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guilt induced paranoia?

Sometimes I think my parents went a little overboard with guilt-based raising. Unless everyone walks around feeling guilty without talking about it, I feel I live in a world where most people live in purposeful obliviousness to the minor harms they do people every day, whereas I do anything wrong and it haunts me. I read about these fearless assholes in the news, making tons of money ripping people off, paying a fine to the govt that's 10% of their profit, and going home to their trophy wife and house. I can barely ask a woman on a date without wondering how she's going to punish me for it. She usually doesn't, but that's where the paranoia comes in. Of course, if all of the women whom you wrote love letters/poems for showed them to your friends to mock you (3 out of 3 before I learned my lesson), you'd be a little paranoid, too.

I just need to hold on until I get back to Asia teaching ESL again. There I understand women: traditional without the annoying religiosity. Fun flirtation without the sexual pressures. The third date rule applies to holding hands. That's my speed.


I should have known better than to go to a big party, with all the alcohol and loud music. I did manage to find one woman who was really to talk to someone who wasn't drinking and we were having a nice conversation about Kant, Hegel, and Marx until a more charming guy slipped in and slide lined me.

I spent the rest of the evening back flashing to when I was an undergraduate and women blew me off because I'm shy and don't like drinking. All those old memories and feelings are probably the biggest reason I put off going back to college; I just couldn't handle the idea of going back to having most women treat me like a piece of furniture because I like books more than beer.
“And if a writer transports men to Mars merely to tell a cowboy story, he produces not structural fabulation but star dreck – harmless, perhaps, but an abuse of that economy of means that governs mature esthetic satisfaction. Or if he allows such a variety of magical events that his fictional world seems deficient in its own natural laws, his work will fail structurally and cognitively, too, though it may retain some sublimative force. But in the most admirable of structural fabulations, a radical discontinuity between the fiction world and our own provides both the means of narrative suspense and of speculation. In the perfect structural fabulation, idea and story and so wedded as to afford us simultaneously the greatest pleasures that fiction provides: sublimation and cognition.”

Probably the reason I named “Dune,” “Foundation,” and “The Lord of the Rings” is because they provide both sublimative and cognitive satisfaction. Any of the books I enjoy rereading reach that beautiful level of story and idea, from “Jane Eyre” to “The Gap Series.” Even the controversial “Atlas Shrugged” reveals ideas through plot and description, even if it is weighed down by excessive dialogue.


"Hope you get some writing done, because when the kids get here there won't be any time."

These were my mother's parting words as she left to go fishing with my dad, her brother, and a family friend, all retired. The kids she referred to are my nephews and niece, along with my brother and sister-in-law.

It left me with a sense of dread, because I'll be expected to give up reading for Legos, writing for Fisher Price toys, exercise for splashing...

My inner child wasn't all that much of a child even when I was young. My dad used to say I was 13 going on 30. He taught me how to play chess when I was five. When I played with LEGOs, I was trying to emulate what I read about in kids' history books, not dumbed down kids' cartoons.

When I lived in China, I spent almost all my social time with graduate students and my work with some of the best and brightest undergrad China has to offer. It was a great time to indulge the life of my mind.

It would be great to have a special someone in my life, but even happy marriages seem determined to convince me to remain single. Doubts about how to be a father don't help.


Imagining cultural evolution...

I was watching an Open Yale lecture by Paul Fry and it got me to thinking about the context of authors: a world of ideas. My image is thus: take a piece of paper and place three random dots on it, then draw radiating lines in 6-8 directions from each dot. Those dots are books, those intersections are authors. Of course, those authors can then radiate lines as well. You can imagine the lines in three or four dimensions as well. And there you have my own image of cultural/memetic evolution.
The Vampire’s Courtesan

By Paul Schilling

Taken from her home at an early age, Katharina spent years in training to be a suitable consort for a vampire lord, but she never forgot her first love, nor had Johann forgotten her. Just as Johann’s plans to rescue her cumulate, they backfire, making a future together even less likely. Katharina’s near death experience shocks the Archlord into realizing he does not wish to spend eternity without her, and he offers to raise her into the immortal ranks. As powers both natural and supernatural gather against each other, Katharina must choose between mortal love and immortal power.

My younger brother, his wife, and his three kids showed up last night. We pretty much only had time to eat, chat a little, and then go through the drama of putting kids to bed. Travel and family get the kids all hyped up, which wears out grown ups...

I did get a chance to ask my brother, who works cameras for TV news, about how people critique television, if there is some particular standard besides personal taste. He talked about how the medium should fit the message, which is sort of how I critique novels when I go to workshops. I avoid judging the themes of the story and focus on how to make a book a better version of itself.


Rereading the Stone

“Rereading the Stone: Desire and the Making of Fiction in ‘Dream of the Red Chamber”

By Anthony C. Yu

For those of you who have not read “Dream of the Red Chamber” (aka “Dreams of Red Mansions” or “The Story of the Stone”), it is the Chinese literary classic, and by ‘the’ I do not mean the only but the most important to the field of literature. It’s a romantic tragedy the length of “The Lord of the Rings,” taking place almost entirely within the mansion of an important family on the way down, and the first Chinese novel dominated mostly by women characters, even as those women struggle with living in a male dominated society. The entire story was supposedly written on one divine stone, and the narrator is telling us what he read, hence the title.

When I read it for myself, I got the gist of the plot, noticed parallels between my family’s expectations of myself and the Confucian expectations of the Jia family for their son Bao-yu, and enjoyed the story within the story within the story organization. Thanks to Anthony Yu, I’ve realized that “Dream of the Red Chamber” is also a story about two Taoist lovers trapped by Confucian values but told from the perspective of a Buddhist who believes both sides are trapped within illusions caused by their desires, hence involving all three of the great religious traditions in Chinese culture.

His discussion of the relationship between literature and history was also enlightening about Chinese society. “Dream of the Red Chamber” was the first Chinese novel to claim to actually be a novel, but because of the narrator (not necessarily the author in this case) claimed to be writing a memoir, a minor literary industry sprung up trying to draw parallels between the author’s life and the book’s events. In the meantime, “The Three Kingdoms,” which we would call historical fiction, was written like a history book but everyone treated it as a novelization. Frankly, the division between literature and history was pretty vague in the West until the 19th Century.

It makes sense to look at a romance novel from the perspective of desires, and Yu deals extensively with how Chinese have perceived desires. The Confucian tradition considered desires natural, but recognized that we did not live in a state of nature, so looked for ways for people to express desires in socially acceptable ways. Musical education and training in particular was stressed by Confucian theorists. But the hero and heroine of this novel were not ordinary people; they were spirits from Heaven reborn on Earth, the land of illusion, and as such their love could not be sublimated forever, only delayed, then tricked, then defeated, but never snuffed out.
Fifty Ways to Love Your Lover: The Novel http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KROBHRE

Candice is a brilliant and beautiful young woman from a wealthy and abusive family. She meets a young man who is strong and intellectual, but doesn’t understand woman. She undertakes his education, helping use his IQ to raise his EQ, but when she turns him into the perfect boyfriend, can she give up her plans to marry a rich man?

Kissing the Anti-Christ http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KNSUX6K

Christina Graves, intrepid liberal reporter, is searching for a story, while Senator Derek Hardy is searching for power. After he announces his campaign for the presidency, she starts to hunt after his secrets. While she squirms her way through an increasingly conservative management and he through the twisty maze of his father’s power structure, they are drawn towards each others’ determination, intelligence, and, yes, good looks.
Will ambition triumph over love?

Ancient Lesbian Sex Secrets http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KMA0D1Y

When WRIP free radio starts running out of money, the Dark Lord, satanic talk show host, aka Kenneth, decides to tell his audience that their prayers will be answered or their money back. When Jessica Hoh needs more money to pay for college, she joins an escort service. When Feather’s poetry brings in the pennies, she writes paranormal romance novels to pay the bills. When Sam’s video game profits slump, he needs a way to advertise them.

When they meet each other, they naturally decide to a make a movie, one that will settle all their woes: The Ancient Lesbian Sex Secrets.

It's only Wednesday...

and a friend dumped me for not travelling hundreds of miles to hang out a few days in her drama filled life. The more rational my reasons provided, the more upset she became; maybe she sensed that I didn't want to get back into the soap operas that had twirled around my life before I had moved to China. Eventually I told her that I had a nice, quiet social life in China and liked it that way; she told me to go back to China and that was that. I felt a little sad and a little relieved at the same time.

But I'm back to writing in my Asian fantasy series, too long neglected. I'm revising the opening chapters of book six to get back into the grove before finishing the rest.