The title of my post here seems futile in itself. This forum hasn't moved an inch since Devon decided to take up the organization's "forced" promotion which Devon exacted for himself with a sweet five week straight vacation. Ever since the promotion, Devon has only managed to squeeze out two stories, albeit good ones:Epistemologically Steadfast & Cody Rochon.
As longtime acquaintances of Devon Pitlor, several of us have met at various lunch times and lull times to discuss what exactly might be the matter and what it might take to revive Devon's incomparable fiction before 2011 becomes history. No one has really any satisfactory answer. We all know Devon, but, then again, we don't. He is always as enigmatic as most of his stories and their characters. Everyone likes Devon, but few really know him. And that includes me, so he can read this here if he ever comes back. There are some people who are just not meant to be known. Devon is one.
Devon is one of those people who seem to come from a shattered background. His likeness to his character Cody Rochon is inescapable. He has even said so himself. There is a sense of hidden tragedy in every thing that Devon does, writes and says. To say that he "misses France" is---in my opinion---not enough. His whole productive life has been spent in the US, and he has adopted English as his base language.
So what is the reason for Devon's fictional silence of late? He is traveling, we all know that. He is visiting family and friends in Europe and in the South Seas possessions of France.
After having read all of Devon's posted short stories and his one novel length work (The Invasion of Crackland), I feel that I have a kind of handle on his psyche when it comes to fiction. We all have a handle on his econ because that is the business we are in, and Devon falls neatly into what one can easily categorize as a "school." And I don't suppose that would ever interest many readers here, providing some come back.
I have a plan this summer to write my own, maybe lengthy, review of the main body of Devon's oeuvre as seen here, which only stretches back to 2008 but which is considerable. Before getting into this dirty econ business, I had aspirations of writing myself, and I used to review some of the works of lesser known authors, or "budding geniuses" or whatever you want to call them.
I intend to take a slightly different angle on Devon's work and try to weave it into a comprehensible universe, which is, naturally, unique to Devon, who has never been derivative of anyone else in the slightest to my knowledge.
My starting point, suprisingly, will be his last story Cody Rochon,which has been generally viewed as "enigmatic" (to use Devon's term) and when viewed closely is rather disturbing if not downright distressing.Cody Rochon may not be Devon's best tale, but it is above all other things the culmination of Devonesque thought, and I believe that it is in this culmination that we may, unfortunately, find the dry end of Devon's amazing wellspring of creativity. I can almost picture Devon as saying (though he never has) that "after Cody Rochon I have written it all." Writers sometimes give up when they reach this type of culmination point. And I hope sincerely that this is not Devon's case, so do many others of my acquaintance.
I'll have much more to say in my forthcoming review of Devon's entire body of works, but suffice to say now that Devon, after creating his idealized Plus Sized Club and his equally idealized Crackland, may have realized the limits of the human ability to evolve---something that we all know that Devon has sought all during his lifetime.
Cody Rochon's discovery at the end of the story is the final stopping point for any sort of hope or idealism that the human condition will eventually grow better. It was part of Devon's attempt to give roundness to each of his PSC characters with a story or episode of their own. It was an attempt to branch off from the constraints of Brooke Nescott and her son Jared into a wider view of humanity and the insurmountable problems surrounding it. On one level (as Devon has said) it is only the story of a boy from an extremely dysfunctional family (as was Devon's), and on that plane it ends with a ray of hope when Cody's father is delivered from the murderous intentions of his ex-wife and from the ravages of alcoholism as well. It ends with the idea that Cody and his father will go on living in Miranda's house as father and son and that everything will turn out rosy.
But the dilemma in Cody Rochon is not just the dilemma of evolution or failed evolution but the frustrated desire for our human will to absolute power, which the drug malocambra provides. Malocambra is not just an ordinary high. It is an all-consuming, all-embracing end in itself. It presupposes that the genetic and biological structure of all creatures on earth is open to drastic and irresistible alterations and that an overwhelming sense of the burst of indescribable potency can never be totally resisted or forgotten. The super-orgasmic "detonation" (as Matt calls it) of a power so enormous as to transform its benefactors into hideous but eagerly willing monsters. As Palobay says, "Clarence died a wondrous death, one to be envied." One thinks passingly of Mussolini, another of Devon's fascinations, who said "Better to live one day as a lion than a lifetime as a sheep."
The story has almost no condemnation at all for the abuse of this miraculous substance which endows its users with such an awesome explosion of the life force itself. As a story, it comes close to expressing regret (weakly echoed by Matt) that not everyone can relive those several seconds of absolute (and perhaps evolutionary) "detonation." In fact, the entire story can be read as one of regret. Regret for our human limitations. Regret that we cannot "explode" with the full power of supernal creatures---even if it leads to an unsightly and horridly deformed death.
And that, in a nutshell, is why I believe Devon has of late stopped writing. Cody Rochon said it all. It left us on the impassible doorstep to joining our physical beings with the awesome strength of the universal lifeforce itself. The end result is, unfortunately, regret. A deep and unspoken regret for not being able to experience the most amazing transformation that any living entity could ever imagine. We are left with the old Roman dictum that "All animals are sad after the climax of coitus." The story expresses the sadness of inability, and, in doing so, I believe it has drained our Devon at least temporarily dry of the stupendous creativity that was once his.7/2/2011 . Edited 7/2/2011 #1
I was wondering the same things about Devon. As one who is forced to write crap for a living, I understand how hard it is to get re-started after doing something either controversial or just big. But I have no idea whether Devon has slowed down because of his last story.
I was attracted to your comment about "no condemnation" for the drug itself. You're right that Matt, Diamond and even Palobay to some extent seem very ambivalent about its negative effects. I guess that is why the story is troubling. I have had some exposure to odd drugs myself, and I know how they can become obsessions for some people. But I guess that malocambra is meant to be more than a simple obsession. If it accelerates the evolutionary arc that we are all in, the direct implication is what Diamond said that we are all destined to become lethal monsters in some final stage of natural development. Certainly that would rile the sensibilities of those who believe in a god who wants to constantly improve mankind---as if such a god even existed! It seems to run counter to the idea that man has some kind of unrealized potential on earth that only a "god" is aware of.
The story is "spiritually neutral," and that is to be expected by atheists like Devon and myself, but for those who believe that mankind has some higher purpose, the story is a bleak denial of any sort of human value.
I hope Devon finds himself again, and I am sure he will.7/4/2011 #2
Victorine and Gary,
I need to make this quick because I am in transit. I'm glad my last story made both of you think, but you are both wrong about this being the limit of my creativity. In short, I have lots more to write and will resume writing when I return to the US. Right now, I am on a vacation, as Victorine noted, and I am taking a break from writing.
To Gary: Sorry for editing your post, but I don't want certain names and places mentioned here for obvious reasons, and I know you did it innocently. I just needed to delete a little bit. Hope you don't mind.
To Victorine: I will really love to read your analysis of my stories, seriously. It is a great compliment to me. A reviewer can say anything they want, and I only edited Gary's post because of his mentioning something that I don't want to reveal just yet---except to a few people who already know, and Gary is one of them.
I appreciate you both as readers, and I will be back in a couple of weeks with something new. I hope.
Cody Rochon was not my last story. In the P-S-C, there are a million more, LOL.
To Gary once again: Took me two minutes to decide this. Come to think of it, the part I deleted yesterday from your post is something that I once wanted to remain confidential forever, but not being modest, I have changed my mind. Only two other people know the thing you wrote and I deleted, and I am not the kind of person who likes to erase other people's thoughts, especially when they are meant as a compliment as was yours. One day soon, I am going to take full credit for what I did back then, but I guess I need to do it in my own time and way.
To Victorine once again: You didn't give yourself the credit you deserve as a "former" writer. Maybe you should do this. Your post belies a lot of talent. It didn't come out of nowhere. I still think we have silent readers here (the numbers show that) and maybe you should just boldly say who you really are---and I don't mean the South African rand specialist either. You know what I mean.
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