Friday, September 18, 2020

Dudu and Didi

Below is a deleted scene from Leave Society. This scene occurs in a park by Li's parents' apartment in Taipei. Didi was edited out of the novel. The only dogs in the novel now are, I think, Dudu and Momo.  


They encountered Didi, a small, male, shirted dog. Dudu and Didi seemed uninterested in each other. “From behind, they look very similar,” said Li’s dad, as he did every time the two dogs met. 
            The walk continued. 
            Li’s dad called Didi "dāi bǎn." 
            “Dāi means stupid, right?” said Li. 
            “Right,” said Li’s mom. “Bǎn means board.” 
            “What kind of board? Wood?” 
            Li’s dad said a cutting board. 
            Li asked if dāi bǎn meant conventional and unexceptional. 
            Li’s dad said it meant “unable to change” and “goes by rules.” 
            Li’s mom said it meant “not flexible.” 
            "Dad called Didi dāi bǎn," said Li, amused. 
            "He has to criticize everything,” said Li’s mom.

Friday, September 11, 2020


I blogged about ily at htmlgiant. Hobart published my poem "Antirelationship Period." I found a paper someone wrote about my Twitter account. I've read a little of it.

I enjoyed the documentary Plandemic. It discusses petroleum-based drugs, Bill Gates, the CDC, the CIA's Operation Mockingbird, Alphabet (Google's parent corporation), and other things. 

I read Alan Rossi's blog today. He is forty and doesn't use social media and has never used it except Twitter for a month it seems. I recommend his novel Mountain Road, Late at Night.

It's 9/11. I posted nonfiction titled "My 9/11 History" on Patreon in April. It required a membership to read, but recently I made my Patreon posts free. I'm probably not going to use Patreon anymore.

I finished two mandalas recently. I would like to publish a book of my mandalas one day. 

Monday, September 7, 2020


On December 10, 2019, I tweeted "My novel Leave Society is a threat to everyone including me" but now after two more drafts I think it's more of a gentle, calm suggestion or idea. 

The protagonist of the novel, Li, views leaving society as "a relative thing." He has lived in NYC since 2001 and in midtown Manhattan since 2011, and has been immersed in pessimistic, neurotic, nature-ignoring cultures and subcultures for decades, and so he feels that "almost any change would qualify."

In my novel, leaving society is mostly viewed as a mental and chemical and cultural thing. One can leave society to varying degrees by changing what one reads, for example. By replacing—to any degree—newspapers with nonfiction books that reference outside the mainstream, one is leaving society.

My novel defines "society" as "dominator society"—the thing almost everyone seems to have been embedded in for around 6,000 years. The other end of the continuum of social organization from "dominator" is "partnership." Riane Eisler invented these terms in The Chalice and the Blade (1987).

Monday, August 31, 2020

Author photos

I got large, round glasses around two years ago because the frames don't block as much of my vision as frames of glasses with smaller lens do, and because there's less distortion on the edges. 

They seem normal to me now, but sometimes I've been aware though that I look "less credible" to some or most people while wearing them, in part because they look somewhat Harry Potter-like. Credibility has been more important to me since 2013 or so when I started reading a lot of nonfiction books, doing research on nature and society, and writing about my research. So for my author photo that I just sent my publisher I used my credible glasses, with smaller lens.

This glasses topic was in my forthcoming novel, Leave Society, but it was deleted in an early draft. A draft from November 2018 said:

The next day, walking alone stoned, Li realized he slightly tilted his head back all the time so that the top part of his glasses frames wouldn’t block his vision. He realized that if he wore glasses with huge round frames, his whole body would assume a more natural position. Realizing people would think he was wearing atypical glasses just to be weird, he felt reluctant to do it.  

*Photos by Yuka Igarashi

*Update* After discussing with Yuka, I decided to also send a round-glasses photo. *Update*

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Leave Society third draft

I finished the third draft of my novel today. It's 1952 words or 2.4% shorter than the second draft. I worked on the third draft from July 29 to August 25. It's in four parts. I read and edited the first part once, then read and edited the second part twice and did the same for the third and fourth parts, then went through the whole book a final time. It's ~80,300 words now. My main method of editing for this novel has been to repeatedly go through it beginning to end. 

My editor thought the word "recovery" should be better defined, and I worked on that by copy-pasting every instance of "recovery" in the novel into another file, reading through it occasionally, and thinking of what to add or change. I previously did this with other threads in the novel too—a meta thread (in which the protagonist is writing the novel), a thread on "the mystery", a thread on microfireflies, a thread on the end of history, a thread on the partnership-dominator fall.

I had two files open whenever I was working on the novel. One was the novel. One was a file with unused material and metadata and other things, like a to-do list for the novel. In the latter file, I organized unused material into topics. I had/have these topics:

Big Bang
Cotton Field
Diet Coke
Drug phase
EMR—schumann resonance
Exercise inventions
Emergent properties
Emily Martin
Hutchison Effect
Kathleen Harrison

And so on. Here is an example of what unused material I had in a topic (for Daoism):

-In China, metaphysics was called xuánxué, the dark learning, he knew from Ellen Marie Chen. Its main texts were Zhuangzi, Daodejing, and I Ching or Book of Changes. Chen defined xuánxué, which also translated to “the mystery school” and was close to Daoism, as “the search for what humans consider to be the profoundest values and their efforts to embody these values.”
-on how Dao may have originally been a female deity represented by a circle, which bifurcated into yin and yang
-and Mágū, a Daoist deity associated with cannabis and caves. 
-on the Daodejing’s “emphasis on the feminine,”
-“origin was rooted in the worship of the Mother-goddess”
-Dao was playful, spontaneous
-Translate “dark” line myself—玄 之 又 玄
-玄 was in Daodejing 12 times
-Laozi was an older contemporary of Confucius.
-Daodejing is “a hymm to the power and love of Tao as the Great Mother.”
-Chen called death “merely one stage of Life’s endless transformations”
-that when people see something mysterious, they say very xuán. 
-In Daoism, wrote Chen, “the grotesque and deformed and weak” belonged more to the process of change and so were “closer to the Mother.”
-xuan—"black, dark; mysterious, profound, abstruse, arcane”
-and wrote the Daodejing before going, post-retirement, to live in seclusion
-which was attributed to Laozi (literally “old teacher”), and which Chen felt was more fittingly called “the old wisdom,” 
-of the trinity of birth-death-rebirth

Friday, August 21, 2020


I worked on Leave Society's acknowledgements' page today. The first thing I did was check what I put for Trip, my previous book and second book to have an acknowledgements page:
Thank you to my family and friends; to Kathleen Harrison, Finn McKenna, and Klea McKenna; to Tim O’Connell, Bill Clegg, and Angie Venezia; and to my publisher, Vintage.
Then I came up with this:
Thank you to my parents, parents’ dog, brother, nephew, uncle, aunt, friends, partner, editor (Tim O’Connell), agent (Bill Clegg), publicist (Angie Venezia), and publisher (Vintage).
I like it because it's a fractal summation of the novel, and could gently remind the reader a little of what happened, after they finish reading it, and because it's brief. An overly long acknowledgements page could make the reader forget what they just read, take them out of the dream of the novel.

My first book with an acknowledgements page was Taipei, which just said, "Thank you to my editor, Tim O’Connell, and my agent, Bill Clegg." Before Taipei, I didn't want to have an acknowledgements page. I didn't know who to thank, and it seemed somehow not fitting with the books I published to be thanking people at the end of the book. I felt too alone, and like I was working alone, and also like it was obvious from the books' contents who I was thankful for. It still seems obvious now, with my previous two books and next book, but I work more closely with my editor now than with my pre-Taipei books and also have an agent and a publicist (not a private publicist but the one who works at my publisher).

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Pruning completion

I've continued pruning this week. This will be my last pruning post. I've finished pruning. The past six days, I pruned 91, 151, 122, 66, 88, and 45 words, working by pen/paper and computer in morning for 2-3 hours and at night by pen/paper for around an hour. Part 3 of my novel is now 1030 words shorter than in the second draft. It went from 29,957 to 28,927 words. It took eight days to go through it twice. I pruned an average of 125.375 words per day. After I go through part 4—there are some things I want to transplant there from the other parts—the third draft will be done. I think the cover is being made now by my publisher. We reconsidered the title for a few days and decided to keep Leave Society. I'm looking forward to posting unused material that isn't pruned material in future posts in this weekly series. Here is what I pruned from Tuesday-Sunday (besides prunings of one or two words, which I didn't save):

-The other movements were fast. 
-Using pigments made from azurite, limonite, soot, woad, weld, and other minerals and plants
-had also been rectangular, one-roomed, and kitchened 
-the worst-seeming place for careful contemplation 
-seemingly life-long 
-Daodejing, 3422; The Bible, 13,220
-Li said there used to be more birds everywhere, that the title of the book Silent Spring referred to the eerie silence in many places due to pesticides inadvertently killing many birds. 
-He wanted to elaborate, but sensed he would seem and feel unreasonable. 
-Kay said at a book event the previous night in a group of people she’d said she’d been rolling cigarettes with organic tobacco, and there’d been no response. She’d felt like she had a secret. Li said he felt that way when researching nature and society. 
-or be able to live without a caretaker 
-The sharing brought them closer to one another. 
-corruption whistleblowers 
-send photos of food, or 
-and so he felt safe 
-and that he wanted to be weirder, so that when he encountered compelling yet obscure information, he’d feel encouraged to explore instead of ignore or suppress 
-and triggered health problems 
-They were on the platform where he’d escalated away from and immediately back to his parents the previous day. 
-Li flapped and deepbreathed while facing the waterfall. 
-“I have papers coming out that will be read in a hundred years." 
-Li said his nonfiction book referenced thirty papers. 
-That night, drawing in his room, Li listened to his dad talk on the phone to one of his employees. After a long silence, Li’s dad started talking again, repeating a question. Li’s mom, in the kitchen, interrupted him, saying she’d thought he’d been talking to his employee. “No,” said Li’s dad, and repeated the question. Li left his room smiling and saw his mom’s annoyed face. Seeing his smile, she smiled. 
-time, space, imagination 
-It still doesn’t feel right. 
-“There wasn’t any ‘will not’ when you left?” said Li. 
-“Maybe some people said it, but you didn’t know them,” said Li. 
-who’d lived until he was eighteen 
-like picking up blood test results 
-instead of trying to use it against her 
-wearing earphones at his desk 
-because he’d wanted to be near his dad. 
-At Whole Foods, Li realized Mike had a seemingly unique facial expression in which he flattened his cheeks in a kind of metaexpression, over which he could layer smiles, smirks, frowns. 
-He says when you view it like this, it can help you calm down, and do something. 
-except birthday and Christmas gifts 
-as he’d started doing in emails lately 
-leading from roof to height-staggered roof 
-or lipstick