Buddy #TheDailyPost #amwriting

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Publish a new post on your blog interpreting the theme.

(S)he follows me everywhere: in these pages, at the gym, at the supermarket, on the long walks on the Downs, in airports, in the canyons… His – or her – face has changed a little in time, but not that much. It may have been someone I knew, long ago, or just the sum of many people, met here and there, in crowded stations, at school, on the battlefield: who knows?

(S)he haunts the cities I visit, seeking inspiration. It’s always about her/him. And (s)he knows it, revels in it, who could be more important than her/him, the character at the centre of everything this fool writes?

Survival #TheDailyPost #amwriting

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

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April was a blessing, a trip to a far away and remote country we love, meeting fascinating people, and that reflective time that a writer always needs. Of course there was the challenge, but we had planned for it. It was fun.

The truth is that we did not write anything of substance for a year. I say “we”, because the “characters” – I see them as some kind of spirits, the kachinas of this occult art – did not contribute much either, and so it is only fair to include them. There were titbits of flash fiction, the beginning of a plan that led nowhere…

In brief, the rot had set in. But once back to this crowded little island, ideas came to the surface, en masse. And now, there is a structure slowly emerging. The characters are taking shape, their souls are stirring.

Ha! Creation… The old Scrivener has been taken out of mothballs. No longer survival time, but Renaissance!

The Guardian Angel

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The old man looked out of the window into the familiar expense of the suburban garden, taking in the brightness of the tulips, the now fading bluebells and the impertinent grass, absurdly green. What a contrast with the arid plateau at the foot of the mesa!

There, on his desk, near the photograph of the assembled family – the one he’d taken on his terrace the summer before – she stood, her delicate silhouette arrested in the position of the butterfly dance, the colours of her wings shimmering in the morning light. “You are a beauty,” he thought, “And I am lucky to have you: my inspiration, my living companion…”

Soon, a cup of steaming coffee to his side, he went back to work. “This novel will never be finished,” he said to himself; “Not that I don’t want to, but now I am so slow, and I know… I will run out of time!” It was true that since his wife’s departure (he never thought of her death, merely of a delay in them being reunited) he had become very slow, as if he’d adopted a different rhythm of life. Yet he was waking up at the same time, as if she was still there, and carefully brewed coffee, as if she was waiting for her first cup, upstairs, in their room. But, now, he had gone back to long hand writing, and he was lucky to get a few hundred words into shape during his morning work.

Behind her mask, the kachina was observing him. “You are a good man,” she was saying to herself, “and, you are right, your end is near. But since you have led a good life, and understand the meaning of your life, I will do something for you…”

The old man put his pen down, and looked at her: he knew she was talking to herself, but could hear the soft voice, and he could sense the imperceptible motion of her fingers, holding the pahos, the ceremonial prayer sticks.

“Maiden, do you miss the mountains?” He asked, smiling at her, perhaps not expecting an answer. He resumed his work, the pen scratching the paper, honing words.

Later, as he was feeling more light-headed than usual, he heard her voice again.

“When the time comes, you will know what has to be done,” she said slowly, “and your people will bury you according to your rites,” she continued, “but later, you will take the trail to Maski, the Land of the Dead, and on your way there you will find me: I will wait for you, and guide you, have no fear.”

Image: A mural depicting Tawa, the sun spirit and creator in Hopi mythology. Painted Desert Inn, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona. By Fred Kabotie, National Park Service – http://www.nps.gov/common/uploads/photogallery/20140223/park/pefo/BBBAA541-155D-451F-6780A798473458A3/BBBAA541-155D-451F-6780A798473458A3.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23228610

Hopi mythology at Wikipedia

Contrast #TheDailyPost

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

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They say it’s a young city, and here I am, an ancient dinosaur, in those worn out jeans and leatherwear from another age. And the rucksack! Mended so many times, colourless, blended with its owner… Yet I love the streets, the smiles, the laughter, and I keep dragging along my old boots, and this silly cap, when in fact I no longer belong to the living. I am a mere memory, less than a tramp, like the thought of a traveller from yesteryears, a small cloud, perhaps.

In turn, they love me, keep telling me their stories, their pain, their discoveries. Priceless. Yes, I admit it, I feed on those tales, on the dreams of the young, on their attempts at happiness, renewal, transformation… No, please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t prey on them, I just listen, maybe risk a question from time to time. And later I write down everything: the hopes, the loves, the fights. Sometime they ask me to take a picture of them, usually, the two of them, and I never fail to let them have those pictures: small fragments of time, in the city of Faust.

As a #writer, is #Facebook useful to me?

Au Pont de la Tournelle

Today, a very good friend of mine, in real life as well as in cyberspace, quitted her Facebook account, which she created in 2009. She said to me she no longer had time to keep her page up to date, even to the minimum level that would be of interest to her “friends”. And she added: “But of course, the real friends and I keep in touch, by writing – yes! oldfashion letters – and via our blogs, that are the right places for a genuine exchange of ideas.”

It makes sense to me. When I started using Facebook, it was an attempt to build up the main character in my first novel, and later on, to promote my work. It has been a mixed success. Quickly the character achieved a life of her own, and was never really dependent on social media for her development. From a writing and work promotion viewpoint, I have to admit having had close to zero contribution through the Facebook page I created for the novel. By comparison I found Twitter a far more effective tool, to meet other writers, keep up to date on news that interested me, and promote my work.

In truth, the real writer tool is the blog. There, it is possible to develop a meeting of minds, with genuinely interested readers, and people of common interests, who are willing to take the time to comment and follow. It’s give and take. There is nothing artificial in the development of such communities. Given the time it takes to keep up on social media, one has to be economical, and discerning. Has Facebook helped me in my development as a writer? The answer is, probably, very little, compared with the real progress made on the blogs, and, also compared with the source of inspiration and contacts I found via Twitter.

Is this then, conclusive? I have nothing against Facebook, it’s fun to use, but just appears, often, pointless. This is of course a very personal viewpoint, what does not work for me may well do marvels for others! Our main resource is time. So, maybe, it’s time to reconsider?

Voice Work: #DailyPrompt

Your blog is about to be recorded into an audiobook. If you could choose anyone — from your grandma to Samuel L. Jackson — to narrate your posts, who would it be?

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I always wondered when I could give you an answer, and, after all these years, I can now tell you: yes, there is something you can help me with. Not that I trust you in any way, but I love this voice of yours, you know, the smooth, mellow, calming voice, that promises all the wealth, the hidden pleasures, the forbidden fruit, to the unwary…

How would that help me? Well, I have often spoken, written even, about you, the ultimate liar, the pretentious bigot, the insolent beggar. And, yes, it would be good to have your voice to narrate the tale, almost in your own fashion, if not entirely in your style. I am sure my readers would appreciate the humour of this: the liar tells the lies, and how it always turns to disaster! I don’t need to remind you, of the many times I kicked that backside of yours, and worse! So, there you are, little devil, and I suggest you get on with it smartly – or else!

Photo: Devil Voodoo Figure, Usulután Province, El Salvador, 1958-1962, Tucson Museum of Modern Art, © 2014 Honoré Dupuis

Of Thanatos, Ansky’s Notebook and a City in the Desert, a #reading of “2666” by Roberto Bolaño

“Jesus is the masterpiece. The thieves are minor works. Why are they there? Not to frame the crucifixion, as some innocent souls believe, but to hide it.”

2066

“Now what sea is this you have crossed, exactly, and what sea is it you have plunged more than once to the bottom of, alerted, full of adrenalin, but caught really, buffaloed under the epistemologies of these threats that paranoid you so down and out, caught in this steel pot, softening to devitaminized mush inside the soup stock of your own words?”

Gravity’s Rainbow

 

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The geography is immense, as the novel meanders through the streets of Paris, Madrid, London or Milan, the ruins of Cologne after the war, the snows of the Austrian border, Venice, Hamburg, the Crimean peninsula, the dark forests of Rumania, Mexico City, and, inevitably, Santa Teresa, the industrious and sinister city in the Sonora desert, still vibrating from the visit of the Savage Detectives.

Is Hans Reiter a reference to the war criminal of the same name? Does the writer’s name, Benno von Archimboldi, hide a deeper meaning? We follow four academics, German literature specialists, united by their obsession with the shadowy writer, Archimboldi. They read, visit each other, Mrs. Bubis, the publisher of Archimboli’s books and his lifelong friend, and try to discover who the writer really is. Their quest finally takes them to the city where girls and young women are butchered by one (of several) sadistic murderers.

Amalfitano, the critics’ host in Santa Teresa, reflects on death and his reasons to have moved o the city, from Spain, where his daughter, Rosa, was born. As he observed the treaty of geometry, hanging upside down from his washing line in his backyard, swept by the desert’s winds and dust, the scholar fears for his daughter, in a city where they kill girls like sparrows. Fate, the reflective journalist from New York, who travels to Santa Teresa for an article on a boxing match, when he is in fact no sports writer, befriends Rosa, and travelled back to New York with her, away from her father and the malediction of the city.

The endless narrative of the murders, spanning four years, unresolved and the investigation of which is plagued by incompetence, corruption and neglect, after all, most of the victims are poor girls working in the sweatshops of the city, or whores, or both, takes three hundred pages of the novel, a harrowing and at times monotonous read. Finally, Klaus Haas, a German-American citizen, is arrested, probably wrongly, for some of the murders.

At long last, we meet Hans Reiter, learn about the house in the forest, the one-eyed mother and the one-legged father. Young Hans is fascinated by the sea and its forests. Unstoppable, the river flows to the beginning of the war. Hans is strong, foolishly brave, visibly with no fear of death. Drafted in a light infantry regiment he picks up an iron cross on his way to Crimea. On a short permission back to Berlin he meets Ingeborg, who after the war would become his wife. Severely wounded Hans is sent to the village of Kosteniko, on the banks of the river Dniepr. There the future Archimboldi meets his future career in a farmhouse that belonged to Boris Ansky’s family, before the village jews were massacred by the Einsatzgruppe C. Hans discovers Ansky’s notebook, the story of an “enemy of the state”, witness of the horror, soldier of the revolution, and genial writer under another man’s name.

Fifty years later, Klaus Haas, son of Lotte, Hans’s sister, is in jail, his trial postponed. Finally Hans, now eighty, and a possible Nobel-awarded writer, visits Santa Teresa, closing the loop.

The book closed, we must read again, as we must reread “Q”, or Gravity’s Rainbow, or the Man Without Quality. In the end we know that Sisyphus trumps Thanatos, even for just a few years.

Image: Child in Berlin  –  David Bowie  1977

Low Light #HolocaustMemorialDay

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The Atlantic rain hammers the windows, in the grey skies the birds are still, hesitant.

Is it the impossible memory, the fear to forget, to ignore, someday to face the nightmare, in our lives?

Those who deny, wrote Primo Levy, are ready to start again. Is it possible?

But then we know, in our time, not that far from us.

We look at the sky, the fast fleeing clouds, we hear the rumble of the city. We think of the long war, the fight for survival. Is this peace an illusion?

Yesterday we saw snowdrops on the edge of the woods, near the valley we love. The earth lives on.

Despite everything we do.

Photo: Käthe Kollwitz’ Pietà, Berlin Neue Wache, Unter den Linden, © 2014 Honoré Dupuis

Ambushed

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I know they are there, well hidden, but making sure I am aware of their presence, just in case I was about to forget. This is tyranny, being on an apparent lose leach, but one that can be shortened at no notice: suddenly the pain, the endless despair.

I see a glimmer of blue in the sky. No frost last night. There is hope in the air.

How long will it take? I know they are expert at rearguard actions too. Signs of withdrawal  can be deceptive! Like this weather, it can move swiftly back to ice and doom.

Marking time, observing, solace in sleep.

Spring will come.

Image: Max Clarenbach