our village (27)

Spring time. Can you feel that in the air? You should get out there more, Lilly-Anne. It’d be good for you. It’s not so scary out there…. Here, let me tell you what I saw last night.

It was above freezing, kinda balmy. Everything was so still, it was all scent, the Earth coming alive after winter’s hibernations and contemplations—so much time and so much cold and so much darkness in winter, and your thoughts swimming slowly around each other like drugged fish in the depths of a cold murky lake, slowly slowly circling as the frozen water stretches toward them, isolating your slow fish thoughts until they’re the only thing left in a cold pool of freezing water, that’s winter…and now comes spring.

Feel it with me, the way you don’t need thoughts anymore, because all is action, the Earth springing up out of the Earth, life and freshness, birth and growth. Everything waking up, unfurling even at night, spring is unfolding and the Earth is getting out of its head, out of its cave of shadows—that’s what my home feels like to me sometimes, a cave of shadows…and then spring comes.

So I wanted to tell you what I saw last night, so you’d know it’s not so scary out there: a skunk! Simple, scampering, black and white, didn’t look like it had a care in the world, didn’t look like it cared if I was there at all. The first skunk of the season, out of its winter den and off to explore the world….

Listen, Lilly-Anne, this year I’m going to spend more time out of the village. It’s too cramped here. I want to be around people, around life. Not just life on the lake—birds migrating through the pines, the return of the bats, a skunk—but human life, culture and concerts, philosophy and political action and poetry and rock and roll. I like this place, our village, but I think I need more. The skunk just makes it look black and white right now: I need to explore more.

But that wasn’t the point. The point is, Lilly-Anne, I don’t think the world is as scary as you think it is. There are monsters, sure, but there are also heroes…and there are skunks…which are pretty cool to see scampering along the snow banks, so I’m just saying you should get outside this spring. I’m gonna be splitting from this village, and you should do some exploring, too.

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3 thoughts on “our village (27)

  1. I found this entry interesting in that part of it reminded me of the long-running real-life correspondence between Frank’s partner (sometimes joined by Frank) and my wife, and part did not. The observation of the skunk — taking delight in the natural world — could have been ripped straight from one of the letters; I’d guess that this really happened to one of you. But the stuff about what the skunk means — its symbolism or significance — does not remind me of the letters. Does that mean that The Meaning of the Skunk is the “fiction” element of this story? Or maybe those deep thoughts about the skunk have been there all along in real life, too, but were left out of the letters? (For fear of sounding too fanciful?) How much of this “serial fiction” is truly fictional? 🙂

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  2. Dear Greg, I really appreciate your response. Even more than writing a serial fiction blog, replying to a reader’s response makes me feel like–or practice being–a writer, and that’s something I’ve been thinking of doing for many years, so thanks for the opportunity.

    I love your sincerity about identifying what is fiction. What really happened, and what did the writer create/invent, and what does it mean? I don’t know if you’re actually looking for a response, or if you’re just being a kind thoughtful reader; but in case you’re looking for a response–and for me to continue practicing being a writer–here is my response:

    I definitely can’t answer the question about the meaning of the fiction (that’s against the religion of fiction writers), other than pointing out, like one of those annoying English teachers who won’t answer your question but instead forces your thoughtful question back on you by saying something like, “what do you think it means?” But the point of those annoying English teachers, I think, is to say that the story IS the answer to what it means, i.e., if it meant something else then it would say it. It’s like Jesus answering a question with a parable: the fact that the answer is a story is part of the answer. It means what it says. Therefore (I’ll ask annoyingly), what do YOU think it means?

    Let me be more specific in answering the question regarding this specific post: I, the writer of the serial fiction piece “our village,” have seen a skunk in my life. In fact, I have seen one skunk this spring: it was crossing the road in front of my car, not while I was walking around a lake village at night, and the thoughts of the narrator in post #27 did not occur to me at the time, but, as the writer of post #27, those thoughts have obviously occurred to me at some point. So, is post #27 fiction or is it real?

    I happen to believe more in fiction than in non-fiction (perhaps that, too, is part of the religion of a fiction writer; I’m not sure if it’s a shared article of faith or not), and what I mean by that is not that we’re in a post-truth era or that there is no reality or that there are no facts, but rather, that something that admits that it is “fiction” is more often more of a truthful source than something that claims to be “non-fiction.” When a teller of stories (or a “reporter” of “facts” or an interpreter of data) admits that s/he is a biased subject (and every fiction writer is making this declaration by calling their work “fiction”), it frees the reader to identify truth in the fiction without needing to validate a so-called (and impossible-to-achieve, as Schrodinger and quantum physics suggests) objective impartial non-effecting perspective that is implied by calling something “non-fiction” or real or true. I believe quantum physics that observations effect reality. So, you ask, is this serial fiction truly fictional? (And since the question is not about meaning, I feel that my fiction-writer religion allows me to answer it.) Yes, it’s ALL truly fictional … and it’s all real, but I will call it “fiction” to encourage readers to find their own meaning in it.

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    1. Thank you for this detailed response! I’m still figuring out how to have this dialogue with you without taking over your blog, but I do appreciate the reply.

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