Friday, July 21, 2017

Kabul















Female students at the Polytechnical University in Kabul, Afghanistan, mid-1970s.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Edward Drinker Cope



















On December 29, 1906, a meeting was held in the American Museum of Natural History to present an installation of ten marble busts commemorating “Pioneers of American Science”. The personal character, the contributions and the significance of each scientist was the subject of an address given by a presenter, of which there were ten.  Here is the text of the address commemorating Edward Drinker Cope delivered by Dr. Henry Fairfield Osborn, Curator, Department of Vertebrate Palæontology:
In the marble portrait of Edward Drinker Cope, you see the man of large brain, of keen eye and of strong resolve, the ideal combination for a life of science, the man who scorns obstacles, who while battling with the present looks above and beyond. The portrait stands in its niche as a tribute to a great leader and founder of American Palæontology, as an inspiration to young Americans. In unison with the other portraits its forcible words are: “Go thou and do likewise.
Cope, a Philadelphian, born July 28, 1840, passed away at the early age of fifty-seven. Favored by heredity, through distinguished ancestry of Pennsylvania Quakers, who bequeathed intellectual keenness and a constructive spirit. As a boy of eight entering a life of travel and observation, and with rare precocity giving promise of the finest qualities of his manhood. Of incessant activity of mind and body, tireless as an explorer, early discovering for himself that the greatest pleasure and stimulus of life is to penetrate the unknown in Nature. In personal character fearless, independent, venturesome, militant, far less of a Quaker in disposition than his Teutonic fellow citizen Leidy. Of enormous productiveness, as an editor conducting the American Naturalist for nineteen years, as a writer leaving a shelf-full of twenty octavo and three great quarto volumes of original research.  A man of fortitude, bearing material reverses with good cheer, because he lived in the world of ideas and to the very last moment of his life drew constant refreshment from the mysterious regions of the unexplored.
In every one of the five great lines of research into which he ventured, he reached the mountain peaks where exploration and discovery guided by imagination and happy inspiration gave his work a leadership. His studies among fishes alone would give him a chief rank among zoölogists, on amphibians and reptiles there never has been a naturalist who has published so many papers, while from 1868 until 1897, the year of his death, he was a tireless student and explorer of the mammals. Among animals of all these classes his generalizations marked new epochs. While far from infallible, his ideas acted as fertilizers on the minds of other men. As a palæontologist, enjoying with Leidy and Marsh the Arcadian period when all the wonders of our great West were new, from his elevation of knowledge which enabled him to survey the whole field with keen eye he swooped down like an eagle upon the most important point.
In breadth, depth and range we see in Cope the very antithesis of the modern specialist, the last exponent of the race of the Buffon, Cuvier, Owen and Huxley type. Of ability, memory and courage sufficient to grasp the whole field of natural history, as comparative anatomist he ranks with Cuvier and Owen; as palæontologist with Owen, Marsh and Leidy—the other two founders of American palæontology; as natural philosopher less logical but more constructive than Huxley. America will produce men of as great, perhaps greater genius, but Cope represents a type which is now extinct and never will be seen again.
















Source:  The American Museum Journal, Vol. VII, No. 2, February, 1907, p. 25-26.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Medium is the Message















Today many people are active on the internet and communicating globally. If our technology was still limited to shortwave communications, I doubt so many would feel the need to broadcast themselves around the world.  Perhaps the key factor here is the preference for written over verbal communications?  Compare the preference people have to "text" rather than speak over their telephones.

For a quick glance at the contemporary world of shortwave radio communications, please click HERE.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Q.E.D.






















The Amazon description is similarly convincing.  Please click HERE.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Pendant






















Venus and Cupid astride a fanciful fish.  Gold, enamel, rubies and pearls.  Italian or German, ca. 1580?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Meanwhile, 249 miles above the Earth's surface...

International Space Station











The International Space Station is the third brightest object in the sky. Click HERE to track the station as it passes overhead.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Monday, July 10, 2017

Professor Hodges on the July 2 Talk

My International Authors colleague Horace Jeffery Hodges has blogged on the paper I read Sunday, July 2 at the WAH Center.  The title of his brief essay is "Carter Kaplan on Truth and Free Speech."

In the introduction to my paper, I equivocate (in a good way) about the presence of politics (and, significantly, the absence of politics) in the editorial process. Of course, that "absence" of politics itself has antecedents worth looking at, hence the attention I give, again at the beginning of the paper, to Milton's Areopagitica. To view Professor Hodges' reflections, please click HERE.


















To learn about Professor Hodges' new collection of poetry, Radiant Snow, please click HERE.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Illustrating the Visions: Alloys of Art, Poetry, Politics, and Philosophy

Terrance Lindall has published an on-line ebook with with the full text of my paper and photographs from the July 2 talk. To view the free book, please click HERE.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Aesthetics over science, or a deliberately inaccurate image of the Earth?

I don't have to explain to the Highbrow Commonwealth the thoughtfulness Stanley Kubrick put into his films, where each image, each movement, each word of dialogue, each character's expression, each subtle turn of plot... is is some way nuanced to exact an aesthetic response, or is designed to produce meaning, or is suggestive of complex themes--some of which take decades to surface in one critical discussion or another.

Today I would like share an image from 2001: A Space Odyssey.  What has captured my attention is the vague appearance of the surface of the Earth. The film was released in 1968, and for years astronauts in orbit had been taking photographs of our planet.  Now, look at a sample of those photographs, and then compare them to the image of the Earth's surface from the film.  Why in this particular detail--and Kubrick was nothing if not a stickler for details--I say, why doesn't the Earth in the film resemble the photographs that had been taken of the Earth's surface by Mercury or Gemini astronauts?

Earth as photographed from Gemini 11






















Southern tip of the Indian subcontinent from an altitude of 760 kilometers (Gemini 11).




















Now look at this still from 2001.  It's beautiful, but it's also--what? Let's say, "scientifically vague". Was this the director's deliberate intention? I want to emphasize that Kubrick was meticulous in such matters--the technological artifacts and astronomical subjects exhibited in the film were each carefully-guided representational exercises based upon the latest scientific information. Naturally, apropos to the image of the Earth, Kubrick had the resources to create a more authentic image in these orbital scenes.  But instead we get this exuberant aquamarine fantasy, moreover juxtaposed alongside a spectacularly detailed technological marvel.



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

July 4, 1776














IN Congress, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Please click HERE to read the rest of the document.

Please click HERE to read about the origins of these ideas..

Saturday, July 1, 2017

河鍋 暁斎




Kawanabe Kyōsai (1831–1889), Skeleton Shamisen Player in Top Hat With Dancing Monster, 1881-1889

Thursday, June 29, 2017

"...in a free and open encounter..."

And though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?

                              --John Milton, Areopagitica, 1644 
David Martin, "Paul at Areopagus",  1639-1721

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Statement: Christopher Arabadjis

Two pieces from artist Christoper Arabadjis appear in Emanations: 2 + 2 = 5; and then a great many more appear in Emanations: I Am Not a Number, which presents a number of his designs with an "hexagonal" theme (incidentally reflecting the number of the volume). His work combines science and fine art intelligently and suggestively, and so fits very well with our purposes. Here is a statement of his aesthetic idea:
I draw nearly every day using ballpoint pen. I have done so for over six years. I start every drawing the same way with a mark (or shape) and a rule for how to repeat it. A rule usually consists of specifying how different the second mark can be from the first. For example, Untitled (2016-12-001) [below] started with a red square somewhere in the middle of the paper. The rule for repetition was that the next mark had to be red, four sided, and touch the corners of the first, but its internal angles could change turning it into, say, a parallelogram. The pattern resulted in a wavy checkerboard.

As I make marks I try to rigorously adhere to the rules. Once this process is set in motion, I let go and see where it takes me. Of course each mark is a small yet conscious decision, but I work quickly enough that it does not feel that way. In fact I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I am like two people when I draw. The other is an observer who watches a creator who looks like he knows what he is doing and where he is going.

If a drawing seems to stall under the weight of too much homogeneity I will re-calibrate the rule, loosening it to allow for greater diversity. If there is not enough tension, a second system will be introduced consisting of a new mark and rule combination. In the aforementioned drawing I introduced a second mark that was a blue four sided shape that had to fully touch all of the red marks around it, e.g. it filled in the white areas of the red checkerboard wherever it extended to. However, when they reached the edge where the red marks ended, they could extend beyond the boundary in the same way the red marks had colonized a region. 

Sometimes the second system is one of opposition and sometimes one of compatibility, but the goal is for the systems to complement each other for the greater good of the whole. There is no limit to the number of systems that I would introduce, but the more systems, the more difficult it is to resolve a piece. 

I currently use red and blue ink to explore the way color interacts, but only two colors in order to limit the outcomes and isolate the connection between cause and effect. I work like a scientist because I was trained to think logically from a young age, and because I studied physics for fifteen years. I think of these works as mini physics calculations or simulations. Like building my own universe from scratch, or as we say in physics from first principles. The development of each drawing mimics the process of growth with a built-in mechanism for mutation – the inability of my hand or my mind not to make a mistake. In fact I’ve come to see mistakes as acts of creation.






















Christopher Arabadjis's work will be on view during my talk this Sunday at the WAH Center. To learn more about the event, please click HERE.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Through Optic Glass

…his ponderous shield
Ethereal temper, massy, large and round,
Behind him cast; the broad circumference
Hung on his shoulders like the Moon, whose Orb
Through Optic Glass the Tuscan Artist views
At Ev'ning from the top of Fesole,

Or in Valdarno, to descry new Lands, 
Rivers or Mountains in her spotty Globe.

-- Milton, Paradise Lost, Book I
Milton visiting Galileo, colored engraving after a painting by Annibale Gatti

















Galileo's drawings of the moon, 1610

Sunday, June 25, 2017

"...nevertheless I took it as a pledge of future happiness..."

Milton visiting Galileo when a prisoner of the Inquisition. Alexander Hart, 1847.



















“There it was that I found and visited the famous Galileo, grown old, a prisoner to the Inquisition, for thinking in astronomy otherwise than the Franciscan and Dominican licensers thought. And though I knew that England then was groaning loudest under the prelatical yoke, nevertheless I took it as a pledge of future happiness, that other nations were so persuaded of her liberty. Yet was it beyond my hope that those worthies were then breathing in her air, who should be her leaders to such a deliverance, as shall never be forgotten by any revolution of time that this world hath to finish.”

― John Milton, Areopagitica A speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing to the Parliament of England, 1644

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

WAH Center, July 2

Terrance Lindall has sent out an announcement for a talk I am giving Sunday July 2 at the WAH Center:




"Illustrating the Visions: Alloys of Art, Poetry, Politics and Philosophy"

Talk by Publisher and Professor Carter Kaplan of International Authors
...in our private library: below the Memorial Shelf for Dr. Robert J. Wickenheiser

 

Sunday July 2, 2017
Luncheon 12:30 – 1:30 PM   $25

Talk 2:00 -3:00  FREE ADMISSION

Display of AI Books and original illustrations by renowned artists
International Authors link: www.internationalauthors.info

"International Authors: A consortium of writers, artists, architects, filmmakers and critics, International Authors publishes work of outstanding literary merit. Dedicated to the advancement of an international culture in literature, primarily in English, the group seeks new members with an enthusiasm for creating unique artistic expressions."

"Emanations is an anthology series featuring fiction, poetry, essays, manifestos and reviews. The emphasis is on alternative narrative structures, new epistemologies, peculiar settings, esoteric themes, sharp breaks from reality, ecstatic revelations, and vivid and abundant hallucinations. The editors are interested in recognizable genres—science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, local color, romance, realism, surrealism, postmodernism—but the idea is to make something new, and along these lines the illusion of something new can be just as intriguing. If a story or poem makes someone say, “Yes, but what is it?” then it’s right for Emanations. Essays should be exuberant, daring, and free of pedantry. Length is a consideration in making publication decisions, but in keeping with the spirit of the project, length is “open.”  Emanations is a continually shifting and evolving project, and contributors should see themselves as actively shaping our editorial vision and compass."

The Williamsburg Circle of International Arts and Letters is a program of the Williamsburg Art & Historical Center (WAH Center). The Circle serves as a hub for discussion of new ideas about diverse subject matters. It is especially keen to point up intersections in areas of study that on first glance appear to be contradictory, especially in the areas of art and literature. Observations on the human experience in a receptive individual can sometimes evoke intuitive leaps of creativity, bringing forth new ideas in science, philosophy, literature and the arts. We hope to encourage this.

We believe that a strong education in the classical humanities is a fundamental prerequisite for good citizenship in every country in the world today. What is Classical Humanities? It is nothing less than the spiritual, ethical and intellectual foundation for Western culture. Classics are a vibrant, interdisciplinary field that lies at the heart of the liberal arts. It is the lack of a common heritage and common values that gives rise to basic conflicts among peoples. A broad education in the classical humanities can bring about a common understanding and a common set of values.

Our outstanding members serve as inspiration to young scholars whose concepts are forming and who are or will be developing projects important to our 21st century civilization. 
To learn about the Williamsburg Circle of International Arts and Letters, please click HERE. To  learn about the WAH Center and the Yuko Nii Foundation, please click HERE.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Conversations with Philip K. Dick... in Emanations: I Am Not a Number

Tessa B. Dick,the widow of Philip K. Dick, is working on a new book about PKD's ideas and art. Here is the cover for the project, which will be published in the near future.


















We are very fortunate to have two sections from Ms. Dick's manuscript in Emanations: I An Not a Number.

The first section describes some of PKD's cosmological speculations. I think the description is worthwhile because the speculations are not only interesting in themselves, but also because Ms. Dick provides insight into how PKD developed his concepts and theories. In the second section, Ms. Dick describes PKD's plans for sequels to two of his novels, The Man in the High Castle and The Penultimate Truth.

Please click the cover image to learn more about Emanations: I Am Not a Number:



As a footnote, I want to point out that The Penultimate Truth contains what we might describe as "experimental" or "avant-garde" writing. Far from being a strict modernist limited to conventional linear narrative, Philip K. Dick was indeed capable of extraordinarily sophisticated and elegant grammatical architectures that create layers of complex multi-valiant meanings, astonishing impressions, and finely-nuanced emotions. In The Penultimate Truth, this literary shifting begins at chapter five.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch image featuring Salvadore Dali as the antagonist

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is one of Philip K. Dick's best novels.  In future Highbrow posts, I might set forth my reasons for saying so.  In the meantime, here is a curious Dali-inspired Palmer Eldritch digital panting by an artist called... "SharksDen".


Source

Monday, June 12, 2017

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Passing Reference



Please click the cover image to learn more about Emanations: I Am Not a Number.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Radiant Snow in the Korean News

Horace Jeffery Hodges and his new book Radiant Snow (International Authors, 2017) have captured some attention in the Ewha Voice. Please click the image to read the article.


Emanations: I Am Not a Number is now available

Please click the cover image to view the Amazon sales page.




Monday, June 5, 2017

Outline of Thought

The Wikipedia article entitled "Outline of Thought" presents much more than is suggested by the title.  I'll leave it to card-carrying Highbrows to negotiate this one for themselves, with my suggestion that this is an archive of words and concepts useful to advancing the mission of literary creativity.  Please click HERE.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Chicken-and-Egg Problem

More from Annie Jacobson’s The Pentagon’s Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America’s Top Secret Research Agency:
As ARPA director, [Eberhardt] Rechtin believed he knew why the agency had run into so many difficulties during the Vietnam War. He called it the “chicken-and-egg problem” in congressional testimony related to the Mansfield Amendment [which barred the Defense Department from conducting “any research project or study unless the project or study had a direct relationship to [a] specific military function]. When asked by a committee member if it was appropriate to describe the Advanced Research Projects Agency as a “premilitary research organization within the Defense Department,” Rechtin said that if the word “military” were replaced by the word “requirement,” then that assessment would be correct. Unlike the regular military services, Rechtin said, ARPA was a “pre-requirement” organization and that it conducted research in advance of specific needs. “By this I mean that the military services, in order to do their work, must have a very formal requirement based on specific needs.” Rechtin said, “and usually upon technologies that are understood.” ARPA existed to make sure the military establishment was not ever again caught off guard by a Sputnik-like technological surprise. The enemy was always eyeing the future, he said, pursuing advanced technology in order to take more ground. And ARPA was set up to provide the Defense Department with its pre-requirement needs.

“There is a kind of chicken-and-egg problem in other words, in requirements and technology,” Rechtin explained. “The difficulty is that it is hard to write formal requirements if you do not have technology with which to solve them, but you cannot do the technology unless you have the requirements.” The agency’s dilemma, said Rechtin, was this: if you can’t do research before a need arises, by the time the need is there, it’s clear that the research should have already been done.

                       (pp. 335-336)

Eberhardt Rechtin

Friday, June 2, 2017

V838 Monocerotis


The unusual variable star V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon) continues to puzzle astronomers. This previously inconspicuous star underwent an outburst early in 2002, during which it temporarily increased in brightness to become 600,000 times more luminous than our Sun. Light from this sudden eruption is illuminating the interstellar dust surrounding the star, producing the most spectacular "light echo" in the history of astronomy.

As light from the eruption propagates outward into the dust, it is scattered by the dust and travels to the Earth. The scattered light has travelled an extra distance in comparison to light that reaches Earth directly from the stellar outburst. Such a light echo is the optical analogue of the sound echo produced when an Alpine yodel is reflected from the surrounding mountainsides.
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has been observing the V838 Mon light echo since 2002. Each new observation of the light echo reveals a new and unique "thin-section" through the interstellar dust around the star. This video morphs images of the light echo from the Hubble taken at multiple times between 2002 and 2006. The numerous whorls and eddies in the interstellar dust are particularly noticeable. Possibly they have been produced by the effects of magnetic fields in the space between the stars.

                                          source : Hubble

Monday, May 29, 2017

Castle Bravo

From Annie Jacobson’s The Pentagon’s Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America’s Top Secret Research Agency; here is a description of the scientists aboard USNS Ainsworth observing the detonation of the first thermonuclear device (H-bomb) “Castle Bravo” at Bikini Atoll:
   The prerecorded voice of Barney O’Keefe came over the loudspeaker, counting down the last seconds. Everyone fell silent. “Five. Four. Three. Two. One.” Zero Hour. A flash of thermonuclear light, called the Teller light, sprang to life as a flood of gamma radiation filled the air. The presence of x-rays made the unseen visible. In the flash of Teller light, Freedman—who was watching the scientists for their reactions—could see their facial bones.
    “In front of me…they were skeletons,” Freedman recalls. Their faces no longer appeared to be human faces. Just “jawbones, and eye sockets. Rows of teeth. Skulls.”
                                                             p.19-20



Saturday, May 6, 2017

Coming Soon

Emanations 6 will be out by the end of the month.  Stay tuned.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Trafika Europe 11 – Swiss Delights


















Trafika Europe 11 – Swiss Delights is now available to view on-line Latest in Swiss literature…including audio conversations with Michael Fehr and Leta Semadeni, an animated literary video with Ilma Rakusa, a translator's essay by Roger Russi on the importance of Mariella Mehr's work.

Edited by Andrew Singer and Tess Lewis.

Please click here to view the new issue.  Click here to view the Trafika Europe website.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Radiant Snow is now available

Horace Jeffery Hodges' collection of poems, Radiant Snow is now available.


















Please click HERE to view the Amazon sales page.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Horace Walpole's copy of the death warrant of King Charles I

This is likely the Walpole copy from Strawberry Hill, now in the Milton collection of the Yuko Nii Foundation:


























In his home Horace Walpole hung a copy of the warrant for the execution of Charles I with the inscription "Major Charta" and wrote of "the least bad of all murders, that of a King". In 1756, he wrote:
 I am sensible that from the prostitution of patriotism, from the art of ministers who have had the address to exalt the semblance while they depressed the reality of royalty, and from the bent of the education of the young nobility, which verges to French maxims and to a military spirit, nay, from the ascendant which the nobility itself acquires each day in this country, from all these reflections, I am sensible, that prerogative and power have been exceedingly fortified of late within the circle of the palace; and though fluctuating ministers by turns exercise the deposit, yet there it is; and whenever a prince of design and spirit shall sit in the regal chair, he will find a bank, a hoard of power, which he may lay off most fatally against this constitution. [I am] a quiet republican, who does not dislike to see the shadow of monarchy, like Banquo's ghost, fill the empty chair of state, that the ambitious, the murderer, the tyrant, may not aspire to it; in short, who approves the name of a King, when it excludes the essence.
Ketton-Cremer, R.W. (1964). Horace Walpole: A Biography. London: Methuen. p. 127.
The warrant itself reads as follows:
At the high Court of Justice for the tryinge and iudginge of Charles Steuart Kinge of England January xxixth Anno Dñi 1648.
Whereas Charles Steuart Kinge of England is and standeth convicted attaynted and condemned of High Treason and other high Crymes, And sentence uppon Saturday last was pronounced against him by this Court to be putt to death by the severinge of his head from his body Of wch sentence execucon yet remayneth to be done, These are therefore to will and require you to see the said sentence executed In the open Streete before Whitehall uppon the morrowe being the Thirtieth day of this instante moneth of January betweene the houres of Tenn in the morninge and Five in the afternoone of the same day wth full effect And for soe doing this shall be yor sufficient warrant And these are to require All Officers and Souldiers and other the good people of this Nation of England to be assistinge unto you in this Service
Given under our hands and Seales
To Colonell Ffrancis Hacker, Colonell Huncks and Lieutenant Colonell Phayre and to every of them
John Milton's name does not appear on the Warrant.  Cromwell's signature - "O. Cromwell" - is found on the left, in the first column, third line down.

Source: Wikipedia. Images: the Yuko Nii Foundation.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

L. Sterns Newburg on the International Authors translation of Torquato Tasso's Il mondo creato (Creation of the World)

L. Sterns Newburg has this to say about the new Tasso book:
An impressive piece of scholarship, and a valuable practical document for those interested in the great Italian poet, Torquato Tasso. This is a translation of Tasso's Il Creato Mundo, and the translators have been faithful - I want to say "lovingly faithful" - to the spirit and the words of the original. Tasso's original is in some ways an eccentric performance, so this translation presented numerous technical challenges, most of which have been surmounted.

The most difficult part of Tasso to recreate in English is the music of the original Italian. Any translation from a Romance language to English that somehow recreates such music engaged in a species of legerdemain, and inevitably, it results in subtle departures from sense of the original. The translators did not attempt to recreate Tasso's music.

Tasso cannot, perhaps, really speak to us in English, but the able translators have given us something far superior to a mere crib. Bravissimo!
To view the Creation of the World Amazon sales page, please click HERE.


Monday, April 10, 2017

C. E. Matthews on Tally-Ho, Cornelius!

Tally-Ho, Cornelius!   Hang on to your hats for this one. The first thing you notice about this novel is the structure, which shifts between the rollicking adventures of Cappy Cahtah Kohneum and his band of chaos engineers and the rather more stately existence of the Reverend Dr Jerry Cornelius (the post modern divine to you and me). In the case of the first, the chapters are short, with an eccentric cast of characters faced with a blistering set of inventions, challenges and situations; all shot through with a sense of irreverent humour and fun. You genuinely never know what's coming next, and reality itself joins the cast. As for the second, we follow the New York life of a celebrated author and clergyman at a transitional point in his life. At the outset at least, this tale is more grounded and delivered in more familiar way but still underpinned by humour. However, this is merely softening us up, as the chaos from one part of the story begins to "leak" into the other and - without spoiling anything - the post modern divine's life becomes very strange indeed. The writing does an impressive job of holding all this together and there are some great individual lines as well. "Can something which does not exist be experienced?" "If survival depends on it, I should say,'yes'". However the structure and the story are also a framework for ideas, there's an incisive critique of Shakespeare, rumination on anthropology, discussion of the French Revolution and many other things all weaved into the main narrative and used to spur the story on. It is fantastically dense with references and allusions, for example there is a Lt Baudrillard who is at one point described as a "loveable crank". The novel delights in subverting and confounding, but somehow makes it a joy to read.
To read more about Tally-Ho, Cornelius!, please click HERE.   

Sunday, April 9, 2017

C. E. Matthews on Elkie Riches' Reclamation

Reclamation: This is a book written with great care and attention to language, by turns precise and then evocative. It deals with the last gasps of a militarised humanity losing its final foothold on Earth following nature's revolution against us. It builds both tension and mystery as it describes the desperation lurking beneath the military facade. It also builds complexity, as its moral contours grow murkier and the plot develops. There are plenty of surprises in the way the story is revealed, but they are all congruent with the larger narrative and never feel out of place. There are many subversive ideas here, from the attempt to weaponise spirituality to the failure of science in the face of wrath of nature. "As he stands alone beneath that shifting ceiling, small in the immensity of the forest, he feels like a hero, the very embodiment go human endeavour against mindless nature. His boots stamp possessively at the earth as he raises his flamethrower to the sky. Beneath his breath he repeats a phrase that has given a justification to his innate aggression, because if truth be known, as it must be eventually, he has relished all that has happened to mankind." The ideas here are sometimes challenging, and in places the outlook is very bleak, but there is hope here too.
To read more about Reclamation, please click HERE.

Friday, April 7, 2017

C. E. Matthews on Vitasta Raina's Writer's Block

This is a relatively short piece of work and deceptively easy to read, but there is a lot going on here. It brings the reader from intimate conversations to mass civilian casualties, with a wry but not over bearing commentary on it all. "The rest, as they say, is history mixed with smoke and sobs." Reading it, I was left with the impression of being a telepathic riding around in a taxi and picking flashes of the life of a city on the edge. For all that it is short, it is dense with details which you glimpse as you pass, and it is packed with witty observations: "See, most human beings, in my opinion, are playing the lead role in a movie called Their Life." It even manages to squeeze in a modernist version of Rapunzel. The writing moves seamlessly between the real and the lyrical, in a way which convincingly evokes the strange beauty of cities. "It is peculiar, very peculiar, but show me one city, any city that is not made up of various assorted peculiars."
To read more about Writer's Block, please click HERE.