Monstrous Ideas Menagerie

Art + Creativity

I have this vision of metaphysical ideas as subtle, slippery monsters that emerge from the darkness and wriggle away. You try to catch them by their tails, and sometimes you succeed, and sometimes they leave. You stalk them quietly through the shadows, with your pen in hand. Sometimes you catch them and you bring them back to your menagerie of ideas, where they form their own society and make surprising monstrous idea babies. Every now and again you visit and you come back, if you’re lucky, unscathed. Sometimes the ideas fight with each other, and one kills the other.

Some ideas lurk. Others slither. Some flutter. Some wallow in the darkness. Some ideas blunder. Some ideas don’t exist at all, until you wind them and wind them into being. Some ideas wander half-tame at the edges of the wilderness, already accustomed to the thinker’s hand. They’ll eat from you, even walk with you into the wood, but not too far. The wild ideas scare them.

And so your mind is a jungle or network of caves and you don’t really know the way, all the way, although you may have been down that path before, and know some of the footing, and the ground. Every time you foray into that strange mind of yours, there are surprises and there is wildlife you didn’t know was there, because it’s lurked in the shadows until now.

Sometimes you’ll be privileged to visit another’s strange mind menagerie, visit its monstrous ideas and even get up close to them, perhaps introduce them to your strange monstrous ideas. Sometimes you’ll find that somebody else’s menagerie contains a monster that looks kind of like yours, and you’ll say, “I didn’t know there was more than one of those in the world!”

Then you can talk to the other person about how they gathered their menagerie: where they found the beasts in it, what they saw them eating, how they dwell. Proper care and maintenance of these monstrous ideas, and so on.

But people tend to be protective of the monsters in their menagerie. Maybe they’re afraid they’ll be stolen or killed. I think they’re afraid that these monsters are more vulnerable than they appear. Sometimes we develop a special affection for one of these monstrous ideas. We don’t want it to be scared. After they were so difficult to find, and potentially endangered, we don’t want someone to come blundering through, and poison the water, beat them with sticks, frighten them, and make them run away again. So when you’re lucky enough to introduce one menagerie to another menagerie, which is a great undertaking, it’s a rare and beautiful moment.

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