|Children of the Mind describes a society where thought is rationed, the imagination considered a disease, and dreaming a subversive activity.
Also includes as a bonus, the WIND TURBINE STUDIES Collage Narrative.
I wrote Children of the Mind some twenty years ago during the early 1980s. The ‘extended metafiction’recounts the tale of a society in which thought is rationed, where the imagination is considered a disease,and dreaming is considered a subversive activity.
Persons suspected of dreaming are summarily ‘nebulized’by the Grave Registration. The “Children of the Mind” of the title are a shadowy group that insists on thinking freely.
In this brief novella I experimented with what would now be considered a ‘multimedia-like’ technique, where the narrative would undergo radical, and unexpected, shifts from words to images and back to words. And this was way back in the dark ages, before the World Wide Web, before words were viewed merely as ‘content’ for the worldwide entertainment machine, before ‘hypertext,’ home pages, and HTML. At the time it was ‘experimental fiction’.
Children of the Mind was inspired by a short note in The New York Times that appeared during the height of the Solidarity Movement in Poland in the early 1980s, which in retrospect can be viewed as a significant catalyst in the subsequent downfall of the Communist empire.
The Times’ article briefly mentioned the manner in which a spontaneous shrine had appeared to commemorate and to mark the scene of some brutally repressive event. In a stealth and silent procession, the citizens brought flowers, lighted candles, and offered various other tokens of devotion, respect, and honor
to the spot. Apparently, this was a bit much for the authorities, for they had the shrine disassembled and removed the following morning. The next evening, the citizens rebuilt the shrine and that, too, was dismantled and subsequently removed. This scenario played out in varying degrees of success for an extended period of
I thought that act, action, series of repetitive acts, that passive aggression, that subtle defiance—ever so eloquently summed up much of Post-Modern life. The indefatigable human spirit railing against
the machine, conformity, or, perhaps, the human condition.
In the novella, the task became to think through the tale and to construct an entire society (or world) in which the above would be an all-too-ordinary happenstance.
In the Children of the Mind, I also experimented with a technique of mental discipline where I did not allow myself to create a ‘physical’ (ComputerSpeak for ‘paper’) draft of the novella.
Mental drafts, however, were fair game and so I’d spend countless hours ‘writing’ and ‘rewriting’ with neither the benefit nor comfort of pencil and paper. I had to commit to the structure, story flow and precise wording before I could set my pencil to my notebooks.
It was not an altogether unpleasant experience. I would open my note pad, light my pipe and gently rock in my Boston Rocker with my wife and two young daughters soundly asleep upstairs in our New
England Colonial while my mind would race through myriad plot and thought lines and directions. Some nights, hours would pass without a single syllable being committed to paper.
During this process, every so often, the tale would ‘flow’ in a mighty cascade of thought. This would result from a period of extreme focus and concentration in that mental state that basketball players refer to as being ‘in the zone’. In such a case you can find no ‘seams’ because there aren’t any to be found. (‘A Short Digression Upon Meilgaard’ is a product of
one such experience.)
When I completed Children of the Mind, I felt a sigh of great relief. I was perhaps a better (you fill in the blank)________, person, writer, et cetera, etc., and so on for having taken the journey, but was enormously pleased that I would never necessarily or otherwise retrace those particular steps.
My father, Peter P. Payack, who participated in the D-Day
invasion, the liberation of France, and the Battle of the Bulge once mentioned the odd entity he encountered during that time called The Grave Registration.
I took note of this odd and sinister-sounding entity knowing that at some point it would serve me well in a metafiction.