Saturday, March 30, 2024

Wallace Martin - Cultural Influences on Ouspensky in Russia

Wallace Martin


A point of departure for many interesting considerations. Click HERE for the paper.

Pyotr Demianovich Ouspensky

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

The Ziggurat of Ur

Where gods and kings pursued their heart's desire.


Monday, March 25, 2024

Highbrow advice worth repeating

Place this where Locke pivots from his Letter on Toleration to An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Meanwhile, check Aristotle for confirmation, HERE.

And see you tomorrow:

Click HERE to register for access.


Sunday, March 24, 2024

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

The Vapart Disintegrator

Scientific American, July 31, 1877

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Reminder: Online Interview March 26, 9:00 pm Eastern Time

UPDATE: Please click HERE.

9-10pm Eastern Time.

I will discuss philosophy and literature, International Authors, the Emanations anthology series, and my novels, especially the Invisible Tower trilogy. I think I might read from Tally-Ho, Cornelius!

Jean-Paul L. Garnier of Space Cowboy Books will conduct the interview.


Please click HERE to register for access.

And please spread the word.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Clark Ashton Smith Bookplate Design

Seller's description:

ORIGINAL ART BY CLARK ASHTON SMITH. Smith's Design for his own bookplate, ink on paper, 5 ¼ x 5 inches, titled EX LIBRIS CLARK ASHTON SMITH, Signed "CAS" lower right corner. Depicts a strange clawed monster bearing what looks like Smith's own face (a self-portrait?) along with a typically weird flower against a backgroud of hills. Small pinholes at corners, on small hole (by the monster's foot). Very good condition. Unique, and rather amazing. This item came from Smith to Roy A. Squires; Squires used it as the cover image for his Catalogue 7, BEYOND THE BIBLIOGRAPHIES. Unique Items for Collectors who are Not Satisfied with Mere Completeness (Circa 1973), an offering of mostly autographs, manuscripts and association copies of books, mostly pertaining to HP Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and the Lovecraft Circle. Curiously, the bookplate was not listed for sale in the catalogue; evidently Squires "liked it too much". We agree with him: this is a remarkable piece, certainly one of my all-time favourite pieces of CAS artwork, now offered for sale. $2950.00

It looks like the piece has been sold.  Please click HERE.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Proving Grounds or: How I Still Don't Worry About the Bomb But Maybe Should

Proving Grounds by Jean-Paul L. Garnier, Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library, 2023.

We don’t hear much about nuclear proliferation and nuclear wars. If we do, the specter of nuclear war remains an abstraction because it is presented as an ancillary concern to matters that are more central to the committee-written political narratives that these days pass for journalism. Vladimir Putin comes to mind, where the nuclear saber-rattling attending the Ukraine conflict remains a vague bit of stage scenery set well behind Putin’s stalking persona, intentions, lawlessness, and so on. The “monster” is not nuclear war so much as a politician who is defying the will of the “true” international order as defined by the elites controlling that order, and who are competing with the elites that "monster" represents. But nuclear war is itself a monster, and maybe in the consideration of the human condition and the fragility of civilization, we should not lose sight of what nuclear weapons are and what they can do.

As a child of the 1960s, and then as a witness to the successful anti-nuclear movements of the 1970s, I think by the time I was in my late-teens I had become accustomed to the feeling that the threat of nuclear war was a thing of the past. Pink Floyd's pulling the nuclear fear rabbit out of the hat in The Wall (1979) was passé and dull. The dragon had been slain. By the 1980s, even the sometimes-alarming emotions concerning Ronald Regan’s nuclear saber-rattling seemed rather quaint. After all, that fear long ago had been drowned in the laughter produced by Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.  

There was some further worry in the early 2000s when India and Pakistan were squaring off, and I only vaguely recall Donald Rumsfeld flying over to the Indian subcontinent to remind the Indians and the Pakistanis that nuclear war was not an option. Throughout that episode I had assumed, as if it was a given fact, that the human race was thoroughly sane in this matter, and that nuclear war would never occur. Maybe I was right.

Perhaps this is why that among our contemporary cultural artifacts there is a paucity of expressions serving to remind us of the horror of nuclear weapons and nuclear war. Jean-Paul L. Garnier’s Proving Grounds helps to fill this gap. A slim, cleverly illustrated, classic paperback-size production, this new book reminds me of the excitement and “relevance” characterizing Marshall McLuhan and Quenton Fiore's very “mod” and remarkably dynamic collaborations: The Medium is the Massage and War and Peace in the Global Village.  Garnier’s slim volume presents us with 29 poems, each accompanied by a detailed, black and white photograph of a nuclear explosion. It has a historical feel—a sort of mal du pays for the atomic age and 1950s science fiction; the combined effect of reading the poems and viewing the fiery images produces curious impressions.  Here are contemporary manifestations of Charles Baudelaire’s flowers-of-evil aesthetic refracted through the lens of our memories of the atomic age and the strange (and relatively unexplored) lens of considering such weapons over three generations later in the 21st century.

The recent Godzilla Minus One is a strong reminder of what nuclear war means, and how even the most militaristic of societies can transform and abandon war as a means of pursuing foreign policy and then re-direct its energies to the purpose of improving peoples’ lives. The wonderful success of that film suggests that nuclear weapons and nuclear war is a subject that we must continue to consider; it is a subject that still, and with good reason, haunts us in profound ways.

In that spirit, Garnier’s Proving Grounds is a healthy reminder that nuclear weapons are antithetical to civilization, notwithstanding their psychological effects, i.e. frightening whole populations into compliance of one kind or another.  Nuclear weapons remain unacceptable, and we must continue—notwithstanding our sense of security and our sense of the continuum of civilization—to not only overcome the threat of nuclear war, but to also free ourselves from these weapons entirely.

Click the cover image to view the Proving Grounds Amazon page:

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Funny, but is it on the mark?

Credit: Existential Comics

Are these good characterizations?  Is this Wittgenstein's place in Western Philosophy?

It's a fair beginning.

Nevertheless, Wittgenstein's activity underscores the point that the task of philosophers remains important because the credulity attending metaphysical speculation and unfit/unsuitable language is an on-going problem that must be reviewed and analyzed by philosophers specializing in grammatical analysis. The sense of new scientific and philosophical propositions driven by on-going technological change, institutional corruption and new political shibboleths requires steady and careful review.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Online Interview, March 26

UPDATE: Please click HERE.


9-10 Eastern Time.

I will discuss philosophy and literature, International Authors, the Emanations anthology series, and my novels, especially the Invisible Tower trilogy. I think I might read from Tally-Ho, Cornelius!

Jean-Paul L. Garnier of Space Cowboy Books will conduct the interview.


Please click HERE to register for access.

And please spread the word.

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Are abstruse painting titles utterances?

Herman de Vries - V69-02 (1969)

Assuming painting titles are not propositions, then what are they?

If abstruse painting titles are utterances, how do we describe such utterances?

How do we respond to such utterances? 

Are our descriptions of these titles utterances?  If so, what does that say about our responses to such titles? 

Are our remarks concerning paintings qua paintings themselves utterances?

Friday, March 8, 2024

If abstruse painting titles were propositions, then_____?

Max Ernst - Some Animals are Illiterate (1973)

Do some philosophers debate painting titles as if they were matters of scientific understanding?  Or, better, are some of the subjects philosophers debate rather like the strange titles of fanciful paintings?

Such philosophers might be lost in phantom spaces of conceptual confusion that are rooted in the misapprehension of language; that is, they are confused as to the nature and the character of the subjects they are discussing. 

Want to go deeper? Please click HERE.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Dada feels nothing...

Tristan Tzara - “To make a Dadaist Poem” (1920)

Take a newspaper.

Take some scissors.

Choose from this paper an article the length you want to make your poem.

Cut out the article.

Next carefully cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them all in a bag.

Shake gently.

Next take out each cutting one after the other.

Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag.

The poem will resemble you.

And there you are—an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Pushcart Prize nominations for Emanations Zen

As I announced here February 7, several pieces in Emanations Zen have been nominated by the editors of the Pushcart Prize. I have received a letter, and the nominees are:

Laura McPherson, "FitYou"

Leo Rampen, "Portfolio"

Click HERE to view the Pushcart Prize web page.  

Click the cover image to view the Emanations Zen Amazon page:

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Norman Spinrad on Astronomy, Publishing and Culture...

Just across my desk, a circular from renowned author Norman Spinrad concerning recent publishing ventures, with fascinating remarks on progress in astronomy, the James Web Space Telescope, our evolving anthropological understanding, publishing, politics, cultural trends, and so on.

Norman Spinrad

Citizens of the Galaxy
 the Critique and the Book

On August my critique "Citizens of the Galaxy" will be published in Asimov magazine. Three of my stories, "The Sword of  Damacles," "Ad Astra" and "Up and Out," have already been published in magazines and are the major part of the book CITIZENS OF THE GALAXY, which has yet to find a publisher.

It has long been an economic trade publishing practice, at least in science fiction, to blow up a novella, say 30,000 words, into a 60,000 word novel, or visa versa publish say a 20,000 piece of a finished novel, in a magazine to try to help get the novel published.  

But CITIZENS OF THE GALAXY the book could be published as either a single novella enlarged to a novel or that novella plus two short stories plus more, and work literally either way, and I would be eager to have a good professional editor help me make the decision, if only I can find one to work with me to make the decision.

"Up and Out" is the  25,000  word novella which has already been published in Asimov's magazine to mutual satisfaction, but strictly literally speaking, would be best at about 40,000 words, but would not be hurt at say 60,000 words.  But the other two published stories, written before the novella, and are related to it story wise, together would be something different and deeper.

"The Sword of Damocles" takes place entirely in a super orbital telescope in a future in which it is known that there are extrasolar alien cultures, but nothing more and what that would mean to the culture below. Some time later I was commissioned to write what literature would be like a century in such a future. And Up and Out, the novella, takes place in the same future.

But what makes CITIZENS OF THE GALAXY currently unique is that the future is now about to begin in real time.  When we understand that we are now in the process of realizing that we are not alone in this galaxy.

Within less than two years, the James Web Space Telescope has completely opened up our knowledge of the universe, let alone our mere galaxy. Billions of suns. As many as trillions of stars and moons. The understanding that h20 and carbon are the most common chemicals in the galaxy, in the universe, the waters of life.

And as I write this, as I have written the magazine stories, as the critique of Citizens of the Galaxy you can read in August, as probably even before I can find a publisher for the book CITIZENS OF THE THE GALAXY, we will know for scientific certainty that we are at least not the only life in this galaxy, indeed  not the only life in the universe but citizens of the galaxy.

Which is why I want to open this book of speculative fictional with something that is not fiction but a piece of non-fiction speculation that I wrote almost half a century ago, The Transformation Crisis. When there was not a single planet known outside our  solar system, first written as a speech I wrote to deliver in a university, then  published in a magazine, then in various versions online when the online came to be, and yet true speculative non fiction now and will always be true as long as we are Citizens of the Galaxy, as long as there are any consciousness beings who survive as citizens of this galaxy or any other.

It is obvious and inevitable than any civilization that evolves anywhere will reach a transformation crisis when its technology evolves to the point where it has the power to destroy itself.  It either does destroy itself or it evolves the wisdom not to do so and can survive for millions of years.

And our transformation criss is now. It began with Hiroshima, it continues with what we have done with our planet, with our solar system, it may continue to be a crisis for centuries, before humanity either fails our crisis or succeds its transformation.

Humanity meet "aliens" has been a central story of "science fiction" but for the most part it has been mainly humans verses aliens, ala Cowboys against Indians, Us verses Them, perhaps because 20th century SF grew out of  action magazines.  But now, only now, meaning perhaps only in the last few years, is speculative fiction being written virtually knowing what the galaxy really is, and that there are most probably other citizens of the galaxy out there.

And once there is proof  that there is at the very least other life in the galaxy, speculative fiction cannot help but become a central literary fiction, if not the dominant literature. So this is what CITIZENS OF THE GALAXY is,  both what such a culture might be like and what its  literature would be like.

I have published something like 30 novels but only once have I set two of them in the same speculative "Norman Spinrad Universe." CITIZENS OF THE GALAXY is and is not such a book. The three stories take place in the same speculative culture, and indeed some of the characters appear in more than one of the stories, sometimes central, some times not.

And as I look back of those 30 or so novels I realize that only a very few of them are Us Against Them stories.  And not so many of them are neither set in utopias or dystopias. And now, things being dire as we are at the edge of our transformation crisis, dystopias seem more creditable and realistic than utopias.

But CITIZENS OF THE GALAXY is neither. I have chosen, or rather been chosen perhaps, to write the stories in a speculative future sent about one or two centuries in the future, in a culture that has successfully passed through it's  transformation crisis. Neither utopia nor dystopia, but of course not without personal and cultural drama.

I have always, or almost, wanted to write stories that the readers  at least feel somewhat the better for having read them, or at least not bummed out. As I have always agreed that it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.  And certainly, most people, given the situations now, must prefer that now.

So why have I been forced to do this now, to ask anyone who might read this SOS to do anything that might help CITIZENS OF THE GALAXY find a publisher?  Or even an agent. There are all too many white male writers with similar backgrounds complaining that this is why they find themselves black balled. Perhaps this may be so for them, be they too MAGA or too Moke, but I cannot deny that I did it to myself.

People have wondered why Norman Spinrad hasn't published another novel since THE PEOPLE'S POLICE some ten years ago. Is he dead? Has he retired? Has he lost his literary desire?

No, the answer is that I was black balled by myself. No publisher, no agent, and what caused this is what happened to THE PEOPLE'S POLICE. Tor was the publisher, David Hartwell was the editor, and THE PEOPLE'S POLICE was published in hardcover, and this novel meant so much to me that I spent my own money to make video in New Orleans, knowing that Tor wouldn't pay for making that, but since it was free to them, they would be eager to make the best of the freebie.

But before the book was to be published the shit hit the fan. David Hartwell was killed in an accident, meaning that THE PEOPLE'S POLICE became what is known an orphan novel, meaning that it had no champion at Tor.  Tor did nothing with the video and didn't pay a penny in promotion. Worse even than that, when they showed me the hardcover cover, a male and female cop back-to-back and creating an evil raciest face, exactly against the spirit of the novel, I was not amused. They had never showed me the proposal of the cover, and said it couldn't be changed  because David Hartwell had approved it, which I knew to be a lie.

I was furious, but what could I do but wait for the trade paperback and hold my anger and get a better cover on it? And I did. But then I was told that there would be no trade paperback.  At which point it meant war. I was determined to free THE PEOPLE'S POLICE from the clutches of Tor.

As Hemingway had put it, when I write it, I am an artist, when I finish, I become a son of a bitch.  If necessary. Suffice it to say that I did.  I won the battle against a major publisher.  All by myself. Suffice it to say that no agent could afford to act for a client against a major publisher. Mine didn't, I couldn't blame him and I haven't been able to get another agent since, and things having become in the biz these days what they are, no major or even other appropriate other publisher will even read a novel proposal except through an agent, even from likes of a Norman Spinrad.

Did I know I was black balling myself? Was I an asshole? Was I a hero? Was I both? Was I even thinking that way?

Be that as it may, here I am now, writing this, asking anyone who can, who would want to, give me a helping hand out of this black balling hole, as my former agent could not dare to do. Or send this along to someone or something else who might.  As always, anyone who reads this can send it anywhere else, to anyone else who might care, to simply a good publisher.  And or good editor. Or an agent who would want to try. Or a magazine or newspaper who would want to retell the story.

To any citizen of this galaxy, or for that matter beyond.

Norman Spinrad
1 rue de la Bucherie
75005 Paris

Friday, March 1, 2024

Dr. Alfred McLaren

Dr. McLaren's books: