HIGH ILLUSION from THE BASILEGATE

Alatha moved towards Marsippius as he rose. He was naked in the firelight.

When she reached him she examined him closely. Then she took her finger and began to lightly trace some of the many imperfections in his flesh.

“You have been often wounded?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“Why?” she questioned.

“Duty,” he replied wearily. “Duty and manhood.”

“It is manhood to be often wounded?”

“In part,” he said flatly. “Any man without scars is no man at all.”

She stared into his eyes. They were dark like hers. Deep Greek eyes, full of inquiry. Proud Roman eyes, full of purpose. But to him her eyes were inscrutable.

“Perhaps,” she said quietly, “a man should be more than his scars.”

He reached up and took her hand, the finger of which still lingered upon the long jagged white line of an old wound on his chest. The wound of a much younger man.

“Perhaps,” Marsippius replied, “you are very wise among your kind.”

He glanced at the fire. To him the flames in the hearth seemed to burn immensely hot, yet almost entirely silent. He wondered if the fuel of this world burned differently.

When he looked back at Alatha she was once again staring deeply into his eyes. But once again he could not read her mind. He started to move forward to kiss her and then thought better of it.

She did not. Seeing his intent she moved forward and kissed him warmly upon the lips.

Then she leaned back slightly and traced her finger gently across the lips she had just kissed.

“There seem to be no scars here,” she said.

“Illusion,” he said. “There are too many to count. They are nothing but scars. So they seem untouched. Yet…” he added, seemingly almost as an afterthought, “there is room still for a few more, if you so wish.”

She laughed quietly.

“What is wish but High Illusion?” she whispered. So she pressed against him and kissed him again.

 

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A scene from my novel The Basilegate.

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MY POWER IN HER PLEASING

As part of my reading today I came across this passage in a work of ER Eddison:

“My pleasure is my power to please my mistress:
My power is my pleasure in that power.”

Which, compared to the surrounding work, struck me as dull and listless and uninspired. I didn’t like it and thought it could have been much better, comparatively speaking. (If it is indeed a quote cited from another work I have not as yet found the original source.)

So I decided to rework the couplet (and thereafter expand it) to see if I could render a better and more apt and more fit version (given the surrounding context). As an experiment, such as the kind of experiments I did on rewriting verse as a young kid.

 

This is what I developed:

“My pleasure is my power to please my mistress:
Her power in that pleasure is to my pleasing
Such powers, pleasing to us both
Yield pleasures sweet and e’er unending
In memory and reminiscence all alike
To the very powers of those pleasing acts.”

INTERRACIAL ROMANCE, INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE, A ROCK STAR, AND THE DEEP SOUTH

Today I went to a store called the Dollar Tree. I go there to pick up stuff like razor blades and trash bags and so forth because “everything there is a dollar. (As my wife would say).

Well a few months back I also discovered that they sell books. And not bad books either, but I imagine these are overstock books Barnes and Noble (or some such bookstore, maybe even a whole-seller) couldn’t sell all the copies of off their shelves so instead they liquidate their overstock and unload their surplus to this company. (I used to do liquidations so I know how it works.) I’ve added to both my fiction and non-fiction personal libraries from their book section, and some of those books are quite good, such as Michael Crichton’s Micro and George Anders’ The Rare Find (which I’ll discuss later).

So today I’m browsing their new book selection and find a book called Rock Star. It appears to be a romance and ordinarily I don’t read romances, much less books about rock stars, but this one has an interesting blurb premise. It’s the story of a White Rock Star named Bryan from LA who goes to a small town in Alabama and meets a young black girl named Callie.

Now my wife is black and I am white and so this was a point of interest to me as far as the premise went. But it gets better, much better.

The boy is an urbanite and I guess not very religious but the black girl is a devout Southern church girl. So score that for me being interested too. Now my wife has never been hamstrung by being an urbanite or a self-styled sophisticate, and neither have I. We’re both country-people and couldn’t be happier about that. (Coincidentally, today, I just happened to hear John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country-Boy” on the radio, a song I haven’t heard on the radio in a very long time.) However this conflict between the supposedly sophisticated and worldly modern urbanite and the devout, rural, down to Earth country-person also often appears in my own writings. My fiction, non-fiction, poetry, song-writing, you name it.

Finally the book also addresses the entertainment industry, an industry for which I have great disdain (though not for everyone in it) and since my wife is a singer I know exactly how corrupt such industries can often be, and how difficult they are to work in.

So the book had three very interesting premises and themes running throughout the plot. At least according to the blurb. Enough to make me decide to buy it and read it. I mean it was only a buck, so even if it is bad I haven’t wasted much of anything. But if the quality of the writing and story matches the thematic premises then I might enjoy it a lot.

Anyhow as I’ve already said the conflict between urban and rural life is a big personal theme throughout my own works. In addition I understand the corruption of things like the entertainment and music industries through personal (if limited) experience, and if you ask me much of the degeneracy of those industries arises precisely from the fact that they are, for the most part, big-city urbanite undertakings.

So that one form of urbanite corruption feeds off of, or feeds another. It is cyclical, circular, and self-feeding. The urbanite outlook fertilizes the corruption; the corruption further bloats and enlarges the mass-urbanite scheme behind these self-absorbed industries.

Yet in the final analysis, as fascinating as all of these themes are to me, I purchased the book because I too am interested in writing a series of Interracial Romances. (Those who know me might think it bizarre I’d write anything like a romance, but in this case, yes, I would.) Now my wife and I have faced very little opposition to our marriage or very little opposition in any way due to our racial differences. And race never really comes up as a matter to us, except occasionally in a joking way – because she can’t dance worth a crap. (She can sing well though.)

So I wish to write a series of interracial romances that far more realistically deals with what marriage and relationships are like between interracial couples than merely focusing upon the racial aspects. (Which have been the least of our obstacles, if they ever have been an obstacle at all, and truthfully I can’t say race has ever been an obstacle to us.)

Now I do think that many people are interested in the subject of interracial romance and marriages. Rightfully, or wrongly. A lot of people who have never been involved in one seem to think there is some big set of obstacles to overcome or some big set of social problems to face.

The only problems we’ve ever faced are the same ones any married couple are going to face: finances, sex, children, work, arguing, learning to understand each other as individuals, etc.

Therefore I wish to write a set of interracial romance books that are far more realistic and focus upon the real issues of an interracial marriage. Which have nothing to with some overarching racial bullshit (that may be the case in a small minority of such marriages, but as with any marriage those kinds of problems, nowadays at least, are very small compared to the real problems face din any marriage), but with the real difficulties of marriage: money, sex, romance, children, work, etc. In the end all marriages and all romances between couples come down to relationships between two individuals, not two races, or two classes, or two cultures, or ay of that other claptrap our society likes to politicize and call socially erudite and consequential. If the two people cannot get along it will not be because of their race, but because of their individual personalities and natures, if they can get along then it will not be because of their race (or class) that they do so, but because of their individual natures. Race, class, background, etc. may influence and variegate relationships, but those factors are far from determinative.

In other words I want to write some interracial romances that do not focus upon race but focus upon real human problems in marriage such as those I outlined above. I want to demystify this socially created and politically irrelevant bullshit of race-obsession and write some romances that focus upon the problems that individuals truly face in a relationship, relationships in which the individuals involved just happen to be different races. In other words realistic interracial romances.

Now I don’t want to give the impression that my wife and I have a bad marriage, or even a difficult one. We don’t, we have a very good and happy marriage and it gets better every year, although there have been times when the marriage was worse than it is now, and times when it was difficult. But none of those times were due to factors like race, even when we were dating, and we live in the Deep South. Though to be honest the modern Deep South is one of the most thoroughly integrated and best places in the entire nation for good race relations – as a whole. As with the mostly false misconceptions about interracial romances (at least in the rural South), the political propaganda regarding the modern South is largely fabricated and almost entirely erroneous. I’d take the good race relations of the rural South (most places in the South that is) over the race relations in almost any truly big city in the US any day and every day. There is no way at all I’d trade the race relations of the Upstate of SC for the race relations of Chicago or Los Angeles, for instance, and no way I’d want to live in places like Chicago or Los Angeles for that reason, or for any other reason I can name just to be honest.

Anyway I’d like to write some far more realistic books, as well as a literary novel (as a matter of fact I am writing a literary novel on this very subject – The Cache of Saint Andrew), on the subject of interracial romances and marriages.

That’s why I bought this book called Rock Star. I don’t know if it will be any good or not or if the story or the writing will be well done, but I very much like the premises of the book. So maybe in that sense it will be worth far more than the buck I paid for it. At the very least it may give me some further thematic ideas or help me refine my own.