Thursday, February 26, 2015

The King's Palette

My short story, The Sun Temple, is being expanded into a full-length novel—soon to be available in both print and e-book formats. Here's another sample chapter: 

…And once again I place myself under the Sun—in the vague hope that he will burn away the impurities in my spirit, and set me upon a more noble course—even while I realize that, in reality, the wicked often fare better than the righteous.
    But a Great Torpor stretches for miles in every direction…it holds me motionless…while it colors the sky, the streets, and the buildings in pale convalescent tones…
    And this monumental fatigue brings with it the conviction of the utter superfluousness of any undertaking. Action becomes pointless because everything has already happened—every utterance—every possible combination of words—has already been tried.
    Conversation is the most blasphemous of all:
“How are you?” “Fine, thanks—and yourself?” “Can’t complain!”
I’m afraid that I can’t muster the cheek it requires to keep this sort of thing going. And furthermore, even if I could, I would be afraid that the other person would laugh in my face at the hopeless artifice of such an attempt.
    And surrounded as I am by this desiccated shell of an apartment (it was a mistake from the beginning!)—any possible word (especially if it remains unspoken) already has a nasty, hollow ring to it.
    I regret every word that I have ever spoken! Each one was false…wrong…a miserable rehash…
And of course—at this extreme juncture—this nadir—this insult to Man and God—this is where I reach for the Soma…the Plant of Kindness...
    Relief is at hand! Cheers! Shouts! The sky has ignited within me—even as I languish in the hopeless dust and filth of the first floor!
    And again I find that I can dream in a kingly palette: I see Sandaraca, Aureolin, Celadon, and Persian Red on the miserable walls…and I can once again imagine the terracotta columns of that magnificent Truth…

"We were dead dogs, but our Lord gave us life by placing the herb of life beneath our noses." [1]

    The Haenap [2] gives me great strength (temporarily!). I feel my consciousness condense to a small silvery sphere (but with a corresponding gain in potency)—then expand out into the grid of the city…

[1] A scribe of the Assyrian king Assurbanipal recorded in 650 B.C.—referring to Hashish incense.
[2] Cannabis, from the proto-German

cannabis   ///   psychedelic   ///   fantasy

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Gold-Colored Equation

My short story, The Sun Temple, is being expanded into a full-length novel—soon to be available in both print and e-book formats. Here's a sample chapter:

The Public Nuisance 
Steadfast in my conviction that "the true living Dionysus is hiding in the hemp plant, not the wine bottle," I once again seek guidance from the religious properties of the Flowers—watching as Sunlight explodes in an ecstatic corner of The Old Battery, and I enjoy the perfect verticality of the hour.
Arising, I move languidly through this gold-colored equation as if following the dictates of an ancient mind, undoubtedly presenting a most strange appearance and perhaps causing certain people to ask, "Is he among the prophets?" 
But there is another segment of the public that views me in an entirely different light. Instead of perceiving me as a courageous psychonaut and spiritual seeker, this group takes me for a skulking, heavy-lidded malingerer, casting his baleful energies and disaffected stares in every direction. Instead of a scientifically minded ethno-botanist worthy of admiration, this group sees only the outcast, the riff-raff, the furtive drug addict who insists on displaying his filthy habits in public parks in plain sight of respectable families intent only on a pleasant outing.
I am forced to conclude that, alongside my well-deserved reputation as a religious devotee, I also possess a flourishing, parallel career as a member of that despised sub-class: the Public Nuisance.
The most dismaying aspect of all this is that I do not entirely disagree with this opinion.
I try to offset this unfortunate perception by the employ of various subterfuges and camouflages: for instance, I will sometimes carry several scholarly-looking books under my arm (perhaps a volume of DeQuincey's Confessions, or Gautier's Hashish Club, or even Patanjali's Yoga Sutras), in an attempt to pass myself off as a serious man—an erudite man of learning.
But these totems—these counterfeit badges of respectability—possess only a feeble magic, and the overwhelming impression is still delivered by my cringing, disagreeable countenance and suspicious body language. No mere book—even if I were to stagger around under the weight of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare—can ever offset this enormous disadvantage.
Besides, what was I doing sunning myself like a dandy on the Promenade during work hours—day after day—as if I had no Earthly cares—or was a man of independent means? Why didn't I have a job?
The sad fact is that I have never held up under prolonged scrutiny—or any scrutiny, for that matter.
If a man is successful or accomplished in life, it shines from him in various ways—both strong and subtle—both physically and subconsciously, and along certain invisible psychic channels. It's just the way things are. I, on the other hand, telegraph nothing but uncertainty, trepidation, ambivalence, and a certain dull hostility…as I continue to violate the natural order of things…
But I tire of this abject self-flagellation: I am the Soul of the Park! A dark and gold-colored child of the Sun!
 “So that God and man should be in good rapport—with hellebore, cannabis, and lupine you will rub him.”

cannabis   ///   psychedelic   ///   sun-cult

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Historically Annotated Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Henry John Steiner

This book contains Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, accompanied by Henry John Steiner’s footnotes, maps, illustrations and photographs of the exact locale in which the story takes place. Mr. Steiner, long-time resident and historian of Sleepy Hollow, makes clear his love of Irving’s classic tale, and also displays a strong awareness of the importance of the story’s setting in an historic time and place in American history.

Irving’s charming and ghostly story, beloved by generations of Americans, is a meticulous re-creation of a world that had already changed considerably from the time that he first encountered it, at the age of 15, to the time that the book was published some 20 odd years later in 1820. Irving surely had a strong awareness of the ephemeral and transitory nature of life, and his haunting tale is a wonderful evocation of a lost world that he sought to preserve for posterity. 

With this book, Mr. Steiner continues Irving’s original impetus to elucidate and preserve a certain time and place—he fixes the coordinates of all the locations in the story and maps them out for us with illustrations and photographs. He points us to the exact location of the old Van Tassel house—shows us where the great tulip tree once stood—and the route along the Post Road that Ichabod Crane took on his ill-fated ride. He also traces the possible and probable real life inspirations for all the major characters in the story.

The past does not merely slip away as if on a gentle stream—no, it is rendered by pick-axe and plough—assaulted by chain-saw and wrecker’s ball—buried—paved over—and should consider itself extremely fortunate if any of its particulars happen to be noted on a modest plaque or marker. It is a great miracle, for example, that the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow still stands—it being the exception rather than the rule. This relentless destruction underlines the importance of Mr. Steiner's book—it reminds us to remember our past, because the past slips away from us continuously.

Ghosts crowd the old roads and paths of Sleepy Hollow—they outnumber the living—and affect us in strange and unknowable ways.

Mr. Steiner wants us to know where we are—where we tread—and remind us of people and places that went before us. 

~Brian Sp├Ąth, 2015

—Buy the book here.
—Visit the author's Headless Horseman Blog