January 11, 2010

“I Am Your Father, Luke”

I am thinking about the dark side, those things that prompt your best writing but you wouldn’t admit to in your darkest hour. Those things that make you cringe when they brush up against your consciousness. Those things, like drug addictions and mental illnesses, that you fight every day of your life.

Okay, things I wouldn’t admit to in my darkest hour, and, no, I’m not going to admit to them here either.

I’m home with sick kids today and caught an episode of Law and Order, the one where the Army officer’s wife smuggles drugs from Colombia and then testifies against the drug dealer. At the beginning she’s a no-account party girl and at the end she comes clean and tries to take responsibility.

I was also reading the blog of a friend and he’s having a hard time. I don’t know the inside scoop but it may be drugs or health or who knows what. I feel bad for him.

I was thinking about how those black holes are like drug addictions ~ sometimes are drug addictions ~ and how they are both in and out of your control. How some people think of them simply as bad habits and others think of them as the devil himself come to torment their lives.

I was thinking about how one’s art is focused on these things. Sometimes the references are so veiled that no one, except possibly someone with a similar problem, would ever guess them. Or would guess them wrong. But by their very nature ~ how they obsess us, the effects they have on our lives ~ they permeate our art.

No grand conclusions about this. Sometimes it’s enough just to acknowledge its existence.

What I’m Reading Today: Maurice Gee’s Going West. I was turned on ~ and I mean that literally ~ to this book by the New Zealand Book Council’s rocking book trailer (which I have on my site here toward the bottom). It’s an amazing book and Gee’s style is just out of this world. He has a way of taking a subject and turning it over and over in fascinating ways, as he says (I’m quoting and probably misquoting from memory) “like vegetables bobbing up in a stew.” He takes ordinary situations and makes them surprising but not odd, very nuanced and real. I read a scene or a description and go “Yeah! That was right on the money.” He’s like (what I’ve read of) Proust, only more approachable.

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