(World Fair St. Louis 1904)
Not The Big City
The Home Town
Our culture (that is Western Culture) is so oriented towards the end product the input into the end product is often overlooked and even disappears altogether. The final product simply seems to appear like the genie in the TV commercials and there is little interest on where this particular genie comes from. The hometown of our personal genie or muse, so to speak. The origination of the ideas we get for various writing projects. How writing projects are related to our personal life cycles. As well as our current goals and beliefs and missions in life. Our politics. Our religion. Based on this, how we accept and process new ideas. Into literature in our case.
Yet it should be the case studied more and more with artists. Not the final products but how certain muses and impulses separated themselves from others at particular points in time and made the art spirit in us pursue them. For me, I am sure that there are many Jungian forces at work on the artist. Such as connections into what Jung called the “collective unconsciousness” of one’s time. Jung felt that a culture at a particular point in time possesses a “collective unconsciousness” or general attitude or zeitgeist, or archetype, or perhaps emotion.
The real artist in culture does not create as much as feel this particular attitude of his or her times. This zeitgeist. The true artist is in touch with this general symbol of their times, one might say.
It is interesting how projects started in the past compete for my attention each day. There are many of these projects out there. Not finished. Waiting to be started up again. Worried about being abandoned.
A few recent ones are perhaps worth a mention.
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Spirit Catcher – Taking my book on John Coltrane to a screenplay. This project was started about six months ago with a contact to the leading John Coltrane scholar in America Lewis Porter. He agreed that a Coltrane movie would be interesting. One was attempted at one time but had been dropped. We would stay in touch. I began to write a screenplay in Final Draft 8. It was based on Coltrane’s life from about 1954 to 1967. Mostly, scenes from my book Spirit Catcher. Yet reviewed by Lewis Porter was my hope.
I began to think of the powerful voice of Coltrane’s apprentice, McCoy Tyner. The story seemed to end in some sense with the death of Trane in 1967 yet the story also seemed to go on through the life and music of McCoy Tyner who carried on the flame of John Coltrane, carried it into the new world. No one, to my knowledge had ever written a biography on McCoy Tyner’s music and life. It was Tyner’s Inner Voices that powerfully pulled me back into jazz in 1978. So, the project floats around in the bay of my mind. Not subject to too many winds. Just sitting there. Waiting to be called up somewhat like Joseph Conrad called up his old crew in is his book The Rescue after all the years.
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A Lost Mission – A novella written in one week over Christmas of 2014 in Ohio. I wasn’t planning on writing anything when I went back to Columbus, Ohio to spend the Christmas holidays with my in-laws. I had bought a book called The Big Knockover by Dashiell Hammett and read the stories with much interest. All written in the 1920s during the rise of his writing. In Columbus I bought The Continental Op, another collection of his stories from the 1920s. I read Red Harvest and re-reread Maltese Falcon. The result of reading these was a chapter that started at a filling station in the middle of the Nevada desert with a detective chasing the daughter of a Salt Lake City billionaire who has disappeared. The novella Lost Mission is 25,000 words and takes place in San Francisco. The novella The Lost Mission post is available on this web site by hitting that title in the archive to the right.
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Milestones – After the Paris terrorism events, I thought about my book Battle of Symbols written right after 9/11 and published in 2003 by the Swiss publisher Daimon Verlag (Zurich). The book is about the conflicting symbols of the east and west. One of the major books I discovered while researching my book was Milestones written by Sayyid Qutb. The author spent the years 1948 – 1950 living in America.
Many have written about his two years in America and how that might have molded Qutb’s thinking and ultimately radical Islamic thought responsible for acts like the Paris events of January 2015. The most enlightening account of Qutb’s two years in America is the first chapter in the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright. The chapter titled THE MARTYR is a powerful piece of writing and led me to wonder if his trip had ever been put into a dramatic context such as a novel or screenplay. I wrote Lawrence Wright and he wrote back, “Honestly, I don’t think Qutb’s trip has ever been rendered dramatically. It could be quite interesting, I agree.” We’ll see what happens with this project.
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The Journey – An idea that developed from a short clip called THE JOURNEY on ESPN I saw on Monday, January 12th, a few hours before the National Championship Football Game between Ohio State and Oregon. It is about a fourteen-year old boy who has the disease called Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Jacob is not expected to live much longer than his twenties. He has become the official mascot of the amazing Buckeye team this year. He attends all the practices. Travels with the team to games. Attends their meetings. Is wheeled out on the field as an honorary co-captain in one of their games. There is a video shot in the ESPN film with the young boy breaking-up in tears in the OSU locker room and than hugged by coach Urban Meyers.
My idea is to write a story narrated by a young man like the boy in the story about his amazing journey with the football team. Perhaps the boy is keeping a journal about his travels with the football team. They mix with his observations about life.
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Anyway, some of the (over noisy) ideas hanging out in the “home town” area of my mind, not yet created into a product and still just ideas. Not the final “big city” of a completed product but the “home town” of where completed products come from.
A major shift in perspective is required for western culture to concern itself with internal inputs for literature rather than external products of literature. It is more than a matter of argument about the final content of a literary product but rather a focus on an early step in the creation of a literary product.