Philosophy is literally the love of wisdom. It is a wellspring of ideas from where fantasy artists can draw upon as inspiration for their craft, whether that be paintings, sculpture, stories, or any other media. Philosophy is so much more than old, dusty ideas, dryly written down by authors who are no longer coming down for breakfast. It is the study of life itself as it connects to the human condition. As such, it is as relevant today, maybe more to the fantasy world, than when the ideas were first mined from The Dark and dragged into The Light.
Webster's defines philosophy as, "A critical study of fundamental beliefs and the grounds for them; a basic theory concerning a particular subject or sphere of activity; the sum of ideas and convictions of an individual or group; and calmness of temper and judgment."
How can artists use philosophy in their work? Ideas are inspiration and kernels that can be built upon and converted into other mediums. For instance, Aristotle, a famous Greek philosopher, wrote about his theory of The Cosmos. He thought The Cosmos was a series of planets which spun on a crystal plane, creating universal harmonics. This simple, if inaccurate depiction of our solar system, is perfect fruit for fantasy artists. Songs can be written about Aristotle's theory, surrealistic paintings can depict the idea, and fantasy authors can base their worlds on it. The possibilities are endless, and this is just one idea from only one philosopher.
Ideas drive the artist's train. Without concepts, there is no art, and that strikes at the core of the fantasy artist more than any other kind of creator. There is a bounty of philosophy waiting to be mined and depicted in art. Wild, outlandish ideas are out there, laying dormant, for those artists open-minded enough to seek them out. To that end, the imagination is your only limit!
Darkness is a common theme writers use in their flights of fantasy, but what is it? Without disrespect for Webster, it has to be so much more than the mere absence of light or a gloominess. For many, Darkness is a state of being, a lens through which they perceive the world. Maybe, it is some kind of sentient thing that holds The Truths of The Cosmos.
Those who tap into Darkness, delve into something intrinsic to existence, and through that connection, come to a greater understanding of everything. Maybe, just maybe, this was the unspoken truth behind Stephen Hawking's Theory of Everything. They do say truth is stranger than fiction and is often disseminated in bizarre ways incomprehensible to us mere mortals. Such is the nature of attempting to understand this thing called Darkness.
Madness is a theme in literature and art. The term gets bandied about quite a bit, but what does it mean? We all fancy ourselves to be in control of our minds. That seems to be an integral part of the human condition. If we can't control our minds, then how can we trust anything we perceive and have taken for granted our whole lives?
We know madness manifests in many forms. What is this thing we call madness? The absence of reason is the obvious answer that comes to mind. Webster's defines it as a loss of one's mind, having a disordered mind, and simply as being insane or crazy. Blacks Law Dictionary does not define madness, but defines insanity as that degree of mental illness which negates the individual's legal responsibility or capacity, and indicates a condition which renders the affected person unfit to enjoy liberty of action because of the unreliability of his behavior with consequent danger to himself and others.
Stereotypes aside, there are no standards when it comes to madness. That is the point. Madness brings the affected person outside the norms of society and traditional behavior. I see it as a coping mechanism to something so traumatizing the mind either snaps or finds another solution, a way of interacting with the unknowable, or a nonconforming form of understanding. In any event, this concept has intrigued mankind since the beginning and is a driving force in many of the Greek tragedies.
The nine muses warn that tried and true rules of fantasy quash creativity and lead to stale art. These Ladies of Inspiration incite artists to break these molds and be original. They stir us to stop wasting our gray matter. The muses want us to dare to be different, to push every boundary, and to question every norm.
The purpose of the artist is to make the wow factor come to life. That cannot be done within the framework of a shackled mind. Artists, cast off the chains of preconceived notions and create something unique and of value from the heart!
You are seated on my Thought Train and better hold onto your hat because we are moving at the speed of thought. How fast are we going? How many times faster than the speed of light is the speed of thought? Once, twice, thrice? Warp 1, 2, 3?
There is no way of knowing. There are no reference points. Speed has to be relative to something, but what? Other minds? Or do ideas themselves provide the needed relationships and connections so us mere mortals can know what's driving our trains? Food for thought.
When I write, I jump into The Rabbit Hole and explore the reality in which I have immersed myself. My thoughts come at me like freight trains pulling miles of cars loaded with ideas. I unload the cars and play with the ideas until I am satisfied I have discovered a new scene, a cool character, or when I'm lucky, a new realm of possibility.
Writing is about jumping into The Rabbit Hole without fear of where it will lead. Thoughts thunder through my mind. I am not afraid of what I will discover, and all writers should be just as fearless.