I thought I'd pop in and give a little update and further thoughts on that last subject I talked about...
Mouldwarp Press Presents #2 "Song Remains the Same" is still open for submissions. I originally posted the guidelines in January (find them here), but considering that the deadline is in fact in December, there's no giant rush. If you've been considering, or even writing, a story for entry, thank you very much. If this is the first you hear of it, then you still have half the year to work on it.
Now, last time I was here I was explaining my breakthrough on a manuscript I wrote in the fall of 2009, originally entitled Finnegan but since rechristened Modern Ark. This was the first book (and if I'm being honest, the only one) that I made a concerted effort to sell to agents and/or publishers. Obviously I had no luck. And part of the reason why, I've come to accept, is that conceptually it can easily be described as a hot mess. I like to believe in a good way. I like literary fiction the best, the truly expansive (I like it in movies and TV shows, too) material that subverts most expectations but at its heart speaks very directly to the human condition.
To me, there're very few stories that speak as directly to the human condition as Noah's Ark from the Bible. There's also Adam & Eve (and Cain & Abel), but I wrote a manuscript about them, too (Minor Contracts), the year after completing Modern Ark, in part because there were always the troubling biblical episodes in that one, one of several elements that made it so hard for me to summarize in any kind of concise way what it was. Noah does in fact appear in Ark this way.
As a reader, I've been fortunate to read a number of fascinating fictional takes on Noah, and I talked about that before, but here I'll talk about Noah a little more directly.
And before I go much further, it's recently been made aware to me that hardcore 19th century racists in fact used the story of Noah to justify their beliefs. This is plainly idiotic, using the wording of how one of his sons was punished for bad behavior to try and explain why certain races in general must in fact be inferior. If you know much more about that, I beg you to forget it. If you don't have any idea what I'm talking about, don't worry about it. Suffice to say, my interest in Noah has nothing to do with that.
But Noah as a whole fascinates me. As I related in the last post, you don't have to be particularly religious to care about his story. There's a whole tradition that supports the basic narrative, and the idea of the flood is one that encapsulates a lot more than whether you believe in one god, many gods, or no gods at all. The basic idea behind Noah's version is that the Hebrew god looked upon humanity and saw that it was very bad, and so he decided to press the Big Wet Reset Button. But he spared Noah and his family (plus a lot of animals, all in their biologically considerate pairs).
If you want to think about that, there's plenty to think about. Noah was supposed to be very old at this point in his life. He had a wife and three sons, and those sons each had wives, too. As with the Genesis account of all mankind being the offspring of two people, this is still a pretty small sampling to start from (but then, think of it as the old riddle of the chicken and the egg if you want), in a lot of ways an unlikely one. Again, don't worry too much about that.
Noah is told that all mankind is going to be erased. What does he do? He builds the ark. The dramatic elements that are commonly added to this part of the story are all Noah's neighbors who think he's crazy (see: Evan Almighty). In fact, while it's common to consider the Superman origin story of his father Jor-El's efforts to warn his fellow Kryptonians that they will soon lose their planet is very much ...wait, if I explain it like that you already know where I'm going with it. Suffice it to say, but observers normally consider Superman to be a modern version of Moses. He's much more like Noah.
In fact, if you don't so much believe the biblical account, there's still the fact that the flood definitely happened. Perhaps you can consider Noah to be the Superman who repopulated Jewish tradition. (Superman was created by a couple of Jewish teenagers. Read the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay analogy from Michael Chabon, or perhaps even Brad Melzter's fascinating Book of Lies.)
Either way, the books I've read based on Noah all agree that it was tough going surviving on that ark. It was a true test of the human will, and spirit. Noah isn't really just about getting on a boat of preserving the future of life on Earth thanks to and in spite of extreme divine intervention.
If I tried to do anything like that in Modern Ark, again I wasn't originally conscious of that fact. But that's exactly what I did. All of this is also a way of saying that I've been experiencing a lot of breakthroughs in my life, realizations of what's really been going on and where it's been leading, and it hasn't always pointed in the directions I originally thought. Maybe I'll talk more about that here at some point.
Anyway, thanks for reading.