Stephen King

So I just started Book 4 of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series and am absolutely loving it. Even though I’ve been reading from a very early age (significantly more since 2010) I had never read Stephen King until only recently. I would constantly see his books in book stores and think, “I don’t read horror” or “He’s too popular. He probably sucks.” Yes, but sometimes people who are really good become popular too. In Stephen’s case, he’s phenomenally talented.

In my opinion there’s two types of writers – one’s who want to write cool shit, not caring for the complexity, or two, one’s who want to show off their talents. Sometimes they overlap, but usually not. In Stephen’s case, he’s more of a writer of cool shit. His talent lies in making it look so easy. He avoids bigger words, not because he doesn’t know them, but because they distract and get away from the point. He’s very pragmatic and only cares about the story. Some authors get so lost in their own wordplay masturbation that it’s nearly unreadable. Stephen never falls into this trap.

But anyway, I’m halfway into this series now and can’t wait to see where Roland and Crew end up next. Glad I finally got over myself and started reading his shit.

Timidity

Last night I hooked up my guitar to my amp/cabinet for the first time in months. Ideally I’d love to play with that shit cranked to full volume, but in consideration of my neighbors I usually play unplugged, and very quiettly at that.

Part of the joy of playing comes in the cathartic release of repressed emotions. In my case that’s usually anger and sadness. So I tend to strum the guitar very strongly, something you’re not really supposed to do. I was talking to an actual guitarist about this and he says you need a “graceful” touch, a light playing of the strings. And I see his point. But I like to play aggressive music and it simply feels better to fuck the strings up a bit when playing. Plus I think it sounds cool with distortion. If you over-strum, you can get a lot of artificial harmonics going on, which to me is an incredibly cool sound.

So fuck the standard. I’ll do it my way.

Except, I don’t even do that, ’cause neighbors, you know? Instead I find myself too often just playing the guitar, not working it. And if I’m not working it, I’m not enjoying it.

Well, all this to say I got it set up last night so I could play through headphones. I’ve been listening to a lot of Deftones lately, specifically their White Pony album, and have been wanting to learn their songs on guitar. Well apparently I’d already learned them all 15 years ago because when I went to do so it all came back to me. And I realized that they’ve had a greater impact of my playing style than I knew.

Their guitarist likes to play dissonant chords, something I also greatly enjoy. Most of the time when he plays a power chord he also adds an extra string or two that changes the chord’s sound, usually to make it sound darker rather than brighter. This is a technique I stole from them although I hadn’t beeen aware.

But it all comes back to enjoyment, and I’m finding myself enjoying the guitar more and more once again. I gave it up for over a period of 5 years or so but have been playing it pretty consistently for the last 2. I’m by no means technically proficient from a classical perspective, but I can play rhythm fairly decently. I’m getting over my insecurities about my ability, now it’s time to get over my reluctantance of actually letting people hear it.

Dandelion

I see you fallen and discarded
Like a common dandelion
Longing to belong
Longing to be loved
Coming up short

And I see you clearly
Reflection in your soul
Revealing hurt in your heart
Locked without key
Lost without hope

Yet I will find a way
To free you from your pain
Release you from your hell
Enable you to be
Who you’re meant to be

But if you choose to flee
I will simply wait
And if you choose to search
You will surely find

Anger

I’m starting to feel more and more like my old self. The self that disintegrated upon smoking Salvia Divinorum. That self was pissed off, angsty, and generally fed up with the world at large. I went through a period of self-loathing and growth only to come back full circle to the anger. The anger that fuels. The anger that gets shit done.

So be it. Feels good to be back.

The Animal Which Laughs

But how, in essence, from the unprejudiced viewpoint of a Martian did Man differ from other earthly animals? Would a race that could levitate (and God knows what else) be impressed by engineering? And if so, would the Aswan Dam, or a thousand miles of coral reef, win first prize? Man’s self-awareness? Sheer local conceit; the upstate counties had not reported, for there was no way to prove that sperm whales or giant sequoias were not philosophers and poets far exceeding any human merit.

There was one field in which man was unsurpassed; he showed unlimited ingenuity in devising bigger and more efficient ways to kill off, enslave, harass, and in all ways make an unbearable nuisance of himself to himself. Man was his own grimmest joke on himself.

Stranger In A Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein

Just Do It

In my count, I’ve probably read a good 100 – 150 books since moving to Oregon in 2010. It could even be much higher than that. Perhaps as much as 250 or 300. It’s hard to guess. But a lot.

Prior to moving to Oregon I’d be lucky to read one book a year. Now I’m reading dozens. And it’s calmed me down considerably. It’s given my mind food to digest. It’s allowed me to see myself in new light. All in all, a very positive experience.

And my imagination has grown as a result. I can picture worlds in my head much more easily. Before they were just words on a page, now they appear as great cathedrals, great works of art.

Hunter S. Thompson once copied The Great Gatsby, line for line, just so that he could experience what it must have been like to write something that good. I’ve been doing the same for Armor by John Steakley in the last few weeks. A little here and there, but a little is better than none.

I’ve found it has helped considerably. I’ve noticed nuances that had previously eluded me, and I’ve grown a deeper respect for his writing ability. Nothing is flashy, it all seems so simple. But he writes in such a way that you can’t help but turn the page. It’s gripping and gritty, something I admire greatly.

After I finish transcribing Armor I’m moving on to The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester and then Anathem by Neal Stephenson. I consider both to be true masterpieces of fiction—works of art.

Armor is a special book to me. My uncle handed it to me when I was 13 and told me to read it. It was my first foray into science fiction. Previously, I had only read The Hardy Boys or Goosebumps. But when I read Armor I connected on a deeper, emotional level. His writing just got to me, simple as that.

It was because of that book that I started seeking out great science fiction. I’m not sure what order I took but I eventually discovered Neal Stephenson. Actually, I recall my uncle once again suggesting Snow Crash. I didn’t really like it the first time I read it but I couldn’t help but feel it was really cool all the same. Just sometimes a bit too wordy. But it was his first book so forgive him, yeah?

But when I finally got around to reading Anathem I found out that he was to be one of my favorite authors. That book was equally as pivotal as Armor—it was the first time I read a book longer than 1,000 pages. Before, I would have found a book that size intimidating. The last book I just finished was The Stand by Stephen King, the uncut edition standing at 1400 pages or so. I wouldn’t even have dared had I not read and loved Anathem so much.

But now it comes down to why even read at all. And that is to write.

And I keep putting it off and off and it’s never going to get written that way.

So that’s how we get to this. An exercise in futility? Maybe, but an exercise all the same.

Better than nothing.

ertertwert

I don’t really write here much anymore but I’m bored so why not. The only reason this site exists is so that I can secure the domain name in case I need it in the future. I’ve been using the handle ‘ertertwert’ since 2000 and I’ve become somewhat attached. Most people pick a name they think sounds cool or has some intrinsic meaning – I just wanted efficiency. I can type those letters in less than a second, and that becomes incredibly useful when you are constantly entering email addresses and logins.

Simplicity man.