Here’s a little reward for Alastor’s visitors so they aren’t left out of the social-networking loop: On Sunday, February 3rd, I’ll be offering UNBOUND Books One and Two for FREE!
We just want you to know that your presence and support (and just-plain curiosity) is appreciated, and also hope that the hooks in our books will dig deep into you so that you’ll want to buy Books Three & Four! (It’s totally un-ironic that a few of the supporting cast are addicts.) (*cough*) ‘Scuse me while I fix this Rod… xD
Here’s an apparently-unrelated AMV, but it has certain thematic resonances with the novel and appropriately-dramatic music by Yuki Kajiura so it’s fine:
All we ask is that IF you enjoy it and feel that another Reader might, please share with or recommend it to them, and help spread the word that way. Because I suck at promotion, and don’t want to appear obnoxious (any more so than I already have and for that I am truly sorry LOL)
I’ve started polishing on Book Three: Water and will hopefully have it lapping at your shores by month’s end
Here’s something to help “tide” you over (ow, I know): a video by the super-talented Mr Marrs based on Kate Bush’s sublime “Hello Earth”:
Best get out of the water, but you might be in too deep; you’ll know by the end of Unbound Book Three: Water…
More background information can be found on the novel’s website; the Blog’s more entertainment-oriented. When I began this project, anime wasn’t even a gleam on my horizon. After discovering it though, I found to my utmost delight that it told stories much in the same veins I enjoyed my own stories to flow. For instance, I can say that UNBOUND is in the same vein as AIR-TV, and (probably) millions will know what I mean. So, I’ll say that here. Except that it isn’t, really. It’s a completely different horse, of a decidedly different color!
But if you enjoy stories like that one, Kanon, and Clannad, you’ll like this one, I’m sure. Reality, with a BIG twist of Fantasy. Or is it?
Just throw in lots of ef ~a fairytale of the two, Elfen Lied, and Monster, and you may start to get the idea. But that’s just a start. There’s no describing what you’re in for; it’s made to just dive into and enjoy the waters, if they’re warm enough for you. It may be that you just don’t like swimming, and the story may just not be for you. But really, it is. It’s a story about US.
I’ll let you discover that on your own, if you’re willing. A Word to the Wise and etc
Ray Bradbury passed away a few weeks ago, and I wanted to leave this little tribute in place to honor his memory and significant place in my life. I tend to forget about his influence upon my early reading years as they were largely taken up with the classics, thanks to my parents bringing me up in an environment populated with the Work of creative geniuses of nearly every stripe. I think I was led to him around age 13 through Poe and Verne, and possibly a credit on a “Twilight Zone” episode and/or the movie Moby Dick, depending when I saw them. In any case, we go way back!
My earliest recollection is from a pocketbook entitled The Autumn People, a compilation of Bradbury-penned short stories that were reprinted from E.C. Comics, who had run them in the early ’50s. Summertime in the ’6os was spent at our grandparents’ house in Boyes Hot Springs (near Sonoma), a town that at that time was very much like the small towns of Bradbury’s imagination. That book went with me everywhere that summer (and looks it, if memory serves me well)! After lights out I used to read it under the covers with a flashlight; I think my mom was not very keen on the book-that-is-actually-a-comic-book idea so I tried to ensure that it wasn’t “requisitioned” by keeping it well out of sight (but it did get taken away twice) LOL
It not only introduced me to Bradbury but to sequential art (aka “comic books”) as well. Where my earlier literary heroes had already stirred my soul and opened my young mind, Ray’s stories touched my heart, in his evocations of small town life, more-caring (and sometimes very cruel!) characters, singular plots, and emotions that ran very strong just beneath the story’s surface but were plain to read, feel, and see in the others around us. I love stuff like that, the deeper-felt the better (which partly explains my fascination with anime and other art-works). As hard-assed as everyone pretends to be in this cynical ugly age, we’re all just softies at heart xD
There was something else about Ray’s storytelling: his stories seemed real, his characters true and his fiction believable. He revealed to me what universal feelings were hidden in our common heart, and what menace and joy (everyday or otherworldly) may lie behind the illusion of a seemingly quiet, peaceful, uneventful life. That is, until Something Happens and puts all “normal” things in a very different light, the color and shape of which we hadn’t seen before.
He was the master of the short story. My first Bradbury book was Twice 22, which contained A Medicine for Melancholy and The Golden Apples of the Sun each featuring 22 bite-sized stories.From its first entry, “The Fog Horn”, a story about a dinosaur lured to the modern-day surface to respond to a sound like its kin, I was hooked. I liked dinosaurs anyway at that age, so it was an easy sell xD
Just the titles of some stories bring back fond recollections of reading them for the first time, like “The Flying Machine”, “The Golden Kite, the Silver Wind”, “Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed” (a fave all-time title), “The Golden Apples of the Sun”, and “I See You Never”.
He reminds me of why I enjoyed telling stories in the first place: to evoke that sense of wonder, almost childlike at times, at the wonderful (if a bit scary) world we live in. To see things a little differently so as to better cherish and share them. To touch, make contact with, and communicate with each other in ways that are unexpected, surprising, and rewarding. To sculpt characters we care about, and want to get to know. I think I’ve done this, and hope you’ll agree
During the writing of UNBOUND, I wanted absolutely no influences, elevated idols, even music, writing or anything else to come out in my work which I wanted as individualistic and different a story as a Reader is ever likely to read. Ironically, despite my high estimation, Ray never occurred to me in my embrace of the Shelleys, Milton, Cohen, and the like as their creations mingled with my own and who needed to be in the story, as it was “theirs”. Afterwards I stepped back and wondered about “my voice”, about what informed its more earthly point of view as opposed to its more ethereal and airy patois. I never recognized it until recently, in fact: it’s downright Bradbury-an! But that may just be me
Hopefully in a few months you can see for yourselves; I’m trying to set things in motion
I had Creative Writing classes throughout high school, where we were encouraged to express ourselves much in the evocative way that Bradbury did. During the writing-time of UNBOUND I came across advisement that said NOT to do so if wishing to pass the Big Seven’s (publishers) muster. Apparently they are big on cookie-cutting. And muster-ing. And don’t want any of that “creative” writing nonsense in their Product. It wasn’t until the advent of self-publishing that the ability to write and publish in your own voice became possible, and if the big publishers don’t want to “take a chance” on us then we certainly will, and go for that golden ring
One of the most recent books I’ve been able to afford/buy has been Bradbury Stories, a huge compendium of one hundred of his best short stories. Most of them are very short and easily-digested, which is about all I can handle right now due to RL not lending itself well to reading. But the magic is still there, and it’s been fun reconnecting to someone I’d almost forgotten about. More, it reconnected me with a bit of myself I’d forgotten about as well! I want to tell stories like these…
“This is Bradbury at his very best – golden visions of tomorrow, poetic memories of yesterday, dark nightmares and glorious dreams – a grand celebration of humankind, God’s intricate yet poignantly fallible machineries of joy.” (from back flap of Bradbury Stories)
Thus the career of many a writer begins, oftentimes before he/she even knows it
Thanks for everything Ray. Mr. Electrico was right; you will live forever!
Celebrating a happy eighth birthday for Lily-Doll, the replicant for UNBOUND‘s Lily Godwin!
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.” -Albert Einstein
Many people seem to have a hostile reaction toward dolls in general and can’t help but feel “creeped out” by them, no matter what size. Many more simply take them for granted and lump them all into a convenient little pile named “Barbie”, which boys should never play with! To many more rational-minded people, dolls are simply mysterious little (and not-so-little) avatars, and our ancestors’ playthings, proxies, and companions dating back from our earliest cold and lonely nights in the cave. I fall firmly into the last camp. And glad about being out of the cave
This last group includes the more tolerant folks and their attitudes towards life-sized dolls, which apparently begs questions of a different nature from those either curious (a good thing) or judgmental (bad). Honestly, I don’t care about psychoanalyzing the “phenomenon” as it reduces the magic about them, let alone the annoyance of “discussing” the subject with someone already with their mind made up that they’re horrible for whatever trivial reasons. Ever since getting Lily-Doll, I’ve seen plenty of that “doll-magic” and don’t need any “proof” of it, nor feel a need to be convincing about it. And need I add, no Chuckies ever appeared. Seems they aren’t all that close
The magic lies in the bonding, and that depends upon one’s imagination, and how free one is willing to let themselves go. Imagine that you have ownership of a doll. Not a simple, mass-produced one, but a specially-designed doll that you chose every aspect of yourself. It doesn’t have to be life-sized for this experiment; imagine a ball-jointed doll, like Soony here.
Can you get inside her little head? She’s your doll, you should want to! Go ahead; look into her face: Is the doll reaching out to you, but you just don’t know it?
In the second episode of Rozen Maiden Traumend this “relationship” is expressed beautifully by the doll-maker’s assistant, Shirosaki. I’ll even quote my own Blog, from April of last year:
In their second season, the much darker Traumend, Jun is brought to a new dollmaker in town by his female friend Tomoe. The conversation and dialogue in this scene is brilliant, with the dollmaker’s salesperson Shirosaki praising Jun for being interested in dolls despite being a boy, and explaining the dolls’ feelings towards their owner in touching detail. (Apparently the Japanese are much more tolerant and understanding about this than westerners, but it’s still seen as “un-natural” thanks to Society’s presumptuous pre-conditioning.)
Essentially, Shirosaki explains that in spite of appearances, dolls do feel that love bestowed upon them by their owner. Paraphrasing: “It’s not that dolls won’t give love; they can’t. They just sit on the shelf, and no matter how hard they try, they can’t communicate that love to their owner.” And this exchange later, I believe by the doll-maker, Enju: ”The feelings you put into a doll are all the same. As long as you pour love into them, they continue to live. When love disappears, they die. They become lost, no matter who it is.” He cradles his newly-forged doll, smiles at her, and says, “Hello.”
So with that in mind, we’re celebrating Lily-Doll’s 8th Birthday a little late this year, but this comes at an opportune time as there’s a current wave of publicity via the film by Elena Dorfman and Allison DeFren. This, plus the current momentum of publicizing Lily’s story, UNBOUND, after whom the doll was fashioned to promote in the first place, is all very synchronous, and that’s pretty cool
Okay… I’ll say it again: I really hate the term “the doll” when describing Lily-Doll. I’m only using it in deference (as it were) to those who can’t grasp calling an inanimate object a sexually-identifiable term. So they’ll know what I’m referring to and won’t have their little sensitivities become offended by my daring to refer to Lily-Doll as “her”.
UNBOUND is set in the weeks surrounding Easter, and as such I thought that this excerpt might prove timely for those who appreciate the story of Jesus, whether as a religious, political, or historical figure, or just a benevolent but tortured individual. Especially so on this Good Friday. What I believe only matters to me, but I would rather the Reader make their own decisions about not only this event but about the greater (and lesser) implications without any “outside” influences. Like mine. Or dogma from a “church”. This is just a Story. We will take you there, to where you can Choose…
A brief explanation about this Post: I prepared it as a new Page which’ll be permanently linked at the (near-invisible) top left drop-down menu. Unfortunately I’m having permission issues that won’t allow me to post new Pages; something happened with the database when transferring servers. My considerate webmistress is looking into it, and I’m so thankful for her help But in case that fix doesn’t work out I thought I’d try this as a new Post which I can put up. But it is a seven-page excerpt from the novel and so rather lengthy for a Post (even mine). AND THEN I FOUND THE “MORE” TAB :-O
Anyway, we’ll give this a shot. You may want a few by the time you finish reading it (And please forgive any formatting errors; I’m hurrying this out!)
A little warning, of sorts: this excerpt is atypical of the novel, and is used as an expository flashback device that is essential to understanding one of UNBOUND’s secondary characters, Ahasuerus. He’s someone you’ve likely heard of, though not likely by that name. Let’s go back in time with him, or without him, to that fateful Good Friday afternoon…
[SETUP/SCENE: Sitting on a bench in San Francisco’s Washington Square, two curious characters perch for a moment to discuss and address certain current events occurring in the Story, prompting one of them to re-live a memory that he will never forget. This is his very personal flashback excerpted from the middle of their discussion. His name is Ahasuerus, and he is quite damned...]
an excerpt from UNBOUND’s Book One: “Earth”
Part Two: “Bound”; Chapter 2.5: Alastor
He has heard the crowd growing all morning. Having closed his shoe-making business for the day, he now gathers several loaves of flat bread and flasks of water to bring outside to sell to the spectators. Satisfied with the quality of his wife’s preparations, he exits their dwelling and enters the sultriness of this particular Friday’s reluctant sun. It smolders down on Jerusalem, peeking through a gathering of huge, slow-moving black clouds. The firmament is a dark slate blue, and cold looking despite the heat.
From the nearby bazaar, the din and the smells comfort him with their attendant memories of his youth. Just as then, his senses are overwhelmed with pleasure at the diverse fragrances wafting through today’s noisy throng, spreading the promise of this market’s bounty: cooked lamb and fish, olives and dates, sweet pastries and fresh produce. All of these scents mingle with the baser odors of the countless unwashed bodies and the sweat and dust they generate. To Ahasuerus, this is life, all of it.
The familiar, insistent voices of dozens of merchants hawk their wines and apples, scented oils and incense, and spices from beyond Jericho. These sounds and aromas come to him as if a perfumed song. This is the last pleasant moment that this man will know.
Situated right on the road between the Judgment Hall and the place of execution, this route oftentimes has multitudes of people lining it to watch the condemned march out of the city and on to their final fate, through the northern gate to Golgotha. But today! The narrow steep street is wall to wall with them, and they are hungry; and not so much for food, but for the one approaching…
He hears a commotion from the bottom of the street. The crowd below parts like a living sea as a slow, awkward procession approaches. Above all their heads, a large wooden cross sways from one side of the avenue to the other, as if balanced on a precarious perch. Ah, he observes, the passage of the condemned.
The heralds who precede the condemned man proclaim the list of his crimes. The merchant scowls upon hearing the charges, taking account of them: Treason, and blasphemy!The King of the Jews he says! He mulls in anger at the perceived insult, and the man’s heresy. Oh, the Son of God as well? So he did not give tribute to Caesar? Then no wonder his deserved fate. What does he expect?
The procession grows closer…
Now he can see the bloody and battered criminal beneath the tall tottering cross, struggling to balance it on his shoulder. Ahasuerus strains against the growing press of the crowd to get a better look at the prisoner surrounded by his guardsmen. So, that is my king? He doesn’t look much like one to me. Even from here, he can see that this man has sustained a terrible beating, and most likely much worse yet to come. If he were truly the Son of God, he wouldn’t let himself endure such an ordeal!
Behind the heralds, he can now make out the soldiers as they approach, their spears held upwards, leading the main procession. Romans, he thought with contempt. If this man does have a Kingdom, let them issue an army to claim him, and send the Romans back to Rome as well!
He regards the screaming, taunting crowd around him and the unit of determined armored guards, and knows that there would be no army, or anyone else, coming to rescue this naked, bleeding, and doomed man. Where are his followers, he wonders, and his family?
Closer they come…
Many in the boisterous crowd shout obscenities at the doomed man as he approaches. They surge forward even in the face of the weapons wielded by Pilate’s soldiers, yelling ugly threats and curses at him as he hobbles toward them up the hill beneath his heavy wooden burden.
The procession is nearly upon them.
Anticipation crackles like electrical energy toward Ahasuerus from down the street. He grows more agitated with the increasing furor of the rabid mob’s condemnations. Under their influence, and much of his own, the merchant makes up his mind: He’s just another criminal, just another fraud; and a sinner as the rest of us, a Son of God as we are sons…
They are almost here.
As the first grim-faced guard passes, Ahasuerus sees in his features the resolute commitment to his task. He is righteous, as are the rest; they are soldiers, on assignment. The procession follows behind; armor clatters and feet shuffle, escorting one man and his stifled, labored breathing. A whip snaps with a loud crack, startling the merchant.
The battered and bleeding prisoner bows under the weight of the huge wooden cross, as he plods up the steep street. He tries to balance it on his bare back as it trails along behind him; it thumps a hollow, wooden drumbeat as it drags along the cobbled ground. The uneven surface induces the tail of the cross to bounce at every crack and crevice, digging into the man’s shoulder, scraping it raw.
His face bleeds incessantly, dripping from a crude crown of long, wicked thorns imbedded in his scalp. His long red hair hangs lank, and falls over his shoulders in thick, gory ropes. Tears of pain etch his face in streams, mingling with his blood, falling to the earth. He is not weeping; he is in torment.
At one time, his loincloth must have been white; now, sopping and stained with his sweat and blood, mud covers it. Two soldiers follow the condemned man; they goad him on, flaying him with barbed whips. Behind these come the rear guardsmen; and then falling in behind, that surging, raucous sea of people, following like vengeful lemmings.
Ahasuerus can’t sense anything other than the all-encompassing anger and chaos that permeates this environment. This is what it brings him:
But first: today those who advanced in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest were announced, and sad to say UNBOUND was not among them. This is not to infer that UNBOUND is not a breakthrough novel, or that its failure should imply that it is less-than-worthy. NO! With 5,000 total entrants divided into two categories, and going solely by the best 1,000 Pitches in each to advance, the odds aren’t good to begin with. But it’s a contest! When are those odds ever any good? Anyway, congratulations to those who made it to the next round
To be honest, summing up a 386K-word novel in a 300-word Pitch is an exercise in frustration, slightly less-so for the one-fourth that I submitted as Book One: “Earth”. The numerous judges must go through all of these submissions to weed out the obviously poorly-executed and also those Pitches that just don’t “do it” for them. There’s also a chance that your particular genre just doesn’t appeal to that gatekeeper, like a sci-fi pitch to a lover of romance novels. So, they lock you out. It’s going to take an Agent or Publisher who cares enough to look beneath the surface of a simple Pitch to find the buried treasure in Lily’s lake! That seeker is out there searching for this pearl but has plenty of air in their tank, and countless clams in the sea… but they will come to me, and Lily.
We have faith that it will Happen; these things can’t be rushed if the best results are desired. And we want the best results possible, commensurate with the amount of work, dedication, and devotion we’ve given to this Story, so that the Reader might have the best possible experience from it; one that can only come from the company of a good book. If it makes the world a more wondrous place to live in, so much the better
On the occasion of this event I thought it’d be an opportune time to finally address the name of this humble blog, Alastor’s Reflection. Visitors of the anime stripe might assume that it’s named after the pendant that Shana wears in Shakugan no Shanathat houses Alastor, the God of Destruction, to whom she’s contracted. I actually chose the name of this Blog well before I ever saw Shana, so it turns out to be a very happy coincidence, as SnS is one of my faves (I bought season 1) and Shana an awesome character who ranks near the top of my faves list. Note to self: Gotta think of a new word for “faves”, ugh LOL
Since most Visitors likely come here for the anime, here’s an action-packed AMV for Shana, and for those who don’t care or assume “certain things” (i.e. uneducated generalizations) about anime, a pertinent pointing out of Alastor in the first scene and again near the end. Never let it be said that we’re not relevant! Or pertinent, for that matter. Except when we’re not, which is much of the time oh nevermind…
It’s good for all sets of Visitors to be exposed to things unrelated to their interests, you know? And we’re pretty“quadrophenic“ hereabouts. For doll-fanciers, there aren’t many doll-related posts, but plenty of other things to enjoy at Alastor’s, home to Lily-Doll and Soony. I’ll add parenthetically (though without parenthesis but for these) that none of my dolls are used for sex. Hardly felt that was necessary but for some stupid people @ letsnotgothere.com. “When you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME” so don’t do that plskthx and all that.
My sexual habits aren’t a subject I feel worth mentioning but JUST IN CASE… (a) she’s a promotional aid for our novel who has garnered more publicity than anything else; (b) she’s the replicant of the main character who is the exact opposite of ‘loose”, and an ideal; (c) she provided companionship and the illusion of another’s presence in the absence of any during the writing in isolation; (d) she’s been the subject of numerous interviews, included in two books, and has been shown in photographic exhibits around the world; (e) was one of several relationships used as inspiration touched on in the film Lars and the Real Girl (unverified but largely suspected); (e) and I am not ashamed or regretful in the least, nor have I ever been. She’s been an absolute delight, a singular experience, and is such a beautiful doll. Now that that’s settled…
Huh. Just as I thought: no sex in it. See? It’s not everywhere! *collective gasps from the gutter*
This is not to say that she hasn’t posed for some sexy photos though; doll photography is another hobby (when I can manage)! Of course, she’s highly embarrassed by it and won’t do more than PG (nor would I ask her to), but understands that it’s a necessity and expectation of being a life-sized, like-like doll; one of the very first and very few to stand up and be scrutinized. She doesn’t like to disappoint, bless her But those days are long gone, and she’s content to just “hang around”, having done her bit for the cause.
Lily-Doll turned out to be the spitting image of Lily Godwin as I saw her in the story, and sat nearby throughout the latter revisions. And if the Muse happened to take up rest within her, no-one would be the wiser, but for my imagination. Imagination is the Key
Anime visitors can also find storytelling and music-related posts here at Alastor’s, and those fanciers of music and literature who land here from other forums can come to a fuller, deeper understanding of anime as well. Not that I know a lot, but I’ve been studying it avidly since May of 2007, so I do have a lot to share. Opinions, mostly LOL Those who enjoy good stories, well-done character development, and eye-pleasing animation may find some good, atypical recommendations here, such asRozen Maiden, for one…
It can’t be overstated that anime is very poorly represented to the general public in the West, and I’m trying to rectify that here by sharing what I consider to be exceptional shows that might not otherwise be seen. For instance, it’s really a shame that a touching, dramatic and moving story like AnoHana or Wandering Son wasn’t promoted over here. So, while far from being an “expert’s blog” (which there are many, see sidebar for a sampling), I do have an eye and ear and heart for quality storytelling across many genres in anime, and happily ramble on about What I Like. That I can do xD
By the way, here’s Alastor in his true form, visuals and music taken from the Shakugan no Shana movie:
Good Advice: Don’t judge a book by its cover, or a pendant by its size!
Here’s the thing: We’re named after Percy Bysshe Shelley‘s “Alastor; or, The Spirit of Solitude”. For the whys of the Shelleyan persuasion, see the recent Post explaining about that here. “Alastor” was one of the first of the great Poet’s works I was exposed to during my teenage years. Alastor is not the main character, who’s simply referred to as “the Poet”; nor is the Poet necessarily Shelley. (It is rumored to be William Wordsworth, however.) No, Alastor is rather “the spirit who divinely animates the Poet’s imagination.” Much as my own solitary journey went with the writing of UNBOUND, driven and supported by whom I felt to be my Muse; alone, together. It certainly has been a trip!
I’ve gone on before about how I related (and relate) to Percy Shelley. “Alastor” depicted the quest, environment and other-worldliness that I felt most in-tune with during those adventurous years growing up and into the world, and its themes serve as reminders/signposts along my way in order to stay consistent and true to myself. Those who think they know me might catch glimpses of un-imagined underlying layers exposed for the first time to their eyes here at Alastor’s; that’s what they get for not paying attention!
This, from the Wiki; pertinent NOTES from myself:
In Alastor the speaker ostensibly recounts the life of a Poet who zealously pursues the most obscure part of nature in search of “strange truths in undiscovered lands”, journeying to the Caucasus Mountains (“the ethereal cliffs of Caucasus”) [NOTE:Lily's birthplace; near Odessa!], Persia, “Arabie”, Cashmire, and “the wild Carmanian waste”. The Poet rejects an “Arab maiden” in his search for an idealized embodiment of a woman [NOTE: sound familiar?]. As the Poet wanders one night, he dreams of a “veiled maid”. This veiled vision brings with her an intimation of the supernatural world that lies beyond nature. This dream vision serves as a mediator between the natural and supernatural domains by being both spirit and an element of human love. [NOTE: strangely akin to my first Kate Bush dream!] As the Poet attempts to unite with the spirit, night’s blackness swallows the vision and severs his dreamy link to the supernatural.
Once touched by the maddening hand of the supernatural, the Poet restlessly searches for a reconciliation with his lost vision. [NOTE: successfully reinventing UNBOUND as a novel upon contact with the Creative Muse]. Though his imagination craves a reunion with the infinite, it too is ultimately anchored to the perceptions of the natural world. [NOTE: we saw through the perceptions and reunited, relating a story informed by its time-less vision.]
Ruminating on thoughts of death as the possible next step beyond dream to the supernatural world he tasted, the Poet notices a small boat (“little shallop”) floating down a nearby river. Passively, he sits in the boat furiously being driven down the river by a smooth wave. Deeper and deeper into the very source of the natural world he rushes. Like the water’s surface supports the boat, the supernatural world “cradles” the mutability both of nature and of man [NOTE: Lily and Will's little boat in Chapter 1.1 is an echo of this].
As his senses are literally dulled, his imagination helps him sense the spirit’s supernatural presence. Instead of perceiving the vision through the senses, the Poet imaginatively observes her in the dying images of the passing objects of nature [NOTE: Imagination > the sensual world ]. The boat flows onward to an “immeasurable void” and the Poet finds himself ready to sink into the supernatural world and break through the threshold into death.
When the Poet reaches the “obscurest chasm,” his last sight is of the moon. As that image fades from the Poet’s mind, he has finally attained transcendence to the supernatural world. The journey to the very source of nature led, finally, to an immanence within nature’s very structure and to a world free of decay and change. [NOTE: Plot aside, this is somewhat similar to my finding my "writer's retreat" in the beautiful San Juan Islands where at last I was able to complete my solitary work on UNBOUND, with my Muse as my only company (aside from Pennie and Lily-Doll).]
So it is a sympathetic vision that we share
That’s as general and as true a statement with which to sign off with that I can make, and something you can think on. Or not Again, I thank you for reading, and please leave a Comment if you would like to share a thought or two. We appreciate your Presence
I’m @UnboundAngel. I think. Hm… okay, maybe a little bit of a twit. It’ll all work out in boomland though xD
Anyway, as part-and-parcel of the aforementioned 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, it was recommended to me to open a Twitter account to communicate (and commune!) with fellow writers. Just as with Facebook, I’d long ago decided to not entangle my Internet entanglements any further with social media distractions. But these are indispensable tools for marketing and promoting one’s work these days, so I went onto FB, and now the Tweet Machine. *rubs bleary eyes* WHERE DID MY LIFE GO???
WHY I’m doing all of this at this most low and tenuous point in my life I do not know, as I definitely don’t need any distractions from trying to survive in this country with no income and a “safety net” with more holes than a sieve, and just as effective. Writing, or rather storytelling, elevates me into another beautiful, fanciful World that I love and would gladly stay in, but I must keep my eyes on the ground of this crumbling land, making sure not to slip or mis-step. One slip will send me over the edge, and I get distracted so easily. I’m interested in everything LOL! So I’m very careful, these dark days, with my footsteps. But I wrestled the elements of the contest into shape, began assembling the disparate parts of the Story into MS shape, and now the first breaths of promotion raise the sheet and it falls, and rises… The cocoon is cracking.
The Fool has yet to land off the mountain, and is not sure what awaits him on the plain. That can surely be fodder for adventure, but I can’t even risk that; no time to explore. No money for even bus-fare tends to cause a hunkering-down in one’s den, and I’m safe here for now, in this small cave called “home”, entrenched in this figurative mountainside. “Now” equates to about three days though, since my rent wasn’t paid. I’m trying like hell to create a miracle from behind the scenes by selling stuff to stave off eviction, so creating a peaceful place to compose is out of the question (I moved 900 miles away in order to write my novel free from this poisonous RL BS, if you know what I mean). But here I am, gathering the energy from somewhere to push for publication through whatever means necessary. I have to think that it’s Lily-the-Muse, tending to Lily-the-character’s story. And, of course, I do tend to both of them
(By the way, if any of the ABNA followers have come here looking for the novel’s bits, they scroll off pretty quickly over time, as infrequent as they are. I keep the website specifically for the UNBOUND-related material, and all else goes here at Alastor’s Reflection. The last Blog-post from earlier this month is here. And, thanks for your kind attention I’m a … little unconventional, so please be kind to my mistakes ) I’m unapologetic about pretty much anything else
I’m still learning the Twitter ropes, so taking my time with it, and already have had some delightful contacts with other writers. (I do have a hard time considering myself a “writer” though; rather more of a storyteller, which is fine too.) I was happy to see my favorite writer (yes a *real* writer!), Neil Gaiman, with an account, so naturally I Followed him. (And his Journal has been a Blogroll link for as long as the site’s been up, so do check it out!) Almost on cue, he Tweets about Leonard Cohen, which regular visitors know I equate with the Dalai Lama (who, coincidentally, I found and Followed too!). Neil posted this YouTube video of L.C. reciting from “Democracy”, and it’s delightfully chilling:
He also speaks about battling depression which should be eye-opening to all those real twits who dismiss it with typically-stupid “get over it” statements and the like. This isn’t “oh, I feel sad” moments but real, Marvin-like Major Depression. It’s not something you “get over” with the snap of one’s fingers. I’ve been battling it for years (runs in the family) and the only drug-free way to do it is through creating. That’s what allows me the freedom to write my stories, and I don’t want/need those goddamned pharmaceutical company’s peddled junk, or “those drugs that keep you thin”. Junk is junk, period. Please hear Mr. Cohen address the Issues:
So thanks Neil, I applaud your good taste but already knew you had some! (And this thank-you probably has about as much chance of being seen as it would on Twitter with Neil’s 1,685,339 Followers o.O ) That’s okay; I just like saying “Thanks!” and giving credit where credit is due. Doesn’t have to be seen, read, or answered; just the Sending matters xD
And speaking of credit, The Sandman is the greatest story I ever read. Relevant note: In UNBOUND, Lily wears a ***** T-shirt that says “You get what anyone gets… You get a lifetime.” I like that to death (well, it IS my T-shirt LOL), and Lily likes it too, being a fan herself -Still keeping things close to the vest, heh…
Now he posted a link to a spoken-word/poetry site *sigh* -I’m NEVER gonna untangle myself at this rate! *resists urge to investigate; surreptitiously Bookmarks it, sneaks back in*
Okay Neil, one for you and the Tweets: Here’s Ken Nordine reciting “Flibberty Jib”, probably his most well-known piece. It was used in a Levis commercial in the early ’70s, I think:
Another favorite is Kevin Smith, who totally freaked me out with “Dogma” (one of my fave all-time films). Not because of its freakiness, but little parallels with Lily’s story. Can’t say which though; spoiler territory, dammit. Not that there’s any in this Trailer *cough*…
Loved the appearance of Jay and “the guy with the beard” Apparently the guy stays up all night Tweeting! Yay Today he tweeted or re-tweeted (wtf do I know?) a Teddy Roosevelt quote that really knocked my socks off, regarding critics (critical persons): Of course, President Theodore puts it in much better wording than I:
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.
The man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic – the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done.
Criticism is necessary and useful; it is often indispensable;
but it can never take the place of action, or be even a poor substitute for it.
The function of the mere critic is of very subordinate usefulness.
It is the doer of deeds who actually counts in the battle for life, and not the man who looks on and says how the fight ought to be fought, without himself sharing the stress and the danger”
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” -Maya Angelou
Since I’ve been neglecting my lovely little Creature on this Blog for far too long now, I thought it was time for an update. There are a lot of (very) patient people waiting to read the story who are probably pretty annoyed that it’s taken this long, to whom I feel I owe an explanation since I’ve been talking it up for what must seem like forever. (Speaking of that, I am still wanting to share my final thoughts on the great 2011 Fall Anime season that wrapped up last month; it was too bountiful not to review. Sorry for the delays, see below for excuses reasons, and maybe a Penguin or two!)
For more recent Visitors, and those who may have blinked and missed any previous novel updates, I hope this Post serves as a comfy introduction to my as-yet-unpublished novel, UNBOUND, since I so rarely never update the damn website (hassles due to permissions foul-ups). It’s pretty old school, and a cobbled-together website at that, but it has a lot of basic info about the novel and Lily, if you’re the curious sort. And, of course, I hope you are
-The Promethean Shelleys, and Me
I was lucky enough to be exposed to many of the great writers of all time and countries, having been raised by parents who cared a lot about classical literature and reading. On my 11th birthday in 1963 they gave me The Golden Treasury of Poetry, which contained Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandius”, a poem which my father loved. It was around the same time that I discovered that he was the husband of Mary Shelley, who’d written Frankenstein, which was my favorite story even then. Reading the bio in Frankenstein‘s Classics Illustrated edition about Percy, I felt drawn to him, though I can’t remember why.
During my poetry years (roughly 1968-1972 or so) I was more into hanging around in North Beach and the trisection of Columbus, Broadway and Grant, which is in the area where Lily lives, and much of the story takes place. The Haight Street scene had burned out, but I’d found a rich, stimulating, and colorful environment to enjoy and inform my poetry in the Italian sector. Being half-Italian didn’t hurt either xD
At North Beach’s City Lights Bookstore, a Poet’s Mecca, I was able to learn more about Shelley. The more I discovered about the great Poet I felt akin to him in emotional and creative temperaments, as evident by his work, such as Alastor; or, The Spirit of Solitude, and his classic Prometheus Unbound. In him I found the one Poet whose Romanticism matched my own. Byron, whom one writerly friend insisted was more like my makeup than Shelley, was too large a figure; heroic even, while Shelley had his flaws but burned with passion and a reflective love of nature, was courageous if reckless and unafraid to make mistakes, and equally unafraid to explore anti-social conventions. Possibly something of a bastard, too, given the mores of his day. If there is one poetic voice in the writing of UNBOUND, it must be Shelley’s. (But there are other poetic voices in it, such as Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Leonard Cohen, and Jack Micheline.)
However, the themes were largelythose of his wife, Mary. I came to Frankenstein via Karloff the Monster, but stayed for the creator and the Creature, the pursuit and value of companionship, and the ragged, often interlocked, bonds of love and revenge. Nothing about mad scientists or hacked up bodies! Well… there are hacked up bodies in UNBOUND; I forgot about the cannibals. And the horror, yes, can’t forget about the horror… at times it’s pretty intense. The flavor of the horror is more traditionally Gothic though, so it’s not so much over-the-top gory, rather it slowly ushers in a dark sense of dread, oftentimes followed by brutal violence.
The topmost quote comes courtesy of the beautiful soul who started me out on this journey, and she knows what she’s talking about! Yes, it certainly does hurt. “Agony” is a perfect word to describe it, but you’d expect that from one of America’s greatest Poets. In 1968 or ’69 Maya Angelou came to my Creative Writing class in high school, and after having me read my five-page poem aloud to my class (and leading them in a standing ovation) pulled me aside afterwards to encourage me to pursue a career in writing. That was some eye contact, let me tell you! Even as a rebellious 16-year old, I heard her, believed her, and wisely complied, though it remains an elusive puruit. But one must learn from “meetings with remarkable men” (and women)!
By this time I was well into my poetry phase, where I indulged myself for quite some time. Pity I wasn’t that good at it, despite my high grades! (Too “brilliant” and direct, rather than clever and inscrutable, I guess.) But she showed me the power of words… and pointed the way. Thank you, Maya, such a beautiful name, spirit, and soul
Speaking of beautiful souls, I discovered Kate Bush in 1983 when I came across her Never For Ever album in a used record shop. (See the previous Post for a 50 Words for Snow writeup!) She instantly became my favorite artist; to my ears and tastes, no-one delivered such beauty so deeply, so honestly and so courageously. Her lyrics were (and are) deep, personal, and of substance and quality; ditto her compositions and -well, everything! I’m never satisfied with describing her affect on me, either artistically or in more ineffable ways. Every thing she does is magic
Then I got caught up in 1985′s Hounds of Love promotional push, and over the next two, maybe three solid months, I was transformed. This was the awakening of the Muse, I believe. I’ve never been through anything like it! It’s as if something or someone inside or around me had Awakened, and begun playing with the story’s then-furtive ideas, knowing that what I wanted to tell was what she wanted to tell, too. She (if I may personalize this Spirit, due to its gentle, beneficient, and devoted presence) was saturated with Kate’s work during that gestating period, and reflected that in filtering her story down to me. I get a feeling of “paralell movement” between us, but more than that I can’t say. It’s wonderful and fun to observe, though
In early 1986, when I emerged from this transcendant-like “state”, I burst out one final epic poem, “Arc to Arcturus”, that was published in the Kate tribute book The Thrill and the Hurting (Morning Fog Press, 2006). Sometime after finishing the poem, UNBOUND’s format came to me from out of the blue, like a problem resolving itself in one’s sleep: It wanted to be a story, not a graphic novel, not a concept album, not a movie, not a poem, all ideas I’d entertained. A Book.
Simply put, without Kate there’d be no book; at least not in the story-form it is today
In 2001 I moved 900 miles away from my home base of San Francisco in order to write the novel without the distractions of real life interruptions and the chaos of city life. Seeing it finished and finally fully realized six years later was an indescribably happy moment, and the enthusiastic reception by my First Readers and samplers emboldened and gratified me. But due to subsequent misfortunes, I haven’t had the proper frame of mind (or life-structure) to properly manage a consistent and dedicated effort towards publishing it, and that’s why no progress has been made in getting it out. The energy is all wrong; way too many pollutants and poisons, and I’ve steadfastly refused to allow them to affect or infect the Story. Real-Life has been rude, at best. Dealing with numerous apathetic government agencies is nightmarish alone, let alone keeping food, rent, and bills reasonably current, and they’re always late. All efforts must go to survival, literally. This paralytical stasis has prevented me from any movement in that direction at all, really. I’m Bound, you might say.
Writing the story was wonderful beyond belief, but not being able to tell it has been agonizing, as Maya Angelou has said. It’s been awful watching Lily languish all alone, waiting, so patiently… But I’m determined that it be released at the right time, at its own pace, when things come to us as a matter of due course, if the Journey brings her helpers this way
During the final phase of writing I lived in near-complete isolation and was mostly undisturbed in the San Juan Islands, a place of great natural beauty and energy. I worked around 10-18 hours a day on the manuscript for weeks on end, just me and my Muse, who, undiluted, moved her Story through me with surprising grace and ease; “surprising” because it had been so difficult before I had completely opened the channel.
As I’ve related before, I wouldn’t exactly say that the Name of this muse/guardian angel/beneficient spirit/companion is “Lily”, just that I called her that in light of her devotion. That one doesn’t need a Name, really, but I gave her one anyway. I wanted to give her something. It did seem as if it was her story, so why not? Actually, this “muse” might have a different name and duty, and that entity is in the story too, but is a well-kept Secret. So, these should remain hidden for now. Or just teased about ;-)
The brilliance of those days, the mysterious, wondrous, and incredible purity of creation that I experienced then in such clarity, has in recent years become clouded with the dark poisons and daily crush of an impoverished reality. And so while complete, Lily’s story remains sealed away, as I’m unwilling to force her out before her time, and in such a perilous, uncertain environment. (Hmm… flashes of “Breathing”?!) In fact, I could be homeless within the month if my little miracles are used up. It’s amazing that I’ve survived all of this shit (*knocks wood loudly*)
“SEIZON SENRYAKUUUU!!!” (“Survival Strategyyy!!!)
So, this Post is going up now, as our Survival Strategy (and yes, I’d LOVE to see UNBOUND as an anime, one of my little dreams), to preserve our Place in the public’s consciousness. Or, subconsciousness [EDIT weeks later, after entering the ABNA contest: Hahaha! Apparently I found myself willing after all :-P If you're going to beat the Darkness, you have to be out in it... and boy, am I in it!]
So, her creative work is done; she now slumbers and waits. Mine has hit the publishing barrier against which every author has had to or must bang their head in frustration. I’m confident that we’ll get around it; it’s a matter of Faith. I am determined for as long as I can survive. But in the meantime, I have to get my life together, if I can keep it together, in order to deliver the story to you. That is what we want most of all, and why we wrote it, and why we take extra care. It’s a story for You, after all, and You’re precious :-D
Essentially, right after completing the final revisions of this 733-page work, I was caught up in the Countrywide home loan fiasco, the unemployment situation became untenable, I lost my house, moved to an area with even worse unemployment, money ran out, moved again practically into the ghetto, and it gets worse but it sucks to type it all out, and would depress you, which I definitely do not want.
Let me put it this way: Yesterday I gave a homeless guy my last nickel (literally), hoping he wouldn’t feel insulted. But he certainly understood my situation and graciously thanked me for my thought. “Practically an empty gesture,” I apologized. “Just the thought,” he said. Yeah, indeed; thoughts are things. So, no money, no busfare, no income, no job, but I always have faith that what I need will come for me. Somehow it does, but I’m testing it in these days… or is it testing me? Hm…
During this time I did submit to several Agents and publishers. Four of the Agents replied expressing interest in the story but all concurred that a 733-page novel was too problematic for a first-time author, the print/ship costs notwithstanding. They said to keep at it, but then I suppose they all do. Still, they enjoyed the premise and the few characters they’d met, so I was gratified for that. They are great characters
Oddly enough, now I DO have some UNBOUND news
This past weekend I entered UNBOUND: Book One: Earth into the2012 CreateSpace/Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest! As the intensity of my real-life pressures mounted, I found myself drawn back (or pulled back) (beaten back? hmm, maybe…) to Lily and her story. All it took was just re-reading Chapter 1.1 and I had to keep going! After several pages I felt her presence near, and seeing her in the pages, alone, melancholic, and yet still devoted to Will (her ward), and to her Story, it made me want to do something for her, something tangible involving promoting our work, so that she doesn’t lose Hope. I have to do my part too
Lo and behold, the CreateSpace ABNA announcement came right at this time, so, never one to ignore serendipity or signposts, I immediately went to work on the critical 300-word Pitch, which will be the sole criteria to determine whether the entrant proceeds to Round Two. Then it”ll be judged on the Excerpt, the first several thousand words of Chapter 1.1. I lightly edited it, mainly cosmetic, so the excerpt on unbound.org is now a bit outdated. Actually, the whole site is outdated, but never mind
Once past that stage, then the final judging will be based on the entire manuscript, and then the winner will be announced sometime in June. Grand Prize is a $15,000 advance, and a contract with Penguin Books! I’m hoping that a four-book series will be more enticing to a publisher rather than a 733-page one. I haven’t checked whether runners-up receive prizes, because there’s only one thing I’m aiming for. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you
I joined CreateSpace last year, just in case I decided to self-publish. Having one’s novel accessible to amazon.com shoppers/reviewers can only be a good thing, although one of my (innumerable) “intents” was to publish traditionally and use the novel to help support indie bookstores. Going trad is still the main desire, but given how the market has regrettably changed, I’m keeping all options open.
INTENTS AND INTENTIONS:
This is a huge ambitious Project: frankly, we want to change the world with it. I’m an unapologetic product of my generation, and I’m carrying that ideal forward to keep that hope alive, that we realize that we are all of one origin, whatever that may be. I don’t care if it’s “idealistic” or not, “naive” or not, “hopeless” or not. It was the goal of the original “hippies” to transform the world through Love, but the cynics, naysayers, and haters persisted and won the day. But not the Battle! Lily will now bear the Standard
I’m reminded of one of my favorite scenes from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” where Jack Nicholson’s McMurtry shows The Chief how to escape the madhouse. In some way, this is what we’re attempting. Hopefully my characters will put it in words better than I can. It’s a story meant for Movement
I really want the novel in as many hands as possible, not only for the entertainment of our connected contemporaries, but also for those suffering downtrodden souls, the marginalized ones shoved to Society’s edges, and those other travellers feeling left out in the cold by their Maker. They like to read their stories, too. I hope to bring a moving, challenging, and thought-provoking epic to those Readers who can’t afford fancy reading gadgets or internet connections, all around the globe. If there is one “cause” for UNBOUND, it is that of Homelessness. Because a few of the characters are indeed homeless. In more ways than one…
SO: First Round of judging is at the end of February; if I still have an Internet connection I’ll Post my success or um… “un-success” afterwards. It’s most likely getting cut off tonight, so if you reply and I don’t, that’s why. Please stay tuned; I’m still searching for free WiFi around here so I can still connect. Whether the entry wins or not isn’t going to faze me either way, because I believe in the Story, much like I believe in You; all is positive :-D
That’s rather the point: UNBOUND is an experiment in Faith. In fact, my entire life going back to that initial contact with the Muse has been one of Faith. I’ve heard it said that “Faith is the evidence of things unseen.” This latest Journey is just to see if it Works. And it does (or has), but is being severely tested right now. However, perseverence furthers
EXCERPT: From the opening of Chapter 6.2, “Albatross” (and please excuse the lack of proper italicizing within the Quote):
Lily emerged from the passageway into the subdued light of dawn; the environment felt bracing, lucid, and vital. She found herself standing on Church Street between a pair of flats, in shadow. Relieved to be out in the upper world again, she leaned back against the alleyway door and took a deep breath of fresh morning air. To her surprise, against her back was just a featureless wooden fence where she expected the door to be, with neither a handle nor a latch, nor an outline of a portal. She pushed and pulled on the boards, but they would not give.
Well, I just came though it… didn’t I? She looked at it dumbly before shrugging her shoulders and turning back around. One-way passage, I guess. Despite her jubilant yet melancholy sojourn below, a sense of dread anticipation was building in her, and eclipsing it. She hadn’t a clue as to her next step; the future seemed opaque.
What do I do now? Where should I go? I’m as sightless and homeless as the blind whistler is, she thought.
LILLIES IN THE ANGEL’S POND:
[EDIT: How very, very interesting... I was searching for prints/references of Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" to add to this Post, when I came upon this from Wikipedia:
"The poem may also have been inspired by the legends of the Wandering Jew, who was forced to wander the earth until Judgement Day for taunting Jesus on the day of the Crucifixion, and of the Flying Dutchman.“
Yes, that is quite interesting indeed… but I can’t tell you why xD]
I’ve been keeping things pretty close to the vest when it comes to revealing anything about the story beyond the opening vacation scenes, because many, many surprises await the unsuspecting Reader. New characters, subplots, and realms of wonder and terror weave through every page. As the numerous threads tighten and entangle, and snap, the movement and momentum increase to a fever pitch by Book Three: Water, and then all Hell breaks loose in the final Book, Fire.
One of the things I’d kept quiet about was the inclusion of angels and associated being and realms. But there’s no sneaky way to promote it without mentioning them, as they’re quite involved, so I’ll just say “yeah; angels” and leave it at that
I’d only shared the following anecdote with fellow Kate-fans before this, but I’m going to try to initiate my own “Survival Strategy” and finally put this Out Here; desperate times call for desperate measures. Since the first fourth of the novel has been brought out into the light, I’m considering this contest as a First Step taken, in order to confirm this Road I’ve chosen, upon which path I encountered Maya Angelou, who baptized me, and Kate Bush, who’s blessed me:
Immediately prior to my buying Kate’s The Red Shoes album in 1993, I’d finally decided on Lily’s name. While examining the CD case I was really jazzed to see that Kate had named one of her new songs “Lily”. That alone would have been enough “strange phenomena” to make me happy; yet another little wink she gave me, and still gives me to this day. “Wonder what her Lily’s like,” I thought. I was a little petrified that I’d written something that might seem taken from her concept, but thankfully they were quite different. But not exactly in a very different way…
From the start of the song, I was chilled and awestruck all at the same time. Kate’s Lily is a mystic, who uttered words both familiar and chilling, because they echoed the concepts and wisdom of the Great White Brotherhood (no, not the KKK!), among other highly-regarded (by me) sources. I’d been selectively researching occultism, metaphysics, and comparative religions since the mid-seventies, being very, very careful about what I read and what connected with me (“don’t want your bullshit”). I’d often come across powerful words such as these:
“Oh thou, who givest sustenance to the universe
From whom all things proceed
To whom all things return
Unveil to us the face of the true spiritual sun
Hidden by a disc of golden light
That we may know the truth
And do our whole duty
As we journey to thy sacred feet”
So hearing those words really thrilled me. In a nutshell, this is exactly the “hidden essence”, the “invisible theme” of UNBOUND.
But I won’t say any more about it for now; consider it our little secret Really, I want Readers to focus on the human aspect, the human story, and that is Lily’s tale, and Will’s coming-of-age, and let the rest of Creation come as it may. The novel can be considered a mobius strip; there certainly is something on That Other Side, that can’t be seen from this one…
Anyway: at that first listening of “Lily” my anxiety was relieved upon hearing Kate’s character seemingly going out on the town with her pals, Gabriel and Raphael, and Michael and Muriel, obviously a couple (!). And they were all walking through Spanish Harlem, apparently having little to do with the opening words. So they visited a mystic, then went for a walk mm-hm. But I liked the song anyway
Then I read the lyrics. Usually I don’t read them until the second listen, so all I had heard was a story about some girl walking with her small gang of friends. After hearing Gabriel, Raphael and Michael’s names, I do recall feeling the slightest disappointment in “Muriel”, that Kate hadn’t been singing about archangels after all. Then I read his name in the lyrics. Not Muriel, huh. WAITWAITWAIT…!!! URIEL?!? -I think this was well before “OMG” was coined, but yeah :-O
The lyrics reveal that Kate’s character is actually the petitioner at Lily’s feet, asking for guidance, who learns from the wise elder how to “protect herself with fire”… and is ultimately saved, surrounded (and among) the archangels:
Aside from the character juxtaposition, it’s as if this song were written for Lily Godwin herself, from her point of view. Imagine how you might feel if something so extremely personal that “only you” felt was echoed by someone across the world, with whom you’d already felt an undeniable connection. This was more than a connection, more than “strange phenomena”; it was evident of the workings of Spirit. For instance, we can’t know how the superconscious works, because it very well may be working on an intersection with another dimension that we in the 3rd can’t perceive, where all minds are able to meet. Or, perhaps our own, Invisibly. Like schools of fish, or flocks of birds, moving as one. Or, dreams. But ’nuff said with that
-Lily Among the Angels
It’s still really happening to me! Now we have the beautiful “50 Words for Snow” from Kate (see the Impressions Post below this one). Once again, she reaches so deep, and I don’t even have to think about it; thoughts and “interpretations” just get in the way. I only want to feel it just as deeply as I want the Reader to experience with UNBOUND’s depthless deeps. Because the highs, so unobtainable, the heights so far but finally reached, they will feel transformed. Like “To a caterpillar, for the Butterfly” (This refers to Lily’s poem from Chapter 1.1, “To All Good Things”.)
Even though I included the divine “Among Angels” video in the post below, I’m putting it here again, for emphasis. This evocative clip by Sky Vibes shows exactly the sentiment and emotions I wish to show the Reader through the story’s words. The imagery and characters from Wim Wenders’ masterpiece “Wings of Desire” really deliver the Message that Kate delivers with this sublime song, the sentiment that Lily and others in UNBOUND feel and share. Hopefully they will share them with you, someday soon :-)
Well, it depends on the soul, and if they want to be saved… or whether they even believe in angels, and souls, and snow…
Ah, snow is easy because it’s tangible. For a while at least, until it melts in your hands and transforms into water and trickles through your freezing fingers, becoming steam at the touch of your heated skin, and is gone… like a breath of air… then how do you still believe? Some (those that do) might say with faith, others a hope; it isn’t snow anymore and we just can’t see it. Everything changes, and life goes on and on and on
On November 21st Kate Bushreleased her newest album “50 Words for Snow” on Fish People, and the reception has been very enthusiastic and positive. That’s just from the reviewers! The fans, needless to say, are loving it. To be honest, I was expecting that the critics would be yawning due to the laidback and casual pace, so I am absolutely thrilled for Kate that the general public is getting steered toward this wonderful, warm and soothing Wintery album; I’m so happy that she’s getting the recognition she so richly deserves. Perfect timing, in more ways than one…
Prelude: A CHRISTMAS STORY, OF SORTS
I think we can each manage to think of one long-beloved artist whose work resonates so thoroughly with us that we think of their work as “friends” and by extension their creators; I’ve had several including Leonard Cohen and Neil Young, to name but two. Essra Mohawk (aka Sandy Hurvitz & Uncle Meat, ex-Mothers of Invention) has been a favorite since my teen years and is a warm and wonderful friend who has gifted me many times, and to whom I’m most grateful and love to death
For whatever reason (and there are many), Kate’s music, words, wisdom, and humor touch me deeper than anything. It’s inexplicable, so why try to explain it? All I know is what I feel, and that is enough, because she soothes my soul, and calms me. Her album came to me just in the nick of time, just as a friend would. Things are very grim, and I never know what the next month will bring, let alone tomorrow; all is uncertain and overwhelming, and I’m “living” a soul-sucking solitary experience here in the frozen heart of a cold, cruel city, with uncaring people all around me. I’m a frost-bitten Romantic, and out of my element, and becoming land-locked in the ice…
Yes, the world is so loud, it’s crushingly cold, but she brings such warmth to it. I’ve had little money or food this past year and shelter has been uncertain, but I receive sustenance and cover throughher words, and hope. But I’m tired and drained from doing all that I can. So I keep falling… but I have faith that she’ll find me
Of course I wanted the album, but couldn’t afford it, and refused to listen to any tracks before I had it in my hands. It felt like I was starving myself, and since I had barely any food, it was pretty much all-consuming. I kind of became Invisible, and vanished, withdrew. Aside from the single, “Wild Man”, it was a while before I heard anything else (not to mention a crazed determination LOL), until a li’l Fishy named Sharnee took pity and bought the CD for me and sent it, from overseas. It arrived on December 23, and I had it on Christmas Eve to listen to. Thank you, Sharnee (And, to Suli, who bought me the vinyl of Director’s Cut earlier in the year; you guys are the best!)
I put it on at half-past midnight, on Christmas. Alone, quiet, and receptive, as one should be, at one’s altar. There is nothing more personal to me, or as deep reaching, and one must be unafraid to Feel It, in order to fully allow her in. A lot of us have become so fearful of Feeling, because the hurts last longer than the pleasure, they perceive. They build up callous and walls to protect themselves, but have lost touch with what it means to be human: to feel. While listening I try not to think, or analyze, just receive graciously my gift, and simply, intuitively, take her in as deeply as possible, and allow the superconscious to do the heavy lifting, sifting, and sorting. I just Listen, and Feel
SNOWFLAKE: She begins her beautiful message to me, to us, here, accompanied by her son Bertie, who does a remarkably moving vocal for the opener, “Snowflake”. (Thanks to Sky Vibes, aka vibesinthesky, for the wonderful videos; full-screen ‘em for full effect!)
“I am ice and dust and light. I am sky and here…” Really, Bertie’s the luminary on this track, warmly watched over by his Mother, whose piano-flake touches tinkle and twinkle like stars. Drfifting, falling ones…
The recording done on this album by Del Palmer (also playing bass, above, and assisted by Stephen W. Tayler) is about as pristine as I’ve had the pleasure to hear; it’s hard to believe it’s digital! He doesn’t get enough credit! <— fix’d
LAKE TAHOE: My favorite camping spot; I recall very well hitchhiking up there as a teen with a buddy and spent many summers camping out, meeting girls, and gambling playing the nickle slots (when we could sneak into the casinos LOL). There was one time though, that we hitched in Winter in the early ’70s, with just sleeping bags and plastic garbage bags stuffed with clothes and such. Old guy’s station wagon broke down at 3 AM on Highway 50 way up in the mountains. Sleeping on snow on the side of the highway on the other side of the guardrail… Well, not sleeping actually, since it was so friggin’ COLD! That was an adventure
Anyway, lest I go on, we usually hung out at North Shore, avoiding the more touristy South Shore. I always wanted to live up there, relatively removed from civilization (in those years). There was a legend of a woman of the lake, but that’s all I remember. Luckily, Kate has a good imagination and has furnished a haunting mood piece about this ghostly entity and her beloved dog, who misses her, who misses him…
Rather than put up full-length fan-made videos up to cover the whole album (which I wouldn’t do anyway LOL), I’ll just use teaser clips for several songs so as to get you to buy the album to hear the whole piece by itself. Heh. Life sucks, huh? Here’s an official short produced by Kate, a clever shadow puppet interpretation of a segment from “Lake Tahoe”, called “Eider Falls at Lake Tahoe”:
MISTY: I was delightfully surprised to see Kate experimenting with several different art forms in these shorts; I loved the shadow puppets. The next song, “Misty” has probably gotten the most attention so far due to its singular story of a young woman’s tryst with a snowman. What? That couldn’t happen? Well, maybe not for long! But spirits are freed once their shells are reduced, and Love is a spiritual Thing (*hears Arthur Brown’s “Love Is a Spirit” in his head*) ;-)
The clip is entitled “Mistraldespair”, which, oddly enougfh, is my favorite word for snow! The penultimate Word! Loved the guitar work by Danny McIntosh, and Kate’s moving vocal was… umm… -Okay, look: I CANNOT POSSIBLY report on every thing I like about this record! It’s UN-POSSIBLE! I like everything about it and there’s too much to say, so I’m gonna diverge a bit from the Plan for this Post, and just save the “interpretations” and lyric discussion for another post to (hopefully) come soon. Time is really scarce and I don’t know when I can come back to this, and it’s not a simple thing to discuss Kate’s work! Really; I have like FOUR PAGES of notes from my first impressions, at Midnight, on Christmas…
So, just listen and enjoy, and I’ll be back some other time with more “particular” feelings. This is more of a celebration
WILD MAN: This is the first track I was lucky enough to hear before the album’s release, and its first single. I’ve already put up another brilliant vibesinthesky video for “Wild Man” in its Premiere post a ways below, so you’ll have to scroll a bit to find it I’ll just post the official short for it here; this one’s an animated clip that looks almost live action (I thought it was!):
I was happy to hear Andy Fairweather-Low’s vocals, as I’ve been a fan for a long time. When Roger Waters first came around on tour, I got to see what a great (and underrated) musician Andy is, and his guitar-playing was better than I’d heard before. (He almost seemed the bandleader that night, and Roger ENJOYED it! -I swear I never saw Roger smile so much as that night with Andy; ’twas great LOL) His vocals on this track really complements Kate’s so very well, and even add to the Himalayan atmosphere (along with Dels’ bells!). The album version is especially nice, if you’ve only heard the single
SNOWED IN AT WHEELER STREET: One of the key songs on this album, for me. In fact, it’s SO key that I’ll use (with his kind permission) another excellent vibesinthesky video, right here:
I’d always imagined what a Kate Bush-Elton John duet might sound like, since she was a huge fan of his from early on. When he was announced I was very pleased, as I’ve been with every guest chosen for this album. They all fit their roles so perfectly, and shine brilliantly, briefly, and gracefully like the stars they are. Elton’s piece though… damn, I believe him! My first listen, that midnight, that Christmas, I didn’t even recognize his voice, and I’ve been a fan since … since… it’s been so long I’ve forgot!!!! (“early seventies” let’s say ) But then I remembered that he was to be a guest on “50″ and right about then I did, and how. I haven’t heard him sing in years, and this was a very welcome return to my ears
There have been so many wonderful, and tantalizing, and very curious “connections” between Kate’s work and my own interests, ever since hearing her first record (purchased), Never For Ever, in May 1984. I didn’t even have a visual reference for her, as (a) she wasn’t very well exposed in America, and (b) I thought the girl on the cover was a beautiful vision by its illustrator; the girl on the back in bat-wings resembled a former girlfriend, and ultimately that’s what made me decide to check it out LOL Wasn’t epecting much, but wow… just… WOW
As for the above “connections” really, it might get too metaphysical for this Post, so I’ll resist the temptation to reveal. REALLY HARD So, I’ll just say that in nearly the same way as “The Sensual World” and “Lily” are, “Snowed In At Wheeler Street” is connected in the same roundabout way to UNBOUND. In a way. ‘cos they’re different. Connections are small, but significant; I may have alluded to them on the “My Kate Bush Page” almost-cleverly hidden off the top menu. Or, I might not have! Hopefully, eventually, you will see, if you’re a Reader; it’s as if similar energies are at work here and there. As they are, every where ;-)
And it’s wonderful, ’nuff said! I don’t obsess, I just accept
50 WORDS FOR SNOW: We’ve had it easy until now, so Kate heats up the hearth with the title track, which is narrated by Mr. Stephen Fry, much unlike the Vivien Stanshall narration for “Tubular Bells”, but yeah, just as fun! Only an official advertisement for this one, but I just bet that if you bought the album, the whole song would be on it! This is a nice li’l teaser:
AMONG ANGELS: This gorgeous song is so personal that I find it hard to say anything about it; it’s so … well, there you go. I’ve finally run out of superlatives or metaphors that suffice! It arrived just in time, especially thanks to one who intervened and saw to it that I heard it after all, at midnight, on Christmas
I’ll preface this last exquisite song and video with at least something about “The Deal”, but just a little bit…
Interlude: AN ANGEL STORY:
Visitors are probably aware of my interests in angels; I’ve mentioned before that I saw my own guardian angel when I was 6 or 7, and often felt its presence. Much later, in a time of crisis much like this one I’m in now, either it or my Muse made a Deal with me…
I’d been struggling with the foundation of the story for years but going nowhere due to hellish work conditions, and painful back problems. One miserable night in ’92 I was curled up on the floor in a fetal position, the one that brought the least pain. In the midst of this deepest despair, I felt a definite soothing presence at my back, and I knew that it was her.
The message wasn’t heard but was felt, in no uncertain terms, in no imagination. She (for we choose how we perceive) was a similar presence to the guardian’s, except that this was almost palpable. And once I managed my part of the deal and freed myself from the poisonous workplace, she came to me again as she promised and impressed her story into me while I translated the words in the images and scenes she showed me, so that I might tell the story she wanted to tell to a World that is starving for them. I later named her “Lily” for her steadfast devotion (for “lily” means devotion), and consider her my Muse, angel or no. It’s no Matter, after all ;-)
The novel, Lily Godwin’s story (and yours as well, actually), is the result of that Deal with the angel or the Muse. Assuming its publication, the rest will be up to you
Only you can do something about it…
Man, after that I almost hate to dirty this following Space with type, or words, or even thought… “Among Angels” is a perfect closer which leaves the Listener in such a calm and loved state; with such caring sentiment and fortifying lyrics, Kate is a healer of the ravaged heart, blowing snowflakes on the fevered mind, and serves as Speaker to the wayward soul, a lightpost, a beacon, a flashlight, a star
And yes, an angel can save a soul…
Postlude: ALOFT ON THE WINGS OF DESIRE: One last note on the wonderful video: Wim Wenders’ “Wings of Desire” is my favorite film. When I saw that shot of Daniel standing atop his perch my heart literally jumped. Sky Vibes, you put together a masterpiece with this video, and I salute you, sir! (*sharply salutes*) It wasn’t until 2005, after my first draft was completed, when Elisabeth Alexandre (an editor from the French Marie Claire magazine), who had read portions of UNBOUND prior to the interview, asked if I’d seen it, as she was reminded of it. Thank goodness they’re different stories, but they do share a very strong and similar feeling. Sure, that’s what she meant!
The movie was incredible and so very touching and poetic; I was completely in awe. So much of it resonated with me; it truly was like a Kate vision, on film. I felt as if my Story was a part of it; there were so many similarities, except the most obvious ones. Heh, I’M not telling! Not yet, anyway ;-) I can say that UNBOUND would fit in very well with Mr Wenders’ vision in his “Wings” movies, and maybe a capper at that! It’s got the perfect ending, like this one:
In Letters to a Young Poet, the poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) wrote to an aspiring young writer about the vocation of writing and the nature of creativity in solitude:
“What is necessary, after all, is only this: solitude, vast inner solitude. To walk inside yourself and meet no-one for hours – that is what you must be able to attain. To be solitary as you were when you were a child, when the grownups walked around involved with matters that seemed large and important because they looked so busy and because you didn’t understand a thing about what they were doing.
...the snow-bound aerial...
“And when you realize that their activities are shabby, that their vocations are petrified and no longer connected with life, why not then continue to look upon it all as a child would, as if you were looking at something unfamiliar, out of the depths of your own solitude, which is itself work and status and vocation? Why should you want to give up a child’s wise non-understanding….
...shooting into the night...
“Think, dear Sir, of the world that you carry inside you, and call this thinking whatever you want… only be attentive to what is arising within you, and place that above everything you perceive around you. What is happening in your innermost self is worthy of your entire love; somehow you must find a way work at it, and not lose too much time or too much courage in clarifying your attitude towards people.
“… Only the individual who is solitary is placed under the deepest laws… and when he walks out into the rising dawn or looks out into the event-filled evening and when he feels what is happening there, all situations drop from him as if from a dead man, though he stands in the midst of pure life… if there is nothing you can share with other people, try to be close to Things; they will not abandon you; and the nights are still there, and the winds that move through the trees and across many lands; everything in the world of Things and animals is still filled with happening, which you can take part in.”
Certain artists are often considered “abnormal” for removing themselves from the world to create, presumed to be anti-social, mad, or worse. I bristle when I see those thoughtless, insensitive, and dismissive assumptions about creators who generously share with us their cherished creations, and about independant individuals who can see the wisdom in solitude in spite of the conformists who castigate them as simply being “loners”.
“The Loner” is the most misunderstood member of Society. Those who righteously remove themselves from the cacaphony of civilization in order to create (or contribute other talents to the World), often at great expense to their well-being, are rarely forgiven or tolerated by the masses, unless they can be latched onto for some kind of gain. It’s a convenient tag used by the madding crowd to marginalize and diminish what is essentially the most God-like thing we as humans can do: create Something out of Nothing.
That, and Love, which is the simplest, greatest, and most universal Reflection :-)
This series will attempt to shed light on my own personal journey undertaken so long ago, to which path I wish I would’ve stuck to as I stumble blindly down the mountain like the Fool that I am. Step by step… the Sun’s comin’ out
...here we go...
(The Rilke section is provided via Anneli Rufus’ encouraging and provocative book, “Party of One: The Loners’ Manifesto” (2003), highly recommended to those courageous souls who are feeling persecuted by Society’s hostile attitudes towards those who can do without.)
"When early youth had passed, he left his cold fireside and alienated home to seek strange truths in undiscovered lands. Many a wide waste and tangled wilderness has lured his fearless steps; and he has bought with his sweet voice and eyes, from savage men, his rest and food." (from 'Alastor, or, The Spirit of Solitude', by Percy Bysshe Shelley,1815)
For info on our novel UNBOUND, please see our website in the Blogroll!