FADE TO ZILCH, A Motion Picture Screenplay by F. Lewis Hall

Based on the novel The Unbearable Sadness of Zilch” by Konrad Ventana

“No one is innocent… not in this town.  In this town, the apocalypse has come and gone, lifting the veil of innocence like a great velvet curtain in an old movie house, where the only victims that don’t return for the sequel are the gods themselves, struck out long ago by the big blue pencil….”

Discover a riveting narrative that shines a detective’s flashlight into the darkest reaches of the human mind, as “Fade to Zilch” takes audiences behind the scenes of the fabulous theatrical world of Hollywood. Revel in the dramatization of this compelling story, as Famous Celebrities and Movie Moguls strive to embrace their creativity while struggling with their own psychological demons.

   YouTube Video Trailer:  http://bit.ly/1eooRXH

Brimming with sexual intrigue, eye-widening spectacle, and a host of memorable characters, this illuminating mystery is a “must-read” for anyone who loves Hollywood Stories, Mystery Novels, and Film Noir. A compelling work of social criticism, “Fade to Zilch” will open your eyes to the existential demimonde of our modern times, as we investigate the Lost Love of the Latest Hollywood Tycoon; revealing in the role of the muse, the intemperate impulses of the femme fatale, and the lure of the casting couch, while witnessing the rise of a strident feminist provocateur amidst the fall of an empire that has become devoid of artistic inspiration.


Noir Mystery Novel Uncovers the Frightening Origin of the HIV/AIDS Pandemic

What You Don’t Know About Modern Medicine Can Hurt You!

Rise, Rise Dark Horses of American Noir, a Postmodern Mystery by Konrad Ventana applies modern DNA analysis and old-school detective work to expose one of the most unspeakable tragedies of the 20th century. A novel grounded in the mystery and intrigue that is DNA forensics, “Rise, Rise, Dark Horses of American Noir: A Postmodern Mystery” has been selected for inclusion in the publisher’s Editor’s Choice and Rising Star programs, which recognize overall excellence in writing. In this stunning work of expose and literary fiction, author Konrad Ventana plumbs the depths of human depravity and complicity with a lyrical intensity, which increases with the dramatic action and mounting suspense to a fever pitch, vividly revealing the shock and horror of institutionalized crime.

Steeped in the hardboiled old-school police procedurals of bygone times, protagonist Detective Dash Brogan of the LAPD recruits Cornell Westerly, Ph.D., an expert in DNA analysis, to be his apprentice crime scene investigator. Ventana writes from Cornell’s point of view as a young, fresh-out-of-college protégé, who braves the notorious mean streets of the City of Angels in search of redemption, love and forensic truth. In blending the innocence of youth with the verve, grit, and pluck of the classic crime novel, author Konrad Ventana evokes the dark horses of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Cornel Woolrich, and Mickey Spillane to reveal the nature and extent of an increasingly obvious yet shockingly unrecorded crime against humanity.



Excerpt fromRise, Rise, Dark Horses of American Noir”:

Detective Dash Brogan clinked his empty glass against my raised cup of coffee, and he said the most amazing thing: “I realize you’re a top-flight scientist and all that, and I’m just an old bloodhound. But I do remember reading something that Albert Einstein wrote some time ago. He said, the world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.’”

Rise, Rise, Dark Horses of American Noir is available in Hardcover, ISBN 9781491708095; Softcover,  ISBN 9781491708088; and E-Book versions, ISBN 9781491708101, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and www.konradventana.com. Also Available as an AudioBook, ISBN 978-1-49174-450-5 at iUniverse.com.

About the Author: Konrad Ventana (literally, Bold Counsel via a Window) is an intrepid patient advocate, gaining forensic veracity as a renowned scientist, university professor, research director, and biotechnology executive. The “bold and perspicuous windows” of Ventana’s award-winning novels throw back the dubious curtains of conformity to look critically at the institutions and the ideologies of our postmodern times. He currently lives in Southern California.


Introducing the Award-winning Post-Lux Trilogy by Konrad Ventana

The Post-Lux Trilogy by Konrad Ventana: This astonishing series of ultra-contemporary novels is positively Post-Lux—postmodern, post-enlightenment, post-perspicuous gems of literature for the savvy postmodern reader. Each of these three novels examines a vital aspect of creativity and human achievement, rendered accessible through the art of Literary Fiction. Each book of the trilogy is designed to be separate and distinct—differing in plot/theme, narrative voice, characters, setting, and scope of the high-minded action/adventures.  Each book of the trilogy stands alone as a “good read,” yet together they form an engaging and informative ensemble for aspiring individuals. The series has received both Editor’s Choice and Rising Star kudos.

Book 1: “A Desperado’s Daily Bread” follows the trail of an outlaw biochemist and peyote roadman through the subterranean New-Age territories of the American West, while exploring the value of an enlightened individual in a troubled society.


“Think of us in your time of need, whenever the torrents of darkness rage. Remember the outlaw desperado, riding with the wind and the thunder, riding beyond the boundaries of discretion, riding evermore to your emotional rescue.”




Book 2: “The Unbearable Sadness of Zilch” investigates The Lost Love of the Latest Hollywood Tycoon, revealing the intemperate impulses of the femme fatale, the passions of the movie director, and the allure of the casting couch, while witnessing the fall of an empire that has become devoid of inspiration.


“No one is innocent … not in this town. In this town the apocalypse has come and gone, lifting the veil of innocence like a great velvet curtain in an old movie house, where the only victims that don’t return for the sequel are the gods themselves, struck out long ago by the big blue pencil. In this town, every man, woman, and child takes the limits of his or her own field of vision to be the limits of the world.”


Book 3: “Questing for Uberjoy” takes the reader to the remote Himalayan Mountains of Nepal and Tibet in an attempt to rescue a kidnapped Peace Corps worker and the schoolchildren in her charge. Seeking help from intrepid special operations mercenaries and unorthodox mountaineering guides, the covert rescue mission not only targets the missing, but the meaning of life itself.

“Tell me, Deadly Do-Right,” said LaFleche abruptly, “now that you have been formally initiated into our little band of brothers, tell us what it’s like in your neck of the woods. Tell us what it’s like to be a national ski patroller out on a civilian search and rescue mission.”

“Do you really want to know, or are you just being sarcastic?”

“I mean it man. Tell us your favorite story about a ski rescue mission that went bad or something—something badass that we might be able to relate to.”

“Yeah, tell us something really dark and scary that we can relate to.”

YouTube Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-dbBceA4bI&feature=share


“The Unbearable Sadness of Zilch” by Konrad Ventana: a Hollywood NeoNoir

From the very first page, to the final departing scene, The Unbearable Sadness of Zilch by Konrad Ventana is a riveting narrative that shines a detective’s flashlight into the darkest of reaches of the human mind. Only this time it is not the usual hard-boiled Private Detective who is called upon to find some hidden Truth, it is the philosophical counselor or “Perspicuous Eye” who is called upon to find the lost Beauty. This dazzling postmodern novel takes the reader behind the curtains into the fabulous theatrical world of Hollywood’s most accomplished movie moguls, who are striving to embrace the sources of their creativity while they struggle with their own demons.

A compelling work of social criticism, The Unbearable Sadness of Zilch is a treatise on existentialism, modernism, and the emergence of a radical new brand of feminism: the feminist provocateur. Set in Hollywood in the shades of Neo-noir, and guided by an intrepid philosophical counselor (or life coach), we investigate The Lost Love of the Latest Tycoon, examining the role of the muse, the magnificent intemperate impulses of the femme fatale, and the allure of the casting couch, as we witness the rise of a strident feminist provocateur amidst the fall of an empire that has become devoid of inspiration.


Check out the video trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXN2TWB_4XY


Hollywood Treatment for an American NeoNoir Mystery Novel

What an industry-savvy screenwriter says about the novel entitled “Rise, Rise, Dark Horses of American Noir” by the award winning author, Konrad Ventana: 

RISE, RISE DARK HORSES OF AMERICAN NOIR is a unique and stylized novel that combines classic hard-boiled detective noir with modern-day forensic investigation. The nature of the case being investigated is also extremely interesting. The embalmed bodies and the search for a mysterious theatrical culprit whose “staged” displays expose grievous wrongdoing within the medical world give the narrative an original slant.

From the Back Cover: Recently drummed out of a prestigious local university and its forensic research laboratory for blowing the whistle on some pillars of the community, Dr. Cornell Westerly is a promising forensic scientist with a brand-new diploma and a California license plate. He’s an apprentice crime scene investigator in need of a steady job to pay the rent. Westerly, an expert in DNA analysis, finds that opportunity with Detective Dash Brogan of the Los Angeles Police Department, a man steeped in the hard-boiled, old-school police procedurals of bygone times. Together, they take on some of the city’s most heinous crimes. Rise, Rise, Dark Horses of American Noir follows this young, fresh-out-of-college protégé as he braves the notorious mean streets of the City of Angels in search of redemption, love, and forensic truth. In blending the innocence of youth with the verve, grit, and pluck of the classic crime novel, author Konrad Ventana evokes the dark horses of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Cornel Woolrich, and Mickey Spillane while exploring the depths of human depravity.

The book is written in the classic noir style. It’s dark and gritty and gives the reader a walking-tour of Los Angeles. Dash Brogan is a modern day Sam Spade. Cornell Westerly is the fish-out-of-water learning to adapt his investigative style to this seedy world while bringing his forensic expertise to the case. The case itself is fascinating and could be the basis of a feature film. The unique and original aspects of the narrative could provide jumping off points for either a feature film or a television series.

The novel is now available in hardcover, softcover, and ebook at Amazon and B&N


New Novel by Konrad Ventana Explodes with Mystery, Suspense, and Dramatic Action

Los Angeles, Calif. – A novel immersed in the mystery and intrigue that is DNA forensics, “Rise, Rise, Dark Horses of American Noir: A Postmodern Mystery” has been selected for inclusion in the iUniverse Rising Star program, which recognizes excellence in writing and overall potential. Author Konrad Ventana plumbs the depths of human depravity with a lyrical intensity that increases with dramatic action and mounting suspense to a fever pitch, vividly revealing the shock and horror of institutionalized crime.

Steeped in the hardboiled old-school police procedurals of bygone times, protagonist Detective Dash Brogan recruits Cornell Westerly, Ph.D., an expert in DNA analysis, to be his apprentice crime scene investigator. Ventana writes from Cornell’s point of view as a young, fresh-out-of-college protégé, who braves the notorious mean streets of the City of Angels in search of redemption, love and forensic truth.


“Rise, Rise, Dark Horses of American Noir: A Postmodern Mystery” 

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble Hardcover: ISBN 9781491708095; Softcover ISBN 9781491708088; eBook: ISBN 9781491708101

About the Author

Konrad Ventana is an intrepid voice in the wilderness, gaining forensic veracity as a university professor, research director, biotech executive and gene medicine developer. The “bold and perspicuous windows” of Ventana’s award-winning novels throw back the curtains of conformity to look critically at the institutions and ideologies of our postmodern times. He currently lives in Los Angeles, California.


A Desperado’s Daily Bread: Author’s Notes to Curious Postmodern Readers

Responding to popular demand, the following perspectives are provided:

Theme of A Desperado’s Daily Bread:  The main theme is the value of the inspired individual—as visionary, as artist, as dreamer—for a society that has been lulled into a state of non-participation in the life-of-the-mind and such acts of meaningful creativity.

(1) On one hand, it is a work of social criticism, where the “inner darkness” is manifested as an allegorical form of disease; for the Desperado is haunted by a relentless horde of pitiable lepers all seeking some form of healing or holy communion—although the exact nature of the disease is clearly allegorical. The book is intended as an elixir for a seriously-ill society, for it harkens back to a time when Art and Poetry and Literature served as a guiding light for a society—as our own society was wrought from the heroic sacrifices of many inspired individuals. But alas, we seem to have lost or conveniently forgotten this aspect of our history and our humanity along the way to post-modernism.

(2) It is about the alienation of the true visionary in a society that honors the robes of authority but not the swink of creativity per se. The saga is intended as an elixir for those sensitive souls who have been betrayed or abused by unsavory authorities in any coveted field of endeavor—a Catcher in the Rye for the venerable would-be artist in a postmodern world.

The Plot follows the trail of a western outlaw biochemist of the subterranean territories through the neo-shamanistic dystopia, neo-contemplative hoo-ha, and blatant neoteny of the 1970’s New Age movements on the hunt for more profound and sublime naturalistic roots.  While we are entertained and appalled by the anti-intellectual shenanigans of the so-called flower children—who ultimately signified nothing, save the art of self-indulgence—we are struck by the enduring and renewing power of “artistic ideals” in molding the indomitable traditions of society.

The Drama represents the strident promenade of a fully capable individual; one who is capable of accomplishing something that has never been accomplished before—the metaphor is expressed intellectually as mastery of genetic engineering and physically
as free-solo rock climbing—it is intended to provide the uninitiated with a glimpse of the arc-welding brilliance of creativity without the reader having to scale the heights of
either passion or despair, which invariably comes with the territory.

The Book is Intensely Philosophical at heart: heralding the importance of human
volition, the saga is as romantic as Ayn Rand’s Romantic Manifesto. It is contentious, as it dismisses our incremental scientific methodologies as “dull plow-horse work,” while it overturns the quasi-modernistic conventions of Continental Idealism as intrinsically pernicious and authoritarian to a fault.  It is a quintessentially American Story, as it overthrows archaic conventions with an unbridled enthusiasm, rendered as character—character-in-action!!!

In this respect, A Desperado’s Daily Bread is a uniquely American brand of high-minded literary fiction—one that intentionally challenges Transcendental Philosophies, which have perennially run amuck and devalued creative, human experience in the process. In the course of the hero’s journey Postmodern-NeoAmerican-Idealism is at once revisited and renewed.

Finally, the book is a tribute to the Healer and the Visionary, one who places his/her heart and mind and agape soul at risk for the benefit of the weak and/or those who are less fortunate.  It is a tribute to the so-called Roadman of the Native  American shamanistic tradition, as well as the intellectual psychonauts (literally a sailor of the mind) like Aldous Huxley, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Henri Michaux, who left some luminous breadcrumbs of their own for posterity.

The Drama is as Romantic as it is Tragic:  As the hero sets out to restore a lost connection with an Amerindian goddess—which takes the noble savage myth to a whole new level—he strives to restore a connection with an ideal or utopian society, which invariably fails… for Wade, the Desperado is fully modern, and he can immerse himself only so far into the realm of the sacred and the divine before he comes up against his true nature as a Modern and an Outlander… for he is not only blinded by science, but he simply cannot stand by and watch as injustice is insinuating itself on someone who is helpless to resist.  In this manner, he is un hombre imprudente, and it is this imprudence that gives the character its vitality. The Desperado is essentially the American Character-in-Action.


Desperado Diaries: Back again in Boulder, Colorado

Boulder, Colorado in the 1970’s was a happening place—a slamming, jamming, coming-of-age party, albeit brief, where Rocky Mountain High-minded aspirations from music to meditation held constant sway. On any given day, bare-knuckled rock climbers could be seen dangling in the background on the majestic Flatirons, while hard-core cyclists were careening madly around the University Hill in an all-out criterion race, which might soon sprint to a finish in front of the legendary Tulagi nightclub where the Doobie Brothers, the Eagles, or ZZ Top would be playing that evening … or it might finish on University Avenue where a child Guru would be arriving anytime in a great caravan of Rolls-Royces … or perhaps on Arapahoe Avenue where the founder and faculty of the freshly established “Buddhist-inspired” Naropa Institute (not yet Naropa University) would be reveling in their adolescences—after a long day of chasing “Crazy Wisdom”—in hot tubs under the frolicsome hands-on tutelage of Allen Ginsburg, Gregory Corso, and William Burroughs.

In my first Post-Lux (after the light) novel, entitled A Desperado’s Daily Bread, these facetious sentiments are fondly and somewhat humorously expressed by Wade, the outlaw biochemist who has returned to his youthful stomping grounds after being banished—by weight of his intellect—from the realm:

“Back again in Boulder, thought Wade. A commodious carnival stop for the endless wagon train of spiritual hucksters, gurus, yogis, maharajas, magicians, hard-bodied aesthetes, disembodied poets, fulminating mimes, and other serious clowns bent on celebrating the high tea of divine rapture with fervent, entrepreneurial zeal while chanting concubinal kumbayas amongst the ever-bountiful crop of perfectly mindless devotees that migrate to the virtual base of the Flatirons each year, providing a valuable renewable resource for the never-ending circus of mental masturbation that has been legitimized and even sanctioned by the citizenry in the incense-laden bordellos of the People’s Republic of Boulder.”

For me and many of my generation Boulder in the 1970’s was a place and time of youthful
passions and unbridled aspirations, whether those youthful passions were athletic or poetic, whether those unbridled aspirations were manifested as rock climbing, skiing, biking, dancing, astronomical contemplations, astral projections, or transcendental flower arranging.

To this day Boulder, Colorado remains for me an ethereal place where the air is thinner, the night skies are physically darker, and the days and tender memories are brighter than anywhere else. I can still remember standing completely alone one night under those dark, dark skies, having attended a study session in quantum physics at the university department named after George Gamow—the  pioneering cosmologist whose work in Big Bang nucleosynthesis (element-making) helped explain the formation of the primal chemical elements in the early universe. Looking up into the great expanse of fathomless emptiness above me, I felt terribly alone, practically insignificant, and yet I felt that I too might someday manage to do something that magnificent; that I too might someday reach into the very fabric of nature and extract something that elegant; dare I say it, something that “beatific.”

Looking back over the span of space and time that constitutes a lifetime, I realize now that this alienating quest for contribution I experienced in Boulder that night had served to lead me on into the darkest recesses of our biological nature—yet it would not be physics but “biophysics” that would define my life’s work; not primal chemical elements but “biochemistry and cancer genetics” where I would finally make my mark. Driving back into the Rocky Mountains at night after many years away, I realize that it is all still here:  it is here in the unmitigated darkness of these Rocky Mountain skies, in the unrequited emptiness of the aspiring heart, in the all-aloneness of the impassioned soul that there is still such radiance to be found.

Cheers and Happy Trails from Konrad Ventana


“Philosophical Counseling” for Screenwriters

With the publication of Book Two of the Post-Lux Trilogy, The Unbearable Sadness of Zilch, I was delighted when an industry-savvy movie producer found something vibrant and compelling in the ultra-modern themes and characterizations of this Hollywood Neo-noir. Before long, I found myself involved in the adaptation of my story and characters into a full-blown screenplay for SadZilch-the-Movie. What followed was a series of stimulating discussions concerning the central importance of the Detective, his personal code, and his mission as a knight-errant on the mean streets of LA—as was skillfully, historically elaborated in Raymond Chandler’s essay, “The Simple Art of Murder.”  However, at one point in time, a professional screenwriter asked me to summarize the “Credo” of my Detective, who is not a Private Eye in search of some “Hidden Truth,” but a Perspicuous Eye: i.e., a Philosophical Counselor (to the Stars), who is engaged to find the “Lost Beauty” and love interest of a movie mogul, Zero Vaynilovich. The request was so sincere, so earnest, and yet so quaint that I endeavored to set the stage, philosophically speaking, for the entire SadZilch development team, as follows:

From Konrad Ventana to the SadZilch Development Team: “Philosophical Counseling is Not a Personal Philosophy, but a legitimate field of Modern Medicine and Psychotherapy.”

Author’s Introduction: 

There are times when men of science and philosophy reach beyond the status quo of contemporary traditions to contemplate and develop avant-garde  visions—ideologies that are way ahead of their own times, at first, only to have such ideologies become the center of modern culture at a later date. During such transformative times, these thinkers tend to circle the wagons, so to speak, and it is in these philosophical “circles” that one finds the crux of what is yet to come.  It was in the Parisian Literary Salons of Gertrude Stein where we find the literary and pictorial foundations of modern art. It was in the Vienna Circle of the Psychoanalytic Society where Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and other notable scientist-philosophers hammered out the foundations of modern-day psychiatry. It was in another Vienna Circle where a group of early twentieth-century philosophers including Rudolf Carnap sought to advance and (re)conceptualize aspects of Empiricism (contra-Metaphysics) in accordance with recent advances in the physical and formal sciences—thereby establishing the foundations of modern Symbolic Logic and Logical Positivism (Note, at the University of Colorado at Boulder, I studied under Seth Sharpless, a student of Carnap who taught at the University of Chicago).

I mention these philosophical summits, in introduction, for we are currently in the midst of another epic transition/ advancement of modern philosophy, science, and medicine! [No, it is not the advent of Targeted Genetic Medicine of which I speak—but thank you for bringing the enlightened thought to mind.]  Actually, the epic transition of modern medical praxis I refer to is the (re)emergence of Philosophical Counseling as a rigorous, legitimate, and vital aspect of post-modernism.  “Bah! Humbug!” you might say??  Throughout the 2500-year history of Western philosophy, philosophers have always dealt with issues that have concrete applications, and in so doing they have developed a wide spectrum of practical ideas regarding how life should be understood and lived. Right you are!! But are you aware of the fact that Socrates himself is quoted (in Plato’s Theaetetus) as saying that, “the philosopher is a midwife who helps other people give birth to their own ideas.”? Pretty cool, huh??  Rather than providing a dogmatic prescription or formula for someone suffering from some form of imbalance and/or dis-ease, the true philosopher (nowadays, the Philosophical Counselor) is one who is well versed in all of the methods of Philosophical Practice, although he just might specialize in the treatment of Existential Malaise, like Dr. Joseph Metropolis (as described in detail in Chapter 1), along with the associated syndromes, such as Metaphysical Vertigo.

Rather than attempt to persuade anyone that Philosophical Counseling is rapidly coming of age, and is sure-as-shootin’ poised to give now-classical Psychiatry a run for its money, suffice it to say that I am sufficiently impressed with its recent advancement to consider the whole thing rather perspicuous.  Seriously, the modernist-foundations of this field began with the German Philosopher Gerd Achenbach, who founded the first formal Association for Philosophical Practice in 1982 (Gesellschaft fur Philosophische Praxis), which quickly expanded to include branches in Holland, Switzerland, Norway, France, Italy, Canada, Israel, and South Africa. In the USA, the American Society of Philosophy, Counseling, and Psychotherapy is currently focused almost entirely on Philosophical Counseling, and is working towards establishing the new profession in this country (Sorry, advanced degrees are assuredly required). Although we may indeed be comfortable with the typical role and character-arc of the intrepid Private Detective, steeped in the predictable Existentialism of classical film noir, we are emphatically reminded by Dr. Joe Metropolis, PhD, LPC, Philosophical Counselor—in his treatment of the Unbearable Sadness of Zilch—that “Philosophy is not a game for knights.”

Now Finally, in terms of Doctor Joe Metropolis (as requested by the screenwriter): Dr. Metropolis does not exude or lay claim to a singular personal philosophy per se.  Rather, he has the wealth of both Western and Eastern civilizations in hand. He is truly philosophically astute, so to speak, and as such he may recommend a touch of Empiricism, a lilt of Positivism, a dash of Stoicism, or a tincture of Humanism—depending on the particular case (and/or Future Episode … hint … hint), and depending on the degree of severity of the Philosophical Imbalance, the dubiousness of the patient’s assumptions, and/or the acuteness of the dreadful dis-ease at the time of presentation.  However, to really understand the marrow of the man—as I just happen to do—you need only to look to Shakespeare’s Hamlet for a dramatic perspective.  Cut-to: poor sober-minded Horatio, a model of rationality (recall, Wittenberg Univ. equates to Humanism), who is struggling with the whole business of Ghosts, which are not the sort of beings that his “philosophy” can easily take into account:

Horatio:  “O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!”

Hamlet:  “And therefore as a stranger give it welcome. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

In other words, Dr. Joseph Metropolis, like Hamlet, like Konrad Ventana, leaves healthy room for the divine.


Postmodern Explorations into the “Inner Dark”

–stepping beyond the themes and conventions of Film Noir

Certainly, there was a time of disillusionment following the Second World War, when waves of suspicion, cynicism, and despair swept across the continental philosophies like a great funereal shroud, sounding the death knell for both innocence and optimism regarding the elevated nature of man. Steeped in the bitter dregs of Darwinian struggles, Nietzschean nihilism, and Freudian psychosexual rationale, it is no wonder that continental philosophy turned to a darker shade of pessimism in an effort to embrace and explain the sinister side of human nature.

The philosophical revolt against the positivisms of the Enlightenment, along with the erosion of religious sentiments, reflected these horrific, damaging consequences on the cultural psyche of artists as well as intellectuals. Indeed, it was not only the modern academic philosophers of war-torn Europe who brought down the pessimistic, nihilistic, fatalistic curtains of the night—with such novels and plays as Nausea (Sartre), The Stranger (Camus), and No Exit (Sartre)—the darker shroud of existentialism was already seen advancing in the United States, as evidenced by the narrative forms of fiction and cinema that is known as American noir.  From American hard-boiled crime fiction of the 1930’s to Hollywood film noir, this distinctively darker shade of existentialism gradually took root on American soil—while fear, despair, paranoia, mistrust, and loss-of-innocence motifs set-in as its dramatic means of expression—while lust, greed, corruption, and vice set-in as its attendant motivational conventions.

Cut to our postmodern times:  to the great American frontier—to the post-Darwinian, post-Nietzschean, post-Freudian, post-Jungian, post-Einsteinian, post-Aldous Huxlean, post-Walt Disneyan, post-Bohemian, post-Derridean, post-beat, post-hip, post-war, post-graduate, post-perspicuous persona non grata that represents the inspired individual (i.e., the artist) in our Graceless Age of the Inner Dark.  It is in this context that the intents and purposes of Konrad Ventana’s Post-Lux Trilogy (literally after the light) can best be understood and appreciated. It is only by understanding the insidious nature and progression of this “Inner Dark” more fully—as it exists and is manifested in our postmodern times—that we as individuals and as artists can possibly stand opposed to its bleak and dire consequences with an equal and opposite force.

Each individual novel of the Post-Lux Trilogy explores and exposes a distinctive aspect(s) of the “Inner Dark” as it is dramatically expressed in the purposeful, indelible terms of literary fiction:

For Wade, the outlaw biochemist in A Desperado’s Daily Bread (Book One), the “Inner Dark” is expressed symphonically as (i) the corruption of our academic institutions, (ii) nightmare hosts of the living dead (“…men and women and children—lepers all, with rotting flesh dissolving onto naked bone; some barely recognizable, barely human, with boils, ulcers, tumors, gangrenous, suppurating cankers, and vacant sarcophagean eyes.”), and (iii) the vile abuses of authority:

“The voice of lamentation carried over great distances—it carried with it the history of men and nations, it carried with it the terrible shame of abomination, it carried with it the inner darkness of all mankind, like a shadow creature crying pain, pain, pain—and the shrillness of its punctuated phrases did nothing to help Wade’s cause.”

For the gaggle of unfortunate characters dramatized in The Unbearable Sadness of Zilch, a Hollywood neo-noir, it would be the loss of artistic inspiration:  “… it would take a special kind of nursing to restore a confidence so badly damaged, to coax a man’s flagging vigorousness back to life, to assuage the persistent insomnia of someone who has suddenly become terrified of his own inner dark.” Another aspect of the “Inner Dark” described in SadZilch is shown with dramatic visual special effects (VFX) in an outrageous Tech Noir: “Indeed there was bitterness, as in the bitterness of life and hope defeated, but the fear that was being created was not the fear of the high technology but the fear of what dark forces lie simmering within ourselves.” Finally, the “Inner Dark” in SadZilch-the novel  is dramatized as the imp of the perverse:

“And now I find myself backed up into a dark corner, forced to examine the countervailing coercion of mankind—the imp of the perverse—that primal bestial instinct that betrays creative genius and plants the vile seeds of annihilation into the material and spiritual filaments of the cosmos.”

“How in the world could someone have ended the life of such a beautiful, such an innately glamorous creature?  What vile malevolence could be responsible?  What ‘imp of the perverse,’ dredged from the nethermost depths of Poe’s catacombs, has been unleashed upon us?”

At risk of overstepping the boundaries of this author’s literary Weblog, I suggest that there are many allegorical aspects of the “Inner Dark” to be explored and discovered in Questing for Uberjoy, the grand finale of the Post-Lux Trilogy—from the predatory nature of men and nations, to the evils of human trafficking and child soldiers; from the physical diseases we know as cancer (Weblog, The Scariest Campfire Scene Ever!!!), to the metaphysical demons of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Suffice it for me to reveal, and to complete this composition, with two exemplary quotations from the heartsick hero who comes alive as drama, flesh, and blood:

“He was no longer blind to the desperate needs and pathos of the uncivilized world at large. In his rude awakening, Orion was forced to realize that there were still real monsters and dragons that needed to be hunted down and slain. Moreover, he was forced to realize that these lingering monsters, these internecine demons, were not external to the human condition and could no more be removed with the flight of an arrow or the stroke of a sword than the demons of envy, greed, lust, and predatory behavior could be banished from the human personality; no more than the monstrous ego itself could be removed from the labyrinth of the human psyche.”

“… As he began to question the value of all his previous values, he started to realize that he may be the only human being alive who was so unreasonably equipped and compelled—compelled by an inexplicable burden of passion and desire, fused with his rather extreme determination and capability—to make such a momentous and irrational decision. For Orion, the decision not to try and save his beloved Uberjoy would be a far greater tragedy.”

Indeed, for intellectuals and artists of the postmodern present, the decision not to try … to explore … to expose … and thereby to oppose the destructive tendencies of the “Inner Dark” with an equal and opposite force would be our greatest tragedy.

Cheers and Happy Trails from Konrad Ventana

Note: the hand-drawn images of the Boulder Flatirons, “Desperado” Chapter Frontispieces, were provided by the artful hand of Heather Colleen Gordon