Friday, September 21, 2018

"Wot, she turned me into a newt!"

What makes you think she is a witch?

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Gnostic Heresies

Here are a few lines from Eric Voegelin's The New Science of  Politics: an Introduction.  I've just begun to read Voegelin, but his thesis seems to be that in post-Christian Europe political theorists brought to bear a metaphysical interpretation regarding history and political systems, and that, collectively characterized, these theories reflect the Gnostic heresy regarding the nature of the universe and human history, and the role and character of God in that universe and in that history. Political scientists (philosophers and politicians) in Europe removed the anthropomorphic deity from the Gnostic formulation while retaining the heretical identification of metaphysical forces within the universe, within individuals, and as expressed through history and political and social activity.  Orthodox Christianity secularized the universe, while Gnosticism brought God back into it.  With that, I'll let Voeglin speak for himself:
The attempt at immanentizing the meaning of existence is fundamentally an attempt at bringing our knowledge of transcendence into a firmer grip than the cognitio fidei, the cognition of faith, will afford; and Gnostic experiences offer this firmer grip in so far as they are an expansion of the soul to the point where God is drawn into the existence of man. This expansion will engage the various human faculties; and, hence, it is possible to distinguish a range of Gnostic varieties according to the faculty which predominates in the operation of getting this grip on God.  Gnosis may be primarily intellectual and assume the form of speculative penetration of the mystery of creation and existence, as, for instance, in the contemplative gnosis of Hegel or Schelling.  Or it may be primarily emotional and assume the form of an indwelling of divine substance in the human soul, as, for instance, in paracletic sectarian leaders. Or it may be primarily volitional and assume the form of activist redemption of man and society, as in the instance of revolutionary activists like Comte, Marx, or Hitler.  These gnostic experiences, in the amplitude of their variety, are the core of the redivinization of society, for men who fall into these experiences divinize themselves by substituting more massive modes of participation in divinity for faith in the Christian sense.
As I suggested above, orthodox Christianity secularized the universe, while Gnosticism brought God back into it.  Philip K. Dick--who is often wrongly described as a "Gnostic"--was very keen on rejecting the mystical project of Gnosticism, and sought through his novels to illustrate the shortcomings of such fantasias and the people who live in, or who otherwise believe in, such artificial worlds, or who see themselves playing roles in the histories of such worlds--see, for example, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer.

Eric Voegelin

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Φιλεῖ δὲ τίκτειν Ὕβρις μὲν παλαιὰ νεά- ζουσαν ἐν κακοῖς βροτῶν Ὕβριν τότ' ἢ τόθ', ὅτε τὸ κύριον μόλῃ.

But ancient Arrogance, or soon or late,
When strikes the hour ordained by Fate,
Breedeth new Arrogance, which still
Revels, wild wantoner in human ill.

         --Aeschylus, Agamemnon


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Vitasta Raina on the Road

The image of Vitasta Raina in scooter helmet and googles suggests a character out of her novella Writer's Block.

Please click HERE to read reviews of her novella.
Please click HERE to visit Ms. Raina's blog, Urban Exploratory.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Blade Runner Creator Philip K. Dick

Tessa B. Dick, the widow of American novelist Philip K. Dick, recently published a new book, Blade Runner Creator Philip K. Dick.  The book examines the two Blade Runner films, and discusses the novel which inspired them, And Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Additionally, Ms. Dick describes a variety of topics relating to PKD's life and art.   It looks like an instructive--and entertaining--book.

Please click HERE to view the Amazon sales page. 

We are very fortunate to have a section from Ms. Dick's new book in Emanations 7, which will be available soon.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Digital Milton

Terrance Lindall has sent me the following concerning a new book, Digital Milton:
I am pleased to be in the book Digital Milton, which, according to Palgrave..."is the first volume to investigate John Milton in terms of our digital present. It explores the digital environments Milton now inhabits as well as the diverse digital methods that inform how we read, teach, edit, and analyze his works. Some chapters use innovative techniques, such as processing metadata from vast archives of early modern prose, coding Milton’s geographical references on maps, and visualizing debt networks from literature and from life. Other chapters discuss the technologies and platforms shaping how literature reaches us today, from audiobooks to eReaders, from the OED Online to Wikipedia, and from Twitter to YouTube. Digital Milton is the first say on a topic that will become ever more important to scholars, students, and teachers of early modern literature in the years to come."
[Please click HERE to view the book's contents]
I have been digitalizing Milton through the internet for years with videos and on-line magazines, so I am pleased with the recognition that the outstanding Shakespeare and Milton scholar Professor Hugh Macrae Richmond has afforded me in documenting my achievements in past years to promote the Greatest poem in the English language.

In my essay from 2001 "The Epistemological Movement if late 20th Century Art" [please click HERE] I have talked about the digital and although I do not mention Milton, my thoughts actually relate to Milton himself as a poet: 

"It [poetry] is the practicing of the redirection of the energies that form perceptions. But it is not a creative process. It has been determined from the first instant of time in the unfolding of the Historical Will of the mind of God of which we are merely an extension or "aspect." It is an infinite  expansion of potentiality and actuality [Aristotle's Metaphysics]. GOD (WILL), a point of nothingness from which all comes, hovers over the realms of possibility, and on the tabula rasa of our universe imposes order on the ideas (perceptions) generated by the action of possibility becoming actuality. Ultimately we cannot break out of the dualistic world by which we define all things. Quine, up at Harvard, attempted to invent a new logic circumventing the paradoxes inherent in non-contradiction. Mixed results. And since computer thinking is based upon the binary, the computer probably cannot transcend it’s own makeup. In that sense, the whole is no more than the sum of it’s parts. And fractal geometry suggests the same." I now think that with quantum computing this transcendence might be possible.

Undoubtedly it is heresy to say that Milton's poetry is not a creative act. But Milton himself might not deem me incorrect. After all, did he not have a guide in his "HEAVENLY MUSE?" And, did not Dante have a guide in Virgil? Even Plato in his theory of forms said everything in our world is a reflection of perfect ideas. Undoubtedly I am, as quoted in the Digital Milton book, "...radical and nonconformist." I am not writing and painting to be accepted in our time, but to examine issues in my own way...inspired by my own muse! Unfortunately, progressive thinkers who esteem "tolerance and inclusiveness" on Milton Lists could not tolerate my ideas
                                                                  - Terrance Lindall

This sounds interesting.

Milton receiving the gift of poetry from God, Terrance Lindall

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Profile Updated

My short bio--to the right of the screen--has been updated.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Dürer's Polyhedron

Dürer's famous engraving Melancholia I has long prompted interesting commentary, as well as outlandish "occult" interpretations.  Here is the engraving.  By clicking, a large image will appear:

A brief article on a Web site called The Strange World of Albrecht Dürer provides a key to some of the symbols in the image:


Hammer: Carpenter
Compass: Mathematician
Putto with notebook: Grammarian
Keys: Power
Purse: Wealth
Bell: Eternity
Bat: Darkness. Boiled bats were recommended by the ancients as a remedy for melancholy
Wreath: Made from a plant which was believed to be a cure for excessive melancholy
Comet: Sign of Saturn, the god affiliated with melancholy
Magic square: Orderliness of numbers, each line (horizontal, vertical, diagonal) adds up to 34. Thought to be a talisman to attract Jupiter (The god who could heal the effects of Saturn)
1514: The year of the death of Dürer’s mother. Also the date of this print
Interestingly enough, the block shape--the polyhedron--is not addressed here. The curious shape (and possible meaning) of that block, however, is very much worth dilating upon.  A recent article "Scientists Have Discovered an Entirely New Shape, And It Was Hiding in Your Cells" suggests some new possibilities for considering Dürer's polyhedron. The article describes a three-dimensional shape called the scutoid, which is described as the "twisted prism" shape of cells in epithelial tissue. Here, from the article, is an image of a pair of scutoids:

Is Dürer's polyhedorn an epithelial cell?  Clicking the article title above might prove interesting. In the meantime, an older (and possibly the first "academic") analysis of Dürer's polyhedorn can be found in an appendix from Saturn and Melancholy by Raymond Klibansky, Erwin Panofsky and Fritz Saxl. Published in 1964 by Thomas Nelson & Sons. The manuscript had been in development for years, building upon a monograph Panofsky published in the 1920s.  Here are the pages making up that appendix. They are large enough to read if they are clicked.

Happy investigations.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Echoes link added

I have added an image link to Echoes on the right side of this page.  Clicking the image leads to the Amazon sales page for the novel. I intend to update my profile--once I figure out how to do it!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Echoes has been Published

Please click HERE, or click the cover image.

Kind thanks to Lee Talley for his cover art, Joel Soiseth for setting up the cover, and Bien Bañez for his portrait of Bronson Bodine. And thanks also to M-A Berthier and Michael Butterworth for their advice and encouragement.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The night of 30-31 December, 1862: the loss of USS Monitor

Image from Harper's Weekly published in 1863 showing USS Monitor sinking in a storm off Cape Hatteras. USS Rhode Island aided in the rescue of the crew.  Modern divers investigating the wreck discovered the probable cause of the sinking: the separation of the upper and lower hull sections in heavy seas.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Bienvenido Bañez, Jr. featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila

The following is taken from an announcement appearing in the SunStar of Davao, Philippines.
"My City, My SM, My Art", a weeklong showcase of the different paintings and sculpture by local artists based in Davao City and whose skill and mastery of the craft had been influenced by Victorio Edades.

The instillation highlights how Edades had changed and established the modernist way of visual arts creation in the city. Among the works displayed there were of surrealist Bienvenido Bañez, Jr. and sculptor Jimmy Ang, who both had been trained by Edades himself.

Bañez had been tagged by world-famous surreal and American artist Terrance Lindall as the “greatest living surrealist in the Philippines”.

Bañez’ works revolve around the reign of evil in the world – the perpetrators of war, poverty, injustice, environmental degradation, cultural decadence, and terrorism. In 2002, Bañez won the Asian Fellowship Painting Competition of the Vermont Center in the United States.
Please click HERE for the full article.

Mr. Bañez's work has appeared in the international literary anthology Emanations.  Also, he has an illustration in my upcoming novel, Echoes.

from left, Terrance Lindall of the WAH Center, John Dugdale Bradley of Milton's Cottage, and Bienvenido Bañez, Jr. photo: Kelly O'Reilly

Saturday, August 25, 2018

"Did We talk about Hesse?" (M-A Berthier on Hermann Hesse)

I recently asked physicist (and novelist) M-A Berther about Herman Hesse.  My missive began innocently enough but prompted a series of interesting reflections.  I began as follows:
Did we talk about Hesse?

Siddhartha was... too Buddhist for me! Fatalistic, preachy... nihilistic in its way. 

Steppenwolf was pretty good. Some loner who likes to go to the orchestra and zone out on music. Kind of “unremarkable” in its bohemian affectations--after living through the end of the 20th century, bohemians, their affectations, and their fantasies... such stuff just doesn't seem that hip, or daring, or wild, or subversive, or whatever it is supposed to be. I recall the novel [Steppenwolf ] becomes slyly amusing as things melt down at the end.
I was young when I read both. I'd probably be unable to finish them now. 

Is The Glass Bead Game good?  In the late-70s, I recall a friend attending Oberlin saying people there were impressed.
M-A's responses are refreshing (and more useful than my off-hand recollections).
Hesse is an interesting case. The two books that are usually cited as his best are Steppenwolf, which to my mind seems both a logical continuation of his earlier work in the Bildungsroman and a foray into a sort of occult mysticism similar to that in Gustav Meyrink's novel Der Golem. (As it happens, in university in 1974, I wrote an essay comparing and contrasting these two novels in a class on 20th Century German literature.) The Glass Bead Game (called peculiarly Magister Ludi in English translation) strikes me as a rather Nietzschean production, an attempt to find something resembling values after we realize that most our accepted systems of values have serious deficiencies. Hesse in a curious way produced a novel that seems to reflect some of the same features (even the literary technique and voice if you will) of his friend Thomas Mann's Doktor Faustus—but Mann's book is much darker.

There is an early novel by Hesse, called I think Unterm Rad (beneath the wheel) which is a foray into the German school novel, a peculiar genre that also includes Robert Musil's Törless and Rilke's short story “Die Turnstunde” (Gym Class). Hesse's novel is set in what seems a religious school; Musil's novel and Rilke's story in a military school. All are absolutely ghastly because of the subject matter. Rilke's story and Musil's short novel are well-crafted and intelligent. Hesse's book is "okay," but I feel no compulsion to re-read it.

I have not read anything by Hesse since 1971 or 72. When forced to write that essay comparing his book to that of Meyrink, I relied entirely on memory of Steppenwolf. That being said, I recalled it pretty well (and still do). Steppenwolf may also contain some Expressionist elements, I think, but I wouldn't want to revisit the text. I think it's important as a foundation of 20th century German literature, but I doubt I'll live long enough to be in the mood to re-read it. Alas, one curse of very good memory is the inability to re-read many books unless there is more of value than "what happened next?"

Steppenwolf was, I seem to recall, perched teetering on a fundamental idea of the conflict between the classically-poised music of Mozart and his operas versus the romantic extremism and Angst and Nihilism of Wagner and the philosophy of Nietzsche. Poor Nietzsche -- at times I used to wish that writers of German fiction would leave the poor bastard alone.

The most problematic of Hesse's novels is probably Demian today. Circa 1974, my professor (a septugenarian Czech German) said, "Ladies and gentlemen, when I was your age, this book was a book of my generation. Now, peculiarly, it seems to be one of yours, too..." Well, it was already waning rapidly. One of my high school classmates was reading it in '71 and said at the beginning, "This is one of the most important and thought-provoking books I have ever read." Yawn. I suggested he stick to computer science.

Hesse appealed to earnest adolescents in the '60s and '70s because his concerns seemed important to us at the time. I find a lot of his work pedestrian on recollection. I have nothing against his work, but I would simply remark, "Not my cup of sock squeezings." However, I read a lot of Hesse's novels before I was 17, so I am freed of the necessity to shore up gaps in my erudition.

There was one book by Hesse that, when I read it at 15, struck me as, um, peculiar. I refer to Narziss und Goldmund. It's couched in the form of an historical novel on the Middle Ages. It is comprised of a variety of sexual elements that at the time struck my 15 year old self as vaguely perverse. I may be more tolerant now, but I don't plan to re-read it.

Oh my. Do not push my button marked "Hermann Hesse." I realise that I recall all of the novels and a certain amount of his verse and essays with excessive clarity, god knows why. I caught myself before I embarked on a series of comments on Siddhartha and his novel Die Morgenlandfahrt (Journey to the East) as sort of lame Buddhist mysticism....

I had a "German Literature obsession" at one point, compounded by a superlative professor in the subject at the university level.

Sorry, but to answer your initial question: I do not believe we have ever previously discussed Hesse. Clearly, it's not a good subject to nudge me on. Do not get me started on the Mann brothers or Musil or Döblin, either.

There is a tradition that grew out of German Romanticism of books that dealt seriously with artists: painters, poets, musicians. These culminated in some of the 20th century books by Mann, Rilke, Hesse, and perhaps Musil. (I'm not sure quite how to classify Ulrich in Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften). But one of the finer representatives of the tradition was done early by Eduard Mörike: Mozart auf der Reise nach Prag (Mozart's Journey to Prague). These works are often not devoid of a certain Romantic period sentimentality, but when the writer can control it, it's palatable.

Thinking of Mörike always calls to mind that gorgeous throw-away joke in Dinesen's The Deluge at Norderney: "But no human being with a feeling for greatness can possibly believe that the God who created the stars, the sea, and the desert, the poet Homer and the giraffe, is the same God who is now making, and upholding, the King of Belgium, the Poetical School of Schwaben, and the moral ideas of our day." Mörike was a representative of the Poetical School of Schwaben, I think.
M-A Berthier is the author of  Some Rumor of Strange Adventures. It is a challenging novel, remarkably intense, and replete with literary allusions, curious hearsay, and obstreperous satire.  Please click HERE to learn more.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Kono Bairei "Grasshopper" ca.1890

The strong brush strokes suggesting the leaf present a wonderful counterpoint to the verisimilitude of the rest of the painting--the green cricket.   Emerging (or moving out) from the scene, away from the moment. It's about art.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A Note on Synoptic Precision in Analytic Philosophy

Hobbes, in order to daunt the reader from objecting to his friend Davenant's want of invention, says of these fabulous creations in general, in his letter prefixed to the poems of Gondibert, that "impenetrable armours, enchanted castles, invulnerable bodies, iron men, flying horses, and a thousand other such things, are easily by them that dare". These are girds at Spenser and Ariosto. But, with leave of Hobbes (who translated Homer as if on purpose to show what execrable verses could be written by a philosopher), enchanted castles and flying horses are not easily feigned, as Ariosto and Spenser feigned them; and that just makes all the difference.

            -- Leigh Hunt, Imagination and Fancy,1844
Here Hunt's remark about philosophers--in this case Hobbes--being unable to say poetic things underscores a point about poetic talent not being after all an easy thing to come by, and controverts Hobbes's condescension, which are both properly done on Hunt's part.  But when one considers Wittgenstein's emphasis on the place of the "synoptic surview" in the analysis of propositions, it is perhaps worth giving the remark a second look. 

It is necessary for a philosopher to exercise great skill in telling stories about the ways propositions, phrases, words and concepts are understood and misunderstood. In the process of examining these precisely-rendered synoptic overviews, illusion, as well as insight, are revealed.

Leigh Hunt, engraved by H. Meyer from a drawing by J. Hayter

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Comet C/2017 S3

Comet C/2017 S3 recently flew past the Earth . When I first learned of the "Green Comet" in early July, I was looking forward to some interesting views. Unfortunately, the comet is now so close to the Sun that it is not visible. Moreover, when the comet departs it will be too far away to see.  Please click HERE for the most recent story I found, and HERE for resources to track the comet.

Friday, August 17, 2018


The novel Echoes is near completion. Stories from Emanations 7 are going out to the illustrators.

Down scope.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

International Authors on facebook

There are two International Authors facebook pages:

This page is for general discussion.

This page is an automatic "feed" that links to a stream of blog posts from a half dozen or so members of the International Authors consortium.

Perhaps at some time in the future we'll discuss this at a deeper level. Right now, however, I'm not bothered.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Robert J. Wickenheiser & Terrance Lindall: The Milton Projects

This new book presents an informative (and remarkably candid) look at the world of big collectors, big galleries, and big commissions.

Please click HERE for additional information.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Fantasy Worlds

This Fall, I am teaching a course in fantasy literature, film and art.  The texts for the course include the International Authors Fantasy Words anthology, Dover's oversize Rime of the Ancient Mariner (with the Doré illustrations), and Philip K. Dick's UBIK.  Among the films we will view are Ulysses, Excalibur, The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus, Young Goodman Brown, Metropolis, Fantastic Planet, Allegro Non Troppo, and possibly an episode or two of The Prisoner.

from Fantastic Planet