I have a lot of thoughts about Ghostletters. Basicly they are about writing fiction and plots and a basic view of life. I am one one list where people have a lot of psychology/psychiatry background. They talk about something called the schizoid versus the depressive position. Neither of these names really means what it says. The schizoids have nothing to do with being schizophrenic. I have known some schizophrenics and they basicly don't know which end of the world is up so there is no way they can separate the world in to black and white. Schizophrenics are disorganized not dogmatic. I have also known depressed people who when the depression really got the best of them were so down, the world looked all black not in shades of grey. Basicly the schizoid position folks see the world as black and white, goood and evil, us and them. For them there is the possibility of slaying the dark side and walking in the light. Depressive position folks see the world in shades of grey. The darkness is there mixed with the light and unslayable. You just sort of have to put up with it. The depressive position folks never get rid of the darkness, but the schizoids after slaying one demon usually find another one. Slaying demons gets addictive. As a result the darkness never goes away for either group.
It sounds as if both groups get screwed but that is the human condition. There is a scribe on Ghostletters whose characters are in the schizoid frame of mind. Black and white would be a better term or half moon as in black and white half moon cookies. Her characters are not crazy. Donna, the character in question and now Sondra are boogyman slayers. They have destroyed two boogeymen since I have been writing on this fiction list. Donna feels that she is a professional boogyman destroyer and now Sondra the scribe's new character is about to get in to the same business. Sondra has a problem. She is due to be sacrificed to "the Dark One" whom every one assumes to be the devil (but who could be a lot of things including nonexistent. Sondra's world is ruled by an all powerful priesthood which is why I find the story interesting since many of my characters are either aspiring clergy or very religiously interested.) in about five weeks. The plan of course is to have Sondra rescued and the Dark One Destroyed. In a few months there will be a new boogeyman.
This is what I call running a good plot into the ground. To me what is fascinating is not the Dark One but the corrupt priests who tend him. Are they hiding secrets? Will they betray one another? And what of this culture that has had seven hundred years to develop. You don't need a real Dark One to keep up the rituals. He could be nonexistent and the whole thing could run with a hollow center. All of this would make a fantastic plot though Sondra would have to be a bit less abject. As Sondra travels with the priests from city to city, she begins to sweet talk them and ingratiate herself to them and know them better and slowly they open up their secrets a bit at a time. Slowly Sondra begins a journey in to the real heart of darkness on her world and what she finds....
This is not my plot so I am keeping my characters out of it. Instead, I do a lot of comparative postings, my characters' world where lawyers, doctors, judges, and others who command respect act as the priests do on Sondra's world. It's fun to write that kind of stuff. Describing such routine goings on as plea bargaining to reduce a federal prison sentence that awaits several of my characters, trips to the doctor (Two characters are under a doctor's care.), and the ins and outs of paperwork, make our own world appear corrupt and byzantine. The difference is, no one is going to be killing any Dark Ones. It's just not doable. Sometimes negotiating is the only way to survive. There is no way out.
Alise, Naama, and Vijaya (the three flagship characters) migrated to the depressive position (Let's call it the grey skies position) in August of 2000. These are old characters. They fell out of the half moon cookie club with a thud when they saw on the walls of their enemy's dining room a poster advertising Ithaca, New York and Cornell University. Naama, who is a double legacy, saw the poster and realized that she was perhaps on the wrong side. The enemy such as it was were her people. They shared Naama, Alise, and Vijaya's values of keeping things proper, working hard, and excelling academically. They were not in to the promiscuous but not too promiscuous sex on the telegraph. They were not interested in reproduction.
In short, Naama, Alise and Vijaya switched sides, or rather they recognized that their side and the side of Independent Rainbow conincided. The former enemy was better than the parents who would lock up Alise because she had a psychiatric break when she was fifteen or the parents who tried to lock up Naama at age seventeen or eighteen in a private prison in Maine. They did not beat her with a belt the way Vijaya's father did or blame her for nearly killing her mother the way some of Vijaya's aunts and uncles do. Vijaya's birth was extremely difficult. One takes succor where one can find it.
Living in a grey sky world is indeed a very sad thing. The boogeyman is everywhere.
Naama's dreams are haunted by the disappearance of two neighbor girls (They have since turned up alive and well, but their disappearance with no answers of where they had gone and what happened to them was traumatic and learning the truth about them was equally ugly.) There is no way to avenge this crime because what the parents of the girls did was legal. The boogeyman is clever.
The boogey man is also everywhere. The skies turn grey. Equipment breaks and fails and filth and grey skies surround my characters. It is winter in Syracuse, New York now. That means grey skies aplenty and subzero temperatures. You live with the weather. You do not fight it. Magic comes with a horrific price. Alise nearly went insane. Naama is on antipsychotic drugs due to a curse that addled her brain. Nothing will make it all better.
There is no refuge from the boogeyman. Parents betray their children or turn on them when they mistakenly do what is best. Parents throw their children out of the house as happened to Kathleen FitzRoy. Reproduction is especially dangerous. Two of my characters' nearly died in childbirth and Vijaya's mother required an emergency hysterectomy. Kathleen FitzRoy, another character, had an abortion at age fourteen. Naama nearly died having a miscarriage. Marguerite and MO are PAIS female and male respectively, with 46XY chromosomes but nonfunctional or barely functional testes instead of ovaries and a uterus. Vijaya did not menstruate until age fifteen and Naama suffers from secondary amennoreah do to weight loss.
My characters have to go to school. They have always worried about money and earning it. They cook. They tutor. They preach. They study about God. Religion is a big positive part of my fiction. They ponder magic which is frightening and which exerts a huge price. They have male female relations in which they try to be loving and faithful. All of this is tough to do, yet they do it. With the grey skies over head this is all they have.
One character who is not mine summed it up quite neatly in a letter to Naama: "Your lives suck," she said of my characters.
Being grey sky characters under a grey sky world, however, has one terrific pay off, that half moon cookie characters never receive. My adolescent characters have a shot at becoming adults. Because they can not slay the boogeyman and they do not live to slay fresh versions of the boogeyman, they have to do something else and that is learn to take care of themselves. Naama Roth walked across the flatlands of Ithaca while wracked with fever and a terrific sore throat. Naama has a habit of running herself in to the ground, but let's save that for another day. This was after Donna, a half moon cookie type complained how an evil mage cursed her with blinding head aches should she try to run away. Naama wondered why Donna did not get something for the pain and just keep on going. What good is slaying a boogeyman if you can not deal with a simple killer head ache. Naama could deal with her sore throat and fever.
The defining moment for Naama becoming an adult character. She was fifteen when I created her and she is now twenty, was when she was on the White River Apache Reservation in Arizona miles from everything and faced with sleeping quarters that were a filthy hogan that had formerly been used as a barn. In that hogan was a dead sheep. Naama could not eat anything in Sandy's house. She had brought out several friends and one very princessy plump Indian girl who sat nursing her four month old baby. Naama had earlier that day figured out how to get scrap paper so that her group could amuse themselves and practice math problems. The Indian girl was to take the Math 1 Regents in August. Still Naama went in to the hogan and dragged out the dead sheep, got the shovels and brooms, and went to work without complaining. Later Naama would tutor Rebeccah and get her to pass the regents with flying colors. She would also have a vision quest that would show her a very decisive piece of magic she is still digesting. Naama would not have had her vision if she had not taken charge when the reins were put in her hands and taken care of herself and others.
Alise is now crossing the line in to adulthood. Marguerite, whom Alise believes to be Moshiach (the Messiah) stood with her on a hill in Burnett Park on the Far West Side of Syracuse and together as they looked down at the fifth largest city in New York State she said that if she goes to jail, Alise will have to do the preaching. Naama is needed to tutor mathematics and cook. Alise who has given up a year of school to help Marguerite (who is jailhouse bound by the way) stared back at the city. She was frightened. She has never done civil disobedience and it has been life times since she preached. She says she wants to be a rabbi some day. Saying that and doing what must be done are two different things. Alise' journey is exciting as are all journeys under grey skies. I know there will be no dead boogeymen at the end of the day, but Alise will be older and stronger and more insightful.
I am flying on five hours sleep. I go to bed late and don't want to sleep.
The weather is warm one day here and cold the next. I am debating going to schul
tonight. I feel very strung out on caffeine and junk food. All the good resolve
goes down the tubes by the end of the week.
I am working on a JSTOR handout because that database changed interface. I have an uneaten apple sitting to the left of the monitor, and I may be desked at 1pm. Let me go check...Yes...that means that this will be a fast and very unbalanced blog. I am kind of glad of that. Who needs balance anyway. I sure don't.
Wait...I think this blog will be a bit more balanced. There, that feels a lot better. My faith in humanity is restored.
I have no weekend plans because I have no weekend. I am working Saturday and Sunday 2-6pm. I know it is only two half days but they cut the day right in half. Moreover, I am so strung out I am not sure I want to go to schul tonight. I remember how much I dislike the rabbi's Friday night sermons, yet I oddly enough miss the fellowship. I also have gotten out of the habit of cleaning the apartment for home worship. That is a very poor reason to go to schul. This schul is strictly an any port in a storm affair. Columbus has a miniscule Jewish population yet somehow manages to support two synagogues, one traditional and one reform. I don't like reform Judaism so traditional is what is left. Having one of anything is better than having none but often not much better. My rabbi is a survivor but that does not mean he is a good rabbi.
I like him as a person which makes me even sadder. It is hard not to feel sorry for rabbis down here. They come in from elsewhere, make less than the people who sit on the board of directors and generally have to look prosperous when they are not so they can put those in power at their ease. This rabbi is a blessed man, handsome, charismatic, smart, musical. It is a shame to see him here in his old age playing father figure and feel good artist to earn a living. I am angry at the culture of my schul that puts him in this situation.
Next weekend, I get to make my monthly pilgrimge to Atlanta. I don't even know what I am buying. I know I want apples and decent citrus. The tangelos I bought here in Columbus don't peel without oozing juice all over the place. Good peelable citrus slips out of its skin. I had some superb fresh mandarin oranges from Atlanta and some excellent blood oranges. Why can't we have such fine citrus in Columbus? Who knows? At least there are Cortland apples because I begged Publix to buy them. They are expensive but I pay the price. Good food is one of life's pleasures.