State of the Framework 2021: On Integrity
Updated: Apr 8
Hi everyone—I have a few heartfelt updates to give concerning the future of Rochester Grimoire. Consider this not a reboot, but a refresh. To start, I'm striving to be a better man, one of integrity, one who lives aligned with his values and sticks to his word. I appreciate you being here.
Let’s go back. 6 years ago I wrote the first grimoire card after visiting a cave with Collin and Fiona, opening my experience up to a world of artistic, literary, and existential possibility. That card grew into a sandbox for others to contribute their own cards, and later, a creative project spanning 8 series, or 200+ conceptual snapshots of universes. I've internally referred to what I've built here as "the Framework."
Amid these years I’ve come back to specific concepts, series, and characters a number of times with publicly-expressed intention to finish what I started. “Soon, you’ll meet X character...”, “I can’t let life get in the way this time...”, “2017/18/1X will be the year...” and so on.
Has it been as frustrating for you as it has been for me, to watch me not fulfill my word? From the beginning, I fell into bad habits. My miscellaneous series #EclecticEffect acted as a continuous diary, which was fine—but I treated the rest of the series the same way, initially. I learned to *talk* about things to come and prematurely share works-in-progress, instead of actually making them happen.
Of course, I've always been aware of these shortcomings, and so I'd double-down when I felt inspired to start (and fail) again. I'm sure I've felt the worst of the unresolve and guilt here, and so, if I'm the only one who reads this and feels relief, that is fine with me.
But this is also for you: for every person who's followed along to varying degrees over the years. Every friend and model who played a character they might not have substantially met. Every initial follower who'd contribute their own cards on Instagram. Every acquaintance or otherwise who'd listen to me enthusiastically rant about the beloved project that saved my life in 2015. I want to genuinely apologize for this lack of resolution.
Maybe this seems a bit harsh on myself. As much as you might not agree it's a sin, it just... generally sucks to be drip-fed the beginning of a story and not have it finished. To not see it actualized. To be left on a cliffhanger, at the middle of a story. It feels fundamentally wrong in the history of human storytelling! Imagine listening with your tribe around a fire 12,000 years ago, only for the chieftain to fuck off in the middle of it and tease you periodically for weeks or years on end.
I don't like that guy!
This is why, today, I'm officially parking the books The Chaos Within Our Walls and Falls (Chaos) and The Winter of Our Youth (TWOOY). What does it mean to park? That is, these series are marked incomplete, and will stay incomplete until and if ever I retrieve their materials from my vault to resume work in private.
How is this different from what's already happened? My partner just came up with a great concept, let's use our imaginations. In the theme of RG's metaphysical vibes, let's imagine a minecart parked on its tracks, at the edge of a cliff. Within the cart are a ton of materials pertaining to those books. Given a number of potential external circumstances, the cliff might be pushed off the edge, never to be seen again. OR, human intervention, namely, I, might eventually intervene and drag the cart back to the workshop. A la Schrodinger's cat, these materials' fates are unknown to the world unless I observe them and tell you. "Schrodinger's cart."
What does this mean for you, the Reader? Honestly, if you're curious about anything regarding the intended nature of these two books and their characters, events, and themes—reach out to me directly. Both books grew into massive, unfinished vaults of ideas, concepts, and symbolism. I'm happy to reveal a good amount of what I'd intended; anything I choose to withhold has already or will likely come out elsewhere in my work. Dark Web Voices, my first complete Rochester Grimoire book, is the key introduction to themes I intended for Chaos & TWOOY and am confident I'll be discussing for the rest of my life: dualities of commitment & freedom, free will & determinism, and chaos & order.
What does this mean for the characters, the places, the plot lines? I'll address this in separate blog posts for each book, but first, I'll note that key characters Shivaron, D, Helena, and [the Concept of] Mona Lisa speak in some form in DWV.
Otherwise, I encourage you to create your own headcanon regarding how these stories would look; what happens to their characters; what meaning could be pulled. It's with a heavy heart and tears shed that I finally leave things this way. This is one of the toughest creative decisions I've had to make. However, should I find myself in a place in life to return to them, I could confidently work knowing that giving them to the world would be on my terms—not the terms my younger self placed in people's minds. It would be like hearing the weatherman's shitty forecast, and being pleasantly surprised when the day turns out to be sunny and seventy degrees...
I have carried the weight of these stories conceptualized for 6 years and 5 years respectively. Each of them have saved my life and provided purpose. The emotion, experience, and energy I've invested into each of them has only been surpassed by my commitment to completing DWV. I will share more about the parking of each story individually in more blog posts soon, and add links in here. I'm also considering ways to pay off these years of anticipation, even if it means spoiling bits of pieces of what I'd intended. You all at least deserve some lost photos—I'll look into this further.
The continuity I created with Dark Web Voices—a meta-series discussing Rochester Grimoire and identity themselves—was the first in what I've been calling "The Overarching RG Mythos." This Mythos is meant to be a recurring and underlying set of themes, lessons, and characters which pervade myself, and thus, Rochester Grimoire. You can loosely compare it to the impact Marvel's Cinematic Universe has left. With DWV, I created the first space in which characters and stories from the entire RG catalogue can interact in a meaningful way. I intended for Chaos and TWOOY to add to this Mythos, and they do—but largely in private, for now. I do consider them each to be beefy prototypes for some future works.
There's much more to discuss! In the coming days and weeks I'd like to address:
* the Overarching RG Mythos, conceptually
* closure for the Chaos book
* closure for the TWOOY book
* a look at DWV, the legacy it leaves, and the future potential for physical publishing
* restructuring the Framework per my personal evolution over the years, namely the evolution of Eclectic Effect in the Cathartic Codex
* specific appreciation for every contributor to the Rochester Grimoire project, with potential for a Credits section of the site—actors, models, friends, hashtaggers, and so on
* ... including following up on a 6-year-old promise to deliver the remaining limited release physical Chaos cards no. 1 to all who want them and originally used #rochestergrimoire on Instagram in 2015, "while supplies last"
* anything else you'd like wrapped up? Leave a comment.
Seem ambitious? It is, for me. I'm not making any promises this time—and optimistically, that's all it takes to actually deliver nice things every once in a while.
My concept of what Rochester Grimoire is and can be has grown over the years. It started with a dream to redefine the word "grimoire" to be synonymous with "lore" or "story," and make that globally agreed upon. Given the trajectory of my life since then, that sometimes seems naïve, innocent... but it captures the same hope and lust for life my 18-year-old self felt. As much as RG has become an under-utilized literary Framework in recent years, it brings me existential fulfillment knowing it's always there to return to. To build upon.
In closing, I want to take space to express grand appreciation for everyone who's taken part in or shown interest in Rochester Grimoire since its birth. The adventures we've recorded; the moments we've captured; the concepts we've catalogued... each of them has left an imprint on my heart and soul. My coming of age was largely built on external validation from people who believed in the art and stories we were making. As I move through my 20s I sometimes feel a need to return to that naïvety... there's something truly special there.
Thank you for reading this far—and we'll talk soon.
Derek J. DiRisio