“When your brains are gone, what nobler substitute could there be than wine?” ~Supervert, ‘The Necrophilia Variations’
Do not scroll down.
Do not read past the picture of the sweet lass, below. I have a link you should watch. Before you do, there’s probably a couple of things I should say. There are some things going on in this video, including the reading of an excerpt from the Necrophilia Diaries, read by the beautiful woman with the delightful smile you see below. I should note the reading is pretty adult in a NSFW/NSFF sort of way.
I should also say this picture is part of the story of how that smile came about.
Now, having said this much, I think I can assume what some of you might be thinking regarding where that happy expression came from, and what this means in terms of what you are about to see.
No. Sorry to disappoint, but I can can assure you there is no real suggestion – let alone presentation – of nudity, sex acts, or much of anything of an overtly visual nature.
Nothing. Except for that smile. And to quote the young lady making that smile: “Wow.”
Now, go watch, right here, watch the progression all the way through, no skipping, nothing, just listen to her, watch her … and then we’ll take a smoke break, calm down a little and talk about stuff, as Stu is fond of saying.
“Why do you watch me so intently?” she asks.
Feeling pretentious, he replies:
“To see you.”
“When it happens, when you let go. I see you, a part of you you don’t share with anyone else. There are no inhibitions, there is no restraint … well, no inner restraint. You allow yourself out. A very private part of yourself.”
“Really? You judge your experience with women by the intensity of their orgasms?”
“Um … not judge. More like enjoy.”
“What if I told you that you were full of shit.”
“I wouldn’t necessarily argue.”
“Good.” Pause. “At least you didn’t say you were looking into my soul.”
“I was thinking about it.”
“There’s an upside to this, though, if you give the idea some thought.”
“And that is…?”
“Obviously, if you have a lover with this sort of voyueristic fetish, wouldn’t it follow that your lover would wish to better learn how to help make things happen for you, and that he or she might thus be well-practiced in the art of getting you off?”
“You are really having this conversation with me? Really?”
“Dunno. But it’s an interesting thought, don’t you think? If you want to get someplace, it follows you have to figure out how to get there.”
“But what is the ‘there’ you are getting to?”
“The visual thing?”
“Hell, I don’t know. Maybe its peeling back the layers to get at the uninhibited joy that lurks beneath. Maybe that thing that scares men about women, the idea they can reach a place men can’t.” He grins. “Maybe this is what ancients were referencing when they talked about the ‘Goddess’ in women. I think I can see that. In you, for example.”
She looks horrified.
“Do not start describing…”
“Self-conscious, too,” he offers, and gets a punch in the shoulder and a dirty look for his trouble.
Back to our story …
Clayton Cubitt is playing with female things.
He says he’s making art.
Okay. I can buy that.
The art he is making is short films.
Orgasms as art, as one interview characterized what Cubitt is about.
The concept is simple: a young woman sits at a table with a book she has selected to read from and proceeds to do so.
What happens next is filmed, all in one take.
The tension of each piece is the element of resistance. The reader is instructed to ignore what is happening to her as long as possible until, as they say in all the best Star Trek episodes, resistance is futile.
Shot cleanly in black and white, the womens’ skin and the flat table stand out in stark contrast against a black background, ensuring focus on the reader, and the expressions on her face.
And those expressions are the real art here.
Beautiful. Open. Unambiguous, hiding nothing, sharing everything.
There are five videos released so far, with five different readers. In each one, the young woman is brought to orgasm, slowly, inextricably, by what we assume – and are told – is hidden manipulation.
All the while they read on, resisting giving in to sensation.
In each of the videos, the women succumb.
I use the term ‘succumb’ intentionally.
It doesn’t hurt that the first video features the beautiful Stoya, perhaps one of the most beautiful actresses in porn. Stoya is fresh-faced, her light skin flawless in the black and white medium. As one person remarked to me, she looks like that prototypical girl next door.
In the Stoya reading, something else about her stands out – there is no sense of anything unusual conveyed, not subtle hesitations, signs of discomfort, self-consciousness. She is, as we might say in the acting profession, in the moment. Except she’s not acting. She’s reading. She will read until she can’t read.
So you – the viewer/ voyeur – know the setup. You know what is supposed to happen. So you wait.
It really is about the expression, I think. What happens to the face – in this case, a woman’s face during that special moment when nothing in the world matters except that moment.
Speaking of moments, there is always the question whether this is a ‘When Harry Met Sally’ moment.
Personally, I kind of think Cubitt’s films underscore why that scene was both true, and pure bullshit – ’cause either Stoya is one of the best damn actresses you’ve ever seen, easily kicking Ms. Ryan’s ass in the fake orgasm department – or this is about as true a moment caught on film as you could ask for.
I think the real truth of what WHMS told us is a lot of men are stupid when it comes to women. How stereotyped that perception is will have to be your call. Beyond that, the scene was bullshit, at least in the sense that if you are talking about real lovemaking, the kind that goes on for a long time, (as opposed to the two minute slam-bam-thank you ma’am stereotype comedians have done to death) there’s a certain point where the thought of things being faked do not follow (i.e.: Time + Making Love = Truth).
But, hey, what do I know? I’m a guy.
What I do know is I don’t invest a lot of time in things I do not like.
I doubt women do, either.
And that the converse holds true.
But I digress …
Stoya’s thoughts on the session are here.
More Hysterical Literature here.
“It is a natural human impulse to think of evolution as a long chain of improvements; of a never-ending advance towards largeness and complexity – in a word, towards us.
“We flatter ourselves.” ~Bill Bryson
I was listening to the audio edition of Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything” wherein the author discusses how one of the more common occurrences in the history of life is that of species extinction. Very few species last a very long time. If fact, he points out, it is shown that the more complex a species, the quicker they go extinct. That, in turn, got me thinking of something related.
Sometime back I was listening to Terry Gross’ “Fresh Air” on NPR. They were replaying an interview with evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, who had recently passed after a long struggle with cancer. During that interview, Gould discussed varying aspects of the Theory of Punctuated Equilibrium, which he developed with Niles Eldredge (as well as talking a little about his love of baseball, as I recall – he was quite the knowledgeable fan, and his books of essays are peppered with thoughtful observations of the game).
During the interview he got around to talking about where homo sapiens fits into the grand scheme of Evolution. Essentially, one of the interesting conceits of science in regard to Evolution in general, and Darwin’s proposals for its functioning in particular, is the perception that Man represents some sort of pinnacle of evolutionary development. (One can’t help note the parallel with the religious concept/projection of man being “created” in God’s image, a rather anthropomorphic element of the psychology of religion.) The idea of Gradualism, Gould felt, completely misrepresented what Darwin had observed. (For gradualism, think of those progressive illustrations that portray the evolution of man from a slouching, shambling creature to the upright, handsome devil he thinks he has become, and you see the idea in its most simplistic presentation.)
Gould offered that evolution was a development of fits and starts, a reaction to sudden changes in the biological status quo. (In keeping with Darwin’s observation’s of the variety of evolutionary changes witnessed on the Galapogos in the same species.) He pointed out that the most powerful evolutionary stories were not those of the singular complex flora or fauna that we mistakenly perceive as the height of evolutionary development of a species, but instead tales of diverse creatures like bats and rodents that blossomed into multiple evolutionary variations on the original theme. He felt that the most successful species were the ones that continued to adapt and diversify, not rarify into a few or even one branch of flora or fuana, like man and his simian cousins.
He suggested that homo sapiens and his cousins are not pinnacles of evolutionary development but, at best, twigs on the tree of life – not just man, but primates in general. Happy accidents (for us) of evolutionary change, that for all intents and purposes are in a perilous position from an evolutionarily perspective, particularly when compared to “lesser” animals like beetles and rats and even cockroaches in all their diversity.
Rather humbling, that…
Bacteria ‘R’ Us, by Valerie Brown
… it is clear that bacteria are not what the general run of humans thought they were, and neither are humans. Bacteria are the sine qua non for life, and the architects of the complexity humans claim for a throne. The grand story of human exceptionalism — the idea that humans are separate from and superior to everything else in the biosphere — has taken a terminal blow from the new knowledge about bacteria. Whether humanity decides to sanctify them in some way or merely admire them and learn what they’re really doing, there’s no going back. And if there’s any hope of rebalancing the chemistry of a biosphere deranged in two short centuries by humans, it very likely lies in peaceful coexistence with the seemingly brilliant, deceptively simple life-forms comprising the domain Bacteria.
This is one of those lists where you can be author specific, or title specific. We’ll have a little of both, I think. We’ll be adding to it from time to time. Also, this is just me. These aren’t reviews, aren’t even recommendations. They’re just the books that come to mind when I think of this.
These are big sci-fi/fantasy movers and shakers in terms of my life … no particular order.
We’ll start with the kid:
Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth.
Milo, Tock, the Humbug, Rhyme & Reason, the Awful DYNNE, the orchestra that plays all the world’s colors, the Soundkeeper, the Senses Taker … It really wasn’t sic-fi, or fantasy, but – for me – an allegory for realizing the wonder of imagination. Feiffer’s illustrations are beautiful, magic. From Wikipedia: In episode 13 of New Girl, Schmidt states that The Phantom Tollbooth is one of his desert-island books. Cece says that she also loves the book, to which Schmidt replies, “Of course you do. You’re a human being.” Captured my heart the first time I read it and remains the most remembered – and cherished – book of my childhood.
Dandelion Wine– My grandfather. This book makes me think of my grandfather. Of his world, a world I know of only in history and story, but which he knew with the immediacy of being there, watching it unfold. This books conjures that world for me, and a sense of a time lost to us in a way that seems, corny as it might sound, American in the way it speaks to us.Dandelion Wine is a story of imagination, giving substance to the waking dreams of childhood, the perspective of wonder and amazement that color a child’s view of his or her world.
Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers – Total military, reeking of testosterone … yeah, maybe not so politically correct to some ears, but a story well told, creating its world and staying true to it. A story of honor, duty, obligation. And Bugs. Lots of Bugs. Big, smart ones.
The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings… all of a piece: the Hobbit, different in style and substance, is the child’s prelude to the War of the Rings. The former makes possible the latter … and the latter ruined fantasy forever for me, as nothing touches it. Nothing.
The Illiad and the Odyssey* – What can I say? These books are the core of the soul of Western Civilization. No other characterization is possible. Here, at the end of the day, is the home to which we return, the lost dreams of myth that still stir us, 2700 years later … Preferred translation: Robert Fagles. “… in the end, the rage of Achilles is stilled only in the bed of Penelope.” – Thomas Cahill
The Hyperion Cantos.Dan Simmons is known to many for his deft touch with terror. And this series … and to a degree its sequel duology … channels a good deal of it. But these two books are more than that, perhaps one of the best SciFi stories ever told… Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion – if you love SciFi, it’s hard to believe you’d be disappointed.
The Mote in God’s Eye is hard sci-fi at its absolute hardest. Larry Niven and David Pournelle created what might be the most perfect First Contact story imagined. Interesting anecdote: edited by Robert A. Heinlein…
Men, Martians and Machines … more than any SciFi I have read, the four novellas collected in MM&M communicated the pure fun possible in the genre, In the years since, I’ve always looked for the fun in the narrative, that the writer is having a party in the middle of their creation. Eric Frank Russell had a gift for dry, self-effacing machismo unparalleled in SciFi story-telling. (Heinlein does pull it off in Glory Road.)
The Last Planet – Andre Norton. In a sense, you could point to any of the stories this prolific sci-fi writer wrote over the years. Her books always delivered, providing incredible adventures for stimulating young imaginations. But this story was special, almost heartbreaking, in an odd way bringing home the concept of loss in a way I could never of imagined….
Cosmos – This is the non-fiction piece. Carl Sagan at his most brilliant and poignant. This book (and companion PBS series) remain current, immediate, making difficult science concepts accessible. An examination of the history of human discovery, this is one of the most optimistic discussions of science – and the human animal – you will ever read.
Heinlein. Yeah, he’s got two up there, and I could throw in more without having to think about it. Seriously, almost 50% of his library of writings qualifies, even works as late as Friday and Job. He simply understood. No other way to put it.
John Varley’s complete works. Probably the most important sci-fi writer the mainstream has never heard of (or, at least, seems to have forgotten). His Eight Planets short stories are simply outstanding fun, and the Cirrocco Jones trilogy – Titan, Wizard & Demon – was one of the strongest stories written in the era of its publication, featuring probably one of the greatest, if not THE greatest female heroine in SciFi.
Neil Gaiman’s Sandman 75-issue series of comic books – graphic art and storytelling unparalleled. Brilliant writing, a gallery of different artists of varying style and substance, all made perfect by the story being told …
Phillip Jose Farmer’s “Riverworld” series, absolutely mind-bending: everyone who ever lived is reborn on the banks of a river that literally covers a planet. Adventure with Sir Richard Francis Burton, Alive Hargreaves, Samuel Clemens, Herrman Goering, Cyrano de Bergerac, King John and a cast of billions…
Ditto Anne McCafferey and her Dragonriders of Pern stories. The first decade was amazing, and the second was not bad, but after it seemed someone went to the same well too often …
Yes, I know I left out Assimov and Clarke and Silverberg … sorry … More to come…
After a five month hiatus of somewhere in the neighborhood of 140,000 words, we’re back, sort of, having downshifted into editing mode for the release of Siren later this year. More on that later.
In the next few weeks there’s going to be a bit of housecleaning, some updates to old posts, like the Best Erotica piece, some fun new stuff, some chat about the gentleman doing the cover art for Siren, as well as the art of orgasm and who knows what else. In the meantime, stay tuned …
Now, an older piece from our sister site, which is undergoing changes of its own since editors Stu and Reg were reported lost on their trip to Antarctica last February. More on that later, as well …
With one breath, with one flow
You will know synchronicity…
~Synchronicity, The Police
Heat Wave …
I stepped out of the garage Monday morning, took a moment and inhaled the city.
It’s an odd scent for this odd, crazy season of weather.
A scent of warmth.
We’re not used to that here, this year, around the City by the Bay, or the entire Bay Area for that matter. We been under a gray haze and unseasonably cool temperatures for months now, with occasional short periods of clear skies and even shorter blink-and-you’ll-miss-it heat waves … or what passes for heat waves in my magical metropolis. Truly a summer without sun.
A lost summer …
We’re having a heat wave.
A tropical heat wave.
The temperature’s rising
It isn’t surprising…
~Heat Wave, Irving Berlin
I dreamt of running last week.
Funny, that. I haven’t dreamt of running in all the time since my spine and knees finally told me “Enough!” long years ago. And now I’m reminded of that dream on this new, warm morning as I breathe in the fresh day. Synchronicity at play. Lots and lots of synchronicity this day, this odd, disconnected, want-to-throw-it-all-away day. Right now, in this moment within the dream of a moment, I think of running, of reasons for running. I long for running with an ache that eclipses the sadness I felt when I woke from that odd, wonderful dream of a run.
A little while later I’m listening to the Police on the drive to work, scent of fresh coffee filling the cab of the Buddhamobile. The sun is rising, emerging blood red from behind the San Bruno mountains as I head south on 280, thoughts roaming another time, remembering similar feelings of hurt and loss, of steady orbits thrown out of kilter …
… dreams of running.
Joni Mitchell sings a beautiful song on a sometimes melancholy album called, simply, Blue. This was my real introduction to Ms. Mitchell, whom I’d heard many times over the preceeding years but first really listened to while I was stationed in Germany back in the day, 18 years young and lonely and cut off from the familiar, but that is a tale for another time. Suffice to say she has since supplied a significant portion of the soundtrack of my adult life.
Blue came together after Mitchell’s breakup with Graham Nash and, if the content of the album is any indication, the split was deep and painful. And as the album illustrates, this is also one of the side benefits of this kind of angst – if you want to refer to it them as ‘benefits’ – of having creative talent: the ability to focus your anguish into a creation.
I digress. This song I’m talking about is called River. And as I’m writing this and thinking about that song I experience another of those moments, one of those soundtrack events from the unfilmed movie of my life. River is the song we were listening to when it became apparent that my first wife and I were going to go our separate ways, and in the remembrance of that instant the echo of its sad melody provides a nice … no, not nice … the word… phrase … I’m looking for is … a synchronically poignant … counterpoint to how I felt as the realization sunk in that our life together was drawing to a close. Of course, that was before the insanity set in and things really went to hell and the moment’s memory lost all of its resonance but that, too, is another story.
I’m so hard to handle,
I’m selfish and I’m sad,
Now I’ve gone and lost the best baby
That I ever had
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
I made my baby say goodbye
More important – at least, from this Monday morning perspective – River addresses the complexity of living life, how the choices we make, conscious and unconscious, can often cause as much pain as joy, for ourselves and for those we love. And with that understanding comes the underlying need to escape, to throw off all the associated angst and skate away …
Problem here is skating away on a frozen river in these parts, even in the winter, is out of the question, and a downright insane concept in the summer.
But, then, insane is one of those things I do so well …
Walking in Your Footsteps …
But I’m not listening to Joni as I think on dreams, these dreams of running.
I had a several soundtracks I ran to, back in that lost time before the steady accumulation of age, motorcycle mishaps and long falls from heights worked their inexorably dark magic on my body. In this bygone era the Walkman was still a relatively new contraption, and I had mine, the small, hand-sized hunk of metal and plastic providing a rhythm and pattern for my runs while muting the sounds of the city, allowing insulation from the outside world. (Now, my good friend, Bob, who is still a runner at his *cough* advanced *cough* age would scoff at the idea of the music while running, I’m sure; but, then, he has the wide open spaces where city sounds do not intrude.) There were different soundtracks for different courses I ran, but the best all-around running music for a run anywhere, any time, was the Police’s Synchronicity.
I remember all of this … not from the dream but, instead, from its wake … and in the subsequent days I move through the here-and-now with this faint ghost of a past keeping pace with my life. Of course, memory is a fickle repository. What happened and what you actually remember of what happened are often two different things. So, too, likely the immediacy of what is happening to me now shall change and reshape itself …
Synchronicity I through Synchronicity II. A continuity, a flow. The first song would kick in and I’d take off, working out a good stride, a sudden shock to the system and the heart rate goes up and the blood and oxygen flow and I’d lose myself to the next 25 minutes or so. And by the time the run was over it was always good, even when I had to work for it.
I’d like to be able to work for it right now …
… there’s a (running) joke about runners that asks: “Why are you in such a hurry not to go anywhere?” ...
I miss the running … there’s the cathartic effect, for one thing, the ability to take yourself out of your life for a little while and just focus on the intimate immediacy of the biological machine that is your body as you go through the experience of exertion. There’s no time for thinking about crap on the run, stupid or otherwise … at least, not right away, not until you settle into your stride and stop thinking about what it is you are doing: running. That varied, of course. Some runs were tough – you never got in sync, never found a happy place where the run takes care of itself and instead it seems you’re constantly working it, searching for that happy spot where you hit your personal cruise control.
Other times you settle into a groove without even realizing … you’re just there and suddenly it’s just you in that random state of mind, a place of free-association and ADD, playing things out in the landscape of memory and imagination.
1983 was a pretty messed up year. Lot of stuff went on I’d just as soon not think about … and rarely do. But then come days like today, where I’m feeling the way I’m feeling, and it’s hard to keep the memories – good and bad – at bay. Even more interesting to me in an odd, almost detached way: I find I don’t want to shut these things out, that I’m almost embracing this odd, recurring empty feeling in my gut, like there is something there telling me I am alive with a forceful immediacy .
So I let the memory of that time wash over me this Monday morning, let myself rekindle the experience of me nearly 30 years gone – has it really been that long? – and feel my breath catch. It’s a big “Wow!” moment all over again, just like the night before. And then it’s on, and I hop in the Buddhamobile and head on out to greet my day, the first good weather day since I can recall for weeks, and I’m thinking and remembering and it is all good. Momentum: for all the negatives I noted in an earlier posting, it can be your friend, keeping your mind off things you don’t want to deal with, still another reason to long for the run. By the time I stop at the coffee shop in Daly City I’m living in two realities, and the longing for the one I can’t step into is surprisingly compelling and almost urgent.
Everything comes and goes
Marked by lovers
And styles of clothes
Things that you held high
And told yourself were true
Lost or changing
As the days come down to you…
~Down to You, Joni Mitchell
1983. I found a place on 10th Avenue, in the Inner Sunset, at the tail end of a nomadic summer of loss and homelessness, a near-death experience, borrowed couches and patches of rug to lay out my sleeping bag. This, of course, garnered a deep appreciation for good friends in hard times that remains in my heart to this day. By the end of that beautiful, terrible season I landed a job that paid me enough to get by and settled into pursuing a career in the theatre I was already having second thoughts about. And I eased into the process of gestating the new bits and pieces acquired, the knowledge of things I’d garnered about myself that I’d been long overdue in discovering.
Bittersweet growth and revelations, aches and pains and joys and laughter …
It’s a process.
I started running that fall. Geographically, I was perfectly set up for it – I lived a block from Golden Gate Park, near the the (old) Academy of Sciences and the (older) De Young that didn’t look like the grounded starship … … that rests upon the site in these modern times. That part of the Park was/is special to me, a recurring local in my life story. And as I recall these things on this Monday morning, within my waking dream of memory I delve deeper, almost another quarter of a century, remembering a child, wandering, rapturous and amazed through these places with his granddad, falling in love with planets and stars and dinosaurs. Being in this place again, living so close: in some respects it was like coming home. And back in 1983, running through the fresh, early morning light, breathing in the crisp, cool air that carried with it the hint of the warmth of the day to come, there came a healing comfort that worked its way inside my wounded heart and settled deep in the hidden house of my spirit.
Thats my soul up there …
Everyone runs, even when they don’t.
Running is something we are geared to do, an evolutionary, protective function built into our DNA.
Fear is a biggie: when fear takes us we run, even when we’re standing still, ’cause when that fear of something, anything, becomes so great, we have no choice but to flee, to leave it behind, to save ourselves. We run from predators, from responsibilities, from strangers and friends, from anger, from rejection, from pain, from grief … from love.
It’s like that so often with a lost or broken love, this running, this longing for a river upon which one can skate away upon, away from owning up to the commitment of giving and taking hearts. The slipping on of the running shoes of the heart, leaving the wounded affection behind.
The reasoning – why we run – can be confused and muddled – and maybe the runner doesn’t even understand why it was they ran. Oh, there are surface “reasons” we all can come up with, like the understanding that few couples love each other with equal intensity and suddenly, one day, the lover of lesser heart awakens and understands it’s time to go and before you know it the shoes are on and they are gone with barely the whisper of a breeze to mark their passing. But to the person left behind, this perception is often magnified, because they are left with nothing but the memory, with their heart in their hands, with the rain in their eyes, to paraphrase a favorite poet.
So why are we in such a hurry not to go anywhere?
Many miles away there’s a shadow on the door
Of a cottage on the shore
Of a dark Scottish Lake…
~Synchronicity II, The Police
There was a girl.
There is always a girl in these stories of lost love. Or a boy. Someone. Someone you cared about, often more then you realized.
You gave your heart to them, and they to you and, one day, they return it. Or you do. Something ends. Gets mangled. Dies. In that discordant summer of ’83, I was never sure which happened. Amidst all the other crazy things in my life that year, the loss of family, the end of school, friends disappearing down the varied pathways of their lives, the home I’d loved like no other lost forever … details got lost in the ebb and flow and I guess now, decades later, the specifics really don’t matter.
Suffice to say there were a lot of endings. A lot of loss. After a while, they tend to roll over you, becoming obscured in the actuality of the experience.
And the loss lived on … for a long, thoughtful, aching time …
I don’t pretend to know what motivates people to do some of the things they do. Heck, I’m not sure half the time why I do some of the things I do. But there are clues, stuff I’ve watched as I witnessed people dance a certain dance during the journey of my own existence. Most of the time the dancers aren’t even aware they are dancing. But they are. Maybe it’s about survival, an innate need for self-preservation of something. Much like the running DNA, this is probably an offshoot of that fight/flight gene our ancestors developed in the distant past, that special instinct that kicked in when impending change loomed on the event horizons of their lives.
An avoidance gene.
Or, as I’m thinking of it in the here and now, the sabotage gene.
It works like this: we undermine things when we want out of something we’re afraid of committing ourselves to, situations where we don’t trust our feelings. We just do. Often without even being aware we are doing so, let alone understanding why. Other times, maybe not so much. Something takes hold of us, a momentum (there’s that word again), and we’re carried along until we find ourselves standing alone in a cold and empty place, half-wondering how the hell we got there.
But the wondering does us no good. There are no answers because of the two people that can answer the questions one is gone … and the other stares back at the mirror with nothing to say.
That’s when we really run, if we’re not running already. We feel that pain and the loss and the end result of the fears that informed us … and we run. We run, trying to put what we feel or think we feel or thought we felt behind us, try to leave the pain and the uncertainty on and beyond the increasingly distant horizon. The farther we run, as the reasoning goes, the further behind we leave the wreckage and ruin of that sabotage.
The good part of all this is also the bittersweet part:
Eventually, we succeed.
(Originally published on Dark Puppy, August, 2010.)
The thing with a Muse is she can be a fickle bitch, here one moment, gone the rest and there you are, all alone and void of inspiration. And waiting for her to come back is only asking for more sorrow – she’ll make you wait as long as she damn well pleases, and fuck you very much if you don’t like it.
But you know how to get her attention?
The last thing, the VERY LAST THING your Muse will stand for is you fucking with all this good shit she gave you. Edit, and she’ll come running and help you along. Every time. And the next thing you know, it’s like a friggin’ honeymoon all over again … until the next time …
“A novel: A long piece of prose with something wrong with it.” ~Neil Gaiman
It’s part five, and we’re in the Magic Theatre, in Nevada City.
“Okay,” I return.
“You mentioned earlier you didn’t select Wonder Woman or Supergirl for your top ten.”
“He didn’t?” CJ is sitting between us, turning from Sasquatch to look at me, expression skeptical. “Why didn’t you?”
“And why are we discussing this?”
“We’re trying to figure out Mc’s heroines.”
She looks at her spouse, then turns to me. “Well?”
CJ turns to Sasquatch. “Too perfect.”
Sasquatch: “There’s a problem, then.”
CJ and I look at him, waiting.
“Your girls seem too perfect.”
I nod, and sit back. “You’re only talking the surface things.”
“Being politically incorrect, are we?” CJ teases.
“One way of looking at it. I could always say, ‘Hey, this is my story.”
“You could. That would be impolite, of course.”
“Yup. Which is why I won’t.” I change the subject. “I’ve been looking forward to seeing this flick ever since you suggested it.”
“You’re changing the subject,” Sasquatch observes.
“I am, aren’t I?”
“That’s what it looks like from where I sit.” CJ offers me popcorn.
I munch. “Would you believe I don’t really give it much thought?”
“No.” CJ replies. “I wouldn’t. Sometimes you think too much, I think. You not thinking is unthinkable, actually.”
“You think?” We both laugh. “I don’t. Think, I mean. At least, not when I’m writing, not about much. The characters – the ‘girls’ – and the guys, of course – are who they are; they couldn’t be anyone else, so thought isn’t really necessary in that regard. They tend to tell me how it will be.”
“Which is right and proper,” CJ smiles. “Bad outcomes are associated with arguing with a woman. Ask Bob.”
Sasquatch rolls his eyes and I pause, thinking about the conversation. “Okay, this all started as something much different than what is has become.”
“Yes, I’ve heard,” CJ smiles. “A five page …”
“No, not that. Well, okay, but what it became, in retrospect, is really not much of a departure.”
Her expression is patient.
“It’s rumored I like women,” I offer. “Strong, self-assured women, particularly of the kick-you-know-what variety.”
“Yes. It has been remarked.”
“So the thing started. I started. Writing the story. One guy, one gal, one wild night. Sizzle.”
“Yup.” Bob munches absently on the popcorn, staring at the empty screen. “Sizzle.”
“I wrote a second story, same characters, with several more thrown in. Thing is, there’d been stuff percolating in my imagination for years before that.”
“Yes. No. Maybe. Kinda-sorta. I knew I was going somewhere, knew what that somewhere was and what would happen – sort of. What I didn’t have was a good idea as to how. Only touch-points, scenes I saw in my imagination, snapshots of moments of significance. I just had this story – these stories – and stuff was growing, percolating. And a lot of ideas and concepts started to flow. Not all at once. Things didn’t coalesce all at once, not even vaguely. But I had all these things out there: ideas, rough drafts, several chapters of something here, a few chapters of something there.”
“Okay …” CJ lets it hang.
“Third book changed everything. Dunno what it was, exactly. Each part of this was originally supposed to happen in a 24-hour stretch … and the stories do, mostly … but the third was different. More characters, more thoughts, ideas … and things started to suggest themselves … not earlier stuff, not exactly … I started touching on myth, things I’d picked up through time, in college, stuff that’d tickled my fancy, waking creative things up … and one night, smack in the middle of the narrative I sat down and began a chapter where a character was going to tell a story … and I had no idea what that story was going to be.
“Think about it a moment. Up to this point, the focus of the stories was informed by the tension between Sam, Sienna and Melanie. They were the through-line of the action, the story was invested in their story. And then Obsidian Raine tells his story and everything changes. Only I don’t realize – at this time – there is a change – I just keep telling the story.
“And maybe it really wasn’t a ‘change’, not when I first conceived it. It’s only later I start getting how Obsidian’s story has opened a door – the door, actually. It set the beginnings of the story’s underlying mythology. Suddenly all the earlier sketches and writings – all sort of began to orbit and gravitate to a universe where this weird construct that came to be known as The Worldship existed – started to shape themselves, work themselves into the ‘story’, building a history, a mythology.” I look at her. “Before Sam and Sienna and Melanie were ever written, I realized, I’d done a first draft of the first few chapters of the final age … and they became part of the final series because I made a conscious decision all these little sketches and drafts were events in a history I was looking for that would make this all much more than a romantic triangle.”
I pause, catch my breath. I note the woman sitting to my right is eyeing me suspiciously. “It’s a weird process,” I offer, smiling at her. Her return smile is tentative.
I think a moment.
“Maybe it’s what I imagined writing to be, basing what I thought to be its process on reading comics during the Silver Age, where you detected a seat-of-the-pants quality to the continuity of the growing universe of characters and their common history. You’d read a story and sense the writer and artist got together, trying to McGiver or McGuffin their way out of a jam they created for themselves and start incorporating references to other stories and fictional events, making them relevant and urgent to the story being told, changing elements of context. ‘We already have this great idea, so let’s add it to …’ Or someone really stinks up the joint, taking a book in a direction that is at odds with the continuity of what follows and you watch these guys develop story arcs that would correct the discrepancy, smooth out the wrinkles. Next thing you know, the world building becomes more complex, more sophisticated. Pretty soon it seems to be a self-perpetuating process.
“That’s sort of what happened with me, I think. I was filling in the blanks, fitting pieces into a jigsaw puzzle and seeing the big picture slowly revealed itself. Is still revealing itself, but now I’m at a place where I am very confident what the finished image looks like, and I am assembling the pieces with greater and greater surety.”
Next: The Adventure Continues
A Russian diver – not a scientist, as first reported – decided to test a theory that artificial materials used for wetsuits were repellant to Beluga Whales … the problem was that to test this theory, you needed to get naked with the mammals – in the freezing waters of the Arctic …
Her name is Natalia Avseenko.
She decided to work with at whales sans wetsuit, relying upon (as reported) her expertise in yoga and meditation to help her survive in an environment that can be lethal to a human body within five minutes …
… she remained in the water over ten minutes …
… pretty amazing … and pretty cool, pun notwithstanding …
A semi-informative video found here.
Of course, there is a downside to the story. From wikileaks:
“An area of the sea is enclosed to stop whales and dolphins getting out and instructors tame the mammals before they are transported to dolphinariums around the world — a practice many animal conservationists consider cruel.”
That’s right. These are animals that are eventually going to end up in captivity. And so, then, perhaps the photos of her swimming in freezing, instant-hypothemic water lose a touch of their magic and – for lack of a better term – purity.
It is interesting how the romance and imagination of an image can be reduced by the awareness of context.
Yet this remains: the photos are beautiful.
And the storyteller in me thrills of the thought of her adventure, and the very unique tale she brings back to tell …
Saturn as you’ve never seen Saturn, in detail so rich and precise, it steals your breath. Taken from the Cassini probe. The Sun is behind the planet, in eclipse …