Traditionally, written works prefaced by an argument are of a more lofty nature than Smilin’ Jaq, and would summarize the piece about to be read. They were more akin to the abstract on the back of a modern book, than an actual ‘argument’ as we now use the term.
But, for today, I think we should change that use somewhat. Because I think perhaps this work needs an argument in favor of it.
As I write, the President of the United States, a man whose given name is more famously carried by a cartoon duck, has just created a fictional terrorist attack in order to justify his unconstitutional ban on travel, which itself is more than likely a plan to discredit the judicial branch of that country’s government.
Worse, however, is that this nonsense is a mid-level problem, in the grand scheme of this President’s actions, and the news as a whole. I just checked twitter, and one of the most recent tweets (after a picture of a cute corgi, and a quote from Clifton Fadiman [“The adjective is the banana peel part of speech”]) is a tweet from the California State Parks showing what happens when coal sludge is dumped in a river.
There is no end to this kind of news. How are we to cope? Focusing on it endlessly will fry our brains (possibly literally, considering threats to the atmosphere) and we will be unable to react because we’re busy wading through news-induced catatonia.
The way we survive is to play. Read silly things, play video games, tell jokes. I’m considering a separate twitter account, a feed dedicated to jokes and cute animals, and a different one for news. (The problem with this idea, of course, is that even the comedians and cute animals are tackling problems. “I 100% don’t give a shit, Tom” is my new rallying cry. [Link])
In short, we escape. Not all day. Not all week. But for an hour or two a day. That is the goal of Smilin’ Jaq.
To that end, I will release, weekly, a chapter in this story, here on my website. If, even for a moment, this work helps you to relax, then my job is done.
The adventure will involve a French girl named Jaq, a literal demon named Curson (you may know him as Purson, if you’ve read the Ars Goetia), and a mercenary named Septimus. There will be adventure, excitement, bad jokes, and things to help distract you.
Before I go, here is a passage that’s relevant here. It comes from Chuck Wendig, author of excellent novels that you should read (I read Atlanta Burns first, if you’re looking for a starting place). On his website, Wendig recently wrote a piece called “Escapism is Not A Dirty Word” (Link) which opened with this:
We say escapism sometimes in the same way you might describe a mediocre sandwich — like it’s this half-thing, something that’s, ennh, fine, but not really recommended. We have better things to consume, after all, than escapist fiction. Deeper into that is the connotation that we should not endeavor to escape. Rather, we should stare our world and our problems right in the face, hawk up a hard loogey, and spit our gnarly phlegm right in reality’s eye. HRRRK. PTOO.
Yeah, no, fuck that.
So, without taking up more of your time, I give you: Chapter One of Smilin’ Jaq: Link.
With that, I bid you good day.
Create. Laugh. Resist.