Hemlock Novel: Diary, 6/11 to 6/12/21

Sally Field in Sybil (1976)

{6/11/21}  Weight 214.0 at 6:00 am.

Last night I spent three hours plus, glued to my seat, watching Sally Field in Sybil from 1976.  In addition to being a master’s class in acting, it’s also quite a wonderful TV movie.  Uncompromising and powerful, and it has just about the sweetest kiss one could wish for.  At first I had been disheartened to see the length, but by the end I could have wished it twice as long—I just fell in love with Ms. Field and Sybil’s many personalities (sixteen, they say).  Joanne Woodward as Sybil’s shrink is excellent as well.  I also watched some of the extras (from 2006) and this morning watched the rest; the screenplay writer, Stewart Stern, is quite delightful.  So, despite a lack of explosions and car chases and blood, highly recommended.

As for my writing, this morning I’m back in the doldrums.  “Kat goes crazy” is still where I want to go with this story, but I just wasn’t feeling it this morning and didn’t much care.  This is discouraging.  I spent much time rereading and came to the conclusion that the “first encounter” with Black Pete needs to come after the “search for” BP.  Once he talks to Kat, making her search for him is practically a definition of anticlimactic.  Possibly a nonverbal encounter could be the “first contact”; possibly that would be just a distraction.  Alas, the idea of “Kat goes crazy” was to have her being seduced by the forest; now I’m concerned about probation’s opinion [it would be too sexual].  I can’t really do the story.  I guess I’ll put my efforts into Synchronicity.

One thing horror movies almost never get right:  something totally batshit crazy happens, and what do people do?  Shrug it off as though, since it couldn’t be true, it didn’t happen.  I don’t know what I’d do in that situation, but I think that I wouldn’t go back to “business as usual.”  Of course, sometimes movies make a gesture in this direction—the victim talks to a shrink or a cop, they aren’t believed, and then they go back to normal.  Other times, they can’t let it alone, and drive everyone else crazy with their new obsession.  The movie that’s background to my futzing around right now, The Grudge (2020), goes to both extremes.

So, how should this affect Synchronicity?  Obviously I can’t answer such a question except by writing the book.

And I guess I won’t be doing that, either, because Tyler J. Yates beat me to it:  Synchronicity:  A Novel.  Which leaves me with Free Books, Free Love, without the love, perhaps.  Or Taffy’s War.

Or a new idea, The Hemlock Club, to be based on younger men, as much unlike the actual members as possible.  Perhaps.  Start with a conversation, as interesting as I can make it.  Check my old quotes and my 100 Ideas notebook for gems.  Disaffected middle-aged men with some rather spotty background in philosophy.

It doesn’t thrill me, but one never knows where a conversation might lead, and at least it will get me to crank out a few pages, and perhaps a few more.  It’s got to be better than what I’ve been doing, i.e., nothing.

Watched The Blue Angel, a 1930 German classic that didn’t do much for me.  I suppose it was “hot stuff” in its day.

{6/12/21}  Weight 213.4 at 6:15 am.

Hemlock Club today.  Started with me reviewing the two shows that greatly impressed me this morning, one an interview with Tariq Ali, the other an interview with James Howard Kunstler, an economist.  Ali spoke impressively about foreign affairs; Kunstler spoke impressively about the American economy.  Specifically, Kunstler described America as a “hospice,” where the function is to print money to ease the pain of the population, presumably ending with death.  He also talked about our medicine and education as being racketeering which eventually “the government” will pay for.  Also, fracking, it turns out, does not earn profits.  Finally, he mentioned “woke hysteria” without saying much more than that the military whistleblowers are complaining about being taught critical race theory, and that our budget this year will be ten trillion dollars, dollars which our economy is not providing.  Much of our economy is based on buying from giant corporations which import goods from where they’re manufactured (i.e., elsewhere), and this is unsustainable—an economy must provide jobs which produce goods and wealth in addition to providing goods to buy.  Something like that.  I was greatly impressed by Ali, and only slightly less by Kunstler.

Pablo arrived after I’d been talking for ten or twenty minutes, and I filled him in a bit.  We then moved on to other subjects, and Gertrude joined us soon thereafter.  Pablo talked about the F-150 EV, the electric truck, and about the history of someone who was not present.  After Gertrude said that the Earth is a water planet, Nog talked about the aquatic ape theory and Japanese pearl divers.  Joe Henry came by and spoke to us with some difficulty; as he is only a passerby, I made no attempt to take notes about his talk.  When The Isaiah Effect was mentioned, I suggested that maybe I should read that, and Pablo and Nog should read books that I normally read.  Nog took to this suggestion, and Pablo suggested a discussion between the positions of Bertrand Russell (“simple-minded”) and A. N. Whitehead (“muddle-headed”); I said that since none of us knew enough about their positions, that we should rather talk about “philosophy’s rejection of mysticism,” a subject I had read about in The Philosophy Toolkit that morning.  This seemed acceptable to all, but nothing definite was settled.  Nog told us about having previously been in the hospital to be treated for MRSA, and a nurse told him that “the eagle needs both wings to fly,” referring to the Western and the “natural” or traditional folk medicine approaches to health.  Nog expressed some hesitation about trying to express a difficult thought, and I said that you don’t want to avoid communicating because it might be ineffective.  I told of a story of Chekhov, “Daydreams,” that I had read last night, and I read the last few paragraphs of the story and we talked about “what it might mean” and “what Chekhov meant.”  Pablo read a poem [of his].  There were other things mentioned, including my idea of writing a Hemlock Club novel, since Synchronicity seemed to be at a dead end.

Then Pablo and I went to Barnes & Noble and I bought a sudoku book, a crossword puzzle book, a World Almanac, and Ansgar Allen:  Cynicism.  Fifty-two bucks.

Then Pablo and I watched an episode of Andromeda, and he left for home.

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