the man who was pretending to be a lamp


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Post March 12, 2005, 04:06:24 PM

the man who was pretending to be a lamp

a sort of tribute to the late great Hunter Thompson, no?
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Post March 12, 2005, 06:33:30 PM

Re: the man who was pretending to be a lamp

... Mr. Wilson? Are you a Gonzo fan? (The story was written and submitted well before the Doctor's recent departure, so it wasn't meant as a posthumous tribute, anyway.)<br><br>Robert M.
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Post March 13, 2005, 01:44:37 PM

Re: the man who was pretending to be a lamp

Hunter Thompson, hell. This one would be right at home in Naked Lunch. <br><br>Good stuff, lots of fun with strong, lasting imagery, and the added bonus of hours of fun sifting for meaning in the symbolism. Mr. Leyner himself couldn't have done any better. <br><br>Bravo. <br><br>--G<br>

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Post March 15, 2005, 11:40:11 PM

Re: the man who was pretending to be a lamp

Ahhm, yeah. I don't get it. Maybe it's too high-brow for me. Dunno. Just a little too weird for my tastes, I suppose. And those old people scared me.
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Post March 16, 2005, 12:01:48 PM

Re: the man who was pretending to be a lamp

While I think it's great that Aphelion editors are willing to include work like this, frankly, I didn't get the point of this one. <br><br>It started off with a bang and hooked me immediately, but, for me, it crumbles soon after . If there was a subtext at work, it's so deeply buried (or I'm too shallow) that, ultimately, the piece struck me as bizarre for bizarre's sake. I mean, OK, well, why not? Fair enough, but strictly from a reading standpoint, I would prefer a sense of cohesion and logic that I can grasp, that lends weight to the surreal (or maybe irreal) images presented. Wave your weirdness high, but show me a reason why; otherwise it strikes me as an empty exercise in stringing together odd images and scenes.<br><br>If this is a piece fraught with symbols working together to present coherent ideas, again, I just didn't get it. And I'm the kind of reader who gets miffed when I feel like I'm on the outside looking in. Some might dig this kind of writing, but I'm not interested in expending the energy deconstructing stories to this extent to extract some meaning. <br><br>However, if someone wants to clue me into the significance of this short strange trip, I would appreciate it.<br><br>Dan E.<br><br>
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Post March 17, 2005, 03:39:34 PM

Re: the man who was pretending to be a lamp

How does one even explain a story like this? It's pretty much unexplainable, except in an abstract sort of way.<br><br>Personally, I thought this was a wonderful gem. It forced the reader to rethink his or her views of the world by juxtaposing the ridiculous upon the familiar. What exactly is an acceptable role for a person to pursue? What makes a person a person? Is there an underlying insanity inherent in Capitalism?<br><br>If there's one line that I think captures the spirit of this story, it was:<br>
Little did the man who was pretending to be a lamp know that [the husband] had always wanted to pretend to be a human being.
<br><br>Indeed, who or what are any of us pretending to be?<br>
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Post March 20, 2005, 07:55:40 PM

Re: the man who was pretending to be a lamp

[edit]<br>I replaced my original statement here. It was not flattering, but just because I have a strong, personal distaste for this kind of writing, doesn't mean that its author wasn't just as proud of it as I would be of mine.<br><br>To each his own, but this one was not for me.<br><br>Nate
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Post March 31, 2005, 09:20:20 PM

Re: the man who was pretending to be a lamp

I read this story twice. I didn't understand it at first, but then it hit me! Abstract Art created by words! This story, I'm sure, has different meanigs for each reader. Maybe I'm wrong--- and if I am please someone tell me!
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Post April 01, 2005, 12:47:03 AM

Re: the man who was pretending to be a lamp

Hunter Thompson, hell. This one would be right at home in Naked Lunch.

<br><br>Naked Lunch?? That anything like box lunch at the Y?<br>
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Post April 03, 2005, 01:53:04 AM

Re: the man who was pretending to be a lamp

Like Nate, I had prepared a comment on this story that wasn't very flattering. However, I had mine on my word processor ready to post, and forgot to teleport it here. <br><br>So I'll just say that literary stuff, like abstract art, sails way over my head. I did manage to get some of this one though:<br><br>It's about a mountaineer who makes moonshine likker to get folks all lit up. He's going around giving out free samples. The first guy to try his stuff gets so soused he thinks he's a sausage, then gets blind drunk and beats up his poor wife. <br><br>The moonshiner then goes to a retirement community and gets the folks there so tanked that they attack a hapless door to door salesman...I got kind of lost after that. Will somebody 'splain the rest to me?<br><br>Donald
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Post April 03, 2005, 02:48:56 PM

Re: the man who was pretending to be a lamp

[edit]
I replaced my original statement here. It was not flattering, but just because I have a strong, personal distaste for this kind of writing, doesn't mean that its author wasn't just as proud of it as I would be of mine.

To each his own, but this one was not for me.

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Post April 03, 2005, 03:09:43 PM

Re: the man who was pretending to be a lamp

Naked Lunch was written in the same era as other influential novels such as On The Road. While I've read both and found neither to be exactly my cup of tea, I was suprised how much I learned about the craft from Burroughs ad Kerovac if I kept an open mind. I'm fascinated that people posting here have strong personal distastes for another's vision, and would deem it necessary to even think about taking a run at someone's art based on personal likes and dislikes.<br> Rob<br>BTW. is 'high brow' defined as something that intimidates you or something you've read that doesn't have a spaceship in it so you don't think is 'cool?"
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Post April 03, 2005, 03:56:32 PM

Re:  the man who was pretending to be a lamp

I'm fascinated that people posting here have strong personal distastes for another's vision, and would deem it necessary to even think about taking a run at someone's art based on personal likes and dislikes.
<br>"Taking a run"? How do you mean?<br><br>As for basing our perceptions on our personal likes or dislikes, I'd like to see someone who didn't. Who we are colors our perceptions, and that's just part of being human. <br><br>As for myself, the person who I am didn't like this story. Originally, I said so in terms that, when I looked back on them, seemed hurtful, rather than as objective as they could be. I thought that was wrong, so I removed them. I had already posted, and wanted anyone who had seen the original to know that I had changed my statement. <br><br>There is no person completely able to distance themselves from their own likes or dislikes when evaluating something, especially since there are no "rules" to follow in critiquing. You may like this story. More power to you if you do, but it is not wrong or a personal attack for someone else to say that they don't. <br><br>Nate
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Post April 03, 2005, 06:29:36 PM

Re:  the man who was pretending to be a lamp

I'm fascinated that people posting here have strong personal distastes for another's vision, and would deem it necessary to even think about taking a run at someone's art based on personal likes and dislikes.
<br><br>I don't quite understand your disapproval of the criticisms posted here , Rob. As to "taking a run" at the literary works of others, isn't that what critics do all the time--and some of those critics can be very, very harsh.<br><br>And isn't that what this board is all about? Cheez, I can think of very few that Nate hasn't torn apart. The regulars, or "Usual Suspects." routinely take runs at each other. If they like a piece they say so. If they don't like it, they say so. Writers develop a thick skin over time.<br><br>What if everyone held back on expressing his/her likes and dislikes? This board would become pretty boring. Aside from that, don't writers like to know what readers like/dislike about their story?<br><br>Not only do we criticize the stories and poems published in Aphelion, but we also criticize each other's comments--which is what we're all doing right now. :-)<br><br>Whew! Off the soap box.<br><br>Donald<br>
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Post April 03, 2005, 09:22:17 PM

Re: the man who was pretending to be a lamp

Hard to know if Rob's comment was directed at everyone who didn't like the story, or specific critics, but as I was one who commented negatively on this piece, I feel compelled to respond.<br><br>First, let me preface this by saying that defending one person's preferences by disparaging another's is no way to engage people in healthy debate. Rob's parting shot (Partheon shot for those who are more high brow), was extraneous and counterproductive as it obscures some interesting issues.<br><br>First of all, this type of writing is, for lack of a better word, controversial. Generally, people react sharply to avant garde work, one way or the other. Surely Mr Wilson expects polarized reactions. Those of us honest enough to announce that we didn't get it and don't care for this kind of writing shouldn't be vilified, and I find it telling that the author is nowhere to be found in terms of shedding any light on the piece.<br><br>Second, what's this piece doing here anyway? It's not sci-fi, it's not fantasy, it's not horror. My original comment lauded the editors for including it. I hold to that. Why? Because any story I submitted to a zine that focused on surrealist or avant garde or high-brow (?) writing would reject anything I wrote inside of two sentences regardless of the quality. The fact that this story is here at all speaks to Aphelion's editorship. Having said that, I think it's safe to say that this piece is in the wrong market. We're all here because we like--gasp--spaceships and dragons and monsters--we're basically geeks. We're here not because we're looking for high-brow art or any kind of art per se, but because we're struggling genre writers looking for attention and helpful feedback and like-minded people dumping their guts into stories about spaceships, dragons, and monsters. I for one don't log on after a massive work day with the intention of deconstructing obscure pieces that might about commodifcation (?), identity (?), and performativity (?) or about something else entirely or about nothing. That's not why I'm here.<br><br>Third, given personal circumstances, my reading time is so precious and my state of mind is such that I simply don't have the energy to be challenged by this kind of writing when I do have time to read. I want to escape. Easily. Others might find this writing to be just the ticket. Cool. Further, I gave this piece every chance, but frankly, as I said in my initial comment, it didn't hold together for me. I felt it failed on its own merits, understanding full well what kind of writing that it was. I asked for an explanation (as did others) and got none, thus I remain in the dark as to the story's meaning.<br><br>Perhaps some take that as a sign of successful writing. <br><br>Finally, I think Rob's comments can have a chilling effect on those of us who wish to (1) express our opinions and (2) offer some sincere feedback as potential money-paying readers that an earnest writer can take back to his or her desk to weigh its value and maybe end up with a better story (preferably one with more grenade-laden bar fights).<br><br>Dan E.<br>
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Post April 03, 2005, 10:59:48 PM

Re: the man who was pretending to be a lamp

My apologies to all for any perceived or real slights. No real harm meant and hopefully none done. Dan, your comments made me realise that Aphelion is primarliy a magazine for people who like different stuff that I do, but still I think Robert M showed great gusto for publishing a story I found refreshing, and I'd hoped we might see more of that kind of literary work. If not, so be it...there's as many ezines /magazines as writers out there.<br> Take care and good luck<br> Rob<br>
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Post April 03, 2005, 11:18:41 PM

Re: the man who was pretending to be a lamp  

...Second, what's this piece doing here anyway? It's not sci-fi, it's not fantasy, it's not horror. My original comment lauded the editors for including it. I hold to that. Why? Because any story I submitted to a zine that focused on surrealist or avant garde or high-brow (?) writing would reject anything I wrote inside of two sentences regardless of the quality. The fact that this story is here at all speaks to Aphelion's editorship. Having said that, I think it's safe to say that this piece is in the wrong market. We're all here because we like--gasp--spaceships and dragons and monsters--we're basically geeks...

Dan E.
<br>As the editor who chose the piece, maybe I can clarify things by quoting what I said to D. Harlan Wilson when I accepted the story:<br><br>'The Man Who ... is one of the weirdest things I've read in a long time, reminding me of the wonderful absurdities of R. A. Lafferty and Philip K. Dick (on his lighter days).'<br><br>The story just tickled me. It was unapologetically, unabashedly strange, and contrary to Dan E.'s remarks, it did contain elements of fantasy. Aside from The Wife, nobody seems to react to The Man's attempts to be treated as a lamp at all, neither pedestrians, nor the police, nor pickpockets nor poltroons (running out of words that start with 'p', obviously). Men with butterfly nets do not appear to whisk him off to Bellevue (or Belle Reve, or Arkham). Then we have the octogenarian lamp-shoppers who devour the hapless salesman (that's kind of horrible, unless you really hate salesmen), and finally, the real lamps, who doff their shades and take to the streets.<br><br>Aside from Lafferty and Dick, those of a more literary bent might also see a little Kafka in there (if, say, the Man had wanted to be a cockroach instead of a lamp)...<br><br>Man, anyone who doesn't see elements of the fantastic in this story lives in a very interesting world, possibly with the aid of much better meds than the ones I'm taking!<br><br>Not to worry, however -- the April issue has spaceships 'on screen' in three stories, and a major plot point in a fourth (not a deliberate attempt at a theme issue -- it just worked out that way). Other stories feature monsters, some of them slimy.<br><br>(The question is, is my 'brow' high, or is that just the receding hairline?)<br><br>Robert M.<br>
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Post April 03, 2005, 11:57:32 PM

Re: the man who was pretending to be a lamp

I'm going to say it again. I loved this story. We, as readers and writers, need variety. We need to be shown the power of the written word, its endless variations and forms. If you do not see or push past the limits, you will never realize how far your writing can take you.<br><br>From a standpoint of sheer imagination, this story is fantastic. If you read it as poetry instead of trying to make sense of it, you can discern the subtle themes working their way through. For example, there's definitely an Orwellian undercurrent, from the archetypes of the man and wife to the zombie-like, cannibalistic horde of old people.<br>
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Post April 04, 2005, 08:49:48 AM

Re: the man who was pretending to be a lamp

I never said this piece did not contain elements of the fantastic. That is, after all, a core characteristic of surrealism. But is it fantasy? I don't know, cases could be made for both sides, and frankly that wasn't my main point. <br><br>I read the story for what it was. I candidly said I didn't get it--did I discern various elements, nuances, ideas? Sure, I just couldn't put it all together. I admitted to not having the energy to dig for the meaning. But I was not attacking the style in general or slamming the author or any such thing. My comments were not meant to be generalized in anyway. Just my opinion on one story by an established writer who I would bet is used to such reactions.<br><br>I understand that Rob was really just challenging people to broaden their horizons a bit. And Jaimie too calls for open minds and variety. Couldn't agree more. However, Aphelion is but one source for my creative inlet and outlet, as I suspect it is for most people who visit the site. I think of it like this: if I pull a Led Zeppelin CD off the shelf and John Coltrane comes out of the speakers, well, I wanted to listen to Zeppelin, not Coltrane. I might replace the CD and save Coltrane for when I am in the mood for him. <br><br>Having said that, the fact that Jaimie enjoyed the story (I doubt he's alone in that) means that Robert did a great thing. He provided access to a story that might otherwise have never been read by Jaimie and others. Meaning they might be more likely to buy or at least read Mr Wilson's work when they run across it again. <br><br>Further, I hope there's more unusual selections in coming issues, more experimental writing that creates controversy. And I reserve the right to not understand the work and to be able to say so. Just as Rob has the right to defend a piece that he enjoyed.<br><br>Dan E.<br><br>

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Post April 04, 2005, 09:06:43 AM

Re: the man who was pretending to be a lamp

Hi everybody,<br><br>I'll toss in my two cents worth...<br><br>I read the story, and re-read it. I thought at first that even if it didn't really make any sense, it was at least an interesting read. I noticed that with everything the writer said, I wanted to read a little bit more, ie. he grabbed my attention and kept leading me on, regardless of the fact the story really didn't have much of a story to it. <br><br>I can look at a piece like this in two ways.......<br><br>1) A really weird example of free prose, that did'nt make a hell of a lot of sense, but had an interesting slant to it in its own way.<br><br>2) An excercise in keeping my attention.<br><br>

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Post April 08, 2005, 12:17:13 PM

the man who was pretending to be a lamp

not wanting to figure this one out to much, must say it was fun for the duration. nice images, especially liked the salesman and his octogenarians. you'd have to be seriously vivid of thought or outright toked out of your skull to come up with this kind of material.<br>yes, getting the deeper meanings may be a chore, but we can't fault the author for simply getting it off his keyboard: this is creativity at its most basic form, and either qualifies as excellently pointless organic writing or as fabulously pre-meditated mayhem.<br>on both counts it was interesting, and not in the least over-indulgent seeing as length-wise it was kept modest.<br><br>Lee

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