I can be an angry son of a bitch at times. Hell, my first novel was called LIFE RAGE and dealt with people with rage issues, and at the time it seemed a bit prophetic (turns out, it was), and I know that “Anger is an energy!” as John Lydon sang on the PiL song “Rise.”
But these days, anger seems to be everywhere, especially among older white males like me, and while it’s relevant – it’s just not as interesting anymore. Now EVERYONE is angry. It’s universal. And while it’s an energy, it’s not always a productive one.
And I want to move beyond it.
So much anger these days seems misdirected or focused inward, and people just feel like shit because of it. I want to transcend this. I want to move, as a writer and as a person, beyond the chaos.
When I was a kid, I always wanted to be part of a literary movement. My favorite time period in science fiction was the “New Wave” when writers like Ellison, Moorcock, Ballard, Brunner, Aldiss, Russ, Disch, Delany, Le Guin, and Malzberg flourished. And I loved the Beats. I loved the Splatterpunks when that movement took off (whether people wanted to be part of it or not – LOL). I love fiction that transcends boundaries and taboos. That dares to go in a new direction.
So here I am, approaching 60, and wondering about what I’m doing as a writer. And I want to create my own damn movement! And I want to name it myself, because I don’t need the media to tell me what I write.
Starting in the 1820s, there was a movement in New England called Transcendentalism, which included writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. It was a reaction to rationalism at the time, and believed that the individual was basically pure and good, and that society and its institutions corrupted the soul. It also saw the divine as being all around us, instead of being somewhere else, like heaven. Also, they believed that true “self-reliance” and independence were the path to happiness.
I don’t agree with all of those things, but one word that has popped up over and over in my thoughts the past few years has been “transcendence” in its more literal meaning. Transcending the body and society, transcending what is around us and moving toward something new. In most cases, the unknown.
I do not believe that everyone is born good and society corrupts us. I think society is corrupt because of basic human desires, and that we are all capable of good and evil, but, more, we are selfish creatures who want to control the world around us. I do believe that if there is spirituality – and that’s all about personal belief – then it is all around us. We just have to look for it. And personally, I’ve always been a proponent of self-reliance and independence.
So I’m toying with the idea of starting a new literary movement, called something like New Transcendentalism (but that’s a bit long). A movement for writers and artists who want to see, think, and feel outside the walls, who want to transcend flesh and the world.
I’m a horror writer. Can horror be transcendent? Of course it can! And I’m not talking Pollyanna bullshit either – all sweetness and light. I plan to continue to be as dark as I wanna’ be. But I want to reach for something more as well. Something beyond good & evil. And – and this is important – something that can be a helluva lot of fun. Because angry people are a dime a dozen right now, and there doesn’t seem to be much fun in the world.
But this is in no way restricted to any one genre. And though I call it a literary movement, there is no reason why it has to be restricted just to the written word. Music, visual arts, cinema. This is something that can be embraced in all mediums of art. And, as you’ve probably noticed, this isn’t a completely new idea. Everything that can be thought of, at this point, has already been done.
I’m just repurposing some ideas to fit our times.
New Transcendentalism. Or maybe, more simply, Transcendence.
I may be this movement’s only member. It may never grow beyond me. But it’s an attempt at something new.
I’m still working out the details.
Anyone out there want to join me on a brand new journey? There’s no road map. There’s no itinerary. No initiation process. If you’re reading this, and you think this makes sense, and you want to embrace it in your own work, then feel free. This isn’t a cult, and you don’t need permission.
There are certain books and movies that come to mind when I say Transcendence. But I don’t want to list them here, because that would be limiting. It’s not about imitating things that have come before us. And I don’t want to corrupt the idea before it’s even fully formed.
It’s about forging your own path. Many paths, all going in the same direction. Outward (and yet being very aware of our inner selves).
If you do want to keep this train of thought going in your art, just remember where you first heard about it. And if its sentiments make sense to you – grab on and let’s take the trip together.
Together, let’s let go of things we know, and hold hands as we leap into the unknown. Laughing all the way.
-L.L. Soares, 11/17/2022