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I'm almost feeling bac to normal. My head's still foggy, and my throat still aches, but not as much as before.

Warning, jargon-filled spirituality talk ahead:
I finally got myself a copy of The Middle Pillar, by Israel Regardie*. (Garden of Pomegranates, too, though I haven't started on that one yet.) I haven't read it since J left, but it influenced me a lot way back when. Now that I'm more mature and focused, I'm able to consider it more deeply. It works as a very good Guide To Understanding Large Swaths Of My Philosophy, so I'm letting myself mark it up with comments and underlines, something I never, ever do. The edition I got has comments by the Ciceros, which I'm grateful for because I agree with them that sometimes Regardie pulls a WTF. It drives me bonkers that he identifies the Freudian id with the highest levels of the Qabalistic soul. Even if I didn't just want to leave Freud out of the picture entirely, I'd say the id=nephesh** and leave it at that.

*Recent occultist who studied Qabala through a Jungian lens. Re-reading him, it looks like he's got the same Catholic slant that I've got.

**to be simplistic, the animal soul. If ever you see the word "ghost" or "corpse" in the Old Testament, the original word may well have been "nephesh." One the reasons I like Qabala is that it gives me a new way of looking at the Bible and faith I grew up with. It's gone a long way to reconciling grown-up me with childhood me.
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Just got back from 9. Definitely see it--it's a beautiful movie that doesn't pull any punches.
Just don't think about it too much. There's a whole lotta metaphysics that are hinted at and ignored. Nature of the soul in relation to the body, anyone? On the one hand, I understand, because there's no time to explain stuff and anyone who could explain is dead. On the other hand, I strongly suspect they just grabbed some genuine alchemical imagery, polished it with visual cues contextlessly yanked from Dali's Secrets of Master Craftsmanship, and threw it onscreen knowing 99% of people wouldn't care.
I'll rant behind a spoiler cut, which will totally give away the ending.
Read more... )
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I think I figured out an apt metaphor for my seizures.
Imagine you're an airplane, flying over a vast, cloudy landscape. The airplane is your conscious mind, and/or your body. The landscape is the personal and/or collective unconscious (depending on how Jungian you feel). The pilot's the Ego, the passengers are probably other relevant factors--emotions, rationality, anima/us, Ruach, whatever. Possibly some of the passengers are in a closed compartment. Possibly they've stowed away and have locked themselves in the bathroom.

The brain wires itself in strange ways. for instance, on this interminable print job I'm running right now, every time I unload the output tray, (which involves a very specific set of body positions and movements. It puts some annoying strain on my back.) I think of the henchmen from the Venture Brothers. Don't know why. Maybe I was thinking about them the first time I did it. Eventually this association becomes self-reinforcing. I'll go to the output tray and think, "hey, whenever I do this, I think of the henchmen from The Venture Brothers." And what do you suppose I think of?

If we take every element of me unloading the output tray--the series of movements and relationships of objects to my body, the emotions (gee, this job's easy but annoying), the state of my body (I'm a little hungry and coming down with something, but feeling mostly satisfied with my recent diet) my overall level of stress and excitement (economy, money, writing, friends, etc.) and my ambient thoughts--we get a huge series of nodes. The act of unloading the output tray ties a bunch of potentially disparate things together. This is what is known as a complex. This one's small and mundane, but it may well be tied into a larger complex. (Probably something work-related. I don't know, call it an Athena Complex or something.)

For now, they're in my conscious mind. But even after they leave, those nodes will still be tied together. No matter how thin that line is, there will always be an association between longing for the half of a chocolate muffin sitting on my desk, and two guys in yellow butterfly costumes.

Getting back to the airplane metaphor, those masses of nodes and networks are down in those clouds. My seizures happen when there's an electrical problem with the plane, or maybe one of the passengers is busy banging on the walls for some reason. Maybe the freak in the bathroom's decided the time is right to jump out and hijack the plane, (or maybe they'll just try to use the time of the seizure itself to do that.)

So the plane's gone haywire, and is swooping down into the clouds. The passengers get a good or glancing look at what's down there, possibly whatever complex is closest. At least, part of a complex.
Passengers are jostled around. Things are vertiginous and nausous, both in the passengers and real-life me. Deja vu reigns (because I of course have seen the stuff in the clouds before) and sometimes both passengers and my whole self barf.

And that's roughly what it's like when I have a seizure. Medicine won't help. When I took it, it only got rid of the actual blackouts, which I don't have anymore. The aura stays no matter what. Sometimes, it's annoying, sometimes, it's fun.

It's easy to see why so many ancient epileptics were considered oracles. Not me. My young brain was stuffed with too much pop culture. I hear Popeye and Willy Wonka cackling in my ears instead of the gods.

Whister <3

Aug. 5th, 2009 09:38 pm
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I'm glad I've just plowed a new swath of territory in the novel to play with, because I'm going with my parents to their timeshare in Whistler this weekend, and I'll have plenty of time to write, or walk around the lakes and golf courses and dodge bears while brainstorming. So no Worldcon for me, but I'll still be in Canada!

Damn I love Whistler. I love the mountains and the bears and the fact that you can walk for miles along beautiful quiet paths around beautiful quiet lakes. I love that they have a tiny, knee-deep creek called the River of Golden Dreams. I love Rogers Chocolates and that art shop that sells hideous clowns by Red Skelton and sculptures by Anthony Quinn that aren't nearly as Freudian as they used to be. I love that I got to see the South Park movie there and the film broke right after Stan found the clitoris and we all had to stand outside while they fixed it. Whistler's where my dad made me drink Heinekin on my 19th birthday (and no, I still haven't acquired the taste), and bought me The Wall as a present even though he didn't know what it was. (yes, my dad's that old.) Whistler's where I found sixty Canadian dollars in an ugly blue naugahide coin purse abandoned ID-less on the mountainside. Whister's where one of my four secret special places is.

I haven't been in a while. I'm worried it's going to be bloated and ugly because they're getting ready for the Olympics. I worry that Whistler will turn into Vail, which was one of the most boring places I've ever been. But Vail lacks the natural scenery of Whistler, and there's no taking that away.
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Bit of a writing breakthrough today. It started last night, when I was putting off analyzing a long complicated scene. Right before bed I realized that the answer to why the scene seemed to have no purpose (interesting scene, still no purpose) was that it was needed to be rewritten entirely from the pov of a totally different character. Cue groans and passing out. I'm forcing myself to go over my scene checklist (see below cut) for each scene. I have to force a choice out of at least one of the characters in each scene, something that affects events in future scenes. So I forced the proper pov character to take action. what action should they take? Why, that big thing he does, that before was halfway through the book, but is now scooted up a few chapters? I'll move it forward even more! Cue a lot of mental dragging and watching scenery go flying every which way. So that shook things up for the best, and it forced me to dump a second scene and replace it with something that will be even more exciting and plot relevant. And hopefully have mermaids.

I say it a zillion times, but I'm going to keep saying it. I'm so glad I do this for fun, because I'd hate to think I'd be crushed if I did a whole lotta work which I had to toss and replace with more work, which got tossed, and then replaced that, and in the end, no one even liked the book and it never sold...ugh. I'm not letting myself go there.

Read more... )

Nano Prep

Oct. 5th, 2008 09:44 am
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Books which I am currently reading en masse:
(Feel free to add suggestions)

Heaven and Hell --Emmanuel Swedenborg
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell --William Blake
(And now I realize I should get The Great Divorce , by CS Lewis)

The Western Lands -- William Burroughs (I had to go buy this one, because the library copy smells like a moldy tent)
Naked Lunch --William Burroughs

Dhalgren --Samuel Delany

Diary of a Genius --Salvador Dalí
50 Secrets of Master Craftsmanship --Salvador Dalí
Selected Poems of Lorca and Jimenez
Poems of Saint John of the Cross

Alchemical texts from here.

Some book on the Mongols

I also got The Book of Thoth and a book of Thelemic rituals, and though I didn't get them specifically for Nano-inspiration, I'm sure they'll be helpful.

And I'm still reading Space Magic , David Levine's short story collection. I read one story every morning, since madness and mysticism isn't a good thing to pummel myself with right before a long stressful day at work.
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The Neil Gaiman reading last night was held in the United Methodist Church. Despite my fascination wtih religion, I've only ever been in Catholic, Episcopal or Anglican churches. My first reaction when entering the pews was that there were no kneelers! So narrowly packed were the pews that there wouldn't even be room. However, we were in the balcony, and the steeply set rows allowed one to dangle one's feet over a step into the space below the next pew down.

I was raised Catholic, and Catholic churches, so similar the world over, provide a solid sense for my sense of spiritual community. (despite my theological and moral differences with said Catholics) Anyway, the kneelers! A pew is a fascinating thing. Modular, they have a little compartment on the back to hold hymnals and (in Catholic churches, at least) the Order of Mass, so you can follow along, and often golf pencils, so necessary to the writing of tithe checks and the entertainment of small children during the boring stretches of mass. *

Also attached to the back, and also in service not to the occupant of the pew, but the people behind them, is the kneeler. A kneeler can be put up or down, providing a footrest when not kneeled upon. It transforms a static seating device into a space of motion. You don't sit on a pew--you wait. The moment comes when motion is necessary. As one (or often in an uncertain tide, like when I went to a wedding half-attended by Mormons who had no idea what was going on) everyone rises, or kneels. Yes, it's a familiar, sheep-like motion, but it's one I'm fond of. Sure, others get the wild dances and pentacostal tongues, or the door-to-door mission work. Sure, other religions get more exercise than the Catholics, but dammit, it's a slow, peaceful tide I love. Compared to some sects, Catholicism is as old and reliable as the moon. I get in my exciting bouts of spiritual ecstasy, to be sure, but going back to church, every once in a while, is like coming home. **

Anyways, United Methodist Church is a beautiful place, great for readings and, I'm sure, being a Methodist.

*Thinking about it now, I think those boring stretches were a vital part of my childhood. My church was a simple one, architecturally, but I knew every crack and crevice, every light and fan vent. The shapes stimulated my imagination, and they still do. Thanks to my memory merging thoughts and the space they were thought in, every time I see Splinter from the Ninja Turtles, I'm carried back to sitting behind the silhouetted choir, watching the deacon homilize on behalf of our absent priest.

** To an occasionally annoying and exasperated family.
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Since Esther Friesner is the GoH at Foolscap this year, I got a book of her short stories. The one I just read is a stylistic tribute to Federico Garcia Lorca, who sounded familiar, but didn't exist soundly in my knowledge base. Now that I've looked him up, a bunch of little things in that knowledge base suddenly tied together--Lorca's Novena, by The Pogues; the concept of duende*, which I'd heard of from a book on tango by Teo Morca which my work printed; other little things.

The story itself (about Lorca's murder) was dense and dreamlike and reminded me of the mystic poem one of my main characters in Green Night by the River writes.

October approaches, which means Nanowrimo prep. I'm cheating this year, as I often do, and finishing something I've already started--Green Night by the River. I spend October cramming my brain with inspirational stuff, and I think this year I'll be reading lots and lots of poetry, alchemical and mystic saints' visions. Did I mention alchemy? Lots and lots of alchemy. Oh, I'll finally read Dali's 50 Secrets of Master Craftsmanship all the way through! I may subject myself to The Naked Lunch.

All this to write a high fantasy about two countries going to war, and two families of necromancers duking it out.

I'm going to try to keep the mystic woowoo as grounded as possible (and relevant to the plot without degenerating into prophesy), but I plan on having a hell of a lot of fun with it. And hey, Nanowrimo will give me a great opportunity to throw in the disjointed bits I want.

*The other night, I dreamed there was a black bird over my shoulder in my bed. It was so real, I woke up with my heart pounding, and turned on the light to shoo the bird away. The bird is my death, my duende. When I think of duende, I think of that bird and the physical despair that opens a mineshaft into my soul.
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Parents visited today. I'd lent my dad [ profile] jaylake's Escapement. My dad's so weird. I asked him what he thought, and he said, "I liked it, it sounded like he researched things!" I think that means he was impressed with the worldbuilding. We ended up talking about god and heaven and people who get stuck in the radical atheists vs. radical theists battle. Such people seem to get confused by people like me, who don't have hard and fast beliefs, but get pissed off when people accuse us of being wishy-washy and indecisive. I told Dad that I could call myself both agnostic and Catholic, because even though I follow (and I use "follow" very loosely) something I choose to call God (which is certainly not an Old Man In the Sky,) I can't know for sure that such a thing exists. He responded by saying that's how a good Catholic should think.

Anyway, based on our conversations of atheism and Escapement, Dad thinks [ profile] jaylake would be an interesting person to talk to. So maybe I'll be able to get Dad to come to Foolscap for a day, someday.

And my final, "gee, my dad's weird" moment. We passed a huge garden spider in the park, a kind that's as common as dirt around here, and my dad wondered if it was a brown recluse. He knows local birds up down and sideways, but doesn't recognize a garden spider?
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Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;

when there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that I may not so much seek

to be consoled as to console;

to be understood, as to understand,

to be loved as to love;

for it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


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