Bizarro author Bruce Taylor currently lives with his partner, Roberta Gregory, and their “Tuxedo” Cat, Roo, in a condominium with a smashing view of Mt. Rainier (as yet, not erupting). He writes in a form and style generally called Magic Realism; he was Writer in Residence at Shakespeare & Company, Paris (1986), and he has coedited an anthology with Elton Elliott, titled, “Like Water for Quarks: Science Fiction Meets Magic Realism”. One of his books, “Kafka’s Uncle and Other Strange Tales”, was nominated for the &NOW Award for Innovative Writing, (SUNY, NY). Bruce has had over 200 stories published in numerous anthologies and is also sorting out and rewriting some 800 stories written over forty years.
Let’s say those are people. Let’s further assume they tend to levitate: What are some of the most impressive pieces of experimental art you’ve encountered so far.
I don’t know of many people who do experimental art that physically levitate, but somewhere in them, they surely MUST levitate to realms that are utterly ethereal. The classic experimentalist would HAVE to be Dalí. And then there’s Magritte–both painters have a way of incorporating the real and the dream in ways that are simply captivating and stick with you. While I look at Dalí’s art as more in the realm of the surreal, Magritte would be, I think, more in the area of magic realism with basically a realistic setting with something fantastic happening, but still seems part of the „realism” of the painting. I would also add the art of Robert Gonzales (paragonfineart.com) which really showcases magic realism art nicely, Paul Bond (www.paulbondart.com), whose art looks vaguely influenced by Magritte, especially the painting of an ornate, white mantled fireplace with ocean waves washing through the firebox onto the living room floor. I would add also two folks, locally in Seattle, who I think are doing some of the most experimental and imaginative art around: Carl and Lida Sloan (electricvoodooart.com) have been using layered, digital photography with stunning results, ranging from the surreal to magic realism. Very worth looking at their website.
Could you imagine (or emulate imagining) just for a brief moment that you don’t know the meaning of the word „levitate”? What does its phonetic structure feel like? What about „schweben”?
Ohhhh–I get it! You are seeking an experimental response in regard to your question–so how’s this?
I saw her name plastered across the billboard of my mind. „LeviTate.” Levi as in levity, as in schweben, Tate as in I don’t l don’t know what. What is a tate? I let the concept roll around in my skull like a wrinkled potato from last week’s dinner viewing of „Last Supper” where Christ was aware that something was going on that wasn’t quite right but hadn’t reached a consciousness and skill to look around and say, „What the fuck?“ but that is neither here nor there or anywhere so I went back to thinking about Levi, Levi. I began to like how the word sounded and the more I let it roll in my skull, the less it became like a potato but more like a fresh and pale turnip, the difference being I liked the color better. But anyway, I called out to her, and I said, „I hear you like Dalí!“
She yelled back to me. „Who the fuck cares anymore?“
I liked her immediately. She, being like my hostile mother who saw no redeeming value in me except to crawl in bed with her when I was still naive. LeviTate. Levi for short. Levi was a she, now I remember, yes, and as a she, I saw her drifting up on a different plane than I, I on a lower one, admiring her, I guess, from a distance, but you know, distant things always look curious because they aren’t really clear so we fill in the blanks with our imaginings and usually the worst or the absolute best which have nothing to do with reality. So I saw here floating there, in a gauzy yellow dress against a pale blue background of starless sky. She drifted on a darker blue sheet of something I guess, like glass and I looked to where I was, on also a square of something, like glass, and I took a moment to touch it. Then hit it. Thok, thok. More like plastic and warm.
Warm. Silky. A vaginal silkiness like when your dick is all slippery and moving really nicely against the velvety vaginal walls and the remembering of it was like a hypnotic mental liquor and made me stiffy and all but I put that aside lest the AmeriKore Purity Police looked into my skull from drone flies, the size of miniature bumble bees, flying around taking pictures of everything as if everything in existence was a terrornasty ready to hurt Mommy Merika all over again. There’s no accounting for that type of paranoia except the sociopathic part of it which says „I don’t have a fucking clue why anybody would be pissed at me ‘cause in my eyes, what I do is above and beyond reproach and the evil I see in others has nothing to do with me so I don’t have to look.“
I wanted to shout that to Levi, to the stars, but Levi seemed uninterested and there were no stars, being that they had all been yanked out of the sky, recalled for repairs for shining at the wrong time and dimension and the only people out there who would deal with something like that would be a Kafka or a Marquez, neither of whom are alive anymore hence their words apply to the universe as it was, not as it is now. But I digress. And undaunted and unperturbed, I called out to Levi again. „Levi,“ I yelled, „cum dream of my life, moist orifice of my reason to be, give me a clue. Give me a something with which to hang my angst on so this all makes sense even though it never will.“
„Eat shit, dogface, you are less than I am, you’re on a level too far away and down from me. I am better than you. I am ascended. I am special. The world is me. You are nothing. Less than that. What would we possibly talk about that would be beneficial to me?“
„I don’t know,” I yelled back, „but thought I’d try. Isn’t there some part of you that is still human?“
„Doncha get it?“ she yelled, now leaning over the edge of her glass plane, „Doncha get it? You have no idea from what you need to be liberated from. It’s men, MEN, who have screwed up everything, not women.“
Zingo. I winced. She’s right. But not all men. But certainly enough men. Then I caught myself. Why am I turning against my own gender? Then I caught myself again. Because she’s right.
I saw her drifting on that plane of glass higher and away from me. Levi Tate. Yes, her name. Levi moving away from me. Levi being as all women moving away from all men. Maybe that’s what it takes for UsMen to look at ourselves and make new decisions about what it is we need to liberate ourselves from.
FLASH! Oh my, such brightness that even artists like Dalí and Magritte and the Sloans could not imagine in the brightest acrylics or photoshop at their command. Brightness as if all the bees in the world transformed their buzz into light or if all the eruptions in the history of the planet came together into one bright seething sheet of brilliance and in that light I saw Levi and she looked at me with eyes filled with the incandescent light of curiosity bordering on astonishment. In spite of such brilliance of her appearance, she looked at me and I felt a coolness, a delicious coolness emanate from her bright light. „Some of us really do try to treat others, sexual orientation and gender and all, like we ourselves would like to be treated. Really.“
„Where on Earth do you come from?“ she asked.
„A place called Seattle,“ I replied.
„What do you do there?“
„Try to be decent.“
„And you know the planet is going to fry.“ she said. „Why shouldn’t I hate what the mentality of Man Capitalism has done to the planet?“
I shrugged. „I agree. Why shouldn’t some of us men hate the Man Capitalism that is destroying the planet? Not all of us men sit around measuring the length of our dicks.“
„Huh,“ she said.
So we sat there looking at each other, past the masculine bullshit, past the feminine bullshit, to the spirit that dwelled within.
So the two planes so far apart don’t have to be far apart. So the planes of existence of all life on this planet, though different, aren’t that far apart either. So. In the sky, we sat on our sheets of glass, looking at the starless sky, then looking down and below to the smoking Earth, burning in fire, sound and fury.
What is your reaction to the latest scientific discovery that the human brain never ever, at no point, touches the inner skull due to total and complete levitation?
He looked at me and pointed with a flaming stick and yarbled, „You! Brain. No touch nothing solid.“
I was throcked and upsided by his comment of no mere lassitude and formaldehyde. How dare he conjectoralize on the state of my brain? MY brain? Me one and only thin and think that I knew as true as the color blue and sometimes lavender. „Bosco!“ I churled back. „Bosco! You one sicko puppet dog! It’s levitation pure and simple and as complex. Wha’chu issue with it?“
„Brain to touch solid is to be thought-locked into bone of your bone hence flesh of your flesh.“
„Dumbska! You brain no attached to null ether so what’s what what?“
He looked at me. His eyes green-grey and penetrating as a weenie stick on Bastille Day without the Bastille. Slowly and more slowly than even that slowly, my brain slipping around in skull water & saw his body formatating before my body-consciousness. Not just the mouth, the eyes, the stick in hands, but formy in that less mist-bod and more real bod replete and complete with delete here and there but now that makes difference not because it was what said he next.
„You!“ softer now with longdraw of the „o“ in „now“ which made me think of „cow“ which sounded much like „wow“ then „yow“ and the funning part of me curiously brain let go of all the wordstuff and sought to hear if there might & perhaps but maybe might me more beyond the cuticality of his wordums like maybe something closely serious might display upon my levitating brain („squish, squish“) it said when I nodded my head as sometimes I did before bed.
„Squish, squish. Squish, squish.“
The same feel-thot of like a dream and so tired of waiting for he to get back to me slipped into a strangilest state of higher levitation that is that of dream–
–He looked at me and said, „Does your brain levitate?“
I looked back at Stan, standing there in his pyjamas by the white plastic chair not far from the Freeway/Main Road/Avenue/Autobahn that was quiet this morning because of the celebration of Dead Birds and humanunkind was staying home, eating popcorn out of respect for the dead.
So said I to him, „All brains levitate, my good anarchist anti-Christ beaver killer. It is the way we be constructed.“
„What is the next level of levitation?“ he said, drinking something green out of a pale blue cup.
„Next step? Coming out of the dream where words make less sense than in a dream.“
„No shits,“ he said. „But what about you? But what about you?“
„What about me?“ I grinned earhole to earhole. „Just a writer of surreal stuff and realism that is magical and living my life in a nice place with utterwhammo view of Mt. Rainier near the washy shores of Puget Sound near Pugetopolis.“
He slapped hand to his head and the Disney characters on is pyjamas all yelled „Stop it!“ Minnie Mouse began to cry, Pluto barked and barfed and general mayhem erupted. „You’re Mr. Magic Realism.“
„And magic realism–“
„Is a dream.”
„And the dream?“
„And reality is–?“
Then he shook flamsy stick think at me faceme and me brain went like „Squish, Squish“ and he churled at me like flaming nasty from someotherwhen and said, „Rotsy! Brain! No attachedly to calcium against you brainskull!“
„Such like you brain no attached to nothin’ neither and such is nullvoid so off my case, bunkerbutt.“
„Butt bad, but bad–sloshy brain thinking nutsitudenly whacko off.“
„You–“ I snortled, „perhaptitude that is angst that you brain it goes into such flopitude. For me–“ I know I grinned and showed my dentality, „it is whatsy the nature is of realitude.“
Tell me about the new book you’re working on — does it tend to levitate as well?
Been working on many books; one of which was released from Bizarro Pulp Press and which is levitating into the stratosphere: INDUSTRIAL CARPET DRAG.
The back cover blurb which is in danger of levitating off the cover–I have to type this quickly for already the words are beginning to peel off the page and said words may soon become a little wordy planet circling the sun–
But qwik & quick:
„What’s not to absolutely LOVE in this deal: moving in with your best buddy and his sweetheart into a super-swank three bedroom town home with a WHAMMO view of Seattle and Mt. Rainier? OK, so the materials used to build it were on the cheap side and maybe they are outgassing more than they should, but no harm, right? Right? Yeah. Right.“
Ooops! There they went! The words just pulled up from the back cover and now are just levitating, levitating and–and–oooops–so
I. . . .
Sounds funny. What about stuff you don’t find funny? Why not?
To be serious here–what don’t I find funny? Denial of truth, reality and our impact on the planet and stubborn glorification of wanton ignorance. I don’t know if it’s not funny or just plain appalling.
Like, what about the simple fact that by writing or pronouncing words that are heard or read by someone, the writer or speaker is nothing else but a linguistic puppeteer, manipulating the millions of language strings=receptors in the brain of the listener/reader. So when I „hear“ someone say something like „Hi there, what a pretty pencil ublauw,“ in reality I’ve just been perforated with a hyperspleener 40,000 thousand times per second and am bleeding the fuck out, right?
Yupsy. I believe you to be askypostulating the Aged Old Question: what is it to Think? Moresomeover, a fascination with said process.
Well, to reek seriousness here for a split-nano-lifetime, how do we contemplate that which is incomprehensible? How do we come to comprestand our birth in an amazing place, then turn around and fuckitup SO bad as if blue skies, things that pop out of the ground and „grow,” whatever THAT’S about, creatures covered with fur simply wanting to bark or purr.
Their gratitude as our little pals along this incomprehensible journey called life whose siren call is to bring forth our existence as we fully and with life-speed head toward our dying–all this, ALL this lived as though it really isn’t strange at all.
Guess that’s why I like Magic Realism so much. In the narrative of a story taking place in a consensual reality, utterly bizarre things are happening, but seen as no stranger than things happening in a dream, as if the weirdest thing is still a part of reality.
Not too far from the truth, I say. Life IS Magic Realism. Writing Magic Realism simply points out via metaphor how strange life truly is: we just put on our Western Adult Glasses and toss the glasses of the Child that really did see reality as it truly is: wonderful as it is incomprehensible. So why are we not constantly celebrating it rather than blowing it up?
Just thinking of this all sends me levitating to dimensions of which time and space are even unaware.
Having said all this on this Day of Celebrating the Carnage of Dead Birds and Giving Thanks For Said Carnage Complete With Pumpkin Pie–some things to tell re. past paragraphs above about how to accept the incomprehensible. New books to come out this year, one of them TALES OF ALLEYMANDEROUS, ask this question: how do you accept that which is unacceptable, that is, (putting it in this context of this article) levitating to one’s levitated state: death. Ours, others. What is the mind trick that goes off when faced with such stuff that we don’t go mad? How do we stay cool when faced with the knowledge that someday you, me–we die, we won’t BE here anymore. Coming into this world and not knowing why, and once here, do all we can to not leave, though we must.
All is so incomprehensible. What mind trick do we use to make The Strangeness, The Incomprehensible–seem „normal” and of no great consequence? Does some Vice-President of Sales from Amazonius sneak into our dream state, pull out the chip for Wonderment and replace it with the chip for Buying?
Levitate on that for a while!
Oh, before I forget: ReAnimus books is reissuing in e-book and print, four out of print books: MOUNTANS OF THE NIGHT, MAGIC OF WILD PLACES (foreword by Brian Herbert), KAFKA’S UNCLE AND OTHER STRANGE TALES (again, foreword by Brian Herbert), and EDWARD; DANCING ON THE EDGE OF INFINITY (forward by Jay Lake. I’m still convinced THIS book could go places with right PR).
Anyway, update, blurb attack over. Back to levitating.
Did your family levitate as well or were you the only one?
Alas & woe most profudinous! The more I levitated up the more they levitated–down. I was, after eons of therapy and finally PTSD-iated, finally cognisant that they actively groomed me for illness and failure, passively punished me for success and emancipation. It has to be remembered the words of C. G. Jung: „Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.” My role in the family was to give purpose to the empty lives of two people who fell out of love with each other. So I was always torn between guilt over trying to be loyal to myself yet dealing with message that loyalty to family and parents came first. The end result for much of my life was to be such a people pleaser that when time came for me to do what was expected, more often than not, those ancient, unconscious loyalty issues would activate and I’d find some way to sabotage my efforts or, much to my dismay, ended up hurting, at worst, or disappointing at best, many folks who saw me better put together than I really was.
It has been a struggle moving forth and levitating as a writer. So many opportunities spoiled–but the solace I have is this, and it’s the same solace I have toward my downward levitating family of origin: to think in terms of deliberate evil is so bad ass. Gets nowhere. Far more accurate and smarter and realistic is simply to recognize that the human condition is, largely, unconscious. „Forgive then, father, for they know not what they do?” Yup. „You cannot know what you do not know?” Oh, yes. Or as Erasmus said in 1514: „It’s the worst of madness to learn what has to be unlearned.”
Majestic comment that. God knows where and how Erasmus levitated in 1514, but levitate he sure did. Maybe to make a statement like that, he had his own crap to deal with. (BTW, details of my challenges as a writer can be found in the first two books of my „spiritual trilogy”–MOUNTAINS OF THE NIGHT and MAGIC OF WILD PLACES. The third and final book of the trilogy is MAJESTY OF THE WORLD.)
So. In the end, forgiveness toward self, forgiveness to others. And in spite of it all,
I wrote, learned, wrote, and levitated to ethereal places indeed and met wonderful people indeed.
My family? To their memories, I now can extend only a strange mixture of sadness and compassion. And myself? I’ve continued to levitate, far, far beyond, away from the family though I’d lie if I said I were utterly free of those early experiences. No one ever really is. It’s just as we get older, we develop perspective as we develop compassion and wisdom.
And for me, it’s taken me to publication with the best of people–from the first collection of short fiction (The Final Trick of Funnyman) under the most erudite editorship of Jeff VanderMeer in l997 (which has just had a stunning review by William F. Nolan, the fellow who gave us Logan’s Run and fine friend with the late Mr. Bradbury) to having Ben Bova as my agent and now having four of my books that have been out of print accepted for reprint with ReAnimus Press with some of the finest names in IL (Imaginative Literature): Ursula K. Le Guin, Ben Bova, Damon Knight and many more, to having an offer by William Box of Box of Bizarro Press willing to publish much of my work.
Though all this comes later in life, well, it is what it is. And maybe the time taken to deal with my demons is exactly what was necessary to be where I am now, to finally not only be the best writer I can be, but most important, to be the best person I can be. Not perfect, but so much better.
Needless to say, in the end, I have levitated and levitated well; with, I hope, a sense of grace, gratitude and in the end, appreciation; levitated to a place pale blue and gently warmed–by starlight.
Bildquelle: © BT