I'm reading Jonathan Carroll's Sleeping in Flame. Such a long time since I've read a novel! The first half I enjoyed very much. But now we've come to the magic, and suddenly, from being sensitive and nuanced, it's become clunky and over-explained. I watched Clare Dunkle do the same thing in the progression of the Hollow Kingdom trilogy: from the first volume, a magnificent, eerily haunted gothick-cum-Jane Austen novel, it dwindled to two ordinary fantasy-kingdom genre novels. Once the secret is out of the bag, the bag collapses, and the secret, in the light of day, is not all that interesting. Why would it be? In itself, it's neither real nor emotionally right: it's just something someone made up. The systematic explanation of the rules of someone's magical world are far less interesting than the Oregon State Department of Motor Vehicles pamphlet explaining the rules of the road. Those at least encounter reality and reflect it.
You can feel it, when someone drops the shaping imagination – what Coleridge would have called the esemplastic imagination – and shifts to the busy-work of hammering out their system. The tree of their creativity has been girdled, and it's only a matter of time till it dies. I hate watching it. That's one of the reasons I quit reading modern fantasy: it got to be too depressing, watching those moments of high, intense imagination collapse into traffic manuals. They switch from what had to have been, what could have been no other way, to what might have been, to something merely possible. Any hack can play with that. Nothing strangles the literary imagination quicker than extrapolation.
I firmly believe that the state of Massachusetts only pretends to elect their governors: they must really select them by written exam. How else to explain the extraordinary political incompetence of Mitt Romney and Mike Dukakis? You could swear that neither of these men had ever dealt with the public in their lives. Their instinct for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time in the wrong way amounts to perverse genius. Two more nationally unelectable men I've never seen. Maybe the people of Massachusetts are freakishly attentive to policy, and vote on issues, rather than on personality? That hardly seems likely. It's a puzzle.
Light wells up behind the trees and the houses, washes over the fret-bars of the power wires, pools in the deep places of the rumpled sky: white cloudlight, surging in like the tide. The asphalt and cement glow with it. Today, the 3rd of March, is the beginning of Spring in Portland.