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Saturday, April 2, 2011

r = 28, σ = 10, b = 8/3.

I'm fairly sure it was in Burroughs' Naked Lunch that I read during the introduction (before his own prolegomenon - Deposition: Testimony concerning a sickness - that is) of the idea, or notion perhaps, that the book could be opened at any page and read without any loss of context. It was either that or an instruction - I forget which. And it's impossible for me to now research the source, as I've just sold the book in question ...

[Note: I only sold this version because I'd recently managed to find and purchase a hardcover UK edition of Naked Lunch from 1965, complete with dust-cover]

Digressions possibly worthy of their own posts aside however, this idea has fascinated me ever since, and whilst I didn't originally set out to write a book that could be read in the same manner, my editing method involved a similar approach; that Catharsis has an underlying theme that's only barely audible, and no particular plot to speak of, was also of considerable help.

Having never previously written anything substantial (or perhaps of any substance whatsoever), it quickly became apparent that from one edit to the next my voice was being modified throughout, and whilst I decided that this frustration could be overcome by continuing to re-work the same story for another fifteen goddamn years so as to have it flattened by maturity, I could also look at employing an approach more akin to that applied by television productions, whereby the first aired episode is actually recorded last (when actors/actresses are more seasoned in their roles) and the last aired episode is recorded first - presumably with shitty acting but a loyal audience who've been trained throughout a devolving series to overlook such shortcomings.

And so, by simply working on chapters that took my inspiration at the time (captivated by a phrase, the particular layout of a page, or deterred from others by frustrations at a single word) my weaknesses as a writer are strewn throughout Catharsis; a liberal scattering of diluted failures pervading the entire work.

I reconcile this by having saved myself fifteen years of torture, hopefully without having passed on said compromise to the reader ...

There are exceptions of course, most notably that the first chapter was completed first and the final chapter was completed last, for although some camouflage was deemed a necessity, I also wanted to retain some semblance of evolution - personal snapshots of my own development perhaps.

All of which bodes horribly for those who've already read the chapters released thus far and who've now just been told that, wait, it gets worse. Equally so, however, the pressure now heaped upon chapter forty-five to deliver unrivalled brilliance is also mighty.

"He who lives will see" ... and all that.

Anyway, as well as utilising this technique in my own my writing schedule, we extended it for use in my wife's editing routine too, as she's kindly been wading through the entire novel also (the amount of simple mistakes I've failed to notice after having dissected each page multiple times over the best part of a decade is ridiculous). The theory with regards this process was based on the assumption that if one never quite knows what's going on around them, then they'll naturally pay more attention to the details and subtleties involved.

And furthermore, such controlled disorder once again allowed the problem of the book having no discernable plot to be casually buried beneath seeming chaos ...


And so it seems only right to release
the chapters in a similar fashion.