I was reading voraciously even before I learned how to walk. A love of books is the shortest distance between wanting to be a writer and writing. By the third grade, I was writing mini-treatises and novellas on all sorts of things.
But the public education system doesn't always reward such interests or intentions. It wasn't until after graduate school that I began to write fiction seriously.
During my senior year of high school, I'd written a thesis in a class called "college writing" about the dangers of multinational corporations and globalism. I received a "D" on the paper, which yielded a "C" in the class.
The next year, as a freshman in college, I submitted the very same research paper in a macroeconomics class and received an A+. This easily put me over the top to receive an A in the course. I photocopied my professor's glowing feedback and sent it to the spinster that had given me a D in high school. She never responded.
Fiction writing was no different. When you think outside the box, our education system does not reward you. It's designed to indoctrinate, not to teach original thinking. I didn't understand that completely, until I read a book by John Taylor Gatto called Dumbing Us Down (see the video below).
While in grad school at NYU, I longed to enter the creative writing program, but I didn't dare. Why? I strongly suspected that it would bastardize my genuine love of writing, and replace it with tedium. Most students I knew who had entered the program with a love of writing, came out with a dislike for it, and stopped writing. This was no accident. The few that persevered in their "craft" weren't any better writers. All of their voices sounded the same, like soldiers emerging from boot camp.
Finally, I relented and began auditing creative writing and poetry classes. The most memorable was taught by Alan Ginsberg. In front of the class, he was a very boring professor who was still obsessed with Gregory Corso. There wasn't very much inspiration in that classroom. It felt like work. Studying poetry from Ginsberg left very little room for joy. It resembled the tired, broken life of a man suffering from chronic depression and mommy issues from having been raised by a schizophrenic matriarch.
I also sat in on the classrooms of E.L. Doctorow and Mona Simpson. Although they were not suffering from mental illness, their approach to writing reflected the values of the society in which their careers as writers had flourished. In short, they were also bores and totally full of themselves. Were they great artists or great writers? Hardly. The blind lead the blind into a ditch.
I would have given up writing if it wasn't for TC Boyle. He read through the first six chapters of my first novel, Peel, and offered some very helpful ideas. Yes, he encouraged me to enroll in a graduate level creative writing program, and perhaps that bit of advice was not off the mark, either. If I had enrolled in a famous program, perhaps I would be a "successful" writer today, if one measures success by the size of one's wallet.
TC Boyle's writing hasn't inspired me since he hammered out his last fresh novel (The Tortilla Curtain) but that doesn't matter. The man is the real thing when it comes to his heart and his soul. Yes, Boyle's writing over the years has become a caricature of itself, chockfull of similes and metaphors to the point of becoming a hopeless distraction, like a carnival barker hopped up on speed, and his vision is far from being prophetic, but the man's humanitarian impulses are present, and, so far as I know, he is an honorable human being . . . which is saying something, given his role as a cultural icon in the carnival funhouse of pain we call "high art."
The academic institutions that bestow titles upon its priest class ("great" writers) will continue to turn out cultural indoctrinators, and the general public will continue to venerate them, lapping up their drivel like prisoners in Plato's Allegory of the Cave that watch puppet's shadows on the wall, mistaking them for reality.
In 2006, I enrolled in the Tin House Writer's Workshop at Reed College. What a mistake. The class spent most of the time cultivating feedback from other writers that had no experience. By then, I had written five novels. The instructor read my fourth novel, and then proceeded to write his own novel with a very similar premise. Even today, he is still writing work based upon that novel. He was recently given a grant from the Gugenheim to create works of literary art.
One of his pieces, about shadow people, is obviously inspired by Cowslip. Most of his works seem derivative. I wouldn't be surprised if every single novel the man has written was inspired by someone else's work. He's lived a charmed life: free rides to Ivy League schools, a fellowship at Stanford, and yet, his mind is not very creative. He is a product of the modern education system. It creates conformists who consume original works of literature and then spit out a web of conformity. This professor's version of Cowslip involved a journal written by a homeless girl. His art-poem about shadow people took my fresh approach to language and mired it in the clay of tired old prose that sounds like other famous novels written by famous writers who earn their living now as professors.
The modern education system has brainwashed people to think that writers are supposed to live lives like Charles Bukowski and Hank Moody (David Dukovny's character in Californication). Novels like Lolita, which seek to normalize the twisted logic of a career pedophile, are elevated to "great" status. But this is all a sham. True writing is meant to elevate the reader's perception of reality, not to shove it down in the mud by glorifying drug use, alcoholism, mental illness manifesting as sexual obsessions, and heroic battles with garden variety depression.
If one measures great art by examining the way healthy human societies have worked, down through the ages, one sees a pattern: art walks hand in hand with spiritual enlightenment (true enlightenment, not the "age of enlightenment," which was designed to darken the world rather than showering it with light).
Modern society is broken spiritually, and that's no accident. It's been purposefully sabotaged by the people in power. They have also sabotaged people's sense of what constitutes art. They have profaned art, exactly as their kind has profaned the insights of so-called "prophets" down through the ages by creating religions designed to crush spiritual insight rather than fostering it.
Since the mid-20th Century, the sciences have done the same thing to peoples' awareness of so-called "supernatural" events in the world, like the actions of ghosts, intradimensionals, and cryptids such as bigfoot. These topics have been pushed to the perimeter while everyone's attention has been focused upon the sham known as the "social sciences." Why? Because real life exceptions to the artificial rule cannot be tolerated. Charles Fort summarized this phenomenon when he wrote, "I conceive of nothing, in religion, science or philosophy, that is more than the proper thing to wear, for a while.”
I worked in the psychology department of NYU when its experimental and clinical programs were ranked in the top five of the western world. It didn't take long to realize that most of the professors there were totally full of shit. They were lost souls that had initially been attracted to the field of psychology in order to heal themselves of terrible wounds inflicted by other adults upon them when they were children, or from living through traumas.
When they realized that psychology could not help them, a magickal thing happened. This knowledge empowered them to assume positions of authority in our society and that's exactly what happens in the fields of physics, astronomy and other pseudo-sciences that are really more based upon indoctrination than genuine discovery. The cultural icons that dominate such fields are propped up posterboys and girls. The most powerful ones, like Sigmund Freud, Carl Sagan, and Einstein, were given enough knowledge of how human society works to allow them to parade on the stage with some modicum of usefulness.
Charles Darwin was not such a poster boy; rather, he was a planner, himself, a billionaire of his day, with royal blood flowing through his veins. He was an insider, who knew the end-goal of the educational system of dogma he was creating. Yes, like all good propaganda, his views were based largely upon observable phenomenon, but this phenomenon was then filtered through a hopelessly cracked lens. It's worth noting that neither Charles, nor his father, Erasmus, probably came up with the idea of natural selection. Rather, they borrowed it from other, less famous, and less influential, people who have since faded into obscurity.
Natural Selection, like the Big Bang, is largely a myth, not unlike the myth of Adam and Eve in their Garden of Eden. Hard geological and anthropological evidence that flies in the face of the prevailing scientific paradigm is deftly swept out of the public view, and then summarily filed away, or, if the evidence is truly damning, destroyed. The human race has been on earth much much longer then we have been led to believe, not shorter. As Charles Fort once mused, "The earth is a farm. We are some one else's property." That farm is not bound by the laws of space and time in which we, the herd, are encouraged to live, between the psychological mile posts and fences of our rigged cultures.
Of course, it's worth pointing out that Natural Selection led to social Darwinism (the rich deserve to bully everyone else because nature made them powerful) just as Hebrew fables led to Manifest Destiny, which justified clearing human "trash" off the continent of North America, so the New World Order could plant its seed. Controlled chaos like pandemics and genocides were harnessed with the help of Northern European immigrants, which were imported for precisely such a purpose, just as other races today are being used to build a vast interconnected framework of conformity rather than exhibiting the pioneering spirit of rugged individualism from centuries past.
Self-reliance in the 1700s, 1800s and early 1900s paved the way for bankers and corporations to take over once the land had been cleared, and the prevailing European-based culture had been established. It's worth noting that this culture had been carefully managed for millennia by cultural planners that originally hailed from Rome, Khazaria, and the swamp-laden City State of Venice. Any way you slice it, humans are being used as pons on a global chessboard that politicons like Zbigniew Brzezinski pride themselves as orchestrating. Meanwhile, cultural gatekeepers such as TS Eliot, HG Wells, Aldous Huxley, Isaac Asimov, Ayn Rand, and Martin Amis occupy the same place as writers "in the know."
Speaking of "rigged," our modern education system has been set up to confuse people and to blind their spiritual insights rather than enabling a connection with "other." God is not dead, and God is not a "he." Even the name "God" has been defiled to the point of pointlessness. To most professors at NYU, or in the physics department of the University of Washington, when I worked there for over a year as a lead administrator, God was dead. It's no accident that they thought such a thing. It had been taught to them, over and over and over again, by the educational system that replaced a belief in spirituality.
Creative writing--as a process of discovery, practice, and finally, mastery--is no different. True writers are not wounded souls with so much emotional baggage over their heads that they cannot function. Rather, they are people that have learned to see through the charade and throw off the cultural baggage that has been holding them hostage, and keeping them a prisoner.
Today, degenerates with suicidal tendencies are rewarded by the powers of our culture, which heralds them as brilliant thinkers, and for good reason. Focusing people's attention away from true enlightenment and spiritual perception helps to keep the same dull round in place. As the romantic-era poet William Blake wrote, "the same dull round, even of the universe, would soon become a mill with complicated wheels."
That treadmill has become a menagerie of microchips and fiber optic cables today, which tug people away from even cracking open a book. Such is the nature of so-called progress, as one antiquated hierarchy replaces another. Yesterday's pantheon of writers and painters will morph into tomorrow's virtual innovators. If present trends continue, their art might well be mainlined directly into the brains of audience members of the "civilized" world.