Arcana Viscera - author's notes - a.k.a. rambly credits, inspirations, and contest foo

This fic was written, start to finish, in three weeks, as an entry in Demidevi's gen and squick contest, in the long division, in both categories, because I was insane. The assorted judges deemed it the winner in both categories, which made me squee. :)

I am not, looking back on this a few years later, one hundred percent sure whether to still call this the best thing I've ever written. It was, nonetheless, a huge, exhilirating, painful stretch in my writing capacity, in many many ways. Amongst other things, it was the only time I have ever sat there, staring at a half-finished scene, and realized that I simply did not want to have to write the next line. I did not want to commit those words to the page. But I was writing for a contest, so I did. (In section XVI, just before the transmutation.)

Now for the original credits and references from my LJ at time of posting:

I would never have thought to touch Tucker with a ten-meter cattle-prod, never mind get this deep into his head, were it not for she of many names, forgottenlover, and the rest of the House of RP Doom--thanks, guys! I would never have thought to try writing sixteen thousand words of fic in two or three weeks were it not for Demidevi--and I'm not sure whether to thank you or not. I'd like to profusely thank Anna for putting up with and encouraging her fic-crazed girlfriend; Lykomancer for bio-alchemical brainstorming and general geeklove; Cassie for enduring my late-night field testing of human transmutation; and, last but greatest, Mattador for one of the most thorough and erudite beta jobs I've ever had the privilege of recieving. If there are mistakes in this piece, they're entirely my fault and arose during the mad final phases of revision after he looked it over.

Most of my anatomical factoids came from The Architecture and Design of Man and Woman, a very shiny coffee-table sort of book written by Barry Werth and illustrated by Alexander Tsiaras, which I was flipping through a lot for inspiration on bodies and such. The illustrations are gorgeous and impossible to describe--essentially layered, semi-transparent, three-dimensional, detailed, organic, accurate and aesthetic anatomical renditions. There are a few small glimpses of his work at his website, for the curious.

DNA does emit light, if one accepts certain theories. I was dicking around here with an attempt to fuse some of the ideas set forth in a mindwarping little book called The Cosmic Serpent with alchemy as we know it from FMA and dribs and drabs of traditional symbolism as well, mostly third-or-fourth-hand, as I know pathetically little of historical alchemy. The book in question, written by an anthropologist named Jeremy Narby, starts as an exploration of shamanism as practiced by tribes in the Amazon, who use powerful hallucinogens to learn obscure and complicated--and biochemically valid--uses for plants, and opens up into a very interesting series of questions about the nature of life, the origins of knowledge, the fallacies of rationalism, and other fun stuff.

The inscription at the top is, naturally, the inscription at the gates of Dante's Inferno. Rough translation: "Through me is the way to the suffering city; through me is the way to eternal pain; through me is the way that runs amongst the lost... Before me, nothing but eternal things were made, and I endure eternally. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here." I doubt I need to mention that quoting Dante about a gate in an FMA fic gives me intertextual squigglies like whoa.

Envy's obsessive little catechism is, also naturally, from Paracelsus (a.k.a. Hikari von Hohenheim); his Alchemical Catechism is available online at the Sacred Text Archive.

The fascinatingly useful term 'caseate'--meaning to turn into cheese, become cheesy, or rot to a cheeselike texture--came to me through the delightful book Depraved and Insulting English, by Peter Novobatzky and Ammon Shea, which also provides such useful words as 'egrote,' to feign sickness in order to escape work; 'groak,' to stare silently at somebody who is eating in hopes that they will give you food; 'scombroid,' resembling a mackerel; and 'triorchid,' a man with three balls. I say this merely by way of pimping said book, since I find it immensely enjoyable and wish to share it with the masses.

I feel it only polite to say that the idea of standing amongst the mirrors in the dark with the candle was straight from empty_geas' mouth during RP one night.

The rest of the fic was entirely my fault, except when it was somebody else's.

The moderately nerdy will realize the sequence this fic is patterned after. The really irredemably nerdy will perhaps realize what I was getting at with the infinity sign Envy left on Tucker's chest. I believe that there's nothing like quite a little unexplained mysticism in a piece of writing, so I leave these for you to ponder.

As for the section headings, I'm a quote fiend, utterly indiscriminant, and with a bad habit of squirreling away bits of interesting prose without attribution or picking things up second or third hand. This by way of explanation of why I only know the author of some of these, not the text; and, no, I'm a bad girl, I've not read all these books. *blushes profusely*

Prologue - from the Psalms.
0 - Victor Hugo.
I - Bruno Schulz. One of my favorite writers evah. From the story "Birds," in The Street of Crocodiles.
II - Bruno Schulz again. From "The Night of the Great Season," same book.
III - The Decembrists. From the song "Odalisque," on Castaways and Cutouts.
IV - Johann Sternhals. From some alchemical crack I found late one night browsing.
V - Traditional Ashaninca. Literal translation of their name for the spirits that can be seen by shamans and which eerily parallel DNA. Via Jeremy Narby, of course.
VI - Francis Beaumont.
VII - William Blake. Via Loreena McKennit, because I'm a dweeb.
VIII - Marilyn Manson. I said I was indiscriminant. From the song "Cryptorchid," on Antichrist Superstar.
IX - Dante again. Inferno, naturally.
X - Allen Ginsberg. Via Jeremy Narby again; it's from Ginsberg's description of a trip on the halluinogens used by the Ashaninca.
XI - Edward Fitzgerald.
XII - Bruno Schulz yet again. From "Tailor's Dummies," still the same book. (He only wrote two.)
XIII - Anonymous, as far as I know. An allegorical inscription found via footnotes to a J.A. Seazer song.
XIV - The Hours. The movie, that is, because I'm definitely a dweeb.
XV - Nietzsche. Chestnut, I know, but very much worth it.
XVI - Archibald MacLeish.
XVII - Shakespeare. Hamlet. Via Star Trek, if you wish, though I refrained from the original Klingon.
XVIII - J.A. Seazer. From the song "The Oceanic Moon Dies in Indigo," on Revival Record of the Rose Egg Sofia.
XIX - Danilo Kiš. Another of my very favorite writers. From the story "The Legend of the Sleepers," in The Encyclopedia of the Dead.
XX - Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet.
XXI - H.P. Lovecraft. "The Call of Cthulhu"--what else?
Epilogue - from the Pyramid Texts. Via Phillip Glass's opera Akhnaten, because I'm still a dweeb, and one raised in a family with strange musical tastes.

Phew. Now that that's over with, would you like toread the fic? If you hadn't already; this is more an appendix than anything.

feed the writer with email