by Sue Lange
Hi, my name is Sue and I’m a post-modernist. I’ve been sane for three days.
I haven’t always been like this. I started out a modernist. I questioned religion and morality and absolutes in everything. I read anything Kafka wrote, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, Bulgakov. I didn’t understand any of it, but I read it. Come to think of it, maybe that’s my problem. Maybe if I could figure out how a man could wake up one day and be a bug, I wouldn’t have this emptiness and this insatiable need to search out answers to questions that have no answers.
The point is, I was a staunch modernist. Up until the 60s. I mean, the 60s. Did any of us survive the 60s? What with New Wave and all, I mean. New Wave science fiction. Oh those were heady times. Gone was straight ahead space opera. Now we had experimentation and, well, sex and drugs! Everybody was into something: Judith Merrill was showing us flapping babies; Bradbury said something wicked was coming; Ellison was having dangerous visions. I was like a pig in shit. I don’t know how to explain it. I just…well, let me put it to you this way: Philip K. Dick. Need I say more?
And I was devoted, yes I was. A disciple. Yes, I was. Well, until that party up on the Upper West side. You remember that pig stomp the Dharma Bums threw. Whoo! Everyone was mellow having a good time when in walks Burroughs. You know Burroughs, right? I mean, here’s a guy shoots his wife in the head, calls it an accident. And now he’s reaching into his pocket. How was I supposed to know he was grabbing for his needle like a baby to its titty. Anyway I had to get out of there, so when Vonnegut comes up and whispers in my ear, asking me if I wanted to head down to the Monkey House, I was like, cool. You know how you get when that happens. I’d never heard of the Monkey House, but I was like “hell yeah.” Because up front Burroughs is fingering in his pocket, and Burroughs shot his wife in the head. I got the hell out of that hellhouse.
It was the night after Christmas, I had nowhere to go. Totally vulnerable. I’ll never forget it. It was snowing like in a glass globe holding water and a winter scene. We walked all the way down to the village and just as we turned down Waverly Place, he yanked me into a darkened doorway and said, listen, don’t embarrass me. These cats are fabulists. They ain’t spics. Don’t call ‘em magical realists. I was like, fine. I had no idea what magical fabulism or realism or whatever it was, was. Turns out they’re exactly the same thing, anyway. If you’re from Latin America you’re a magical realist, if you’re from anywhere else, you’re a fabulist.
Meanwhile in we go. I don’t remember the exact sequence of events. Everything was a blur and it happened all so fast. I remember a guy named Pynchon was there. Salmon something or other, Indian guy. And Delillo. Yeah, Delillo. Delillo was reading up front. He blew my new wave sensibilities right out of the water. I was hooked. Caught. Sunk. Yup I did it. I inhaled.
I’m not proud of it, but I admit it and there it is.
After that there was no hope for me. I tried every new thing that came along: slipstream, interstitial, New Weird, mundane. Well, maybe not mundane. But I tried all the rest of it. I didn’t come out of the house for weeks at a time. I read the entire cyberpunk canon in one sitting. Wound up in the hospital, bleeding from every orifice from that. That was the thing that saved me, truth be told.
Wasn’t the hospital that did it. It was the doctors and nurses talking about some new shit on the streets. Thing called Bizarro. Bad, bad mojo. Described it like if DC comics published James Joyce. Hanna Barbera did Shakespeare. Scary. I’m telling you stay away from it. Too powerful. Run if you come across it. Or maybe, um, give me a call or something so I can maybe like give you a hand, if you need a, you know, an intervention or something. I’m here for you.
Anyway, that’s my story. Thanks for listening. And I want to thank the Church of Circular Reasoning for letting us meet here. And oh, thanks to my sponsor, Bruce, for well, introducing all of this to me. Most of you know the guy. He’s here a lot. Anyway. Thanks.
My name is Sue and I’m a post-modernist.