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  • Writer's pictureKyle Lee

A Focus on Black Pillars


Black pillars highlighted the house. As much as I remember small details of the home I lived in while in Austin, those grand wooden pillars were the focal point. No doubt the architect intended as such. And even though I was five when I moved away from that home, the pillars remain a fixture in my mental space. In fact, when I read or write a story or novel, those black pillars and that house act as a template for my imagination. I can't be the only one who has old homes or places that are used as the default in picturing fiction, right? Don’t you? If I were to make an account of these template houses, I can give you a strong three with a maybe a secondary group of two. The first is the black columned Austin house. I can tell you now I've tucked away an idea for a novel that is built completely around those columns, the rest of the house be damned. Still, the stone fireplace. The spot we always put up the Christmas tree. The odd dip in the backyard. All these things and more are ripe for other stories on other days. The second is the house on my family's farm. An enclosed front porch. A large family room that, at one point, had a large credenza with a built in 8-track player. Three bedrooms down a hall to the right, one of them possessing pink shag carpet. Kitchen to the left. There are memories decorating the walls and I have no doubt those memories are mixed into the foundation. More than once, I've written stories that transpire in this farmhouse's blueprint. Usually, those stories incorporate some sort of family dynamic. If you’ve read any of the stories I’ve linked on this website, then you’d be familiar with “What I Make Immortal.” The third is a house in Austin I never actually lived in. It belonged to a friend of my parents and we visited quite often, The house was filled with warmth at all times and there are more stories I associate to this domicile than anywhere else. I conjure quiet conversations between parent and child at the kitchen table. Drawing with sidewalk chalk on the back patio. Cookies being backed in the small kitchen. A sense of togetherness and loss all at once. Again I ask, am I the only one who uses house templates? Do they color your interpretation? Movie or television adaptations do something similar, especially if we consume the media before the text. Inexplicably, I picture the events of The Great Gatsby taking place inside the house from The Munsters. If only that were true, I’d actually enjoy Gatsby as a novel. And how can we not picture the hotel from the film version of The Shining when reading the book? If you can, you’re a better human than I. Similarly, our dreams do not create new faces. Characters, yes but the faces all come from the database of experience. Do our imaginations do the same thing, piecing it all together like a M.C. Escher painting? It is coding in a sense. Prebuilt functions to become shorthand. That in turn, seems a bit of a definition for pop culture. What the pop culture of your brain? Photograph taken, copyrighted and provided by Juxtaposedphotography. Used by explicit permission from the artist.

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