First, and to get it out of the way, it’s possible I won’t do Witchfinder this week. I really, really, really, am trying to finish Noah’s Boy by Sunday night, and when making that kind of effort, there is no space for another world in my head. And if I do finish it by Sunday night, I’ll be sleeping Monday, so I might as well save it and do multiple chapters next weekend, because it’s time it was finished.
Second, in case it’s not been blindingly obvious, between Son of Death Flu, the Return and – well, the postponed surgery happened, and though I wasn’t the subject, it still involved my spending the best part of two days in the hospital – it’s been somewhat scattered around here.
It’s also been weird. Son of Death Flu is on the way out. Or at least my head cleared two days ago, and at the moment you wouldn’t know I was ill except for a certain occasional cough. From the inside it’s somewhat different – including the feeling of tiredness and weakness and a certain “stoppage” chestwards. Oh, yeah, and the dreams. The bizarre fever dreams. (Even though I don’t really have a fever – not that it means much, my fever-thing being broken. I didn’t have a fever while in ICU with pneumonia.)
I actually have three guest posts waiting to go up, and wasn’t going to write anything but Noah’s boy today. But last night as I was falling asleep, I had the world’s oddest dream. To begin with it was an illustrated book. Second, it was told in the form Chinese fables usually are told in children’s books. Third it was germane to the general area of this blog.
I wish I were a good enough artist to do the illustrations, which were like a cross between Japanese prints and vivid hallucinations, with the beard of the mentor stretching out of the page, to become the fluffy clouds on the next page.
Despite resemblances to the USSR, the story – it’s really an allegory – is of course not set anywhere and… truly, it was just like a children’s book.
But anyway… In case you don’t have weird enough dreams, I thought I’d share mine:
How to become an artist
How do I become an artist, asked the young man to his mentor.
Instead of answering, his mentor told this story:
In a land far far away (but becoming closer every day) a government that thought of itself as wise and just decreed that all art should serve the state. That was the only way to avoid offending anyone, and also to serve the cause of progress to that ever brightening future towards which the state was driving the reluctant people.
As head of the state publishing company – the only company allowed to exist, after it was found that left to themselves individuals would give voice to the most scurrilous opinions, such as that the wise and kind men in power might wish to enrich themselves and control others – they chose a man who had written three well-received books supporting the same ideals the state proclaimed.
Everything went well for this man – we’ll call him Joe — until one day, having read a book someone in power liked, he dared write that it was a stupid book. Real humans don’t act that way. While in the past great drama has been found in not pursuing love for the sake of ideals or religion, no human being would give up on love for the sake of serving the sterile and bureaucratic state.
Police ransacked Joe’s papers and semiologists perused his writings and it was found he had for some time held deviationist beliefs that maintained that sometimes the kind, wise men of the state could be in it for the power and the riches.
So they sent Joe to a place of punishment – which in this country was an arctic land – where he was forced to work with his hands and was given very little food. He was told he would be allowed out if he ever wrote a book – convincingly wrote a book – that supported the idea that everything, even true love, should be sacrificed to the state and its forward-looking ideals.
After years in the place of punishment, Joe started writing. His guards were told to let him stay in the room, and give him wood for the fireplace, and Joe wrote furiously.
The book when it was finished was all the state wanted and approved of. It was rushed to print and given wide distribution.
It took years for people in the state to realize that behind the story there was another story, and that with his use of words Joe showed that the great tragedy was the characters having to act in this way, against nature, against decency, against love, for the sake of a power-hungry, crushing state.
By then it was too late and everyone had read the book, and people had started thinking that perhaps there was something wrong with the state and that its forward-looking ideals and all the sacrifices for the utopia that never came were merely a way to keep people in subjection.
“And that,” the young man asked. “Is how Joe became an artist?”
“No. That is how Joe became an adult human. It is the right and duty of adult humans to think things through and not bow to the pressure of those who say “this thought is forbidden.” Art was merely his ability to hide it well enough that, like a seed, it went forth into the dark and made others think.”
And now you know I’m COMPLETELY insane.