Ever had your mind blown while reading a good book or watching a tense show? Like golfers and their hole-in- ones, these are the moments we entertainment lot live for. There are moments, however, when the unexpected strikes and confuses the heck out of us, in a good way.
The Mind Screw - A story element, so symbolic or absurd, that it makes no immediate sense (or any sense - ever), resulting in theories that have no right or wrong answer.
Alice In Wonderland (above) ... need I say more?
Yeah. I should. "Clean cup, move down!"
The Mind Screw is an extremely difficult trope to pull off, but it can be done. In fact, some literary works are a complete mind screw. My favorite? Douglas Adam's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Pick up the book at any point and you will have no problem following along, as it doesn't make sense anyway. But is sure is hilarious.
"So long, and thanks for all the fish!"
Sometimes it's not a matter of confusion, but a question left unanswered. Such was the case at the end of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Zuko asks, "Where's my mother?" to his incarcerated father - and then, cut to the next scene. No mother. We don't get to see her, leaving fans wanting to know what happened. This, my friends, is fan-fiction fuel.
Most Mind Screw moments find their place in flashbacks and dream sequences (something I've read time and again to avoid or use with caution), since flashbacks aren't always clear and dreams have a knack for the abstract. Speaking of dreams, such is the plot of Inception. The characters literally Mind Screw the heir of a company during a sequence of dreams to influence a conscious decision out of him.
That totem still messes with me to this day!
And if you've ever read Lord of the Flies, you're a brave soul. It's a good book, but a downright scary book, and to think I had to read it and The Catcher in the Rye as required school reading, both of which are prime examples of The Mind Screw. I'm still not sure if this was a good or bad thing, but it lead me to watching David Lynch films for a while ...
Give or take ...
Ever applied The Mind Screw in your writing? Did you find it easy or difficult? Should I get a haircut?
I'm David, and never go in against a Sicilian ...