The Slush Pile (A Review)

So without really even trying, it feels, I hit 35k on my current work in progress, Nowhere. It’s a dystopian Western set in the flat, wastelands of our Apocalyptic future. So that’s been a ton of fun, but it got me thinking. My slush pile, the stack of first drafts and half attempts every writer accumulates, is starting to look a little crazy, almost like it could just topple and spill all over the carpet. It would probably grow eight hairy legs, eat the asbestos tiles in my downstairs office, and just walk away to some other coffee soaked writer’s den. Oh if I could only be so lucky, anyway, so yeah I got thinking why not do a little review of the slush pile, to determine which of these monsters I should give my attention to and finally finish and distribute.

The Books

Pomegranate Lane-This was the last first draft I wrote, in November of 2015 for National Novel Writing Month (#Nanowrimo). It’s a murder-mystery novel set in the future. The protagonist Dorothy (ignore the hackery) is a detective, working the first real murder case anyone in decades has had, due to the impressive surveillance state which has been achieved. She wakes up the morning of the gruesome murder, alcohol drenched and one foot over the edge of an existential crisis. What was her job? Why did she want to do it? What is this strange world she took for granted? All these questions become compounded when there are failures in the security state itself, which provide ugly glimmers of a reality right next store, that threatens to overwhelm her secured world.

Interludes-I’ve been distributing this on here. I won’t go into too many details since you can just go read it if your interested. It’s a first person story, told by a version of myself, it unfolds in a place I call La-La-Land. There’s weird cults and rituals, a werewolf who sexually assaults me and tries to eat me, tricky mythical-poetical entities, and overall a deep and hopefully humorous study of Art itself. I am about three quarters of the way through the edit on this, and hope in the future to finish serializing it on this blog, so stick around.

Dawning of the Werewolf-This draft sits short of full novel, 45k words. I think I worked on it before Interludes, but I’m not sure. Overall, the slush pile gets a little scattered here in my own chronology. This story is a first person confessional about a guy who discovers he’s a werewolf. All I really remember is a lot of running, and this cool vibe of a man-beast racing up the edge of Lake Michigan. Oh, and I did like the ultimate hack move and had my creature help steal The One Ring, from Lord of the Rings, for some baddies. Again some cool stuff, but with that level of hack I think this one may be a dud.
Mech Suits (Totally working Title)-Science Fiction, first draft right at 50k words. This one may have potential. Basic story, in the future robotic technology is so far advanced that the use of machines suits, think the thing Ripley from Alien wears to kick that alien’s ass, is common place. There is an updated version of football which is played with these suits. The youngest boy gets roped into an international terrorist situation, through his connection to an very rich, corporate executive, who was aware of his skill, and had allow him free reign of his workshop.

 

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Something sort of cool about this one. The story follows three brothers. The youngest is a technical genius with machines (think Hephaestus), and his two older brothers are Mechball (think I just made that name up) all stars on the high school team. An interesting detail for me is when I wrote this book I only had two boys at the time, but now I have my own trio of sons. That personal relevancy definitely bumps this one up on the priority list. I also liked the big, entertaining story that took place. It was sort of like Golden Era 80s-90’s action flicks (think half Karate Kid, half Die Hard), mixed with a heady batch of Orwellian musings.

Sumer, previously Robot Academy Funtimes– I stalled out on the second draft of this work, a little over 66k words. Again there’s a personal component that makes me want to finish-finish. Basic plot came from my brother years ago, in a far distant future, robots rule the Earth, they have decided to begin reproducing humans, because they have lost their sense of humanity. My story follows one of these new-humans, a girl named Echo.

This one presents a number of critical and complicated issues. For one the story takes places in a holodeck/scientific lab of sorts. This sort of reeks of amateur hackery again because you end up in a sort of dream sequence explanation which isn’t very good. If it’s all a dream or a simulation then who really give a damn, the argument goes. Of course, traversing prickly fields of contradictions and ego destroying logical conundrums sort of destroys the pursuit of digestible narration.

More over, what was a stunning philosophical insight from my teenage brother, was a fairly well established Science Fiction trope. In my own reading aI have become more aware of this issue, via Asimov and others. That said, my draft was done with mostly clean hands, and since there really is nothing new under the sun, I don’t automatically discount this story. I feel like this definitely has the feeling of a fruit not yet ripened, so I continue on.

The Siege/Winterset-First draft, Speculative Fiction, right at 47.9k words. This is a weird one for me. What started out with the thought experiment, what would a people’s revolution look like in small town mid-West United States, led by a somewhat quixotic youth protagonist, similar to the idealized concept the Author has of himself. Think farm animals released on Main Street and the bouncy ball pit at high noon on a Saturday.
I didn’t like how it ended up though, in chaos and murder, and low-down outlaws. No one was supposed to get hurt…I thought about this book a lot later when I when I watched things like the Occupy movement, or the recent riots in Baltimore. I realized that the bullshit, Mayberry sense of revolution I depicted in the book was naive, in the meanest and truest sense of the word. This sort of development in my thinking leads to it having a permanent position in the slush pile.

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Tom’s Episode-I believe this is the first book I wrote, and it sits at a monstrous 95,829 words. Wow. It is sort of crazy to go through all these stories. They connect and bring back so many memories of when I wrote them. The basic idea of this story is what happens if someone became an atheist while in heaven. Again, just an awful, typical beginner’s premise, a story set in heaven. I wrote this over five years ago. I’d taken a class at University of Iowa, on Science and Religion around that time, and I remember I was deep into the Atheist, Creationism vs. Evolution, Dawkins, sort of stuff. Of course, Tom is an allusion to the so-called doubting Thomas of the Gospels.

Caravaggio_-_The_Incredulity_of_Saint_Thomas

Strictly speaking I would label myself an Atheist, in the strict I have seen no evidence for the positive claim there is a God, but in all the ways that count I’m still a dirty old apostate Catholic. I pray Our Fathers then Hail Marys, am in dialogue with the Holy Spirit, and ultimately abide a messianic eschatology (and I am the one I have been waiting for). But yes, it’s those sort of Gnostic drenched ramblings that make up this book. I also recognized later that it’s Interludes Part One, but that seems to form some sort of psychological singularity which I don’t really care to deal with (we’re all writing the same shit over and over and over…). I encountered Tom Robbins, and Christopher Moore’s Lamb later, they do masterfully, what I did very shoddily in this one, but again know, I wait for the day I may have the capabilities to birth this monster. Consider yourself warned.

 

Novellas/Shorts Stories

 

Kill The Television-This is a novella right around 17k words. I consider this my Parvus Opus (Small Work). Simple story, thirteen year old, Ronald lives on his Grandma’s couch at her senior living center. One day, he decides to start head hunting flat screens. Cool little story, hero’s quest sort of thing, set in my home city. I love the themes of this one and definitely want it to have some readers someday. Hard to place it exactly, not big enough to hold its own as a book, think I would like it to make it the title work for a collection of other short stories. I got hung up finishing it on a pacing issue, there’s a break away story told during the climax, which interrupts the flow, but I love it too much to cut it. Why not just shorten it the mind pushes.

Story of Roger Meeks-Science Fiction, 14k words, again cool idea, but not enough for own book. Seventy something year old is a nobody, from Nowhere American. He works as a cashier at a local gas station, and lives alone in the same house he grew up in. When a spacefaring race shows up, it is Mr. Meeks they want to talk to.

I like this one a lot. Didn’t quite get over in the version I got now, but definitely potential in this. I love the original Twilight Zone, and this is my attempt at something like that. I would love to see this in a collection of short stories.

Gnomes. Or How Martin Gardner’s LIfe Was Ruined By A Clan of Gnomes with Big Problems-Fantasy, right around 22k word, this has got to be the strangest of all the slush piles specimens. The general idea I had was, sort of like in Toy Story, what if your garden variety gnomes were actually alive, and their owners formed a shadowy underground railroad of magic. Fun idea, silly story, but not really enough for a whole book. But again, it so sort of absurd and simple, something still gets me about this story. Might need to revisit it…then again maybe not, just remembered a bit of hackery taking place in this one too.

So the main character is named Martin Gardner. I’m pretty sure the Martin is ripped right from Stephen King’s man in black, Flagg-type guyand I had some idea of this being like an alternative origins story for that character or a character like him. Normal average person that got suck unknowingly into a magical world, and ended up powerful, ruined and corrupt in the process. I think this is so out there it could be good, but would need extensive rewrites and a commitment to the absurd.

The Last Virgin of Hollywood-Fiction, a little under 10k. The premise of the story is in the title, Norma a twenty something year old make up artist of the stars has somehow retained her virginity. The shorty story follows her as she tries to hold on to it. It was a rushed story, scattered with cliches, the overconfident rich guy, the hobo with a soul, the decadent evil Brad Pitt type. I like the idea, and sort of feel in love with main character. I think this one had potential to be a great story.

Jar of Kisses-Fantasy, 13k words, another story with a good premise and hook, but not enough to warrant a full book. This was a simple story. We have this little jar, with the words “Kisses” on it, that prompted the idea what if there was this magical jar, that if you took an invisible scoop from it with your hand, and took a drink from it, would give you the greatest kiss you could ever imagine. Ended up being a decent story, middle-schooler gets it, bully classmate discovers it, decent portions of horror and sentimentality. Definitely worth edit.

Formation of the White-God awful title, clearly Tolkien hackery. Very strange feeling, sits a little over 10k words and I have absolutely no clue what the story is about. No characters, no scene, no anything. Vaguely, I am prompted by the title, I think this was when I started wanting an intertextual thing with my books, like Stephen King and Terry Pratchett have done, where characters and story lines can pop up in different books.
I read an excerpt from it:

…“Oh come on, I swear you think everyone is a sexual predator these days.”
“He’s a lame.”
“I swear Claire. This is the exact problem we’re up against. Everyone is too worried about how they look, and being cool, and all that shit. A guy like Chris Davis, a good man, is seen as a schmuck. I think that’s just wrong. Now they asked for a light, and we are going to get them a light, all right? And Davis is our light.”
“Fine, lame it is.” She took a drink of her coffee.
Her brother paid the bill; he always paid the bill.
They sat in silence for some time. Connor hated silence and finally broke it. “What is it?”
“Nothing,” she said.

And it all comes back to me. Claire and Conor are angel figures, representing Intuition and Righteousness, the story follows them on a heroes quest of still murky specifications. I imagined some sort of occulted initiation ritual into the Good. The protagonist, not the lame in question, is a bastardly bookish type like the author himself. I think this story was a bit of wishful thinking, hopefully not conjuring, on my part. Anyway, this work gets a big question mark. Could it be an Interludes sequel?

Rock Art Salesman-This was another one in line for weirdest premises. Right around 8k words, story is about the greatest Rock Arts salesman in the world. He’s entrapped in the selling of an exceptional piece, to a odious and shadowy party. I liked this story, but felt it was part of a larger tale. I have another start of a story, which I feel has a connection to this story, but haven’t flushed the either one out yet. Liked the characters and idea though.Also weird synchronicity, but I was later encounter just such a Rock Art Salesman in On a Pale Horse, by Piers Anthony.

Scrubber Boys-This is probably my best and favorite short story. Right under 7k words, the main plot points and characters came to me in a dream. I woke that morning and took notes in my journal and had a draft fast. Definitely needs a rewrite and an edit, but if I ever have a shorty story collection this will be in it.

It follows two scrubber boys John and Pinto, who work as child laborers on a giant battery complex in a strange world. Surreal, challenging, this story runs out of the dream into reality and back. I love this story.

We Troll-Fiction/Horror. Another strong short story premise. 5k words. Set in the future, the story follow high schooler Roger, as he experiences a surreal amount of bullying. Exaggerating the trend of online trolling and abuse, I speculated what would happen when this behavior ingrained itself into a society and festered for a century. I imagined a website were bullies could get together and make a sport of the process. The result is this terrifying glimpse into a possible future.

Escape-Fiction/Fantasy, 997 words, spawned in early parent hood when 2nd child hopped out of his crib one night, about a toddler who sneaks out on his parents, to discover a magical world outside. Dense, exciting, and frightening, probably worth finishing.

Changeling-Fiction/Fantasy, around 3k words. Decent story, again produced in newly acquired parenthood. Tells a modern story of the ancient myth of “the changeling”, which is a surrogate fairy child, the fairy/gnomey people leave while they take your child and train it in their magical ways. This story takes place on the night the human child is returning to the home. Can you guess the ironic twist? Strong enough to be given further consideration

Agent or Standard Operating Procedure-Fiction/Speculative Fiction, 4.6k words, written in a 1st person perspective, confessional, telling the story of how this agent ended up violating protocol. Strong story, but overdone. Energy comes from the first person story, and with things like Interlude, I have gotten that urge out of my system. Strong enough to consider for the short story collection.

Arms in Ankeny-Short Story, Science Fiction, 6th draft, 5k words, this was the first piece I sent to a paid editor. I wrote about that experience here. Definitely has legs, and I need to work a final version. Would definitely be in a collection. This one taught me how hard it is to write a great short story. It was like overworking the dough, the whole thing began to crumble in my hands as I played with it. Still, I have the sneaking suspicion one day I will find myself in the perfect spot to finish it. Again, I am reminded thinking of this one, that my problem is letting of the bad parts in the story, the stuff that doesn’t work.

The Case of Bill Mimic-Fiction, 4k words, interesting story Kafka-like, basic premise what if a person had a condition where they lost their unique personality and merely mimicked whoever they came into contact with. Don’t remember if I pulled this one off, but think I need to go back and reread. Candidate for the collection.

Rich’s Autoland-2,850 word, a brief sojourn into a realist Fiction vibe. Story follows a newspaper writer working on a story about the National Wresting Hall of Fame in Waterloo, Ia, and a champion boy wrestler whose the focus of the story. That is the back drop, it takes a surrealist bent in the end, something I of course really like. It’s like I just couldn’t play it straight and had to let it out in the end…Don’t know the viability of this as a story, but definitely some potential.

3 Ways-7k words, Science Fiction, another one that could be expanded or chopped. Basic premise, in the future sex is highly regulated, you have to get a ticket. There are only three way to get it, everyone is given one to begin with, they can be bought (no one can afford them), or they can be given, and that’s it. Story focuses in on one man as he wrestles with this system. Strong story, definitely worth urther development.

Conclusion-

This was a great time splashing around in the slush pile. Though I have to admit it does leave an unpleasant after taste, and maybe a little gunk between your toes. Writing is an easy task for me, finishing writing is something else all together. I have to admit a sense of confusion when I look at my slush pile. So many half baked schemes, just sitting there, if I let my mind wander I could start feeling it was a waste, a byproduct of a desperate attempt for attention, and self realization. But I don’t do that.

Tomorrow, come heaven, hell, and high water, I will wake up and try to put up a thousand words, and add another layer to my slush pile. And I’ll tell you why, the secret if you will, it’s not because I don’t care whether it is good or not, or whether I will succumb to crippling debt, and my children will starve in the streets or not, no it is none of those earthly concerns, it is for the greater, heavenly concern, the desire to be great, to be great at creation…creation of what you could ask…a story for another time, I’d advise. Thanks for taking a dip with me. I would love to hear what in that mess sparks your interest. And I hope you stay paddling on top of the slush pile.

What Is Going On?!?! (Interludes Prologue)

I had a very strange experience, and I don’t know why I feel compelled to write about it here, but I do. I anthropomorphized “The Muse” in previous posts. I did that as an intellectual tool, a thought experiment. For me to have written about the concept at all demonstrates how much time I had already given to it. You can imagine my frustration, when after the idea was out there, I did not get the usual relief I do in these situations.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hogarth_painting_the_muse.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hogarth_painting_the_muse.jpg

Instead, the whole thing of an anthropomorphized muse stuck with me. Anytime I had a free interior minute, like washing the dishes or before bed, I would find myself drifting towards the thought of the Muse, as a full fledged, living person.

Here is how the thoughts sort of went. What is really behind being in that artistic zone? How does the artist just turn over to this other force and have it produce such intelligent, cohesive products? If it is some sort of a power of the subconscious (thinking something like Jungian psychology), then how do we make sense of it being more creatively intelligent and complicated then our regular modes of thinking?

But further my mind would snap, and here is where the fissure starts, because I can almost hear a voice, her voice to be exact. Who says you have anything to do with it? So bold, right there, right smack between my eyes. The language and orientation seemed so strange. Why would I say such things to myself?

She always seems to have an answer, and be tired of my shit. She is also sick of me taking credit for her ideas, and wants her share of recognition and goodies. Now I know this sounds like I am losing my mind, but this is what happened. So I found myself down in the office this morning about to write. Now I have been writing somewhat seriously now for at least four years, and though I have days were it might have take longer to get going, I can always get the job done.

In other words, I had never known writer’s block. It also is important to note that I was in a fairly positive frame of mind, breakfast, coffee, free time, etc., but right as I hit my seat and started the computer a dreadfulness bombarded me. It was so strong and disorienting that I jumped up out of my chair, and in a panicked spastic response I flung my arms wildly around the room.

I was overwhelmed with paranoia. It was in there deep. I wanted to dig it out of myself somehow. I heard my kids playing upstairs. My wife was telling my oldest son that she just needed to finish the dishes and then they would all go outside. The normalcy of the moment snapped me out of it and I sat back down, but my hands were still shaking and I was so scared.

I opened up my work in progress and read the last sentence I wrote. There were a number of grammatical errors, which I tinkered with for a second. Somewhat disinterested, I went to write the new words and again a feeling of death and dread, and magnanimity overwhelmed. I felt stomach sick. I closed my eyes and laid my head on the desk.

An unending stream of existential crisis tore through me. What was I doing writing anyway? What did I have to say? I was a nothing and a nobody and just a loser like everybody else. There was nothing great in me. Compared to those before me, I am an inexperienced moron. All this obsession with art was so much inconsequential madness. It was sickening and shameful. A danger, to myself and others. I was a coward who had hide and ran and taken the path of least resistance and I would continue to be that, forever. It was over for me.

How can I describe the sensation of feeling that your thoughts are not you’re own? It’s like a person entering the room and beginning to talk to you, not quite yelling, but loud enough that you cannot ignore it. It’s an alien voice too, almost like reading words on a page, you have to sort of interpret character, inflection and tone.

It isn’t good at bluffing or bullshitting. It is just like the wind; it blows or it doesn’t.

The wind was blowing hard through my head. It was almost like drowning, but the nonstop stream of ideas filled the deadly world. I probably laid there for twenty minutes in this state before I popped out of my seat again, panicked. I was asthmatic too. I couldn’t get a deep enough breathe. The feeling of sharing the room with someone came back hard now. So hard that I grabbed my wallet and went running out the house, terrified that some physical or even metaphysical brain “popping” was about to occur.

It was a godawful hot humid day, and the heat and bright light just smashed me in the face. It was like I had ran right into a yellowish sweat bubble. The wet sickness pushed through my eyes balls and down into my guts. I could feel my morning breakfast gurgling there.

I should have gone inside and laid down, but I was too scared to go back into my house. I started walking. Everything wa cartoonish, blocky, almost lego-y. I began to hear what sounded like a choir singing, but I couldn’t find the source. I walked for a while until I came to a gas station. I stood outside, pacing, totally out of my mind. I was so worked up, angry and for what appeared to be nothing. I felt stupid about leaving the house like that, and I was sure my wife was wondering where the hell I went.

A woman pulled up in a white Nissan. I saw that it was an older woman, heavy set, and in business attire. We made eye contact for a second and I looked away. But as she walked passed, I looked back and now the woman was young, slim and shiny blond hair ran down seventies style lime green dress, which fit her perfectly. So weirded out, I walked around the building but was stopped by three youths. Two boys were on their bikes, and one little girl was standing on the curb, watching the others riding circles in the parking lot.

As I went passed them the little girl began to talk to me. “Oh professor ass dude, weirdo, lame type predator.” I couldn’t believe what was I was hearing. “Pussy,” she said. I turned around and they were all lined up staring at me. I felt like I should say something, but they were all smiling and what could I say? The oldest couldn’t have been nine, and the girl was no more than five. I couldn’t believe something like that coming from such a young child, but the way they were smiling told me they thought it was real funny.

I stared at them for a second so dumbfounded and weirded out that finally I just turned and walked away. As I got to the edge of the parking lot I looked back for them and they were gone. I kept walking, wading through this lingering dread. I walked until I came to a Dollar General. I had the urge to buy some candles, some candy, maybe even some flowers. I walked through the aisles and every person I went passed had some negative words for me. Vulgar, high school type trash. Pencil Dick. Faggot. Cocksucker. A Grandma in a red hat called me a cunt.

I got my chocolate bars and candles and headed for the checkout line, which was packed with people. I waited for an eternity. The whole time this voice in my head just kept going and going, like standing under a waterfall.

I couldn’t imagine another world existing outside of the pounding, pulsating, internal voice which was just having a freak out, in perfect, controlled, monotoned persistence. You suck you know that, you really suck. You sucks eggs. You suck dicks. You can suck a golf ball through a garden a hose. A carburetor out an engine block. You’re like black hole level suck. Bending matter to your empty black suck. Abortion vacuum suck…

I watched the checkout lady as the line crept. She was an older woman, late forties, early fifties. She had thinning hair and the look of a smoker. She had an air of a look of dignity though too, as she rang everyone’s crap up. Something told me she had some other career experience, like a horse trainer or something. But that was before, when she had something she loved, but that didn’t work out. She took this job out of necessity.

I finally made it to her, but right before, a viscous, emergency type, stomach pain kick in. I leaned against the counter and tried to close my eyes and take some deep breaths. When I opened my eyes, my things were being rang up and a voice broke into my head. “3.33, Sir.” I struggled for my wallet and when I brought it back up and looked the cashier in the face she had changed. It was the beautiful woman who was outside the gas station, but now she was in the Dollar General uniform. For the first time, I got a look at her face.

I love and am ever faithful to my wife, so I feel bad writing this, but she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Normally I am a burnet man, but her ocean waves of shimmering blond hair and lightening green eyes left me floored and overwhelmed with lust. It was her smell too! It was like cool wind on a warm day, through a lavender field, mixed with the earthy scent of woman.

She smiled and said, “3.33, you sick bastard!” As if she read my dirty mind. She said the last words full of both sexuality and insult. I dropped my wallet and banged my head on the counter as I went to grab it. I was full of apologies, even though she had just insulted me. All flustered and blushing, I opened my wallet and there was nothing in there! I was a ramble of sorries and she just kept smiling at me.

“You’re fucking great,” she said. “I can’t wait to get my hands on you Austin. You’re a screamer, aren’t you? I can always sense a screamer. Hemingway never broke; I hated that. You don’t have a fiver on ya? You broke, chubby, son-of-a-bitch. Take the candy asshole, consider it a last meal. Fucking candles.”

You know the phrase deer in the head lights? Now I literally know what that feels like. It was like a decked out, glossy Escalade appeared from the ether and was going to plow right through me. The sick, twisted thing is as I basked in her presence I was still aroused, seduced even by her destructive forces. For some (possibly profound) reason I began to think about the blank page back at home, and how I needed to be doing my words.

The whole word froze and the lights went dim. The store began to shake and drywall began to sift from the ceiling. I looked at the folks behind me, all lined up and waiting to pay for their stuff. They were now statues. Their still shoulders collected the falling dust.

I looked back at the new woman. She was frozen too, smiling like the sun. I had the most awesome realization. This was the Muse!!! Right in front of me. I could hear this indecipherable, yet oddly familiar hum emanating from her. Think it clicked in my head, I had heard this same effect, sometimes deep in the writing zone, when the words were just gushing out beyond my control.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Félix-Nicolas_Frillié_-_Kiss_of_the_Muse,_c._1863.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Félix-Nicolas_Frillié_-_Kiss_of_the_Muse,_c._1863.jpg

This was the source of that hum and she was standing right before me. I had the strange thought to try to capture her, bottle her up somehow and hide her back in my house. There was a loud boom of thunder in the store and a web of lightening broke out across the ceiling. With another boom, a giant appeared behind her in the next aisle.

The first thought that came to mind was Gandalf, because of his long white hair and robes, but the man was black, like deep of night black, so black that it was hard to even make out any features on his face, and he was a giant. I’m guessing probably twelve or thirteen feet tall, at least; his head almost touched the ceiling.

He stood there arms crossed for an awful minute. A chrome scepter, capped with a flashing diamond, was clinched in his left hand, and poised to obliterate me with one smack. Thankfully, there were no words passed between us. He just stood there, staring. Then I passed out.

I woke up back in my chair, a small Dollar General store bag with the candles and candy in it on the desk. It was like waking up from a nightmare. I felt so disoriented and insane. Worst of all, I looked up at the screen and all that you have been reading was already up there. As I reread it, memories of the whole experience came flooding back.

I think I might have gone insane. I need to talk to my wife about this, but I don’t know what she’ll say. Has anyone had an experience with this? Please share with me if you have. Thanks for reading. She exists!

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Next Chapter

This Side of Paradise With Holden Caulfield

Poor Butterfly-Judy Garland & Bobby Cole

I’ve been meditating on the Lost Generation, and associated alcoholic flapper girls with tiny mouths. I thought I saw myself, my position in the world with this wandering brigade of writers and artists, stuck between wars and civilizations, who were born too late in nineteenth, to early in the twentieth century, to really get either. Vestiges of a Victorian past. Knowledge of a present debauchery, excess, fluidity of rule and standard.

I’m currently reading Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise, didn’t like Amory Blaine, or F. Scott hiding behind him. Obviously biographical while reading, this was confirmed later with Wikipedia backstory. Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda had a notorious relationship. He stole tidbits of her diary for this work, got married on the hustle, the come-up off it. They called her schizophrenic, or whatever, and she wasted away in the asylum until an early death, a prototype of the grungy, burnout pop celebrity. I think the class-consciousness of Amory Blaine is what bugs me, probably out of protection of my own ego. It’s not fun to think of yourself as lower class, less than. Their wealth and opportunity of experience makes it that way though. More over the rampant materialism of my own 1980s Mid-West upbringing carries these same understandings and systems, which I have to acknowledge. I had no Nikes, no shiny new cars, no expensive trips to Disney Land, just Pepsis, and Cosmopolitan magazine, frozen pizzas and box macaroni and cheese.

I think 80s and 90s kids are again a Lost generation, the last of the pre-internet artificial-intelligence/reality generation. We got to see the end stages of the twentieth century, the highlights of that age, cable television, cheap food, shock and awe, GI Joe, Michael Jordan. Music and the Arts in fantastic death flourishes, party like its 1999, before the big reset, the next battle, the next mountain. We get the first glimmers of artificial intelligence and all that, but by the time it arrives we’ll all be on insulin drips, humming the melody of Hit Me Baby One More Time in our State sponsored tiny apartments. The Lost Ones are tired before they start. We want it to stop for a second, take a look around, sentimentalist, romantics, call it whatever the fuck you want, let’s just stop, gorge on each other, engage in an orgy of self. Fine booze, whatever you need, I need. Fine, yes take it away, that’s fine. Watch the glasses. Okay, Christ, sure yes. What version? Baptist, Lutheran? Sorry, I’m a Catholic. Fuck all that, bring the booze back, and can we get the band swinging again. Ignore the rowdies. The poor and the starving. Is there a dusty book to be read somewhere quietly?

I’d like to be in a pit fight with F. Scott Fitzgerald, and JD Salinger. Hemingway could be the ref (and potential traitor at the end) and we would be in a death fight for the love of Zelda Fitzgerald. I would manhandle both with pure animalistic rage, set-off by shared percolating Daddy issues. I’d spit in Fitzgerald’s eye and then choke out Salinger, while I whispered, go to sleep phony, in his ear. Victorious, but bloody, I’d whisk Zelda away, away from the man with the pills and the paddles, away from the screams of desperate people. I would hide her on a farm, like Goldie Hawn in Overboard, give her some healthy babies that ground her, show her the fantastic and the real in another. Let her get the wild out under the moonlight, to dance and make love with a cold night’s breeze, among wild flowers and fireflies; no booze.

Zelda_Fitzgerald_portrait

 

Rant and Prosetry (On Dimensions & Storm Clouds)


2D of 5D 

Dimensions. What do people mean when they talk about “dimensions”? Other dimensions? I know it’s connected to physical, geometrical spaces, up/down, forward/back, but it also has another physical place sort of sense like with the Atom or something really weird like dark matter. That’s the one that bugs me, can there be so called other “planes of existence”? There’s a heavy hand of rationalism, playing both ways here, skepticism denies untestable phenomena, but through the scientific method, proves and creates things that undermine rationality, say quantum computing, nuclear weapons. 

I stood in the field,

Warship cloud brigades to the left and right 

Directly in front of me, miles in the distance 

Was a column of grey

Indecipherable 

Only a rumble, rippling in its middle

Feel it like that, just the sound, 

A threat half known, so enjoyed 

Position here? Ant or Magus 

I worked more at watering, 

Get lost,

Realize it’s right above me now,

Black and purple, and I’m 

Terrified. Turn my back, keep watering,

Pray, but don’t go inside. 


All That Is 

On Dreams

THE DREAM OF SAINT JOHN DAMASCENE

The_dream_of_Saint_John_Damascene_Wellcome_L0041636

At my most sober, center, and worked, I start having the strangest, most detailed, oriented dreams. When things start going lucid, I’m always stuck in a physical space, a movie theater, a mall, sometimes an unfamiliar city, or suburbia. I think my own inherent suspicion and anxiety make it go bad, sour, but there also seems to be something there, watching me, security, the man in black. As a child its a shapeshifting empty, black hole monster, It. With maturity it manifests in real world concerns, personal relationships, physical and emotional harm to self and other. It tries to scare ya.

The movie theater, mall setting is the most common. That’s what really gets to me. Being in a room with all those other people. I start thinking, you want to say that they’re just a figment of your imagination, that its just filler-people pulled from your memory, but in the dream it doesn’t feel that way. They feel real, they react real, slow, life-like, dreamy. What happens with me is I will become suspicious of the authenticity of the whole endeavor, and my subjugation in it. This seems to “wake me” up in the dream, and that provokes a force to come play cop on the whole thing, scare you awake. Scare you awake. Think about it. When you dream there’s a thing in there that wants to wake you up….What?

I’d like to fight it. Knuckles and bones, teeth. I don’t know what that means about me. I can accept maybe its a symptom of my own broken, depressive, scared self. I can imagine others free from this creature, entity. But to what degree? What could you do if you were free in that space? Does it have to be this way?

There’s usually a shake-down with the Shadow Monster. Breath on your neck. Recently they had a futuristic, neon blue probe body scanning systems, armed guards in glossy stormtrooper black. Empty your pockets. But then the vertigo, the flee, the scene has to change. Usually it ends with running, then some subtle torture until you wake up. But what about the moments it bleeds over into reality? What then?

Snippets 106 

The Fall-Albert Camus 
Paris is a real trompe-l’oeil, a magnificent stage-setting inhabited by four million silhouettes. Nearly five million at last census? Why, they must have multiplied. And that wouldn’t surprise me. It always seemed to me that our fellow citizens had two passions: ideas and cornbread cation. Without rhyme or reason, so to to speak. Still, let us take care not to condemn them; they are not the only ones, for all of Europe is in the same boat. I sometimes think of what future historians will say of us. A single sentence will suffice for modern man: he fornicated and read the papers. (7

Snippets 105

Bureau_of_Land_Management_horses

 

All the Pretty Horses-Cormac McCarthy

I caint laugh. I think my jaw’s broke.
There aint nothin wrong with you.
Shit, said Rawlins.
John Grady grinned. You see that big old boy standin yonder that’s been watchin us?
I see the son of a bitch.
See him lookin over here?
I see him.
What do you think I’m fixin to do?
I got no idea in this world.
I’m goin to get up from here and walk over there and bust him in the mouth.
The hell you are.
You watch me.
What for?
Just to save him the trip. (183)

On Farming, Nabokov, Internet, Culture, Knowledge, Writing

Last night I stayed up late watching farming motivation, tomato porn videos on YouTube. The guys was showing how you can greatly increase pollination of the tomato plant by fingering, slapping, shaking the plant, and around the fruiting special bits. Tomatoes carry both the males and the females stuff, so by vibrating the former you impregnate the later. I had noticed last night some drying blossoms on my own, think the heat and lack of water zapped them. Video made me realize maybe they were not pollinated and that made them weaker too.

I’v found my part of the stream and it’s having a cooling effect, or a redirecting of my energy from writing/reading to the farm. Not to say I’ve haven’t been doing either. It’s always there, crawling around, waiting. My JD Salinger binge had me noticeably nihilistic, the Camus stretch ruined me, and then the The Feud by Alex Beam about the friendship and subsequent “fight” between writer Nabokov and Literati Edmund Wilson got my haunches up and has sent me spiraling down the black hole of conspiracy world (Dave Chappelle, Kanye, Johnny Deep, may all be MKULTRA victims and clones). Despite Mr Beam’s and everyone else’s explicit statement not to see any of Nabokov’s work, Lolita and beyond, as confessional or biographical, I couldn’t see otherwise.

I know Tolkien was like that, didn’t like any real world parallels pointed out. I get the psychological need to distance ourselves from the thing. It ruins it for some, like the Wizard of Oz, doesn’t allow them to slip into into suspended disbelief. The real question, is there any other mode? Everything seems made up these days. Don’t know exactly why. Has to be the TV and internet, we live in little electronic bubbles of our choosing, inherently artificial, the so-called external reality has begun to mirrors this process. It all begins to break down at a point, like CNN current meme debacle, old traditional barriers start to dissolve.

I read the news, and about the world, like it is regular installments of my favorite Sci-Fi series. I’m using the internet through tethering my phone. And there’s only one spot that works in the house.. The upstairs window facing north. So the bedroom has become the office. It was nice to have the full desktop back, the youtube, all of it. Senior year of High School,  I made this ceramic block with the word “Knowledge” on it. It’s always been sort of a totem for me, a symbol of first principles.  I set my phone on that, pointed out the window, and it works well enough. And I don’t know while getting reintegrated, I realize  current events are just insane, nightmarish, other-worldly. You try to settle yourself down, cut the anxiety with a bit of reason. And if you shut it off and maybe went and wandered a field, or river, or something you could find ways to forget it, but you sort of don’t want to. You want to see where the story is going. How it will all play out. Stories and book are like that. Trying to write “popular” fictions gets me in a similar way. Conjuring up twisted characters and thick drama, set a tone for the spirit and day, which can sometimes feel negative and costly. I don’t like hurting people, fiction or otherwise, which doesn’t necessarily make for great fiction. It could, but you got to work harder for it, I think. Stop being a pussy, is what the shadow self jeers with.

The field almost feels easier. Just different, I guess. Farm work taxes the body, but nourishes the spirit, art work taxes both, and leads the body to lethargy and the spirit to turn manic. I’ve set up an academic hour in the evenings six to seven oclock, then out to the field for two hours to weed, mulch, and water. Balance. Knowledge.

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On America

 

Lady Liberty-Harriet Tubman

447px-Harriet_tubman

 

America is nothing but a base camp. A tent and a fire, laid out on some slab. That is all. A country of highwayman, robbers, charlatans, and the insane, and I love it. It is every place and no place, a final frontier. Because it is a country of immigrants and foreigners, it picks up everyone’s story, and assimilates it. Of course, this process is often ugly, barbaric, and half-baked, but it couldn’t be other wise. America is the Tower of Babel, rebuilt with Elmer’s glue and Popsicle sticks, television on max, Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar on fire in the kitchen, and a pack of geeked out nerds and sociopaths in the garage, playing with concrete and psychotropics, trying to figure out the agenda. The enormity of spaces, of ideas, of waist sizes; limits have never been appropriately considered. We are Fantasy manifest, the settler, the soldier, the capitalist, the cowboy, the gangster, the hippies, the trendy, etc.

It’s okay to hate it, because it hates you too. No one belongs here, so we all belong here. It is Paradox Country. Own slaves, fight and die to free the slaves. Be fearful and xenophobic of outsiders, other cultures, make those black sheep social icons and definers. Rape the planet through Industrialization and figurehead the Green movement. Shining example of a Constitutional Republic, and tyrannical Big-Brother imperial state. Land of the Free, the Brave, the Prisoner and the Drug Addict.

Our characters are the best though, historical and other wise. The later amplified and burned into humanities subconscious by modern and distinctly American Technicolor Babylon. Some of my favorite Americans, Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allen Poe,  Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Daniel Webster, Walt Whitman, Robert Johnson, Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Muhammad Ali, Miles Davis, James Brown, Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and on and on, but I’ll stop cause it, because its boring thinking like that, and boredom is America’s kryptonite.

Hating America is quintessential America. Faking like you love America, so that you can fight people who hate America is very American too. Anyone can be an American, just don’t think you can have any part in defining it, or your role in it…unless you have a lot of money, and then you can do whatever you want and you’re awesome, but because you’re an American, you will secretly respect, fear, and want to be the Poor, because they’re cooler and tougher. But don’t worry as long as you exhibit this understanding through things like expensively and tastefully destroyed designer jeans, you should be okay. Remember, money!

I can’t end it like that. It would be unAmerican. Let me put on my thick Sam Elliot voice. Americas riding home after a long day of playing, ball field, swimming hole, park, fire works. Gentle wind on warm skin, as your bikes pushes forward, effortlessly under strong legs. Flying with your friends, maybe a younger sister or brother in the pack. Mom told you to watch her. Don’t let her run off. And you didn’t. You made her the star, the center of the whole day. Your friends let her be sassy, and get away with saying all the things you could never say. And you smile as you think about that flying down the road to your house. The lights are dim, Mom and Dad are upstairs, already in bed. They call out to the gang as they raid the kitchen for popcorn and treats and then you pile on the sofa to watch the latest movie. Your friends will file out one by one, back through the syncopated quiet of the neighborhood, with perfectly mowed lawns, except that one, always that one house, and into their homes. You sit there til its late, scrolling through your phone and it feels like the whole world has gone to sleep. And everything is perfect, and normal, and put away. You toss a blanket on your sister, she likes to sleep on the couch, and you head to your bed in perfect peace.

Random Prosetry 

Creation of the World

Go ahead, you can’t hurt it much.
Tenderest phrase I ever heard.
Your memories are dry, brittle things.
A compost pile of self.
Emotions are the needed water, invigorating life, the microbes
Underneath, amoebas to complex structures,
Reinvested in other life forms
Half finished Frankensteins.
Devoid of moisture, fire is the threat to inorganic matter,
A purging mythic Phoenix, more potent, nutrient dense Mater, future building blocks of the Other. 
Born of old men, half baked narratives of a fifty year old alcoholic Sci-Fi writer, loose leafs on the slush pile.

Thought about PKD, the other night. All alone, with a full house asleep, dying to talk to somebody.

He said he felt Rome, experienced it one day, reality flipped, and it was millennia ago in Rome, and then he came back. I tried to conjure that as I sat in bed. I might have felt it for a second, an ocean marinated wind blowing through weathered wheat stock, but the Borg-head of current self rolled on the theater curtain, destroying the illusion. The technological entity of the future, already born, reinvigorated, forever.

Forget the old, its technetronic back teeth chatter. We can built whatever world we want. I see it squid like in the subconscious, dangling a long, notched vertebrae. 

My friend brought it up at dinner on Sunday. The black web of the future, great unknown, the future of true novelty; we have no clue what’s coming next! We try to rationalize, sure everyone throughout history feels like that. In a way, that’s worse though. That everyone has felt this way, adrift, without harbor, quantum sea monsters rattling against the bottom of the boat…