The Long & Short Of It
Quite unusually, I am able to show you all of something this week. There is an obvious magic to this lovely blast of flash. The story of a man lost in the desert, who in his moment of desperation, looks for relgion and finds it in the cactus cross (which is not a Catholic cross, without the JC) and the rotting desert pig farting a putrid incense.
Talking to Paul on Twitter DM he spoke about how this flash is a reflection of what he considers to be the American approach to religion — and in particular the christian megachurch. This approach is one that only finds god in moments of complete desperation, that is to say, only being able to find god in death and delerium.
I like the balance of it, the idea of a godly immolation in the end — a complete wiping out of the self under the brightness of the light of a celestial omnipotence, and, the fearful self-preservation in the first half — fear of being pricked by the Christ-cactus.
The language in it — the brain-spoken thoughts come with the strangeness one gets when they are tired, or a little dim. That repetition— “like how the actual Jesus might actually say it” and “way way more light than a human brain can handle” — brings us closer to the average man who has wandered in the desert. This isn’t a lost poet, but someone who is having their first truely trancendent experience at their moment of expiration.
I dug out some diaries this week. My grandfather spent a little time writing up my great grandmother’s diaries, which run from something like 1935 to 1991. I’ve decided I ought to do something with his unfinished project — and some of it is quite exciting as there was occasionally a war on and my great grandfather, Horace, was a firefighter.
There is an exciting project in the works from Mike Kleine. He wrote a book in 5 days, of 100k words. It’s an experiment with generated texts — on the subject of the zodiac killer. And it looks brilliant:
as you and see, this is extremely up my street:
Mike explains to the work as a kind of experience, rather than a narrative. That kind of layering of ideas until the katamari ball of the idea is so vast and complexly layered that is can no longer be contained in our heads.
It is intended to be read in a trance, to be incanted, to scar you into taking part in the work itself. Mike’s goal was to be able to create a novel that really could be read from any page. So far, with the making-text-an-object of the examples we’ve been shown, this is likely to be true.
I like to engage with the idea that the language we use can effect us directly — reading a spell is the same as saying the spell, and you will get some magic out of it, some transformation, even if it is not the intended one. In the same way that the envionment that you’re in dicatates the range of actions you can take, so too does the language you surround yourself with create a structure in which your boundaries are set.
I’m really looking forward to Lonely Men Club which I believe will be published by Inside The Castle.
I’ll leave you with this snipped from out conversation, which is the closest thing I think we’re getting to a plot summary:
It adheres to a four-dimensionalist/eternalist interpretation of time as the character of the Zodiac Killer is depicted as that of an outsider & itinerant entity. He exists as a temporarily trapped(?) figure within the confines of our (forever) shape-shifting universe, until he is able to depart from this realm & conquer/acquire another (his true)(?) form. It is an extreme fable. More than anything, I am interested in spiritual truths and obfuscated memories.
I caught up with Inside The Castle, the publisher who will be bringing Mike’s work to the world, after the newsletter went out.
The publisher talked about their attempt to find work that could be read in many different ways — while they “aren’t interested in teaching computers to write the perfect short story” they are happy for “the computer being a tool to mine deeper perceptions of our culture by revealing our own language to us”.
Naturally, they are unconcerned with the obvious criticisms of inauthenticisty in generative work — and that “This endeavor exists in a family tree with the automatic writing if the surrealists, Burroughs’ cut-up, Michaux on mescaline, or Butor or Metcalf and their text collages. In a sense this is far more authentic than someone writing and publishing what they think the world is waiting to hear.”
This approach is one that allows reader to reapproach a work as they read it. A way to find a new surprise and fun in a work because it challenges them in it’s structure, form or otherwise. I offered that texts like this could be seen as museums, in that they are curated and one object effects you understanding of the object in the next room. ItC considers it more of a city:
I still like to think of a text as a city. It preserves the curation you are talking about but opens it to a lot more chance, competing values, contradiction, noise. I think as long as the “enhancement” you are talking about is activated in the reading process more than it is in the writing process.
So we can look forward to a flaneur around a city filled with versions of the zodiac killer looking for his final form.
Thanks for reading Etch Thier Own. It was written by @CJEggett, and proofread by no one. I’ve recently been rereading Ben Marcus’ collection Leaving The Sea — and I don’t think I finished it the first time. Honestly, can someone just let me know what they thought of the brutality of the last story The Moors? I don’t really know what to feel. Oh, also, there’s a story about a great writer who tries to finish his great work, but realises the first volume is fading, the ink is lightening — and so he goes back and tries to transcribe the old words. Then his son comes to help, when he gets too old to type, and soon, he cannot speak and only blink out the words in morse code — they have a system, and soon the son gets old and his son takes over from him, and once he gets old he translates the blinks into his own language of tapping or something and this goes on and … how does anyone get anything done? I mean, can anyone remember this story, and where it was published?