Curate of Curiosities

The So-Called New Age Prophet

DIY Novel Kit

Previously on the DIY Novel Kit, we experienced something that vaguely resembled plot development: the narrator met face to face with an alien, who told him that he was the chosen one destined to bring about the end of time. Meanwhile, more people have become aware of the clock in the air, leading the narrator to report his "apocalyptic" visions to the local news. While this is going on, we find out that the narrator is mentally ill, suffering from at least one self-diagnosed disorder, which at least explains why much of the story so far reads like the ramblings of a madman.

After experiencing his latest vision, he goes to report it to the local news. This time around, though, they dismiss it completely and decide to talk about something unrelated.

Roland, we’re doing you a favor,” Kyle says. “We’re your friends. We know what you’re going through. I myself see a dental psychiatrist every Wednesday and brush with Mentine toothpaste every day.”
“Me too,” Guy says. “My therapist says they should just pump Fluoride9 straight into the water supply. When I don’t get it, I start to receive mind messages from the Fourth Hardness.”
“Me too. After a few days, my brain is just riddled with CGODMs.”

To put it shortly, the CGODMs are basically alien computer implants.

What kind of news agency is this where they mention something like alien implants and Flouride9 so casually, yet won't believe that someone's having visions?

“I didn’t realize you were part of the Global Airtime Cabal, too.”
“Three years now. I’m up to Dark Echelon clearance. How about you?”
“No, I’m still new to the Society of the Purple Sunset.”

The existence of a Global Airtime Cabal is rather alarming, and you would think that the Society of the Purple Sunset would be something equally sinister. But it turns out that it is actually a role playing game.

The news crew goes on to mention that the Cabal is responsible for the invention of an apparatus that converts psychic power into potentially lethal energy. This apparatus killed a subway train full of people and let loose a "Fiend of the Unconscious" on another.

We go back to the commentators from near the beginning of the story:

Charlie: Enough anal probing. Now let’s try sci-fi Roman chariot racing! Yea! Young idea. The Deity may communicate with man through ancient dreams.
Elmo: Roland Hayes as the Christ? Interesting concept, but it goes bad so quickly.
Charlie: Let’s roll the clip.

How does this conversation relate to what just happened...or even to itself, for that matter? Even on the first line, Charlie goes from chariot racing to the Deity without any warning.

The very next scene has even less to do with what happened. It features an unnamed husband and wife who have run out of money to buy bread, so the wife cuts off her husband's hand, then impales him with skewers.

Back to the commentators:

Elmo: Yes, it comes off somehow feeling true. A touching vision, angels listening to the words, lost in warm globs of ectoplasm. The knowledge of that idea that The Deity would say –
Charlie: Well, let's think about this. A talking deity? Not necessarily funny. Such a film might not sell.
Elmo: Instead, perhaps we should consider banjos, plotting murder, enjoying sodomy. Buttered DNA delivery organs inserted into naughty places.
Charlie: Now that’s funny.
Elmo: Those were the desires of Roland in his youth. We know from The Stranger’s movies that he’s always liked young girl toes dipped in wet sexuality.

Well, we already knew that the narrator was a sex pervert (though his being into sodomy is new). The Stranger being into little girl feet, on the other hand...I don't think any part of this story so far has ever made me feel this uncomfortable.

We cut back to the narrator, who is having a phone call with Allison. He tries to tell her about his visions, but is interrupted by his children, which, at this point, I had completely forgotten that he had.

Yet one more so-called "apocalyptic vision":

Allison warns of a threatening stranger who has visited recently and will return.
“We must beware,” she says.
There is a knock at the door.
“Don’t answer it!” she says. “It’s him! Call the police!”
I go to the door, look out the window. But there is no danger. Just an old man in a thick cable knit cardigan sweater, cleaning a red potato. The man is stoop-shouldered and white-haired. I let him in.

It soon becomes apparent to the narrator that this old man is actually not only the threatening stranger, but an older, time-displaced version of him. Though it's not really clear whether he's the capital-S Stranger that's helping him to make his movie.

“They hate us! Hurry, let me in! They’re right on my heels!”
The Stranger bolts past me, running through the den toward the kitchen, flipping off lights as he goes, plunging the house into the protective anonymity of night.

Okay never mind, he actually is.

The stranger discusses his unique predicament with the narrator: apparently, the feds are after him.

“Mind control,” he continues. “I’m one of their unwilling test subjects. It started in the 1950s with MKULTRA, the CIA’s behavior modification program. That was understandably limited in scope. But now they’re using onbeam avenues, taking it worldwide. Random individuals are secretly chosen for covert behavior, thought and perception control via onbeam avenues and other advanced technologies.”

What follows can be best described as "Conspiracy Theories for Dummies." The feds want to use the Stranger as a test subject for their mind control technologies, so they are using incredibly advanced technology to try to apprehend him.

And that’s when he spots the cameraman.
“Cut!” The Stranger flips on the kitchen light and opens the back door, beckoning the man into the light.

If you think that the presence of some Candid Camera crew means that the Stranger's little speech is fake, then you might be wrong. It turns out that he's actually making a movie about his past self. I suppose that's one way to make an autobiography.

The narrator muses some more about the Stranger, and how the news media isn't interested in hearing about his visions, then we go back to the commentators.

Elmo: “Next Year at Marienbad” is a visually stunning film, featuring some of the most beautiful celluloid I have ever viewed. Technically speaking, let’s talk about how you achieved these results.

Wait, the first time we saw them, they were bashing the movie. Why would they suddenly change their minds?

The commentators are interviewing the Stranger, who tells them of his inspirations making the movie. Nothing interesting there, aside from the last paragraph:

Stranger: In “Next Year at Marienbad” I was attempting to labor in an unadulterated motion picture design – accomplishing the whole thing with dramatic imagery and determining the way all the bits of celluloid would be meshed, then scripting the narrative and compelling it to actually emerge from the incredible revelations of my nocturnal visions. I am filming it exactly and assembling it exactly and realizing that it in fact exactly succeeds. Moviemaking is a wonderful art form. There is no more wonderful way to capture an inner religious vision and bring it to life in the outer world than through film. This is what I mean by the phrase ‘Dreaming the Apocalypse.’”

So the movie's based on the narrator's/Stranger's "apocalyptic" visions. Well that figures.

Son of The Deity, you look terrible. Get out of the blistering sun, join me here within the sheltering penumbra of my multi-hued “Sun of a Beach” umbrella. Hair a-friz, dark circled eyes, no make-up – you are the one who bears the forlorn countenance of a prisoner, not me.

Right, now we're back to where we were at the start of the novel, with the reader talking to the narrator on a deserted island.

I am happy because now you are here, where I have brought you. You are still hesitant, but you are here on this beach, on my island, within sight, touch, hearing. What’s that? No, it is not already too late. You asked me not to see you again. We did see each other, of course, the next day, or the day after or the day after that. It may have been by chance. You were waiting for nothing. You were as though dead. That’s not true. You are alive still. You are here. I see you. Do you remember? It’s not true – probably.

And once again, the narrator places you, the reader, into the role of his long-lost mistress.

From here, the prose breaks down even further. He refers to the reader as Mary Hardin-Baylor, someone we've never even heard of until now, then goes on to tell about how he plans to enter Mars' atmosphere as part of some space mission to enter the collective unconscious.

While discussing his movie some more, he has another vision:

I am in a classroom with a beautiful girl. We must be dating, for she is hanging on me, hugging me while the teacher talks. The class is religious in content and seems to be oriented toward earning an award, perhaps a badge for Boy Scouts. But I make some comment that I can't meet one of the requirements, which has to do with a prohibition against ever having molested a child. The teacher says that means I can't get the award. I immediately say I was just joking. But I know this is a poor excuse for humor, almost as bad as if it were true. Why have I made such an unacceptable joke? I have sinned in my heart. I don't deserve the award.

In light the fact that his older self seems to have a fetish for little girls' feet, his joking about molesting a child is extremely alarming! Why would someone who's still in school make such a joke to begin with?

Then I am in the final bedroom of my youth in Duncanville, looking in my closet. There is a DNA delivery organ on a hanger, the tip of the hook end inserted perhaps a quarter of an inch into the injection port. Somehow, the organ is mine and not mine, all at the same time. That is, it is both real and a visual rumor. But the organ must be mostly metaphor because I am not disturbed by the fact it is on a hanger rather than properly attached to my body. Also, I notice that the organ has become a bit misshapen from its time forgotten in the closet, so long unused. This is metaphorical, too, perhaps a visual rumor of my neglected and wounded instinctual drives. It occurs to me that I might yet be able to repair it, twist and push it back into its original shape so it looks normal again. Functionality can be restored.

Enough with your fixation with your DNA organ. From what we've just seen, I think there's a good reason why it's been detached.

After this barely comprehensible vision, the narrator tells us about someone named Buckstop, who abandoned his religious faith and decided to spread the good word of the space bugs.

“For many epochs now the human creature has unknowingly listened to the suggestions of the extraterrestrial insects, suggestions that have been opposed by all genuine clairvoyants and prophets. Now the Age of the Cicadans is fully upon us. If tragedy is to be evaded, we must immediately seize the moment. The hands of the clock are spinning. The signs are all visible. Financial, communal, cartographic, physical, technical – we are in a critical state of affairs. Before the conclusion of this generation, catastrophic and destructive occurrences may well rip apart the world. While the currents of pointless, illogical violence wash over the tallest peaks of the planet, shortly drowning each nation, and as the visual rumors of ethical and religious decomposition increase, who can disbelieve that some of the extraterrestrial insects have participated in the destruction? And if human beings or organizations can be manipulated, then administrations and entire states can be manipulated, too. Already American churches are profoundly penetrated. Make no mistake – the Cicadan matter is not one of mysticism, but rather of deliberate mystification. Authorities and strategies are being strengthened silently. And nothing is more authoritative or strategic that the silent inner workings of the Cicadan-controlled Keepers of the Deity. For decades their strategies have been kept at the ready, primed for delivery at exactly the correct hour. This hour is already set. They call it the Battle of Armageddon.”

Back to the commenters, who are interviewing the author of a book that claims that the narrator's movie is aiming to turn people away from accepting Christ when the time comes. This scene serves to contrast the author's fundamentalist Christian faith with the more esoteric beliefs that the narrator holds. The author believes that the narrator will soon face God's judgment:

Claret: We’ll all be judged. That is a fact made clear by the Deity. But I have received a high-quality transmission from Heaven on this very subject. Without a doubt, Mr. Hayes’s Armageddon Day will be most unpleasant. He is an issuer of blasphemous decrees, movies that make marketplace commodities out of the Deity’s people and those yet to become the Deity’s people. Mr. Hayes’s so-called incredible revelations disguise the right way of the Deity, and He will judge all directors and cinematographers of such false movies accordingly. As it states in Matthew 18, it would be better for such a detestable moviemaker that a heavy reel of celluloid were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the roiling surf, the inner sea.

Trust me, there are much better reasons to drown this guy than the fact that he made a movie about his weird-ass fever dreams.

Moving on. We are treated to yet another scene from the movie that allegedly inspired the narrator:

I recently received a letter from little Susie Happenstook, a eight-year-old larva in Miss Beechemeyer’s second grade Caringday School class at Clark Our Creator and Sustainer Church.
Dear God,
Is there a Mrs. God?

So God is basically Santa now?

Anyways, it turns out that God did, in fact, have a wife, but they divorced (under what authority?) He also worked as a spin doctor (under whose employment?) He tells us of a vision from one of His prophets:

We have recently purchased an old house, which we will restore for our new home. It appears to be from the 1930s, a rather plain example of Tudor style. The house is uphill from the road, and the narrow driveway – just one car wide – lies along the right side of the house. On the other side of the drive, just past the house, is a freestanding garage. However, there is no access to this garage from the driveway. Not much landscaping here. No shade trees, just a large planting bed encompassing most of a slope at the back of the house.
I go to a restaurant, where I am to meet my wife. I am seated and brought a drink, but still she does not show. I begin to worry perhaps she doesn’t know to come. Then I run into a friend who is here for a business meal with a Motherfucker from some trade publication. The journalist is out of the room, so we are not introduced. When he returns to the table, he does not know I am a daily newspaper Motherfucker, sitting within earshot. I listen to everything, marveling that if anything newsworthy is discussed I will be able to beat this Motherfucker to print.

If this is what inspired the narrator, I can tell where he gets his "visions" from.

See what I mean? Am I not Clark Caring? Do you not see the undeniable similarities? Can you not understand why this is my favorite movie? You do? Good. At last. Now let us continue.

In case you haven't caught on, Clark Caring is the character from the movie who is identified as "God."

The next scene starts like this:

Small pale moths mistakenly hatch, trapped in a narrow web of space-time above the asphalt and beneath winter…dark birds, tinny and pulsating undertones … drying and crumbling off wrinkled skin … chimneyed brick heart … thin pale line of air … black asphalt sky … heating the interstellar space…glow a dull red …galaxy of brothers… a flattened spiral … discovering of butchering… you choose the cut… ow. … orb of dulling gel … a clean shot… messy matter X ... reddish-brown coat … removed the entrails … little crusts of blood … open, long-lashed, coffee-brown globules… the power grunt … the white of the throat … acquired horizons… jubilation … the obscene fruit of their joint conspiracy…a rich, lusty smell of decay … probing the folds of your navel … feasting on her junipers … a man disguised as a tree … push-buttoned the Infiniti window down … a cosmic moment of stasis … where are the stars? … tense cheeks, the tucked corners of her lips …mass and momentum in the dark[...]

Is this what happens when the aleatoric process that Leach used to write the book completely breaks down? What's worse is that this goes on for eight pages! When this is finally over, we're at page 82 of 82--the final page of the DIY Novel Kit.

At last, here are the final paragraphs of the novel:

No, not clear to me! Back! Back… back inside. There is no body as I feel the universe crackle and branch. And finally! Finally…back inside. There is only cold electric horror. I feel the dream of a Mesostic Marienbad writing, a science of cells without will or emotional process. The writing smile passes to a man, sci-fi to head, rotation to OuLiPo.
Then the unclenched hand hits me. Nebula ape and machine are one. Panic, a whispered single sank heart. Here is the ending: Jungle Man received his Dr. Tangier, rained and died.


At least we can say that this novel ended the way it started--as a rambling, incomprehensible mess.