Saturday, October 27, 2012

Dracula Musings

Saturday, October 27, 2012—Long Beach

The heat is back, this time courtesy of some moderate Santa Ana winds, which began coming in a few days ago. As usual, as well as cranking up the temperature, they’ve dried everything out (dry skin and chapped lips are the order of these days) and stirred up a bunch of dust and pollen, which has had me sneezing my head off. Still, I don’t mind this weather too much. There’s no humidity, to go with the heat, which means things are still comfortable. Also, unlike summer heat, the desert air coming in cools off at night (it actually can get a bit chilly), so my apartment cools off too and I can get a good night sleep. It wouldn’t surprise me if these winds are with us off and on for much of the next few months. It’s been a decade and a half since we’ve had a heavy Santa Ana winter and we are way overdue.

My school routine goes on, but I’m suddenly ahead of the game, so I’m moving thru it pretty easily. This has left me a little more time than usual to myself. Last night I spent some of that time having dinner with K—, who’s in from Rome. Mostly, though, I’ve been just relaxing at home, taking care of some long-put-off housework and attempting to relax; I’ve been feeling pretty uptight lately and when I start feeling like this I know it’s time to withdraw a bit and recharge. Mostly I’ve been spending my time trying to get caught up on my sleep (which hasn’t been going too well, mainly because I’ve been dealing with a series intense dreams that have also been annoyingly nonsensical). I’ve also been diving into my reading.

I’m still chipping away at the Verlaine poems (I can’t quite get into them, though). I’m still working my way thru Grimm’s complete fairy tales as well. A few days ago I started reading Dracula, by Bram Stoker. I can’t remember the last time I’ve enjoyed a novel (maybe even a book) so much. I tried to read it several years ago but couldn’t get into it. I now have no idea why. It’s simply one of the most fun novels I’ve ever run into. Great ideas, great atmosphere, great imagery—great creepy everything. Well, there’s actually not much in the way of character development, but that’s OK, because that would just slow things down. It’s a book about plot, broad desires: the characters so far seem to be mostly types, or at their higher moments, symbols—who they are is all of us, from different angles, which is a kind of writing I’m coming to greatly appreciate …

I’m seeing a lot of myself in Stoker’s masterpiece. More accurately, I see my goals. With the Backwaters books I’m trying to write this sort of simple mythology, this kind of innocent storytelling. The story fragmentation of our post-modern world seems to me to be coming out of a kind of social dead end. The inwardness, the lack of plot is almost analogous to our giving up on something greater, on forces beyond us. We’ve been everywhere, done everything, disproved the mysteries, so there’s nothing else left but narcissism, cynicism (I know because I’ve been caught up in this as much as anyone). I want books to be about big things—hope, terror, love, death. Most of our literature today is about ennui, in some manner and from some angle. Adventure should not be a dirty word amongst novelists. The trouble is when we think of adventure today we think of crappy Hollywood movies. This is all part of our exhaustion—we expect fake thrills to be pushed upon us because all that’s left for us is exploitation augmented by our delusions ...

Man, this has all got huge somehow (and pretentious?). Wasn’t I just talking about a vampire novel? The point is I want books to be fun! I want life to be fun. These are almost unheard of desires in the art worlds today. I’m becoming more a child of Homer than Hamsun (talk about pretentious!) …


Been rethinking some things. My Greek studies have fallen off. Maybe this is for a reason. I’m thinking of expanding my travels this summer. I still want to head back to the Greek isles, but maybe that should just be part of where I go. Reading Dracula has got me thinking about eastern Europe (there’s a few places there I’ve wanted to see for a while). Last night K— also recommended Croatia as being a place I might like. I’m feeling a bit more of a bounce in my step since I started thinking like this. I tend to get obsessed with things, places, people, and when I do life starts to become a job. This, I think, is because it is my nature not to be tired down. I believe this is why I get obsessed so easily: I’m looking for something more permanent. Because my own nature frightens me a bit? Too much freedom is lonely? I’m on some level trying to fit into broader society (why is hard to say—out guilt, desire to be loved?)? I’ve been writing about how I want to move on in so many ways? Changing my traveling plans could be a part of that ...


Just realized that I started reading Dracula a handful of days before Halloween. Just a coincidence, I think: I've been planning on hitting this book since last summer ...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing..

Rob Woodard said...

You're welcome, mysterious stranger.