I Dream of Fire, Always
- onNovember 22, 2017
- Vol.37 Autumn 2017
- byJeong You Jeong
It is said that most authors spend their entire lives writing variations of the same topic. Hemingway, for example, used a variety of structures and subject matter to depict people facing death; for Dickens, it was boys searching for their fathers; Stephen King writes about horror within the abyss of humankind. I don’t think of these variations as copies of the authors’ prior writing, but as a part of their “theme” as a writer. And my theme is the wild beasts within us all.
All of us humans hold two distinct spaces inside of us. One is an expansive plain, with golden light pouring out of it; the other, a forest of darkness, an abyss. The golden field fertilizes our lives and gives us dignity. It houses the metaphorical sheep that lead our world in the right direction. Love, happiness, hope, honesty, morality, altruism—those sorts of things live in this field. The darkened forest, on the other hand, is where the beasts that cause all manner of problems in our lives lie sleeping. Beasts like jealousy, envy, rage, loathing, disgust, lust, hedonism, terror, hopelessness, and violence . . .
I’m always wondering why this forest of darkness exists within us. On what day, for what reason, will the beasts confined in this forest open their eyes? What is it that will set fire in their blood? What force will stir up a blazing flame from their dormancy? What will happen when this force joins hands with the violence of fate? And will our own free will be strong enough to overcome the result?
A novel begins at the moment when I find a story through which I can ask these questions. It’s at that moment when my chest beats fast, and I grow feverish as if I’d just met my soulmate. My full attention is there, on the story. The world revolves around it alone, and I am entirely stuck in that world. It’s a moment of magic in which a story that shoots in like a meteor creates my universe.