The great works

As I have stated, 2022 will be, in all likelihood, the last full year I’ll get to see. Thus, it may be my last chance to plan for something that could take a whole year.

I want to leave something behind, some proof that I created more than I destroyed. I want to make something that will outlive me. Since the most obvious and most honorable method of securing a man’s legacy is denied to me, I had to find something else. The end result is this: four Great Works.

These are longer-term projects that, in my opinion, have the best chance of enduring not only after 2022, but after I’m gone from this earth. They’re not easy. They’re not simple. And that’s the whole point.

The First Work

First among the works is the one I’m doing for, well, work. The platform is called Alana, named after my boss’s newborn daughter, Basically, think of it as a social network for car owners and buyers. You sign up through your local dealership or an invitation, and the first step is a kind of personality profile, the same as you’d find on, say, a dating site. After that, you get a set of vehicle models best matching your profile, and you get to like or dislike each of them until you’re left with only a few “top” matches. Then, you get to see actual inventory, and possibly even buy a new car online, if you’re so inclined.

That’s the gist of it. In truth, there are a lot of other things going on behind the scenes. And the list keeps on growing, because Brandon (the CEO) is at least my equal when it comes to off-the-wall ideas. But that’s one of the things I like most about him. That, and how he’s the kind of person who always encourages everyone around him to be their best. (He’s part of the reason why I consider my expiration date to be in the future, rather than the present.)

Alana could take forever. It’s open-ended, and there’s always something new to add. I’ve been working at it for over 2 months now, and I sometimes feel that I’ve made no progress whatsoever. Some of that comes from the very…fluid requirements of the project. Some stems from my lack of self-esteem. Beyond those, however, it’s just big. It’s the biggest software project I’ve ever developed, and the development is, for the time being, a one-man show.

If I can get this thing launched, and get all the main features working, I’ll consider it a success. Sure, I’d like it to go viral and become the Facebook/Instagram/Tinder/whatever of cars, but I’ll be happy just knowing that people are using it, that someone, somewhere, found exactly what they were looking for because of me.

The Second Work

I’ve already launched this one, but it needs far more content, and the “real” thing can’t start until 2022. To put it simply: I’m running for office. Specifically, I intend to be on the ballot for the Tennessee State House of Representatives, 27th District in the 2022 general election.

I’m an independent. I don’t want celebrity endorsements or help from PACs. In fact, I’d reject both of those without a second thought. What I want is to see this state (and, ideally, this country, but let’s start small) get back on the right track.

Tennessee has been leading the pack in a lot of good ways recently. We passed one of the toughest anti-SLAPP laws in the nation a few years back, allowing people to speak freely, without fear of lawsuits designed only to bankrupt them. In 2021, we outlawed the teaching in schools of Critical Race Theory, the anti-American and anti-Enlightenment doctrine that is so prevalent in the US today. We returned to Constitutional Carry, meaning that the 2nd Amendment actually exists here again. And only a few weeks ago, our governor signed into law a statewide ban on vaccine mandates, including the enforcement of federal mandates within the state.

Those are all great. They make Tennessee a shining beacon of liberty in a world plagued by tyranny. But I think we can do even better. I also think today’s partisan politics won’t let that happen, so that’s why I’m throwing my hat into the ring. If nothing else, I can set a better example through my words and actions.

The Third Work

Setting a better example is behind the third work, as well. Here, it’s not so much a political system as a philosophical one. I’ve mentioned “technetism” a few times in recent months, but I want to flesh out the concept in 2022.

At its core, technetism is nothing more than humanism divorced from the atheistic additions it has gathered. It’s almost impossible to find Christian humanists these days, but it’s certainly possible, in my view, to be a Christian technetist. The same goes for, say, Islam or Buddhism. Or even atheism, really. All that matters is that you see humanity as something to preserve, rather than destroy.

I have actually written a 20,000-word introductory monograph, called The Prison of Ignorance, which I would like to edit and publish in 2022. This, as I see it, becomes the first step in creating the “technetic” school of thought. There will also be an accompanying site, where I’ll talk in more depth about what the philosophy is, what it means, and how others can become a part of it. (In my wildest dreams, there’s even a technetism podcast. I’d planned to start that all the way back in April, but…well, you know.)

The Fourth Work

When I came up with the idea of Great Works, I promised myself that I wouldn’t include any of my books. There are too many of those, and they just aren’t great enough. Or that’s how I see it. None of my novels will ever be classics in the sense of Lord of the Rings or Ender’s Game. They won’t get turned into TV shows like The Expanse, much as I would love for that to happen. Except for the handful of extant copies, most of my stories will vanish once I’m gone, so I needed something else.

Well, there is something I could do. The Orphans of the Stars series has taken a turn in its fifth installment, and it has led me down the digression of SETI. Writing about humanity’s first (known) contact with an advanced alien species made me wonder what that would really be like. Not just the questions of what they look like, what they eat, and whether they would wonder the same about us, but the communication aspect. How do we communicate with people who aren’t even human?

I’ve been learning about that recently, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s possible, and in a way that so many of the “universal” messages don’t take into account. Most of those tend to focus on only one part of communication, one branch of knowledge. They’re fixated on math and physics, for example, or they worry too much about creating a functionally perfect system that ends up being useless for conveying information.

What we need is an interdisciplinary approach, something that combines mathematics and the hard sciences with linguistic, psychological, and even anthropological knowledge to create a more well-rounded method of communication. Something that represents human beings above all, emphasizing our intelligence and sentience while not getting bogged down in proving it.

I know it sounds crazy, but I’m willing to call that the fourth and final Great Work of 2022. Nothing in the world—nothing I can realistically achieve, rather—would make me happier than the knowledge that something I created has become an ambassador for mankind. And everyone needs a quixotic quest. Everyone needs a windmill to tilt at.

This can be mine, because I’ve spent 38 years reaching for things I can’t have, fantasizing about futures that will never be, wishing I could touch the stars in some way. There’s nobody better to try it, if you ask me.

‘Tis the season

I don’t believe I could say what had happened
All of those words we put into play
No longer matter, I should have known that then
I just know you’re far away
On this Christmas day
— Trans-Siberian Orchestra, “Ornament”

That’s the most depression-related text you’ll get out of me today. This is a time for positive thoughts, a chance for all of us to recapture the innocence of childhood for just a little while. Or that’s what Christmas means to me. Spend time with your family, your loved ones. Remember that charity begins at home, and it’s better to give than to receive. Take this time to consider that we can have a brighter future if we come together as one.

Today is a day for forgiveness, for salvation, and that doesn’t necessarily have to be of the spiritual sort. Whatever kind you’re seeking, I hope you find it. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

The broken mirror

In the face of dreams I had
Grimaces of pain
Now I am turning helpless
Callous and alone
Waiting for a storm to brew
To wash my dream of love and sins away

The lyrics (and post title) are from “Blizzard On A Broken Mirror” by Avantasia, and they’ve been stuck in my head all day. Why? Because there’s a storm brewing, and I’d really like this morning’s dream washed away.

Alwan is a medieval-like village housing around 250 people, and it’s one base of operations for my Otherworld series. Karston, by contrast, has a population ta least 20 times that, a century or two more in the tech department, and it belongs to the Hidden Hills novels. They’re two different places. Two different worlds, neither of which is Earth, both of which I would gladly take in exchange for this rock I call home.

In my dream, they were much closer. So close, in fact, that a person could take a short train ride from one to the other. Never mind that neither setting has trains; dreams don’t care about petty things like continuity, after all.

I was in the little village, along with most of my family, and we were getting ready to start what must have been our Christmas party. While I was walking around outside, waiting on the last straggler—my mother, as always—to arrive, I got a call saying that two others were on their way over, coming from said town of Karston via said train. Sure. Merry Christmas to all, and the more, the merrier, right?

One of my cousins has grown very…estranged in the last decade. He became a cop, then almost instantly turned dirty. You know how it is, that arrogant, holier-than-thou attitude shared by everyone with a badge. He got into bodybuilding, had an affair with his trainer, ditched his wife and three kids, and all that was years ago. This morning, the dream version of him wanted to make amends by joining the rest of us in our celebration. And I have no problem with that.

The second unexpected visitor, however, is the one who left me reeling. She texted me, then called me, then showed up, all within the span of a few minutes. One moment, I’m walking around whatever dreamscape building we had set up for the party. The next, I’m going into the dining room to find her standing there. Her greeting came in the form of a punch to my shoulder as she said, “That’s for not talking to me for two months.” Then she hugged me like all was forgiven.

But it isn’t. It can’t be, because forgiveness has to be earned, and I haven’t earned it yet. In the time I have remaining, I don’t believe I will.

Sometimes a dream is a message. This one was read loud and clear, I’ll admit. I would say part of it has to do with the holiday season. I as a strong believer in the idea that December (whether you celebrate Christmas or any other early-winter holiday) is a time to open up, to embrace the positive. Charity, goodwill, even salvation, if you’re so inclined. Those are what this time of year is for, and that transcends the social boundaries we put up. You spend time with your family, with those you love, if for no other reason than because it’s good to remind yourself that they’re there. Yes, you should consider that all the time, but not everybody can, so at least try it now.

Yet some wounds are too deep to heal, some bridges burned beyond repair. We make them that way by our actions or inaction. And that, I feel, is the message meant for me this morning. I’ve been on both sides now. I’ve suffered such a wound, and I’ve caused one. I am, as the Scarecrow said in this post’s theme song, helpless, callous, and alone.

And Acedia, the inner demon I share with this character, puts a line on his lips that rings so true for me. “Love will come in time, but I am always late.”


I loved her. I still love her. As much as it hurts sometimes, I still think of her, and I’ve cried myself to sleep a few nights because of such thoughts. Wondering where I went wrong, what I could have done differently, and if I’ll ever have another chance.

Or if I was ever worth the first one.

Love is a powerful thing, I’ve learned. Its greatest power comes from being strong enough to make you forget. That’s what happened to me. I got so wrapped up in the emotional high, in the dreams of what may come, that I forgot who I was. What I was. I ignored my glaring flaws because I was talking to someone who saw past them, but they were still there. They never truly went away.

Eventually, that haze faded. I saw that I had yet to move forward, that two years had brought me no closer to a solution for the problems plaguing my life. I reached the point where I realized I was adding nothing positive to the relationship. No matter how much she said otherwise, I couldn’t help but feel that I was dragging her down. A partner is supposed to be an anchor, but the kind that keeps you from drifting away, not the one that pulls you into the abyss.

I’ve been playing Sunless Sea lately. It’s a great game, perfect in its atmosphere and worldbuilding, but one part leaves me troubled. The sun-kissed island of Aestival, with its port called Lesley’s Harbour, hits me like a punch to the gut every time it comes into view. Sure, the name’s spelled differently, but it’s close enough. And it’s fitting, because she really was the single ray of sunlight brightening my darkness.

I know I’m broken. I know I turned away from the one who had the best chance of putting me back together, or at least filling my broken spaces, joining with me to make something greater.

Why would I run from that? I don’t know. Maybe part of me doesn’t truly want to be healed. Maybe I’ve been broken for so long that I can’t imagine myself any other way. It could be that I don’t consider myself worthy of that sort of salvation; after all, what have I ever done to deserve it? Or it’s nothing more than the realization that I tried too hard, that I made promises I couldn’t keep, and the hurt I caused hurt me in turn.

That light feels warm on your face, but you have to be careful. It might just blind you.

What’s left of me

(Avantasia again, but now taken from The Mystery of Time, an epic of an album in scope and confusion.)

We’re coming to the end of another year. This one has been rough. Maybe not quite as bad as 2020, but it’s pretty close. We still dwell within the dystopia of a false pandemic, now with the added bonus of the powers that be attempting to force a harmful, useless, and potentially deadly drug down our throats. (Or, if you prefer, into our arms.) Tennessee has begun to stand as a small beacon of hope in a darkened world, which might be the only positive thing going at the moment.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about mortality, specifically my own. It’s not that I’m old (38 isn’t even middle-aged, is it?) or that I’m scared of the bioweapon that kills 1 out of every 1000 or so. I don’t fear for my life. I just don’t see it lasting too much longer.

It looks as though I have everything arrayed against me. Although this state has taken a tentative step forward in barring public functions and private businesses from requiring the so-called vaccine, there’s nothing stopping them from reneging on that pledge of liberty. Add in an economy spiraling down, indeed put into a nosedive by those in control, and the stress of working a job that relies on cars being, you know, a thing, and I don’t see a lot of wiggle room. Literally everything has to go right for me to even have a chance to tread water. Advancing just doesn’t seem possible from where I sit.

Part of that is mental, I know. Depression colors my thoughts at all times now, but a rational breakdown of those thoughts will show that not all of them can be attributed to the darkness clouding my mind. Our world really is in bad shape. We’re beset by demons, though of the metaphorical sort—you can’t make me believe the literal ones exist.

My worldview relies on that rationality. It relies on the notion that a person’s value is proportional to that which they create in humanity as a whole, that creators are inherently more beneficial for our species than destroyers, and that they will be rewarded as such. Most of all, it takes as axiomatic the idea that the single most human act is the creation of another.

If I can’t do that, I might as well not even live, because what am I contributing?

This is not a suicide note. It is a simple statement of fact, of my sincere beliefs. I don’t intend those beliefs to cover anyone but myself. This is how I view my continued existence, rather than a general judgment. I would hope that others recognize the value of it and see it in a positive light, finding ways to incorporate the essence of it into their own system of the world, but I am content to hold it in isolation if necessary.

I accept my position and its consequences. To that end, I now view the coming year, 2022, as a final chance to put certain things in order. Most importantly, I want to take those twelve months to create…something big. Many things, rather, things that will outlive me. If my lineage will not survive, maybe my legacy can.

One legacy may come from employment. The project I’ve been working on these past two months has the potential to become a viral sensation. Even if it doesn’t, it will most likely provide a strong base for future projects in the same vein, and a platform that can endure. Although I have not once thought I was worthy of bringing it to market, I would be happy to put my name on the finished product.

The second is far more personal. I want to take time in 2022 to develop my philosophy of “technetism” for two reasons. First, I do believe it is beneficial as a whole, and will inspire others to think of the world and themselves in a better light. Second, I hope it can do the same for me. Spiritualism in any sense has never worked for me, despite decades of trying, so I don’t see many other options. As always, the only course I feel is open to me is going it alone.

The third on the list comes from a longtime hobby of mine. As I’ve repeatedly stated on PPC, I got into fantasy writing in part because of my hobby of language construction. In the 20+ years I’ve been tinkering with my own linguistic creations, I’ve expanded into related fields, and I want to do something big in that vein. I’m not sure what that is just yet, but I have a few ideas I’m going to explore in December. If I come up with anything, I’ll be sure to let my readers (do I even have readers?) know.

The writing itself comes in fourth on the list. I regret that I probably won’t be able to finish Orphans of the Stars, Otherworld, The Hidden Hills, The Occupation Trilogy, Endless Forms, or even Modern Minds. Honestly, I doubt I could finish them all even if I lived forever. But I would like to leave enough behind that others are inspired, and maybe a talented author could complete what I left incomplete.

These are the things I want to do. Not all of them, mind you. Many goals I would like to reach are no longer possible. Many avenues have been closed off. Thus, I take what I can get and ask for no more, because no amount of asking, begging, or pleading has ever gotten me anywhere. The items I listed are, to me, the bare minimum that I feel I need to complete before calling my life well-lived.

Those four hopes are, in a sense, all that’s left of me.