zombie jesus.

by Shannon

I tried once to find this in print form. It is called W Tumanie, by Jacek Malczewski. It took a lot of desperate googling and finally a vague, rambling description in an email to an old professor to even find the title. I had taken a class–two of them, actually–with him about art history and culture. Mostly the class was made up of long slide show presentations and discussing impressions and backgrounds of painting after painting. The professor in question had studied Polish, and married a Polish wife, so naturally a lot of the art was from that part of the world.

I don’t remember a lot about it. Something about freedom–I believe at the time of its creation, Poland was under outside rule, and was largely oppressed and impoverished? The painting is a tumbleweed, and the shadows of bound individuals that are supposed to represent the Polish spirit, longing for freedom. Now, as I look it up again, I see it referred to as both “In the Dust Storm” and “The Dust Devil.” For some reason it stuck with me, and a good year after the course–of which this painting was only mentioned once, briefly–I pursued it. The art stores near me had never even heard of it, though. Something about it still speaks to me. Something about the sunny spring colors, the chaos against the neat uniformity of the trees behind it, and a sort of intrinsic, existential desperation to be something more. I guess it’s like… even in the mundane, there is something greater.

I have made a bit of progress in writing “The Asphalt Messiah.” I now have a relatively functional skeleton outline, as well as a pretty decent ensemble cast, and an actual conflict. There’s still quite a bit to do, between world building, more elaborate outlining, side plots, character relationships… I don’t know. I want to write it, but I don’t feel ready. I think about it, and I feel like I’m taking swimming lessons with my cousin again, at Hidden Hollow, and they have just let me into the deep pool without a life jacket, to practice treading water. Head above water, but not much else. Still, it’s progress I didn’t have before. I don’t have a feel for it yet, anyway. It’s changing every time I sit down to work on it. I had meant it to be magic realism, but now it’s more urban fantasy than ever.

I’m a bit disoriented, I suppose, but as long as it works out well in the end. I don’t want Lucas to become one of those characters who sits in my head, vibrant and alive, that I can never write. Like Friedrich. I despair of him ever being put down on paper. He burns through every plot I assign him, and nothing is left but ashes of ideas. At any rate, the progress of this one seems especially slow, lately. I’m having trouble getting into the right creative mindset. I’m not one of those people who blames things like muses and inspiration, but I have a critical deficit of self discipline, so Inspiration and Muses are probably something I really need. Even if it is bullshit.

Anyway, it’s Easter today. My father burst into my room at 9am and informed me that I had to get up and go to Mass. I moaned and groaned and otherwise went along with it, despite my personal reservations about the whole thing. Now I’m sitting on my bed, listening to Barton Hollow, by The Civil Wars, who I have recently become obsessed with. Beyond my headphones and bedroom door, I can hear my brother losing at the xbox kinect soccer game, whatever it’s called. I don’t know. I’m out of touch with a lot of things, I guess. My father is out picking up his father from the nursing home, and my mother and sister are gathering all of the bowls of potpourri and hiding them in cabinets so that he doesn’t try and eat them.

The peculiar thing about holidays are the family obligations, I guess. It’s supposed to be a celebration, though the only things I really feel like celebrating are the blue sky and the fact that it seems that spring has come, at long last. As an overly imaginative, thoroughly unscientific atheist, Easter isn’t particularly important to me. I mean, I spent my whole life in Catholic school, and all I seem to have gotten out of it is good grammar, a guilt complex, and a penchant for storytelling. And I suppose that, if nothing else, Easter is the culmination of all the most classic shapes of stories–the hero’s journey, the redemption arc, the coming of age tale. I don’t know. I’m not sure what I’m trying to say here, anymore. I have to go upstairs, spend time with my family, be social, because it’s a holiday that is important to my family. For myself, I’d rather hide in my room, write, get lost in a book, tune my guitar, or just lay in the grass and enjoy the sun.