Print Story Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials
By BlueOregon (Fri Sep 01, 2006 at 08:09:58 PM EST) (all tags)

Bullet-points with Butter / Always with (buffalo) wings!

  • Kaminer, Wendy, Sleeping With Extra-Terrestrials: The Rise of Irrationalism and Perils of Piety. New York: Pantheon, 1998. -- found it in the library; rather "common-sense" at points, but enjoyable and a recommended distraction.
  • Aug. 16 and Sept. 1 will come in later boiaries.
  • Sharing the hostel room this evening with four German architecture students. They're out drinking now.
  • WFC3 post-mortem and excessively long Thursday recap within.

WFC Post-Mortem

For the most part I hate my WFC entry. The inconsistent "style." The overly-cutesy and obvious names. That I ran out of both time and words. That having been said, I liked the concept.

The title was tacked on at the end; the reference should be obvious.

In circles [...] fraud.

I wrote the the WFC entry a couple hours before the "deadline" (as interpreted from my time zone). Earlier in the day I went to a bookstore and saw a math-biography book about someone (possibly Russian or similar), and while I remember few details from the first paragraph, it more or less parallels my first paragraph. Or rather, the reverse.

This, however [...] culture.

Stolen from / inspired by Before Sunrise but of course unrelated.

"A man walks into a bar [...] Brain food."

Paraphrased from a random episode of Dead Like Me that I came across on the Sci-Fi channel. I had never seen the show before. It was enjoyable. The scene in a restaurant in that show is more entertaining than what I wrote, so go watch it instead.

And, of course, the obvious but not very meaningful zombie reference.

"Hello [...] between Rome and the barbarians."

Meaningless chit-chat, which the characters note, but which is no excuse for including it. I did not edit anything out because I had no time to edit. In terms of content it borrows superficially from a talk on video surveillance and the panopticon that I attended last December. The issue for these characters is that in contrast to times past, when they could disappear and reappear (which they would have to do from time to time) with few worries, the possibility of interconnected video and biometric databases could make the present and future problematic for them.

"You're looking [...] red meat."

Obvious and mostly meaningless vampire reference.

Skip the next part.

The ceiling plaster [...] bulbs.

Taken and altered from a photo posted on HuSi, perhaps by stark.

Against [...] vegetables.

In one of the museums of Berlin, the Gemäldegalerie, a 17th-century Dutch still life resides, and the rotting fruit and swarming flies can be observed. It's one of those typical vanitas-inspired paintings. Across the room the non-rotten precursor hangs.

Morning [...] bodies.

Just pointless "description."

"There is no going back [...] via the back door.

Just adapted from Kleist's "About the Marionette Theater."

"I've decided to have a child [...] change my mind.

Adapted from a recent-but-not-too-recent series of Hole entries. Plus a little channeling of mns.

"Then the unexpected [...] wish to describe."

Partially a twist on those Hole entries, partially just plot device, but basically the motivation of Renee's later actions -- not, as some seemed to feel, some desire to die because her life had been too long.

Skip the next part.

"And your first memory?" [...]

On the one hand just conversation, but it ties into the last bit of this section, or rather, is the point of it. Birth they do not recall, but their "resurrections" or such they do, but only as re-awakenings; then we have the end of the "story" and Renee's chance to observe/experience her own birth.

"Ever since we learned to fly" [...]

Just a thought from my flight across the Atlantic a few weeks back. During some turbulence we passed through deep pillars of white puffiness that seemed to go all the way down to the ocean. The fascinating thing about such clouds, as everyone knows, is that they are made up of very little "water," so are not nearly as puffy or substantial as they look.

"Is that why [...] as well [...] the black swelling"

Last spring I read Connie Willis' Dooms Day Book, so the Black Death was on my mind, and I decided to make Todd partially responsible for it. He denies responsibility for the London fire -- I had been thinking of Neal Stephenson that day. I almost paraphrased sections from The Farmer and Death, a fascinating early-modern dialogue and meditation. This also relates to their previous Vienna meeting as well as Venice, etc., since it also ties into her name, so I tied her to the fall of Istanbul and the transfer/transmission of scholars and texts westward.

"We always did [...] again had tears."

It is clear that some deaths or injuries were suicide attempts on Renee's part, but given the times in which she lived quite a few were mere accidents or even crimes. Try to go to the New World? -- oops, your boat sank. Oops, your house burned down. Oops, you did it again. That's centuries for you. I originally imagined them as from the High Middle Ages, so less than 1000 years old. Of course in the age of explosives and anesthetics painless deaths were an option, if death is what Renee wanted, but clearly she has no real interest in dying, perhaps due to conviction, perhaps because she is afraid or still has a survival instinct, or perhaps because she finds life interesting. That does not matter for the story told here.

They fall back [...] follows the first.

Just another recap of my transatlantic a few weeks back.

And just a bunch of pointless "exposition" sentences of sorts in the whole section -- extremely wasteful of words.

Skip the next part.

In San Francisco [...] isn't it?"

Another obvious naming convention. It establishes the characters' relative ages, but that's it. I do not know why I chose SF (perhaps because I wanted to add Half-Moon Bay) -- I later wanted to change it for some reason, for I wanted a later section to be set elsewhere -- probably Cairo on the Mississippi.

"If we had not [...] down the line."

I left out technobabble relating to the nature of whatever had altered these characters, though I would go for something virus-esque, since pop-sci-fi loves "retroviruses" these days, but because it would only be technobabble, I left it out. Genetic mutation would also work, except since Todd and Renee had a past together the chances of both having the same (rare) condition and coming from the same place/period is slim, unless they are closely related (twins would work).

"My flesh rots [...] undeath"

Her condition is essentially set by this point, though the particular types of "undeath," if we wish to call them that, that affect the three characters are never made explicitly the same for each or intended to be identical to one of the "standard forms" in fiction/movies/games. The passage itself was inspired by a chapter or text by Herta Müller that I skimmed in 1997.

Tied to the nature of her so-called "undeath" is a state of hyper-life -- her cells are (too) resistant to parasites and necrosis as well as programmed cell death. Reversing or eliminating telomere shortening is perhaps necessary to extending human life beyond a certain point; the matter of undifferentiated stem cells relates to cell and organ regeneration -- something humans generally cannot do (except in the liver) in contrast to many other animals, including a large number of vertebrates.

With Joshua [...]

Things get too rushed here -- I was running out of time. I had to do minor edits, such as insert Todd's tinkering on the plane or alter his description in the paragraph so as to make him "useful" at this point.

It's not all biochemical [...] plaques

I am reminded of Alzheimer's.

Nudes fill [...]

I have always found the Galatea & Pygmalion idea interesting, so I would interpret Joshua's creative work at least a little bit in that light, which is curiously fitting for him.

The next section seems to have been particularly unpopular.

For all his [...] remake her human

On the one hand this makes explicit that in some sense she is not human (likely a "genetic" or "physiological" one), but I was more interested in the "re" of "remake" (since we were talking not about birth, but rebirth).

"The mind matters [...]

Just Todd's plan -- again, I reduced the technobabble to "wires, electrodes, and circuitry." If I had had more time to condense things (I would not want to make it longer) I would have added a technobabble-ish passage on theories of mind and structural vs. biochemical models. It would have been crap anyway, so I'm glad I left it out.

Joshua's friend is another stupidly named and intentioned figure, but I decided to be consistent with the pretentiousness. I added more more obvious allegorical-but-not-allegorical reference just to complete the pattern, especially since I was interested in the "birth" aspect at this point.

As for Paris, I guess that was just a Before Sunset passage. My first weekend back in Idaho I had to sit through a baby shower; the woman having the child had been having contractions at those intervals, but was not due until Sept. 12.

The end ...

Anyway, in terms of reception, I must admit that as soon as I read ana's comment I almost felt like vomiting. Highlander was not intended, and in fact, while I enjoy the first movie in a kitschy, poorly-produced, cult-movie sort of way, I cannot stand 1) the other movies, 2) the TV show, 3) the extended "mythology" or 4) the fans. Sorry.

If you want Highlander fan-fic, I instead recommend the early issues of X-Force (early 90s?) -- Sam Guthrie (Cannonball) was given the extra characteristic of belonging to a group of super-mutant "Externals" or such, who were 1) immortal, but 2) whose immortality appeared after dying (the first time), and 3) could only be killed through beheading or such. That plot thread and "characterization" was dropped by later writers.

As for what was intended ... well, very little. This was the short-notice-alteration of another story that would have had the same two main characters involved in a slightly more Dead Again meets The Fountain recast as antagonism rather than love story sort of conflict or cat-and-mouse game -- Death and Rebirth going through death and rebirth through the ages. I had no story at all for them, except for one hunting the other or similar, which was no story at all.

I did intend the naming-references, vampire, zombie, and religious references, and technobabble, though in each case they were not the point/topic, which is to say, it was not meant as a literal vampire/zombie/resurrection story, nor as an allegory of death and rebirth or of Christ, and it was not about the technology of life extension, viruses, or mental modeling. I would say the relevant Hole entries provided my "plot" -- a reversal of the given situation from the Hole, in which the woman who did not want a child in that situation did want one here, and she had to overcome/alter her biological situation to do so. In that regard, it is the anti-Kleist, for instead of trying to re-discover grace and paradise after the fall from grace, she had to give up (accidental) immortality and become human again in order to have a child.

If I had it to do again I would scrap the first paragraph or such, since it was really just an homage to a different text that had no relation to this "story." The passages that I liked were the beginning of the second section as well as Renee's revulsion regarding her own body. These (the 2nd and 4th sections) were meant to be somewhat parallel, as evidenced by the interest in bodies, as well as the biological and botanical interests.

I would keep the overall plot structure, which is classical in nature (intro, rising, turning point, falling, denouement) as well as the layered "reveals," even though they are not that subtle (e.g. a description of Todd's reputation and behavior, the reasons for which make sense later). There was no particular reason for writing it all in the present tense, but since I rarely do so, I figured I'd cast it in that form.

Regarding proposed changes, I would change much of the language and wording. The dialogue was intentionally stilted, for that's how I saw these characters, caught in a lifeless hyper-life, but that is no excuse for unnecessary verbosity at some points.

All-in-all, I preferred my last WFC entry, which received about the same amount of time/effort on my part and which came out better, I think (insofar as it was "tighter").


I ...

... didn't go to bed until 3:30 in the morning -- packing.

... won a game of chess vs. the computer in 18 moves. I must have had it on the easiest level -- it was the first game I have played in years. I almost packed my chess book, but instead left it in Meridian; there are so many books, but they will just be a distraction these next few months, when I have to focus on my dissertation and teaching. I do, however, have plenty of entertainment.

... got through a hundred pages of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell while at the airport and in the plane. I brought a Neal Stephenson volume along, I have 18 boxes in J&C's attic, and I brought my DVDs with me, so I have about 100 movies available -- so just because I left a dozen or two books in Idaho (not counting the hundreds boxed up in the garage) and several hundred movies, does not mean that I do not have "digital distractions" available.

... packed last night, transferred data from the Compaq to the new external drive -- comics and some TV episodes, as well as a little music.

... got up between 8:30 and 9am, checked my email, and then showered. My father and I went to Meridian via Overland after picking up my ties at the Eagle/Overland intersection; got our ears lowered -- it is pleasant to have short(er) hair again, although I am still "shedding" --; and then went down Franklin, Cloverdale, and Emerald in order to pick up mochas at the Idaho Coffee Company. The women there know father by name -- one of those regulars. Everywhere he goes with me he says, "[Name], this is my (oldest) son, [BlueOregon]," or a variation thereof. At the coffee place, at his work, when the neighbor comes over, etc. I've been introduced many times in the last two weeks.

From there we worked our way toward the mall, caught the Connector and freeway, and drove to Broadway and then Busters. It was just before 11am, so we finished our coffees and waited for my step-mother. Lunch was held outside. The waitress qualified as cute -- blonde, a short skirt almost like shorts, and friendly -- but had almost no hips. I would almost call having the body of a boy with sliced grapefruit attached to one's chest a style, trend, or fashion statement. I went for a reuben and a starawberry lemonade -- tasty and pleasant lunch. Thereafter we drove together to the airport and checked in; my luggage was too heavy so I had to pay a $50 fee, but it was better than mailing myself the stuff. We said our good-byes; I went through security with no problems and waited a while at the gate. They just boarded us all at once after first class. Seat 21F, which was toward the back. Stupid window seat. A "handsome" woman sat along the aisle and a guy in his 20s took the middle seat -- he wore one of those velcrotm iPod holders on his right upper arm.

The woman on the aisle tapped away at her Blackberry, as did the guy to my left in the Minneapolis waiting area; I had never seen one "live" before. The first was a quick flight -- a 2pm departure, scheduled for a 5:46 arrival, but a 5:25 touch down. We arrived at F3, and my next flight was at F6, and this was the first time I did not have to change concourses or such at this airport.

On the way to Madison I have 19F. The flight is overbooked so attempting to change my seat is futile. It is only a one-hour flight.


Last night my step-mother took us to the new Basque restaurant in Boise on 6th street south of The Reef and across the street from the Basque cultural center. The restaurant upstairs was full; the bar downstairs was sparsely populated. It featured a resident tipsy guy with ex-hippy-hair, grey and tied back in a mini-pony-tail. I ordered the IPA, as we were waiting for said step-mother, and tipsy-guy said, "Good choice. It's excellent." He was right -- perfectly crisp and bitter. I say "tipsy" because of the tone of his voice that I noted when he offered fashion advice to one of the waitresses, a tallish, full-figured blonde showing leg and wearing black bulky pumps/heels over pink ankle socks. He was right about the shoes: the place has stairs, and those sorts of heels/pumps are awkward; the shoes were fine on their own, and would look best with slacks, but with the ankle socks they weren't great. Plus, she was tall enough that she did not need heels to make herself look taller, and her legs were not so chunky as to require the slimming effect.

The step-mother arrived, ordered a wine, and another another waitress, with whom we reserved our table, a blonde, whose round and friendly face nevertheless suggested something disfigured despite the lack of any blemishes and presence of symmetry, showed us upstairs to our table.

The food exceeded my already high expectations. The bread was of the hard-crust variety and made for dipping, the soup was a homemade chicken noodle with great broth and generous vegetables, and the salads were sprinkled with a creamy non-ranch dressing that I couldn't quite place. I ordered the roasted duck legs, the daily special, and it was the most luscious fowl I had eaten in recent memory. Lamb shank and cod completed the table. Another IPA graced my stomach, but no dessert.

It was a cool and breezy but not too chill evening.

I drove home with my step-mother and then the packing continued.

I won another match.

Thursday Evening

I arrived in Madison at 8:10, went to baggage claim, stood around with a hundred other people, and eventually I saw my luggage arrive. After collecting the two, heavy pieces I went to wait for J at 8:29, but it took her until closer to 8:40 to get there. We said our hellos, loaded the suitcases, and started off for downtown Madison. At 8:55 we pulled into the hostel and unloaded my bags.

A young-looking undergrad worked the desk; I didn't catch her name. She has been working here since May, but before then the office had been renovated, and now sports a "bar" type reception area rather than a single low office desk. After checking in I hauled my bags up the stairs, down the hall, and then down some stairs to get to room 4, which has 5 beds (two 2-bed bunks and a single), a desk lamp, kitchen counter, and its own, spacious bath. It gets enough light via various windows but also has a ceiling light. The kitchen cupboards contain blankets.

I plugged in the laptop to recharge, found no open wireless networks, relaxed a bit, and at 9:22 walked "to town." At 9:29 I was on the square, approaching State Street. Parts of said street are under construction and closed off to traffic -- the more things change, the more they stay the same, as some might say. The "Civic Center" area looks good, though, and now sports the new art museum, about which G.G., from whom I rented my Berlin apartment, told me several times. Now it is the other corner under work, next to the Orpheum. The building where Radio Shack used to be along with Stillwaters is empty and awaiting something new -- Cosi is "coming soon."

I considered places to eat a bit -- Pizza di Roma, Parthenon, coffee and pastry at Fair Trade ... Next to Paul's Books there is a UW Credit Union branch. It appears they have torn out University Square in the last week. Scanner Dan was in place near Paul's. The streets were lively enough but not full. Plenty of undergrads roamed, mostly freshman getting acquainted with the city. I walked across the mall to the Union. It was 9:46. Inside I went and there was a line for ice cream. I picked up paper copies of The Onion and Isthmus, walked toward the Rathskeller to see if food was being served, and returned to the entrance to leave.

Standing near the email terminals I saw L, A, and K, so I said hi, and we chatted for while about Madison, about abroad. A got the study abroad program management job in Salzburg for some college and is leaving this Saturday. K follows her a few weeks later and has an extension to her teaching assistantship in Austria. L is teaching 101 -- not 101 and 204 as the teaching assignment email listed -- and the Comp. Lit. department is being dissolved, as several sources have told me, but I didn't talk about that or H with L & Co. Eventually L had to bike home due to an early morning teaching meeting.

I walked down Langdon to Henry with A&K, and we turned down Henry to Gilman, where we went our separate ways. I went to 4-Star to look around, and then to Pizza di Roma for a slice and glass of water. I flipped through the two papers. A mother and college-entering-daughter came in, ordered, and as the mother was getting napkins the daughter lost both slices on the floor ... they just slid off the plate and down her clothes, covering her in sauce and grease.

I walked home along State Street and then the south side of the square. The Irish pub was well-populated, and a gang of yellow-clad security thugs stood outside the Majestic.

Outside the hostel a guy was finishing up a cigarette. We came in together, he introduced himself as Jeff, and explained that he is in town with friends whose daughter is starting as a freshman. They are from a town neighboring Oakland and Berkeley, though Jeff is originally from Pittsburgh, and did his MA in New York. We chatted about Madison, the girl entering school here, who is on the rowing team and supposedly loves Latin, about California and road trips, and about local beers. Jeff seemed a bit tipsy, as if he had been drinking for part of the day and that explained his friendliness, but upon later reflection I realized why I hadn't seen a cigarette pack.

Eventually we parted ways, I returned to my room, got ready for bed, and slept. It felt good.

< update | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials | 19 comments (19 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Stillwaters... by ana (4.00 / 1) #1 Sat Sep 02, 2006 at 02:04:50 AM EST
I developed my taste for scotch there.

And sorry for the throw-away comment on your piece. Summarizing everybody's story in a sentence or two each is a bit... how shall I say? futile?

Regular, or decaf abomination? --Kellnerin

Stillwaters by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #2 Sat Sep 02, 2006 at 04:58:02 AM EST

Only drank there once, and outside during the summer, when a random group of German and/or Dutch students was around. Had a glass of water and a lemonade, I think.

As for the comment -- more about *my* reaction to it than the comment itself, as well as a sentence-or-two summary is fine, especially when it is indicative of the response to said story or such -- I was just saddened that it had evoked such thoughts :)

Now time for me to head to the Square (F. Market perhaps? Taste of Madison?) and get my daily abomination.

[ Parent ]
Most late summers I missed the excitement by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #3 Sat Sep 02, 2006 at 05:39:46 AM EST
of a new semester, new beginnings, etc, but the past few years I'm caring less. I am becoming a middle aged, middle class old fogey.

colleagues and I discussed ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #10 Sat Sep 02, 2006 at 10:25:45 AM EST

... how were divorcing ourselves from our dept. in a way, and thus we care much less about it, the politics, etc. ... still, enjoyment of Madison is, to a great degree, tied to the university, and I still do and want to enjoy the city, while I'm here ... but I do not want to be here much longer.

I'm not quite as old-fogey as you are yet, but give me a few years.

[ Parent ]
damn, no stillwaters? by LilFlightTest (4.00 / 1) #4 Sat Sep 02, 2006 at 06:17:54 AM EST
and no university square? they're putting the new dorms there, i some point we'll have to go visit nick's brother, he's a freshman there this year.

even though i was a lot happier at another college, i still miss madison.
Dance On, Gir!

my only question is ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #9 Sat Sep 02, 2006 at 10:24:18 AM EST

... where is the post office? They moved the UW Credit Union to State Street, so still close.

My complaint about losing University Square deals with the movie theater ... beer, lots of leg room, ice cream, cheap flicks ...

I suspect dorms are going in. I haven't viewed the empty space yet ... big gaping hole, some have told me. *sob*

Stillwaters ... well, RadioShack had been gone for a few years, so I'm not surprised that the whole thing is being redone now. That whole area needs some renovation, but unfortunately that costs money, which will raise rents, and thus drive out some of the local businesses, which make it worthwhile in the first place.

[ Parent ]
my reading by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #5 Sat Sep 02, 2006 at 06:20:49 AM EST
of "John" came partly from my strong suspicion that this was your entry, and your passing comment in CRwM's diary that maybe this time you'd do the undead thing -- which you did, but not in a conventional way ... I guess I was just looking to grab onto the convention. Though as you noted, despite the allusions to vampire mythology it doesn't quite fit all the way through. As I think I said somewhere else, there seemed to be an overall impulse to steer away from convention this time, with mixed results. I'm starting to think that there's something to be said for channelling cleverness into the treatment of the subject rather than in the creation of the perfectly subtle, unique premise.

Anyway, I did like your previous entry better in that it flowed more smoothly and built up toward the ending ... in this one the building blocks of the story were more apparent, and I liked some of the "units" better than others, but there was a lot to like in this story.


Dead Like Me has its moments but Wonderfalls is better.

My father received a Blackberry at work, which fact I found astonishing (what was more astonishing was that he uses it -- this is a man so stymied by QWERTY that he spent half an hour hunting for the "P" before calling a colleague in frustration to ask where it was).

I always want to spell QWERTY with a "U" in place of the "W."

Last week after lunch with my sister I introduced her to the salty bread and slow coffee service at Cosi. She was amused by one, not so much by the latter.

There's a restaurant called "Not Your Average Joe's" which serves bread with dipping oil but with grated cheese in the oil. I think I'll go there today, as there's one near my bank and I have a check to deposit.

This comment became rather long. Hm.

Do not misuse.

Long comments; Long diary by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #7 Sat Sep 02, 2006 at 10:19:04 AM EST

I had/have heard good things about Wonderfalls. Might check it out when/if I have time (ha! ... well, hrm, as if that ever stops me).

Blackberry: was just new to me, had heard of them. This woman was just happily tapping away, though her long fingernails were getting in the way. I've never been one for such devices, though I see the appeal ... hell, I don't even have a cell phone, though I've considered getting one instead of getting a landline ... but I'll likely want DSL as well and might as well just go for the local service. Anyway.

As for apparent building blocks: indeed. Part of it dealt with having a handful of 'scenes' in mind when I began writing, and I wanted to skip in terms of time-frame, so I wanted that structure -- a sort of 'meanwhile meets we join our program already in progress', though the end, the last two, rushed sections resort to regular prose narration. The WFC2 entry was likewise rushed, but even closer to the deadline, so I had no time for explicit structure and instead let my sentences do the work for me.

As for the undead: while I objected to the Highlanderization present in ana's comment, it could have been avoided hat I gone with more explicit vampire & zombie & resurrected religious figures imagery; I had thought of doing a 'typology of death & rebirth figures' which would have cast Tod(d), Re-nee, and Joshua more concretely into those sorts of roles. Being cutesy under a time deadline is probably not a good thing.

Cosi: just saw it the other day, and saw a comment about their bread being 'half-baked' ... just what State Street needs: more starches, but seems tasty enough. I just went for the cousin of spicey cheese bread and a rhubarb pocket, courtesy of Stella's Bakery at the F. Market ... already enough baked goods here. Yum.

[ Parent ]
structure and stuff by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #11 Sat Sep 02, 2006 at 11:49:11 AM EST
Seems another popular thing this time was a not-so-linear structure. Yours, mine, One-Twenty, Resurrection Men ... wonder if that was a product of the theme or just that people were trying something more experimental this time (although, it seems, CRwM always does something interesting with form, even if it's subtle). I do like that kind of approach but it can be tricky to manage successfully -- in fact the entries that used that device this time were surprisingly well done overall.

I'm completely unfamiliar with the Highlander mythos so you were safe from that particular misinterpretation, at least by me.

I'd figured that you were aware of the Blackberry in concept; I should have mentioned that my father's BB was the first one I had encountered "in the flesh." It was just strange that it happened to be in the hands of my technophobe dad.

I don't think I've ever rated a street based on its carbohydrate content -- with the high Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks concentration around here I fear we're doomed.

Do not misuse.

[ Parent ]
D&D ... by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #12 Sat Sep 02, 2006 at 02:32:27 PM EST

... by which I mean Dunkin' Donuts -- that is not a Madison concern, insofar as we have no good donut source, except for one bakery a short walk from campus. Lots of coffee shops and bakeries, but only one or two real donut places in town.

This contrasts with Berlin -- there were a few places that had multiple Dunkin' Donuts within five minutes of each other. Insane. I had never seen such a high D&D concentration and it was a bit unnerving.

Back to structure ... well, I stayed mostly linear, but slightly episodic. Call it linear B. I guess formal experimentation was not a 'goal' but it was, for many this time, a common result.

One of the themes that did not show up (though I hinted at it in mine) in (m)any of the stories was the Renaissance ... just as there was only one phoenix tale ... the sort of 'obvious' things (just like during WFC2 with its apocalyptic topic I expected more stories from Revelations or such ...)

[ Parent ]
DDs by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #13 Sun Sep 03, 2006 at 06:35:33 AM EST
are like that. They seem to think that where one shop is good, more are better. Apparently this hypothesis has yet to be proven wrong.

I suppose your story is not really nonlinear, but it does ask the reader to fill in some blanks, or at least to accept their existence. And I think ana hinted at a re-emergence of a movement or "cause" in hir story but that was perhaps overshadowed by the more obvious re-embodiment of Naomi in Susan.

On another note, I just saw the Dead Like Me episode with the bar joke, and I like your treatment better. Maybe it is like a cover song, in which the first version one encounters remains a sentimental favorite despite the relative merits of the two versions, or which one actually came first.

Do not misuse.

[ Parent ]
trends (long ramble) by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #14 Sun Sep 03, 2006 at 10:21:49 AM EST

The one 'trend' listed for this WFC was non-linearity, loosely defined.

I think the other (not so much trend, but rather, something a number of entries had in common in addition to the 'death and rebirth' theme) would be a focus on memory and dreams.

On the one hand this should not be surprising. Memory and dreams, remembering and secular magical thinking, are common themes in recent and contemporary literature. That having been said, that quite a number should play with such a narrative structure is not at all obvious from 'the outside literary world' -- after all, there are plenty of other ways to structure a 'death and rebirth' narrative, perhaps 'realistically' or set in the here-and-now as plot, setting, and characters-through-action. We had no near-death-experience, buried-alive, science-brings-people-back stories, but they would have fit the topic.

I mention this because during the rediscovery of antique (Greco-Roman) art and artifacts in the 18th century a debate arose about the representations of death and sleep (in art, literature, philosophy), and I mention death and sleep together because -- grossly simplified -- it turns out that death and sleep were often portrayed as brothers. Sleep was 'concrete' and one awoke from it, but death was one of those so-called liminal states and also stood outside of representation ... one could represent people who were close to dying, and bodies that were dead, but how to represent 'death'? This was not helped by the fact that one could not die, come back, and report on it. I'll skip the details. I wonder whether -- and not at a highly abstract, philosophical level where WFC writers were thinking about semiotics and the limits of representation -- the number of rebirth stories involving dreams and memories is partly a result of completing the analogy: death:sleep::rebirth:dreams/memories or similar.

Of course, it is not at all obvious that stories of 'rebirth' should be connected to dreams/memories, just as the sleep/death connection is not a 'natural' relationsihp. Furthermore, one might note that with the main exception of the phoenix story (our winner) there was an aversion to the fantastic -- our 'magical thinking' was limited to the safe and tame world of recollections. And one might just respond, "Well, that's just an attempt at psychological realism" -- still, we're talking about metaphorical rebirth (and often literal death, though your poem is an exception).

That's perhaps one reason that I have/had a soft spot for CRwM's, because the metaphorical actions of his story are concrete metaphors, and I am amused at attempts to interpret metaphors literally.

[ Parent ]
you wanna ramble? Let's ramble ... by Kellnerin (4.00 / 1) #15 Sun Sep 03, 2006 at 03:43:37 PM EST
It's interesting that you would pick out "memory and dreams" as a thread running through the entries.

I have a possibly skewed take on this as I'm sort of obsessed with memory (like your "déjà vécu" link from a while back -- fascinating, or did I already say so?) and the theme comes up repeatedly in my fiction ... my WFC2 story, for example, cast the pre-apocalyptic world as an existence that had been relegated to the realm of memory, and the characters in it were in some way defined by the way they deal with their memories of that time (or lack thereof, in Katrin's case). It is apocalypse-as-nostalgia, just like my WFC3 story is, to put it clumsily, rebirth-as-nostalgia (or more clumsily/literally, "homesickness," damn, I think I may have my new title).

However I find "memory" and "dreams" to be two very distinct things (though they are both slippery artifacts of the mind) -- I revisit the former constantly as a theme but am hesitant to handle the latter. Whether this is just my own personal problem or indicative of something else I'm not in a position to say.

Taking the two as separate ideas for the moment, while the sleep-death connection seems clear enough in general, I'm not sure if that is carried over in a dream-rebirth link in this WFC. As I posted in my mini-review, I'm not sure there is rebirth as such in "September Dreaming," but if there is, it happens in the waking. And in "Danny and Jules," in the context of the story it seems that waking=death, even if the next iteration (dream or not) may in fact be the next life/birth. Dream always suggested to me an alternate or parallel reality to this one, while rebirth implies the next in a series. I'm not saying that the ideas aren't all tied up with each other in some way, but that the relationships between them may not be so neat as in your analogy.

Memory and memorials, on the other hand, I think can be connected with death on a different, more literal level. And there is the other trope that the deceased "live on" in the memories of those surviving (this was the original shaky premise of my story).

Still, I did enjoy CRwM's story for taking the "rebirth" more literally and "Egg" for embracing the traditional mythology. The more oblique treatments risked appearing to reach too much for the theme and possibly be seen as missing the mark, in the end.

Do not misuse.

[ Parent ]
... the sense I've had this mustard before by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #16 Mon Sep 04, 2006 at 10:36:11 AM EST

Regarding the death:sleep:rebirth:X analogy, I agree that my original 'suggestion' or 'solution' or 'completion' was likely not on the mark. The great thing about the structure/logic of analogies (the latter term being used only metaphorically/analogically, curiously enough) is that a:b::c:d implies a:c::b:d, so we can alo try to complete death:rebirth::sleep:X -- in that formulation 'awakening' or similar seems to be a reasonable conclusion, and awakening was not a huge theme in the last WFC, though it was hinted at on occasion (Danny & Jules, for example).

The thing about analogies is that structurally they are not analogous to propositional logic, thus they do not make truth claims in a traditional sense, and an extension of that is that attempting to extend them too far 'breaks' them -- they're fragile in a way. That having been said (that being one of my overused phrases), the dream/memory (and I'll keep them together for now, realizing that they aren't the same) phases belong to sleep, so in the analogy/metaphor are part of the death state, and this does fit in well enough with blixco's September Dreaming. Of course this formulation of dreaming connected to sleep and thus death is nothing new -- it was just an opportunity for me to ramble a bit.

As for the dream/memory distinction, they are separate concepts. Socially they fulfill separate functions, primarily because one has a social aspect the other lacks, except in some vague metaphysical 'collective unconscious' way that dreaming could share in (and which many New Ages types would believe in), whereas memory has the personal and collective senses, the pychological and the sociological. The social/sociological aspect of memory makes it political (and likewise, forgetting along with remembering is political at the socio-cultural level). We build memorials as placeholders of memory and it is backwards-looking; nostalgic dreams are likewise so, but I suspect the 'default' for dreams is either atemporal or forward-looking, the vague-future, the utopian visions/dreams, etc. Backwards-looking dreams are often 'pathological.'

Where they fit together -- memory and dreams -- is in an old psychological sense, as those 'slippery artifacts of the mind' you mention. I was probably linking them in this fashion when I put them together in my previous post, for one thing that interests me is the way in which in the context of 18th-century psychology they were both put under the rule of the aesthetic and of the senses, and pre- or pseudo-cognitive faculties or occasionally, cognitive-analogues. In a broad sense this is obvious enough; the interesting aspect of early aesthetics is that unlike 19th-century Romantic poetics and such, dreaming and memory are not primal or more true (the inversion of Plato, who saw all things poetic as divine madness -- the Romantics kept the structure but lifted that madness up to the 'real' truth), nor are they pre-conditions for 'true' or 'real' knowledge, but rather a separate and someone complementary state.

The conclusion of this 'argument' is that if one takes the death:sleep::rebirth:X analogy semi-seriously (even if only in a poetic context -- after all, metaphysically I don't take it seriously at all, nor rebirth for that matter), then the state of death, by way of sleeping and dreaming, is not an opposite of life, but something analogous, since dreams/memory become analogous to waking-state reason; the poetic appropriation of dream and memory fashions death in a way wholly different from a biological formulation of death (even without accepting an overly metaphysical or religious approach) -- and this poetic formulation is the mytho-poetic formulation with which we are familiar in the traditions we call non- or pre-modern.

And to finish on a related topic, you may have caught my reference to the 6-issue comic Mnemovore a while back in a diary -- there is good 'memory work' in that text.

[ Parent ]
if we keep going on like this ... by Kellnerin (2.00 / 0) #17 Mon Sep 04, 2006 at 11:47:31 AM EST
I won't have to write a diary for weeks, having already fulfilled my Husi quota for that time. In any case, I'm afraid I'll have to bow out soon lest I get any further out of my depth.

I do like the idea that "rebirth" implies a conception of "death" as something other than not-life, or non-existence -- that it must be some alternate state, even if one that we-the-living find utterly alien, into which one can pass and also return. It does make sense that memory and dreams, as familiar examples of alternate reality, then come to help fill in our lack of understanding about what it means to be while not living.

Anyway, I think I did see that reference to Mnemovore but as I confessed to CRwM in his WFC2 post-mortem, I'm not really hip to the comic scene, although more and more I feel I should be. Perhaps that would not be a bad place to start.

Do not misuse.

[ Parent ]
a denouement / summary / conclusion by BlueOregon (4.00 / 1) #18 Mon Sep 04, 2006 at 01:30:59 PM EST

Mnemovore -- recommended. Rather Lovecraftian. Perhaps not the best 'starting place' to 'the comic scene' ... but little is these days, as it's rather diverse.

I like running with the 'rebirth implying death' idea, at least in the context of this WFC. Or at least rebirth as different-enough-from birth. On that note, my aside would be that 're' can be either a "doing again" prefix, or an intensifier (but not necessarily a perfective), so I like that potential semantic-play.

Response-threads with meandering topics are a good way, I find, to justify writing fewer Husiaries ... or rather, it's something I can do when I haven't gotten around to writing one. An excuse in a way.

Being out of one's depth is a prelude to going off the deep end.

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Wonderfalls by calla (2.00 / 0) #19 Sat Sep 09, 2006 at 10:47:13 PM EST
All I needed to know about Wonderfalls was that Andy Partridge did the theme song.

It makes me want to cry when I think about their canceling it.

"but i have a vested interest in keeping the people who see me naked interested in continuing to see me naked." 256

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I think you're underrating this one. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #6 Sat Sep 02, 2006 at 10:05:08 AM EST
I wish I had written something as good. My fave of the lot.

appreciated by BlueOregon (2.00 / 0) #8 Sat Sep 02, 2006 at 10:21:38 AM EST

I can't deny that this one retains some charm for me, but I guess, all-in-all I was disappointed by it ... perhaps in a "let myself down" sort of way. I wasn't too fond of my first, either, so that's just me. I'm glad others enjoyed it enough.

Yours was one of the ones I easily placed, whereas with ana, toxicfur, and Kellnerin I was only "mostly certain" (80%-ish?) who the author was -- all pieces I enjoyed, though.

[ Parent ]
Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials | 19 comments (19 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback