Saturday, December 10, 2011

A December Afternoon in Brooklyn

I've just returned from Brooklyn where I visited with Yuko Nii and Terrance Lindall of the Williamsburg Art & Historical Center. After brief and warm introductions (shared, incidently, with a young couple from Spain entering the Center just ahead of me) Terrance thrust a cup of tea into my hands and led me on a tour. Not unexpectedly, I viewed lots of art, including the current exhibit and several of the paintings Terrance has done based on Paradise Lost. Also, he took me though his Cabinet of Wonders, an extensive collection of curios, artifacts and fine paintings, the proper description of which, based upon my cursory but nonetheless expert appraisal, would certainly require a brow loftier than even my own.

We talked about the Center, Emantions and International Authors. Terrance expressed interest in preparing illustrations for Emanations: Second Sight, and he has agreed to join the International Authors Board of Advisors. We discussed at length various theological and aesthetic matters concerning Milton and Paradise Lost, and then went on to cover a battery of arcane subjects in a lively bricolage of artistic banter, aphoristic legerdemain and philosophic enthusiasm; and we were especially keen as we agreed upon the importance of using art to preserve and advance the cause of great poetry. We compared notes on the possibility of an exhibit involving analytic philosophy and Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, and we discussed the forthcoming International Authors edition of The Scarlet Letter.

It has been a very good afternoon.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The MSL Radiation Assessment Detector

Don Hassler of the Soutwest Research Institute describes the MSL Radiation Assesment Detector that will be carreid aboard the Mars Science Laboratory, the next "rover mission" to the red planet.

Don is the son of Mack Hassler, who is a pioneer in the field of science fiction criticism, and who is a member of the International Authors Board of Editorial Advisors.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Emanations: Second Sight Call for Submissions

International Authors and the editors of Emanations are happy to announce a Call for Submissions:

Emanations: Second Sight
Emanations is an anthology 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 important. 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 contributors should consider length to be “open.”

Our editorial vision is evolving. Contributors should see themselves as actively shaping the "vision" of Emanations.

Send files with brief cover note to the Editors:

Deadline: April 2, 2012
Emanations is a not-for-profit literary project and contributors cannot be compensated at this time. All proceeds from the sale of Emanations will support the efforts of International Authors to publish new voices from around the world.
Please post questions, suggestions and ideas. The project is a collaborative effort, and as we share ideas the "vision" transforms, evolves, and grows. When we write stories and poems we hope to bring to bear the entire battery of modern and postmodern literary devices. More simply: we like good, strong writing. Our essays are incisive, precise, keen, challenging, and driven by the writer's desire to advance an intelligent audience's understanding of important subjects.
The Fine Print:
1) Submit files as follows: double space, Microsoft Word, Times New Roman 12 pt. The book will be formatted by the editors before publication.
2) No simultaneous submissions (contributors should get fairly quick feedback anyway, especially if their submission meets our needs). Material that is obviously pulled from a file and has nothing to do with the goals of the anthology won't get any feedback beyond the initial acknowledgement.
3) Word count/line count? See details above. We're flexible, but contributors should be sensible when considering what they send in. A novella? Well, maybe, and so on.... Rules of thumb: a) Stories: very short to 20-30 pages. b) Poems: send in 5-10 pages. c) Essays: 5-10-30 pages.
4) Published as hard copy only—Emanations will be available on Amazon. Participants who make a substantial contribution of material, editorial work, or art will get a copy. It can take some time to get copies to contributors outside of North America. In the case of our first anthology, for example, it took forty-five days to get a copy to a contributor in to Nepal.
5) In the past, International Authors has made it possible for contributors to purchases copies “at cost” using coupon codes, and so on. International Authors is a consortium, and as such every contributor is a “member” or our community, and contributors are encouraged to help promote the anthology by sending review copies to newspapers, journals and relevant Web sites.
6) Copyright "reverts" to contributors upon publication. That is, after a piece appears in Emanations, the contributor can seek to publish their piece elsewhere. Contributors should understand that Emanations will remain for sale on Amazon indefinitely.

Board of Editorial Advisors
Ruud Antonius, Netherlands/Spain
Steve Aylett, UK
Joolz Barry, UK
Cedric Cester, Spain
Horace Jeffery Hodges, South Korea
Sushma Joshi, Nepal
Elkie Riches, UK
Stephen Sylvester, US

Friday, October 28, 2011

Novahead by Steve Aylett

Steve Aylett presents us with an interesting sketch in the development of a young talent, and this youthfulness is indeed the essential quality characterizing much of his output, and he has been prolific. Aylett has published fifteen novels, all of them exhibiting an original flare for invention, iconoclasm (the sort that alienates both readers and publishers), and a careful attention to detail. He is not a fast writer; that is to say, he is an artist, and despite his dubious association with “packaged” avant-garde trademarks—slipstream, pop-surrealism, “bizarro”—of late his work has transcended the epicyclical dialectics that typify (and quite properly marginalize) communities of avant-garde ambition. Aylett’s work has in the past been constricted because of the theories and generically-controlled parameters that attend the very idea of the avant-garde. Such adhesion to generic formality is to be expected from a young author, moreover an author that remains enduringly young in spirit; and Aylett endures here in all the best ways. But Aylett’s talent has been growing, and his long-standing “tendency” to subvert the limitations of his own narratological experiments has borne fruit, especially in three recent novels, where at last Aylett has risen to the occasion of his own genius, and is forcefully advancing ideas and effects that are as hard-hitting as anything in the English language.

I found LINT, the first of these new novels, “interesting.” LINT is an inventive, convincing and entertaining hallucination, but towards the end of the novel, when Aylett moves from the mode of faux literary biography into fictive verisimilitude, the attenuated narrative does not match the exuberance of the first nine-tenths of the novel. In LINT, Aylett presents the literary biography of Aylett’s gamboling alter ego. Jeff Lint is a stock (and in many ways unremarkable) trickster figure built around the dubious persona of a 1960s science fiction writer possessing auto-destructive tendencies that surpass the sophomoric world view such tendencies usually suggest. Although the figure of Lint remains, and intentionally so, a failure, the biography of Lint does in fact represent an aesthetic we are familiar with, particularly in America, which of course has been deeply influenced by the pre-modern influences of Calvinism. In Aylett, the careful reader will detect a faint, but then very familiar—and very cold—echo of the radical Protestant heresies of the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Think Milton in Book X of PARADISE LOST. Think Blake in THE MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN AND HELL. Think Mark Twain in his LETTERS TO THE EARTH. In many ways, this radical aesthetic not only anticipates the bleak landscapes of the Existentialists, but indeed outstrips them. Following the sudden washout that concludes LINT, I was very favorably impressed with the sequel, AND YOUR POINT IS? In LINT, Aylett is describing some interesting phenomena, but in AND YOUR POINT IS? Aylett is making interesting phenomena happen. AND YOUR POINT IS? represents the blooming, I believe, of Aylett’s mature talent. Indeed, in this novel Aylett shows himself to be a great talent.

And this brings us to NOVAHEAD, Aylett’s newest work, which combines tireless exuberance and invention contained inside the architecture of a tightly-controlled composition. Although larded with great promise, LINT and AND YOUR POINT IS? remain meta-narratives. They are parodies of literary biography and criticism, and they are not fictions. While such postmodern contraptions can be (and in Aylett’s case are) remarkable pieces of work, they do not give us representations of the world; that is, they are experiments rather working models. They are systems of artifice rather than creations of art. But now NOVAHEAD marks Aylett’s emigration from his pop-surrealist background to the illuminated space of enchanted literary expression. NOVAHEAD is a work of art to contend with. While there remains in this story sensationalized dystopian elements as familiar to us as the names of Zamyatin, Čapek, and Ballard, in NOVAHEAD Aylett’s vision is carefully (indeed scrupulously) centered upon a psycho-sociological exposition of the nature of language. Compare a clinical psychiatrist of the stature of Donald Cameron, at one moment attending to his heroic experiments at McGill University, then suddenly and miraculously transported to the tunnels of a supercollider, where a group of theoretical physicists are conferring over the nature of subatomic particles, and whose abstruse conversation naturally produces startling and remarkable effects upon Cameron’s accelerated psyche. Aylett’s precisely-constructed grammatical formulations neatly upset the routine epistemologies that dominate our beliefs, and so expose the mundane semantic customs and habits that prevent us from seeing things in the "larger" way that this novel—and the maturity of experience—makes possible. NOVAHEAD can be compared to Michael Moorcock’s A CURE FOR CANCER, which is certainly our finest pre-postmodern instance of this kind of writing, in which the “offhand” literary gesture and the aesthetics of cheap literature and even cheaper catharsis can be transformed into a vibrant satirical landscape. Indeed, NOVAHEAD represents an idiosyncratic species of writing that doesn’t merely drive such epistemological subversions, but which goes still further and creates an ecstatic point-of-departure. Thus, in NOVAHEAD, and notwithstanding its youth-cult DNA—like a discarded pupa husk lying nearby a pulsating Cicada uncurling its wet and shivering wings—there is such a carefully considered attention to the nuanced relationships amongst grammar, logic, perception, and the linguistic architectures of human identity and human society, that the work is not a mere postmodern squib, but instead represents the artistic expression of a profound analytic sensibility. George Carlin and William S. Burroughs certainly come to mind, but then so too does John Ashbery and Ludwig Wittgenstein.

View the Amazon page for Novahead.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

International Authors Goes On-Line

Click here to view the new International Authors website.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Emanations is Available

Our expectations descend through chasms of arcane wonder, where the Internet shapes marvelous new communities, even as the Academy breaks the chains of worn convention and formal discipline, sending forth a new class of scholars to explore the frontiers of unique realms. Amidst this progress, strangely enough and yet quite appropriately, consciousness rebels. In these pages are stories, poems, and essays that are exuberant, eloquent, and original—where expression and intelligence commingle in a flash of awakening. Whether this new consciousness is human or perhaps something greater remains to be seen, but by looking into our emanations we might find an answer.

The first anthology to be released by International Authors, Emanations showcases the work of sixteen writers from around the world. With illustrations by Kai Robb, Dario Rivarossa and Vitasta Raina.

Click here to order.

Friday, August 5, 2011

International Authors Meeting at the St Pancras Hotel

On July 31 I met in London at the St Pancras Hotel with several of the UK members of International Authors. In attendance were Ruud Antonius, Steve Aylett, Hayden Westfield-Bell, Sara Butterworth, Michael Butterworth, Elkie Riches, and myself.

The meeting was enjoyable, and as we gathered together I felt a sense of shared ease and genuine warmth. Perhaps the most "official" proceeding was summarizing a message Michael Moorcock sent us. After greeting the attendees and expressing his wish to be there, Mr. Moorcock writes:
"Really would like to be there, particularly to meet those people I haven't yet met face to face. I am a bit of a softy around such ideas as a multicultural congress. I hadn't really thought about it before but Norman Spinrad brought up the thought that New Worlds had been a genuinely transatlantic venture with Americans coming to the UK specifically because NW was there. Part of the ideal was to have Anglophone writers, at very least, exchanging cultural influences. I'd still like to see a few more Indians, say, involved."
This is interesting to me as I belive Emanations (and International Authors) is both an endorsement of Mr. Moorcock’s suggestion and a response. Vitasta Raina's Writer's Block is a case in point: an endorsement, of sorts, and a response to multiculturalism. I think we are at a point where the “multiculturalism project” of the last century is unexpectedly (but properly, surely) transforming into a more complex transmodern experiment, and I think readers will agree when they see how the various pieces collected in Emanations reflect upon each other.

Back to the meeting: It was relaxed and convivial. We certainly “talked shop” but what I got out of it was more the feeling of being with kindred spirits. Topics we discussed: (mis)adventures in publishing, the technology of book production, recent accomplishments, International Authors, Emanations. I was happy that Dutch surrealist painter Ruud Antonius was there—people from different media mixing together and comparing notes can only be good. Cross fertilization, so to speak. And Ruud is at work on a novel, incidentally.

I showed Michael Butterworth a proof copy of Emanations, and he was quite surprised to see that in addition to his long story, many of his poems are in the anthology. For a moment I was concerned that I had misunderstood his sending them to me, but then he expressed his satisfaction (and happy surprise) that the poems had been included. Also, I was very glad to see how happy he was with the illustration that Vitasta Raina has prepared for his story.

We spent a long time together, but as people began leaving, I felt a bit frustrated. I could have sat there all night! As a matter of fact, Ruud (my host in London) and I were up talking that evening past 1:00 a.m.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Reviews of Writer's Block

Vitasta Raina's Writer's Block has garnered a number of impressive reviews:

Emanations Coming Soon

Getting closer . . . now examining the proof copy . . . over 300 pages . . . it's a hefty book.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange: Appropriate for College Viewing?

In Ethics this term I am showing Stanley Kubrick's film A Clockwork Orange (1971). After viewing the first half of the film Tuesday, I received the following email from a student (quoted with permission):

Dr. Kaplan,

I am in disbelief that you made a choice to show that movie. Although it may not be offensive to some it may be to others. Some may not want to waste their time watching such garbage. You should consider how different each individual is. Some may be older and not accustomed to what society feels acceptable today. Others may be Christians and my be blown away by such immorality. Some may even be very young and even in high school considering that our college accepts high school students. Some may have never had a sexual experience and do not need to learn from this. I personally do not understand the purpose of this movie. I also believe that any content you felt was relevant to ethics could have been taught by the choice of another film. I sacrifice precious time with my children daily for my education. I do not think this was educational to me. I would never give up a moment with my children to watch such garbage. I had gained such respect for you because you had been so understanding but now my feelings have changed. I do not expect to be counted absent for leaving early nor do I expect to be counted absent on Thursday because I will not watch any more of that film. If you would like I will attend class once the movie is over. Please let me know.



I answered:

Dear Student:

I fully understand your concerns. As I said before we viewed the film, students could leave if they wished. If you examine the notes for this week and otherwise compare the content of the film and the course material, I think you should agree that the film brings together the central topics of the discussion we've been having since March. Also please keep in mind the college trains people to work in nursing, mental health, corrections, law enforcement, and social work. The film certainly addresses issues that are core to these fields. Don't let the nature of the film as a work of art distract you from a clinical consideration of the film. And as for that matter, the film is, if you examine it carefully, directly addressing the concerns you are vocalizing. That is, the problem of decadence in modern society and the effects of that decadence upon culture. Also, please consider that the director/producer of this film is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, and A Clockwork Orange is often considered to be his best film. When the film first came out it was considered science fiction. Now it seems the film is rather about our current times. A student in the Monday evening class pointed out that many of the problems in the film are not only happening in America, but are in the Ohio Valley as well.

I should remark, too, that the material on broadcast television these days is as challenging as that presented in the film. Moreover, the film seeks to expose and criticize such decadence, while television instead seeks to exploit it. And I think that's a point we should do well to consider.

But as I said, you are of course excused if you do not wish to view it. We will finish with the film around 1:45 Thursday if you wish to join us for discussion. I do hope you will finish the film, however, as I would like you to consider it and contribute your views to the class during discussion having viewed the film in its entirety. Otherwise, please see the notes on the course Web site.



This afternoon we finished the film and in the remaining class time discussed the various themes that have bearing upon the course. Some of my class notes can be viewed by clicking here.

Here are some of the discussion points. We will continue to address these next week:

Dystopian Literature and Film
A Clockwork Orange: Dystopia or Satire?
A Clockwork Orange: 1971 and 2011
The Power of the State
Human Nature: Hobbes vs. Locke
The "Human Condition"
The Genealogy of the Totalitarian State/Police State: Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany
Hooliganism: Chavs and Neds
Elite, Underclass, Working Class, Middle Class
Recruiting police from the "hooligan" class
Police Powers, the 4th Amendment
Romanticism and Revolution: Napoleon
Beethoven and Rossini
The 60s and 70s--what happened to the Summer of Love, the Flower Children and "Let it all hang out, baby?"
The dark emergence: Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, and Charles Manson.
Good vs. Evil
Social Control
DSM-IV: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the power of big pharma
The role of education in cultivating and preserving a free and open society

The student visited me after class and recapitulated some of the arguments from the email. Our conversation was amicable and productive. I asked the student to raise some of these questions in class next Tuesday as we continue our analysis of the film.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Art of Dario Rivarossa

The forthcoming Emanations anthology will feature illustrations by Tally-Ho, Cornelius! cover artist Kai Robb, as well as illustrations by a new member of International Authors, Dario Rivarossa.

Dario has started a new blog featuring his art, and I would like to invite Highbrow readers to visit and examine his work. Combining elements of surrealism, comic book art and pulp illustration, Dario is a master of creating visionary images combining heroic subjects with subtle and ingenious interpretation. Please click here to visit his blog.

Emanations is in the pre-press production stage, and I am cautiously optimistic that we could see the anthology out by June of this year. Stay tuned for updates.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vitasta Raina's Writer's Block is Now Available

On behalf of International Authors, I am happy to announce the publication of Vitasta Raina's novella Writer's Block.

Welcome to Chalet, the city of manicured luxury and western complexity, where India's rise to the promised land of elegant living and boundless consumerism is unchecked, except by the force of the millions living in the slums beyond the barrier walls. Their official fate is oblivion, and yet there is for them an existence of sorts--within the dreams and visions of those who dwell inside the Writer's Block.

Click her to visit the Amazon sales page.

Vitasta Raina is an architect and urban planner in Mumbai, India.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Stay Tuned

Stay tuned for an announcement concerning a new International Authors publication, a novella by Vitasta Raina.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Diogenes is now available

International Authors has published my Aristophanic comedy Diogenes.

Many thanks to my friends at International Authors, especially E. L. Riches for her Introduction, L. Sterns Newburg for his keen and acerbic reading ("Yes, it's wonderful, but what is it?"), Dana Sebree for her razor-sharp editing skills, and Vitasta Raina and Kai Robb for their work on the cover.

Click here to view the Amazon description.