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.