December 5th, 2016


"Feeling like a dead duck, spitting out pieces of his broken luck."

Right now, I'm not sure if I feel more like I'm going to vomit, pass out, or suddenly come apart in a cataclysm of protoplasmic, subatomic reversal. I might have slept two hours. When I got up at 8 a.m., there was just enough snow on the ground that it was pretty. Now, there's only a quickly melting scab. But it was our first snow of the winter, regardless. Presently, it's 33˚F. No windchill at the moment.

No writing yesterday. Yesterday was all about not giving into the crazy, the noise ricocheting off the inside of my skull. So, I took Klonopin and got dressed and went to the market with Kathryn. She's fixing black-eyed peas today, so that's something to which to look forward. I managed to avoid the sorts of meltdowns that marked Saturday and Friday. But no writing. Some email with S.T. Joshi, late in the day, about the CRK tribute book that's been in the works since early 2015. But that was it, workwise.

I posted this to Facebook:

Yesterday, it occurred to me that I have outlived the context that made sense of my existence. I now exist out of context, like a dodo bird in a cyberpunk story, and it's a terrible way to be. I suppose I'm saying I have become an anachronism. But it seems worse even than that. Anachronism makes it sound dignified, and I feel no dignity in this.

And though I asked folks not to comment, David J. Schow wrote:

A feeling of forced obsolescence at the height of one's powers, ability and discretion.

And yeah, that's definitely part of it, and it touches on why I find myself pretty much unable to write about the present. Has there ever been a time when writers of an earlier generation found themselves so set aside by a generation entirely immersed in technology changing as an unimaginable pace? Would I have felt like this if my career had begun at the start of the forties, then sprawled into the 1960s? I don't think so. I don't think there's anything in human history comparable to the present shift, not in degree and not in rate of change. For me, it is a nightmare. It isn't the only reason I'm having so much trouble writing, but it's part of the raveling tapestry of my current dilemma. I can't write about a world where people live through "devices," not write about it as an actual present time. I won't write casually about social media and smart phones and cars that drive themselves, emojis and Skype and Uber and fake news websites and Yelp and remote-controlled drones you can buy at Rite Aid and on and on and on. Sure, I can write stories set in the present and leave all that shit out, but that's not telling the truth.

And, really, it's far more complex than the hardware/software of the early twenty-first century. It's more the psychosocial changes wrought by the technology. I do not know these millennial minds. I can only be on the outside looking in, and I don't know how to do that, either. And I don't want to write a book about being lost and adrift and out of place in the present – which I surely am. I can only imagine setting books in the past, which is why my screenplay for The Red Tree was being set in 1979, and it's why the little I've managed to write on The Starkeeper is set in 1978. It's why "Interstate Love Song" (the short story) is set about 1994, and why Interstate Love Song (the novel), if I can spit it out, will be set in 1954 and 1994. I can set a story fifty years from now, even, but I cannot set a story now. Now – NOW – has become, to me, inscrutable. Unfathomable. Alien.

At fifty-two, I am not of here. I'm a foreigner in my own land, displaced by time. I am more in tune with 1916 than I am with 2016. The present is hostile to my being, and it is hostile to my imagination.

It's a matter of what philosopher of science T.S. Kuhn called incommensurability. I no longer know how to converse with the present; mine and its worldviews have become incommensurable.

And I have this photo from yesterday:

Aunt Beast