“A journey through drag queens, shock artists and sword swallowing philosophers. Oh my!”
In terms of interests, I’m a pretty eclectic person. My biggest passions in life are alternative music and queer culture, and the sheer scale of both communities mean the inspirations I have gathered over the years are many and varied. However, in terms of individuals that have made a truly profound impact on my life there are only three, and they all fit a strange sort of a pattern.
I’m hardly superstitious, but the power of patterns is always something I’ve been aware of. In particular, instances of symmetry always seem to indicate a balance in my life – be that physical, mental or emotional. Reading The Celestine Prophecy from age 10 probably had something to do with it, but now whenever these little patterns emerge I take it as a sign from the universe that I’m on the right track – that my power is increasing. It may sound stupid and it could be anything from a placebo effect to straight up wrong, but it manifests especially in those from whom I take the most inspiration.
Marilyn Manson, Max Malanaphy, and Morgue. Do you see it? The Dionysian, The Apollonian, and the balance between the two. It’s a gross over simplification but these three people have helped me in very different ways, be that through cruelty, kindness or an emphasis on the importance of both.
Now I know what you’re thinking; every emo teenager loves Marilyn Manson, he’s a posterchild for everything from school shootings to drug addiction to sexual perversion, but hear me out. Marilyn Manson is catharsis personified.
I’m a vegetarian, asexual, straight-edge pacifist, about as placid and non-violent as it gets, but Manson’s music gave me a healthy way to explore the not-so-nice parts of who I am. Aside from forcing me to question my perception of gender, sexuality and authority, Manson forced me to question myself. In doing so I realised that as a human I have an immense capacity to cause harm, and that reconciling with that is okay.
At first, his music was nothing more than an outlet for my stereotypical teenage depression, but as I’ve grown up it’s become so much more than that. My love of Marilyn Manson is an acknowledgement of how my nature is faceted, a recognition that it is okay to kick and scream and take up space. Marilyn Manson for me was what Lady Gaga was to so many others; in becoming so much of a scapegoat he taught me something about being human. How that Dionysian part of us can never be repressed, but that’s for the best; for without it we would have no fire.
My second pick could not be more different. If Marilyn Manson taught be about all humanity’s potential for destruction, Max taught me about just how far kindness can take a person. She is unfailingly optimistic and sweet to every person she meets, and her ability to do that while still maintaining her individuality really struck a chord with me.
During her time on RuPaul’s Drag Race she was painted as a silver-haired old soul with a love of cabaret and a slightly prudish, introverted outlook. As a silver-haired, asexual, cabaret-loving introvert you can imagine the impact she had on me personally. I was so afraid to meet her, waiting outside in the cold for this towering drag queen to show up, but she proved the maxim wrong a thousand times. I met my hero, and it was glorious. I felt so validated, both in terms of my interests and in terms of my outlook – I had never seen a performer define herself so much by her grace.
Now, whenever I’m facing difficulty or anxiety it is Max I think of. If she can go on proudly existing as the genderfluid Weimar angel she is, then surely there is hope for me too. The Collective may not be a tangible place but it has been home enough for me this past year, and her commitment to grace and dignity despite all thrown at her has inspired me to remain a lady – even when my gender identity disagrees.
For anyone who follows this blog, this pick should come as no surprise. Morgue has been both a professional and personal inspiration of mine for a long time: his book The Metaphorical Suicide allowed me to articulate and self-evaluate my feelings on morality intelligently for the first time, and one of my first YouTube videos as a teen was a critique on Morgue’s developing philosophical ideas. Though I’ve learnt to take some of his more militant views with a grain of salt, Morgue is inspiring in that subverts the common creator-fan divide.
Instead of creating mindless fangirls (well, there are a few I must admit) he has turned his audience and platform into a vehicle for debate and true change, something that can hardly be said for the majority of pop-culture icons. Whenever I begin to get too wrapped-up in the politics and popularity contests of the blogging world, Morgue’s views provide a sobering reminder of what truly matters – and with no trace of idol worship I can credit his work with making me a much more empowered and self-aware person.
Even if you vehemently disagree with his ideas as I’m sure many of you will, he’s worth checking out. If Manson taught me cruelty and Max kindness, Morgue taught me balance. Human nature is not something to be trained or tamed, nor should one extreme be pursued to the detriment of the other – a person is a many faceted thing and should be treated as such. As someone who used to make themselves as small as possible, as simplistic and simpering as I could merely to avoid conflict, this lesson has been invaluable.
…And that’s it. What do you think of my three inspirations? Do you have any of your own? Tell me in the comments, and as always: