An Excerpt from “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss

I have no new material to share, so I decided it would be an appropriate time to whip out a passage from my favorite book, “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss.  NotW is the first of two in Rothfuss’s “Kingkiller Chronicle” series, and both are completely worth your time.  If you enjoy this passage, please consider buying the book and supporting ol’ Pat.


“Perhaps the greatest faculty our minds possess is the ability to cope with pain. Classic thinking teaches us of the four doors of the mind, which everyone moves through according to their need.

First is the door of sleep. Sleep offers us a retreat from the world and all its pain. Sleep marks passing time, giving us distance from the things that have hurt us. When a person is wounded they will often fall unconscious. Similarly, someone who hears traumatic news will often swoon or faint. This is the mind’s way of protecting itself from pain by stepping through the first door.

Second is the door of forgetting. Some wounds are too deep to heal, or too deep to heal quickly. In addition, many memories are simply painful, and there is no healing to be done. The saying ‘time heals all wounds’ is false. Time heals most wounds. The rest are hidden behind this door.

Third is the door of madness. There are times when the mind is dealt such a blow it hides itself in insanity. While this may not seem beneficial, it is. There are times when reality is nothing but pain, and to escape that pain the mind must leave reality behind.

Last is the door of death. The final resort. Nothing can hurt us after we are dead, or so we have been told.”

cover_277

Advertisements

“The Spirit of Color” – An Exercise in Surreal Prose

colors_splash-wallpaper-1366x768

I recently found a post that asked somebody to describe the color Red without ever saying the word. Somebody responded to the challenge with a beautiful and engaging series of descriptors. Having been inspired by this I emulated the same challenge using the colors Red, Blue, Green, Black, and White.  I refrained from using any examples for Red from the original post, so it was easily the most difficult.  Nonetheless, I had a lot of fun and hope you enjoy.

Red

It’s the heat in your face when preparing to confess love for the first time, and it’s the buzzing pressure within your chest when you’re angry, because you held in the words.  It’s the marks left on your back when protecting someone from danger.  It’s the throttle in your skull after a night of screaming, and the pressure of another hand in yours, holding tightly, either for safety or desire.  It’s the mark her lips left on your cheek.  When you finally fight back, it’s on your knuckles.  It’s the blood of all men.  It hurts, it heals, it lusts, it loves, it gives you power when you knew you didn’t have any more.

Perhaps it’s the warmth of a hug that means something.

Blue

It’s emerging for air after too long beneath the water.  It’s a piano in minor key.  It’s the equality found in gentle rainfall.  It’s the openness of a traveling wind.  It’s sitting down, crossing your legs, and simply being there to listen.  It’s a reaffirming hand on your shoulder.  It’s somebody’s voice when they talk about the stars.  It’s remembering days gone by.  It’s calm in chaos.  It’s a push of the sea against your body.

When you receive insult, it’s the wisdom that tenderly guides away from retaliation.

Green

It’s an excited puppy’s kisses.  When you walk through nature, it’s the brush of leaves against your shoulders.  It’s being too young to know and everything healthy your tongue deplores.  It’s laughter on a playground, while also the adventure found in wild violins.  It’s the slick moss pointing north.  It’s the voice of a friend you’ve sorely missed.  It’s finding a place where nobody has been, or getting lost without being afraid.  It’s working together with people you do not know.  It’s the smell of loam, of lake.  It’s the last day of school.

More than anything, it’s doing something just because.  

Black

It’s waking up alone after the best of dreams.  It’s being unable to live with yourself and wishing more than anything, that you could be someone else.  But it’s also your heart when you believe yourself better than the person across from you.  When you find a mysterious hole in the tide of night, it’s your confidence of its depth or contents.  It’s the addiction that refuses to die. It’s finding a wall when you were supposed to be on an open road. It’s hearing you won’t be keeping your kids.  It’s waiting for something that will not come.  Where things have burned, it’s the smell that scars the air.  It’s a quiet of the most absolute sort and the state of things not working.  It’s your stomach when one minute somebody is breathing and the next minute they are not.  It’s last words, regardless of their peace or horror.

In the end, it’s mortal conclusion.

White

It’s your bed after a trying day.  It’s being at peace knowing the person you love, loves somebody else.  At last, it’s a promise fulfilled.  It’s the fire found in ice.  It’s a baby’s first cry.  It’s being smitten, without being lonely.  When hailed by transgressions, it’s forgiveness.  It’s the dress of the bride and the teeth in her smile.  It’s believing somebody will come home.  It’s a choir in worship and a new idea.  It’s listening in isolation.  Before you paint, it’s a canvas.  It’s the virgin snowfall, crumbling between your fingers.  It’s the crown of the aged, the wise, and those fortunate enough to reach either.  It’s a victorious fanfare.  It is the searing vulnerability of having your innermost exposed.  It’s the feather of a dove.

But most of all, it’s wondering for the sake of it.

Update: 01/14/16

Greetings all of you strange and beautiful creatures.

Despite having already published some material for this week (backlog through the widgets to find my exercise in alliteration), I figure I ought to do a quick update anyways.

In addition to my long-form project “The Wisdom of Demons,” I have now also begun crafting a short, horror tale for HorrorTree’s upcoming anthology “Let Us In.”  I haven’t done horror in a while, but it’s one of my favorites, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what develops.

I’m nearing the 1/3 mark on my read through Brandon Sanderson’s “Alloy of Law.”  As per usual, it is off to a solid start, with the promise of growing into something much more as the narrative builds.  At this point I’m pretty much sold on anything this man creates.

Not currently in the middle of any anime or manga besides the standard milling, but I am loosely watching a police drama called Flashpoint at my brother’s suggestion.  It is excellent learning material for The Wisdom of Demons.

Struggling not to get distracted with practicing my illustration skills.  They’ve grown rusty as of late, but it’s not something I have any intentions of dropping.  I’ve recently begun watching how-to videos on the craft again, as well as following an illustrator on Youtube named ‘itsbirdy’ who creates some rather marvelous work with his limited resources.

I’ve been heavy into developing my taste for EDM lately.  It’s good music for simply engaging oneself in whatever you happen to be doing.  Tremendously looking forward to Christina Grimmie’s new EP due out some time this month.

Anyways, that’s all.  Thanks for listening.

God bless, make a friend, always remember to smile.

(If you have any suggestions on EDM music, hit me up.)

*Articuno & Elsa picture compliments of itsbirdy. Check him out on Youtube and Instagram.

il_fullxfull_656558265_2ez4

“Anarchy” Chapter 1 – Where We Spend Our Nights

Turns out, I was considered a boring person by the general populace. I took offense to this, because other endearments ascribed to me are ‘nerd’, ‘geek’, ‘gamer’, and ‘that one kid who watched Ripley’s Believe It or Not and tried to eat a lightbulb, landing him in the hospital for a couple of days’. While I’ve since failed to learn how to digest glass, or obtain anything related to an electricity-based superpower, I did not much care for the opinion that because I played a lot of video games, I was a boring person. Those things are not, and should not be considered connected. I mean, I didn’t call the jocks boring people because they play a lot of sports. No, you’re considered boring if you do those things poorly and thus have nothing fun to say about them. You can play sports and be boring. You can play video games and be boring. I tried not to be one of those.

“Twice,” Perry grinned, maneuvering his thumbs around the analogue stick and mashing buttons in an asymmetrical frenzy, “Twice I’ve managed to pull off my counter against your–”

I interrupted him by throwing his character off the ledge, my synapses afire as I swallowed the glow of the television, watching the shift of every pixel, reading the glorious frames running at sixty-per-second.

Perry went quiet as I applied pressure, ushering my character off the ledge in pursuit of his own. He tried to disrupt my flow with what we Anarchy players (or, anarchists) call a ‘back-air’, a simple command input meant to have his character attack backwards while floating in the air. I dodged the attack and returned fire, shooting his character off the screen where he exploded into a miasma of smoke and cartoon color.

A steady, indignant stream of irritation whistled between his teeth, “Good stock, Joel.”

“Thank you,” I said.

So we played video games. We played a lot of video games. Rayman, Sonic the Hedgehog, Final Fantasy, Dig Dug, Mass Effect. Perry was particular to your first-person shooters, stuff in the vein of Halo and Call of Duty, while I was a little more of a platforming enthusiast. What can I say? Portal is a killer franchise and I always return to Crash Bandicoot like a whipped dog to its master. But there is one game, different from all of these, which arrested our attention more than the others. So the heavens should declare it the focus of our story.

Just realized I’m telling you a story. That’s kind of cool. Just call me ‘Joel the Travelling Bard’. Man, I could have so much fun with this if I screwed around. I could say ‘Hitler died in the end’ and you wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. Don’t worry, I won’t do that. Even if I’m really, really tempted.

Anyways.

The game I’m talking about is Anarchy, which is –wait, let me just grab the game case and read the exact description off the back. Okay, here we go. Imagine I cleared my throat or something. Also, pretend for the moment my voice is as rich and grandfatherly as Morgan Freeman, because that would be awesome.

‘Anarchy gathers all of your favorite RequiaTek characters and pits them against one another in a battle royale! Three decades of characters can now face off to see who is truly the ultimate warrior! Now with online multiplayer! ESRB Rating: E 10+ for Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief, Mild Suggestive Themes’ and some stuff in Spanish that I’m assuming is exactly what I just told you, but with a touch of rice and tacos in it.

Wow, that was incredibly racist and stereotypical. I promise not to make it a habit.

You should know, I have a history of being a compulsive liar. Just something I should add for full-disclosure.

So Anarchy was a big deal. There was a competitive scene where big-name players gathered to duke it out for large monetary prizes and to bask in the affection of a glowing crowd. While I was good, I was not good enough to stand among those titans. They were Anarchy gods.

Sm0ke. Styx. Phaaroh. Double J. Spade. boss. Lollipop. Master Thief. Oh Yugi. Hanshotfirst. I Am. Captain Derp. xprophetx. Yuki Yuki. Ninja lady (who was totally a dude). <3Villains. The Shire. Billyboy. Sunday Funny. trueNOVA. The Clansman. Fractal.

Freaking Fractal. I’ll get to that one later.

These were a lot of Anarchists who poured their hearts, souls, and hours into mastering the art of the game. They’d mastered the percentages of Damage Debt, the idiosyncrasies of the physics engine, the hit-boxes of each character, and familiarized themselves with combo schemes as well as technique priority. If this is white noise to you, fret not, it will become known. Just understand that it wasn’t simple. Anarchy is a family friendly experience, because it’s easy to learn and fun for most audiences. But at high-level gameplay, it’s profoundly difficult to master.

“Let’s go,” Perry said as he navigated back through the character selection screen, making no changes, and moved into another arena for us to battle.

My mind settled into the familiar groove as our match started. We played with tournament rules, even if we never went to any tournaments. No items, and only select stages where obstacles did not cause a disturbance. Tournaments cared about skill. If a lucky stage prop killed you, it sort of defeated the purpose.

Perry was good. His Anarchy tag was ‘Od!n’, which I found frustrating because I thought the exclamatory mark was completely unnecessary in most names. I bided my patience when crafting a tag until I eventually came up with something I could wear with pride. A tag which synergized just the right quantity of epicness and humility that I didn’t come off as a completely overzealous jerkwad. I wanted a name that sounded cool both when whispered, and spoken loudly to a stadium. For flavor, I also needed it to sound mysterious. For reasons.

And so it was, in accordance with the prophecy and all cosmic harmonies, my gamer tag was ‘Myth’.

C’mon does that not sound like the greatest thing since capital punishment or what? Myth and Od!n, locked in combat through the ages, challenging all who would oppose them. Mind you, those are not the characters we played as, they were simply the way we preferred to be addressed as part of the Anarchy crowd. They were our second identities, our Batman cowls.

Perry side-stepped on one of the stage’s upper platforms, avoiding my bladed strike. I read his next move incorrectly and prepared to counter. Nothing happened, and I countered again, waiting for the moment his character would hit mine and I’d retaliate by redirecting the damage back at him. Again, nothing. Perry stalled until the last possible frame, and his character unceremoniously punished my defensive position, sweeping me into a combo that ended with me ultimately losing one of my three stocks. I winced.

“I was getting counter-happy,” I said, a little salty.

“You were.”

We kept playing. We played until we ran out of strength to keep our eyes open any longer. That’s where we spent our nights, our eyes glued to the flickering screen, tossing soda cans into a graveyard in the corner of my basement where aluminum goes to die, our butts idly becoming one with the sofa cushions. Life was admittedly a bit stagnant sometimes, but it was good.

Still, I feel you don’t fully understand what this tale is all about. It’s not about Anarchy, or my love of all things nerdy. Those are just aesthetics. This is a comedy, a tragedy, and, believe it or not, a romance. It’s also the harrowing tale of how I avenge my fallen brothers by running a lightsaber through Gengis Khan’s chest, bringing peace to a troubled dynasty. About how my glorious deeds were sung by all minstrels throughout the land, and I found the princess who was in another castle.

Okay, maybe I’m jesting a little bit. But seriously, Hitler does die in the end.

An Exercise In Alliteration (Ben Vs. The Asteroid)

Hello all of you strange creatures,

If you are not familiar with alliteration, it’s the literary technique in which multiple successive words in a line begin with the same consonant sound.  A common example is the tongue-twister “She sells seashells by the seashore,” which utilizes alliteration on both the hard ‘S’ sound as found in ‘sells’ and the dragging ‘sh’ sound in ‘she.’

I am going to attempt to recreate this technique in a series of lines, each modeled after a letter of the alphabet.  What’s more, I’m going to try and make it at least sort of resemble a story (we’ll see how that goes).

Remember, the words don’t necessarily have to begin with that particular letter, just have a sound in common with it. Don’t be surprised if I skip Q or X, because I’m fond of my sanity.

Let’s begin.

All at once, an angry asteroid attacked
Before Ben could bounce back from his bereavement
Could a crisis more criminal have possibly come?
Doubting his usually deliberate disposition, Ben dared not die
Even eagles evacuated enormously evil events
Fly as Ben might, fleeing was fickle and for the faint-hearted
Good god the asteroid was great and gruesome, though
How could this humble human hope to do anything but hesitate?
If an incident of such insane implications were to initiate
Just what kind of jostling juxtaposition would we find ourselves?
Kings would cower before this catastrophe
Lest all lowborn men lose hope of life
Might Ben muster the mettle to master his misgivings?
Never give in and knock away his nightmares?
Only our own hearts offer opposition
Pounding, pumping pain through every pore
Quit calculating the complications, Ben. Get crackin’
Run red with haste, retreat with raw reliance
So you may see a sweeter sunset someday
Tomorrow won’t turn you tipsy, try to be tougher
Unless you understand your place in the universe
Victory will fill your veins like a voice of valor
Won’t it be wonderful to wish upon the stars without worry?
eXcept that won’t happen, for your exit has been extinguished
You are young and you are yelling because you have
Zero seconds to hope you become a zombie.

So I may have cheated a few times, but I did technically get every letter in there.  The coherency of that story leaves something to be desired, but I’m contented with what I’ve got.  Perhaps next month I shall try again and see if there’s any improvement.

God bless, make a friend, always remember to smile.

Here’s a picture of Sheldon the Turtle for your entertainment.  Compliments of DeviantArt

sheldon__3_by_minucco-d5pl1mk

 

That One Time I Was Interviewed

Hello all of you beautiful souls,

I’m not going to talk for long, because I do enough of that in the upcoming article I’m going to share.  This link will take you to the interview I had with Christian geek website geeksundergrace.com, of which I am both employed and a fan.  Therein, I discuss my many loves of geek culture, what I think makes a “Christian” story, and what the developers of the Final Fantasy VII reboot must do so that it doesn’t suck.  Hats off to Silas Green who conducted the interview.  You are an awesome possum.

http://www.geeksundergrace.com/books/writer-spotlight-cooper-d-barham/

Update: 01/06/15

Working on the third chapter of my most recent project: “The Wisdom of Demons.”

It’s tricky not falling into the idea that I have a deadline.  I want to nourish and cherish this story, so it may grow into its skin, but I also want it to be presentable by WorldCon later this year.  That means completing the full first draft, with preferably three or four upgrades to it thereafter.  It did not seem so intimidating at first, when I’d only planned on creating a novella, but since the story has graduated a few times and character arcs have been fleshed out, I have no idea what the endgame is going to look like in terms of length.  I just have to keep on plugging.

Still waiting to hear back on my submission for “Maori.”  The anthology made no promises on any response up through February, but the angst in my chest is bouncing around so much that I’d be relieved simply to have an answer.  Alas, another test of patience unfolds.

In terms of recent media, I’m about to finish up my first playthrough of the Tomb Raider reboot, in light of its sequel’s recent release.  The narrative lore in that game is splendid, congealing elements of ancient Japanese mythology and culture with the glorified ‘Indiana Jones’ idyllicism one should expect from a Tomb Raider game.

I’ve also been plugging through the first two seasons of Tokyo Ghoul.  Its been on my list of to-do’s for some time, and after a recent stunt pulled by Grimmie, its priority shot up to the top of the list.  My favorite character is Juuzou, because I love psychotic characters, especially light-hearted psychotic characters.

Thanks for reading.  See you later, Space Cowboy.

(Here’s a picture of Pikachu and Stitch dressed in reversed onesies, for your entertainment.  Compliments of @itsbirdy)

12357176_1727845154103487_1983233732802811544_o