Author Topic: Pseudopod 150: Break the Vessel  (Read 14934 times)

Russell Nash

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on: July 13, 2009, 09:35:32 PM
Pseudopod 150: Break the Vessel

By Vylar Kaftan
Read by Ben Phillips

Even a god has human needs, if he resides in a living body. He must breathe the purest air possible. He must consume fresh food, and sleep on good bedding. And he must excrete. Some priests say that this is not truly the god’s need, since it results from the mortal body he occupies. I say this need is as important to a god as any man, because even gods create things they wish to be rid of.

In this incarnation, Aki prefers a mid-morning session. We meet in our chamber–a narrow aisle, with gold-leaf handholds on each side. I attend him with my box of soft cloths, jintilla oil, and incense. He dismisses his other attendants with a wave. They drift behind tall stone pillars fifty paces away, giving him privacy.


Full text available online at Transcriptase

…along with many other fine stories.


Listen to this week's Pseudopod.



Bdoomed

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Reply #1 on: July 13, 2009, 10:40:43 PM
aw i was just gonna post this! iTunes for some reason kept "error"ing on pseudopod and escape pod all day today so i thought the feeds were down

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


Russell Nash

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Reply #2 on: July 14, 2009, 06:15:18 AM
The ep was up three days ago.



Bdoomed

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Reply #3 on: July 14, 2009, 06:20:29 AM
! wtf i just got it today! :(

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


Russell Nash

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Reply #4 on: July 14, 2009, 07:04:20 AM
Subscribe to the rss for the blog.  I got it on Friday.



Portrait in Flesh

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Reply #5 on: July 14, 2009, 01:28:48 PM
Plus Al's saying it's for July 20th...the space-time continuum's broken, people! 

THE END TIMES ARE HERE!

"Boys from the city.  Not yet caught by the whirlwind of Progress.  Feed soda pop to the thirsty pigs." --The Beast of Yucca Flats


Bdoomed

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Reply #6 on: July 14, 2009, 04:41:47 PM
this is the pure evil that is PP 150.  it's quietly epic in its sinister ways.

makes me afraid of what PP 200 is going to do to us...

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


gelee

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Reply #7 on: July 16, 2009, 12:58:22 AM
Excellent story. Loved the juxtaposition of the vulgar and the divine. Apparantly, this sort of thing really went on in some cultures.



Listener

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Reply #8 on: July 16, 2009, 12:48:46 PM
Two poop stories within ten episodes? AWESOME.

The only thing that really horrified me about the story was that, for a moment, I thought Numa was actually going to eat Aki's poop. I would place this more under fantasy than anything else, but I guess poop = horror?

The concept of two characters -- master and servant -- conversing through a whole story is always a good one, though I kind of felt that Numa was far too powerful, just because he deals with Aki's poop. I also think "shit-covered shards" was a cop-out; no foul language is used through the rest of the story, so why did we need it at the end? Numa's been with the temple for most of his life, right? When would he have learned that kind of language?

Pretty good story.

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

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Sgarre1

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Reply #9 on: July 16, 2009, 01:10:40 PM
I'm guessing "systematically burning people alive who you've brainwashed into believeing they are gods" and "cutting out a guy's eyes and tongue for trying to help the man he's been trained to help all his life", not to mention the way religious dogma crushes/enslaves original thinking and freedom = horror.

I thought the use of "shit" at that point was actually rather deft choice by the writer, as it isn't only a curse word but the most base expression for the material (and "crap" would have felt too modern) - at that point in the story, Aki has renounced his godhood and so his "fecal matter" is now, again, just "shit", like any human produces (and ends up causing his demise.  And, I guess to be didactic, I would point out that "breaks the vessel" (of shit) at the same point he's also "breaking The Vessel" (of Godhood).

I don't have any problem with Numa knowing the word - I would imagine everyone else in the temple (including Numa) "shits" but Aki is divine, so he "defecates".



Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #10 on: July 17, 2009, 12:34:01 AM
Quote
I would place this more under fantasy than anything else, but I guess poop = horror?

We looked at the piece, but I think one of it's primary intents is to disturb the reader/listener. (Maryanne Mohanraj's definitions of horror and erotica have always stuck with me since I heard them at a reading in Oakland in 2005 -- they're the only two genres primarily defined by the attempt to evoke a specific emotion, rather than other formal constraints.)



Zathras

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Reply #11 on: July 17, 2009, 01:43:26 PM
Finally listened to this one, listening to The Undoing right now.

I would prefer to see stories like this on Podcastle.  Rachel already weighed in, and I appreciate that.  It's not that I don't like the story, I really enjoyed it.  I'm with Listener on the Shit comment.  It took me out of the story entirely.



eytanz

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Reply #12 on: July 17, 2009, 03:34:55 PM
I couldn't finish this one. I have a strong aversion for scatological descriptions, and the detailed descriptions of excrement were too difficult for me to listen to.

Not a comment on the story, this is my own prejudice.



Listener

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Reply #13 on: July 17, 2009, 05:13:36 PM
Quote
I would place this more under fantasy than anything else, but I guess poop = horror?

We looked at the piece, but I think one of it's primary intents is to disturb the reader/listener. (Maryanne Mohanraj's definitions of horror and erotica have always stuck with me since I heard them at a reading in Oakland in 2005 -- they're the only two genres primarily defined by the attempt to evoke a specific emotion, rather than other formal constraints.)

Can you link me to those? I'm curious.

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

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Listener

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Reply #14 on: July 17, 2009, 05:13:55 PM
I couldn't finish this one. I have a strong aversion for scatological descriptions, and the detailed descriptions of excrement were too difficult for me to listen to.

Not a comment on the story, this is my own prejudice.

The descriptions were a little graphic and disturbing, but I overcame them.

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

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Sgarre1

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Reply #15 on: July 17, 2009, 05:57:19 PM
Quote
(Maryanne Mohanraj's definitions of horror and erotica have always stuck with me since I heard them at a reading in Oakland in 2005

It sounds like she's paraphrasing Doug Winter's famous essay about the Horror genre from 1982.



Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #16 on: July 18, 2009, 12:06:05 PM
That's quite possible (that she was quoting someone else). She gave her definitions at a reading I attended, off the cuff in response to a Q&A, so there's nothing to link.



Sgarre1

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Reply #17 on: July 18, 2009, 03:54:19 PM
To be fair, Winter's essay is only about horror, not Erotica.



DarkKnightJRK

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Reply #18 on: July 20, 2009, 03:16:42 AM
It didn't feel like "horror" to me while listening to it either, but I do get Sgarre's perspective.



Bdoomed

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Reply #19 on: July 20, 2009, 04:14:50 AM
well i dont think it really felt like horror either, that doesn't mean i did not enjoy it though.  I was kind of surprised at the descriptions at first but the story tamed later on and I really enjoyed it.  Might've done better elsewhere but I'm not complaining! :)

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


DarkKnightJRK

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Reply #20 on: July 20, 2009, 08:05:27 AM
well i dont think it really felt like horror either, that doesn't mean i did not enjoy it though.  I was kind of surprised at the descriptions at first but the story tamed later on and I really enjoyed it.  Might've done better elsewhere but I'm not complaining! :)

Yeah, the languished descriptions of, whether it's of a diety or not, a man's daily shits was a bit disconcerting. But hey, someone's gotta do it (he is kind-of this world's equivilant of a plumber), and if he can find a way to make it an important job, then he's a far better optimist then I am.



Bdoomed

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Reply #21 on: July 21, 2009, 01:45:55 PM
yeah... that guy was very optimistic... even when his hands and eyes were taken.  "they let me live!"

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


thomasowenm

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Reply #22 on: July 22, 2009, 09:21:06 PM
Despite of all the excrement I did like this story, but it definatley belonged on PC.  There was no horror elements or anticipation of horror for me just a good story.  Even the fantasy elements (a crap collector really enjoying his job) was a stretch.

Both characters grew from begining to the end of the story which is something that helped to overcome all the crap ;).   When Aki broke the vessel he finally became an independent man he was meant to be when he was given up to the temple.  The crap master began to question his faith, struggling within himself to find answers for his god.  Even though in the end he fell back upon his faith he was growing throughout the story.



kibitzer

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Reply #23 on: July 27, 2009, 04:05:39 AM
I think the definition of Horror could stretch to include this one, if, as Rachael said, the primary purpose was to disturb.

Wherever it appeared, I liked it.


600south

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Reply #24 on: July 27, 2009, 01:11:47 PM
I was also thinking "where's the horror?" until about halfway through. And it didn't disappoint. A horror story doesn't have to be horrific all the way through. The ending here made me gasp, and that's good.

But I agree... way too much detail on the pooping. I was wondering whether the author's real interest was in storytelling or coprophilia.