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Trying to World-Build, But...

I used to think that I was the only person with "deep thoughts" until...you talk to people...and then you realize that, for some reason, everyone has these silent thoughts. Maybe not so deep, but intense and persistent questions or yearnings or...whatever.

I think one of the questions I pondered on the most was "what does it all mean". Mostly, the answer to this question tends to be "doesn't matter, you're alive so make the most of it". And people engaging in something meaningful to themselves or others tend to get wrapped up in it to the point where they don't even have the time to dwell on these kinds of questions. I applaud it. It's how things get done. But...it doesn't really change the question. Whether these actions or preoccupations are worthy meaningful pursuits or distractions, it doesn't answer the question "what does it all mean" on the ultimate scale. In the moment, any action has meaning. I'm running away from this giant lion because I want to live. But, ultimately why do I want to live? Does it really matter if I die now or later in the ultimate scale of things?

Pan out. Imagine all of humanity from the view of Mars. Maybe further. What...are we doing? What does all that we do ultimately mean? My answer was that all we are doing is our basic biological impulse- give or take some flourishes. We are sustaining/surviving. Only now that we are well beyond the threat of many things...except ourselves...we make things to sustain/survive against each other. And outside of the busy business of survival we indulge ourselves. I'm really going of Maslow's hierarchy here, but I asked myself. When we are always asked to push the envelope- to keep producing, keep researching, keep building, keep this and that...what does it all mean? The goal is always abstract, vague, undefinable. It feels a bit like a gerbil wheel.

This isn't writing meant to rob you of your impetus to do something in life because there's no point in that. You are alive. But I found that this question did seem really interesting from a world-view perspective because as you are creating your plot, your peoples, your cultures, and your motivations, and you recruit a significant portion of (if not the entire) world into your story, you start looking for meaningful reasons to drive these people on. And the number one reason used is violence, fear, distress, or something of that sort. Human progress in and of itself didn't work so well because- if you notice- people are kind of content at any point in time so long as they aren't harassed by violence or danger- from man or nature. Yes, people would continue to do things to improve themselves, but nothing simulates the sheer whip-crack of human violence to spur and sustain this progression. What this means is that absent human violence, we could have been living in a very, very good and peaceful existence thousands of years ago. Technology is not the answer to the greatest of societies problems. And, similarly, if that's the nature of your story, magic is never the answer to societies problems. Often, they are the cause that present themselves as solutions.

While human progression seems positive and technically should be positive, our progress seems to be powered more by the darker aspects of our existence. If I wanted the world- good or bad- to join together in something, as a fiction writer, I'm almost compelled to make create a destructive force or some cataclysm because anything else doesn't seem to appeal. It almost seems to not make sense. Why would people poor themselves into a pursuit that is not imminently threatening. If there were no threats in the world, I imagine people would be much more likely to lounge around and take life much more easy rather than being constantly driven.

Now...some say that many books are not motivated by violence, but an end to violence, but this isn't actually true. The rhetoric is peace, but the reality is more violence. This is displayed in the sequels to every fictional "war to end all wars" where you just end up with more war. This is why I believe what we are doing in the world is mostly motivated by survival and indulgence. Everything else is frills. But is that the only way we can exist?

I created a world and for most of my life the centerpiece of that world was basically going to be people fighting something. But I get bored or repetition and "Bright" was the point where I was like...we're telling the same story over...and over...and over again. There's little gimmicks to change it up, but we are essentially telling the same story over and over and over again when it comes to world-scale or broad-scale scenarios. It always devolves into a battle between two- a duel or people or ideals. The classic duality. I'm not sure if this reflects the nature of our world or this duality increasingly influences how we think but in real life there are many more sides than two, right? We have an entire world. To me, in a fictional world, if everything simply comes down to everyone joining one (maybe two or three more sides...whoopee) to fight the 'other' than...how boring. At it's hearts, do these stories really do anything but teach us that we can be good and kind to one another...so long as we are butchering someone else? When that ends, we go back to crapping all over each other until the next mass-threat emerges. And in this world might is always right. You can spout all the moral whatever's you want, but in the end it's the person that wins that sets the new order.

The Matrix movies brought up purpose as a reoccurring theme. And in crafting a world, am I really just creating a huge arena? A battlefield? Fairly recently I lost all of my work, but in retrospect- while not exactly the same- it was the same as most others that came before it. Yes, it can still be received well, but it's just re-enacting the same idea over and over again. Is there really much difference between Star Wars and any other good side vs evil side story. The setting and the gadgets and the style, sure, but the same basic story. And I'm thinking the reason is that we've been brought up to believe the only worthwhile story is one based on violence or conflict or that there must be some considerable attention to these things and so every story becomes centered on the same things with various artistic liberties.

But...perhaps as a thought experiment...can you think of a world or a story that did not revolve around this conflict? A world-scale story where some sort of violence or impending doom or some sort of negative impetus wasn't the whip or the focus. And if you can't...what does that say?

Comments

if you ever end up in a mental ward they will tell you that you think to much about things
 
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Your writing style needs work. I seriously can't will myself to read more than half of this. =x
 
I never fully understood the question, "what does it all mean?" I find it a little too vaporous. First, what is "it" and second, what does it mean to mean something. It's like asking me, what does an apple mean? It's an apple. It means nothing. It just is. At best you could say it means the tree on which it grew is still alive and the conditions were right for a bumper harvest, and that tree is following its biological nature to have little baby treelings. I just don't think anything really means anything. Why do we do what we do? Like you say: to survive, to not die. And when we have all those low level needs met, what's next? We seek power. We seek to control, to explore and investigate. To boldly go - or should it be, to go boldly. I suppose that's where we are at now, as a society, particularly developed countries. We are surviving already, so if we could all just stop squabbling, we could conceivably unify and do more stuff to consolidate our position. All very nihilistic, I know. I've certainly never seen any evidence for there being another driving force to our lives.

What would happen if true peace were ever achieved? I'm not sure it can be. In a general, international sense, maybe, but to me it's a bit like asking smoke to be still. Being at rest is not in everyone's nature. It is arguably not even in everyone's interest because then our lives would lose meaning. In any case, all it takes is one person to want to claim dominion over one other, and everything's out of whack again. In order to achieve even an enclave of peace, you need a wall of warriors surrounding it. That certainly seems to be the essence of the conflict found in fiction.

Huh, I suppose it does all have a meaning after all!
 
RhythmOvPain;bt11698 said:
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Your writing style needs work. I seriously can't will myself to read more than half of this. =x

This was actually constructive. I appreciate the candor.
 

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