Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Hessian

I know you're a little scared, being pulled over in your strange little horseless coach, as it were, by a Headless Spectre mounted atop a Nightmare on an ancient dirt road in the middle of the Old Dutch Country that never seems to notice the passage of time, where everyone can still smell the old-time fairy magic lingering in the air that will doubtlessly make them dream strange dreams every night that they remain here.

But I've been thinking about things while I've been riding up down these paths over all these years and something funny just occurred to me and I felt that I just needed someone to talk to y'know and I noticed that you happened to be a schoolteacher and I thought "oh man now this would be sorta perfect and ironic and stuff!" ahaha ghosts love that sorta junk!

So like, relax and fear naught and let me speak my peace and thus shall ye shortly and safely be transported on your way unharmed by me and whatever.

Washington Irving, right?

You know who I'm talking about.

First Great American Author blah blah blah and all that.

Guy wrote the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, y'know, starring me, of course, but he also did Rip Van Wrinkle, and a bunch of other stuff that was just sorta okay.

Made fun of a lot of things, but he's probably most famous for his portrayal of Ichabod Crane, the greedy and craven dorky-looking schoolmaster slash con-artist who wanted to marry everybody's daughter so he could steal their farm and eat everything on it.

Which was bad for his reviews, 'cause reviewers are generally craven dorky-looking schoolmaster slash con-artist types like you ahaha just kidding yer not all that bad actually.

But that means, when you read a review of Washington Irving, you got to take it with a bit of salt, right?

Especially if the guy doing the review don't ever say nothing about Irving's profound sense of humor.

I mean, that's pretty much a sure sign that its some craven schoolmaster con artist type doing the review, some fool with no sense of humor, right?

And if a guy like Irving writes a two-page "why I write" gag claiming that he admires the way Europeans think about Americans as Degenerate versions of Europeans, and that he'd like to meet the Great Men of Europe who must stand as tall as a mountain in comparison to him, that's probably a joke, right?

Any fool can plainly see that that was probably a joke, right?

Well the jokes on you if you can't!

And its as if anybody could write an accurate explanation of why they write that should be taken at face value in the first place ahaha!

Sorry I'll try to quit laughing so much I know its a little freaky.

Anyways, I think folks mostly feel the desire to write in order to fill a void, to put something into circulation that they feel is missing, something that's been tumbling around in their head that they wanna get out there, something that they don't see anybody else doing.

Much as we all did as children, standing atop logs and waving our sticks at each other and imagining that we were pirates on a great adventure, specifically because there was actually nothing of the sort to do about the dreary farms and weary cities where we grew up.

Or, at least, that's the most common inspiration, or the thing that governs how they select what they're gonna write about, even if they're doing it for money on a schedule and whatever.

And that's got to be one of the bigger reasons that its kinda stupid to compare the things Irving wrote to the stuff that Poe and Hawthorne did much later.

Its okay to say you like the stuff that Poe wrote more than the junk that Irving wrote, that the kinda stuff that Poe wrote was the kinda stuff that you have an appetite for, that Poe filled one of your voids better than the stuff that Irving produced did, whether its the style you like or the subject matter or the plot structure or that you thought that being a fan of Poe would do more to get you in the good graces of loose high-performance women or whatever.

And of course Poe is going to have more appeal to the schoolmarm type folks who don't have any sense of humor 'cause Poe was a lot of things but he definitely wasn't much of a comedian ahaha!

Sorry, sorry, the laugh, I know.

Anyways you see how the schoolmarm Ichabod Crane types might like Poe a bit more than scruffy-old Irving with his gags and con-artist characters and stuff?

Heck man, Ichabod Crane was totally into reading scary stuff about witches and junk, the kinda stuff that Poe wrote, Crane used that kinda stuff to tickle the imaginations of all the farmer's wives he was always hitting on.

In my story I'm actually just a legend that provided Ichabod Crane's competitor (for the affections of a farm lass) something to dress up as, and not even a real character!

I know!

There's actually no ghosts or magic or anything at all in my story ahaha!

Ah sorry sorry sorry I promise I'll try to keep the creepy echoing laughter under control but you know how it is with being a Literary Apparition and all that I'm fighting against my own overly simplistic design specifications here and I don't have a lot to work with!

Anyways some people got this idea that there's One Best Thing, and thinking that way makes them think that diversity is something you need to snip away, to whittle things down to perfection, insteada appreciating diversity, insteada thinking of everything as a quilt made out of all sorts of different patches that make the quilt more interesting, the more patches, the more different the patches, the more detailed the patches, the better.

Where all the different authors of each patch give you something different to look at night after night as your tastes change over the years and you start to think that this patch is actually better or more suited to your present situation than the patch that was your favorite patch of yesterday.

Its whatever fits the times the best, whatever fills the void of the moment.

I'm sure when Irving looked out at everything going on in his current frame of reference, he was inspired to put something into the pot that would make the stew taste better that very night, something that nobody had ever seen before, each detail of it carefully selected for different reasons.

And you can't really judge that against what the stew seemed to need when Poe showed up and what Poe decided to season everything with during the course of his frame of reference.

And its not just the time, its also the place and the scenery, and the people and ideas around them, and how old the chef was, and what sorts of things he was going through.

You can have a taste of what they decided to season the stew with, and that might tell you a little bit about the stew they were looking at the night they wrote whatever it was they were gonna write, or at least, what each of them thought the stew needed, or maybe what sort of seasonings they had the most of in their pockets, but you can't really taste the stews themselves, and so you can't really compare the stews, and so you can't really compare the chefs.

You just don't know enough to do that.

Especially if you still ain't got a sense of humor after all these years and Ichabod Crane still offends you ahaha!

And that's all a book report is, really, too.

Some bit of seasoning designed to make the daily stew of some craven and humorless schoolmaster con artist who hates Washington Irving more tasty.

That's all we're really getting graded on, in a book report, how well we can please all these cowardly guys that wanna sleep with our sisters and eat everything on our farm and never have to do any honest work!

Please them by telling lies and saying that we don't like Washington Irving, pretending that we didn't even notice all of his jokes, pretending that the guy was obviously a hack and that he wasn't anywhere near as good as the Really Really Great Greats like Edgar Allan Poe or Hawthorne, when you look at everything from some bizarre-ass no-frame-of-reference frame-of-reference!

And so book reports are actually just support systems for evil people!

You shouldn't be training the children to do that kinda stuff!

And that's why nobody should have to write book reports!

Well, whatever, y'know, its just something I was thinking about lately, while I been looking for my head.

Ha ha ha.

Like I never heard that one before.

You ain't seen it, have ya?

Yah I figured.

Well, I think they wanna keep me like this so they can milk me for royalties for all eternity or something, the bastards!

Well, have a good night.

And remember that stuff I said about the kids in school and those damn book reports of yours.

Nah, I'm not going to threaten you with some sort of supernatural doom, that's too cliche.

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