Unwanted Knowledge


I've returned to my research of corpses, which seems to be endlessly fascinating to me. (This return is in the hopes of generating new [more gooder] material for my play-in-progress, Hereafter.) I think the fascination stems from the fact that so much of the research is a discovery of items I never even had a hint of before. No one knows, because no one wants to know. I've always had an appreciation for the taboo--in some of the dullest senses--but this is the first time it's struck me as a pointed preoccupation. I love learning about things I ought not to.

Actually, it's not quite true that I've never before tapped this appetite for the occult. As an elementary school student, I almost single-handedly kept the library out of its stock of books on monsters and mythological creatures. It was embarrassing, I remember, but a thrill. The strange is thrilling. Erotic, too, in a way. Remember playing doctor, or sneaking looks at pictorial nudity? No? Just me? Alrighty then...

I feel I'm at a curious stage of writing, too. It reminds me of a couple of my first serious attempts at creative writing. A short story and a short play, written years apart, they both started out as one thing in my mind and were drastically different by the end, largely through the application of heart, of earnest meaning. These were improvements to the work, hands-down, but in both cases I was initially resistant. "No, I'm not trying to make that, I'm trying to make this." Someday I'll learn that it's more about whatever it is I'm making, and what it wants to ultimately be. In the case of Hereafter, this self-made conflict has to do with whether it's a play about what happens to our bodies after we die and how funny that can be, or if it's about how we process the idea of death itself. The latter is, naturally, winning out in terms of dominant content.

It's curious how creative work gets started, and where it can go from there. The ideas that energize our start-up can eventually hinder the process, and the emotions we discover in the process itself may end up being more significant. Well: If not more significant, than more directing, at least. Yet my research today has done more to motivate me to rework the play than anything else in recent memory. In particular, I was learning about the embalming process, and it was really firing up some ideas that I want to get on paper . . . er, screen. Which is ew; very ew. Still, it's fascinating. I didn't know, for example, that you should never investigate the lower end of the coffin in an open-casket funeral. Why? Because sometimes morticians remove the major inner organs and seal them in a plastic bag that gets deposited at the corpse's feet.

YEAH. LIKE THAT. YOU'RE WELCOME.

I also had a wonderful conversation about Hereafter and the subjects it addresses with a friend yesterday, which invariably motivates more writing. So that's the order of business this weekend, while Wife Megan is away selling swag -- writing more interesting tidbits about the verities of death. Maybe the things I have to share with you are unwanted. Or maybe, it's all just fascinating, and I'm saving people the trouble of admitting it.
 
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