Book Talk–“Brilliance-at-Twilight”

To see Amazon’s listing of “Brilliance-at-Twilight” click here.

I think it’s high time to tell people the stories of how my stories came to be. “Brilliance-at-Twilight” has the longest and most convoluted past, and has linkages to places and ideas that have surprised even me.

Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Indianapolis, Indiana

Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Indianapolis, Indiana

When I was recently in school I did a piece on the Soldiers and Sailors Monument here in Indianapolis. It’s always been a place of power for me. I had assumed that the monument’s designer had been deliberate to Victory on top of the tower. The study of classical literature and its’ mythos was far more widespread in the 19th century than now. I had assumed some kind of vague link between Athena and Nike, Goddess of Victory. I didn’t know until just a few months ago that, of the three temples on the Acropolis in Athens, there is an actual temple to Athena-Nike, where Athena takes on Victory as a significant aspect. Indianapolis, in turn, is not linked in some casual way to the ancient world, but the ancient world is manifested as part of the modern world, commanding and powerful. In “Brilliance-at-Twilight” Victory becomes the character “She” the embodiment of living Universe.

To me this means that the activities around  the Monument need to be more carefully planned out. One should not mess with professional virgins like Victory. The current ceremonies around the Monument have an unfortunate habit of being trivial. The adornment of the Monument with lights, appearing as a Christmas tree is one of these, a stunt started in the early 1960’s by merchants to drive shoppers downtown for the Christmas season. The effect is merchandising and discounting all that sacred death. This was not part of the original conception so the Monument in any way. The Monument, viewed as an axis mundi, adorned with lights near the Winter solstice, has its own meaning, outside anything we have projected onto it.

The citizens of the city in “Brilliance-at-Twilight” are well aware of the sacredness of their tower and the place of the woman  atop it. This awareness is very true of their king, The title character, Brilliance-at-Twilight and his brother, Laughing-at-Shadows, appeared to the king when he was a child. They gave him a name, Fortunate Warrior, because his soul was so fierce, even as a lad.

The work of J.R.R. Tolkien is a serious influence. I was very disappointed when the film adaptations of the Lord of the Rings omitted all of the song, storytelling and poetry. Even the masterpiece of the lay Bilbo composed and recited in the chapter Hall of Fire was omitted. Taking Tolkien’s cue, I work to put poetry and song in my stories.

I had wanted to write a story about a city with a white tower at its center, but was stumped. This was thirty years ago, an undergraduate full of ideas and fired by the work of Carl Jung. I wrote a long, winding story titled, John Log’s Lay, some in narrative, some in verse. One memorable scene is where John Log takes a step out over the abyss of Hell, his fall stopped by a bridge that appears step by step in front of him over the fiery pit. But the story was flawed. In 1994 my worldview changed and I put John Log’s Lay away to mine for ideas later.

I had to face something. I didn’t want to admit it, but when I was a child I had a vision, not a dream like some have suggested. Two ? (I don’t know) came to me, or I came to them, It was darker than dark, yet there was an odd light, like filtered starlight. One was loud and bright, the other was dark and joyous. They came a lot that summer, then one night they said goodbye. I remembered crying and crying. They became the mystery of my childhood, the two, a story a could tell no one.

With my new outlook I needed to acknowledge this story and do something I had never thought of before: naming the energies I had encountered. They were stars, moral like we are. The bright one I called Brilliance-at-Twilight, the other was Laughing-at-Shadows. God gave Adam the power to name the creatures of the World. When I named these creatures, it was a powerful moment. These named creatures were real to me again, and I wrote and I wrote until I published the story.

And the kings’ name? Fortunate Warrior has always been my name, an interpretation of the Anglo-Saxon name Edgar “lucky spear”. I consider myself a lucky man. I had to put myself into my own story, besides, everything I love is there – the Lady, the City and the Stars.

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