Discussing more of my own writing this week. I read one of the early chapters of my novel – work – in – progress. Which you can read as well below:
CYPRESS BUTANE – Early Chapter in ‘The Skein’ –
backstory on main character Adolai Shungyosai
My parents never let me watch horror films. They worried it would warp my mind. Forbid all types of art they deemed perverse. They set out to protect me. I was content to stare into strange technologies, watch the paint splattering in chaotic turns at the whims of my spinning art maker. Like a Jackson Pollock who was never allowed to play car crash, I harbored softer plans.
I dug in and took up Spiro-graph. My webs unfurled, and I chased pattern into infinities. They never bothered me down there on the floor. As long as I brought home the blue ribbon when they wanted that attention connect, my down time was my own.
Until they gifted my first computer. And before that window to the world, I found a hideout of maximum unsupervision, the ultimate shrug off of shouldering angels or demons to broach my crystalline peering across the depths of that mesmerizing screen.
“If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.”
What a wonderful way to frame it.
I didn’t even get a Gameboy. The other kids at my elite private school had to show me what a video game was. I went home and wrote my own. My parents bought only what the advertisements told them. That the machine they had brought into their home was the tool of the future, the gateway to the business world of tomorrow. So they had these schoolwork organizers and chore disks I could look over. The game I programmed was inevitably a Minotaur game, where you were tossed into a labyrinth and tasked with finding your way out, as you discovered new sections of the maze, lighting up the pixels and mapping the unknown. If you wandered in one certain direction, you awoke the monster at the center of the maze, and it began to chase you. The trick embedded in the coding, was that it always chased you directionally in the geometrical radiant of the ultimate exit from the maze. You just had to find the way through. I imagined the little stick figure man running terrified from the circle with the angry face, groping with his hands along the edges of cold stone walls. Listening for the echoes, measuring the angles. Terrified, but determined to appeal to his reason. The formula.
I learned maths and programming languages like a nomad forced to cross deserts, fleeing a homeland whose resources were burned in all out war against a childhood, forced to take off and carry only some remnant, pieces of memory of chancing opportunity, of ever being that child.
Mostly I was a loner. Spent middle school lunches sitting out, eating alone on the bench beneath a favored tree. Reading through some book on Japanese philosophy, the history of Buddhist religious movements, some tenuous heritage that called to me. If you’re going to be singled out and softly ridiculed for some thing you can’t control, my best guess was I should learn about that thing. Beef up my defenses. I was into a discussion of Zen buddhism’s arrival in Japan in the second wave of Chinese influence, which was a philosophy counter to the earlier form of pure land Buddhism. The pure land Buddhists apparently believe in some kind of paradise somewhere to the west, and that enlightenment comes from without, whereas Zen believed it was an inside job. The idea that awareness and ‘the now’ is preeminent rather than thought or mind, was forefront in my swagger, when some kid at my first concert called me a ‘goddam chink.’
I told him, I’m Japanese, though the cultures share much influence and historical spirit. I was sure to say ‘thank you’ and that I would gladly represent my Asian brothers in standing up to whatever this nonsense was coming into my sphere of influence, ba-rother. It’s a punk show, motherfucker. I’m half Jewish, too. You come at me with this racist shit? Then I quoted him some lyrics from the Dead Kennedy’s song my one friend from the library hangout introduced me to, while that friend beamed with pride at my back as I did so. “Nazi Punks FUCK OFF!”