Ritual, and The Midas Touch

Working ahead often feels like falling behind. The first stage is thinking—thinking as an active pursuit, as a game of memory and links and embarrassing self-awareness. I hate to be inside my own head for too long: I quickly start to feel like I'm just recycling obsessions, doodling in circles. It's a relief to go blank, and I often need a book for this. An article won't do. I need a nice little object with a faint smell that is both like and unlike all other books.

The True Deceiver by Tove Janssen, popular Finnish creator of Moomin, which I admit I've never picked up, was a recently successful one. Each time I opened it I was absorbed, and calm, no matter whose elbow was perched against my ribs on a packed train. I even went back to Dave Sim this past week. I know, I know, everyone hates his perceived misogyny. Whatever that means in reference to someone who speaks primarily through an anthropomorphic aardvark, I am greatly enjoying Going Home this week, one of Sim's weighty "telephone books." I'm really reveling in the mastery of the pacing of each page and the reward of each finicky facial expression. May I have one more? Oman Ra by Viktor Pelevin. It's strange and personal and perfectly sized for my hour of daily, dystopian commuting.

After my head is less full of myself and more full of something else—something newly dear or revisited and feeling new or jarring enough that I've locked onto it as a temporary fixation—I draw again, looking at earlier thumbnails for reference but eventually forgetting to reference them at all. And I start actually enjoying myself. And something happens, something new, in my own head. I break out of the old loop. It may last all afternoon, or for a couple of days.

I don't know how playwright August Schulenburg works, but I'd love to. His writing overflows with every sacred human emotion and the wonder of trying to sort out their tendency to overlap and bind together like grafting organs. August, co-founder of Flux Theatre Ensemble and an energetic blogger on themes of theatre, community, and personal obsession is a contributor to issue four of Carrier Pigeon: Illustrated Fiction and Fine Art (warning: there's sound on the site upon loading, due to an introductory video), and I've read something of his that you haven't. Yet. The monologue "The Midas Touch," along with five corresponding illustrations of mine, will be available as part of a grand tome to be released in summer of 2011. Peeks from "The Midas Touch":

"Our jobs are to imagine lives as heroic arcs, and what you do every day becomes you, right, so it's natural that our delusions of grandeur would be grander than everyone else's."

". . . he looked more than just beautiful, he looked just . . . like I had rendered the judgment of God on him and it was really good."

August is one of those people who was born to write in a way that is obvious to the reader no matter what the example or current enjoyment level of that example. Maybe you've experienced this with Michael Chabon or Paul Auster or Brian Evenson, who is due for an update soon thanks to Astrophil Press. Don't judge by the sentences I posted from the monologue! I was more concerned with not giving anything away than with making a point, in those instances. Just trust me. 

I'm thankful for the brief moments when I can go outside of my head and into theirs. It's like being given the gift of reincarnation without any catches.


August Schulenburg said...

Wow. This was a great way to begin today. So excited.

lawrence krubner said...

This is great:

"It's like being given the gift of reincarnation without any catches."

That is one of the finest descriptions of good writing that I've ever read.

-- lawrence