Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Publishing of the Real Messiah [Part One]

I have to admit that it is all the fault of David Blocker that I have fallen back into a familiar interest - Roman involvement in the development of Christianity.  Of course I published a book a while back which made a series of arguments for the identification of St Mark as Marcus Agrippa, the last king of Israel.  I would be lying to my readership if I did not acknowledge that I had some 'misgivings' about that book.  In the five years since publication of the Real Messiah I became rather embarrassed with the final product. 

While early Christianity extolled virginity as the most virtuous state of being, being a virgin isn't cool in the real world.  Having never attained a degree in anything related to the field of study, I wasn't authoritative on the subject matter in the book.  It really is that simple.  I have a mental deficiency - I don't know if other of my readers share it with me.  I find myself unable to do something, I puzzle over why I can't 'get it done' and then - after months of deliberation where I get absolutely nowhere - I ultimately get frustrated and resort to 'forcing my way in' using sheer brute power, inevitably with disastrous results. 

Now, being a consummate Nietzschean, I can attribute at least part of the difficulty to physiognomy.  I am a big person with a big build and a big frame.  There is only so much délicatesse I can pretend to possess.  When it comes down to the crunch - Hulk will smash.  But in reflection I can now finally understand why I had 'writer's block' - I didn't have complete mastery of the subject matter. 

Just to let my readership in on a secret.  I used to write book after book in my youth and send them to professors of various disciplines.  This was of course before the internet was in widespread use.  One of the subjects of these unpublished theses was whether or not Marcus Julius Agrippa might have had a hand in the development of Christianity.  There were many reasons for my presumption, in the same way as one can come with reasons for any idea. 

I had been writing countless books like this for some time and I just decided it was time to be a published author - especially in light of the fact that my father was dying and a new son was being born to me.  I wanted to be a someone I guess.  In the end, I sent out five hundred manuscripts out to five hundred publishers and - as the popular adage about getting women to sleep with you - one of them said yes and even decided to pay me a lot of money for doing it (a publisher that is, not a woman). 

Of course there was a catch.  My intellectual inadequacies manifested themselves in a confused style of writing.  I cited long sections of text from primary sources without offering much in the way of interpretation.  My publisher said that they could 'correct' the problem having a ghost writer help make sense of what I was writing.  I flew to London in the summer of 2007.  By a strange coincidence, the publisher happened to reside in the same city as a lady claiming to be my agent (she was enthusiastic about doing the very same thing i.e. getting a 'ghost writer' and offering my manuscript to publishers).  It seemed to be the way 'things get done' so I got them together and agreed. 

There was even a 'sign' - a glorious portent - which indicated to me at least that everything was going to turn out well.  As we walked to our lunch meeting as some ancient British establishment, a Coptic priest walked past us.  I broke away from the group and ask him his name.  I forget what he said, but he was some white guy who had decided to convert to the Coptic faith.  I shook his hand and told him all the wonderful things I was doing for St Mark.  He blessed me and I went back to the assembled gathering on a sunny patio in London. 

My agent was with her boyfriend, an apparently affluent independent British filmmaker who was recently divorced and seemed to be carrying on an affair with my 'agent.'  She was always promising me documentary work.  That was where the real money was so I took this as another good sign.  My publisher was also there - a refined British gentleman who came from money and apparently had a castle somewhere where he brewed his own ale.  That was also a good sign - the nobility thing.  I always had a thing for the aristocracy, even (absurdly) putting a 'von' between my given name and surname when I was growing up.

His publishing house apparently specialized in New Age books.  They had worked with 'real scholars' too, recently publishing 'the New Testament Code' by Professor Robert Eisenman of UCLA.  I was on good terms with Eisenman at the time.  I had met him on his boat in Long Beach when I was in California on business a while back.  We never set sail on the sea or even left the harbor.  His boat was the place where Eisenman did most of his writing.  He had mentioned to me that he was working on that book that afternoon and from subsequent email correspondences I got the sense that it was going to be a disaster.  One email in particular stood out in my head entitled 'the mire.' 

At our pleasant lunch of course I played up my familiarity with Professor Eisenman.  I probably even got the idea of contacting Watkins Books through him.  I remember the publisher mentioning - in the context of Eisenman - how important it was to be 'understandable' and then he mentioned this novel idea - there was no need for extensive footnotes.  I found this statement rather puzzling.  On the one hand I was so very happy to be getting published.  But how could we write a serious book like this without having any footnotes?

The solution he had devised was to put all the footnotes on the internet.  He didn't want these little numbers to get in the way of the reader's experience.  I have to admit, I was a little taken aback.  Nevertheless it was a delightful afternoon.  I was assured by my publisher that this would be 'the future' of publishing - 'the internet.'  My agent assured me that I would also be getting a documentary deal soon and best of all - I was getting paid handsomely.  So I agreed quite readily. 

After all, there were all those 'signs' ...

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