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  • Writer's picturePete Mesling

April 2024 Journal Entries

Updated: May 10

April 10. There’s something particularly true about a profile. In the mirror, we see mostly lies. In conversation, we too often hide behind masks. But in profile … That’s when we are truly seen, and by many an unbidden glance, for there is little risk in ogling a profile.

April 11. What if the Devil not only labors tirelessly to subvert the will of God, but has manufactured all the imperfections of Creation itself? If that’s the case, maybe God needs our help every bit as much as we need His.

I’m socially and politically an atheist, but I tire of the dreary argument against God that leans on the notion that He couldn’t, in His endless power, allow the bad in the world to happen. Who says He’s omnipotent? Who says He’s omni-benevolent, for that matter? But that’s another can of worms.

April 18. Maybe Clive Barker’s famous quote about every fear being a desire was never meant to be literal, never meant to imply that we subconsciously desire what we most fear. Maybe the point is that every fear calls to mind its opposite desire, every desire its opposing fear. Then again, Clive has never been much of a dualist …

It reminds me of the phrase, “No news is good news,” which doesn’t mean there isn’t any good news; it means that not receiving any news might mean there isn’t bad news to report.

Language is tricky.

April 22. I see that Ray Garton passed from lung cancer. It wasn’t surprising, based on recent posts from him, but it must have gone quickly in the end. I’m honored to have shared a table of contents with Ray. He was also gracious enough to allow me to read one of his stories on my podcast when I had one. I’ll miss both his humor and his horror.

April 26. Sometimes it takes a while for a musician’s work to find you, but it’s a fine thing when you end up connecting strongly with that artist. Let me tell you a short story about a golden-throated singer known as Glenn Hughes.

He first came to my attention with the Black Sabbath album Seventh Star, back in 1986. It was meant to be a solo Tony Iommi record, which is really how to listen to it, if you ask me. Either way, it’s a wonderful record, and leading up to its release, the press constantly made note of the fact that the legendary Glenn Hughes would be supplying the vocal machinery.

Back then, of course, you had to pay for your music, so it was much harder to maintain the kind of awareness we take for granted now. I wouldn’t get to know Hughes’ work in any depth for decades. This was also likely owing to the fact that Seventh Star was one of only a handful of recordings he made in my most formative years.

It’s been well worth the wait. Hughes has quickly become one of my favorite singers/bassists/songwriters. I can’t wait for the new Black Country Communion album to drop. And if there’s a U.S. tour planned, look out.

April 27. This is kind of a pretentious and inadequate description, but Chiliad feels like Clive Barker’s most literary work in some ways, even though it’s a mere slip of a book.

Maybe it’s in the way the narrator casually echoes the authorial interventions of Charles Dickens. Or maybe it’s in the stylistic air that calls to mind a book like Gissing’s The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft. Or maybe it’s the unshakable sense that one is reading something very close to its author’s heart.

But mostly, I suspect, the esteem in which I hold the book has to do with the surprise sewing together of the first and second halves. Above all of its other attributes, in other words, Chiliad is one hell of a story, even more powerful than just about anything found in Barker’s Books of Blood.

April 27. I’m at an age now where I wonder occasionally if some of the fiction I’ve longed to see adapted to the large or small screen will in fact meet that fate, but not until I’m dead and gone. It’s a sobering thought that at once puts my impermanence and ultimate unimportance in clear perspective and reminds me to relish the creative work that has come into my life and added to its meaning.

We’re often advised to cherish those around us, for we never now how long we’ll have their company. The same is true of great art.

April 28. I’m not the biggest science fiction fan in the world. I don’t consider myself particularly well read in the area, and the movies often leave me cold.

I may have found one of the reasons for this. The best science fiction films I’ve watched in recent years—by far—have been Ikarie XB 1, Interstellar, and Until the End of the World. If more science fiction was like this, I’d likely be a much bigger fan.

So what do these disparate movies, produced in different decades of the twentieth century, have in common? I think it comes down to a few basic elements: they put story and character above genre; they’re paced in such a way that viewers have time to contemplate their various thematic implications; and they truly are science fiction, as opposed to science fantasy. In fact, each of these movies was set in the reasonably near future when they were made. It’s startling how close Wim Wenders gets to predicting GPS, ubiquitous video recording, and easy access to music in Until the End of the World, for instance.

Yet there are differences among the three films. World is a picaresque thriller/love story, Interstellar an existential nightmare about love and loss, and Ikarie XB 1 a star voyage with a dreadful outcome. What value does genre provide in the face of such diversity?

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