The Artistic Process

My thing is literature—that’s my domain. Stories often showcase a mix of the beautiful and the ugly; there is a conflict between these two poles which is eventually resolved.

But even in music, poetry and also paintings, I think, we can see this conflict arise and then resolve itself (within the same piece of art).

The world can serve to inspire the artist so that they may faithfully represent this conflict in their art. Every artist suffers… they bleed and feel and are constantly transforming themselves through the conflict that is created when their inner lives confront the outer world.

It is the artist’s purpose to transform this hurt and suffering, this conflict and turmoil, into something that inspires and uplifts the human soul… and this frequently produces and results in something beautiful.

Beauty alone can be shallow or vain, but beauty with meaning can inspire the soul.


Beautiful pic and reflection about the transience of time and space.

Elan Mudrow

This trail cannot always follow the river. In time, the river will change course due to landslides, fallen trees, earthquakes, perhaps volcanic eruption. Creeks and springs, which feed the river, will chew chunks out of rock, ground, the shell the trail is constructed upon. Trail closures are frequent. The hiker, disappointed beauty is blocked from easy reach, urges rebuilding, reconstruction. A new trail is placed down, wandering, slightly in a new direction, easier or harder, carved to track the new stretch of river…..who, like the old trail cannot always follow the river. The hiker, then, looks for means to keep the river within the same path, to hold beauty within continual grasp. Dikes, retaining walls, dams, aqueducts, and canals are built. This grasp cannot always follow the river.

(Alternative title, “Beauty and the River”)

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How I overcame my Night Terrors/Sleep Paralysis

sleep paralysis

I want to share this experience in case anyone has suffered or is suffering from something similar to sleep paralysis and/or night terrors, and explain how I managed to solve this problem without the intervention of any psychiatric treatment.

Let’s start from the beginning.

I was 13 years old when it first happened. I’ll never forget it. It was night-time, I was tucked inside the covers of my bed, on my way to sleep, dozing off… and suddenly I felt it. A complete body lockdown. My mind was awake—fully conscious, fully aware—but my body was completely asleep. My eyes were a little bit open, so I could see the room around me. I tried moving my arms, nothing. My legs, nothing. I began to panic… I even thought I was dying at one point.

And then they came.

Several dwarf-sized creatures with black bodies, bright eyes and big mouths with white, sharp teeth appeared out of nowhere and started dancing around my bed, laughing at me, mocking me, making fun of the fact that I couldn’t move my body. They’d jump on the bed and get really close to me, without actually touching me, and then jump back off.

I started screaming… and no sound came out. I couldn’t scream with my voice, my body wouldn’t respond to my will, but I could hear myself scream in my own mind, and this seemed to trigger the creatures. One of them jumped on top of the desk in front of my bed and set a Bible on fire. It wasn’t a physical Bible… it was the Image of a Bible that the fucking black creature conjured up, a red book that had BIBLE written on it in golden letters on its cover. He set fire to it and then just stared at me, smiling, with its huge mouth and pointy teeth.

I was desperate at this point. I tried screaming again, hoping it would work this time and that my yells would attract my parents to my room who would somehow save me from this… but once again, the screams were only in my mind. I was alone with these creatures… totally and utterly alone.

Panicking, I willed and willed and willed myself to move, but nothing happened. The creatures were getting rowdier. They were running around the room laughing and dancing around the burning Bible. Feeling totally helpless, and not knowing what would happen, I surrendered to everything and started to pray. I started repeating the Lord’s Prayer in my mind over and over again, like a mantra.

The creatures continued laughing, but I didn’t stop praying. I repeated this for several minutes… until finally I started hearing a ringing in my ears, and in one violent jerking motion I felt myself being ripped out of my body upwards, and into an altered state of consciousness.

I was no longer in my room, but I didn’t feel like I was in a dream, either. Everything felt way too conscious for a dream. I was in a dark space, and there were several grown men and women with white and red robes holding scribes of different sizes in their hands walking around the dark space. One by one, all of them slowly began to fade away… and then a curtain opened up, and I could see a bright white Light… and in the center of this white Light I saw a large figure on a throne… but I couldn’t see his face.

The figure on the throne spoke to me, and I’m hesitant to say it spoke about Love. Because it sounds insane, no? This meeting with the being that I don’t want to name right now for fear of sounding delusional. Anyways, it spoke to me about Love, and it pulled me closer to him, closer to the throne he was sitting on. It also spoke to me about my life, about what I would live in the future (remember I was only 13 at the time). I don’t remember his exact words, but only the general feeling. And the general feeling was of the greatest possible comfort, of the greatest possible reassurance and safety and Love.

And then I woke up. It was morning.

This was the first and only time I had a meeting with a Higher Being after one of these night terror episodes. A meeting of this kind has never happened to me again, but for the next three years, the sleep paralysis continued.

I started experiencing them once or twice a week. It was always different creatures, or terrors, that came. That was the worst thing, I just didn’t know what to expect or what would show up.

Fortunately I had developed some resistance after that first episode. If I willed my body to move for long enough… if I thought to myself: I am GOING to move my arm… I’m going to do it I’m going to do it I’m going to do it… then after several minutes of what felt like excruciating mental effort, my arm would move… and the minute my physical body woke up, the creatures disappeared. Sometimes I had to go through this two or three times a night, forcing my body awake, before finally being able to fall asleep the regular way. Other times my mind would simply shut down from the shock of these images and I would fall asleep in the middle of the hallucinations.

One time I saw hooded figures hovering above me. Their robes would float in mid-air, their faces hidden in the shadows of their hoods. These creatures would be completely silent, totally still. And then all of a sudden, one of them would dive towards my body in an accelerated motion, and at the last possible second it would swerve away. And then another hooded figure would do this, and another and another, until I was being attacked by them from all sides.

Another time I saw green tazmanian-like devils with sharp extremities that were really, really fast, and had a screeching, high-pitched voice. They were small and mean, and threatened to cut me up into little pieces with their razor-like claws.

Probably the worst image I saw was that of a dead, rotting donkey carcass, split open in half, lying next to me on my bed. Inside the donkey’s carcass… was my Mother’s dead, naked, pale body… rotting as well, her eyes open, staring directly at me. There were flies and worms and guts lying all over my bed… the combined guts of both my mother and the donkey.

It was torture, guys.

It was absolute torture.

Nevertheless, I think it’s important to state none of these creatures actually touched me. Ever. Not one single of the many creatures ever actually touched my body during these hallucinations.
I remember I used to prepare myself before going to sleep in case I got sleep paralysis that night. I would take deep breaths and mentally prepare myself to bear the hallucinations, whatever they may be this time.

I suffered this from the ages of 13 to 16. I never told my parents or anyone else about it. I didn’t trust anyone to understand. I didn’t understand myself! I thought I was turning schizophrenic and that if I said anything to any grown-up, they would make me go on pills, or lock me up, or study me, or something.

At 16, I finally made a breakthrough in solving this problem. I was studying esoterism, and came across the description somewhere of the Astral creatures that live in between the waking and sleeping states. Creatures like sucubuses and incubuses (although I never saw anything I could define as either one of those), and more.

When I came to the realization that these creatures I was seeing during my sleep paralysis episodes might be actual Astral entities and not the result of early-onset Schizophrenia, I started thinking of ways I could ward off these entities. While doing so, I remembered my first experience with sleep paralysis, and how I was yanked out of my body and into the presence of the bright being of Light, and how secure and safe I felt in its presence. This gave me an idea.

Every night before going to sleep, I would imagine a white bright Light emanating from my center outwards, from my heart outwards. I would submerge myself in the feeling that I was surrounded by protective entities of light, that I was safe and secure in their bosom, that I was taken care of, and that nothing could harm me.
What I was doing was effectively replicating the feeling I had in the meeting with the great being of Light on his throne, the meeting that had saved me from my first experience with the night terrors. I would re-create that feeling within me and submerge myself in the imagination of the white Light for a long time… and then I would fall asleep.

I did this every night. At first, the night terrors and sleep paralysis continued, but after a few weeks of keeping up with this practice, the hallucinations gradually started wearing off, until they stopped completely, and my sleep paralysis disappeared. I kept up with that practice for a few months longer, as a safety measure, and then I stopped. The creatures didn’t come back.

I still get sleep paralysis about once a year (at most), but pretty much without any kind of hallucination.

Looking back on this experience, I know there are a variety of possibilities to explain what I was seeing. I could have been experiencing some form of atavistic clairvoyance. The creatures and everything else I saw could have just been part of my shadow self.

Or, as I thought when I was 16, they could be real astral entities fucking with my mind in that in-between state of consciousness, just because they could. Actual demons psychologically tormenting me for whatever reason.

Whatever it was, it’s long over, thank god.

If anyone here has gone through something similar, or has a kid that’s going through something similar… bear in mind, in case you want to try it, that what finally relieved my suffering from night terrors and sleep paralysis was imagining a bright white light emanating from the heart outwards before going to sleep every night, combined with a feeling of trust in the protection of the Higher Powers.

Fast Fiction and the disappointing YA fever


I’m a bit disillusioned with the literary industry nowadays. It seems like most of the books that are being published are focused on making money and ONLY that. Granted, I know it’s an industry and I know that publishers have to make money in order for the business to work out for them, but writing books is not ONLY an industry, it’s also an art.

Not so long ago in time, writers—the really good ones—spent their days thinking up unique, highly personalized and complex ideas and translating them into beautiful words and story-telling. I’m talking about writers like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Tolstoy and the like. Literature was something that nurtured your mind as well as your spirit, and a single book could teach you so many things about yourself and the world, and besides this, it could also make you yearn for something—dare I say it?—that was greater than yourself.

But then things changed. And it’s not as simple as saying all literary novels are good and all commercial novels are bad, and that the explosion in the sales of commercial novels ruined literature for everyone. No. Commercial or genre writing does not automatically equate with bad writing. Really good commercial books also have the ability to make the reader connect with higher realities. They introduce the reader to alternate settings where the human condition is tested against extremely stark circumstances. Genres like fantasy, science fiction or dystopia serve to externalize many of the deep, multi-layered and complex nuances, fears, and virtues of the human soul.

Much like literary fiction done well, commercial fiction—when done well—serves to connect the reader with the essence of their own humanity, only that it uses much more inventive, fantastical and elaborate settings and plot (circumstances) than the real world. So no, commercial books did not ruin literature. What is ruining literature is what I like to call… FAST FICTION.

Much like its predecessors—fast food and fast fashion—fast fiction has one objective, and one objective only: To keep the consumer buying, using and consuming at an alarmingly fast rate. Fast food, for example, is the quickest and simplest option for anyone on the run, and as such it could be described as a highly consumable commodity. On the other hand, when it comes to fast fashion, many stores are focused on putting out new clothes every week, and these clothes are not made with the best material, so it forces shoppers to keep buying and discarding new clothes on a monthly basis (instead of doing it like the French women who buy clothes made with really good material that last them years and mixing their look up with bags, shoes and accessories, but I digress).

Like these two industry practices, fast fiction in the same way puts out highly consumable fiction in the form of books that are entertaining although not very deep. Books that can be read once and then discarded or stowed away in a library to gather dust. Books that the reader quickly replaces with the next book that has a shiny cover and a mildly enticing back cover blurb. Much like candy, these books taste good, but are not nutritious for the mind or soul. They can make you feel, but these feelings are hardly transcendent. And because publishers know what sells quickly, many of these books share much of the same tropes.

And really there is no other category that exemplifies this practice as much as YA (young adult). On a personal note, I confess I used to be a reader of YA… when I was a teenager. I even read some YA in my early twenties. And then it got stale. I couldn’t relate to the naïveté of the characters any longer (really I could hardly relate to it when I was a teen). The tropes were just much too repetitive and the stories got increasingly worse in quality as the years went by. Even as a teen I read adult literature (and preferred it), so it wasn’t a big tragedy when I finally decided I wanted to stick with adult.

I understand that adults want to feel normal when reading YA and have started this whole campaign stating that it’s okay to read YA even though you’re well into your late twenties or beyond, but in my point of view this is exactly one of the things that is killing literature. Readers that stick with this age category past their ‘due date’ are giving the signal to publishing houses to keep putting out these superficial and in some cases very badly written stories.

Not all YA is cut from the same cloth, but if we’re being honest, 98% of the YA books that are being published will not stand the test of time. They will fade into the background and the forgotten annals of history. They will not become the next Lord of the Rings, or the next Chronicles of Narnia, or the next Harry Potter (which is an outlier in this category). People will forget about them because there was nothing in the first place that made these books stand out when compared with actual, complex literature, other than the emotional rush they may have afforded readers, which is quickly replaced by the next book that can offer this same rush.

People will forget about the love triangles and the teenage angst. But have people forgotten about books like Anna Karenina or Wuthering Heights? These are works of art that stand the test of time. I dare you to name one YA book published recently that you think will have this same long-lasting effect way into the future. I personally can think of none.

And so YA is now the category that is crowding the whole market (much to this reader’s annoyance) by publishing book after book of fast fiction, with the percentage of books that actually have some form of artistry behind them becoming smaller by the minute. All because Children’s Literature is now put on a pedestal, and, you know, it’s okay to read YA.

The reason for this is that for the majority of readers, Children’s Literature is what they like to read because, mostly, it’s easy. It’s what they can assimilate. But this is hardly nourishment for the mind. Like I mentioned before, fast fiction is candy-literature… but candy is not good for the body, and fast fiction is not good for the mind. And most fast fiction can sadly be found in the YA age category.

In the worst cases, it frustrates me to see adults fawning over Lola liking Jake because Jake is so dreamy. It’s embarrassing for me to see adult women swooning over 16-year old characters, or getting so emotionally invested in some dumb love triangle and in the emotional upheavals and downturns of teenagers. We should be past all that. Or at least, there shouldn’t be so much of it. But this is only one reader’s opinion. You may feel differently about YA, and that’s okay. If you do, I urge you to study the reasons why you like it so much. Give it a good once over.

I yearn for a change in the industry. I want to see the adult category (and all of its genres) growing again. I yearn for more mature content in books, content that—when properly digested—helps the reader grow both personally and intellectually. Content that challenges the reader. The adult category needs some love, too. And publishers will only start paying it more attention when the readers start demanding more quality fiction in this area. And that can only be done by a change in our reading habits, and by breaking the dependency on fast fiction that has swept the industry so forcefully during these past few years.