1984 – A Collaboration With Richard Guest

For the last twenty days Richard Guest has been posting installments of a great series based on & inspired by science fiction novels on his blog, “The Future Is Papier Mache. -And, if you’re one of the five people on WordPress who has never been there, you should really check his site out!

So, over the last week Richard and I decided over a few brief conversations that we would collaborate on a post for George Orwell’s classic:

I took some time and spent a couple days on this–  Reread a few chapters out of the book, watched both versions of the movie, reflected on the times that we live in [And how parts of the tale, published in 1949, seem like they’ve been used almost as a blueprint of sorts].  I tried to really get into this and capture the spirit of 1984 in two images that I sent over to Mr. Guest for his post.

Included below are two partial, cropped “sneak peeks” of those two images.  If you want to see the rest, along with Richard’s fantastic photography and his words on the subject you will have to visit his site.  The post can be found here:  http://thefutureispapiermache.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/nineteen-eighty-four-a-thoughtcrime-by-j-e-lattimer-and-richard-guest  !!!

[Original photography by J. E. Lattimer]

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The Unknown Blog

Dorothy Dauzart reached into the cupboard in the kitchen and removed a clean coffee mug. She dropped two tablespoons of raw sugar into it, then grabbed the handle of the freshly brewed pot of French Roast and poured the dark liquid on top of the sugar.

The usual morning ritual.  Dorothy thought.  How long had it been since she had spent a morning without a pot of coffee?

Maybe that could be a blog post

She walked out of the kitchen while holding the hot mug loosely in her right hand and approached the glowing screen of the laptop computer that was patiently waiting for her in the living room.

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Dorothy sat down in front of the computer and placed the coffee on the edge of the desk. She immediately took the machine online and clicked on the bookmarked tab for her blog. She took a few tentative sips of coffee while typing her password in with one finger and waiting for the website to load.

After much deliberation she had named the blog ‘DorothyDauzartTheUnknown.’ Certainly not the most original name for a blog, but all of the other names she had written down that night had seemed either silly or pretentious.

“What?  Nothing?”  Dorothy said.  The site had finished loading and she was presented with a flat line graph for her daily stats.  No new visitors.

I don’t understand, she thought. The post I made last night was one of my best ever.  Not a single person has seen it?

She used the mouse to scroll down and looked at the post she had created the day before. It was short and sweet compared to many of the long, rambling pieces that she published on the blog.

No One Speaks the Truth‘ was the title at the top.

Ten short lines of writing were presented below the title:

“Let everyone beware of his neighbor,

and put no trust in any brother,

for every brother is a deceiver,

and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer.

Everyone deceives his neighbor,

and no one speaks the truth;

they have taught their tongue to speak lies;

they weary themselves committing iniquity.

Heaping oppression upon oppression,

and deceit upon deceit…”

Directly beneath those words she had uploaded a blurry black and white photograph of a man and woman arguing in front of a garbage dumpster.  The man’s mouth was open, yelling at the woman.  His eyes were little closed slits of anger and he was leaning in towards the woman with his index finger pointed directly at her face.  The woman’s back was turned toward the camera, so it was impossible to make out her expression.

Dorothy had found the words for the post in the Bible [The book of Jeremiah, to be precise].  She had debated on whether or not to identify the quote as such, but had eventually decided not to do so.

The black and white photo had been captured with the camera on her cellphone a week ago.  She had been running late to work and was racing across the parking lot behind the apartment building, moving toward her car.  The couple that lived on the second floor had been arguing loudly in front of the dumpster.  Something about rent and money and sex. The man was acting really aggressive and calling the woman many horrible things.  Dorothy had pulled the cell from her purse and snapped the picture while moving [Which had caused the grainy, blurry look].

No visitors and no ‘likes‘ or comments.  She groaned and took another sip of coffee.

Dorothy had been publishing one new post every single day for over a year now.  The work presented was a blend of short stories, original photography, quotes from books and famous people, and a few free writing sessions that were more like journal entries than anything else.

A handful of people had stopped by here and there to check out her stuff.  Two people had even left comments.  One positive and the other negative.  But, despite all of the time and effort spent, she still remained the same as when she had created the blog and published the very first post-  Dorothy Dauzart, The Unknown.

She used the mouse to scroll further down on the screen, looking over some of the more recent posts:

Three days ago

A long journal entry called “Drudgery.”    It was about how much she hated her job, how it didn’t pay enough and how she constantly felt humiliated by both the customers and her coworkers.  Many embarrassing details with a photograph of her name tag at the bottom.

Four days ago

A dark short story called “Desperate Times” about a woman who had been out of work for so long that she was debating on suicide.

Seven days ago

Two posts:  The first was a short poem called “Skin,” about how much she longed to feel someone snuggling up next to her under the covers in the darkened bedroom again.  The second was a photograph of a feral cat that prowled around her neighborhood.  She had titled the photo “Undomesticated.”

Nine days ago

Detached“–  An essay of sorts about loneliness, how she was surrounded by people in the city and had technology and social media integrated into her life-  And yet still felt totally alone.

Eleven days ago

The post was called “Absorbed” and it was a confession of sorts about her addiction to blogging.

Twenty days ago

An untitled photograph of the new pair of shoes she had purchased while out shopping that weekend.

Dorothy scrolled back to the top of the page and clicked on “New Post.”  She typed two words for the title:

The Future.”

She uploaded a black and white picture from her documents of a wilted flower leaning over onto a patch of dead grass.  She clicked on “Photography” in the list of categories off on the edge of the screen and then typed in the usual list of tags.

 Dorothy used the mouse to move the cursor over to “Publish” and clicked on it.

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[Original writing & photography by J. E. Lattimer]

© 2012, 2013 J. E. Lattimer all rights reserved

Dream Journal #4- The Seventeenth of July

“I had a strange dream last night.”  I said.

What was it about?”  The Voice said.

“I’m not really sure.  I only remember bits and pieces of it.”

I pulled a cigarette out of my pack and put a flame to it.

“I was alone in the mountains, a remote area somewhere.  Climbing around by the moonlight.  No sign of life, no lights except for the moon and the stars.  It seemed to go on and on, walking and climbing forever.  You know how sometimes you have a dream and it feels like it lasts for many hours?”

Yes.”  The Voice said.

I slowly inhaled smoke, exhaled it through my nostrils.

“It was like that.  I was climbing around on this mountain and I don’t remember ever questioning why I was there, or what I was doing.  I just kept moving upward, higher and higher.  I knew that I couldn’t turn back.  Near the top of the peak I noticed a large opening in the side of the rocks.  A strange green light was flickering from within.”

Like a cave?”  The Voice said.

“Kind of.  It was this huge gash in the side of the mountain.  The opening was probably fifty feet tall, five or six feet wide.  The whole peak was hollow inside and the outer shell had been split open.  This green light was coming out from inside.  I was very excited and motivated by the green light, almost frantic to reach it.  Does that make any sense?”

The Voice did not respond.

“Well, I did reach the opening, and when I looked inside I was completely…  Enraptured.  Mesmerized.  The rocks inside were glowing with a life of their own.  There was an amazing pattern of lights glowing and pulsing across the surface of everything inside of the mountain.  I stood there for what felt like half an hour, just looking in every direction, taking it all in.”

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Could you draw it?  The patterns of light?”  The Voice said.

“I don’t know.  Maybe.  I don’t have the words to describe to you what it looked like in there, the sheer complexity, how interconnected it all was.”

I stared off into space thinking about it and allowed the cigarette to burn down between my fingers.

Was that the end of the dream?”  The Voice said.

“No.  There was a narrow pathway leading down inside of the glowing cavern.  I could see footprints on the pathway.  I wasn’t the first to discover the place.  Probably won’t be the last.”

Did you encounter any other people in there?”

I shook my head and put the cigarette out in a round glass ashtray.

“I worked my way down the path.  A couple of times it seemed like I was going to fall off the side, but I always seemed to regain my balance at the last second.  I reached the bottom and discovered a large wooden box sitting there on top of a glowing rock.  Even the box was glowing green.  I was immediately curious and ran to it.”

What did the box look like?”  The Voice said.

“A big wooden cube with two huge metal hinges on the back.  Despite the size it was remarkably easy to open.”

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You should not have touched that thing.  You know that, don’t you?”  The Voice said.

“Yes, but inside-  It was incredible-  I saw a miniature galaxy and-”

That is enough!”  The Voice said.

But-”

I do not want to know.  I am not supposed to know.”

I sighed.

“Okay.  Just forget about it then.”

*               *               *               *               *               *               *

[Original writing & artwork by J. E. Lattimer]

© 2012, 2013 J. E. Lattimer all rights reserved

Letting Go

“Wake up.”

Hmmmm.”

“Hey!  Wake up, we’re here.”  Charlotte Altomare reached out and gently nudged her husband in the shoulder.

Jack opened his eyes.  He was hunched over in the passenger seat of the Subaru Legacy.  He lifted his head up and looked around.

“Oh, sorry.  I must have drifted off.  It’s been a long week.”  He said.  The car was parked in a deserted gravel parking lot and the lake was visible through the windshield.

“You fell asleep about thirty minutes ago.”  Charlotte said.  She had the driver’s side door open and Jack could feel the heat flowing into the vehicle.

“Good God it’s hot!”  Jack said.  He exited the car and stretched, yawned.

“We’re the only people here.  Not another soul in sight.”  Charlotte said.

“Nice!  Did you buy a day pass?”  He said.  He walked over to the guardrail in front of where the car was parked and leaned against it.

“No.  I stopped at the little booth on the way in, but it was locked and deserted.  I guess if anyone comes by we’ll just have to purchase one.”  She said while walking over to join him.

“Probably due to all of the budget cuts in the state.  That, and the fact that this lake is in the middle of nowhere.”  He sighed and leaned out over the guardrail to take in the scenery.  “I have been wanting to come out here since we moved back.  How long has it been?”

“Seven years, maybe longer.  We used to hang out here all the time when we were first falling in love.”

Jack nodded.  “Still beautiful…”  He said.

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“Help me get all of this stuff out of the trunk.”  Charlotte said.

“Okay.”  Jack turned away from the view of the water and followed her to the back of the car.

“It’s already over one hundred degrees and it isn’t even noon.”  She said as the trunk popped open.

“I heard yesterday that with the humidity it’s supposed to feel like one hundred and fourteen today.  My blood is too thick for the summer here.  Did not have to deal with this crap in the mountains.”

“Just wait until we’re in the water,  it’ll feel great.”

The couple grabbed two small coolers, two bags full of supplies and a blanket from the trunk.  They traveled down a narrow path that led away from the parking lot and toward the sandy beach.

“Where do you want to set everything up?”  Charlotte said.

“How about over there?”  He pointed.

Jack helped her unfold the blanket, then spread it out across the sand.  The coolers and bags were placed on the corners of the blanket to keep it in place.  Charlotte removed her shorts and shirt to reveal the swimsuit underneath.  She folded the clothes and placed them inside of a bag.

“Your swimming trunks are in here.  Are you going to go change?”

Jack looked around at the deserted beach, the parking lot.  He shrugged.  “Don’t see anybody.  Guess I’ll just do it right here.”

“You’re serious?”

“Why not?  We used to go skinny dipping in this lake all the time.”  He kicked off his shoes and began to undress.  He sparked a cigarette to life when he was down to his boxer shorts.  He removed the boxers and stood there smoking naked while looking out at the lake.

“Freedom.”  He muttered.

“Somebody could pull into that lot at any moment!”  Charlotte said.  “Why don’t you put these on?”  She removed his trunks from one of the bags and tossed them at his feet.

“Fine.”  He slipped into the shorts and turned to look at her laying on the blanket.  “When did you get that swimming suit?”

“A couple years ago.  Hardly ever wear it.”  She said.

“It looks very nice.”

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“Thanks.”

He walked over to the blanket and sprawled out next to Charlotte.  The sun was beating down and the heat was incredible.

They each helped the other with applying coconut oil to protect against the sun.  Two beers were pulled from a cooler and a toast was made.

“Do you want to go swimming?”

“No, not yet.”  She said.  Let’s wait until we are so hot that we simply have to go in.”

Jack nodded and stretched out on his back.

“You know, you were right.  This is exactly the type of day that I’ve been needing.”  He said.

“Yeah?”

“Uh-huh.  The city has been driving me nuts!  It’s always something-  The constant noise, the traffic, the crime, waiting in line everywhere you go.  Fluoridated, spaced-out drivers cruising around with their cell phones and smashing into each other.  Starting and stopping, a traffic light every ten feet!  Everyone judging everyone around them for anything and everything until none of it means anything anymore!  The walls inside the condo seem to close in a little bit more each day.”  Jack said.

“Hey-  Dammit, you promised me that you weren’t going to stress out today.”

“I know, you’re right.  Sorry, I’m going off.”

“It’s okay, I needed a day like this too.”  She turned and leaned toward him.  The couple enjoyed a long, slow kiss.

“Love you, babes.”

“Love you, too.”

“What are you staring at?”

“Just admiring your legs.”  He said.

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“I see.”  She said, smiling.  “I know what you mean, though.  I figured that we’d take the day off from everything, drive out here and hang out until the sun goes down, maybe longer.”

“We should have brought the tent and camped.”  Jack said.

“I wanted to, but I have to be at work by ten tomorrow morning.”  She turned over onto her side facing away from him.

Jack chugged what remained of his beer and then flipped over and laid on his stomach.  He reached out near the outer edge of the blanket and scooped up a handful of sand.  He slowly turned his hand sideways and allowed the sand to pour back down in a steady stream.

“Jack.”  Charlotte whispered.  Her back was still turned.

“What?”

Shhh.  Don’t make any sudden movements.”  She said.  “There’s a sandhill crane over there in the water!”

“Really?”  Jack whispered.  He sat up slowly so that he could see over her shoulder.  She was right-  One tall, solitary crane was standing near the edge of the lake.  The enormous bird was calmly watching the water and seemed unaware of their presence.

“Did you bring the camera?”  Jack said softly.

“Yes.  It’s right over here, but there’s no way that thing is going to let you get close enough to take a picture.”

“I have to try.”  Jack said.

Charlotte handed him the camera and he calmly stood up.  The magnificent creature was at least one hundred feet away from him, maybe more.  It remained standing stock-still as Jack walked across the sand as quietly and gradually as possible.  Just as he was drawing near the massive bird spread its wings without warning and took to the sky.

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Jack watched as the crane flew to the other side of the lake and landed.

“I told you that you’d scare it off.”  Charlotte said.  She was sitting up on the blanket and smiling at him as he approached with the camera held loosely in one hand.

“I managed to get at least one good picture of it.  What a beautiful creature.”  He said.

“Make sure you get that camera out of the sun.  I cannot take this heat any longer.  It is time to get into the water.”  She stood up from the blanket and brushed sand off of her legs.

“Sounds good!”   He said.  Sweat was dripping off of his face and running down his chest.  By the time that he had placed the camera inside of its case Charlotte had already reached the edge of the low waves.

“I’m coming!”  Jack said.  He ran to join her.

“Ooh!  It seems so cold!”  She said.  She was already knee deep in the water and was cringing as the waves gently lapped up against her.

Holy–  Yeah, I’d say it’s cold!”  Jack said.  He was trailing by only a few feet.

“Well, it won’t seem as bad once we’re fully submerged.”  Charlotte said.  She began striding forward through the water at a rapid pace.

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Charlotte launched herself forward and dived under the water.  She disappeared for a few moments and then popped back up.  Jack followed suit and fully submerged himself.

“Ah!  It feels so good after baking in the sun!”  He said.

“Race me to the buoys!”  Charlotte said.

She started doing a breatstroke in the direction of the floating orange buoys attached to a cable a couple hundred feet out into the lake.  It was an old game that they used to play when they were much younger.  Jack started swimming in the same direction.  By the time he arrived at the buoys and reached out to grab hold of the cable running through them he was slightly out of breath.

“Ha!  I actually beat you!”  She said.

“You had a head start!”  He sputtered out a mouthful of water as a wave splashed up into his face.

“I can’t touch out here, can you?”

“Nope.”  He said.  “It feels so good to swim, though.  It has been too long.”

Charlotte nodded and attempted to climb onto the nearest buoy.  She slipped off into the water and laughed.

“You know what,” Jack said.  “I’ve been thinking…”

“About what?”

“Oh, about too much, probably.  But there just seems to be so much hatred and division in the country lately.  All of these people warning about the economy collapsing, about the possibility of a world war happening again, food shortages, gangs, the list goes on and on.  I’m so sick of it all!  Days like today-  This is what I enjoy.  This is how I want to live my life, having fun with the person that I care about the most.  Not wallowing away in a concrete maze where everyone is miserable and confused.”

“I feel exactly the same way.”  Charlotte said.  She had moved down the cable a few feet to be closer to him.

“I’ve decided that I’m just…  Letting go.  Letting go of all these emotions that keep me twisted up inside.  I’m not going to let all of these negative creeps get the better of me!  I’m going to start living every single day like it’s the last day that I have left on this planet. And I’m going to crush anyone who attempts to get in my way!”

“That’s the way we always used to live.”  She said.  She was smiling at him and the light reflecting off of the water was causing her eyes to shimmer.  “The way I see it there are only two things that really matter in this life:  One is love and the other is freedom.”

“You said it, baby.  Come over here a second.”  Jack said.  He reached out and pulled her close.

*               *               *               *               *               *               *

[Original writing & photography by J. E. Lattimer]

© 2012, 2013 J. E. Lattimer all rights reserved