Guys, behold the brilliance that is Mark Frost. This blog post is amazing, and really resonated with me. Mark talks about those stores that get into our souls and don’t let go, but it goes so much deeper than that. Written with exquisite words, this might be my favorite guest post to date. Enjoy!
FANTASY, MYTHOLOGY, AND METAPHOR
RELAX, I’m not referring to anything you might have covered – or been bored to petrification by – in English class.
I’m talking about the kinds of stories that grabbed you by the eyeballs, buried their fangs into your forehead and wouldn’t let go until you’d sucked the last words into your sated, saturated brain. The kinds of stories that keep you up until first light because you’re in a kind of reading fever and CAN’T PHYSICALLY PUT THEM DOWN. Those books, the one’s you’ll never forget, that put their mark on you like a spiritual brand you wear for the rest of your life.
When I was a kid fantasy fiction was still scorned as a literary ghetto, a refuge for lurking lunatics and sweatshop hacks. Conan, Doc Savage, even Tarzan got the treatment back then. Lurid covers – paperbacks almost exclusively – that pandered to the furtive and sensational; in other words, in the 1960’s, the perfect food for the teenage audience. Anything that smacked of rebellion, breaking our suburban shackles and tasting a big fat bite of ESCAPE.
We have another word for those books now. Classics. And that homely little twisted Rumplestiltskin of a genre is now the nuclear reactor core powering the entire entertainment-industrial complex.
Why? How has this happened? Because these stories SPEAK to us, and for us, in the deepest possible ways. They’re our inner life made manifest. The first time I saw Gandalf and Frodo on screen in Fellowship of the Rings I burst into tears. At last, I thought, at last, it’s all come to pass.
Fantasy and mythology are the lifeblood of the human animal. From cave paintings to multiplexes, that is our life, our history, our spirit, our DNA on that wall/screen. That’s freedom and imagination and the power of dreams that make life worth living.
There is a fundamental conflict on this planet – as old as time – between the forces that want everything contained, controlled, counted and accounted for and those crazy-brave, shamanistic souls who realize that the inner life – the field where everything in creation, including you, is connected to everything else – is the only one that really matters.
So you have a choice in this life; sign up with that first bunch and you sign away your ability to make this life an adventure. Oh, sure, you might make a whopping pile of scratch and get more than your share of ‘things’, but the beating heart of your spirit will spend its life in a cage of gold, wondering what it’s like out there where the wild things run free.
Take the second route and what you’ll find out there is yourself. The ‘you’ no one else can shake, rattle or roll. That’s where the metaphor comes in. All useful and powerful art is a metaphor for that journey you have to take. No one can take it for you. But, lucky for you, you can do it with the help of all the people who took that trip before you.
Fantasy and mythology are the gateway to your individualized adventure. Don’t listen to anybody that tries to tell you different; they’re playing for the other side. They want you in a cubicle, playing it safe, making them money.
Get started today. Open that book and dream. Keep looking until you find the metaphor that works for you. That’s your map. Your territory is waiting for you. What are you waiting for?
Art is a set of wings to carry you out of your own entanglement.
Thanks Mark! Mark Frost is the NY Times bestselling author whose new YA book, The Paladin Prophecy, hit stores this week. You can visit Mark on his website at bymarkfrost.com, and on twitter @mfrost11.