The God-Thing, 1972 Literary prose; 20 pages; Complete; Oakland; Age: 20Early adulthood; A figured creation, made for its shape and form;


The first page of "The Story" in the text; Mss_0039_01.

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Typewritten pages; Good condition in original and carbon copy;

Prose; The birth of my brother, metaphorically presented; The god-thing is born and annointed; The god-thing, various angels, bark creatures and other fanciful figures;
My brother is present throughout, though as an image;

Good, clean, typing, done as a copy of a now vanished original. manuscript;

Related mss: Whole;

The “God-thing” was the first attempt to discipline the associative prose style into a shaped work. Inspired by a pencil drawing of a piece of barnacle shell in the obsessive manner typical of my work at the time, “The Image” which precedes “The Story” reads the natural forms in the flaking shape very figuratively, seeing a head in a wimple surrounded by angels and other forms. But the story has my brother at the heart, and it is his birth and three days of lying without excretion in the beginning of his life that is described here.

My brother’s life had a mythic quality, since tales of his childhood always took precedence over mine or my sister’s. He was the founding figure in the family universe, and the events that had occured in that primal time of his arrival became part of family lore and legend. I was never a legend to myself, and my sister, following after, was always understood within already established frameworks.

The language of the God-thing is driven by puns and deconstructions an atomistic level of hearing and working with the patterns of sound and meaning. The text’s densities are often driven by the play of patterns rather than the structuring of meaning-as-reference, as in “the rays unrolled as ribbons” or “initiative imperative,” phrases quickly followed by the words “indulgent” and “imperfections” that take up the in/im pattern and find words to fit then manage to make sense. The sections in the story are identified by punning titles, “To the Shoeing,” for the second, “Trysting,” for the third, followed by “Order.” The unusual syntax keeps the words prominent almost elemental. The third section begins, “The fragmentary angels had left lichen in his hair and tied him like an infant in a chair, his baby mouth is gaping with the open gum sores of now missing teeth.” Strong rhythmic patterns underscore the image of an infant, rocking and sucking, satisfying its drives in somatic indulgences and immediate bouts of pleasure and outrage.

The craft of the writing helps compensate for the complete obscurity of the text. Its mannered intracacies make it difficult to see how the work performs its peculiar obfuscations–not so much of meaning as of purpose. For whom and how was this writing to communicate through such oblique means? The making consumed me. Writing was an absorptive act. and this style of alliterative and figured metrical prose would dominate my work for several years.

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