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desdemona222b
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« Reply #1740 on: August 24, 2007, 01:37:02 PM »

[I never did have the courage to try Great Aunt Ruth's chow-chow.  It is a tomato relish of some sort - why one makes it or eats it is anyone's guess.  And BTW, there really was a Great Aunt Anna Parton Barton, and all the other great aunts were real people, too.  And Ruthaby.]
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« Reply #1741 on: August 24, 2007, 01:37:56 PM »

[re:  blackguard - that's term used a great deal in Faulkner's lit]
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« Reply #1742 on: August 24, 2007, 01:50:54 PM »

[thanks, I didn't know that, but it makes sense given the way Southern dialects are rooted in anglo-saxon culture....I read As I Lay Dying years ago, and The Reivers also long ago, so my Faulkner is limited....]

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« Reply #1743 on: August 24, 2007, 03:44:22 PM »



Absalom Apocalypse

"...all boy flesh that walked and breathed stemming
from that one ambiguous eluded dark fatherhead and
so brothered perennial and ubiquitous everywhere
under the sun—”—William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom


“Where am I? Who am I?” asked Henry Sutpen.

Thus began the next chapter in that ongoing strange pulp fiction novel entitled Absalom Apocalypse—the sad story of the rise and fall of the Parton Dynasty there on the red plains of Georgia—excuse me Alabama...or was it Louisiana?

It’s the heartwarming yet heartbreaking story of how Gordon Snopes became a rich millionaire and wealthy entrepreneur—all because of a young man by the name of Jehosephat “Pinhead” Parton.

The Parton Family Tree was a strange gnarled thing—an uprooted twisted cypress tree torn from the fetid depths of the Okefenokee Swamp. With thick corkscrew roots deep in the primeval mud—and epiphyte Spanish moss clinging to the upper canopy branches.

There were cypress domes and dwarf cypresses and cypress swamps—along with fetterbush, wax myrtle and buttonbush shrubs. There was duckweed, pipewort and lizard tail underbrush. There were bald cypresses and water tupelo trees. There were pond cypresses and black gum trees—and even some pines along the Southeastern coastal plain.

But there was nothing quite like the Root of the Parton Cypress Family Tree. Just ask Gordon Snopes—he knows. Gordon Snopes knows all about the Parton Family Tree—and the Parton Family Roots. Aunt Mildred say he know too much dontchaknow—but all Gordon says to that is: “Well shut my mouth!!!”

It was a desultory moody pouty Root—not used to being uprooted from its home in Corkscrew Swamp Florida. It was the women in Parton clan that kept things going—they were the ones that took care of business and made sure the Parton Family got by from day to day. They were like the Rock of Gibraltar—because of their family values and Christian ideals they insured the Parton Dynasty would survive. Not only survive—but grow and flourish.

Well, of course, there were setbacks—throwbacks to more primitive times. Times when hair-lipped pinheads ruled the Land—and the men folk were almost as bad as hogs and bears living out there in the swamp. It was the woman folk who civilized the men—sort of domesticating them slowly into the ways of the Lord and modern civilization. It was struggle—Gawd only knows sometimes how they got by.

It was no secret that Jehosephat was a throwback to more primitive times—kind of like Ike Snopes but even worse. Ike Snopes stuck to Bessie the Cow to slobber over—but Jehosephat wasn’t particular. Anything that moved was fair-game for the kid—like I said all his brains were in the wrong head.

Then one day Gordon Snopes showed up—and offered to pimp the pinhead to fame and glory. Of course, he didn’t put it that way exactly—he more or less said he’d tutor the youth about the birds and bees. Which was okay with the ladies—the libidinous teenager was becoming unmanageable and downright rude. Anything Gordon could do to alleviate the problem—would be much appreciated.

Gordon moved in and became a member of the Family. He was the sociable type—he could play cards and drink corn with the men. He could help out in the kitchen—he was good at gumbos and cooking the most mouth-watering jambalaya. He was the ladies man—and knew how to please women with his smooth ways. He drove a Cadillac convertible and always had a bankroll.

Why in the world Gordon would be interested in a gimp like Jehosephat was a mystery—a mystery wrapped up in a suitcase wrapped up in long trips with Jehosephat to New Orleans. They’d be gone for weeks sometimes—and each time they came back home it seemed like Jehosephat was becoming more and more a man. A man of the world—a gentleman sort of in a strange way.

There were plenty of extremely wealthy gentlemen in New Orleans—men bored with life and in need of certain kinds of unusual diversions. These connoisseurs of the strange and forbidden lived in mansions and hotels in the Big Easy—ensconced in elegant Garden District homes and the sleek French Quarter apartments.

These Southern decadent dandies were the kind of rich bachelors—who had a fondness for Ripley’s Believe or Not freaks and bizarre genetic accidents on the part of Mother Nature.

There was one rich French aristocrat who raided all the circuses and carnivals of Europe—so that he could possess such freaks of nature as the Alligator Boy with his huge reptilian penis that made all the ladies run screaming from the carnival sideshow tent in fear & loathing.

Another fine gentleman collected cute young Siamese twins joined at the head or the hip—so that he could enjoy Double Your Pleasure Double Your Fun. There were other monstrosities too numerous to name—hunted down in the backwaters and back alleys of a sordid underbelly America that few got to see or know.

If only Jehosephat could talk—but of course he couldn’t. All that came out was ”NYUH-NYUH-NYUH!!!”

It was the most gawd-awful sound a human being could ever make—a slightly nasally “NYUH!!!” with his cute wrinkled boyish nose and that look of exquisite young male spasticity that wealthy decadent socialites found so enchantingly seductive.

Gordon Snopes knew what they liked—he was good salesman who knew how to pimp like a pro. Soon word got around that Gordon had found an idiot savant who was half-boy and half-alligator garfish. Not only that—what made Jehosephat so manly made other men manly too. It was as if the Okefenokee Swamp itself flowed through this kid’s veins—especially the gnarled cypress super-root vein that was the talk of the town.

It was as if all that Florida Everglades were concentrated down into that huge Root—all the vim, vinegar and vermin of the prehistoric night and precincts of the damned oozed out of that kid when he went “N-n-n-n-n-n-n-u-u-u-u-h-h-h-h-h!!!” Old queens clamored for it—in hopes of rejuvenating themselves with the Fountain of Youth. Others craved facials to smooth out the wrinkles of the years—the decadent lifestyle of the rich and famous.

Gordon managed the natural resources of his young protégée wisely—garnishing praise from his clientele for his generosity and paying him well for the chance to partake of the gods. Gordon was waiting for Mardi Gras though—that’s when wealthy out-of-towners made their presence known. They paid handsomely for such a lovely trick—so very LSMFT. Lucky Southern Men Faint Totally—when they get their lips on Jehosephat the cute young Pinhead.
 
« Last Edit: August 24, 2007, 05:19:44 PM by pugetopolis » Logged

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« Reply #1744 on: August 24, 2007, 08:20:18 PM »



Absalom Apocalypse

“And now,” Shreve said, “we’re going to talk about love.”

“Henry was learning from him how to lounge about a bedroom in a gown and slippers such as women wore, to a faint though unmistakable effluvium of scent such as women used, smoking a cigar almost as a woman might smoke it…with an air of indolent and lethal assurance…”

“…like a cat—cosmopolitan New Orleans…his own inherited and heritable Florentine lamps and gilded toilet seats and tufted mirrors…”

“…champagne in the octoroon’s boudoir…”

“…aping his clothing carriage speech and all…”

“…the cosmopolite ten years the youth’s senior almost, lounging in one of the silk robes the like of which the youth had never seen before and believed that only women wore…”

“…watching the youth blush fiery red yet still face him, still look him straight in the eye while he fumbled, groped, blurted with abrupt complete irrelevance: “If I had a brother…I would want him to be older than me…and I would want him to be just like you…”

“Is that so?” said Bon.

“That young clodhopper bastard. How shall I get rid of him…”

“And who to say if it wasn’t maybe the possibility of incest, because who…has been in love and not discovered the vain evanescence of the fleshly encounter…”

“…Bon telling himself I not only don’t know what it is I want but apparently I am a good deal younger than I thought…”

“…he looked at Henry’s face and thought, not there but for the intervening leaven of that blood which we do not have in common is my skull, my brow, sockets, shape and angle of jaw and chin and some of my thinking behind it, and which he would see in my face in his turn if he but knew to look as I know…”

“…there just behind a little, obscured a little by that alien blood whose admixing was necessary in order that he exist is the face of the face of the man who shaped us both out of that blind chancy darkness which we call the future…”

“…there—there—at any moment, second, I shall penetrate by something of will and intensity and dreadful need, and stip that alien leavening from it and look not on my brother’s face whom I did not know I possessed and hence never missed, but my father’s, out of the shadow of whose absence my spirit’s posthumeity has never escaped…”

“That’s all I want. He need not even acknowledge me; I will let him understand just as quickly that he need not do that, that I do not expect that, will not be hurt by that, just as he will let me know that quickly that I am his son…”

“…and saw face to face the man who might be his father, and nothing happened—no shock, no hot communicated flesh that speech would have been too slow even to impede—nothing.”

“Bon watching him and listening to him and thinking It’s because I don’t know myself what I am going to do and so he is aware that I am undecided without knowing that he is aware. Perhaps if I told him now that I am going to do it, he would know his own mind and tell me. You shall not…”

“Now. Now. Now. It will come now. It will come this time, and I am young, young, because I still don’t know what I am going to do.”

“And he spent ten days there, not only the esoteric, the sybarite, the steel blade in the silken tessellated sheath which Henry had begun to ape at the University…”

“…but the object of art, the mold and mirror of form and fashion”

“until he disappeared, taking Henry with him, and she never saw him again and war and trouble and grief…”

“So that now over the frozen December ruts of that Christmas eve: four of them and then just two—Charles-Shreve and Quentin-Henry…”

“…because he must have now understood with complete despair the secret of his whole attitude toward Bon from the first instinctive moment when he had seen him a year and a quarter ago…”

“So it was four of them who rode the two horses through that night and then across the bright frosty North Mississippi Christmas day…”

“Henry knew but still did not believe…”

“Four of them there, in that room in new Orleans in 1860…”

“…four of them who sat in that drawing room of baroque and fusty magnificence which Shreve had invented and which was probably true enough…”

“…the Haiti-born daughter of the French sugar planter…”

“…the blue unwinded wood smoke standing above the plastered chimneys of the slave quarters, to the River and the steamboat…”

“Four of them there, in that room in New Orleans in 1860, just as in a sense there were four of them here in this tomblike room in Massachusetts in 1910...”

“…the octoroon and the child would have been to Henry only something else about Bon to be not envied but aped if that had been possible, if there had been time and peace to ape in…”

“…two young embattled spirits…”

“…peace not between men of the same race and nation but peace between two young embattled spirits and the incontrovertible fact which embattled them…”

“… Bon took Henry to see the octoroon and Henry looked at her and said, “Ain’t that enough for you?” and Bo said, “Do you ant it to be enough?”

“…and then that spring with Lincoln elected and the Alabama convention and the south began to draw out of the Union…”

“…and Henry and Bon already decided to go…because after all you don’t waste a war…”

“Jesus, think of them. Because Bon would know what Henry was doing, just as he had always know what Henry was thinking since that first day when they had looked at one another…”

“They did not retreat from the cold. They both bore it as though in deliberate flagellant exaltation of physical misery transmogrified into the spirits’ travail of the two young men during that time fifty years ago…”

“Henry citing himself authority for incest, talking about his Duke John of Lorraine…”

“…as if he hoped possibly to evoke that condemned and excommunicated shade to tell him in person that it was all right, as people before and since have tried to evoke god or devil to justify them in what their glands insisted upon…”

“…the two the four the two facing one another in the tomblike room…”

“Quentin, the Southerner, the morose and delicate offspring of rain and steamy heat…”

“…your illusions are part of you like your bones and flesh and memory…”

“…the old mindless sentient undreaming meat that doesn’t even know any difference between despair and victory…”

“…since neither Henry and Bon, anymore than Quentin and Shreve, were the first young men to believe that wars were sometimes created for the sole aim of settling youth’s private difficulties and discontents.”

“Quentin could have spoken now, but Quentin did not.”

“…and Henry: Write. Write. Write.”

“…that quality of delicacy about the bones, articulation, which even at twenty still had something about it, some last echo about it, of adolescence…”

“—So it’s the miscegenation, not the incest, which you can’t bear.”

“You are my brother…”

“Do it now, Henry,” he says…

“Bon does not move beneath the gripping hands; he sits motionless, with his faint fixed grimace; his voice is gentler than that first breath in which the pine branches begin to move a little..”

“I don’t know,” Quentin said.

“But I know. And you know too. Don’t you? Don’t you, huh?”

“Yes,” Quentin said…

“Come on,” Shreve said. “Lets get out of this refrigerator and go to bed.”

—William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom, New York: Vintage, 1990
« Last Edit: August 24, 2007, 10:11:01 PM by pugetopolis » Logged

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« Reply #1745 on: August 25, 2007, 04:28:25 AM »

"That Gordon Snopes," said Aunt Mildred.

"He sure has a big mouth. Does it ever stop?"

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« Reply #1746 on: August 25, 2007, 01:54:07 PM »

"I´m sure this is some first class writing but can anyone write a 50 word précis of it",exclaimed the SouthAmLat. beige brat.
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« Reply #1747 on: August 25, 2007, 02:17:02 PM »

"This crucial difference between the urgent historical and political imperatives of post-colonialsim and post-modernism's relative detachment makes for altogether different approaches and results, although some overlap between them (in the technique of "magical realism," for example) does exist."--Edward Said, Orientalism, 349.

Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom is a magical realism novel -- like the novels and works of Borges and the other South American magical realists.

The HBO series Carnival is magical realism as well. The same with Dunn's Geek Love.

Said sees magical realism as the bridge between postcolonialism and postmodernism.

In other words, the Other is a "construction" of reality -- like Quentin and Shreve reconstructing the Sutpen Dynasty in their dormatory room. Fifty years after it happened. This Faulknerikan reconstruction of the Other isn't just a postcolonial or postmodern academic exercise; rather Faulkner's Other is both realistic and magical for both these two young undergraduates at Harvard.

Faulkner uses magical realism in Absalom, Absalom to create/reconstruct his own family's apocryphal history. This is especially true with Absalom, Absalom -- truly a stunning philoprogenitive journey into the heart of darkness...

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« Reply #1748 on: August 25, 2007, 03:34:50 PM »


“And now,” Shreve said, “we’re going to talk about love.”

“Come on,” Shreve said. “Lets get out of this refrigerator and go to bed.”

—William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom, New York: Vintage, 1990


Martin, please notice above the first and last Faulkner quotes I use in the Absalom piece...

Many Faulkner critics -- such as those convening at the Yoknapathawpha Conference in Mississippi this summer on the topic of Faulkner and Sexuality -- are also getting into Faulkner and Homosexuality which once was a forbidden topic in Academe. I'm looking forward to reading some of this year's papers...

For example, if you've read Absalom, perhaps the thought has occurred to you that the novel details a somewhat tortured gay relationship between Henry Sutpen and Charles Bon.

Seen through the eyes of Quentin and Shreve in a cold Harvard dormatory.

Some critics say that Quentin and Shreve are lovers too -- and that Quentin's struggles with the South are more about him being a "closet case" than his problems with the South.

When Quentin says "I don't hate it!!!" -- it's himself he's talking about not the South.

And when Faulkner says "Two is two and two is four" -- it's the gay dialogic imagination at work he's talking about...

You see, that's why I chose the Absalom quotes the way I did in the seemingly rambling Absalom Apocalypse piece you've pondered over.

From the first sentence to the last, I've traced the gay relationship between these two young Southern gentlemen.

And that's why I wrote the somewhat campy piece about Gordon Snopes and young pinhead Jehosephant...from a gay point of view.

You see, I'm camping it up online to create a sort of gay Cliff's Notes on this, well, rather racy magic realist Novel dontchaknow...

Dare I call it "queer magic realism"?

I'm enjoying the discussion immensely -- thanks to desdemona, barton, hoffman, reader, weezo and my other literary partners in crime...

Do the words "apocryphal" and "philoprogenitive" ring a bell?


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« Reply #1749 on: August 25, 2007, 04:01:04 PM »

Thank you Puget.I knew there was something rich brewing there but just couldn´t put my finger on in.

I wish I could read Absalom but unless it´s on the web that is the sort of book you can never get in these prairies south of Bolivia. I have though the Wild Palms (in Spanish) but at least I have it.
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« Reply #1750 on: August 25, 2007, 06:11:44 PM »

Barton found himself inspired by Pug's literary knowledge and flair with a pen (or, possibly, with a flair pen?), and resolved to read Absalom, Absalom at the soonest possible juncture.  Or at least one of the Absaloms, depending on how he mastered some of his prior phobias regarding the Oxford bard's prose style.

In the meantime, Brokeback Bayou was up on the big screen, though he had gone to the multiplex and told the ticket seller that he was going to see Chronicles of Narnia, then snuck over to the other theater at the last moment.

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« Reply #1751 on: August 25, 2007, 10:27:46 PM »

Magic Realism

“I don’t care much for facts, am not much interested in them, you can’t stand a fact up, you got to prop it up, and when you move to one side a little and look at it from that angle, it’s not thick enough to cast a shadow in that direction.”—William Faulkner to Malcolm Cowley

(“As we read these words, written more than forty years ago, in the 1980s, we see how Faulkner created such joy for generations of great Latin-American novelists. That “disregard” for fact gave him weight and standing, since idea, conception, strategy were all. Garcia Márquez, Fuentes, Vargas Llosa, Donoso, and before them all, Borges, could create their invented worlds out of Faulkner’s “I don’t care much for facts.”—Frederick R. Karl, William Faulkner: American Writer, New York: Ballantine: 1989, 739.)
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« Reply #1752 on: August 26, 2007, 01:34:40 AM »

Pug,

I am enjoying your obvious relish of Faulkner even though I am not reading it and not getting very much encouragement to change my mind. I am following your theory of "magical realism" with great interest. I do enjoy this board for the continuing stories. Sometimes I log into it and find it going in a thread that sparks my inspiration. I did have a finale planned for the day of stirring the beans, but alas real life intruded with realism that was far from magical and I had to leave off weezo's consumption of the pot of beans topped with finely chopped onions, and downed with a malty brew so that she could climb into a gone-with-the-wind gown complete with wide hoop, walk over to the Pug, and use the hoopskirt to play "blizzard" with Pug, suffocating him under the volumnous dress from which there was no escape then peppering him with the smelly remains of her repast until he again dissolved into unconsciousness from which he recovered only when the sun sparkled on the horizon ushering in another hot and humid day.

It's a few days late, and not as prettily painted as originally intended, but I think you can get the picture.

I still need to dig up my poetry binder and share "Descent into the Alley" with you so you can see how well I fooled the judges into thinking it was a "misguided" male rather than a near-middle aged woman who wrote the piece. I think I was happier to learn I'd fooled the judges than to have won first prize. "They say" that one should always write from personal knowledge, yet, I think sometimes think that to put yourself in the shoes of another is the greater achievement. I enjoyed the Poisonwood Bible because of the fact that the author was so effective in giving a voice to each of her female characters and telling the story in their voices.

I especially like you point about Faulkner disdaining facts. There is quite a row going on on American History because the book chosen by the poll ended up being a speculative history which has proven most uncomfortable for the academic history types. Some argue that the book belong in fiction of mythology. A few are willing to concede that the possibility for it being true is sufficient to put it in history even if it takes a generation of research to establish if it is or isn't likely to be true.

Most of my children's stories start out with the Reader (named) donning a magical hat that takes him/her to the time, place, etc. of the story. The magical hat makes them familiar and called by name by the historical figures of the story. The Reader participates in some way with the action of the historical event, often as the hero who inspires the historical figure to fulfill destiny. The style was inspired by the book "Ben and Me" with some inspiration from Rocky & Bullwinkles "Fractured History". But, in these stories the hero is the child who is reading the book or having it read to them. I was in the dentist's office two days ago, and amusing myself during the wait with a rather dejected boy who was not happy to be back in school. He didn't care much for books. So, I told him the stories I have online, gave his one of my cards with the web address on it, talked some more, and he asked me for more of the cards so he could share them with his teacher and classmates. If some of those stories get his attention and lead him into an enjoyment of reading, my efforts will be rewarded. I may never know if it happens, but I arrived for my usual torture with a lighted spirit and hopeful heart.

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« Reply #1753 on: August 26, 2007, 03:53:23 AM »

Weezo—congratulations with your stories and poetry. I’m looking forward to reading them. Especially the Pineapple Cat one—so many wonderful stories about cats out there. I tend to think that all cats are Literary Cats—if you’re attuned to them like Samuel Johnson and so many other writers were and are…

Storytelling seems to be shifting to the Internet and graphic novels—I don’t know how much longer kids will read books. You and Hoffman know more about such things than me. Online stories are sort of different than the Puss ‘n Books I grew up with. Plus You-Tube and all those interesting online movies are new to me too. Back in college I didn’t even have an electric typewriter—how lucky the kids today are with their laptops and access to unlimited knowledge.

I know this Creativity Forum is best with short little messages—like Barton and Desdemona do. That way everybody gets to be part of the Storytelling and the Narrative flows in new and interesting ways. It makes me feel guilty to post anymore of this Faulkner stuff here—I guess I’m just obsessed with the way Faulkner tells a story. It probably has to do with the number Absalom did on me back in college—maybe it’s kinda Return of the Night of the Living Dead?  Roll Eyes

I’m going to shift everything over to Fiction—and let the storytelling of the Creative Writing forum get back to its original style. You’re a good storyteller—and your stories had me laughing. Go ahead and post your latest one. Barton and Desdemona are good at it too—lighter and more easy-going than me. I tend to get carried away with my big mouth sometimes—I don’t want to hog the forum up with my stuff dontchaknow…


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« Reply #1754 on: August 26, 2007, 06:19:55 AM »

On the other hand... Roll Eyes

I posted something over there in Fiction, but it looks kind of naked without the Creative Writing context from whence it flowed, i.e. the Absalom Apocalypse piece. So I'll post it over here and then call it quits. I like the magical realism spin here in this forum -- compared to normal bookchatting reportage like in Fiction, you know what I mean? This last piece I did with the list of Absalom quotes about Quentin and Shreve in their Harvard dormatory room discussing the Henry Sutpen-Charles Bon affair. It's about the Parton Dynasty dontchaknow.



Go Down Jehosephat

“And now,” Gordon said, “we’re going to talk about money.”

Young Jehosephat was learning from Gordon how to lounge around a bedroom in a gown and slippers like women wore—with the faint though unmistakable effluvium of perfume like women wore— smoking a cigar almost like a woman might smoke—with an air of indolent and lethal assurance…

Jehosephat was becoming a kept boy—there in cosmopolitan New Orleans. Amidst the Florentine lamps and gilded toilet seats and tufted mirrors…

Sipping champagne in octoroon boudoirs…aping Gordon’s clothing, carriage, speech and all…

The cosmopolitan Jehosephat, lounging in one of the silk robes the like of which he’d never seen before and believed that only women wore…

Gordon watched young Jehosephat blush fiery red yet still face him, still looking him straight in the eye while he fumbled, groped, blurted with abrupt complete irrelevance: “NYUH-NYUH-NYUHHHHHHHHH!!!”

“Well, well…” Gordon said to himself. “This young pinhead clodhopper numbskull is worth plenty. I’m going to get rich off him.”

And who’s to say he couldn’t—the possibility of lust in the Big Easy was boundless. Anybody who’s been to New Orleans—knows how much the vain evanescence of the fleshly encounter is worth…

Gordon knew what it was worth in New Orleans—but he knew how much it was worth in Memphis too…

Gordon looked at Jehosephat in bed and thought—this little Pinhead stud has my skull, my brow, my sockets, the same shape and angle of my jaw and chin—and yet there is no thinking in there—the kid can’t see in my face what I see in his…

And it was true—young Jehosephat was even more a child idiot than Benjy Compson was back in Mississippi—standing there nude in front of Gordon in their luxurious apartment in the French Quarter—a long list of avid admirers lined up to appreciate this latest young primitive discovery from the backwoods.

Young Jehosephat’s pinhead existence was soon in demand there in Sin city—decadent sophisticates were totally obsessed with such newly discovered and excruciatingly reptilian sexuality—they loved young dumb Alabama manhood—obscured totally by that primitive mindlessness whose admixing was necessary in order that the kid could give them what they wanted—shaped out of that blind chancy darkness which we call the Okefenokee Swamp…

There—there—at any moment, second, Jehosephat could evoke it—the primeval prehistoric past that lurks in every man—the ultimate whitetrash transubstantiation only swamp consciousness can incite in wicked hearts—all that cheesy intensity and dreadful zoology— stripping away any thin veneer of civilization that the wicked may have still possessed—this young pinhead hustler who never missed a beat—from the shadowy depths the absence his spirit’s posthumeity never escaping…”

That’s what Gordon Snopes wanted—he wanted Jehosephat stupid forever—he didn’t want the kid to acknowledge anything—he wanted him to understand nothing—the sooner the better just as quickly as possible—he didn’t want the kid to expect anything—all he wanted the kid to be was himself—like he found him back in Alabama—with just a fine touch here and there for the rich clientele—like a bath now and then—some fine clothes—a well-oiled fancy coiffure—the looks of a young man about town—but once the clothes come off and the lights go down low—that’s when Gordon wanted the real Jehosephat to come out—the ultimate shockingly gauche Swamp Creature…

Gordon looked into the face of the boy whose father could just as well have been a gnarly old cypress stump—oozing, overflowing with Okefenokee sensuality and rude swamp lust—no shyness, no politeness, just hot communicated flesh that speech would have been too slow even to impede—the most gawdawful throbbing Alabama animalesque thing one could imagine…

Gordon watched Jehosephat and listened to the kid— saying to himself “It’s because I’m so smart and such a good businessman that I’m going to do what I’m going to do—I’m going to make this Jehosephat even more undecided about who he is than he is already—and even more knowing about his instinctual subhuman Okefenokee you-know-what . Even if I told him now what I’m going to do—he wouldn’t understand it. But that’s not enough—I want him to understand absolutely nothing at all—I want him brain-dead dumb.

““NYUH-NYUH-NYUHHHHHHHHH!!!”

“That’s the way, kid” Gordon said.

It will happen now. It will happen my way—he’s young, dumb and full of squirrel ice cream—and he’s gonna stay that way—like a deep-down ripe oil well pumping Alabama crude—I’ll get rich…

And so Jehosephat spent six months there in New Orleans—lorded over and pimped by the esoteric, the sybarite, the steel blade in the silken tessellated sheath while Gordon hauled in the big bucks from the  French Quarter…

So that Jehosephat became as object of art—the mold and mirror of pure young animality and fashion. Then Gordon disappeared, taking Jehosephat with him—they took the Delta Queen up to Memphis to do what rich Delta Bourbons did so well. Live it up…all the way.

Then once the frozen December ruts of Christmas Eve appeared—the two vagabonds showed up back at the Parton Plantation. The two of them—except something had changed. Jehosephat must have now understood with complete despair the secret of his whole affair with Gordon—from the first instinctive moment when they met six months ago.

Gordon had failed—the kid was getting smarter. He could even drive a car now and mix martinis for wealthy guests—so that it was a different twosome who rode in the fast sleek Cadillac through the night and across the bright frosty North Alabama Christmas day.

Gordon knew but still didn’t believe—the Alabama-born boy of the Parton clan had changed. Jehosephat was still an Okefenokee pinhead—but something else had happened…

The blue winding wood smoke hanging above the plastered chimney of the Parton Plantation—they were far from the River and New Orleans. The gimpy hair-lipped youth he’d taken under his wing—the child-idiot who aped him only months ago was more than just a dumb naked ape anymore…

Two embattled spirits—struggled inside Jehosephat now. The spirit of the swamp and the spirit of the Big Easy. There was no peace between these two embattled spirits—one ancient and chthonic like an alligator gar gliding through the cypress swamp. And the other an incontrovertible cosmopolitan craving for Carnivàle and freedom.

Gordon took Jehosephat to see a doctor—perhaps a lobotomy would help. The doctor looked at Gordon and said, “Ain’t he enough for you? Why do you want less of him?”

The Parton family couldn’t believe it—Jehosephat was actually a pretty goodlooking young man now. He didn’t say “Nyuh” anymore—he didn’t have that glazed stupid look in his eyes.

“Jaysus, just look at you,” said Aunt Mildred. “A gentleman.”

Jehosephat didn’t retreat from people anymore—he could even play Poker, Pinochle and Bridge. It was as if he lived in a state of deliberate flagellant exaltation—his physical deformity transmogrified into the spirit of a young man now.

No matter how much Gordon tried—he found it impossible to evoke that condemned and excommunicated Okefenokee shade to tell him in person that everything was all right. Surely it was just a lapse of decadent teenage frivolity—sooner or later Jehosephat’s glands would assert themselves—and he could be had again in time for another lucrative Mardi Gras.

The two faced one another in the living room of the Parton home—Jehosephat the Southern moron—the morose and delicate offspring of swamp, rain and steamy heat. And Gordon Snopes—worried like all Snopes about his investment.

“There’s no escape,” Gordon said. “Your pinhead fate is part of you—like your bones and flesh and memory.”

“That old mindless sentient undreaming meat that doesn’t even know any difference between despair and victory—it’s still you and it won’t ever go away…”

Gordon wanted to keep believing that Pinheads were sometimes created for the sole purpose of selling secret private endowments—to rich Delta Bourbon aristocrats and decadent French Quarter queens who needed it…

Jehosephat could have spoken but he didn’t.. There was a quality of delicacy about Jehosephat now—even at sixteen in the middle of the last faint echo of his Alabama adolescence…”

“C’mon now,” Gordon said. “It’s time we left for Mardi Gras now,”

But Jehosephat didn’t move beneath the gripping hands—he sat  motionless in the parlor. A faint fixed grimace on his face—yet his breath gentler than that first breath when the pine branches begin to move a little…

“I don’t know,” Jehosephat said.

“You don’t know! You don’t know? You don’t know nothing, kid!!!” Gordon shouted with a mean look.

“I don’t know,” Jehosephat said.

It was then that Gordon realized the awful truth—he’d lost his pinhead goldmine…
Logged

“Other people's obsessions
are more often funny than tragic.”
—Vincent Canby, The New York Times
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