Photo Challenge catch-up continues! This past Friday had the prompt “Hidden.” The very open-ended themes have been really fun, and I love perusing the photos posted to see what kinds of interpretations people have, in addition to just enjoying some great photography.

And this week I found two inspiring photos! One for nostalgia’s sake, and one that’s giving me ideas for the next section of Ghostlight.

First up, this photo by Stir immediately reminded me of one of my favorite childhood movies: The Neverending Story.

Aww, cute doggy!
...oh god, no! No, bad doggie, back! Ahh!

Now I’m sure Stir’s dog is just lovely, but regardless you can see the resemblance in the staging. There is a shot where the G’mork is a little more hidden behind some shrubs and such, I think, but the image below is the best approximation I could find with a quick image search.

G’mork. Even his name is harsh and a little frightening. A huge, vicious, murderous direwolf (he’s not called that in the book or the movie, but he’s the best candidate to imagine such a creature in my mind), who nearly stops the one boy who can save Fantasia (Fantastica in the book). And why? Pretty much just because. One website I happened across while searching for an image called him a Nietzschian character, and that’s pretty on the money. He claims to be a servant of the power behind the Nothing, but this power is the lack of belief in fantasies and stories on the behalf of humankind. As near as I can tell, that quite literally makes the G’mork the product of someone’s nightmare, and I can attest to him being one of the creatures I imagined in the darkness of the far side of my bed at night as a child.

So this relentless beast, as black as the space where his soul never was, wants to destroy the world. To throw it into nothingness, bleakness, where’s there no such thing as hope. Even if it means his own destruction along with it, it seems.

Atreyu: But why is Fantasia dying, then?
G’mork: Because people have begun to lose their hopes and forget their dreams. So the Nothing grows stronger.
Atreyu: What is the Nothing?
G’mork: It’s the emptiness that’s left. It’s like a despair, destroying this world. And I have been trying to help it.
Atreyu: But why?
G’mork: Because people who have no hopes are easy to control; and whoever has the control… has the power!
Atreyu: Who are you really?
G’mork: I am the servant of the power behind the Nothing.

So it’s all about power, as it usually is with villains, and obtaining that power through Machiavellian-Nihilistic means. The authority he answers to isn’t just The Nothing–it iS nothing, it’s specifically a lack of something, an empty space where something should be or once was.

This, and how the story turns out, is why I very much disagree with the idea that it is better to be feared than loved. Fear is an emptiness, and love is filling. You can never make everyone love, no, but nor can you make everyone fear you. And those who have love, and therefore hope, will always fight back.

It would be fascinating to read more about G’mork. His life, the nightmare that spawned him, how he came to be where and who he is. Even if his motives are at their base very simple–power and control through despair and fear–we get the implication of a much more complex character as he states what he does and whom he serves.

And that animatronic G’mork is more terrifying than a CGI one could ever be, at least by current standards.

The second inspiring image was this fog-drenched photo posted by three sticks of watusi. This one is inspiring me specifically for my next chapter of Ghostlight, so I’ll plan to post that chapter (or part of it) here when I’ve written it.

Now time for some shameless self promotion!

I’ve written before about Phoenix Online, the independent game studio I work for in my free time. This past weekend, we announced the development of our first commercial game, Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller. An adventure game of the supernatural detective variety, it’s about an FBI Agent in Boston who’s hunting down serial killers with her ability of postcognition: one touch and she can see the past of an object, find clues no one else can, and see secrets no one wants known. Now someone is leaving specifically leaving clues that only she can find. Who knows her secret, and what do they want?

We’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the development of the game, offering some really fun rewards for pledges, and it’s going great! As of today we’ve raised over $10,000! But our goal is $25,000, and we only receive the funding if we hit that goal. Every dollar helps, and we all greatly appreciate donations or even just helping us spread the word. If you can do either, thank you very much in advance for supporting our project and our dreams!


5 thoughts on “Photo Challenge: Hidden, The Neverending Story, and Cognition

  1. I just gotta stick up for Machiavelli for a second here:

    He doesn’t insist (or even recommend) that you believe in nothing. He merely points out that one shouldn’t allow one’s beliefs to interfere with one’s ability to fulfill your duties or intensions. He would say that, if your intention is to, say, feed and clothe every child in your kingdom, it would be foolish of you to fail to achieve that goal because you were unwilling to have some jackass knifed in an alley. Which is more important? Starving naked children, or the health of one low-life? (now, it just so happens that Machiavelli would recommend against clothing and feeding all the children, but that’s for different reasons entirely)

  2. As for being loved versus being feared, Machiavelli further recommends that you be both (if possible), but since this isn’t practical (they only people who really pull it off are your parents, and a ruler can’t be like everybody’s mom), he recommends being feared over being loved because it’s the easier thing to maintain. To quote (since I’ve got him right here): “And men are less hesitant about harming someone who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared because love is held together by a chain of obligation which, since men are a sorry lot, is broken on every occasion in which their self-interest is concerned; but fear is held together by a dread of punishment which will never abandon you.”

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