Introducing Alan Graeme

Among the vast cloud of internet bloggers writing in cyber-obscurity today is an enigmatic contributor who publishes under a pseudonym but whose real name is Alan Graeme.

Mr Graeme, who has been blogging for three years, began his literary education as a youngster fifty years ago. Fortunately for him, his parents recognized quality children’s literature and exposed him to the poetic genius of Dr Seuss. Alan’s most cherished childhood possessions include his copies of The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham.

Alan was a voracious reader as a kid and spent countless hours at night in bed, a reading light mounted on his headboard, devouring all the sci-fi classics from Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Heinlein and Philip K. Dick. He enjoyed escaping into the epic fantasy trilogies from Tolkien and Frank Herbert but he was particularly captivated by the dark anti-hero of Thomas Covenant in the Stephen Donaldson series.

Alan recalls that for three consecutive years, as soon as school was out for the summer, he re-read the masterworks The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. His family owned an enormous 1462 page volume entitled “The Family Mark Twain” which was bulky and a chore to read but which he quietly took possession of as he began to consider Twain his favorite author.

It was around this time that Alan decided to try writing his own story and getting it published. Before there was “Jurassic Park” or even “The Land that Time forgot”, he created a tale of dinosaurs and man entitled “Brontosaurus Island”. His mother helped him find a publication which considered submissions from young writers and he mailed in the short story in the required format. He now regrets not keeping his one and only rejection letter and sadly no copy of the story has been found.

As he got older, Alan’s tastes went in a predictably rebellious direction as he raced through The Catcher in the Rye to Kerouac’s On the Road and The Dharma Bums to Ginsberg’s Howl and Huxley’s  psychedelic Doors of Perception. For awhile Alan became obsessed with the bold predictions from futurologist Alvin Toffler in his ground breaking prescient best seller Future Shock.

The hormonally handicapped young man attempted to balance out his psyche by absorbing the elegant, poignant stories of James Thurber as well as attacking a stack of old Louis L’Amour westerns given to him by a friend of his father.

In a typically adolescent fashion, Alan began experimenting with the available vices. His reading choices gravitated to consciousness expansion and spiritual awakening themes while  he stubbornly rejected his father’s strict religious dogma (resulting in years of heated conflict).

Besides the extremely enlightening William James work, The Varieties of Religious Experience; Alan was impressed with Dr Timothy Leary’s version of the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the pseudo-scientific experiments of Dr John Lilly using sensory deprivation tanks and high doses of potent hallucinogenics to explore inner space (see the movie Altered States). Not surprisingly, Alan was augmenting his written research with his own LSD and Psilocybin trips.

Alan was introduced to his most influential contemporary author of the spiritual journey while working a summer job building industrial shelving. He would get a ride to work from an older hippie who would share a bowl of marijuana with him on the way to the job site. One day this well traveled vagabond gave Alan a worn paperback which permanently changed the trajectory of his life: The Teachings of Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda.

One book quickly led to an entire series of fascinating volumes that chronicle Castaneda’s supposed inclusion into the mysterious world of Toltec sorcery in Mexico. The powerful but minimalist style of writing was so hypnotic and addictive that Alan has re-read the magical series every decade since.

Later books in this genre; i.e. the densely packed Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the positively engaging Way of the Peaceful Warrior, or the trivially entertaining The Celestine Prophecy, were interesting but much less impactful.

During the 1980’s, Alan spent eight torturous years at university reading and writing nothing but soulless, technical scientific texts. He did not produce anything of creative value through the 1990’s and early 2000’s, preferring to study guidebooks and travel journals as his personal journey accelerated in a major way on the hiking trails of North America.

When Alan finally returned from the intellectual wilderness, he charged headlong into the heavily drug inspired ravings of Hunter S. Thompson and William Burroughs. He particularly enjoyed the blunt, graphic style of Thompson and the completely chaotic, disparate, cut and paste prose of Burroughs.

As Alan considered starting his own blog, he decided to jump into the darkest black hole of literature: James Joyce. When asked where he is on his Joyce exploration he replies he has ploughed through the complex, multi-level puns and numbingly verbose stream of consciousness ramblings of Ulysses but is too intimidated by the reported incoherence (described as ‘word salad’) of Finnegan’s Wake. [Incredibly, Joyce spent 16 years of his life writing it!]

Alan is currently heavy into a Charles Bukowski binge. He is admittedly fascinated by Bukowski’s direct, unflattering but unapologetic examination of his own character flaws as well as his brutal accounts of female conquest and heavy drinking. He also admires that Bukowski fiercely lived a certain aesthetic and drew on those experiences so successfully in his art.

Alan believes mankind’s most significant achievement is the written word and he feels indebted to the aforementioned authors who have inspired him to attempt to describe his own human condition. Keep these influences in mind as he reveals himself in the work that follows.

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