"The World Is No Longer Mysterious": Richard Siken, "Supernatural," And Why They Correlate

"The World Is No Longer Mysterious": Richard Siken, "Supernatural," And Why They Correlate

No, "Crush" wasn't inspired by the show.
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In 2005, the first episode of Eric Kripke's "Supernatural" aired on the CW. A year prior, Richard Siken's poetry book "Crush" won the 2004 Yale Series for Younger Poets. At their inceptions, it is doubtful that either Kripke or Siken anticipated the plethora of fans they would attract over the next ten years. However, today both have gathered huge fanbases, in part due to promotion through the blogging website Tumblr.

Of course, fans of the two were bound to overlap. (Guilty as charged.) And it didn’t take long for the people both watching "Supernatural" and reading "Crush" to connect the two works.

"Supernatural" follows the journeys of Sam and Dean Winchester, brothers who travel the United States under their motto, "Saving people. Hunting things. The family business." Basically, they’ve been tracking down and killing monsters their entire lives, ever since their mother was killed by a demon when Sam was a baby and Dean was four.

"Crush" deals with many of the same themes as "Supernatural," including the open road, guns and violence, a pervading sense of danger, and codependent love. Of course, Siken's book was accepted for publication before "Supernatural" even aired, but that has not stopped fans from asserting that "Crush" was inspired by the Winchester boys.

Last winter, to promote the release of his second book of poetry entitled "War of the Foxes," Siken created a Tumblr blog, posting think pieces on the reception of "Crush" over the past ten years and following blogs with a presence in his own fandom. (He hasn't posted in months, but for some reason, his blog is still up. And for some reason, he still follows me. It’s always been a little unnerving.)

In one of his think pieces, Siken spoke in-depth about this movement of fans linking his work to other media, especially "Supernatural." As he puts it, there was "no interaction between poet and show." In an interview discussing this, Siken maintains that both "Crush" and "Supernatural" are "products of a cultural moment, not products of each other."

Through Tumblr, for a brief period of time, Siken was involved with "Sherlock," another fandom that connects to "Crush." The difference between this and "Supernatural" is that "Supernatural" so closely correlates to "Crush's" themes that people all but insist they are the same work. The distinction between poet and show in "Sherlock" is obvious. In Siken's own words, he "can participate in the Sherlock fandom because there's room for [him]. It's impossible to confuse ["Sherlock"] and 'War of the Foxes.'"

But it is not impossible to confuse "Supernatural" and "War of the Foxes." Don't get me wrong here, I in no way believe "War of the Foxes" was inspired by "Supernatural." I think, like was mentioned about "Crush," both works are products of culture, and thus both works mirror each other in theme and emotion. And in terms of emotion, "War of the Foxes" is not dissimilar to "Crush." Maybe it's a little more large-scale, because it lacks "Crush's" constant narrator and specific address, but the same feelings are still evoked: confusion, anger, desperation.

In whatever he writes, from books to blog posts to editorial letters, Siken tackles the rawness of life, buried issues we don't like to think about everyday. Issues we can't think about everyday, or we'd all crack up. But Siken is not afraid to confront matters like love that develops into an inability to exist independently, unromantic suicide, or the monotony of always running away.

"Supernatural" also does not shy away from these matters. Of course, we're not all demon-fighting brothers raised on whiskey instead of baby formula whose only real home is the backseat of an Impala, but the extended metaphor of battling personal monsters and keeping on the run from them is one that definitely resonates, at least for me.

The similarities between "Crush," "War of the Foxes," and "Supernatural," are striking, but not because they were inspired by each other. They are similar because they were inspired by the same aspects of life, and they each describe these aspects more explicitly than most, even though they are shrouded in metaphors.

Maybe a relationship between Siken and "Supernatural" isn't to be made; maybe I'm either, (a) delusional, or (b) grasping at straws. Or maybe art really does reflect life, and both works just so happen to do that in the same vein. Whatever the case, both Siken and Kripke present their own creations, and if you're going to compare the ocean to a blackbird, the least you can say is, they both are exquisitely beautiful.

Buy Richard Siken's "Crush" here and "War of the Foxes" here. Watch "Supernatural" on the CW, Wednesdays at 9/8c or on Netflix.

Cover Image Credit: Home of the Nutty

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
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Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.


Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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Escape Maybe The Scariest Option

Curiosity can quickly turn to terror.

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Where Angels Come In, part of the Before You Sleep story collection by Adam Nevill completely strikes you as a 'situation' based plot. An in your face supernatural Horror that leaves you wondering what the heck was happening. Lots of things go missing in the town, pets, kids, objects. The constant curiosity is lingering as to what is in the large White House on the hill and what it once was, or even is. Three young children make their way to the front gate. Two are drawn in, Pickering and the main character, overwhelmed with curiosity. But, curiosity quickly turns to terror as once they are on the first terrace, a ghoulishly pale and tattered cloth covered figure appears on the floor below them. Panic sets in as more of these strange creatures appear. Hiding, they make a choice to run for it. They run up to the next terrace as the creatures begin pursuit. Hearts pounding the make for the stairs at the end of the hallway and to a potential escape. More and more of the strange figures are revealing themselves out of every passing room. One is that of a little girl who begs them to hide in her room. Pickering kept running and descended the stairs while our main character ducked into the room. He could hear the horde of ghostly creatures pass by the room as the ghoulish little girl shows off her dolls. One can't help but think these so-called dolls, and stuffed animals may, in fact, be the decayed remains of the missing children and animals, though this isn't exactly confirmed by any means. One of the before seen ghost-like entities bursts into the room. The little ghost girl disappears. But before our main character could be discovered a shriek is heard off in the distance. Likely Pickering who has been caught. The creature runs out of the room as an open window is seen. Our main character makes a break for the window and works to pry it open further to escape, narrowly doing so as he is grabbed by a ghoulishly pale hand. Just barely breaking free and running away from the house.

This story is rich with something useful, but of what I am not sure yet. I feel I would have to read it a few more times to really understand all of it and pick up on any subtle hints that maybe presented throughout. The story happens very quickly, it is only three pages long, and you are just thrown into it. WHAM. BAM. You're there, and the story just goes. I feel there is some subtext to this tale, but it is extremely subtle. This adds to the mystery and intrigue of the overall plot. What's happening? What is all this? Who are these creatures like things? The story leaves you with more questions than answers.

Goodreads' fans give this story a 4 out of 5 stars; while Amazon also gives this story a 4 out of 5 stars. I myself would lean toward a 3.5 out of 5 stars. I still would recommend it as a pretty decent, quick, read that will leave you on edge with more questions.

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