In an L.A. Times column, Umberto Eco once asked “Can ugliness continue to be defined simply as the opposite of beauty? Can a history of ugliness be seen as the symmetrical foil of a history of beauty?”
He argued that over the course of time the definition of ugliness has changed due to sociopolitical criteria. He may be right. Eco notes that beauty and ugliness are defined by cultures differently. Especially when looked at from an historic perspective without the lens of Western culture. Images of deities from other cultures may seem horrifying to westerners as the image of a battered and beaten Jesus may be to them.
To continue the thread on a spiritual level can the same be said for light (good) and dark (evil)? Can dark continue to be simply defined as the opposite of light?
I ask this as a person who spends a good deal of my time practicing and exploring the light of my spiritual beliefs. While as an artist the work I put out into the world can be described as dark.
Performing my one man show “Catholic: Surviving Abuse & Other Dead End Roads” I poke fun at the Catholic Church as I try to make sense and peace with this part of my past. For that some have labeled me The Blasphemer. I’m still waiting for the plaque to make it official. But could there be anything more light than trying to make peace with abuse and the abusers? Is it possible that both perspectives are correct?
My latest artistic venture, and so far my vastly most successful, is a horror short called Microcinema that I produced with my partners at Harvest Tide.
I wrote and directed a piece about a would be serial killer with a camera who goes out into the world to make his first kill. He waxes philosophical about his reasonings and believes he will be touching beauty with his extreme act of violence. He finds his first potential victim and follows her into the woods.
For those who have seen it, you know what happens next. For those of you who haven’t and don’t want the plot to be spoiled, stop reading here.
As he approaches her she quietly turns and shoots him. The shot isn’t fatal but he lays near paralyzed on the ground. She puts on his mask, pulls down his pants, picks up a stick and, well, drives the point home.
I wanted to make a statement about the plot device in the rape and revenge film. The plot device which is self-explanatory. In Microcinema the woman never becomes a victim. He never lays a hand on her. In fact he is nearly destroyed for even thinking about making her a victim.
In many ways it is a dark and very violent film. But as a survivor of abuse, it is also a film of great light as the would be abuser never gets to victimize any one. Innocent lives are saved.
As I continue to explore working within the realm of horror, at first glance it can easily be said that my work is very dark. But from a slightly different perspective there may be great light to be found within that darkness.
It just depends on where your standing.