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.