So, I’ve been listening to the Tanis podcast, as you all know. I love The Black Tapes and this scratches that same itch. Plus, I have to say, I think I’ll be less annoyed if this story doesn’t resolve at the end of the season, since it’s hard to imagine how it could resolve.

But, after this episode, I’ve decided the other reason I’m listening with rapt attention and fear is that they’re taking L. Ron Hubbard and moving him into the fictional realm. Like we talked about this morning, they’re making him a legend. And I am a little afraid for them over it. But also in awe. It feels so brave.

As I’ve been working on Ashland, I’ve been thinking that there are two realms we always live in–real and fiction. And, like the realm of the elves is said to lie just next to but often unrecognized in our world, fiction and fact lie together. Two rivers sharing the same bed, passing next to each other, influencing each other, often intermixing in ways that can’t later be separated.

Sometimes, I suspect that religion is an effort to peel away the too-close-for-comfort nature of the Unreal and set it up in Heaven or down in Hell or off in the distance, somewhere where we don’t have to worry about it. But it doesn’t move. It’s still right here, us always slipping into it without realizing it.

As it must be, because how else can you understand a soul or consciousness or this weirdness that makes us think we have a self? It makes no sense. It is the Unrealness at our very core, the story told to us from the beginning, that we have an interior life.

Which is not to say that I don’t believe in myself, my self. I believe in a great deal of Unreal things. I’m just saying that the strangeness is in us, from the start.

Anyway, I hope the Tanis folks stay safe.

From Fact to Legend and Back Again

One of my favorite things, though I’m also often really frustrated by it, is how facts become legends that then get cemented back into untrue facts.

Take this really awesome thing about the 11 weirdest places in Mississippi and scroll down to The Witch Dance. You may remember the reference to this in my story about Little Harpe.:

First inhabited by Native Americans, the area of Witch Dance soon became a meeting spot for witches. According to local lore, the witches would perform ceremonies that included dancing. It is said that wherever the witches’ feet touched the ground during these dances, the grass would wither and die, never to grow again. Believed to be bad luck, these barren spots were avoided by Indians, travelers, and traders; however, there was someone who wasn’t so lucky. Local criminal, Big Harpe, was told to stay away from the unusual spots, but he ignored the warning and was later found with his head nailed to a tree. Many believe that a witch ended up taking Big Harpe’s head and using it for a special potion.

There are facts of a sort in here. The Witch Dance was a site the Native Americans knew about. But it’s not clear that it was ever associated with witchcraft or bad luck before white settlers got there. But holy shit. Big Harpe was in no way a local criminal and there’s nothing to indicate that he ever even went to Mississippi. This kind of insinuates that the witches nailed his head to a tree, but we know it was the local Kentuckians warning other river pirates. Weirdly enough, there is a Kentucky story that a witch took his head.

Poor Little Harpe, who actually went to Mississippi, gets kicked out of the legend all together.