Curating Your User Experience I – On Catharsis

Core Beliefs of Transgression

If we’re pursuing something that truly hits us on a bone-deep level, then some of our shit will offend, alarm, and frighten people. Some of what we do will have unintended consequences. That doesn’t mean it’s out of our control; it means that the scope of what we create, when doing consensual experience, is very large. It’s cathartic. It’s transformative, and that’s something I’ll talk about a lot, the idea that we use experience to shape and forge ourselves, to become newer, better, stronger versions of ourselves

So working with the physical, mental, and emotional tools of experience includes dealing with pain, aversion, damage, catharsis, and joy. We don’t just diminish experience if we try to take only the easy parts or the “positive” parts; we cut it up into something too small, too constrained, too boxed-in, to make a difference. Shoving your experience in a tiny little container and wrapping it in a cute bow so that it looks nonthreatening on the outside…that might help your image. In some places, and with some people. But when you open up the package, what’s inside may not be worth having at all.

And if, in doing experience, you always go in as one thing, and always, always emerge exactly the same, with no growth or change or new knowledge or even meaningful catharsis–then why do experience? There are a thousand other activities which don’t involve the hazards of what we do. I
And if your response is that experience is something you want, perhaps something you need, then ask yourself: Do you really want a experience that passes through you as if you were a ghost?

Here’s a rule of thumb: getting hurt is sometimes the price of admission for doing what we do.

“Scars” says that we create growth through experience when we have that are meaningful enough to hit us hard. And the nature of self-change is we can’t always control, much less always like, the way we change. What we can do is think about what we want to become, what we want to have, what defines us—and then think about what we’ll have to go through to get there. And again, that’s because going through hard things isn’t an accident—it’s that the process itself is part of what makes change happen. Lifting weights tears your muscle, and when done properly, the muscle grows back able to lift more than before. Learning to play guitar means building calloused fingers and slowly developing an ear for the sounds you want to make. Maybe you love the process, maybe you hate the process and only like the result. But you can’t skip out the hard things without leaving a big, gaping hole in your experience.

~Jeff Mach

The preceding essay was brought to you by Dark Lords For Azathoth, and may not necessarily reflect the views of the being who wrote, edited, posted, and marketed this document.


My name is Jeff Mach (“Dark Lord” is optional) and I build communities and create things. Every year, I put on Evil Expo, the Greatest Place in the World to be a Villain. I also write a lot of fantasy and science fiction. You can get most of my books right here. Go ahead, order I HATE Your Prophecy“ It may make you into a bad person, but I can live with that.

Jeff Mach Written by:

Jeff Mach is an author, playwright, event creator, and certified Villain. You can always pick up his bestselling first novel, "There and NEVER, EVER BACK AGAIN"—or, indeed, his increasingly large selection of other peculiar books. If you'd like to talk more to Jeff, or if you're simply a Monstrous Creature yourself, stop by @darklordjournal on Twitter, or The Dark Lord Journal on Facebook.

Comments are closed.