RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Friday, July 6

Returning to Myself

The past 18 months have been a trying one for me, and I’m not entirely sure what has caused all this. Seems like after I quit drinking to break some negative familial habits, shit went hoo-ha for me. And it would be easy to suggest – as some friends have – that quitting drinking broke everything. I suffered some health issues that malingered, had a pretty intense high stress situation related to employment which caused anxiety bullshit, and was just, to be honest, a complete wreck. Of course, I have stubborn southern blood – part Viking, part Scot, part back roads America – and that causes one to feel they can plow right through everything, like a mule, a literal manifestation of mule inside man’s body, making things happen even as the man himself is ready to crash and wishing for the long content sleep of death.
For whatever reason, I recognized this and realized I was forcing, and under the heavy advice of professionals, I shut it all down so to speak. Work - where I was struggling to maintain employment (still am), navigating various inter-personal mine fields - was taking most all my energy. Trying to chase creative endeavors afterwards, eating into the night at my usual adult clip, to where I’d get by on 4 to 6 hours of sleep a night, honestly it was probably killing me. The battery was drained. Unfortunately, I am the sole (and soul) provider for a family of five, so cutting out work was not an option. I was not born into that lane, and though sometimes I can get filled with resentment towards the leisure class who can easily accomplish things I lust after (grad school, vacations, two working vehicles at one time), I know that what I was born is what I was born. This is my path, and for whatever fucked up reason, contrary to all pre-existing examples or patterns, my brain was wired to work the way it does, and do it as intensely as possible. To say there is a higher purpose would be misleading because it assumes there is a higher authority of some sort…
Well fuck, I initially was going to start giving a simple weekly update of where I am with writing, to start a dialogue with whoever comes to this site, being my ultimate goal is to move away from this site. The internet has become (or always was) a vast interactive network of commercials, so ultimately whatever I do for no obvious cost is allowing others to profit. And to think the internet is “free” is sort of a mistake anyways, as basically there is an unsigned contract where you give up information about yourself to Google/Facebook/Whatever in exchange for using the services. It’s not free so much as you’ve willingly entered a contract no one laid out for you to officially sign. That info is used to tailor the vast interactive network of commercials back at you. So I am viewing this site as a commercial for my other purpose, which itself is not very clear to me.
A lot of what I’ve been thinking on lately has been that much like our flaw-heavy two-party political system in America, there is a two-party philosophical system in place, where most of us feel our world is comprised of Religion vs. Science. Either you believe in God and everyone else will suffer in your religion’s version of Hell, or you have faith in science and to do otherwise is foolish and will jeopardize the future of humanity (oddly enough, in a global warming fate remarkably similar to Christian Hell).
The problem with this two-philosophy system is very much like the problems with our two-party political system – both have very heavy flaws in their methods and ways, and neither really is able to encompass the entirety of what it means to be a human. Thus, I say above, “To say there is a higher purpose… assumes there is a higher authority.” For religion, this is your God (or Gods or whatever); and for science, this is Science (with its rigid methods for extraction of “facts” from experience). I don’t believe entirely in either, and probably believe partially in both. But neither explains what has happened to me thus far today, much less throughout my entire life. Neither never will.
So what I do is communicate the way my mind wraps itself around and through concepts and stories and ideas like honeysuckle vines and poison ivy, together. I do this through words mostly, because words make the chemicals in my brain tingle as neurotically as the blood in my penis does when I’m looking at my wife naked. I can’t help it. Even during this health-imposed sabbatical, all I’d think about was stories and narratives, and how to switch the angles, and who I ultimately would want to serve in these stories, which often times weren’t even stories at all but something somewhere in between fiction and non-fiction, but not conscious enough to be “creative non-fiction” or “memoir” or fuck man I just don’t know. But it is what I do, and what I am supposed to do, and ultimately me – the man with body and skull full of chemical translations of the world I sense – seems to be nothing more than a vessel for that process.
Thus, I am here inside the vast network of interactive commercials to tell you I am writing. I am not a writer, and never will be. The past 18 months I have entertained that delusion, and the delusion impregnated my dreams with bastard wealths that would never love me or allow me to be myself. I have dabbled with the grad school process, had interactions with literary world figures in that process, tested the marketability of the end results of my purpose with literary agent, and all of it made me less able to do what I was supposed to do than ever.
And the odd thing is everything is so out there now. I can basically make the 2012 equivalent of a zine, spontaneously (as I am now doing) available to anyone who has cyber-network access. And of course, our ability to process longer communications is hindered by that sensory overload.
I would bet of every 10 people who started reading this, maybe one is still with me at this point, and it’s not because of the lack of style to the writing, though maybe the content drives some way; but an inability to care to focus beyond thirty seconds is a large part of it, as while you spend time with this, the computer beams at you with the sexy allure of LIMITLESS POSSIBILITIES THAT YOU MIGHT BE MISSING OUT ON by focusing too deeply on this. Which of course drives home my belief that we don’t actually “know” more now than we did a hundred years ago; we just know very little about a far wider array of things.
Nonetheless, the purpose of this post is to say, Hey you, random reader of my website, I have returned to allowing myself to write. The end results will be ebooks from now on, at whatever rate they come. These will be under various names, most likely, and completely off-topic from each other, often times. I’m gonna try to check in here weekly though (aside from the manifestation sonnet/Rojonekku song of the day thing) and let you know where I’m at with these things. I would hope you would comment and talk with me (or do twitters with me, or mail a post card, or whatever feels right), and we can interact. But here is the project I’m working on, as well as the two on the horizon.
#1: Armchair Linebacker NFL Preview – This is something Neil and I did last year, but I’ve done for six or seven years in a row, either online or in various zines. It’s a good, easy, pop cultural way to ease myself back into the water of my stream of thought, so to speak. I’ve built the framework for it all already, and am a couple thousand words into it. I am expecting this to be done the first week of August, to be available for a few months, into the middle of the NFL season. If you know me or my style, it will be as enjoyable for non-NFL fans as for fans (in fact, maybe more so if you don’t like football), and will be far different from the crap that passes itself for internet sports writing opinions for you, most of which are tired, sober, third-rate imitations of Hunter S. Thompson’s second-rate ESPN columns anyways.
#2: Raven Mack’s First Book – The structure of this will be very similar to old Confederate Mack zines, as I’ve been taking notes on Lessons my daily experiences are teaching me. This has been to notice my real world more closely, but also because I feel everything is a fucking lesson. Every thing. But at this point all I’m doing is taking notes on this, and letting it all ferment in the background of my brain, as I’m very much following Henry Miller’s advice and focusing on only one project at a time from here forward. One of my biggest character flaws to this point has been to allow my energies to flow ten ways at once. The health struggles of the past year have helped me realize my energies are not limitless, even when a back roads Viking Scot redneck ninja like myself. My energies are like stone, and sure throwing giant chunks of quartz at people can be painful if you are lucky to hit somebody just right sometime, but carve that bitch into an arrow point and you will pierce a motherfucker’s heart, for sure, so long as your aim is true.
#3: Recession Proof collection of stories – I’ve actually got the title story in final shape, and three others in complete but unfinished stage, plus around ten to fifteen others completely outlined in basic framework just not fleshed into full. I build stories in composition books, then on notecards, then finally into a robot keyboard when they are ready for flesh. I was working on this late last year as possibly being published by Benjamin Leroy at Tyrus Books, but as I’ve thoroughly explained, my life has been a derailment process. This collection of stories would probably be better for me financially if it was some sort of Frank Bill-esque rural noir vicarious thrill for book buyer types, but I feel like I am a representative of Southside Virginia, like for real its written embodiment, and I don’t want to be a backwoods Uncle Tom show for the leisure class of our “civilization” that still throws down $25 for hardcovers. That might profit me personally far better, but that wouldn’t be real of me. So the stories are more straight up Southside. There’s a lot to it, but I don’t want to get into it all too heavily, as that’s third on the list at this point, so I’ll save that energy for later, hopefully this fall. I do want to thank Ben for his support over the years though. There are two ways to be a successful force in life:
The first, and easiest, is to be born into that lane, as I mentioned before. You are afforded opportunities that many could never hope to get a sniff of, and you should feel thankful for that. This does not make you free of the repercussions, because as I wrote a friend yesterday, there are a large number of men and women who have boots on their throat from birth, by birth, and if you are one who is part of that boot, just because you acknowledge the fact the boot is on the throat of the less fortunate, as opposed to pretending everything is decided by ambition and skill, it does not make the person who is being choked from birth less angry at you for having your boot upon their throat. I mean, it may make you feel better to acknowledge it (or maybe not), but it does not change the fact. Don’t hate yourself though if you are one of these types born into this affluence. The system we have is what it is, and there will be those born choking and those born breathing fully. We do not choose where we are born, so do not feel guilty.
The second, but much harder way to be a successful force in life is to have advocates. Going back to the vast interactive network of commercials, a commercial is basically advocacy on behalf of a product. I am not a product. I have a purpose, and I am thankful to Ben Leroy for being an advocate on my behalf within the system of literary product manufacturing. But I am also thankful to all those who have read my online writings over the years, who perhaps collected Confederate Macks back in the day, or who just get what I do in ways that neither of us understand, because like I said, we are vessels, that science and religion can’t explain completely. This shit happens, because it’s supposed to.
I am very thankful for my wife as well, who has helped nurse me through the past 18 months (and more), and who is a true partner in this. We are the honeysuckle vine and the poison ivy, together, a bit of both of that in both of us, yin and yang, make do and do make (which is my personal yin/yang). We are the Bird Tribe, and we both have our purposes, and for whatever reason we have been thrown together, and that too will serve something larger than simply our two physical manifestations as well. It is exciting to have unfold, and I know how blessed we are to have found that with each other.
So yep, that’s it. I’m cranking back up the old kookery factory. So holler at your boy.

6 comments:

Scientific Loftin said...

Hang in there brother!

Raven Mack said...

oh I'm solid, don't worry.

Mike Mehigan said...

Well said. You put into words some of my same things I've been feeling these days. Long live the Confederate Mack!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're still writing.
~AngieNotAtWork

Anonymous said...

i've enjoyed reading what you write and i'm happy your writing again.
Nate

Anonymous said...

oops you're