One day, I found a badly injured wood pigeon in the road. I brought her to town to be euthanized. When I wrote about the pigeon that afternoon, I had to wonder if I had done anything but prolonged the bird's suffering. I had been feeling alienated from some key relationships, including my working life. I felt like agency was a crock. I had already written a list of "substances from which flies arise" in the way of spontaneous generation, so I started applying the same method to the pigeon narrative. Putting the pigeon together was one part of it, and dissecting agency was another part. To do that in a way that I felt would be remotely complete meant figuring out some things about speech and meaning, trauma and emotions, and death. I ended up producing a whole body of backwards material including some relatively longer narratives like "Suigenesis" and "Acharith 4-1," which is upcoming in Middle Planet.
The rule was that any given moment in Universe B is the same [as it is] in Universe A. The mathematical formulas are the same here and there, but the arrow of time points in different directions. Once I had an idea of what moments would be part of the narrative, the problem became reconstructing the agency of the denizens of Universe A. I had a rule there too: They are just like us in that they usually believe that they are somehow making things happen.
Why do you write horror?
I participate in horror mostly as a reader, listener, and consumer, and then I have scraped together some time to write some horrific stories. Sometimes, I choose to burn the limited hours of my life writing stuff like this because it feels rebellious. Time spent unraveling time, for instance, is time spent as a countermand to the screwed fantasy that it's possible to measure out and assign value to the unique, irreducible hours of any person's life—or, worse, that a person's access to a good life should be tied to such arbitrary evaluations. I buy into some elements of "cosmic horror"—decentralizing rational, modern humanism; the idea that life is an absolute blunder into suffering. But, for me, reconstructing that suffering has been an exercise in reconstructing the conditions of my community with other absurd beings.
DANIEL SOLOMON teaches anthropology in the SF Bay Area. His poems and fiction have appeared in or are upcoming in Brain of Forgetting, Canary, Turtle Island Quarterly, Middle Planet, and Teleport Magazine. His current ethnographic research is on the social construction of time and place by dinosaur researchers and dinosaur tourists in Wyoming. @daniel.allen.solomon on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/daniel.allen.solomon/).