We’re going forward with a brave thing. When I wrote my novel 10 A BOOT STOMPING 20 A HUMAN FACE 3o GOTO 10, I inserted a character that I’ve used in a variety of unpublished work. His name is J. Sheridan Osborn, and along with his partner Adam Sentinel, they represented a mythological version of myself and my good friend, historian Philip Bickle, respectively.
It’s hard to do an author avatar, or author surrogate, or what have you- at least well. Garrett Cook can do it. Norman Mailer can do it. It was Mailer who convinced me that I could as well, and during that sturm-und-schreck 71 hours that I wrote the book, I found that the real trick, as those much more talented two had obviously learned, was to let your surrogate wear any closet skeletons like a hat.
To put it simply, J. Sheridan Osborn is me, but far more competent in a narrative capacity and only slightly more of a jerk. Which is to say, quite a bit of a jerk. But means well.
Along the way, a character makes the sole mention of one of Osborn’s works- The Metahermeneutics of Paralinguistic Qualia. Believe it or not, that accurately describes something that I am interested in, and I wanted the philosopher character to have written some sort of over-the-top wank that I might actually have done were I more infamous. Then I thought- maybe I’ll take a stab at Metahermeneutics. It would be a shame to give up on the characters of the book. In fact, I happen to like myself, even fictional versions that caricature my shortcomings.
That’s when I came up with the idea that maybe I should explore some of his other works. Or perhaps some other people should? I’ve been wanting to collaborate with a lot of people. Like Phil Bickle- Adam Sentinel himself. We’ve been talking about writing an ultraviolent historical novel forever. Most of the writers I know are just as busy with creative efforts and families and whatnot as I am, so it seemed unlikely that I’d be able to make all those collaborations happen. BOOM! Chocolate and peanut butter.
The buy-in so far has been great. Eriq Nelson is already working on his account of being dragged head first into a fictional character killing spree. Michael James Brown, better known as an agitator than author, jumped right in with a smooth understanding of his relationship with Osborn. Ed Morris, who is way more talented than I could ever hope to be, will be contributing something. Christy Leigh Stewart and I will be creating some sort of terrifying hypersigil with illustrations by Megan Hansen. Not to mention some great names like Jordan Krall, Matt Revert, Michael A. Rose, The Pueschel, Eckhard Gerdes, and William Pauley III.
I have high hopes for this project- it’s going to be a very different, rough beast. I’m going to start posting pieces and fragments here at Dharma Beatdown, and anyone can feel free to email me or leave comments with ideas.