Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Follow Me; I'm the Pied Piper

This picture has nothing to do with the post that follows, but if you can't find it in your cold, dead heart to feel something for this tiny weiner -- I would ask you to check your pulse, sir.


Any of you who've had the pleasure of meeting me in real life know that I cultivate a pretty cut-rate, discount, bootleg air of mystery. I like to think that I've got secrets. I kid myself that I'm an enigma. But the fact is, I'm transparent as all fuck and when pressed to actually present evidence of the slightest depth, I fold like a cheap shirt.

This was brought home to me in an odd way this evening, as I settled in for my nightly round of "I'm bored/I don't have a tv/It's too early for bed" internet piracy. Piracy, you see, because I am janking some unlucky fool's broadband at the moment. I keep promising to sign up for my own service, but mama is busy. And broke. And forgetful. Anyway

My internet stroll started with Christina Rosetti's Goblin Market, a poem I discovered as an undergrad and have loved ever since. I've toyed with the idea of adapting the story into a screenplay, but the epic fantasy I'm envisioning would need some Peter Jackson-type scrilla. At any rate, I poked around looking for some online criticism of the text, because -- well, my knowledge of proto-feminist critiques of Victorian marriage markets may not be all it should be, but lines like

She dropp'd a tear more rare than pearl,
Then suck'd their fruit globes fair or red:
Sweeter than honey from the rock,
Stronger than man-rejoicing wine,
Clearer than water flow'd that juice;
She never tasted such before,
How should it cloy with length of use?
She suck'd and suck'd and suck'd the more
Fruits which that unknown orchard bore;
She suck'd until her lips were sore...


beg some further study, y'all. It's a transcendant poem. The density and richness of the language carries an almost tangible weight.
But the point is, while looking for some cogent analysis of what that chick was doing sucking on strange men's fruit out in that bower one summer twilight, I was reminded of another macabre fantastique, The Pied Piper of Hamelin. I'm terribly, dreadfully, wonderfully captivated by the image of that lone child left outside the kingdom of fancy. I mean, while I can sympathize with the plight of the townspeople, whose greed provoked the piper's terrible seduction, I've always been more concerned with the child left behind, who must watch as all of his friends wander into some magic realm. And then...the door slams shut. The little lame boy is alone, and must return to his parents, carrying that horrible burden. In some versions of the story, the lame child is made lame by the piper himself, who cuts off the boys toes -- as an act of kindness, you see, so that the boy doesn't share the fate of his fellow children.

Apparently, theories abound as the actual historical facts regarding the "tragedy of Hamelin." If you are like me, you had no idea that something actually happened to the children in that small German town in the 13th century (in fact, I didn't even know that Hamelin/Hameln existed outside of fairy tales) -- the problem is, no one knows exactly what. Creepy. Happy Halloween, you sonsabitches. Anyway

While checking out various versions of the pied piper legend, I was forcibly reminded of China Mieville's much-lauded debut novel, King Rat, which is an extended riff on the pied piper story. This is notable for two reasons: 1) I have always meant to read some China Mieville, but have never got around to it because I have irrational dislike of people who, while younger than me, go on to achieve stunning artistic and commercial success in a field I claim as my own; 2) I keep forgetting. Nevertheless, from the time he appeared on the British SF scene, people have been riding China's jock like whoa; and I distinctly recall that, while I was in London and dating Oisin*, I campaigned endlessly for him to arrange for me to meet ol' China (I mean, young China: that bitch published King Rat when he was 26! Anyway).

As you may or may not recall, dear readers, Oisin was an editor at [publisher's name deleted] and, in a fit of generosity that characterized him all over, had once arranged for me to get in to a sold-out Iain Motherfucking Banks (my favorite SF author EVAH) reading at...well, I'm blanking on the name of the bookstore, but it was right across the street from The Borderline, which is the club where I went and saw Chris Whitley play tracks from his then current cd, Rocket House. Image Hosted by ImageShack.us And you should care about that, kids, because Chris passed away almost a year ago, and his passing marks the loss of a real gem. I would move on with an Anyway here, but I just don't have the heart...

Anyway, I kept asking Oisin to introduce me to China, but that wily little homebiscuit wisely intuited that I was only asking out of bitterness and guile...and possibly a little curiosity-tinged lust, as China Mieville is hot like fiyah


...so Oisin gave me his best Irish "bitch, please" and we kept it moving.

So I missed meeting Mr. Mieville, but I always tucked his name in the back of my mental file for future reference, see? It was a new experience for me, this having a male nemesis. Fergus knows what I talk about when I introduce the topic of my nemeses. So does Bernie, now that I think about it. In fact, all of y'all sonsabitches probably know what I am talking about, because I am perpetually spotting new ones whenever I am out. T-Rex knows what I am talking about. Some people just demand that you punch them. Most of my nemeses are in that "I have to punch you" category, but only because I'm a petty, small-minded woman who realizes the extent of her own limitations and has to resort to violence to solve problems. Bitch. Anyway

As I said before, I'm a jealous little dramatic loser, and people who are ambitious, successful, intelligent and attractive get on my cotdamn nerves. Fuck those winners. So you know I was not having it with China Mieville. Dude publishes his first book at 26, has been nominated for (and won) almost of the major SF prizes out there, and then goes on to do a motherfucking PhD in InternationaldamnRelations at the LondondamnSchoolofdamnEconomics (alma mater of ol' cat arse himselfImage Hosted by ImageShack.us, another one of my icons -- well, the man who stands in front of one of my icons) and is a mover and shaker in leftwing politics?! Are you fucking kidding me?! I hate when someone else is living your life, but doing it better. You know what I'm saying? Like, they actually bother to get off their asses and do all the stuff you wish you could do. And they look good doing it. I hate those sonsabitches.

So, I'm reading a little blurb about King Rat, my first-male-nemesis' debut novel, and I see that further down the page, there is a link for a list Monsieur Mieville has written called "Fifty Fantasy and Science Fiction Works that Socialists Should Read." And Lord knows, my geek ass is always looking for a)reading recommendations, and b) something new to disagree with, so I headed over to that corner of the internets and sturm und drang, deus ex machina, achtung baby: the first book on his list is Iain Banks' Use of Weapons. Now, that's my favorite book by my favorite author. So you know China and I are in like Flynn now, right? And then homefries goes on to namecheck Octavia Butler. Man, I changed my mind about this dude. We are going to have to be best friends!

Ok, I did not mean for this post to get so long, or for it to be...well, essentially a testament to the ways in which I've allowed resentment and envy to make me crazy, but the message with which I started tonight's missive has now returned to center stage. It is this: apparently, I can only keep one or two things -- three, max -- circulating in my brain at any one time. Look at this post: everything all winds up leading me back to stuff I already know about or care about. It's as if I'm always meeting new people at a bar and finding out that they've dated a cousin of mine. Nothing I ever look at or experiece is its own autonomous thing, anymore.

6 comments:

Electric Mayhem said...

You lost me at "anyway", but the weiners are cute.

Anonymous said...

Have you read any Ursula K. LeGuin? I mean, besides A Wrinkle In Time that you read in fourth grade. She's got some good short stories - The Birthday of the World is one of my favorite collections.

Adams said...

Although I struggle with some of her other stuff, I lovelovelove LeGuin's Earthsea novels. I especially appreciate how she was up in arms over the recent SF channel adaptation, because they changed the race of the main character.

Madeleine L'Engle wrote A Wrinkle in Time, but I loved that mess, too.

zach said...

My god, how do you live without a TV? I don't know if you're into the comic-book (sorry, graphic-novel) style scifi so much, but you're missing out on Heroes, man. Save the cheerleader, save the world. Brilliant!

Also, I was introduced to the more sinister side of the Pied Piper tale via the movie The Sweet Hereafter. Somehow as a kid, I overlooked a lot of the terror in fairytales. I blame Disney.

So, are you familiar with Goethe's Der Erlk├Ânig? It's terrifying and, while short, I nevertheless always wanted to base a screenplay on it. There's no low-hanging fruit, but maybe we could collaborate.

Anonymous said...

D'oh!

Of course Madeleine L'Engle wrote A Wrinkle in Time. I'm just retarded.

I didn't see (nor hear of) the Sci-Fi channel production - did you hear whether it was any good or not?

Adams said...

I heard it was crap-ish. I try not to think about it, because Danny Glover was involved, and I love him. Oh well.