How Many More Doors Need Stopping?

I’ve never picked up his stuff, mostly because I’m forever whittling down a massive backlog, but someone finally tried explaining the appeal of Brandon Sanderson to me. I’m not sold.

The person’s love for his books, namely the Stormlight Archive series, stemmed from his non-traditional style. I was not aware he had one, much less that he departed from the norms of door-stopper fantasy, but I’ll try to do it justice. The story is non-linear, you see, and kept interesting despite the lack of purposeful plot by a complex and interesting cast of characters. They talk like real people, take coherent and deliberate action in a richly imagined world that tries its best to match the depth of our own.

“No one knows where it’s going,” the fanboy doth told me. “But you don’t care, because everything else is so good. I mean, he writes women better than most women do.” I was forced to call bullshit, as I’ve tried to get into him multiple times, but that might come later and in another post.

Leaving alone what I think of Sanders’ work on its own, I was left wondering the merit of his narrative style as it was relayed to me. I wasn’t surprised, given the length of his books, but their success hints at the continuity of a phenomenon local to fantasy as a genre. That is, huge tomes comprised of meandering plots and info dumps with little purpose for the form. Usually when these sorts of things are encountered in the literary wild (I’m looking at you, David Foster Wallace), there’s some narrative purpose behind it. It’s an instrument or an element of the author’s style. Not so with most works of fantasy.

In fact, the proliferation of the practice in the genre runs contrary to most norms or givens of quality in traditional literature. “Show, don’t tell” certainly goes out the window with most fantasy as a determination of skill. Yet its transgressors achieve critical acclaim and success, which I do not brook them. It’s almost as if there’s an entrenched construct of what the genre’s consumers and thus critics (by extension of capital) consider quality but which is not quality in and of itself. That might be getting a little off course, though.

I personally don’t see the merit of wayward narrative and textbook-dense explanations, even from the perspective of entertainment, and I read translated primary historical sources for kicks. I just can’t help but feel that it is what we do in limitation that shows prowess, the restraint we show to the reader, and door-stopper fantasy elicits even from its fans a groan of persistence rather than enjoyment. Then again, maybe everyone knows something I don’t. Maybe I’m a scrooge, too young. All I know is, I’m going to give the guy another damn shot the next time in the aisle.

Records in the Dark over Market and Park

My Anarchist Pollyanna

My girl too far, too near

For whom I

And she

Was born too little

And too late

Like ships passing

Not in the night, but

Along shoals of years

Across shoulders of giants

Searching for rainbows

Bridging the gulf

And everything in between

 

Random futures are spake

In the grooves of old records

Turning in the dark

Over Market and Park

Blaring

Amid our

Now’s and then’s

Our to be’s and

Not to be’s

These are the questions

I’d put everything up

To answering,

 

But,

 

The answer is in the question.

The being able to ask

That’s what love is, and

All that it is.

Ruin

Small things

Sing

Small things

Dance

Little lights

Wrapped around

Big trees

 

We are climbers

Across outlasted ruins

But the

Ruins

Not their builders

Not their

Ruiners

Well the

Ruins

They’re still

There

 

What does that say?

We put it up

To ruins?

Is that all we can hope for?

To be ruins

To build the

Eventuality

Of a ruin.

Yes,

That ought to be

Our lot.

 

Things tend that way

Don’t

They?

Our bodies will be ruins.

But they die.

Why build a ruinous dying

Thing?

To build a ruin,

That is why.

To live to build ruins.

 

But even stone

Is scoured

From the Earth

Even ink washes away

And storms,

They pass

On the plain.

What stays?

Oh, yes.

Ruins do.

 

Ruins will tell their tragedy forever.

People love them too much.

Hot Take #01: The Once and Future Trainwreck Presidency

This is the first in a possible series of posts in which I sound off on an almost entirely impossible or logically indefensible opinion in completely unvetted and unedited fashion for my own personal amusement. Today’s hot take is a simple comparison that I will shamelessly add to the mound of Russophobia currently trending in the western world. That is, could there be an analogue between late stage USSR politics and our own current straits under Trump and his legion of complicit ideologues? For the purposes of being a dickhead, let’s go ahead and say yes. Yes, there fucking is.

The only thing Trump and Yeltsin do not share is a rampant alcohol problem, but our glorious leader might have a rampant cocaine problem – so let’s just call it square. The fall of the Soviet Union under Yeltsin, the catastrophe of the transition to, and then the subsequent establishment of, a mafia-style capitalistic regime, was due in large part to his unconcern with the operations of government and his cluelessness as to the extent of those operations beyond the campaign to have them radically altered. Much like Trump, he seized upon a popular dissatisfaction, trumpeted some nonsense phrases, and got enough power to plunge a good chunk of the developed world into poverty and chaos. Does the road sound familiar?

There is a worry that has not yet made its way around the liberal thought circles, far left or otherwise, and that is the notion that the existence of our democracy is as changeable and vulnerable as an executive order. People forget that the rule of law was invented, just like the words and languages down through the years that made the fomentation of law possible.  What if that rule of law, through a meeting of officiating dickheads, was dispensed with? What if a collection of authoritative voices judged any amount of our legislative democracy null-and-void? Is that possible?

Probably not, but it’s worth bearing in mind that no piece of legislation or even a hoary old document we’ve thought sacred and secured for hundreds of years is ironclad. All it takes is the right amount of political leverage or some other system of bureaucratic lawyering (read: gubernatorial Constitutional amendment process) to cross the threshold into complete Trumpian hellscape. No one thought the Soviet Union would disappear overnight, but it did. That political leverage is verifiably much harder to secure in the United States, of course, but we’d be fooling ourselves to think that it is somehow set in stone. Which brings me to my next point.

There is the possibility that the end of American democracy may come from a currently unlooked for direction: the West. Neither left or right or even our feudal power brokers on Wall Street. Imagine Mark Zuckerberg as your next President, that’s all I’m saying. Perma Boyman-Fishface esq. Think about it. With the devolution of our government at the federal level, and by extension everyone else due to the funding strings connecting the tippy top of the federal ladder to the lowliest village government, corporations would be right to be poised (and probably are poised) to make an argument that vast incompetency in elected government is interrupting the daily lives of citizens and the function of the nation (read: the market). This would be the terminus of everyone’s fear, the absolute event horizon and ultimate worship of the market, but perhaps more likely than a Constitutional amendment declaring Trump imperator in perpetuum. How likely? Who can say. For myself? I just want to become aware of a timeline that isn’t on a trajectory for an alternate dimension more absurd and shitty than Philip K. Dick could dream up on the highest grade of LSD.

Whatever happens, whichever hell we arrive at, if we arrive there at all and not just wind up in some kind of shitty purgatory where we can’t even hang out with figures from Greek myth, I think we can all agree that everything is just going to suck until a massive political reformation is brought about. And that is the perfect segue into my next hot take: A Blueprint on the Back of this Napkin for How to Make Things Not Suck with a Massive Political Reformation. Tune in next week.

Update 01: What A Lovely Day

So two nervous breaks later, I’m back in the action. Posting has been slow on here the past couple weeks. Creativity and fun in general has been slow the past couple weeks. Work has been an energy parasite and writing while living next door to a non-functioning alcoholic is an interesting process. But I’m happy to say that I’m on the uptake? Maybe? I’m putting words down at least.

I’ve finished the opening to what will become a larger project that I look forward to unveiling, in stages, on the site here. Hopefully that happens later this year. If not, then definitely early on in the next go around the sun. It’s all in the timing. Before I can sink into the meat there, though, I’ve got a novel to finish up. That, I can say, will certainly be completed (in the roughest of rough forms) by the end of the summer. So I’ve got that going for me.

Anyway, I thought I’d give a bit of an update as to why this place has started to collect dust (as I will probably have to keep doing when life or, more likely, writing itself intervenes). In short: there’s big, exciting things on the horizon. But until we get there, keep looking out for my patented brand of ideological bullshit mixed in with some wholesome fiction outlining the Fall of Man in perfect thematic form.

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