Friday, June 21, 2013

13: SciFi is Not for Sissies; Westercon 66: A Skeptic Comes Home

Self Portrait
Interlude: Living Science Fiction, Dhalgren, and Summer Solstice in Stockholm

“He shrugged. Confusion was like struggling to find the proper way to sit inside his skin.” Samuel R. Delaney, Dhalgren, 1975

(Note: In commemoration of this first day of summer, the author takes a break from what has come before and what will follow.  Below are two entries from the author’s daily journal of his European journey in 1979.  Drawings are also by the author from his journal.)

May 9, over the Atlantic Ocean: Am about halfway through Dhalgren on this seemingly never-ending flight to Amsterdam.  Have been reading it for five or six hours, seeping in its intensely unpleasant brew of disturbing images and actions.  Can feel myself undergoing some kind of transformation, like we’re on the way to Bellona and The Kid is waiting there to take me on some unspeakable journey.  Is this “living science fiction”?  Got to stop reading, but I can’t.  Is it the book, my exhaustion, something else?  My skin is crawling.

June 14, Koln, Germany: We awaken around 9 AM and take our leave of the Hotel Dom.  We go in search of food and discover we are once again unwittingly in the middle of another holiday, a Christian celebration only observed in some parts of the country, clergymen in their finest leading hordes of Germans down the main streets, a lot of incense and singing and blaring “announcements” over loudspeakers that seem to be everywhere.  We need money, but now everything in Cologne is closed.  We stop at the side of a street.  I reach in my backpack for Dhalgren, figuring I’ll get in a few more pages.  It is missing.  It is gone, and I don’t know how or why.  Thank God.

June 22, Stockholm, Midsummer Holiday:  We drive to an island about an hour from Paul and Eva’s house.  We all are to spend Midsummer night with Bill and his girl friend Crystal.  The small house is in a wooded rural area, very close to a lake.  Donna and I and Tom will sleep in tents outside.  When we arrive, we go out to the jetty that Bill and some friends have constructed.  It reminds me of the short film of the same name, somewhat unsettling.  The view is magnificent.  There are many mosquitoes, but for some reason they don’t bother us on the jetty.  It’s around 7 PM and the sun is brightly shining, as it will for the next five or six hours.  We polish off a couple bottles of wine and it is time for dinner. 
Donna in Stockholm

What a meal: raw salmon with a mustard/dill sauce, pickled herring with sour cream and chives, potatoes, salad, cheese, wasa, bread, beer and more wine.  Then starts the Midsummer tradition: we all sing a song, take a full shot of akvavit, down a forkful of herring/sour cream/chives/potato, and wash it down with a gulp of beer.  This goes on for a few hours.  Donna is tired and tries to get me to help set up our tent, but the time never seems right, as we continue singing, “Ghost Riders in the Sky”, “Eight Days a Week”, Donovan’s “Colours”, and more.  Paul agrees to help Donna with the tent.  I stay up another hour or so, singing and talking, and as the darkness finally falls, somewhere after midnight, I go to the tent, but Donna refuses to let me in because I did not help put the damn thing up.  So I take my sleeping bag to the jetty and spend the night alone by the lake.

To Be Continued      

No comments:

Post a Comment