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Book Report

Tue, Jun 12, 2001 00:47PM -0800

Fifteen minutes to 1PM, and I am still in my underwear, wearing the T-shirt I had worn all day yesterday and which I also slept in. God, I love the summer.

The only real problem is that it is oh-so-very hard to get myself out of here. I always find some little thing I need to work on instead. (Need. Right.) Or I say to myself that it's too gloomy outside. It would be a terrible day to go to the beach. Excuses, excuses.

But I've felt all weird about what I've been writing about lately (meaning, this past year or so) I just read Unicorn Sonata by Peter S. Beagle and I really can't pinpoint what he does, but his writing has always struck me as beautiful, in a manner that even my irrascible sense of cynicism is unwilling to defile. And sure, I've had my fun and games, writing about the pure ugliness and brutality of the world, and how I am simply a misunderstood genius (what's so misunderstood about me? No one thinks I'm a genius...<g>--this was lifted full on from Bill Watterson.) And I've been trying to make the vast jumbled minutiae of my life resemble something from Celine (hence the ubiquitous ellipses....), revelling in the disgusting nature of humanity.

But what I really want to do is write a fantasy novel in the style of Beagle. It has it all, really. Subtle political commentary about how fucked up our culture is. Witty, sardonic self-conscious criticism about the predictability of fantasy tropes (well, yeah, I know this is really mostly about The Last Unicorn , but I think I remember some such things in The Innkeeper's Song and even in A Fine and Private Place .) But most importantly, it is beautiful, in the narrow sense that I have usually reserved for the Romanticist vision of what beauty is. It leaves me staring off into the distance, day-dreaming, with an aching tinge of longing lingering in my heart. It is not brow-beating, heart-rending, blatantly emotionally manipulative prose. It is like that mysterious progression of chords and melodies in a song that for some reason feels like arrows piercing you in the chest, if only for a split-second. Like a happy dream that you can't recall when you wake... the only thing you know when you open your eyes is that you've lost something of incredible beauty.

And it is all real in some sick twisted psychologically troubled sense. There are hints of what I'm getting at in Beagle's foreword to The Lord of the Rings We have perhaps created a culture where escapism is the only viable solution (an impulse that is much more urgent than the almost laconic escape from suffering expressed in Buddhism.) Everything is just fucked up, and no one has any solutions. All we can do is gnaw at one another, keep each other down, try to find "happiness" by drinking and smoking poison.

I suppose the great double-edged curse/blessing of humanity (the consequence of eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, perhaps) is that we can imagine worlds that are much better than our own, even if they are impossible to get to. But, as a writer, I cannot help but accept the idea that if it's imaginable, then it's possible. The fact that we can even think and dream about it means there's hope. Much of what is real now was but a dream yesterday. Or some such Romantic crap. That's all I've got.

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