nodding at your influences

It’s morning, about to head out to meet some clients and drive the long way back home. I’ll be home in about twelve hours and the only good thing about all these long drives I have to do now is that I’m able to race through audiobooks.

In the last two days, I’ve done a lot of driving, but also a lot of writing. About 15,000 words, and I’m real happy with how they turned out. But especially those first 10,000 words, which I wrote at a furious pace over the course of four or five hours.

It could work as its own short story but I think it’s best in the context of the novel, where it lands after about 170,000 words of narrative.

But the sequence is about the capture and crucifixion of a god, and using this dying god to summon a greater god in order to try to kill that god.

In essence, it’s about a character waging a war against the gods of their world.

These ideas are not dissimilar from the kind of thing I often write. Or, I’ve never written anything like this, but it is a natural direction for my writing about these topics to take. The gods of my fiction are ambivalent and careless, if not reckless, with regard to human life. They’re more like forces of nature than they are the humanlike creatures of mythology.

Because the gods hold so much power and so little regard for humanity, it was an inevitability that some human or humans would rage against them and try to subvert the hierarchy of the world.

This idea isn’t revolutionary or even new. And it’s really just a long scene in this novel (the longest scene, actually) which is likely going to be nearly thirty times larger than this scene.

That’s what I want to talk about. How influences help shape our own work.

Princess Mononoke, which I’ve talked about numerous times, is still an influence here. Lady Iboshi’s war against the gods of the forest for pragmatic and possibly even noble reasons is certainly touching the resulting scene I wrote.

Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen is also something I was reaching after, and which pushed me to take this narrative step. It’s quite a bit different than Erikson’s gigantic epic series and I wasn’t trying to replicate what he does. I was mostly going for a tonal similarity. I wanted that balance he strikes. The balance of badass intensity that would make Wagner jealous with real humorous elements. So even while I have a scene where a character is trying to kill a god, it’s also a scene full of humor.

And I mentioned Wagner so it’s worth noting his part in all this. His opera has moved me in terrifying ways. He was a reprehensible person, but he made some glorious music. The kind that stirs something otherworldly in you.

Then there’s even Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, which has been a deep influence on me. How could you read about Feonor leading his people out of paradise to kill a god and not have that just transform the way you see the world?

Neon Genesis Evangelion is present here as well, though mostly in terms of imagery.

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That image and others from Death & Rebirth which I couldn’t find pictures of have mirrors in this scene. It’s a terrifying scene with far reaching consequences.

Beyond all this, there are other ideas feeding in here. The idea that the gods can be fought, can be defied, can be killed. They can even be born and we can become them. The hubris of humanity, that reckless insanity that leads us to drop atomic bombs and fly to the moon–all of this is the same impulse, I think. To do what cannot be done. Morally, dropping the atomic bomb and going to the moon are extremely different, but the impulse, I think. has the same or similar impetus. But what I’m trying to say here is that these ideas are in all of us, the will and need to defy that which confines us. Whether it be the stratosphere or the Death of millions.

Art, even art of the fantastic, is always a reflection of self. Or, if not self, a reflection of what we believe humanity is. Along with that, we bring all the art we love and the art that has shaped us.

Akira Kurosawa’s in here. Wong Kar Wai’s Ashes of Time is in here. Kim Ki Duk’s 3-Iron, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Cure and Pulse are in here. Tarkovsky, Mallick, and so much more is filtered into this tiny section of this much larger novel.

To produce art, you steal and manipulate and distort the art that has shaped you.

And then you look into yourself and how you view the world.

It may not surprise you that I don’t have a flattering view of humanity, but that certainly comes out here. But so does my hope for humanity. That one day we’ll be better.

Anyrate, just some ideas I wanted to wrap my head around this morning, and I guess it’s for you as well.

twilight of the wolves and beyond

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As you can see, I have Twilight of the Wolves in my hand.

You can pre-order it here.

You can enter a Goodreads giveaway here.

Doing marketing is rough and I don’t really know how to go about it, but I sent about 50 emails yesterday trying to get review copies in front of people who can review it, including literary magazines in the indie lit scene, as well as genre magazines beyond. But let’s talk about the films I’ve been watching, yeah? We’ll see if I remember all of them because it’s been a while since I put them down on here.

Blue Jasmine is Woody Allen’s newest and it’s decent. I dig it and enjoyed it and all that, but it’s all so white upper class narcissism. And it got me thinking about Woody Allen in general. His films are very insular, in a sense. He writes about wealthy pretentious, neurotics, narcissistic people who struggle with sex and drugs and alcohol. Woody Allen’s found his audience, but it’s not most people. It’s critics and the Academy, who are mostly neurotic upper class white dudes. That being said, I’ll probably always like Woody Allen films. I guess I’m part of his target audience as well.

The Crow is a film I hadn’t seen in probably a decade, but it’s surprisingly awesome. I really enjoyed it. It’s pretty dark and insane and campy, but I liked it a great deal. It appealed to my dark, insane, and campy side, I suppose.

Hellboy–watched this but was too distracted and confused to really understand what was happening. It has Ron Perleman and a fishman, though, so there’s that. I might watch the second one.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is hilarious. I don’t know what else I need to say about this, but it’s just seriously awesome. I don’t know how I hadn’t seen it, but I’m glad I did, finally.

Cosmopolis is not as good or interesting as it thinks it is. David Cronenberg’s great and I think whathisname does a pretty good job here, but I just didn’t really get anything out of the film. I think it’s just something to do with how focused the world and media’s become on the super wealthy white people. What could be less interesting than that?

My Left Foot is stupendous. Absolutely amazing. Daniel Day-Lewis doing what he does, which is being sort of an impossibly amazing actor.

Pieta is Kim Ki Duk’s newest film, but it’s in the vein of his stranger films, which I tend to dislike. His films are sublime when he does them right, but his films are horrifying and awkward when he does them differently. So, while this is a solid film in his oeuvre, it’s nowhere near as good as, say, 3-Iron, which is his masterpiece, I’m convinced.

The History of Future Folk is a very cool and interesting comedy about alien folk musicians. It’s awesome.

I probably watched another film or two but I don’t remember.

Oh, in much more important news, Edward Snowden was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Pretty huge news that excites me greatly. I didn’t watch the State of the Union last night because there’s only so much nonsense I can take from these jingoistic madmen.

noir: an excerpt

An excerpt from Noir: A Love Story is over at Atticus Review. It’s the first chapter of the novel, so hopefully that’s enticing.

I still need to write a proper account of the novel and what it means to me, and so on, but I’ll get to that as the day for its release approaches. Probably need to start hunting for blurbs soon, too.

Watched Pieta by Kim Ki Duk today. Kim Ki Duk is one of my favorite Korean directors, but he basically makes two kinds of films: the strangely sublime and the intensely strange. Pieta falls under the latter, which puts it in the category of his films I don’t as much care for, though they’re actually much more representative of who he is as a filmmaker. His most beautiful and glorious films are uncommon, but so much better than 99% of what you get to point your eyes at. Pieta is about hate and revenge and cruelty, which is something he’s always going after. The cruelty of the world, how Korea’s changed and burdened its people with this unutterable pain and horror. It’s a good enough film, but if you’re curious about Kim, go see 3-Iron instead. It’s probably his best.

Lots of work left to do this week. Always more to do. Ended up losing most of the day yesterday, so I’m trying to make up for it now, and it’s not going so well. Having a fiercely unproductive day.

So it goes.

I feel weary. It’s the cold. The unbearable frost.