A late, but timely prescription. There seems to be a case of DOCTORS IN HELL going around. You can prepare for the upcoming epidemic: now through both Kindle and Book. If you would like to warn people of what is to come, I hope that you will consider sharing this prescription and perhaps even investing into some reviews of your own.
And here is another infernal prescription for you: namely an interview of mine with Jennifer Loiske regarding my own strain of story in Doctors. Apparently in this case, I am the first of the fallen: namely the first Hellion to be featured on her site about our book. Bill Snider (ZombieZak) is right after me and while we are the first, we will definitely not be the last. Seriously, I hope — somehow, as I should have left that outside the gates by virtue and vice of what I have done — that you will check out the works of myself and my fellow Hellions.
My pandering to my readership aside, I think this is going to be a very short post. I’ve vastly overestimated my energies. The first week of my LDEEP program was a major adjustment, but even through the exhaustion at home I would still be able to write and engage more online. But now after the third week of the program, I find I’m more tired than before and it takes actual energy to write anything — or indeed do anything — after an early day and night. I’m honestly just hoping I won’t pass out at my computer again like I’ve, admittedly, been doing from time to time.
I am finding that I really need to pace myself. If I have time to myself for a bit in the morning and I can leave at my own speed, I am generally fine. It’s not an exact science and sometimes I feel like I have traded issues with my headaches for my stomach: though the stress management is universal. Deep breathing really helps: along with, again, having my own space. But either way, it is an ongoing experiment.
I do know, however, what I want. I want to do what I am doing now. I want to write the way I do, and get paid for it. That’s it. That should be one of my focuses. For now, though, I’m going to take a step back and enjoy what I’ve actually achieved so far, and see where I go from here.
The title is not what it seems especially when you take into account the graphic that you’re, no doubt, seeing at this time. It’s funny: I could have written this post up earlier in the weekend but one thing I’ve noticed in having a set schedule in the morning now is how much more tired I am when I finally get home, or finally get to the weekend.
There are a lot of things I wanted to do this weekend: like work on my “Serpent and The Fox” or more background material for the game I’m collaborating on: especially the latter after my sessions at LDEEP.
It’s still taking a while for my body to adjust to being up and functioning again at daylight hours: especially during what is now pretty much the summer time. It feels weird. It’s hard to explain really. Sometimes I feel the stress taking over my body and it seems to react on its own. Having IBS also doesn’t help matters and, to be honest, I could really do without it. It can make travel … interesting: especially in traffic.
At the same time, though, it’s not an exaggeration to say that my head has been light and airy. For a few years now I’ve generally only gone outside later in the day and in limited bursts. My interactions with other people were cursory or perfunctionary at best. Sometimes, even now, I need some space and I find that I need to move around in order to feel comfortable in my body in another space as well. I’ve always had that last element in the form of fidgeting: and it manifests through needing to express excitement and channel nervous energy. But I have also been taking it in stride and working through my body to get my tasks finished. I mean, if I have to deal with matters I might as well get as much from doing so as possible. That is my philosophy now.
Right now I have something of a functional resume and cover letter that I plan to use as a foundation to network and from which to create other elements. Chances are, again, I will be looking for collaborations and contract work, but I wouldn’t rule out using these resources from which I would create my own job. It wouldn’t be the first time.
One other nice thing about LDEEP is the fact that a lot of the work we do stays at the centre. This allows me to come home, rest, and even do some of my own creative work. It isn’t always in my face and it has its own place where I can engage it with help. So that structure does help a lot. And I am dealing: still trying to find a balance of work, rest, and eating as I finished the second week of my program.
Also my flip-phone, which was nearly a decade old, dislocated its head and I had to get a new phone. Last week I wrote a GeekPr0n article on the Netflix series Sense8: which might as well be an extended metaphor for wireless, online and long-distance relationships. My new phone is, by necessity of my career plans and current work, linked to the Internet and while the process of getting and programming it — and sometimes unlocking the damned thing — has been stressful, I feel a lot more connected to some of the people I know. It makes things a little better for me and sometimes that’s all you can ask. That said, I’m also getting to know people in my course and even though we are different, it is still nice to get to interact with other people face-to-face.
And now, for the Hell element of this post. It’s not living in daylight again, or going out more, or doing a ton of work, or even readjusting my body. Rather, it is more information about my upcoming published story. Allow me to reintroduce you to DOCTORS IN HELL.
It is a beautiful advertisement and I just thought I’d share it with all of you: to show you I am there and that this is happening again. It’s also nice to see my name, with my fellow Hellions, all front and centre. A lot of last week was me filling out an interview and biographies and other minutiae after my days at LDEEP. Each interaction left me with a sense of accomplishment.
My story inHeroes in Hell Volume 18: Doctors in Hell, “Let Us Kill The Spirit of Gravity” continues just after Nietzsche runs into Lilith for the first time. It can be read on its own, but “When You Gaze Into An Abyss” from Poets in Hell is also a nice read, in my relatively biased opinion, before you start this one.
And you can order it on Kindle today. 🙂
In this sense everything here is not so much that a road to hell paved with good intentions, but rather that an idle mind (read an ever-busy mind) is the devil’s workshop. And I am going to keep working in it, and at it. I promise.
Even though I’m not a musician, or even a complete music literate (whatever that ultimately means), I had been looking forward to Amanda Palmer’s first book for quite some time. And now that I finally finished reading it a few days ago, I’m now in a place where I can actually say something about it.
It wasn’t easy and, to some extent, it’s still very challenging. The Art of Asking is something like what might happen if you take a blender, to borrow one of Amanda’s creative sayings, put it on a low setting, and introduce autobiographical anecdotes, self-help philosophy, social media excerpts, a few literary quotes, and of course musical lyrics, to the blade and mix. Chronological events are sometimes parallel with each other in the narrative, but these instances are often separated by philosophical musings and personal moments.
Whatever else, The Art of Asking is, it’s definitely not an ordinary book: as if something that’s a fusion of the creative and the personal can ever be ordinary.
I’ll also admit that it took me a while to get into the book, and sometimes I had trouble actually staying inside it. I mean, I knew that — even based on the title — that Amanda’s book would have some significant roots in her TED Talk of the same name, but it is both fascinating and sometimes off-putting to consider that there is a fair amount of her book that you can already find to some extent in her Blog and even in her introduction to Anthony Martignetti’s Lunatic Heroes.
The intertextuality, the way her book relates to the narratives and circumstances behind Anthony’s Lunatic Heroes and Beloved Demons, as well as to Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane really does intrigue me and it puts some elements into perspective. I’d argue that The Art of Asking has details that can give you something of a holistic approach to looking at all four narratives upon risk of falling into the authorial fallacy: of looking at the people behind the works instead of the works themselves on their own merits.
I mean, it’s no secret that Amanda encouraged Anthony to hone and publish his personal stories — many of which he’d already told her before during their time together — and that Neil’s Ocean was the result of a story that he actually wanted to tell her while she was in the middle of her own solitary creative struggles. When you look at how those narratives talk to each other, like the people that made them and talked to each other in turn, The Art of Asking is almost something of a bridge between three different and creative spaces. It is my opinion that they all belong together.
The downside was that sometimes these references felt like filler. I think what really confused me was something that Amanda said which, ironically, I truly appreciated. It was a reference to another part of her creative process. After a fascinating look at different types of creative processes from her perspective, Amanda mentions that to create something is to “connect the dots” between things that you gather or experience. This, for me, pretty much sums up how creativity happens. As a creator, you take things that don’t seem to relate to each on the surface and you find or make connections between these elements. This thought particularly jived with me.
Unfortunately, at least from my perspective as a reader, I couldn’t always see how Amanda connected the dots of her ideas and anecdotes or even her musical lyric interludes within the structure of The Art of Asking itself. Perhaps I just don’t have a good eye for it, or for that matter even a good ear. Maybe, as Amanda herself isn’t generally a book writer — this being her first one — she writes prose much in the way her mind generates rhythm and lyric: through music. This is just a thought that I’m throwing out there myself. However, maybe the narrative is a lot like Amanda herself in that her art and her performance seems to be a 24/7 deal where you cannot particularly separate them: even in another medium.
The Art of Asking, to me, felt like a balancing act: much like the way I reacted to it. The tone of it got to me sometimes. On one hand it sometimes felt like it was rather self-involved, but on the other hand it is to some extent a memoir and of course Amanda would be talking about her experiences and her feelings. At times I felt a self-help vibe from the book and I had a personal reaction to whenever Amanda would talk about giving herself to trust and love as, in my own experience, most people who expose surrendering themselves to absolute abstracts of benevolence, revolution, peace, and love often want something from you and are anything but the ideals that they claim to represent. Something about Koolaid comes to mind.
Then again, these very sentiments on Amanda’s part are tied into some considerably shrewd business and people sense. The Art of Asking specifically outlines how love and trust are relational. What I mean is that by opening yourself up to other people, by interacting with them, by actually relating to them as fellow human beings you create a bond — at least on some level — and they will become more willing to actually help you. Amanda very correctly identifies this precept in why some crowdfunding campaigns excel and why others fail completely.
In asking for help without shame and taking what is offered you without forced expectations or, again, humiliation, you are attempting to embrace a different mindset. I can personally respect and even understand this idea. Amanda even applies it well to just why her former label and the music industry are simply failing to understand their customers: as they only relate to people as customers, artists as commodities, and not as people.
Really, what I learned from this as a potential crowdfunder artist myself, is that I have a long way to go — in building relationships of some kind with my readers, in networking, and in relating to others — before I can even begin to approach the place where others can support me: and where I can provide consistent content for their support. It’s actually very humbling, and sometimes discouraging as I am not a natural extrovert and I don’t have access to the support that I need to get there, or a coherent and stable vision to attract others. Yet.
In this sense, it’s not about connecting the dots per see. It isn’t even about giving out “the flower,” a metaphor and literal fact from Amanda’s time as a living bride statue in her early busking years that can be accepted or rejected in an attempt at staring someone in the eye and relating to them.
To me, it’s about doughnuts.
In late November 2014, I actually attended the last part of Amanda’s Book Circus Tour in Toronto. As we waited in line outside of Lee’s Palace, a volunteer kept handing out Timbits: small, round, balls of assorted doughnuts. During the event itself Amanda actually read us a part of her book in which apparently David Thoreau, during the time he wrote Walden, accepted free food from his family as help in completing his work. And Eric Alper, Amanda’s guest and interviewer bought us all tons of Timbits to hit home the point that it is okay to “Take the doughnuts.”
The way I ultimately see it, The Art of Asking is a collection of Timbits: a collection of little doughnuts of many kinds. Some might prefer specific flavours of Timbit, or all of them, or none at all. Yet all of them are doughnuts and all of them are offered to the reader.
As for me, I took my favourite doughnuts from Amanda. Some of them were crisp and instrumental. Some were multiple flavours that branched into different places, that reminded me of other things, and gave me insight about my favourite people behind the scenes. I know I ate one or two confections that Amanda had never offered before outside of her book: and the flavours hit me hard and without mercy: that were real. At least one was a moment that touched me to the core.
But all of them, even the ones I don’t always like or require an acquired taste, are in the same box of words: a bread and circuses on paper thanking everyone that it asks.
I won’t lie to you. I am really tired. It’s that kind of tired where everything has been happening on a time limit to the point of it all blurring together and becoming something of a singularity.
One of the major things I’d been working on for over a week, and in email correspondence, was My So-Called Secret Identity: An Interview with Will Brooker. I was on Twitter a while ago and, one day, Will Brooker asked me if I wanted to ask him some “difficult questions.” And that was how I gave my first interview.
My So-Called Secret Identity operates on the premise that superheroes, villains, and anti-heroes are celebrities that engage in an act called “the theater” in which they fight and capture each other: with average citizens suffering collateral damage as a result. This “theater” takes place in Gloria City where one young woman, a university student named Cat, has decided she has had enough and uses her considerable intelligence to attempt to actually save people and dismantle “the theater” from the inside.
It is a nice subversion of the superhero genre and trope. I can only think of Neil Gaiman’s Black Orchid series as another example, but I’m sure and I hope that there is more from that branch and fruit out there. It is definitely worth reading and supporting.
In other news, I’d also like to plug the fact that Klarissa Kocsis’ Klarissa Dreams has finally come out in paperback and on Kindle. A while ago I mentioned that I actually have a poem in there inspired from one of Klarissa’s paintings called “In Her Hand.” A few friends of mine, including some fellow Hellions, have some poems, short story and excerpts in this book. All proceeds from the anthology will go to charities for cancer and lupus research. So if you have the time, or the inclination, please check it out.
So an interview and a published print poem later, along with my Heroes in Hell story also released, I find myself pretty exhausted: so much so that I really don’t want to move. But I need to. I am going to be away from social media for a while: mainly this entire weekend. I consider it the beginning of my vacation.
It will be a challenge. I have always had Internet and writing to do along with a certain set way of things. It’s a weekend getaway outside in the sun and I am not sure if I will be used to that. I’m going to attempt to get out of my solitary workaholic shell a bit, socialize, network, and do things aside from work. It’s true: I will be bringing writing stuff and books. I am never that far away from those. But maybe this time I won’t need them.
I’ve done a lot of good work lately: so much so I think I leveled-up at least two times. I think it’s time to relax: at least for a little while. In any case, thank you for reading this far and I hope to see you all next week. Have an excellent weekend.
I promise that, eventually, I will stop talking about hell. But it will not be this day.
Instead, allow me to present two new developments. ZombieZak, or Bill Snider, and his team have compiled a POETS IN HELL Playlist. Vocal recordings are still ongoing, so look forward to seeing more audio get added to this list. Let me just add that Chris Morris, the primary interlocutor before each clip, reads beautifully with a wonderfully diabolical cackle of glee.
I’m also very proud to say that my vocal clip has also come in. Usually the sound of my own “normal” voice grates on me, making me feel a certain amount of chagrin, but I rather like how this — albeit short — recording turned out. And you get the added bonus of hearing my voice for the first time if you haven’t already.
But that is merely one voice in hell. For the first time ever, I actually had an interview. In fact, not only did I get interviewed by Alex Butcher of the Library of Erana about my work in POETS, but she even managed to get Nietzsche himself to speak a few words about his current existence in Janet Morris’ hell.
It was challenging. I seem to be saying that a lot, but it’s no less true in this case. Having to explain your creative process, especially with regards to how it works in a collaboration is difficult enough, but also needing to speak for a man who has been dead for a century or so, whose original language isn’t English, keeping all of his facts straight, and trying to figure out how to reconcile all of these issues in a supernatural realm really keeps you on your toes. Nietzsche’s character interview pushed me to about a similar limit as it does attempting to write from his perspective in my story. Sometimes I don’t know if I understand it or even get all of the facts right, never mind translating his own particular tone, but fiction can be forgiving and I hope that my readers are, if not forgiving, at least understanding of the matter.
If I could have told myself that one day I would be attempting to write from the perspective of Friedrich Nietzsche, I would have thought that my future self was insane.
Of course, we all know by now the answer to that implicit question.
The very least I can say for myself is that I don’t think that I’m Dionysus yet.
So please visit the Library of Erana with its fine Mage, listen to an account how I found hell and how I find it, and give some time to Nietzsche. He may not be the most modern individual and I don’t always agree with what I understand of him, but he can be genial if somewhat self-deprecating, and despite his experiences there is still a bit of mischief in him somewhere: especially when you consider the things that he doesn’t tell you.
And if that doesn’t catch your fancy, there are other interviews with other fine writers: including Janet Morris and the Devil himself. Now there is the real voice of hell.
My apologies for the false advertising behind the title, but it did grab your attention and lies are just one commodity that are trafficked in hell: where sometimes truths are far greater weapons and torments.
It’s been a long time since I’ve released two posts in one day, but to paraphrase the words of a co-writer you work at least twice as hard when you write for hell. So, really, why shouldn’t that philosophy apply to promoting POETS IN HELL?
So let me start this off by reminding you that POETS IN HELL, with my short story WHEN YOU GAZE INTO AN ABYSS, is available on Kindle. However, not only is it also available on Barnes & Noble’s Nook but it has finally been released in trade paperback.
And, to further entice you, we have the following. First, I now have the privilege of showing you a wrap around book cover:
And, there is more. Secondly, my aforementioned fellow writer, Joe Bonadonna has written a review of POETS IN HELL for the Black Gate Magazine. In addition to an Afterward written by our leader and Heroes in Hell creator Janet Morris outlining practically every challenge we faced in getting this book to see the light of infernity, you will find a blurb about every story written by every writer involved in POETS.
It’s a big deal to me. When I was younger and back when the Black Gate accepted epic fantasy stories, I very much wanted to write something for them. And so, in a round-about way, I finally did: or at least I got my name and work mentioned in good company for an article written on their site. If only twenty-something year old Matthew could see this now, he’d … probably be shocked at how I write now and where, but I think he would really like it. The fact is, I agree with Joe: it takes a great deal of effort to write for a place as infinite as hell. It challenges you every step of the way, but its white-hot rewards are worth it: along with all the laughs, pathos, and screaming that you earn along the way.
Speaking of being vocal … our fellow writer Zombie Zak and his crack team of Hellions decided to begin a little … project. I’d like to present, to you, some recorded excerpts from POETS IN HELL.
First up, we have a hint of Yelles Hughes’ RED TAIL’S CORNER:
Followed by a little bit of Joe Bonadonna‘s own WE THE FURIOUS:
There will be more excerpts coming, including one of my own. Some of you will even get to hear my actual voice for the first time. I hope I don’t sound too terrible … in a bad way. 😉
In the meantime please fan out the flames of hell and aid us in spreading the word of POETS.
And as I said before, my story in Poets is called: “When You Gaze into an Abyss”: starring Lilith, the first wife of Adam and the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.
I’m going to warn you, right now, that I will be promoting and talking about POETS IN HELL for some time.
There is still a lot more left to do. The infernal delights of hell are not finished yet and I will definitely keep you all posted on those: or, rather, they will keep you posted.
It’s funny, you know. When I started Mythic Bios about two years ago, I was in an autobiographical head space. Many of my stories were personal, or taken and worked from personal material.
And now? Well now, I find that I have quite a few ideas for story and projects but –with a few exceptions — none of them are really about me anymore. And perhaps that’s not such a bad thing. Before my work in hell (take that phrase any way you’d like), I wrote about my life as though it was pretty much academic at this point: as though many of my greatest achievements had already been put behind me and I was just existing to record and rework what was left. It was a quiet, contemplative core of time within a chaotic sea of workaholism.
But now, it’s less about me and more about the work: if that makes sense. The work will always be a part of me and my experiences and knowledge-base will inform it. Nevertheless, I like working in other worlds … and making my own.
So now, let me finish this post off by presenting to you our first press release of POETS IN HELL:
This was created on Friday the 13th on a full moon. I’m afraid that unless it was also made and released on all Hallows Eve, you can’t get more hellish than this. And that isn’t even taking into account the pain, suffering, diabolical delight, metaphysical explorations, philosophical quandaries, myth-making, and maniacal humour found within these pages. And seeing my name next to all of these awesome writers makes it all worth while.
I’m still a workaholic. There is still chaos, but now my core in this madness is active. And, as I said before, there is still so much work left to do.
Hello everyone. I’d like to make two very important announcements.
I have received my first ever patron on my Patreon account. So let me take some time to publicly thank John Chui for his donation. John, thank you for believing in my writing and my work enough to support me and donate $25 a month to my ambitions.
It really makes a difference. It’s not so much the money, which is always both useful and helpful to have, but the fact that someone respects what I do enough to support me. Not only does it provide a little bit of an impetus, but it reminds me that there are people out there who like my writing and believe it is deserving of payment and recognition. John, you are definitely one of those friends who encourages me to keep doing what I do: even when I get tired. Even when I start to question myself.
You have to start somewhere and thanks to John and in words that he can truly appreciate, I will continue to soldier on. I do still expect a Twine out of you personally at some point, however, so don’t think I’ve forgotten. 🙂
And now, for the second announcement. A little while ago, I told all of you that my short story “When You Gaze Into an Abyss” was accepted in Janet Morris’ book Poets in Hell: part of the Heroes in Hell series. I said that I would update all of you when the book came out.
And here is a nice description of what you will find within it should you dare to read it:
Where else but Hell can you join Beowulf, Dorothy Parker, Diomedes, Sappho, John Milton, Robert E. Howard, Odysseus, Caliban, Helen of Troy, and Mary Shelley? Where else but Hell can you adventure with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, e.e. cummings, Nietzsche, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Attila the Hun, Napoleon, David Koresh, Eliott Ness, Marconi, and Plato? Where else but Hell can you find the Jabberwocky, Li Po, Albert Camus, the Sphinx, Frank Nitti, Aeschylus, Goethe, Sycorax, and Merlin all in one place? Where else but Hell can you meet Galatea, Robert Burns, Ghengis Khan, Foster, Solon, and Lemuel Gulliver? Where else could you find Homer, Lilith, Victor Frankenstein and his famous Monster, Edgar Allen Poe, Jimmy Hoffa, and Lord Byron’s dog, Boatswain? In POETS IN HELL, that’s where. BYO pitchfork.
The book version of Poets isn’t ready yet, but for those of you who are eager to read the excellent tales — including my own first-ever published story — please download this Kindle version should you have one.
And if you live in the United States, this entire saga will cost you — aside from your peace of mind and soul — $6.66. I’d say that, all things considered, that is a pretty good deal.
This past while has just been a series of firsts for me. Let me tell you. I’ve seen my name on Amazon before, but only as a reviewer: and that was before I created Mythic Bios and placed the majority of my reviews on here. But it is a whole other experience to see my name on Amazon as an author, and right next to the names of giants: of my fellow diabolical, grandiose, and truly hilarious peers.
I’ve come a long way since that person who knew I had something to say but had little under my name to show that I could truly say it. But this is only the beginning and as I said with regards to my Patreon: you have to start somewhere.
And what better a start than writing from a place in Hell: from the hellfire in my soul, from where all of this truly began. Thank you all for reading this and Following my work. Again, please consider reading, supporting, and spreading the flaming word of POETS IN HELL.
“I’d start talking about the dark and darkness, cold, loneliness, aging and illness, money, and how the hell can anybody keep making a living through a whole lifetime? I’d get myself all wound up and just rattle on in my head about the scariest shit I could think of” (2).
An ice storm hit parts of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area and knocked out our power. For about three days in late December 2013 we had neither heat nor light, but plenty of cold and darkness. I felt absolutely helpless before Nature and my personal demons as my parents’ home became a dark and icy tomb. Suffice to say, this book came to me at a very appropriate time.
It was on the second day that I got Anthony’s book early in the mail: the postman having somehow navigated across the treacherous ice-crusted ground and overhanging crystalline pine hedges to deliver it right to the mailbox on the doorstep of our deathly cocoon. It’s similar to the way I will also have to navigate through this book.
One challenge I really had is that even though I wanted to look at Beloved Demons in its own right, in a manner similar to how I examined the theme, interrelation of stories and, of course, what I related to in Lunatic Heroes, this book still remains stubbornly intertextual. What I mean by that is it’s almost as though Anthony’s beloved demons want to war and fight alongside his lunatic heroes and define themselves by this ancient conflict. While you can read Beloved Demons as a standalone book, it has a whole other dimension if you take its predecessor into consideration.
So first off, what does Anthony possibly mean by a “beloved demon”?
It is said that the ancient Greek poets, when singing stories of heroes attempting to find home, war, or both, would evoke the muse — or the daimon — before they began to recite their tale. “Daimon” is also the root of the contemporary words “angel” and “demon.” In addition, daimons are known as forces of nature that pass through and influence human beings. So it is only fitting, and in keeping with the ancient idea of the daimon, that “Cocoon Talk: Confessions of a Psychology Intern” begins with Anthony singing on the road on a warm summer’s day.
It’s also tempting to mention that demons have traditionally been used to incarnate a particular vice, evil, or negative thought in order to ward off, exorcise, or otherwise purge it from a subject. Certainly, “Feast of the Hungry Ghost” is a pretty good example of an attempted exorcism. However, I feel that Anthony draws on Carl Jung’s idea of the daimon much more and, in doing so, it brings an older mythological resonance to mind.
The Roman equivalent to the daimon is the genius loci: a very clearly monstrous or non-human spiritual being that protects places and people. These genii also tend to embody their spaces: to serve as their souls. And, if you think about it, it can apply well to Anthony’s Beloved Demons. His short story “Sign” is an example of a space with great emotional resonance to that regard. In other words, places can be spaces, and spaces can be memories. And Anthony evokes their souls like the daimons that they are.
Each one of the nine stories in Beloved Demons is like a different and yet interconnected reality. “Swept” is the only story that focuses solely on Anthony’s childhood. Almost all of his stories focus on the aftermath of his youth and how it affected his developing adulthood. The crowning achievements of this process can be found in the narratives of “Cocoon Talk,” “Sign,” and “Feast of the Hungry Ghost”: for just as daimons served as intermediaries between mortals and the divine, so too do these stories seem to function as bridges between Anthony’s past and adulthood.
As such, Anthony’s “Cocoon” is a nice complement to his last book’s short story “Swamp”: except that while Bullfrog was a symbol of enlightenment and the casualty of Anthony’s childhood sense of powerlessness, the butterfly is Anthony’s personal adult casualty. But the thing to understand about this butterfly’s death isn’t so much that Anthony was responsible (he was driving as it hit his vehicle after all), it is the fact that the butterfly, among other things, represents change. It is said that the wind from a butterfly’s wings can utterly destroy a mountain on the opposite side of the world. And while no one ever truly suspects the butterfly, Anthony seemed to believe the potential omen all too well and tried to prepare for the resonance of the change: the change that he ultimately experiences.
In fact, even more so than Lunatic Heroes, time seems to collapse faster than a landslide in Beloved Demons. It’s as though all the experience and time within Anthony that had been contracted into itself, into himself and his inner world back in his first book begins to expand out in extreme, ricocheting vengeance in “Cocoon”: a process that he makes even more clearly explicit in “Feast.” Anthony is breaking out of the confines created from the trauma of childhood: the continued suppression and the emotional starvation caused in “Force Fed” becoming an expansive and terrifying “Feast of the Hungry Ghost.”
Anger and passion are definitely elements of this great change. It is no coincidence that, for seemingly the first time, Anthony reveals his first legal name to be Carmine (30): the colour of red and fire and blood, of the wine-drenched Dionysian god and associated today with demons.
There is also a sense of space that becomes dilated between certain kinds of individuals, particularly sensitive ones such as Anthony, over time. For instance, I find there to be an interesting parallel between “The Wild” and “Feast of the Hungry Ghost” in which people, from well-meaning and voyeuristic to impatient and completely disrespectful, try to know more about — and even interfere with — the more intimate parts of Anthony’s life. In many of the stories from both Lunatic Heroes and Beloved Demons this, unfortunately, seems to be a recurring theme — of people wanting to know or control the passion inside him that he has been trained from childhood to avoid, while he is attempting to find and understand it himself in the midst of people constantly violating his personal space.
As a result, his space seemed to be small and narrow at times against a much larger world. At one point Anthony writes “I threw my eyes like an ocular ventriloquist” (18). It was Anthony’s reaction, ingrained from his mother, to avoid looking at people, while at the same time dealing with the perverse reflex to subvert authority and follow his own natural curiosity. Anthony’s account of Jackie not wanting him to look at “the crippled boy” in “Cocoon” is an interesting complement to his short story “Carnival” and his childhood reactions in that one as well.
You can even take this internalization a step further. In fact, “Feast of the Hungry Ghost” does take it further when the Devil and she-devils, which were seen as secretly forming and liberating within Anthony’s subconscious in Lunatic Heroes‘ “Carnival,” now become fraught with anxiety and desire: with a fear of judgement.
This leads Anthony to all but come out and describe the creation of a kink in “Feast”: or at least his kink. He seems to hypothesize that a combination of familial shame, religious fear, and suppressed desire culminated into a need for submission and masochism on the BDSM spectrum: with a particular focus on a darkly eroticized female archetype and a craving for punishment (144-45). After explaining how it is a feeling of wanting to get away, but eventually give into the fantasy scenario, he then describes a sensation in his stomach that he calls “‘the sugary feeling,’ which was both weakening and wonderful” (145). It is a striking description: particularly the latter aspect because it, above everything else, portrays a bridge between something that is both loved and feared: a beloved demon.
As I write this, I feel as though I am analysing themes in English class, and the very sense of my life depended on it. Whereas my review of Anthony’s Lunatic Heroes looked at many of his possible influences or what his tone at times sounds reminiscent of (I compared it to Will Eisner’s unsentimentality), it now really feels like Anthony’s own voice resonating throughout this entire series of linked narratives.
That said, there is one intriguing idea I would like to note. When Anthony talks about his cat Java mourning the death of his old dog and rejecting the new (110), it is very reminiscent of the narrator in Neil Gaiman’s TheOcean at the End of the Lane being “enraged” at having his pet die while some adults, in their ignorance, attempt to replace him. It is interesting to consider that Neil seemed to have created this particular story around the same time Anthony was working on Beloved Demons‘ predecessor. In any case Neil’s novel, according to Amanda Palmer, seems to have “dialed down” the setting on his own “creative blender” — of that place in an artist’s mind where their personal experiences and imagination intermix to make a story — and I can’t help but wonder if reading and working with Anthony might have influenced this in some part.
Certainly, this can be seen even more overtly when you consider that Neil actually wrote an Introduction to Beloved Demons in which he’s not only very candid about death, but he even writes out the Buddha’s entire quote on self-conquest (xxii) to which Anthony alludes in the conclusion of the book (193). And make no mistake: while Lunatic Heroes was obviously a personal narrative, an autobiography through-and-through, Beloved Demons delves deep into the personal and adult aspects of not merely “an unquiet mind” (which is one of the biggest understatements I’ve seen in Anthony’s work) but a forming mind attempting to find its individuation or, rather, its own sense of centre.
It is a dark and grueling process. I think that out of all the narratives, and aside from “Feast of the Hungry Ghost” coming to some kind of revelation through pain, pleasure and eventual acceptance, it is “Sign” that presents that unsettling feeling most of all.
Whereas “The Wild” was merely a hint of Anthony facing the primal part of his nature — his “Other” long controlled, vilified, alienated and chained as an animal — it’s in “Sign” where it truly comes to the fore in the form of power. It is very disturbing, to know that passion can be warped into the capacity for violence and the desire for control over another, and that this struggle is within all of us. But Anthony spells it out in himself and … it is unsettling.
I suspect it is meant to be so. This is something that wants to be free from all constraints: from his family’s expectations, societal duties, and his wife at that time. There are patterns and dynamics that Anthony finds himself bound by and wanting to fall back into. But there is more at work in “Sign”: a greater work if you’d prefer. You begin to realize that all of these impulses and thoughts in his mind are reaching a state of at least narrative transformation. As he finds himself back in his childhood home, it’s as though he is attempting to find stability amid his own change and he goes back to the place where he sketched out the sign of a crucifix — a cross — on a door frame so long ago.
And this, here, I believe captures the essence of why Anthony writes. The crux of it, I believe, can be seen when he asks himself: “I wonder why I made that mark? Perhaps to save something of myself from that time? Or to create a future a memory? To say I was here … To see the sign. Or perhaps I only carved into the soft, painted wood with my thumbnail, and that’s it … nothing more; then, all those years later, made a story of it. Just to make a story. The world isn’t created of atoms and molecules, but of stories” (88).
It becomes very apparent here that not only are Anthony’s books his “cross” for us to see that he was here — that perhaps all autobiographical stories function in this capacity to help us remember who we are, who we were, and perhaps to see where we are going by comparison — but it also hits home another crucial point. Dominance and submission war inside him, and these are forces, within him which he can neither deny nor completely surrender to, he attempts instead to master: that he does to the point of transcending his own sense of self and stating something very important about his book, autobiography and literature itself:
“Making stories from memories … I think it has something to do with looking back and fabricating meaning in events that, at the time, just happened. Maybe writing stories is the same as the tiny sign of the cross in the molding. Perhaps that was my first story, my first memoir, to be known about and read only by me. Now, it seems, I mark the entrance to my childhood with these symbols on paper and share them so others will know I was here, understand me, and help me understand myself, before I’m gone and can’t return” (88-89).
Any way you look at it, however, Anthony’s stories have become his beloved demons, even as he understands now that he is his own.
I am about done here. Now that I have talked about the symbolism and interlinking of stories in Beloved Demons, I want to write out some quotes that I think are very interesting and that found sympathy with me: you know, as if I haven’t already.
Anthony talks about love and perspective: “I loved her in the only way I could love then” (51).
At the beginning of “Cocoon Talk” Anthony makes a statement about the origins of human conflict: “I was always babbling, always unsure of what I was saying yet revealing nothing, and never truly trusted people who said they knew themselves or suggested that they knew me. Never really wanted anyone to see me” (3). It strikes me that the root of all problems and conflicts within relationships is that people claim to understand others and their intentions without actually doing so. No one ever truly or fully knows anyone, and the very act of proclaiming that “You don’t know me” is not only an act of anger and defiance in and of itself, but also a reminder that in all of our connections with each other we are our own sovereign spaces and should be respected as such.
In addition to the spaces in ourselves, Anthony writes about personal demons and how they can begin as weaknesses and become our strengths: “Through fantasy, we enter the screening room of an obsessed mind. And in our private theaters, we watch the show through the projector of our damaged narcissism — where the phantasmagoria transforms weak pariahs into prevailing superheroes, the shamed and the shunned into the celebrated, and places us, the marginalized extras, right at center stage … And here, we come not merely to tolerate, but to accept and finally embrace our demons — as if we willed them into life out of passion and the need to survive” (150).
I think my favourite quote, however, is the one that seems to describe how Anthony envisioned himself interacting with his desires. He states, “Nothing was nearly as captivating as this special pursuit, along with my role as undercover superhero- disguised as a pale and twitchy kid, foisting a dazzling subterfuge on a coterie of torment-skewed girls. A superhero, whose special power is getting his covert muscle charged by girls without their knowledge — surreptitiously slipping Kryptonite into their hands in order to feel his strength deliciously melt away” (152).
This last statement has a great affinity to me not only due to the “superhero” reference and how he applies it to his kink, but also in how it is different from my own personal vision of myself. Whereas Anthony seems to describe his childhood as him pretending that he is powerful and giving that power to others for his own enjoyment, I have always liked the idea of seeming to be mild — of actually being mild and kind — while underneath entertaining the fact that I can bring to bear great fury and power on everyone and everything around me. And even then, I’ve always considered what I am doing now, slowly building up my connections and experimenting carefully with that core of energy within me, as exercising that power in careful and clever ways until I can gain what I want: to take what is rightfully mine.
So if Anthony is a “superhero,” then I am definitely a Dark Lord of the Sith. Perhaps Anthony’s story “Swept” and what he learned from his father might have come in handy with my own education to that regard.
Finally there is the fact that, apparently, Anthony’s dog Poochy is “a food-operated boy” (72). Yes. He went there. He went there. If you want a hint of what to expect from Beloved Demons beyond what I’ve written, here is a video of its book launch in which not only do we hear Anthony reading “Sign” and “Dog,” but we also get to listen to Neil read his Introduction to the book and Amanda … basically making you feel. Her song Bigger on the Inside (an appropriate title for more than one reason) certainly made me do so.
I finally understood where the statement originated from and what it means. It will give you all more background on Anthony and perhaps on both of his books. As such, and in no way due to any implied threat, I give Beloved Demons a five out of five. The fact of the matter is that what I said about his quote on his dog Poochy applies to the rest of his book.
He went there.
He went there into the cold and the darkness, melting the warped and stratified ice of his surface interactions, singing like a rat, and I have to give the Devil his due … just as Anthony gave his demons their own.
This will be my first post written directly on schedule and I hope to make this a habit again. So what I’m going to do is the following. I missed you guys so much that in my haste to actually let you know what’s been going on with me lately, I’ve actually forgotten t mention a few things.
The first is that Anthony Martignetti, the author of Lunatic Heroes and now Beloved Demons, has created his own writer’s site and in its “Reviews and Endorsements” section is a blurb, at the very bottom of the page, taken from someone that all of you might find very familiar. Basically, Anthony quoted me. 🙂 I found this when I was at the Toronto Global Game Jam (which probably explains how I forgot to write about it with all the writing I had to do there and after) and in addition to all the positive energy that was already around me, it made my day. The fact of the matter is that I am honoured and feel kind of unworthy to be mentioned in such really august company.
That said, it still makes my day and reminds me that I am actually doing some good work here on Mythic Bios. I will tell you right now that it has been difficult to return back to my regularly scheduled posting. I still plan to do some writing outside of Mythic Bios and the Net and, regardless of even that, it took a while for the old, weird ideas to come back into my head and flow properly as they did. But I do have something to work with now.
And Anthony, I have not forgotten about you. You will all see something new about Anthony’s work relatively soon.
But here is what I am going to do for the rest of this post. I am actually going to be doing some very shameless plugging for some really cool things that haven’t been derived from me.
For first thing’s first. The Sequart Research & Literacy Organization is making a Kickstarter Campaign called She Makes Comics. Basically, this is a documentary about women in comics: specifically women as creators, editors, researchers, and publishers in the comics world. It really makes me frustrated that, despite all the comics I’ve read, I actually had to struggle to suggest some prominent female comics creators. In fact, it makes more than frustrated. It makes me sad. I am doing my part to support this Kickstarter. I even wrote a G33kPr0n article on She Makes Comics to give you another look or perspective on just why this is so important. I hope that you will support this campaign, or at least send the links out to those you know and, if you are Facebook or Twitter users, please do not hesitate to use the hashtag #SheMakesComics.
There is also another Kickstarter I would like to draw your attention. The La-Mulana 2 Kickstarter has reached its baseline goal. However, in order to unlock more goodies from chests not rigged with spikes, including the addition of extra character journals and story-modes to an already dangerous quirky puzzle and monster archaeological game of death, it requires more funding: with not much more time to spare. I always hated “timed levels” and I hope that someone here will make sure that this remains in reality and not in the game: which I hope to see funded as far as it will go.
I still hope PLAYISM will have time to post up my Twine fanfic in another Fan Art Update: as it has not happened yet. 🙂
Finally, last by not least there is a game-maker that you should be following. She is Gaming Pixie, whose work and process I reviewed in Life and Identity, Eden and Hell, and not only is she working on a video game that centres around a girl surviving seven days with her alcoholic father, but she has made offline versions of her Twine games Eden and Shadow of a Soul. The latter games are very complex and if you purchase them you will be able to store them on your hard-drive to play at leisure and also experience far less graphics and sound loading time. In addition, with the very modest prices that she offers for both games, you can also help to continue funding her endeavours. I cannot recommend Gaming Pixie’s work highly enough and it will only get better with time and aid. You can find both games here and, if you’re a Windows user, you can download “the first day” of her first major game Fighting the Monsterfor free.
And that’s it for now. I had this all in my head for a while and there is still so much more work to do. I will speak with you all soon again I’m sure. Take care now, and have an excellent week.