Sunday, July 19, 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Brief History of Science

Explanation is tentative, understanding is elusive.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Trafika Europe 4 – Armenian Rhapsody

The latest issue of literary journal Trafika Europe is available free online. According to editor Andrew Singer, the new issue features "Nara Vardanyan, Anahit Hayrapetyan, Marine Petrossian, Armen of Armenia and Sargis Hovsepyan, plus stunning Italian verse, densely beautiful German prose, superb Romanian poetry, Ukrainian science fiction, and some startling artwork."

Please click HERE.

Monday, June 22, 2015

A HIghbrow Desideratum

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were unable to distinguish our colorful wings from the flowers we sipped from, and like them unfolded our petals forever?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Terrance Lindall: "Adam Inspired by Eve and Rosie Dawn"

A characteristically colorful and charming drawing from Terrance Lindall.

When Adam thus to Eve: Fair Consort, th' hour  
Of night, and all things now retir'd to rest
Mind us of like repose, since God hath set
Labour and rest, as day and night to men
Successive, and the timely dew of sleep
Now falling with soft slumbrous weight inclines   
Our eye-lids; other Creatures all day long
Rove idle unimploid, and less need rest;
Man hath his daily work of body or mind
Appointed, which declares his Dignitie,
And the regard of Heav'n on all his waies;   
While other Animals unactive range,
And of thir doings God takes no account.
To morrow ere fresh Morning streak the East
With first approach of light, we must be ris'n,
And at our pleasant labour, to reform     
Yon flourie Arbors, yonder Allies green,
Our walk at noon, with branches overgrown,
That mock our scant manuring, and require
More hands then ours to lop thir wanton growth:
Those Blossoms also, and those dropping Gumms,    
That lie bestrowne unsightly and unsmooth,
Ask riddance, if we mean to tread with ease;
Mean while, as Nature wills, Night bids us rest.

                 -- Milton, Paradise Lost, IV: 610- 633

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Meet-A-Myth Week at Il Tassita

This week Dario Rivarossa presents lively drawings of mythological figures.  Please click HERE to view the latest images.

Poseidon and Platecarpus: The Clash of the Sea Kings

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Tessa B. Dick Interview Tonight

Tessa B. Dick is featured tonight on The Outer Edge with Mike Mott and Tim Swartz. Midnight Eastern. 9:00 p.m. Pacific. Please click HERE for more information and the live stream.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Infographic: A World of Languages

There are at least 7,102 living languages in the world. Twenty-three of these languages are spoken by at least 50 million people. Altogether, these 23 languages are spoken by 4.1 billion people. Total global population is over 7 billion. One point five billion people are learning English, and English is spoken by people in 110 different countries.

Please click HERE to view a larger version (and links to more infographics).

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Emanations 5 Progress Report

 I've finished placing the fiction, poetry and essays into the draft file for Emanations 5. To facilitate communication with contributors, I will put together the table of contents and post it here, soon.

Image by Tom Beddard

Friday, June 5, 2015

Going to Ost by Robert Meadley

Robert Meadley is a gifted writer of philosophical adventure stories that wonderfully evoke a mysterious and ironic atmosphere. I have been engaged in a lively correspondence with Robert for some time, and his missives, like his stories, are as owl-wise as they are clever. I am happy to announce a selection of his short fiction will appear in the forthcoming Emantions: 2 + 2 = 5, the latest International Authors anthology of fiction, poetry and essays. And there is more:

Michael Butterworth Books is about to publish Robert Meadley's new novel Going to Ost. Here is the material from the back cover:
Life for the wagering protagonist of Meadley’s novel is inherentl hazardous. A certain nonchalance and a hunter’s instinct to wait watchfully guides old soldier and campaigner Bukh Tabrolf Terongh, Warden of Kethoolmar and Master of Ost as he makes his way from the remote outpost of Empire where he has made his fortune to his birthplace in Ost, and a surreal homecoming.
In a journey across a seldom-bright landscape of shadows and rain, vast lakes, crumbling towers, vertiginous mountain passes, towns once fashionable but now blighted by the fickle builders of Empire, the reader encounters a rare mix of characters who give account of themselves.
Their stories are combined with reflections on the narrator’s eventful past. In their telling they are sometimes a joke on both reader and protagonist alike as Meadley weaves us a fine course replete with masterly humour and narrative control through his picaresque. That is the charm of this book.
Going to Ost is an erudite idiosyncratic distillation of author Robert Meadley’s sources and obsessions: Herman Hesse, music hall, histories of myth and war, the Norse Goddess Hel, Chinese landscapes, board games, scholars and clergymen, Odysseus, obscure autobiographical narratives, depictions of nature, hunting game.
 “Meadley has an unusual, erudite and devious intelligence… Going to Os has a narrative which grips you from the moment it starts.”                                                                                                               --Michael Moorcock
A flyer is circulating announcing the launch party, which will take place at & Model, 9 East Parade, Leeds, UK,  6:00-8:00, June 11, 2015.  +44 (0) 7717 836 886,

According to the flyer, Michael Moorcock has written the introduction appearing in Robert Meadley's new book.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Philosophy and Conversation

In large part philosophy is a political discussion among schoolmen, significant only so far as some of these people variously work for government, civil service, industry, or play the role of intellectual celebrity. They also influence young matriculants (improperly called "students"), though most young people aren't listening. Meanwhile, the metaphysical problem is solved, that is "We really haven't got a clue, so we should do well to advance our convictions with a great deal of careful thought." Which itself is a political statement embedded into the core of western civilization, from St. Paul to Wittgenstein, though most are oblivious to this understanding. 

Let's think about this statement. Do I really mean what I'm saying here?

Suffice it to say substituting the word "philosophy" with "schoolmen's conversation" brings some interesting things to the surface.

People who come from the outside--Nabokov, Melville, Hawthorne, Milton, Orwell, C.S. Lewis (yes, he is a schoolman but his field is literature and his thinking is shaped by his theological concerns)--are in a position to see "philosophy" as just that. That is, as "a conversation." How did Wittgenstein come to this understanding? He was of course from "out there" as well. Way out there. His genius was that he insinuated this understanding into the schoolmen's conversation. And of course we have the phenomenon of Plato, as crafty and as elusive as he is brilliant, writing dialogues. And there is further irony in this, too, as Plato represents our quintessential schoolman, always playing his cards close to his chest, and never showing outsiders the secret handshake.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

International Authors Display at the American Literature Association Conference

This past weekend, International Authors books were on display at the American Literature Association Conference in Boston. 

At the conference I read a paper on "The Place of American Literature in Emerging Global Anglophone Culture." My talk featured the responses of many International Authors people, who sent me their reflections on their experience with American literature in their countries.  Dario Rivarossa (Italy) and Michael Butterworth (UK) are no strangers to Highbrow readers.  Here, beginning with Dario, are their statements as I included them in my talk:
As for my readings in American literature, I usually start by being fascinated by an author, then try to read everything he wrote, possibly in English.

The first American writers I happened to meet and love as a teenager were Poe (my father had a couple of anthologies), Melville (Moby-Dick), and H. P. Lovecraft—probably the very first author of whom I bought the Complete Works in English, some years later.

The most interesting feature of great American literature, especially seen from old Italy, is its modernity. US authors dealt with the now-ubiquitous lifestyle with its technology, Stock Exchanges, “melting pots,” etc., when our writers still offered Romanticized and twisted versions of our “glorious” past.

Moby-Dick, first translated by Cesare Pavese in 1932, was a cultural shock and a breath of fresh air in then Fascist Italy: a new kind of Epic, powerful adventure, thrilling characters…
I first heard about the novel when I was a child. My grandmother, speaking of the Gregory Peck movie she had just watched on TV, told me about “the White Whale.” I was so fascinated by that concept that I almost immediately drew it, without any further data; in fact, I drew a standard whale, nor the sperm kind. I also made comic stories with a combative whale as the hero.

In Italian high schools, as far as I know, basically Melville, Poe, and Faulkner are anthologized. Poe is still interpreted according to the very restrictive Mauditistic key provided by Baudelaire, who first “imported” his works to Europe.

As a footnote to Mr. Rivarossa’s identification of modernity as a defining feature of American literature, I shall cite a remark by British author and publisher Michael Butterworth, whose career in writing began in the 1960s with New Worlds magazine. He writes: “Americans just seem more contemporary and immediate in their style, more relevant to the age in which we grew up in terms of their concerns. We grew up looking at the import bookshelves. This applied to both fiction and graphics. In the 50’s and 60’s, America was the future. Of English writers only J.G. Ballard and Michael Moorcock seemed relevant, and they were both inspired by William S. Burroughs.”
Yesterday I posted on Devashish Makhija's chidlren's book, When Ali Became Bajrangbali. Here is his statement from the paper:
In India, you encounter different curriculums in different cities since every state speaks a different language and has a different education board. Since I’m from Calcutta, I’ll speak for that city. Interestingly at a school/college level, we were not exposed to any American literature. All writing in English we read has been Indian or British.

The only thing we’ve been exposed to in those years that was American was a thick diet of American cinema (as was the rest of the world I presume).

But as I grew up I’ve discovered (of my own accord) some writers, from Twain (foremost) to Elmore Leonard (yes, that wide has been my spectrum).

If left to me (being brutally honest) I wouldn’t prescribe any American literature. India is a very very confused country. Within our own geographical boundaries we speak 28 official languages and over 300 unofficial ones—dialects mostly. And almost none of this is represented in our curriculum. We still haven’t been able to shake off the British yoke in our education system. Introducing some American prose in there will make us even more disconnected from our roots. Many local literatures are now being translated into English and I’d vote for those instead. But that’s only my point of view on the matter. 
Altogether, it was a terrific conference. Many thanks to Ms. Martel for helping with the International Authors display.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

When Ali Became Bajrangbali read by author Devashish Makhija

Devashish Makhija reads from his children's book When Ali Became Bajrangbali.


When Ali Became Bajrangbali by Devashish Makhija and illustrated by Priya Kuriyan is available from Tulika Publishers, please click HERE.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Poe's Red Death... Superhero?

Dario Rivarossa has sent me his drawing of Poe's Red Death rendered as, ahem, a superhero!

A concept worth considering.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Comet Lovejoy and the Pleiades

But who shall dwell in these worlds if they be inhabited? . . .
Are we or they Lords of the World? . . .
And how are all things made for man?--

                     -- Kepler (quoted in The Anatomy of Melancholy)