On The Past

Dear My Dear,

It’s been a while since we last spoke. So sorry, I’d hoped to write more often. How have you been, these months? Dream any peculiar dreams? Think any important thoughts? Many have come to me, I’ve been writing feverishly about every odd and end I could fathom. One day, I’m sure, at least some of it will make sense.

Recently, I found an artist meme about the revisiting of old work, past vision mingled with newly refined skills to chart the course of one’s evolution. I spent hours looking through samples of this meme, impressed to see – as much or more than know – that progress always exists; perhaps not always in leaps and bounds, but always just the same. This insight is probably part of a bigger conversation waiting to begin but, for now, focus.

I was inspired to look through my own work. Not just the visual work, but also the written, the tidbits of notepad documents with perhaps only a sentence within to remind myself of what I’d been thinking at the time, hoping to return at some point to develop further. Until now, I’d forgotten most of them existed. I’m fortunate in my anal-retentiveness; even the trash gets tidied and stored in a folder like the contents of a cocoon waiting to emerge, shiny and valued.

This is where all the feverish (ranting) writing began. It started as a minor correction of an old short story I’d had squirreled away where no one would ever see, a word I would use differently now than I’d have done a decade ago. Then sentences were shifted, new characters created, new ideas emerged, and suddenly the mummies started walking again! I’ve lost track of the days as they bleed into each other, sketching concepts and writing ideas down, refining old ones. I mean this literally, to the extent that my sleep has been interrupted as I find myself awake long past the wee hours of the morning, well into the next full-blown day. I’ve never seen the sun rise so consecutively in my life.

Sssh, I know that’s sad.

It’s very exciting to feel so reinvigorated, though. I can’t say that everything I found was good. Or even, that most of it was. I was dreadfully morose at one point. Totally deserved, I assure you, but annoyingly petulant just the same. That’s part of the fun, though, isn’t it? Seeing how one has grown and matured, revisiting old ideas with something closer to wisdom and years of acquired acumen.

Among the old work, I found ideas for a video game I’d been building in old software, RPG Maker 1995 and-…Dear God…I’m old enough to have been old enough in the late 90s to self-teach coding…I’m clearly aging in dog years. This is simply going too fast. No other explanation.

Anyway, the designs and artwork I’d made for the game are distinctly reminiscent, albeit more aimless in purpose, than the work I consider, now. I spent much of my youth heavily invested in gaming but, even then, found curious the aesthetics of distinct gender roles particularly among interpretations of classic fantasy-genre heroism; the men, covered head to toe in armor as if to place the weight of their purpose and identity on their equipment, and all the entendre that entails. Meanwhile here come the ladies, in their frills and lace, lovely and perky with a wand in one hand and the tresses of their floor-length gowns in the other, flowing locks billowing in imaginary winds like flags mounted defiantly upon males’-eye-view of femininity. No one considered that I might like to feel pretty, too.

Nothing has changed, of course. Well, no, I suppose that’s unfair to claim. There has been a change in the ideas and practice of representing gender and bodies. It’s been less of a running start than I might prefer, but as we’ve already established, progress is sometimes measured in inches. The difference is that, today, I feel empowered, I feel like more than a bystander. Much of my uncovered past is spoken in a distinctly passive voice, and from that comes the real joy in the remixing of old ideas and work; reapproaching with confidence and resolve what was once only timidly hinted at or desired.

Now, to decide on what to share….

~Nate

Pretty things.

Pretty things.

Advertisements

On Makeup

Dear My Dear,

I’m struggling with makeup. Not putting it on, mind you; I gave up on that long ago. You know how I sweat.

What does it mean? I’m sure that seems an odd way of questioning the practice of slathering one’s face in brownish spackle and glitter, but I suspect that’s because it had been seldom so publicly question. At least, not until recent memory.

It began small; a meme or two of pre and post-op makeupsexuals. ‘Post-op’ is a perfect word for it. Have you seen the YouTube tutorials? “Easy foundation routine” my arse. Houdini was less complicated. Millions of views per video well-deserved for the sorcery that happens before my very eyes.

The debate has spawned whole movements, and I’m torn where I stand. On one hand, I remember generations of women fighting to be seen as more than make-up and high heels and, on the other, I age and exist among contemporaries who righteously spurn their scarlet branding for daring to feel pretty.

Plus, my God, shoes these days are lovely. I’d wear the highest pair I could afford were I not positive I’d fall and break a bone, if not a window.

This might seem a shallow topic, but I believe it indicative of a larger problem exacerbated daily by public humiliation and shaming. By and large, we have told women that this was their routine, we have told men that this is what to expect a woman to look like, and with the above comes wide-ranging fallout; artifice and ‘enhancement’ have reached the very pinnacle of cultural significance in that it has become mundane. It is every day. It is nothing special, it is normal, typical and expected. It is standard.

So, I question how those who shame consider the conditioned to be the makers of their conditioning. If I told you every day, with my every action, that ‘this’ is how you are valued, how could I then fault you for finding value in ‘this’?

Perhaps, that’s the core of the issue? What is one’s “value”…? Who has decided this, when and where did we learn its definition, and how does this knowledge decide for us whether we are or not?

I doubt you and I could agree on any of the above. How could we? Far too many variables.

The vocabulary, the connotations, are what bother me the most: Prettier. Cleaned-up. Polished. Presentable. These words we use to describe our choices suggest that ‘our best’ is manufactured; it requires an effort to be our best selves, therefore we are not our best selves, naturally.

How depressing. Time for a cocktail.

~Nate