Voices of Littlefield: The Farmer’s Market

It’s as if Christ took a shot and karma and missed. But since it was Christ the judge said case dismissed and then turned to me and said, “I’ll say a prayer for you.”

 

Big, old and stiff bodied gatherers of dust and seasons of weeds, the stalks of farmers grumbling among the cantaloupes, chickens, rabbits, and curds, occasionally signing with a smiley face to a neighbor.

 

“Yes, this is the best crop I’ve had in years. I may even have a suitor for my daughter. He’s a gangly one, but I’m sure we can get him fattened up with Betty’s butterscotch cookies and Cora’s pork and beans.”

 

Butterscotch cookie farmer has a butter, breading and pudding bodied wife with a face of fuzzy dried prunes. She scowls when she looks in my direction. I am a Puerto Rican/Chinese/Dutch male, 5’7″, 135 pounds. I probably returned her scowl because hers gets even harder. Her appearance says, “I have seen your kind before.”

 

I don’t want to know her. I have $3 in my pocket, for two days of food. I spend it on a tuna sandwich at the liquor store.

– Adam Umbrian

 

Adam Umbrian is the fictional author of a book about the small town of Littlefield, located somewhere in northwest Michigan. This is part of a compendium of epithets that comprise the characters and places of The Confessor of Littlefield. I am a project artist who constructs milieu with prose, poetry, art and music.

 

For The Confessor of Littlefield project, there is a serial novel (which you can read in excerpts by clicking on the menu), illustrations, which I cycle along with the serial posts, and free verse poetry that presents the psychological narrative of the characters. The sequence of epithets is influenced in tone and structure by Sherwood Anderson and Edward Arlington Robinson.

 

As a creation, a project usually begins for me as a lyrical line that pops into my head while I am playing guitar. The entire project of Littlefield begins with me playing a metal riff in various forms and excursions because it feels nice. The line “Over the Hills today…” came into my head one day and I saw a strawberry blonde, shaggy looking fellow riding a horse in the woods. So, you might say the entire Littlefield project is the side project for a song that was insinuating itself to me. And since there are mathematical limitations with song, everything has to be condensed to meter, I branch out and express my art in a number of different ways.

 

I accept my limitations in each of the arts I express, sacrificing complexity of style for complexity of context. I hope to achieve two things by this sort of presentation; one, to not assume too much of the environment for the reader by describing it in detail but to provide a familiarity that gives it texture, and two, to combat conventional presumptions that hijack my content from being something fresh and new in the mind of the reader.

 

Attitude, mood, emotions are all taken to the context by the reader. And in today’s social media, almost everything said casually to another person is filtered through a political inference device in everyone’s brain. The greatest discoveries and works of art, the greatest achievements in sports, are all dismissed for a straw man WE in the public arena. When we apply our prejudices so often during the day we cannot help but to apply them to an art (including writing) presentation.

 

Make a political view known on social media and you immediately become branded. Make a joke about a loutish fat guy with a New Jersey accent playing Richie Rich because he IS Richie Rich, the little boy who is fabulously wealthy with countless sycophants and servants whom he mistreats for his amusement, until death when he finally departs, and you will be the straw man who inspires indiscriminate contempt.

 

Charlie Daniels isn’t going to ask to play at a UAW rally so he can tell the thousands in attendance that the political party they support is the cause of all the evil in the world, but he will tweet it. If he ever did play at a UAW rally he would more than likely assure everyone that god loves him. And to prove it, he has some Christmas music to share for 19.95.

 

Social media logic goes something like, “he hasn’t made fun of a liberal so he must be one.” If he is making fun of Trump and Charlie Daniels he must be a (fill in the blank; communist, liberal, socialist, or whatever role I am supposed to play in the theatrical production of Real Life that is created through the political inference device. I could be an atheist, a Jesus freak, communist, conservative, educated, uneducated, from Tennessee, or not from Tennessee…

 

The world creates itself and it is just that mucked up world of herd reality that I am satirizing with my art. Too much of what we think we know about each other is assumed, and works of art no longer stand on their own, or for justifiable reasons. Social media is mass media. And the political control of the the narrative of reality achieves what Hitler tried to achieve and which China achieves; authoritarian control of our identity and the narrative of our lives.

 

The psychological complexity of a character with all its contradictions cannot possibly be understood if the mechanism of political inference is engaged, unless, of course, you are exploiting the mechanism for your own reasons. Most readers of blogs like this one have some sort of education in their background to identify what the author is doing with style and device, and to identify with a work as an artistic production. But the man on the street does not have this perceptibility because he is constantly weighed down by the political narrative This is why blogging has always been an effective vehicle for me to share my art and grow as an artist. I realize it isn’t possible to be totally rid of the political narrative, but I can at least combat the inference devised world of socio-political 140 character pronouncements.

 

The Confessor is not a mainstream novel, it is literary. I am not belittling the conventional novel to say that. I have to distinguish my  work for what it is and is not, and it is not a mainstream, conventional presentation. It uses mainstream techniques to appeal to readers psychologically, while trying not to philosophize, moralize, or talk over the reader’s head.

 

The contradicting narratives of the fictional author, Adam are to show the individual thinking through the different ideas and perspectives that influence a person’s personal philosophy. They are not intended as a social media engagement to give my political, social, or philosophical views personally. It is a sad commentary on our day that the author of fiction has to include a statement with his or her work which states that the views of  fictional characters do not necessarily reflect the views of their authors. But you never know what courtroom you might end up in, and what leading questions you will be asked.

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