Author Spotlight: Gary A. Braunbeck
A Darke Phantastique is still the focus of our Author Spotlight series, and our next honored contributor is Gary A. Braunbeck.
His story “Redaction” begins:
In college he wrote a paper for a Philosophy 101 class entitled “The Lie of the ‘I,’ the Deception of All Nouns.” It was intended as a joke, a swipe at how utterly pretentious he found the professor, his classmates, and the course as a whole to be. “‘I,’” he’d written, “is at once a lie, because once you’ve spoken that word, you are no longer the ‘I’ of whom you speak but rather a representation of that ‘I,’ the ‘you’ you wish others to think of when you say ‘I.’ By speaking of yourself in the first person, you at once separate yourself from the person you are claiming to be, so what is intended as proof of authenticity is actually the most deceptive pronoun of all; nothing but a ‘he’ in disguise, wearing a phony moustache and fright wig, a ‘her’ with hair shorn short and a false beard and breasts held flat by sports bandages beneath the shirt of the tuxedo. It is no better when considering the deception of nouns, for they do nothing more than delineate a class—my chair, my car, my life—it’s a blur, a flippant label, a lazy summary, and if the ‘my’ coupled with the noun—that is, the ‘my’ that is the ‘I’ that is ‘you’—is also a misrepresentation, then the two taken together create a terminal oversimplification of how we gather knowledge, experience, and memory, the three things that are—or so we are taught—de rigueur to forming and maintaining individuality. If the ‘I’ is a lie, then so is the conceit of individuality, all of it tantamount to the total annihilation of the Self. In short, we’re all hosed.”
He explains the idea for the story:
After the recent loss of a job I went into a spiraling depression; I realized that, not only had the people I worked for and with come to regard me only as my function and not as the person who performed that function, but that I, myself, had started to think of myself only in terms of my function. So much of our identity, it seems to me, becomes wrapped up in our work that we risk losing sight of that identity. So I wondered, what would happen if the person we were supposed to be decided to fight back against the person/function we viewed ourselves as? The result was “Redaction.”
Gary A. Braunbeck is a multiple Bram Stoker Award—winning writer whose work includes the acclaimed Cedar Hill Cycle of novels and stories, such as In Silent Graves, Coffin County, and the soon to be released A Cracked and Broken Path. His most recent collection, Rose of Sharon and Other Stories, was released in 2013 to rave reviews. His award-winning nonfiction book, To Each Their Darkness, is now included in several creative writing classes in universities throughout the country. You can find out more about Gary and his work at www.GaryBraunbeck.com.