I like lists.
Anxiety lends itself to executive dysfunction, and the overwhelming desire to put off my introductory post until I have something pat to say is sitting like a saggy-assed elephant between myself and my keyboard. But I’ve found lists to be a good tool for the Bad Days when fear keeps me in my room, in my chair, in myself. A way to visualize the steps for life, as it were: you can’t make a cake until you crack the eggs.
In his article “Behind the Painted Mask”, snake-worshipping, wizard-under-the-bridge Alan Moore recreated a list he made during the pre-production of V for Vendetta, which included the disparate inspirations, images, narratives, and impressions he wanted to be present in the comic:
“Orwell. Huxley. Thomas Disch. Judge Dredd. Harlan Ellison’s “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman, Catman and The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World by the same author. Vincent Price’s Dr. Phibes and Theatre of Blood. David Bowie. The Shadow. Night Raven. Batman. Fahrenheit 451. The writings of the New Worlds school of science fiction. Max Ernst’s painting “Europe After the Rain”. Thomas Pynchon. The atmosphere ofBritish Second World War films. The Prisoner. Robin Hood. Dick Turpin…”
Moore, Alan (1983). “Behind the Painted Smile”. Warrior (17)
I had the questionable fortune to read V for Vendetta when I was starting to write in high school–I say ‘questionable’ not because I deny the value of the work, but because teenagers are insufferable as a natural defence and inevitably I tried to imitate the lofty, philosophical cynicism of Moore’s prose without having a single original idea to back it up. Luckily, when I finally grew out of weak attempts at Moore-isms, the thing that really remained with me was the notion that every story started with a list, a treasure box, a trove of theologies, tableaus, and tales that have gone before.
So I sat down to write out my grocery list. The list that fuels my creativity, the trove into which I reach to draw stories. I recreate that list here:
“First, witches. Witches that smile with their teeth. Witches with leopard jaws and breath of communion wine.
“Aerostats and wings of brass and creatures too heavy for flight that miraculously step in the sky. Cities–cities and city worship, and suburbs and spires and steeples astride clouds. If cities were people, what would they be like? What are their affects, their postures, their gestures?
“Teenage girls summoning otherworldly apparitions in the washroom of their high school. Teenagers that are feathers and fireworks, gentle and explosive.Brown-skinned, freckled girls lying in wildflowers. Olive-skinned, blazing demi-girls crowned with stars.
“Saints. Saints who struggle to be good, saints who wrestle with dark impulses, who drink moonshine and smoke cigarettes and have bruises like bare-knuckle boxers (duking it out with the Devil, much?). Saints scabbed and dirty, with tongues dropping diamonds.
“How do we be ‘good’? Is there power to be gotten from goodness–and is there equal power to be gotten from not being good?
“Women kings, and prophetic women, and women who scrape escarpments in the earth with their fingernails, and women who tear up the turf with their teeth. Messianic heroes walking into the fire, eyes brimful of love and anguish.
“Women loving women. Men loving men. People of no particular gender loving and being loved. A big ol’ lovefest.”
And at the bottom of the list, I wrote:
“Something just for you, friends.”
(ETA: I elected to delete this post in light of the Orlando shooting, not wanting to publish anything on such a sad day, thus its disappearing and reappearing. Apologies for that <3)