351 proSSES news: a mapping to wander, homing in on Homer (via McAppalachia)

Dear Internet,

... & now we've got a new buddhish backdrop to ring in the era of 'SSES" 'SSES "SSEY' ... of which we're already 1/6th the way into, chapter-wise (that is, we've completed 4 of 24 ... or all of the 1st of 3 books: en-Telemachy. Now we are onto book 2, The Odyssey. Strange how Homer's book is known as The Odyssey, when this was technically just the middle section of 3. Before you get to the actual odyssey you gotta pack your bags, set the stage ... which in Homer's book is referred to as Telemachy. And then after the trip, you gotta come home, unpack & communicate your findings ... which is referred to as Nostos, or the homecoming.

Joyce's recapitulation of The Odyssey concentrates mostly on the trippy middle section. He devotes 3 chapters to Telemachy (there are 4 in The Odyssey) & you can map 12 chapters of Ulysses to the middle 3rd of The Odyssey (which devotes 8 chapters to the actual journey). Although the bulk (12 chapters) of The Odyssey is book 3 (Nostos), Joyce only spends 3 corresponding chapters on this homecoming. While there have been mappings (see Linati or Gilbert) of Ulysses to The Odyssey, we weren't able to find 1 that did so linearly, chapter to chapter ... so we had to come up with our own. If you're curious how things play out ...

chapter # in The Odyssey
>> --------------------------------------- >>
chapter # in Ulysses



(Athene advises) Telemachus
(The assembly of Ithica)
(Telemachus meets) Nestor


The Odyssey

(Odysseus departs from) Calypso
(The palace of Alcinous)
(The Phaeacian games)
Lotus Eaters & Cyclops
5, 12
Aeolus, Laestrygonians & Circe
7, 8, 15

Scylla & Charybdis, Wandering Rocks, Sirens & Oxen of the Sun

9, 10, 11, 14




(Odysseus lands in Ithica)
(Odysseus returns)
(Odysseus meets his son)
(The suitors torment Odysseus)
(The fight between Odysseus & Irus)
(Penelope meets Odysseus disguised as beggar, Eurycleia recognizes Odysseus)
(Odysseus states his plans, the suitors ignore his final warning)
(The contest to string Odysseus's bow)
Ithica (Odysseus slays the suitors)
(Odysseus &) Penelope (are reunited)
(Odysseus visits his father, the war is over)


You're welcome, Internet.

Our recapitulated correlation to The Odyssey in our own 'SSES" 'SSES" "SSEY' reverts back to a more linear, 1-to-1 chapter-to-chapter approach (tho in typical fashion we start counting w/ 0 instead of 1).

Of course this can all be generalized further by the monomyth of Joseph Campbell (who's also known for providing the most bona fide skeleton key to Joyce's other opus... ).

Monomyth of Joseph Campbell

Within this (ok, somewhat genericafying) framework, the Telemachy book is the «call to adventure» ... egged on by the lecherous suitors, Telemachus leaves Ithica to search for his father. «Supernatural aid» is obviously the Greek gods (namely Athene) giving him advice. The threshold guardian is Nestor, or Proteus—both of whom have information about his father, Odysseus. The threshold in this case is the transformation (of perspective anyway) from Telemachus to Odysseus ... in searching for his father, we become his father. In Joyce's book, this threshold is the abrupt change of perspective from Stephen Dedalus (who we follow for the first 3 chapters) to Leopold Bloom.

This is the crossroads we are at in our own book ... the obvious choice is to have Odysseus/Leopold Bloom be our father. But how this plays out is TBD. We're thinking the obvious choice for Calypso—the nymph who detains Odysseus for 7 years on her island—would be our wicked stepmother. You'll have to wait to hear the rest of the story ... but again, to whet your beak here's the opening chapter 0 that we posted on Sleeping ∞ last week, that summons the muses & expands on this above mapping & how it relates to our own odySSEY ...

Yesterday we posted another piece up on Sleeping ∞ ... a scanned-in issue of City Moon, a faux-newspaper that David Ohle & Roger Martin published from 1973 to 1985 in Lawrence, KS. Evidently a lot of Ohle's works after Motorman were derived/sourced from City Moon, or at least it was the sandbox where he honed his reportorial cut-up chops. What we posted is the 1st issue, when they called it Process News, before changing the name to City Moon. There's 17 more issues that we will be re-issuing/archiving digitally thru Calamari Press ... you're welcome, Internet.

Monomyth of Joseph Campbell

page 3 of Process News/City Moon #1

Process News would be a good name for what it is we do here on 5¢ense ... tho in these times, we'd call it proSSES news ... where we chronicle the process of SSES in light of weekly input.

In the last post we talked about William Burroughs & Junk ... evidently Ohle was friends w/ Burroughs in Lawrence ... if you believe Ben Marcus, in the intro to Motorman, he says that Ohle transcribed Burrough's nightly dreams, was the «custodian for the subconscious of William S. Burroughs.» When we re-issued Motorman, Ohle wanted us to remove this reference, but we couldn't as the only file we received from 3rd bed was an uneditable PDF ... whether it was true or whether Ohle is just modestly down-playing it (as he also does when we ask him about it), whose to say ... in this article by Frank Tankard (which also has more dirt on City Moon, including photos of actual aged-yellow issues (the scans we received were unfortunately grayscale)), Tankard says Ohle «ate dinner with Burroughs and friends on Thursday nights, often cooking for them. He also typed up and did some initial editing of Burroughs' manuscripts, including "Queer" and parts of "The Cat Inside" and "The Western Lands."» Ohle also edited the pseudo-memoir of William S. Burroughs, Jr.Cursed from Birth—which we recently acquired but have yet to read.

David Ohle: Cursed from Birth

We've been meaning to read/re-read Cormac McCarthy, as it's been a while ... we thought to re-read Blood Meridian (for the 3rd time), but instead opted to read Outer Dark, which is 1 of the few Cormac books we hadn't read yet.

Don't know if it's just our odysseyian mindset, but it seems most Cormac books amount to a lot of aimless wandering ... which is by no means meant to be criticism, for what else is there to write about? Usually his protagonists wander alien landscapes, unsure of where they are going or what they are looking for ... stories of the blind leading the blind. In Outer Dark, an orphaned sister & brother have a kid & he leaves it out in the forest where a wandering peddler (a «tinker») finds it (yes, it) ... monomythically this corresponds to the above «call to adventure» which sets the odyssey in motion ... the girl sets out to hunt for this tinker that took her baby, and the brother, in parallel, sets out to hunt his sister a-hunting the tinker.

Being one of his early works, it's set in Cormac's native Appalachia (tho according to wikipedia, he wrote Outer Dark in Ibiza of all places) ... before he moved west to New Mexico, thereabouts where all his later books seems to take place. Besides being a backwardly incestuous place (way to propagate the stereotype, Cormac ... tho back in '68 when he wrote it perhaps not everyone assumed all people from Appalachia fuck their sisters) the Appalachia he portrays is a dark, visceral & alien place.

He did not come upon the river but upon the creek again. Or another creek. He followed it down, in full flight now, the trees beginning to close him in, malign and baleful shapes that reared like enormous androids provoked at the alien insubstantiality of this flesh colliding among them.

Like in Dante, the landscape becomes more mind-fuckingly metaphysical than physically worldly.

He stood in the center of the square where the tracks of commerce lay fossilized in dried mud about him, turning, an amphitheatrical figure in that moonwrought waste manacled to a shadow that struggled grossly in the dust.

And it get's even darker ... a veritable wasteland of the damned.

Before him stretched a spectral waste out of which reared only the naked trees in attitudes of agony and dimly hominoid like figures in a landscape of the damned. A faintly smoking garden of the dead that tended away to the earth's curve. He tried his foot in the mire before him and it rose in a vulvate welt claggy and sucking.

This apocalyptic & uniquely American landscape is not much different than subsequent southwestern renderings ... it re-surfaced in us this sentence from Blood Meridian:

A legion of horribles, hundreds in number, half naked or clad in costumes attic or biblical or wardrobed out of a fevered dream with the skins of animals and silk finery and pieces of uniform still tracked with the blood of prior owners, coats of slain dragoons, frogged and braided cavalry jackets, one in a stovepipe hat and one with an umbrella and one in white stockings and a bloodstained wedding veil and some in headgear or cranefeathers or rawhide helmets that bore the horns of bull or buffalo and one in a pigeontailed coat worn backwards and otherwise naked and one in the armor of a Spanish conquistador, the breastplate and pauldrons deeply dented with old blows of mace or sabre done in another country by men whose very bones were dust and many with their braids spliced up with the hair of other beasts until they trailed upon the ground and their horses' ears and tails worked with bits of brightly colored cloth and one whose horse's whole head was painted crimson red and all the horsemen's faces gaudy and grotesque with daubings like a company of mounted clowns, death hilarious, all howling in a barbarous tongue and riding down upon them like a horde from a hell more horrible yet than the brimstone land of Christian reckoning, screeching and yammering and clothed in smoke like those vaporous beings in regions beyond right knowing where the eye wanders and the lip jerks and drools.

And stranger is that towards the end of Outer Dark, a Billy & a Reverend make a pre-emptive cameo ... a sort of tie-in to the border trilogy?

In the end, tho it's inevitably a story of the blind leading the blind, it becomes all about the language ... an American landgauge that peregrinates like the psychogeographical wandering it renders ... that sparks wonder & rapture. We become raptorish peregrines that can't help but to keep our eyes off the lingual movement, the tracing glints of landscape Americana that catch our eyes. Like particles bumbling in a bubble chamber, each human interaction is a collision ... & these collisions get repressively expressed thru dialectic dialogue, which Cormac has mastered like no other. Here's a taste.

     I've been a hoein. This here is just to kill snakes with.
     She nodded.
     I don't ast nobody's sayso for what all I do but I'd not have ye to think I'd been a-hoein.
     Yes, she said.
     I don't hold with breaking the sabbath and don't care to associate with them that does.
     It ain't sunday, she said.
     It's what?
     It ain't sunday today, she said.

[ ... ]

     No mam. Not special places. I'm a-huntin somebody.
     Who's that.
     Just somebody. This feller.
     The old woman's eyes went to her belly and back again.
     She straightened herself and tucked the bundle of clothes beneath one arm.
     Feller, the old woman said. Where's he got to?
     I wisht I knowed.
     The old woman nodded. It's a goodly sizeable world to set out huntin somebody in.

Cormac McCarthy: Outer Dark

The word to wander implies being lost, but also instills a sense of wonder. Wander derives from the word wind, as does wand ... as in magic wand—a divining rod or dowser. Alienation is another word that trips us up each time our eyes wander past ... like a nation of aliens. We are an alien nation of 1, in self-annihilating self-alienation. As mentioned 2 posts ago, when groups of people display excessive pride in qualities they attach to themselves—whether it be nationality or genre—it only serves to alienate the rest. Rather than play the game, to align ourself to any school or sect, we'd rather just self-alienate ... thus we become godless & nationless hermits sporting no medals or laurels on our head. At times we are of the nomadic pilgrim variety, but at the moment (Feb 18, 2014) we've been stranded on this island of Manhattan for a month & a half w/out leaving ... during which time it seems to have been snowing incessantly.

Unlike The Odyssey, the wandering in Cormac McCarthy's world is almsot always fugitive... in Outer Dark it is fueled by the shame of incest (tho this is never really directly said) & being orphaned. Cormac's characters are banished to peregrinate aimlessly, like wandering Jews. Joyce's protagonist Leopold Bloom could be considered a wandering Jew figure (he is half-Jewish after all) ... although his wanderings don't take him outside Dublin's city limits. He wanders aimlessly nevertheless & the banishment that spurns him to stray from home is cuckoldry.

The shame that fueled our brother's banished wandering & subsequent SSES thesis was the dishonorable suicide of our father. And (tying into the last post), the shame that at least in part drove him to his death was the stigma of heroin. If we could shamelessly specify any 1 motivating factor that is driving our writing/publishing of 'SSES" 'SSES" "SSEY' it would be to undo the shame of both suicide & heroin ... to somehow bring dignity to our father's suicide & our brother's overdose, at least in the public eye, so us survivors don't have to feel ashamed. Suicide takes the lives of nearly 30,000 Americans every year ... twice that of HIV/AIDS. And whose to say how many suicides go unreported due to the stigma (not to mention for insurance reasons). Drug overdoses kill even more people, 38,000+ in 2010 (obviously there's an overlap/gray zone in these suicide/overdose stats). Overdosing has become the leading cause of injury in the U.S. ... more than traffic accidents & shootings ... but you don't hear about suicides or overdoses unless it's a high-profile celebrity splashed on the tabloids ...

Scott McClanahan: Hill William

We also started to read Hill William by Scott McClanahan ... his brand of Appalachia (or Crapalachia, as he calls his other book, which we enjoyed last summer on the west coast) is even more degenerate than McCarthy's ... demented & immature, more modern-day (in arrested development), buttheady. And again, maybe it's our current mindset, but it seems the reoccurring motif in the inter-connected Hill William stories is a confessional exorcising of shame. The 1st self-flagellating story is about a guy who keeps punching himself in the face & is embarrassed when he is found out, the 2nd story is about a teenager that sucks his friend's dick ... & at the end of it, McClanahan somehow delivers confessional beauty to the admission, an albatross to wear w/ pride ... «Then I raised my arms high into the air like a great champion and at last I was laughing. I laughed a loud laugh and I knew I knew something that none of the other kids knew. I laughed a loud laugh because I had finally been born.»

Whatever floats your boat anyway. The albatross of the 3rd story comes in the tight form of Wonder Woman «underoos». By the 4th story the juvenile fooling around w/ his derelict friend (who unfortunately shares our name—the bastardized misspelling of it—Derrick) gets to the point where it requires vaseline ... only it's not vaseline he applies to his little willy, but something that burns ... tho it's the shame that his mom will find out that burns even more. Fortunately his mom (a pill-popping alcoholic) is cool & understanding ... & in the end he is redeemed. «Once it was so—I stood up straight. It wasn't a body anymore, I stuck a tiny flag into the flesh and I was no longer me, but I had become a brave new ruler of a brand new beautiful world

Sure it's fiction, but even so (especially when it's narrative 1st person) there's an owning up to these portrayed actions. In the next story he starts a forest fire. Then he falls down running w/ a shirt full of blackberries & makes a mess & starts crying because he had picked them for his mom. He pees his bed at his friend's house. Even something as innocent as cussing, he is immediately ashamed of himself & feels guilty, but keeps doing it anyway. The best one tho (so far) comes after when he gets baptized & goes to change in the priest's backroom ... while drying himself off he wipes his butt & gets a «skid mark» on the white towel that he subsequently frets about how to hide so no one will discover what he did. Some real beautiful shit. For this bold & brutal honesty, we applaud you Mr. McClanahan ... for airing out your dirty undies for the world to see .... & to your illustrious publisher the NY Tyrant for the guts to publish it. The world is a better place—backward-ass or not—w/ Hill William in it.

What else ... finally went to the Met & saw the newish Kentridge exhibit—«The Refusal of Time».

There was also an Ink Art of contemporary China exhibit that was pretty good.

Gu Wenda

Mythos of Lost Dynasties Series—I Evaluate Characters Written by Three Men and Three Women

Gu Wenda (谷 文達) (Chinese, born 1955)

We sent Beth Steidle's The Static Herd to the printer, here's a sneak peek at the cover (that Beth made):

Beth Steidle: The Statid Herd

AWP (the Academia of White-collared Pig-fascists) convenes next week in Seattle ... here's something to put you in the spirit ... & we just got a wonderful email from them informing us that the bookfair is not open to the public on Saturday (or any other day) ... way to disenfranchise & alienate the readers of the world! So basically the message is an elitist fuck you to those aspiring writers who can't or won't drop 5 or 6 figures on some shitty MFA program & a hearty fuck you to the peonic public at large that are curious about books (but can't or won't pony up to go to some fancy institutionalized  facility to learn to read how the elite academy of academics expects you to). We're deeply ashamed to even be going & supporting the hypocrisy of these pigs (no offense intended to Sus domesticus). Perhaps we've said it before, but this will be the last year ... we're destined to become sidelined & forgotten even more than we already are ... CC27 is our table # if you (fortunate enough to have your way paid) want to commiserate.

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