They’re Heeee-re! The books, the first pilgrims, and the boring haters.
The books arrived this morning. Fifty of them. Ready to be delivered into the hungry little hands and curious minds of my fellow Olympians. They smell delicious. This weekend (March 30th) I’ll be making “Accidental Initiations: In The Kabbalistic Tree Of Olympia” available for the first time locally when I host The Blackberry Bushes and Dead Winter Carpenters at The Olympia Ballroom; a haunted venue featured in the book. We’re expecting some paranormal researchers from Bremerton to document the event, and I’ll even be slinging a couple of Radio8Ball divinations. I can’t imagine a better coming out party for my magickally-intended little tome.
This week has seen several visitors to Olympia. They came to ooh and ah over my galley copy of the book and walk The Tree. Dan Bern came through on his way to play a gig in Seattle. Brinke Stevens; my old cast-mate from Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-A-Rama, and our mutual friend/fan; Rhonda Baughman, came for a visit, stayed at Fertile Ground and enjoyed their sojourn in The Tree. They all seemed moved by the experience and full of optimism that many more intrepid seekers will be drawn to this artifact in the coming months and years. Dan envisioned Olympia turning into a northwestern Sedona, complete with a floating vortex casino, Kabballah ballrooms, and lots of nick-nack shops selling maps of The Tree and, of course, copies of my book. It sounds a bit nightmare-ish to me, but also kind of awesome. That’s the way Dan’s poetic mind has always worked.
The boring haters showed up in between the pilgrims and the books. A couple of days ago, one of the characters from AI; Merwyn Haskett, walked out of its pages and took center stage on the Amazon review boards. He was the first to leave a testimonial. You can read it, and the corresponding kerfuffle, on my Amazon book page (while purchasing a copy or two in solidarity?). I just want to talk about the title of his review here. I have co-opted it as the title of this post.
“A Narcissistic Misogynist with a Persecution Complex”
While this kind of dramatic labeling of those we disagree with is nothing new in Olympia, in fact, it’s one of the negative patterns I take aim at in my book; I think we can have some fun dissecting the particular branding being directed at me and my book by Mr. Haskett.
It is true. Accidental Initiations is a deeply narcissistic book. It’s basically just me writing about myself and the things that have happened to me in and around The Kabbalistic Tree of Olympia. When I’m not talking about myself I’m sharing my thoughts about the world. There is almost no listening in my book whatsoever. Just pages and pages of me writing. Perhaps if I had left some pages blank it would have created more room for others to express themselves. Now my oppressed readers have to write in the margins, or post on Amazon, if they want to get a word in edgewise. How do other writers solve this conundrum?
As for being a misogynist; it’s hard to prove a negative. I know I don’t consciously hate women. I suppose that, just like I could be a deeply closeted gay man, even though I’ve never had sex with a man and don’t plan to; I could be a very repressed misogynist who only thinks he loves and admires women as mentors, allies, friends, collaborators, sisters, and potential lovers. Misogyny is a pretty intense label. The hatred of women? I mean, sometimes I hate everyone. We all have our bad days. Sometimes I get annoyed at certain women, and even at some general patterns of behavior that some women fall into, such as, I don’t know, expecting men to pay for stuff, or having to pee all the time, but it certainly doesn’t rise to the level of hatred. There is an interesting question here. Will misogynists find comfort in my book? I would be surprised if they did. If I am a misogynist it’s a particularly femme-y goddess-loving brand of misogyny. Not exactly something Rush Limbaugh’s going to go for.
Now, when Merwyn says I have a persecution complex he is right. I got it from being persecuted. I was raised by people who were persecuted in Europe and America; as Jews and as Communists. This kind of thing shapes the way a person views the world, leading to a potentially more complex understanding of persecution than those who have been raised without the fear of genocides and blacklists informing the parenting they receive. Some of the things that have happened to me personally, first as a child in the Olympia school system, and then as an adult living in Olympia – things I write about in AI, have felt oppressive. Radio8Ball being taken off the air and lied about by KAOS administrators is a ready example, or the way Merwyn and his wife, Tammy, led a campaign of harassment against me that she confesses to in my book. There is even something persecutorial about Merwyn’s name-calling review, clearly posted with the intent of scaring people, particularly women, away from my book.
When Tammy T initially got in touch with me to try and make things right, eventually leading to the confession that lives at the center of AI, she told me she was doing so behind Merwyn’s back; I assume because he is the one who has a hard-on for me. And not in the good way. He has a long history of lashing out and posting negative things about me online; just like he’s doing with his review. I seriously doubt Tammy would have gotten into any of the mischief she confesses to in my book if he hadn’t goaded her into it, which is why she couldn’t tell him she was racked with guilt and needed, for her own sake, to make peace with me. For this reason, I’m kind of glad he outed himself this week. I really downplayed his role in AI because I didn’t want to invest any more energy in his direction than I had to. The truth is; he is a huge part of my accidental initiation, in that during the entirety of my practice with The Tree he has worked in the office directly across the street from The Capitol Lake dam, right before the Chokmah Mound. His offices used to be an old-school Kentucky Fried Chicken I loved to go to with my father when I was chicken-eating child. Now it’s some kind of administrative building and Merwyn is the receptionist, with a clear view of the lake from his desk. Every time I descend the stairs, after “emptying my cup” into the vortex/abyss, he is waiting there for me. I am very aware of him. I assume he sees me, has seen me over the years. Perhaps he has even wondered what I am up to (What’s he building in there?). Part of my meditation is to forgive him. It has to be. Otherwise I’d be consumed with hatred, and all my good work would be for naught. I’ve come to appreciate the influence his presence has had in deepening my practice with The Tree, and in developing my own reserves of wisdom and mercy. Don’t get me wrong. I would still like to punch him in the face. I just don’t allow myself to gnaw on that particular brain bone for very long before breathing it out.
I’ve been telling people that, if “Accidental Initiations” were a movie, the end of the book would only be the end of the second act. The third act begins now, and with it, a star is born! Originally cast in a minor role, Merwyn Haskett, has distinguished himself as a major player; the epitome of the boring hater. Who do you think should play him in the movie?
Note: I know it’s a tad hypocritical for me to take Merwyn to task for labeling me, and then cast him as a “boring hater”. I hope this is mitigated by the fact that, rather than inaccurately branding him as an anti-semite or an abusive boyfriend, labels which carry the sting of history. The label of “boring hater” is fresh and made up especially by me for him and his ilk. Also, it’s accurate. He is clearly a hater and I am unaware of him ever creating anything beautiful, just shitting on those who do. He’s already less boring to me now than he was before I wrote this.