Thursday, December 27, 2018

Happy Holidays

40/43 copies of Emanations: Chorus Pleiades  have been ordered and are on the way to contributors. The last three will go out via the local post office.  Please support International Authors by purchasing a copy of the new volume (click the image below).

Highbrow will be back next week.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Secrets of the Gyro Monorail Revealed

It could be delightful finding an HO model of this contraption circling the tree tomorrow morning.  Meanwhile, to explore the physics of this miraculous marvel, please click HERE.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

"So, time is just a linear series of singularities?"

In response to my recent remarks about the linguistic/semantic/grammatical factors affecting our understanding of the concept of time (or rather my analysis of the ways grammar can lead philosophers to assume and say curious things about time), Professor Hodges asks, "So, time is just a linear series of singularities?"

My response:

As a "metaphysical" phenomenon, time is an illusory grammatical illusion. Grammatically, time is something we "mention in passing" in order to coordinate our activities, tell stories, and/or distinguish things we do, see, say, or have read/heard of.

St. Augustine's remarks concerning time are relevant here. For Augustine, God is eternal and therefore outside of time. God has always existed in an everlasting present, which leads Augustine to conclude that only the present truly exists. The past only exists as a present memory, and the future exists only as a present expectation.

The Conversion of St. Augustine by Fra Angelico

Friday, December 21, 2018

Prepositions and the Illusion of Chrono-spatiality

In his blog Gypsy Scholarship, Professor Hodges recently raised a slew of difficult philosophical conundrums related to the nature of time and the language we use to talk about time.  He writes:
Does the future come toward us?


Do we go into the the future?

Or Both . . .
My response?


Although time is something we describe with prepositions (to, at, by, on, about, before, near, until, near, during, after...) or with helping verbs that have a tense (will, had, were), this does not mean that a certain time is located somewhere or located in the same way that something is located in space, or in a spatial relation to something else.

(Erm, I think...)

Thursday, December 20, 2018

IA website update

The International Authors website has been updated to reflect the publication of Emanations: Chorus Pleiades.  Please click the logo:.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Δέδυκε μεν ἀ σελάννα

Δέδυκε μεν ἀ σελάννα
καὶ Πληΐαδεσ, μέσαι δὲ
νύκτεσ πάρα δ᾽ ἔρχετ᾽ ὤρα,
ἔγω δὲ μόνα κατεύδω

The moon and the Pleiades have set,
it is midnight,
and the time is passing,
but I sleep alone.

-- Sappho, quoted by Hephaestionto

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Emanations: Chorus Pleiades has been published

On behalf of International Authors, I am happy to announce the publication of Emanations: Chorus Pleiades.

Every volume of this collaborative project exhibits a distinctive character, and I am looking forward to seeing how people respond to this new variation, which to date is perhaps our most innovative and challenging effort.

Please click the cover image to view the Amazon description:

And if longing seizes you for sailing the stormy seas,
when the Pleiades flee mighty Orion
and plunge into the misty deep
and all the gusty winds are raging,
then do not keep your ship on the wine-dark sea
but, as I bid you, remember to work the land.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

"Some Thoughts on the Passing of Harlan Ellison" - M-A Berthier

Interesting reflections:
Socrates was condemned for “corrupting youth,” when in fact, he simply chided them to think and question things.
Harlan Ellison was one of our "corrupters" when we were growing up in the ’60s and ‘70s. He was constantly urging us to think and question and argue, and he did not hold back at doing it himself.
He captivated us by the energy and persuasiveness of his passion for justice and reason and decency. It showed up in his stories, in his teleplays, in his essays and in his performances (all his talks on camera or on stage were performances of a sort).
I started reading Ellison in 1966. I found a copy of Paingod and other delusions. I read in that book "'Repent Harlequin!’ said the Ticktockman,” “Bright Eyes,” “The Discarded,” and “Deeper than the Darkness.” I was hooked. I also started reading these strange introductions that he tucked away in his books, introductions where he addressed the reader directly and communicated his ideas and world-view to us more directly than is usually considered appropriate for a writer of fiction.
Over the next few years, I read I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World, and Partners in Wonder, and it definitely changed my ideas of what an sf story could do. I had read Asimov and Clarke when I was younger, and they wrote good stories, very literate, and the ideas were practically the heroes. Ellison did not have a lot of heroes, but he had real people who had to make real choices. Fiction started to seem more interesting to me, and something that was more than a simple diversion at times.
In the ’70s I was in university, but when I got the chance, I read the new books that came out: Approaching Oblivion, Deathbird Stories, and Strange Wine. It is hard to quantify how absorbing and powerful I found the stories in these books. I was starting to feel that Ellison was a master, not just a good sf writer. Yes, some of the stories were remarkably uneven; sometimes he went for the cheap and superficial laugh rather than go deeper; but when he struck gold, as he always did in some of the stories, he was truly remarkable.
In the ‘80s, I was working, but I took the time to buy and read Shatterday and Angry Candy. I felt this was his high water mark. Some of the stories in those two books are among his very best, and among the best in sf.
He started having health issues in the ‘90s, and the fiction slowed down. We got Mind Fields and Slippage, both very fine work, but the 2 books he published in the ’80s are so superlative, it’s no dishonor if I say I think these books were not as stunning and powerful.
Ellison as a Science Fiction Writer
Ellison wrote some good stories that made use of the tropes of science fiction, and he sometimes handled it well. “Virgil Oddum at the East Pole,” “Run for the Stars,” “Life Hutch,” and “Deeper than the Darkness,” the teleplays “Soldier” and “Demon with a Glass Hand” probably qualify, as does “A Boy and His Dog,” which is fairly clearly an “after the catastrophe” sf story.
Some of his fiction is cast in the form of dystopian vision encased in the trappings of sf, but it doesn’t seem all that science-fictional. The Ticktockman is more a parable than a speculative fiction extrapolation. You might say the same of “Silent in Gehenna.”
A lot of his best fiction functions as literary surrealism (e.g., “At the Mouse Circus” and “Shattered Like a Glass Goblin” and “Alive and Well and on a Friendless Voyage”) or Magic Realism — “Jeffty is Five,” “On the Downhill Side,” “Paladin of the Lost Hour,” “Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes” and “The Function of Dream Sleep” may fit in here.
He also wrote occasional slick mainstream stories, and even wrote a few suspense and detective stories in his career.
I do not think his science fiction represents his best work, although I certainly like the stories I just mentioned. He was a very distinguished writer of short fiction. Some of it contains elements of fantasy. Sometimes the fantasy is rationalized in somewhat scientific terms. Leave it at that.
 A few months ago, an article appeared in The New Republic on Ellison. At one point the writer asserted that Ellison was a writer whose works were outgrown by their readers. I think this is a dubious point which strikes me more as editorializing than fact. If he had actually analyzed some of Ellison’s most-admired stories and attempted to do a serious critique to prove his point, I would regard it more seriously. As it is, it just seemed more as if the writer had a soapbox and decided to throw in a few attacks while he had that soapbox.
Anent Ellison’s bad behavior over the years, I think that should be kept separate from a discussion of his work. Yes, he had feet of clay. Yes, he not only had an absence of tact, but he was impulsive and had a Lenny Bruce-like sense of humour where he seemed to get a charge out of successfully shocking his audience. This has nothing to do with his literary achievement.
I do not know how to characterize Ellison’s literary stature. It is impossible to judge at this stage because his work is still too recent, too close to the memory of the man himself. When he was on, he could definitely write. The long-term value of what he wrote is the issue, and the jury will be out for a while. When an sf writer dies, his career tends to flatline, but there is another sort of fate for interesting-but-minor sf writers, where they just seem to disappear except for collectors and people consumed with nostalgia. And there are writers whose work just won’t go away, until finally their reputation grows again to the point where they cannot be dismissed.
Ultimately, whatever interest and immortality a writer has consists in the work that continues to be read.
If Ellison’s work survives, then we will be left with historical and biographical anecdotes about Ellison that will amuse or offend or exasperate the curious. But his biography will only have real resonance for the people who knew him.
There are many writers who were strange or bad people, or who committed gaffes or got caught in not-very-flattering incidents. I could name several: Dostoyevsky comes immediately to mind, and in truth, Hemingway and Tolstoy and Poe were no exemplars either. But a writer’s work is more important than any cult of personality.
So Time will tell.
I thought the New Republic article was regrettable. It did not read like the work of someone who knew and understood Ellison’s work very well. It read more like a hit-job.
Ellison made a huge impact in sf. He had an enormous effect on the way many of us saw the world and understood it. We did not always agree with him. We sometimes thought he had gone off the deep end here, or behaved badly there; but that does not matter. “Corrupters of youth” are often not without defects. Even when we knew he was wrong and had those internal arguments with his books at 2 am, we knew we had been in a fight.
I met him a few times over the years, the first time back in the '70s, the last time in the early '90s. I did not really know him, but I liked him. I liked his work more. I miss him a lot.
A Personal List of Ellison’s stories:
“Bright Eyes”
“Deeper than the Darkness”
“Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes”
‘“Repent Harlequin!” said the Ticktockman’
“I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream”
“Shattered Like a Glass Goblin”
“A Boy and His Dog”
“At the Mouse Circus”
“One Life Furnished in Early Poverty”
“The Whimper of Whipped Dogs”
“On the Downhill Side”
“Strange Wine”
“The Diagnosis of Dr. D’arqueAngel”
“Jeffty is Five”
“Flop Sweat”
"Alive and Well on a Friendless Voyage"
"All the Birds Come Home to Roost"
“Paladin of the Lost Hour”
“The Function of Dream Sleep”“Mefisto in Onyx”

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.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Emanations 7: Examining the proof copy

The first proof copy is in good shape, and it has been necessary to make only a few minor corrections. I expect the final proof copy will be on my desk tomorrow.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Tessa B. Dick on Coast to Coast AM this Saturday

I just learned my International Authors colleague Tessa B. Dick will be interviewed by Jimmy Church this Saturday on the Coast to Coast AM radio program.  Tessa's interview is scheduled for the third hour of the show, Midnight, Pacific Time. That's 3:00 AM Eastern time. 

Please click HERE for more information.

Tessa and Philip K. Dick

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

13 Vendémiaire

"A Whiff of Grapeshot" Alphonse Lalaux

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Book Day at the WAH Center: Saturday, December 8, 2018, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

On John Milton's birthday, the WAH Center is hosting a "Book Day" to exhibit books, publications and prints associated with the Yuko Nii Foundation, and various artists associated with the Center, including Terrance Lindall.

Also this month is a WAH Center is a show designated "Section B – Permanent Collection, Part 3".  The show features works from the Permanent Collection of the Yuko Nii Foundation acquired between 2010-2012. The show runs December 1 through December 30.  Please click HERE for more information.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Emanations 7 is nearly finished

The tech team is working on the cover.  Making final adjustments.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Understanding the language of Electricity, a model of philosophical clarification

 According to Heinrich Hertz:
Our confused wish finds expression in the confused question as to the nature of force and electricity. But the answer which we want is not really an answer to this question. It is not by finding out more and fresh relations and connections that it can be answered; but by removing the contradictions existing between those already known, and thus perhaps by reducing their number. When these painful contradictions are removed, the question as to the nature of force will not have been answered; but our minds, no longer vexed, will cease to ask illegitimate questions.

--Quoted in P. M. S. Hacker, Insight and Illusion (Oxford: Clarendon, 1972), 21.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Echoes: the problem of description

While it is not impossible, describing Echoes presents some difficulties.  Here is the rather "terse" description from the Amazon sales page:
A wrenching spy thriller like no other. In the first volume of the Invisible Tower Trilogy, readers are introduced to Bronson Bodine, an unusual spy in an unusual world.
Here is the description from the International Authors web site:
Meet Bronson Bodine, an unusual spy in an unusual world. Animated shadows, disquieting patterns and psychic visitations become as real—or as unreal—as the shifting landscape on which the secret agents of obscure organizations pursue their missions. At once a wrenching spy thriller and an ingenious meditation on the nature of human identity, Bronson Bodine’s adventures among the specters and reflections of an endless existence lead to strange outcomes, and to even stranger revelations.

Echoes is the first volume in the Invisible Tower Trilogy.
On the back of the book, the "description" reads:
Shadows, reflections, patterns, memories, origins, resemblances, legacies, visitations...
After I work through the "problematics" of preparing for publication volumes II and III of the Invisible Tower Trilogy, I plan to produce some clever, over-arching description. Until then, my inclination regarding any characterization of the project is to remain, so to speak, "aloof".

Please click the cover image to view the Amazon sales page, where recently posted reviews provide some useful insights:

A Commonwealth in the Wilderness

From the first paragraph of the first chapter of James Fenimore Cooper's The Pioneers:
Near the centre of the State of New York lies an extensive district of country whose surface is a succession of hills and dales, or, to speak with greater deference to geographical definitions, of mountains and valleys. It is among these hills that the Delaware takes its rise; and flowing from the limpid lakes and thousand springs of this region the numerous sources of the Susquehanna meander through the valleys until, uniting their streams, they form one of the proudest rivers of the United States. The mountains are generally arable to the tops, although instances are not wanting where the sides are jutted with rocks that aid greatly in giving to the country that romantic and picturesque character which it so eminently possesses. The vales are narrow, rich, and cultivated, with a stream uniformly winding through each. Beautiful and thriving villages are found interspersed along the margins of the small lakes, or situated at those points of the streams which are favorable for manufacturing; and neat and comfortable farms, with every indication of wealth about them, are scattered profusely through the vales, and even to the mountain tops. Roads diverge in every direction from the even and graceful bottoms of the valleys to the most rugged and intricate passes of the hills. Academies and minor edifices of learning meet the eye of the stranger at every few miles as be winds his way through this uneven territory, and places for the worship of God abound with that frequency which characterize a moral and reflecting people, and with that variety of exterior and canonical government which flows from unfettered liberty of conscience. In short, the whole district is hourly exhibiting how much can be done, in even a rugged country and with a severe climate, under the dominion of mild laws, and where every man feels a direct interest in the prosperity of a commonwealth of which he knows himself to form a part...

James Fenimore Cooper

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving

Pilgrims Going to Church, George Henry Boughton, 1867

Monday, November 19, 2018

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A hackneyed theme... or is it?

"Vanitas"  Attributed to Juan de Valdés Leal

A hackneyed theme, but the expressions in the owl's eyes is worth a moment.
Rather than "vanitas", the theme I see represented here is melancholy and tragedy.  Considering our condition in this sphere, our aspirations are not vanity, but instead expressions of courage, faith, and an earnest character. When combined with gentle manners, stillness and keen thoughtfulness, our work is profound in every possible way.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Professor Hodges and his copy of Echoes

My International Authors colleague Horace Jeffery Hodges is considering where on his bookshelf to place his copy of Echoes, as well as considering where to place it in the cannon of world literature, or so it would seem.  Please click HERE.

Professor Hodges and daughter Sa-Rah

Saturday, November 10, 2018

After Echoes

The manuscripts of volumes II and III  of the Invisible Tower Trilogy are in good form.  I am cautiously optimistic I will be able to have both books out--possibly published simultaneously--by mid-Summer, 2019.

Although I am not presently committed to publishing them at the same time, the "aesthetic dynamics" of the trilogy suggest to me that this could be a good idea.

Meanwhile, Emantaions 7 is at T-minus six weeks and counting...

Friday, November 9, 2018

Joyriding the Maelstrom: L. Sterns Newburg reviews Echoes

L. Sterns Newburg has posted an Amazon review of Echoes. Here it is:
Joyriding the Maelstrom
This book is quite a wild ride. Ostensibly a novel centered on a protagonist named Bronson Bodine, in fact it presents a kaleidoscope of images and scenes that function at one level as an episodic narrative that seems to perpetuate the tropes of speculative fiction, and in at the same time, in a Nabokovian manner, plays post-modern games that subvert those old tropes.

It is constructed out of narrative blocks that are apparently disjointed, but which cohere to form an image of what seems to be a mythic presentation of the modern technological hero -- but it keeps mutating from bloc to bloc, ultimately leaving us with questions about those tropes, and the world they represent in the kaleidoscopic fragments.

What ultimately gives the work its unity is Kaplan's prose, which is his most persuasive tool, and his rather Nabokovian sense of humor, which produces genuine mirth at the most unexpected places.

I do not know if the author intended the work to use the paste-up method of Burroughs and Ballard, but there are aspects of the book that remind me of that technique. However, the book is persistently and eloquently without verbal murkiness, and there seems nothing gratuitous or random about the work, even at its most poetically puzzling.

I look forward to seeing the next volume. I'd give this volume of the proposed work a 4 1/2, but I have hopes for the subsequent volumes.
Please click HERE to visit the US Amazon page for Echoes.

"Descent into the Maelstrom" by Harry Clark, 1919

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Review: M-A Berthier's Some Rumor of Strange Adventures

Some Rumor of Strange Adventures is challenging at many levels. For some readers, these challenges could represent a problem appreciating the novel. In most cases, however, the author’s extraordinary skills allow him to succeed, and regardless of how very close he comes to the edge of the aesthetic cliff. The book is set on the campus of a curious provincial university that somehow (miraculously, some would say) represents both a first-rate learning institution and a swamp of academic grotesques. The fictional Jason Gould University does not read like a contemporary institution—the professors seem far too competent in their fields, as well exhibiting an eclectic understanding of the humanities that seems like a survival of a by-gone era, if not actually the expression of author Berthier’s own broad reading and knowledge. A person who is as intellectually expansive as the professors in this novel would not be a professor, but rather a savant of some kind who would be unsuited for an academic life and academic politics; a person like Berthier, in fact, who, in addition to being a polyglot possessing an encyclopedic knowledge of European literature, is a PhD in Physics working “at a high level” in Silicon Valley. One wonders if Berthier is representing a liberal arts college of the 1960s or 70s (evidently drawing upon his own experience), and as well using the setting of a university to exercise his own vast learning and his own critical views—which are acerbic and, in the final analysis, aberrantly amusing. Now, I don’t wish to imply these characteristics in any way represent blemishes upon the surface of the story; nor is there anything anachronistic about the “old school” feel of Jason Gould University—the narrator makes it very clear that the story he tells describes events taking place thirty years before.

Another challenge readers will encounter is the protagonist--with the absurd name Nimrod Rothschild--who, in addition to coming from a criminal family, is himself a violent sociopath with “liberated” sexual mores, which moreover are as unbridled as his ability to rapidly absorb—and formulate opinions upon—the most abstruse bits of learning his professors can throw at him. This incongruous juxtaposition of narcissism and erudition is perhaps the author’s most striking and challenging achievement. Along these lines, bear in mind, too, that this is not a romance or a narratological battery of psychological conceptions. Indeed, it is a fiction rooted in that “modern” prospectus of the novel that the most boring prig should approve—Henry James, say, would admire this work for its formal mastery. Nevertheless, this novel exceeds its grounding in modernist aesthetics, and one wonders if, just maybe, Berthier is pulling—that is YANKING--the legs of the very same specialists he finds himself among, and whom he represents.

Enjoying a novel is a matter of taste; nevertheless, in the case of a true work of art, it is incumbent upon readers to set aside their aesthetic preferences and, come what may, allow an author to produce his effects. Peculiar intellectual combinations, anti-heroes, and transgressive scenarios are not always successful strategies, and sometimes they can fail miserably. In this novel, however, Berthier is able to achieve notable (dare I say “new”?) artistic effects, which will interest serious readers of cultured and intelligent literature.

Please click HERE to view the Amazon page.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

A Colonial Adventure

Loire 130 hydroavion by Standa Hajek

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Modernist Dream, Redux

“We're in the business of designing buildings for businessmen who put up buildings for other businessmen.”

    --Architect Richard Roth, Jr., quoted in Meredith L. Clausen, The Pan Am Building and the Shattering of the Modernist Dream, p.185.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Echoes reviewed on Amazon France

The French Amazon page for Echoes has a new review of the book.  Here it is:

I really enjoyed Echoes. It recounts the deliriously slapstick adventures of Bronson Bodine, the Invisible Tower's top (not‒so‒secret) agent as he battles his (and possibly our) archenemies who are... Well, we're never quite sure who. Then again, we never really learn what the Invisible Tower is... Or the true motives of their enigmatic, less than human leader, Eddie Allan...

Echoes, I should point out, is the first volume of a trilogy.

What really scotched me was the vigour of author Carter Kaplan's imagination. Of course, there are influences: Bodine might be a second‒cousin‒not‒so‒far removed of Moorcock's Jerry Cornelius and, at one point, he (Bodine) gorily dissects a Lovecraftian monster ‒ as surgery is one of Bodine's many destructive enthusiasms, expect other characters to fall fodder to his scalpel. But Carter Kaplan transcends his influences by the incandescent quality of his prose, his wit, and a gift for satire the equal of anyone.

These odd, funny, non‒sequitur chapters make me think of elaborately crafted artefacts cast upon our shores from some fifth‒dimension tsunami... Well worth your picking up.

Please click HERE to view the page.

Please click HERE to visit the US Amazon page for Echoes.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Quick Report

I find if you work it right you can get energy out of editing. If you feel good about the work, it pulls you along. It really helps when the people you work with are excited about the project, too. 

Meanwhile, it is important not to get behind the "power curve". If you don't pace yourself, you can be like an airplane in a dive without sufficient speed or thrust to pull up. This Summer, I worked on my novel Echoes and Emanations 7. The novel was giving me energy but I was still putting energy into it, and also putting energy into E7, which calls upon a different set of creative energies. A novel is your own world, your own ontology.  On the other hand, a complex and sprawling collaboration like Emanations requires working with and around other peoples' energies and ontologies.  Not a difficult task, but one especially has to respect the "power curve" when working in this (the editorial and collaborative) mode.

Anyway... When school started end of August I was knackered. From August to mid-October, I was performing involved textual manipulations for Emanations 7--it has been necessary to format some of the text in PDF, and then paste the text (as jpeg images) into the master file. The manipulations meant I had to to "think backwards" as I prepared and pasted the images into the book. I'll leave that to peoples' imaginations. Suffice it to say that E7 will have some pretty intriguing stuff in it. The book will offer really strong writing and curious images, and also it will be an innovative object in its own right.

I am waiting for two illustrations, and then the interior of the book will be done.  The art work for the cover is ready, and the cover will come together quickly.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Bell 222 Haiku

Throbs rising in pitch
Shifting aircraft leaves the Earth
Leaping into ascent

Landing gear retract smartly
Thundering  image

Streamline enclosure
Circumscribed by whirring lift
Flashing through the sky

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Hayabusa-2 Telemetry

The Japanese Hayabusa-2 spacecraft has been busy investigating 162173 Ryugu, an asteroid in near-Earth orbit. To view telemetry from the spacecraft, please click HERE.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Mothra Haiku

Magic fairies sing
“Mothra, justify our cries!”
Shadow in the Moon

Day is born from night
A giant moth lays her egg
Promises are made

Tokyo Tower
Bracing the fibrous cocoon
Patient larva waits

Mothra will emerge
From a caterpillar dream
Cherry blossom time

Colors in the sky
Sweeping winds across the bay
Mothra’s curled wings spread

Monday, October 22, 2018

Dr. Serizawa Haiku

Godzilla must go
Dred oxygen destroyer
Serizawa weeps

Facts, data, a choice
Scientists humble themselves
Loss and departure

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Echoes at the WAH Center Permanent Collection III Opening

In an October 15 posting, I advised Highbrow readers that the "Permanent Collection III" show at the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center was opening this weekend.  My International Authors colleague Bienvenido Bañez, Jr. has sent along the following images of my new novel Echoes, which made it to the floor of the exhibition.

 To purchase Echoes, please click HERE.