"The Bridge": an author's note

So, read anything good over the weekend? Like, any of the stuff on Brute Press?

Nah, it's cool. I mean, don't worry about it too hard--like whenever you get around to it, you know.

But in case you were wondering why you should read it, if those single line descriptions didn't grab you, I thought I might wax at length about the three fiction pieces I put up.

You might remember that a little while ago I mentioned, oddly enough in the act of talking about my writing, that I never talk about my writing on Welcome to the Interdome. Well, pah! Who else am I going to talk to about my writing? The dinosaur and My Little Pony on my desk? No--they are far too caught up in their delightfully naughty inter-unreal-species love affair to care about me. So that leaves you, gentle blog reader.

Besides, if you are reading my blog, there's a good chance you might enjoy my fiction as well. Of course, it doesn't tackle such wonderfully timely issues that relate to the very real world of the Internet, new models of digital production, and death drives in the free market system... or does it? What is there about memory and speculation about the experience of death that could relate to the way we cognize our living death drives in the world? What is there in the ecstatic joy of teenage sex that could inform us about our political communication in the age of digital culture? What is there in the depths of our daily psychotic breaks with phenomenological escatology that could help us interact with literature, both that which we create, and those that we read?

What? Don't get it? Think I'm merely posting an obscure billboard for my own self-promotion? You're right, on both accounts! Let me begin to explain it to you...

The Bridge, a short story by Adam Rothstein, available on Brute Press

The original image I was working with in this story is as follows: a man is crossing a sort of Orphean bridge to hell, and in looking over the side of the bridge, he notices a mirror image of the bridge beneath him, and what's more, a mirror image of himself crossing it from the underside. However, he is somewhat amazed to notice it is not a reflection, because his double is crossing the bridge in the opposite direction from him--leaving hell, and returning to the world of the living.

The story is much different from this, but the bridge remained. For one, although our character is identified from the second paragraph as being dead, and therefore, presumably, no longer in the world of the living, it is not clear where he is going to, or where exactly he is coming from. I thought the liminal space of the bridge to be much more interesting to write about, especially when the story is already uncanny in the fact that we know our man is dead, and yet he is still walking around, thinking, feeling, and trying to remember certain things about his life. Where is he? Who knows. But it's a pretty compelling setting in which to begin describing a scene.

The other element I decided to add to the original vision was the force of the wind. I'm afraid of heights, or at least pretty damn uncomfortable around edges which lead to great heights or the lack thereoof, though no more so than I feel it suitable for a rational being with no powers of flight. The vibration of bridges is always a bit unnerving for me, as is the swaying of tall buildings. I wanted to get that across, but it didn't seem that evocative, especially if you were not afraid of such things. But the wind, on the other hand, can grip any of us in its icy, breath-sucking fingers. I was driving one day, fighting the wind's push upon the car, and I said to myself, "The wind! How can I have forgotten the wind! Fire, cold, light, and dark--these are all pretty easy to express, and easily expressible in the context of human emotions. But the wind is such a mystical force, not easily shelved into an archetype. In the book of Genesis, few remember that before god created light and darkness, and caused the earth to seperate out the heavens, there was NOT nothing. The earth may have been a "formless void", but there was "a wind from god swept over the face of the waters." Only later when he makes the dome of the earth, does it "seperate the waters from the waters". No heaven, no earth, but a void filled with the motion of wind sweeping over water. Not an undifferentiated void, but a great chaos, filled with sensation. Can you think of anything more fearful that a massive ocean, with wind sweeping across it, whipping it up into such a void that there is nothing that is not water? Waters, waters, wind, and more waters! Talk about your eschatological metaphysics--how awesome is that? It pisses me off so much when people assume god began with light; its a very heliocentric, unicentric reading, besides missing the first sentence of the bible entirely!

Anyway, without furthering into a rant about theology, let's just leave it at that--death, memory, bridge, wind.

But what about the memories? Where did this idea come from?

Well, time has always been an issue of great interest for me, from a metaphysical standpoint. I'll spare you referring to the text on this one (for now), but memory's relationship with our conception of time, especially with the ending of life, is very fecund ground for speculation. I'm hardly the first one to think about this sort of thing, and those who have before have always been very interesting reading for me. You know who, I'm sure. A lot of it goes into my writing, but I think I have a perspective that's a bit unique--at least, the story doesn't sound quite familiar, at least not to me.

So yes: a dead man crossing a bridge, surrounded by wind, dealing with his own time through his experience of memory. Sounds like it may be an interesting read. Maybe.

One last little note, about the couplet, towards the end of the story. I was terribly unsure about this part. I wrote the couplet three seperate times, thought it was great, only upon re-reading it to re-write the whole thing. I had a hole in the text, and I didn't know what to put there. I decided the couplet was a good idea in principle--semiotically, it worked. But that's not shit unless I could get a good couplet in there. I'd rate the current version a straight B. Originally it had much more to do with the imagery of the story, but it moved away as I rewrote it. Now it's sort of the flaw in the story--don't get me wrong, I think it still works--but I can't look at the story without that damn couplet standing out to me. It's supposed to stand out, but too much? Too corny? Too... biblical? But anyway, there it stays. For now.

Well, there you have it--a introductory discussion about the short story. That's all that's really interesting to say, without me giving away too much of what I think it might mean. Not only would that spoil it, it would also be stupid to say so. Who the hell knows what it means? Not me. I'm the last person you should trust on that, anyway.

Stick around to check out my little blog discussions of the other story, and the new novella, both also available for free on www.brutepress.com.

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