In the jingle jangle morning

The song has a bright, expansive melody and has become famous for its surrealistic imagery, influenced by artists as diverse as French poet Arthur Rimbaud and Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini. The lyrics call on the title character to play a song and the narrator will follow. Interpretations of the lyrics have included a paean to drugs such as LSD, a call to the singer’s muse, a reflection of the audience’s demands on the singer, and religious interpretations. – Wikipedia

Bob Dylan released “Mr. Tambourine Man” in March 1965 in his “Bring It All Back Home” album when I was at the last place I wanted to be (college), tied down, I thought, by an ancient canon of learning that was taught and graded in an ancient style of “education” that did not meet my needs nor my temperament. What would have met my needs would have been saying “to tell with all this” and then telling Mr. Tambourine man “I’ll come following you.”

Five years later, Gordon Lightfoot released a song with a similar intent, “Minstrel of the Dawn” on his “If You Could Read My Mind” album when I was–once again–in the last place I wanted to be (the navy) freshly returned from Vietnam and a war I did not support then serving (ironically) on the staff at the navy’s boot camp where I helped prepare others to go to the place I just left. I soon became a conscientious objector and left the navy having become a convert to the minstrelsy of the “Minstrel of the Dawn” in the jingle jangle of a new morning.

Because of my belief in dreams, I am nothing if not impractical, and heavily influenced–actually under the spell–of these two songs for a lifetime, and while I cannot duplicate the quality of the songs, much less an old-time Troubador, I have always infused their spirit and spell in my work. That is to say, I lead my characters astray and want to hypnotize readers into following them–as Lightfoot says–“While the old guitar rings.”

Some have said Mr. Tambourine man is about losing oneself to drugs, a notion that Dylan denies. Like most writers, I’m dealing something more dangerous than drugs: words and stories spun into haunting and irresistible dreams. If the government ever figures out the truth about stories, they’ll either ban them or heavily tax them.

If you read fiction, you know that stories are written to make you “forget about today until tomorrow” while trying to “get into things more happy than blue.” There are side effects to such stories that are more dangerous than those attached to Fentanyl and Oxycontin: addiction to freedom and dreams. I’ve been prescribed Oxycontin at least three times and never got addicted because stories were always a much great temptation.

Money-wise, the street value of stories is less than the street value of Fentanyl and Oxycontin. However, I should mention that there’s no cure for stories. It won’t matter because, in your jingle-jangle mornings, you’ll be too far out in space to want one.

Malcolm

Click on my name to see the stories in my bag.

 

 

 

 

 

To all who come here

I appreciate it. Your presence has made 2019 a better year and it needed to be better.

Wikipedia Photo

Those of us who tell stories–in books, at parties, around the dinner table, or even in blogs like this one–hope that some of the stories will connect with some of those who have come to the storyteller’s place.

Even the storyteller knows not the ending of a story when s/he begins telling it, just as now I am typing this line with no idea what line will follow it.

Is it luck? No, I don’t think so because one thing has become clear over time; stories know where they are going and just need somebody there to serve as a channel to allow them out into the world.

You have your stories, too, even if you don’t put them in books or blogs. Maybe they’re about your life or maybe they come unbidden from your dreams and your imagination. To all who hear and read your stories, the stories and the listeners/readers are gifts.

From the universe perhaps or from your heart and soul.

Malcolm

What’s your story?

Sometimes “what’s your story” is a bully’s taunt. Sometimes it’s a provocative inquiry on a first date. More or less, it means “who are you and/or what are you doing here?”

We spend our lives writing our stories. We’re not always aware of the plots or even the themes. We stack up dreams and hopes like cordwood, or even denials and excuses. Perhaps our stories are more transparent to spouses and friends than they are to us. Not all of us can be read like great novels even though we’re impacted by the tales we discover in books and the memories of others shared around a quiet drink or a backyard barbecue.

If one looks at our stories with the combined eye of a mystic, a shaman, a conjurer, an alchemist, and a quantum scientist, the tapestry of the world’s people becomes a little clearer. We see synchronicities rather than coincidences. We toss out the idea of fate, if not destiny, and maybe on nights when the moon is bright and the flowers and birds are quiet, we glimpse the whole of the world’s stories.

As an author, I like to think that the stories in books–fiction and nonfiction–enlarge our perspectives and help us change course or re-dedicate ourselves to the course already chosen. My quantum view is that every story that can happen, will happen in one universe or another and that we can follow the chains of events that best meet our developing needs for the plots in our own stories.

Reading and listening and observing in a spirit of hope and wonder are so necessary for our progress, it’s difficult to understand why a lot of people don’t read or listen or observe. Have they chosen to close their lives off from the world and/or from themselves? I don’t know, but the result of whatever they’re doing doesn’t seem healthy–or helpful to the world.

I see studies from time to time showing that kids benefit from parents who read to them as well as growing up households full of books. Nonetheless, stories are everywhere and if we’re not finding them on the printed page, I hope we’re finding them in films and paintings and TV shows, and what others tell us whenever we ask “what’s your story?”

The world appears to me as a grand storybook with countless chapters, millions of characters, unlimited locations, and possibilities that expand outward at lightspeed. The fate of nations and peoples and justice and Earth itself has not yet been determined because many of us are writing blind or aren’t aware that the daily scenes in our personal stories contribute to the story of our planet. We’re all linked like the characters in the pages of a well-written novel; I think we’ll like where our combined story goes if we realize this and live accordingly.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of Conjure Woman’s Cat.

 

‘Haints in the Woods’ excerpt

“Haints in the Woods” is one of nine short stories in my recently released collection Widely Scattered Ghosts. Here a brief excerpt featuring characters from my novel Lena:

Praise the good Lord, as the deacon would say, for Pollyanna chose that moment to drive her grey Ford truck through the busted section of the wrought iron fence into the back yard. She wore her favorite green capri pants, black blouse, black slingback sandals, and a wide smile that showed off her new black lipstick and matching nail polish.

“Young people,” whispered Eulalie.

Pollyanna came up to the porch with an Alligator Supreme orange crate chuck full of who knows what covered over in butcher paper.

“Did you see a soused sinner riding his hinny back home?” asked Eulalie.

“Why, is one missing?”

“I was just telling Lena that I think Willie’s sharing jelly and juice with some dusty butt miles away from where he’s supposed to be.”

Pollyanna set down the orange crate. “I don’t even know what that means.”

“Sex and booze with a ho,” Eulalie said.

“Holy shit.” Pollyanna slumped down into the sagging couch with a fading smile. When Eulalie handed her the Mason jar of shine, she wasn’t shy about drinking her fill.

“I ain’t really po’ moufin’ my brand-new husband,” said Eulalie. “I’m hopin’ he is a soused sinner today.”

“I know I’m repeating myself, but holy shit.”

“Beats bein’ among the dead. I threw the bones an hour ago, and they said he’s with the dead. Then Lena went lookin’ for him on a spirit journey, and she saw nothin’ but ace-of-spades blackness. As you white folks sometimes say, we’re on tenterhooks.”

Copyright © 2019 by Malcolm R. Campbell

Tempting you with words and tambourines

Like Gordon Lightfoot’s “Minstrel of the Dawn” and Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man,” storytellers are always tempting you to follow them, as though through faerie rings, to the farthest reaches of tall tales, music, and imagination. We can’t promise you’ll return the way you were when you left the everyday land of logic, but you’ll find yourselves reborn in just the way the god of your heart intended.

For temptations from my website, I invite you to click on this picture:

 

–Malcolm

Why We Rise – Joseph Campbell’s View

“Most attribute the foundations of Western story structure to Aristotle. His simple idea that stories should have a beginning, a middle, and an end has long served as the template for how narratives have been communicated. Joseph Campbell, by contrast, wisely popularized the idea that the narrative journey was actually a cycle — that every ending brought forth new beginnings, that every death brought forth resurrection and new life.”

Source: MythBlast | Why We Rise – JCF: Home

I like this Joseph Campbell Foundation essay about the cyclical nature of stories and how they interact with the nature of our lives. You’ll find this in Campbell’s writings about The Hero’s Journey, the idea–as the author puts it–that the beginnings we discover in the new year don’t arise from a blank slate. As Frank Herbert mentioned in his novel Dune, the intuitive can look backward in time and see–like footprints across the sand–the steps one has taken to arrive where they are in life at any given moment.

Put this in a novel, and you call those steps “the plot” or “foreshadowing.” Story helps us identify these kinds of patterns in “real life” just as “real life” suggests to us the stories we tell, both fiction and memoir.

–Malcolm

The truth of the tale

“Literature is where I go to explore the highest and lowest places in human society and in the human spirit, where I hope to find not absolute truth but the truth of the tale, of the imagination, and of the heart.” – Salman Rushdie

When I was a child, my grandfather told me my mother walked in her sleep when she was a child. He put a stop to this by scattering peanut shells outside her bedroom door.

My mother remembered the peanut shells only because she had heard the story. All she knew for sure was that she hadn’t sleepwalked since she was a child, reasoning that she simply grew out of it.

Were there ever any shells on the floor?

Within the story, the shells were real. In reality, they may not have been real. It doesn’t matter. The peanut shells exist simply because the story was told, and re-told, and told again. Many of our “realities” seem to originate in this way.

The storyteller knows this. In his bad of tricks, he has an infinite supply of once-upon-a times, ready made like rare medications, dangerous drugs, curses, and miracles to unleash upon your life when you’re ready for his cure to what ails you.

As Gordon Lightfoot sang in “Minstrel of the Dawn,” released in 1970, “And if you meet him you must be the victim of his minstrelsy.” We are our stories, true or not, and they sustain us for better and/or for worse.

Most people I know asked their parents and grandparents to tell them stories and to be read a story before bedtime. These stories morphed into dreams and ways of seeing the world.

These days, people try to kill the storyteller by claiming to be offended. All they have to do is stop listening or stop reading if the story isn’t to their liking. There’s not much opportunity for growth in that approach, but we can approach truths that way. After all, ignorance is the last bastion against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

One day, we might wake up when we step on a peanut shell we didn’t believe was there.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of contemporary fantasy and magical realism novels, including the upcoming novel “Lena” schedule for release August 1 from Thomas-Jacob Publishing.