D’oh!”
Yes, stories do. They truly are “gifts” from whatever Creative Force, Muse, or whatever you want to call it, and delivered through their makers. Their source is that “thing” which inspires their creation, which is then replicated as best as the interpreter can design, and then given over to You, the Recipient. Do we really need to define it? No, we only need to receive the result. And these gifts are what we receive, whether a story printed on wood-pulp, a film realized and enacted out on celluloid, or paintings brushed and stroked onto canvas. Times have changed; we have not. Well, not that much, anyway, aside from our constant drifting away from the ethereal and falling ever deeper into this dense material world in which we find ourselves. The source of our art-works is timeless, and without form, and created from out of a void…
And so, I consider, say, the stories of Neil Gaiman as gifts because they evoke in me a sense of wonder and intrigue; I consider the music of Kate Bush to be a gift because it moves me so; I consider the paintings of Gustav Klimt a gift because of the imagery and visual stimuli that is so subliminal and provocative. Even anime which is dismissively (and foolishly) considered “just cartoons” in the west, combines all three of the above examples into an involved, and involving, whole. Aside from the cost of the medium and royalties righteously due their creators, these intangible effects and the reactions invoked cannot be “priced”. They are “price-less” indeed. And I accept them gratefully as well.
So, when I describe my own novel as “a gift to the world,” it is only in this sense, and not spoken from someone with too great an estimation of his worth. After all, it was delivered to me, and I’m only presenting it to you in the same humble spirit as those who did in ages past. We are not so far-removed from our caves as we think
Speaking of wonderful stories, recently I came across a very beautiful one from Japan entitled Planetarian. Presented as a visual novel by Key (who later created another trio of favorite stories of mine, Kanon, Air, and Clannad), it’s delivered through the visual novel medium, which would most easily be compared to video-games. There is no “game” really, one just progress through the story by reading the text (thankfully it’s been unofficially translated), taking in the artwork stills, listening to the background music and voice actor (in this case just one, the voice of Reverie done so well by Keiko Suzuki), and continuing in this fashion until its melancholy end.
As utterly simplistic as it is, the combination of visuals, music, voice acting, and especially the story, come together to deliver a tale that is so amazingly involved, imaginative, and heart-wrenching that it’s impossible to keep the tears from flowing. Essentially, it takes place in an a post-apocalyptic world, where the main character, a salvager known only as “the Junker” comes across the rooftop planetarium and its broken robot assistant Yumemi (better-known as Reverie), who attempts to get him to help repair the broken projector, which she refers to as “Miss Jena”.
The “game” itself is very short; it usually takes around four hours to get through. But what a wallop it packs! Naturally, Wikipedia has an article but unfortunately also contains massive spoilers, so I can’t in good conscience link it. (If you do look it up, bear this in mind!) So I found a trailer for it on Youtube which portrays not only the premise, but uses as its backdrop the excruciatingly beautiful theme song, “Gentle Jena”. (It’s best enjoyed in fullscreen, so if you prefer, click the button.)