Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wandering the labyrinths of my mind

This summer, if nothing else, has turned into an enormous excuse for me to feed my various obsessions with research.  Said obsessions are basically a protracted love and fixation on the Minoans, the Etruscans, labyrinths, ghosts, and various Greek monsters, most of which got their start when I read the Doctrine of Labyrinths books (an awesome series of fantasy novels not designed for the weak of heart, stomach, or mind).  I’ve been studying these various topics seriously since I was a junior in high school (I’d had a vague, unformed interest in all of them that predates my actual access to the necessary information and the Doctrine of Labyrinths), and officially hit a point this year where easily accessible books have ceased to be of any use to me.  So I use the wonder that is interlibrary loan and haul in more advanced tomes from all over the country.  The end result is a heap of enormous technical and scholarly volumes that I’m devouring at a prodigious pace while I consume a metric ton of tea and listen to replicated Ancient Greek music. 
Why these obsessions took hold in my psyche as deeply as they did is anyone’s guess to a certain degree.  Most certainly I grew up reading books of Greek myths and even at that tender age I was fascinated by the sheer freakiness of some of the stories.  My home being in Dunwich also didn’t help, as I was growing up in a place with weird folk tales aplenty and a mythology all its own.  So, in the final assessment, one could consider me the adult version of Pan’s Labyrinth’s Ofelia:  A girl/woman whose love of the strange never took a hike the way it does for most human beings. 
As for the books themselves, I began with an enormous volume on surviving Etruscan superstitions in Tuscany, as well as a very small volume on the sacrificial rituals of the Minoans.  Then there was a huge technical volume on magic, ghosts, and necromancy as it related to ancient Greek and Roman culture.  Then there was a large chunk of several books on Sumerian, plus essays on Minoan culture and pottery, and I wrapped things up with a book on Minoan religion.  I can now tell you far more than you want to know about sacral basins and pillar crypts. 
After I got done with the technical books, I took a jaunt off to the realm of fiction.  In summary, I read the following:
-           Casino Royale, which I absolutely loved.  The slow story pace and fixation on luxury make it an absolutely delicious, decadent read.
-          The Half Made World, which bored me to tears but had to be done in the name of good reviewing ethics. 
-          How to Live Like a Lady, a book on manners that, aside from a few good tips, turned out to be extremely obnoxious and rude.  Oh the irony.
-          Just After Sunset, by Stephen King, which was awesome and horrifying as is to be expected.  The short story N. was particularly good, as has been said by many readers and critics besides myself, so I won’t rehash it.
-          What to Do When You Meet Cthulhu, a Lovecraft manual that will prove very handy, I am sure.
-          Kraken, by China Mieville, which I will be reviewing, and which is freaking AWESOME.  It is the best urban fantasy story I have ever read, balancing humor and seriousness perfectly. 
-          House of Leaves.  It technically doesn’t belong on this list, as I haven’t finished it yet.  But it’s worthy of note that I’ve been working on this mind rending monstrosity of a book for over a year now.  It is absolutely one of the best books I have ever read.  Also I think it may be destroying my sanity. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Running Silent and Deep

Back in Innsmouth.  Again.  If I was to be totally honest, the endless back and forth across Lovecraft country does wear a girl down, but I endure, as I always do. 
More to the point, however.  There has been, as followers of all my varied internet functions (this blog, Brass and Brown Leather, my Twitter, and my Youtube channel) know, a long lull in my productivity.  And I suppose you all must wonder why that is.  What exactly is it that provokes a creative individual like myself to suddenly go into what amounts to hibernation? 
Obviously there are many answers to such a question, and the strain of everyday life is first on the list.  Managing a social interactions (never my strong point), as well as household responsibilities, my own obsessions, and the often overwhelming sense of existential angst that seems to be common to most 20 somethings with a brain can easily gang up and drag me away from my writing.  Then there are the times when my muse simply ups and leaves on me.  Why that happens tends to vary between the arcane and the utterly obvious.  In this case, he (my muse) simply got sick of me torturing myself with an intensely boring book and took a vacation.  That sort of writer’s block is sudden, and on the occasions where the issue is obvious I can usually stop the unproductive behavior and kick start my creativity back into action.  Unfortunately, I had to read that damned book regardless of my opinion on the subject, and as such even after I’d finished it my muse opted to sulk and refused to return.  This, in collusion with my life becoming its own, subtle sort of deeply screwy, kept me locked in unproductive torpor far longer than I should have been.  Like Cthulhu or his many star spawn relatives, the stars weren't right, and I hung in stasis waiting for reallignment and the return of my 'powers'.  Eventually, however, my muse returned, and I’m functional agai
.....And hot damn, I am glad he’s back.