Friday, December 27, 2013

ガールズ&パンツァー Gāruzu ando Pantsā


Girls und Panzer:  High school girls participate in "tankery" (戦車道 sensha-dō: "the way of the tank").

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Editing Tasso's Creation of the World

As I announced last month, International Authors is to publish a new translation of Torquato Tasso's Il Mondo Creato. This new edition is being translated by Dario Rivarossa, author of Dante Was a Fantasy Writer, and Salwa Khoddam, author of Mythopoeic Narnia: Memory, Metaphor, and Metamorphoses in The Chronicle of Narnia.  It is my role to edit the translation.  Dario has now provided me with the first canto (or rather "Day") and I am happy to report that the outlook is very promising.  When first embarking upon this project, one of our concerns was the fact that the work had been translated thirty years ago, and hence why the need for a new translation? Moreover, could International Authors produce a volume that was up to the mark?

Joseph Tusiani's 1982 translation of Il mondo creato is superb.  But so is the Rivarossa/Khoddam version. The new translation is, in places, closer to Tasso. The Tusiani version occasionally leaves a line or three out, or omits small bits in order to adhere to a ten-syllable line. That said, it is beautiful, full of wonders, and delightful in the most sensual and lyrical sense of the word. The Rivarossa/Khoddam translation is in blank verse--and, yes, it is also wonderfully beautiful and effusive.  As I work though the initial edit, it is fascinating when I come across passages where either of the translations stumbles over something. It is possible to compare the passages and determine--through a sort of "triangulation"--what should (or what could) be the proper English formulation.  I am happy to report that our translation is going to be very accurate--as well as vividly poetic.  As I negotiate my way through the editorial process with both translations open before me, it is gratifying to see how the English language can achieve precise representations of ideas or create effects that in Italian remain figurative and poetic.

Tasso's influence upon Milton is well-documented, and in Creation of the World I am delighted to discover foreshadows of  Miltron's project to derive modernism from reform Christianity--this activity finds a clear antecedent in Tasso. Indeed, Tasso demonstrates that the early-modern project is not entirely protestant in nature, but is a child of the counter-reformation as well. This is an important phenomenon to study in our current age of religious agitation.

Tasso's exotic poem is an apt addition to what International Authors is evolving into. Creation of the World is avant-garde--a dazzling work of philosophical art for the sake of philosophical art. Tasso's poem amply underscores the distinction between myth and philosophy, which I believe to be one of the highest aims of the poetic art. Moreover, the book will add much to International Authors' growing list, which is advancing a new modernism in the context of a world-wide open society.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Wicker Man

International Authors editorial adviser and Emanations contributor Mike Chivers has posted an informative essay on the 1973 cult film The Wicker Man at his blog, Necronomania, which can be viewed by clicking here.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Announcement from Norman Spinrad

Norman Spinrad has asked me to pass along the following:
I’ve put my theatrical play adaptation of my novel Greenhouse Summer on Amazon for $2.99, the lowest possible price, and would have done a freebie if possible.  The play was commissioned, might be produced in another rewritten version, and the live theatrical rights are not mine.  But all film/television rights to both my play script version and the underlying novel are retained by me.
I could easily and quickly adapt the stage play script into a film/tv script, indeed it would be much easier than adapting my novel to a stage play, believe me!  At the moment I am trying to produce the film myself, and am looking for some kind of deal to get the film made.  A straight option and pick-up deal with me writing the screenplay?  A development deal of some kind?  Financing to do it myself?  I’m open to all suggestions.
Greenhouse Summer is available through Amazon.
Norman Spinrad
212-777-7537, cell:646-346-9385aa
In Europe: 06-61-97-53-43 

Out of the Hermeneutic Captivity

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

1/16 scale Kim Jong Un that you assemble

Just "un" time for the holidays, the most powerful young man "un" the planet is now a 1/16 scale resin figure, available from HobbyEasy for $24.25.  Hmm. Maybe just the thing for that hard-to-shop-for bachelor uncle with an interest in today's heroes of ideology...

Monday, December 16, 2013

Four Centimeter Annulus

Slow the moon falls back
From the earth in one focus
Of her wide ellipse

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Requiem for Uncle Jang

Jeffery Hodges has posted an account of the proceedings of the PRK government against Jang Song Thaek, former number two power figure and uncle of dictator Kim Jong Un. The language of the report, taken from a North Korean news service, is fascinating:
"Report on Enlarged Meeting of Political Bureau of Central Committee of WPK (Workers Party of Korea)," Korea Central News Agency (KCNA), translated from Korean by Korea Open Source Project, Volume VI, Issue 238, December 10, 2013

In this historic period for carrying forward the revolutionary cause of Juche[,] the chance elements and alien elements who had made their ways into the party committed such anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts as expanding their forces through factional moves and daring [to] challenge the party, while attempting to undermine the unitary leadership of the party . . . . [T]he Political Bureau of the C.C. (Central Committee), the WPK, convened its enlarged meeting and discussed the issue related to the anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts committed by [Uncle] Jang Song Thaek . . . . [F]ully laid bare [were] the anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts of [Uncle] Jang Song Thaek and their harmfulness and reactionary nature . . . . The entire party, whole army and all people are dynamically advancing toward the final victory in the drive for the building of a thriving nation, meeting all challenges of history and resolutely foiling the desperate moves of the enemies of the revolution under the leadership of Kim Jong Un [nephew of Jang Song Thaek] . . . . The [Uncle] Jang Song Thaek group, however, committed such anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts as gnawing at the unity and cohesion of the party . . . . [Uncle] Jang pretended to uphold the party and leader but was engrossed in such factional acts as dreaming different dreams and . . . . behaving against the elementary sense of moral obligation and conscience as a human being . . . . [for Uncle] Jang desperately worked to form a faction within the party . . . . [and] tried to increase his force and build his base . . . . [Uncle] Jang and his followers did not sincerely accept the line and policies of the party . . . . The [Uncle] Jang group weakened the party's guidance . . . . Such acts are nothing but counter-revolutionary, unpopular criminal acts of giving up the class struggle and paralyzing the function of [the] popular democratic dictatorship [of Uncle Jang's nephew, Kim Jong Un], yielding to the offensive of the hostile forces to stifle the DPRK . . . . [Uncle] Jang seriously obstructed the nation's economic affairs and the improvement of the standard of people's living . . . . The [Uncle] Jang group put under its control the fields and units which play an important role in the nation's economic development and the improvement of people's living in a crafty manner, making . . . impossible for the economic guidance organs including the Cabinet to perform their roles[,] . . . . [thereby] throwing the state financial management system into confusion and committing such [an] act of treachery as selling off precious resources of the country at cheap prices, the [Uncle Jang] group made it impossible to carry out the behests of [his father-in-law] Kim Il Sung and [his brother-in-law] Kim Jong Il on developing the industries of Juche iron, Juche fertilizer and Juche vinalon . . . . [Uncle] Jang committed irregularities and corruption and led a dissolute and depraved life . . . . abusing his power, . . . [and having] improper relations with several women . . . . [Uncle] Jang and his followers committed criminal acts baffling imagination . . . [acts] perpetrated by the group of [Uncle] Jang Song Thaek . . . . Speakers bitterly criticized in unison the anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts committed by the [Uncle] Jang group and expressed their firm resolution to remain true to the idea and leadership of Kim Jong Un[, pure nephew of the corrupt Uncle Jang Song Thaek] . . . . The meeting adopted a decision of the Political Bureau of the Party Central Committee on relieving [Uncle] Jang of all posts, depriving him of all titles and expelling him and removing his name from the WPK [and his image from official photographs, of course] . . . . The party served warning[s] to [Uncle] Jang several times and dealt blows at him, watching his group's anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts[,] as it has been aware of them from long ago[, but try not to dwell on this point too much, as that might lead to groundless doubts about the party's superior wisdom]. But [anyway,] . . . [the Uncle Jang Song Thaek group] did not pay heed to [the party] . . . but went beyond [the] tolerance limit. That was why the party eliminated [Uncle] Jang and purged his group, unable to remain an onlooker to its acts any longer [-- but again, don't think about this point too deeply --] dealing telling blows at sectarian acts manifested within the party . . . . The discovery and purge of the [Uncle] Jang group, a modern day faction[,] . . . [has] made our party and revolutionary ranks purer . . . . No force on earth can deter our party, army[,] and people from dynamically advancing toward a final victory, single-mindedly united around [the pure] Kim Jong Un[, nephew of the corrupt Uncle Jang Song Thaek].
And now Uncle Jang is pushing up daises...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Highbrow fine arts criticism in action: a review of Amy B. Trosino's Drawn Closer

I have posted an Amazon review of Amy B. Trosino's collection of pen and ink drawings, Drawn Closer. For the edification and amusement of the Highbrow community, here is that review:
In her introduction to this intriguing collection of pen and ink drawings, artist Amy B. Trosino describes the eclectic sources from which she draws her inspiration, including "children's book illustration . . . biology and histology." Histology, as I learned after a quick google search, is the microscopic study of the anatomy of animal and plant cells. In this process tissues are selected, sectioned, placed on a slide, stained, and preserved. Playing off this concept, Trosino offers twenty-one groups of drawings, each group consisting of three "histological" sections leading up to the main "tissue" image from which the three sections are taken.

The drawings themselves do bear some resemblance to cell tissues but they are of course more than that. Each is a rich and complex fantasy that in terms of style and subject suggests dreams of evolving personalities, vaguely "complex" social situations, and ambiguous emotional or psychological states. However, whatever allegorical interpretation the viewer seeks to impose on these drawings is intangible. These drawings cleverly elude--quite properly and quite effectively--any precise sense of understanding or definition. It is a testament to Trosino's considerable talent that she can so simply (and apparently effortlessly) create these profound yet ineffable images. Nor in this scheme do the "sections" help the viewer to establish what exactly these images mean. While turning the pages and viewing the three sections that lead to the complete drawing, progressive "revelations" are exposed leading to the final image; but the final underlying meaning remains unresolved.

Whether or not this is Trosino's point, turning through these pages makes for a rewarding and lively experience. At another level, too, the book is delightful--examining the sections in each group and identifying the sections in the final drawing of which they form a part is as aesthetically stimulating and rewarding as it is fun. Drawn Closer is therefore a refreshing adventure in art--an adventure in the practice and the wonder of discovery.

Click here to view the Amazon sales page for Drawn Closer.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Arthur C. Clarke as Point of Departure for Comprehending the World Around Us

Arthur C. Clarke
In his essay on "Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination," Arthur C. Clarke makes a shrewd anthropological observation when he points out that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." 

Clarke's anthropology is spot-on. In these words he underscores a principle that can be applied to the analyses of any number of challenging phenomena.  Consider, for example, our difficulties understanding what politicians are doing--what they say, their actions, their motives, their goals, and so on. Rather than respond with frustration, we should keep in mind that our leaders exist at an intellectual level far above our own, and that, notwithstanding their excellence, we can uncover something approaching a full explanation through a simple application of Clarke's principle:

"Any sufficiently advanced decision made by a professional politician is indistinguishable from magic."

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Highbrow Glance at Elkie Riches' Reclamation

I recently posted an Amazon review of Elkie Riches' novel Reclamation:
Elkie Riches' debut novel is an amazing tour de force bringing together rich story-telling and startling ideas, but it is also a work of sophisticated literary art. That is, hold-on! This book is not what you might think it is.

Sharply drawn in a brisk and vivid style, RECLAMATION begins as a science fiction novel with familiar (though fresh) New Age and Eco-feminist themes. The world has slipped into a historical phase called the "Turning" in which Nature has revolted against the human race--not so much because of the abuse of the environment as for humanity's lack of sympathy with the interweaving streams of reflexive consciousness that nature collectively represents. The conflict manifests as a struggle between human beings and animated shrubbery, strangely sentient animals, and less tangible shape-shifting entities that manifest themselves in whirlwinds of twigs, dust, blowing leaves, and (apparently) in the corpses of dead human beings. Civilization has crumbled, and what's left of the human race builds fortresses atop the ruins of the world's great capitals, and a strict military order is maintained to defend what's left of humanity from the flora and fauna that run wild. Specially trained (and thoroughly despised) intelligence gatherers of the Shaman Division are used to monitor the confusing intentions of the (un)natural order which effusively possess the shaman's minds. Meanwhile, faceless corporations orbit the earth in satellites directing the "reclamation" of earth from the enemy nature. But this is where the novel itself "turns" into something that is quite unexpected--and quite frightening. Riches' strangely vivid and energetic prose turns against the story itself, producing the effect of something that the present reader was at odds to come to terms with. At the risk of diminishing Riches' profound mythological performance that is better "felt" than described, RECLAMATION could be characterized as a prose poem about the interweaving boundaries between consciousness and reality. Readers of Philip K. Dick and Jorge Luis Borges will find themselves in familiar (and disturbing) territory. Imbedded in the conflict between humanity and nature is a deeper and more profound struggle that possess reality like the shape shifters that possess whirlwinds or the minds of the shamans--that is, the beliefs of living matter itself are struggling to shape themselves and identify what they are and what they--in some fleeting shamanic glimpse--mean to themselves. Yes, Love does survive the conflict, but does the human race, at least as we know it?
Reclamation can be purchased through Amazon HERE.  Kindle version HERE.

Elkie Riches

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tally-Ho, Cornelius! reviews on Amazon

My novel Tally-Ho, Cornelius! has received a number of favorable Amazon reviews.  I discovered this review today:
The Multiverse Finds Its Hero
by Samuel Sanders on November 9, 2013
Kids, this is not your average garden variety Jerry Cornelius story. In fact, I would go as far as to postulate that Carter Kaplan has penned the definitive Jerry Cornelius Origin Story.

The entire story revolves around the vainglorious Reverend Dr. Jeremiah Cornelius and his, at first glance, perfect life. All the supporting actors are here: Catherine, Francis, Oona. A revolutionary minister known for conciliating science and religion, the postmodern divine enjoys a celebrity status. He meets a strange and eloquent little boy claiming to be from Brazil.

Little does the postmodern divine know that Capricorn is in fact an immortal Lost Corsair in a last ditch attempt to save his corsairs from the singularity at the beginning of Time! The Lost Corsairs wait for their captain in their unfamiliar identities and struggle to cope in the laws of physics defying universe.

The majority of the book is like a gentle stream. You follow the postmodern divine on his daily doings. The longest chapter is a step by step tour guide from St John's to the Museum of Natural History, then another detailed guide of the reverend and the boy's wanderings inside the museum. Satirical, philosophical, nonsensical, this novel springs forth some heady subjects, including a scientific definition of Moorcock's Second Ether and what it really is.

Meanwhile, it all comes to head in a most interesting way. You end up not liking the pompous postmodern divine very much while you can't help but be impressed by him, but at the end of it all, you start feeling very sorry for him because the perfection he finds in himself and hopes to find reflected in others fails him. And you go away from it unsure about how you feel about it all, but want to brush up with another roundabout.

Kaplan pens his first novel with an unique and addictive style which keeps one enthralled despite the majority of it being composed of primarily mundane activities. If you are looking for something not run of the mill, or are just a big Jerry Cornelius fan like myself, this book is for you.

Read on!
More reviews HERE.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Michel Ciment on Stanley Kubrick

First, an interview. It is a minor thing, but I was immediately struck by Kubrick's voice, and my realization that in Dr. Strangelove Peter Sellers mimics Kubrick's voice when he portrays President Merkin Muffley.

Next, a short film in which Ciment explores Kubrick's interest in power elites. Two points I want to make:  Point 1) In one of the scenes at home, the daughter in Eyes Wide Shut is shown dressed in a white outfit with fairy wings--then at the end of the film in the toy store the daughter chooses a doll dressed in a white outfit with fairy wings.  Point 2) In addition to the theme of power elites and the byzantine process of figuring out their motives, Eyes Wide Shut highlights how women are socialized and explores the sociology (and the "deep" politics) of their various roles in our civilization.