Playing with the Dark Side

The dark side of our imaginations exist to remind us that many of our fantasies should not be fulfilled.

I left a tantalizing remark about the dark side of my imagination at the end of last night’s post, the type that begs for a response: “What about the dark side of your imagination?”
To be honest, the dark side of my imagination doesn’t like talking about the dark side of my imagination, because it envisions someone taking these notes and applying them to the dark side of seduction, something obsessive and manipulative and successful in a way that, in real life, I would call the police on.
In writing, the dark side of my imagination gets released. It imagines a dying world of lethal competition for scarce commodities like clean water (Voyageurs); a cold, vicious being crushing an unsuccessful henchman so badly that DNA analysis is the only way to identify him (Gaia’s Hands); a near-immortal being bidding his protege and lover to hold his heart in its pericardial sac (Mythos); a crazed militia leader aiming at a courageous old lady with dispassionate media crews filming without interceding (Apocalypse). 
The darkness in these moments comes from the conflict of emotions and actions — we aren’t supposed to rejoice in having a hole punched in our chest or kill others with cold satisfaction or watch a murder with our only reaction professional pride at having captured the story. Writers feel their own conflicts — in real life we would reject the possessive girlfriend, abhor the poisoner and his method, get grossed out at the righteous punishment of the rapist by crushing his testicles (or as an old friend once put it, castration by “a brick, an anvil, and some duct tape.” My friend had a very dark side.)
We don’t want to witness any of these things in real life. But we writers put them in books to exorcize the demons from our minds, to get justice in the end for the executors of these deeds, and to allow us to go back to our happier fantasies of sitting in the perfect bookshop.

2 thoughts on “Playing with the Dark Side

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