[Sic] is the second book in Davis Schneiderman’s Dead Books Trilogy. It’s a collection of classic works reprinted in their original forms (as far as I could tell; I tried combing the book as best I could, comparing things with what I had in my personal collection to see if I could find any deliberate changes, and nothing – I was especially suspicious of an actual [sic] notice, but whatever) which includes passages from things like Hamlet, The Canterbury Tales, and the Confidence-Man, among others, like the very first Tweets in history, and more interestingly, the DNA map of mitochondrial vertebrate, and the original source-code of David L. Smith’s 1999 internet-killer, the infamous Melissa Virus – each entitled with a curious, “by Davis Schneiderman” staple. The book is also interspersed with desaturated images of an all-white, featureless humanoid figure hanging around Paris (scaring the crap out of a kid in one photo, which gave me a few chuckles). I think this mischievous white vessel  represents the blank sheet of paper we all are the moment we’re born, before the world writes itself into us, but don't quote me. [Sic] is a statement about plagiarism. It’s a scrutiny of the idea of originality, and it’s an indictment of the absurdity of laying claim to thought itself. Let me explain.

You won’t simply read this book, and it’s complicated. You see, you’ve no doubt read the actual content of [Sic] countless times, poked and prodded the works therein, studied them, wrote term-papers and thesis’ and dissertations, devoted your lives to them and their creators. Separately, most of these pieces are beautiful works of expression: inspiring, epic and evocative – sliced up and stitched together, however, they become something else entirely. But as a body of work, [Sic] can only be read in the same manner as one would read chicken bones. When you make your way through this hauntingly genius monstrosity, don’t be surprised with the weird places your mind will go. Mine, for example, went to the connected and fractal nature of collective-knowledge. There’s a key part in [Sic] where Schneiderman highlights the etymology of the word “from,” which had me constantly circling back to this notion that nothing can isolate any single idea or thought from every other thought or idea that came before it. What an immense truth, isn’t it?

And it’s baffling how many of our thoughts aren’t based on pre-existing conditions. When it’s quiet, and you have a little downtime – when the world melts into uniform streams of fantasy and wants, set aside some time to break down your inner thoughts and ideas, and try to remember where they came from. And then ask yourself: excluding biophysiological functions, drives, and needs, what’s left in your head that isn’t serial (or at least isolated from language, history, culture, values, mores, etc…)?

How many ideas sloshing around up there aren’t based on old information? Assuming you follow Descartes’ example, and you are because you think, try asking yourself how much of you is of novel origin. Examine it closer, if you dare, and play at the edge of that dangerous epistemological reservoir, which makes men pull against the many threads of their lives that are stitched into the deterministic fabric of our universe. Suddenly, free-will is an illusion, and you’re not special, and anything you can do, think, conjure, or conceptualize isn’t something anybody else couldn’t have done if the conditions were right. Talent is suddenly reduced to a margin of context and timing, refined by the opportunity of desire.

Admit that it isn’t possible to be original without embracing what came before. Admit that the only reason you’re able to utilize formulae to your own ends is because you have read the books you read, seen the movies you’ve seen, known the people you’ve known. The formula is true: you wouldn’t be you unless the world was what it is, and the fact remains that there isn’t a single thought in your head that hasn’t come from somewhere else. That’s called culture .

Originality is a factory that yields a generation of dreams, which then colors the dreams of the following generation, and finally makes new again what once was forgotten. This is a very clever (and important, even necessary) trick to being original, which freshens and reinvigorates the old, and keeps it relevant. The truth is that those past dreams are intellectually infectious, and the new dreamer is powerless to act upon them. And here’s Schneiderman’s question: who has the right to lay claim to that? By what circumstance have we come to earn that right? If nothing in your head is actually from you , how can you own it?

I worry that by saying things like this I may be adding to the overall redshift of what original content that does exist out there. And I think this is the point of what Davis Schneiderman is getting at; Of course my fear isn't the one true fear: who can honestly say that they have memorized Where the Sidewalk Ends , for example? But then who would you consider as reliable who couldn’t at least recite a word or two of Shakespeare? Even if you cared nothing to know anything about theater, you’d immediately recognize what follows, ‘O Romeo, Romeo […]’.

We think we want originality, but I suspect that we don’t really know what that means. At least for me, the wish for the new and the unknown is sometimes quite unsettling when granted. When you think about it, originality can be a scary and uncertain state. Humans are pattern-seeking animals in constant yearning for the comfortably familiar. This is how a story can become legend, before becoming a myth that precedes religion. What is there to love about the Bible if it isn’t the familiar cadence of its language? And it doesn’t just stop there; it’s the poetry of written language as a whole.

Even the word "Koran" means "the recitation," and it appears that in Arabic its conjuration can hasten people spellbound by sheer force, and yeah, even beauty. It’s the power of familiar, isn’t it? At least language gives substance to the concept of a connection to our distant past. It’s impossible for the new to exist without the old, and I won’t lie – I’m addicted to the familiar.

Yet sometimes, way past my bedtime, when I am not exhausted enough for sleep but too dizzy to continue absorbing anything news-related, I will approach the appropriate shelf and grab the unexpected: the books that have a tendency to surprise me. And then, of course, I’ll stay up even later than planned. I’ll grab a book like [Sic] by Davis Schneiderman, read it in a single sitting, see every familiar word in a new way, and sometimes, I really can appreciate that writing is not just done by hand.

Davis Schneiderman has created with [Sic] something that is truly one of a kind – you will never see anything even remotely like it again. And I think the discussion in years to come will be the entirety of Schneiderman's body of work – [Sic] is a single brushstroke on a larger canvas that will no doubt take a lifetime to fully appreciate, and he’s just getting started. Schneiderman is a master of his craft – of building images atop images – and provoking his reader to not only feel something, but to think unconventionally about conventional things. [Sic] is a lab-experiment. It’s an in-depth look at the mythical line between written language and visual-art. It’s an emblazoned declaration, a scathing indictment, a reverent homage, and a wonderful piece of expression all in one. You just have to check this out.

If you like what you see, drag your cursor to the RSS icon located somewhere in the right margin of your screen, and please subscribe. If you're feeling extra clicky, head over to my and click the Like button!

Thanks for reading, and as the islanders say: Live slow, mon.

-Shane

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I just finished draft number four of my latest project “Eigengrau.” (That doesn't mean it's ready for publishers or anything; it just means that it's ready for a few select readers to grab a hatchet and hack away any detritus — then I can play the king’s men and put it all back together again.) And in addition, I could be bouncing a baby boy on my knee within a span of weeks, on top of recovering from a very intense and painful neck-surgery – so I think I might be taking a few days off from smashing away at the keyboard to catch up on some much needed rest. Or something.

I don't have a whole lot to say at the moment because my brain is stuffed so far into the guts of “Eigengrau” that I can see daylight through its colon. Hopefully there'll be a surge of blogging in a week or two, once I’ve had a chance to heal, but until then feel free to talk amongst yourselves about whatever tickles you. My comment section feels a tad lonely and vulnerable – you should break it in a bit, give it some utility.

Meanwhile, I'm very pleased to announce that my debut SF novel, "Artifact,” is out now in paperback from Boxfire Press. You can order it from Amazon.com or find it in bookstores — a little birdy told me that Amazon has been running a few shipments behind, but I’ve been fielding reports from relatives and friends that paper copies have been spotted. Please note that this is the magnificent, top-shelf quality first edition , printed on real paper (or some synthetic, superheated mulch particles – whatever).

Congratulations to Candace and Treasure for being the first to get free signed copies of “Artifact” – they each purchased an electronic version and submitted reviews on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. Thanks for the kind words ladies – you’ve made my dark heart shine a little brighter. I have eight free copies left, so shoot an email my direction and learn how to haggle one out of me.

That’s all I have for today, gals and gents.

Please consider buying a copy of “Artifact.” My widow and all of our seven adopted orphan children, not to mention the livestock, will be eternally grateful.

Thanks for reading – don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed (up and to the right). If you haven’t gotten around to it yet, could use one of your coveted Likes.

Also, head over to goodreads and cast your vote for Paul Levinson’s Best Firsts of Science Fiction .

Until next time: LIVE SLOW

-Shane


I recently finished Unburning Alexandria, an excellent time-travel novel by Paul Levinson, who channels his anima in a more academic, mellowed, and scholarly way, rather than a blow-the-alien's-acid-based-guts-into-the-hull-of-a-spacecraft way ( cough, James Cameron). Not since Ilium had a novel kept me reading into the wee hours of dusk (I finished this sucker at 3:30 am, unable to resist immediately tweeting my triumph from the mountain tops). Just before tossing all aces like a godforsaken magician,  Levinson shuffled his paradoxes like a deck of cards, and I have to admit, stoked the flames of my imagination. It was a great ride. With that in mind, here's my puzzle for you, a knot of temporal paradoxes, inspired by Levinson and his time-traveling yarn of historical redemption. Since both of my prior outings into short-form were approached from an avant-garde perspective (which was really just me pining for awards and such)  this short story serves two purposes: it gives you an idea of how I pace my narrative, and in case you haven't heard of him, it brings to mind an author who's been, and continues to be, an inspiration: Paul Levinson. Without further ado, or gilding the lily...


APT ROAD.

A short story

By Shane Lindemoen

Apt /apt/

Adj . Appropriate or suitable under the circumstances.

“Listen,” Jay said. “If this were a time travel thing – and I'm not saying it is – but if it is, then everything we do from this moment on would have already happened to another couple of Dave and Jason's later on down the timeline...”

I re-evaluated again the smoking, flipped-over Brinks truck in the ditch. “So what do we do?”

He twisted the red scarf in his hand again and then glanced at the duffel bag on the side of the road. The wind pulled dollar bills of different value away from the bag – several notes already making a run for it across the ditch.

“Look,” He passed me the scarf. “I can't tell – is that your handwriting?”

“Dude, this could be anybody's handwriting–”

“Why's the truck empty?”

“I–”

“And where the hell is the driver?”

Sirens were localizing somewhere to the west, and getting closer. The sun hadn't fully set yet, and the damp leaves refused to let go of anything. I looked around, searching the deep blue tree-line on either side of the road for a sign of life, finding nothing. “I don't know...”

Jay walked back to the message gouged into the side of the road and scratched his head for the millionth time. I reread the other message written onto the scarf, scrawled in messy magic marker, wondering how the hell–

–A second duffel bag suddenly fell from the sky.

I dove for the ditch, screaming bloody death as more dollar bills exploded in a pale green cloud of particulates. A single white leaf of eight by eleven paper spiraled out of the primary confetti of bank notes, gently weaving its way through the air, finally smacking me in the face.

“W– what the hell was that!?” Jay ran over with his hands on his head.

“Unghh,” I stammered, picking myself up off  the ground. “Another bag...?”

Jay looked up, squinting at what looked like a tiny teardrop passing high overhead – I'm talking really high, several thousand feet. He looked back and forth between the new bag of cash and the sky, pacing in a tight circle, wagging his finger at the unreasonableness of the situation. “We – we have to get out of here,” he pointed at the sirens. “They're gonna think we tried to rob this truck – we're gonna – we gotta go, Dave.”

I wiped dirt from my chin, deciding that he was right, that we needed to hightail it fast. Jay stopped and kicked the tar again – then pointed. “Quick, come here and read this again please – just so I know that I'm not losing my vegetables –”

I peeled the piece of paper off my chest and stumbled over to Jay.

Dave and Jay ,” it read. “ Uniforms in truck, leave bag number two and grab the red scarf ....”

Jay snorted, barely controlling his breath. “How is this even possible? That tar is old, Dave....”

I knelt and brushed the neatly engraved words with my fingers, feeling the sirens getting closer. “I don't know, but we have to get out of here–”

I stood, noticing the hook of an upper case J on the piece of paper in my hand. Unfolding it, I said, “Awe, no...”

Jay turned and started to say something, then stopped.

I held up my hand for him to let me finish.“To Dave and Jay,” I read. “Why are you two mentally-insufficients still standing there? Take bag number one and grab the uniforms inside the truck – en route, thirty seconds .

En route ... what does that mean?”

I shrugged. “Dude, let's get outta' here.”

He nodded and we moved briskly toward our hatchback – but something in the first duffel bag caught my eye – a flash of scarlet and another hooked, uppercase letter. Since we were passing it anyway, I jogged to the first duffel bag, eying the second one, still feeling the sirens biting at every passing second. The bag was open – an exact replica of the one that fell from the sky, which was lying a few feet away from the empty, turned-over Brinks truck. Nestled inside of what must have been about five hundred thousand bucks, was a red scarf.

Jay waved me along, shooting worried looks where the road disappeared toward the sirens. “Dave, what the hell–?”

I pulled the scarf out of the bag – and read the same message, scribbled in black magic marker, Dave and Jay, this is real .

“Uh, Jay...?” I walked back to him hopping in the roadway, dragging my jaw with me.

“Oh lord Jesus, what now–?”

I passed him the two scarves, each with an identical message written along one side, in messy magic marker. “Dave and Jay,” he read. “This is real…”

A police car suddenly burst over the hill and sped toward us, lights and sirens blaring. Jay shoved the scarves back into my arms, and I just stood there like an idiot, not knowing what to do. The cop car screeched to a halt near the Brinks truck, swinging its doors open wide, and out stepped a pair of officers from either side of the vehicle, each holding a very large shotgun.

“Hold it right there!” The driver yelled, “You scum eating, puke slurping, video-game-playing, Douglas Adams-Readin' sons-a-guns!”

My fingers went suddenly numb, so I let go of the two scarves – one fell to the ground as the wind wrapped it around my thigh, and the other took off with a gust, away from the crash scene, somewhere into the tree-line. Jay threw his hands up, while I fought the sudden urge to wet myself, thereby making my meat unappetizing to any predators in the area.

The officer on the passenger side said, “Quit screwing around, man – we don't have time.”

“On the contrary, my friend.” The primary officer racked his shotgun and then pointed it back at our faces, “as it turns out, we have loads of it.”

“Dude, you know what I mean–”

“Yeah, Yeah...”

Jay and I exchanged a couple of aorta pinching glances as another Dave walked briskly in front of the cop car – smiling ear to ear – wearing a crisp, neatly pressed Portland Police uniform. “Relax guys – it's us. Take off your clothes.”

“Uh...?” I said, not wanting to move.

I quickly walked toward the tipped over Brinks truck... meaning he did... basically, we walked over to it, impossibly, while one of us stood in the middle of the road wrestling with our bladder, and the other grabbed one of the duffel bags filled with an obscene sum of money. The second Jay disappeared into the back of the Brinks truck, as I – that is to say, he – walked across the road and tossed the duffel bag into the backseat of our hatchback.

Jason and I watched this happen through a lens of refracted shock. The whole time, Jason kept his hands up, and we just stood there making popping sounds with our lips, not knowing what to say.

“Dude,” Jay finally said. “What the holy hell is happening?”

The other Jay – the Jay in the police outfit – emerged from the wreckage carrying a pair of gray security uniforms. He stumbled out of the truck and walked toward the edge of the ditch, facing the tree-line. “It's clear guys!”

I walked back over and started unbuttoning my shirt – he did, I mean, the other me – and said, “Come on guys, take off your clothes. We only have a few minutes before the real cops start showing up.”

“We didn't have anything to do with this,” Jay stammered, pointing at the smoking truck. “We were just driving by, thought somebody needed help–”

“Well,” I said, shaking my head – he said, rather. “You didn't have anything to do with this yet .”

I started pulling my jacket off, but Jay kept standing in place, in a state of shock.

“Listen,” I said... he said... “Trust me – I know what you're thinking – I remember thinking the exact same thing – but you're going to have to do exactly what I say, because if you don't, this time-loop will end and our past selves will each be spending the next ten ad infinitum miserable years in prison.”

“You're us,” I said. Me this time.

“That's right,” he winked. “We're you from about four days into the future.”

“Uh huh,” I nodded, stepping out of my pants.

“Dude,” Jay said. “What are you doing, let's go...?”

The whole time my thoughts kept circling back to the bag of cash that the other me set  in our back seat. “That's a lot of money,” I said.

I smiled – rather, he smiled, and I smiled back, and we were suddenly in this weird but excellent hall of repeating mirrors.

“How screwed are we?” I asked the other me.

My smile – his smile, actually – widened. “Pretty screwed,” He said, passing me his cop uniform. “Here, put this on – but, if this works you're going to be stinking, filthy, obscenely, disgustingly rich.”

The other Jay jogged up with the security uniforms draped over his arm, eyeing his past self through a sly grin, and I saw a pair of shadows separate from the tree-line not far from the Brinks truck. The second Jay handed me – handed the other me – the uniforms and started undressing. “Fellas,” he said, as the largest smile that I had ever seen broke across his lips.

Jay finally gave up trying to figure everything out, and quietly donned the police uniform with an unsettled look on his face. There was a bit of trouble with some of the belt keepers, but we eventually wiggled our way in without too much of a struggle. The other us's started pulling themselves into the clean Brinks outfits.

“Here,” I said – the other Dave said, passing me a rather large key-ring. “These are the keys to pretty much every room at the station. In about five hours, they're going to lock that bag of cash in evidence room C – as in cat – you got it? It will be sitting there for exactly forty eight minutes, until another Brinks crew comes to collect it. You two are going to take the cop car and head to the Ramada Inn on highway 10. When you get there, you're going to get a room, stow the uniforms, and meet up with a woman named Alice at the hotel bar, who'll explain everything. She's got another bag of cash for you–”

As the other Jay took pictures of the duffel bag with his cellphone, the other me reached down and pulled the red scarf out of my pile of clothes. “You're going to give her this to identify yourselves . She'll tell you how to proceed from there.”

“Wait,” I said, taking the scarf. “What’s happening…?”

The two silhouettes from the tree-line finally made it to the road. My heart dropped when I realized that those two shadows were another, separate Dave and Jason, wearing a couple of tattered, ripped up and singed Brinks security uniforms. Our faces were covered with grit, and the side of my head – his , rather – was singed and missing a patch of hair. But he was still smiling like a maniac.

They met up with us on the side of the road, and I passed – he passed, the third Dave – me a set of keys and squinted. “Which one are you again?”

“Those are for me,” the second Dave said, the me from the police car.

“Right,” the singed Dave nodded. “I'm just going to run through this real quick, to make sure we have everything.”

“Sure,” I said – the second Dave.

“The receipts are all in the bag of cash over there,” dirty Dave said, pointing at the duffel bag near the Brinks truck. “The first bag is in the backseat of our car,” he pointed at our hatchback. “So when the police get here, all of the cash will technically be accounted for...”

“Yep,” Dave number two said. “So you two are going to take their clothes,” he pointed at us. “The car and the cash, and drive out of here like nothing happened.”

“Right,” the filthy Dave said, sliding into my pants. “So that means no All-Persons-Bulletin for any rust colored hatchback that just robbed the evening Brinks truck. Nobody will be looking for anything... ?

The other Jay – the second Jay – finished putting on the clean security uniform and hurried over to the Brinks truck, where he carefully crawled inside.

I slowly eased my sore body back into my jacket and took a deep, shuddery breath. “I can't believe that worked.” I shook my head and took several wobbly steps toward the hatchback – relief and victory nearly knocking me to the ground.

The dirty Dave and Jason hopped into our car with a crisp, anonymous bag of cash in the back seat, and started the engine.

Dave number two leaned into the window and said, “remember guys, you have to meet up with Alice at the gas station on 169 and Bass Lake Road. When the market opens tomorrow, you're going to place an order for one hundred and fifty thousand shares of FSI to sell at $7.50. The options expire in two days – remember, two days – at $3.25.”

“Yeah,” I said quietly, smiling. “We got it.”

“Oh,” I said, “and think of a better message delivery for the next loop – one that's a bit less stroke inducing, okay? These guys should have been ready to go as soon as we got here, not scratching their heads.”

“Sure, uh... we’ll try.” After a couple of long and deep, unrestrained breaths, Dave and Jay number three hit the gas in my hatchback, and casually meandered out of our lives. They each stuck an arm out of a window and waved us luck, moving into the autumn sunset with our future wealth safely tucked in the back seat. I walked over, finishing the top button and straightened my badge. “Any questions?”

“Yeah, um–”

“Any questions about getting to the Ramada?” I interrupted.

We shook our heads.

I passed myself a couple of neatly folded pieces of paper. “Job applications,” I said. “For Brinks.” I patted myself on the shoulder and nodded. “You guys are going to do fine…”

And with that, I left us there. I walked to the wrecked Brinks truck to meet up with the other Jay, stopping every couple of steps to do a little dance, and at least one pirouette. “Remember,” I called back. “Alice at the Ramada Inn, highway 10.”

Jay and I moved toward the police car in a daze, watching our feet as we walked.

“Hokay, then.” Jay finally said, still unsettled, but relaxed. “Are you driving?”

I smiled and did my own little dance. “There had to have been a couple hundred grand in there!”

Jay turned around and watched our car disappear over the horizon. “You think that'll be us in a few days?”

We hopped into the police cruiser and pulled away from Dave and Jay's Brinks truck, thinking about the adventure ahead, not saying anything, smiling as flashing red and blue lights steadily filled the roadway. That was about five minutes until the rest of our lives, I realized. A complete circle collapsing onto a moment, like an artifact of memory. Each version of myself infinitely different than the one before it, irrevocably affected by that essence of us that dared to step out of the thoroughfare of time. Jay and I moved ahead anyway, watching the second red scarf in the rear view mirror float to the ground, where it finally curled itself into the damp curtilage of the shoulder, wondering where it was going to come from.

“Well,” I said, flipping on the headlights. “There's only one way to find out.”

fin/ début /fin [...]
Yeah, I guess I do.

For the past few years I've been running this website as a sort of repository for all of the stuff I've pumped into the interwebs. I never really intended it to be anything more than a simple vehicle for my various but rare moments of... I don't know what you'd call it. Inspiration? Creativity? Egocentric driven expressions of HEY EVERYBODY COME SEE HOW SMART I THINK I AM...? I didn't even want to build it, honestly. One of my professors told me that since I was intent on being a writer, I should reserve consideration for having at least some content on the internet that I could control.

I hadn't really considered starting a blog, the cynic that I am, because I never really saw any reason for anyone to care about what I had to say. I'm a hopeless credentialist you see, as much as I hate to admit it. I often fear that others  won't consider me qualified, and so by extension I tend to overvalue qualification. It's a long story, but I suppose this is the sort of place for long stories.

Part of this whole thing is about recent developments in my life. You see, I just signed a book contract with a publisher based out of Washington DC for my newest novel – The Artifact – my first professional sale – and I realized that I've become such a recluse that I have zero people following my exploits. Maybe a few. My wife and her friends. So I'm here, and I have every intention to make this a weekly thing. The book is set for a fall of 2013 release, so that's ample time to get everyone on board with what's going to be happening in the following months.

The idea is to bring you along on this journey – from book announcement to book tour – so that you can get to know me a little bit – more than a bit, hopefully – and see what it's like for a new author trying to make their debut novel a success. I can't do it alone, and I'm going to need all the help I can get.

In the meantime, I hope to make this a more content rich place – less videos and more thought streaming blog-by-proxy.

So please, make yourself comfortable. Stick around a while and leave some  comments. Subscribe with the RSS Feed on the right, and share this on your facebook if you can. Tell all your friends. Who knows – this whole blog thing might actually work...

-Shane