A sometimes half-arsed record of the process of writing in its' variegated many forms.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

some brief nostalgic elongations

I wrote a one man, one act play when I was 19 about a man named Harold, who over the course of the act we find is quite mad. He's a frustrated writer, and in his spiral into the hells of writer's block actually goes on a shooting spree to give the serial killer he's writing about more versimilitude. At the end of the act, we discover that he's in an insane asylum of the old school nature, and he then hangs himself with the strap of the...shasta, I'm blanking on the name...that thing that Houdini used to escape from, with straps tied around you so yr hands are all caught behind yr back. (edited to say: straight jacket)
Anyway, in the drunken haze that was my early twenties, somehow this little gem turned into the kernel of the idea for what I then called The Conversation's Trilogy. The idea's been expanded now into a sextology or possibly a septology, but that's a whole other story. In it's original first reformulation as The ConversTril, Harold witnesses his good friend, the Ned Beatty character, slay another friend of theirs and his own wife as they were en fragante delicto. Harold gets all histerically blind, but in the magical realist vein, he gains the eyesight of our hero, J, and he writes a novel from the bowels of a nuthouse to somehow help J with his own troubles. Harold's story was to be told in a play and J's in a screenplay, and the book was to be actually written. It's to my mind a great novel idea. A kind of admixture of Dashiell Hammett, Elmore Leonard on his good and vibrantly sharp-edged days, and what I have imagined Robert Ludlum to be like from the descriptions my friend Tom used to lay on me.
Again anyway, I had written the first act of the play in one frenzied drunken morning, and was working with my friend, Quintronic, on the screenplay on and off for several months of mostly messing about. Then one day, I just somehow grabbed a book called Mythology by Edith Hamilton to see if there was someway to throw it into the mix. I can't remember why or how it seemed like the thing, but it did. I went down to the Half Shell in Midtown Memphis, and was scanning through the various brief descriptions of the various Greek dieties, when an old man approached me. He gave me a bunch of apples from his farm, and generally talked about how much he missed his wife, who had passed on. It was a strange encounter, but I let him unburden his lonliness as best I could.
In some wierd way that moment unlocked a neural cascade of creativity, and the new story was born. Harold's trials and tribulations were simply a preperation for his being inhabited by the returning Dionysus, who spends half his time in Hades and half on Earth, as he is a shadowed early formation of the Jesus idea, whose worship on Earth gives Dio some still brief time amongst the living. As none of the other Greek Gods are still worshipped, they no longer have the power to exist in this realm, but Hades and all who believed in it still does. Only Dio is connected to this world, and the first act of the play begins at his previous return to Hades and the realization amongst Zeus and other greedy gods that he holds a connective power to the world, and so they trap him and try to draw on it for the lustful expanse that it gives them. Just as he is sacrificed in Hades, he returns to Earth in the form of Harold, and finds that in the preparation process Harold has through his troubles and the eyesight of J written this novel of grim set, hard-boiled, mutated detective fiction. Dio inhabited Harold then escapes the nuthouse to chase down J who is himself about to make the wild mistake of running away from his own problems. All of the three stories end with each character heading to New Orleans.
In the next level reformulation, they all meet there and are confronted with the fact that they are all simply aspects of my own psyche, cognition, volition, and emotion (I was then in the early stages of studying consciousness theory), and they meet a socratic like character who explains how the whole story is simply an attempt to converge psychically on the metaphoric New Orleans, which is intended as the spiritual center of humanity. All heavily wierd stuff, and not a little convoluted now some years past it's sell by date. Still...

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