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Smashwords — Spiritus Mundi – Book I: The Novel — A book by Robert Sheppard

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Robert Sheppard’s thriller novel, Spiritus Mundi, is an unforgettable read and epic journey bringing to life the sexual and spiritual lives of struggling global idealists overcoming despair, nuclear terrorism, espionage and a threatened World War…

Robert Sheppard‘s insight:

Spiritus Mundi, Novel by Robert Sheppard is now available on Smashwords!—–Check it Out Now!

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BUY SPIRITUS MUNDI BOOK II: THE ROMANCE ONLINE NOW!

Smashwords — Spiritus Mundi – Book II: The Romance — A book by Robert Sheppard

 

CLICK HERE TO BUY SPIRITUS MUNDI NOW! https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/303798

See on Scoop.itWorld Literature Forum

Robert Sheppard’s thriller novel, Spiritus Mundi, is an unforgettable read and epic journey bringing to life the sexual and spiritual lives of struggling global idealists overcoming despair, nuclear terrorism, espionage and a threatened World War…

Robert Sheppard‘s insight:

Spiritus Mundi–Book II: The Romance is now Available on Smashwords!—-Check It Out Now!

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Yoriko Oe’s Blog from the Novel, Spiritus Mundi, by Robert Sheppard

 

Related Links and Websites: Spiritus Mundi, Novel by Robert Sheppard

For Introduction and Overview of the Novel: https://spiritusmundinovel.wordpress.com/

For Updates on the Upcoming Movie Version of the Novel, Spiritus Mundi & Casting of Actors and Actresses for Leading Roles See: http://robertalexandersheppard.wordpress.com/

For Author’s Blog: https://robertalexandersheppard.wordpress.com/

To Read a Sample Chapter from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundisamplechapters.wordpress.com/

To Read Fantasy, Myth and Magical Realism Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundifantasymythandmagicalrealism.wordpress.com/

To Read Sexual Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: The Varieties of Sexul Experience: https://spiritusmundivarietiesofsexualexperience.wordpress.com/

To Read Spy, Espionage and Counter-terrorism Thriller Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: http://spiritusmundispyespionagecounterterrorism.wordpress.com/

To Read Geopolitical and World War Three Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundigeopoliticalworldwar3.wordpress.com/

To Read Spiritual and Religious Excerpts from Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundionspiritualityandreligion.wordpress.com/

To Read about the Global Campaign for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly in Spiritus Mundi: https://spiritusmundiunitednationsparliamentaryassembly.wordpress.com/

To Read Poetry from Spiritus Mundihttps://spiritusmundipoetry.wordpress.com/

For Discussions on World Literature and Literary Criticism in Spiritus Mundi: http://worldliteratureandliterarycriticism.wordpress.com/

For Discussions of World History and World Civilization in Spiritus Mundi: https://worldhistoryandcivilizationspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Eva Strong from Spiritus Mundi: https://evasblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Andreas Sarkozy from Spiritus Mundi: http://andreasblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

To Read the Blog of Robert Sartorius from Spiritus Mundi: http://sartoriusblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/

Note: The following is the Blog of Yoriko Oe from the Novel, Spiritus Mundi, by author Robert Sheppard. To learn more about Yoriko’s past, present and future, her story, and her relationships to others and her work for the  United Nations Parliamentary Assembly  follow the above links.

 

Yoriko’s Blog Journal:

 

            Because of my dreams, I am different. Like the albino man with the red-rimmed eyelids I pass at our office building most days or those suffering some congenital deformity, we have to make a constant effort to live a normal life. They bear their visible signs; mine can’t be seen in stares or witnessed by averted eyes in the elevator, but they exist. I can compare it to attacks of epilepsy, which come on so suddenly and leave a wake of confusion and terror behind. I am afraid to go to bed at night; I don’t know what will happen while I’m sleeping, or how I will wake up. I have tried innumerable remedies for my night demons, from strong doses of alcohol to Quazipam, to Zolpidem to Melatonin, to the shrinks my mother took me to so futilely in middle school, to the orange liqueur laced with drops of opium, to hypnosis and other forms of Shinto black magic, but nothing guarantees me peaceful sleep, except good and loving company in bed, which is hard to find and even harder to keep.

            Sleeping in someone’s arms is, until now, anyway, the only sure cure. I should get married, as everyone has advised me, but all of my accidents along that road have ended in calamity; I can’t tempt fate anew just now. At thirty-three and with no husband, I am little more than a freak; my schoolfriends and family look on me with pity, even though they may envy my independence. I am not alone—-I have a great love but he is not mine and never will be; he is married and his loving for me changes like the phases of the moon, or goes into eclipse entirely. But still it is his arms that best get me through my best nights, so I am not without solace. “What am I going to do with you?” my mother screams at me. It is a rhetorical question as in her mind I have no future, and there is a general consensus in the extended family, ever since at fifteen I ended up in the hospital on an overdose from some of those sleeping pills, that I was “going to come to a bad end.” I am not a wife, a widow or a spinster. I live in limbo, with occasional side-trips to my own private hell, and pay flying visits to heaven on certain nights or in certain dreams.

            Some extraordinary early mornings, when my lover Etienne and I, wet with sweat and limp with shared dreams, are that semi-unconscious state of absolute tenderness, happy and confident as sleeping children, I fall into the temptation of talking about our going away together, of making our life together, or going somewhere else to start something new—maybe going to the United States together where no one would know us. To live together like a normal couple. But then the rays of the sun and their drear intimations of reality flood in from the window, pry open our waking eyes and we don’t speak of it again, because we both know Etienne in the end will go back to his wife and daughter.

            I would like to have children; yes, I would like that, but I am drawn more and more into the expectation that I will never be a mother. I am not sterile. No, not that. I am fertile in other regards. Given the impossibility of getting rid of my nightmares and troubling dreams I try at least to draw some benefit from them. I have found, throughout art school that after a miserable night the hallucinations remain liminally, and my nerve ends are raw, an optimum state for creativity. When I was thirteen my uncle Hishashige, another bigwig at Toshiba, my father’s company, got me a digital video camera and computer with the latest editing software. That changed my life. For years I was inseparable from my camera, which constantly hung about my neck or filled my purse wherever I went. I read the Japanese translation of Christopher Isherwood’s novel Goodbye to Berlin, and the first line of that book was indelibly inscribed deep in my mind forever after:  “I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking.” Even in bed I slept with the camera around my neck, like a crucifix to ward off demons. Then it occurred to me that if I could photograph and film those demons, I would drive them away. At thirteen I tried many times and I invented a complicated system of sensors and cords to activate the camera set up opon a tripod before my bed as I slept, until it became obvious that those malicious creatures were invulnerable to the assault of electronic technology. If you observe an ordinary object or body very closely, however, or zoom in on hypermagnified blow-ups, or perhaps speed up its flow with time-lapse photography, it is transformed into something sacred. The camera can reveal secrets the naked eye or mind cannot capture; everything is cropped out and disappears except for the thing that is the focus of the picture. The picture or the video sequence is an exercise in observation, and the result is always a stroke of luck: amoung the thousands of hours of video, or the still shots that are zoomed in on and cropped and blown up and saved on the hard discs of my Macintosh, very few are exceptional. The camera is a simple apparatus and even the most inept person can use it; the challenge lies in creating with it that combination of truth and beauty called art. That quest is above all spiritual. I seek truth and beauty in the video clips of of the amoeba filmed through a microscope or in the pulsating hoods and undulant tentacles of a bloom of jellyfish I encounter while scuba diving off the coast or in the convulsions of the face of a mother who wails over a drowned child after a tsunami. It occasionally seeps through or leaps out from appearances in the perfect form of a seashell along a beach, or the curve of a woman’s strapless back, or in the texture and gnarled fingers of an ancient tree in winter, or in the time-lapse photography of the cloud-cover over Mt. Emeishan or of the videos of my sleeping face during my nightmares. Sometimes, working with my Macintosh editor and supersized screen late at night in my darkroom the soul of a person appears, the emotion of an event or the vital essence of some object; at that moment, gratitude explodes in my heart and I cry. I can’t help it. Such revelations are the goal of my work.

            When I was little I was raised in Tokyo in the traditions of conventional Buddhism and Shinto, though I never, like most Japanese, took any of it very seriously. The Shinto tradition, however, does have a notion of a vital essence or “spirit” of all things that they call “kami.” Kami, or spirits, are found in the faces of nature, the sea, the waterfalls, the sun, the Goddess of the Sun—Ameratsu Omikami—from whom the Emperor is supposedly descended, the souls of the living and the dead, the whorling galaxies turning on their black holes, and in every facet of the living universe. Motoori Norinaga, in his Kojiki-den gave his famous definition of kami: A kami is any thing or phenomenon that produces the emotions of fear and awe, with no distinction between good and evil. Sometimes I go out with my camera and search for the right lens and elusive wavelength of light to capture the kami souls concealed beneath the surfaces of things. Sometimes, re-mixing and re-editing my videos or digital stills into my Multimedia works, or setting them to the pulse of an enchanted or electronic music, the kami of a thing or person appears, or sometimes, trying to recapture the images of my nightmares and dreams, animating the surfaces of things, the kami of time appears for an instant as brief as the half-life of the anti-matter in the magnetic bottles of the CERN supercollider, but yet visible to the searching eye——sometimes the future appears.

            Kami, as Motoori says, are however, and as Nietzsche might appreciate, “beyond good and evil” and by no means are invariably good for you.  Most Westerners like Etienne associate kami with the word “Kamikaze” those suicide bombers associated with the “Divine Wind.” Yuchun accuses me, more and more, of having that peculiarly Japanese “Kamikaze consciousness,” that urge to self-destruction, Thanatos impulse, that makes us increasingly “unfit for life,” as she says. She may not be entirely wrong, and it is what makes our mono no aware sensibilities so different from the bland and prosaic, materialistic and sensible mindset of the Chinese. When we visited Professor Sartorius, out of tenderness I never mentioned how kindred his suicidal impulses and spiritual desperation were to my own, but we are perhaps brother and sister, father and daughter under the skin, or were in a past life, if one could believe in such a thing. And it was while I sat there, scarcely moving, that I was in hell and no one knew it. At such times the future became so clear that it was as if I were remembering it, remembering it in place of the past which I could no longer describe. But there was in any case no future and no past, only the unspeakable misery of my own self. And so when I sat with Sartorius at first I would scarcely talk, but looked anxiously into the mirror above his dresser as Sartorius anxiously watched my face. Then we shared a bottle of wine we had brought as Andreas held up our end of the conversation, and I overdrank myself in order to speak freely, for it seemed to me that I had lost connection with the world and had become much like one of the leatherine figures of the Bunraku puppet theater, shaking a little as the hand which held me trembled. Finally, I could speak again, finding words of good comfort, and the voice bringing tenderness to him came not from the ends of the strings, which were without end, but from myself.

Yoriko’s Blog Journal:

            London again. Here on the Committee work preparing for the global Telethon with satellite television links with all the major international cities for the United Nations Parliamentary Assembly . I spent two days sleeping with Andreas, but now he tells me he has to go off on a special affair with Medvedev. I sent an e-mail to Etienne, hoping he would come round to the Arriva Hotel—-naturally I timed my visit her to coincide with his stay in London—–but he is firmly bedded down with his wife and child. Result: Another rendezvous with the four walls of my Arriva hotel room and a two bottles of Bacardi rum—-one white and one black. Luckily I have brought my camera and my Apple laptop.

            The next day I visit Professor Mirabilis, my old art instructor from the art school in Tokyo where he taught me cinematography, photography and multimedia design, and who had since retired back to his native London. In Tokyo Mirabilis was a mammoth presence—over 300 pounds of Gargantuan girth and Pantagreulian zest for life. Now, ten years later, illness had taken its toll, a bout with cancer. He who always maintained that youth is not a period in life but a state of mind, and that you have the health you deserve, looked humbled and defeated in his rooms, but his inner fight and spirit was still bearing him up. He had lost about eighty pounds and his hair had been savaged by the chemotherapy. That man whose appetite for life was as colossal as his gluttony, was battered but unbowed.  His enormous strength of will, his vigor, his curiosity, and his sense of adventure, still endured.

            “Yes, yes…..no need to say it……I know but don’t look so glum. It is a sad revelation when a man discovers that his dearest friend, his own body, has become his deadliest enemy. But all human relationships are mutable and we have to make the best of it. Here let’s open this bottle of wine and take some pleasure together!” he said, trying to help me past my intial shock.

            He asked to see my recent work and I showed him much of the photography, multimedia creations, collages and other works I had stored on the hard drive of my laptop. He looked at them silently for many minutes. Then he said: “You feel a sympathy for your subjects and models, Yoriko, you don’t try to dominate them, you try to understand them; that’s why you succeed in exposing their souls.” He had always opposed the artificial pose, the blatently commercial or the mechanically conceptual. He believed that film, video, art, multimedia were a personal testimony, a way of seeing the world, and that way must be honest, using technology as a medium for capturing reality and living experience, not in replacing or unjustifiably displacing or distorting it. The multimedia artist’s engagement with the subject or object arises from a real and authentic relationship, however brief, and the work reveals not only an image or flow of images on a screen but the feelings that flow between the the subject and the photographer. Absorbed in the images before him he exclaimed: “Light is the language of film and photography, light and colour, shadow and darkness, they are the soul of the world——the Impressionists took the first step in this direction with the realization that what they were seeing, what they were painting was light, first and foremost light, then mind and spirit bound up with the light. Things and beings were only the transient standing waves, fleetingly solid encapsulations of their deeper energies. Einstein only confirmed that matter and energy were but different transmutations of the same underlying fabric.  There is no light without shadow, just as there is no happiness without pain……….Yoriko, you have a feel for shadow………….you must cultivate it further………………Scientia Umbrarum!……………….The science of shadows you must know well, Yoriko, and you must study how to cast them with due care. It is only Darkness that can give form to our work and true perspective to its Fabric, for there is no Light without Darkness, and no Substance without Shadow. …..And the videos…….As an artist and cinematographer I cannot change this thing called time, but I can alter its posture, and as boys do by turning a lens or mirror into the sun, I can dazzle you all!—–Sculpting in Time!—–that was what von Kleist and Tarkovsky called it, but above all dazzle them!!!——Ah, but I see I am only confusing you with words, Yoriko—ah but well, what are words?—they are only the temporary scaffolding of thought and of feeling and life, a Scaffolding of Words only gives you a place to stand on while the artist does his real work———Experience!—–Self-Exploration!——Revelations!——-Epiphanies!—–Construction of the Temple!——–Reverence and Communion for the Holiest of Holies beyond the Veil!” Mirabilis gloried in these histrionic outbursts, sometimes descending into mere theatrics, and I laughed, and then we laughed and chatted together, and sipped the fine wine a long while until he said: “Yoriko, lets take a look at your Prize Multimedia project—–the Yasakuni, for old times sake! Here, I stil have it on disc in my files.”

            So we watched it on the big screen in his living room. It was the Multimedia video I did for my senior project at the art school about the Yasakuni Shrine. You see, my grandfather had been a senior officer in the Imperial Army during the world war, placed by his connections with the family zaibatsu. After the war the Allies had put him on trial for Class C war crimes, including profiteering from the forced use of slave labor used by our family’s company zaibatsu. He died in prison in the 50’s and was then enshrined in the Yasakuni Shrine, along with numerous other Class A, B and C War Criminals and over two million soldiers who died in the last centuries for the Emperor. Their “kami” or souls are thus said in the Shinto religion , by such enshrinement to attain “magokoro” or purification and atonement by which all sins are forgiven and one attains elevation to a kind of heaven or Vallhalla. My mother and father never spoke of my grandfather’s fate or connection with the war crimes, but his picture always hung in a place of reverence in our home. On the festival of Mitana Matsuri, July 13-16 of every year we would go to the Yasakuni Shrine to pay our respects, and grandfather was treated as a hero. We would walk through the torii gates so festively decked out, separating the realm of the sacred from that of the profane, and take in the arrays of the 29,000 lanterns displayed across the shrine and I would watch the shadows and the visitors moving backwards and forwards. From the time I was thirteen I always took my digital video camera. One time, I hid in the honden hall overnight dressed in my white kimono and carrying my video camera—-I had decided to film the kami, the souls of the dead soldiers, who were said to gather in the hall for the holiday. Inside the honden hall are various objects, the Shintai, which are said to attracts the enshrined spirits—a hall of mirrors, swords, crystals and magatama stones. I concealed myself in a wooden closet just opposite the hall of mirrors and began to film the shadows which passed in the night. My object was not political or even religious however. You see, one of the recurring nightmares which haunted me from the time I was seven or eight, but especially after puberty, around thirteen revolved around my grandfather. Later I found my camera had recorded nothing but the shadows in the moonlight, but on my brain was etched forever my dream, which recurred in twisted segments over the years in my sleep.

            In the dream my grandfather is enshrined and buried in the Yasakuni Shrine. On Mitana Matsuri I am awoken from my sleep at home and sleepwalk, a zombie, to the Yasakuni Shrine. I pass through one torii gate after another, beckoned forth by the chorus of the dead souls I hear singing within the honden hall. I would visit the grave of my grandfather. The grave would be bathed in moonlight, through which passed the dark shadows of countless kami. Then the grave would open, revealing a flight of stone steps leading downward into a dark passage lit with torches and paper lanterns which led by turns to an immense labyrinth in which the shadow-souls of the kami wandered, following cryptic and esoteric signs on the walls giving clues to the way out. Many walls of the labyrinth were lined with mirrors, and often one would get lost, slamming at the end of a passageway into one’s own face looking back at you. The wandering shades looked like blackened versions of the Xian Terracotta Warriors. I was stupefied with fear. Then my fear became a person:

“Why have you come here” she said.

  Then I turned my back upon her, Lady Fear, and looking down   upon the dust upon my shoes, I cried, “I am a child of the earth!”

“Henceforth,” she answered sharply, “…..you shall be a Child of Hazard.”

    Finally, following other kami shades and wandering in error, after the longest time I came to a great hall, the honden hall, in which the kami souls of millions gathered and sung dark choruses arrayed in immense marching columns and troops. The columns of troops marched across an immense field and then converged on a large central platform. Each troop marched behind a banner revealing its identity. Over the stage was a banner reading: “The Grand Guignol.” The first column was called “Fear of the Sky” and consisted of the Assassins, thousands of figures dressed in identical brown suits with identical gold pocket watches in their vest pockets, and with identical blood stains upon their lapels. Their method of killing was with brazen razor-sharp scimitars in the shape of question marks. If they came upon you with their “Question That May Not Be Asked” and you could not give the answer they would slice off your head with their razor-sharp Question Marks. The next column, which marched to the platform following their banner just as the first column had reached it, were the “Dry Bachelors” whose skin was formed from the parchment of skins of faithless lovers upon which was inscribed the love letters of romances gone sour. Then came the ‘Little Sisters of our Lady of the Razor” a cult of young girls who wished to be eternally young and submitted to constant excruciating cosmetic surgery until the pain was so unbearable they ran through the streets brandishing straight-razors, mutilating the faces anyone they encountered. Then came the “Weeping Blades,” bodies who had been skinned and whose heads were replaced by long blades dripping blood. Then came the Hoodmen, dressed in clansmen capes and who eat the words that others cannot remember that are on the tips of their tongues, swallowing both the tips of the tongues and the words and converting them to pure energy as in the convergence of matter and anti-matter. Next came Whispering Jack, a ghost who haunted the homes of unmarried spinsters, whispering the recipies of obscene delicacies whipped up with concupiscient curds. Then came the troop of the “Starving Skins,” beings whose decomposing infantile skins were held together by baby pins. Next came the Tricycle Cavalry of the Never-Never Boys, wearing gas-masks and riding tricycles, and riding over people in the streets who would  then be instantly changed into shadows. Finally came the Archons of the Grande Bunraku, let by the Grand Puppeteer, who led an army of shadow puppets behind him. The hypnogogic music intensified second by second as the taiko drums beat and the the Tayu Chanters raised their voices in grand unison until stopping abruptly in a grand climax.

Then one of them turned and spoke, his head covered with a dark monk’s hood. He was the Grand Puppeteer and his face was the face of my grandfather. When he came into the torchlight I saw that his face was a skull barely covered by a parchment of mummified skin. He drew me to an alter, tore open my white kimono, drew out a crystal scimitar and was about to strike it into my naked breast. I looked at my naked breasts and across them and my whole body and saw that every square centimeter was covered by tattood scarlet symbols in a cryptic language indecipherable to me: ŒΩΔλ€∏Ÿ‡Ł‰þ@§¶ãk¢Ø and the like. He announced that when unfolded they would spell out the neverbefore spoken name of the Ungod, Prince of Darkness. He raised his black obsidian crystal scimitar and announced: “The Book of Darkness will be opened. The Uncreator, the Anti-God, the Cosmic Delete will be summoned to erase the world into darkness. We are all Creatures of Darkness! From Darkness we came, and into Darkness We shall Return! The Black Eye of Horus shall Blot Out the Sun! The Sky shall Fall Shattered into the Black Abyss! Long Live the Unkami! Long live Death!” Just when I screamed uncontrollably another army of shadows appeared, bursting through the honden gates with an immense roar, surging uncontrollably forward. I looked up from where I was lying and saw the grey “shadow people” of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If you don’t know about the shadow people, they were the living shadows cast on the walls that survived the first atomic blasts of modern war in 1945. The heat was so intense and instantaneous that the very bodies of the victims were vaporized and cast like a living shadow of themselves, cast and permanently painted on the wall in dark silhouette. These Hiroshima shadows overran the field and platform like a swarm of army ants. Dispersing all before them. In the confusion I escaped and ran and mounted the stairs upwards as the Assassins and the Grand Puppeteer of the Grande Bunraku chased me close at hand, with their crystal scimitars and razor-sharp Question Marks flailing above their heads and with curses on their lips. I ran and ran up the spiral stairs until I came to the summit of the honden and looked out at the precipice gaping below me, just beginning to be lit by the rosy fingers of an incipient dawn, my pursuers close behind me. I climbed out onto the ledge of the roof and the Grand Puppeteer reached out after me. I fell. The Grand Puppeteer grabbed me by one hand. I held on for life, dangling above the abyss. Then the Grand Puppeteer secured strings to my wrists and ankles and with his fingers and a pair of crossed sticks made me to dance naked before the gaping crowds, with an ethereal grace as a Shamizen played exquisitely and the taiko drums throbbed out their darkest music. Then I saw the kimonoed figure of Chikamatsu Monzaemon push open the window next to the Grand Puppeteer atop the honden dresed in a rainbow-coloured ever so exquisite, ever so radiant ceremonial kimono. He reached across and drew the dark crystal sword from the Grand Puppeteer’s sheath. As the puppeteer’s hands were busy manipulating my strings Chikamatsu swung the sword and cut the strings. I fell insensate, then awoke screaming in my bed.

Such was the dream that had hunted down my sleep. In my senior year of art school, in an act of exorcism, I produced the Multimedia video for my senior thesis portfolio that recreated the essence of my dream. I filmed and edited forth the shadow puppets and shamizen music of the Bunraku theater to incorporate into my video, along with hallucinogenic shadow collage, photography, a spoken voiceover narrative and text to bring the kami to life. I recreated the dark Alice in Wonderland experience of my dream, following the footsteps of a young girl, as I had appeared in my dream. The work won an internationbal Multimedia award and I got my name in the newspapers—-even an interview on the BBC with Etienne! But as we watched the end of the DVD I could see that Professor Mirabilis had overtaxed his strength with his illness, and I sharing a final glass of wine with him I  then made my false excuses, saying I had to meet a friend for dinner.

For the last several months my mood had been changing; I had become more unsocial and more irritable; my dreams and nightmares had recurred with greater frequency. I trailed my frustrations behind me like a heavy bridal train. My loneliness brought me closer to myself. When we were together in Beijing Etienne didn’t ask me for anything; he never questioned me beyond the questions related to his work; his interest in my activities and feelings were no more than the barest good manners, he was never impatient with my changing moods, my nightmares, which had returned with greater frequency and intensity, or my long silences. We would go for days without exchanging a meaningful word outside the sex banter. Often I would wrap myself in my muteness like an armor, counting the hours of my discontent. Often, our mutual silence was willful and protracted, until I would finally give in because the silence weighed more on me than on him. Before, when we shared the same bed, I would move close to him, pretending to be asleep. I would press myself against his back and interlace my legs with his; in that way I sometimes bridged the abyss that was deepening between us. In those embraces I was not seeking pleasure but companionship and consolation. For a few hours I lived the illusion of having recaptured him, but then dawn would come and everything would again be as it always was.

Etienne didn’t love me, though he took great pleasure in me. I had known that from the beginning, but with the arrogance of first love and my nineteen years, that hadn’t seemed an insurmountable obstacle. I had thought I would seduce him with persistence, love, my sexual presence and my pure heart, as girls did in romantic novels. But instead Etienne had gotten bored with me and left me to marry another, then returned to me as his lover “on the side.” If I were capable of exteriorizing my emotions I might suffer less, but they get locked inside me, like a huge block of ice, and years can pass before that ice begins to melt.

Now I sat in my hotel room at the Arriva hotel in London utterly alone. Neither Etienne nor even Andreas had the merest thought of coming to me. I sat for hours with my two bottles of Bacardi, black and white, and drank rumcoco after rumcoco, staring into my Webcam, staring into my own mirrored and imaged face staring back at me. Something basic was lacking in my womanhood. Something basic was lacking in my capacity to evoke and give love as a woman, some deficit of my inward capacity for womanly emotion; something lacking in my capacity to evoke and center a man’s love and evoke a desire for family and children and genuine manhood through me. In the anguish of identifying what was lacking in me, for months I had devoted hours and days to shooting portraits of myself, making and editing videos of myself, some shot in front of a large mirror in my studio, others standing before the camera on its tripod. I took hundreds of still photographs, dozens of hours of video; in some I am dressed, in some I am naked; in some I meet my own gaze fiercely, in some I hide from it. Now I sat and examined myself and my images and recordings from every side and every conceivable angle and from every point of view, and the only thing I discovered was an enduring sadness.

C  Copyright Robert Sheppard 2011 All Rights Reserved

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Copyright Notice

Copyright Notice

Copyright Notice: Any and all material on the pages of this entire WordPress blogsite, including each and every post and entry and all linked companion Spiritus Mundi blogs and websites, is the sole and exclusive intellectual property of the copyright holder, Robert Sheppard. Hence, he has full copyright, trademark, trade name, trade dress and any and all related intellecutal property ownership and control of all of the the items. With permission from the copyright owner, the contents may be read and used for personal reference, but not otherwise copied, altered in any way or transmitted to others without the written permission of the copyright holder. All rights are reserved solely in the copyright holder

C  Copyright Robert Sheppard 2011 All Rights Reserved

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