June 14th, 2006

mirror2

Moving on.

I made myself promise I'd do a LJ/Blog entry this morning, if only to thank the many, many people who've taken a moment to express their sympathy over Sophie's death. You have all helped, every single one of you. It's times like this that I find it particularly hard to hold to those things I believe are true. Like I was saying the other day, before the rain when I wanted rain so badly but knew there was no one and nothing out there listening. I see death as a passage, but not the way a lot of other people do. All things, living and inanimate, are a part of the Cosmos, equal parts of the Cosmic Whole. Some few of those things, some living things, experience the phenomenon of consciousness and self-awareness, and then the body ends, ending the consciousness, which is one of the functions of the body. The body ceases, so the consciousness ceases. It's that cessation that makes death hard for me to face. But. Nothing truly ends. The Cosmos, which is my "goddess," is the great recycler. Things merely pass from one form, from one state of being, into others. There should be no sorrow if each unique consciousness is not as "eternal" as the molecules and atoms which briefly made that consciousness possible. Katharine — Jada's partner — sent me a much appreciated e-mail yesterday. Katharine's a Buddhist, and while it's not a belief system that works for me, I was glad to read the following, for reasons all my own:

May she ride through the bardo on a carpet of squirrel tails....

Indeed and ahmet. And here, for me, the Tibetan bardo ("intermediate state") does not have to mean the time between two lives. Rather, for me, it means simply the brief space between the incarnation I knew as Sophie and all the countless transformations and reassemblies of that constituent matter into other no less valid and no less lovely forms. The matter that became Sophie and which produced her consciuosness, existed for billions of years before her birth. It came from the nuclear furnaces of stars. It drifted across interstellar distances on cosmic winds and comet tails. It was here during the days of the first cyanobacteria and then the trilobites and then the dinosaurs and then the woolly frelling mammoths. Because a particular and transient form may pass away, but the Cosmos endures. The atoms that were Sophie, and were trillions of things before Sophie, will become soil and stone, trees and grass, atmospheric molecules and the dust about which great rain clouds form. They will live again, and they will not live again. For me, this is immortality. It matters not if some particular consciousness or body ends, because its constituent parts go on almost forever. To quote Charles Darwin (1859), "There is grandeur in this view of life...and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved."

We all have our myths, and they make life bearable. For me, there's no afterlife and no "soul" beyond living consciousnesses. Ego, which craves conscious immortality, is only a transient artefact of consciousness. But, in my eyes, Ego is only another thing which passes away. I hope I don't sound like I'm proselytizing. That's most emphatically not my intent. I just want to say these things, so I'll have written them down. That's all. We all have our myths, and they make life bearable. These are some of mine. I'm not presently disposed to challenge anyone else's myths. I'm taking a few days vacation from mythbusting, so to speak.

The hard part, for me, is not allowing myself to fall back on more immediately comforting beliefs which are not my own, simply because some hurting part of me might need them at this moment. As Anne Sexton said, "Need is not quite belief." I'd be a hypocrite and would betray myself were I to take solace in someone else's belief of conscious immortality. Times like these are the tests of just how confidently we hold our myths to ourselves, as a part of our conscious selves, in all their comforting and uncomforting aspects.

But I miss her. I miss her like hell.

There were other things I was going to say, but I'll say them in some other later entry. Maybe later this afternoon. Today, I'm going to clean this messy house, try to get eBay started again, lose myself in a little unfinished Wikipedia, and so forth. My contributor's copies of John Betancourt and Sean Wallace's Horror: The Best of the Year (2006 edition), which reprints "La Peau Verte" just arrived. I'll look at those. I'll stay busy. I may be able to start writing again tomorrow. We shall see.

Postscript: Does anyone know what's happened to sclerotic_rings, why he's deleted his LJ?
chi (in all her fears)

Addendum: Er...stuff.

First, thanks to dsgood for pointing me to czarina69 and an explanation for the abrupt withdrawal of Paul T. Riddell (aka sclerotic_rings) from LJ. He will be missed, as a faithful reporter of marvelous things. But. The good news is that he's going back to school to pursue a science degree. Which, of course, is a very, very good thing, and, for my part, I applaud his decision wholeheartedly.

Ken Cory writes:

One story I wish were more available is your collaboration with Poppy Z. Brite “Night Story 1976” (is that year right?). As far as I know it’s only appeared in the small editions of From Weird and Distant Shores. I read it aloud on Halloween at the Dusk ‘til Dawn scary story reading at Borderlands Books here in San Francisco, and everybody just loved it.

Close. "Night Story 1973." And anyone else who'd like to read the story, but doesn't have access to From Weird and Distant Shores, can find it reprinted in The Last Pentacle of the Sun: Writings in Support of the West Memphis Three, edited by M. W. Anderson and Brett Alexander Savory (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2004). "Night Story 1973" remains a personal favourite of mine, as well, and I'm very pleased to hear of the Halloween reading at Borderlands. Anyway, yes, I urge anyone looking for the story to pick up a copy of The Last Pentacle of the Sun, which also includes work by Clive Barker, Peter Straub, Brian Hodge, Elizabeth Massie, Margaret Cho, and many, many others. Poppy and I have no intentions of permitting the story to be reprinted elsewhere anytime in the foreseeable future.

The last twenty-four hours are sort of a dreary mush. Well, the last forty-eight, really. But I thought I'd write down a few things here. About the best that can be said for today is that the sun's setting. I did very little housework, though I did get rid of Sophie's litter box and packed up her toys and some other of her belongings for storage. Stuff that will go the the next cat, who won't be coming to live with us until at least December. I finished a Wikipedia article which I began yesterday, on the Cretaceous swordfish Protosphyraena. Spooky and I braved the sun (which came back today) and took many of the cans of uneaten cat food to Junkman's Daughter at L5P, for the three kitties waiting there to be adopted. Oh, and some catnip, too. The rest of the cat food is prescription, intended for diabetic cats, and that will be going to a local shelter. Nothing is wasted. I detest waste. Anyway, yes, the sun was brutal. I also went to Crystal Blue and Soul Kiss, looking for a thank-you card for Sophie's vet, but found nothing suitable. I might have found something at Charis Books, but by then I was too hot and grumpy and just wanted to go home. We got slices from Fellini's for dinner. Neither of us has felt much like cooking.

Last night, we watched Sydney Pollack's excellent film, This Property Is Condemned, adapted from a one-act by Tennessee Williams. It falls just shy of being a great film because of a sometimes anachronistic score and dated cinematography that occasionally reminds you you're watching a film made in 1966, instead of experiencing a story set in the 1930s. Still, it's very, very good. I watched the middle of Anthony Mann's Side Street (1950), then went to bed.

I spent part of the day getting the eBay auctions going again. Right now, there's the trade paperback of Silk (for less than cover price), The Five of Cups, and the trade and limited editions of The Dry Salvages (and the price on the trade edition has been reduced). I've also put up a copy of Candles for Elizabeth, which may be the last copy I will ever auction. I only have a couple more remaining. Just click here to peruse our wares. Please bid if you are interested and able. The proceeds from these auctions will be used to cover Sophie's cremation, as well as the recent repairs to Spooky's iBook and our train fare to Rhode Island this summer. I'll be listing more books sometime tomorrow. If there's something in particular you're looking for but don't see listed, just write me (at greygirlbeast[at]gmail[dot]com) and ask. Also, Spooky will be auctioning Snapdragon, just as soon as she finishes with her clothes.

Right. That's all for now. I think I'll read a bit. Maybe a skillful combination of the "pams" and alcohol can help me focus just enough to do that.