I’m best known as Proteus Ashmole, though people have called me many other things. I am a husband, father, college professor, and cat lover (especially of Pepper).
I am a writer.
Miss Stein taught me not only how to write experimentally, but also that I am a writer. For years I thought of myself as a performance artist: The act of banging out the same sentence, over and over again, was my art, not the typewritten block of text that I produced. Now, I see things differently. I am a writer. As both my friend Justin (Dr. Dropout) and Miss Stein have taught me, a writer is one who writes. I write. This statement may sound simplistic, but that’s because the idea it expresses is simple.
And as Justin observed, like Miss Stein, I attempt (notice the verb) to bring order to chaos. Specifically, I write sentences about people. People are sloppy creatures. They don’t behave as expected. They violate norms. They do things society—whoever the hell that is—deems disgusting, vile, and criminal. Not always. But sometimes. Witness the current horrors of the Catholic Church–a church I love, a church that has literally saved my sanity and soul many times; witness how Popes to Catholic school teachers allowed and allow men to hurt children, only to hide the abuse out of fear of damaging a holy image. But predatory priests and enabling–even predatory–bishops are people, and people can act as others deem they should not. Here’s the part where I assert that I can forgive those men, including Popes, but still find their actions reprehensible, that I do not condone crimes against children, which can never be fully punished, except by a merciful God. Were better for them to tie a great millstone around their necks and jump in a river. That’s what Jesus said.
And so I attempt to force mostly fictional people into carefully constructed sentences over and over again, which I type on an electronic Royal Scriptor typewriter—her name is Tabitha, the “bestest” typewriter in the world, as she says. The result is a massive iceberg of text. Even the words and sentences look organized on the 11X17 page, within boundaries of near-perfect margins. For what? I do this because I write. I write because it brings me joy. Writing makes my heart sing as my mother would say (she’s a shaman). I seek to tame chaos and, yes, make people uncomfortable. That’s what Art does: It makes people uncomfortable, not just shrug.
So there you have it. Maybe one day I’ll share my work with you and you can see what it’s all about.
Did this hello make you uncomfortable? I hope so.
Here is my creative space, the place I call the scriptorum.