Thoughts after Attending a Book Festival as an Author

The book festival yesterday was thought provoking. Lots of thoughts were provoked. Here are a few of them. As a young person (and today as well) I read a lot – I was inspired by great storytelling from the likes of Tolkien, Verne, Piers Anthony, Robert Heinlein, Steinbeck, Hemingway, Dickens, Twain, and London. I am inspired by well written history, thought provoking philosophy and spirituality, and approachable, practical how-to books. I like books that allow me to learn. I love books that allow me to visit far off destinations and exotic cultures and landscapes.

As a younger adult – I was also dazzled by the reckless and dangerous lifestyles of many writers. Hard drinking, hard drugging, hard loving, emotional roller coasters – like Hank Moody from Californication – I wanted to live like that.

I was never inspired by popular fiction like detective novels, thrillers or best sellers. I never wanted to be some boring baby boomer slaving away over a word processor and sitting in empty halls filled with tables behind which boring baby boomers sit eyeing potential readers with hunger.Yesterday, I found myself right there. Best selling author Philip Margolin was there too, sitting behind a table, trying to smile, signing books. I had no desire to be him. I had no desire to read his books.

I’ve not wanted to be Hank Moody or Jack Kerouac or Hemingway for quite a while now. The desire has passed. The idea of being an older Jack London type, building a ranch, hosting friends, fighting for good political ends…that appeals to me. I’d still love to write compelling stories…but they need to be stories with a purpose, stories that have more substance than a Moody-esque “I drank, I got fucked up, I got fucked, it was awful, I survived, I did it again, something awesome happened, I was miserable, I did it again”

My books previously have been a combination of how-to, travel to exotic places, introduction to exotic ideas, and fucked-upness with an over-exaggerated desire to attract attention by offending. I was using offense as a hook…which was (perhaps) novel in the 80s and 90s but now, in the age of the internet, is just boring.

I’ve changed a lot. I admit it. Enough that I can see foolishness where before I thought there was brilliance. Enough to see problems where before I thought there was quality. I was in love with my title “Douchebags, Fags, and Hags” I thought it was hilarious…yesterday, honestly, I was embarrassed by it and while I still love the novel – am pretty sure I would have sold a lot more if I had called it “The Sultanate of Baboob” or “Pig and the Sexy Nun” or even just “Pig”. There were other things I noticed and was shocked by, such as my putting of an ancient pre-Columbian artifact showing two dogs fucking on the back of my rather serious “Liminal Travel” – I remember thinking it was funny – an artifact from the MET referencing an off-color joke on the back of my book – but it has nothing to do with my book. Why did I put it there? Probably the same reason I put the horrible back cover on Smooth Living – enough to see that Slackville Road is a good idea with bad execution…and an ugly cover. I was blinded with love for my own creations…and I think the time I’ve taken off from writing has been a good thing.

The money and time I spent yesterday did not yield a financial return, but even so, I think it was well spent.

L’Exposition Universelle 1889 Heliogravure

I found this in a box at the Flea Market – unfortunately, I wasn’t the first to go through the box and many of the engravings were missing. Still, it turns out that the Smithsonian only has 31 of the engravings and the truly rare part – is the manuscript and the folio binders. Extraordinary hand colored steel cut engravings printed in a limited number for the American VIP attendees of the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris.

Edition De Luxe L’Exposition Universelle 1889 Heliogravure containing the complete text and photogravures plus 17 of the loose hand colored heliogravure/photogravure plates of selected paintings from the 1889 Paris Exposition. This De Luxe Edition was printed for Mr. D. W. Briggs of Saginaw Michigan – presumably an attendee. 6 Folio Binders – Elephant folio

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Shantaram – A Book I was Meant to Read

I want to tell you a story –

A little more than a decade ago, I was a tanned beach boy living in Hawaii. I met a tourist girl and she was looking for an island romance so she invited me to dinner. I wanted to sleep with her – I thought – so I accepted her invitation. In those days I was desperate for intimacy but I was under the mistaken impression that meaningless uncommittal sex and intimacy could be the same thing. I was finding a good bit of the former and very little of the latter – to some extent because often when I would find the latter – I would push the former onto it and likewise I missed a good bit of the former by burdening it with the latter.

What I truly sought was spiritual, emotional, and intellectual intimacy but I kept messing it up with sexual intimacy. This isn’t a story of that – it’s just the oppossite. This particular girl was on vacation and she wanted a no strings attached sexual romp but I screwed that up – over dinner I dove into deeper and heavier subjects- loosened with a few drinks I waxed philosophical/spiritual – she had a deeper nature which she didn’t want to share – I dug and pushed and finally exasperated she suggested a moonlit walk down a deserted beach – the perfect last night in Hawaii for her and now I realize she wanted nothing more than to make love on the beach before getting on a plane and going back to her real life. She had opened up to me too much though and I found myself more excited to learn from her spiritual and philosophical insights than to kiss her delicioius lips.

I think she gave up and we sat under a coconut tree in the moonlight talking until it was time to go. I invited her to my apartment but by this point, I had gone too far in finding out who she really was for her to let me see her being someone she really wasn’t. And the next day we left – and we never met again. I don’t remember her name and she most likely doesn’t remember mine. I don’t even remember all that we talked about – but I remember her saying she had started to read a book in Hawaii and was so captivated by the opening paragraph that she had committed it to memory.

“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realized somehow, through the screaming in my mind that even in that shackled bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them.”

It impacted me as well, but to be honest, I didn’t remember the quote or the name of the book, but only the spirit of the quote – so – later, when she was gone with no contact information and I was looking for the book that had so affected her – I was unable to find it. Instead, more than a decade later – the book found me. My aunt, the one who has given me so much thought and spirit provoking literature through the years handed me the book with several others and without comment. It was a large book – nearly a thousand pages and with a 2-year old and the struggle to make ends meet in our new home country – the USA (my old home country, by the way) – I didn’t touch it for more than a year – finally, looking for something to read I picked it up and flicked to the first page and there it was – those words – those powerful, important words.

“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realized somehow, through the screaming in my mind that even in that shackled bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them.”

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is a roller coaster of a book filled with hard won wisdom and insight from a man who has led a life that most people only think happens in movies – not heart warming movies, but powerful movies. This is a novel but there is more truth to it than most novels can claim. Like the protaganist, Roberts escaped prison in Australia and fled to India where he worked with the Bombay mafia and eventually was caught and returned to prison where he served out his sentence and wrote Shantaram.

I am grateful to that girl for priming my brain with his words, grateful to my aunt for delivering the book, and grateful to the universe for finding the right time to deliver it. There was so much in this book that spoke to me – not just the opening line and the theme of forgiveness but also the theme of redemption and the idea that sometimes we can do the right thing for the wrong reason or the wrong thing for the right reason. I could go on – but I won’t. I only recommend that you read it.

Here is a link to get Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

shantaram

Note: I intentionally wrote the above without having read any reviews or looked at the author’s website or even to have read more about the author than his dust jacket bio – now I’ve done a bit of digging. It’s astounding how many people HATE this book – but they have some valid points – none the less – the book is too long, the characters are mostly one dimensional, and there are some serioius prose problems. The biggest reason why most of them seem to hate it though is because of Roberts himself and how he wrote this work of fiction as a way of aggrandizing himself with an alternate fictional history – I make no beef with the valid points – but I only want to add – this is a work of fiction, not a biography. As such, I think it paints those themes of redemption and forgiveness beautifully. I would not want to live the life of Roberts nor the life of his character Lin. I still think the book is a worthy read.

Little House on the Prairie

Little XXX House on the Prairie

I love this, just because I grew up watching Little House. I even had chickens named after the characters. Of course it wasn’t Little XXX House on the Prairie.

HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finland has rated the DVD release of the much-loved children’s television series “Little House on the Prairie” suitable for adult viewing only.

To save money, Universal Pictures decided not to submit the series to state inspection, the company’s Finland marketing manager Meri Suomela told Reuters on Wednesday.

Finnish authorities charge 2 euros ($2.57) per minute for assessing the correct age limit on films and television series. Distributors who forego this can only sell their shows with a sticker saying “Banned for under-18s.”

“Long series can get quite expensive to check, and some use this exemption in the law to their advantage,” said Matti Paloheimo, Director at the Finnish Board of Film Classification.

“Such unchecked material should not be shown to children publicly,” he added.

Little House on the Prairie, which ran from 1974 to 1983, portrayed life in the U.S. West in the late 1800s and was based on the Laura Ingalls Wilder’s children’s book of the same name.

It remains popular in Finland, and is still shown weekly on Sunday mornings on state-owned broadcaster YLE.

Poems from 1998 by Vago Damitio

1998 poemspoems
by 1998

THE DEVIL’S GIFT

LOU-SO GAVE UP EVERYTHING.
WALKED AWAY THOUGHT THE KINGDOM
OF HEAVEN WAS OFFERED
TO HIM.
FOR ALL THAT IS GOOD, ALONE FROM EVIL
HE COULD NOT ACCEPT- HE SAW THE BEAUTY OF
LOVE- IF YOU WILL.
LOVE BY ITSELF, BEAUTY ISOLATED, IS
LONELY, ASK ANY MARRIED COUPLE.
PAIRED WITH AN OPPOSITE-PEAKS
CAN BE SCALED, FREE OF WILL
CARRIED LIKE A CURRENT
BETWEEN OPPOSING POLES—-OF MAGNETISM.
PLEASURE IS BEST EXPERIENCED AFTER PAIN.

IN TURNING DOWN HEAVEN CHOICE WAS CREATED.
CHOICE. FREE WILL, IF YOU WILL.
SUFFERING SCORCHING KNOWLEDGE, LIKE HELLFIRE
RAISING THE APPRECIATION OF —-
PASTORAL ANGELS PLAYING LUTES.
ALLOWING ONE- OR ALL- TO EXPLORE THE DEPTHS –
FOR THE KNOWLEDGE OF HELL ALLOWS YOU TO RISE MUCH HIGHER–
OR FALL MUCH FURTHER.

RAIN

DRIZZLE DAYS DEPENDENT
NOT ON SUN
GREY AND NEUTRAL ALL AROUND

ALASKA

ALASKA IS LIKE SOME SORT
OF APHRODISIAC. MAKING ME
ETERNALLY LUSTY- LUSTIER EVEN THAN
ME– IN OTHER PLACES.
HER TOWERING MOUNTAINS PAINT

PICTURES OF LARGE SUPPLE BREASTS
AND I’M REMINDED OF PUBIC HAIR BY
HER FORESTS. CONSTANTLY WET
AND MOVING IN A STATE OF AROUSAL—
BUT SOMEHOW IT DOESN’T SOUND RIGHT
TO SAY – I WANNA FUCK ALASKA-
OR- FUCK ME ALASKA
BUT THE SMELL SO RICH AND
MUSKY. LIKE DIVINITY.
LAND AND SEX.
SEA AND SEX.
SKY AND SEX.
SEX.
ALASKA.

SUMMER ENDING QUICKLY

SUMMER. WHY BASEBALL?
BECAUSE MEN PLAY LIKE CHILDREN
IN AN OVERGROWN LOT?
BECAUSE NOBODY LIKES HAVING
TO PLAY IN THE RAIN.
SUMER. WHAT IS IT?
IS IT THE BERRIES?IS IT THE
SALMON? IN THE STREAMS,
WORKING TOWARDS PROCREATION
NO MATTER THE STRAIN.
SUMMER? WHY EAR CLOTHES?

The Sex Score in a Bizarre World Lab

by
Sex Score and Universal LabHe took his coat off and hung it on the peg,, where it always was, waiting for him to take it wherever he went. He walked into the kitchen, melancholy, and full of wonder as his mind thought back to the days of his youth. Working on yachts and falling in love at every port until the list of loves became like a list of books he’d  read. And forgotten.

It was no longer  simple  to answer  how many women he’d slept with or how many times he’d been in love. He had to second guess himself. In recent years he’d answered with

“ You really don’t really want to know that” and if pressed he would say “Four”. It was the magic number. Not too many, but not too few. Only it was such an outrageous lie.

Bizarre world in which you were expected to keep your own score as you went and nearly every other person was keeping their own “score”. It turned it into a giant competition for the good and the bad.

Life was confusing enough without developing this incredibly complex game called Love. It was a constant battle to remain afloat in the overcrowded sea of humanity.

He set his briefcase down and walked into the living room, grabbing a banana as he passed through the kitchen. He sat in his lazy-boy recliner and reached for the remote control after rocking the lever back as far as it would recline.

Kicking off his shoes he wondered to himself, “ Why are my socks so nice. Why do they have designs woven into them.Certainly not because I like them, but as a part of the game. At some point I decided that nice socks would make it simpler to seduce women.”

He kicked off his shoes one at a time. Right foot first, then left foot. They dropped to the floor  beneath the footrest of the recliner. He knew they would get in the way when he went to un-recline, but at this point he didn’t care. Later he would be annoyed with his earlier self for creating more work for his later self.

Life is like that. The now you is usually making decisions for the later you, and usually,  they are lousy decisions. Maybe you get it right more often as you get older, but you still screw up every time you do anything important.

Hindsight is 20/20, Foresight is often blind.

If we knew the future would we let it happen, or would we change the future, making it unknowable. Knowing too much is worse than knowing nothing most of the time.

What if you knew you’re destiny and hated it? Would you create it by trying to evade it? In which case would you have created it without the knowledge?

Does the universe have clockwork motion which gives us 70 or 80 years before we have to return to our places? What do we want?

Now is the time to communicate with our future selves so that we don’t regret any decisions later, make the best decisions possible.

What should I do? Do what you think is right.  Don’t hold back in your beliefs, explore them, trust them, make the most of your hunches and talents. It isn’t really what you think that counts.

Do you get what I’m saying? It makes sense to live your life as if every decision is your last.

When does it end? We don’t know. I t goes on as long as it goes on so make yourself at peace today. Find what it is you need to do.

What you would regret in your last moments. So what if you thought it would go on, you’d have more time.

You don’t that is the nature oft eternity. The world isn’t the friendliest place in the universe. It is made to solve problems.

Think of the world as a laboratory. The picture you had as a child was not entirely wrong. The Universal  God is a consciousness, which works in a clockwork fashion to an ultimate goal.

Humanity and life are a way to solve certain theoretical problems. Life is placed within the universe in various situations to which the best solution is found through adaptation.

It is not the word of anything. Each planet not a lab, but a test tube contained within the vast workshop-lab that is the universe.