creative writing, Identity, opinion, Suicide

Here’s to creativity… and other evils


Happy New Year 2018! Let’s raise a glass of champagne to our favourite friend, a writer’s indisputable nemesis: that heathen God of War, Creativity.

This article has been composed in honour of Kim Jonghyun – a creative genius, and an irreplaceable member of the musical world – and to mark my return to the folios of cyberspace. Certainly, it’s the only place a writer can occupy a rightful, permanent residence, unencumbered by paper and blotches of ink, nothing but the silken, seductive touch of the keypad present beneath one’s fingertips.

Creative composition, in all its forms, from the written magnum opus to the operatic masterpiece, is dominated by emotion. The hippocampus is the central point, seething regret, desire, determination, fervour – a veritable miasma of condensed emotions, each striving for control. It can be a battle to squeeze a single phrase, an iota of sound from such a pool of turbulence.  Creativity: an eternal cycle of intense joy, and crippling despair – polarised sensations, deeply intertwined. Both are essential. Both are deadly.

Creativity: it’s a brutal war against the mediocre. A spectre is present at the heart of each creation, a kernel of self-doubt which can rapidly expand, reaching gargantuan proportions if not swiftly curtailed. Call it an infection, an epidemic, an unalterable affliction. With every publication, an instantaneous flood of uncertainty oozes behind, trailing upon the throes of each exalted release. When you scrutinise each, the taint is evident – a misplaced phrase, the incorrect intonation, an unnoticed tautology. Submerged in self-disdain, almost crippled by anxiety, panting for release – yet the brain will not relinquish its hold, will not cease its urge to dissemble every painstakingly produced creation.

As artists, we are all expected to sublimate our own desires for the good of our craft. And we freely comply with these severe regulations: a silken yoke is fastened uncomplainingly around our willing wrists. Every second of every day must be accounted for, spent productively – skills must be honed, articles composed – another golden star to notch onto the wooden wall. If not, you’re condemned to spend the remainder of the evening – and most of the night – locked within a self-imposed torture, unable to escape from the venomous, repetitive internal chorus.

Leave me alone, you cry out, and the voice will respond. Leave? How can I leave? Without me, you are nothing.

The inner voice – your own, at its very ugliest – is never wrong. How can it be wrong? It’s you. Only you know the truth. Only you are privy to your innermost thoughts. Your lifelong partner, your companion until death – it’s you. Stalwart companions or violent enemies, you’re mortally bound, shackled tightly together until the last trump sounds, when you haul your complaining flesh from the throes of a concrete coffin. Bones have crumbled, resembling a glutinous dust – the jellies of your eyes are shrivelled, all plump, juicy remnants of flesh evaporated. But the brain is still present, oozing turgid clumps of neuronic transmissions, palpitating in a frenzy, picking up the last traces of thought still etched upon its coils. Ready, once again, to fasten its teeth into the meat of the soul.

The personality, as Freud observed, is tripartite. We are burdened with not only the ego, which is a vile monster in itself, but the superego, and the “id”. The id: a repulsive creature of base instincts, drunken upon the fruits of excess, and nursing within its craven bosom two entirely separate components: Eros and Thanatos. The inherited, biological components of the id battle for dominance: the hapless libido, encased beside its far more malign, sinister brother – the Reaper, stretching out its welcoming hand, oozing the promise of release.

All creative outlets demand an investment of one’s essence. This sort of relationship cannot be maintained upon an unhealthy foundation; at the first push, the slightest external impression, the structure will fall. Creativity: it cannot be forced. It must be softly coaxed from its shell, in the guise of a prone animal, offered the occasional titbit as a form of temptation. The creative part of the brain, after working itself into an orgy of anticipation, leaps forth, flinging itself headfirst into the nearest ravine at the promise of release. It has to be carefully monitored, otherwise it’ll drown itself in excess. Once unleashed, it cannot be subdued, exuding obedience, to the depths of its cage.

Neurological findings have pinpointed the true biological accelerators, aiding and abetting the creative process. Firstly, the prefrontal cortex must be thoroughly suppressed – at least, for the duration of spontaneous invention. We must lose the ability to look forward, to predict the consequences of our actions – we must be firmly anchored within the present, confined to the four walls of the left hemisphere. Woe betide you if those walls are painted black.

Another trait which must be expelled with haste: the long-term memory. Surprising, I know, but essential. We must forget what we know, and wipe away the viscous coating of past experiences, in order to form fresh realisations upon an untarnished landscape. The last is perhaps the most predictable: an absence of critical thinking. We must scrape away the last vestiges of constraint, and abandon all self-awareness, in order to achieve true creative independence.

Of course,  we cannot escape our constant companion, riding upon the coat-tails of creativity – emotionalism. As is evident – particularly within the performance world – heightened emotional activity is an arbiter of creative function. Without it, all publications lose a semblance of zest; in the area of performance, it is mandatory. Above it all, the super ego presides, conducting its behemoth orchestra without pause, whilst the rest of the soul writhes upon searing coals.

I’m not afraid of Death. I’m terrified of the Living Death – the death of the soul, the demise of ingenuity, the bright shades of invention: extinguished. And that’s my  “resolution” of 2018 – to eradicate all semblance of this from my own internal amphitheatre.

Digital revolution, opinion, Politics, Technology

Fires, fears, fake news: Just another day in the UK (beware: app teaser also included)

Today, my friends, we’ll have to welcome back the termagants of youth. We thought they were pacified by Labour’s dramatically increased majority – the lowering of tuition fees assured, they shall retreat once again into the amicable embrace of millennial apathy. Nope – c’est pas vrai! They surge once again, emerging from floods of unbottled hatred, brandishing the scythes of social media, Twitter-storms abounding in their wake. Each digital onslaught is echoed upon the planes of reality, raging rallies beside ruthless retweets: our beloved Spectator caricatures, rendered in alarming Technicolour, circulate within the propagate realms of Twitterfeed. Naturally, this week has issued a multitude of conquests. Not only have we isolated the latest bacterial strain of “fake news” – we’ve managed to tie the knot between two differing branches of activism. Digital campaigning has managed to obtain new levels of recognition, with co-founder of the YouTube centric “Novara Media”, Aaron Bastani, emerging triumphant from behind the glossy, impenetrable surface of the smartphone, making his debut before a protesting crowd championing the slogan “#MayMustGo”. In our current climate, “political affiliations” are almost akin to marriages: unwanted, costly, and frankly, rather pointless.  It is no longer necessary to be forsworn, shackled within the yoke of party policy: as of now, such urbane activities as “letter-boxing” and “street-campaigning” are considered almost futile; erstwhile neighbourhood representatives of the Labour, Green and Tory parties are few and far between. Those desperately clutching the title of “party executive/financial coordinator” to their shrivelled bosoms, whilst they rattle collection tins and batter letterboxes in an increasing bid for attention, now need to wake up and sniff the neoteric aroma of a WiFi transmission, taste the wondrous swipe of a Samsung S8 as it glides across their tongues. Let us jump from the sinking ship of the last several centuries, and instead embrace the strengthening impact of the digital revolution: online campaigning, Facebook livestreams of hustings and electoral events – all tangible, happening, now.

Almost every day, every hour of the televised run-up to the recent General Election has been speckled with prevarication.  Each article concerning our esteemed Rameses II and Nefertari (you choose) has been coated with a sticky encrustation of falsity – blatant, exorbitant sensationalism is an ever-increasing facet of the mainstream media, otherwise referred to as “scaremongering”. Most recently, certain falsehoods regarding the Grenfell Tower inferno have been brought into prominence. Two of the most odious specimens of bottom-feeder journalism have again obliged us with a few farcical examples, in honour of the election. We are, indeed, so cordially obliged.. 

It is, quite frankly, hilarious. Let’s sit back, chew on our popcorn and observe the Sun, now begging the public to ignore these “hyperbolic” rumours of their impersonation of a Grenfell Tower victim relative –  those who have unequivocally guilty of blatant sensationalism since their inception! According to these well-informed individuals, Corbyn’s all set to requisition the homes of the rich – in true Bolshevik, vodka-swigging style. Sigh.

Indeed, a stupefying number of news outlets today are scraping the much abused, beaten barrel when it comes to reporting. Those on the left seem determined to encourage recognition of the apparent “demonisation” of the working class, spread throughout the media, akin to the journalistic blitzkreig directed towards Jeremy Corbyn. A human wave attack, masquerading as a peaceful penetration? Allow consumers to put their much-squeezed brains into practice, and judge.

The Press retains power – a monopoly of social and political discourse, a rigid handling of public perception. Only from the Spectator can we obtain “better arguments” – for the “price of a cup of coffee” (that accursed adage) we are chained to a limited multitude, a bleating babble. Must we return to the confines of the intellectual wheelchair, allowing us to navigate this minefield of knowledge? No.

Which do we prefer? The carefully aligned postulations or the universal bleating of twitter? Answer: there’s absolutely no difference. All amount to speculation – may we remain Spectators, or die.

Or stay tuned, for the launch of my new app, designed to eliminate fake news once and for all, spreading enlightenment to all and sundry. OK, I know you don’t believe me yet. But just wait and see, and follow me on Twitter @CatTranfield – you’ll be the first to know.