Continuing the theme of my earlier posts
this week, the good folks at 33 1/3 Industries insisted that I reveal here the results of our fictional cloning project. Fictional cloning is, of course, the process of reproducing something that has never existed before, like Neutral Milk Hotel's follow-up to In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
or one good reason why we're at war in Iraq. I assembled a crack team of superscientists and unpaid interns, and together we created The Fictionalizationizer, which is somewhat like a belt sander and somewhat like a tooth fairy. Our goal was to recreate great fiction as if it were actually about great rock albums. As the first two posts have definitively demonstrated, our methods have become... unsound. 33 1/3 Industries has made vague threats of termination with extreme prejudice. We briefly considered becoming god-kings of a Stone Age tribe somewhere in the Amazon, but the desert was a better fit for our aesthetic sensibilities (and the Stone Age tribe rejected our application, anyway). Therefore, today we bring you the follow circus of atrocities. Enjoy! Share it with your whole family!
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From The Drift by Cormac McCarthy
Walker had never seen the judge up close before and wasnt sure he liked it. The judge's immense and terrible hairless face reminded him of death and chess with gaunt knights. No eyebrows and not a shade of whisker. Walker's horse called off to the south where the sound of hooves could faintly be heard trampling agave like grown men beating tar out of a side of meat. Walker gripped his knife but didnt draw. Finally he spit dry in the sand and tried to sound unconcerned. Where's the kid?
Expect he'll be along directly, the judge said. He was fixed upon the felled donkey pinning the exmissionary to the sand. Why havent you freed him?, he asked Walker.
Walker wished he had. The wind carried glasslike shards of broken metal along to the dead place where it gathered in discarded heaps and clung to the entrails of the slaughtered apaches and militiamen strung through the gnarled and furious trees. Walker could see the exmissionary struggling for breath. He knew Jolson and Jones were hunkered down behind a log a little ways off to escape the everpresent drift but the drift could not be denied. It had brought the judge instead. Walker heard the faroff screams of a thing dying in the sun the way the judge had come. He hoped it was a mule and not the kid.
The judge didnt seem interested in Walker. He picked up a stick and drew the shape of a box in the redstained sands. I used to sing to amuse people, he said. Then I tried to express something. I thought my songs were important but noone listened. So I quit.
Shut up. Walker didnt know he was going to say it until it was out. Thats my life.
Whose life?, said the judge. He removed his hat, his head smooth and unbroken as a baby rear. I quit and I went to the desert, the judge said. I quit and I dont look back.
Walker held his breath. The judge didnt say anything. Walker said, I go back from time to time. I do it my own way. Noone has to listen. I do what I have to do and then I come back.
The judge looked at Walker for the first time since he'd arrived. You ever sing about the drift?
It scares me, Walker said. He didnt like to admit it but he was too scared to lie.
It should. But thats no reason.
Then I will.
The judge bent over the exmissionary. This one's done breathing, he said. I dont know how long its been since those two over there behind the log drew breath.
I am the only one left, said Walker.
The judge glanced back at the wind. Walker listened to the drift. The distant screams sounded closer now but it was a trick of the desert. Further off that way, beyond the thought of men, spring midwifed green from the foul earth and birds shred to ribbons the clear and cloudless skies.
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Choosing this pairing seemed natural. The Judge was one of the most nightmarish characters in any book I've ever read, and Scott Walker's The Drift is easily the most terrifying album I've ever heard. This isn't to say that The Drift is anything less than brilliant, because it's shockingly great, but damn, even the scientific term for its effect is heebie-jeebies. I don't imagine that Walker is to Cormac McCarthy's tastes, but what do I know? There's a natural affinity between these two. We hardly had to use any energy to get this book and album to intertwine. As always, after we turned on our machine and it created its daily embarrassment, we found a second note along with the manuscript. Over three typewritten pages, The Judge explained that he, like Oedipa Maas and Hazel Motes, had found a collection of songs with his name on it. He mentioned that he was "pleasantly surprised or at least mildly amused by the dearth of norwegian black metal because that was the expectation" and that he always laughed out loud when the animal screams in "Jolson and Jones." Much of the rest of the letter was spent describing in detail his recent visits to Cuba (apparently he spent all his time at an obscure US military base located there) and in the cradle of civilization, somewhere between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, I think. What a charming man! I mean, what a charming personification of the darkness in the souls of men! Perhaps he's just misunderstood.