Tuesday, March 13, 2012

String of Consciousness Part Three: Work in Progress

Moving right along. Now that one string of yarn has been successfully untangled it is time to move one to a different thread. And that is how all this has been effecting the way I see and understand my own writing. My farthest along work in progress is called The Alchemist's Daughter. And right away the connection should be easy to see. Here I am writing a story that has an alchemist as the protagonists and I hear about this understanding of literature through alchemical symbols.

Let me take a moment to explain where the concept of this book idea came from and how it has grown. It started with inspiration which came from three distinct places: The Full Metal Alchemist, season four of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Firefly. These were the three main ingredients put into the soup that would become (and is becoming) the Alchemist's Daughter. What followed was a class called Morality after Modernity taught by Dr. Thobaben, the dean of the school of Theology and Formation as Asbury Theological Seminary. The final project of this class was to write a fictional short story then a social critic of the story. It was the perfect opportunity for this story to begin to take shape into what I will now and forever call the story's seed. The story was then shaped by the social change from Modernity to Post-modernity. Last November this seed became the starting point for my Nanowrimo Novel. The world was fleshed out the characters grew and somewhere I started to wonder if there was more to this story then I had originally thought.

It was about that time that I came in contact with Reggie Gate's pod caste one episode talked about the Narnian Code a book (or rather two books and a DVD) which grew out of one man's thesis from Oxford. And this was where I was introduced to what Medieval Cosmology was. The concept is that there are seven planets that revolve around the earth: Mars, Venus, Sun, Moon, Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn. Each of these effect people on earth for they are not death lifeless planets but the homes of spirits, or possibly spirits themselves. Supposedly C.S. Lewis wrote each of the Narnian books according to one of the planets. It is actually an interesting subject and the Narnian Code is another book on my list of Nonfiction books I would like to read before the end of the year.

Quite frankly I loved this concept and not only has it been added to the cosmology and system of magic in The Alchemist's Daughter, also it is the foundation for another of my works the Utopian Chronicles, and it will probably play a large role in a top secret project known only by the code name “My Epic”.

But how does this connect back to the topic of this enormous stream of consciousness? Well first as I listened to Prinzi and Granger talk about Alchemy I quickly saw how I could easily incorporate these themes into my story which is already about an Alchemist. And second was a turn that I didn't expect. They began to talk about the use of alchemy in terms of the predominate philosophical world views of our time. The critic of modernism by post modernism, and how postmodernism may raise many good questions but it fails to give good answers. They began to talk about how Rowlin, Meyer, and Collins use the Alchemy to show the postmodernist that there is something good and beautiful in the world. How they get into the post modern worldview and critic it by saying that there is a narrative that is true.

Now I will talk about this more in a minuet but here I want to continue to unravel how this idea relates to my own writing. See I don't consider myself a postmodernist. I think the worldview is flawed. That is not to say I am a modernist, I think that worldview is also flawed. And each of my works reflect my thinking on the material and the Spiritual. It seems to me that Modernism divorced the two and postmodernism attempts to eradicate the spiritual. Alchemy is the harmonizing of of the material and the spiritual. And it is that harmony to which I aim for in my writing, or at lest the need for Harmony.

In The Alchemist's Daughter Magic is a reality but it has been outlawed. No matter what kind of magic user they are they are seen as enemies of the state. Sciences has concord magic. The whole story came from one line from the Full Metal Alchemist: “I don't have to follow your superstitions I am a man of science!” Listening to the conversation between Prinzi and Granger has possibly solved a problem I have been having with the idea of making this book into a series, a goal. Not to mention a changing of the structure.

Their talk is also influencing another of my projects Ashes and Snowflakes. This project grew out of my hatred of what Stephanie Meyer did to vampires making them into, well as Cordelia put it “care bears with fangs.” Listening to John Granger however pointed out that these book has at it's core an attempt to over throw and prove the meta narrative false. That being that humans and vampires can not co exist, however Nessi and the other half vampire prove that they can. Don't worry I haven't changed my mind on these books but wit this in mind I realized something about my own vampire story.

The idea that Vampires can be good takes them out of the realm of the spiritual and goes more along the idea that vampirism is a diseases rather then a spiritual condition. Ashes and Snowflakes is my attempt to reassert that vampirism is a spiritual condition. I can see how using the concepts behind literary alchemy can be helpful in telling that story.

Lastly I want to say something very briefly about how this might even be effecting “My Epic” though not much because really I want to say as little about this project as possible. As I listened to John Granger talk about how alchemy was every where and people were seeing it all over the place I started to think 'wouldn't it be fun to completely screw with this structure? Like make it look like it might be there but not really?” and I started to think of how this might work in my top secret project.

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