Choosing the Odd Way: Fantasy Against the Machine


The odd bug bit me very early on. Vampires, aliens and superheroes were my extended family to turn to as an escape from my direct one. Being into weird characters and dark subjects has given my entire life meaning and color that made the worst of it not only bearable, but also incredibly rich.

More and more it seems I get odder as time goes on. Or rather, time has allowed me the ability to accumulate more and more oddities. All children are naturally fascinated with the unusual and extraordinary. Mythical creatures, sword and sorcery, absurd comedy and disregard for rules come with the innocence of youth. I was interested in all that stuff and more. The unusual part is that my fixation on these things has reemerged in my 30’s in a way that separates me from my peers and even from my own young son, who frequently tells me he’s bored of my obsession with mythical creatures and magic.

Granted, he has his own interests that are weird from my perspective. It probably just amounts to the generational divide. The emotional fixations with weird media and culture I developed are firmly rooted in what surrounded me as I came of age. The last generation raised before the Internet.

The NeverEnding Story

My childhood was filled with comics and action figures while my son gets his kicks from “YouTubers” and Pok√©mon Go. While superficially different, the feelings these outlets elicit for us are very much the same.

My adult life is filled and decorated with elaborate escapes from the pressures of mundane reality. While I have many responsibilities to keep up with, it’s the metaphysics of “reality” I have the bigger trouble with. Possibly provoked by teen drug experimentation or a general dissatisfaction with surface appearances – I don’t accept that things are, as they seem. For quite some time I have had the sense that there are multitudes of realities that coexist beyond our five senses of perception.

Psychoactives like LSD and psilocybin gave me a glimpse into a visual and mental landscape wildly in opposition with exterior experience. Those kaleidoscopic visions and transformable belief structures I encountered illustrated a way of being that rebelled against all that is suggested as unalterable. My sense of self, largely constructed from interior experiences had then accessed psychedelic depths that fantasy entertainment playfully references. To grow and expand those mind-altering experiences, I later turned to meditation and then ultimately to ceremonial magic.

Legend

Some people are content to conform to the idea that flights of fantasy departing from scientific laws and societal restrictions are the aberrations of an overactive imagination or worse, antisocial psychosis. To reject consensus reality is to suffer a form of mental illness according to self-respecting citizenry. To a certain extent, my interests, practices and hobbies build a solid case for a diagnosis of asocial personality disorder. I don’t know if that says more about me, or our post-modern culture.

In my view, it is a tacit agreement to accept an existence dedicated to the acquiring of money and status that represents the real disorder. Most people sit back comfortably in all their purported “rationality” with little thought for the banking and governmental control systems that starve and kill millions. Their consensus supported by popular news media that basic morality is selective, or relative is the obvious delusion from my vantage point. To them, corruption is the only way for humans to get on with things. Militarism and imperialism are the costs of managing a “civilization.” 

It’s just those sorts of irrational utopian observations that pain all hopeless idealists. An idealist or utopian is a person that can’t accept the conditions of society as they are, and rather than sinking into cognitive dissonance or bleak cynicism, choses instead, the option of imagining alternatives. Actually, magical thinking is all that prevents the abyss of skepticism from swallowing me whole.

According to masses of corporate clock-punchers and country club members, the fact that I collect comics, practice magic and entertain anarchistic politics is representative of a deeply childish eccentricity. They all know that a serious person simply has no time for such frivolous pursuits. There are boats to be bought and stocks to be followed. While guys my age meet at cigar bars, I find my comfort at occult bookstores. This choice of going the odd way, instead of getting on whatever socially acceptable bandwagon is appropriate to my age, is a continuation of a pattern of defiance I developed from the word go.

As kids most of us believe in fantasy and relish in imaginative worlds of self-constructed reality. But even then, I took my fantasies very seriously. I pushed out to explore the fringes least inhabited. It’s not like I didn’t like sports at all, it’s just that my young idols were Freddy Kruger and The Punisher instead of Joe Montana and Michael Jordan. Tapping into another world has always been vitally important to my emotional well-being. I envisioned a world, similar in ways to our waking one, but with additional possibilities, powers and meaning. A world, run on magic.

Now in my mid-thirties, I still have the same need to unplug from the limitations of this restrictive world in order to dip into heroic realms in which I can soar through fantasies and science-fictions. The worlds of Elric, Hermes, Cthulhu, Odin, Adam Warlock or Rick Deckard. 

(It begs the question, why is that we mere mortals can do better than the creator itself to build worlds really worth inhabiting?)

One room in my house exists as a near replica of my teenage bedroom – filled with old toys, comics, art supplies and a vast music and film collection. This room also serves as a spiritual temple for rituals and meditations. It is a true refuge and sanctuary. A pure space. I can again contrast this room against the sport and beer themed “man-cave” concepts so popular among the majority of "well-adjusted" men my age.

While not every adult holds onto so many aspects of their childhood, I think that most do in fact seek forms of pleasurable escape from the stresses of daily living. Our entertainment industry of television and movies provide a socially acceptable means of fantasy engagement. Every new Star Wars sequel feeds a deep hunger to live out our archetypes that do and say the things we only wish we could.

While most adults are quick to reassume their responsible adult roles and identities, some of us resist coming back down into this world where struggles for power and resources smoother our propensity for freethinking. While I continue to show up every day to a job that presents me with deep inner dilemmas, my mind drifts into another realm unencumbered by concerns of office politics and corporate ladder climbing. I look from afar at swarms of worker bees that thrive on the success of a client meeting or making the next move that earns them distinction from the executive board. A find a certain detachment from hollow distinctions necessary to cope with the arrangement.

I imagine all the managers I ever worked for out to dinners at upscale restaurants feeling superior and self-satisfied with being all grown up with money in the bank and an impressive business card. Of course when business doesn’t go as planned, the structures of their identities come crashing down and jealousies run wild. There’s always someone else making more money or who has more fame and power. It’s an all too familiar troupe of modern capitalist America. Striving for the carrot. Playing the game.

Work, work, work
When I was fresh out of college and getting my first taste of adulthood and independence, I looked around me and did my best to act the part and get with the program. The prospects for my success in business were not the least bit promising based on my volatile past. Juvenile delinquency and a heavy drug habit were the consequences of my unfocused anger and disillusionment with authority and conformist culture. Not wanting to land in prison or dead, I cleaned up my act in my early 20’s. After completing a degree in graphic design, I worked very hard to overcome my inner-demons and prove myself in a competitive world.

Having acclimated myself to the professional world with some success, I lost touch with my youthful passions. They weren’t gone, they just went into a proverbial box in the basement while I gave professionalism my all. I rode roller coaster highs and lows of the creative business and began to feel I had finally found my place. Soon enough, I was viewing my entire identity and value through the lens of my work. It got unhealthy really fast and worse, it entirely economized my creativity, removing my own voice and expression in the process.

After getting burned out from having my creative fate always in the hands of others, I began to emotionally unravel. A permeating existentialism set in and big questions began to loom. Attachments to professional success and associated beliefs about what that meant began to dissolve under scrutiny. I was not my job, nor should I strive to be.

That was a healthy awakening, although perhaps deeply threatening to psychological factors that push people towards the complete professional commitment and success. I still don’t ultimately know what consequences of such a dramatic shift in belief will cause. Certainly, mechanizations are unconsciously at work.

I am starting to let go of some of the attachments and beliefs that come from being surrounded with materialists and workaholics. I have come to reflect on the trade-offs I made and some of the important characteristics that fuel my personal creativity. I recommitted myself to creative work that had no monetary motive whatsoever. Reengaging with art from a completely expressionistic standpoint began to take the priority, if not in actual time, in emotional connection.

This creative rebirth was and is closely connected to a spiritual rebirth I experienced through a discovery of the occult arts. Magic found me at just the right time, when my identity and belief in the material world were falling out from under me. At a point of complete openness and desire for meaning, an ancient and esoteric approach to my spiritual life reignited the enthusiastic child within. Not long into practical work with ritual and visualization techniques there emerged my lost love for fantasy, myth and folklore.

My inner-landscape became repopulated with angels, faeries, knights, gnomes and trolls. Archetypes from days long past reassembled for a reunion tour of sorts. One that I intend to keep on the road permanently. Once again, I’m the odd kid again. And it feels perfectly right. Pretending to be business and property minded never suited me well. To traverse in and out of the corporate environment as needed serves as part of my newly formed magical theatre of entering and exiting different roles and worlds. I refuse to be trapped by the zombie overlords of corporatism.

Magic has always been a taboo subject, if not an outright illegal one. The simple practice of its rituals meant that you had decided to disregard boundaries placed before you by social, political or religious authorities. You would have also been choosing to disregard the attitudes and pressures of your common peers and neighbors. Magic today, is still a wonderful tool for transgressing boundaries – within oneself and without. It gives me a sense of sovereignty and empowerment that I had too long surrendered to the fickle breeze of business.

I now and forever choose to go the odd way in this life. Knowing full well that the ways of magic, active imagination and personal world building are only odd when judged by a culture lost in the quagmire of scientific materialism, dehumanizing technology and vapid forms of entertainment. To be weird in this time is the most important and meaningful purpose to have.

Admittedly, not going with the flow is cause for setbacks in the social realms both in and out of the workplace. Going the odd way has always been a lonely road to tow. You don’t necessarily pick being odd as much as it flows from the core of who you are. Pretending not to be odd is a much worse punishment to endure than having fewer contacts to DM with.  

Self-help speakers condemn shyness as a sin. To be an introvert, or weird is some sort of condition that needs to be treated and beaten out. As they preach it, we should all be extroverts, bombasting our way through life – talking over each other at every turn. Yes, my intense quietness and guarding of inner thoughts makes other uncomfortable. At the same time I’m not sure they want to hear all about the gnostic implications of The Matrix, whether aliens are metaphysical or flesh, or which Skinny Puppy tour had the best stage props.

There’s no sense in sacrificing authenticity and weirdness in order to make others more comfortable. Really, what people seem to want is an agreement from others that life is dull and mystics are all silly. It’s the ultimate pact of middle management suburbia.

Blue Velvet

What is most important to me is if I’m being as true to myself as possible. At an age in my life when adding adjectives to my professional title is supposed to be important, I’ve never been more into developing my unprofessional life. I’ve never been more into delving into the weird and unexplainable. On a practical level, it would be easier if I went along with the program and truly committed myself to being a company man. If I don't want to make waves, I could shove all my misunderstood fascinations in the closet and clear my mind of unpopular ideas. But that's not feasible at all, is it?

Once you a certain threshold of normative illusion is crossed, it's fairly impossible to uncross that bridge. From that point in the journey it becomes a matter reconciling and reshaping. The thought of demolishing and abandoning is tempting. Making sense of confusing circumstances is often a daily quandary.

I can confidently say that workplace boredom; depressing political conditions and a lost sense of purpose are being managed by my renewal of childlike imagination and magic. With a magical worldview, I’m don't feel so powerless against the unfolding circumstances of life. With a free and unshackled mind, the play of fantasy, myth and paranormal possibilities are recreating my life experience and replenishing my spiritual energies.

It seems the elements most critical for engaging the spirit world were introduced to me in childhood. To pretend. To dream. To wonder. To explore. To play. To create. Through intention and new practices, living a life filled with mystery and enchantment has regained primacy.

The only thing more important than awakening and claiming this magical birthright, is consistently remembering to. To not forget that life is mystical and full of hidden meaning and symbolism; while living in a world designed to distract us and separate us from truth. The simplicity of noticing and discovering can make all the difference. The ordinary and boring people of the world will judge you and mock you for being odd. For not fitting in with their boring construct of reality.

Each day we can choose between the ordinary and the odd. I seem to land on the latter more often than not. And that's a good thing. 


2 comments:

  1. Great post! & I concur, never lose that sense of wonder & allow yourself to be turned into an i-zombie. Way too much at stake, subjectively speaking. & subjectivity, as we know, IS everything. Literally.

    Stay weird. Boredom is a fate worse than death.

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