River of Blood, my serial novel, is bursting with death. Go figure. Many passages of people facing that one thing with which we will all experience exquisite intimacy and yet none of us alive--doing stuff, writing, reading, listening, fearing, loving--have any first hand knowledge of this thing. It's fun to write about. And I am not want for teachers in how to do it...
Robert Stone from Damascus Gate:
'Such a dirty, fearsome place. Then she was swinging free and breath was all she cared about, all, it seemed she had ever cared about, the air of that filthy-smelling place, but there was none to be had. So with her breath all the thoughts of her devotion were expunged while the angry men stood watching her in the beam of their light and she wondered if she would ever ever die and then a deeper darkness, in its mercy, came.'
Yeah..., that passage got to me. I read it three times.
This next passage by Cormac McCarthy describes not the death of a character but the looming, heavy nature of things that have been and will be, all weighted with the inevitability of death. From The Road:
'He got up and walked out to the road. The black shape of it running from dark to dark. Then a distant low rumble. Not thunder. You could feel it under your feet. A sound without cognate and so without description. Something imponderable shifting out there in the dark. The earth itself contracting with the cold. It did not come again. What time of year? What age the child? He walked out into the road and stood. The silence. The salt drying from the earth. The mudstained shapes of flooded cities burned to the waterline. At a crossroads a ground set with dolmen stones where the spoken bones of oracles lay smoldering. No sound but the wind. What will you say? A living man spoke these lines? He sharpened a quill with his small pen knife to scribe these things in sloe or lampblack. At some reckonable and entabled moment? He is coming to steal my eyes. To seal my mouth with dirt.'
Thanks for reading.
In light of the influx of people now reading my serial novel River of Blood, I think it's appropriate to show some gratitude and maybe nip something in the bud.
First, I cannot thank you enough for reading this work as it happens. I post the episodes and watch the stats balloon at midnight every Friday and all day each Saturday and it makes all the time spent on this projects worth every late night and unexpected hour. Thank you all for the interest and support. The end of this portion of the story is looming and I hope the increased attention says something about the quality of the writing and the story. I appreciate every page turned.
Thank you complete. Now to the apology.
There are timeline issues with a certain character and they have plagued me from the start. I admit to minimal initial research on the time period and the politics of 1920s mine labor. Fox Tower's tale has followed a crooked path through the novel and I have ventured a few patch work fixes throughout. I know problems still persist. I will have time soon to mend the frays and the story will stand on solid legs. My apologies.
It is mid-afternoon, you are driving on a residential street, going a little faster than you should—upper 20s mph. You’re meeting a gorgeous new love interest at a restaurant at the other end of this quick shortcut. As happens in this neighborhood, squirrels dart hither and thither across the road and often one of these bastards stops to admire the view… such as right now. You know the rule. Don’t swerve. But for some unknown, reflexive reason you do. You blow a tire and lose control and you kill a ten year old kid walking home from school.
We’ll revisit this disaster later…
In 2015, the New York Times included in a retrospective section newsprint from a November 1922 edition in which they describe Adolf Hitler to their readers for the first time. Whatever the Times motives for including the copy, at that moment, one could not help but recognize the similitude to one Donald J. Trump. In hindsight, the 1922 article highlights the Times’ lackadaisical response to Hitler’s anti-Semitic rhetoric, painting it as some Machiavellian maneuver to build disaffected support. American intellectuals did not—or did not want to—believe Hitler was who he said he was. And millions upon millions of lives evaporated in the heat of that short circuit.
Keeping with tradition, Jessica Cooper's birth is brief, a girl they name Diana who somehow favors Doug in her soft features and slow blinking eyes. Scarlet’s pride vibrates like radiation. Her hovering applies visible strain on Doug as they move from the hospital to the house where she has commandeered the guest room and organized the baby paraphernalia into a series of stations. Some of Doug’s anxiety stems from Scarlet’s constant ability to discover the dozens of handguns he has hidden throughout the home. Partly due to Doug’s indifferent attitude and partly due to her mother’s joy, Shorty surrenders any notions she had of keeping Scarlet a reasonable distance from the baby. With the first week and the anxiety and the mood swings and the steady march of singular experiences, she realizes that raising babies is one of the few areas Scarlet knows better than her daughter. Shorty encounters the first heartbreaking love of her life in the child she nurses in the amber lamplight near the window where she prays and time travels. The beautiful burden of it has shaken her foundations and for several weeks after, she feels imbalanced and she confesses this to Sean when he sees the child for the first time. As she expected, he thinks she should consult an expert but he also points out the self awareness it takes to recognize this sort of problem from her side of the mirror. Many people don’t see this sort of thing coming so he accuses her in jest of practicing Buddhism in secret.
Sean introduces Nessa to Shorty at her mother’s front door. Through Sean, Scarlet invited her to dinner, realizing at the sound of the doorbell her neglect to inform her daughter. Nessa gifts Shorty a fawning compliment on her beauty. Shorty's response is a joking complaint that Sean has failed to describe Nessa’s looks with precision. For the rest of the evening, Sean will brace for Shorty’s exhaust over the situation yet she never wavers. The corners of her smile sag by the end of the evening but she keeps her cool. During dinner, while Scarlet recites for them her chronological plan from the instant Shorty begins labor, Sean sees Shorty sizing Nessa, every word, every expression, every article of clothing, her bag, her make-up, the nose ring, the prominent red streak in her hair that she twists in her finger when she pretends to listen. Sean makes the case to Scarlet that the androgynous nature of his name makes it perfect for a boy or a girl. Read more...
Chief Rundgren is squirming. Ned ponders how smooth these meetings might go if he kept liquor in his office. Of course, that could never happen. On the other hand, Ned has rationalized a six pack of beer into the short fridge behind his desk with unwavering certainty. Rundgren sips at the silver can in subtle synchronicity with his dark uniform and its gleaming hardware. Ned encourages him to start at the beginning. In the beginning, a former officer—a rookie when he resigned—approximately one year ago, for no satisfactory reason that he has ever given, wandered onto a property in the southern stretch of older housing just outside the projects. He was ambushed, stripped naked, taken to a different location then after epigrammatic discussion betwixt a gathering of eight or nine veterans of state penal institutions, the officer was gang raped for over two hours. Read more...
Episode 71 posted today.
This monster has proven tenacious and strayed from original concept but the story lurks with all the hyperbole and commentary I planned.
Also as planned, when I reach the end of Part II, I will end the serial portion of the book. Don't worry. Each of the parts is written in a largely stand alone format. There are conclusions of a sort for both Part I and Part II. Satisfactory conclusions, I hope. I will write the third part in a tighter vacuum, using experimental tense. It might kill me. Following Part III—if I live—I hope to expand the entire novel with graphics and dialogue not present in either of the previous parts. All of this lives in a distance future.
So there's that.
Please give it a read, tell me what you think.
"If autonomy and authority are genuinely incompatible, only two courses are open to us. Either we must embrace philosophical anarchism and treat all governments as non-legitimate bodies whose commands must be judged and evaluated in each instance before they are obeyed; or else, we must give up as quixotic the pursuit of autonomy in the political realm and submit ourselves (by an implicit promise) to whatever form of government appears most just and beneficent at the moment. (I cannot resist repeating yet again that if we take this course, there is no universal or a priori reason for binding ourselves to a democratic government rather than to any other sort. In some situations, it may be wiser to swear allegiance to a benevolent and efficient dictatorship than to a democracy which imposes a tyrannical majority on a defenseless minority. And in those cases where we have sworn to obey the rule of the majority, no additional binding force will exist beyond what would be present had we promised our allegiance to a king!)" - Robert Paul Wolff, In Defense of Anarchism
Just a reminder...
Okay… this piece: I Fucking Dare You (part I) has touched some nerves and fostered some false assumptions. I thought it over the top enough that the truth of the matter clear. Not the case. The response has been surprising. Let me make this absolutely clear: I am not voting for Donald J. Trump. However, let me also be honest. I have expressed on two occasions, without hinting sarcasm that I will vote for him. Once as a kneejerk response to the DNC email scandal and again during a social media confrontation.
I want to categorize both of these instances as retaliations. That said, the piece is pure sarcasm. Extreme, cynical, sarcasm. There is not a single sentence in that piece in support of Trump, on the contrary, it is bloated with sentences in rebuke. I will not vote for him. I have never experienced any sincere intention to vote for Trump.
But while we’re here…
Let’s sit down, relax… take a look around…
Some will engage in actual philosophy and present conundrums like “If you don’t vote for Hillary, you are voting for Donald Trump” or “If you don’t vote, you are voting for Trump or HRC in absentia.” This is a work of masterful sophistry. And yet I’ve heard so many people I admire—Sam Harris one of them—present this phrasing. Many Ethicists and op-ed journalists are chiming in with well crafted arguments from the same angle.
People who have truly wanted to find a solution to the problem have already argued this dialectic in so many ways.
Sartre and Camus are the first to come to mind. Steven West did a great job recently of summarizing the debate on his podcast Philosophize This! Sartre plays the utilitarian ethics card we’re hearing today and Camus asserts his notion of philosophical suicide, to allow or condone the deaths of others for your own freedom is to ruin altruism.
Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump carry the potential for widespread death and destruction. We know this from their own words, “…kill their families.” - Donald J. Trump. “I will continue to expand on the foreign policy accomplishments of the Obama Administration.” - Hillary R. Clinton. Obama has dropped a lot of bombs, many of them at the behest of his secretary of state and they have killed many innocent human beings.
I stand with Camus. If you truly understand how precious life is, how important the pleasure of life with fellow human beings, how can you cast a vote for anyone who has guaranteed bloodshed on their watch? Sure, not even a Bernie Sanders’ or Jill Stein presidency could ever function without fatalities. This is America after all. At least they’ve made it clear that we have to stop fighting endless wars and killing innocent people, and generally suggesting that we should care for one another more than we fight one another.
I’m not voting for any of them.
“But… but… fascism and the Supreme Court?!?!”
This seems to imply that I have some heroic duty to vote against my conscience and take the reins on this pony (unicorn, if you prefer) and steer it out of this collision course with the Sun. YouTube broadcasts wastelands of spontaneous heroics. Anyone can be a hero. It is not uncommon but don’t command me to save the world. There is no duty to altruism otherwise you couldn’t call it altruism.
Beside all that, looks like yer in luck. 9 out of 10 Bernie voters will vote for Clinton anyway. http://www.vox.com/2016/7/26/12284960/bernie-sanders-voters-support-donald-trump-hillary-clinton
As for the ugly little argument, “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain,” I leave you with a few words from my good friend Mr. Carlin…
UPDATE: Steve Bannon is now leading Trump's charge... all satire and philosophy aside, I voted Clinton. We cannot allow bold-faced fascists in the White House.
Such a pregnant phrase.
The very printed letter B appears gravid with promise.
In a slice of irony, Plan B is the contraceptive pop culture loves to jab in sitcom gags and talk show interviews..
“You need a plan B” is the phrase uttered by skeptics like parents and honest friends in attempts to sway you from ill conceived notions such as taking your solo burlesque/kazoo act on the road.
Plan B is better than plan C. So when plan A has failed, you are at least looking at something better than plan C. The looser’s plan. Plan C sucks.
All that said, let me hit you with a fully turgid and superior (to any plan C) Plan B.
Buy Skitz O'Fuel's novel That Night Filled Mountain
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Short stories like Finding Romulus' Rome, The Blood, & The Weapon are FREE in the Books section.
Unless noted, all pics credited to Skitz O'Fuel.