Satan, Sin and Death, engraved by Thomas Rowlandson and John Ogbourne after T00790 1792 by William Hogarth 1697-1764

The Unholy Trinity: Satan, Sin, and Death in Milton’s Paradise Lost

Essays

Satan, Sin, and Death represent a perversion of the Holy Trinity in Milton’s Paradise Lost, working as ideological opposites both in terms of how they are portrayed and in their moral characters when compared to their divine counterparts. Each character exists as an inversion of God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, respectively, and their antitheses of the celestial deities work to reinforce allegories Milton illustrates about goodness and the triumph over evil. Furthermore, he pays homage to earlier literary traditions in his depictions of these characters and their actions, albeit through his own interpretations, and strengthens the moral of their story by hinting at earlier myths and tales into his interpretation of the Unholy Trinity.

To understand its inversion, we first have to take a look at the Holy Trinity. Comprised of God (or the Father), the Son, and the Holy Spirit (which plays more of a metaphorical part in Paradise Lost than a literal one), the Holy Trinity becomes a sum of its parts to embody the wholly positive. God is assured by his omnipotence, the Son is an outpouring of altruism, and the ever-present Holy Spirit is both the infinite life that drives existence and the manifestation of love between Father and Son. Together they comprise the foundation for both the positivity and the goodness that Satan and his inverted trinity stand in opposition to. And where the Holy Trinity is defined by balance, the Unholy Trinity is defined by abnormality—this is a dysfunctional family if ever there was one.

According to Saint Augustine, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity attempts to “describe the relationships among the three Persons of the Trinity in terms of human analogy” (White 338). The meaning of each is interrelated with one another. The Son represents the wisdom or word of the Father, while the Holy Spirit exists as the personification of the love between the two of them. In the simplest analogy, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are, respectively, the mind, self-knowledge, and self-love (White 338). Milton’s Unholy Trinity, then, is a kind of bastardization of Augustine’s analogy, representing qualities like pride, impulsiveness, and lustfulness.

The roots of this infernal threesome can be traced back directly to Satan’s hubris. With all of Heaven assembled, God announces his Son to be the ruler at his side over all others, and Satan “…could not bear through pride that sight, and thought himself impaired” (V. 664-5). With Satan’s pride wounded by the news, we witness a physical transformation of his character when he gives birth, in a way, to Sin:

All on a sudden miserable pain

Surprised thee, dim thine eyes, and dizzy swum

In darkness, while thy head flames thick and fast

Threw forth, till on the left side op’ning wide,

Likest to thee in shape and countnance bright,

Then shining heav’nly fair, a goddess armed

Out of thy head I sprang…

(II.752-8; emphasis mine)

Satan, prideful and scorned by the realization of being named lesser than this new addition to the heavenly ranks, transmogrifies that pride into a physical being. Once Sin exists, not only as a person but also as a concept, Satan’s character changes dramatically, and “deep malice thence conceiving” he begins his plans of rebellion (V. 666). All it takes is for Satan to have the idea of sin for Sin herself to be made manifest. The concept of sin had not yet existed until this point, because no other heavenly entity had cause to feel slighted—each was part of God’s plan and trusted in that omnipotence. Satan’s pride, which both allowed him the thought to feel superior to the Son and the resistance to trust in God’s will opened the gate for the concept of sin (and the character of Sin) to come into being.

John Mulryan draws parallels between Satan giving “birth” to Sin and Jupiter (Zeus) likewise creating Minerva (Athena), with obvious distinctions. For one, many scholars neglect to cite that “Pallas is actually born from her mother Metis, who had been swallowed up by Jupiter”, whereas Milton’s Satan is “…self-impregnated, or self-raped, making love to himself and then to his daughter, the product of his incestuous mind. In fact the birth is a form of self-abuse” (Mulryan 17-8). This idea of self-abuse is also a inversion of one of the Holy Trinity’s Augustinian human analogies—self-love.

There is also the important distinction to note that Athena/Minerva represented wisdom, but where there is Sin “there is only darkness and ignorance” (Mulryan 18). Where God is an all-knowing, omnipotent creator full of infinite stratagems, Satan is ignorant of his own self and the Sin lurking within it. Milton is hinting at the dangers of ignorance, especially in relation to one’s own being, and subsequently, through God and the Holy Trinity, seems to be advocating the old maxim “Know thyself”.

Milton drew from literary antiquity in his design of Satan. His dark protagonist is “invested with the martial valor of the classical epic heroes whom Milton admired” (Hopkins 25). Satan is a defiant republican, and leaves an especially strong impression in the poem next to the “self-defensive God” and its “fragile, vulnerable human characters” (Hopkins 25). Cleverly, Milton also rigs Satan’s speech with “his sense of how the fine sentiments of republican polemic could so easily slide into an advocacy of the very kind of monarchical tyranny that it was designed to challenge”, and this is one of the reasons Satan in the early books is so appealing to the reader (Hopkins 28). His passion sounds inspiring when presented through Milton’s blank verse and Satan’s soliloquies, but his arguments unravel as the story goes on.

Indeed, Satan’s rebellion against his subjugation to God goes against the idea of a harmonious hierarchy presented in the poem. The universe in Paradise Lost is one comprised of different levels, higher and lower orders of different distinctions that, despite inequalities, exist nonetheless without oppression or resentment—in fact, “the ‘lower’ party is seen as realizing its own potential life more fully and perfectly because of its subordination” (Hopkins 29, emphasis original). Paradoxically, in rebelling against subjugation, Satan finds himself with a wealth of subjects when a third of Heaven takes up with him, but he is no true leader in a comparative sense to God. It’s Abdiel in Book VI who makes this clear in his statement:

Unjustly thou deprav’st it with the name

Of servitude to serve whom God ordains,

Or nature; God and nature bid the same,

When he who rules is worthiest, and excels

Them who governs. This is servitude,

To serve th’ unwise, or him who hath rebelled

Against his worthier, as thine now serve thee,

Thyself not free, but to thyself enthralled;

(VI.174-81)

Satan is not the worthiest of rule, he is not the best to lead these angels—he is a tyrant following his own will, his own passions whom these others have fallen in with. And this is his ultimate downfall, as Satan is constantly consumed and sabotaged by his pride and arrogance. These truths are often masked in his early soliloquies by a kind of tragic overcoat reminiscent of characters like Hamlet, making him both sympathetic to the reader and “keep[ing] open the possibility that Satan just might, even now, repent, while we know simultaneously and paradoxically, that he will not” (Hopkins 32). He is so steadfast in his denial of the divine and natural order of Milton’s universe that “he can never know hope, ease, tranquility, joy or relations—other than those of domination or perverted lust—with anything or anybody beyond himself” (Hopkins 33). And here is another important aspect of the perversion of the divine—God, who knows himself completely (harking back again to Augustine’s idea of God representative of the “mind”), recognizes “His perfect goodness and loves Himself”, while Satan’s self-love comes from a mixture of arrogance and self-ignorance (White 339). Satan’s love for himself does not stem from the fact that he knows he is righteous, but that he feels entitled above all others.

The Son and the Holy Spirit are aspects of God in the Holy trinity, stemming from God’s self-knowledge and subsequently his pure self-love. Sin and Death are likewise aspects that are begotten from Satan, but inversely from his self-ignorance and self-abuse. Firstly, the birth of Sin must be examined to begin to understand the depths of this inversion, and to fully grasp the subtleties alluding to this ignorance and abuse with which Milton infused her creation.

Milton compiled many sources to create his version of Sin, but while scholars tend to want to follow the literary breadcrumbs back to her origins, Milton also deviated quite drastically from many of the more popular stories often quoted as influencing his version of the character. Most obviously central in her creation is the myth of Athena and her subsequent birth from Zeus’s forehead via a headache. Sin too is born from Satan’s own headache, though what is most notable is the fact that she comes from the left side of Satan’s head—“…thy head flames thick and fast/Threw forth, till on the left side op’ning wide,” (II.754-5).

This left side, historically, had always been associated with otherness—“The child emerges from the left or sinister side of his head” (Mulryan 18; emphasis mine). In fact the origin of the word “left” comes from the Old English lyft, which means “weak, foolish”, and the word “sinister” itself comes from the Latin for “left”, which is where the unfavorable connotation originates (Online Etymology Dictionary). The term “unlucky” is also used in sinister’s archaic definition (Merriam-Webster). These connotations are also present in a historically demeaning attitude towards those born left-handed, who were often thought of as unlucky or ostracized for their “otherness”. Milton therefore subtly tweaks the well-known myth of Athena by adding this small but important detail about the left side of the head, indicating Sin’s birth from a place of unlucky weakness.

In drawing from literary sources, Milton also borrowed from Spenser’s Errour and the Greek Scylla, but again with important distinctions. Firstly, where Spenser’s Errour might somewhat resemble Sin’s eventual deformed shape, a half-woman half-serpant with a “mortal sting”, the greatest difference here is that Sin was once a being described as “heaven’ly fair”, whereas Errour is assumed to have always been the monstrous creature she is described as when the knight meets her (Martin 1). Likewise, Errour’s brood are described as “Her cursed fruitful spawn of serpants small”, where Sin’s are whelping devil dogs that are a part of her and “kennel” inside of her womb (Martin 1). And where Sin might bear some resemblance to the Greek Scylla, Scylla is an “innocent victim of a love triangle gone wrong”, where Sin’s sufferings “are clearly related to the Christian condemnation of concupiscence, not abstinence” (Martin 2). But where scholars have often looked to antiquity to tease out Milton’s sources, his own version of Sin as “a figure of fallen and fertile if finally abortive procreat[or]” seems most apt to have come from Francis Bacon:

For like Sin’s fatal allure, the attractions of Bacon’s Scylla represent not the destructive temptations of lust of false religion in particular, but the broader and more dangerous enticement of idolatrous, superstitious, and self-serving knowledge in general. Thus in either case, succumbing to this seductress’s illusionary charms means not just indulging in ‘unprofitable subtility or curiousity’ (Works 3: 286), but also in an empty, sterile, and ultimately self-destructive form of ‘knowing’ in the complex biblical sense of the word.

       (Martin 3, emphasis mine)

Sin therefore represents a dangerous kind of knowledge unlocked by way of circumventing God, a kind of curiosity-killed-the-cat type of danger that comes from straying from the path God has created for existence (i.e., following the urge of a
“sin”), whereas the Son represents the same kind of hidden knowledge to be gained by way through the path of God, and as such he is an allegorical positive. Both lead to an awakening, but the knowledge Sin unlocks brings with it suffering and punishment, where God’s knowledge promises rewards and fulfillment. This is at the heart of Sin and the Son’s allegorical inversion.

Since he is the ultimate narcissist, Satan creates both a sympathizer and a catalyst for his actions when he births Sin—she is the embodiment of his all prideful motivations (since her very being is the physical extension of Satan’s scorn against God). Her existence, therefore, further supports his conflict with God, making her immensely attractive to him, and so he lusts after and impregnates her. It’s Sin’s creation, too, that solidifies Satan’s place as God’s opponent. Until this moment he was still at least a reluctant participant in God’s choir of angels, but from her birth forward he has a new course towards his rebellion.

Much in the same way that when Adam and Eve are first exposed to sinful knowledge they run off to ravish one another in “the solace of thir sin”, Satan’s first instinct is also lust towards Sin (IV. 1044). But his attraction is made doubly strong by the fact that Sin is also a part of him, and here is where the love between God and the Son is perverted by having it turned into an incestuous relationship. In this way Satan’s able to take a pain inflicted on him by God and alter it into a form of self-pleasure, while paradoxically also making it a form of self-abuse (since he is both making love to a part of himself and committing rape against his “daughter”).

It’s in Book II, when Satan is attempting to leave Hell and first meets Sin and Death together that we’re first directly introduced to the Unholy Trinity altogether proper, and it’s this encounter that offers the most insight into the inversion of the Trinity, given Milton’s clues about how they interact with one another. First, Satan nearly comes to blows with Death, whom he arrogantly challenges at the gates of Hell:

Whence and what art thou, execrable shape,

That dar’st, though grim and terrible, advance

Thy miscreated front athwart my way

To yonder gates?

(II. 681-4; emphasis mine)

It’s important to note the use of the word “shape” in this passage, because it alludes to Death’s relationship with the Holy Spirit, which is also a non-substantive being or force. Before the two attack one another, Sin intervenes, but there’s a peculiar moment where Satan has to be reminded of who Sin is specifically, when she asks “Hast thou forgot me then[?]” (II. 747). In Milton’s juxtaposition of the divine and infernal trinities, it’s as if he is implying that Satan’s very hubris has somehow clouded his memory, whereas God’s omnipotence would have never allowed for such a mental slip. This seems notable, because in and of itself it illustrates that Satan is singularly minded, and so centered on his own devices that he has forgotten the very existence of his offspring.

The standoff itself between Satan and Death is telling as well. Where the Son and God are communicative, loving, and nearly equal in stature and regality, Satan and Death are immediately at odds with one another, threatened by the other’s existence and ready to kill one another at a moment’s notice—both notably out of a prideful arrogance. Satan feels this shade has no business blocking his path, and Death is driven to take the life from every being he comes across. Both are predisposed to dominate.

In addition, the way Death speaks to Satan is in direct opposition to the way the Son speaks to God. The Son, who is picturesque in his loving demeanor towards his father, is described as:

Most glorious, in him all his Father shone

Substantially expressed, and in his face

Divine compassion visibly appeared,

Love without end, and without measure grace,

Which uttering thus he to his Father spake.

(III. 139-43)

While inversely, Death begins by calling his father “that traitor angel”, then further slights him by naming himself the king of Hell, and ends by threatening him to leave “lest with a whip of scorpions I pursue thy ling’ring, or with one stroke of this dart strange horror seize thee, and pangs unfelt before” (II. 689-703). All of this only enrages Satan more, and illustrates that the relationships between Satan & Death and God & the Son are polar opposites.

But Death, more aptly, is the inversion of the Holy Spirit, who while not figuring specifically in the poem is representational of both the love between God and the Son and the eternal life within all things (i.e., the Holy Spirit as “The Giver of Life”). In the way that the Holy Spirit brings life to all Godly things, Death inversely exists to remove that life. Both also share the quality of formlessness, as the Holy Spirit is the intangible aspect of the Holy Trinity, and Death is an “execrable shape” (II.681). And where the Holy Spirit is also a product of the bond and love between the Father and Son, Death is a product of the incestuous rape between Satan and his self-begotten offspring—the very perversion of that love the Holy Spirit embodies. This reversal is further emphasized by the gruesome transformation Death causes in his mother during his birth, and especially in his own subsequent rape of Sin, resulting in the mewling hellhounds that torment her endlessly. This is about as far away from the “love without end” between God and Son that one could get.

Only after finding out that Sin and Death are his offspring does Satan change his tune with them—after Sin tells him who she is, but more importantly when she reveals what she is charged with keeping hold of:

Driv’n headlong from the pitch of Heav’n, down

Into this deep, and in the general fall

I also; at which time this powerful key

Into my hand was giv’n, with charge to keep

These gates forever shut, which none can pass

Without my op’ning.

(II. 772-7)

He answers “smooth”, i.e., manipulating them, calling them “dear daughter” and “fair son” where only a moment before he was repulsed by them and ready to fight, now Satan “his lore soon learned” (II. 816-18). Once he discovers that Sin’s key—and her choice to use it—is the only way out of Hell, he completely changes tactics to try and win her and Death over with promises of rewards on Earth:

I come no enemy, but to set free

From out this dark and dismal house of pain,

Both him and thee, and all the heav’nly host

…And bring ye to the place where thou and Death

Shall dwell at ease, and up and down unseen

Wing silently the buxom air, embalmed

With odors; there ye shall be fed and filled

Immeasurably, all things shall be your prey.

(II.822-844)

Where one of the key elements between the three figures in the Holy Trinity is love, with the Unholy Trinity it is lies. Satan lies to himself about the Son, feeling him inadequate when in actuality he is “fraught with envy against the Son of God” (V.661-2). It is Satan who feels inadequate, but his ego buries this truth under his consciousness until he becomes ignorant of it. And it’s ignorance that plays the largest and most detrimental role in the Unholy Trinity.

If God is the mind and all the positive knowledge it represents, then Satan has chosen to veer from that path by rebelling against him, and in doing so he rebels against God’s logic with his ignorance. The extension of that ignorance takes a cognizant form in Sin, where the extension of God’s knowledge (or self-knowledge) begets the Son, and the perverse love (or self-abuse) between Satan and Sin gives birth to Death, the nihilistic inversion of the Holy Spirit. Superficially, this Unholy Trinity creates a balance with the Holy Trinity, but in reality Milton has given us a clear moral loser in Satan and his family. The Unholy Trinity exist to reinforce the argument that the path to true knowledge comes from trusting in the will of God, exemplifying what happens when self-centered motivations are pursued in lieu of altruistic ones. Most importantly, Milton’s Unholy Trinity brings a greater depth and weight to the positivity inherent in the Holy Trinity, reinforces the Augustinian analogies thereof, and leaves the reader with a foreboding message about the nature of sin and evil.


Works Cited

Hopkins, David. Reading Paradise Lost. Wiley-Blackwell, 2013. Print.

“Left”. Online Etymology Dictionary. 2014. Web. 12 May 2014.

Martin, Catherine Gimelli. “The Sources of Milton’s Sin Reconsidered”. Milton Quarterly 35.1 (2001): 1-8. Web. 5 Feb. 2014.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2012. 1943-2175. Print.

Mulryan, Paul. “Satan’s Headache: The Perils and Pains of Giving Birth to a Bad Idea”. Milton Quarterly 39.1 (2005): 16-22. Web. 5 Feb. 2014.

“Sinister.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 12 May 2014.

“Sinister”. Online Etymology Dictionary. 2014. Web. 12 May 2014.

White, Robert B. “Allegory of Sin and Death: A Comment on Backgrounds”. Modern Philology, Vol. 70, No. 4 (May, 1973), pp. 337-341. Web. 6 Feb 2014.

Juggling Chainsaws

Musings

I’m currently surrounded by pens, notebooks, and a stack of books that are adorned with dozens of tiny chopped up post-it notes marking pages of interest. On my computer, half a dozen documents clog the screen filled with quotations, references, and pages upon pages of rough free writing that link to an argument that began just a week and a half ago. I’m in the thick of my senior thesis, and so far it’s been glorious.

Instead of the prerequisite paper I was to write, where I refined an early essay into something more polished, I of course had to take a crazier route and choose something more challenging–writing an entirely new paper from scratch, from start to finalized finish, in ten weeks. And where my previous topics have ranged from Hamlet to Lovecraft, I chose to go way outside the box and cover something very near and dear to my heart: comics. Specifically, Batman and the Joker, and their endless struggle against one another.

On top of this, I just recently found my way into a freelance writing job, which I’m still feeling out, but could be promising. That makes four jobs for me now: school, the restaurant, comic reviewing, and freelancing–on top of the family. We’ll see what wreckage results. For now, send caffeinated thoughts my way, and I’ll check back in soon to see what’s still intact of my sanity.

So about those updates…

Musings

Jesus, is it really already the end of September? I had planned on keeping this blog more up to date after the overhaul I gave it in the spring, but that obviously didn’t happen. I’ve been busy with so many things: kids, summer term, working, finishing the first draft of a novel, as well as writing regularly over at Coming Up Comics, the love child between my good friend David Melton and myself. So unfortunately, poor ‘ol Digital Mediast sort of fell towards the bottom of my priorities. I really do want to start injecting more time and energy here, though, so here’s a quick update on what’s been happening.

My newborn is now a tiny Hulk, on the verge of turning his babbles into words and becoming more mobile everyday. He astounds me with how intelligent and aware he is (yeah, I know, that’s the go-to parental response, but seriously–this kid’s gonna be building time machines before we know it). School is creeping along. I just finished my… seventh term? Two years so far at Marylhurst, save one term that I took off for my health, and I’m slowly getting closer to that English BA. I’ve still got a long way to go, but slow and steady wins the race, right? RIGHT??

I’ve also been working on a novel that I’ve been tinkering with for a few years. The first draft is done, and very rough (I figure I’ll need to rewrite the first act at least), but hey, it’s there. It’s the biggest, most complete beast of fiction I’ve ever written and I feel pretty goddamn good about finishing it. I’ll start hitting the editorial phase soon, but for now I’m taking a step away from it to try and get perspective.

Here’s the issue, with my quote up top.

Finally, the biggest thing is perhaps the site David and I started, Coming Up Comics. We started the site for fun, to review comics and try to interview creators, but we’ve actually gained some real industry cred in the process. One of my reviews for Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye (Marvel) that focused on the ASL-centric themes in the issue was mentioned by a national news story and the Oregon Association for the Deaf. Then the biggest shocker came when a quote I’d written about a particular issue popped up on the cover to the following issue, effectively advertising our site in every comics store that sold it (Mars Attacks First Born is the book, and it’s a great read). The reception from creators and publishers has also been positive, so it’s been a ball to do it, despite how much energy it often takes Dave and I on top of our regular jobs and life-stuff.

So, how’ve you been?

The Jackson Witch

The Jackson Witch

Prose
Stop and Shop Supermarket by MIT Libraries

Stop and Shop Supermarket by MIT Libraries

  In tribute to Shirley Jackson’s story “The Witch”.

  “That simply will not do, Jeffrey,” Prudence said.
Jeffrey reluctantly placed the toy car back on the shelves and stared at the floor while his mother double-checked her grocery list. They’d been in Jackson’s Foods for less than ten minutes, and already Prudence Hyatt had scolded Jeffrey several times. A young boy of about seven, Jeffrey had been categorically deconstructed by his mother before he’d had any chance to develop. He was dressed in miniature clothing: shined black leather dress shoes, rough wool slacks, a button-down shirt, and a small, one button blazer. His hair was kept very short, and he endured it with the same awkward embarrassment imbued into the face of a sheared lamb. He was all restraint and capped emotion, having long been trained by his mother just what mold was appropriate to be in whilst in public.
Prudence picked a can of fruit cocktail from the shelf, and held it up in the light to inspect it. Jeffrey never could tell what she was looking for, but everything that entered the shopping cart was required to go through this rigorous process. Seemingly satisfied, she set it into the cart, careful to align it with the rest of the groceries, and made a perfect check mark next to “Fruit Cocktail” on her shopping list.
“Come along, Jeffrey,” she said, and started piloting the cart around the end of the row of canned goods, leading them over to Aisle 8. Jeffrey kept a close distance to his mother’s thick legs, looking doleful as his eyes scanned all the things he was forbidden to touch.
On the left side of the aisle were rows and rows of toilet paper, paper towels, and at the far end a small selection of sanitary napkins. On the right, brightly colored cleaning products of all kinds boasted slogans like, “No stains remain!”, and “Oxygenated Action!”. Jeffrey didn’t read very well, but he liked looking at all the bright colors and pictures of cartoon bubbles on the labels. He wanted to touch them, but resisted the urge.
His mother was laboring over her grocery list, determining the best path through the store to pick up the rest of the items she needed, while never passing an aisle twice. Prudence Hyatt was nothing if not efficient. Even her housedress looked efficient, devoid of the usual playful floral print and instead a no-nonsense flat black.
Another shopper turned into the aisle, and Jeffrey immediately recognized it as their neighbor, Mr. Edelweiss. Mr. Edelweiss was an older man in his sixties, who sometimes tried to give Jeffrey a piece of candy, or tell him a story. Prudence, of course, always forbid the candy.
Upon seeing his straight-laced neighbors, Mr. Edelweiss waved from the end of the aisle, and formed a warm grin on his wrinkled face. He made a mock salute to Jeffrey, and the little boy smiled and raised his hand to his temple to salute back. Mr. Edelweiss added a few items to his cart and rolled along until he was in speaking distance of mother and son.
“Good morning, Mrs. Hyatt,” he said politely.
“Mr. Edelweiss,” she replied, dipping her head at him in condescension.
“And a very good morning to you, young sir,” he said, bowing a little in Jeffrey’s direction.
Jeffrey smiled. He always liked it when Mr. Edelweiss called him a “young sir”. It made him feel important.
“Morning,” Jeffrey said back, a little meekly.
“Had any adventures yet today?” Mr. Edelweiss asked him.
Prudence frowned at the old man, but went about carefully reading labels on some of the cleaners.
“Nope, not yet,” Jeffrey replied, already starry-eyed by the simple mention of an idea like “adventure”.
“Well there’s plenty to be had in Jackson’s. You know, it might look like an ordinary grocery store,” Mr. Edelweiss said, and leaned a little closer to Jeffrey, “but the truth is there’s a witch that’s loose somewhere in the store.”
Prudence harrumphed and cocked her head at Mr. Edelweiss, inflicting her patented stare of doom. He was impenetrable, and took a small bon-bon from his pocket to give to Jeffrey.
Jeffrey’s eyes lit up. He knew Mr. Edelweiss liked to tell stories, but what if there really was a witch somewhere in the grocery store? The thought frightened and exhilarated him all at once. He jumped a little when the overhead public address system crackled on, and the voice of Jackson’s manager, Augustan Harlow, came out through the speakers.
“Would the owner of a red Plymouth Valiant please come to the Customer Service Center? Owner of a red Valiant, please come to the Service Center.”
Prudence perked up her ears, and felt herself flush, which she hated. A scowl spread over her face as she realized it was her automobile in question, and that she would be interrupted in her meticulous shopping by something that must obviously be some sort of mistake. She looked at the cart, and the old man entertaining her son with his foul stories.
“Mr. Edelweiss, it seems I’m being called to the front about my automobile,” Prudence said. She always called them automobiles, and had never uttered the word “car”.
“It seems so,” he said, smiling broad.
“Would it be an intrusion to ask you to watch over Jeffrey and the groceries while I speak with the clerk?” she asked, mortified at even having to ask.
“Of course not, I’d be honored to look after the little tyke,” he said, and gave Jeffrey a wink.
Prudence gave one more quick scowl before hurrying off to see what all the fuss with her automobile was about. Once out of sight, Jeffrey felt more relaxed, and began to ask the old man questions.
“Is there really a witch?” he said.
“Most definitely there is, young sir. But she’s hard to spot, tends to move around a lot,” Mr. Edelweiss said, and handed Jeffrey a bon-bon. “But you know, witches are always changing their shape, so sometimes you might not even know if she‘s around.”
“What do they change their shape to?” Jeffrey asked, popping the bon-bon into his mouth and hearing his mother scold him in his head.
“Oh all kinds of things. She could be in a box of instant potatoes, or a carton of eggs, or she might decide to disguise herself as a can of fruit cocktail,” Mr. Edelweiss said, and Jeffrey peered closely at the can in the shopping cart, squinting to see if it was really a witch.
“Might even look just like a regular person,” Mr. Edelweiss said, and smiled his warm smile.
“Sometimes they can even look like someone you know,” he finished.
Jeffrey looked around, as though every bottle of detergent might be an evil creature waiting to kidnap him. He was alight with this new information. He peered around more cautiously, trying to ready himself for any sneak attack that might come from an old hag.
“And witches can be tricky, too,” Mr. Edelweiss said. “Very sneaky.”
“What do witches want?” Jeffrey asked.
“Sometimes they want to kidnap people, to boil them up into stew for their evil spells,” Mr. Edelweiss said in a whisper. Jeffrey gasped.
“They do?”
“Or sometimes they just want to cause some mischief,” he said, and patted the boy on the head. “Never can be too careful.”
“How do you know if someone’s a witch?” Jeffrey asked.
“Well, in the old days they used to tie a big stone to someone they suspected as a witch, and then they’d throw them in a lake to see if they’d float,” Mr. Edelweiss said.
“Really?” Jeffrey said, his eyes wide while he clucked the bon-bon around in his mouth.
“But that’s not a very good way to find out,” he said, and leaned down closer to Jeffrey.
The old man smelled musty, and his breath had an acrid undertone.
“Really the best way is to scratch them,” Mr. Edelweiss said.
Jeffrey made a puzzled face.
“Scratch them?”
“That’s right. They used to say that when you scratch a witch and make it bleed, it eases their suffering and sends their soul to God,” Mr. Edelweiss said. “The more scratches the better.”
“What do you scratch them with?” Jeffrey asked.
“Doesn’t matter, I suppose. As long as you draw blood,” Mr. Edelweiss said.
Prudence Hyatt came rigidly back into Aisle 8, and appeared a little flustered.
“Thank you for watching over Jeffrey, Mr. Edelweiss. I assume you weren’t filling his head with nonsense,” she said.
“Oh no, ma’am. Just the essentials,” Mr. Edelweiss said, and winked at Jeffrey.
“Any trouble with your car?” Mr. Edelweiss asked.
Prudence gave him a dull look, and surveyed the rest of the items on her shopping list.
“Just a problem with the parking brake,” she said.
Jeffrey tried to look closely at her, to see if she was really a witch disguised as his mother.
“Come along, Jeffrey,” Prudence said, leading the cart down to the next aisle.
Mr. Edelweiss saluted, and Jeffrey mimicked the motion back to him before scuttling after Prudence.
They rounded a few more aisles, sticking closely to Prudence’s neurotic shopping list, until they turned into the freezer section. It was located at the back right corner of the store, where a long row of glass doors housed boxes of frozen foods, and bags of rock-hard vegetables. One of the hanging florescent lights overhead flickered at a bothersome speed. No other customers were present in the cold aisle, and Jeffrey tried to keep his guard up, growing ever more suspicious of this might-be-witch who looked like his mother.
Maybe she’s still talking to the clerk, he thought.
Prudence was reading the label on a bag of frozen peas, when she felt a sharp pain on the back of her left calf.
“Ouch!” she yelped, and whipped round to see Jeffrey clawing at her leg with his tiny fingernails.
“Jeffrey! Stop that this–” she started to say, but was cut off as he dragged his fingernails deep and long over her pale skin and varicose veins.
“Owww!” she cried again. His nails felt like tiny razors, and a few faint drops of blood seeped from the raw red streaks he’d left.
He switched to the other leg, and started burrowing hurriedly into her flesh with the immediacy of a dog burying a bone. Prudence reached out to push him away, yelling out in pain, but Jeffrey grabbed hold of her arms and scaled her like a mountain, until he could grab her hair between clenched fists. Her head jerked to the side and she cried out from the searing pain on her scalp, tipping over to the ground after becoming top-heavy with Jeffrey. She flailed as she fell, and yelled wildly until her head hit the hard tile floor with a sickening thud. She went quiet.
Jeffrey continued to claw at her face until his hands were wet and red, determined to save the people of Jackson’s Foods and send this witch away. As he tore at her face, a woman entering the freezer section screamed, and quickly darted away to find help. When he was satisfied, Jeffrey leaned back panting, and saw Mr. Edelweiss walk past the corner. He lifted his hand in a salute to the boy, and Jeffrey brought his own red hand up to mimic the gesture back.

Fields of Fire

Fields of Fire

Prose
Old Factory by Richard Jonkman

Old Factory by Richard Jonkman

Most of the workers spent their lunch breaks in the courtyard, where they could sit at the rusting picnic tables and inhale some of the crisp air that so seldom made it into the factory. They were dressed in similar overalls of dull blues and greys, with a few wearing caps in the same shades. Each had a lunchbox issued to them which sat uniformly along the edges of the six tables, and their red color gave them the look of stunted toolboxes.
The courtyard bordered the west side of the squat factory building, with the tables on the southern end in a three by two grid. The other end of the lot was for employee parking, where second hand pickups and dented compacts rested between faded white lines. The factory itself was two stories of brick and tiny windows, and its only distinguishing features were the two smokestacks that rose on either end of its roof.
“Twelve years.” One of the men said, staring at his sandwich.
It was bologna and Swiss.
“Next year would‘ve been my twenty fifth.” A man with a tuna salad sandwich replied.
“Any of you remember what was here before?”
The two men looked to the next table over, where the oldest man at the factory was chewing on a hoagie. They shook their heads.
“Wasn’t anything, nothing at all. Just a big empty field where the grass was overgrown. Used to be a bunch of prairie dogs that would dash around in it.”
The men looked back at their lunches.
“I used to come as a boy. I’d run up the hill with a lunch from home in a kerchief.” The hoagie man pointed and traced the line of the hill from memory, drawing his imaginary slope over the hard angles of the factory building. “I’d sit up top, and on cloudy days when the light poked through just right, sometimes the field looked like it was on fire.”
The man with the tuna sandwich cleared his throat and nudged the man with the bologna sandwich. They smiled to each other as the old timer went on.
“It was beautiful.” He said.
For a moment, the dim colors of the courtyard bled away and let through the shades of the old man’s youth. For a moment he felt strength return to his old joints and remembered what it was like to pump his legs and lean into the wind as he crested the hill of the field. For a moment he could see the long lazy stalks of wild grass whip round and play tricks on his eyes again, inviting imaginings into the mind of a curious boy. For a moment, and then he was just an old man at a picnic table again.
A few men seated at the old man’s table had gotten up and walked to the far side of the lot. They were lighting cigarettes as justification, but really they just didn’t want to listen to him anymore.
“Sometimes there’d be a dog; a scruffy thing with black and white fur. All in patches, you know? I played fetch with him for a whole afternoon once.”
The man with the tuna sandwich had finished his food, and crumpled his garbage into his lunchbox. The man with the bologna hadn’t yet finished, and looked betrayed as his neighbor got up and left.
“Even when they started developing up around the dunes, and over to Hill 57, they still left the field. They put up them ugly condos and built a few silly shopping centers around, but they left the field alone for a long time. Least until the factory folks came along.”
The old man had left his hoagie sitting on the table, with two big bites taken out of the end of it. The wax paper wrapped around it flapped in the breeze as he talked.
“One day when I was about fourteen I was walking up with my lunch like always, except they had the field marked off behind this brand new chain link. Same as it is now, I think.”
The man with the bologna sandwich stuffed the last two bites in his mouth and stood up, leaving while chewing.
“They had a whole team of guys cutting down the grass, just shredding it all to pieces. Had those big gas powered weed wackers, and the lawn mowers you ride on. Must’ve only taken them the afternoon to bald the hill.”
There were only a few men left at the tables, with most at the other end of the courtyard smoking away from the old man.
“They had the concrete for the foundation down by the next week, and then it felt like the field had never been there at all. Just this cold patch of grey over the spot where I’d been a boy.”
The low whistle from the factory sounded, and the men began to shuffle inside to finish their last day at work. The old man stayed at his table.
He put his sandwich down and studied the building. The red of the brick was a bland brown now, but he couldn’t tell if it was the building or his eyes that had dulled. He thought about a few years from now, when the lot would be long vacant and the blacktop would be cracked and uneven. He pictured the weeds that would be overgrown, the dust and soot that would blanket and hide whatever couldn’t be sold inside the factory, and the way the windows would dirty and fill with haze. He thought that maybe if it went untouched long enough there might be a chance that the lot would split and open enough to let some of the old wild grass push through again. And maybe if left alone, it could grow as long and virile as the memories of his youth, and dance in the eyes of another young man.
As the last of the men trailed in through the factory entrance, the old man stood up slowly from the table and made his way to meet them. He left his sandwich absently on the table, where its paper crinkled and caught in the wind like a sail, tumbling over itself and falling to the ground.

Reality Check

Reality Check

Prose
On My Soapbox by Bob Miller

On My Soapbox by Bob Miller

My first published piece of prose, appearing in Portland Community College’s Alembic in Winter of 2011, and the piece of writing responsible for my marriage.

Burl Jenkins stood tall and proud in his tattered old robe, at the utmost pinnacle of the wobbling living room recliner,
exclaiming:

“Are we

Born

Spitting hate and malice and dread?

Were the first fresh feelers of exploration aimed at conquest and domination?

Is there more to the exchange of

So many atoms

Than the simple acts of devastation?

Do we pour our hopes and dreams into more than patriotic themes

That blast full volume

On stilted plateaus,

Whose faces are so shallow as to show only

The sad dapper bunch

That sits behind the precipice pushing another fault line

Right down your throat?”

His wife, watching from the doorway to the kitchen, responded to him with the weathered patience and steadfast fortitude as only a spouse can to save face:

“I don’t know Burl,

But dinner’s getting cold and you’re about to snap off the armrest.”

Indelible Ink

Indelible Ink

Prose
Outside Dillon, MT

Outside Dillon, MT

They had to pull me out of class for it. It was the middle of the day, and we were listening as the teacher read from one of my favorite books, My Side of the Mountain, where a boy leaves his home to live alone in the woods, when the announcement came over the intercom.
“Timothy Merritt to the office, please. Timothy Merritt to the office.”
I already knew before I got there. There were two wings of the school I had to walk down, long hallways that sloped slightly down. The tile, like most public schools, had been buffed so often it looked like glass, and each step I took was so heavy that I was sure cracks would spit from my feet at any second.
My father was waiting at the door of the little administrative office, a suitcase of my clothes held between his hands. His eyes were misty, and in his face I found the confirmation of the question raging in my mind: She was dead.
It was a four hour drive, maybe more. The endless flatlands and vacant highways always made the trips seem longer than they are. I’d only been to Dillon a few times before. Strangely, my family on my father’s side was never very close, and we spent more time seeing and speaking with my mother’s side, even though they lived thousands of miles away in Germany.
Dillon was very nearly a ghost town by the time I was born. Driving through its few streets you could almost imagine the picturesque place it might have been in the late fifties. Actually it was probably a hole back then too, maybe I just wished it was a nicer place so I could believe that once there had been something beautiful among the dilapidated houses and Out of Business signs.
My grandmother lived on the edge of town in a two story house the color of pea soup. The paint was peeling and the front porch sagged, and every window had a thick film of age. I stayed upstairs, within the walls of my father’s childhood, and in the darkness when I was trying to shut my mind and fall asleep, I could hear the echoes of his youth.
I saw the small beds appear in the tiny room, three of them in all placed as far apart as space would allow in the small bedroom. I saw John’s bigger bed, the one to accommodate his strenuous size and the mythical nature of a man I never met. I saw Lana’s smaller bed, with a hand made toy chest at the foot of her bed, and faded magazines hidden under the mattress that were filled with the faces of movie stars. And in the corner I saw my father’s bed. I saw the simplicity of what lied around it, the outcome of the derision of being a middle child. I saw the few trinkets he kept hidden away, ones that held more memory and sway that any photo album of scented letter, but more than anything I could feel the hope in that corner. The hope to escape this town, the hope to get so far away as to never have to remember the poverty and the horrible feeling of knowing your life doesn’t matter. And now, thirty five years later, that fire still lingered in the room, if only in smoldering embers.
We spent the next day packing up the house. In her last years, my grandmother had become less and less able to take care of herself. The living room was piled high with more newspapers than my young eyes had ever seen. Six feet tall in some spots, hiding the tiny framed pictures on the wall with their girth. But near the front of the room, after a few does of Windex on the windows, enough light shone in to illuminate those photographs that I did remember, and told stories that filled in gaps I’m still trying to find.
He played football, they told me. Was a good athlete and popular too, all the things I sometimes wished I had but was never given. I never saw what his mom looked like, but it was obvious from the picture that he inherited most of his looks from my dad. The warm, kind eyes, tight lipped smile, and impression that was trained to show flat joy when everything else was locked up underneath. I tried to remember him and the few times we spent together. I tried to make up stories about how we used to play together at the park on warm spring afternoons, and stayed so long that the shadows stretched out for miles and my parents would worry about where we’d gone to. But really I saw an alien figure in the picture, one marked by the darkness of his aftermath, and the wounds that don’t clot after a suicide.
I didn’t go to the funeral. I would go to my great uncle’s a few months later, but not my grandmother’s. They wouldn’t let me go to see her at the hospital either, at least not in the last week or so when all the adults had the permanent look of worry and tiredness on their faces. I stayed home and wondered why all of them didn’t want me to “see here like that”. How different could Grandma have looked? There was a short time afterwards when I was convinced that cancer somehow turned you green and scaly, and they had to hide away the monster you became in special wards of hospitals where little boys weren’t allowed.
The last couple days there were very strange. I met a lot of old men and women that said sorry a lot, and brought endless platters of food to fill my grandmother’s refrigerator. I ate three helpings of peach cobbler.
We found old boxes with pictures of my grandfather, and I felt the same disconnect in his familiar face that I saw in my half-brother’s. A man who had died so long ago that my mother had never even met him.
It felt hollowed out after we finished. I can imagine now that it must have been a truly horrific experience for my father, going back to this tiny house he’d run so far from, and having to box up the memories and keepsakes of a past that he could never quite escape.
I spent an afternoon at a family friend’s house, getting to know my informal “cousins” while my parents were at the funeral home. Their house was a double wide trailer, with all the tidings of white trash taste and low-income amenities one would expect. They had a few kids, and as usual when adults are trying to do something more explicitly adult, we were lumped together and expected to get along. I flipped through the oldest boy’s baseball card collection and tried to pretend I knew who any of the players were.
When we went back home, the ride was much faster as we sped away from a town that time had been malicious to. I was still trying to grasp what it all had meant. I hadn’t yet had a death in the family when I was old enough to comprehend it, and I was swimming in the confusion of it all. I didn’t have any questions about Grandma though; I never asked if she was in a better place or if I would see her again. No, what was strange to me was the way everyone else was acting after she was gone. How it turned into a regulated system of funeral arrangements, financial restitution, pitying conversations with family friends over watered down coffee and stale cake, and the enigmatic air of a house filled with a generation of memories that no longer had an owner.
But in the week spent sleeping in my father‘s old bedroom and climbing up and down the steep, narrow staircase that his adolescent feet slammed upon, I took away a feeling understanding, even if I didn‘t know it then.
Death was something that affected the living more than those who died, and it was those that went on breathing, not the ones dead, that had to come to terms with it.
Easy Pickings

Easy Pickings

Prose
As a Sheep in Wolves Clothing by Bliss Katherine

“As a Sheep in Wolves Clothing” Photo by Bliss Katherine

Published in Portland Community College’s Alchemy Literary Magazine, Spring of 2012.

We finally get there, and all Max can say is he’s sorry there’s such a long line. I bring up the fact that if we had left when I recommended—a full two hours earlier—then maybe we’d be farther along. Already his thoughts have moved on, and I know the apology was merely superficial. He’s zeroing in on this girl next to us. She’s maybe twenty, but under the make-up she looks seventeen and I’m betting the car keys she’s jingling belong to her mother. But Max is already sold, magnetized to the three magic lines of top, skirt, and boots.
“You seen them live before?” he asks, unleashing his fish-hook grin.
“Yeah! Not in town, though. My friends and I saw them at the Gorge a few years ago. So good,” she says. Her eyes widen and she leans forward a little as she says it, and Max and I both see the crest of cleavage.
He’s only been reassured.
“Nice. I got to meet the guitarist once,” he says, and cocks his head to look over the edges of his Ray-Bans at her. She bounces.
“Wow! He’s so good. Definitely in my top five,” she says.
I light a cigarette and let them get a few paces ahead of me when the line starts to move. I feel like I’m watching a Discovery special on the mating habits of some strange foreign species.
“You know, I used to work this club. I know most of the staff. You want to see if I can get us backstage?”
She’s in front with her back to him, and everyone is funneling into the two cramped entrance doors ahead of us.
“Seriously?” she says, and I notice just a flash of hesitation.
I shake my head behind them and stamp out my smoke.
His grin evolves from fish-hook to shark-smile, and he knows he’s in.
“Sure. Come on,” he says, and takes her small hand in his. He was gauging the situation, making tiny adjustments if she gave the slightest cue of apprehension, leaning in a little when she did, straightening his back, pushing his chest forward just enough so she would glance at it, talking with his hands—all of it leading up to the moment where he took her hand in his and caught his prey.
After a nod from a behemoth in a “security” t-shirt, he leads her to the back entrance of the club.
I’m guessing Max brought her through the doors marked, “No Entrance, Staff and Performers Only”, and I’m sure that probably made her soak herself. Then there’s the dull painted maze of hallways that lead to a few of the dressing rooms where the band must have been warming up. But I know he didn’t take her there. I know him too well to believe he wavered from his tried-and-true routine. I keep seeing it in my mind as I watch the opening band begin to play.
He leads her through the back vestibules to a small room that’s rarely used, but is furnished inside. The door says, “Keep Out”. She’s probably wondering what’s up at this point, maybe even getting nervous, but ol’ Max smiles to reassure her, and the little thing withers at the sight of those pearly whites. How could she not? The guy spent a whole year’s tax return on fixing up what he called, “The Moneymaker”.
He asks her if she likes to smoke, and she says sometimes, though she really means, “I’ve only tried it.”
He takes out one of his professionally rolled joints, and sparks it inside this forbidden room, and now she’s excited. She’s forgotten all about the band, because now she’s doing so many things she knows she’s not supposed to, and the risk feels exhilarating. This guy is a stranger, but he’s kind of cute in his leather jacket and thin frame. He looks a little older, but he seems to really like me.
“My buddy will come get us when we can go in to see the band,” he says, buying himself some time to negotiate.
They finish the joint and now she’s way too high, and he’s thinking how much this all reminds of him of going hunting with his dad when he was twelve. They sit down together on the worn couch, and she’s getting giggly now, not used to the pot, or all of the anxious emotions she’s stumbled into. The young ones at concerts were always his favorite. They’re already half horny and jittery from waiting to see the band, he’d say.
Easy pickings.
He starts to make a move, and even though she’s kind of unsure of the whole thing, she lets him. At that point it’s over, she’s his, even if she doesn’t realize it. He’s lost in fantasy now, memorizing her face and body to add to the other trophies he’s collected. When he slides his hand along her small thigh to the edge of her razor-thin skirt, it’s not her he’s thinking about anymore. She never really mattered—that’s why he never bothered to learn her name. It’s the conquest itself, the need to keep perpetuating this masturbatory ego parade that’s driving him now. And for anywhere between the next half hour or whole night he uses her up, drains her like a vampire of her worth and hopefulness. Because when he’s done she’ll be just another shell, wondering what just happened to her. He says he’s going to find out about seeing the band when he leaves, maybe she wonders about why he can’t look her in the eyes when he says it. He walks out the door, zips his fly and wipes his hands on his jeans, and then heads down the hallway as though nothing has happened, now filled with the euphoria of his kill; while, inside, she slowly put her clothes back on, wishing there was a mirror to fix her smeared make-up, and stands up in a daze, like those people you see on the news after a tornado destroys their house. And she’s thinking the same thing, “It all happened so fast.”
After awhile, she stops wondering and knows concretely that Max is not coming back, maturing in the moment. And then she has to confront the fact that she’s been used up and spit out by someone, that someone saw her as an object and not a person. Maybe she waits for a little bit, tries to fix her make-up and hair. She goes back out into the hallway, and attempts to navigate her way back to the show—she hears the band playing now. They sound so far away, and the bends and curves in the walkway don’t make any sense. She finally finds her way out, and circles back to the entrance to get in to see the show, but once inside she doesn’t really care about the music anymore. Maybe she stands close to where I am, in the throttling mass of sweaty heads and thumping decibel depth, where I’m trying to shut out my own thoughts and enjoy the set.
Who knows, it’s too dark to tell.
Short Prose: Little Man

Short Prose: Little Man

Prose
Baby Factory by Ludgonious

Baby Factory by Ludgonious

I decided to try writing something from the perspective of my four month old, and this is what happened.

Big Man appears; am happy.

Big Man disappears; am sad.

Hairy Thing appears; are friends.

Do not like socks.

Hungry now.

Hungry now.

Hungry now.

Hungry now.

Big Man appears; am eating.

Eating good.

Tired now.

Asleep.

 

Awake!

Hungry NOW, NOW, NOW!

Big Man!

Am hungry, Big Man!

Big Man appears, feeds.

Thank you, Big Man.

Wet.

Do not like wet.

Big Man!

Big Man appears, feeds.

Thank you, Big Man.

Am happy.

HAPPY!

Explore.

Think.

Exercise.

Can scoot.

Scoot, scoot, scoot.

Big place.

Bright things.

Like bright things.

Taste them.

TASTE ALL THE THINGS.

Make voice.

Voice!

Like voice.

Ooo. Thmm. Thmm. Ieaa. Fthm!

Tired now.

Asleep.

 

Awake!

Big Woman!

Big Woman and Big Man both appear.

Small Man too!

Happy, happy, happy.

Am connected.

Am safe.

Am love.

Am family.

Me

Revamped and Revitalized: New Direction For Digital Mediast

Musings

Taken from the new About page:

I’m Timothy Merritt, a writer, stay-at-home dad, husband, sometime-musician, comic book fanatic, chronic migraine sufferer, and all around “Renaissance Man” (that’s what my friends politely call me instead of saying I have too many interests). Digital Mediast started out as a blog to showcase coursework while I was attending Marylhurst University as an English and New Media major during spring of 2013, but with the birth of my youngest son last winter and my perpetual health problems, I left school to focus on my kids, my wellness, and my writing, whenever time allows.

I’ve always been a creatively-inclined guy. Before pursuing an English and writing degree, I spent ten years as the lead singer/guitarist playing and making music in a band with a couple friends from Montana, where I grew up, called The Last Days of Dreams. In high school, I drew and painted religiously, and made all manner of “things”. I’ve done freelance graphic design work. I’ve done, for a couple of projects, voice-over work. And I’ve been writing since I was able to join words into sentences to tell stories.

Now, in the spring of 2014, I’m resurrecting this site with a new purpose and a new direction. Before I had always tried to define myself by some kind of box I should fit in: academic, prose writer, musician, and most recently as an editor of a comics review site called Rhymes With Geek, and I would try to market myself as such online accordingly. Well I’m saying to hell with all that. Fuck the rules. I am all these things and more. My interests are ever expanding and do not neatly fit onto a resume builder.

So, time permitting and sanity withstanding, I’m hoping to try something more cathartic than my last few blog attempts, which I think have been less successful because of their narrowness in focus. From here on out my focus will be all of “me”–from writing short stories and aspiring to get into the comics industry, to blogging about migraines and parenting, to literary analysis like why Hamlet’s death is inevitable from the beginning of Shakespeare’s famous play. All of this is me, the Digital Mediast. Welcome, and thanks for checking it out.