A Matter of Method

So, I’m becoming aware that I’m becoming a synergy addict. I’ve got a t-shirt and everything.

Yes. It is terrible to so cavalierly use the word ‘addict’, to say I’m ‘becoming’ one when I think I’ve always had a predisposition to this type of thought … or to use the word ‘synergy’. But bear with me.

I like combining things.

I like reading about the combination of unlikely elements – the reason for, the methods used and the fallout of such combinations. From my ‘fun’ reading, I like Terry Pratchett, Robert Rankin, Neil Gaiman, and so on, because they combine myth and mundane, high sci-fi and steampunk sensibilities. From my ‘work’ reading, I like reading about exploration and colony, religious spread and interaction of faiths, and so on, for the combination of cultures and contrast of cultural norms – and because it combines Literature and History!

In my writing, ‘work’ and ‘fun’, similar patterns emerge – respective mish-mashes of methodology, sources, ideas, and of genre, format and style. For instance, in my ‘work’, two of my largest ever projects were a comparison of the languages of contemporary Enlightenment and Evangelical writings, and a comparison of the Linnaean and Darwinian classificatory systems. I’ve written about French signification theory using the graphic novel V for Vendetta and gotten top marks, I’ve watched anime in between studying for exams because I’ve found themes in them I’d never find in Western Literature, and I pretty much always take the compare/contrast question. It is pretty much part of my process – ‘read everything I can on this/find things similar-but-distinct from things/find things portrayed as being the opposite of this but-which-may-not-be-so-opposite-afterall. It isn’t like I can’t work outside this idiom, but it is the one I prefer greatly.

As for my ‘fun’ writing … ‘hate it’ or ‘really hate it’, any reader may notice my fiction for the last long while has been tied up in Lord Daftwager.  Son of a German Mad Scientist/Evil British Lord, a Doctor/Engineer, hates supervillains/hates superheroes, old fuddy-duddy/ who apparently tweets, saves the world/to steal later. And the universe he lives in contains science and fantasy-based vampirism/lycantropy/zombiism. And … pretty much every character is a mish-mash of two concepts, such as ‘Pirate/Businessman’, ‘Ninja/Chef’, ‘Opera Singer/Physicist’, ‘Fashion Designer/Biologist’. Even notes for other stories include such character names as ‘Professor Adventure’, ‘Doctor Detective’, ‘Master of Disguise (who is into spying and amateur dramatics), ‘The Merry Prankster (who avenges though scathing wit and secretly writes an Agony Aunt column)’.

And I’ve always pretty much been like this. My heart has always been with the image of the cyborg-pirate riding the robo-dinosaur as he faces down the zombie-ninja astride her winged-unicorn. And it is in every aspect of my life to a certain degree – even to chopping up my food right small and mixing it altogether. I like interesting covers to songs almost as I do the originals themselves (search for ‘Max Raabe’ on youtube to hear britney songs sung like they would be in a cabaret club in the 1930s). I try to avoid works and concepts that are just combination for the sake of combination – in terms of ‘fun’, some of the later ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’-style books or ‘Scary Movie’-style parodies have gotten like this, while, in terms of ‘work’, I work against ever comparing an abstract theory to a pop-culture idea just because I like the idea – I have to justify any such comparison ten times more than I do any literature we would, today, see as classical, and sometimes my work is the better for that.

So I’m not complaining. If I have to have a mental habit to be stuck with, I’d much prefer ‘compare everything on its own terms’ rather than the ‘alotting of things into dichotomies of good/bad’ that seems so prevalent today. I like reading my ‘Doctor McNinja’ and my ‘Agatha Heterodyne, Girl Genius’ and watching detective shows about writers-&-cops who solve mysteries and comedy-shows-about-making-comedy-shows. I like listening to pop songs played with classical instruments and love ballads about how Pluto isn’t a planet anymore.

My next big academic project? Might be: Accounts of Religious Visitation/Supernatural Apparitions, comparing languages of faith and skepticism. Next fictional exploit of note? Might be: Professor Adventure and Doctor Detective Investigations! Next Blog: Scott Pilgrim Vol 1, for realz this time! But I might very well try Self-Reflection thing again. Maybe. And that is 750 words.

(Homework: Look for Billy Idol’s ‘Dancing with Myself’ on youtube. If you like it: look up ‘The Donna’s’ cover of same. Then the ‘Glee’ cover of same.)

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