by Steven Craig Hickman
Sometime I’m going to do a blog post on the Followmeter about watching my followers rise and fall according to if I’m writing essays, politics, stories, poetry, or philosophy… I get a laugh at how I gain or lose people following me based on assumptions. It’s like a comedy meter for me watching people come and go so anonymously without ever knowing why … we live on the net in our private hells, and other lonely people wander by, sit for a while, listen to us patter about nonsense, then leave for parts unknown without ever leaving a trace except the little meter ball that flicks up or down… sad really that communication and community have become nothing more than a button pushed or unpushed; a like or not like button world, a sort of preview of the next wave of our automated society as the neutered minds of the mobile phone generation fade in or fade out based on whim. I joined Wattpad recently and was told to shorten all my stories into small chunks so all the millions of mobile phone users could flip through my stories easier. We’ve become a mobile nation that sees the 3 inch screen of a diode while the rest of the universe goes unnoticed and expelled from consciousness like a faded dream of reality that has been replaced by this plug’n play universe of text messages, and photomatrilia extravaganzas and youtube spawn casts… yet, a funny thing about technology, it comes back to bite you in the ass. Yes, it does. Now mobiles have become weapons and spies onto the corruptions of the world, letting the darkness seep into the viral plumage of this worldwide monster, with her webbing strung across nations and the planet to link the underworlds together in some nefarious three-ring circus of pornography, sex-slaves, and cyberwarfare. Now the world has come home to the small towns across this ancient land, dispersed its meth and heroin, its broken love and sweet promises of foreign dreams to buy and bring home to roost. Our world is no longer separate and alone, but very much overcrowded by monsters everywhere in this virtual nation of horrors. Now you can hide among the darkest corners of the darknet and commit acts of fatal madness and never leave your porch where the old hound dog is sleeping. Now the country is a hellzone for predatory minds everywhere, unbounded by the old causal chains of physical prowess it can move among the symbolic waves like a spring board to catastrophes never dreamed of in the pulp age.
Just a note: If you confuse my fiction with my personal thought and beliefs then you’ve a problem. I may satirize and portray a world I rose up from and out of in my fiction, but to assume the attitudes portrayed are my very own would be a misnomer: —big time. I think people do the same with my wanderings in contemporary philosophy as well. People get pissed off about me writing about various philosophers as if every thinker I write about I advocate and agree with. Strange, how many people that follow me probably confuse the two… sadly.
I think if you’d ever read Country, Redneck, or Hilly Billy Noir you’d discover that for the most part these writer’s write about waylaying the dark demons eating at their minds and lives; the terrible abuses of society, family, war, work, or just life. Most of them reach into that dark place where they can chomp down on the sump of that broken world of bigots, racists, scoundrels, misfits and releasing onto that white page the pinned up and repressed suffering of a hellworld lost in the heartland of their misery. Then seeking a way of letting those voices of the dead and the living speak out in their cold or hot raging silences, unleashing the malevolent and malformed intent at the heart of so much bittersweet life so as to form that needful ritual of exorcism and expulsion. In that world there aren’t any ghosts haunting the highways, only demons and killers of real flesh and blood, hate mongers and monsters who live in one’s own home, members of one’s family or next door neighbors; or who work for County, or teach one’s kids, or stand there smiling at the Bank when you walk up for money, or help that Old Lady across the street and by your child a snow cone or cotton candy; or who watch from the alleyways and dark places in the dank cracks of the night world of town or city waiting, peaking, looking for the chance to apply their malignant spirit against anything and everything that goes by the name human.
Country noir delivers up monsters, shapeshifting demons who on the surface act like us, look like us, pretend and fake our patterns and our ways of being, all to get closer to us so they can enact their horrid crimes or induce us to join in their hellish festivities. It’s about these wicked beings with human masks that is the specialty of that writer who calls himself Country noir. But the demons aren’t supernatural or unnatural, their just not human; their the ones that never became human, who live in the darkness, breath it like it were honey, who live to kill and main and enjoy the nightworld of hate and spite and utter degradation and corruption of flesh and bone. These are the monsters of this deadly fiction of those enclosed realms of pain and sadness we call the noirish realms of fate.
As Leslie Fielder in his famous Love and Death in the American Novel showed us years ago the strange truth of our country that is whitewashed out of the big picture by the social media and mainstream pundits is that we’re a lost people full of spite and hate. From the country to the city we are a guilt ridden insane society full of psychopaths, sociopaths, and full-tilt killers, rapists, clowns, murderers, gangsters, pit-bull mulchers, gamblers, thieves, street-mean denizens of asphalt or the Twin Drive-In in the pot-head backwoods of shine or meth country worlds. If someone wanted to construct a vision of hell all they’d have to do is park it up at any country village or downtown megacity in the U.S.A. and ponder the quirky truth of the people passing them by on any single street of any region of these here States. It’s a giant crack-head’s paradise of cutthroats and scoundrels from one end to the other. And, while all those gated-communities that the Good People hide behind seem clean and pretty and sane, the truth is their more deadly than the homegrown subworlds of the Redneck and White Trash trailer worlds on the outskirts of the town. Yes, the rich and middle-class respectable are the Hollywood stars of inanity hiding the perversity of child molestation, incest, necrophilia, and the dark horse of violence where punk kids playing MMO’s full of death, torture, and endless gang wars on Space or Fantasy prime time TV or Reality Love and Big Brother’s weasels fending off the bite of the bullet for the last phase of winning the sweepstakes of ultimate scrum-creep fly-by goes down every night behind closed doors in the U.S. of A.
But the story that never gets told is the real story hidden in the cracks and crevices and cracks of actual peoples lives, instead all we get is the fake America of Hill Billy and Redneck squalor instead of the pain and suffering of people that lack medicine, health access; education in good rural schools, colleges, and universities; and, get plumed by the media and trivialized as stereotypical White Trash of Hollywood & Vine bullcorn TV shows and comedy routines on SNL. Instead of the sad truth of abused children and violence and all the lonely souls and outcasts who are left behind to rot and stew in their own private hells because of prejudice on both sides of the fence. The one’s that grow up to enact the same cruddy lives and violence of their parents, do the drugs or turn to alcohol, work some rotten twelve hour job at a factory or just live off welfare checks or ponder the cracked-up mythologies of the old American Myths. A world falling fast into oblivion where the old farmer’s and single family places have given way to the Great Combine fortunes of Mega Growers and Artificial Monsanto seed worlds that tie one to a fake world of natural growth and biogenetic horrors to come…
That the veneer of sanity that disguises itself most of the time is now even emerging on the National stage as we watch the two parties of Democrat and Republican put forth social misfits that at any other time would’ve been tar-and-feathered and run out of town on a pole. One need not go back to Mark Twain or Kurt Vonnegut to get one’s feel for the insanity. One can see it everyday on Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn or any number of news sites, journals, horror mags, crime mags, weird tales mags, and that sub-genre I’ve been exploring of late some term Country noir (or Redneck or Hilly Billy noir). Death and the sex bomb typify every last thread of our world from the advertisement of fun and swim hijinks and shows and free rooms in Nevada or Las Vegas to the strip joints in an city one finds the perverts out in flocks roaming with gold dangling from their gleaming necks, teeth, and hands. While on our premiere academic campuses around the country one finds the date-rape squads or Club Suicide Mephistos, or the twisted fruits of city and country bound to each other’s identity squabbles for and against the political church of our age.
Even William Faulkner rewrote the Horror novel in terms of country parlance in Sanctuary. Sanctuary is the Horror Story as practiced from the time of Poe to that of Lovecraft and Stephen King. “Horrific” is, indeed, the word he customarily used to describe that novel-and horrific it is in good faith. Indeed, there are scarcely any of the stock effects of the horror genre, audio or video, which it lacks: from the tap-tap-tap of a blind man’s stick to the rustle of rats in a corncrib, the ominous thud of a muffled gunshot off scene, the crackle of flames from the lynch-mob’s bonfire, and the barely audible whisper of blood in Temple’s ravaged body. So, too, do the standard grotesques of the Gothic Romance abound: “crips” and “feebs” and freaks, not least of which is Popeye eye himself-more monster than human, more shadow than substance. “The black man,” Temple and Horace call him, aware perhaps that this is a traditional American name for the Devil. And there is, too, of course, the infamous bloody corncob, an icon of unspeakable evil, for which Sanctuary is remembered even by those who have never read it; though Faulkner alludes to it only briefly at a point where his horrific tale is nearly told.1
One must also remember that Sanctuary –the novel which Albert Camus believed to be the greatest of Faulkner’s fictions belongs to the most disreputable and unredeemable pop genre of all, being pornography, as the dictionary defines that pejorative term, “a portrayal of erotic behavior designed to cause sexual excitement” Though there are many such portrayals in Faulkner’s work of “erotic behavior;’ including such kinky subvarieties as pedophilia, necrophilia, incest and bestiality, Sanctuary was the only one of his books which its intended publisher refused at first to publish, presumably as too “dirty.” Yet it is in some ways the softest of soft porn-avoiding not only what were then still considered “dirty” words, but explicit descriptions in any words of the sex act itself. The brutal violation of Temple, for instance, is rendered solely in terms of her fantasies, climaxing in her hallucination of turning into a boy-popping a teeny-tiny penis; though, of course, that male organ is called by none of its grosser street names. (Fiedler, 159)
The Civil War is the watershed in Twain’s life between innocence and experience, childhood and manhood, joy and pain; but it is politically, of course, the dividing line between slavery and freedom. And Twain, who cannot deny either aspect, endures the contradiction of searching for a lost happiness he knows was sustained by an institution he is forced to recognize as his country’s greatest shame. It was the best he could dream: to be free as a boy in a world of slavery! Look at us now, a hundred plus years on and we still have that shame on us. Country noir is still working that trail of guilt and shame from a dark world of mistrust, egoists, hate, and bigoted rascals who inhabit those worst strains of the American Psyche, and will not go away. So in an age when people are being called down for “appropriating” someone else’s culture the only thing left for the White is to face his own black nights in hell, go back down that cesspool history of pain and suffering at the hands of those monstrous and demonic souls that gave us slavery, wife-beating, apocalypse culture, sexual perversities, chain-saw massacres, crime, horror, BDSM and all the strange and bewildering, not to say bizarre facets of the hidden side of country existence. None of us White’s are innocent anymore, its way past that fake game; now is the time to look ourselves in the mirror of our own natural born predation and do something about it. Whitewashing it or moralizing it or pegging it with epithets of Left or Right politics isn’t going to cut it anymore. We have to know the truth of it, nothing else will do. Our gaze must turn back round, and down, and in and see the darkness of our own inhuman ways before we can begin to mend the hurt and open wounds in our nation. Country noir is as good a place as any to begin that process… that’s why I’m going to spend my time writing it, reading it, sharing it. That’s why I’m going to continue investigating the underpinning problems Country people are facing in their local regions as they watch the fake worlds of our Mediatocracracy as it builds its fantasy America full of fakes and division, chaos and dumbed down democracy. Since the new cultures of identity politics tells me to lay off appropriating other cultures in my works, then I’ll turn to my own dark world and begin there, just there where the pain and suffering begins right in my own backyard pond.
Most of our novels and short stories, plays and poetry are about the obsessions that drive us as Americans. Our mythologies if yo will. The Left will castigate the Right-Wing myths of Mom, Apple Pie, and the Corn Cob pipe, while the Right will plug away at the New York intellectual, the egg-head, and the Ivy League snob. These are the clichés of culture rather than the complex hurt below the skin, the pain and suffering that hits below the belt and speaks to us of the reality beyond the myths. It’s that reality where people live and die that goes under the wire in most things. In my little comic-micro flash tale of a Snitch I used the standard cliché to a point to show the linguistic underpinnings of our complicity in dark humor and the portrayal of violence. Most will be offended on the Left, while those on the Right would laugh but miss the point. It’s this wavering between the two that interests me, to see how people react to discursive violence, harsh language, the darker side of American heritage, etc. Of course most people coming to my site either have nothing to say, don’t want to say anything, or tell the truth… I have no clue why people come to my site. Yet, they do. If I write philosophy I get followers for that, same for poetry, essays, stories, satire, militant venting of my political tirades, etc. But those that like one may not understand or share the other; and, yet, here I am a complexity even to myself with a multifarious need to work in many different forms of thought and feeling. Why be bound by one type of writing? I see people on Face Book who do one thing monotonously over and over: they do nothing more that repost the reposts of other reposts of news that is already fake of faked realities that spin tales of political or social rhetoric to sway people toward or against the fakeness of someone’s else’s fake world view. It’s as if we live in a fake world of puppeteers, each vying for the most fake thought possible.
So if I wander off into my own personal zones don’t mind me… you can always join the fake worlds of someone’s else’s fakes. Don’t let me stop you.
the article is taken from:
Speculating Freedom: Addiction, Control and Rescriptive Subjectivity in the Work of William S. Burroughs
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