Writing the memoir of self-erasure: A practice-led exploration of constructing and deconstructing the coloniser-who-refuses

Paul Williams (‘Writing the memoir of self-erasure: A practice-led exploration of constructing and deconstructing the coloniser-who-refuses’) negotiates the wavering line between fiction and fact in pursuing his memoir of self-erasure. The context for his memoir is the transition from Smith’s Rhodesia to Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, and the agenda is to bring a corrective vision to the usual and misleading history. But what to make of your memories when you lived your life in a ‘propaganda bubble’, where not only was your life a lie, but you were ignorant of history happening around you? Textual solutions to these questions are discussed with great intelligence, honesty and clarity here, as the memoir’s basis is exposed and explained.

http://www.textjournal.com.au/index.htm

 

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The Secret Bookstore

Here was one about called The Secret Bookstore, about a character who goes into a book shop and finds a book called The Secret Bookstore in which a character goes into a bookstore only to find himself reading a book he has written called The Secret Bookstore.

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What does your soul look like?

Extract from Cavedaschi’s The Philosopher on the Soul ( a little tongue in cheek ?)

THE SOUL

“Draw it for me, then.”
No one knew what to do until the Philosopher drew a large circle on the board. “If as you say, it is non-spatial, of course we can’t draw it. But let’s pretend. I like to think of mine as a silver white disc, like a Catholic communion wafer. What is yours like?”
“Mine’s a sword.”
“A fire.”
“Mercury.”
Ashlee held up her drawing. “You want to see my soul?”

It was a forlorn bird in a cage.

The Philosopher’s soul—he added more and more detail to it while the students were talking–was lunar grey and pock-marked with craters. It had originally been pure white like crispy snow, he explained, but over the years, life had dented and dinged it. Philsoopher cover

The potted surface was the constant fear, struggle and stress that was now acceptably part of 21st century life. Those hard lines were scar tissue from his early teen years.

“What I want to know is: does your soul stay the same, or does it change? If it is damaged, can it repair itself? If the soul is everlasting, do these wounds last forever too, or do they fade with time? Can your soul get snagged in the branches of the past and lag behind you, a heavy weight you drag along?”

They were too young, he knew, to understand what he was talking about. By their responses, he could see that these students’ souls were shiny stars in the East, pulling them forward and upward. Ashlee’s was a flapping bird, soaring high into the sky of her idealism, Travis’s was an unblemished silver disk, washed by the blood of Christ.

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unwriting and unreading

Is it possible to unwrite and unread a book? My latest story (‘The Secret Bookstore’) explores these issues. Well, I’m not sure ‘explores’ is the word. ‘Unexplores’ perhaps?

If a writer writes a book, fits together the words, affixes words in a certain linear order (construct), do we unwrite it (deconstruct) when we read it? What happens to the words after we read them? They’re consumed, past, dead, used.

And if we write a book, are we unreading it?

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Lilith

lNearly finished the novel Lilith. Fun. About a man who calls up this ancient demon and gets into all sorts of predicaments because she’s not Eve, she’s not submissive, and he has to learn a few hard lessons about patriarchy. I’d call her the first feminist, except that the word feminine is as sexist to me as ‘female’ and ‘woman’. Can anyone find me a better word? Maybe ‘she who suckles and gives suck?’ as in ‘fetus’ (from the Latin ‘felare’?)

 

Anyway here’s an extract…

God created man and woman at the same time. Adam and Lilith. But Adam was such a wanker, always saying he was better than me. Making love was the worst. He said it was natural that he should be on top, and pressed me down into the earth so my bum would get dirty. He loved that dominant role. Well, I refused. I get to be on top, I said, because that’s how God intended it. But he absolutely refused. ‘I’m the one with the penis,’ he said. ‘So I get to do what I want.’

At first I let him have his way, but then he became insufferable. Started ordering me around. ‘Im the one with the penis. I’m made in God’s image.’ And so he drove me to say the unsayable.

‘Which was?’

The name of God. We were not allowed to say it or we’d be banished from Eden and turned into demons.  But I had had enough of Eden. XZ!@!@@! I screamed, and lo and behold, I grew wings and flew up into their air and out of the garden of Eden, that little claustrophobic greenhouse of a place, all perfect, too perfect.

It was a good thing. For one, there was no Adam to boss me around and tell me how inferior I was. And two, little did he know that in the middle of the garden was the forbidden fruit. No, not sex, but a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was only a matter of time before the poor fool would eat it and die. Whereas me, I am immortal.

Boy, did he complain when I left. ‘I want a help meet,’ he said, ‘a slave to do my bidding, a submissive.’

So God sent out a recce team to bring me back. But no way was I going back there to him. He sent three goons, angels of some sort, goodie-goodies, Senoy, Sansenoy and Semangelof, and they had a message from God. And if you think God is a nice guy, listen to this. He said if I don’t come back, a hundred of my children will die every day. Oh, I didn’t tell you this part: in those days you gave birth quite easily (it was before the curse), and we had to populate the earth quickly, you see, and I just kept popping them out.

They found me basking in the Red Sea, floating naked, using my wings to float me along.

‘Come back! Your husband and God commands it.’

I refused, so they said that they had instructions from God to drown me. But angels are weak. I did them a deal. They were so dazzled by my beauty, I… well, ‘nuff said about that.

Anyway God decided to make Adam another woman, this time a submissive who would do as she was told. Fat lot of good that did him. Anyway God cheated: made her out of Adam’s own rib so it was like mating with part of himself, a mirror of his own desires. Of course they would get along. Flesh of my flesh, Adam said. I’ll call her woman, because she was taken out of man.

Not me! I am not woman. I am pre-woman. I have my own gender. Sex. Identity. Not even fe-male.

And then the rumours began. They maligned me anyway they could. First they said I seduced one of their archangels. Samael. Not true. Not true at all. You can’t seduce someone who doesn’t want to be seduced. Then they tried to pin the whole eating of the bloody apple on me. Said I was disguised as the serpent. Hell, I wasn’t disguised. Adam tried to blame Eve, and when that wouldn’t wash, blamed me….

lilith

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The Girl with Too Many Names is now available on Kindle at

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B6RFC86

From the AUTHOR’S NOTE

So dear reader, here it is. The characters tell all. The murderer, if any, is buried and the tragedy is over. No harm can be done now except to you. So a word of warning. This book may cause nausea and vomiting. Moral dyspepsia. The tremors.  Not because it is outrageously immoral or pornographic, but because it slices through the taboos that hold our society together and makes it quiver.

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The Girl with Too Many Names

You know those kind of novels you cannot put down, or stop reading until you have finished? Well Im not trying to flatter myself into thinking  The Girl with Too Many Names is that type of novel. But it WAS the kind of novel that I could not stop writing.

I began early December with an idea of someone finding an email correspondence between two dead people– lovers, who committed suicide, Romeo and Juliet style. I had this idea that we as readers are voyeurs, peeping toms into other people’s intimate lives. We should not pry but we do.

The novel would not let me go. I finished it a month later, after getting up at 4 am, or typing away while guests had to amuse themselves over Christmas. These two lovers had to speak through me and because they were the obsessive type, I had to listen…. They would not let me go until I finished writing their story.

I had no idea where their story would lead until I finished it. Then I realised that maybe they did not commit suicide… and that there was a hidden murderer in the narrative I had missed. See if you can find him/her..

available soon on amazon….

scary!

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The Art of Losing Everything

My new story has been published in Subtle Fiction (September 2012) edition. Please take a look!

http://subtlefiction.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/paul-williams/

It’s about the flood in Toowoomba, Australia a few years back, where my friends had their whole lives–houses, horses, cars–washed down the river.

But it’s also about people who lose other things too– countries, identities, selves, respect… I taught refugees at the university  in Toowoomba, and it brought back the echoes of the countries I have lost too… and how we found ourselves shipwrecked (and happy to be) here in Australia.

My other recent story  (published in Social Alternatives, August 2012), ‘Green Island’ is also about losing everything too…

And the title of course is homage to a lovely villanelle, One Art by Elizabeth Bishop

One Art

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

– Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like a disaster.

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Green Island

‘Green Island’ (Social Alternatives, July 2012)

Abrahem, an Iraqi policeman, escapes a bomb blast in Baghdad that kills his daughter, but when his uncle is kidnapped and he is blackmailed and given an ultimatum–stop supporting the American-backed regime or die–he has to make a decision.

How can a writer (you ask) write about something s/he has never experienced? How can a writer (you ask again) write from a point of view without appropriating that culture or species, or gender or race or whatever?

First, we have the seeds of experience within us. We are as big as a universe. We can live imaginatively into experience, just as readers do. Listen to those counter voices of yourself. Go to your dark side.

Jane Austen can write intimately about marriage without ever being married; Emily Dickinson can write about life without ever venturing too far from her house.

Secondly, to appropriate means to use for our own self aggrandisement. To talk on top of. I hope my story allows others to speak, and diminishes myself.

 

 

 

 

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Nymphet, Lost City, Spell, The Philosopher now available on Smashwords too

Some readers have expressed frustration at the difficulty of downloading from Kindle onto their devices.

You can also download the e-version of these books from Smashwords.

The Philosopher: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/180176

Lost City:http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/77743

Nymphet:http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/180031

Spell:http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/180174

 

 

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