Saturday, November 27, 2010


Director Marc Rosenbush is preparing to go into production on his movie version of Blood:  A Tale—the graphic novel I co-created with illustrator Kent Williams back in the late 80's—and he's just launched a website to promote the film.  If you don't know, Blood is an odd, eerie fever-dream of a story set in an odd, eerie fever-dream of a world.  As the title indicates, there are vampires in it, but, beyond the obvious fangs and blood, the story has very little in common with Bram Stoker and Stephenie Meyer.  In fact it's like nothing else I've ever written.  (When it first came out, my old friend, Vertigo head honcho Karen Berger, called it "an Ingmar Bergman comic book.")  When Marc R first expressed interest in adapting Blood for the screen, I was taken  by surprise:  it's the last story of mine I'd ever imagine being a movie; you might as well try to film my unconscious mind.  To his eternal credit, Marc has taken something I thought was unfilmable and turned it into a fascinating, well-crafted—and, yes, commercial—metaphysical horror script that stays true to the heart and soul of the source material.  Filming is slated to begin in the summer of 2011 and, if you sign up over at Marc's site, you'll be in on the creative process every step of the way.

Guess it's only a matter of time now till Marvel gets going on a big-budget Greenberg the Vampire movie.

Or maybe not.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I recently got in a conversation with some folks here at Creation Point about the programs we all seem to have—some of us more than others—worming through our hearts and minds, telling us that we’re not good enough.  That we somehow don’t deserve the best that life has to offer.  That we’re small, insignificant, unworthy.  At the same time, my wife—who (among her many other talents) is an interfaith minister and a practitioner of Process Acupressure—told me about several clients and friends that were facing the same issues.  It was as if the universe was drawing a line under the subject, asking us both to examine our own self-defeating delusions.  (You can read Diane’s take on the subject right here.)

I’ve danced with those delusions—as many of us have—for a good part of my life.  It’s like there’s a constant tug of war going on between who I think I am and who I really am.  It’s not always overt, I’m often not even aware of it; but, sometimes, God draws that underline in a huge, and unforgettable,  way.  (Perhaps because I’m too dumb to get it when He’s being subtle.) 

The biggest underline I’ve ever encountered came in 1988, on my second trip to Meher Baba’s Tomb-Shrine (also known as the Samadhi) near Ahmednagar, India.  I’d been to Meherabad for the first time in the summer of 1987 and was planning a return trip the following July.  But in early March of 1988 something strange happened:  One morning I woke up—abruptly yanked into awareness—to hear a voice:  very clear, very powerful, as if someone was in the room talking to me.  Only the voice wasn’t coming from across the room, it was coming from inside me.  It was coming the center of my chest, from my heart.  I don’t recall the exact words, but the message—actually, it was more like an order—boiled down to this:  “Come to Meherabad.  Come now.”  Those words had such force, such impact, that I couldn’t ignore them.  Oh, I tried to.  There was no way I could just drop everything, get on a plane and go to India.  I had work, I had obligations.  Even if, by some miracle, I could go, the ashram where most visitors to the Samadhi stay during their pilgrimage was only open until March 15th.  (After that, the Maharashtra heat becomes unbearable.  The Meher Pilgrim Center doesn’t reopen till the end of June.)   If I was going to travel around the world, I’d need to stay for at least two weeks, not swoop in and out like some spiritual lunatic.   Nope, no matter what that voice was, no matter where it came from (a passing angel, my unconscious mind or Meher Baba Himself), I was ignoring this order.

But the thing is I couldn’t ignore it.   It was as if the order itself contained the ability to execute it.  As if each of those words, spoken in my heart, were energy-eggs that cracked open and provided the strength and will for me to (with seeming effortlessness, I don’t recall there being any blockades along the way) rearrange my life, race to the Indian Consulate for a tourist visa, buy a plane ticket and—within a few days—fasten my seat belt for a journey to Bombay (which, for the record, didn’t become Mumbai till 1995).

By the time I arrived in India, I was—as I’d been the first time around—a sleep-deprived wreck (I’m not one of those people who can sleep on airplanes.  I’m from the fitful dozing school).  I hustled from the international to the domestic airport, waited the requisite interminable hours, then took an Indian Airlines flight—aboard a small, propeller-driven plane—to Pune.  From there, I rickshawed to a taxi stand and began the long drive to Ahmednagar.  You can imagine the shape I was in when I got there:  it was as if I was a creature molded from cracked glass and every step brought me closer to totally shattering.  But, after arriving at my destination and settling into my room at the Pilgrim Center, I couldn’t go to sleep.  However exhausted I was, I had to make the trip up the hill to Meher Baba’s Tomb-Shrine.  I had to lay down my head at his feet and say, “Baba, I’m here.  I listened to the voice, I followed the order, now wrap your arms around me and flood me with your love.”  (One thing you have to grok in order for this story to work:  Despite the fact that He died in 1969, my experience with Avatar Meher Baba has been that He’s very much alive, and incredibly accessible.  Master and companion, guide and best friend.  And MB’s Tomb-Shrine is, for me, like a direct radio link to that Living Presence.  You don’t have to believe that—feel free to think I’m completely nuts (you won’t be the first)—I’m just asking you to understand it.)

So up the hill I staggered, into the Samadhi I went.  But there was no love-bomb waiting to engulf me, no warm arms waiting to envelop me.  The instant I rested my head against the cloth-covered marble, it was as if a Cosmic Hand sliced open my mind, reached in and untapped a psychic geyser that had been waiting years to explode:  all my self-loathing—every wretched program that told me I was small, insignificant, unworthy, a hopeless waste of space on the planet—erupted up and out, wave after wave of psychic sludge:  pitch black, oily and utterly repugnant.  I felt poisoned, toxic, as it flooded every cell of my body, every corner of my soul, washing away all other thoughts and feelings, every other aspect of Self, until all that remained was the Black Sludge of Unworthiness.  How bad was it?  I remember noticing a bug crawling across the Tomb floor and feeling that the only difference between us was that the insect had more of a right to be alive than I did.
Devastated, I staggered out of the Samadhi and down to my room. wondering why the hell I’d dropped everything and raced across half the world only to be spiritually ambushed by a God who suddenly seemed less-than benevolent. 

Once I was rested, free of jet lag and psychic aftershocks, I began to understand what had happened.  I’d been with Meher Baba long enough to know that one of His methods is to shine a light on the shadowed corners of the soul, corners we’re often not even aware of, peeling back the hardened layers of psychic excrement that cover up the Divinity we all are.  Magnifying those aspects and dragging them to the surface of our minds allows us to work with them more directly and, ultimately, dissolve them in the light of awareness.  By letting me see the Black Sludge in its full, flowering ugliness, Baba gave me the tools to deal with it in a conscious way.  Twenty-two years later, I can’t claim the Sludge is gone—I suspect that, being human, I’ll always carry echoes of it, sometimes faint, sometimes loud—but, since that day, it’s certainly diminished in power.   

But perhaps it hasn’t diminished:  perhaps it’s just transformed.

As the years have passed—and this is something that deserves a lengthy post of its own—I’ve come to believe (well, I think I’ve always believed it, I’ve just come to see it in a deeper way) that these seeming demons, these apparent nightmares born of our unconscious darkness, aren’t really there to prevent us from reaching our true height and power:  they’re here to help us reveal it.  In fact, I’m convinced these devils are actually angels-in-disguise, waiting for the moment when we recognize them so they can spread their wings wide and invite us to fly with them into the heart of a magical, and sacred, universe.   (I’ve also come to believe that it’s ultimately far easier to fly with angels than dance with demons, even illusory ones—that joy is a far more efficient, and delightful, path to awakening than suffering—but that, too, is another discussion for another time.)    

Our true height and power.  I had a memorable glimpse of just how high, just how powerful, we all are two years after my encounter with the Sludge.  It happened, again, in Meherabad—on a December night in 1990.  I had a dream—one of those dreams that seem more real than our waking life—in which I was at an event where one of the Meherabad residents, an extraordinary man called Mohammed the Mast (Mohammed, by the way, was the inspiration for Charlie Limbo in Seekers Into The Mystery), was sitting at a table signing...well, I’m not sure what he was signing:  it might have been books (which, given the dreamer in question, makes sense).  I approached the table, but, rather than sign my book, Mohammed instead scribbled on me, writing his way up from my hand to my upper arm.  When he did that I felt disrespected, powerless, small, ashamed—another echo, I see now, of the Black Sludge—and very angry.  But my anger was so bottled up, my rage so impotent, that I couldn’t express it.  The best I could do was grab Mohammed’s pen and throw it—without even looking—to the floor.  It was a pathetic throw, like something a weak, exhausted two year old would do.  (And that’s pretty much how I felt:  like a vulnerable, utterly overwhelmed child.)   But then...

Then I turned around—absolutely stunned to discover that my “pathetic” throw had sent the pen hurtling across the room, where it smashed into the wall, lodging there with such incredible force that it collapsed the entire thing, not just in the main room where we were, but in the adjoining room, as well.  And, in that moment of assumed weakness, revealed as inexplicable power...

I woke up—not just from sleep, but into myself.  To who and what I really am.  To my true height, my true power.  This wasn’t just an intellectual knowing, this was a visceral experience, an inner vision that touched a deeper reality.  I could see and feel that height, that power—I was that height and power—and it was far taller, far mightier, than anything I could have ever imagined:  like looking down at all Creation from the highest rung on Jacob’s Ladder.  I can’t say how long the experience lasted, maybe just a few seconds, maybe a few centuries, but looking at the universe, and at myself, from that extraordinary height became so dizzying, so overwhelming, that it actually frightened me. 

And the experience passed.

But the memory didn’t.  I’ve held tight to that vision, that gift of grace, and treasured it all these years, knowing that my job—no, not my job, my pleasure—is to grow into the height and power that I already am.  Looking back, I see that what I was shown was just what I could handle at the time.  It was only one small hint of my true height.  Jacob’s Ladder extends up into infinity (and beyond, as Buzz Lightyear would say)—and I can, I must, continue to grow with it.    

Understand, please, that this experience wasn’t unique to me.  It became very clear that this is the height we all truly are, the divinity that lives and breathes within every last one of us, if we could only see it.

And, yes, that includes you.

So when the Black Sludge comes calling, remember:  take a deep breath, grow tall.  And don’t be afraid to look down. 

© copyright 2010 J.M. DeMatteis        

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Watch this—and be humbled and amazed and inspired by the Infinite.  And ponder this:  What if all those galaxies out there are just reflections of the galaxies within us?  How limitless are we really?  How powerful? 

How utterly miraculous? 


Tuesday, November 9, 2010


If you're in the New York City area this Thursday, November 11th, you might want to drop by one of the very best children's book stores in the country, Books of Wonder, where I'll be appearing—along with an impressive group of fantasy authors—from 5 to 7 pm.  I'll be signing copies of Imaginalis and, I suspect, reading from the book, as well.

Books of Wonder, if you don't know, is also the company that publishes those miraculous facsimile editions of L. Frank Baum's Oz books.  They've got lots of other Oz-related goodies, as well.  (This time next month, I'll once again be hanging some of their limited edition, hand painted Oz ornaments on my Christmas tree.)  If you can't make it to the signing, then absolutely check out the B.O.W. site. 

See you in the Emerald City, I hope.

Friday, November 5, 2010


In a post back in early October, I mentioned Ellen J. Langer’s 1979 experiment in mind-body connection, in which she, in essence, mentally time-traveled a group of men in their seventies and eighties decades into the past, resulting in significant, positive changes in their physical health.  I was so intrigued by this story that I immediately ordered Langer’s book Counter Clockwise.  I’ve finally started reading it and it didn’t take long to come across a quote that went straight to the center of my soul:

The fact that something has not happened doesn’t mean it cannot happen; it only means the way to make it happen is as yet unknown.

As someone who believes that the (apparent) limits of the possible exist only to be exploded—as that quote over there on the left attests—I was delighted to come across such  a powerful reminder of a truth I already know, but still, for all my efforts, sometimes forget.

In my book Imaginalis, the main character, Mehera Crosby, is guided on her adventure by words that many would dismiss as childish imagination:  “Because it’s impossible, I’ll do it.  Because it’s unbelievable, I’ll believe.”  To me this isn’t an immature world view, this is the essence of our existence.  For all the strangeness and suffering life can offer, it’s been my experience that we truly inhabit a universe of magic and miracles—one universe in a simultaneity of universes that we step into and out of with more frequency than we realize—and the more we acknowledge that, the more we realize that the sky isn’t the limit, that the only real limits are in our own heads, the more that magic will come alive for us.  Respond to us.  Transform the world within and around us.  

Just because something hasn’t happened doesn’t mean it can’t.  If we keep our eyes wide, open to the endless impossibilities the universe has to offer, the miracles will come.

Feel free to remind me of that if I forget again.  And I hope, in some small way, I’ve reminded you.
©copyright 2010  J.M. DeMatteis