Tag Archives: nebraska

“Violet is the Color of Your Energy” [The Playlist]

As is appropriate for a story that’s a reworking of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Colour Out of Space,” “Violet is the Color of Your Energy” is named after two songs centered on color: 311’s laidback, beachy “Amber,” and Hole’s angry, feminist “Violet.” I doubt that MRA types would like this story. In my defense, though, “The Colour Out of Space” practically demanded a feminist revision. It’s fundamentally a story about a cranky farmer who keeps his family increasingly isolated, then imprisoned, resulting in the deaths of all. There’s a neighbor who seems to check in a lot. Oh yeah, and something’s off about the water and the crops. And the woman locked in the attic is the crazy one?

feminist

Nick Mamatas wrote a great essay about writing Lovecraftian fiction as a social outsider in Lovecraft’s Western Civilization despite Lovecraft being a “racist clown.” His conclusion: “we don’t side with his sallow protagonists and their nervous fits-we see ourselves in the glory of the Outsider Things.” My Lovecraftian fiction tends to be of this bent (see “Truth is Order and Order is Truth”). What I love about cosmic horror is its total blindness to any notions of society or morality or anything else humans might use to define themselves. Like the Arcade Fire song “Black Mirror” goes, “The black mirror knows no reflection/ it knows not pride or vanity/ it cares not about your dreams/ cares not for your pyramid schemes.” The colour out of space doesn’t care about Nate’s fixation with being the house’s final authority. It doesn’t care about the family farm. It doesn’t care about the lines of familial sanctity being broached by the neighbor. It doesn’t even care about Abby or her children. But in its willful, violent nonchalance, it (like death, and all great monsters) is the great equalizer. Or in this case, the great fertilizer.

“Violet is the Color of Your Energy” is in She Walks in Shadows, edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula Stiles.

“Black Balloon” – Goo Goo Dolls: What’s the things they never showed you that swallowed the light from the sun inside your room?

“This Bitter Earth and On The Nature of Daylight” – Dinah Washington and Max Richter: This bitter earth, what fruit it bears. If my life is like the dust that hides the glow of a rose, then what good am I?

“The Hollow (Constantly Consuming Mix by Paz Lenchantin)” – A Passive Circle: Screaming “feed me here, fill me up again, temporarily pacify this hungering.”

“We Won’t Need Legs to Stand” – Sufjan Stevens: When we are dead, we all have wings/ And when we receive to see a change at last.

“Insect Eyes” – Devendra Banhart: And the neck her head’s on is a tunnel of dawn, but darkness will come.


 

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“Only Unity Saves the Damned” [the playlist]

The first thing I do when I get a new kernel of a story is start compiling a playlist for it. I don’t know if I could write without music; it’s a huge source of atmospheric and linguistic inspiration, and quite frankly, I name a lot of stories after songs. In honor of what I owe to music, and because I spend so much time making these playlists, I’ve decided to share a five-song soundtrack for each story I publish.

“Only Unity Saves the Damned” is named after a political slogan, not a song, and like its cousin-story set in another freakish-mundane small town in Nebraska, “Absolute Zero,” was born essentially fully-formed. I think that like “Absolute Zero,” it’s a story whose themes and characters had been fermenting in me since I spent my tortured adolescence in Nebraska (there are things I love about the state – well, mostly the football team – but my Nebraska stories are all cold, moody, alienated, and in this case a little angry [“Bored,” “Ticks and Leeches”]). What really kicked this story into gear was listening to the latest Swans album (The Seer) – in particular, the track “Lunacy.” I can’t remember if I decided to name my trio the LunaTicks before or after I heard this song, but it is truly the nucleus of this story in every sense. “Right Where It Belongs” is one of my favorite mood-pieces of all time, and hits on this story’s themes of (self-)deception, buried truth, mental entrapment. And “All The Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands,” well… besides Sufjan Stevens’ trademark creepy-quaint northern Americana that defines so much of Big Ten country, trees are a pretty big deal in this story.

OUSTD – ha, ousted – is in Letters to Lovecraft, edited by Jesse Bullington.

“Lunacy” – Swans: Break the chain hide within innocence (not innocent), innocent in no sense, eat the beast, keep him in, take the blame, speak the name (lunacy, lunacy) / kill the truth or speak the name (lunacy, lunacy), your childhood is over

“Bored” – Deftones: Get bored, I get bored, I get bored, I wish for a real one

“Ticks & Leeches” – Tool: Suck me dry, my blood is bruised and borrowed, you thieving bastards, you have turned my blood cold and bitter, beat my compassion black and blue / I hope you’re choking, I hope you choke on this

“Right Where It Belongs” – Nine Inch Nails: What if all the world’s inside of your head / Your devils and your gods, all the living and the dead, and you’re really all alone? You can live in this illusion, you can choose to believe, you keep looking but you can’t find the woods while you’re hiding in the trees

“All The Trees of the Field Will Clap Their Hands” – Sufjan Stevens: And I am joining all my thoughts to you, and I’m preparing every part for you

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