On world building, Twenty One Pilot's Trench, and creativity.
I’ve been listening to this one album for more than a month now. I usually listen to music while coding, and whenever I want to play music I just press play on my Spotify, and since I’ve been listening to the same album for so long, I simply keep listening to it. Right now, for example, I’m listening to it. I connected my headphones to my phone, opened Spotify, clicked play and there it was, the very common, somewhat soothing music my ears have come to expect.
I love getting used to songs so much that they no longer really distract me, but they’re still interesting enough for me to stop what I’m doing and listen carefully. This is such a hard combination to accomplish.
“Trench” by Twenty One Pilots is a really great album. The music is fantastic and more importantly, there’s a story behind it and a whole, hidden world. Most of the song in the album are connected, and give hints about an imaginary city called “Dema”, ruled by 9 powerful and evil “bishops”. The specifics of the city are a bit of a debate, since nowhere in the music or other resources by the band it’s explained exactly what’s going on, only small clues are given here and there.
My opinion is that people go to Dema for redemption. The bishops have the power to erase memories, they enforce “Vialism” (and no one is quite sure what that is), and so they help people forget. They forget until they’re nothing but prisoners inside Dema. In fact, the whole album is about the main character fighting off the bishops and trying to escape the city with the help of the Banditos, the resistance group opposing Dema, but constantly being driven back by a Bishop. This story is mostly given through the trilogy of videos released with the album.
I’m fascinated by World Building. The ability we have to create an imaginary and exceedingly complex world out of our minds, to convince others that such worlds have merit and exist beyond the real world, is truly remarkable. It’s been said many times that what makes humans such a successful species is our ability to tell stories, to pass information between individuals and down the generations. But imagining a whole fantasy world goes beyond simple story-telling, it requires a special kind of muscle to hammer out and polish what might be bits and pieces of our imagination into a coherent world.
Tyler Joseph, the vocalist, and songwriter of the band duo took a one-year “sabbatical” or “hiatus” in order to write the new album. He said his time-off was needed for him to be able to create this world he was obsessed with a reality.
I can only imagine the sheer amount of willpower, hard work and creativity it must entail to bring such a work to fruition.
Nowadays we’re getting more and more used to things being easy. Our desires are a click away, especially if you have a credit card. Want some food? One click away, and they even bring it to your cozy home. Entertainment? Videos? Movies? Gambling? Porn? All a click away. Dating? Sex with a stranger, yet for free? A few swipes and text messages away. Do you want to feel motivated? Plenty of that too. News, documentaries, smart talk and “how the universe works” are all at our reach, without even extending our arms.
It’s hard to say “we’ve gotten lazy” though. Humans are doing more stuff, achieving more, and solving harder problems collectively than ever before. There’s simply so many of us that someone’s hard work will achieve amazing things, much more amazing than ours, by comparison.
We probably can’t all be creators and world builders, but I do believe it’s important to understand that in order to achieve our “dreams”, our goals or those things we really want, we have to put on the work. Sometimes we have to exclude ourselves from society and do nothing but chase what’s worth chasing.
There’s no one-click-away solution for most worthwhile creations, we simply have to put on the work.