Hunter Dansin

Home for my words

Wow, November went fast. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Thanksgiving cut into writing time and overall productivity this month — but seeing family was worth it.


“Now what you need is some old coat hangers. Put 'em in your trunk in case you get the midnight special.”1

“I still don't know what you mean.”

“You will, and you'll need those coat hangers to wake you up if it comes.”


Book 2/3 and Audiobook

I have decided to start doing semi-regular updates for what I am working on and what I am reading and consuming. At most I will publish one once a month.


A moment of vision faithfully commented on.

Content warning: This essay contains discussion of rape.

In Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, after Tess tells her new husband that she is not a virgin and he rejects her, Thomas Hardy describes a scene in which the husband sleepwalks, carrying Tess through a field, over a river, to an abandoned stone coffin outside of a run down Abbey. He lays her in the coffin and falls to the ground asleep. Then Tess sits up in the coffin. This scene is one of Hardy's “moments of vision,” a moment that Virginia Woolf described as a passage in which both author and reader seem “to be suddenly and without their own consent lifted up and swept onwards.” It is perhaps vain to attempt to discern the meaning of this passage. Hardy himself, who stated in the explanatory note of the novel that “novels are impressions, not arguments,” might deplore such an effort — but I am the reader, and as Woolf also wrote about reading him, “it is for the reader, steeped in the impression, to supply the comment.” 1


In 2244 AI generates all artistic entertainment consumed by humanity. Art made by artists does not sell. Movies, holo-novels, real-novels, games, albums, and all imaginable forms of past and future media are simulated and generated by the content delivery mechanism at the rate of a few seconds per media. In the event that a human does make something on their own, it is drowned in the cosmic ocean of content and never seen by anyone but the creator.


Virginia Woolf as a lover

“She remembered, all of a sudden as if she had found a treasure, that she had her work. In a flash she saw her picture, and thought, Yes, I shall put the tree further in the middle.” — To the Lighthouse (84)

On page 84 of To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf describes how Lily Briscoe, squeezed by social pressure during dinner at the Ramsey's house, remembers “all of a sudden as if she had found a treasure,” that she can improve her painting by “moving the tree to the middle.” She then picks up a salt shaker and puts it down “so as to remind herself to move the tree.”

These are two rather mundane sentences. They do not evoke strong emotion and they do not have particular significance in the immediate context. But Virginia Woolf weaves them into the text, using the movement of the salt shaker to remind both Briscoe and the reader twenty pages later that to “move the tree to the middle,” does not simply mean improving one's painting; it also means finding purpose and value outside of society's expectations (for Lily it is to marry). Then, when Lily comes back to the Ramsey's many years and pages later, after Mrs. Ramsey's death, the reader and Lily are taken back to that flash of inspiration at dinner with a simple phrase: “Move the tree to the middle, she had said (102).”

For those who have not tried to write compelling prose, this example may seem underwhelming. But as with many masterstrokes, “moving the tree to the middle” can be appreciated by imagining what you might have done instead. Even if you had lit on the idea of moving the tree to symbolize Lily's commitment to her art, would you have been brave and innovative enough to recall it twenty pages later, not with simple exposition that a reader cannot miss, but with a glance “at the salt cellar on the pattern”? This use of the word “salt” enhances the tree idiom. It is a word you can taste. It draws the reader into Lily Briscoe's mind and lived experience. This is immersion. This is how Virginia Woolf rewards the reader for journeying into the human soul with her.


I met them in the margin of a used book, next to difficult paragraphs and subtle thoughts.

A penciled question mark told me all I wanted to know ? about their mind.


Living on the edge is a cliché until it is not, and life hangs on a flexible razor cutting ice at fifty miles an hour. The razor springs from weight and swings your legs. Land the other razor and believe in it or you will lose it and yourself. But you cannot think about this, if you want to be fast. It must be ingrained by hours of sweating in cold.

You do not chase powder or resort experiences. You chase speed, a faster line: the elusive satisfaction of successful execution. Bend the razor, release, land.


A 100-word story

Somewhere in the twilight fog lies the body. It is doing a lumbar stretch with the left arm pointing down the hill. I do not know how it got there. I found it when I came home.

A siren wails up to my driveway and the lights glow through the fog and the gravel crunches wet under the rubber. A cop steps out.

“Where is it?”

I point from my porch.

More sirens and soon the meditative, still atmosphere of my remote property evaporates into engines and camera flashes and tape. Twilight will pass soon, but what about the fog?

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed it and wish to support me, the best way is to purchase my novel, or buy me a coffee.

The PR man in my head shouts for all my pleasure and pride, making their case, telling me not to wait.

“Be the loudest and you will make it. Do not weigh or consider. Shout often and loud, and everyone will listen.”


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