Let me tell you a secret
(guest post for Armand Rosamilla’s site)
Whether we know or like the word, we’re living in a “postmodern” time, a time when we’re comfortable with the idea of the s in truths, even if we prefer truth. But along with the oft-begrudged comfort with the s comes nostalgia for s-less-ness being the norm, for the Merry Christmas instead of the Happy HolidayS. My own nostalgia presents itself in an unusual form: I am fascinated with a desperate intellectual scramble that took place as we transitioned away from s-less-ness. Thinkers turned away from truth and toward systems in which truth is malleable but extant. The obvious example here is Nietzsche—God is dead, says many a bumper sticker—and in the place of God Nietzsche provides genealogical understanding and the will to power.
In Burning the Middle Ground, the big evil menace, to whom bad guys on the scene merely allude, is Dr. Allen Fincher, who is important in much of my fiction. While Dr. Fincher is Nietzschean in many ways, the more relevant historical background for his character would be folks like Claude Levi-Strauss and James Frazier, who, under the influence of structural anthropology and comparative religion, found systems that I just make a little whackier in the scholarship I attribute to Dr. Fincher, especially The Alchemy of Will, a book that plays an important role in the bad guys’ plot. Imagine a scale between influential real books like ones by authors I’ve mentioned and demonic fictional (?) books like the Necronomicon in H.P. Lovecraft’s mythos. Fincher’s work slides back and forth on that scale rather unpredictably. It’s certainly capable of Lovecraftian feats, not to mention calling up a beasty or two that might be worthy of the master.
So in my novel, the supernatural power comes from using Fincher’s research to learn certain rituals that activate the potential of the human will. Although it’s not necessarily related to any of the characters’ religions, the existence of such a power seems to affirm an s-less truth. Yet the bad guys are the ones who take advantage of s-less-ness, so maybe my nostalgia showing itself through them reveals an instinct. Maybe that bygone s-less way of thinking had better stay gone by. The s, when forbidden its attachment to truth, becomes divisive. It crops up in other places, like versus. And it likely hastens Cthulhu’s return. Best avoided—but I will keep flirting with the idea, with the secret Dr. Fincher may have figured out, with the unspeakable truth Dr. Victor Frankenstein learned, the secret that cost him, like Dr. Faust before him, so much. The seduction of having just one truth is that we could know it, and in learning the secret, we could become gods.
Link for Burning the Middle Ground: