Now that UNBOUND Book Two: Air has been safely released, and just before diving into the final polishing of Book Three: Water (for release at month’s end), it’s time to squeeze in the second part of UNBOUND-like anime, this time of the darker variety. In UNBOUND Anime Part Onewe covered the lighter, fanciful and more dramatic and romantic titles, this time we turn it over…
“Balance” is a key element in the novel, and here we delve into the more psychological and horrifying themes. In a suspenseful book, you can’t have Good without the Evil, including the misguided, traumatized and broken characters in these shows, those avengers swept away in the tumultuous currents of justice and revenge.
First, I ought to warn the more gentle Visitor that, being darker, these videos (and anime) are mostly on the violent side, and all that that entails. While I dislike over-the-top gratuitous violence, that definition may be a bit subjective, so venture forth bravely
That being said, I’d humbly suggest you watch these full screen for maximum effect; it helps greatly. Also, each bold-faced title links to the Anime News Network Encyclopedia entries for information on each show, some with samples to watch. All of these entries are acclaimed for one reason or another; use the ANN ratings for guidance, as well to see if the genres suit your tastes. While these are mostly on the dark side, I won’t enjoy a show unless there’s something redeeming about it, and these delivered in spades!
As I mentioned previously, these series have in common an element (or several, more likely) with UNBOUND. It may be a huge but well-developed cast (Monster), or a psychological mind-bender regarding Identity (Lain), or a jigsaw-puzzle of a story where, disoriented, the witness stumbles desperately towards a likely-grisly but hopeful end (Higurashi). These series were chosen out of the 300+ shows I’ve seen, so this six and the previous are notable in that they evoked a sense of “belonging” for my story where really there is little elsewhere!
One of the most realistic and harrowing series ever, this masterpiece is a must-see for crime/detective/suspense fans, and those with a strong backbones, because the tension gets thick at times and the going rough. The horror here isn’t fantastic or supernatural but psychological; it’s all the more horrifying because the cause is quite human, if monstrous. While the animation isn’t flashy, it’s effective with its spareness and somewhat dull palette; these actually compliment its style. The direction was gripping and at times breathtaking, and the story spreads out over many locations. At 74 episodes, this is the longest series I tackled, but it was SO well worth it. You can Watch It Now (legally) via the ANN link in the title
But the characters are what drive this story, and nearly every supporting actor is Oscar-material, from the Ahab-like pursuer Inspector Runge, to the troubled grown-up child Nina Fortner, and the unforgettable Mr. Grimmer (one of my favorite supporting characters). But Monster features one of the most cruel villains ever in Johann; beautiful, manipulative, and very cruel. This AMV sums up the atmosphere nicely:
The first anime series I saw, that first ten horrifying minutes are ingrained in my memory, especially coming after the beautiful cathedral-like Opening Theme, “Lilium”. That song, sung in Latin, alone caught my eye (and ear), with its homage to artist Gustav Klimt, but when the story began unfolding I saw a few similarities with UNBOUND. It’s tricky to mention without spoiling my story, but I saw more than a little of Lily in Lucy. Being that Lily isn’t anything at all like a psycho-killer, the similarities are pretty subtle though LOL
The dual nature of Lucy/Nyuu fascinated me; the tragic vengeful former experiment and cold-blooded killer Lucy, and the naive, childlike and amnesiac Nyuu. You might find it echoed throughout UNBOUND
It’s difficult to find an AMV for Elfen Lied that doesn’t spoil something or else cover the viewer in gore, of which there is plenty, so here’s the official (and slightly less bloody) trailer. This (and Higurashi) are two of the most envelope-pushing anime in my collection, so be warned! Both are brutal. This clip features Lucy freeing herself from her bindings in bits and pieces from that notorious first ten minute gantlet. Despite its abject cruelty and “who-really-are-the-monsters” theme, Elfen Lied‘s power lies in its as-effective portrayal of love and forgiveness, something lost on those attracted to it solely for its violence…
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…
To coincide with UNBOUND‘s birthing, I thought it’d be fun to take a look at some anime that resonated with my own project in various ways, whether of characters, themes, plot-twisting, subject matter or emotional pitch. Sometimes all of the above! Throughout the novel’s composition, I obsessively tracked various media to ensure it was a singular story, and one not done before. After completing the final draft in 2006, I felt satisfied that I’d created something unusual and different, with elements not well-explored. In 2007 I discovered anime, and found to my utter surprise and delight a format with which my ideas and designs sympathized a great deal. And, what stories!
Today I’ll focus on the lighter series, and follow up next week with the darker ones. Can’t have one without the other, and that may very well be another theme of UNBOUND. We don’t know yet!!! Well. I do, but… ANYWAY: There are lots of themes, devices and elements used in the story, so there are usually many more reasons than those few listed below that these featured anime resonate with my project. But I’ll try to stick to a minimum for the sake of brevity. These aren’t so much similarities, but more like reflections that they share with my novel, usually in very subtle ways.
I recommend watching these in full screen, as a lot of detail is lost when shrunk down, not to mention impact. Impact is what it’s all about! Speaking of, minor spoilers may be in some videos, but very few. I consider all of these titles to be worthy of your time and interest (if you enjoy animation; genre-assuming & etc); most (if not all) are considered classics, as the Anime News Network Encyclopedia links will indicate by the ratings. And if you’re still under the mistaken impression that anime is kids’ stuff… well, *chortle* wait for part two, if this one doesn’t convince you
Spanning two seasons, this masterpiece expertly weaves multiple characters and plot-lines together and interweaves those, which is pretty much how UNBOUND Magnolia‘d out. That maze (or rather labyrinth!) was the biggest challenge for me in constructing it, and making sure everything held the weave. The relationships between all of the characters was really a joy to discover, when it wasn’t painful, but even then. The artwork, design and direction by Studio SHAFT was eye-dazzling and thought-provoking, many scenes so intense you want to turn away but can’t. (You can “Watch It Now” via the above legal link!)
But without engaging characters a twisting plot is merely a convoluted story. The juggling of these 5 pairs of lovers (erstwhile, in some cases) with their own stories, plus the story’s own mysteries, was skillfully handled and yet fairly compartmentalized, except for Yuu and Yuuko, who spin these “fairytales of the two” over the course of both seasons, and told in the second. It is devastating yet ultimately fulfilling.
For me, the character that stood out the most was Yuuko; I saw a lot of Lily in her: teasing, melancholic, self-sacrificing yet selfish (or rather, necessarily self-centered) in her way. Yuuko’s a very complex character. Her back-story, as it’s teased out over the two seasons of memo/melo, is tragic and riveting, if you are patient and allow the weave to delicately unravel, revealing her secrets. Kind of (a lot) like UNBOUND
Here’s the full version of the OPening theme, “Euphoric Field”; Yuuko is the one playing the piano <3
I always go on about Misuzu (see the post below for an example), but in relation to UNBOUND it is Lady Kanna who provides the lily. While the bulk of Air takes place in the current day, Kanna’s part takes place “1,000 Summers” earlier, and serves as a story-within-the-story. Overall, I’d say that the most “Lily-like” character in all of anime must be Kanna, for reasons best left unsaid, for now
Air is another example of a busy story-line, though it’s more episodic than the usual inter-weaving of story arcs, which seems to be the common element between these picks. But what a story! Each of the other main girls have their eloquent and emotionally-dense arcs, and then Misuzu’s takes off. This lonely but engagingly sweet girl enlists traveling puppeteer Yukito as her friend, and he begins to see her as an aid to finding what he pursues: the legend of a girl with wings, trapped in the sky…
This is the OP without the credits, and expanded upon using scenes from the anime in this full version of “Tori no Uta”:
Combined, these two seasons make this one of the most memorable romantic comedy/dramas ever. Another great pairing of studio Kyoto Animation and game-designer Visual Art’s/Key, Clannad pulls no punches in its emotional content in the same manner as its siblings, Air (TV) and Kanon (2006). Nagisa’s development was beautifully subtle, growing from an uncertain, withdrawn schoolgirl into a devoted young woman, vulnerable, strong and brave.
I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year while it’s still fresh in the AIR
As an aside… to the Readers and Writers who may be unfamiliar with anime, the above pic is from a classic 2005 series, AIR. It’s one of my favorites, and its heroine Misuzu is probably my most-favorite character (out of soo many!). See if you can glimpse the elements of its story just from the synopsis and the beautiful presentation in this next AMV. (The Story spans 1,000 years, at least.)
This clip minimizes spoilers pretty well but there are still a few; if you full-screen it you’ll enjoy it much better (as with all of these). If you do watch the 13-episode series, which I highly recommend, be sure to have plenty of Kleenex… it’ll be the quickest six hours you’ll spend, and probably among the most-memorable. It has that effect…
…which is the effect I wanted UNBOUND to have, and which is why anime has endeared itself to me so deeply. It portrays beautifully and horrifyingly the stories I want to tell, and leave you feeling breathless. Simple as that
Now that Unbound’s Book One: Earth has been released, I’m working on Book Two: Air, and have finished NUKE-ing, re-formatting, and re-adding italics and such. Man, is there ever a lot of thinking going on in these pages! So, LOTS of italics to put back in. Happily, they all fit
While it’s only available on Kindle for now, after the exclusivity period ends I intend to publish to the other e-Readers as well. Ultimately, a Book! Made of paper!!! This is the only opportunity to begin that marathon, so I’m acting now to aim for that… goal. That’s a hard word to type after writing about Air-TV ;_;
Misuzu Kamio, such a brave girl…
Next up is to do a final tightening-up and polishing to make it nice ‘n’ pretty for your eyes in time for its release at the end of January. Not having an editor prior to publication was never something I thought I’d have to deal with, but I’ve scrupulously gone over it as well as four other First Readers have, and all are very happy with it. My biggest hope is that you will be too, and will want to share it with friends and family.
Next up for the website will be the opening chapter of Book Two: Air, Chapter 3.1, The Inside; I also will try to squeeze in new Character Snaps for the many new actors as well. Some of them blow trumpets…
Normally I keep the book’s news on the website, and the anime, music, and AMVs over here. But Alastor was pissed that I put an “UNBOUND Music” post over there, and wants a little action of his own. So, to mark the next phase of UNBOUND, some airy videos for your Visiting pleasure
Speaking of Visitors, we’ve gotten a huge increase over the past two months, many of them from China and no doubt here for the anime (unless there are a lot more English-readers over there than I know), and I’d like to thank them for their time. But they probably won’t be able to read this. Thanks anyway xD
Another increase is due to the redesigned website (thanks to my webmaster), plus an influx of curious readers and writers to whom I’m grateful for their kind (if quietly curious) attention. I’m happy to see that the website’s articles are being read; it makes the work so much more worthwhile. It’s such a difficult project to discuss, which is why the words are mostly all over there, and the more visual over here. So, I can tell there, and show here! Hopefully some Blog-visitors will flit over to the website, and Readers from the website will wing to the Blog, and the cross-pollination can continue! This is a rather deliberate slow-growth project
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
"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!