We talk too much, Miranda, her feverish sister Sasha said, in her low voice, no secrets come out without silence.
I do. Somehow I’ve come to believe that the last thing a writer or any artist thinks about is to make himself comfortable while he’s working. Perhaps the discomfort is a bit of an aid or stimulus. Men who can afford to work under better conditions often choose to work under miserable conditions.
He had cited his favorite writer, well at least for now, Sampson was irresistible and he knew it and felt guilty and ashamed of his unabashed pheremones and good breeding (his mother was an angel with a pixie wit and his father was some sort of apostle hero who was actually his uncle because his father turns out was some sort of wandering bipolar didn’t know it cad…and hence, this is how I revisit Perseus, Medusa (the new Molly) and the myths of a new generation based on the hidden meanings in the ancient revolving door myths:
In 1939 he went to Greece to visit Lawrence Durrell; his sojourn there provides the narrative basis of The Colossus of Maroussi. Cut off by the war and forced to return to America, he made the yearlong odyssey recorded in The Air-Conditioned Nightmare. Then in 1944 he settled on a magnificent empty stretch of California coast, leading the life described in Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch.Now that his name has made Big Sur a center for pilgrimage, he has been driven out and is once again on the move.
I think these questions are meaningless. What does it matter how long it takes to write a book?
From the meaningless questions to the imagination of the future:
Imagine if sixty years ago, at the start of my writing career, I had thought to write a story about a woman who swallowed a pill and destroyed the Catholic Church, causing the advent of women’s liberation. That story probably would have been laughed at, but it was within the realm of the possible and would have made great science fiction. If I’d lived in the late eighteen hundreds I might have written a story predicting that strange vehicles would soon move across the landscape of the United States and would kill two million people in a period of seventy years. Science fiction is not just the art of the possible, but of the obvious. Once the automobile appeared you could have predicted that it would destroy as many people as it did.
I read everything by Robert Heinlein and Arthur Clarke, and the early writings of Theodore Sturgeon and Van Vogt—all the people who appeared inAstounding Science Fiction—but my big science-fiction influences are H. G. Wells and Jules Verne. I’ve found that I’m a lot like Verne—a writer of moral fables, an instructor in the humanities. He believes the human being is in a strange situation in a very strange world, and he believes that we can triumph by behaving morally. His hero Nemo—who in a way is the flip side of Melville’s madman, Ahab—goes about the world taking weapons away from people to instruct them toward peace.
I often use the metaphor of Perseus and the head of Medusa when I speak of science fiction. Instead of looking into the face of truth, you look over your shoulder into the bronze surface of a reflecting shield. Then you reach back with your sword and cut off the head of Medusa. Science fiction pretends to look into the future but it’s really looking at a reflection of what is already in front of us. So you have a ricochet vision, a ricochet that enables you to have fun with it, instead of being self-conscious and superintellectual.
The experience of great loss appears frequently in his work.
He recently told me he still lives by his lifelong credo, “Jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down.”