I saw a breathtaking exhibit yesterday at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California called ‘Spirits and Headhunters: Art of the Pacific Islanders‘. If you live in the area I would highly recommend it. If you can’t attend, here are some of my impressions to give you a taste.
3 Malagan Masks by Chris Rainier
Evil fleshless fish spirit, Malaga
Tolai tribe cult figure for casting black magic
Abelam ceremonial bone daggers
Dani finger bone necklace. The Dani people believe that mutilation is necessary to bring peace to the spirit realm and used ritual finger cutters to remove fingers to mourn family members or important village elders
Vanuatu "over modeled skulls" - skulls of important men are removed after death and resculpted to resemble the original face
Let Mortal Kombat Begin!
Yipwon Hook Figures, Ewa and Yimar People: One legged figures that rest in caves or spirit house until activated by incantations and magical substances to serve as hunting spirits
Chimbu Ritual Magic Bag: bones, moss, bark, stones and talismans
While my photographs focus on some of the more lurid aspects of the ‘headhunter’ culture I am deeply impressed with the people of the Pacific Islands. This relatively small group has over 800 different languages and a staggering variety of unique customs. They are incredibly self sufficient, fierce and creative. I came away from this exhibit inspired to explore these cultures with further research and fiction.
RESULTS MAY VARY, my very first short story to be accepted for print publication, is now available at Amazon in the Static Movement Press anthology SCIENCE GONE MAD.
This story takes place in a very dark near future of bio-terrorism and paranoia. My early drafts revealed more about the world that was later omitted as unnecessary exposition. But seeing as how this is my secret crypt, you’ll find all sorts of interesting things on the cutting room floor.
The evolution of terrorism in China (specifically the breakaway Uyghur Muslim separatists) has lead fanatical yet highly educated scientists to engineer Genocide Bombers. The first attack occurs at the Olympic games in Hyderabad, India. Four million die, the United States joins China in their struggle against terrorism, and we become the next targets.
It’s a tense situation: entire cities are quarantined, people live in fear of deadly plagues and the government is ready to firebomb any location they suspect is compromised. Our hero is bored and lonely in his sealed apartment, and looking for a distraction before he goes stir crazy. When he orders an experimental party drug from a darknet website his life gets stranger than he could ever imagine.
I often listen to music to set the mood while I write, and I listened to a lot of Philip Jeck for this one. These are deep, moody and often disturbing soundscapes. Ah, Dystopia!