William A. Hainline: Reality Engineer

The Blog Of A Science Fiction Writer Living Just A Half-An-Hour And Some Change Into The Future . . . Sci-fi, fantasy, politics, visual arts, writing, more writing, literature, comics, music, movies, and madness in general. NSFW. Probably not safe for YOU, either. But don't let that stop you.

The go-to site for fans of science fiction writer William A. Hainline. Also the go-to site for non-fans, or anybody else who wants to follow what this curmudgeonly weirdo of a writer is currently up to in the depths of his mad science dungeon.

This Is Halloween!!!

Ah, Halloween. I love Halloween. It's the one night a year when adults everywhere are allowed to don cosplay without any social consequences. Any other day of the year, if I dressed up as an Earth Alliance officer from Babylon 5, or a Starfleet Officer from the bridge of the Enterprise, and walked into Kroger to do my grocery shopping, I would be mercilessly teased and laughed-at, mocked and made-fun-of. Halloween is the one night a year where I can express myself creatively in terms of exotic, sci-fi inspired fashion choices, and can even take it a step further and into the realm of theatre by portraying a character with it, as well: I can don a pair of latex Vulcan ears, put on a blue tunic, black pants and boots, dye my hair black and tweak my eyebrows, and carry around a tricorder-looking thingie and tell people how "illogical" they're being and tell them to "live long and prosper" without being made into a laughing stock (Leonard Nimoy is dead — long live Leonard Nimoy!) So let's take a moment and ask ourselves why this is; why is it that we permit cosplay — creative expression through extreme and imaginative fashion choices — on Halloween, but not any other time of the year? Why can't a girl go shopping dressed as Sailor Moon? Why can't a guy dressed as Constantine walk into a mall? Why can't you wear a Catwoman costume to Walmart? And why can't you be Spock when you go to work at the office?

I think that the answer is, we simply don't tolerate or have the patience for imagination in our run-of-the-mill, ordinary daily lives. We have no use for it or place for it, no time for it, no appreciation for it or justification for it. It's impractical and it serves no "useful" purpose in our utilitarian pursuit of efficiency and productivity. It makes us uncomfortable — it troubles us — because our expression of it reveals too much about us to the rest of the world. Our imaginative choices — the creative decisions we make about how to express ourselves imaginatively — show us for who we really are inside. They tell others things about us that we would rather keep hidden. And, our appraisal of the creative choices that others make — our critical and personal appreciation of their designs, their execution of those designs, their skill-level, their use of materials, and their choice of subject matter — also reveals things about ourselves to ourselves; it forces us to confront truths about ourselves that we may not be ready to face just yet. Our appreciation for the imaginative expression of others, our critical response to their work, shows us for who we really are, to both the rest of the world and to ourselves, and that is why we do not tolerate imagination in our day-to-day lives. Except perhaps in Hollywood, but that doesn't count. Not only do we not have "time" for critical reflection on imaginative creation — and that is a real restriction that we must sadly face the fact of — but also, we do not want to have time for it. For if we did, we would find ourselves hopelessly confronted with the truth of who we really are inside, and that truth would shatter us into a million pieces. The reason we have zero tolerance for imagination in our ordinary daily lives is because we cannot face up to who we truly are. If we allowed the imagination out to play in our workaday settings, we would soon find ourselves awash in reflections upon who we really were as people, what we were really afraid of deep inside, and what we were really made of . . . and not a single one of us is ready to face that potentially-ugly truth. And so we lock the imagination away, and keep it under house-arrest until Halloween, when we let it out to roam free in the streets . . . and until Christmas, when we allow its gentler, kinder side to dream dreams of candy, snow, Santa, Frosty, flying reindeer, and for some, angels.

I think the world would be a better, kinder place if we allowed the imagination out more. If we allowed ourselves a greater freedom of imaginative expression in our day-to-day lives, except perhaps in Hollywood, but that doesn't count. Let people cosplay all the time; let them wear their expensive and time-crafted costumes out in public! Hell, let Sailor Moon go to McDonald's and eat lunch with everyone else! Let Constantine go to the mall or to the movies! Let the Ghostbusters or Spock or Superman go to Walmart! Let Batman go to the office for a day or two! Maybe not everyday, mind you . . . all of these things would get old very quickly if we did them every day, and the novelty would quickly wear off. Thus, they should only be done sporadically, or spur of he moment. But still . . . let these things happen. Let us not fear fandom or passion. We shouldn't mock or protest, jeer, disdain, or fear the imagination in our day to day lives. Same goes for artwork or things that you create. If you're a writer or an artist, be proud of your work. Display it in places of honor. On your computer's desktop at work or on your desk there. On your refrigerator if it's your son's or daughter's creation. On the walls of your home if it's yours. On your lawn if it's a sculpture or something like that. Don't hide it — show It off, and tell the Homeowner's Association to go fuck themselves.

And while we're on the subject of passion: Everybody's always against the idea of "public displays of affection." Why? I don't see the problem. If you're passionate about something — or someone — you should be allowed to display your passion. So hug. Kiss. Make out. In public if you want to. Don't be afraid to show your love for one another, and as far as other people go . . . well, if they don't like it, so what? Let them be offended. Let them sneer and walk away. it's their cynicism and their problem. And to the people sneering: Why are you doing that? Is some part of you ashamed for them? Why? Is some part of you maybe upset that you're not loved like that, or that you can't love like that? Or that you have no one to love like that? Or that you, yourself, are somehow incapable of a display of passion like that, because you lack the courage, the fortitude, to display your love so publicly? Is there something perhaps missing — or worse, present — in your social DNA that forces you to conform to other people's expectations of behavior so stringently that it exerts control over how you and your partner — if you have one — indulge in your passion for one another . . . assuming, of course, that the fire hasn't gone out of your relationship, and your love for one another hasn't cooled down to a dull ember that glows but doesn't burn. Assuming of course that you can love, and that you aren't just a hollow shell of a human being who stumbles through life expressing cynicism and disdain for those who still can and do. Assuming you haven't gone "full Mundane" and aren't just a societal drone, humming along like a robot without any emotion, incapable of being moved to any display of such, and are uncomfortable with any expression of that which you once had, but now have lost forever. Think about it carefully the next time you see a couple throw their arms around one another and engage in a passionate love-fest on the sidewalk. They deserve that. Because they love one another, and that love is powerful enough to compel them to thrust themselves into one another's embrace. They are alive with love. And they shouldn't be made to be ashamed of it. Never be afraid to show that you love someone — or something. If you love science fiction, or fantasy, or comic books, or geek fiction in general, or toys, or role-playing games, or card games, or collectibles — then DON'T BE ASHAMED OF IT. Thrust your passion out there, for all the world to see. Let the world know who you are, and don't hide it or lock it away in a closet. Be proud. Fly your flag. Engage in public displays of passion and affection for what thrills you and excites you, and never mind the nay-sayers and the haters. Because those people are dead inside, and they cannot know the love that you know. They can never see with the eyes with which you see, can never be excited in the way that you're excited. They can never know what it is to be into something, and that's sad . . . but you can't let them infect you with their Mudanity and their their dour cynicism. Your passion is an explosion of light, a supernova. Let it shine in the darkness.