In looking for a writing prompt for today, I came across the following:
2. Write a short scene set at a lake, with trees and shit. Throw some birds in there, too.
And I had to laugh. It’s from Language is a Virus, a website that Google provided me in my search. I had to look around because – what a great name! and what an interesting concept.
There is an article about William S. Burroughs’ Cutup technique, which I hadn’t heard of before. A Cutup is taking pieces of text from various sources and mixing them together. A literary collage.
As Burroughs experimented with the technique, he began to develop a theory of the cutup, and this theory was incorporated into his pseudoscience of addiction. In addition to drugs, sex, and power as aspects of man’s addictive nature, Burroughs adds an analysis of control over human beings exercised by language (“the Word”), time, and space (i.e., man’s physical existence and the mental constructs he uses to survive and adapt). Drugs, sex, and power control the body, but “word and image locks” control the mind, that is, “lock” us into conventional patterns of perceiving, thinking, and speaking that determine our interactions with environment and society. The cutup is a way of exposing word and image controls and thus freeing oneself from them, an alteration of consciousness that occurs in both the writer and the reader of the text.
All very interesting and probably true. It reminds me of my feelings about media and its effect on people (generally negative). But I’ll riff on that some other day. Maybe. So, I’ll have to try the cutup one of these days. Maybe J. R. R. Tolkien, Emily Dickens, and a Time Magazine article.
Where was I? Oh yeah, a lake, with trees and shit. And birds.
The morning mist rose off of Lake Cahunga in little graceful wisps. The sun had just risen above the trees and scattered rainbows from the melting frost across the scene. A mother moose and her calf moved out of the pines and down to the shore, where they grazed in apparent contentment on the reeds growing there. A mountain jay flew past, and a woodpecker squawked at it from a nearby branch. A shriek broke the quiet of the morning. It echoed off of the nearby hill. The moose and her calf froze, grass hanging out of their lips, and waited. Nothing happened for a few moments, no invaders rushed from the trees, and they went back to eating. The birds resumed their morning bug hunt, and the mist cleared off as the sun gained ascendance over the treeline.
The next shriek was accompanied by an object hurtling into the middle of the lake, sending up a great plume of water. The moose startled and ran, the birds disappeared almost magically.
The water settled a few minutes later, and then a head broke the surface, panting.
“Goddamn it, Jessie. Warn a girl next time before you throw her out of a plane.”
A hearty laugh caused another echo.
A form materialized, quite similar to the lake mist, dressed in pajamas and a bathrobe. It floated a few feet above the woman treading water. Jessie, presumably.
“Come on, Kate, you gotta be ready for anything.”
She made a rude gesture and reached for her head.
“Shit. I’ve got slime in my hair.”
He laughed again.
She splashed water in his direction, then straightened up and rose out of the water. She wore a pink, lacy nightgown, now plastered to her body.
He leered at her.
“I’m gonna get you, you bastard.” She darted toward him, arms outstretched. He spun and zoomed off into the sky. She followed like a meteor.