To people who never write anything other than shopping lists, the idea that ‘writing has a life of its own’ is as alien as beefburgers are to me. Yet, anyone from John Donne to Stephen King would testify that characters, regardless of whether they inhabit prose or poetry, acquire a life of their own. This does not apply to prose or poetry only however; it does so to all types of writing, no exception. I am particularly versed in literary and film criticism and I can assure you that I may know where I am starting from (at times), and that I may know where I am going (less often so), but I swear I never know what happens in the middle before it actually happens and when it does, when the various tesserae of the mosaic start forming an intelligible picture, I do not know how they formed that picture to begin with. The process is similar to entering and exiting trance while I drive; I can tell you what I was doing before as I become aware of the after, but the transition from one to the other and back is a mystery that the human brain isn’t capable of processing.
When I started writing Slaughter Is The Best Medicine, a long, long time ago, I had a vague vision for it, but not even a title. I do not remember what I wrote first, but I do know it was not the introduction because I never start from the beginning, I start from the middle. I do not like to introduce anything, neither do I like to conclude anything, mostly because both of these are nothing other than the clouds amassing overhead and the same moving over and away after the storm. It is only the narrating of the storm that interests me. So I started somewhere in the middle. I seem to vaguely recall something about the Nightmare movies and something about the monster behind the mask, but I can’t be sure. Then The Texas Chainsaw Massacre got into the picture, as did a reason to be talking about these in the first place, what a call the legacy of imagination of the Romantic Age.
The book then lingered for a long time, incapable as I was to make a somewhat logical jump from horror to super-heroes, incapable to link the two worlds without sounding like a popular culture encyclopedia or The Marvel Vault. As is often the case, the link was right under my nose; I turned the horror table around and instead of looking at representations of horror, I looked at how we see horror where there isn’t any, affected as we are by real-life examples that leave us unable to comprehend it when it affects us first-hand, when eyes can see, but mind cannot process.
I wrote the introduction after I finished a section about Batman Bagins and then I lingered again, waiting for something more significant to come along and to become the turning point of the book, the actual raison d'être of the entire effort. I got that last summer, when The Dark Knight came out and I watched it three times over in quick succession, trying to imprint my mind with it, trying to see between, above and beyond the lines. Laughter had me enthralled for a while, but not by itself. As I hope to be able to be an advocate of popular culture, the person that is unafraid to defend it where defense is due, I roped in a literary classic with the aim to give kudos to the latest representation of chaos and madness as The Dark Knight would have it.
I don’t know how all of this came into being. I don’t even know how I thought of the last few sentences I wrote this morning, when I finally succeeded in dropping in a few relevant passages to the entire discourse. Now I have one last piece to sort out, an analysis of the Reapers from Blade II, something that I have tried to do for one year and then I put it off and then I talked about it and then I forgot about it and then I put it off some more for the past fourteen months to be precise. Not that I would really know what I did with these fourteen months you understand...