A Darker Train of Thought

A Darker Train of Thought

I stand surrounded by the screams of my fellow man.
The sounds of their terror are not pure, though. No, they are mixed with the low rushing and rhythmic chanting of the monolithic machines that imprison them. It is a perfect, if haunting, match. It ebbs and flows as the monsters move closer or further away, and drowns out any lesser music they may try to distract with. It is mesmerizing, but also horrifying.

I say ‘imprison’ somewhat loosely, as it isn’t really prison. They all come here by choice, indeed this place was built by people much like ourselves, but in a way, it really is still prison. That comes when they finally strap themselves into the machines of their invention and they realize that there’s no going back. It’s too late. And they are prisoners to merciless steel and wheels and cogs and steam pumps, forever grinding on with no thought for the passengers of flesh they carry.

What is this masochistic need? Why do we purposely, for no practical reason, dedicate an entire day, a career, a lifetime, to the creation and use of a place designed to extract the loudest, most mortified screams it can?

Others walk around me as I stand in the midst of the fray, observing. I see the suffering; the sunburns, the tired, aching feet. The crying children and weary parents, people who are so desperate for relief that they’ll pay overpriced amounts for overprized products, a thing which benefits only the further creation of more of these unhidden dungeons. People even drag their best friends with them, insisting, despite their horror, that they join them.

If it weren’t for the smiles, and laughter, this could be easily mistaken for Hell.

Perhaps it is a desperate want for a change from the mundane operations of daily life, something to make them feel alive, to remind them how precious is their life and their time. To make them feel human.

I ponder these thoughts as I join the next flock of sheep headed for slaughter.

I wonder too; do we think it’s fun, truly? To make ourselves slave to an extension of our arms and legs and the world around us, bent to cage us within an isolated cove of horror? Do we conveniently ignore the fact that we will come out of this bruised, and sore, and exhausted? Is it worth the pain? The fear? The strained vocal cords?

And those too who run the machines, who maintain them and operate them… Do they know what they do? As they stare at us with cold eyes, long-dead incantations of empty well-wishing on their lips, do they know? Do they see the fear in our eyes? Do they notice the moment when the blood drains from our faces as reality hits?

Or have they done this too long to see anymore? Brainwashed beyond salvation, exhausted beyond caring, desensitized, perhaps? At any rate, they are ignorant to cries of changed minds, to fearful pleas for assurance.

And now, I find, I have joined the fate of those thousands who have gone before me, between the point of no return and the doom that lies ahead.

Why am I doing this?

There is too much time to think. But as the ground shrinks away from my feet I also observe that there is not nearly enough.     

There’s nothing I can do. I am powerless, helpless, trapped.

Horrible dread spreads painfully from my chest; my body’s desperate attempt to drive me to escape. But the other half of me whispers reassurances that my heart believes but my brain does not. 

Why do I do this to myself? What drives me to this insanity?

And just as I think I may be on the verge of an answer, as always before, my time is up and the existential war in my mind is utterly drowned out by my own scream, which now adds its banshee harmony to the thunder of the human condition.

This was a little writing exercise I decided to do in which I describe some everyday thing in a way that paints it as dark and almost evil. I’m fairly certain the subject I chose presented itself obviously enough.

Fun fact: unintentionally, the word count of this particular story turned out to be exactly 666.

Oh, and if it wasn’t obvious enough, the subject was amusement parks, roller coasters in particular.

Think about it; how strange is my description, really? How unbelievable?

Maybe you’ll think of this next time you yourself board one of those twisted trains.

Cubeception Episode 3 has been Unleashed!

I finally managed to record and upload episode three of my playthrough of the neglected but awesome adventure map Cubeception! 

Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1P6C-R2x_c

I had a lot of fun recording it, and lost track of time a little. But this time my edits worked! 

Go! Watch it! You’ll laugh regardless; either because you think I’m funny or because I fail so miserably at it. Still a success in my book! Don’t forget to leave a like and if you want more, hit subscribe!

To See the Wonder in their Eyes

I have seen six movies created by Christopher Nolan: Inception, The Dark Knight trilogy, Interstellar, and The Prestige.

My reaction at the end of Inception was “YES!” nearly shouted from my voice, albeit still with a sense of confusion.

My reaction at the end of The Dark Knight trilogy was, “well, okay, that was interesting.”

My reaction at the end of Interstellar was… Well, to be honest, tears and disappointment. But that tale is for another day.

And finally, my reaction at the end of The Prestige was, in a nutshell: “Wait, WHAT?”

I was going to make this post primarily discussing this latter movie, but I find that most of my thoughts concern the characteristics of Nolan’s movies as a whole, though granted I have not seen them all.

First off, Nolan’s movies require a much larger amount of attention than most other movies. Never does Nolan ever tell the audience what’s really going on. He gives us clues and we’re left to sort them out while he, I would expect, observes from the shadows with his own bag of popcorn and an amused smile on his face. If you want to know exactly what’s going on in his movies, you have to dedicate more than just two and a half hours of your time and a quarter of your brain cells. The movie must be rewatched, sometimes researched, and a knowledge of the personal character of the mastermind behind it learned, in order to even formulate a theory of what the true meaning is.

Second, his movies aren’t always clear-cut: both The Prestige and Inception have an odd sequencing of events, the former more than the latter. Inception starts off with a scene at the end of the movie, and then suddenly transitions to… The present? The past?.. And then continues the first scene at the near conclusion. Now having seen The Prestige only once, and that was just a few minutes ago (thus the inspiration for this post), I can’t explain what scenes were the past and which were the present, only that it’s more confusing than Inception was, in my eyes.

But a common theme in all of Nolan’s movies I’ve seen, is that each story is far bigger than the movie itself. The movie is a multi-faceted glimpse into the story in question, and from there even more multi-faceted glimpses can be caught of the world around the story. What I particularly liked about Inception and The Prestige was that they were sci-fi movies that really didn’t revolve around the actual technology. The focus was on the use of it, rather than the invention of the technology itself.
In Inception, the PASIV device which enables people to share dreams (the name of which I only discovered on the Inception Wikipedia), is the thing that enables the entire story to take place. And although it is crucial, it is hardly mentioned, explained almost as if it is of no consequence, and never even named.
The Prestige portrayed the technology similarly; Nikola Tesla managed to create a machine that literally creates a clone of the user. What a breakthrough! And yet, it is only used by a stage magician who is trying to one-up his rival. It isn’t about the machine, or even about Tesla, it’s about the people using it. Nevermind the plethora of implications this twist gives rise to.
And so it is with the other movies as well; there are stories alluded to that only make brief appearances and are left unfinished, but leave the focus of the movie feeling richer and deeper than it otherwise might be. Despite how much is included in the movies, not a single scene is wasted on anything not truly relevant or supportive to the main plot. Everything serves to add greater depth to the story. There is never only one protagonist, one antagonist, one story. Interstellar was very nearly three hours long, and yet the details of the story portrayed still could not be explained completely. Not a second was thrown away, and yet it never gave all the answers either.
Nolan’s movies make you think, make you pay attention, heck, even inspire existential crisis, rather than just serve to entertain and replace your own imagination for you. His movies are at once an enjoyment and a torment; if you finish one without both the pain of intense thinking and an overwhelming feeling of fascination, you probably slept through it.

And perhaps one of my favorite characteristics of his movies; the suspense and the thrill they inspire. I am more likely to label any Nolan movie as of the thriller or horror genres than any movie actually published under those categories. Perhaps that is unique to me; if I know it is supposed to be a horror movie, I will automatically be mostly immune to it’s effects, knowing that the story is built off of horror and not vice versa.
Inception had its share of jump scares, of suspense, of thrill. So did Interstellar. The Dark Knight trilogy could be included there as well, and even The Prestige made me gasp in surprise or even awed fear, while I leaned at the edge of my seat and glued my eyes wide to the screen.
But they aren’t horror movies. And this, exactly, is why they worked so well at producing that very same effect, even to exceed the power of your typical horror movie. That is how it should be. The focus, was, as always, on the story, and everything else, including the jump scares and the fear and the suspense, were just happenstance products of that story. They weren’t put there just to make you jump. They served a higher purpose. And that is what I prefer. That is what it takes to actually move me to react.

The final thing that comes to mind when I think of Nolan’s movies, is the endings. It’s never a nice, neat wrap up. There’s no sudden outpouring of explanation. There is some of that, but quite a lot is left up to the imagination, the discretion, or the detective-esque abilities of the viewer.
Inception left you wondering if Cobb really was awake. The Dark Knight left you wondering if Batman was really alive. Interstellar left you wondering where, exactly, our protagonist was going. And finally, The Prestige left you wondering what to believe about the circumstances at all.
And to find out, one must be willing to do some research. This is, in my opinion, not the product of poor writing, or of slapped-together editing, but of a careful stitching together of many ideas into one. To understand the movie, you must understand the story. And to understand the story, you must dig around a little. Whether this is via Wikipedia, discussion boards, or through quotes from Nolan himself, it is an exciting and adventurous treasure hunt to discover.

Much discussion is made about the themes in Nolan’s movies, some holding the opinion that there are too many. But I personally love the poetic quality of a movie that says a thousand things at once, some contradictory, a movie that can mean one thing to one person and something completely different to another, with both individuals having an equal understanding of the movie in question. They contain morals, fairy tales, warnings, and beautiful descriptions of existence that you find rarely in other movies.

There is one more thing I’ve noticed about Christopher Nolan’s movies; and that is just how quiet the dialogue is in comparison to the music and sound effects. This can be frustrating at times, hard to understand or to hear, but even so, I think it adds a realism to the story that wouldn’t otherwise be there. It seems more like you’re experiencing the story, rather than watching a movie about the story. And if that idea isn’t enough, than perhaps it is satisfactory to theorize that if it is a consistent theme in every movie Nolan makes, and if the other aspects of his movies are highly intelligent, there must be a highly intelligent reason behind the quiet dialogue.
At least, that’s how I see it.

I fully intend to watch what Nolan movies I haven’t yet seen, and look forward to what masterpieces he creates in the future. The world needs more artists like him.
This post was originally meant to be solely about The Prestige, thus the title “To See the Wonder in their Eyes,” a powerful quote from the movie. I’ve decided to keep it, as what better guess can be made as to the motivation of the mysterious Christopher Nolan?

 

 

 

Episode Two of Cubeception is out!

I have uploaded Episode Two of my Cubeception playthrough in Minecraft! This time I managed to add a bit of music to my intro and outro which was a ton of fun. I also attempted to add a couple other little edits through the video but unbeknownst to me when I uploaded it, those changes were for some reason not saved. Well, live and learn! I’m still a noob at this whole YouTube thing, but I’ll get there!

I hope to record episode three soon, but until then, go check out episode two!

Minecraft Cubeception EP2: Creepy Dystopian Lava Church

Devilution

I find my thoughts turn today to the fluctuation of the universe.

What I mean by this is that the world is always changing. Societies rise and fall, good and evil take turns in domination, and an ice age gets replaced with sweltering heat. 

What brings this to mind is a documentary I just watched on TV. It was a two hour show about a certain Ada Lovelace who nearly brought about the computer revolution in the 1800s, but due to various circumstances this didn’t happen until about a hundred years later. 

The subject was interesting enough, but the execution left something to be desired. Honestly, I believe the documentary could easily have been shortened to a half-hour program if it followed the same style of educational film used in, say, the seventies. 

It was full of fancy animations, staged dialogue in elaborate but irrelevant places, and ludicrous gimmicks done as filler for its lack of content. It was infested with clickbait-esque questions that were only answered several minutes later, after another fancy animation and dramatic music. You could get up to make popcorn for five minutes and come back and you wouldn’t have missed much.

Unfortunately, this documentary is not abnormal for modern times. I used to watch documentaries all the time, but now? Not so much. They’re not worth my time, though my thirst for knowledge is still insatiable. 

Perhaps a good example of my point is this: watching documentaries now, as opposed to those made in, say, the 50s-80s, is like reading Macbeth as opposed to Horton Hears a Who. 

The documentaries of the old days were straight to the point. It would introduce the subject, demonstrate visually only what pertained to said subject, and pointed the camera at experts who would lecture on the subject. There was music, but it wasn’t too dramatic. There were animations, sometimes, (depending on how old it was), but they were simple and not distracting. The people interviewed weren’t placed in fancy locations or told to turn around dramatically before talking, nor were there shifts in camera angle every two sentences.

In short, they were purely educational.

Funny how that is, isn’t it? We’ve gone from challenging the intellect of the general populace for society’s benefit to catering to the naivety of that same populace, whose attention span is now shorter than it takes you to blink. 

In my ponderings on this subject I came across this quote from Wikipedia: 

Devolution, de-evolution, or backward evolution is the notion that species can revert into more “primitive” forms over time.

On this thought, I now propose a new word, devilution, which is the devolution of society and people individually as brought on and influenced by the Devil.

Because if God encourages us to seek and gain knowledge, then the encouragement or slip into laziness toward the opposite must be Satan’s whispers.

But as I said, the universe fluctuates. Maybe in a few years, a decade or two, documentaries will again be filled with knowledge, and gimmicks and dramatic music will be retained mostly for movies. 

But of course, this change can only come if society desires it. So if you prefer drama and fancy animations to vastly outnumber the knowledge it surrounds, fine. But your attention span will be as short as the blink of your eye.

If, however, you would rather spend your two TV hours learning something new and interesting, packed with as much knowledge as can fluently be portrayed in that time, then it is up to you to make the difference. It can be something as individual as researching something so hard it makes your brain hurt, or it can be something as big as being the producer of the next documentary. There is a whole spectrum here to work with, and any contribution will be more beneficial than you know.

At the very least, don’t settle for gimmicks and dramatic music, or books that are more illustrations than words.

Change must always come from within, and by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.

A New Endeavor

So, I have finally started a gaming YouTube channel! It took me a few years of thinking and preparing but I finally feel ready. I’m told I can be amusing sometimes and I can definitely keep commentary up, so here I go!

My first video is episode one of the Minecraft adventure map Cubeception, which is based on the movie Inception. It was a ton of fun to record and I’m excited to continue! Check it out!

Minecraft Cubeception EP 1: We Need to Go Deeper

It’s Okay to be Enthusiastic

​… Because nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. When people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’

– John Green

“You don’t get out much, do you?”

I’ve had that question directed at me quite a few times before. Not so much in recent years as in years past, but I still get strange looks that ask the same thing sometimes. 

You see, I am a very enthusiastic individual. I get really, really excited about the things that I love. Yeah sure, others do too, but not like I do. I jump up and down and clap and squeal like a little girl, which is one of the only really childish parts of me that I’ve retained from childhood. 

I didn’t exactly grow up “sheltered”. Due to mine and my brother’s health problems, of course, we required more sheltering than most kids, but we were not sheltered. We knew what the world had to offer, we just didn’t have the means or the health to access it. 

After joining the Young Single Adults branch and getting a job, I got to do a lot of things that I almost never got to do much growing up, such as watch movies in the theater, or go hiking on an occasion that’s not Girls’ Camp. And even when I go to a completely new place, I look with wide eyes at everything and investigate with a child-like wonder.

Recently I went to Thunder Over Louisville to witness a fantastic airshow and the biggest fireworks show in the nation. This is my third year going, but it’s still as exciting as ever. Last night I got all squealy excited when I realized I’d be closer to the fireworks than ever before, when I realized I’d be able to watch the fireworks shoot off from the barge, and when they did the traditional spark curtain on the bridge. I was clapping and squealing and had the biggest smile on my face.

And the people around me looked at me funny and laughed nervously.

But what bugged me the most was when people started leaving before the show was over, in order to “beat the traffic.”

So what did they pay fifteen dollars for? To sit on the grass watching airplanes for four hours? For overpriced fast food? 

The fireworks show was what everybody came for. It was the climax of the night, the kickoff of the Kentucky Derby celebrations!

And they were leaving.

Well I for one didn’t pay fifteen dollars to beat the traffic. If the traffic wasn’t worth watching the whole show with rapt attention, I wouldn’t have come. Those dissenters missed a fantastic finale that rattled your bones and shook the earth beneath your feet, lighting up the sky like the sun. Was it worth it? Absolutely. I walked three miles to the waterfront, shivered in 40 degree weather for five hours, and walked three miles back in the dark. In the end I was exhausted, sore, and cold, but every second was worth it.

Perhaps an even better example of my point is what I’ve observed when going to an amusement park. I’m surrounded by hundreds of people who have traveled far and paid well for the opportunity to ride thrill rides, and yet I’m the only one besides children who is giddy and excited as I get strapped in to my seat. During the ride, I’m usually the loudest screamer, and when the ride ends I’m grinning from ear to ear and probably still cheering.

And everyone else? A smile or two, maybe a funny look directed my way, and then they move on, as if they had just done something mundane like grocery shopping.

If this is what “getting out much” looks like, I think I’ll stay under the rock everyone thinks I live under.

So maybe next time you look at someone and think about saying “you don’t get out much, do you?” Think twice. Stop taking for granted the wonders of life that should bring you joy. I don’t envy those who can leave a fireworks show early to beat the traffic. I don’t envy those who can ride a roller coaster with a straight face. 

The next time someone tells me I don’t get out much, perhaps I’ll reply with “well obviously you get out too much.”

Never do something half-way. You either do it, or you don’t. No beating the traffic, no wasting money on day passes at King’s Island if you can’t crack a smile or strain your vocal cords. 

It’s okay to be enthusiastic. Spread the word.