Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Character Flaws

Some times a person just has to accept that their hero is little better than a lump of lard, let him go, say good bye, and slam the door. This is especially the case when a writer of pulp is engaged in propaganda and messaging. If our hero in The Rabbit of Usk can begin to get on my nerves, then sure as heck he'll get on your nerves.

I mean this whole business of his not being able to talk English to certain females is in an odd way understandable. You could put it down to an institutionalized bashfulness, or you could try to. But take it too far and you've got a bunch of problems with what might loosely be referred to as the narrative.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Curiouser and Curiouser

The expression "Curiouser and Curiouser" does appear in The Rabbit of Usk. The whole thing with a Rabbit really has to contain the expression, even if our hero is no Alice. On reflection you want your hero to be at least like-able. Not sure he is likable. In many ways he's an unpleasant person. A little full of himself. Very obnoxious... And I'll have to stop otherwise I might have to potlatch and rewrite.

In the search for artificial intelligence, which is I guess better conceived of as a device that'll do the thinking and the work for us, there's an issue of how to motivate the device. In someway reward it. An extra buzz from the electrical circuits as a pat on the head. But when your boldly going where no mind has been before, current thinking suggest that the reward should run along the lines of "Satisfying Curiosity."

Order of the Elephant or a Cadillac

Quite why Marshal Tito's gift of a Cadillac from the US Government appears in The Rabbit of Usk is difficult to be certain. Tito had a long list of Awards of Valor from all Nations in the world. He had the Order of the Southern Cross from Brazil. He had the Order of Leopold from Belgium. He had the Order of the Elephant from Denmark. It just goes on and on. If you're interested, the French President, Emmanuel Macron has the Order of the Elephant.

The Cadillac from the United States was a convertible, like the one US Presidents used to be driven around in. In parts of Croatia the gift from the United States, didn't go down well. And in the archives there's a mug shot of Marshal Tito soon after he was arrested in 1928. He served five years in prison for Revolutionary Activities. And here your writer of pulp might be tempted to countermand his 2020 New Year Resolution.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Rabies

Cold day in the outdoors, and getting colder. It's the wind that does it even when the sun's warm. But somewhere in The Rabbit of Usk there's a reference to rabies. The tradition was that when you got bitten by a rabid animal, before you died in terrible delirium and pain you turned into the animal that bit you.

Long before the Sphinx was a gleam in Pharaoh's eye one of our hero's ancestors had been bitten by a rabid animal and before he died he'd turned into a beautiful Gazelle and off he'd run. In those days of course you didn't just throw a bucket of water at someone with rabies to put an end to their misery, you gave them their chance to become something else.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Dragan, Chesil Beach and Herr Oberst

In The Rabbit of Usk it could well be a stretch to have Vilbert Oberst playing with the Knightsbridge Quartet under the stars and moon on the Chesil Beach. It was before the second world war when Vilbert Oberst was living in London, England. Not even certain the Knightsbridge Quartet does things like serenade the Full Moon. But somehow or other, Freckles had to get dropped from a parachute in wartime from a lumbering Luftwaffe transport airplane. There are other ways this might have been achieved but the key word here is Fiction, and at least Vilbert was able to recognize Chesil Beach from the air. On a personal note, the Chesil Beach is interesting geologically unless you're a schoolboy enduring a field day in Arctic conditions.

Herr Oberst himself later on in the war got shot done in the Balkans by a Croatian Patriot. He'd married the woman who'd shot him down and after the war Oberst had settled down to contented married life in rural Croatia with a highly decorated hero of the People's Republic. Our hero was accompanying Marta's boy child who went by the name of Dragan, which translates as Precious, when he heard the account of how Freckles arrived in the British Isles from Herr Oberst. Precious smuggled counterfeit Winston Cigarettes which were packaged in Albania. But for the purposes of being introduced to his mother and step-father our hero had to understand that Precious was a teetotaler who didn't smoke and was usefully employed as a carpenter.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Two Books,

There are two primary books mentioned rather frequently in The Rabbit of Usk. They are both quoted from. Sometimes the quotes are painfully endless, but such is life. There's Walking Stewart's Apocalypse of Nature. He also wrote a book called Revolution of Reason. In the story both Walking Stewart's books are melded into one. These two books were written in the late 1700's early 1800's by a real person, who liked to describe himself as The First Man of Nature, by which he meant that he was not that much taken by the idea of an Almighty, unless that Almighty was the untold unraveling of physical processes. "The Philosopher," he claimed. "Should bow down to the microscope."

The other book is Abdul bin Abdul's Earthly Voyage. This book is quoted from with great frequency and at some length and is a totally invented book that was written in the 8th or 9th Century by a convert to the Cult of Pythagoras. "Dear God Why?" I hear the very reasonable question. Well it was Abdul who while working as a tax collector for the Umayyad Caliphate in the new province of Andalusia who witnessed Timothy's  "Miracles of Berobi" an account of which appears in his Earthly Voyage. This was a major event for Abdul. "No matter it's origin of birth," Abdul wrote as he awaited his execution, "An undaunted being is the work of The Limitless."

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Myths, Conspiracy Theories and Poaching Parishioners

There are similarities between Myths and Conspiracy Theories. And both are capable of being manipulated. The Illuminati for example was the name of an Austrian secret society that had formed around the idea of opposing superstition and the influence religion had upon late 17th Century thinking. By the beginning of the 20th Century the Illuminati had become in the minds of many an all encompassing powerful entity that was controlling world affairs, it hade agents everywhere, and anything bad that happened to the rest of us was clearly good for the Illuminati. In the 1960's an outfit that called themselves The Discordants managed to propagate the conspiracy by faking secret Illuminati documents which they managed to get published in Playboy. Some will argue The Discordants received assistance from Moscow, and on it goes.

With respect to Myths, there's an Irish Myth that suggests the Gaels, the more ancient people of Ireland and Scotland, had been led through the wilderness to a promised land in the British Isles by the two daughters of a an Egyptian Pharaoh. The one daughter was Scota, who founded Scotland. I forget the name of the other daughter, but she founded Ireland. In chasing down this myth some have noticed that the mummified remains of an Ancient Egyptian line of Pharaohs had red hair. Proof positive that the myth had legitimacy. When you put the Charlatans, propagandists and the like aside, it's difficult to go all Hume and Empirical on both conspiracy theories and myths. But insight into location of these fancies with in the social tapestry was briefly explored by Reverend Bates in  The Rabbit of Usk. In the late 18th Century he was attempting to discourage the Methodists from poaching his Parishioners.