Archives for October 2016
Sorry to be delayed, folks, but I had a brief stay in the hospital. So, obviously my updating the website was interrupted. I am fine but need a bit of time yet to mend. I will be back on top of things in a couple days.
Meanwhile, the book cover design is finished, and I love it! I am making final edits to the manuscript, and then, it will be formatted as a book for publication.
Inky Flesh is coming along despite the interruption!
This post is part of an ongoing interview with author Mark John Isola about his forthcoming book Inky Flesh, so check back for more questions. Once posted, a link following the current Q&A will allow you to click through to read the next question–or begin reading from the first question: Why the title Inky Flesh? Quotes that are reasonably sized and maintain the context of the discussion are permitted for review, interview, academic, and blogging purposes—a link to the web page quoted will help maintain context.
Here is the next question:
Cal: How does the theme of rejection work in your stories?
MJ: Rejection can prompt different things in a person’s life. While it can take lives, it may also be understood through the Christian sense of “dying to the self.” Simply put, the old self dies before a new one begins. Some might call this rebirth. Here, a person takes up their personal cross as they embark on a new and higher level journey. So, rejection can prompt resurrection, or as I prefer to think about it, reincarnation.
This helps explain why the superhero story often feels just one step away from being a gay narrative. It’s this tension not the tights.
What I am talking about is close to Joyce’s sense of an epiphany, which also moves out from a spiritual model. Epiphany often features in short fiction. This transformative potential explains my preference for writing short stories to get at these themes.
Rejection is, we need to keep in mind, a serious consideration, especially for gay adolescents, who are much more likely to attempt suicide than their hetero-peers. Suicide remains a leading cause of death for gay and lesbian youth. This speaks to the durability of the gay diaspora even in the era of gay marriage.
Being yourself in a culture that disapproves of one’s sexual truth has never been easy nor safe, and this remains true.
As it goes, death and rebirth are generally significant themes that have been very productive for telling stories. Joseph Campbell has brilliantly discussed both as central components of the hero’s journey. These merely take on particular resonance within the GLBT experience. This is the gay bildungsroman. This is why rejection and reincarnation often appear in my short stories.
Might Shinto and Catholicism be cousins of a kind? This half-joking question was spurred when I realized Shinto feels more familar than foreign.
While recently reading, Byron Earhart’s Shinto and Japanese New Religions, there were several passages that made me realize there are striking similarities between Shinto and Catholicism.
Apart from a belief in otherworld intervention, there are similarities built into the physical structures of each faith. Consider this mirror as such is centrally featured within the Shinto shrine.
To house the mirror or other relics, which is very similar to the veneration of relics within Catholicism, Shinto has the altar structures and the kamidana (the god house or god shelf) for home worship, like this small shrine.
One cannot help but notice similar structures within Catholicism, especially if you consider the tabernacle, the monstrance, and the pyx, which are pictured below.
These are just a few examples, but as I read Earhart’s book, I was struck by an uncanny familiarity with the supposed strangeness of Shinto.