Tuesday, July 11, 2006

JP's Palimpsest

Link to the Original Story: Palimpsest - JP

This pitch gave me absolute hell. I wracked my brain the entire time, trying in vain to come up with something that would be cool. Perhaps a story of the overlay of modern life on the groundings of the natural world? Yah. A meditation on how we truly become different people built on the ruins of our own selves? Too hard (but see JED’s for an excellent treatment). Finally, I was running out of time, and at the last minute, I sat down and this idea just came to me, and out it flowed.

This is one of my favorites of my own pieces so far, honestly. Originally there were only two voices, normal and italic (the first couple words shouldn’t be bolded, but for format). Then the other two just kind of popped up out of nowhere. While you can’t read the fragments of each type separately, I think each one tells its own story, and gives its own attitude. One voice sees the rest as compatriots, and takes comfort. Another views the probe with suspicion. Still another is hoping it will reach another of its own kind, and the last, of course, is the original. Can you tell who is who?

To make this comment yet a little longer, I think this story is what the Game is all about for me: I love it, I had a blast writing it, and it simply isn’t something I would consider right to market. The Game allows us to share the things we’re proud of (and the ones we aren’t) in a setting devoid of commercial interest, and there’s something about that which makes the whole thing feel so awesome. Not that I’m against money (in fact, I love it!), but it’s really nice to have someplace to just right without that pressure.


This story is short, but I think it's an excellent showpiece for JP's newfound artistry with words. By which I don't mean to imply that he wasn't a good writer before - he certainly was. It just seems to me that recently he's reached a new plateau. In the words of RPG dorks everywhere, he's leveled up. And apparently this has bestowed upon him the ability to play with text in an almost e.e. cummings-esque way. This artistry also makes an appearance in his genre drabbles, and in a few other stories that only I know about just yet (yes, we have secrets). But this piece exemplifies it. Here you can see how he layers the words and fonts to create a pastiche of multiple cultures, revealing aspects of the individual, blending into a concerted chorus. Honestly, that's the best analogy for what he's created here - a multicultural cosmic chorus, all singing a dirge of lost life and memory...and hope. I think that underlying message, the deeper connectivity is one of the most beautiful things about this story. In it you can hear an almost mournful and individual loneliness, all these worlds like castaways lost and alone, never finding another living soul. But in their common destruction they achieve unity and in their death cries, immortality of a sort. The tragic beauty of this is moving. It takes a melancholy mind to concieve of such, but also a heart tinged with hope to bring out the better angels of such a eulogy. Frankly, though I feel this story is complete, it left me wanting more. I want to visit these places, meet these people, get to know them before they freeze or burn, hear their stories of discovery and loss and triumph. In the end, this story transports you, and isn't that what it's all about?

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