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.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Sabean Schism

Tricky month January, does seem to go on a bit, rather endlessly but February is worse and March can often be incredibly frustrating. So perfect moment to discuss auditory and visual hallucinations which are found aplenty in the Rabbit of Usk. Pretend it's beautiful outside. Feel the sun on your back and the earth warm in your hands, hear the Thrashers quarrel and watch the Tree Swallows at their nest. But should these acts of imagination result in you believing the acts of imagination are real you might be in trouble. Then if you happen to mention that your acts if imagination are real to fellow member of the species, you get the funny look and you're advised to seek professional assistance, which can be upsetting, unless the traditional assumption calls a strange and ominous voices and visions in your head a gift or an instruction from the Almighty, which if managed correctly a person can start doing things like sacrificing their First Born and get away with it.

In terms of therapy there seem to be two responses. One is more chemical than the other, yet both I'd suggest are chemistry, or mathematics. The former technique introduces chemicals in an attempt to achieve "Balance." The later attempts to manipulate the specters of hallucination so as to better interpret them. Our hero chose the later. He assumed the identity of a people he called the Sabeans. the ancestors of whom had built the Sphinx for Pharaoh. When Pharaoh doubted the Sabean interpretation of the Sphinx, there was a Sabean schism, sometimes called the Poached Egg Schism. The Sphinx Sabeans continued as they were, they refused to submit to Pharaoh, they would not surrender the nature of their Being. Invariably there was a Diaspora into the world beyond Pharaoh. And by the end of the 20th Century a Sphinx Sabean was a rare and unusual creature who hardly ever happened upon a fellow Sphinx Sabean.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Windrals

Windral is a word I first came across while delving into the life and times of John Walking Stewart. Finding the word today as I understood it when I first saw it is beyond me. Looking it up on the internet, it's either a shopping experience, a character in Warcraft which is a game of some kind, or a book by Tim Candler that's been taken off line by its author because it basically sucks. In dictionaries there is apparently no such word as windral, or Windral. So it's all a little confusing and a muddle.

The word does however make a fine name for a sailing ship, preferably a rakish schooner with the canvass sales that weigh a ton. My own understanding of Windral is a flutter in the sea where Seagulls feed. The flutter and the feeding Seagulls suggest shallow water or a reef, so best to be wary of going too near it. In many ways our world is full of Windrals, places, people and things to be wary of. For John Walking Stewart as I remember it. The Windral was the name of a pirate ship, it was a dhow. And Walking Stewart found himself constrained in a Chicken Coop that hung from the bows of the pirate ship.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Rabbit of Usk Translations

Translation from one language to another is a curious area. Mentioned quite frequently in The Rabbit of Usk, where an Eighth Century book had been through two translations, from Ancient Greek to the Armenian and then into the English Language. Put aside sentence construction, the gender of words and the more mechanical structures that can vary between languages, think more in terms of the idea that almost all languages contain words that aren't easy to translate. Take the German word Schadenfreude. In English the word means "Taking pleasure from another's misfortune." If it was written in a sentence it would be something like "I felt a bit of Schadenfreude when I heard his dog had been run over." Easy to assume that "I took pleasure from" substitutes for Schadenfreude. But it doesn't. Pleasure is too open ended a word. You can take pleasure from chocolate cake. The word Schadenfreude contains the reason why I took pleasure from the dog ending its sojourn upon the earthly plane. These reasons include a sense of rivalry between myself and the dog's primary care giver, an understanding that the dog was generally badly behaved, and a sense that I saw justice at work when the dog's remains were scraped off the pavement and popped into a plastic bag, and at the same time there's an understanding within the word that my pleasure came at the expense of a whole horde of urchins blubbering for days because Bongo was gone forever.

And you can't really apply all that to the experience of eating a chocolate cake, but if you did at least you'd have a sense that you took pleasure from chocolate cake not because it was delicious but because someone more obnoxious than you at the breakfast table nearly choked to death when he or she was eating his or her chocolate cake. In a long round about way composing your mind around words in other languages that do not contain an immediate translation into your own mother tongue is therapeutic, and far less jolting than for example electric shock therapy. What it does is to take you out of the context within which you have your day to day by offering your mind a single word that which ever way you look at it contains a wider range of meanings than you might have anticipated. A momentary thing of course, doesn't take all day, but the respite from your own pattern of thinking can check the flows in your mind that may have got themselves caught within a spiral that has nowhere to go but down, and you find yourself in something like a shopping aisles filling your basket with sundries you don't really want, certainly don't need and probably end up throwing away which leads to a sense of depression and pointlessness. All of which could be so easily avoided by simply directing your mind to engross its wayward self in something that has no substance outside of your mind. Mind you, in The Rabbit of Usk, the narrative does send our hero into an asylum for the mentally less able.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

A Resolution for 2020


For those who may have been wondering, your writer of pulp hasn't been sunning himself in Cancun. Such an ordeal would be beyond his capacity to endure. And no need to mention the absurdity of his new year resolutions, however inevitable that mention will be. And yes indeed, your writer of pulp has done a little shovel work in his vegetable garden, the new bed is underway, and he's spent time on the onerous issues around capital letters, colons, semi-colons and grammar. None of which he fully understands, but fortunately in the modern age even a Blue Green Algae so long as he can manage the formats can utilize the capacities of digital media to publish an E-book. The actual event, the big moment when the soul is ensnared by the demon, comes with a congratulations, it's dramatic, it's personal and it happens in seconds. An Everest moment you might think until you realize the problem of engaging an actual fellow member of your species.

So what is it that The Rabbit of Usk addresses, or is it just a ripping yarn in the genre of prolix for those in our number who just like to go around and around until realizing the effort is pointless they fall off the carousel head first into the grave. This was a grave I had dug for myself, and the reason I'd dug such a grave is basically found within the words affectedly, irritatingly grand, solemn and self important. There was no way that one and a half million odd words divided into ten books could ever by anything much more than perfect in every way each one entirely indispensable, it was almost as though I'd become a 78 year old senator. The resolution for 2020 is to embark upon an enterprise currently titled Saint Haddock, a fishy tale. Meanwhile on these pages I will disavow the political world and daily devote this time to an inquiry into this link: The Rabbit of Usk.  It's free, it's a manageable 150,000 words and it's got a picture. So hang tough comrades, the Spring Time will be soon.