Friday, March 12, 2010

The Prologue of an Artist as a Young Man

Well Mom, I've deviated slightly from my plans. The joyful story is still being written, but this was found in that old sketchbook. I've decided to post this here. This prologue was plucked from my junkyard of false starts (see Elliott -->). I started writing the actual story several times and could never get it figured out. Sure, I got the soundtrack that was constantly running through my mind, creating magnificent storyboards, figured out, but never the right words. Looking back now, I am pretty sure I laid this story to rest with a lot of things years ago. But I did enjoy finding this early start. Part of it came from an actual conversation I had had a few years ago. The conversation came well before the current global economic crises. Now that we've seen how the well-to-do have used their bail out, I'm curious as to whether I'll get to have this conversation again some time soon.

- -

Through the windshield in front of us the sky was a muddy orange of reflected city lights on the ever-growing accumulation of snow. Driving within the well worn ruts in the snow watching a Florida license plate timidly try to find its footing in conditions foreign to a southern climate. Smirks grew on our faces.

Lining the increasingly hidden highway were tall corporate flagships with neon-lighted northern stars. I began to count how many were on the passenger side when I realized I had no idea what many of these entities consisted of or involved themselves with. For all I knew, each building could be in the same industry as the other, and competing for the same 35-50 business-class-paper-shredding-demographic.

-Do you think this corporate age is ever going to slow down? Or even end?

-Definitely. Our whole western way of living will end one day. It’s inevitable.

-It’s not sustainable is it?


-Do you ever wonder what it will be like when it’s over?

-I imagine there will be a lot of starvation.


-Yea. Another depression. I think it will be a very chaotic period of time.

I silently meditated on what this might look like. Part of me longed to see the whole system overhauled – to live in a broken society that was at least self-aware and wanting to make another go at it; I was tired of too many cultural norms that didn’t fit. I wanted it and was scared of the consequences. I was afraid of the limitless depths of chaos we were all capable of.

This fear brought me back to my driving companion. These conversations weren’t abnormal with us – rather, common fare when we were given open stretches of silence upon which to discuss the things which differentiated us from so many of our close ones. Rarely did I find our conversations stagnant, even when we talked about nothing of real importance. So when fear crept into my imagination I moved closer to the one I felt safer with. If the world as we knew it was going to change drastically, I wanted her to be with me when it happened. It wasn’t a response to fear, but a further nudge to the longing that had surfaced and been repressed for the previous year.

Further along the highway I saw three enormous apartment buildings out my window that always reminded me of the empire state building. (They were fashioned as such). I immediately saw into their futures – abandoned and dilapidated. Perhaps a fire emerging from different apartments on different sides. The billowing black one of many funeral pyres. I knew this would be an image that I kept close as I wrote this story.

This story has been growing for the past three years from one mental image, continually refined, and will continue to grow until it is finished. For years I had avoided writing it because to do so would be to submerge myself into the painful circumstances that birthed the whole story. I was going to write of my first lost love. I still am, even though it is more past than present. I thought that this story would be about her.

Driving down the 401 in a snowstorm I asked if the current age would burst. It was this moment that made me realize I was not longer writing this book for my lost love. I was writing this book for the one sitting beside me in the car, driving us home from a wedding.

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