The Aresan Clan is published four times a week (Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun). You can see what's been written so far collected here. All posts will be posted under the Aresan Clan label. For summaries of the events so far, visit here. See my previous serial Vampire Wares collected here.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Several years ago my mother, who is an elementary school teacher, got The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg as a book for class. She was excited about it and showed me. The concept of the book is that Harris Burdick approaches a children's book publisher with his portfolio which includes fourteen pages from various children's books he'd created. Unfortunately, Burdick disappeared before any more information was forthcoming and all that was left were this set of fourteen pictures with caption and book title. In short, it's 14 fragments of children's books. Van Allsburg wrote it in the hope that the various fragments would serve as inspiration, with kid's writing their own stories built upon the fragment, and my mother was planning on using it the same way, to inspire her kids to wrte stories. I thought the book was quite awesome, but was inspired quite differently, thinking it would be more fun to write a series of fragments myself, in my own style.

I remember in one of my classes on British Romanticism we covered the poetry fragment as an art form. The most famous poetry fragment is "Kubla Khan" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which was a poem that, according to Coleridge's account, came to him in an opium dream and was of some 200 to 300 lines in length. Upon waking, he began to write it, composing the 54 lines, but then was interrupted by the "Person from Porlock" who detained him for an hour. After that point, when he returned to the poem, he found that he couldn't reconstruct the rest of it. It's not entirely clear whether this account by Coleridge is a true story or a piece of fiction meant to add to the poem, but the poem is definitely comes across as incomplete. The intrigue of the fragmentary nature in general and of "Kubla Kahn" in particular is that it is only a part of a much grander vision, that the reader can vaguely imagine, and those vague imaginings will be much greater than anything tangible that could've been produced. Coleridge published another famous fragment "Christabel," about a victimized woman named Geraldine who Christabel helps and later discovers has some sort of dark, mysterious powers. Coleridge had some plans for how to complete it, but just didn't, perhaps because he was indecisive about how specifically to end it. But the poem was among the inspirations of Sheridan Le Fanu's lesbian vampire tale Carmilla, which could be seen as almost like an attempt to complete the story (sort of becasuse Le Fanu isn't faithful to the fragment and takes it in a much different direction than Coleridge intended). In my Romanticism class we were encouraged to write our own poetry fragments, and I dabbled in this a bit.

Inspired by the Mysteries of Harris Burdick, though, I wrote about two dozen story fragments, along with several others that I started but didn't complete (so, I guess they would be called fragmentary fragments, or something). They were divided into three kinds: dreams, conversations and fragments. The dreams, were just fragments that were loosely based on dreams that I'd had. The conversations were simply sections of dialogue. And everything else I wrote was classed as a fragment. All three types were meant to be read as pieces of a larger story, which the reader would imagine, as if they were a page torn out of a novel, which had been lost. People can't help but try to fill in the tantalizing mystery, and there's no disappointment of a resolution to a mystery that turns out to be dull and banal since the reader resolves it according to their own imagination. I'd hoped for the same thing as Van Allsburg, that people would be inspired to build around the fragments and create things that were very different than what I would've imagined. So, I uploaded the few that I considered pretty good to my site. Time will tell.

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