“The Pure Process Exploded-Narrative Trilogy”
(an editing fiasco)
In the spring and summer of 2009, Pleshaw’s carefully constructed external reality and internal identity began to unravel – and then implode – as he realized he was fast approaching forty with the screeching howl of Johnny Rotten’s “No Future” stills ringing incessantly in his ears.
Chronicling his own demise (and subsequent re-birth – yes, even sinners get a renaissance) – Pleshaw employed a method of narrative memoir that he had previously dubbed as “pure process narrative” whereby the writer follows the emergent tale of their own useless existenceto whatever actions and conclusions they lead the writer towards and accept each result as a necessary component of an unfolding narrative. No Future? Sure. And No Regrets either, and the result is a trilogy of works in which Pleshaw explores a multiplicity of ever-weirder themes, including identity, insanity, risk, addiction, internal & external discoveries, liminality, time, space, danger, sex, extreme circumstances, trangsgressive non-fiction, health, yoga, religion, redemption and finally – the complete dissolution of both the constructed self the notion of “privacy” through a process known as “pure process transparency” live on facebook with the final book(s) of the trilogy, otherwise known as ‘Stumbling Towards Enlightenment” & “the Greatest Love Story of the Century.”
A staid work in comparison to the last, the initial foray into this pure process explosion was a linear process narrative called “SubDrop,” that explored the author’s relationship to self via sexuality, gender and his lifelong battle with bipolar disorder. Briefly “sold” to a press that wished to publish it as an e-book, Pleshaw examined the book’s contents in a cheap hotel on the Thai-Laos border and realized that if he could go public with such a work then no stone should be left unturned in what he was willing to write about, and he quickly penned “Tales from Thailand,” a 200-page collection of essays and stories about the sex and prostitution culture of Thailand from the context of one who felt as if he were “living in exile” as an expat in Thailand on the eve of the then expected 2010 Thai “revolution” and rumored coup d’etat by the former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Fearful of the tense environment that gripped Thailand following the February 26th, 2010 Decision Day that determined the fate of the former PM’s assets and also deeply intrigued by the possibilities that Eastern religions might offer him, Pleshaw withdrew “SubDrop” from publication and held back on the edits for ‘Tales from Thailand” to plunge forth into the third and final narrative, “Stumbling Towards Enlightenment,” an experimental novel/”live book” that began when Pleshaw fled Thailand and arrived in New Delhi in April of 2010 and posted his first India-based facebook status report.
At the time, (as is still the case) facebook was the #1 website in the world with close to half a million daily readers. Pleshaw would later dub it “the global newspaper,” but long before that point, he saw within it an emergent venue for a new kind of literature – unfolding status report by status report and easily “contributed to” by other random “writers” from one’s pool of “friends.”
“Stumbling Towards Enlightenment” had many themes, but it’s underlying praxis lay in one simple question, “What is a Friend?” a theme that Pleshaw would return to repeatedly as he posted status report after status report about yoga, gurus, street hustlers and World Cup updates from his four-month residence in Dharamsala, the home of the exiled leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama. While the estimated number of status reports from what ended up as an eight-month experiment number between 1500-2500 posts, “Stumbling Towards Enlightenment” offered Pleshaw’s 1200 friends a thrice-updated unfolding of a narrative adventure that even had its own romantic subplot, for prior to heading to India, Pleshaw met Dee Dee Clohessy, a writer from Buffalo, New York, whose seminal work “facebook status reports I hate,” attracted Pleshaw’s attention to the medium in which they were living.
As Pleshaw traveled and posted, Dee Dee, a denizen of cyberspace on the 24-7 clock thanks to her tireless smart phone, provided Pleshaw with technical, logistical and emotional support and soon became the better half of The Greatest Love Story of the Century, which quickly gained its own website and hundreds of fans who ponied up a buck to send Dee Dee to Thailand to meet Pleshaw, following his much-publicized proposal of marriage to her on facebook four months after their initial online meeting – but three months away from their actual face2face meeting in Phuket, Thailand. In the words of Pleshaw, “anyone who wants to share our innermost thoughts on facebook and youtube and then agree to marry me sight unseen – yeah, that’s the kind of person I want to marry, no question about it.”
In addition to many many status reports, Pleshaw’s output during this period also included at least a dozen long-form “Notes” about everything from seeing the Dalai Lama to finding a cure for his psoriasis to “burying the meds” one full year after deciding not to take them anymore. Dozens of different friends contributed to the threads that Pleshaw seeded via both status report and “Notes,” “contributing writers” all to both the journey and the unfolding narrative. Off-facebook, hundreds of emails, Skype calls and chats built a broad subtext of the many convergent and divergent notions, ideas, and themes that Pleshaw chose to explore during the course of the “Stumbling” project.
Originally intended to only encompass the period that Pleshaw spent in India, the “live book” format ended up perfecty illustrating the axiom that “sometimes even the best experiments can go awry,” when upon returning to Thailand, Pleshaw’s use of a tantric meditation technique caused him to go astral for nine straight days – a phenomena described by others as a Kundalini Awakening and whose revelatory nature took both Pleshaw and his astounded readership into triple-overtime – with the narrative only coming to a final “Stumbling” halt on January the 1st, 2011.
Currently, Pleshaw has disappeared into the remote provinces of Isaan, Thailand to teach English and learn the Thai language. At this time, all three books and their intended vehicle Strident Press are in hiatus pending further reflection and edits. In his words, “it was quite a process, y’know,” and he intends to spend whatever spare time that lies ahead of him breathing deep, practicing yoga, drinking beer…and…editing. For more information…check out Strident Press from time to time. There might be something there you want to see.