Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; The Shadow Out Of Time, Conclusion
“If that abyss and what it held were real, there is no hope. Then, all too truly, there lies upon this world of man a mocking and incredible shadow out of time. But mercifully, there is no proof that these things are other than fresh phases of my myth-born dreams. I did not bring back the metal case that would have been proof, and so far those subterrene corridors have not been found. If the laws of the universe are kind, they will never be found.“
Welcome back to another Blind Read! This week is all about catharsis as we conclude the final story Howard Phillips wrote by himself, before diving into the handful of stories August Derleth co-wrote (or maybe ghost wrote) with Lovecraft. This was the perfect story to leave for last, as the quote above indicates and sums up the multi-year long project I’ve undertaken. Lovecraft himself was a Shadow out of Time, darkening our doorsteps with new horrors which cannot quite be seen but can be sensed and felt with the weight of eternity, the weight of history, and the weight of mythology.
Lovecraft moved his story beyond pointed philosophical treatises to an all out adventure with a narrative hurtling forward like an out of control semi flying downhill without brakes…and yet there is no grand reveal. Lovecraft does what he always does and lets the atmosphere play the role of terrorizer and he lets you know this right up front: “I cannot hope to give any true idea of the horror and dread contained in such echoes, for it was upon a wholly intangible quality – the sharp sense of pseudo-memory – that such feelings mainly depended.“
The story begins with a letter to our protagonist Professor Peaslee about an archaeological find of some strange stone and architecture in Australia. “They are mostly sandstone and granite, though one is almost certainly made of a queer sort of cement or concrete. They bear evidence of water action, as if this part of the world had been submerged and come up again after long ages – all since these blocks were made and used.”
Immediately we’re drawn back to “The Call of Cthulhu” and the great lost city of the Elder Gods, but more specifically the titular Cthulhu…R’lyeh. In that other story we are presented with a lost city found off the coast of Australia in the Indian Ocean. The city had architecture that was queer and somehow both convex and concave at the same time. The city which was lost to time under the sea. Now, here, in Australia we find evidence that “part of the world had been submerged and come up again after long ages.” We know that this is on landlocked Australia, so it more than likely is not part of R’lyeh, however it is undoubtedly part of that same civilization.
So what does Professor Peaslee do? He gathers a group of scientists, including Professor William Dyer of Miskatonic University. Does that name sound familiar to you? Well that’s because this is the Professor who went on the Antarctic Expedition in “At the Mountains of Madness,” where I personally was introduced to the Shoggoth.
Again, it seems like Lovecraftian synergy that all of these stories come to bear in this last novelette. This series is truly Blind, meaning that I always loved the concepts of Lovecraft, but had never actually read him. I was always daunted by the language, so I’ve started many times, but never followed through. I decided that the only way to keep me honest and finish these stories was to do an academic exercise and deconstruct the stories and look for the narratives. I knew there was a Dream Cycle, I knew there were gothic horror stories, I knew there was the Mythos, but I didn’t know which story was which, so I randomly picked a jumping off point and went into them. Similarly, as I traversed through his oeuvre I didn’t know which story to read, so I chose them based upon length and how much time I had in that given week to be able to honestly read, digest, and compose an essay. The fact that all of these stories are converging (and believe me the denouement of this story feels just like “The Beast in the Cave“) into this single story, my last story, just solidifies my adoration of the process and of the author.
Some of Lovecraft’s best writing comes in the last chapter of this story, and though it doesn’t have the shocking ending that he was truly going for, it brings the feeling of the two different halves of the story together, much like it brings together the true forms of Lovecraft’s writing.
The crew goes on expedition and begins their dig in the Australian Desert. Our narrator felt a “Strange sense of compulsion” and goes off to find a “Cyclopean tunnel” which leads down into the earth. The description is reminiscent of the tunnels in “At the Mountains of Madness” and is in fact the only real depredation I have for this story. We never get to see Dyer do anything, but we know he has first hand knowledge of this architectural structure.
Beyond this there are some excellently written horror scenes, where Peaslee traverses down into the depths of this ancient alien sub-world and has vague memories of seeing the glyphs on the stones. In addition he seems to have knowledge of which way to go to find the evidence he’s looking for. Throughout the whole descent there is a terribly oppressive feeling of anxiety. Peaslee somehow knows that he must remain quiet, he knows that there’re sleeping giants down in the depths and he knows that he must be quick and silent – or he will never return from this venture. Some great creature which, “I thought of that which the Great Race had feared, and of what might still be lurking – be it ever so weak and dying – down there.”
Strange feelings of knowledge and memory keep assaulting Peaslee until he finally finds what he’s looking for. It’s a tome of ancient knowledge:
“At length I tremblingly pulled the book from it’s container and stared fascinatedly at the well-known hieroglyphs on the cover. It seemed to be in prime condition, and the curvilinear letters of the title held me in almost as hypnotized a state as if I could read them. Indeed, I cannot swear that I did not actually read them in some transient and terrible access of abnormal memory.”
He then takes the book and flees, but makes a critical mistake, “Just as I blindly crossed the summit, unprepared for the sudden dip ahead, my feet slipped utterly and I found myself involved in a mangling avalanche of sliding masonry whose cannon-loud uproar split the black cavern air in a deafening series of earth shaking reverberations.”
He had woken the beast, or beasts. “I have a dim picture of myself as flying through the hellish basalt vault of the Elder Things, and hearing that damnable alien sound piping up from the open, unguarded door of limitless nether blacknesses.”
He then comes to a rift which he must traverse, but to jump up is far worse that jumping down. He doesn’t think he can make it, but at the same time he can almost feel the Elder Thing at his heels. The howling and whistling of the demonic metropolis seem to come from all directions, so he decides that there’s no way out. He must jump…but he doesn’t make it:
The I saw the chasm’s edge, leaped frenziedly with every ounce of strength I possessed, and was instantly engulfed in a pandaemoniac vortex of loathsome sound and utter, materially tangible blackness.
While in this state of utter blackness he seems to fall into a dream, “Afterward there were visions of the Cyclopean city of my dreams – not in ruins, but just as I had dreamed of it. I was in my conical, non-human body again, and mingled with crowds of the Great Race and the captive minds who carried books up and down the lofty corridors and vast inclines.“
Sounds familiar? We even get the last line of the story to solidify what’s really happening here: “And yet, when I flashed my torch upon it in that frightful megalithic abyss, I saw that the queerly pigmented letters on the brittle, aeon-browned cellulose pages were not indeed any nameless hieroglyphics of earth’s youth. They were, instead, the letters of our familiar alphabet, spelling out the words of the English language in my own handwriting.“
This dream, this time-lapse, this dimension, is all interconnected. Peaslee spent his five lost years travelling around in the body of one of the Great Race of Yith, and he transposed horrific texts, of which he found in an aeon lost structure of the Elder Ones, buried somewhere underneath the sands of Australia. This proves the interconnectedness of Lovecraft’s universe in such a wonderful way, and is such a spectacular endpoint to his actual writing.
Lovecraft has four different styles. His satirical humor, which are one off stories. His Gothic horror, which are what they sound like, however they do interconnect with his Cosmic horror stories, they just have a more visceral, a more, well, horrific bent. The Mythos stories, or the Cosmic stories, tend to have a much more psychological horror element to them. Finally the Dream Cycle tends to be more adventurous. Those are the styles, but that’s what makes it so good, because with this story it’s readily apparent that all of his tales have some interconnectedness. Everything here happens in Lovecraft Country and Lovecraft Country is his own alternate world where this can all happen!
The Dreamers (like Randolph Carter) are actually dimensional hoppers and there’s a multiverse here in which they traverse time by sidestepping physics and jumping to whatever reality is needed. Whether that’s sailing through the galaxy with Azathoth, or grave robbing with buddies, the dreamers have this special ability to let the horror of the scope of the cosmos wash over them and allow them to experience this amount of cosmic horror thus making those stories more like adventures. Individuals exploring the great wide open. The characters who don’t have the mental capacity to deal with these realities enter the cosmic horror tales, which focus on madness, but in reality we get very few tentacles.
So this makes me wonder where the cultural consciousness came to the idea that Lovecraft had to have some kind of creature with tentacles, since while reading, you can probably count on two hands how many stories actually mention a character viewing a monster, and on one hand where you actually are given a description of what they see.
August Derleth was one of Lovecraft’s friends (and publishers) and he was the one to coin the phrase “Cthulhu Mythos” where Lovecraft preferred to call it Yog-Sothothery. So one has to wonder…was it Derleth that created this monstrous concept of what it was like to be “Lovecraftian?” I’ve never read him, so I’m not sure.
Why don’t we find out?
Join me next week as we read our first August Derleth writing as H.P. Lovecraft, “The Survivor!”
Blind Read Through: H.P. Lovecraft; The Mystery of the Graveyard, The Mysterious Ship
“In the spring of 1847, the little village of Ruralville was thrown into a state of excitement by the landing of a strange Brig is the harbour. It carried no flag, and no name was painted on its side, and everything about it was such as would excite suspicion. It was from Tripoli, Africa, and the captain was named Manuel Ruello. The Excitement increased, however; when John Griggs, (The magnate of the village) suddenly disappeared from his home. This was the night of October 4th – On October 5th the Brig left.“
Welcome to another Blind Read! This week we work to find the threads which link the Mystery of the Graveyard and The Mysterious Ship to Lovecraft’s larger works, all the while uncovering the enigma of his mind and…potentially…how the mythos came into being. Both of these stories have their beginnings firmly in the dime and nickel novels of the time, pulling from their pulpy plots and over the top protagonists.
“The Mystery of the Graveyard” also goes by the alternate title “A Dead Man’s Revenge” and has remarkable plot twists for the length of the story. Agatha Christie could have had a run for her money if Lovecraft made the turn towards mystery instead of the darker pivot towards horror. He even has a hero detective protagonist to rival Hercule Poirot in King John.
The story begins with the funeral of Joseph Burns. Burns gave some very strange and specific requirements during his funeral. He asked the rector, Mr. Dobson, “Before you put my body in the the tomb, drop this ball onto the floor, at a spot marked ‘A.‘” Dobson goes down to the tomb and does so, but never returns. The mystery follows. The second chapter begins as Dobson’s daughter gets a letter from a mysterious Mr. Bell insisting he knows where her father is and extends a demand of a ransom to get him back. Flustered, she goes to the police and asks for King John who is “a famous western detective.”
The story runs around and around as King John strives to find Bell and figure out the mystery of where the rector went until, finally, he finds that the “A” in the tomb is a trap door that activates with pressure. Dobson fell into a sub-tomb and was hidden away there until he finally escaped. After the trial it was found that all along it was a revenge plot against the rector because Joseph Burns and his brother Francis Burns had a vendetta and hired Mr. Bell to trap and hold Dobson.
The story is told in twelve very short chapters…so short that in fact they are each only a few sentences long and every chapter has a title letting the reader know what to expect. This also strikes me as Lovecraft’s way of structuring his thoughts. When we look forward to other works like “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” as a long example and my more recently reviewed “The Thing on the Doorstep” as a shorter example, Lovecraft has a certain structure in his writing in which is easier to elucidate with these stories. In both “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” and “The Thing on the Doorstep” Lovecraft breaks his writing up into chapters, but instead of having a single narrative flow, those chapters are almost single distinct stories in and of themselves. For example in both stories the first chapter is about the protagonist of the story (other than the narrator of course). It gives the reader the background and the perspective of the (supposed) “hero” of the story. The second chapter of these stories gives background to the antagonist (Curwen in “Ward” and Asenath in “Doorstep”), then each subsequent chapter has an event which drives the narrative forward. “The Mystery of the Grave-Yard” is the same type of structure, though Lovecraft breaks this down even further, presumably so he can keep the narration on track…a common tool for very young, or beginning writers. Notice how he begins the plotting the same way (Chapter 1 is about the main focal point of the story, Dobson, and chapter two introduces Bell, the main antagonist), and then has each chapter surrounds an individual event. In his later years he does a better job at painting a bigger, more lush picture by expounding on detail and experience. Tone and atmosphere are what Lovecraft is missing in his Juvenilia, but it’s what he perfects later in life and makes him the legend of horror and supernatural that he is. This point is proven even more when we move onto the next story, “The Mysterious Ship.”
This second short is told two different times in the collection I have (I’ve actually gone through a number of different collections, starting off with the Del Rey books. Where the artwork in those books are excellent, the collections themselves aren’t that great. Language was changed and in the process, meaning seems to have changed. I’m currently working of the most recent Barnes and Noble edition which seems to be far superior), the first is an earlier shorter edition and the second is a more fleshed out atmospheric piece, where each chapter is just a few sentences longer and gives a clearer understanding and better atmosphere than the shorter one before it. These two vignettes give a better glimpse of the growth of the writer than nearly anything else I’ve seen. Lovecraft is devoid of the pomposity of literature of someone like Pynchon because Lovecraft’s first love was adventure. He wanted to tell stories that were weird and fun and wild, which led to his unique “serious, but pulpy” tales. He chose his archaic and complex writing style to compliment the wild stories he wanted to tell, not the other way around. It may seem like a small distinction, but it’s an important one.
Back to the adventure! The second story follows the titular ship which you can see in a little bit of detail in the opening quote to this essay (which is in fact the opening chapter of the longer version). It’s about a ship which journeys around and kidnaps people. The Captain and crew are eventually caught and the purloined victims are returned, bringing the story to a nice ending all tied up in a bow. The tale doesn’t have much in the way of satisfaction, but it does show Lovecraft’s love for adventure.
Between the two of these stories you can see the natural divergence of the path in which Lovecraft took. We have the standard horror or cosmic horror element with the Mystery of the Grave-Yard, in that atmosphere and the darker places he normalizes as just standard backdrops for the story…complete with sneaky plotters and nefarious acts. Then we have the adventurous bend we take with The Mysterious Ship, which feels like the beginnings of the dreams lands and such stories as “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.” These tales aren’t so much focused on the horror elements as they are on the adventurous journeys the protagonists (well really just Randolph Carter) take.
I kept these Juvenilia for the end because I wanted to have something to call back on while discussing them, and I can’t say how glad I am that I did. To be able to see the growth is tremendous and its always fun to see how a writer that I’ve become this involved in began.
Next week we dive into the last story Lovecraft wrote on his own. It means this series is rapidly coming to an end, but we still have a bunch of the stories which August Derleth wrote with Lovecraft’s notes and I plan on ending this series with Lovecraft’s essay on Horror.
Join me next week as we view the “Shadow out of Time.”
Straddling the cusp of enlightenment
I’m in the process of writing a fantasy adventure novel and where I love the high adventure of it and the idea of being out away from the bustle of the city it’s a paradox because while I stare out my window at the hills in Millbrae leading out to Pacifica and the pacific ocean, I’m inside my apartment and looking up over buildings and cars. The progress and process our lives have taken.
Often when I’m writing a specific type of story I like to get other materials which help me in my creative process, other writings or movies to get the creative juices flowing. For example in writing “The Book of Antiquity” I have read both Joseph Campbell and Books like K.J. Parker’s “Engineer Trilogy” (This is a fantastic trilogy by the way, you should read it). Most recently I have gone out and purchased “The Lord of the Rings” on Blu-ray. I thought the depth and breath of the movies was going to bring me into the perfect frame of mind to finish the novel. Give me inspiration for the final battle in my novel.
I watched all three and a half hours of the extendo version of “Fellowship” and was again amazed at the job they pulled off in creating this movie, and I felt inspired to write, so I sat down in front of my computer and poised my hands above the key board…then I saw my hand made pipe and the small bag of tobacco sitting next to it and thought about all the pipe smoking in the movie and how relaxed they all seemed and I picked up my pipe, packed the Burlingame Tabacconists custom blend “Black & Gold” Tobacco into it, lit it and averted my gaze from the computer screen back to the hills leading to the Pacific and made sure to take my time and enjoy the smoke, instead of powering through it, just to finish, as I’m prone to do.
Then I was hit with a beautiful and possibly horrible epiphany. I anchored the pipe in my teeth and moved it to the right side of my mouth so I could see my computer screen unobstructed and I wrote a line:
How do we recompense the love of nature versus the march of technology after we have already made the decision to join step?
I also watched the special features of “Fellowship” and Peter Jackson said in one of them that J.R.R. Tolkien loathed technology and loved the simplicity of nature. This showed through in scenes where Saruman had his Goblins tear down the ancient trees to build a factory for evil.
I looked back up at the tree covered hillside beyond the buildings and cars and streetlamps. I pulled the pipe from my mouth, realizing that I was puffing away and getting no pleasure from the smoking, I was again smoking for the satisfaction of completion and not for satisfaction of the act. I put the pipe down. I stared at my computer where I had my entire novel open in Microsoft Word and the internet open with stereomood.com playing music while I wrote, my phone was in the background telling me that I had a text message.
The march of technology and the distraction of consumerism had absorbed me. I was having trouble focusing enough to finish my novel and I was using distractions such as other novels and other movies, possibly even music to try and help me focus on my writing. Then, because life harmonizes, I distinctly heard a lyric of a song playing through my computer: “Ouch, I have lost myself again.”
Why did I think these distractions would help me concentrate when I’ve always known that the best way to concentrate is to clear one’s mind of distractions? I picked my pipe back up and stared at it. I spent $100 dollars on the pipe, because it reminded me of a simpler time and I thought it would bring me relaxation. I looked at the Blu-ray (Which I purchased in Blu-ray because I knew it would be much more lush and beautiful than the regular DVD) and shook my head, ashamed.
I was ashamed not because I had purchased these things, but because I had lost my sense of myself. I had lost all moderation. I had leaned too far to the consumer/technology obsession and started to lose my personal/naturalist sensibility. Even the idea that I was finishing my novel instead of just writing it was indicative of how far my mentality had shifted. I need solitude and nature to feel peace and to clear my head of the everyday clutter, but I need the trappings of a hand made pipe, of a blu-ray player, of a computer to collect my thoughts and to soothe me with music. To be even more stark, I need nature and solitude to create something which takes technology to produce and that I hoped people would purchase for their own edification.
I’d become a juxtaposed mirror image of myself. And that’s what led me to understand that the beauty of life comes from that delicate balance. The hardest part is to keep that balance and be wary of tilting too far in either direction. It’s human nature to try and make things easier for ourselves, but we need to be wary of over simplification and “losing ourselves” of becoming too lazy and letting technology direct our lives, or leaning too far in the other direction and stagnating our development as a race.
So how do we recompense? We need to create and innovate using nature as a muse. There is such natural complexity to nature, which is what gives the world its beauty, if we lose that innovation will stop and Science Fiction will prove true. Our creations will rule our lives. Our danger is that we cannot stop looking at the wonder of nature since we have now followed technology’s march too far to ever truly fall in the opposite direction.
The (often) ugly days of the early writer
It’s amazing the difference sitting down and actually working makes. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, even when I was a little boy. The moment I decided for sure was probably around the time my underused little mind aged eight years. I saw a movie for the first time, and although it’s just an ok movie there’s a portion that stuck with me; haunted me.
The movie was “Stand By Me” (This was before I’d even discovered Stephen King so you can’t blame it on that). The scene where the boys are sitting out in the woods and they all beg Gordy for a story and, without complaining, he tells an intricate little story so mature, but then again so quintessentially teen. He tells this story with so much moxy and vigor that when he finishes the other boys all groan, laugh and fall about the place. It’s just a movie sure, but while other people would laugh and shake thier heads, I was enthralled. That was so cool! I thought. Two years later I read an introduction to the “Bachman Books” and in it, Stephen King says that in his head there are many people and they all have a history. The more he looks at them the more the story of their lives takes shape. He also said a majority of his stories started because he would see an image and ask What if?
What if a rabid dog trapped a woman and her child in a car?
What if there were a monster in the sewer?
What if there were a monster in the closet?
What if a little shop of curiosities was owned by the devil?
Once the question was asked, one of the residing characters would take up the mantle and beg for the story to be told.
I thought Holy Crap! Thats me!
So I pulled out a type writer and fed the paper in, relishing the warm toner smell and the crispness of the the fresh paper. I got swept away by the hum of the typewriter and I came up with “The Heavy Metal Bands” and I never looked back.
“The Heavy Metal Bands” was a story of how a few friends got together and formed a heavy metal band, then because of their strong personalities they also became a gang. Somehow this worked in my pre-teen mind. That story spurned four more stories, ending with the lads saving the world. All told, all five of those stories filled out about 4 pages worth of text.
Then I moved onto other things (Like the Marty Brothers, based on myself and my brother Steve; an echo of the Hardy Boys), but length was always an issue. I couldn’t seem to write anything longer than four or five pages. I got so disturbed by this that most of the things I wrote were bulbous unwieldy ten page stories, with more filler than a Twinkies.
I hadn’t yet found out what I was doing, but I thought the point would be length, the story had to be longer for anyone to read it. I started to read a lot at this point, trying to see how people did it and getting lost in their stories in the process. Then my senior year in high school I took a creative writing class, and where almost everything I did during that class was horrible, but I got to see how others wrote and what their process was. I hated the class but it did give me more perspective and a deeper desire to write more.
It’s been a challenge. My whole life I’ve struggled with the juxtaposition of the desire to write and the lack of writing talent. how many people in the world are like this? how many people who strive to actors love the craft, but have no skill? What about painters? What give these people success when only one out of a million people are born talents at what they desire to do.
Stephen King was born with drive and talent, and he’s successful beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. I have drive, I wonder where I’ll end up…
The Sunset of the Soul
I wrote this introspective little gem a little while ago at a time when the writing was flowing smoothly, my book was just published and I felt on top of the world. Then I found myself eventually collapsing into worries over problems, some of them personal some of them worldly, and eventually the grasp on my panache slipped a little and a finger of uncertainty slipped in. That finger poked and prodded until it opened up a hole which sucked my creative thoughts and trajectory from my brain. I thought it wouldn’t effect me because of my strength, but I devolved into artistic truancy and emotional malaise.
I saw my life for the first time without success and I wondered if it would ever be possible. In fact I even began to fear it, because it would mean I would have to continue and for the first time in my life I couldn’t visualize the story in my head. How can you write other books if you’re bored when you sit down to write? I would be a manager for the rest of my life. I could proceed and I could make decent money at it, but I would be a manager. My traveling would be limited, devoid of scheduling flexibility and every woman I would meet would hate my dedication portrayed through long hours. I saw the road leading down that hill towards the setting sun and I stopped and took a deep breath. The easy road, the one that led down and towards the beautiful sunset was appealing, but then I turned and saw up the mountain and realized that I have not yet proved that I could do it. So I sat down at the computer and I vomited on the keyboard (metaphorically), then I sat down the next day and did it again, and again. Eventually visualization of people and locations materialized and my vocabulary began to return and my heart relaxed. It’s 12:31AM…
The anachronism that is my writing life
It’s 2:44AM. My cat is lying asleep in bed and I’m sitting in front of my computer, my dyspepsia blaring and my eyes blurring. I gaze past the empty Coke cans, from my artist’s model hand to my book of Twilight Zone stories (lit only by the soft glow of the monitor) and wonder what I’m doing. Why am I awake? Why did I drink that Coke at 2:00AM? Why cant I slow my mind down and just relax? Why do I force this on myself?
In my day job I manage a bookstore. I have 45 employees and I’m a corporate whore. My daytime language is all business parlance. Learning Plans. Store Manager Action Plans. Business Acumen. Performance Management. I stride through the store giving my direct reports thier priorities for the day. I look at the employees and I contemplate thier personalities and thier strengths and I fit them into little boxes on my succession map.
When I’m home and alone, I’m in front of the computer creating lives. Specific personality attributes collide in my head and I see a character. I see them in a snapshot or a Polaroid, if you please. I see men and women as they are, without thier protective shells. I hear thier voices and read thier thoughts. There’s a man sitting in a room. The room is dark and he’s alone. There is a small crease in his brow, indicating consternation. The room is spartan with only one book lying on the floor behind the simple wooden chair he’s sitting in. That book is “The Bell Jar.” Do you know what he’s thinking? That’s the greatest part about writing. You can layer on infinite articles or events and you’re the only one who knows what’s happening.
So why do I deal with Corporate Initiatives, Selling Culture and SMART Goals while burning my nights in front of the computer in a portentious insomniatic glaze? I love the romanticism of it. The glorification of the struggling artist. My office is covered in books, tomes of introspection, entertainment and knowledge and as I look around I feel both solace and restlessness. I want more. I want to know more. I want people to know that if you need to know something Sean’s the one to ask. When people think of me I want them to think of me as a writer erudite enough to facilitate that other life. So why do I push myself to odd hours and split my attentions to the point where I’m spead thin, when I can imagine other people and every possible outcome of their situation? The answer is; I cant help myself. My brain wont stop. When a new challange presents itself I have to take it, just to prove to myself that I can do it (and maybe everyone else in the process). I’m going to make it. I’m going to facilitate my desires. I can adapt and succeed on my own terms and I can live the American Dream.
The potential to have talent or “An Epiphany”
I’m going to give you a short essay I wrote during the “Bowling Alley” era, as well as a current poem I posted on Facebook, because I think they work well together. Be aware that when I use ignorant I use it in the dictionary and not derogatory sense. It is a person who lacks a certain knowledge.
There seem to be three types of people in the writing/reading world. Those with Talent, those with potential and those who’re ignorant. This fact causes great distraction and great despair. I think I could be a good if not a great writer, I think I could have talent, but there is something in my brain which seems to block that switch. I merely have potential.
It’s such a difficult process and yet for so many people it just flows…as if their body were an extension of their mind and their fingers were a conduit for their art. They are the talented. They can sit and let the vision flow through them for hours on end. They see the course in front of them and they don’t think twice about it; they just go.
I have potential. The majority of the populace has potential. This is the ability to see something, to want to create something, but to lack the necessary drive, or vision. This is the collection of people who like to write, like to paint, like to create with their hands, but employ their creativity as a hobby for all the aforementioned reasons.
Then there are those who have no potential. The ignorant. The people who read a piece of literature and don’t understand it; who see a work of art and see it as colors on canvas. There are the people who just don’t care. The reasons are irrelevant, schooling, culture, drive, class, it ultimately comes down to what is the interest. These people would much rather catch a midnight matinee of the new Michael Bay movie. Why would this be? How can anyone look at a piece of art and not enjoy it? Because it’s work.
I study art, but I’m no artist. I contemplate it. I assimilate it. I gorge on it, then I fake it. To people with talent it’s a drive. It’s ever present and forceful. It becomes deleterious to them in it’s absence. The ignorant don’t understand at all. They need to be told what the meaning is, it needs to be spelled out. They don’t want to exert or do the necessary work.
But I have potential. I love art in all it’s forms. I see it, I study it, I embrace it, but I’m not artistically inclined. I don’t have talent, I have potential. I have become a student, I love the idea so much that i want to become it. I crave talent, but it’s work. It’s hard and it takes major effort, but there is a voice somewhere deep down that knows that talent is something you’re born with, it isn’t something you can develop. So I keep telling myself to work harder, to try harder. I have potential, I tell myself.
So I drive and hope people will mistake me for what I truly am. I am a person with potential and I’m a fanatic and I’m trying to fool people into believing that I have talent; that I know what I’m doing. But I’m still learning. I’m still pushing myself forward, forcing the creative side to mesh with the analytic side and create something beautiful. I have potential, but If I work hard enough I hope to fool the world.
And here’s a brand new poem that I think goes fairly well with the essay. I’ve been having some writer’s block while working on my novel and have made very little progress in the last two months. Then one day I sat down and for some reason the creative juices were just there and this poem was the result. I’m still struggling a little, but at least there is some work happening now…
and this state of constant wonder, leads me divided; torn asunder
in this horrid devil’s playground in my head…
My fingers tell the story, of the broken trumped up glory
when my mind refused to listen, drowned out by broken pistons
the silence beating louder than my heart…
The darkened frozen night glows, and the turgid sky just bellows
of my time examining seams, on the boulevard of broken dreams
as words flow down as kindling for my hearth…
But through those wounds of empty pages, who speak louder than the ages
as the clock runs down to zero, I’m not a battered, broken hero,
just a man who wont give up until he wins…
You must be logged in to post a comment.