Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Encouraging Voice in Print: The Not At All Essential But Really Quite Portable Van Choojitarom Reader

the author contemplates the pros and cons of publication

Dearest Reader,

Owing to popular demand, complaints of eyestrain and blindness, the rarity of any new printed material to read, the supreme narcissism of its author, a threatening scarcity of ISBN numbers and the menacing surplus of trees, we here at “Van Choojitarom” have been given to consider realizing some selected episodes of your favorite online entertainment that does not require history deletion, The Encouraging Voice of the Labyrinth, into printed form, that is a ”book”: something that you can finally write “My god, how brilliant” and “Bravo!” into the margins of, dogear, take to summer camp, misplace badly and spend the day cursing and looking for, threaten your children with and be seen in public with just in time to really impress people at your school reunion, that is, totally destroy them, causing them to go home early not talking to their pathetic overweight spouse, who is not you and not a published genius, continue drinking morbidly eventually cutting up all their baby pictures and half-heartedly trying to set said overweight spouse on fire with mainly empty bottle of white zinfandel.

Indeed, all this, and somewhat more, can be yours for an altogether reasonable price, just in time for the holidays, your illiterate boss’ birthday and the upcoming end times when copies of said book will be worth more than gold, water, petrol or semi-fertile girl-slaves.

In order to realize this bold project, however, we here at “Van Choojitarom” would like to know, which pieces, exactly of that noted enterprise, The Encouraging Voice of the Labyrinth, are your favorites that you would like to see printed (feel free to suggest items from La Phoenix Rouge, or At the Sign of the Yellow Sphinx as well), indeed are so beloved that you would like to give up your own painfully hand copied pelt manuscripts that many of you trade among yourselves in favor a nice, clean, professionally set and edited version on acid-free archive quality paper in a handsome binding made from Sadium, the amazing skin-like material that feels like human skin, but not in a creepy way. Some stories may be printed individually, as The Extremely Portable Van Choojitarom Reader.

The Encouraging Voice of the Labyrinth
being vast, a complete list of contents have been provided below. We personally find that the easiest way to find a particular piece is simply to google its complete title and “Encouraging Voice of the Labyrinth.” True, you do tend to get returns for “Voice Labyrinth Encouragement Systems, LLC” (no relation) but the desired story is generally in there.

Please post your responses here in the form of enthusiastic, yet still intelligible comments or email “Van Choojitarom” directly at el.minotaur.blanco@gmail.com

As always, my humble thanks. We have always enjoyed being your guest in your home or when you are supposed to be working. We are asking you to take this final step with us, the one we’ve always talked about, where I finally appear in print and you finally tell your overweight spouse and you clean out your bank account and meet a copy of the book at the airport. Then, we’ll finally be together.

Yours most truly,

"Van Choojitarom"

The Complete Encouraging Voice of the Labyrinth

The End of the Curse and the Beginning 3/20/07
My Fat Kid 3/14/07
Lost Dog 3/6/07
Understanding Advertising 2/28/07
I Love Babies! With Some Reservations 2/19/07
On The Ultimate Pleasure 2/13/07
My Florida Job On A Pale Horse 2/6/07
Nonexistent and Forbidden Paintings You May Have Missed 1/30/07
To My Thoughtful and Invisible Readers 1/23/07
In Defense of Beauty 1/23/07
What's Jack Drinking? 1/16/07
Technology Today in Review 1/9/07
Nachlass 12/27/06
Favorite Christmas Albums 12/24/06
In Hoc Signo Vinces 12/18/06
Password: Zanzibar 12/12/06
A Young Person's Guide to Misanthropic Pessimism 12/4/06
A Short and Seemingly Unfinished Guide to Public Speaking 11/28/06
Thanksgiving Special: What to Tattoo on Your Pet 11/20/06
Unfinished Notes Towards Laziness 11/14/06
Your New Gravedigger: A Checklist 10/31/06
Getting in Shape for Halloween II 10/24/06
Life Among the Mannequins 10/17/06
A Small, Yet Stimulating Guide to Erotic Punctuation 10/9/06
Preface to the Erotic Chess Story 10/3/06
The Manifesto of the Erotic Chess Story 10/3/06
IN THE COURT OF THE BLACK KING (erotic chess story) 10/3/06
Listen to Me 9/26/06
EVA 9/18/06
Breakfast With The Mermaids 9/11/06
The Desert Bride 9/5/06
Kinds of Hypnotized Horse Acts 8/29/06
Stories I Wrote to Girls Who Never Wrote Back III: Ed Harris Won’t Leave Me Alone 8/21/06
My Nietzsche 8/14/06
A Short, Yet Wholly Inadequate and Unworthy Guide to Groveling 8/7/06
The War With No Name 8/1/06
Lifeguard of the Black Beach of Hell 7/24/06
Notice to Quit 7/18/06
My Lines From My Porno Movie 7/11/06
On Love and Jealousy 7/3/06
The Reader 6/26/06
My Sexy Spring 6/10/06
Dear Mysterious Listener 6/6/06
Year One 6/6/06
Reading Wittgenstein’s "Philosophical Investigations As A Failed Journey to the Antarctic. 6/6/06
The Beautiful Phrases (Followed by Exposition) Number One: “I’ll Kill You, I’ll Kill You All...” 6/4/06
Why We Are Going Back to the Moon 5/30/06
An Atlas of Depression 5/22/06
There's Nothing Really Wrong with Me, Really, Part II 5/15/06
Dada Sculpture Today 5/9/06
Thoughts While Watching Andy Warhol’s Blow Job 5/2/06
Reviews of Calvin Klein's Perfumes As Sprayed in My Eyes 4/23/06
The Loster Gospel of Judas 4/13/06
The Bride of Chocula Stripped Bare 4/10/06
My Rowlf the Dog Entry for Muppet Wiki 4/3/06
The Focus Group of Doctor Moreau 3/27/06
Affective Disorders Common Among Time Travelers and Other Sad Notes 3/21/06
A Note on Our Contributor 3/14/06
Review: "To Live to A Certain Age and Meet People" Two Hands Up! Way Up! 3/14/06
NEWSMAKER 2049: AI-ROCK'S IRON MAN: An Interview with Rockin’ Killbot 3/7/06
The Fitting 2/27/06
Notes Towards Post-Modern Romance 2/20/06
Do You Want to Make Love? 2/13/06
Phases of the Wolf-Man 2/5/06
Disguises 1/31/06
Notes On the Muskrat 1/24/06
The Black Arts, An Introduction: 1/17/06
Stories I Wrote for Girls Who Never Wrote Back II: From The Royal Society for Cryptozoology 1/10/06
My Plans For 2006, as Prefigured the Titles of Unfinished Prose Poems by Baudelaire 1/10/06
Notes From My Visit to the Future 1/3/06
Thanksgiving with the Master 12/27/05
Christmas at the House of Usher 12/20/05
God Bless You, Rene Descartes 12/20/05
Today's Coffee 12/12/05
Nine Changes to the Eighth Wonder of the World 12/3/05
Holidays with Van 11/28/05
The Turkey as Social Ornament and Installation 11/25/05
Stories I Wrote for Girls Who Never Wrote Back I: The Caligari/Hitler Express 11/23/05 The Chinese Optometrist 11/15/05
Nightlife in The Forbidden City 11/9/05
My Game with Lo Pan 11/9/05
The Captain's Table 11/1/05
One Morning 10/25/05
Getting in Shape for Halloween 10/18/05
I Don't Think I'm Sporty Enough For This Relationship 10/11/05
The Symmetrical Valleys 10/5/05
The Cave of a Thousand Screaming Sorrows 9/26/05
A Narcissist's Guide to China 9/21/05
Hallowe'en Shopping 9/14/05
The Fabulous Cat-Bears of China 9/14/05
“I’m an American” 9/8/05
The Chinese Labyrinth: Greetings from ARAKCON 2005... 8/17/05
THE LAST DAYS OF VAN ON EARTH, Part III. Section ... 8/17/05
LAST DAYS III. Section B: Scenes from An Italian ... 8/17/05
LAST DAYS III. Section D: The Fiend 8/17/05
LAST DAYS III. Section E: INT. CAR -NIGHT 8/17/05
LAST DAYS III. Section F: Journey to the End of ... 8/17/05
From My Inbox: The Child 8/17/05
My Life With the Devil, Part II 8/5/05
My Life With the Devil, Part I 8/3/05
THE LAST DAYS OF VAN ON EARTH: 2. A Citizen of Los Angeles 7/22/05
from "A Director's Notebook" 7/17/05
THE LAST DAYS OF VAN ON EARTH: 1. The Wrap 7/12/05
First Look: THE MASTER OF SEX 7/11/05
The Greatest Contemporary Short Story Ever Told 7/11/05
From the LA Film Festival: The Lincoln Hunters 7/7/05 I
Independence: Notes from a Party 7/7/05
Quiz Answer: Fear the Englishman 7/7/05
Please Stop Defaming the German People 7/7/05
To My Hosts 6/28/05
Robot Shopping 6/27/05
Quiz: You are in a classical pornographic narrative... 6/27/05
What is “El Minotaur Blanco”? 6/21/05
What is The Encouraging Voice of the Labyrinth? 6/21/05

Monday, August 4, 2008

Chapter One: Prima luce

I had known my friend for so long, and we had shared so many great adventures, I could hardly say, now, how it was that we met. Had we not always shared our rooms together, and did not most mornings begin as simply as this, over a good breakfast in this great city, with my friend having finished his dream-journal and turning now to that other record gathered all the day previous, but printed just before waking, the morning paper?

“Heh!” chirped my friend. It was not unusual for my friend to warble and otherwise audibly punctuate and annotate the morning paper with little sounds of interest, doubt, curiosity, annoyance, irony, sadness, and quite often, contempt, not unlike the peculiar mewlings of a certain breed of cat. It was my place in our little domestic to listen with highly concealed pleasure and await the inevitable actual oral rewrite of the paper’s principals, which was highly educational and formed a very solid session until lunch.

He invariably held the paper at odd angles like he had never seen one before and thought it was some novel garment now to try on and was looking for a place to poke his head through. My friend’s actual reading poked about like caterpillar on a leaf, which is to say, according to some associative but unpredictable pattern that it somehow intimated to him, turning it this way and that. The way my friend read things, you would suppose that nothing was ever printed in the right order. Today he seemed rankled and transfixed by a simple notice, while, (rather ostentatiously, I thought, as though afraid to touch any of the broad band of lettering, as though the volume of ink used might not have dried yet) totally eliding the ineluctable black bold prison stripes of the headline:

DREAM-STRANGLER CAPTURED! Inspector Tam “Fetch” Gets His Man!

With I highly uxorial grin not at all well hidden behind my marmalade and muffin, I asked: “So, Aislyn, is there anything in the paper To-day?”

“Heh. Listen carefully and remember well: this is the most central and portentous fact given here: Notalis has canceled his much anticipated Lectures on Idealism.”

“Other than again depriving your poor peers at University from your light and the salutary effects of your word and your rod, what else is portended by this?”

“You realize that he’d only just arrived? That’s how hostile our city is to true philosophers; they don’t even have to make it up from the Piraeus to realize that we are totally corrupt, incorrigible and not worth teaching. Mind you, ‘Notalis’ is one mind I would have looked forward to meeting and disagreeing with in person under the attribute of extension. ‘Misha,’ I would have said, familiarly, (once we had become familiar) ‘of course our great Baruch is correct. But the real problem with anthropomorphism is that we continue to apply it to human beings.’ I swear, if I had any real stamina, any real fortitude, I would face these questions, the question of what is ultimately real, and investigate that. Stick with that. But the questions are intolerable, the answers, unbearable. Only lunatics try and answer. And answer they do. I can’t teach or investigate virtue. I can only punish the wicked. So instead I solve the crude puzzles sent to us daily in the paper like a crossword and that occupies me, useless prodigy that I am.”

“My good Aislyn, you’ve helped very many and hindered the very worst.”

“I’ve never convinced a wicked man that he was wicked. Only pointed out this all-too deplorable obvious fact to others. By then it is too late to help anyone, anyway.”

“Like the ‘Dream-Strangler’s’ victims?”

“‘The Dream-Strangler’ is not even a puzzle. Yet. You need at least one actual fact to make a puzzle. This fact is sometimes referred to as ‘a clew.’ Notabene to your readers, Hansom. Otherwise it’s just a guessing game in a dream and crossword in a nonsense language.”

“You don’t think our Tam Fetch has indeed got his man?”

“Oh he’s got his man and that’s why it’s all so elusive for Inspector Slainy. Tom Slainy is a child who has made up many different names for the boogeyman and so thinks he now has a decent canvas of suspects. First, it’s not even clear, mein Arzt, that the cause of death is clearly strangulation and not just asphyxia in every case attributed to ‘The Dream-Strangler.’ Second, it is not at all clear that all the actual victims of strangulation are all victims of the same, singular agent, viz. the aforementioned, ostensible ‘Dream-Strangler’ and thanks to Slainy’s usual subtle handling, what pertinent criminal details there are, are in all the papers, and we may indeed, now, never know if indeed such a criminal existed to have strangled anybody. All this fodorol disguises the guilty and distracts the virtuous from more pertinent data like Schopenhauer lectures”

“Finally, even given all that, Tom Slainy still hasn’t actually solved anything. There is no explanation. All that our good "Fetch" has done is give us a string of proper names that he now says are all the same name. Who is strangling people in their sleep? ‘The Dream-Strangler’ Who is the ‘The Dream-Strangler’? Let us see, a completely unintelligible apparently insane foreigner named ‘Tamas Nihilos’ about whom nothing is known and nothing is forthcoming because he is insane, unintelligible and foreign. And now the case is solved! The people who were strangled in their sleep were strangled by ‘The Dream-Strangler’ who strangled them because ‘The Dream-Strangler’ strangles people who are sleeping, only now we can put him on the roster by his surname “Nihilos” and more intimately, ‘Tamas.’ There is absolutely no “why,” there is barely a “how” and the “who” is really just a portmanteau of the “how” and the one thing we do really know, “where.” Where? In their sleep. The answer to “who” is just “where-how”: dream-strangler.”

“You think this man, Nihilos might be innocent?”

“Innocent of what? All men are guilty of something, considered under one attribute or another. Nihilos has not confessed or denied anything because no one understands a word he says. He could have a perfect alibi. Or when the constables approached him he could have just thought he was answering a riddle, as though we were a land of Sphinxes and this our custom to ask of travelers. Well, now I’ve wasted a good minute I could have spent thinking about something worthwhile, or better, nothing at all. And I wish you would stop nibbling around breakfast because Mrs. Turner will now not be able to clear everything before our unannounced noble guest requires quiet announcing.”

My friend was in no way preternatural in noticing this. He had a better view. Mrs. Turner entrance was, indeed, quite distributed between announcing, clearing, explaining, deploring and apologizing. My friend thought it better, since the interview was apparently so urgent and from so significant a person, to proceed immediate.

No sooner has he resolved upon this, than our guest was upon us, unannounced. Her eyes, however, presented the keenest of intelligences, and her regal manner made her introduction instantly. It was indeed the very notable Baroness _________, wrapped very neatly and trimly in the unmistakable signification of mourning.