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June 15 , 2010

Of Sand and Stone


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Vog A. Bond: a germinal description of this extremist character is contained in the triple entendre of the name. Like James Bond, Vog delights in parody, sex and adventure. A vagabond in thought and spirit, his conduct lies as often outside socially acceptable confines as within. He steals women's virginity and men's wives, and indulges in drug and drink addictively. Yet he possesses a morality that propels him into action: inventing contraptions to aid the handicapped, making ecologically sound improvements to his house, speaking out against injustice. And true to the peculiarly Hawaiian weather condition, vog, he is a blend of fog and volcanic ash, the contradictory meeting point of the wet and molten, cold and fiery.

Vog Bond lives in the rawness of extremes. He refuses to be an enlistee to the madness of North American culture, preferring to feel his fullest outrage. But this story tells of a man whose eyes are too sensitive to withstand the full glare of human suffering. No sooner does his mind comprehend it, than his heart seeks to anesthetize itself through drugs, drink, sex and high speed scenery changes.

After receiving an anonymous money order with mysterious instructions to be in Paris on a certain day, Vog sets out for Greece, Turkey and western Europe, narrating to us in a deceptively travelogish manner. But the book is neither travel guide nor mystery. Rather, his journey progresses much like a drug trip: fast, superficial, unrelated experiences give way to interpersonal snags, frenzy and all-consuming hallucinations. And like a drug trip, all is good with the hit. But, no drug lasts forever; reflected as the story telling progresses.

Vog's hallucinations are fleeting at first. Later, as they persist, the reader is warmed up for a flip of reality. With the transformation of a travel companion into a Nasty Figure, we now share Vog's vision, no longer able to keep still the shifting boundary between the actual and imaginary.

In a dramatic monologue, Mr. Nasty becomes an extension of Vog's perceptions about the brainwashing and numbing of North Americans through television and megacorporative values - so-called conventional wisdom - that normalize and sanctify greed, vanity, chauvinism, violence and the pursuit of comfort at any cost. Vog is forced to listen to his own insights, amplified to the brink of nausea. Even worse, he must confront his own recent contributions to human misery.

Therapists work around the clock to release Vog from his neurogenic motor immobility - catatonia. Stuck in 1989 when his mind tremors began, certifiably insane, institutionalized and drugged, Vog has joined the rest of anesthetized North America - a country which has armored its collective heart against the intrusion of the very reality Vog has tried to lay bare.

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