The first thing I thought of when I saw the title of Lawhead’s Everything is going to be OK is a song of a similar title. Maybe It’s Ok by We Are Messengers, while the element of humor from the former may not be present, the acknowledgement of struggle and the deeper discussions to which this leads are prevalent in both of these works of art. The title of the e-lit piece by itself is telling me that there’s about to be a sense of vulnerability to it, as there is in the prayers of the multiple authors of Psalms, including David, and to the songs in the playlist I created that I may or may not add to over time.
Moving on from the songs of similar titles and themes, I clicked on the “work website” button and immediately found myself thinking wow, there’s a lot going on here like. This wasn’t surprising as I’d seen mentions of the ‘zine-like design in both the author and editorial statements, and magazines do tend to have a lot going on– hence one of the many reasons I tend to avoid them. So, I read the text on the page trying my best not to be distracted by the animated images, blue flames, bold color-changing background, flashing hypertexts, moving texts, and overall highlighter-like color scheme.
The first thing I noticed (aside from all that’s listed above) was the way that the speaker puts “game” in quotes.
“It is a very personal “game”, and I view it as something other than a game. Through-ought development I had been struggling with the “game” label, and toxicity that calling something like this “game” brings in… I feel like calling work like this a game might do it more harm than good.”EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK by Nathalie Lawhead
While the “game” is not yet specified as I’m reading through it, one could imagine that this could be a reference to life itself and how people seem to treat it like a game in a myriad of ways– whether that means distorting certain realities, taking on roles that are not yours to begin with, using people and things that are not meant to be used… you get the idea. But because Lawhead sets the expectation so soon as anything but a mindless “game” to play, it has already set the attention of the reader (in this case, me) into an active thinking mode; I already found myself asking what parts of the landing page are significant to the story ahead of me.
I don’t have a whole ton of space left on this laptop (that is currently burning my thigh through my leggings as I take another sip from my iced caramel mochiatto from my favorite little cafe in Franklin, NJ), so while I was tempted to venture through the slowly bouncing “download now” button, I refrained. So instead of the first link on the page, I clicked on the first hyperlink in the text. Here the flames were the typical mix of red, orange, and yellow– I wondered if this was meant more to set a mood (as these colors we tend to associate with anger) or to set a temperature (as these colors are artistically warmer, but in reality signify a cooler flame than blue or white). The tab reads “Unicornycopia is a magical utopia!” and to be honest, I’m not convinced. There isn’t a single unicorn on this page! Nor does this seem like much of a utopia with this repeated image of different bones throughout this page and the several images on the landing page that show characters saying they aren’t sure they will survive, someone was killed, or even the little worm saying it lives inside some other character’s head. The bright colors aren’t fooling me, and neither is the page title.
The goldfish seem a bit random to me here, but I’m just taking a note of them floating from left to right on the page. Maybe there’s some significance I’ll find out later, maybe there isn’t. Maybe there is but I’ll never find out.
A little pop-up comes up on the about button, describing the story as “a collection of life experiences… exploring alternative views of power from a survivor’s standpoint.” A survivor of what? I keep reading and find the purpose of the piece: “to strip the shame out of talking about things like [PTSD].” As soon as I closed the pop-up, neon yellow skulls landed in my lap (or really the middle of the screen on some invisible line) and disappeared almost as soon as they had appeared. There’s a new ad for “electric love potatoes” which confuses me, but I guess it’s hard to go wrong with potatoes of any kind (besides sweet potatoes, those are gross). Every other button on that left side of the page did the skull thing, but it seemed the potato ad only happened with the about button.
The artwork button of course piqued my interest as well. I looked through several of the pieces under this as I figured this would not only be the most interesting to me, but also would be the most honest expressions within this e-lit piece. I kind of thought that maybe this would be the art within the art, kind of like we are all masterpieces (whether we recognize that or struggle to recognize that, or not) within the greater masterpiece of God’s creation. There’s plenty to go over here by itself, so I’ll just go over a couple.
It’s pretty natural for me to initially gravitate towards poetry, and while I clicked on a random poem, the one I chose hit me pretty personally (as I mentioned in my first blog post). I struggled to understand this poem in the first four lines, but the last two hit me in a way that made me think: how did I not pick up on that? I could be wrong, but I think the first few lines address two common symptoms of PTSD as it relates to sexual trauma: hyper-sexuality (implied by “keeping me in check has gotten so out of hand”) and memory (implied by “I’m not too sure where it all really began.”) Again, I could be totally wrong about that, but based on my own experiences and the strikingly similar ways I’ve phrased these ideas in some of my old journals and creative pieces, that’s how I interpreted this poem.
But I guess I’m paying the price for saying “no” to
the best man and getting in the way of the perfect romance.poem_2.png, EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK by Nathalie Lawhead
The bunny cut in half saying “It’s ok!” and “I trust the universe!” says so much. I admit, I did laugh at first– I mean who doesn’t laugh at those self-depreciating jokes these days? But there are two things that really stuck out to me with these two things the bunny was saying.
It’s ok! – Everything is so clearly not ok in this picture. The bunny severed in two. The ominously blood-red background. The black tentacles (?) creeping up on the halves of this poor bunny’s body. The yellowing grass. The one bunny that is in two pieces. The pools of blood… below this chopped bunny.
I trust the universe! – Here’s the thing with trusting the universe that I never understood: I think we can all agree that this world is messed up. Maybe I’m taking this from a very Christian-ese perspective, but why would you want to trust a messed up universe before a perfectly good God? I know it’s hard to understand what that perfect love is when so much of it seems messed up from our imperfect, distorted, limited perspectives, but when we live in a finite world, how do we comprehend the infinite? I think it was Brandon that said something about “submitting to the creator” in class the other day (though I know he was talking about the creator of a story or work of art), and when I saw this page I immediately thought back to that and wondered how many people submit to creation rather than the creator, and how many times I’ve done that myself.
I went through so many of those artworks, and a lot of them made my eyes hurt. There were a lot more I could relate to like the several that seemed like a series about friends that drift away or about people that offer advice and caring words, but don’t back up that supposed compassion with actions. All I could think of was the James 2:14-26 as I went through these, and of how much it hurt every time I felt I had to find another group of friends to hang out with when I was younger. These images that I went through though kind of seemed to miss some of the point. There is one that mentions that we don’t really need love, but I’d like to rephrase it this way: we don’t need love from another person or group of people because they are not the source of or Love itself.
The bottom right corner of the page has been nagging at my attention for a while now, so I’ve finally decided to check that out. The little ghost I met on the next page was cute though, although the ominous sounds were not very comforting. The ghost, Tatghoul, talked about the graveyard and allows the reader to move it around.
When we actually get to the graveyard, we can move the ghost using the arrow keys– there’s a sense of control that the reader is given by choosing which direction to go in and what games to play. I checked out a few of the unfinished works with titles on tombstones, like OMNOMNOM Carnage, Sculptures, and 20. It felt so bizarre that my inner chaotic reader felt so satisfied by what collectively is part of the same story.
Sculptures caught my attention the most though because it gave a real glimpse at the writer– though the rest of the piece may be real or based on the author’s real experiences, this actually shows some of the author’s artwork (and the process, which is especially what caught my attention) outside of the realm of the piece.
Moving Tatghoul to the right brings you to one edge of the graveyard with the “living projects.” I ventured through some of these, and though I didn’t play most of the games, I did look at the goals of each game.
The one that I did go through was TETRAGEDDON, and I thought it was interesting that the password was “sorry” of all things, something I’ve been reminding a couple of my friends that they don’t need to say as often as they do because 90% of what they apologize for is either not their fault, or nothing to be sorry for at all. I used to say that a lot myself to be honest– way more than I needed to– but while childhood trauma conditioned me into it, I think my adolescent trauma trained me out of it. I really didn’t note much else out of that game because I’m starting to get exhausted (there’s a ton to note on every page of this e-lit piece).
The only thing I was left asking myself was why is every “were” throughout the piece “where” instead? It didn’t really matter which game you went into, finished or unfinished, or which hyperlinks you clicked on, the former was always replaced by the latter and I couldn’t quite figure out why. Maybe the reason is on another page I didn’t discover? Maybe it’s just meant to give an element of confusion to the hyper-aware? Whatever the reason, I was left questioning what it was.
I was also left thinking about my own experience in so many of the topics and themes in this piece; specifically, how it all played into the way God gave me what I call a “well-written-slap-in-the-face-and-warm-bear-hug-all-in-one.” The first passage I turned to when I first decided to read the Bible (at a time when I had seemingly insurmountable doubt and disbelief in the Church and in God Himself) was 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8. Basically what this passage broke down to for me is in all the notes I made on the passage in the image below: