Review/Analysis of BAXTER’S FRIENDS by O.Victor Miller

Dear ned,
So many times since I read your wonderful novel I have wanted to write you, tell you how much the that book and your book of poetry has touched me where I am to help me know myself, a moving target. That’s, of course, what poignant novels do, seek fictive truth about ourselves too stark and personal to bear the light of self reflection. I’m at the age of regret that I haven’t saved the world, no notion how to do it since I haven’t not saved myself to know the way. Yet I know we need our kindred spirits, and since they’ve largely disappeared, we are more haunted by the dead; I find myself roaming through my past with haints, your sister Carol among the vanguard of the better ones. The promises we make the dead don’t go away.
There seem to be so few among us able to abandon metaphysics, the Christianity put at our hearts’ core early on. Spiritual journeys call us even or especially where our neurosis leads us, and though I’ve struggled against the Freudian notion that art (which is to say all of them) ARE neurosis, I now find in my case that dictum’s all too true. It has followed me like the hounds of heaven and brought me finally to ground to see with unwelcome light more of the frightened child of myself from whom my art, such as it is, finds its source.
Reviewing my own sporadic attempts to find myself during the final quarter of some game or some lunar destiny that damns and redeems some part of us together with the chemistry we have become, are still becoming to which the denouement is death. There must be some accumulating good to general humankind, just as there is despair of self loathing, horror, shame that grows, evolves beyond our little lives into the web of the universe. Some germ or seed of a higher humanity, some reach exceeding grasp never even sensed except from the angst of knowing self and writing what becomes of it. We have to die to be reborn, to know ourselves to find some grain or seed of a god or transcendental innocence, some irrational faith that demands us to hope up a better world. You are ahead of me, so I must follow.
My church is nature, solitude my inspiration although my spirit wants to romp and play. Your poetry and fiction show your quest of higher self has born the scars of warfare with angels and devils, of what’s at the core or heart or neurotic fears that move us to investigate a better world more harmonious with nature and the cosmos than the sump we find our asses in alone. We pray through our art if it’s any good, thus we are priests of it, which is to say neurotic fear, trauma that revisits from earliest memories we hike our balls to reexamine now, closer as we are to the final curtain. We hope our introspection serves some purchases, makes more tangible to our fellow travelers through the veil of ecstasy and horror all humankind with soul or brains is heir to.
Anyway, thanks for the help, the fellowship of another damned to make something more of art than pure neurosis, that an irritated oyster still can or has to make a pearl for someone else to treasure, for the benefit or blessing of some other quixotic fledgling’s hubris questing for a better world than ours, a leg up on some order out of chaos, some hope of freedom in detachment from the common suck hole of angst.
Thus we hope that sounding angst can voice a higher hope that joy may follow somewhere along the way from those hardheaded few damned and blessed to make some pearl from unrelenting irritation deep in the inflammation of human tissues left over from the get-go or the Fall. Courage is a lonely virtue in the mob. Progress of the collective soul demands the sacrifice of one poor hero wretch for all.
You’ve made a pearl that young men can’t, nor me nor anybody else could make. It has noble imperfections that make it shine with humanity, honesty, inspiration, yet it’s human in the hope the general struggle might be moving to prevail. It’s a poem too. I wish I’d written a book as good as this one, which I think has the genius of an oyster in brief respite from one sharp crystal’s encystations to a newer sharper grain of existential and neurotic fear we must sound from some source of more than self or some overreach of an individual truth into the common morass that disappears us all.
Thanks again for writing it, thanks for the pylon, the leg up in the common struggle.
Please send kk another copy as I have mutilated hers with notes and wayward sloth.
Say not the struggle naught availeth,
Yr. friend vic

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