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A Spider Across the Skies
by Carl Halling
01/24/07
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Introduction

"A Spider Across the Skies", formerly "Ice Spoke of the Spells of Calm" made its debut at the Blogster.com website on the 25th January 2007. It consisted of an introduction, the main body of the work, formerly untitled but now "Some Sad Dark Secret", and an epilogue. Before a definitive version was published at the Faithwriters website in September 2007, it was quite heavily edited, while not having been significantly altered in spirit. Further minor alterations took place in early December.

Galvanising Mentors

"Some Sad and Dark Secret", was forged using creative methods scrupulously described elesewhere. It was based on notes contained within a single piece of scrap paper which I recently unearthed, and probably dating from 1982 or '83, during which I was a French and Drama student at Westfield College. The first three sections contain words of advice imparted to me by Dr Margaret Mein, who was my principle tutor during my final year at Westfield, and under whose galvanising direction I studied as my main subject the controversial and often disturbing writings of Andre Gide. Throughout the year, she tirelessly encouraged my intellectual and literary inclinations, determined that I should go on to become a professional academic. She also believed that I had the makings of a successful writer, informing me at one point that if creative writing is of a sufficiently sensational nature, it is guaranteed to be read by a ravenously curious public, and so to be financially successful, or something similar. The fourth and fifth sections have as their basis words once spoken to me by another of my Westfield tutor. They refer to my former desire to shock by the affectation of an almost hysterical vehemence of tone in my writings, as well as the endless inclusion of ranting lists.

Some Sad Dark Secret

Dr M. said:
“Temper
Your enthusiasm,
The extremes
Of your
reactions,
You should have
A more
Conventional
Frame
On which to
Hang your
unconventionality.”

The tone of some
Of my work
Is often
A little dubious,
She said.
She thought
That there
Was something
Wrong,
That I’m hiding
Some sad and dark
Secret
From the world.

She told me
Not to rhapsodise,
That it would be
Difficult,
Impossible, perhaps,
For me to
Harness
My dynamism.
“Don’t push People”,
She said.
“You make
Yourself
Vulnerable”.

Dr H. said:
“By the third page,
I felt I’d been
Bulldozed.
I can almost see
Your soapbox.
Like Rousseau,
You’re telling us
What to do.
You seem to
Work yourself
Into such an
emotional pitch…

And this
Extraordinary
Capacity for lists.

A Spider Across the Skies

The first employment I undertook after leaving Westfield was as a wandering deliverer of novelty telegrams. It may be that I gave no serious thought to the future, because I didn’t seriously intend having one. My life’s work was apparently the pursuit of immortality through acting, music or literature, or ideally all three, while tasting as many earthly fruits, strong sensations, and limit-experiences as I was able to in the interim. I had no deep desire to leave anything behind by way of progeny, nor for any career other than one liable to project me to international fame. That said, in keeping with my then passionately felt liberal-left convictions, I did vaguely entertain the thought of an alternative career in one or other of the caring professions.
I struggle to adequately explain why I was quite so reckless with the many gifts heredity and good fortune had bestowed upon me, as I'm such a different person today, and one who honours and cherishes everything that contributes to the well-being of the individual in society, from the family onwards. It may be that I was in the grip of a condition of which sudden inexplicable recklessness was a primary symptom, because it would be inaccurate to state that I was unvaryingly reckless. In fact, I was capable of great diligence, especially when it came to my acting career, only for the recklessness to return. What is certain is that whatever I was in thrall to has been significantly tamed by my faith, offering me the chance to revisit my younger days with an eye rendered mournful and wise by bitter regret, as well as the gift of hope for the future, which my folly almost deprived me of permanently. God's offered me a second act, during which I might go some way towards repairing some of the damage I caused during the first, so that one day those terrible words contained in “Maud Muller” by the American Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) might not burn themselves too savagely into my soul:
“For of all sad words of tongue or pen
The saddest are these: ‘it might have been!’”





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