The Science of Sci-Fi, Tick Style: Pt. 2

In Part One of The Science of Sci-Fi – Tick Style, I discussed the use of optogenetics as a possible cure for mental illnesses in the future. It is exciting science, to say the least, especially with the implications of it being a non-invasive way of giving so many people piece of mind. However — as a the skeptic that I am — I can’t help but wonder about the abuse that could come out of such a technology. Where does the desire to “fix” one’s self stop? Who is to determine what exactly is a defect worthy of fixing? And if all the mental abnormalities are removed, what does that do for the creative muse?

It begs the moral question: Is the creative muse a neural defect and should it be fixed?

THE BRAIN, THE MIND & THE MUSE

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the road to mental recovery

My research of optogenetics not only aided me in the extensive rewrites of Tick, but also made the threat of brain alterations feel that much more real, and therefore real for my main character, Jo. Over the course of my scientific research, I had a bit of a mind-bending experience.

Let me get a little personal on you for a moment. In my formative years, I was plagued by a severe depression. No matter how brutal it was at times, I continually battled against the idea that whatever depression I was suffering was not the result of a chemical imbalance in my brain as the psychiatrist insisted. It was environmental, I argued. I was always an overly perceptive kid. People called me an “old soul” when I was 10. I knew my compulsion to create art and express myself was not just a product of an excessively emotional teenager. Still, I couldn’t function in the “real world” so they put me on anti-depressants. My mind was not my own on those drugs, those thoughts were that of someone who could care less about literally anything at all. I made no art. I wrote no music. I was a shell of my former self. After a couple of years, I stopped taking those drugs and took the time to simply grow up a little. A decade later, I am living life depression-free, but the experience has forever changed my perception of my own mind. Continue reading

It’s All In My Head

fuel for the mind, circa 2002

People often ask me, “Have you always been an artist?”

“Of course I’ve always been an artist,” I say with an undertone of resentment for the fact they didn’t already know this. “Just because this is the first time you’ve ever seen me paint something, doesn’t mean I’m making it up right here on the spot. I didn’t become an artist overnight.”

That last bit is never said out loud, of course, because I’m not an asshole, and it’s not really their fault they don’t know what I do when I’m not pretending to be a respectable citizen.

Even while I internally fume about how still — even in my adult age — so many people have a terrible misconception of who I am, I understand why. Outwardly, I don’t give off the “artist vibe”. I’m not covered in tattoos, I dress fairly conservatively, I don’t spend my days yammering about artsy things. Quite frankly, I don’t find most meetings to be appropriate for such conversations, but given the right time and place, and I’ll talk your ear off about music or books or movies or politics. I didn’t gain an interest in those topics overnight, either; I simply choose to not talk about them all the time.

Perhaps the reason why I don’t expose myself as an artist in my daily life is because I’ve learned to compartmentalize those versions of myself. Growing up, most people in my life didn’t understand that I had such an incredible need to express myself. I channeled my emotions through any medium I could — music, art, graphic design, poetry, storytelling, anything — because the real world did not offer me the platform to truly speak my mind. Both my parents have artistic backgrounds (my dad is a writer, my mom has done fine art for decades), yet both their lives followed a path that halted their progression as artists. You know … the real world. So when it came time for me to graduate high school and decide what the hell I was going to do with my life, the voices of family members and friends alike resonated through my head: “You won’t make money as an artist. Pick something else.” Continue reading