Autofiction: SevenThirteen

The theme of SevenThirteen is reality language–the way that language is creates reality. Reality is a composite of memories, sensory impressions, imagination, and levels of awareness; an axis appears along which we oscillate between an inner reality and an outer reality, woven over threads of language, and worn by the individuals who receive us. My goal was to create an surreal work so that I could point out the absurdity of agreeing on a common reality. I self published SevenThirteen in 2002.

The journey starts with GirlOne, an recruit for a mysterious cult that parties their way into self transformation. She goes clubbing, releases energy, breaks free, and loves deeply. GirlOne is me and not me. She is an avatar, a slipstream character that emerges out of the hologram of my memories, sensory impressions, and imagination.

SevenThirteen is anti-literary establishment and anti-common reality. The work is a meant to confuse the reader so that the reader is forced to ask “What is going on?”–an engagement with the reading experience, an opening to confusion–and then question everything. I came to terms with an adverse relationship with shared reality by creating this book. The catharsis wasn’t in the character’s (or my) change, but my performance as a writer who crafted words into something completely illogical that is activated by the reader.

I needed a place to inject chaos to order to emulate the messy nature of our engagement with reality, and the world of SevenThirteen is that place.

There are first editions floating around the internet. If you’re meant to have this book, you’ll find it.

Autofiction: Meta Work

“If anything demonstrates that people with mental illnesses are individuals, not their mental illness, Meta Work has arrived to concretize it in the sweaty summer heat of New York’s Central Park with its sidewalks full of aquatic monsters, fire-eyed mannequins and a life-sized compass that will snatch readers along the way as the narrative leads the heroine and the audience to a place we all need, a place called home.” —Gila Green, author of White Zion, Passport Control, No Entry and King of the Class

Meta Work exemplifies the power of personal story to evoke catharsis in a healing journey. A cross between memoir, poetry, and narrative fiction, the new subgenre of autofiction is shown here to be an entry into an individual’s inner world, allowing one the freedom to explore it without the strictures imposed by the aforementioned genres.

I show, by sharing my own journey as a person living in recovery from bipolar disorder, the power of this immersive tool to clarify, magnify, and ultimately transform one’s own relationship with their internal challenges.  

Meta Work was released summer 2021 by Planet Dust Enterprises.

Buy a copy of Meta Work

LuLu (e-book; Overdrive app/reader)

Barnes & Noble (print)

Amazon (print)

Climate change and mental well-being

A dynamic circuit exists between the inner world and outer worlds; identity and modern political consciousness; human activity and Earth systems. Here are some thoughts that I hope encourage reflection on your place in the circuitry–specifically, how climate change is messing with our heads. Literally.

There is a strong relationship between mental well-being and the instability of the world’s weather patterns. Climate change, which is at the root of severe weather (such as the hurricane superstorms), undermines our fundamental stability in our place- or location-based lifestyles. When people are displaced by environmental catastrophes, they are done so in an often haphazard manner. They seek initial shelter in temporary structures as they consider the permanent structures that they must return to/rebuild, or vacate. And the place to which they return, is changed. The people’s association with the place is changed. Climate change doesn’t let our minds rest.

In India, monsoons appear in ancient Sanskrit poetry and Bollywood films. In other words, the monsoon season is part of life and culture in India. Monsoon season governs what people eat because it is part of the cycle of crop cultivation. Infrastructure has been built to handle predictable amounts of rain. But in the past few years, the climate is changing; significant downpours happen during monsoon season and droughts happen outside of the season. The unpredictability of the rain affects food supplies, economies, and the way and quality of life.

In New Orleans, Louisiana, Hurricane Katrina wiped out entire neighborhoods in 2005. The city then changed rapidly through climate gentrification, which happens when people with more monetary means leave areas of climate risk and catalyze a demographic shift through rising property value in areas less at risk of extreme weather. Individuals (often Black people) who grew up in recently gentrified neighborhoods are being treated as outsiders by the new arrivals—often white people.

Glenn Albrecht, an Australian environmental activist, acknowledges the psychological experience of pain when “the place where one resides and that one loves is under immediate assault.” Albrecht calls it “solastalgia.” The term applies to situations of climate change, environmental destruction, and ecological imbalance. It is a reflection that our human psyche is touched by a relationship with Earth, that we yearn for a healthy balance with habitat, that part of our human condition is driven by an  “ecological unconscious.”

Consider India, New Orleans, and many places where people live while forces greater than them alter their community landscape.

It is devastating to see that the effects of governments across the globe respond with splintered actions (some mitigating climate science, prioritizing industry and resource consumption, and establishing short-term policies that don’t have long-term goals and live-ability in mind; others acknowledging the enmeshment of human civilization and Earth’s systems). The resulting destabilization of a place-based lifestyle, if that place falls in a high risk zone for the effects of climate change, leaves people hypervigilant. Having an emergency plan, that is, evacuation procedures and resource contingencies, as a fact of life puts us in the mental space in which we are always on edge.

And, consider the place might not be there to return to at all.