More Musings On The Weird

Kage Baker admired and valued The Weird. It was just like having unusually good hearing, and being able to catch hints of ultrasonic sound. Or seeing into the fluorescent or ultraviolet ranges: which all parrots can do, making us wonder constantly what Harry the Parrot saw when he stared rapturously at Kage’s red hair. Not the bronze/copper/amber the rest of us saw, that’s for sure – but what was it? He adored people with red hair …

Anyway, an awareness of The Weird was an extra sense for Kage. It gave her insights and ideas. And while most of what people notice is the horripilation effect (see yestreday’s Comments for an outpost of The Weird that troubles one of our Dear Readers), it’s not all scary. There are just as many lovely and beautiful things to be detected through the lens of The Weird, as well. And some of those days where people look odd are endlessly amusing. Have you ever noticed what very strange people wander the streets near Halloween? The Weird goes out without its masks, then.

Since everything is grist for the writer’s mill, every  bit of sensory input was  used by Kage as part of a story. She may not have described the sources completely for the readers, but there were underlying vistas and  lights and music enhancing every scene in her mind. All writers do that, I think; what they have to know in order to write a scene is much larger than the scene itself. Not all Kage’s sources were atlases and encyclopedias. To say The Weird was the source of her creativity is wrong, and too narrow – but if she hadn’t been aware of it, she probably would have been writing travel guides and gardening advice.

Thus, her fascination with the phenomenon of the Green Flash; Kage knew it for a doorway of The Weird long before Pirates of the Caribbean identified it. She watched for it avidly on I-5, but it doesn’t come there – the air is not clear enough, nor the horizon sufficiently flat. But there is a rose and purple glow that seeps out of the ground out there on hot evenings, and pools like dye in the orchards and hollows. It’s not l’heure bleu of the French: there is a red component to it. And it’s not the twilight absence of light, either; it’s an illumination all its own, and how it arises from the earth, from blue shadows and yellow sunset, is a mystery. It’s shining through The Weird.

Ever been in one of those inexplicable traffic jams? Those of you Dear Readers who dwell in California are all too familiar with them: suddenly the traffic slows, slows, halts. You search the radio and your IPhone for a traffic report, but while every other road in the vicinity may be blocked, yours is reported to be clear. You proceed at a heart-pounding 15 miles an hour for a while and then – with no accident in view, no flashing lights, no addition or subtraction of lanes – the traffic clears and you zoom on. Half the cars on the road are gone, and there’s nowhere they could have gotten off.

Oh, sometimes you pass a suspicious debris field – glass, plastic, lettuce, thousands of coffee filters, shattered crates marked Chicken … I’ve seen all these and more (and so have you, I bet) but they are not sufficient explanation. I mean, they are still there, and now the traffic is moving fine. But – does the air glitter a little? Is there a solitary fog bank or dust cloud hanging there beside the road? Kage said that was the friction left behind from the passage of The Weird. Kage said half the cars really had disappeared. Kage said we were damned lucky we hadn’t been one of them … yet.

(“Oh, screw you!” I would cry predictably, and drive like hell.)

It can go the other way, of course. Have you ever found a familiar place – your laundry room, your desk at work, that little walkway down to the mail box – a source of sudden fear? Sometimes you creep through a day in a state of terrified funk, then suddenly feel a burst of joy and relief come over you. It’s not depression; you’ve been afraid and now you’re not. It’s like emerging from under a menacing cloud. But there isn’t one.

Maybe your blood sugar peaked, or the hormonal tide turned. And maybe you just passed out of – or into – a patch of The Weird.

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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9 Responses to More Musings On The Weird

  1. Valerie says:

    Have I ever found a familiar place a source of sudden fear? Yeah, like my office, when I foolishly wake up deep in the night and decide to surf a little, lighting on a blog that muses on whether dead people are Weird or just a normal part of life… You know, it’s hard to get back to bed while scanning the entire 360 degrees around you at every step!

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    • Kate says:

      Well, Kage thought they were normal, when they are really there. Mostly, she didn’t think they actually were. I agree – I’m not afraid of the dead. I’m afraid of the live things that are in the dark.

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      • Valerie says:

        Oh, yes, rationally, it’s a foolish fear – why would I be afraid of my grandparents and friends, even if they were there, which they’re not?

        But 2 a.m. is an entirely different country, with different rules, and when I have any sense I hide under the bedclothes until it turns back into the real world at dawn.

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  2. Pingback: More Musings On The Weird | Kathleen, Kage and the Company | Weird Cars!

  3. Kate says:

    Well, to be honest, there’s a couple of aunts I wouldn’t really want to see again … covers are there for us to use, I say! Also little LED flashlights beside the bed.

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  4. “Oh screw you Kathleen” I yell as I run past the vision of the weird pools of random ick that I now have a name for. LOL! Good morning! Well as I sit here, looking out on the Bay and The City I find myself looking for “the weird”. My mother, who lived in Hawaii for years, told me about the green flash. She saw it once. I didn’t believe her. I told her it’s what people see after too many planters punches. I’ll be going there in a few months so I’ll see if I can see it for myself and now have something else to watch for on my frequent trips down I-5.

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  5. I want to know why VW Vans flaming by the side of the Ventura freeway were always seen on Sunday nights when driving home from Faire, at least 4 out of 6 weekends anyway. Did they randomly burn on Saturdays in May, and I was just not there to see them? I was also frequently riding by in a similar one. That made it worse. If not the flaming VWs there was, it seemed, always something singularly odd happening out to get you. As I was coming home from Faire I don’t think I really noticed the excessive “weird” in it till later.

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  6. Kate says:

    It seems to be true that journeying to or from Faire opens channels to The Weird. I think Faire is one big travelling ocean of Weird, and we just sail in and out on its tides.

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