You are fifteen when your friend’s classmate is abducted. She was walking home from your favourite shopping centre where you like to go and hang out on Thursday nights with your friends. Her picture is all over the news for a few weeks and it’s labelled a Teen Tragedy. Some boy was bothering her at work all the time. She asked him to stop but he didn’t so she had to quit her job. People say she probably ran away with him.
Put another way, the weird is not as simple as a werewolf in the woods. It’s the fear that, deep in your soul, there’s a part of you that you cannot understand, that you cannot control, that you have no hope of taming. Weird is the fear that the werewolf is you. Perhaps this is why the character of the queer child surfaces in weird stories.
Let’s concede, for a second, that Grace Dunham was indeed the victim of Lena Dunham’s predatory sexual behaviour. That Lena masturbating next to her in bed was an overt display of power, that bribing her with kisses was a form of grooming and that finding pebbles inside her was driven by misconduct.
In my far-off youth, if you wanted to write creatively, you learned to do it by yourself, as there were no creative writing courses in Australia. Did it do us any harm not to have studied creative writing? Would we have become better writers if we had? Who knows. If Creative Writing had existed at my university I’d have done it, certainly. Since then I’ve watched the rise of dozens of these courses, admired the talented writers they produce, envied the grants and residencies they get, and longed to have my time over again.
Put the goggles on and you are in prison, caged in a cold white concrete 6 x 9 cell. The only signs of life are the dirty scuff marks ascending the walls and the steely toilet that drips ‘because it sweats and it hits the floor; chswip, tcshwip, tschip’. Francesca Panetta and Lindsay Poulton’s 6×9: An Immersive Experience of Solitary Confinement (2016), along with other VR work, promises an immersive experience, attempting to conjure a first-person experience of the traumatising conditions of solitary confinement.