Monday, March 20, 2023

Images of Child Labor in America

Whitnel Cotton Mills, North Carolina, USA 1908. "...children on night shift going to work at 6 PM on a cold dark December night. The work shift lasts all night, 12 hours. They do not come out again until 6:00 AM." (Photo, Lewis Wickes Hine).

Please click HERE for more images.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

KostelOmnibus on Substack

Richard Kostelanetz presents essays on art, literature, culture, institutions, politics...

Please click HERE.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

In Orbit

George Akimoto cover for Communication Arts, 1961

Thursday, March 16, 2023

The Invisible Tower Trilogy: Philosophical Matters Touching upon John Milton, Edgar Allan Poe, John Locke...

curious theme in We Reign Secure—Book 2 of the Invisible Tower Trilogy—is a figurative but also sometimes dramatized debate over the question:  “Is Satan the hero of Paradise Lost?” The debate becomes very involved, both as a phenomenon of plot development and subtextual theme—and, indeed, with geopolitical implications. In The Sky-Shaped Sarcophagus, Book 3, Satan (or so he calls himself) also plays a role.

It isn’t a spoiler to say the “good guys” in the trilogy do not think Satan is the hero of Paradise Lost.  

More broadly, the Satan-as-hero reading of the poem reflects the Gnostic heresy that characterizes the technocrat and transhumanist clans that are the “bad guys” in the trilogy, as well reflecting the Weltanschauung of the “luminaries” in a variety of contemporary real-world conversations.

We might ask ourselves, is Milton’s Satan a globalist and/or a transhumanist?

Deeper still: from time to time in Paradise Lost, is not Milton at some pains to present himself as a man with strong similarities to the Satan he has created?

Reviewing a list of the biographical and psychological comparisons of Milton to Satan in PL would be rewarding, with the caveat that Milton is engaged in an assessment of his own emotions and acts in this regard, and he is on track to correct his errors, especially when it comes to good and effective politics.

Germaine to my purposes in the Invisible Tower Trilogy, the question of Satan’s supposed “heroism” serves to underscore the ethical/political distinction I draw between the two characters engaged in the debate: Eddie Allan the “mastermind” of the Invisible Tower, and his step-father John Allan the technocrat with “Gnostic” and “Satanic” proclivities. Critics should properly read parallels between Eddie Allan and John Allan in the trilogy, and, respectively, Edgar Allan Poe and his step-father John Allan in the history of American literature

But once more to the question of the “hero” of Paradise Lost:

Allow me to share my impression of the philosophical trajectory that moves from Milton to John Locke.  For the nonce, let’s assume that Satan is an exponent of “bad politics,” while the Son is an exponent of “good politics.”  I think it follows that John Locke is the formulation of the political posture, method and system to which Milton is pointing.  And, indeed, not only does Locke refine Milton’s political ideas into usable forms and institutions, but students following Locke’s biography (see Roger Woolhouse) will be impressed with Locke’s ability to get along with people, and even when surrounded, as he was at Oxford, by people who were watching him very very carefully (Locke’s father fought for Cromwell, Locke was no Anglican, and so on).  If you want to achieve a revolution and properly install (as Aristotle advises) the middle classes into the legislative and magisterial offices, you follow the Son and not the fallen angel, not the narcissist, not the liar, not the Gnostic, and so on.  And, as a coda to this, I endorse Peter Lastlett’s (I think) observation that in assessing Locke’s philosophy, one should begin with A Letter Concerning Toleration. Indeed, the spirit of collegiality, of tolerance and of the free exchange of ideas promoted in this short book is central also to Locke’s An Essay on Human Understanding—is central to the genial spirit of free and open inquiry that is modern skeptical-empirical science; and, moreover, is central to the politics of Classic Liberalism, as presented in Locke’s Two Treatises of Government.

These are but several of the many philosophical threads that animate the trilogy.

Please click the following image to see the Amazon description:

Michael shows Adam things to come, PL Book XI

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Wittgenstein, Analytic Philosophy and the Invisible Tower Trilogy

Although Wittgenstein is central to many themes and is "operative" as I approach the construction of narratives, I have hesitated writing about the place of analytic philosophy in the Invisible Tower Trilogy. I have been experiencing some difficulty in arriving at the language to describe these dynamics, but now here it is:

The trilogy presents forceful comparisons among philosophical and theological credulity, conceptual confusion, grammatical confusion, psychological dysfunction, institutional corruption, existential doubt, and the "nature" of narrative--especially in regard to suspension of disbelief and verisimilitude.  
For the nonce, that shall suffice.

Please click the image to view the Amazon description of the trilogy:

Monday, March 13, 2023

In Response to Marshall McLuhan

McLuhan's remark is a point of departure for all manner of stimulating literary activity, from semiotics to satire, from poststructuralism to classic liberalism, from continental ideology to analytic philosophy, from institutional misinformation to Judeo-Christian insight, from conceptual credulity to verisimilitude and the suspension of disbelief...

Please click the image to view the Amazon description of the The Invisible Tower Trilogy:

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Friday, March 10, 2023

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Michael Butterworth reading from Complete Poems 1965-2020

Film by Paul Forshaw & Gareth Jackson, filmed at The Castlefield Gallery

Michael Butterworth Complete Poems 1965-2020



Musical Audiobook CD

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

“Ordering Formulations" - Michael Brennan on Paul Mogensen at Karma

Within a contemporary art vernacular characterized by “context collapse," Paul Mogensen has a achieved a renaissance in abstract painting through the careful exercise of the various ordering principles he uses to achieve his paintings.

Please click HERE for the article and more images.

As Michael Brennan suggests, it looks like a fascinating show. Until I actually see the paintings, this is the piece I find most interesting.  Perhaps not because it illustrates Mogensen's inquiring into linearity, or his clever suggestions of the colors and weave of Pomo Indian baskets, but because of the subtle chromatic effects I see variously emerging and progressing as my eye moves down the image.

Paul Mogensen, no title, 1969, alkyd enamel on unprimed canvas, 82 × 83⅝ inches

Monday, March 6, 2023

The Art Lover, 1937

Photos by Highbrow at Harvard Art Museums

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Haiku Triptych: Andromeda, Ghidorah, Owl




time is no longer

distance is no obstacle

warp factor zero















studio monster

move lights above telling wires

is the illusion?






substance asserts form

life, moment, reality

hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo

Friday, March 3, 2023

As for Thomas Morton...

A friend sent me an article by Matthew Taub on 17th Century English "colonist" Thomas Morton. After reading it, I jotted down a few notes in response to the sender.

We have to abandon the "Puritan" label--it is misleading. The Plymouth plantation is properly called "Separatist." They were allied with people we might style "Classic Liberals" at the early Salem colony, which is properly called "Independent" -- compare John Milton, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson. The Separatists were working- and "under"-class, the Independents were middle class. The Dutch Republic, which was more tolerant than the English, even so booted out the Separatists for not having any money, hence the "Pilgrims" re-grouped and sailed to Plymouth on the Mayflower.

Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Maypole of Merrymount" has John Endicott, rather than Plymouth leader Myles Standish, repressing Merrymount.

Endicott was an Independent who shifted over to the Presbyterians when John Winthrop took over the Mass Bay Colony in 1630. 
As you read Hawthornes's story, you get the idea that Hawthorne was rather with the "Puritans" on this one, as Morton and the Merrymounter's were a pile of trouble; moreover, Hawthonrne underscores the dubious scruples of their practices. Hawthorne places the following words in Endocitt's mouth as he dashes down the maypole:
"Thou art the man who couldst not abide the rule even of thine own corrupted church, and hast come hither to preach iniquity, and to give example of it in thy life. But now shall it be seen that the Lord hath sanctified this wilderness for his peculiar people. Wo unto them that would defile it!"

As the story moves to resolution, Endicott's attention is turned to a young men and women whose frolicsome celebration has been ended, and evidently this is the matter of concern to Hawthorne, and which led to him using the episode as a point of departure for the story, which is a meditation upon the contrasts of young love and long marriage:

Endicott rested on his sword, and closely surveyed the dress and aspect of the hapless pair. There they stood, pale, downcast, and apprehensive. Yet there was an air of mutual support, and of pure affection, seeking aid and giving it, that showed them to be man and wife, with the sanction of a priest upon their love. The youth, in the peril of the moment, had dropped his gilded staff, and thrown his arm about the Lady of the May, who leaned against his breast, too lightly to burden him, but with weight enough to express that their destinies were linked together, for good or evil. They looked first at each other, and then into the grim captain's face. There they stood, in the first hour of wedlock, while the idle pleasures, of which their companions were the emblems, had given place to the sternest cares of life, personified by the dark Puritans. But never had their youthful beauty seemed so pure and high as when its glow was chastened by adversity.

The story ends with Endicott pronouncing his judgment upon them:

"The troubles of life have come hastily on this young couple," observed Endicott. "We will see how they comport themselves under their present trials ere we burden them with greater. If, among the spoil, there be any garments of a more decent fashion, let them be put upon this May Lord and his Lady, instead of their glistening vanities. Look to it, some of you."

"And shall not the youth's hair be cut?" asked Peter Palfrey, looking with abhorrence at the love-lock and long glossy curls of the young man.

"Crop it forthwith, and that in the true pumpkin-shell fashion," answered the captain. "Then bring them along with us, but more gently than their fellows. There be qualities in the youth, which may make him valiant to fight, and sober to toil, and pious to pray; and in the maiden, that may fit her to become a mother in our Israel, bringing up babes in better nurture than her own hath been. Nor think ye, young ones, that they are the happiest, even in our lifetime of a moment, who mis-spend it in dancing round a Maypole!"

And Endicott, the severest Puritan of all who laid the rock foundation of New England, lifted the wreath of roses from the ruin of the Maypole, and threw it, with his own gauntleted hand, over the heads of the Lord and Lady of the May. It was a deed of prophecy. As the moral gloom of the world overpowers all systematic gayety, even so was their home of wild mirth made desolate amid the sad forest. They returned to it no more. But as their flowery garland was wreathed of the brightest roses that had grown there, so, in the tie that united them, were intertwined all the purest and best of their early joys. They went heavenward, supporting each other along the difficult path which it was their lot to tread, and never wasted one regretful thought on the vanities of Merry Mount.

Reading this when I was a young man, I was put off at Endicott's austerity. Now that I am "old and wise", I am comfortable saying the "moral heroism" he represents in the story is sound, and is moreover underscored in another Hawthorne story, "Endicott and the Red Cross", which I happily recommend (see the image below).
Let's return to history and Thomas Morton. His "love" of Native Americans is dubious, as his dealings with them caused problems for his neighbors. Was he using the Native Americans?
Later in 1647 during the Civil Wars, now returned to England, Morton was agitating against the Roundheads, and he was arrested. Now, earlier, at his "colony" in New England--when I consider the trouble he had been causing, I have to wonder: had Morton been an Anglican spy?
The true champion of the Native Americans was Roger Williams, who was exiled (twice) by the Mass Bay Colony. An Independent, with friends in the Salem and Plymouth colonies (sometime ally of John Endicott), Williams set up the Rhode Island Colony, which offered religious toleration and gave rights to Native Americans.

John Endicott cuts the cross of St. George from the flag in 1634, proclaiming American independence--142 years before the Revolution

Thursday, March 2, 2023

The Invisible Tower Trilogy - The Artists

Two artists are featured in The Invisible Tower Trilogy.

Lee Talley
, who did the cover art, is a digital artist in Virginia.  Lee's illustrations and projects have appeared in many volumes of Emanations











Click here to view Lee's website: Ambient Muse


The images and essays of painter Bienvenido Bones Bañez, Jr. have also appeared in Emanations.  His work appears on the back cover of the seventh volume, Emanations: Chorus Pleiades. Bien lives, paints and teaches in the Philippines. Here is his rendering of John Milton:













For The Invisible Tower Trilogy, Bien produced three portraits of adventurer Bronson Bodine.  Click here to view more of Bien's work: Visionary Art Gallery

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

The Invisible Tower Trilogy

I am happy to announce that all three books of The Invisible Tower Trilogy are now available.  Here are links to the Amazon and International Authors descriptions of the books.  Please forward this notice to your contacts.

The adventures of Bronson Bodine in three volumes: Echoes, We Reign Secure and The Sky-Shaped Sarcophagus. Each book stands alone as a unique work of fantasy and adventure. Viewed more broadly, the trilogy is a stimulating and challenging work of art.

The Invisible Tower Trilogy is a thriller that is also a tour de force — a farrago of philosophy, science, theology, myth, surrealism, poetry, geography, medicine, anthropology, satire... Vibrant and exotic, the novels portray a fantastic world that reflects our own. Readers will find the trilogy exceeds their expectations in every direction.

 Amazon, please click the image:









Please click HERE for the International Authors descriptions.