After slugging out a good chunk of writing, the brain can lock up and the body gets restless. When this happens, I get up and walk around; sometimes I cruise the garden, check out what the weird plants are up to; other times I walk up and down the hallway, into the kitchen and living room. There I can end up contemplating the masks and bookshelves, bringing back memories.
Recently my eyes got snagged by a tall, slim volume titled Understanding Maya Inscriptions: A Hieroglyph Handbook, Second Revised Edition, by John F. Harris and Stephen K. Stearns. It brought back no memories. Where did I get it? Why did I have it?
These questions could only be answered by grabbing it and flipping through the pages. There was lots of dull, academic text, Also pen&ink renderings of hieroglyphs. They were more than beautiful. If you look at them long enough, the visual rhythms seem to move, come alive, try to communicate . . .
I remembered saying that about twenty years ago, to the late Rick Cook. Yes! He gave it to me while we were working on the Obsidian Harvest, which was published in Analog.
Maybe I need to read the dull, academic text.
Then I saw it, a glyph like a dope smoking astronaut.
Okay, it probably wasn’t a countercultural Von Dänikenism. The text says it’s god GII, of the Palenque Triad. The smoke could be the pre-Columbian visual shorthand for speech. The figure in the lounging position used to fit it into the glyph could be dressed to play the sacred ball game. It could be a talking ballplayer, or a depiction of a mask with a built-in megaphone-like device, similar to those used by actors in ancient Greece?
It was also pretty damn close to a Mayanoid dope-smoking astronaut on the upper left hand cover of a magazine called Proud Flesh: Fiction for the Last Millennium. Chris DeVito, the publisher, also used it on his letterhead.
Yes, that’s my name in the list of contributors on the cover. The main image is a drawing of mine called Monster Love. The one-shot magazine came into existence because DeVito loved my story The Frankenstein Penis, and I told him I had an idea for a sequel called The Dracula Vagina, that I would write if I could find a publisher crazy enough.
(I am purposely not reproducing my illustration for the story.)
My career, my life, keeps veering into the surrealistic.
I do need to read those dull, academic texts. There’s something lurking there that I need. I just know it.