Wednesday, April 19, 2017

April 19: Artificial Habitat, Things to Accomplish, Negative Capability

They introduced an anesthetic into Billy's atmosphere now, put him to sleep.  They carried him to a cabin where he was strapped to a yellow Barca-Lounger which they had stolen from a Sears Roebuck warehouse.  The hold of the saucer was crammed with other stolen merchandise, which would be used to furnish Billy's artificial habitat in a zoo on Tralfamadore.

The terrific acceleration of the saucer as it left Earth twisted Billy's slumbering body, distorted his face, dislodged him in time, sent him back to the war.

When he regained consciousness, he wasn't on the flying saucer.  He was in a boxcar crossing Germany again.

Some people were rising from the floor of the car, and others were lying down.  Billy planned to lie down, too.  It wold be lovely to sleep.  It was black in the car, and black outside the car, which seemed to be going about two miles an hour.  The car never seemed to go any faster than that.  It was a long time between clicks, between joints in the track.  There would be a click, and then a year would go by, and then there would be another click.  

The train often stopped to let really important trains bawl and hurtle by.  Another thing it did was stop on sidings near prisons, leaving a few cars there.  It was creeping across all of Germany, growing shorter all the time.

I really enjoy typing these sections from the novel.  It's simply the experience of stringing together the passages, the same way that Vonnegut did so many years ago.  I like the feeling of sort of being Vonnegut, rediscovering the story letter by letter, word by word, sentence by sentence.  Even though I've read the book many times before, doing this makes me almost feel like a Slaughterhouse virgin, not knowing what's going to happen next, where in time Billy Pilgrim will land.

This afternoon, I've landed in my office at the university.  I have a few things to accomplish.  First, I have a couple blog posts to get written.  Then, I have to prepare for my poetry reading tomorrow evening.  I've got to get my manuscript in order, put together some prizes, and do a little more publicity.  In the last 24 hours, I've booked/semi-booked two more readings for later this summer and next spring.

In the next week or so, I also want to send my new chapbook manuscript out into the world to see if I can find a home for it.  I have no idea where I'm going to start with that.  Maybe a contest.  Maybe a blind submission.  Maybe a pathetic play for sympathy ("I need this book to get published in order to buy my son Tim some new crutches").  Whatever it takes, I guess.  I am determined at least to have it placed somewhere by autumn.  I'm not sure if that's unreasonable.

I wish I could get unstuck just a little in time (May to October) to see if I was able to find a publisher for my book.  That knowledge would make this summer really wonderful (or really horrible).  Unfortunately, that's not how the world works, and I don't know any Tralfamadorians personally to help me out.  If you haven't noticed, I don't really care for chaos in my life.  I'm not Keats.  I have trouble with Negative Capability (living in intellectual confusion and uncertainty).

But, for right now, Negative Capability it is.  I have no choice.

Saint Marty is thankful tonight for the certainty of leftover baked ham for dinner.

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