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Scriptorium

What is the Role of Myth in the Anthropocene?

“When the tread is thinnest…when we sense the tragedy of endings…when life and grace is threatened by deafness and ugliness…when tenderness is bullied…when fences of enclosure overshadow the last scrap of commons…then, which is now, comes a ferocity on the side of life, to protect, to cherish and to envoice what cannot speak in human language.”

Quoted on Terri Windling’s blog Myth and Moor; Jay Griffiths, as interviewed by Sharon Blackie.

 

Personal: The small, private familiarity of being hit by a freshness of Sweet Pea fragrance again. They were planted late, yet bloomed early.

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Idea: The Toppling of Edward Colston; a sea-shanty set in the fine tradition of political folk songs.

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Idea: Everyone knows the Bechdel-Wallace Test, right? I wonder if, in our current age of the Anthropocene, with the rise of cli-fi and eco-fiction, we could propose a similar ‘Eco Test’…?

eg. Is there any moment, scene, or setting in this book/play/movie/comic where the natural or non-human world exists not just as a plot device, deus ex machina, or as emotional background for the human characters? For example: Why isn’t the environment of the characters (the landscape they might be traveling through) a central character in it’s own right? Is it possible to write a story where the human protagonists exist in equal relation, and with equal prominence, to the non-human?

examples: Overstory by Richard Powers.

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Question: Are literary devices (points-of-view, allegory, pathos and bathos, Chekov’s Gun, flashbacks; flash-forwards; irony; synecdoche; reliability etc blah) tools in the sense that they are made-up conjurer’s tricks? Or do they describe reality?

As writers, artists, we are trying to express, display, explore something that exists, right? Even if it just a feeling, even if it is set on the blood-plains of Mars. It’s the reality of a feeling where all the juicy story nutrition comes from… It is the empathy we can encourage for characters and stories outside our own, r/t, first-person point-of-view.

So… In real life, it is not a host of ‘plot instances’ (I get that job, that lucky/unlucky thing happens to me) that form the bulk of our story. Instead, our daily motivations and actions seem just as comprised by other important, plot-defining things that don’t often get mentioned: half-remembered dreams; fragments of poetry; songs on the radio that wont go away; daydreams (or flash-forwards?); gut-reactions and subconscious instincts; premonitions and anticipations; ruminations and private dreads; things left unsaid; anxieties and sudden moments of satori…

How do we put all of that stuff into the literature of the future?

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Distanced Futures

During the virus years we would trade sourdough starters and kimchi, jam and bread and stranger concoctions, sneaking over garden walls to leave them on doorstops and windowsills. A quick wave, a prohibited flash of friendship, before we were off again on our deliveries. They were small gifts, it’s true – but they spread through the cities silently, like threads.

 

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Gratitude and inspiration to fiction what the future holds, mined from Kelvin Mason's story 'Future Imperatives (Take 2)'. Kelvin is a far braver writer than I am - and he (and comrades) have a recent book out!

 

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