The Book / 7 October 2001
It’s four to six months away, and that’s just the preliminary testing. But still, it’s coming, and all of Eller’s technical expertise will start paying off and I can get this thing running. And I’m not saying I’m abandoning all current projects for this new one, but this new one might just be the project, like the one that doesn’t feel like a waste of time, that I could proudly proclaim to be my life’s work and not wince afterward (cf. the web, sea monkeys), and so I feel I should get things underway ay-sap.
“Nobody’s really writing Bible-like literature these days. I thought I might be able to fill that niche.” ¶ “Religious propaganda.” ¶ “No, like a big book that’s entirely made up of stories, just one after another, all crammed in there. Like Mort Dartherr.” ¶ “One a those Oprah clowns?” ¶ “King Arthur and shit? Just lays on the action, pure action, deeds not words.” ¶ “Fuckin Megaforce shit.” ¶ “That’s right. No character development, no setting the scene, no talking about how the trees sound for ten pages.” ¶ “Updike can suck it.” ¶ “A thousand little stories. Maximum story density. If you don’t like the one you’re reading, there’ll be a new one in the next paragraph.”
So the presentation and explication of a complex epoch, a series of generations, entirely manufactured though not from whole cloth, and this is where Eller and his backend know-how comes into play. He’s writing lengthy scripts to search networks and extract tiny stories of any sort — a woman thumbtacks pictures of other people’s children to her bulletin board or the duke drinks so much poison that it’s the antidote that ends up killing him —f iling them away in a database, numbered, labeled, hundreds every hour.
My job is to take a step back and find connecting themes, repeated motifs and archetypes, adding a layer of personal anecdotes (experienced both first- and second-hand), wheat/chaff postproduction, and then construction of an annotated outline. The book itself would ideally be written, working directly from that outline, while in a near-dream state or better yet a self-induced psychogenic fugue or anything that would minimize the impact of the conscious mind on the material, allowing the ancient potency of the stories to swim to the surface and intertwine, each making the other stronger and more meaningful.
So, so expensive.