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Realm of the Divine

pile of fire woods

It isn’t always easy doing the things we have to do.

Unless it’s one of those happy occasions, as rare as they may be,

when the thing we have to do, is something we want to do.

But whether we want to or not, we do these things anyway.

Because we have to.

That’s just the way life is.

And the way life is…

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What time is it? That’s right, it’s the Boy from Bohemia Time!

While I wasn’t exactly thrilled with Kafka translator Michael Hoffman translating Ungeziefer as cockroach

To say the least…

I am in definite accord with him on much of what he discusses in his introduction to METAMORPHOSIS AND OTHER STORIES, a collection translated by him consisting of all of Kafka’s stories that were published in Kafka’s lifetime.

For instance, when discussing how hard it is to translate Kafka, Hoffman tells us this is so because in Kafka’s work “there is no ‘voice’, no diction, no ‘style’ — certainly not in the literary sense of high style ….[Philip] Rahv describes him perfectly as a ‘master of narrative tone, of a subtle, judicious and ironically conservative style’.”

Obviously, as a single-tongued simpleton I can’t comment on the translation difficulties, but as a Kafka fanboy I do get what he means by the lack of high style, of how inobtrusive Kafka’s writing is.

As a writer myself, I rely far too much on literary devices such as metaphors and similes and on language such as adjectives and adverbs (yeah, I know, I know…), but Kafka’s writing is almost as if it isn’t there, as if it comes to us as a dream, without any distracting devices or large, literary words to destroy that deep, immersive verisimilitude that no other writer I find can create quite like him.

“If this is what Kafka is like,” Hoffman says, “then the big words in his stories are in fact the little words. Not verbs and nouns, much less adjectives and adverbs, but what are aptly termed ‘particles’…that change or reinforce the course of arguments in his prose.”

Which is why I was so surprised when I read such an overtly literary passage in one of Kafka’s earlier stories found early in the collection called “Unmasking a Confidence Trickster”:

I had an invitation, I had told him as much right away. I had been invited, furthermore, to come up, where I would have liked to have been for some time already, not standing around outside the gate gazing past the ears of my interlocutor. And now to lapse into silence with him too, as if we had decided on a long stay in just this spot. A silence to which the houses round about and the darkness that extended as far as the stars, all made their contribution. And the footfalls of unseen pedestrians, whose errands one did not like to guess at, the wind that kept pressing against the opposite side of the street, a gramophone that was singing against the sealed windows of one of the rooms somewhere – they all came to prominence in this silence, as though it belonged and had always belonged to them.

I had to stop after reading that passage, mostly because I felt it was such beautiful writing and I wanted to reread it, but also because I wasn’t quite sure what I had just read, what it was about, which is always a danger for me with highfalutin literary writing.

Even in this winding passage, I can still feel the underlying Kafkaian vibe to it, but the vibe is disrupted because of its “literariness,” because of the beauty of the writing. Usually, it’s not until after I stop reading Kafka for whatever reason – bathroom break, sleep, never because of disinterest – that I realize that Kafkian vibe had totally penetrated my psyche and has been humming deep within me without me even knowing it.

Yeah…

And this brings me to what I am particularly smitten with in Hoffman’s introduction, this concept he calls “Kafka time,” of how it’s always either too late, as it is for Gregor Samsa who has already metamorphosed by the time we meet him, or is never arriving, as how K. is never able to fulfill his land surveying duties for the castle.

Or, to put a twist on a point Hoffman made above, it’s in that slip of time it takes for the particles to change or reinforce the course of arguments in Kafka’s prose.

To me, it is from this sense of “Kafka time” where the Kafkaian vibe resonates most, creating this unsettling feeling of striving for something just beyond our grasp…

While traversing along a narrow, crumbling path barely wide enough for a foot to fall…

While high on a mountain’s edge…

While sightless from the thick and endless and suffocating clouds.

Hey, what can I say, I’m no Kafka, but i think you get what I’m trying to get at.

Anyway, Hoffman goes on to discuss the “middle moment” of Kafka’s writing, the time it takes to shift from the Muzak of normalcy to that initial, sweet, dissonant twang of that Kafkian vibe, as “the Zeno moment, the infinite possibility of infinitesimal change.”

The Zeno he is referring to of course is Zeno of Elea (as opposed to Zeno of Citium or Zeno of Southern Pennsylvania) who pretty much gave us way back (B)efore (C)hrist was even a sparkle in God’s eyes the definition of Kafkaesque, but which he less than humbly dubbed Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox.

Actually, I think it was Plato who first gave Zeno his props so we should cut him some eponymous slack.

Anyway, Aristotle illustrates Zeno’s paradox thusly:

“Suppose Atalanta wishes to walk to the end of a path. Before she can get there, she must get halfway there. Before she can get halfway there, she must get a quarter of the way there. Before traveling a quarter, she must travel one-eighth; before an eighth, one-sixteenth; and so on.”

And by so on, I take it to mean Atalanta is never going to reach the end of that path.

Sounds like it could be the blurb for just about any of Kafka’s books, no?

But then, even Kafka himself lived on Kafka time as he was thrice engaged but never married, authored three novels but completed none, and then, sadly, his life was left incomplete by disease.

So strange.

Yeah, there is so much more to discuss regarding Kafka and his time, but perhaps it’s best if we come to a conclusion with this one final thought…

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Moods, Philosophically Speaking…

As I’ve said before, I’m no philosopher…

For every time I masochistically muster up the courage to venture forth into the realm of philosophy as a studied discipline — time having scarred over and numbed the painful remembrances of the many past futile efforts — I’m buried almost instantly in utter confusion and humiliation.

But since in most regards I’m human, one who looks and stares and ponders regularly with much wonderment and awe, I can’t help but philosophize from time to time…

Usually to no end.

But anyway, my ignorance and inability, philosophically speaking, is not the point of this post… just the handle.

The point for this wandering pondering post is that to me the philosophies (heck, I really have no idea if they are even to be regarded as philosophies in a pure sense (whatever that may be)) of Buddhism (particularly of the Zen flavor), Stoicism, and Nihilism are essentially the same philosophy with different names.

(This is where I get into trouble and why I laid out the disclaimer of my ignorance and inabilities in the beginning of this seemingly pointless post).

I mean, don’t all three at their essence essentially instruct us to let go?

I mean, aren’t they each essentially a similar outlook on the concept of non-attachment?

I mean, don’t the Buddhista have their mu (or as we Japanese say, 無), their not having, their no thing?

And don’t the Stoics have their, well, whatever the Greek word is for their concept of

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A Turn From the Worst

So, I was thick into the development of the follow-up novel to THE GOOD KILL (any guesses what follow-up title will be?) when of a sudden it seemed like End Times had finally started to throw down with the Covid-19 pandemic and cult daddy trump’s horrific death-inducing response to it.

With the Killian Lebon storyline as dark and violent as it is, and with all the research into the real-life examples of darkness and violence it takes to bring it out fictionally, I just thought it best for my mental stability to shelve all the pretend mayhem for a while seeing how there was far too much of it going on within our apocalyptic twilight zone of a reality.

But of course I could not not write so I immediately began looking internally for a story that would be able to transport me away to a better place.

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My Novel Approach to Novel Writing

At least it’s novel to me…

Anyway, these kinds of posts are always a bit self indulgent, but if you’re like me (and god help you if you are), you too like to know how the sausage is made when it comes to an author’s creative process.

I’m both old and old school when it comes to writing. First drafts are were always done with pen and paper.

Mostly because I love the physical act of writing, the feel of pen in hand, the feel of ink flowing on the paper.

But also because if I try to write the first draft on the computer I never make it out of the first chapter seeing that I’m one of those edit-as-you-go guys. I have too many folders with forgotten novels with unfinished first drafts that I attempted to write on the computer.

Writing the first draft by hand allows for limited editing — a line through here, a line through there maybe — and because of this, I enjoy a more immersive, free flowing writing experience…

One that actually results in finished novels.

How ’bout that?

But there is a catch.

My handwriting is garbage.

Which means draft two is pure and absolute torture when it comes to typing it up into the computer. Oftentimes it takes longer to type up the second draft than it did writing out the first.

Which brings me to my novel approach to first drafts, an approach that saves me months in novel development…

The iPad.

And the Nebo app.

Using this new technology (new to me; never been an Apple guy) I can still write out my first drafts longhand, but with the Nebo app, it automatically converts it to digital text.

It’s amazing.


The notebook contains a print copy of the screenplay (which I use as an outline for my novel). The cool sculpture/now paper weight is courtesy of my highly creative daughter. The iPad Pro 12 with Apple Pen attached shows the chapters of my latest WIP in the Nebo app.
A screenshot of the chapters in Nebo. One slight downside is that you can’t arrange the files (at least I haven’t been able to figure it out if you can) so they’re stored as they are created.
If you look at the top of the first paragraph (click on the image to enlarge), you’ll kind of see how it shows a highlight of my writing as converted text. It’s unbelievable in how well the app understanding my crappy handwriting, but if it doesn’t convert a word correctly, you can catch it in the highlight and go back and write it more clearly.

Of course you don’t get the same feel writing on the iPad as you do with pen and paper. The iPad screen is a bit slick so it takes some getting used to. I initially put a screen protector on it but that made it even slicker and it also screwed up the functions in Nebo to add and delete stuff.

The Apple Pen feels good in hand and works like a charm with zero lag between it and the tablet.

There’s another tablet I’m interested in checking out that is designed specifically for writing. It’s called reMarkable and the developers claim it will give you the feel of writing on paper. Sounds awesome. The best selling point to me for it is that it is a heck of a lot cheaper than the iPad Pro 12.

So, yeah… when it comes to drafting novels, that’s how I now roll.

Oh, and if you haven’t guessed by now, I’ll be announcing my latest novel soon…

Like tomorrow. 🙂

#writeon

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I am no longer to be considered an “Independent Author”

Nope.

Those days are over.

That’s because henceforth and forthwith and as of today I shall now consider myself as an…

Auteur Indépendant!

It’s French.

Yeah…

Or should I say…

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COCOA FIERCE & THE PANTYHOSE STRANGLER by Sean C. Wright-Neeley

1977
He drove to a secluded, leafy spot, and looked at Cocoa covertly when they stopped. She patted her blonde wig, contrasting her chocolate skin, and popped her gum, pretending not to notice him pulling out a pair of nylons. Cocoa slammed his head against the steering wheel before he could act. He was out cold. Cocoa handcuffed him to the steering wheel. Vice arrested The Pantyhose Strangler. However, his car remains where he intended to assault and kill his fourth prostitute.

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