A Ball of Light in your Hands
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Card URL: http://www.zaporacle.com/card/a-ball-of-light-in-your-hands/
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Someone once said, "Don't read a book unless it is like a ball of light glowing in your hands." I think that's a reasonable standard. If you allow them, intuition and serendipity will likely lead you to such glowing balls of light.

J.R.R. Tolkien called fantasy writing "subcreation." Reading fiction is also a subcreation because the reader uses the text as a screenplay and subcreates their own movie based on the book. The movie the reader films in their mind is their own unique creation.

The ability to subcreate such inner movies may be essential to the evolutionary event horizon we are hurtling toward. At the end of an interview with my late colleague, Terence Mckenna (on the subject of virtual reality), the interviewer asked, "So, in the future, we'll all be living in the movies?" "No," replied Terence, "in the future, we will all be movies." New VR hardware is unnecessary to bring that about since we become movies every day when we dream. In the case of mutual dreaming, the movie can be a collaborative creation.
When you become absorbed in a work of fiction, it is very much like mutual dreaming. You enter a landscape of people, places, and events that have been visited by others who have had parallel but not identical experiences. Writing and reading are essentially telepathic technologies.

For example, as I write this card, my inner thoughts are flowing out of my mind and converted into symbolsóletters, words, and word combinations. You, the reader, however displaced in space and time, are now decoding (reading) my private thoughts through the technologies of language and the Internet.

Although all mammals dream, the capacity for creative interiority that allows a person to subcreate their own inner movie based on a book they are reading is uniquely human. Never having that participation mystique experience with a great work of fiction may be a more fundamental deficit than never having had sex or never having been able to see or hear since it is more uniquely human.

In the nineteen-seventies, my high school social studies teacher told me that movies are "the queen of the arts," as they can incorporate all other art forms. At the core of almost all movies is a work of fiction called a screenplay, but they can also add music, art, dance, etc. Novels have unique advantages, though, as they excel at interior monologues and are unparalleled in their ability to take you inside a character's thoughts and feelings. Seeing characters through the eyes of a wise, old soul who is also a master novelist (George Elliot's Middlemarch is a shining example) can teach you more about human nature than a shelf full of psychology books or superficial social time spent with actual human beings.

Writing is the art form with the least mechanical resistance. There is an infinite special-effects budget, whereas to present a great fantasy or sci-fi work as a movie may take hundreds of millions of dollars. The most available time-travel experiences for me have been through reading. For example, the world of 19th-century England is exotically different than the world I grew up in, but I feel as if I've been there because I have logged so many hours in that world from having seen it through the eyes of some of the greatest novelists, like Charles Dickens.

Virtual travel to other times and places through reading, allows you to see the world you live in more sharply. You can triangulate your position better because you've experienced other realms. When you travel through writing, you are not a detached tourist but are able to enter the most intimate moments of the natives and even see inside their minds, hearts, and souls.

Great fiction set in your own time can allow you to see the world you live in with greater depth. William Gibson, who is credited with inventing the cyberpunk genre with his first novel, Neuromancer, has also produced his Blue Ant trilogy — Pattern Recognition, Spook Country) and Zero History — set in contemporary time. Gibson's powers of observation and evocation are such that these two contemporary novels have greatly enhanced my ability to see the world I already live in, as well as to gain experience of obscure subcultures. As Gibson has famously said, "The future is already here, it's just unevenly distributed." The Blue Ant trilogy brilliantly reveals that present "future."

On the practical level, most modern lives occur in a time ghetto, where urgent, unimportant things — the ringing phone, etc. tend to predominate over important non-urgent activities like reading. Getting that participation mystique bonding with a book usually requires a block of time, and many people find blocks of time hard to come by. I also find that reading text off a white page is stressful and unpleasant for my eyes after a certain point, and I have too much active energy to sit still in a chair for long stretches of time. Most of my reading takes the form of audiobooks, which are usually read by highly skilled actors. Audiobooks allow me to look forward to performing mundane mechanical tasks, like doing the laundry, because mechanical task time can be double-purposed as reading time. With the audiobook, there is no eye strain, and I don't have to sit still.

Of course, there are advantages to silently reading text. If the writing is complex, it can be easier to follow. If you are interested in the craft of fiction point-of-view, there are advantages to being able to actually see the typography and the landscape of sentences and paragraphs on the page. Also, you may prefer to experience the author's vision undistracted. Even if you are doing mundane tasks, by nature multitasking is a fracturing of your energy, and therefore your experience may be lessened. You could, however, choose to rest your eyes, and listen to an audiobook with your eyes closed during a flight or some other public transport. Whenever I have insomnia I lie down in bed with eyeshades on and listen to an audiobook with headphones. The book replaces the racing and/or looping thoughts that often make sleep difficult. I set the Audible timer to 30 minutes and reduce the reading speed to .8. If I'm still unable to sleep, I remind myself that lying down with closed eyes is also restorative, and I focus on the audiobook with undistracted attention. The next time I pick up the book, I replay any parts that played while I was drowsy. My sci-fi fantasy epic, Parallel Journeys can be read free on this site, but is also available on Audible recorded by the author.

Depending on the position in which this card occurs, it may suggest that this is a propitious time to enrich your life with creative reading, or it may relate more generally to the interior life and its value. Never fall for the extravert's assumption that what is happening in the outside world is more important than what is happening within.
Everything I've written for others is available for free on zaporacle.com. This includes my greatest creation, which took forty-five years to complete — Parallel Journeys.

Art historian Leah Montalto called Parallel Journeys a "Literary Tour de Force for a Post-Apocalyptic Era" and described it as, "A riveting and inventive novel within the science fiction genre but also stands on par with the best of American literature. A richly vivid textural palette is used to describe a post-apocalyptic world which could very much become real."

Opening premise:

Does this reality feel fundamentally wrong to you? What if the truths of what lies hidden are exposed in the journal of a survivor of an extinction-level event in our near future? His journals have been sent back in time to warn us about the perilous edge between extinction and evolutionary metamorphosis on which the fate of our species trembles.

The survivor writing to us is an empathic 18-year-old named Tommy. He's been sealed in a three-acre biosphere with just one other person, and the outside world has been radio-silent for the three years of their enclosure. Tommy is in telepathic contact with someone living during our time who may hold the key to an evolutionary metamorphosis. The journals, entitled Parallel Journeys, have been sent back in time to inspire you to create your own metamorphic butterfly effects to help our species avoid extinction and survive in a new form.

Parallel Journeys, can be read free on this site. If you prefer Audible, Kindle or physical versions, those are all available on Amazon.