A Dark Chest of Wonders

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Tag: Chuck Palahniuk


Today, in my English class, we were given a prompt for which we will write an essay on tomorrow. We’re about to start 1984, a book that has been on my to-read list for some time now, and I think that this is the perfect setting to do it in. To be sure, I have always taken the books we read–anything in English–quite seriously, because above math, above science, English teaches you to be human, truly. For this matter, every essay where we only had to answer the prompt accordingly, I took it as an opportunity to really take a look at the literature that we were reading, and this is mostly because I believe one day, people are going to want to read my little High School essays. Not to mention, I’m allergic to mediocrity, therefore, to only do the bare-minimum doesn’t sit well in my gut. Why use only one color paint, or only a small part of the canvas, if you have the whole canvas to do whatever you want? Why would I only do what is required when I can do what is required plus one in order to satiate my questions, my considerations. The point of it is, not many people English–school for that matter–as seriously as I do, but English mostly. Anyways, the prompt we’re given asks us to create an argument based on a critics views of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s 1984, which is that, Huxley’s dream of the world to come is more relevant.

Considering that which was given to us, one finds that Huxley is obviously the true Nostradamus.  Orwell’s vision of the future is one that is construed with paranoia and simple lecturing; Orwell feared the day that the world turned over to Communism. In a patriotic kind of way, as an American, I can root for Orwell and say, yeah, down with big government and secrecy, but that’s as far as I can take it. Orwell’s prose is very archaic, or maybe it’s simply that I find it to be non-literary. Huxley’s very first two paragraphs are littered with language that anyone could admire, while Orwell has the kind of addictive quality you get out of the cheesy and redundant YA novels of the era, and I suppose that’s where they get their cliche from. This is not to say that Orwell was not a convincing nor a non-compelling author, rather, he was just not very effective with his language in the way that he could have been with a novel like 1984, especially with a predecessor like Brave New World. All this is to say, though, that Huxley is more alike to a professor, a scientist, or a philosopher; Orwell reminds me of the guy who rants in front of your college, on his soapbox, as he pounds his fist in the air crying out his favorite phrase, “DOWNWITHBIGBROTHERDOWNWITHBIGBROTHERDOWNWITHBIGBROTHER”, Orwell’s vision is archaic and only, truly, good from a historical stand point. While Orwell manages to create compelling arguments on the idea of government spying and secrecy on its people in order to keep them in check, which is certainly relevant in the modern age, it’s but a stepping stone of what Huxley envisioned. Huxley looks at the whole of the picture, not only a small part of the canvas as Orwell does. In this way, we find that Huxley’s vision might be the correct one, in the long run. Brave New World addresses the problem of community and society today: teenagers–my pupils–are consumed by themselves, we are consumers are consumed by ourselves, we are as much a product as the products we buy on late night infomercials and the ads on the sides of your screen catered just for you by AdSense. We are not ourselves!

Chuck Palahniuk tells us that we are not our car, our job, our wallet, yet we are! People would rather know that they have everything that they want, that they are comfortable before they are uncomfortable, rather than knowing that the world is not centered around them. Many people take a stance against my generation, when we are only a product of the world for which the previous generation helped to create. We are self centered because the technology that we used is centered around us. Siri asks us what we would like to be called, we can choose what we want Siri to sound like; we are told that our parents took up a second job for our benefit, we are told that we are being forced to do this and this for our benefit. Do you understand? We are constantly told that this is the ME generation, and thus we have been indoctrinated into the Cult of Self. This is our great transgression, our great demise: the things we love, what we believe to be “us”, is what’s killing us, as Huxley feared. We’ve all be diagnosed with Stockholm Syndrome and are in love with our captors, our iPhones. In these ways, one can only agree with Huxley.

YET! As I listen to a podcast–Ear Biscuits with Rhett and Link, Good Mythical Morning–the guest being the co-creator of reddit, Alexis Ohanian, they’ve started talking about how the internet, social media, is a reflection of society as a whole. While there is a large group of people who would try and misuse sites like reddit, Vine, Instagram, and Facebook for porn, there is an even larger group of people who would oppose it, and an even larger group still who are decent human beings. We find that, overall, as a society, we really do only want to advance, and the way that we advocate this is through social media. By cultivating virtual communities where we congregate to talk about cheese melts, Doctor Who, and suicide, we are creating a society where we are not captive at all: we are our governors, we are our own masters, we are, in a sense, the vision of communism realized. The Internet is in fact the utopia for which writers such as Orwell and Huxley have been searching for. There are those who may try to thwart it–that is the issue of net neutrality–but you simply cannot. In this way, I agree neither with Huxley or Orwell, or more aptly, the critic who contrasted the two to begin with, since that is what the prompt ask.

This is learning. This is what I think the purpose of school is: to make you truly think about the subjects for which you are being compelled to write about, not for a grade, but for the thrill of exploring such topics and how they will effect you. This is how we are created. Some of my pupils only come to make true those things for which Huxley predicted: they have become the captives of their iPhones, they have become the captives of their own filtered reflection. This is my confliction, but, I have never been more pleased to be conflicted.

We only have forty minute to write the essay, by hand, and I wrote this in something like 10 minutes. Let’s hope I can come to some stance by tomorrow.


Growing Up: When you Shed a Genre

Childhood is not from birth to a certain age and at a certain age
The child is grown, and puts away childish things.
Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies.

I recently sold off one of the last pieces of my old YA collection–and I had no remorse whatsoever. In fact, a couple of months ago, I sold the Divergent Trilogy, including a signed copy of the final book Allegiant; before that, I sold my entire Cassandra Clare collection (that one was asking for it, what an awful waste of paper and space). Before even that, I sold a shit ton of others–and I’ve never looked back. Somehow, I was able to let go of that whole world I’d thrown my self into years ago when I first began reading seriously. I won’t say that I didn’t enjoy the ride, but I wish I would have ridden another coaster in that time; I guess a remembrance of things past does no good against the persistence of time. This may sound like I’m mourning, but I’m not, there’s just no pleasure in either rehashing those old memories, nor scolding those memories since they helped to build me up to where I am today. For this matter, I think there comes a time in everyone’s life where you shed a genre.

Suddenly, you stop watching romantic comedies and you’re really in on dramas; suddenly you stop watching dramas and trade your couch for sitcoms; suddenly, you stop reading YA and move into serious literature, and you begin to get a feel for what you actually like.

In short, when you shed a genre, or you stop doing something in exchange for something else, you’ve been born again. Eventually, we all grow up and grow out of our old shoes, so we have to get new ones, and this is not a bad thing at all: isn’t it always fun to go to some store, maybe a very expensive store, and look around. Now that you’ve sold all your old shoes, you have plenty of money to invest in better shoes–shoes that will make you stand up a little taller, shoes that will give a little bounce to your walk, make people turn and say, “Christ, what is he wearing?” But you just keep on walking. You’ve never been more comfortable in your life.

While I am now quite against the whole genre, I can’t say, totally, that it did not shape my taste for what I do and do not like to read and write today. I don’t like overtly supernatural stories, but I love high octane social commentaries like Fight Club, A Clockwork Orange, American Psycho, and other books all of the like. Times change, so do you, and there’s nothing at all wrong with that. Just know that if you stand for something, stand for it; if you stand against it, be prepared and brace for the tidal wave that will come against you.

Why Fight Club 2 was inevitable

Chuck Palahniuk, last year at Comic Con, revealed that there would be a Fight Club 2, the sequel to the original novel (obviously). Some fans were estatic, others were not so enthusiastic about the announcement, per Chuck Palahniuk’s most recent track record of books: Damned, Doomed, Snuff, Tell-All, Pygmy, Haunted and others. They fear that Palahniuk is going to ruin what many consider to be his magnum opus in terms of books, since Fight Club not only propelled his career, but was a precursor to many ideas that he would present in his subsequent works. It was the foundation for the Cult. For this matter, to know that an aging (the man just turned 53, but some feel that might be old enough to start going senile) Chuck Palahniuk will be revisiting the book is deflating. But here’s the thing: Palahniuk had a sequel in mind this whole time

If you’ve ever read the original Fight Club before you saw the movie, you’d know that there’s actually something that happens after the credits roll in the film: a 30th chapter, in which Joe (Jack in the film) is institutionalized, but Fight Club and Project Mayhem isn’t quite dead yet, with one of the male nurses saying to him, “We miss you, Mr. Durden. Everything is going according to plan…we look forward to bringing you back.” When the synopsis of Fight Club 2 hit, you will remember that it goes something like:

The sequel will be told from the– at first– submerged perspective of Tyler Durden as he observes the day-to-day tedium of the narrator’s life.  Because 20th Century-Fox created the convention of calling the protagonist Jack, I’m calling him [Sebastian].  He’s living a compromised life with a failing marriage, unsure about his passion for his wife.  The typical midlife bullshit.  Likewise, Marla is unsatisfied and dreams of accessing the wild man she’d once fallen in love with.  She tampers with the small pharmacy of drugs that her husband needs to suppress Tyler, and– go figure– Tyler reemerges to terrorize their lives.

And those are the words right out of Palahniuk’s mouth. Therefore, Chuck seems to be right on track with what he might have planned. Suddenly, Project Mayhem is back on after 10 years, and everything is going according to plan. Anyone who objects to Fight Club 2 seems to have missed that whole last chapter of Fight Club. Palahniuk left the ending open because he had the intention of possibly one day revisiting it and writing the second part to the story that never was. If at all, this should be incredible news–track record or not–for anyone who enjoyed Fight Club, since we will likely finally see Tyler’s grand design for a new world truly realized. I’m geared up and plan to buy each of the 10 issues, maybe even 2 copies of them no matter how much they cost, in the same way that I intend to purchase 2 copies of Go Set a Watchmen in July.

Will you be reading Fight Club 2? Or any other “surprise” sequel this year?

Rosemary’s Baby: A Review

Horror’s modern Odyssey, Ira Levin’s 1967 novel Rosemary’s Baby sets a precedent, rightly named by Chuck Palahniuk who wrote an introduction for this edition, that would fall in line for what would be come classic horror stories and “romances” alike, with Stephen King’s The Shining being the true and obvious baby of this little book and Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Saga being a less than expected residue of it; at least it’s good to know that even bad authors, Meyer, have a decent taste in literature.

This being said, while Levin’s novel proves to be a true statement of horror within it’s last half hour in which the baby is finally born–the most exciting part that plays out as a 30 page short story with sharp contrast to the earlier episodes of the novel–it still left something of a lot to be desired. The sand in the hourglass was too much and it took nearly 200 pages before it really started to run down the clock, with Rosemary beginning to piece things together in perfect thriller fashion.

The problem that the modern reader might face with Rosemary’s Baby is the fact that, Levin’s novel has spawned so many demons over the years, it is easy to find it a bland and fairly predictable novel, of which it surely, for the most part, without the spoilage of the culture we live in today found in every B-horror movie and most recently resurrected by American Horror Story (that’s seasons 1-3, read this novel and tell me that it doesn’t create something of a trilogy connecting both plot points and ideas that Levin presents in the novel).

While it was an easy read, and if I had really stayed on track I may have gotten through it within a day or so, I’m, overall, bored with it. A classic for sure, one that knows how to build plot, suspense, and fairly decent writing, but nothing so striking as its history and the rejuvenation of a genre that it would bring on in later years. I may reread it (maybe only the last 30 pages for times sake) sometime if I really have the Guts for it (score one Palahniuk references), but right now I think I’ll simply let it aside.

Exercise: Method Writing

When an actor really wants to get into his role, he’ll do something that is called method acting. This means that the actor will not break character for the duration of shooting a film: he will learn to become this character,a ll the aspects of this character, and not only know all his lines by heart for the rest of his life, but will find himself inventing his own lines, monologues, and thoughts of this character. In order to do this, the actor will wear the clothes of this character, change his apperance as much as he can–as long as it’s reversible by the end of the project, such as when actors chip their teeth for roles or lose dramatic amounts of weight–to look like what this character should and would look like. They become the character, and this is what makes method actors performances so mesmerizing and incredible when done just right. These are actors like Bryan Cranston, Heath Ledger, James Franco, Christian Bale, and others: when they get into character, you begin to forget that these are people who have played goofy dads, drug dealers, and psychopaths.

For this matter, when a writer writes a first person story, they open the skull of a particular peson whose walking in a city in their head, and follow them on their way. There are two ways to do this: firstly, you could guide these people like God stepping into a man and walking around in his skin with plenty of authorial intrusion on multiple levels, and making sure that everything goes as planned for not only the character, but also you yourself the author. Then there are stream-of-consciousness narratives like American Psycho and other works by Bret Easton Ellis, the works of James Joyce, Chuck Palahniuk, and many other authors. Stream-of-Consciousness narratives are those narratives that start  to really sound like someone riffing off their unspoken thoughts into a tape recorder without pause. These narratives are ones that have zero authorial intrusion to interrupt the narrative, and suddenly, there’s only the character: the author just so happens to have his name on the cover for transcribing these thoughts. This is what Bret Easton Ellis does with American Psycho. I highly recommend the book if you want to learn how to write better characters, because BEE totally lets Patrick Batemen be Patrick Batemen: not once throughout the entire book do we hear a peep of what might be BEE. The first third of the novel is totally embellished in brand names and superfluous adventures, the second third serves as a kind of purgatory, while the final act is served to us a la magical realism which is done in a way that I don’t think anyone can top. BEE is a method writer.

Method writers give themselves up to the character and allow the character(s) to drive the story: they don’t say a word, they just write it down like the observer of a support group. For this matter, method writers will often times write the best and worst books. The best because they are so good, so real, and manage to really portray a human being and not a fabrication: you forget that they are just that, though, a fabrication. They can also be the worst though because, like American Psycho, you only have the character to depend on to break up the narrative; you’ll often get full days as chapters with no exclusions. A chapter in American Psycho is titled ‘Morning” and simply describes every little detail of Patrick Bateman’s morning and his apartment. While the chapter does have some literary significance, when reading it for the first time open minded, one continues to flip forward to learn when the chapter ends, and it seemingly doesn’t. You get lost in all the products and little embellishments and description that Ellis throws at you. For this matter, chapters like this, make stream-of-consciousness narratives a slog to get through, but in the end, you have to admire that it was a rewarding experience. SOC narratives are often a breath of fresh air because they are both active and sedentary creatures for your brain, and if you allow yourself to fall too much asleep while reading them, you will lose yourself.

So, today’s homework? Become a method writer. Write a first person narrative that has no authorial intrusion at all, that just gives itself to the character. It doesn’t have to be a SOC narrative, but it needs to be pretty damn close if you want to write a convincing narrative that makes the reader feel like this character is real. In order to further your experience, spend time thinking how this character would think: speak how you want this character to speak, dress how this character should dress, and really become this character before you sit down to write this character. Throughout the day, interview this character in your head, really get to the bottom of why he’s doing what he’s doing in the story, and study him: what are his gestures, what are some of his catchphrases and repeated phrases? What are his ideas, hopes, dreams: learn this character like you want him to be your best friend, and speaking of that: what does he do on the weekends? Is he free? This character is now your best friend, and you’re going to write about him, so get to it!

Furthermore, look up the Chuck Palahniuk essay, “Submerging the I”, this is a great essay about how to keep the reader engaged in the story and keep the adventure communal instead of private; this could help you while writing your Method Piece.

Have a good weekend!

Exercise: Let’s Talk About Sex Baby

Yeah, you know that song, don’t pretend that you don’t, and if you really don’t, GTFO. Today, boys and girls and horny squirrels, we’re going to be talking about sex. *Gasp*; “Oh my gosh, Becky, did he just…did he really just say that? Is he serious? Sex?” Yes, gossiping little birds, sex, we’re going to be talking about SEX. Everyone always cowers in fear when they hear the word, shift uncomfortably in their seats, or giggle a little bit, because, I mean, why not? Sex. It’s kind of a funny weard. Sex. Sex. Sexsexsexsexsex. Somehow, unlike most words, it just doesn’t lose it’s meaning after a while. It’s always the same, that sex. That’s why you guys, writers, have got to make sex something unconventional, have got to really revitalize it and turn it into something new.

I’m not encouraging you to write the next Fifty Shades of Gray but I am saying that you need to write about sex. Or something like it. Every one of us has had an embarrassing moment that we don’t like to talk about, that were really don’t want to share with the world, and for this matter, by expressing these fears and embarrassing tales, we become better writers as we are no longer afraid to tell people these things, we’re able to describe them the way that it happened because of the way and the situation that they happened to us. In order to understand how people work, you have to push them to the limit (yeah, you know that song too), which means putting them in situations that you wouldn’t even talk about with your doctor, or things that your doctor would tell you. The best example that I can give is Chuck Palahniuk’s story Guts. It’s a wonderful tale, and you should really give it a try. Just don’t hold your breath 😉

Today’s homework? Write a story about the most humiliating thing that happened to this kid you know named Billy. I don’t know who Billy is, so I don’t know what makes this story so humiliating, but it is. You have to make me feel this humiliation, this discomfort that one would get when talking about sex, and with that in mind, you have to draw this story on like when two people try to have sex for the first time: get the lighting just right, set it up before you even get to the exposition: I want to feel discomfort. Want an even greater challenge? Write it in the very rigid form of a school essay that gets derailed, but you just have to keep going if you want to get an A on this exam.

Post them in the comments!

Exercise: Crampin’ your style, yo

Aside from my poor attempt at slang, we need to talk about writing. Again. As always. So, welcome back to the Kennedy Memorial Gym, this is another routine lead by instructor Kennedy. This time, I’m going to be talking to you about crampin’ your style (yo). Hacking your writing, breaking plates, burning bridges, everything, yo. Last year, I read Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King. I thought the book as absolutely awful, especially from such a respected author such as King, specifically for me, as King is my role model and writing rock star. He’s influenced my writing the most and  has taught me a lot of what I know how to do, especialy in the area of style. So when I read Mr. Mercedes, I had high expectations, but I ended up leaving the theater early and hopped over to something else a little bit more exciting, though I guess it wasn’t that good since I forgotw hat it is that I read after that. Mr. Mercedes was definitely a departure to unknown waters for King, as it came off as a half baked novel by a new writing instead of a writer with over 40 years under his belt, and that’s why I walked out. But in hindsight, I think that I can respect King’s effort in trying to hack his style, trying to break the old routine and bring something new to the table. Now, this of course doesn’t mean that I have to like what he tries to do.

Recently, I became a fan of Chuck Palahniuk. I’ve watched as much content on him as possible as I waited for a shipment of his books to arrive, albiet incredibly slowly due to UPS. I listened to him talk about the craft (and this guy knows his stuff, he really is on par with legends who have been doing it for years and are fumbling to hold the ball as they race towards the touchdown, a.k.a. the finish line) and 3 of his stories prior to actually getting to read one of his books. He was the kind of author who I’d been waiting to arrive at the airport for a very long time. He was tsunami that baptized my imagination and allowed me to be reborn as a follower of his. I wanted a writer who pushed boundaries, used unconventional methods to tell a story, and expand the genre that he was writing in, and after reading Pygmy, I definitely know that Chuck is the One. What Chuck does is what all writers should do: fall in love and stay in love by doing as many different things as possible on as many dates as possible while you can. You have to run after the bullets and try to watch them graze you and laugh as you realize you’ve escaped death again.

So what is is that Chuck does exactly? He does what the truly great authors like Faulkner and Hemingway did: he broke writing and made it something new all together, and redefined the genre and the way that we write. We all want to be as great as Hemingway and Faulkner, but we don’t get there by being like them: we get there by not being like them, doing something totally different with the same piece of marble as everyone else. This means, bending and breaking the rules, climbing trees and chopping them down, and digging where you’re not supposed to, driving faster than you’re allowed, and talking a bit louder too.

Homework: write a story like you don’t usually write a story. Do you usually start with action? Start with dialogue, create a long conversation or sequence of dialogue that would usually be action instead. Start with description? Par down your description, turn everything into a one liner. Establish voice first? Destroy this voice and imagine that someone is speaking to you through a loud thunder storm and you can only hear bits and fragments of what they’re saying,and it’s up to you to fill in the blanks. I want you to break all of your own rules as well as the rules you know, and break windows that people usually only look through: everyone always says it was a clear blue day, the sun was out, and I couldn’t be happier. Yeah, well, you know what? Shatter that shit, break it, and turn it into something startlingly terrifying and beautiful all at the same time: take the same thing that everyone always says, and hack it: beautifully ugly. Change punctuation and word choice: instead of writing periods, only write question marks, instead of writing things in perfect order, choose the alternative way to say it that is not grammatically correct. Break. Those. Plates.

And eat off of them too.

Exercise: Legal Pads

I once wrote a 120 page book all on lose leaf paper. It was the fourth grade, and I was obsessed with Percy Jackson, so I decided I would write a book just as exciting, with Greek gods, humor, and mythology all bundled into one. Before even that, I wrote 40 page short stories on lose leaf paper about total nonsense, but damn were they good, and to be sure, they are what really set me off wanting to become a writer in the first place, especially when my English teacher at the time gave me candid feedback about a piece that she wrote, saying that it was pretty decent. When I learned to type, and I mean really type, I stopped writing on paper: it seemed primordial and savage, and I could get so much more done typing. My mind went into a totally new set when I typed, and my work advanced because of this. I was getting drafts done in less time than ever. It was many years before I actually sat down to write a real story on paper again, and I learned that, I actually wrote much better on paper than I did when I typed. It may have had something to do with the actual kinetic experience of picking up a pen and engaging with the paper, or maybe it was just that innate way that I had been writing in the beginning which kicked in again: like a suppressed instinct that had no use in modern society, yet you learn it’s just so applicable today. However, I did not altogether stop typing, but more and more I felt the compulsion to instead write on paper as there was something about it that really helped to move the story along.

The reason why it’s important for a writer to go back to either their roots, writing the way they wrote before a change in thieir method, is because now you’re forced to do something that you may have forgotten how to do or never did before. There is an episode of Parks and Recreation where Donna has Jerry put flyers in envelopes to sell, and like a machine Jerry is just throwing these flyers in and gluing them, and filing them away. At the end of the episode, we learn that he put the wrong flyer in all the envelopes without realizing it. This is what happens when you do something no autopilot: your brain takes a vacation, and leaves your body to walk easy until it comes back. At this point, you need to change up the routine, do something different: go a different path, wear your hair different: just something that wakes your brain up and keeps you from falling into a bad habit or mindset: when I was depressed, everyday seemed to start the same way. I would wake up feeling a little better, but then I would turn on the TV, and then I’d go to the bathroom and look at myself, and then I’m slump, and then I’d get my things together for school, and then I’d go to school, and then I’d sit in silence, and then and then and then and then and then: the way that I alleviated my ailment was I changed up what kind of soup I was eating. I put a little less pepper, more salt, more tomatoes, less onions, more water, less artificial flavoring. If you are looking to do better, become better, like when you become stronger after exercising for a week, you need to add something, you have to do something so that your muscles can break down and build up again as they figure out how to do this new movies you’ve added to your routine. Change. It. Up.

So, homework assignment guys: go to your local Wal-Mart, Target, or whatever major store, buy a 3 pack of yellow legal pads (I promise, they probably won’t cost more than 3 dollars for 150 sheets total in all packs), buy maybe a 10 pack of some black pens, probably no more than a dollar, and walk back home if you’re close enough to the store, if not, then drive slow. Now, take a break from the keyboard and only use the legal pads for writing: force yourself to write these stories on paper instead of the computer, get out of your comfort zone and do something different goddammit. An even further suggestion, stories are not allowed to exceed 7 pages. Why? Because, I like Chuck Palahniuk, and he says that when he was taking workshop, his instructor said you couldn’t say it in 7 pages, then you definitely couldn’t say it in 700. Plus, if every legal pad is only 50 pages, you can write 7 stories (7×7=49, for all you guys who haven’t been in school for a while) with the last story being a little bit longer for that extra page, unless you tear it out. Plus 7 pages forces you to hit all the important parts, all the vital moments of the story, and really get down to it: plus, 7 pages doesn’t take long to read or write, you could do it on lunch break, before you go to bed, on the bus, etc. So, I say, go buy yellow legal pads, write seven 7 page stories and watch as your writing improves from getting out of your element for a little while. Only write longhand until you fill up these legal pads, then transfer them to your computer if you must, or edit them all on paper, your call.

Exercise: The Ruh-re-remix

In our modern era, we’re very fond of remixes. It seems that every popular song in the history of ever has been remixed to death. Rap artists, pop artists, bad artists all remix their songs in a filthy cash grabbing effort to get their song to be broadcasted more on the radio. What’s funny is that, people often times flock to find more remixes or remix the song themselves, making it better, sometimes worse, in an effort to form this communal experience of being a part of this song’s lifeline, keeping it alive as long as they can in order to make sure that it stays fresh, and to create music that they really want to listen to. Also, there really is nothing better than digging your hands into something and getting dirty about it. But now, one wonders why it’s usually only in the music industry that things are remixed? Verses, lyrics, and sounds reordered and revamped in order to create a new song. One could argue that films have this with a directors cut, but this really isn’t what I’m talking about. A directors cut might add something that was taken out, but it dosen’t really change the movie, gives it a different look, for the most part; some director’s cuts do embellish and really make you reanalyze the movie, but those can often times be rare.

But, books usually never do this, and the only book that comes to mind is of course Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters Remix, which has remix in the flipping title. Technically, it’s Palahniuk’s original version of the book, rather than the one that was published before, it’s now written and stylized the way that Palahnkuk always imagined. It’s an interesting thing and I can’t wait to finally read the book after I finish Survivor. Now, I wonder: why don’t more authors do this? Why don’t they tear apart their work, give it a different look, a different sound, embellish a little bit more or totally rework the whole thing, using all the same parts, just in different places. Instead of having the novel open with, “The summer of 1980 was a scorcher,” why don’t they break this apart and bring in the different description of that summer and place it in between, “The summer of 1980 was a scorcher,” or add repetition and more figurative language: play with this novel so that it becomes something different, the message changes this time around. Arguably the reason is because, many novels need that linear format, and for the most part, it would seem like the author was simply trying to add stuff that wasn’t there before, or make more money on this novel by “remixing” it. What I’ve described is probably more akin to a literary director’s cut, but it’s not.

Homework: write a story or take an old story of yours, and then remix it. Take the first line of the story and put it at the end, rewrite a description using all the same words, add a part that wasn’t there before at all, a totally made up part; change the formatting of the story, embellish on something that’s already been embellished to death, restructure the actual syntax of the story and make the page look a little bit morel like eye candy. Add color to color words, find the fonts for logos of signs and brands and insert it into the work itself: immerse yourself in the story and ask how would this sound if I did this or, what would be the connotation if I put this word here instead of there? Remix a story either of your own, or maybe take one of your favorite passages and remix it. This will make you an exploratory writer, a writer who does more with what they have, make an art out of their work, and you will benefit from finding new ways to say old things.

And a dare: I dare you to remix your remix! Take the remix and throw it in the blender again, or cut up the pages and rearrange all the lines, take away the punctuation, add more repetition of this phrase, replace something essential like “the” with “dog”, “it” with “fat”, something abstract that actually has a lot to do with the theme of your story. Add a background vocal too, something that’s “in between” the lines of the original that you might not have caught if it weren’t for this remix.

Double dare: Unmix the remix of the dare, don’t simply revert the changes, simply unpack the story so that it’s coherent again, but still a new thing, yet closer to the original work.

Triple Dog Dare? No, just kidding, I think your story might murder you if you abused it any further.

If you want to share, upload it to your blog and link to it in the comments, have fun!