Sun Sep 18, 2022 12:12

In retrospect, when thinking about his former life, it was as if he had been beamed up into a giant television screen like the ones on Broadway. In some existential sense, he had been transformed, memed by the cultural apparatus that turned him into a formula of a person, a how-to-manual stripped of the comfort of anonymity and whatever vitality he naturally possessed. Like one of the characters in The Little Shop of Horrors his New York period had ended with him being cannibalized—in media, television and in print—only to reappear as a shell, an imprint of a person, an eerily budding flower, a limb of the organism that had consumed him. He never wrote to “be someone” or to “discover himself.” These were gross cliches. He didn’t write for family approval. Not at all. He was estranged from his adoptive parents, contact with them had diminished over the years. His mother, a college professor, had remarried when he was a teenager and moved to Pasadena. His father lived in Oshawa, a dull Canadian suburb. As a child, he heard familiar voices that spoke melodiously to him and what they said was cogent and understandable. As he grew older, he began to hear more dissonant, disconnected voices, those that surrounded him and those that came from within. He followed those inner-voices but now he wondered whether he had been tuning into a scrambled transmission all along. It didn’t matter. Chuck wrote for the only reason that anyone of any merit bothers to write—in order to disappear and dissolve. Eventually, he did.

When discussing his first two novels, ‘Jekyll of the West Side,’ and ‘Bloodsuckers,’ he would often say that embarking on a project was like packing his bags and setting forth on a physical journey. It was an open-ended voyage that lacked a single terminus or destination. He had to leave himself behind and write back to that person, form a response, argue with and question that individual, divorce himself completely from them, hate and love that pen-pal of the mind and rage against that memory of the self. He had to create another identity, another life to live out and then to interrogate in order to write his books. These alternate lives hovered over him like hulking clouds of emotional trash that grew more massive with each passing year.

Chuck could be anywhere, in a rave club in Tel Aviv, taking a ferry on the river Shannon, or drinking a beer on College street. That was not saying much. He could be anywhere yet always occupied two places at once. His words travelled separately from him, taking trans-continental flights in the minds of his readers, zipping around at the speed of thought. His words were part of him but also separate like some crazy meta-text, vibrating on spacetime strings. He pictured language as a cobweb of fibres as strong as transatlantic cables, covering the whole world. His words were stamped on him like tattoos. They stalked his coming and goings, like a paranoid lover. Then the words stopped, giving way to silence, a punishing silence that lasted for years. Two days ago, the call came in from New York, an interruption that could have been a decade or a day. With the new assignment came a familiar fear that half-remembered figures, shadows out of his past, giant winged creatures, would once again emerge to block out the sun. These were the monsters of his life. He had created a few of them but others were equally responsible for creating him.

The planes were following him again. He was sure of it. For months, their frequency had been increasing.

“Is it just me or are they everywhere, like Wi-Fi?”, he wondered.

Looking for an answer, Chuck checked his Wikipedia entry.  The page loaded—no changes. The news had not made ripples through the web.  

"That's odd," he said, out loud. 

  • CCU: Part 1 Redjeans, Sun Sep 18 12:10
    All serious work in fiction is autobiographical - Thomas Wolfe The unspeakable visions of the individual - Jack Kerouac Chuck, Close-Up - A Novel For D.C. Berman Prelude If true, the news that a... more
    • Cont. Redjeans, Sun Sep 18 12:12
      • Cont. Redjeans, Sun Sep 18 12:13
        He felt a sudden need to make a change, to jump on a plane, to change his name, his town, his life. He had stalemated himself, backed himself into a corner by agreeing to Heaven’s proposal. He knew... more
        • Cont. Redjeans, Sun Sep 18 12:15
          Gradually, over several months and with increasing intensity over the course of a week before the phone call, his dream, his only dream, repeated itself endlessly, even while he was awake. In an... more
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