Monday, July 22, 2013

"The Sun Temple": e-book now available on smashwords

A heat wave, fever, and tainted Cannabis sacrament all combine to create a grand hallucinatory vision in the dreams of the narrator of this short story that borrows from ancient Cannabis history and myths. Through a progressive derangement of the senses, we witness a modern day Battery Park morph into a great brooding, psychedelic theater of the imagination.

"Mind-blowing. Some of the most profound descriptions of the sacramental powers of cannabis ever put to words. Would make a wonderful script for a film."              

—Reviewed by Steven Hager

I am pleased to announce the publication of my first e-book: The Sun Temple, my short story which is now downloadable at smashwords in an electronic version in any of a half-dozen different formats.
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I would also like to introduce my new pen name: B.F. Spaeth, which is not, as some people might imagine, a literary affectation or conceit, but rather, as something that was a matter of necessity. I was compelled to adopt a new author name  because of the fact that I have a namesake on the West coast, also a writer, and with a number of titles already published. So, in order to avoid confusion (and lawsuits!) I have deferred to him, and adopted this new pen name.
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The genesis of The Sun Temple goes back a little over 20 years ago. My life at the time had become intolerable and unworkable for me—pressures both internal and external (not always distinguishable) had caused me to leave my job and also retreat from my social circle. I needed to step back and try to see where I was. Above all I needed an escape—from everything, and most of all, from myself. I dug into my meager savings and purchased a bicycle—I hadn't owned one in decades—and started tentatively exploring Manhattan, especially the little-known and out-of-the-way streets and places—the more obscure, the better.

Eventually I found my way down to the Battery, the oldest part of the city. My isolation and estrangement found a kinship with the then decayed and neglected Battery, which at that time had not yet attracted too much attention from the forces of the "developers".

I quickly fell under the spell of the old Battery Park, and began, without even realizing it, to create my own mythology of the place, embellishing it with my own inner thoughts and fantasies. The park became a phantom theater for my loneliness, isolation, and descent into near-psychosis. Is that too strong a word? Perhaps, but to willingly surrender to—and desperately seek—these states of mind can be dangerous and destabilizing.

With the aid of daily cannabis intoxication, combined with a painfully isolated and un-moored psyche, I put myself to the task of constructing a grand and mournful theater—a kind of cenotaph that marked my estrangement from my fellow souls. I strove to blend examples of historical cannabis myth within a modern setting (hopefully with a measure of humor) to create a mind-altering hallucination that gradually overwhelms the narrator, who perhaps achieves more than he bargained for.

The chance occurrence of a fever and a brutal heat wave combined to build the spectral park up to phantasmagorical levels in my dreams and waking life.

I recall my attempt at the time of recording my impressions of this strange phenomenon that had obsessed me. It was a rather tentative and brief sketch—a little over a page in length, and somewhat lacking in structure and development, but nevertheless, contained the basic core of the experience. The original manuscript was lost however, and I would periodically return to the idea over the succeeding years. When I finally started writing in earnest about 8 or 9 years ago, I made an attempt to revisit the story. It proved to be a mammoth undertaking, and beyond my powers to organize and develop. Over the next several years, I would return to it again and again—printing out perhaps half a hundred different drafts, until I was finally able to organize and embellish the story to my satisfaction.

This completion of my story roughly coincided with the emergence of the e-book, and with the concept of self-publishing. I chose smashwords as my platform, and it has proved to be quite easy to format and upload a file of your story and have it published. The formatting and various technical requirements were well within my capabilities. My experience as a graphic designer stood me in good stead and I was able to publish without any trouble.

In addition, I was fortunate to have had the inclination to take a series of photographs of the old Battery—back before its modern transformation—and I recorded most of the old monuments and markers of the Battery, which have been removed and taken away to God knows where. I include some of these photos in the e-book, as smashwords now allows you to utilize photographs and graphics along with your text.

One of the main literary influences on Temple was the writings of Thomas De Quincey, expecially his Confessions of an English Opium Eater, which had a profound effect on me when I first discovered it over 40 years ago. I am also indebted to Chris Bennett, and his Cannabis and the Soma Solution, which is a work of staggering scholarship that traces the history and mythology of Cannabis.

Another more modern influence is Herk Harvey's Carnival of Souls, his 1962 film masterpiece that centers around the great abandoned ruin of the Salt Air Pavilion, a vast and ornate amusement park that had once stood in Salt Lake City.

The myths of the various and historical sun cults that underpin all of our modern religions are also woven into my story, the sun being the catalyst that entices me out of my dark psychological cave.

So The Sun Temple, is for the most part, a true story and a deeply felt experience that I have struggled with for many years to bring to the printed (and electronic) page. I truly hope that others will enjoy it and be brought under its spell as I was.

~B.F. Spaeth

/// cannabis /// myths /// psychedelic ///

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