The Plague of Devia Mara.

1/4/99

Effectively divorced from my skin and all sensory stimuli, I felt myself descend as if into the proverbial rabbit hole, leading me towards what either constituted a lucid dream or another plane of existence. The debate is still raging. In either case, I was awake and knew this was not mundane reality I was literally falling into, and so I feared the entity that had attacked me so often when this sort of thing happened might lunge at me, so in response I resorted to a technique I had picked up in my Occult readings and refashioned to my own satisfaction. Chanting the made-up word only I know three times, I summoned my protective shield. Evidently, the conditioning I had subjected myself during my ordinary, waking life paid off, as it occurred without effort in precisely the way I always imagined it to function. Starting in my chest area, a white, glowing ball of energy swiftly grew to encompass my entire form, cocooning me in a protective bubble of energy.

To my relief and amazement, the vicious entity without certain form never showed. Though I could be mistaken, I do believe that this was the first time that I had found myself awake within an otherworldly space and not ultimately been subjected to his relentless violence. As I continued to fall down this nonphysical well I saw floating Gray alien heads strewn all about as if I was underwater, which did not seem to be the case, until I ultimately came to rest in an alternate version of my bedroom. There, my lucidity depleted significantly.

What followed, at least in the notes that, judging from my handwriting, occurred immediately afterward, constituted various non-lucid but certainly vivid dreams. I cannot be certain of their chronology, the degrees to which I succeeded in remembering them or whether they were separate dreams or part of a single, enduring narrative, but they were of an uncommon clarity and an eerie, dark overcast. Two scenes have direct relevance here.

Inside what I know to be a long building with a large parking lot that in retrospect I surmised must have been a bar or restaurant, I am sitting at the bar, a friend to my left and a girl sitting to my right. She dragged off a cigarette held between long, frog-like lips positioned beneath buggy eyes, and I got the overwhelming feeling that she was depressed. For some reason, I also felt that she looked like a Jennifer.

In the next relevant scene, I am introduced to what I explained in my notes as a sex-crazed girl in a dark room. I saw her as if from below, sitting on her sofa chair as if it were a throne. Leaning back, sprawled on the chair quite comfortably, she had her right leg bent at the knee and leisurely aiming to my right, with that foot resting on the chair, the other leg casually hanging off the edge. She was clad in a black shirt and pants, her shoulder-length black hair the only discernible feature when I focus on her head, which is entirely draped in darkness.

Though I would much prefer to think that I walked, given the position from which I initially viewed her I would have to say that I was on my hands and knees and crawled toward her, eventually atop her, though her position did not significantly change as I did so. Looking down, I spied her belly, as concave as my own at the time, and her comparatively loose black jeans, void of any belt. So inverted was her tummy that I could not only discern that she wasn’t wearing any underwear but clearly see her finely-shaven vagina. I then asked her a question, I think whether or not she would be my girlfriend.

“No,” she replied. “No Sex.”

In the dream notes, I mentioned that she for some reason looked as if her name would be Devia, though I have never, up to the time of this writing, known any girl by that name.

***

Sometime after having this dream, when I again decided to try my hand at fiction, I wrote a short story inspired by the dream, which I entitled The Hole in the Universe. It dealt with a group of guys who hung out at a bar based partially on the one in my dream, which was run by the girl I had called Jennifer. Their typical, end-of-the-workday routine was interrupted one evening when a biker entered the doors, offering cautionary tales to the group regarding a girl he was attempting to hunt down called Devia Mara. He claimed that though he had never met her himself she had taken home some of the guys at the biker bar down the street and brainwashed them, drained them of all will, and those that returned to the bar after nights with her came back changed, not at all themselves. After ascertaining they had not seen or heard of such a woman before, he told them to be careful and departed.

As the story progressed, his dire warnings proved to have merit, as she had evidently moved her territory from his biker bar to their own and started plucking them away one by one — though in this case, none of his friends ever returned to the bar or were seen again. The last member of the group and the one qualifying as the protagonist of the story feared she was seducing and then killing them and, despite the fact that he had still never laid eyes on her, soon became obsessed with hunting her down himself.

Ultimately he encountered her on the stairs at a bar, where she bit his lip and he passed out, only to find himself bound in duct tape to the passenger seat of a car upon awakening, with her in the driver seat. They engaged in a rather aggressive conversation, during which she insisted she had not killed his friends but only helped them to accept their true, individual natures and open up to life, leaving their group and the bar behind them in the wake. Though she eventually releases him and they walk together along a bridge, he stubbornly refuses to trust in and be swayed by her as they allegedly had.

Up to this point I feel my story was okay — not great by any measure, but all right — though in retrospect I certainly feel as though there was far more I could’ve done with it. I am, on the other hand, entirely unsatisfied with the ending, where she revealed herself to be something akin to a psychic vampire or parasite of the soul and left him alone on the bridge, paralyzed, slowly disintegrating into dust, falling into the water below. It seemed dreadfully inconsistent not only with respect to the promise I felt she had in the context of the dream that inspired the story but in the story previous to that point. For her to reveal herself as some simple personification of evil after teasing true depth and complex motives through their conversation seemed cheap, and the ending rather predictable, at least in essence.

To make matters worse, there are suggestions that this was my intent from the very moment I began writing the story, though I can neither recall any specific intentions nor have I managed to uncover any suggestive notes.

For instance, I do know that there was a good reason I chose the last name Mara for her. By the point I had written the story I am sure I knew that a mare or mara was said to be an evil spirit essentially synonymous with mythical creatures such as the succubus, Incubus and the old hag in that they were said to straddle the chests of people as they slept and suffocate them, giving rise to bad dreams or “night-mares.” It should come as no surprise that they are currently thought to be hallucinations caused by sleep paralysis. I knew all this as I had one such experience myself in March of 1995 and had subsequently engaged in obsessive research — and in an era that was BG (Before Google), no less. The sense I got from my research was that such entities were essentially psychic parasites, which is clearly reflected in the ending of the story.

Though I am fairly certain that I had no knowledge of it at the time, I have also discovered that Mara was the name of the demon that tempted Siddhārtha Gautama on his path towards enlightenment, which is to say to the trajectory that terminated upon him earning the title of Buddha. Mara is therefore considered in the eyes of at least some present-day Buddhist sects to be the personification of all that seeks to keep one bound to the wheel of death and rebirth.

In essence, my intention seemed to ultimately present her as a seductive entity that enslaved others and drained them of their power.

***

Though her face remained concealed within the dream, once I introduced her in the realm of my writing I gave her definite features. I was rather taken aback when I read it again, as it seems to describe Hypnotic Haylee, who I only stumbled upon far later, rather accurately:

“Her green eyes dug into me like a knife,” I wrote. “Her forehead was tilted further outward than her chin, and locks of her black hair fell across her face, reminding me so much of a predator fixating on her prey.”

While I never delved into how it was Devia changed those who became entangled in her web, hypnosis would fit nicely, and had I known enough about it at the time I feel certain I would have included it in the story as the means by which she “brainwashed” the guys at the biker bar. In any case, I’ve come to suspect that this is why I ultimately gravitated towards Haylee so many years later. She fit the profile of Devia in the dream to a startling degree and at least physically in the story that it inspired, suggesting that I have been psychologically projecting Devia onto her.

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Of Dan and Abra.

Reading words bled
by the dark and prolific,
securely encased

in fiction, resonating
with a connection
I desire, secrets shared,
minds entangled.

Here there is no hiding.
Mutual transparency, extreme.
Naked beyond skin and bones.

Intimacy of consciousness.
Community through commonality.
Psionic bonding.
My secret family.

Halfway between covers,
envious of their secret tie.

A Pantser Goes Planner.

When I used to write creative nonfiction on a daily basis in a blog that essentially constituted an online diary, I never had an issue writing. At the end of the work shift I would at times drive home much in the same way one does when they’re holding in a terrific shit. Once home I would make a pot of coffee, run to the computer and take my psychological dump. I would sip from the warm mug of java, smoke my cigarettes and write in that way that so often brought to me the Flow experience. Just let my mind bleed itself through the rampant tap-tap-tapping on the keyboard.

The reason I did this? Aside from serving as both literary catharsis and psychological alchemy, it was me trying to train myself. I had decided that if I ever wanted to write fiction then I would have to work on concrete descriptions, dialogue, and so on, and if I wrote at least one diary entry a day it may not be fiction, but it was damn good writing practice.

Why was writing about the day to day so easy? Well, I knew where an event began, where it ended. I knew the story I wanted to tell, the tale I wished to convey, before I got home and sat down to write it. I would also take notes throughout the day in a small pad of paper I always kept in my back pocket, or on a napkin or torn off piece of paper. It gave me reason to pay attention throughout the day, to endure the oft-wretched contents of my experience, to cleanse myself of life’s shit and perhaps transmute that shit into something I, and hopefully others, could find valuable, at least in the sense of being amusing.

Eventually the daily life lost its inspiration. I turned to focus my writing on other issues.

Now, for November, I want to try my hand at writing a 50k book of fiction. I feel the need to make an outline, too, which would be consistent with my creative nonfiction. Can Outlining a fictional story be that much different than writing about your daily experiences when night finally falls?

The diary experience supports the notion that outlining in fiction is not stifling, or at least not necessarily so, but can provide you with the structure you will later be writing within. It’s like a map in that it tells you not only where you are going but just how the fuck it is that you get there, and with a person like me who is so horrid when it comes to following driving directions that he is convinced that he has some directional form of dyslexia, that can come as quite the vital resource.

In essence, an outline would enlighten me as to the acceptable boundaries of my investigations. The boundaries in which it can productively wander.

This could help. My mind likes to wander.

I should have outlined this entry, actually…

Puzzle Pieces in the Dust Cloud.

Maybe superstitions and obsessive-compulsions are personal forms of the shared traditions and ceremonies valued by the herd — and perhaps are just as dysfunctional.

Since the personal forms are by nature set in opposition to the herd, they are seen as childish or insane depending on the age, while the more popular traditions held by the herd, identical in essence but more powerful given the broad membership, are seen as self-evident given an “accurately” functioning mind.

We ignore the double standard, blind ourselves to the hypocrisy, but while power lies in numbers it is not for certain, and for all my feeble fucking mind can tell all too rare, that there is any hope for intelligence to be found in a herd.

In the meantime, the truth in any amount is not necessarily part of the equation. If we are after greater understanding, we seek it through the known and available resources we have both bothered to and managed to exploit in its service. An idea about something must predict something that can be tested against that which it claims to pertain to.

If experiment tests predictions that can be controlled, observation tests predictions that cannot be controlled but can, with varying degrees of specificity, be anticipated beforehand.

Sometimes all we have are the scraps left behind, scattered, some undoubtedly hidden, even deliberately concealed. In things in which one is left only in the aftermath — a murder scene, the birth of our universe, the evolution of man, the leaked documents of a government — we have only intelligence. We gather information through material and anecdotal evidence in the wake, which optimally we then subject to statistical analysis.

Our senses provide material for a useful simulation; reality, edited and translated. Our thoughts influence our perceptions as much as our perceptual experiences shape out thoughts: an old game if chicken-or-egg, anyone?

We re-member the shredded corpse if yesterday by use of hands so damn dirty with today, assembling memory with directions stained by thought and emotions bled in real-time. They tell us, in other words, that the memories through which we define ourselves (character is a habit comprised of patterns of personal expression over time, by necessity stored in memory) are as intrinsically unreliable as the sensory simulation we mistakingly presume is reality.

Which as a consequence would make character a network of false memories only inspired by but taken to be accurate depictions of actual previous events.

Ultimately we are left to fill in the blanks, connect the dots, hear all sides to the story till our goddamn ears bleed, gather and piece together and extrapolate from this puzzle through what buried bones were left behind, obscured in a lingering cloud of dust.