Coded violet.

Thursday 24 August 2000

Portrait w/shiny globe

Pic of the day: Heh. I look a lot tougher than I feel here.

We Create Worlds

The trademark for "We Create Worlds" used to belong to Origin, a small company making computer games. They were quite good at it too, bringing forth such masterpieces as the Ultima series of RPG/adventure and the Wing Commander space combat games with a fascinating story line. Their games were at the cutting edge of technology. They were eventually bought out, as is the rule in that business; but I've never forgotten their slogan.

Because I too create worlds, and it seems I cannot help it. From early childhood, my imagination has been churning out fantasy worlds and people and events. Now this is to be expected from small children, I guess; but it just continued right through my youth, and only now the relentless grip on my soul is gradually slackening. After thousands of pages, certainly. I have not the faintest idea how many. Most of them are burned, or in other ways deleted.


I was home sick today; and small wonder, after two days of hard penicillin cure. My digestion had every reason to act up; and so I rested for an hour or more, and then commenced reading an e-book: "The Moon Maid" by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

I still have to marvel at the imagination of that man. Remember that he wrote his books during the early years of the 20eth century. Science was not nearly as far advanced at that time, which may account for his use of hidden islands and nearby planets as the refuge for fantastic creatures. Today we would have to go further into space or perhaps into alternate timelines and such. But the excuses are quickly forgotten: For it is the story itself that suspends disbelief, and draws the reader into a world that - for the duration of the reading - seems as real as our own, or more so.

It is like the worlds of dream: Disconnected from our everyday reality, the colors seem more colorful, life itself more alive. Emotions rage, creatures larger than life confront us, and people who are also more than mere humans. Like Platon's world of ideas, it seems almost to be more real than reality; though this is due to its intensity, not its permanence.


No, I'm no Edgar Rice Burroughs. Or even J.K.Rowling. I'm just some guy who can't keep from writing, not in the long run. It was more intense in the past, when I had a more focused mind (or "narrow" as some would call it). Perhaps it was as if some parts of me were confined, that needed to be let out. And so they found their way out in fiction.

Such "terapeutic writing" probably doesn't make for great literature, at least not usually. Margit Sandemo may be an exception - she is certainly selling well enough here in Scandinavia, and she claims that she writes because of just such a pressure from within. Writing to stay sane. (There are different opinions as to her success, but that's human nature I guess.)

I know that in the past, I often wrote things that were at least partly daydreams and fantasies of my own. But over the years, I've gained experience. I can sense when daydreams start to take over a story, and nip it in the bud. Perhaps I write the daydream elsewhere, acknowledge it, and then go on with my story.


Even so, writing is a shameful secret. I know that. Telling people that you're writing fiction is somewhat like telling them about your painful haemorrhoids. It's simply Too Much Information. There's this awkward silence when you half see their lips move as they silently pray: "Please don't let him try to show me. Please."

Of course, once you're a successful writer, famous and rich, then it's OK. A bit funny, isn't it? Lots of people play golf without ever entering a competition, much less winning. Certainly never earning any money on it, quite the contrary. But writing is different. Writing is different from almost everything.

Perhaps it is this urge that does it. The fact that it's a bit more than a hobby. That it is a need. We cave in to it, as if to some weird lust. We crave the release of our imagination. Our spirit needs to create, and this is how we do it. Spiritual masturbation?


For me, there is one more complication. I am a christian, of sorts. I'm commited to not lying. How then can I make up entire worlds, with fictional people doing fictional things? Is it not written that the fate of all liars is the sea that burns with fire and brimstone, the second death? This has caused me much concern through the years.

My current understanding is that the word used in the Bible is not meaning the same as in modern English (and Norwegian). The commandment "Thou shalt not lie" is also translated "Thou shalt not bear false testimony against thy neighbor". The distortion of reality to hurt another or unjustly gain something for oneself, this is the biblical lie. It is the evil and the egotism that is the sin, not the creation of an alternate reality. Or so I fervently hope.


On a related note, I am worried about sharing my fiction. Not just because of the mockery - there are very few humans with the power to insult me any more. Not just for the feeling of exposing something private, of undressing in public. No, I am worried about the ethics of it. Is entertainment a valid contribution to humanity, or am I just leading people further astray from the things they ought to do?

I know that I myself have spent a lot of time having fun. Then again, it could be just that I am a sinner and lack moral fiber. What if I am just tempting other down the same wicked path?

But then again ... chances are you'll not find my writing so addictive that you forget your evening prayers. Ahem.

On that note, my ongoing (albeit very slow going) fiction attempt is still called Gwalawala, while you can get Edgar Rice Burroughs, or King James, or Jules Verne, or hundreds of other real writers in freee E-text at University of Virginia's E-book library. Oh what a hard choice ...

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