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Monday, March 7, 2016

The Saurian Tail: Does Darkness Lead Us to the Light?

The Saurian Tail: Does Darkness Lead Us to the Light? 

[Originally posted on Niume 30 January 2016: The Saurian Tail

The search for meaning, or enlightenment, may lead us down many paths, toward foggy shores, a desert, or to a mountaintop. It's a pursuit fraught with questions, and sometimes no forthcoming answers, but we always begin in the dark, searching for the light to shine on our path through life.
Someone once asked me, "Why do you write such dark stories?" in reference to my Noir thrillers, particularly my Shadow series which can have some evil incidents in the plots. The answer may be simple, but it still is very complex. It has to do with man's psyche, his attraction to the mystical, the metaphysical, and to religion. Being a Catholic theologian, a former teacher of the God's mysteries, I write for the searcher, the one who wants their stories to carry them into a place where they might learn something about themselves and the world.
From the moment we are born, we are ferried toward the shores of Death, but our minds are attuned toward living our life to the fullest, to hang on with all our strength. We not only know this consciously when confronted with an illness or an accident or when someone we know dies, but that thought is always there on a subconscious level. We have a natural fear of death, to fight it off for as long as we possibly can, so life fills our daily thoughts. We might believe that our pursuit of happiness leads us toward the light, yet often times, our pursuits can make us feel depressed, unfulfilled, and even lost. But can the darkness, black subjects, shadows, lead us toward the light, give us a deeper explanation of who we are, and why we are here? Can horror and death teach us about light, and the sacred? My answer is yes.
"Taken in its deepest sense, the shadow is the invisible saurian tail that man still drags behind him. Carefully amputated, it becomes the healing serpent of the mysteries." Carl Jung, The Integration of the Personality.
My Shadow Series is based on one of Carl Jung's archetypes, the Shadow Archetype which Jung's quote refers to. I liked the metaphor of shadows, which abound in noir films and stories, and based my series on the idea of taking ten years of a couple's life where they uncover secrets about the heroine's parents, her past, and where she learns a great deal about her husband and partner in their private investigation firm, including herself. As they investigate various crimes, they are really discovering themselves, learning who they truly are, and what they must ultimately face; their darker half, the implacability of death. Just as we all do, they had compartmentalised themselves, but my heroine created such claustrophobic boxes to live in, those square walls affected everyone else around her. Together, she and her husband gather the strength to face the perils of life, to allow parts of their personality to flourish, when before they had been suppressed by others.
According to Jung, in order to be fully integrated, the Shadow Archetype must face negative aspects of their personae, their animal nature, much like the Hyde personality inside Dr. Jekyll. It is within this complexity that some have difficulty in facing that other half of themselves. The psychological terror of confronting one's darker side sends many to a psychiatrist, or in a minor sense, a psychologist, or to a church, or to God. Yet, if we knew the freedom we would experience by facing it, we could exorcise it, and realise that we are more than just a good or bad person, but that we have darker proclivities we must wrestle with, what Saint Paul called his thorn in his side. Our black side is not separate from us, but wholly a part of us. As Jekyll is dying, he is forced to admit that Hyde had always been there and it wasn't just the potion that allowed him to come out. Jekyll was not the angel to Hyde's devil, he had harboured all those evil thoughts all along.
By falsely believing he was two, Jekyll and Hyde, instead that he was one, he literally set loose those powerful forces within himself that had longed to experience an unrestricted life. As Jung would say, he ignored that dark half, giving it the space it needed to begin to grow. Vladimir Nabokov, the author of Lolita, once likened Hyde to a hydatid, which in zoology is a sac of limpid water containing tapeworms. He says Jekyll and Hyde are of Scandinavian origin. Jekyll is from Jokulle meaning an icicle, and Hyde comes from the Danish word for hide or haven. Instead of integrating the two to allow the good half to control the bad, to feed the good, he gave sustenance to Hyde, a potion to enable him to grow. In that separation, Hyde gained control, took over, killing the Jekyll side who became too impotent to fight Hyde because he was not that good after all, but an icicle.
Your choice may be to either swing on that saurian tail and play games with it, as Dr. Jekyll did, or face it. Jung, of course, was more interested in facing our darker half in a psychological coup. The religious life asks its believers to do the same, to face that darker half in order to integrate our lives, and not be impotent in the face of our dark desires.
In my stories, I take it one step further, to delve into the mystical mysteries of life. Light kills darkness, erases it, and removes shadows. My stories are not just the cold reality of facing the dark side, but the search for the divine, for light. Even with the implacability of Death hanging over us, to search for the divine is a search for meaning, to understand our soul, which are both immortal. Jung's reference to the saurian tail is the caduceus, the symbol held up by Moses to prevent the serpents bite from killing the Hebrew people. It was the medicine that saved, the serpents bite that did not kill, but revealed a hidden truth. In a sense, by giving my characters a touch of the mystic, I raise that banner, that symbol to elevate rather than send a reader toward an abyss where they might never return. Yes, darkness can lead us to the light, just as the serpent's tail leads us to a greater truth of who we are.
- Chéri Vausé is the author of the Noir Mystery Thriller Shadow Series: The Night Shadow, The Touch of a Shadow, and (to be released later 2016) The Shadow that Follows Me. She is also the author of the Thriller, The Truth and Nothing but Lies, and a Gothic (to be released later 2016) The Portrait of Lilith.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Kev's Blog On Authors

There are a few people on this blue orb spinning through space, who transcend the mundane, who go the extra mile, who reach out a helping hand to those of us struggling in the world of writers. Kev Cooper is one of them. Below is the link to his book site where he allowed me to be showcased. I cannot thank him enough for this opportunity, and I send blessings and my prayers his way. Thank you, Kev, for being a friend to writers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Nature Is a Balm

Too often writers, like theologians--and I belong to both professions--can get restless and dry. We try to wet our whistles by reading others' work, but even that can make you feel more twitchy, and it can be like you were dropped into the Sahara on the hottest day of the year. Water! Water! Give me a drink, please!

During those times it's best to turn off the computer, walk away, and find a quiet place to sit under a tree, or take a short hike up a trail you've been longing to trek. Rivers and lakes qualify, as do the stretches of sand meeting the sea where you can curl your toes into the grainy substance, roll the legs up on your trousers, and feel the water wash over your feet. Your cup really does run over when you fill it with the unadorned great outdoors. Nature is the balm for renewal, cleansing, and peace. There is nothing like it when you breathe in the velvet air by the ocean, drink in the smell of the fecund earth and trees of a forest, or while gazing at the calm of a lake or fingerling river.

We are made out of and for this blue orb circling through space. These are the places where we can connect with our substance, our nature, and learn how to truly listen. Take five or ten minutes, if that is all you can afford, and touch the leaves of a tree or a flower, and feel the miracle that is life. Once you've been renewed by the most basic part of ourselves, then embrace your child, or spouse, or parent. Renew that relationship. Don't forget to laugh. Laugh often and hard. Then, return to your keyboard and see if you don't feel invigorated and filled with ideas. See if you don't feel like praying, or reading.

We all need to feel that tenuous thread of nature running through our veins to anchor us to reality, to our destiny. Without it we become concrete, fixed in our ways, stultified to the point we are intractable in our opinions and philosophies. Remember, a rock cannot grow, and we are meant to grow until we leave this life for the next.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Review of Tiara

The great pulp fiction authors, who wrote their serialized stories for magazines, have long disappeared. Cheap paperback novels nudged the serials into nonexistence, and everyone could read the whole story in their hands rather than wait for the next installment. However, those magazines launched many a writer's career into the spotlight of fame, and some authors went on to write literary classics, novels that are read and discussed in the hallowed halls of universities, and required reading for the young. Readers could expect everything from a horror story to buxom damsels in distress rescued from villains by the square-jawed, rippling muscled heroes, and villains dispatched with extreme prejudice. The stories were fast paced, based in exotic climes, or set in romantic surroundings like a ship at sea or out on the range. Every chapter ended in a cliff-hanger leaving the reader salivating for the next installment. John Reinhard Dizon brings us back to those good old days of a fun read, where you can get lost in the action, and expect the beautiful girl to be pulled from the jaws of death just in the nick of time.
His latest escapade, Tiara, takes us to the conflict within the five provinces of British occupied Northern Ireland, where the beautiful princess of Edinburgh is about to open peace talks between the two warring factions: The Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Ulster Defense Army (UDA). The action packed story begins with an explosion, then you are neck deep in secret meetings and covert deals and cabals of mercenaries.
On the eve of the talks arranged by the British government, a ball is given, and the Princess is snatched by an Ulster faction in order to prevent the talks from moving forward. Everyone takes advantage of the confusion, and some look to further their own careers or hide their criminal enterprises from the light being shed on the region by the media and the British government. Enter a dashing mercenary who wants to rescue the princess because of his own agenda both political and personal, and you have the makings of a classic pulp fiction story with characters right out of those magazines of yesteryear with a touch of Paddy Chayefsky thrown in.
Dizon paints a woeful picture of each faction, but an accurate one. He does his homework, and understands the motivations behind all the players. Bearing in mind that the thorny mess in the north is rife with factions within factions, and motives are legion, everywhere from suspect to criminal, he brings a clarity to who these people are in reality. In the story, all the players have their own agenda, just as they do in fact, and if the peace talks succeed there will be millions of pounds lost for some of those factions. One has to wonder if the reason the Ulster factions in reality don't want to negotiate a peace is because they have too much to lose if there isn't a war. As long as their power is consolidated, sanctioned, and codified by the British government, peace is a too distant prospect. Dizon doesn't hit you over the head with the idea, he just lays it out on the table, making it available for those who want to see it outside the story.
The best part is that he never forgets the Irish people who are caught in the middle; the moms and dads and children both Catholic and Protestant. They are the ones who suffer the most, and that is where he places his hope for a future of peace.
Tiara is available on Amazon, as are Dizon's other books.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Relativism: The Religion of the Faithless in the UN

It has become abundantly clear, with the Affordable Care Act's decree that contraceptives and abortion services be provided by all employers, that the Federal Government is not just reaching the prize to remake the entire health care system in their image, into a single payer and more "fair" system, but as an attack against our First Amendment Rights. Instituting a single payer system may seem to be the goal, but it isn't. Something worse is brewing under the surface. Something so heinous and chilling that you can almost feel the breath of the beast of Fascism on the back of your neck. Within the newly defined rights of children by the United Nations, we now see the scourge of "Relativism" rearing its ugly head again. We may have been mistaken that it went away, tossed into the trash heap of stupid ideas. But it hasn't. Many have felt that Obamacare is an attack against our Freedom of Religion, and they are correct in that assumption. More than that, under the faith banner of "Relativism," fundamental rights have been redefined, repackaged, and moved forward by the United Nations in their latest decree on Children's Rights.  What we see is not just an attack on Freedom of Religion, but on all our rights as defined in the Bill of Rights, as defined by everyone in centuries past.

I have posted a link to an article written in the National Catholic Register. Read this. Read it immediately. Tell all your friends to read it. Read it twice. Make your Pastors, your employer, your neighbors read it.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are my favorite days of the year. Both days are reflective ones. We too need to take the time to reflect on the price that has been paid for our sins.

A friend of mine sent me this little boy's explanation of who God is. It is said he is eight and this was printed in Chula Vista, California. Even if it isn't, it's still gives you food for thought. I also challenge you to not cry. Here's food for thought on my favorite day of the year:

It was written by an 8-year-old named Danny Dutton, who lives in Chula Vista , CA . He wrote it for his third grade homework assignment, to 'explain God.'
'One of God's main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die, so there will be enough people to take care of things on earth. He doesn't make grownups, just babies. I think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way he doesn't have to take up his valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that to mothers and fathers.'
'God's second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, since some people, like preachers and things, pray at times beside bedtime. God doesn't have time to listen to the radio or TV because of this. Because he hears everything, there must be a terrible lot of noise in his ears, unless he has thought of a way to turn it off.'
'God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere which keeps Him pretty busy. So you shouldn't go wasting his time by going over your mom and dad's head asking for something they said you couldn't have.'
'Atheists are people who don't believe in God. I don't think there are any in Chula Vista ... At least there aren't any who come to our church.'
'Jesus is God's Son. He used to do all the hard work, like walking on water and performing miracles and trying to teach the people who didn't want to learn about God.. They finally got tired of him preaching to them and they crucified him But he was good and kind, like his father, and he told his father that they didn't know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said O.K.'
'His dad (God) appreciated everything that he had done and all his hard work on earth so he told him he didn't have to go out on the road anymore. He could stay in heaven. So he did. And now he helps his dad out by listening to prayers and seeing things which are important for God to take care of and which ones he can take care of himself without having to bother God. Like a secretary, only more important.'
'You can pray anytime you want and they are sure to help you because they got it worked out so one of them is on duty all the time.'
'You should always go to church on Sunday because it makes God happy, and if there's anybody you want to make happy, it's God!
Don't skip church to do something you think will be more fun like going to the beach. This is wrong. And besides the sun doesn't come out at the beach until noon anyway.'
'If you don't believe in God, besides being an atheist, you will be very lonely, because your parents can't go everywhere with you, like to camp, but God can. It is good to know He's around you when you're scared, in the dark or when you can't swim and you get thrown into real deep water by big kids.'
' shouldn't just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and he can take me back anytime he pleases.
And...that's why I believe in God.'
* * *
Have a beautiful and heartfelt Good Friday! And Happy Easter to all!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Truth and Nothing but Lies

The past few months I've been busy editing my second novel. My editor has pushed me to make hard choices about the content of the story, and some of the more incendiary parts of the novel. In the end, I feel she was right about keeping true to the characters within the story, and to let the events speak for themselves. We'll put the story to bed once the manuscript is proofread, with a few minor tweaks for continuity in the story, and we'll begin the process of choosing a cover for the book. I've been through this process before, but not with a traditional publisher, so this recent process is much more intense.

The story is about an FBI agent investigating the bombings of abortion clinics in the Pacific northwest. I used true events as the backdrop for my novel, taking the headlines and details of the Gosnell case, and reports from Human Life groups all over the country. The explosions, of course, are fictional, but each description of the victims of abortion are all true. The story is a thriller/mystery, filled with interesting and deeply drawn characters fighting to let the truth be known.

I wrote in anger, and on the advice of my editor, had to tone down the political aspects of the events and characters to make it more saleable, but I did not compromise in the description of what happens inside those clinics where women have died, and the children from millions of women have been butchered.

The book will be released sometime in late spring or early summer. It will be for sale in the usual outlets on-line. The time has come for everyone to know the truth about abortion, and the toll it takes on men and women. There is nothing private about an abortion. The consequences of killing a child touches all of us.