The Gates Of The Imagination

2014 Artwork Gates of The imagination article sketch

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across a fascinating interview with Jennifer Diane Reitz (the creator of a brilliant webcomic called “Unicorn Jelly” and a game called “Boppin’“), where she talks about computer games, art, creativity and all sorts of other interesting stuff.

The interview is really worth reading, although if you’re a fan of Apogee Games and/or have a lot of childhood nostalgia about their games (like I do), you may find it slightly shocking.

Anyway, one of the cool things about Reitz’s “Jenniverse” website is the sheer amount of stuff on there. There’s hilarious stuff, serious stuff and fascinating stuff. There are games, comics, stories and even an entirely original tarot deck too.

The reason that I’m mentioning Reitz’s website is because it’s almost like a snapshot of her imagination. It’s a statement of her worldview and her philosophy, shown in a variety of interesting and entertaining forms. And, well, this made me think about creativity and imagination in general.

In a way, I guess that we artists and writers all create things in order to show off the unique landscapes of our imaginations to the rest of the world.

Since a reliable form of telepathy thankfully hasn’t been invented yet, the only way that we have to show off the wonderful worlds inside our heads is to translate it into stories, art, games, music etc…

And, yet again, this made me think about my own creative work and about the annoying self-censorship which has plagued me over the past couple of years.

Carrying on with the metaphor I used earlier, I only ever really show off a small portion of my imagination. Sometimes it seems like my imagination is kind of like an island with a pretty beach that anyone can visit, but all of the rest of the island is sealed off by large, imposing gates. All of the interesting parts of it, many of which make me who I am, are hidden behind these gates.

And, well, although it seems “safer” to only make a small portion of my imagination accessible to the rest of the world, it also makes me feel incomplete. This is kind of hard to describe but, when I look at the translated products of my own imagination, I don’t get quite the same feelings of wonder and joy that I get when I look at the websites of artists and writers who open up more of their imaginations to the public.

But, with my work, it feels like a lot of stuff is missing.

Most of the really weird stuff isn’t there, most of the introspective stuff isn’t there, most of the horror and/or splatterpunk stuff isn’t there, most of the cynicism isn’t there, most of the humour isn’t there, almost all of the sexy stuff isn’t there, most of the new age-y philosophical stuff isn’t there, most of the LGBT stuff isn’t there and only some of the geeky stuff is there. I’m sure you get the idea….

Obviously, it would be impossible for people to translate their entire imaginations into art, fiction, games, music etc… for the simple reason that some parts of the imagination are untranslatable, other parts are kept private for valid reasons and some parts can easily get lost in translation. So, there will always be “something missing” whenever we try to depict or write about our own imaginations.

But at the same time, I’m still at something of a loss as to why I’ve started gating off huge portions of my imagination over the past few years. Yes, I have a few theories about it (eg:there’s a big emotional difference between creating something bold, edgy and rebellious in private and posting something on the internet) but it’s still something of a puzzle to me.

Still, it might be worth looking at your own imagination and seeing which parts of it you have and haven’t “gated off”. If you can find a way of opening some of these gates (if they’re closed for no good reason), then it might be worth trying to do this.


Sorry for yet another rambling article about self-censorship, but I hope it was interesting 🙂

One comment on “The Gates Of The Imagination

  1. […] I don’t write that much these days and I’ve got into the annoyingly cowardly habit of self-censoring too much, but when I do write, it only really “flows” when I’m writing something that is […]

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