Excerpt #2 from VANITY

From the chapter:

History is a Nightmare from which I’m Trying to Awaken

 “It is the disconnect between dreams and reality that causes the wishes of the past to swell up like waves on the bay and threaten to capsize the vessel of hope…” – Cassidy Whitson, Alligator Blogger

And if that isn’t a description for VANITY, I don’t know what it is. What VANITY does, and its attendant preoccupations is it progressively makes for us a gallows out of the very stuff of life, and before we know it we are caught in a sort of liminality.  If purgatory is that limbo that exists between heaven and hell, then liminality is a kind of purgatory for the living.  It’s not a place you want to find yourself, because you are trapped, paralysed and unable to live or die. 

Personal and social crisis and collapse can bring this on, but in either case, weakened foundations don’t collapse overnight.  They are eaten away by poisonous dreams:

Via Wikipedia:

Without stable institutions (which are effectively broken down in a liminal period), “people will look at concrete individuals for guidance”. This notion of imitation is closely tied to that of the trickster figure. The trickster is a universal figure that can be found in folktales and myths of nearly all cultures. These tricksters can be characterized as follows:

[they] are always marginal characters: outsiders, as they cannot trust or be trusted, cannot give or share, they are incapable of living in a community; they are repulsive, as – being insatiable – they are characterized by excessive eating, drinking, and sexual behavior, having no sense of shame; they are not taken seriously, given their affinity with jokes, storytelling, and fantasizing.

In the context of liminality, the trickster is a very dangerous figure: “in a liminal situation where certainties are lost, imitative behavior escalates, and tricksters can be mistaken for charismatic leaders”.


Do you see Jodi in that?  Do you see the relationship between the collapse of ‘stable institutions’ (these could include parents, authority figures or just good old ordinary leadership) and rise of tricksters.  Tricksters are by their very nature opportunists, who prey on vanities of the disenfranchised, and they do so using empty populism.  If this doesn’t sound particularly bad, well, the greatest arch villains of all time – factual and fictional – fall into this category.  They rise when the world falls.  They enter the world through its darkest cracks.  They are the Joker, Loki and Hitler.  And Jodi Arias.   If we are not careful, tricksters emerge through the fabric of our own lives, and may ruin vast fractions of our fortunes and eat away at our Life Force.

VANITY is available on Amazon

Vanity by Nick van der Leek-p19m7kbveb1p87h9ftdf127017rj

4 Replies to “Excerpt #2 from VANITY”

  1. Very very well communicated and understood. I have chosen to read Vanity after all. I previously said I wouldn’t because of reasons I stated in my bad girl/bad boy post. I was able to read it through my Kindle Unlimited program. I changed my mind because and only because I wanted to learn more about the struggles Travis was enduring. I still stand by my assertion that relationships are much more than chats, texts and emails. We have no idea of face to face or phone conversations but we can’t Travis is gone.

    So far, it’s a hard read. I’ve already identified why it was that I believe Travis had additional intimate encounters with other women. I really don’t want to outline that here but I completely understand why after his toxic, intense and unhealthy sexual encounters he didn’t have prior to Jodi (except his loving relationship with Deanna) occurred. I see what was going on with him because I went the same way during a dark period of my life. I’ll comment more when I’m done

    1. Thanks, Geri. I look forward to your thoughts! I agree, somebody’s full story can’t be told on text. We tried to be diligent about weighing those communications against other information to see if it told a cohesive story. In many ways, we felt it did, not just for Travis but for all of us. We may seem harsh in our opinions but those opinions are the unfiltered thoughts that Nick and I had when we discussed the material.

      The whole purpose of asking questions throughout the narrative is to encourage you – the reader – to do exactly what you’re doing. Read it, consider it, and see if you can come up with your own conclusions about Travis, or Jodi, or yourself. At the end of the day, Nick and I don’t want to spoon feed what we think the answers are – we’re just trying to inspire people to interrogate and think for themselves. So I’m glad you are 🙂

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed Vanity. I have always felt Travis was not someone who would appeal to me. I usually don’t like salespeople or those seemingly obsessed with money and the trappings of wealth so he would not have interested me in the least. Your book highlighted many of the things that made him a sad figure. And I liked the reflection of us and our interest in this crime and subsequent trial. I learnt a lot about myself and the 2 in this tale of woe. i will be reading the other books when I purchase them soon. And I look forward to your new ones as they appear. Your books are perhaps the best on this subject and I have read many.
    P.S. I’m a Wilson too. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Cheryl. I appreciate you reading and taking the time to share your thoughts. And I’m especially moved that the content had a personal impact on you. These narratives always resonate deeply with Nick and I as well, and sometimes they even take us by surprise. We’ve got more to come on this case, as well as several other cases we’ll be writing about, so stay tuned! And please do continue to stop by and comment. Enjoy your weekend 🙂

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