On Discovering Dead Bodies

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope, for those that celebrate it, you had a lovely Thanksgiving and got to eat delicious food or at least be around your loved ones.

For the past couple days I've taken a rest from my thesis work and worked on editing Mabel Chapter Four. For shorthand reference, that's the chapter when Mabel meets Salieri. I didn't actually make any big changes to those scenes, but I put in some new ones involving Iji and Lawrence.

As much as I love Mabel, I've been taking breathing moments to write The Princess and the Fox Demon's latest chapter. For those of you who are here and haven't touched it, I'll be discussing a couple spoilers.


In this week's installment, Chirikai approaches the capital to try and find his mother, who has left his father to have an affair with a human. In the previous chapter, Chirikai told his friend — or heavily implied, which made it fun to write — that fox demons go down and fall in love with humans with the knowledge that they'll eventually be discovered and killed, or that it's a form of suicide.

Chirikai goes down to the capital with the slight hope that his mother is still alive. He meets an aristocratic family, the Shinrusu, who tell him that a Lady Warase was discovered to be a fox demon last week.

Chirikai understands that this means she has been killed, and in the following chapter, he sets out to at least find her body.

In Nara and early Heian Japan, which The Princess and the Fox Demon's fantasy world is based on, when someone died or fell ill during an epidemic, the body was dumped by the riverside. There are many theories why this occurred. One of the most common is that the river served as a liminal space on the edge of civilization, and that the river itself helped to purify the space. Corpses and the diseased were seen as spiritually and physically polluted, and they were to be avoided at all costs. The people sent to deal with these riverside corpses were often outcasts as well: lepers, the deformed, etc...

So in order to find his mother, Chirikai goes to the riverside and an old woman directs him to the body of a fox. The riverside is dark, dank, and filled with flies and a few people abandoned to die. As he grieves, a girl approaches him, and Chirikai and Asuka meet for the first time.

So, I've been working on this scene, which is supposed to be creepy and vital. I love this poem. Not much of a poetry person. And I openly admit to stealing some language from T.S. Eliot for this latest chapter. What's that expression about mature writers?

"Hollowman"
By T.S. Eliot

I

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us -- if at all -- not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

II

Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death's dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind's singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death's dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer --

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom

III

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man's hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death's other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

IV

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death's twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

V

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o'clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow

Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.


Last week the Japanese rock band Dir En Gray came to Los Angeles, and a good friend and I went to see them. I'm not into the Japanese rock scene — or any scene really — but we had a good time. I tapped into some of their music for this week's writing, specifically Dozing Green. (It's an acquired taste.)



I'd also like to recognize the music that wasn't creepy I worked to this week, especially while writing other sections of The Princess and the Fox Demon. 

Undying Love (Two Steps from Hell)
Breathe
Nero
Over Hill (Howard Shore)
Misty Mountains
Forth Eorlingas
Isengard Unleashed
Samwise the Brave

I was there was an easy way to embed music clips.

Anyway, writing moves lurches forward. I'm hoping to have Chapter Seven edited by the end of December. If I manage the whole first book, I'll throw myself a party.