Interview No. 157
Interview By: @The-Great-One
Today's guest is a writer and musician known through Newgrounds. From his works Dream Flow to From Ash To Alabaster. He has graced us and the world with his words and his music. I am most humbly honored and pleased to welcome, @Cyberdevil.
[ PART 1 | PART 2 ]
Q: How did you find Newgrounds and why did you join?
A: At this point I don't really remember how. The early 2000's were when I started discovering the Internet, and Newgrounds was one of many places I stumbled into at the time, along with contemporary communities like Retrogade and Smosh - when they were at their most inspired by and had a user-based content submission system just like ours. As far as I know this is the only one of all those parallel pioneers with their own portals that still exists.
As for why I joined it was probably for the stats. Without the gamification aspect there wouldn't have been as big an incentive to sign up, I'd just have enjoyed the content from afar. With official rankings even for things like Top Reviewers and Submitters, as well as a surplus of fun and fan-based ones, it really felt like a golden era for competition, and everyone had a fair shot at the top since all was relatively new. I actually planned to review every single submission when I signed up. Might've been possible back then too!
So I found the place because of the content, and signed up for the stats, but I've probably stayed because of the community. It might've been edgy but it had an inspiring creative resolve that permeated the whole website even back then, and has grown so much since. Hopefully I with it.
Q: Where did your inspiration for writing come from?
A: My earliest writing aspirations are a haze too, but Dr. Seuss probably had something to do with it. I've been told I loved his way of weaving words together.
I started writing early on and have been going since! Still mostly as a hobby.
Q: Do you recollect your first poem?
A: All these ancient memory-based questions are hard to answer. I don't think so, though hopefully it's still lying around in a pile of notebooks somewhere. I wrote a poetry collection for school early on that's easier to dig up, so here's a piece from that instead:
$ Money $
I'm going to make a bet
A big bet
I'm going to make a bet
of one million fifty-two
The only problem is...
I don't know what bet to do!
It won a contest too.
Q: While at Stockholm University you studied Japanese and Japanese History. You stated the messiness and difficulties with it, including spending three hours on an eight page essay and failing your first examination. Could you elaborate more into your time and studies at Stockholm? Also what made you want to pursue Japanese?
A: For some mysterious reason, even though all I wanted to do when I graduated was to get out of school, I decided to pursue a higher level of learning.
The reason my first course was Japanese was probably because Japan was, at the time, the one thing I was most intrigued with. A friend introduced me to Naruto in high school, and since then I was hooked on anime. I binge-watched thousands of episodes. Entire series in a day. I was fascinated by both the medium and the culture it portrayed, with exotic and awesome things like melon bread, and of course their martial arts and honorable warring culture. After that it was movies - I'm still addicted to those.
I was unreasonably ambitious during that first year of university, so in addition to those full-time lingual studies I went for a course on Japanese History before 1868 too (the year their samurai era ended and Japan was forcefully pushed into the modern world).
It didn't go as well as I'd planned. It turned out university level education was waaaaay more demanding than I thought, and my passionately composed final eight page essay on Japanese History before 1868 wasn't received with the praise I'd expected. Don't remember as much about the examination, but getting the result was a shock at the time since I went well beyond the levels of effort I'd put into anything before it, and the lectures leading up to it dealt with learning in such a light and easily consumable way that it seemed expectations would be similar, yet the end result was apparently meant to be a culmination of work far exceeding that of the information attained via said classes. So that was that. My first step into the real world, where nothing is as it seems to be. Apparently normal school does all but prepare you for it.
Eventually I re-wrote the essay and passed, and later discovered that as far as university-level learning goes here, Stockholm University is probably the highest tier establishment you can start with. I chose it since it was the closest.
I also totally missed out on the language part of the Japanese course, thinking the weekly movie sessions with culturally significant titles like Yojimbo and Eros + Massacre were the first half of the semester, when both parts of the course actually progressed in parallel and I only had one half of the schedule. So I still don't speak fluent Japanese.
I studied elsewhere a few years after that, picking up bits of wisdom in varying areas of expertise, from paleontology to creative writing. Most probably postponing inevitable career choices as long as possible all the while adding to my previously meager list of educational merits.
Q: Who is CyborD?
A: CyborD is first of all my witty wordplay, combining the cybernetic organism abbreviation CyborG, with CyberD, the name of my main website which is consequently also an abbreviation of my alias, and an acronym for a bunch of other things like CyberDesign, a service I for a while planned to start a career in freelance work with.
Functionally CyborD is two things. It's in part a bot I made for my site, back when I actually coded my site from scratch (it's been migrated to WordPress since - if anyone's interested in this stuff), to manage things like cron jobs and backups. He was a simple but fun experiment, and lasted a short while between two iterations of the place, 2006-2008.
Additionally CyborD is also a little chatbot, a simple Flash interface tied to an XML file with responses filled in according to questions people might ask. I programmed him to answer all the generic ones with a basic answer, and as many more specific alternations as possible, with plenty of Easter eggs and tidbits of wordplay along the way. It worked pretty well! You could ask him "why*" and he'd give a standard response, and "why specific thing*" and he'd give one to match that specific string. The wildcard denoting he'd ignore anything you typed after that point. I think I catered to pretty much any generic one-word question you could think of, and many more...
It's possible he's still floating around somewhere, within the unexplored alcoves of my by now overgrown and outdated playground I also call CYBERD.ORG.
Q: You stated at one point to skip university and get a job. What is your stance behind this advice to now from then? If you had taken that road what job would you have taken?
A: Looking back... I'm still happy I chose to keep studying. Even if I didn't choose the topics that might've advanced me the most career-wise, I did explore a large amount of different interests, and in the end learn more about what I really wanted to do with my life.
That said there are way too many things I want to do with my life, and I don't feel like I have time to spend on all of them but still do on a multitude of them regardless. So maybe branching out into a myriad of different fields isn't the wisest way if you want to find a purpose and motivation, but you learn, you grow and experience and explore new pathways. I might just not have explored the one path that feels most obvious to embark on myself... yet.
I envy those who seem to have a calling right from the start, and know exactly what they want to do in life, but at the same time I wonder if they aren't missing out. There's so much out there. You might not know what really fascinates you the most if you haven't been exposed to it yet.
If you have the time or resources to pursue studies then I'd say go for it, but if you live in a country where studies are costly, and would have to take loans to learn something you might not even want to learn, then I see no reason not to just jump straight to a job instead.
From what I've experienced you don't gain a notable advantage from studying, unless there's a specific field you want to get into that requires it (medical studies come to mind). If you just want to get a job right away it'll just be a more practical form of learning instead. Exploring different career paths seems just as useful as getting an education first, if not even more so depending on the job, if it really is a more hands-on thing.
I received an offer for a telemarketing job right after I'd graduated, so I'd probably have started with that if I didn't keep studying. I stumbled into work as a personal assistant instead, and as webshop admin/lead IT guy at a small car parts company thanks to that, which is where I'm at right now. It might not be the dream job, but I believe in taking the opportunities you get, and exploring as many paths as you can. Eventually I feel it'll all fall into place.
Just don't get stuck doing something you really don't like doing. Keep pursuing your passions if you have some, and try to find some if you don't.
Q: You brought us a collection of poetry in a nice even number entitled A 100 Beforehand. I'm going to touch on some of those works here in a second. You stated in the intro...
I tend to write what I think, then think about what I write, and label it relentlessly like I like, then I suddenly collided with the creativity that flows in form of prose unlessened like the stream from a hose through my veins tween my head and my toes. AND, I thought, why not undergo a temporary change of flow and write titles without vital liable idols to label and see if a hundred or so will still be able to convey my message through by this lake view to you wherever you make do with a book and waste two or more hours highly devoured in this riddelistic twiddles that reside within. And remember, you can do, anything. That you crave. Be free, be brave.
This was when you were on vacation at the lake in 2009. Do you still believe this quote holds up to this collection? What are your impressions of the collection looking back after ten years?
A: I was about to say I do believe the quote holds up to the collection, but I'm not sure the collection holds up as well. Since it was a quick and spontaneous project - the way I wish all things could be, but reading through it again I don't feel like that quote gives a good first impression after all. It's a bit much. The poems don't take themselves seriously, but they're on point; sometimes there's still depth. I remembered this as one of my more rushed collections, but am enjoying it more than I thought I would now.
Q: A few that resonate with me on a deep level are Man of Steel, In My Mirror, and The Oracle. With the last one being my favorite out of this collection. How do these resonate with you? Do you believe that poetry is subjective to each individual or is there an intent behind them with each poet?
A: The last one seems reflective of both the questions and answers written here thus far. :) I get stuck on the structure a bit on that one, some lines feel stuffed, but the first part of it gave me goosebumps. In The Mirror felt familiar, like seeing yourself through the eyes of someone else. As for The Man Of Steel that might be my favorite here, so concise yet so strong. I like simple things that reach beyond their scope of words like that.
Great picks. Would also like to mention 'I'm Openminded', which almost feels like a homage to my earliest work (like the one from school). I'd like to write more like that. Quick but fun.
I believe poetry is always subjective, but not always intentional. You don't write poetry so much to convey a message as to to convey a reflection, or it wouldn't be poetry. A realization. A memory. Something fleeting that only this form of writing can truly capture; something abstract enough that not everyone will respond to it the same way. So you should know when you write that it's more about feeling than about intent. Trying to convey a particular message via poetry would be like writing that message in code. Though writing in riddles can be fun too sometimes.
Yet unlike stories, where it's hard to write everything so it's perceived by others the same way as you imagine it with your inner eye, poetry feels like a form where nothing's lost. You convey a feeling or an idea, and it's all there. How readers will interpret it is of course up to them and how they feel, what circumstances they've grown up in; their perspective on life, but it's not a part of a bigger picture that needs to be perceived as such. It's the moment.
Apparently I had a much more stubborn mind as to the discourse of meanings when I wrote this collection. I do still believe that you define and relate to the poem based on personal experience and knowledge, but sharing impressions can take it so much further than that.
It's inspiring how much others can draw from something that might not have meant as much to you too, but even more so appreciative when people do draw things from something you feel strongly about. It's frustrating to write longer work where details or nuances get lost in the process, and readers don't really go into the words with as open and susceptive a mind.
I've tried writing a few books so far but lose the red thread all too easily. Poetry however: love this format.
Q: Beat For The Stranger and High Up In My Castle I'm surprised you haven't turned into songs yet. The imagery for both of these is just incredible. How did you come up with these? Were they on a whim or were you in a specific location? Will they be turned into songs one day?
A: And Dream Sweet, which could be molded after and was probably inspired by the same melody as Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This). :) And thank you.
I'd love to turn some of these into real songs too. I might have lyrics that were inspired by High Up In My Castle ready already - hopefully they'll make it to song eventually - though it's so much quicker and easier to just write. That's the simple reason most of my material never makes it further than this.
If I was in a specific location when I wrote these it was probably at our family home up North, sitting in my upstairs room with a slanted wooden ceiling, looking out at the nearby lake. Or sitting outside, maybe by said lake, listening to the leaves rustle and falling twigs make rings on the water surface. Maybe lying on the grass and looking at the freeform clouds...
I mostly write at night, when all dues of the day are done, and so the mood is often reflective this way. But I don't remember the specific time or place I wrote these, or my specific state of mind at the time. I'm a dreamer though. Fascinated by the rise and fall of all civilizations. I imagine High Up In My Castle might be a combination thereof. Of the dreamscapes I chase, the ambience of nature, and these fleeting moments in the ebb and flow of our time.
Q: To end A 100 Beforehand, the last poem is entitled The Sentence. It is a wonderful bookend to this collection. Was this the last one written or was it written earlier and made to be the ending?
A: If only I'd documented the process ten years back! I do believe it's the final piece though, and that the rest were all written in order too. That's how I used to write these back then, page by page, number by number, but I can't say it with absolute certainty.
Q: Your first song on the Audio Portal is entitled Difference. You labelled it under Miscellaneous, but it sounds more Drum N' Bass. How did this piece come into existence?
A: Audio, as well as Flash, are both formats I started with in large part thanks to this place. I'd recorded things before, and played a little piano and guitar, but digital music creation was something I'm not sure I ever thought about doing before I came here. I started with eJay, the simplest software possible that I by chance had been given a special edition copy of at the time, started uploading some tracks and there you go! Step one of my ongoing musical journey begins.
I'm still proud of some of these early compositions, stitched together of pre-made loops though they made be (royalty free, I should mention), though as I was at the time very interested in stats I did have a knack for putting out as much as possible rather than pouring my all into each individual piece. As bandwidth was limited back then it was popular with short audio loops, to keep the file size of Flash submissions as small as possible, so I focused a lot on those, making a few series with either six or a hundred loops each.
Difference was different, though. It's one I still remember fondly. Maybe the first I was really proud of. I didn't upload all of my early work, nor is all of the work from that time still online, but I'm happy that one remains number one.
At the time I didn't know much about musical genres, and submitted pretty much everything as 'miscellaneous' just so it wouldn't happen to be in the wrong category.
[ PART 1 | PART 2 ]