I read because I enjoy reading. At any moment, I usually have seven or eight books in various states of completion on my night stand, the kitchen table, and in my shoulder bag. My wife is always picking them up and asking me if they can be put back on one of my three bookshelves. She’s become accustomed to my predictable answer: “Not yet, I’m almost done with that one… and that one… and that one…”
My interests are varied, covering the gamut, from history, religion, and physics to poetry, philosophy, and comics. My taste in movies are just as varied from documentaries to mystery intrigue, and sci-fi. Oh, and I happen to like Bollywood movies too! When it comes to books, I just don’t read any book on these numerous subjects. There’s a common thread that leads me to each one. Or, as I often feel, this common thread prompts the books (and movies) to find me.
The Alternative Narrative
So, what is this thread, and what happens when you start pulling on it? I call it “The Alternative Narrative.” You see, the storyline we commonly know is only a fraction of the whole story. For instance, take the story of electricity. Everyone knows of Edison and the light bulb. However, the story takes on a whole new light when you consider the alternative narrative involving his assistant Nikola Tesla. If Tesla’s brilliance had not have been subverted and he had gotten the financial backing Edison enjoyed, electricity would look a lot different than it does today. And, if his visions and life’s dream would have been honored, it would be free too!
The same “Alternative Narrative” can be found with religion’s Desert Fathers and mystic poets, science’s maligned explorers and innovators, history’s conquered native peoples, philosophy’s marginalized thinkers, and with the numerous comic book heroes often based on real-life, counter-cultural people.
Reality & Truth
What I’ve found is there’s a difference between what is real, and what the truth is. In other words, the reality we know is ever evolving based upon the level of truth we observe and understand. The greater amount of the truth that is seen impacts and changes the reality we are experiencing. Do you follow?
Think About It
You think you know who you are, and what your highest potential is. But as you age and mature, you learn more about who you are, what your primary influences have been, how you’ve limited yourself in the past, and what fears are really irrational and unfounded. Armed with these truths you evolve and become more than you knew you could be. Sadly, most people live trapped in the past, a past constructed by partial storylines and haunting fears.
Reading books and watching movies that highlight the “alternative narrative” help to shake us, and jolt us out of the groove created by general misunderstandings, misrepresentations, and more. This is why I like writing about pop culture, the paranormal, and the supernatural. Characters and storylines that have an alternative “other-worldly” dimension allow us to rehearse deeper dimensions of what it means to be alive, as opposed to actually “being alive.” We are also prompted to explore what our lives could be like… now, and in the approaching future.
For instance, consider the following:
Angels help us explore the reality that something benevolent is out there beyond our five senses. It is largely believed that this “secret society” of winged beings is battling unseen opposing forces, all for the sake of aiding humanity. As far as movies go, we especially like the angel characters who fall for humans, and in a way become more human-like, yet still remain capable of helping us push back the dark forces that threaten us.
Zombies are the all-purpose metaphor for something that has gone terrifically wrong. They help us play out consequences, and explore remedies both present and future. What’s more, they are perfectly suited as a general satire for those who go through life always feeding, always consuming, but never finding fulfillment and never really living. Know any zombies?
Ghosts are the oldest paranormal characters in history. Dating back centuries, stories abound of people working hard to appease the departed spirits so that they don’t return and torment the living. However, ghost stories are mostly about us than they are the ghosts. They are about the general fears humanity is haunted by. Like Dickens’ Scrooge, hopefully we are motivated to not remain haunted, but to become the person we are supposed to be.
Vampires allow us to explore the limits of life and death, and the age-old question of what we would be willing to do in order to find peace and fulfillment. They make us think about our appetites, desires, needs, and wants. And often, in the case of the vampire’s lust for blood, what we think we want does not measure up to what we would have to do in order to obtain it. Vampires suck the life out of the living in order to keep living. Know any vampires?
Why the Paranormal?
Paranormal and supernatural stories help us understand more about ourselves in a way that we cannot do alone with limited human characters and storylines. Yes, we need the normal, but… WE YEARN FOR THE EXTRA-NORMAL! From this perspective, its obvious that the paranormal/supernatural will always be with us, as it always has been. I think the ancients understood this better than we do today. Certainly, the poet/prophet/creative types would agree with me on this point.
The reality is, the alternative narrative is as close to us as our very own subconscious is, and it helps connect us to an ever-present reality that speaks directly to our hearts, and not just to our minds. It’s this “other-worldly” narrative, which in general, has inspired all the great thinkers, inventors, mystics, prophets, and explorers to pull back the heavy curtains of accepted understanding TO REVEAL THE BEAUTY OF WHAT’S TRULY REAL. And in turn, it has helped us face our fears, push the limits, and become more… SO MUCH MORE!