A Peculiar Arrangement of Atoms — Out NOW!

Click here to buy it.

50% of all proceeds generated from this ebook will be donated to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. apeculiararrangementofatomsdaultondickey

A couple discovers an alien-like element, a woman locked in a ward tries to grapple with her mind, an ex-junkie encounters a possible solution to her problems, two men—broke—just want to get drunk, and, in an infinite story, a man encounters a woman who may hold the key to life and the universe.

A Peculiar Arrangement of Atoms is a collection of sixteen moving, funny, and enlightening short stories written in a variety of styles. Individually, they explore human experience. Together, they represent a bleak yet hopeful, and at times comic, portrait of humanity and the human condition.

Part John Barth and William Gaddis, part Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace, part Kurt Vonnegut and William S. Burroughs, but in a voice all his own, Dickey has crafted a short story collection that will linger, that will haunt you, that will entertain and, most importantly, stick with you.

Review: Albina and the Dog-Men by Alejandro Jodorowsky

by
Daulton Dickey.

When writing about poet Arthur Rimbaud, Henry Miller asserted, and this is a paraphrase, that you can learn much about an author by the type of words they use, and the frequency with which they use them. If such a proposition holds true, then we can learn about Alejandro Jodorowsky by analyzing the words he uses through his short novel, Albina and the Dog-Men (Restless Books). Two words recur here, “transformation and metamorphosis,” and they sum up the theme of the book—as well as the trajectory of Jodorowsky’s eclectic career.Albina+and+the+Dog-Men,+by+Alejandro+Jodorowsky+-+9781632060549

A self-styled mystic and founder of a form of mysticism he dubbed Psychomagic, Jodorowsky is a modern day polymath: playwright and filmmaker, comic book writer and novelist, memoirist and Tarot expert. As his film career fizzled, he turned his attention to writing comic books, such as The Metabarons, a groundbreaking masterpiece of graphic fiction. In the latter part of his life, he’s devoted considerable time and effort on books, both fiction and non-fiction. He isn’t one person; instead, he’s an aggregate of many people residing in the body of one man. Each person transforms as they encounter different aspects of life.

And the same can be said of his characters. Throughout Albina and the Dog-Men, we encounter women and men whose bodies are vessels to many kinds of people, not simply a singular persona. Antagonists and protagonists receive the Jodorowsky treatment: in lieu of displaying fluctuating personalities, they undergo emotional and physical metamorphoses. An ugly woman becomes beautiful, a deformed man becomes a dog, then a handsome princely-type figure.

It’s hard to categorize this novel: a surreal Huckleberry Finn, an absurdist adventure story, a foundation myth rooted in magical realism, as most foundation myths are—all could apply to the novel. In a sense, Albina and the Dog-Men is a fable centered on the magical properties of human companionship. When Crabby, a hunchbacked and volatile bearded woman meets the mysterious Albina, a childlike woman whom she must teach to speak, her life expands outward, from the confines of her isolated town to a broader world populated with pygmy men, dog-men, and Godlike aliens.

After an incident in their small town forces Crabby and Albina to flee in search of a more inclusive haven, they meet Amado, a short man—not a dwarf; a pygmy—who embraces the perpetually shunned Crabby. Amado, smitten, allows them to run a surreal strip club out of his hat shop. But when they discover that Albina’s cursed with an ability to transform into a dog, and who transforms men into dogs, they flee Amado’s hometown in search of a cure.

We could keep summarizing the novel, but it would reveal too many spoilers, and, given the breadth of Jodorowsky’s imagination and the unexpected roads this story takes us, we’ll bracket summarizing Albina and the Dog-Men in its entirety.

originalIf you’re familiar with Jodorowsky’s works in other media, you’re aware of the scope of his knowledge and imagination, but if you’re a newcomer, then you’re in for a treat: without question, Alejandro Jodorowsky possesses one of the most—if not the most—fertile imagination of anyone you’re likely to encounter. He fires one amazing idea or image after the other, then bombards you with more, tossing them aside to replace them with greater or more outlandish concepts or imagery.

Surrealism has long been a staple of his oeuvre; in his films it sometimes jars you; in his comics it disrupts your notion of what the media could be; but here, it introduces fantastical elements to the story, which mimic the mood and temperament of a fable.

From chameleonic birds to a grotesque protagonist—aptly named Drumfoot after a disproportioned and grotesque appendage—to a lost South American tribe to an Incan God, Albina and the Dog-Men possesses elements that cement its status as a modern day fable, a story about love and acceptance, the transformative powers of companionship and belief in the fantastic. And, as with most fables, it leaves itself open to interpretation, but, most importantly, it dazzles and inspires you.

Albina and the Dog-Men
Alejandro Jodorowsky
Restless Books
RELEASE DATE: May 10, 2016
LIST PRICE: $15.99 USD (ebook: $14.99 USD)
ISBN-13: 978-1632060549
Visit the Restless Books page for Albina and the Dog-Men

 

 

 

Elegiac Machinations Available in eBook and Paperback

We’re having a baby in a month, so I thought I’d remind you about this.

Click here to purchase a copy!

“Like David Lynch, Daulton Dickey has found a language to articulate the obscenity of the unreal, itself the confluence of the perversion of capitalism and the seduction of technology and popular entertainment.” —BookCoverPreview Slavoj Žižek

Reality is a product of perception. To alter reality, we must alter our perception. But how? Our unnamed narrator explores this question and attempts to unravel the mystery in this experimental novella, a non-linear, surreal trip through consciousness—and beyond.

Embracing the street art mythos, the narrator plasters an unnamed city with symbols meant to open up awareness—awareness of consciousness, of reality; reality as it is, not how people perceive it. But he lives in a world in which corporations, government, and technology have transformed people into mindless automatons. People move without thinking, follow without thinking, work and live and dream without thinking—and they don’t realize they’re shackled in a continent-sized prison.

To change people, our narrator has to wake them up; he has to make them aware of their shackles. Can he use stencils and spray paint to wake them? Can art still thrive in a culture populated by drones? Part philosophical meditation, part surrealism and literary cubism, Elegiac Machinations is unlike anything you’ve read. It’s a haunting exploration of what it means to be alive, a meditation on the nature of reality and art, and on paying attention in a world dominated by routine and distractions.

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The Revolution Will Not Be Published

The Long, Slow Death of Avant Garde Fiction
by
Daulton Dickey.

The state of popular fiction, especially mainstream “literary fiction,” in the second decade of the twentieth century is one of complacency and uniformity. It’s as though someone filtered the concept of fiction and literary fiction through a sieve, and homogeneity is all that largely remains.

Literature has struggled since the advent of movies and television, with the introduction of interactive entertainment—what some people still call videos games—and the internet. In a culture marginalizing fiction and literature, the industry is rapidly transforming into a game of monkey-see monkey-do. In this world, the avant garde, historically on the margins, is being further marginalized—to the detriment of our culture.

Fiction and literary fiction in this hyper-real, digital age, an age in which the line between “reality” and “simulacrum” is vanishing, suffers the same existential crisis that visual art—paintings and sculptures—suffered with the advent of the camera.
Over the past two decades, films and television, interactive entertainment and the internet have collided with the nuances of everyday life. As a culture, we’ve moved from the digital age into a sort of hyper-digital age, a period in which we’re experiencing the merger of the digital realm and the physical realm. This new period is revolutionizing the way we communicate, and consume entertainment, even more so than it did a decade or two ago.

Unfortunately, fiction, especially literary fiction, zigged when it should have zagged. In lieu of revolutionizing the form, the way Picasso did with les Demoiselles D’avignon, the publishing industry instead chose to alter the delivery system, transitioning from hard copies to digital copies, without altering the form. That is, they’re in the process of changing their appearance—and nothing more. Continue reading

Life is a Stage, So Why Not Screw with People

Notes on an Essay Concerning Writing, Performing, and the Nature of Reality
by
Daulton Dickey.

[Author’s Note: This is an unfinished essay I only vaguely remember writing.]

I.

My mind reels. Sometimes I lock myself in my head, in my world, and everything around me—my wife, my kids, my friends and job—vanish. Not literally. Figuratively. Everything slips into the background, sometimes into the deep background. Sometimes the universe transforms into background noise, a sort of visuospatial white noise. Other times, it disappears altogether.

I get so locked into my world, the world mutating and transmutating and exploding in my head, that the world and everything in it almost vanishes.

A strange sensation: living in my head inside, then going outdoors and feeling as if the world itself is indoors, as if the world is a set constructed inside a planet-sized soundstage. Sometimes, when these sensations inundate me, I glance around—at the ground and the sky, cars and buildings and passersby—and marvel at the corporeality of it all. Of everything.

On occasions, when I’m experiencing these sensations, I ask myself two questions, sometimes in conjunction, sometimes in disjunction:

What is imagination?

What is “reality”?

II.

So I’m sitting in a wheelchair on the corner of an intersection, wearing a plaid shirt, overalls, and sunglasses. I’m hunched over in the chair, not moving. Concentrating on steadying my breath, minimizing the expansion and contraction of my rib cage, trying to render it imperceptible.

Try it. It’s a fascinating study, something akin to sociology. People ignore you when you play dead. They amble or scurry past you. Some glance while others act as though they don’t see you. Some joke while others furrow their eyebrows.

I’d probably sell the death routine if “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees wasn’t blasting from a speaker attached to my phone in my right pocket.

III.

The two-tiered taxonomy of homo sapiens:

A human being is a meat machine, a streamlined biological entity. A person is the result of the cognitive mechanics of the meat machine, what we might refer to as host to “personality.”

As a human being, the meat machine writing this is slightly hirsute, although with a depressingly receding hairline, somewhat overweight—at a little over 5’9″, this machine weighs 177 pounds—and he possesses a penis and testicles.

As a result of certain hardware and software hardwired into the approximately three pound slab of meat inside this human being’s skull, the person who emerges inherited a name. This human identifies as male—hence the point of mentioning his junk, which, in the new paradigm is a sufficient, but not amnecessary condition to identify as “male.”. His parents bequeathed the praenomen “Daulton” and the cognomen “Dickey.”

Daulton Dickey is a person who obtains almost entirely in his head.

III.(A)

As an aside, the person writing this subscribes to Jean-Paul Sartre’s notion of the “I” we invoke when referring to our meat machine obtains only when we are reflecting—i.e., when the human being is writing, the “I” is absent; when the human being reflects on writing, turning its attention inward, conscious of consciousness, the “I” emerges.

III. (B)

Since, a moment ago, I reflected before I initiated the process of writing what I assume will be a single paragraph, since I’m transcribing my reflections ex post facto, I’ll dispense with the third person, which, granted, is weird, and use the first person pronoun, unless, of course, I’m referring to the meat machine, then we’re stuck with the phrase.

IV.

I’m on 200 milligrams of Lamotrigine and 1 milligram of Klonopin. The former tempers my bipolar disorder—bipolar I, the worst of the two kinds—and the latter subdues my generalized anxiety disorder. The cocktail makes writing a chore.

Of the two, Klonopin is the worst culprit: it zombifies me, renders me lethargic and empty-headed and uninspired, although “uninspired” isn’t a word I like or prefer. I shun the notion of inspiration—a word procrastinators utter—so writing the word “uninspired” feels inauthentic; however, it’s a shorthand we know, either intimately or intuitevly.

V.

A book is an object we take for granted. On the surface, in the ontological sense, of what we might call the object-in-itself, its a rectangle composed of wood pulp illustrated with symbols—Latin and Arabic in origin—to which we associate objects and concepts.

VI.

We take for granted the complexities of the activity of reading—and writing. Writers, for example, romanticize their vocation. ‘Writing is a lonely vocation,’ some might say. Hemingway mentioned sitting at a typewriter and bleeding. Other writers discuss the life-affirming nature of their craft. Few, however, discuss the unromantic ontological nature of the activity.

Divide the person from the meat machine and examine what he or she does during the process of writing: he or she strings symbols into clusters and clusters into groups. Through training, other meat machines imbibe these symbols, delivered via the interaction between light and the intricacies of the human eye. The information contained in the light filters to the rods and cones in the back of the eyes, where it’s converted into impulses and distributed to various regions of the brain. In a sense, the brain decrypts this information and constructs, and reconstructs, models—themselves constructed by the meat machine who had arranged symbols into clusters and groups.

So, in a sense, a writer is an architect; a reader, a construction worker. The architect designs the model and the reader constructs it.

VI. (A)

Close your eyes and “picture” a nickel. Describing what you “see” approaches the limits of language. The “image” appears more intuitive than visual, unlike staring at a nickel on a table in front of you, but it’s “there” nonetheless.

When you’re staring at a nickel, your primary visual cortex fires on all cylinders, so to speak. But it’s also active when you “picture” a nickel, although the activity is diminished—i.e., the same processes responsible for constructing models based on information relayed via the eyes are also responsible for constructing models rooted entirely in the imagination, although the latter models are vague, almost indescribable, which is how, when we’re reading, we can “picture” characters or vistas and so on. Since our “pictures” of characters, for example, are vague, we tend to superimpose features of people we’ve stored, so a male character in a novel might, in our construction, resemble our father or postman, or a well-known actor, or a vague entity, and so on.

VI. (B)

To write is, in a sense, to manipulate a reader’s neurophysiology, to implant images into the mind of the reader.

VII.

An image, when implanted in a reader, can stay with them. It can rewire their brains, so to speak. It can even alter them—their perception of x, or even their weltanschauung. And since the convergence of experiences, both internal and external, we call “reality” is a product of the human brain, and if a writer can implant strong imagery, which alters another meat machine’s neurophysiology, then we can literally alter “reality,” at least as far as the altered meat machine is concerned.

VIII.

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts […]”
—William Shakespeare, As You Like It

During an ethnographic study of drag queens, sociologists Dana Berkowitz and Linda Liska Belgrave at one point marveled at the amount of work, and the time spent, for a man to transform into a woman. At one point in their paper, Berkowitz and Belgrave articulate an interesting observation—obvious in hindsight, yet profound in its ability to articulate the familiar, which we often, if not always, overlook: the effort these men put into transforming for the sake of performance is similar, if not identical, to the way people get prepare for, and behave, on an average day.

Translation: we are, each and every one of us, performers. Shakespeare wasn’t writing an empty poetic line when he wrote “All the world’s a stage”; instead, he was articulating something we as people know intuitively. He was teasing out and giving a language to something hard-wired into these meat machines.

VIII. (A)

Sometimes we choose the tone and tenor of our performances, although our performances aren’t entirely cognitive—i.e., non-conscious; they’re also behavioral, responses to people with whom we’re interacting or to situational interactions.

“Life,” to quote Rimbaud, “is the farce that we all must perform.”

VIII. (B)

Writers are people who play a game, one which follows rules, in the Wittgensteinian sense. Once we intuitively grasp a rule, and its application, we therefore understand how to play the game. We shouldn’t take the word “understand,” however, to mean “the conscious ability to identify or articulate the rules.” Sometimes, our “understanding” is mechanical, something we can do without explaining how we do it.

One of the rules writers unwittingly obey, at least in this person’s assessment, is the cultivation of an ability to convert a performance into symbols. Above all else, a writer is a performer, and his or her writings reflect a performance. In a sense, it’s a distillation of playing by rules similar to those we follow in the real world. We call this game, we call these performances, “voice.”

A writer must develop a unique voice to distinguish him- or herself from the scores of people stringing groups and clusters of symbols together.

In the beginning, a writer is an imposter: he or she mimics their influences. Such mimicry is crucial in a multitude of ways, but the two most important results of mimicry is the development of an implicit—and, later, an explicit—”understanding” of the rules of the game they’ve chosen to undertake; the other result is to eventually experience an existential crisis of sorts, what people refer to as “the anxiety of influence.”

At some point in a writer’s development, he or she evolves a self-awareness of the extent of his or her mimicry, which leads to the anxiety. “How can I distinguish myself if I’m writing like [or performing as] writer x?” Such a question gives rise to a crisis in which the writer attempts to distance him or herself from primary influence w/r/t the writers they’re mimicking. Then they break this influence by consciously altering their performances, by tweaking them to reflect performances they themselves partake, or partook.

IX.

So I’m lying in bed writing. Beside me, my wife, who’s lying, supine, a laptop on her legs, streaming a television show. If you were to view me right now, in this moment, you would see a meat machine holding a tablet, tapping the bottom of the screen with both thumbs. But you’d see a writer in the midst of a silent performance if you viewed me as a person.

All writing is a performance, all writers are performers, but the performance fades the moment the activity ceases, and the performer—i.e., the writer—shifts his or her performance. The person typing this will transform his performance. To what? Who knows. Probably as husband bidding his wife goodnight. Or perhaps a self-reflective performer turning his performance inward while he lies in bed in the dark, numbed by Klonopin, and contemplating the tenor of his next performance, trying to conceive models worth transmitting to meat machines processing information, meat machines who might one day construct models from instructions telegraphed via symbols of Latin origin.

X.

The above adumbrations bring us to imagination. As meat machines, we process information. Sometimes we reflect on what we see; sometimes we unreflectively experience what we see—”Ineluctable modality of the visible,” to quote James Joyce.

To this writer’s mind, imagination is a convergence of our ability to process information, both reflexively and unreflixively, our ability to retrieve stored information—”memories—amd to think strategically, a fancy way of saying “making inferences about future possibilities.”

XI.

The models I’ve—hopefully—transmitted to you do not, in any way, reflect reality; they are the sum of my performance and your imagination; they are the sum of models you’ve constructed from instructions I’ve conveyed to you.

Or do they reflect reality? Do they emulate the world, as all writing does, or are they fabrications divorce from anything approximating “reality”?

As a teenager I uttered glossolalia in public, or, on occasion, pretended to suffer from echolalia. In stores, for example, I’d utter gibberish, as if speaking a foreign language, or I’d repeat sentences uttered by people with whom I chose to converse. The point of such behavior, I knew, was to pervert reality, to intentionally affect a performance which altered a person’s perceptions, thereby altering his or her experience of this “thing” we call “reality.”

That I had altered their perceptions, therefore altering their experience of reality, at least in that moment, that I had performed without breaking character, convincing them of my inability to speak their native language or to actively verbalize words or sentences stored in my echoic memory—a performance in response to my friends and the tedium of interactions in environments contrived to perpetuate consumerism.

So what’s real? Are the autobiographical interjections reflections of situations I’ve experienced, or are they part of a performance? Of course, these questions narrow certain parameters, encouraging you to consider answers to interrogatives I’ve provided. Is any of this real? Do any of the autobiographical elements reflect anything approximating the collective hallucination we refer to as “reality,” or is it all, in fact, an illusion perpetrated by a performer?

XII.

Life is a series of performances, the tone and tenor of which are dictated by people with whom we interact or situations in which we interact. Although some performances are non-conscious, others are conscious—i.e., we can choose or tweak our performances.

Whether writers or poets, comedians or actors or politicians, we are, each of us, performers, and by performing, and especially by choosing our performances, we can alter a person’s perception, therefore his or her “experience,” of “reality.”