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After Quinn: Catch Up#1

One of my partners in the Eunoia Solstice venture posted a “catch-up” entry that I enjoyed. Actually, I’ve always enjoyed Jason’s posts and I keep him in mind when I write for my own blog. I stole the structure of his post for my own, but don’t expect mine to be as intelligent or well-written. You should check out his post, the Outrider Podcast, and his fantastic novel Evolution of Shadows.

Don’t blame Jason for what follows. It’s all my fault.


Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:
A cult book that I’ve heard about, but missed. A co-worker considers this one of his two favorite books, which gave me more of an impetus to read it. I’m about 200 pages in and I want to say that it’s one of those books that many people read parts of and then say they’ve read it. There is a large amount of information and ideas to digest here. Pirsig dissects not only Western and Eastern philosophy to some degree, but he also carves into notions like reason or quality themselves.

This is a difficult book. Pirsig is often dealing with three timelines at once. He’s dealing with notions of the self, attempting to relate to his young son, and dealing with historical and philosophical ideas. I’ve enjoyed it so far, but I also know that I will benefit from rereading.

While I have enjoyed it, so far I wouldn’t recommend it as a beginner’s book of zen. I suggest Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind or Brad Warner’s Hardcore Zen.

Into the Wild
Seems like I’m one of the few people I know who hasn’t read this one. I loved all the Jack London wilderness stories as a kid, but I never did much in terms of going out to those places myself. Most people probably know at least an abbreviated form of the story. A young idealist and traveler sets out into a particularly rough part of Alaska and doesn’t return. I found some articles that problematize aspects of Krakauer’s story and thesis. I’m okay knowing that this is just one version of Chris McCandless’s story. A disturbing element of the book is a how it chronicles a series of travelers who are careless in the extreme or suicidal or both. Any amount of wanderlust I had died years ago. Actually, I often have a difficulty relating to place and environment. That’s something to discuss at another time.

The Apocrypha
After several years of reading the Bible, I finished over the holidays. Now on to the Apocrypha and then I’m going to do a little research on “lost” books and Gnostic books. I only read about a chapter a day, so this will be a long ongoing reading project. Once I’m done with the Apocrypha I plan on reading the Koran and then the Mahabharata.

Theodore Roethke: Collected Poems
I always like to be reading a poetry collection and I tend to read them at a slow pace—one to three poems a day. I just finished Mayakovsky’s selected poems and Baudelaire’s Flowers of Evil and intended to read some more “world” lit, when I came across this in our school library. I’ve always liked the few Roethke poems that I’ve known for decades now. Time to see what else is there.

I’m close to finishing the extended AFI Top 100 Film list. I’ve been watching this list on-and-off for a few years and up next is Dr. Zhivago (1965). Lists like this one pull me out of my comfort zone and introduce me to films that I wouldn’t likely pick on my own.

I watched All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) and was surprised by such an early war epic that didn’t seem to hold back in terms of the war sequences. The film even depicts the complex psychology of soldiers who at once have been damaged by their experiences—death,  continuous shelling, trench warfare, rats, cheap supplies and cheaper food—yet return to the front.

A book club I’m in added three episodes of Black Mirror to our reading of Roxane Gay’s Untamed State for next month, so I’ll be watching that highly-recommended show soon as well.

About the only time I have for listening to music these days is when I’m writing and I don’t always like to write to music. Recently, I checked out NEU! ‘75 to hear something new. Since then, I’ve been listening to all of their albums.

NEU! is classified as a krautrock band and was begun by a couple of guys who left Kraftwerk. That should give you a sense of their sound. Like Kraftwerk, but more like Wire. I’ve found the music easy to write to because of its repetitive nature. What will surprise a newcomer is how many bands one will have heard that have been influenced by them.

If you’re into film music—think of NEU! as a ragged cousin of Popul Vuh.

I should mention Ghoulanoids. Yes, it’s on its way! Life happens. Sometimes life happens hard and it trumps everything else. My apologies and thanks to those who have ordered. But, I will say, it’s going to be way better than what Derek and I had thought it was going to be. I think Daniel is going to make a second batch of toys as well.

And again, Derek and I will have some forthcoming announcements. That’s about all I can say for now. Once everything’s solid on these projects, they will take up most of my writing time.

Little Billboards: Until Jason, Eric, and I can fully revision and revitalize Eunoia Solstice, it will be in a kind of hibernation. We’re actually working and experimenting with some options, but we’re all busy and we live in different states.

With that, I’ve decided to use my Twitter as a way of getting Little Billboards out there. It’s just something I like to make. The current format is often a type of humument hybrid—often with haiku. This project also gives me the chance and pure freedom to play with color theory and hermetic symbolism. It’s allowed me to explore some ideas of sacred geometry and I’m slowly getting the confidence to attempt more with the art, like Islamic tiling. On Fridays, I may offer abbreviated song poems made from notebook scraps and electroacoustic collage.

Derek and I have been writing and submitting various cartoon ideas since this summer and are taking a break. Our pitches hit a lot of desks and meetings and we’ve been told many times, “we love this, but I need to talk [so-and-so] into blahblahblah.” We both know it’s part of the game, but it can be devastating on the creative psyche. We’re taking a break from it. And like I said, we have a couple of cool opportunities and announcements coming up.

Now that I have a regular writing schedule again, I’m going to try to get back into writing and submitting poetry and short fiction. It will take me a bit to get my bearings again.

Also, I hope a project that’s been done for years will see the light of day. I wrote a poetic bestiary with a friend of mine. Since we finished the book, we’ve both had kids and he moved out of state. Hopefully we can pick up the pieces. We did some research and realized that our manuscript either broke all the rules or was decidedly against the grain of what’s popular in children’s publishing. We rewrote the book with a narrative and included some of the poems as if the main character had written them. My friend introduced this version to several readers and overwhelmingly what stood out for them were the poems. So I think we’re going back to our original idea and we’re going to give it a run. If nothing happens, we have discussed the potential for self-publishing it. Maybe we can move forward one way or the other this year.

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Stephen McClurg

I like red peppers and Jan Švankmajer movies.

1. Current Listening: Lots of soul from Muscle Shoals

2. Current Viewing: A Hard Day's Night (1964).

3. Current Reading: H.G. Wells: In the Days of the Comet

2 replies

    1. I hope I didn’t suggest that. You’re the only one doing active work for it right now!

      Our future plans, well, we’ll get to them, whatever form they take. You’ve got a lot of the heavy lifting on that anyway, so I see it as happening when it can.

      Besides, I want to read Palace of Winds.

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