book

Music and my creative process

Sanctuary Radio is going through a crisis because of U.S. licensing fee hikes.  DJ Rob is threatening to say f**k it if it’s too much of a headache.  I hope it doesn’t come to that, because that’s the best web stream I’ve found so far.

It’s far better than Pandora, because you have a human driving the playlist, throwing in all sorts of brand-new stuff along with the old, and making sure you don’t get Morrissey/The Cure/Siouxsie/The Smiths every single. other. frickin’. song.

Also, Pandora just plain doesn’t have all sorts of awesome bands.  I now find that, even with web streams and Pandora over the years, I still missed all sorts of music, because we don’t have anything like that on the radio or in clubs here in small-town Wisconsin.

But being in a cocoon of industrial, EBM, darkwave and the like, has been driving a furious wave of creativity the past several months, as I work on my rewrite of Unwilling Time-Traveler.  Especially the German music, since Madge is stuck in Nazi Germany for most of it.

I’m rewriting the ending, having gotten a new idea for it after watching a German industrial video the other day.  This happened once already, when I took the last part of the plot in a totally new direction after watching the castle episode of the latest season of Doctor Who.  The subconscious works on this stuff even while I do other things, obviously.  🙂

And while researching and rewriting, I came across this video by Die Krupps:

It’s my new favorite, along with a few other German industrial tunes which came out years ago, but I’m just finding them now:

 

Also this one:

And, of course, this one, which I had to go to the German Amazon to find, but I knew about it thanks to Sanctuary (Pandora doesn’t have Unzucht):

https://www.amazon.com/Schweigen-Bells-Into-Machines-Remix/dp/B07PY8SMZQ

Here’s the original version of “Schweigen,” and its gorgeous video:

By the way, “Unzucht” is German for “fornication.” 😀

This book and all the New German Hardness also have reminded me how I used to be obsessed with all things German back in high school.  My old NVLD/Aspie perseveration is back, and I love it!  🙂

And this was in today’s paper:

Though the German students visiting Wisconsin are in a new environment, both cultures have a surprising amount in common. Germans and Wisconsinites are said to be practical, hard working, family-oriented, not to mention harboring a love for bratwursts, sauerkraut, Oktoberfest and, for a few, polka dances.

So the German students, most of whom spoke English well, weren’t feeling completely displaced.

In the late 1800s, a huge influx of German immigrants chose to settle in Wisconsin, attracted to the wide availability of farmland and the natural landscape that was strikingly similar to their Central European state….

Today, about 45 percent of Wisconsin residents claim German heritage, while the rest of United States citizens claim about 17 percent of German heritage.

The long English vowels Wisconsinites are known for is said to be a byproduct of the German language.

In towns within Fond du Lac County, like Lomira, Calumet, New Holstein and Eldorado, 60 percent of residents claim German roots, according to the 2000 census — a percentage consistent in many counties across the state, especially in southern Wisconsin.

Thirty percent of Green Bay and Madison residents have German blood. —German Students Find Familiarity in Wisconsin

…Some reasons why I moved here 20 years ago.  🙂

Finished with the first draft of my novel about obsession

I started it in October, and it’s already finished, roughly 87,000 words.  🙂  That’s about three months.  It usually takes me longer to write a draft that size, but the inspiration hit and would not let go till it was done.

I’ve heard that passion like that can translate to the reader passionately reading it, while if the story bores the writer, it’ll bore the reader.  So I hope this novel will turn out well.

Heck, now I feel like I’m addicted to the story and have to wean myself off writing it.  But maybe not: The research should be exciting as well, since WWII was one of my obsessions in high school, and the reason why I took German.  And then there’s tweaks, adding scenes that come to me, and the many revisions.

I’m very pleased with it, though now I have to let it sit while I do some more research into WWII Germany, make sure the background is sound.  I have some websites and books which I can’t wait to delve into more deeply, especially this one about POW camps in Germany.

This is the revision of Unwilling Time-Traveler, transformed from my high school novella into a story of obsessive and narcissistic love.  I took everything I learned about narcissism after my experience with my narc ex-friend Richard, and after revisiting abusive relationships from college.

A patriotic, young American girl from 1992 meets a time-traveling mad scientist, her Svengali.  He’s also a wealthy German Junker from 1943, used to getting what he wants by any means necessary.  They become obsessed with each other, but then she discovers he’s a Nazi sympathizer, who’s also obsessed with building a weapon to change the course of the War–and history.  But he will not let her go, and she’s not so sure she wants him to.

“The Rising”: Left Behind Review

The Rising by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 0842361936, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:

A plot summary is here.

Now we get into the prequels of the Left Behind series.  I’m getting rather tired of the series, having been reading/reviewing them since 2008–but the first prequel actually held my interest.  Well, mostly; some parts dragged.

But the story of the Antichrist’s parents, and how his mother (Marilena) was first accepted by Satan’s minion (Viv Ivins) and then rejected in a horrible fashion, is fascinating.  It’s a psychological thriller.  Why couldn’t all the books have been like this one?

There are two stories going at once: Alongside the story of Nicolae’s birth and path to adulthood, is the story of Rayford Steele’s childhood, adolescence and college years.  While Marilena’s story gets more and more intriguing, Rayford’s story is the less-interesting bit which you want to wave aside to get to the good part.

But then Marilena’s story ends, and Rayford–a college kid–gets caught up in a bad relationship while confiding in Irene (his future wife).  Then it finally gets interesting, with a love triangle.

I do have a few quibbles:

On page 33, 9-year-old Rayford has dinner at a friend’s house.  His friend’s father asks him to say grace.  Ray says the prayer every child says: “God is great; God is good.  Now we thank Him for our food. Amen.”

Perfectly normal, right?  But the other kids all laugh at it.

They laugh?!

Even their father finds something wrong with this prayer, saying,

Is that how your father prays over a meal?  I mean, I’m just curious.  It’s a child’s prayer.  Uh, you’re a child, but you’re becoming a man.

YES!  He’s a frickin’ 9-year-old CHILD!  My thoughts echo Ray’s: “What in the world was it with these people?”

Ray asks if they want him to pray like his father; they do; so he says, “For what we are about to receive, may we be truly thankful.  Amen.”

But even that common prayer does not satisfy them: “Ray got the impression that Bobby and his parents were again amused but had decided not to humiliate him further.”

Ray certainly does not want to recite his bedtime prayer in front of them, the classic “Now I lay me down to sleep.”

I’m not entirely sure if we’re supposed to sympathize with Rayford about this wacky, rude family who picks his common, classic prayers apart (showing why he rejected fundamentalist Christianity), or with the wacky family dealing with such a “badly-trained” child.

But it’s clear that the wacky family considers Ray to be “badly-trained” and spiritually lacking because he prays these same prayers which *I* prayed every single frickin’ day until my adulthood, in a fundamentalist Christian family which made sure I was trained properly.

Prayers which I have taught my son and which he still prays at 9 years old.

I don’t do the “truly thankful” prayer, but I’ve heard it often, and I can’t fathom why this family has a problem with it–or what on earth kind of prayers would satisfy them.  We never do hear the family’s version of a “proper” prayer.

But this dinnertime humiliation is not enough: The boy of the family, Bobby, badgers Ray about his prayers later on, too, saying, “That’s how you pray at your house, eh?…And it’s those made-up, rhyming prayers?”  Yes, and that’s probably how the kids pray at most other Christian houses, too!

Then Bobby starts getting after Ray, saying that if he doesn’t do the Sinner’s Prayer he’s not actually a Christian–the usual thing which is used to beat Catholics/Lutherans/Episcopalians over the head with how they’re not really Christians, even though they’ve been raised in the church, baptized, confirmed, and truly believe in Christ.

On page 47, we go the other way.  Ray tells his parents what happened, and his dad jumps right to,

Holy Rollers.  Wouldn’t surprise me if they were snake handlers….Some people, some churches, just take everything a little too far.

They take every word of the Bible literally, believe Jesus has to crawl inside you, that you have to bathe in His blood.  If the Bible says you can handle poisonous snakes if you trust the Lord, they do it just to prove the point.

Okay….So now we jump from wacky family who ridicules a child for saying a child’s prayer, to knee-jerk dad who thinks every fundamentalist is a snake-handler.  It’s no wonder Ray turned away from religion, only going back to church for the sake of his own children.

I hope this is the point the authors are trying to make, that we are supposed to see the wacky family as overzealous.  That we aren’t supposed to think they were right to be overzealous and ridicule a 9-year-old’s prayers.

On page 339, when Irene and Rayford are engaged, he wants sex but she doesn’t before their wedding, even though it’s a while yet until they plan to marry.

She’s not a virgin, but she’s also not a Christian, so it’s not clear why she wants to wait so long–except, of course, to make them act like Christians without actually being Christians, the same as with Buck, the 30-year-old man-of-the-world who was also a virgin before becoming a Christian.

Her only explanation is that she wants to wait.  Keep in mind this is set in our future, not in the 1950s, so the sexual revolution and acceptance of premarital sex would have long since happened.  For Irene to be so steadfast for so long without a well-defined moral reason, especially when she’s had sex before, is not realistic or believable.  After all, once you’ve had it, you begin to crave it if you don’t have it again for a while.

So when she continues to resist–and won’t even go beyond the occasional hug or peck on the cheek–heck, she won’t even hold his hand!–you have to wonder if she’s not actually attracted to him.  Is she secretly gay?  No, in the future, it’ll be okay to be gay.  Maybe she’s just as much a gold-digger as Ray’s ex-girlfriend, then.  It seems like the author wants Irene to be a Christian before she even becomes a Christian!

On page 342, we discover that Rayford’s parents “Having married late and waiting to have Rayford, his parents were already pushing seventy”–Considering that Rayford and Irene married in the spring of Rayford’s senior year of college, and the ages of the parents were “pushing seventy” within a year of the wedding, they had Rayford when they were both around fifty–HOW?  The authors are aware of the normal age of menopause, right?

On to the next book!  Just three left!

 

Reading The Brothers Karamazov

On December 26, I wrote to a friend that I had just started reading The Brothers Karamazov.  I was on page 60 and I loved it so far.  The writing style, the humor–and all the Orthodox stuff! Icons, a monastery, even a starets (the elder, Father Zossima).  I already identified with Alexei Karamazov.

On December 31, as I wrote, I spent part of the afternoon reading The Brothers Karamazov, the first 100 pages of which are so wonderful I want to savor every word:

The rich characterizations, the humor of the narrator, the character Alyoshev (Alexey)–whom I identify with….

The father, Fyodor Karamazov, is a narcissistic sociopath….

The brothers and the people who visit the starets (elder), Father Zossima, have the same questions and concerns I do–the same overriding question, How can we prove immortality does or does not exist?  And the scenes from Russian Orthodoxy are very appealing to this convert….

On January 28, I wrote that my very same doubts and questions about God and immortality, are expressed in The Brothers Karamazov.  Though Dostoyevsky was a Christian and loved his Orthodox faith, he, too, suffered from doubts.  In the foreword of my copy of the book, written by Manuel Komroff, page xv reads,

The theme and philosophy of The Brothers Karamazov occupied Dostoyevsky’s mind for many years.  In a letter to a friend he writes:

“The chief problem dealt with throughout this particular work is the very one which has, my whole life long, tormented my conscious and subconscious being: The question of the existence of God.”

What if God does not exist?  Then for Dostoyevsky the world is nothing but a “vaudeville of devils” and “all things are lawful,” even crime.

I also found a lovely quote on jealousy: “One might wonder what there is in a love that has to be so watched over, what a love can be worth that needs such strenuous guarding.  But this the jealous will never understand” (p. 440).

As I wrote here,

In The Brothers Karamazov, the character Grushenka had been mourning for years for the love of her life, after he married someone else.  But the wife died, and he came back, wanting to marry Grushenka.

However, in the course of one evening, Grushenka discovered that this guy was actually a scoundrel and a con man, who only wanted to marry her because she had done fairly well for herself financially.

That evening was sufficient to break her of her grief, and make her wonder how she could have spent all those years mourning this guy who clearly did not deserve her love.  Then she was free to pursue her passion for Dmitri Karamazov.

It is the same when we mourn a narcissist.  I have grieved and waited for exes to come back to me, exes who lied to me, who abused me, then dumped me.  When it finally hit me just what I was grieving and waiting for, the grief began to go away.

I have grieved and waited for Richard to come wanting to restore a friendship with us.  Two and a half years I’ve waited for this!  But when the character of the narcissist becomes clear to us, we can finally stop grieving and move on with our lives.

I am now finished with the book.  I especially love how Orthodoxy is woven into the book.  So many things I understood instantly because of their connection to the faith.  Things that, ten years ago, before my conversion, I would have missed.

Such as, understanding why they were so devastated when the starets immediately began stinking after he died: They expected him to be incorrupt, because in Orthodoxy, many dead saints are discovered to be incorrupt long after burial, with healing myrrh streaming from their bodies.  Yet a little child who died did not decay after 3 days.

It was a huge crisis of faith for the town after the starets died and this happened.  Those who loved him, questioned their belief in God and miracles; those who hated him, were smug.

Alyosha is the mystic of the family, and very close to the starets.  Yet he does not seem to abandon his beliefs.

As I read in the foreword, Dostoyevsky was called by Turgeniev the most “evil Christian” he had ever met.  And yet I had felt such a kinship to him when I read the religious sections.  He wrote Alyosha so well for an “evil Christian.”

I sense from what I read here of his biography that if I knew him, I would not like him, because of his bad fruit: He was wicked, vicious, unfaithful to his wife, abusive to servants….

If only he had repented of these things and done as his faith required, the faith he loved so fervently.  If only he had been more like the righteous characters he created.

But fortunately, I only have to deal with his writings.  So far, I loved Crime and Punishment, and I love The Brothers Karamazov.

Converts to Orthodoxy also love Karamazov, mentioning it often on online forums, which is how I heard about it in the first place.  No, wait, I did read part of it in a college class, but did not remember where it came from.

In short, I recommend it.

 

 

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