Friday, November 18, 2005

Early morning driftwood

Remember how vibrator afficionado walking neocon talking point ripe dingleberry TV commentator Bill O'Reilly recently smeared the people of San Francisco for exercising their right of political dissent? "If Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it." Now, O'Reilly's trying to wriggle out of his mean, nasty, beady-eyed comment by claiming the uproar was due to "far left internet smear sites." He wants to honor the memory of his hero, Joseph McCarthy, by publishing a blacklist of these sites: "Now we can all know who was with the anti-military Internet crowd. We'll post the names of all who support the smear merchants on" Arianna Huffington wants to help. If you'd like to be added to Bill O'Reilly's enemies list, click here. Sure, it's symbolic, but if it helps Arianna goad Bill, I'm all for it.
Phone call from the Emergency Room at 1:30AM. "Hello, Dr. Hoffman?" "Yeah." "Sorry. We called you in error." "What?" "We called you in error." Click.
One last thought about dreams: Over the years, I've had several dreams which provided worthwhile images for fiction. Not stories, mind you; those invariably suck. (Each time, I would wake up thinking, "Wow, what a story!" but within a half hour, the glee has faded, and I can't imagine why I found the tale so captivating.) But the images: crisp and dripping with archetype, screaming to be incorporated into a short story or novel. As I was driving in this morning, I thought about the stories I've written which used those images. None of them has been published. This failing, I think, has nothing to do with the images, but with the additional crap I've layered over them. Here's an example. Several years ago, I dreamed about a trio of white explorers who conspired to witness a native ritual forbidden to outsiders (a la Sir Richard Burton). In this ritual, the tribesmen wore huge, brightly painted papier mache heads meant to represent their old gods. Thus adorned, they would dance and parade for hours as they climbed to the mouth of an inactive volcano. There they would fling the heads down into the volcano and race back to the city, unencumbered by their old gods. In the dream, the explorers are discovered, and they are thrown into the volcano, fake heads and all. I love two things about that image: first, the notion of shedding one's superstitions in such a graphic way, and second, the idea that the explorers (representing the more wicked aspects of the modern world) would be shed with equal joy. When I wrote the story, however, I added a bunch of crap about missionaries with a phony religion based on corporate-American ethics and baseball (their martyr was pelted to death with hardballs after delivering his famous Sermon on the Mound). Killer of killers, I fell back on one of Strange Horizons' notorious "plots we see too often": my villain was crazy, and much of what he imagined in the course of the story turned out to be either delusion or dream. Feh. I should start over from scratch and pare it back to the core image . . . once NaNoWriMo is over and done with.
One of these days, we should all take a look at that Strange Horizons page and come up with a list of counterexamples: stories that incorporated these trite plots and did so with spectacular results. Someone once said to me, "Things are trite because they work." Trick is to make the trite feel fresh . . . D.


Blogger Jona said...

Bummer about the phone call, bet the person was praying you didn’t recognise their voice ;o)

And you have profound dreams! It’s never occurred to me to seriously try and analyse mine, but maybe the next one that makes any sense.

Daren’t click that plots link – they always depress me beyond words, literally.

11/18/2005 01:09:00 PM  

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