Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Politics of Experience

"The experience of being the actual medium for a continual process of creation takes one past all depression or persecution of vain glory, past, even, chaos or emptiness, into the very mystery of that continual flip of non-being into being, and can be the occasion of that great liberation when one makes the transition from being afraid of nothing to the realization that there is nothing to fear. Nevertheless, it is very easy to lose one's way, and especially when one is nearest."
Chapter One, Persons and Experience, page 42

"Psychotherapy must remain an obstinate attempt of two people to recover the wholeness of being human through the relationship between them."
Chapter Two, The Psychotherapeutic Experience, page 52

"Perhaps to a limited extent we can undo what has been done to us and what we have done to ourselves. Perhaps men and women were born to love one another, simply and genuinely, rather than to this travesty that we call love. If we can stop destroying ourselves we may stop destroying others. We have to begin by admitting and even accepting our violence, rather than blindly destroying ourselves with it, and therewith we have to realize that we are as deeply afraid to live and to love as we are to die."
Chapter Three, The Mystification of Experience, page 76

""Russia" or "China" have "being" nowhere else than in the fantasy of everyone, including "Russians" and "Chinese": nowhere and everywhere. A "being" fantasied by "The Russians" as what they are in and which they have to defend, and fantasied by the non-Russians as an alien super-subject-object from whom one has to defend one's "freedom," is such that if we all act in terms of such mass serialized preontological fantasy, we may all be destroyed by a "being" that never was, except insofar as we all invented her or it or him."
Chapter Four, Us and Them, page 94

So, did you read it, Alex? It isn't very long. I started yesterday and got through Chapters 1-7, and just finished "Bird of Paradise" today. I also read the first two chapters (90 pages) of the Gulag Archipelago today. Are you keeping up? ;)

I am having a hard time finding words for this book. It is ostensibly about Psychiatry, and a few sections treat that subject fairly specifically, but the more striking parts of the book seem to have a much more general significance. In particular, chapters 1, 3, and 4 are . . . woah. They are incredibly striking and left me stunned. It fits in a lot with Derrick Jensen themes, although his wording is much more severe and "prophetic" than Jensen's. Particularly, Chapter Four, Us and Them, takes the traditional Anarchist rejection of nations and borders and all that garbage, and applies it in a much wider, more profound sense, bringing it to its logical and very scary conclusion.

If you're going to read along, this is my interpretation by chapter:
Chapter 1: I'm not sure I got this, entirely. I may re-read it. It certainly seemed very meaningful, and I felt very affected by it after I was done.
Chapter 2: He talks about psychotherapy. It's interesting, but not really relevant to me right now, I guess.
Chapter 3: About education and indoctrination, essentially. It talks about the heinous crimes modern education and civilization in general do to the minds of children.
Chapter 4: An extremely insightful and fascinating explanation and exploration of groups; families up through nations. The most important part of the book.
Chapter 5: About schizophrenia. He brings up the familiar (to me, at least) point that we should not assume that psychiatrists and psychologists are completely sane themselves, that their perspective should not be accepted at face value as "objective."
Chapter 6: His interpretation of schizophrenia and mental illness in general as journeys into the unknown of one's own mind. He explains his theory that this is a natural process we should encourage, which would lead to people emerging from them healthy, seeing the world in a new way.
Chapter 7: A psychotic breakdown experienced by one of his friends, transcribed from a tape-recording. It is mildly interesting, but sounds like an Erowid trip report, except more poorly written.
The Bird of Paradise: A work of fiction or poetry, I guess. While he references several things he touched on in the book itself, I don't understand the point of it or why it is here. At first he talks extensively about dead flesh, fetuses, abortions, which he then explains as an intentional attempt to shock. Noteworthy for not one but two uses of the word smegma in 20 pages, if nothing else.

Definitely read this, put it on the top of a list or something, go get it, and read it now! It is very short and very worthwhile.

It might be worth mentioning that, after spending all day (I stayed home from school) reading this book, I went to bed and couldn't sleep well. I mentally listed my flaws and all the ways my friends are better than I am. For a long time, probably, I have been carefully balancing my very strong ego with a moderate to intense self-criticism. Apparently the former has been winning, considering how self-indulgent I am. This never was a problem before, but now certain things have been cropping up.

I have been spending so much time alone in my room, that I have gotten really comfortable here. Back when I was helping with the flood, I claimed that I wasn't aware of the continued efforts they were doing after I didn't feel like working anymore. I went one day to SIFA to play in a salsa band, intending that I come there three days a week and practice with them and learn salsa rhythms. I met a kid, who wanted me to go like two weekends ago to start giving lessons to a friend of his, which I never did. I haven't been in contact with them since. I know I should do these things, and I'd probably enjoy them, but I know I will just not make the effort. I AM LAZY.

I cannot say if this book had a hand in putting me into this state of mind; they do seem to come occasionally, haunting the time between a day and its sleep. This one was particularly sharp. I felt moderately "alone in the world."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Ra Expeditions

I finished my second of my new books today in school. I seem to be fairly flying through these, as this one and Phantastes both took me only 4 and 3 days respectively. I suppose this is because school is chronically boring and vacuous. That is, not only are the teachers bad and I don't pay attention to them, but they very frequently don't show up. I read 210 pages yesterday; 110 of those during school.

So anyway, during the last two days, I crossed the Atlantic twice in a boat made of papyrus reeds. I had already read Thor Heyerdahl's first work, the one which made him famous, regarding his Kon-Tiki voyage from Peru to Polynesia. However, I don't remember being effected by that book as I was by this one. Whether that is due to the slightly difference subject matter treated, the change in the author's style, or more likely a change in my own attitude, I do not know. While the book is, like Kon-Tiki, primarily about sailing an ancient boat across a huge, angry ocean, it starts with about 100 pages of Thor traveling all around the world learning about reed boats and finding the things he needs to build one.

I guess right now I just want to be an adventurer like him. Perhaps an academic career is one of the only ways to see some parts of the world? Antarctica and all those remote tribes that still live closely and harmoniously with the Earth aren't places you go as a tourist. Maybe I'll need to find some scientific pathway that will get me to the poles, and do Anthropology fieldwork in college. The Peace Corps sounds kind of attractive, except that it's part of the US Government. Something similar, anyway. There was a Peace Corps dude in the book who just drove around the Sahara alone in a jeep drilling wells in Arab towns to keep them from going to war against their repressive Christian post-colonial government (in Chad).

I thought The Ra Expeditions would be a scientific and a bit drier change of pace from Phantastes, to keep from using up all my magical fun books right away, but I was wrong; at least at the beginning, it is practically the same book in a lot of ways, except that it takes place in the real world. That of course only makes it more fantastical, though. I recommend this to you if you like Anthropology and adventures. Not necessarily something you need to rip yourself away from "Important College Work" or "Important Highschool Work" for, though.

I found this book on a Wikipedia adventure:

I want to see it.

Also, one of those happy internet random finds:

Upon reading this I thought that this man is like me from the future. Or something like that. That perhaps is not at all true, but he seems like a pretty cool guy, anyway. I am considering emailing him. For Sylvie, one of the books on the first list is about Feynman. It might be a little premature to say this, but he reminds me of you, Beverly.

Finally, I want to gauge interest in a communal game of Lexicon:

Friday, October 24, 2008


"I sat a long time, unwilling to go, but my unfinished story urged me on. I must act and wander. With the sun well risen, I rose, and put my arms as far as they would reach around the beech tree, and kissed it, and said good-bye. "
Chapter IV

"Soon I fell asleep, overcome with fatigue and delight. In dreams of unspeakable joy--of restored friendships; of revived embraces; of love which said it had never died; of faces that had vanished long ago, yet said with smiling lips that they knew nothing of the grave; of pardons implored, and granted with such bursting floods of love, that I was almost glad I had sinned--thus I passed through this wondrous twilight. I awoke with the feeling that I had been kissed and loved to my heart's content; and found that my boat was floating motionless by the grassy shore of a little island."
Chaper XVIII

"... You will come back to me someday, I know. But I beg you, for my sake, my dear child, to do one thing. In whatever sorrow you may be, however inconsolable and irremediable it may appear, believe me that the old woman in the cottage, with the young eyes" (and she smiled) "knows something, though she must not always tell it, that would quite satisfy you about it, even in the worst moments of your distress. ... Go, my son, and do something worth doing."
Chapter XIX

I finished this book today, after starting Wednesday. While his style may not be for everyone, and perhaps is something that requires a bit of indulgence, I loved it, and would list it among my favoritest of books. It was a very perfect Romantic Period book, similar in that way to Narcissus and Goldmund, which is an even more perfect book of Romanticism, though not of the period itself. Every little natural thing is personified in every description, the narrator falls in love with every girl he sees, he dreams, he meets cosmic mothers, he is decieved by witches, a Beech-tree professes her love of him, and reality is constantly shifting. Highly recommended. It reads quickly and refreshingly, something even those busy with "important college work" can slip in, I feel. A note on the quotes: the whole book is like this; I merely posted the stand-outs, the things that really caught my attention.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Riddle

A very long time ago, a mysterious, powerful woman lived alone, high in the mountains. No one knows where she came from, nor does she have any known relatives. In the past, small religious groups have claimed to be her distant offspring, but few give much credence to them, and interest in her story has long since faded away.

Her life was necessarily a simple one, as subsistence farming in inhospitable climates can never yield many luxuries. However, this suited her, as she had long ago ceased to see her body as anything more than a tool. For years, she was fully concentrated on her task, working day and night in the cramped but orderly confines of her workshop. The scope of her project was well beyond anything a modern human being would think to attempt alone. Our race lost the tenacity and perseverance to live thousands of years perfecting a truly ambitious life's work long before the development of the written word.

The object of her work was the construction of a machine; a beautiful machine, a complex machine, a machine capable of adapting to the world, learning from it, surviving long past the life of its creator, and, ultimately, affecting the world around it. It was a powerful machine, capable of many things. It was self-propelled, could think creatively and problem-solve, and was entirely self-sufficient. The machine could find its own fuel from many sources, and refine it into a form it could process. It could replace any damaged parts within a generation, and could recover from nearly any damage it suffered. In addition, the machine had the capacity to defend itself from attackers, both human and animal.

The machine was also capable of many things that could help its creator, like farming, cleaning fish, hunting, building furniture and even houses, and any number of menial service tasks and chores. However, all evidence seems to indicate that this was not the purpose the machine was built for, though it may have served this function at some point during its creation. No, this machine was clearly designed for a much greater destiny, though that goal will probably never become specifically known.

While her specific purpose may not be known, the scope of her project tells us something of the dedication and willpower she put into it. While modern computer scientists and roboticists have been steadily advancing in fields like creative problem-solving, conversation, self-repair and defense, and any manner of physical movement and tasks, they can only dream of accomplishing the feats embodied in this machine. For, beyond all of its impressive physical and logical capacities, its creator's true genius lies in the emotional aspect of the machine. Over the course of its training and long existence, the machine learned to appreciate music, to dance, to paint, to feel sympathy and remorse and even love and hate.

Moreover, it learned to do all these things creatively; not painting the world as it is (though the machine was certainly capable of this) but painting it in a way that gave insight into its own peculiar "soul," not just dancing a pattern, but dancing its own emotions, and even composing its own music. The machine was capable of more than mere conversation; interaction with the machine felt like becoming a member of a true community. Many speculate that this was the true purpose and goal behind the creation of the machine, to alleviate the loneliness of its creator.

Just as it had been designed to, the machine survived the death of its creator, and many years beyond. As she had intended, it grew to become a part of the environment, developing symbiotic relationships with the plants and animals it lived with. It endured storms, famines and droughts, fierce winters, and disease (another odd characteristic of the machine was that it could fall prey to natural diseases).

Unfortunately, however, the machine was destroyed by Spanish explorers in the early 16th century, who did not even bother to make record of the machines existence before they died attempting the difficult mountain passage in winter. The remains of the machine and the surrounding area are currently the subject of intense archaeological study. Ironically, early research indicates the machine was known among local indigenous peoples as a kind and welcoming host that frequently helped and sheltered travelers crossing these same mountains.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sacred Morning Rites

Continuing previous theme, near the beginning of my time here, I was very concentrated on the idea of personal spirituality, the way the things that are holy and magical and beautiful and important in the world are different for every person, and I intended to write a very flowery text describing my "Sacred Morning Rites." It was hopefully going to be written in the style of a canonical, organized religious rite. However, I have ditched that idea, and decided it fits the concept better merely to describe the things I do in themselves, without trying to sound pompous. This only happens on school days. I wake up at 6:30.

I awake every day to my cellphone alarm clock. I rise, naked, having slept that way, and dress in the dark. I stretch my legs. I put all my things in my backpack, go to the bathroom, piss, and go to the kitchen table. I fill my glass with water, which flows slowly. I drain the first glass, fill it again slightly, pour the water in my bowl. I fill the cup again while putting powdered soy milk in the bowl and mix it in. I have time to do all this with one hand while I fill the cup. I pour granola in the bowl, eat the granola. I drink the water, fill the cup again, and repeat several times; as much as I can before we have to leave. I clean my place, put away the things, and tie my tie. All the while, drinking more water, filling the glass. We leave for school, hoping to see an extraordinary sunrise. Usually we are too late.

Monday, October 20, 2008


I want to talk about some philosophical concept or something like that, but first, some business.
I got a box from my parents today, a box containing my first 5 books:
R.D. Laing's The Politics of Experience
George MacDonald's Phantastes
Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago
Thor Heyerdahl's The Ra Expeditions
T.H. White's The Once and Future King

The problem is that I'm currently 110 pages into the book Javier gave me, a 430 page book about the Inquisition with a considerable amount of pornography in it. That's going pretty quickly, though. Together this box contains some 2000 pages of text. I suppose it will take a while to finish.

The important part of this message, regarding a long term, slowly evolving revelation or worldview shift.

A long time ago, I started viewing the world as divine. I choose this word because one day, Mr. Dean was explaining the 5 basic worldview categories, and I felt that mine fell between two of them, which Mr. Dean, an incredibly smart man by all accounts, claimed was not possible. While maintaining my lifelong atheism, I had added to that a belief that the Universe is divine. This, to me, does not mean that we ought to worship it or anything like that; it is at the same time a completely useless revelation, one that changes nothing with regard to daily life, and the MOST important revelation, one that subtly changes your attitude toward everything and makes you the happiest person you can be, when you embrace it fully.

This revelation was essentially a product of my attitude up to that time, and stayed no more well-articulated than that for a long time. However, this summer, the idea came up again in conversation with Eileen. She said to me something like "I want to put the sacred back into the world." After this, I began seeing connections to the idea all over, in Jack Kerouac, in Hermann Hesse, in JD Salinger, especially in Derrick Jensen, and it led to a renewed affirmation of this old revelation, which now took a new form. I don't know why I ended up articulating the idea this way, put somehow I hit upon the term "Magic." Since then, I have been spending a lot of time trying to prove the existence of magic, and have done fairly well, I feel.

My proofs are mostly things like "ants carrying pieces of cut leaves" and "clouds" and "dreams" and "Time," simple things like that. The biggest one, of course, is the "How strange it is to be anything at all" (from In the Aeroplane Over the Sea), perhaps more commonly known as the problem of "the Meaning of Life."

The other day, I arrived at a definition of magic, one that doesn't necessarily work, but was a feeling. Magic is anything you don't understand. Obviously this is complete bullshit, no? I don't understand war, but I certainly don't think it's magic. And this sentiment is exactly the same thought JT argued against Alex's interest in science, that once you understand the world, it loses its mystery and its deep meaning. This also is obviously false. I think perhaps the feeling I was going for here is that things that are magical are things that aren't valued by the Capitalist, efficiency-productivity-minded business world. So, I have reached absolutely no new conclusions here, and the preceding is nothing more than a long-winded, rambling, poorly written-out thought process I've had over the past few days. Then again, it's also the most important thing in the world.

Edit: Scratch previous paragraph; I found the articulation for what I was looking for today in George MacDonald's Phantastes. First, from C.S. Lewis' introduction: "The quality which had enchanted me in his imaginative works turned out to be the quality of the real universe, the divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic reality in which we all live."

Then, the longer and more important Novalis quote MacDonald opens the book with. MacDonald was apparently a huge fan and one of the first English translators of Novalis. This is kind of long, but I'm going to quote the whole thing because I like it a lot:
"One can imagine stories without rational cohesion and yet filled with associations, like dreams, and poems that are merely lovely sounding, full of beautiful words, but also without rational sense and connections--with, at the most, individual verses which are intelligible, like fragments of the most varied things. This true Poesie can at most have a general allegorical meaning and an indirect effect, as music does. Thus is Nature so purely poetic, like the room of a magician or a physicist, like a children's nursery or a carpenter's shop. . .

"A fairy-story is like a vision without rational connections, a harmonious whole of miraculous things and events--as, for example, a musical fantasia, the harmonic sequence of an Aeolian harp, indeed Nature itself.

"In a genuine fairy-story, everything must be miraculous, mysterious, and interrelated; everything must be alive, each in its own way. The whole of Nature must be wondrously blended with the whole world of the Spirit. In fairy-story the time of anarchy, lawlessness, freedom, the natural state of Nature makes itself felt in the world. . . The world of the fairy-story is that world which is opposed throughout to the world of rational truth, and precisely for that reason it is so thoroughly an analogue to it, as Chaos is an analogue to the finished Creation."

I suppose the idea is not exactly the same, as he's specifically talking about fiction, but this is essentially the feeling I have. Ironic to read the following paragraph in light of this, too.

Another thing about this is that it's made me really interested in fantasy again, though I'm not exactly sure why. Following this, I read a bunch of Borges and have been spending way, way, way too much time on Wookieepedia, and so now I have become obsessed with the idea of creating imaginary worlds, or I suppose just fiction in general.

I have also found the useless philosophical idea that fiction cannot communicate reality; symbols can never recreate an original experience, of course, and so to me all fiction, even realistic fiction, or even non-fiction, has become nothing more than a look into the author's mind. Which of course is just as cool and worthwhile, so again, nothing accomplished!

More business: This is an entirely serious question, too. Why are people not biting my attempts to make group discussions and brainstorms? Are you no longer frequenting this site? Are you not interested? Are they not understandable? Do you honestly think you have nothing to add?

Somebody remind me what purpose grading students in school accomplishes? I've completely forgotten and don't like that they do it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I got an interesting idea from two sources recently. First, a wonderful conversation I had with Trey on MSN, and second, my Anthropology teacher. Trey and I were talking about conversation and how it sometimes seems either vapid and worthless, or very difficult to initiate. Eileen and I have talked about this in the past as well. Trey made a really great observation, that in order to guarantee success in a conversation, one need only make sure an exchange takes place: give an interesting idea, beautiful observation, funny story; anything that brightens a person's day or deepens their contemplation. The first difficulty this presents is remembering one of these things in the heat of the moment.

The second, which is the subject of this note, is how to get a stranger to reveal one of these nuggets to you. What kind of questions can you ask strangers or acquaintances that will yield this kind of answer without making them feel on the spot, cornered, and especially not attacked. Conversations have a life of their own, and once one is born in a good direction, it grows organically, reaching into places one never expects, and can arrive at insightful conclusions new to both participants. How can we predictably initiate this kind of conversation?

The second influence was that my Anthropology teacher, introducing investigation techniques, assigned us to do two interviews and a survey, which we will give to 5 people, to practice these techniques. We may ask about anything at all we would like. So, I am going to ask some questions at the Rotary meeting tonight, since it is due tomorrow, but I would like to use this post as the beginning of a general collection and discussion of this topic, which fascinates me. I will post my questions and responses after I have collected them.

Edit: My survey and first 2 sets of responses
1. Why should people own private property?
a. It gives a sense of belonging and causes us to respect each others' boundaries.
b. It is part of our nature.
c. Adam, I can't tell why I can only tell how much I love my little private property I call this place my little piece of heaven on earth. My husband Randy and I have worked very hard to take a field and turned it into our home that we love. I look out back and watch the wildlife and the little red barn that we had moved out here, little windmill, little tractor,little garden, little pond and trees.We are here and own property for the sense of love for land and nature. it's our little mark and achievment in our lives.
2. How would you name the perfect street?
a. My Memory.
b. Miracle.
3. What defines human beings?
a. Me.
b. God's Greatest Creation; or, the best creation of Mother Nature
4. What was the time you felt most out of your element?
a. When I'm not doing what I like to do.
b. The beginning of Middle School.
5. What things are beautiful to you/What are your favorite things?
a. I'm satisfied with myself.
b. My children.
c. Sunny day, flowers, child playing in the pond trying to catch a frog in my back yard. But there are way many things that I love.
6. Do you believe you can accurately judge someone by their appearances?
a. No.
b. Yes.
7. Do you have goals or things you want to do before you die?
a. Yes.
b. Yes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My relationships mostly revolve around tickling

Tickle Tickle - Joy and laughter among family members, celebration of fun times uniting the family.

"Some research has indicated that rats can be tickled as well."

"Many of history's greatest thinkers have pondered the mysteries of the tickle response."

"A small percentage of people however, have found it possible to tickle themselves."

Paris Spleen

I was reading Paris Spleen by Charles Baudelaire today, which is a collection of prose poems that are some of the best I've ever read. I recommend it to any of you.
This particular one jumped out at me as one to post because:
-it reminds me of the short stories Alex posted the other day (which were fantastic, by the way)
-it is consistent with Adam's love of clouds
-I love soup

The Soup and the Clouds
Charles Baudelaire tr. Louise Varese

My dear little mad beloved was serving my dinner, and I was looking out of the open dining-room window contemplating those moving architectural marvels that God constructs out of mist, edifices of the impalpable. And as I looked I was saying to myself: "All those phantasmagoria are almost as beautiful as my beloved's beautiful eyes, as the green eyes of my mad monstrous little beloved."
All of a sudden I felt a terrible blow of a fist on my back, and heard a husky and charming voice, an hysterical voice, a hoarse brandy voice, the voice of my dear little beloved, saying: "Aren't you ever going to eat your soup, you damned bastard of a cloud-monger?"

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Adam, this country is a magic tree heaven.

Ancient Oak, My Great Great Grandma's farm, Gordonsville, Virginia

Ancient Oak II, Roanoake, North Carolina

Magnolia, Roanoake, North Carolina

Thursday, October 9, 2008

a few random thoughts and cloud personifications

I have had a couple thoughts lately that might be interesting to some people.

1. I have been idly trying to imagine people in their most romantic, important, alive moments, at times when they are doing something mundane, like sitting and making small talk. This is nothing very specific; I couldn't write down the things I imagine. I am just sort of taking people in one context and trying to imagine them in another.

2. Everyone knows that in algebra, the symbol you pick as a variable doesn't matter. You can use x,y, and z, as is commonly done, or any other letter of the alphabet. However, following from this, we could also use anything else. This could be useful in situations where a school is low on funds and teachers and time, because they could combine a class like Art History or Literature or even music with Algebra. A famous painting, historical figure, Shakespeare sonnet, quote, sonata theme, or really anything should be used in place of the boring and uneducational x, y, and z.

I have also been compiling ideas for a hopeful story or novella I will write regarding clouds in some way. The main thing I have yet to decide is whether it will be a mere personification of the clouds themselves, or about cloud people. There is a lot of potential to both. Here, I want to list and, if anyone wants to, they can brainstorm with me. These are essentially explaining weather phenomena in a personified, mythical manner.

- Fog is clouds who have somewhere lost their way and been lured to the ground.
- Factories, particularly smokestacks and their smoke, are regarded as imitators at the least, if not with outright scorn and derision by clouds.
- The wind, as it controls the path a cloud takes and can destroy it, is regarded as an important spiritual entity. By some it is thought of as the hand of destiny, by others, an inexplicable force of nature.
- Landdwellers, humans, and their edifices, are a topic of contention among clouds. They have long been regarded rather warmly, as something clouds can help, sheltering them from the hot sun, providing water to plants, etc. However, since the advent of factories and airplanes (which kill children), some clouds have become violently anti-human, and try to kill them with lightning. Others maintain the same attitude as before, providing kind services, and hoping to mend their ways by leading through example. Still others describe humanity as a pox, a disease, a point of view encouraged by the fact that they are very small. Things like airplanes are regarded by these clouds in the same manner we would treat cancer or other deadly illnesses.
- Clouds like to birdwatch.
- Clouds have life cycles, stages, important events, holidays, etc. These could involve things like spending time as an angry nimbus cloud, retiring to the wisps in the high altitudes (where it is sunny), becoming full of rain and letting the rain fall, a process not exactly like pregnancy and childbirth, but similar in some ways. Actual childbirth would involve the creation of a baby cloud, of course, and this happens too. Their communities are very acutely temporal in nature, and though some clouds travel together for a long time, they can be blown apart at any moment. Though clouds are rarely truly alone, they are very aware of the fact that they are fundamentally alone in the sky. These truths affect different clouds different ways. Many have learned to be very friendly and develop relationships very quickly, while others have become embittered by harsh, sudden separations and deaths.

If this story regards instead the cloud people, they will probably end up having a close relationship with a cloud, which carries them everywhere. Something like a combined house/mount. Houseboat? Cloudboat?

I am eager to see if any of you will be interested enough to come up with something, and what it will be.

I finished my second novel in Spanish today. It was the 5th book of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events, The Austere Academy.


Monday, October 6, 2008

A Few Short Stories, Part 1

I wish to learn to write. When I do, my skills might improve, and I may be eventually able to write something good. But in the meantime, here are some old - and some new - short stories I have written for pleasure.

Galaxy Times in Fair Oak

A tall, kind, and intelligent man strode down Main Street one fine summer's day on his way to work. "Hello," he smiled to the crossing guard as he turned and walked onto Berry Ave. "Good morning," he waved to Dan, the local sheriff, as he drove by. "How's business?" he smiled again, to Carl, the kind old owner of the local antique store.

As he rounded the corner on to Trees Blvd. our protagonist felt in his pocket some kind of tiny sphere, maybe a marble or gum drop, he thought. He reached in and pulled out what looked unmistakably like a wee planet. "A planet?" he asked himself, eagerly curious, "couldn't be!" He suddenly felt a very hot something creeping down his arm from his shoulder. Startled, he shook his sleeve, and a fiery, bright little ball fell and landed – splat! – on the ground, splashing small bits of burning gas on his shoe. "A little sun?" he laughed out loud, "unheard of!"

Another man looked on, puzzled, as our protagonist danced around in the middle of the street, flailing his arms; pulling a little moon out of his ear here, and shaking yet another star from his shoe there. "Why good morning, I thought that was you," said this man, who was Ben, the local grocer - walking across the street now - "Say, is something the matter?"

"Oh, hello Ben, and good morning to you too," Our protagonist danced around yet, and snatched at a nebula that was itching his back. "I'm not sure yet if something's the matter. I seem to be sprouting the cosmos!" he laughed.

"Ha!" laughed Ben, "I'll bet." He walked away and waved, "I'll see you later, now."

In a second, and without warning, our protagonist found himself hovering above the ground, and he began spinning very slowly in the air. "What's this now?" he asked himself hurriedly. He was beginning to panic now, as any sensible man would. Stars and planets and space dust began pouring from his pant legs and flying from the collar of his shirt. They encircled him, creating a whirling cloud around him the size of perhaps a small cabin. His chest began to glow a very hot orange. "Well, I'll be a…" he managed to yelp, before his head and arms and legs exploded with light. When the spectacle finished, our protagonist, now nothing more than a large spiraling mass of stars and comets and solar systems, floated lifelessly above the middle of Trees Blvd. emitting a warm, bluish glow.

And so there he remained. The authorities blocked off the road, and eventually, the town rerouted the road around him – finding that they could not through any means available to them move him - and built a small park there, with him as the centerpiece. So: life went on, and our protagonist continued to provide eerie light and warmth to the town, and fascinated puzzlement to scientists, who toiled day and night attempting to solve this enigma.

The Pit

I climbed down the ladder into the so far shallow pit. I greedily snatched the shovel and started digging. I knew it would be obvious when I found what I was looking for. According to legends, it was miles in diameter. It was supposed to be a monolith of sorts, but composed of the stuff of dreams. It was dusk now, and inside the pit I could barely see. I leaned down to pick up a large rock and I felt my keys fall from my shirt pocket, but I did not see where they landed. "Shit", I muttered to myself.

Hunted Hat

A small man found himself the perfect hat at an old store. He immediately determined that he would keep the hat for himself and let no one else wear it. He was walking rudely the next day along the boardwalk - which he owned - along the river. He heard a loud, piercing meow from behind that sent him reeling around. He would scold this offender; he opened his mouth in anticipation even before he was done spinning. Upon landing though, he found himself staring down the barrel of a pistol. That meow was the last thing our mean protagonist would hear. The shot sent him backward over the railing and into the cold, dark water below, hat and all.

The Horror of the Haunted House

A man and his wife sat in a real estate office. "What about this one?" asked the wife. "That looks nice," replied the husband. "Oh, you don't want that one," said the agent as she walked in, "people say it's haunted." The wife looked at her husband, "Oh, no, we wouldn't want that one."

Growing Up

One day in early summer, on a sunny beach on a still, crystalline lake, four adventurous young boys were playing a game as pirates. "I'll walk the plank!" one of them proudly exclaimed, and thrusted his stick-sword in the air. Another one spun about and boasted "I am the captain, you dogs!" They went for a swim. A few decades later, the four friends - now mature, successful adults - returned to the beach. Now they returned as business colleagues, in hopes of developing the waterfront. Slowly, each man remembered that day when they were young, and they all grew slightly embarrassed. "Ah, how stupid we were then, pretending," one man declared. "What poor, poor idiots we were in those days," one of his partners added.

Spontaneous Noose

An old man walked calmly down the sidewalk one day toward his workplace. "Noose?" he thought, suddenly. But it was not soon enough. He found himself hanging by his neck, the sidewalk no longer beneath his feet. "Noose!" he gasped angrily, gasping for air. His neck snapped. His body hung there, limp.

A Great Bench

One day, some men built a bench in a park. The next day the whole town had gathered around to appraise their craftsmanship. "Wonderful job!" said one man. "Splendid work!" said another. "A sitter's dream!" It was unanimous: this was a great bench.

The End

There will be another post in a few days I have some more to be edited that I will give to y'all. Hope enjoyed.

Friday, October 3, 2008

What the hell?

I was just reading up on T.H. White a bit, and apparently his biographer's name is "Sylvia Townsend Warner." Alex, you won't get this at all, but it's really damned remarkable, isn't it, everyone else?
Recently, concerning Things That Make Sense, that you don't quite know how to say they make sense:

"When I write, I can imagine a child in California wishing to give away what he's just seen--a wild animal fleeing through cresote cover in the desert, casting a bright-eyed backward glance. Or three lines of overheard conversation that seem to contain everything we need to understand to repair the gaping rift between body and soul. I look back...and know that it can take a lifetime to convey what you mean, to find the opening. You watch, you set it down. Then you try again."
-Barry Lopez

"We have not touched the stars,
nor are we forgiven, which brings us back
to the hero's shoulders and a gentleness that comes,
not from the absence of violence, but despite
the abundance of it. The lawn drowned, the sky on fire,
the gold light falling backward through the glass
of every room."
-Richard Siken