Monday, November 29, 2004

"Don't" read the note. Don't read the note. Dont read the note, and now look at him!

This is an email I just sent to a couple of people. Anyone who reads my blog may find it to be of interest. I have decided to uncork the bottle of ambition I have been saving for just such an ocassion. Tell me what you think.

This started with my brothers plan to write a book. We talked about various plot elements and in the course of that discussion a vaguely interesting theme was created. But he told me he will not write it, so I want to.

The book opens with Raphael Mercedes Mercator, our intrepid hero, finding yet another clue on his search. We don't really know what it is that he is looking for, only that he is driven beyond reason to find it and we are given a vague sense that it is something unbearably worth finding. He's looking for God or Salvation or Meaning or Cheap Sushi or something. And he has some sort of benefactor, leaving him various clues about where to go, or what he can expect. But nothing is spelled out for him, he is still amazingly clever etc. The clues are something he doesn't really need, but he appreciates them.

Endymia Byron (I don't like this name, it will change. I don't like Raphael, either. I explain my reasoning below) is working on something, something big. She seems to have some sort of mystic powers or something, and she is creating, building, striving, and remembering. She weaves in and out of the book, we get flashes of her remembering this or that experience, and they slowly begin to resemble Raphael's adventures. We realize that she was the one leaving him clues, and we realize that she has gone on the same/a similar quest. We are not sure how she ended up, however. She seems to be working on some final difficulty as the book opens.

So we have two parallel quests (odyssey and ulysses? this just ocurred to me) unfolding, one in memory and one in fact. Raphael (because it is silly) Mercedes (because it is a girl's name, a car's name, and the name of idealism) Mercator (because he is a projection) is a real adventurous hero, and he doesn't need these clues, which Endymia (From Endymion, Keats's poem about a man who falls in love with his ideal image of a woman) Byron (Because she too is a roving adventurer, but an artist as well) is leaving him. However, he does appreciate them, and as the book progresses the clues begin to get personal, and we start to realize that Endymia is beginning to fall in love with him through the course of her adventure. He, a roving romantic at heart, notices this and at the same time realizes that he too is beginning to fall in love with her, though as far as we know their only communication has been the one-way leaving of these clues.

So you think, okay, he has extra impetus to finish this madcap quest, because he not only finds whatever is Worth Finding, but he finds her and can live happily ever after. They are at this point madly in love with each other.
Then suddenly, the playful, careless yet smitten tone of the clues changes - she begins to sound scared, worried, things aren't going well. She tries to warn him off, because she loves him so much. He senses her danger and loves her too much to stop, he charges forward to save her.

At this point we kind of have this sense of two lovers separated by a few miles and a couple adventures. The feeling I want to shoot for is, will he make it in time? Will he get there before she finishes whatever project this is she is working on? It has to seem really simple like that. There has to be hope.

And then we realize what she has been working on, some sort of final clue to warn him off, to point the way to success, which is somewhere she failed to reach. She is basically pouring her soul and life energy into warning him against making the fatal mistake she did, pointing out the road to salvation. And we realize what she made is something like ancient or mysterious, she built the pyramids or created humanity or something - ultimately, she lived billions of years ago, was not anything remotely conceivable to us, in a way. And yet of course really human in some important way, so we can relate to her.

And he realizes this eventually, the whole thing falls together for him: she set out, just as he did. Her crew and friends, like his, slowly began to lose heart or desert her, or stop off and say "I have found what I wanted, good luck and see you." She drifted, as did he, towards isolation, and what kept her going in the end was the idea that she of all beings was not alone in wanting to find that which was worth finding. She fantasized that some day, someone would share her image of the worthwhile, that some day some one would follow in her footsteps, and in contemplating this singular soul she fell in love with it - the more she thought about him, the more she almost created him, for indeed Raphael Mercedes Mercator is the exact image of her mental image.

She fell in love with him from a billion years away, from opposite ends of a doomed quest.
She failed, and the warnings she left him were to help him succeed - maybe she is some primordial satan, lamenting the loss of God. She points him towards salvation, implores him with her dying breath to choose God and Life, and his love for her causes him to disregard even that warning, to charge after her, forsaking his original goal. And so he too fails, he is damned, having turned his back on Salvation and what is worthwhile for the baser impulses - love, passion, humanity.

And so they are two damned souls at the end, perfect in their suffering, both having failed at what they set out to do. We see his future written in her past, and he saw it too, maybe he was even lying to himself at first, realizing the inevitable end but unwilling to face it - maybe that's when the last of his crew leaves him, and he needs her to press on.

Through the course of the book, we realize that she destroyed everything she loved in pursuit of this quest, and maybe that that is why she failed - and maybe we realize this before he does it, but it will forecast his doing the same thing, but I want it to be subtle. I don't want the sweeping cosmic hopelessness of it all to set in until the very end. I want it to be a lighthearted adventure with vaguely sinister undertones through most of the plot.

I am now in the planning stage, I have started writing very little. I want this to be magical, beautiful, so perfectly sad that no fool ever again asks me what I find beautiful in tragedy. I want it to express the human desire for salvation and uncontrollable urge for damnation. I want it to convey the darkest themes I can bring writhing into my control, all beneath the thin facade of a goofy romp. I have always said I don't write because I have never had anything to write about. I can't use that now - I genuinely think this is good, but I have been sort of fantasizing about it for a few days now and perhaps my judgment isn't worth it. So I wanna know what you guys think.

I have enough now to write a sort of borges story about it - I think I just did. The biggest difficulty will be to fill blank pages with adventures, to make the whole thing somehow worth reading. I can do abstract and sad, but I need to figure out how to do lighthearted and goofy, which as I said has to be the soul of this book.

So the one thing I did not expect to do in Japan is start writing a book, especially a book that has nothing to do with Japan. I am saying here and on my blog that I am going to do this, so you all now have an obligation to nag me about it once in a while. I think I can do it. I want to do it. So I have no reason not to do it. It would be cool if I could finish a draft before I got back.

But yeah, you have to give me opinions, or ideas if you think they are good. How do I have her communicate with him? What sort of trials does he overcome? Am I gonna stick with him as a wandering pirate with a slowly leaving crew? Just sailing? Or is he by turns going to be CEO and soldier, poet and drunk? Is there just one him, or is he the collective identity of the human male, falling in love with the collective identity of the fallen celestial? Suddenly this feels like Blake. I don't want to overwork it, though. It's all vanity and all madness, but I think I could have so much fun with this.

Anyway, yes, opinions please. If your opinion is, keep this to yourself and don't blab about it, you needn't express it as I don't think I will make this any more public than this, until it is done.

I just want to write a story about the destructive nature of love and about the choice we all make before failure. I think in the end this is about consequences, maybe. But I also want to play with words. I mean, it doesn't just SEEM fun for most of the text, it IS fun. Here is hoping I can see it through.


It might be interesting to place it in the world I have sort of created. You could have him be a captain of a space ship, a sort of merchant, who goes from planet to planet, and perhaps this lady did make the pyramids and the things on mars that look like pyramids, perhaps she spread life to earth and so on.
do all in your power to avoid cliches
Whoever said that about cliches, I am a step ahead of you. My new plan has Raphael doing the rational thing and accepting salvation as it is offered, following the dying advice of his lover and leaving her behind.

I am not sure where it will go from there, but I realized that its so trendy to perpetuate self-damnation out of pride and emotion, I mean really, that's boring already. So instead I want to give him a really worthwihle ending that he achieves by turning his back on his humanity, so he attains happiness...but do we like him in the end?

Anyway, that's what I am toying with now. But really, this whole thing will change a dozen times before I finally write it and/or put it behind me.
You could just claim salvation by not doing it.
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