Circular 3/27/20

From Caliath, (Droplet) Jupiter, The Loneliest Planet by Joao-Maria.

“I see now a Europe leeched dry of its fortitude.”


From Forward Base B, Trolly Problems on the Island of Sodor by Giovanni Dannato.

“Well, I tried to revive Percy and Henry and the rest, but no one in Sodor makes the parts for them anymore. I’m afraid we’ve lost them, Thomas.”


From Little Tales For Busy Folk, Chasing Memories by Vic Smith.

“When the last of these memories has slipped away from me, what is there left?”


From Meredith Schumann, 2050 by Meredith Schumann.

“She took a deep breath and delved into her pocket. How she longed to know what it had been like in her dad’s day, when every person, near enough, was connected with the world via a small rectangular device they’d keep in their pocket”


From New Pop Lit, Townies by Philip Charter.

“you probably think the Ministry of Sound is a governmental department”


From Shreya Vikram, There Is A Certain Distancing Necessary by Shreya Vikram.

“We know our catastrophe and sing.”


From Spelk, Junk Dumps by Phebe Jewell.

“Like all vigilantes, he has routines and rituals.”


From The Drabble, You Hear A Noise by John L. Malone.

“Those bloody mice, you say, though you’ve seen no evidence of any. It’s nothing, you decide, nothing. House noises. You head back to the bedroom, turn off the lights. Someone taps you on the shoulder.”


The Logos Fiction Circular features work by independent authors of prose fiction. If you have a recommendation of a particular author to cover, feel free to leave a comment and let us know.

Sound Poetry: F.T. Marinetti’s Dune, parole in libertà (1914)

The recording below, Tri-C Community College radio recording, consists of a fantastic collection of sound poetry. ‘Sound poetry’ broadly defined, is poetry which is typically characterized by wild and often non-standard linguistic exclamations, intended to invoke a thematic mood or feeling. As with noise-music, contemporary sound poetry can be traced to the Italian Futurists.

Most notably, the recording features a energetic reading (in Italian) of Futurist Founder F.T. Marinetti’s sound poem, Dune, parole in libertà (1914).

Notes On Gustav Jönsson’s High Theory & Low Seriousness


Gustav Jönsson’s, High Theory and Low Seriousness (2019)a brisk and biting critique of contemporary literary theory published via Quillette  — opens with an assault upon the practice of ‘deep reading‘ (analytically interrogating a text to find overarching, underlying or purposefully or accidentally embedded meanings which may not necessarily be explicit).

Sixty years ago today, just as Henderson the Rain King was going to print, Saul Bellow penned an article for the New York Times in which he warned against the perils of deep reading. Paying too close attention to hidden meanings and obscure symbols takes all the fun from reading, he wrote. The serious reader spends an inordinate amount of energy trying to find profound representations in the most trivial of details. “A travel folder signifies Death. Coal holes represent the Underworld. Soda crackers are the Host. Three bottles of beer are—it’s obvious.” (Jönsson)

§00. Mr. Jönsson’s argument — that paying too much attention to the meaning of a text is detrimental to the experience of reading itself — whilst superficially compelling, is mistaken, as the problem in the scenario he lays out is engendered not through paying too much attention to obscure or arcane symbols, suggestions or descriptions, but rather, through possessing too little in the way of reliable heuristics for explicating them. Further, to say that plying attention “too close” to what is being said in a given text should be avoided configures a dictum that can lead to taking unseriousness very seriously (this is not, in any particular, Jönsson’s argument but it is easy to see how a rejection of literary-artistic “seriousness” can lead to superfluousness and anti-intellectualism, just as a fixation on “seriousness” can lead to a lock-jawed, grim-toned, pridefully humorless air).

Moreover, deep reading is such an imprecise game that numerous dull and contradictory interpretations arise from the same passage. “Are you a Marxist? Then Herman Melville’s Pequod in Moby Dick can be a factory, Ahab the manager, the crew the working class. Is your point of view religious? The Pequod sailed on Christmas morning, a floating cathedral headed south. Do you follow Freud or Jung? Then your interpretations may be rich and multitudinous.” One man, Bellow wrote, had volunteered an explanation of Moby Dick as Ahab’s mad quest to overcome his Oedipus complex by slaying the whale—the metaphorical mother of the story. (Jönsson)

§01. Here Jönsson makes an excellent point — namely, that everyone brings some kind of ideological framework to a text, and when the contents of the latter are made to fit into the pre-conceptualized mold of the former, the scryed work’s intended and real meaning is distorted, obscured, coopted or outright destroyed.

Instead of this tedious attitude to literature, Bellow urged that people take after E. M. Forster’s lightness of heart. Forster had once remarked that he felt worried by the prospect of visiting Harvard since he had heard that there were many deep and serious readers of his books there. The prospect of their close analysis made him uneasy. In short, for Bellow and Forster, the average academic critic tried to understand literature and thus ruined the enjoyment of it. (Jönsson)

§02. A reiteration of the problem covered in §00. — enjoyment is of key importance to any literary work, however, if it is made the only criterion, then art is rendered impossible, as all good and durable literary works incite in the reader, more than mere passing pleasure (ie. terror, dread, hopelessness, unease, ideas not considered which do not, in their re-consideration necessarily engender enjoyment); for the novel to be reduced to nothing more than a mild dopamine rush is to snatch it from its pedestal as the highest and most intricate form of art and transmogrify it into what functionally amounts to slowly consumed fast-food.

The low seriousness that Bellow lamented has only increased since his complaint. Today, literary scholarship is home to some of the most impenetrable gobbledygook ever put on paper. The main culprit is easily identifiable: literary theory. Literary theory, a school of criticism with little hold outside the universities, has captured whole colleges and threatens to extinguish students’ love of reading. Imagine the dejection a student about to begin university, eager to read the best that has ever been written, feels when they are told to examine some heavy tome of unreadable theory. It drains all the fun from reading. (Jönsson)

§03. The issue of the “gobbledygook” (to borrow Jönsson’s phrase) in the academies is one which has been vexing to the linguistically and narratively concerned since the shift in literary criticism turned to interpretation during the 20th Century. Tensions around the lack of unification in interpretation were further intensified by the lack of interdisciplinary discourse between the sciences and the humanities; a problem which can be ameliorated by simply fostering more interdisciplinary discourse (and crucially, debate, public and private).

Solemn readers—especially within the academy—take the view that novels must be read in the same manner that philosophers read Principia Mathematica, namely, by “interrogating” the text’s underlying logic. Theorists see themselves as philosophers of literature. For them, the task of understanding any piece of prose or poetry means developing an array of theories, much like philosophers try to explain reality through formulised conjecture. And just as philosophers have specialised lingo to aid their job, literary theorists also require their own jargon. Hence whole dictionaries now exist to help students navigate near incomprehensible passages. Opening my Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism more or less at random, I’m met by the following sentences:

[The phenotext is constantly split up and divided, and is irreducible to the semiotic process that works through the genotext. The phenotext is a structure (which can be generated, in generative grammar’s sense); it obeys rules of communication and presupposes a subject of enunciation and an addressee. The genotext, on the other hand, is a process; it moves through zones that have relative and transistory borders and constitutes a path that is not restricted to the two poles of univocal information between two full-fledged subjects.]

This is not an unfairly selected quote. Literary theory is often written in language that is not much more transparent than this. To offer one more example; Fredric Jameson delivers this inscrutability:

[The operational validity of semiotic analysis, and in particular of the Greimassian semiotic rectangle, derives, as was suggested there, not from its adequacy to nature or being, nor even from its capacity to map all forms of thinking or language, but rather from its vocation specifically to model ideological closure and to articulate the workings of binary oppositions, here the privileged form of what we have called the antinomy.]

Hegel hardly wrote anything more muddled. Of course, there are literary theories free of pseudo-philosophical gibberish. But some of the most prominent theorists write in this cryptic style. Martha Nussbaum (herself a lucid writer) criticised the prose of a celebrated theorist by saying that her elliptical and obscure writing “creates an aura of importance” but also “bullies the reader into granting that, since one cannot figure out what is going on, there must be something significant going on, some complexity of thought, where in reality there are often familiar or even shopworn notions, addressed too simply and too casually to add any new dimension of understanding.” (Jönsson)

§04. He remarks that literary theorists see themselves as philosophers of literature; the author seems to take exception to this, which is curious as developing theories (or hypotheses) concerning a given text is not itself the nexus of misinterpretation, but rather, formulating a insufficient hypothesis/theory. The author is on firm footing when he returns to his critique of obscurantist dialogue, a view with which I concur, as the purpose of all writing is to communicate (even if only to oneself at a future point in time, qua post-it notes) and if one is to communicate it were best one did so with as much clarity as possible. I would add that one should not be too quick to recoil from arcane words, firstly because lexiconic expansion should be encouraged (and it won’t be if every word one doesn’t understand is dismissed as fluff) and secondarily because specialized language is indispensable if it compresses and clarifies rather than obscures and expands. For example, instead of saying — as was quoted above — phenotext and genotext of [x], one could simply say, the what and why of [x] text (as the words are born out of genetics, phenotypic traits like eye-color are the what whilst the genotypic traits are the why of the what [ie. the reason why one has a certain eye coloration]. Thus, in this example, though phenotext and genotext aren’t necessarily bad terms, it is simpler to just say what and why (that is to say, to assume the form: x because y). However, there are many instances where new models are created wherein it becomes useful to create new words, and many more where old models are best described by compressor-words — for example: instead of saying “adhering to a conclusion regardless of the evidence once interrogated,” one can simply say “negatively postjudicial” instead (in the same way that one says “novel” in place of “a cultural artifact of bound paper or code, inscribed with a [largely] fictional narrative, typically divided by sections, called chapters, ranging from 70,000 words to 120,000[+] words). Thus, always the question: clarification or clutter?

In a sense, unintelligible writing is an insult to its own discipline because it suggests that it is not important for the reader to understand the content. Surely an author with something insightful to say would take care to make herself comprehensible. Why convey a thought at all if it need not be understood? Only those with nothing to say can afford to revel in opacity. In short, cryptic writing may create an aura of importance but in fact it advertises its own lack of value. (Jönsson)

§05. See: §04.

Badly written scholarship is a negative in itself, but worse, it is also an opportunity cost for it crowds out the reading of good criticism. A seminar spent discussing Althusser or Derrida is one which could have focused on Samuel Johnson or James Wood. Worse still, the examination of turgid theories takes time from truly excellent works of literature. I can remember attending a seminar on Virginia Woolf’s Orlando where the tutor seemed to view the book as an excuse to discuss Judith Butler’s theory of “gender performativity.” Something has surely gone wrong when literature is used to further theories rather than the other way around. (Jönsson)

§06. The notion that something has “gone wrong” if literature is utilized to further theories (or hypotheses) rather than the other way around, is understandable (given the doubtless nauseating performance described before it), but mistaken. There is no reason that literature should not further theories (or hypotheses) anymore than there is reason for the converse to be true. Again we return to heuristics, what kind of theories are being crafted from what works, how and why? Until these questions are answered, then it is simply impossible to make such a blanket statement as “never use literature to further theories.” Case in point: after the publication of Jules Verne’s lauded science fiction work, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea (originally serialized in Magasin d’Éducation et de Récréation, 1869 to 1870), inventor Simon Lake became enamoured with underwater machinery and consequently, designed The Argonaut, the world’s first successful open-water submarine; Verne’s story Robur The Conqueror (1886) was also instrumental in inspiring the invention of the modern helicopter. A fairly ringing endorsement of the positive effects of utilizing literature for theoretical inception for practical application. Of course, the spineless, toothless, deconstructuralist, poststructural neocom, anarchist, gender theologizing so characteristic of the academies which the author decries is considerably more difficult (one is tempted to say impossible) to use for such inventive and civilizationally impactful ends.

The problem with literary theory is that it is not proper “theory.” At best, it is hypothesis without predictive value. There may be some descriptive capacity in literary “theories,” but they do not predict anything about prose or poetry. (What future literary developments can be anticipated by reference to Harold Bloom’s theory of “the anxiety of influence”?) In contradistinction to literary theories, scientific and philosophical theories are open to refutation. Science is tethered to reality and scientific conjectures can thus be refuted by empirical evidence. Literature—being fictional—cannot. This allows literary theorists to gain adherents whilst being free from worries of rebuttal. The consequence is an ever swelling canon of contradictory deepities. (Jönsson)

§07. Here Jönsson comes upon the crux of the issue — that of the fundamentally non-theoretical nature of what is called “theory” in contemporary academia (particularly in the humanities). That is to say, all contemporary critical “theories” are not really theories at all, but hypotheses. The linguistic distinction here is important, given the scientific background which informs nearly all of western discourse; anyone who is scientifically literate understands that a theory is privileged above a hypothesis because a theory can be rigorously, empirically, tested. After hypotheses make their way up to the classification of theories, they are considered true, though they are not necessarily true, but rather, have yet to be proven false (ie. evolution). The problem with contemporary literary hypothesis (as it should more properly be called) is that it is primarily concerned with textual interpretation as its standard of operation rather than attempting to hem into those facets of literature which may be objectively remarked upon, then formal-logically remarked upon, induced and deduced, rather than psychoanalytically conjectured or whimfully presumed.

Forging The Mappa Mundi | Part 1

Of the essentials of a story, characters, theme, style and setting, the latter is perhaps the most difficult for new or dilettante writers to manage. Take for example this first paragraph excerpt from the short story Family Gathering by Paul Beckman from Fictive Dream (a excellent site).

The laughers come first. They always arrive early and announce their early arrival to the hostess who isn’t ready yet for company. They think the hostess will laugh along with them but she won’t. She hasn’t finished cooking, dressing, or putting on makeup. She tells the laughers this and they respond with guffaws. Guffaws are infuriating to the hostess. Meanwhile the host has his first drink of many. The laughers are his wife’s family, not his, and drinking is how he tolerates them.

Though the prose is good, never once does one get a sense of place — one understands that ‘the laughers’ and ‘the hostess’ abide in a house, but we have no idea what the structure is like in anywise. We are not told whether the house is big, small, old new, black, white, brown or purple, classical, neoclassical, modern or experimental; nor do we know what rooms are where nor how they are laid out. All that we know is that some people arrived at a house. The rest of the text is similarly vague as pertains to spatiality. It should be noted that carto-spatial descriptions within a text are not intrinsically necessary; for example, in a poem, wherein the chief aim is to stir some specific passion or passions, one need not delve into particularities of geography; the same goes for something like a hallucinatory scene or dream sequence wherein reality is “off.” However, in a story, particularly in a longform story with a specific setting, it is absolutely pertinent to establish some kind of definitive geographic layout otherwise all movements will be rendered indecipherable.

Compare the previous paragraph to the flash composition The Crossing by Philip Scholz:

“Buenas tardes,” the guard said.

“Hello,” he replied, not ready to try his Spanish. Which greeting was the guard using?

“What is your business?” the guard asked.

“Vacation.” He had no intention to return.

“Your passport, please,” the guard said, holding out his hand.

He handed over the fake one, hoping his shaking hand wasn’t noticed. This was the test. He had to stay calm.

The guard reviewed the passport without a word. Finally, he flipped it closed.

“Welcome to Mexico.”

Exhaling, he took back the passport and kept driving, now a country away from the wife whose throat he’d slit.

Whilst this piece is far shorter, is establishes geography far more quickly and decisively and, most importantly, without going out of its way to do so, by which I mean, at no point in the text does the narrative flow stop for geographic descriptors, rather, they are woven into the narrative in such a way as to maintain it and drive it forward to its terminus. In the latter piece, the author accomplishes placeness through “passport” and “guard,” as well as “Welcome to Mexico” all without ever saying “airport” — which is a testament to the fact that the general cartospatial shape of things is all that is fundamentally needed (in conjunction with some slight induction and deduction from the reader) to establish the mappa mundi — the map of the world.

Reading List Of Works Formative To Early American Thought

Medieval Works

  1. Ordinance of William the Conqueror (1072).
  2. Laws of William the Conqueror (c. 1066).
  3. Constitutions of Clarendon (1164).
  4. Assize of Clarendon (1166).
  5. Magna Carta (1215).
  6. De Legibus Et Consuetudinibus Angliæ (c. 1235).
  7. Summa Theologica (1265-1273).
  8. Marco Polo’s Travels (c. 1300).
  9. The First Manual of Parliamentary Procedure (c. 1350).
  10. The Declaration of Arbroath (1320).

15th & 16th Century Works

  1. Malleus Maleficarum (1486).
  2. Journal, C. Columbus (1492).
  3. Epistola De Insulis Nuper Inventis, C. Columbus (1493).
  4. Letter to the King and Queen of Spain, C. Columbus (1494).
  5. King Henry VII’s Commission to John Cabot (1497).
  6. The Prince, Machiavelli (1513).
  7. Temporal Authority: To What Extent it Should Be Obeyed, Luther (1523).
  8. The Bondage of the Will, Luther (1524).
  9. The Act of Supremacy, Henry VIII (1534).
  10. Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin (1540).
  11. The Journey of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza De Vaca (1542).
  12. From The Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies, Copernicus (1543).
  13. The Council of Trent (1545).
  14. A Short Treatise on Political Power, John Ponet, D.D. (1556).

The list is a work in progress and will be continuously updated. Recommendations for the future inclusion of works is welcome.

Fiction Writer’s Compendium: Rare English Words

E. M. Forster once said, “English literature is a flying fish.” Logos has gone fishing and below provides the bounty of our catch.


absquatulate — to leave somewhere abruptly

adscititious — additional

anfractuous — winding or circuitous

anguilliform — resembling an eel

apple-knocker — (US informal) an ignorant or unsophisticated person

argle-bargle — copious but meaningless talk or writing

argute — shrewd

astrobleme — an eroded remnant of a large, ancient crater made by the impact of a meteorite or comet

barn burner — (N. Amer.) a very exciting or dramatic event, especially a sports contest; first used in relation to an exceptionally good hand at bridge

benthos — the flora and fauna on the bottom of a sea or lake

bergschrund — a type of crevasse

bezoar — a small hard, solid mass which may form in the stomachs of animals such as goats or sheep

bibliopole — a person who buys and sells books, especially rare ones

bilboes — an iron bar with sliding shackles, used to fasten prisoners’ ankles

bindlestiff — (N. Amer.) a tramp

bingle — (Austral. informal) a collision

blatherskite — a person who talks at great length without making much sense

bobsy-die — a great deal of fuss or trouble

boffola — (N. Amer. informal) a joke that gets a loud or hearty laugh

boilover — (Austral. informal) a surprise result in a sporting event

borborygmus — a rumbling or gurgling noise in the intestines

bruxism — involuntary and habitual grinding of the teeth

bumbo — a drink of rum, sugar, water, and nutmeg

burnsides — a moustache in combination with whiskers on the cheeks but no beard on the chin

cacoethes — an urge to do something inadvisable

callipygian — having shapely buttocks

callithumpian — like a discordant band or a noisy parade

camisado — a military attack carried out at night

canorous — melodious or resonant

cantillate — to chant or intone a passage of religious text

carphology — convulsive or involuntary movements made by delirious patients, such as plucking at the bedclothes

catoptromancy — foretelling the future by means of a mirror

cereology — the study or investigation of crop circles

chad — a piece of waste paper produced by punching a hole

chalkdown — (S. African informal) a teachers’ strike

chiliad — a thousand things or a thousand years

claggy — (Brit. dialect) sticky or able to form sticky lumps

clepsydra — an early clock using the flow of water into or out of a container

colporteur — a person who peddles books, newspapers, or other writings

commensalism — an association between two organisms in which one benefits from the relationship and the other derives neither harm nor benefit

comminatory — threatening, punitive, or vengeful

concinnity — elegance or neatness of literary or artistic style

coprolalia — the involuntary repetitive use of obscene language

coriaceous — like leather

couthy — (Scottish; of a person) warm and friendly; (of a place) cosy and comfortable

criticaster — a minor or incompetent critic

crottle — a lichen used in Scotland to make a brownish dye for wool

croze — a groove at the end of a cask or barrel in which the head is fixed

cudbear — a purple or violet powder used for dyeing, made from lichen

cupreous — of or like copper

cyanic — blue; azure

dariole — a small round metal mould used in French cooking for an individual sweet or savoury dish

deasil — clockwise or in the direction of the sun’s course

decubitus — (Medicine) the posture of someone who is lying down or lying in bed

deedy — industrious or effective

defervescence — (Medicine) the lessening of a fever

deglutition — the action or process of swallowing

degust — to taste food or drink carefully, so as to fully appreciate it

deipnosophist — a person skilled in the art of dining and dinner-table conversation

dight — clothed or equipped; to make something ready for use

disembogue — to emerge or pour out (used of a river or stream)

disenthral — to set someone free from enslavement

divagate — to stray or digress

divaricate — to stretch or spread apart

donkey engine — a small auxiliary engine on a ship

donkeyman — a man working in a ship’s engine room

doryphore — a pedantic and annoyingly persistent critic of others

douceur — a financial inducement or bribe

draff — dregs or refuse

dumbsize — to reduce the staff numbers of a company to such low levels that work can no longer be carried out effectively

dwaal — (S. African) a dreamy, dazed, or absent-minded state

ecdysiast — a striptease performer

edacious — that which is fond of eating

emacity — fondness for buying things

ensorcell — to enchant or fascinate someone

entomophagy — the eating of insects, especially by people

erf — (S. African) a plot of land

ergometer — an apparatus which measures energy expended during physical exercise

erubescent — reddening or blushing

eucatastrophe — a happy ending to a story

eviternity — eternal existence or everlasting duration

exequies — funeral rites

exsanguine — bloodless or anaemic

extramundane — outside or beyond the physical world

flews — the thick pendulous lips of a bloodhound or similar dog

floccinaucinihilipilification — the action or habit of estimating something as worthless

flocculent — having or resembling tufts of wool

forehanded — (chiefly N. Amer.) prudent or thrifty

frondeur — a political rebel

fugacious — transient or fleeting

funambulist — a tightrope walker

furuncle — a boil

fuscous — dark and sombre in colour

futz — to waste time or busy oneself aimlessly

gaberlunzie — (Scottish archaic) a beggar

gaita — a kind of bagpipe played in northern Spain and Portugal

gallus — (Scottish) bold or daring

gasconade — extravagant boasting

glabrous — (of skin) hairless or (of a leaf) having no down

glaikit — (Scottish & N. English) stupid, foolish, or thoughtless

gnathic — having to do with the jaws

gobemouche — a gullible or credulous listener

guddle — (Scottish) to fish with one’s hands by groping under the stones or banks of a stream

habile — deft or skilful

haruspex — a religious official in ancient Rome who inspected the entrails of sacrificial animals in order to foretell the future

hirquiticke — “one past fourteene yeeres of age, beginning to bee moved with Venus delight” (Henry Cockeram, An English Dictionary, 1623)

hoddy-noddy — a foolish person

hodiernal — of today

howff — (Scottish) a favourite meeting place or haunt, especially a pub

humdudgeon — an imaginary illness

hwyl — a stirring feeling of emotional motivation and energy which is associated with the Welsh people

illywhacker — (Austral. informal) a small-time confidence trickster

incrassate — thickened in form or consistency

incunabula — books printed before 1501

ingurgitate — to swallow something greedily

inspissate — to thicken or congeal

inunct — to apply ointment to someone or something

jumbuck — (Austral. informal) a sheep

jumentous — resembling horse’s urine

keek — (Scottish) to peep surreptitiously

kenspeckle — (Scottish) conspicuous or easily recognizable

kinnikinnick — substance consisting of dried sumac leaves and willow or dogwood bark, smoked by North American Indians

kylie — (Austral.) a boomerang

labaruma — banner or flag bearing symbolic motifs

logomachy — an argument about words

lollygag — to spend time in an aimless or lazy way

luculent — (of speech or writing) clearly expressed

macushla — Irish an affectionate form of address

meacock — a coward or effeminate person

merkin — artificial covering of hair for the pubic area

merrythought — a bird’s wishbone

mim — (Scottish) modest or demure in an affected or priggish way

mimsy — rather feeble and prim or over-restrained (coined by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass)

minacious — menacing or threatening

misogamy — the hatred of marriage

mistigris — joker or other extra card played as a wild card in some versions of poker

mollitious — luxurious or sensuous

monkey’s wedding — (S. African) simultaneous rain and sunshine

mouse potato — a person who spends large amounts of their leisure or working time on a computer

mudlark — person who scavenges in riverside mud at low tide for anything of value

muktuk — the skin and blubber of a whale, eaten by the Inuit people

nacarat — a bright orange-red colour

nagware — computer software which is free for a trial period and thereafter frequently reminds the user to pay for it

natation — swimming

noctambulist — a sleepwalker

noyade — an execution carried out by drowning

nugacity — triviality or frivolity

nympholepsy — passion or rapture aroused in men by beautiful young girls

obnubilate — to darken, dim, or obscure something

ogdoad — a group or set of eight

omophagy — the eating of raw food, especially meat

omphalos — the centre or hub of something

onolatry — the worship of donkeys

operose — involving or displaying a lot of effort

opsimath — a person who begins to learn or study late in life

orectic — having to do with desire or appetite

orrery — a clockwork model of the solar system, or the sun, earth, and moon

ortanique — a cross between an orange and a tangerine

otalgia — earache

paludal — living or occurring in a marshy habitat

panurgic — able or ready to do anything

parapente — aerofoil parachute, used for gliding

parapha — flourish after a signature

patulous — (of the boughs of a tree, for example) spreading

pavonine — to do with or resembling a peacock

pedicular — to do with lice

peely-wally — (Scottish) looking pale and unwell

peever — (Scottish) hopscotch

periapt — an item worn as a charm or amulet

petcock — a small valve in a steam engine or boiler, used for drainage or for reducing pressure

peterman — a person who breaks open and robs safes

pettitoes — pig’s trotters, especially as food

piacular — making or requiring atonement

pilgarlic — a bald-headed man, or a person regarded with mild contempt

pinguid — resembling fat; oily or greasy

piscatorial — connected with fishermen or fishing

pleurodynia — severe pain in the muscles between the ribs or in the diaphragm

plew — a beaver skin

pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis — an invented term said to mean ‘a lung disease caused by inhaling very fine ash and sand dust’

pogey — (Canadian informal) unemployment or welfare benefit

pollex — (Anatomy) the thumb

pooter — a suction bottle for collecting insects and other small invertebrates

portolan — a book containing sailing directions with hand-drawn charts and descriptions of harbours and coasts

posology — branch of medicine concerned with the size and frequency of doses of a medicine or a drug

possident — a possessor, i.e. a person who owns something

pother — a commotion or fuss

pre-loved — second-hand

presenteeism — the compulsion to spend longer at work than is required or to continue working despite illness

previse — to foresee or predict an event

probang  — a strip of flexible material with a sponge or tuft at the end, used to remove a foreign body from the throat or to apply medication to it

prosopagnosia — an inability to recognize the faces of familiar people, typically as a result of brain damage

puddle jumper — a small, light aircraft which is fast and highly manoeuvrable and used for short trips

puddysticks — (S. African) children’s word very easy

pyknic — a technical description of a stocky physique with a rounded body and head, thickset trunk, and a tendency to fat

pyroclastic — relating to fragments of rock erupted by a volcano

ragtop — a convertible car with a soft roof

ratite — (of a bird such as the ostrich or emu) unable to fly because of having a flat breastbone, to which no flight muscles are attached

rawky — foggy, damp, and cold

razzia — a raid carried out by Moors in North Africa

rebirthing — a form of therapy involving controlled breathing and intended to simulate the trauma of being born

resurrection man — a person who, in past times, illicitly exhumed corpses from burial grounds and sold them to anatomists for dissection

retiform — resembling a net

rhinoplasty — plastic surgery performed on the nose

rubiginous — rust-coloured

rubricate — to add elaborate capital letters (typically red ones) or other decorations to a manuscript

rude boy — Jamaican a lawless or rebellious unemployed urban youth who likes ska or reggae music

rug rat — (N. Amer.) a child

rumpot — (N. Amer.) a habitual or heavy drinker

sangoma — a traditional healer or witch doctor in southern Africa

sarmie — (S. African informal) a sandwich

saucier — a sauce chef

saudade — a feeling of longing or melancholy that is supposedly characteristic of the Portuguese or Brazilian temperament

scofflaw — a person who flouts the law

screenager — a person in their teens or twenties who has an aptitude for using computers and the Internet

scrippage — one’s baggage and personal belongings

selkie — (Scottish) a mythical sea creature like a seal in water but human on land

serac — a pinnacle or ridge of ice on the surface of a glacier

sesquipedalian — (of a word) having many syllables or (of a piece of writing) using many long words

shallop — a light sailing boat used chiefly for coastal fishing

shamal — a hot, dry north-westerly wind that blows across the Persian Gulf in summer and causes sandstorms

shavetail — (US military slang) a newly commissioned officer, or any inexperienced person

shippon — (Brit. dialect) a cattle shed

shofar — a ram’s-horn trumpet used in Jewish religious ceremonies and, in ancient times, to sound a battle signal

skanky — (N. Amer. informal) revolting

skelf — (Scottish) a splinter or sliver of wood

skimmington — a kind of procession once undertaken to make an example of a nagging wife or an unfaithful husband

skycap — a porter at an airport

snakebitten — (N. Amer. informal) unlucky or doomed to misfortune

snollygoster — a shrewd or unprincipled person

sockdolager — (US informal) a heavy blow

solander — a protective box made in the form of a book, for holding items such as botanical specimens, maps, and colour plates

soucouyant — a kind of witch, in eastern Caribbean folklore, who is believed to shed her skin by night and suck the blood of her victims

soul case — (N. Amer. & W. Indian) the human body

soul catcher — a hollowed bone tube used by a North American Indian medicine man to keep a sick person’s soul safe while they are sick

spaghettification — the process by which (in some theories) an object would be stretched and ripped apart by gravitational forces on falling into a black hole

spitchcock — an eel, split and then grilled or fried

splanchnic — having to do with the the viscera or internal organs, especially those of the abdomen

spurrier — a person who makes spurs

stercoraceous — consisting of or resembling dung or faeces

sternutator — something that causes sneezing

stiction — the frictional force which hinders an object from being moved while in contact with another

strappado — a punishment or torture in which the victim was hoisted in the air on a rope and then allowed to fall almost to the ground before being stopped with an abrupt jerk

strigil — an instrument with a curved blade used by ancient Greeks and Romans to scrape sweat and dirt from the skin in a hot-air bath or after exercise

struthious — having to do with or resembling an ostrich

studmuffin — (N. Amer. humorous) a sexually attractive, muscular man

stylite — a early Christian ascetic who lived standing on top of a pillar

subfusc — the dark formal clothing worn for examinations and ceremonial or formal occasions at some universities.

submontane — passing under or through mountains, or situated on the lower slopes of a mountain range

succuss — to shake something vigorously, especially a homeopathic remedy

sudd — an area of floating vegetation that impedes navigation in a stretch of the White Nile

suedehead — a youth like a skinhead but with slightly longer hair and smarter clothes

sun-grazing — (of a comet) having an orbit which passes close to the sun

superbious — proud and overbearing

superette — (N. Amer.) a small supermarket

taniwha — a mythical monster which, according to Maori legend, lives in very deep water

tappen — the plug by which the rectum of a bear is closed during hibernation

tellurian — of or inhabiting the earth, or an inhabitant of the earth

testudo — a device used in siege warfare in ancient Rome, consisting of a wheeled screen with an arched roof (literally a ‘tortoise’)

thalassic — relating to the sea

thaumatrope — a scientific toy devised in the 19th century. It consisted of a disc with a different picture on each of its two sides: when the disc was rotated rapidly about a diameter, these pictures appeared to combine into one image.

thirstland — (S. African) a desert or large arid area

thrutch — (N. English) a narrow gorge or ravine

thurifer — a person carrying a censer, or thurible, of burning incense during religious ceremonies

tigon — the hybrid off spring of a male tiger and a lioness (the offspring of a male lion and a tigress being a liger)

tokoloshe — in African folklore, a mischievous and lascivious hairy water sprite

toplofty — (N. Amer. informal) haughty and arrogant

transpicuous — transparent

triskaidekaphobia — extreme superstition about the number thirteen

triskelion — a Celtic symbol consisting of three radiating legs or curved lines, such as the emblem of the Isle of Man

turbary — the legal right to cut turf or peat for fuel on common ground or on another person’s ground

umbriferous — shady

uncinate — (of a part of the body) having a hooked shape

uniped — a person or animal with only one foot or leg

uroboros — a circular symbol depicting a snake (or a dragon) swallowing its tail, intended as an emblem of wholeness or infinity

vagarious — erratic and unpredictable in behaviour or direction

velleity — a wish or inclination which is not strong enough to lead one to take action

verjuice — a sour juice obtained from crab apples or unripe grapes

vicinal — neighbouring or adjacent

vidiot — (N. Amer. informal) a habitual, undiscriminating watcher of television or videotapes

vomitous — (N. Amer.) nauseating or repulsive

wabbit — (Scottish) exhausted or slightly unwell

waitron — (N. Amer.) a waiter or waitress

wakeboarding — the sport of riding on a short, wide board while being towed behind a motor boat

wayzgoose — an annual summer party and outing that used to be held by a printing house for all its employees

winebibber — a heavy drinker

wish book — (N. Amer. informal) a mail-order catalogue

wittol — a man who knows of and tolerates his wife’s infidelity

woopie — an affluent retired person able to pursue an active lifestyle (from the initials of well-off older person)

wowser — (chiefly Austral./NZ) a puritanical, prudish person or a killjoy

xenology — the scientific study of extraterrestrial phenomena

ylem — (in big bang theory) the primordial matter of the universe

zetetic — proceeding by inquiry or investigation

zoolatry — the worship of animals

zopissa — a medicinal preparation made from wax and pitch scraped from the sides of ships

zorro — a South American kind of fox

Zyrian — a former term for Komi, a language spoken in an area of Russia west of the Urals

Fiction Circular 9/26/18

FLASH

From The Dark Netizen, the supernatural revenge story, Highway To Hell.

“Now, he was bringing hell to the demon…” —Highway To Hell.

From And Miles Before I Go To Sleep… Daughter’s Surprise by Ramya Tantry.

“You sacrificed your wishes so that you can fulfill mine.” —Daughter’s Surprise

From Heart In Print By Jaya, Where’s My Master?

“Has the master been abducted?” — Where’s My Master?

From Iain Kelly, ROXY.

“Glitz and glamour away from the gaudy Strip and the drug-riddled suburb slums.

The waitresses. All young, slim, white. Wearing just enough.” — ROXY.

From X-R-A-Y Magazine, Theme Park Suicide by Teddy Duncan. A grim tale which shows how even those who seem to have given up on life haven’t given up on human connectivity. Duncan’s work was excerpted from a as-yet unpublished chapbook.

“I just really didn’t want to feel alone when I died, no matter how fucked up it is if I was going to do it I needed an audience.” — Theme Park Suicide.

Also from X-R-A-Y Mag, The Broken Teeth Diaries by Joe Bielecki.

“We used to be in a mouth but were evicted by a fist in the winter outside of a bar by a bouncer.” —The Broken Teeth Diaries.

From Gone Lawn (issue 30), Bird Bones by Texan author, Tara Isabel Zambrano.

“One day, at work, he died of electrocution from a faulty device— his limbs twisted like the blades of a fan.” —Bird Bones.

The Story Hive is back in business with Med Bay Snippet #6. An interesting sci-fi, though you may want to catch up on parts 1 through 5 before reading part 6.

“There it is, that dirty humor that keeps us all alive. That and the air, the pressure, the heat, and the food.” —Med Bay Snippet #6.


BOOK-LENGTH WORKS

From hidden gem, Gn0me, Under Forests of Futility by Rasu-Yong Tugen, Baroness de Tristeombre. A collection of poems by the author of A Natural History of Seaweed Dreams and Songs from the Black Moon.

“Vast lattices of black shale engulf us while we sleep. Primordial roots hunch over, as if in prayer. Arching acacia and star pine whisper spectral apprehensions. Black opal rains submerge everything permanent.” — Under Forests of Futility.


LITERARY EPHEMERA

From The Rational Arumentator, Victory Against The Formican Hordes by Gennady Stolyarov II, a poem.

“Deep in the crevices where there is scantly light,
Formican hordes amassed, antitheses of right:
The tyrant queen, attendant sycophantic knaves,
Vast quantities of servants – or compliant slaves –
Not even one savant among them to protest
Antagonistic ploys to rouse their dormant nest.
In wanton disregard of property and tact alike
At my abode they militantly sought to strike,
Past every antechamber to the kitchen went,
Detected every speck pursuant to its scent,
In swarms outrageous antics perpetrated,
Blatantly coveted the food refrigerated!”

—Victory Against The Formican Hordes, first stanza.

Lastly, from Cristian Mihai has a short guide to writing in the form of The Definitive, Increadibly Short, Easy-To-Follow, No-Bullshit Guide To Blogging.

“-stop complaining and punch those damn keys.” — The Definitive etc Guide To Blogging.


Thanks for reading. If you appreciate our work publishing and promoting independent literary works, you can support us here.

The Opposition Identity of the Anti-Tribe [Broadcast]

Audio reading of the the article, The Opposition Identity of the Anti-Tribe (Click on the highlighted section of the article title to read the article in its entirety).

The reader did not wish for her identity to be publicized.

Tomb of the Father: Chapter Two, Home & Hearth

Gunvald woke in the dark and buried the brigand upon the northern hill opposite the shepherd’s encampment and departed from the old vaquero wordlessly, before his waking, as the halcyon sphere drifted up across the high, jagged peaks of the far mountain. He made his way over the thin, reedy grass from the northern hill and from there to the stony outcropping where he’d slept as the sheep bawled and yapped like insane children and then passed down between the precarious tors into the lowlands which were spotted here and there with small tufts of shrubbery and strange boulders incised with markings from some people that had since passed from the world’s collective remembrance. The man stopped as if the stones had rooted him to his shadow by some eldritch witchery and slowly reached out to touch the curious monolith before him, gingerly running his dry and cloth wrapped hands across the smooth-hewn crevices of the mighty artifact. He closed his eyes and inhaled and exhaled deeply until his breathing became as rhythmic as a drumbeat and he felt as if his hands and those that had wrought the arcane inscriptions where one and the same. Past called to future. Dead to living. As if the stone were whispering to him, tales for forgotten times and well lived lives and those less well lived and what their folly entailed for the ignorant persisting. It was a peculiar feeling, one that the weary traveler struggled to rationalize but felt powerfully all the same. At length, he opened his eyes and slowly withdrew his hand from the stone and retreated a pace and looked over the monolith entire, from tip to base and judged the breadth and width; some eight feet high, some seven feet wide. The weight of the thing the gods only knew.

When he’d taken in the stone in all its facets he turned full from it and made his way out through the quitch and bracken and past other stones, both larger and smaller than the first, and all similarly marked by ancient hands, the symbols there incised beyond the travelers reckoning. Here and there a recognizable representation, half-masked in abstraction: a man, a woman, a wolf, a bear, a fish, a snail, a tree. The symbol most oft represented was the wolf, over and over again it was inscribed, with near mechanical precision and a primal beauty that he’d scarcely witnessed in even the most lavish of paintings. He could almost hear its call.

Beyond the rune-stones the ground flattened out with astounding brevity, the bracken and quitch giving way to queer lichen and strange vines with small purple shoots and thick, raw swatches of muddy-clay, filled all with fetid water that buzzed with insects of ever size and shape. The further out the man cast his gaze the larger the water-filled depressions grew until they merged unto a singularity, one vast marshen heap of rain-catch and sod and sand and silt. Bogland.

He recalled the old man’s words, “The first false step means death, to man or beast.”

Suddenly there came a raucous calling, a intonation, nearby and strangely human. The traveler whirled, spotting, some forty yards out into the mire, a huge male ram, only his forelegs, chest, neck and horn-crowned head clear above the bog-hold. The creature struggled a moment, flailing its powerful legs against the silt and sand-water and then, quite suddenly, it vanished, sucked down at last; even the tips of its horns sinking below the grim surface of that plane of death.

Gunvald watched the unhappy affair with a mixture equal parts despair and fascination. It seemed too sudden, the way the earth could so swiftly devour. Such a thing to the traveler’s mind was as fantastical as copper turning to gold or water to dust. The bog had not been there when last he’d traversed the moor, those seven years ago. It seemed a whole panoply of lifetimes compressed into the scattered crystalline fragments of his memories and dreams.

He recalled the long march beside his kinsmen, How high their banners flew, the colors of all the clan houses of Tor; after decades of internecine violence, united at last against a common foe, the gray-men of the Hinterlands, those they called, Rimners. How young and wild and full of lofty opinions they had been!

As Gunvald looked out across the moor his opinions flew at considerably lower altitude.

*

Finding no passage through the peat, Gunvald opted to travel round it by the southernmost way. The trek lasted two days and brought him past all manner of queer shrubs and bone piles and dying trees that looked more akin to the phantasmal skeletons of some macabre stage-play. Beyond the surmounted wetlands lay a quiet vale through which ran a babbling brook, girded on all sides by dry forest and vine, the ground verdant-lush and teeming with all manner of skittering things both foul and fair. He sat by the snaking divet and withdrew a wood cup from his travel satchel and dipped it in the water and drank deeply, the liquid sweet and cool to his parched and desirous throat. Then he watched the solar plumes play across the waves as a small school of fish nudged up to the surface, their huge, lidless eyes gazing upon the sun-scorned figure as if appetent of conversation. Gunvald withdrew the last of his stock, a dry half-loaf of bread and broke it into small pieces, eating some and then throwing the rest to the fishes who gobbled at the flotsam and then nervously retreated, wary of Man’s latent, yet ever present perfidy.

Moments later, the sound of creaking wood could be heard all throughout the vale, followed swiftly by a muted cascade of footfalls. The sound followed the wake of an old cart, rope-dragged by four men, filthy, disheveled and dressed all in furs. Their faces were covered by cloth halfmasks, securing the nose and mouth from nature’s multitudinous ravishments. Gunvald rose to observe the strange and solemn congression, eyes widening with horror as he beheld their vessel’s grisly cargo.

Bodies.

Some fifteen in number, human and decaying under the harsh auspice of the sun. They were male and female alike, from babe to crone, covered in all manner of hideous rashes and boils, their skin ashen-red and peeling like the hide of some overripe fruit. Whatever disease it was that had snatched from them the breath of life seemed for the moment to have no hold upon the cart-pullers who paused momentarily, all turning to the man by the river.

One of their number addressed Gunvald sharply, as if in reprimand for some past transgression.

“What easy fool is this?”

“No fool, sir. But a traveler.”

“Those that here make passage are foolish enough to warrant the epithet. Canst thou not see our sorry wares?”

“Tis a pitiable sight. Wherefore didst they meet Dactyl’s scythe?”

Upon the utterance of that most singular name the men collectively gasped, the former speaker, a short man, bow-backed, balding and scarfaced, muttered a muted prayer and then gestured towards Gunvald as if casting some devious vermin from his presence.

“Sound not that unutterable traducement!”

“I meant no offense. Superstition has surely deranged thy temperament.”

“Enough, heretic, we darest not tarry, lest thy, with your calumnious tongue, conjure some new evil to surpass the one that now burdens our aching backs!”

The other workers nodded as if there was great wisdom in the bald man’s words and then they adjusted their masks and ropes and muttered another prayer and bent once more to their toil and moved out across the rutted and grassy way, vanishing at last beneath the cavernous canopy of the wood, swallowed whole by the shadows therein.

Gunvald watched them go and decided to follow the cartmen at a distance, for their path and his were, for the time being, one and the same.

Gunvald rose and gave chase, passing through the thick and tangled forest of oak and ash and fir and gave silent thanks for the thick moss-bed beneath that masked the clattering of his bulky armored frame. Over moss and stone and leaves, dead and alive, he walked, keeping himself well hidden and well apart from the odd foursome and their rickety old cart. After a couple hundred feet the forest opened up, the trees and shrubbery now growing more sparsely, the grass turning from green to yellow-green to a dull orange-yellow. Dying. The cart-pullers took a sharp right and passed fully beyond the forest unto a thin, dirt road that stretched out to the gray northwestern hill-lands like the great and ossified tendril of some mighty leviathan. The road ran down a slight decline in the hummock ridden surface of the world and then diverged, one track splitting off to a small city to the south and the other branching to a butte which rose as the pass to the low, south-eastern mountains. Gunvald waited until the men had disappeared beyond the curvature of the earth and then took the lonely path towards the town stopping by a small wooden sign, hastily constructed, which read:

Ħaberale

The sign was adorned with a large off-white arrow, comprised of some woodland dye, which pointed towards the clearly present outline of the town in the short-off distance, half obscured by small tussles of old trees which poked above a field of withering wheat and the ruins of some primeval fort that lay there beyond. Before the man had fully risen from his observation of the sign the sound of thundering hooves rose up from somewhere nearby, plumes of dust whirling up towards the immediate northern road. Shortly, a fearsome cavalcade stood before the weary and cautious wayfarer, five in number and all armed and armored in strict uniformity. Knights or sell-swords or something worse. Gunvald knew instantly they were not of this land, by both their expensive attire and peculiar breed of destrier, he fancied them denizens of Tor, a kingdom someways off and rarely concerned with its outlying provinces. The leader of the group and the eldest, a man of middling height and some fifty years, at length addressed the armored wayfarer.

“Hail, traveler. A moment to query?”

Gunvald nodded in wordless acquiescence, though he knew that it was not a question proper.

“I am Cyneweard, second-commander of Tor. Word of brigand raids have reached our gracious Lord, Cenhelm, and by his leave we make way to Haberale to rope the misbegotten scoundrels.”

“If that is your venture then you’re headed the way all awrong. Your foe lies beyond the northern forest, past the bogland in the high moors.”

“You’ve seen them?”

“The night last I was assailed upon the moor by three fiends, peasants it seemed.”

“Three you say?”

“Now two.”

“We thank thee kindly. Might I inquire as to your business, traveler?”

“My business is my own to keep.”

“Suit thyself. One word of parting, take heed in Haberale, the town is much changed. For the worse I am afeared. With thanks, we leave you, sir.”

Without another word the knights straightened in their leather saddles and flicked the reigns of their war-beasts and clattered off down the road toward the moor. When they had gone all was silent save for the heavy breath of the western wind that sent the traveler’s long, wavy locks all aflutter. He brushed his locks from out his eyes and adjusted his scabbard-belt and wondered at the knight’s words. Haberale had always been a sleepy little idyll, the only heed one had need to take was of how uneventful it was likely to be so as to better remedy the doldrums. Then he thought of the bandits and the dead men in the cart and the living ones pulling it and the strange masks on their faces, all deep, emerald green. Times had changed indeed.

Gunvald left off down the way and crossed through the fading wheat and the hard clay ground and made camp in the ruins of some old fort as darkness closed about him in minacious plume.

*

Gunvald woke in twilight and passed through the northern archway of the quaint little conglomeration of hamlets as the sun rose full and fierce above the distant mountains heralding the end of Night’s devious reign. Through and beyond the northern stone archway ran a well worn path of rough cobbled stone which merged with the town’s main thoroughfare. It was at this junction that a statue of the goddess Marta lay, a man standing beneath it. The man was young and slim and dreadfully pale and wore a thin leather patch about his left eye. He was dressed all in tatters and sat cross-legged upon the ground beside a little wooden bowl which he glanced at from time to time as if he were afraid it might grow legs of its own and run off to be with its own kith and kin.

Gunvald’s footfalls sounded in short order upon the little, tatterdemalion man’s ears at which point he languidly raised his shaggy, windswept head and affixed the traveler with a most marvelous gold-green eye.

“Greetings and salutations, m’lord.”

“I’m not yer lord, beggar.”

“Not yet, good sir, not yet. Give it goodly time.”

Gunvald wondered momentarily if the man were mad, decided that it mattered not; he was pitiable all the same.

“Wherefore do thy wear that mangy patch?”

“Tis not for fashion, sure enough. But for those necessities of form that civilized men do aspire to. When War upon the Men of the Rimn was declared I, to my everlasting shame, made to abscond from those duties that bind blood to blood. Alas, I failed even in my wretched treachery and was apprehended and press-ganged to the front lines in service to Tor. It was there mine eye met the fearsome edge of a grayman’s axe, hence the patch.”

“Then thou must except my apologies, I myself am a veteran of that heinous enterprise and would never have spoken so tersely to thee had I known…”

The yellow eyed man held up his hands in entreaty and shook his head sadly, knowingly.

“Tis nothing. One as wretched as I am deserving of no apologies.”

Shamed to silence, Gunvald stood a moment in awkward contemplation, his thoughts coming to him with unusual langoriousness. It was in that meditative reverie that he spotted a small cloth mat, rolled and neatly bound with an old vine. A sleeping cover more suited for a cot than the rocky, pitted ground.

“Have you lodgings?”

“No, m’lord. All that I have I carry on my person. Everything else I lost in the war. Now I lodge with the goddess, who, in her grace, has embraced me warmly.”

With a look of horror and self-vexation, Gunvald dug into his left pocket and withdrew a small handful of coins, silver and stamped with the Royal Seal of Tor, a stylized chimera perching atop a proud, jagged spire of stone on one side and on the other the stylized face of King Chester III, Sovereign of Tor.

He proffered the mintage to the faineant without hesitation.

“I can’t accept that, m’lord. Tis far too great a sum.”

“If you shan’t accept my gift I shall force it upon thee.”

“Your magnanimity exceeds all expectations, sire. May Marta bless thee!”

The man-at-arms cracked a wry smile.

“Of that, she’ll have a most arduous time. Tell me, vagrant, what do I call thee?”

“Frey, m’lord. Jameson Frey.”

“Well met, Jasmeson. I am Gunvald. May Marta bless thee likewise.”

“One word, before your leave-taking, m’lord.”

“What is it?”

“The town overfloweth scoundrels.”

Without another word he turned and left off from the shrine as the pale vagrant bowed respectfully as if to some imperial magistrate. Some forty feet down the road Gunvald entered the town proper, passing through the old, low, stone archway which let out into the thin and winding main thoroughfare, passing between two old cobblestone huts, their smokestacks painting the sky gray with their exhaustive alcahest. He followed the road aways, passing between row after row of small cobbled huts with low hanging roofs of laiden brown thatch, small circular windows exposing the heads of a silent and solemn population who gazed out upon the lone wanderer with a mixture of wonder and fear. Their eyes spoke volumes, the unmuttered words those of caution, a collective flashing of looks that seemed to say, “Beware!”

His pace quickened in tandem to his pace, soon he settled into a light jog and closed his hand about the door of the fourth house to the left of the entryway. He braced himself for the coming encounter and feared his heart might wake the inhabitants with its knocking. Then he entered.

Inside there was only a old woman who looked up without surprise, as if she had been expecting him. After a moment, her eyes adjusted and a look of somber knowing came unto her face.

“I remember that face. Gunvald Wegferend, it pleases me to see you alive and well, dour faced as ever.”

He remembered the old crone, Paega well, she the former nurse-maid to his beloved and a fishwife at that.

“I trust you’ve been well, old fox.”

“Ack, don’t try your charms on me, I’m too old for flattery.”

“Very well.”

“To answer true… I’ve been better, all here have-”

He interrupted suddenly, unable to contained his excitement and curiosity.

“Leofflaed… is she here?”

The fishwife paused and gave a long, sad sigh before answering.

“Leofflaed is gone.”

“G-gone?”

“Due your feelings for her I shan’t keep anything aback. Her father sold her to Lord Eadwulf, the cattle baron, I trust you remember him. She lives with the lord even still, in that old stone manse upon the southern plain.”

“Hamon sold her?”

“Yes.”

“For what purpose.”

“To pay off a gambling debt.”

“What purpose for Eadwulf?”

“It were better I not say.”

Gunvald face was red with wrath, his fists trembling. He wanted to loose his rage without hesitation and would have had Eadwulf been there before him.

“My Leofflaed, sold like a common whore!”

“Hush, now, young master Gunvald. She was never promised to you. All vows made were between thee and she alone and none other. Now come, sit, you must be weary with your travels.”

“Nay, but I thank thee for thy troubles, Paega.”

He turned to leave but the old woman rose and grasped his forearm.

“Do nothing rash, young master, Eadwulf will not permit it and-”

“I’ll not be lectured to, especially not by a woman. Now take your hand from me this instant.”

She did as he commanded, fear and worry mixing in equal measure from the dull pallor of her withered cheeks and the slight glint in her weathered, squinting eyes.

Without another word he left off out of the house without closing the door and stalked through the streets with a lion’s fury. For a moment the man was directionless and then he remembered the old inn. A drink would well enough calm the nerves as it dulled the senses. For the present the soldier wished to feel nothing at all.

As he made way to the old inn Gunvald was perplexed by the empty streets which, in his youth, had been so full of mirth and gaiety and merchants haggling their glitzy baubles and minstrels singing songs of heroic struggles of some olden, mythic age, all of lion-slaying and monsters and magical princes and damsels and goddesses so fair they would blind all mortals who dared gaze upon their supple, naked forms. Now there was nothing but silence, broken at sullen intervals by the cracking of the old flags, green and emblazoned with the chimeric crest of Tor, that flew above the ramshackle houses from the watchtowers where they stood before the low, stone walls, overgrown with moss and unkempt as if in abandonment.

It looked liken to the domain of the dead.

He continued along the thoroughfare and passed beyond the low-born housing and moved on to the town square and passed the shuttered armory and the barren fish-market where only a few shadow-faced gypsies sulked, and moved to stand before the inn as an icy wind blew in from the north and crows gathered in the sky and landed upon the eaves, cackling as if with malicious mirth at his present plight. The looked to be Loessians, those curious folk what had crossed the great desert that moored itself to the World Spine and bulwarked the whole of the Kingdom of Tor from the other noted lands. Gunvald wondered at their presence: What were they doing so far from home?

Abruptly, one of them looked to Gunvald with keen interested and muttered something in a foreign tongue to a younger compatriot. The younger man drew himself up and instantly ran off, headed for inn to which Gunvald was headed. The armored traveler paid the boy no minded and moved to stand upon the low, flat veranda of the venerable establishment. He barley recognized the place, so hewn with odd etchings and strange graffiti was it, all in some foreign hand. Loessian, he fancied.

A old man sat upon a overturned bucket upon the leftmost side of the wide porch of the itinerant’s lodge. He was a sunken-eyed creature, dour and vacant, garbed in a thick fur coat and hat, a long wooden pipe gently set between his small, yellowed teeth upon which he puffed from time to time with methodical regularity. At length he spoke without turning.

“You know what they say? Those wall-scrawlings?”

Gunvald shook his head.

“I’ve little penchant for symbolism.”

“Tisn’t symbolism, tis Loessian. I don’t like the way they leer. Like cats.”

Gunvald waited a moment, expecting the old man to say something else and at length, after a long, meditating puff of his wickwood pipe, he did.

“You know how to swing that sword you carry?”

“Well as any.”

“You’ll need it shortly. The sword and the knowledge of its swinging.”

“Is that a threat, old man?”

The withered smoker screwed up his face, as if insulted and then spoke with forced restraint.

“Nay, a warning. I remember you. Gunvald, wasn’t it? Allotar and Aedelstein’s boy, but a boy no longer.”

“I don’t recall ye, old man.”

“Didn’t expect ye to. I knew your parents, knew them well. Thyself I met but on two occasions, ye but a babe, dew-eyed and grasping.”

“I do not wish to be rude, but I’m in no mood for chit-chat.”

“Fine then. To the heart of my warning. This lodge is owned by Lord Eadwulf’s right-hand man, Baldric, a very dangerous and intemperate man. His cohorts are seldom better. It is also, formerly, the favored haunt of the Loessian gypsies you see leering at us so ill-mannerly. Baldric can’t abide the Loessians and they, likewise. There are often fights. Killings. There are other places to drink than here and for a triumphant Son of Tor, I would gladly spare the whole depth and breadth of my samovar twice over, or more.”

As Gunvald opened his mouth to answer the doors to the inn swung open at the behest of a powerful hand, a powerful form swiftly following. A man, some six feet tall emerged, looked left then right then left again towards the duo and moved to stand before Gunvald. Gunvald turned full about and beheld the newcomer. He was some forty years of age with a thick and well trimmed beard all of red set below small black eyes and innumerable scars that ran from temple to cheek and from chin to neck. Gifts of the battlefield.

For a moment all was silent as the scar-faced man gazed upon Gunvald with great intensity. The next moment he surged forwards and latched Gunvald with a powerful embrace.

“Valiant Son of Tor! Welcome back, welcome back! A venerable procession I would have prepared had I known of thy arrival!”

Gunvald returned the old battle-hound’s embrace with a merry smile.

“You’re looking well, Uncle.”

*

The men sat around the rickety wooden round table in the center of the raucous inn. The lodging was all of thick-cut timber, with a small chandelier made of antlers and bone and which illuminated the laughing faces and the amber brew, overflowing, below. Gunvald smiled faintly as he looked about the old establishment. Exactly as he had left it. It was good to know at least some things had remained the same since the passing of the war. The room was still long and rectangular. The pitted, polished bar still stood in the back left corner, arranged all with brilliant crystalline glasses that proudly shone down upon the stuffed animal heads that lined the walls like curious spirits and the chortling merry-makers who swilled their hearty brew and smoked their oversized pipes, dancing light like dutiful sentries. Prune-faced was the owner who barked orders at the service wenches, their youthful limbs, limber and fast dancing about the shuttered ambit, wheeling great mugs of ale and mead and some strange smelling concoction that escaped Gunvald’s ken to the baying host therein who clacked their heels and struck up a tune here, or there quipped back and forth, arguing over a game of cards. The whole of the place a whizgig of energy and motion. A pen of mirthful chaos.

Gunvald starred down into his mug, watching the light play across the contents halcyon surface as Baldric conversed with his men, they all armed to the teeth and red-nosed with alcohol. At length he turned and raised his glass to the meditative veteran.

“Here’s to Gunvald of Tor, Hero of South, Scourge of the Gray!”

“To Gunvald!” The men exclaimed with ecstatic unison as they tipped weighty flasks to lips and downed half the contents therein. They were young to middle aged, armed and armored, but poorly, and each bearing the sigil of Lord Eadwulf, a furious, brass bull, upon the pommels of their well-sheathed swords.

Gunvald at length raised his own glass and looked to each and every local visage and then intoned imperiously.

“To Tor, and all her bloodied men!”

“Here, here!”

After the cheers the Baldric ordered them back to their posts around the perimeter of the town, leaving the gruff vassal alone with his nephew. He turned to Gunvald and glanced to his cup; empty.

“Well that surely won’t do. Not at’tall.”

“I’ve had well enough.”

“Of mead, perhaps, what say you to the other delectable treats afforded us?”

Baldric smiled mischievously as a sultry waitress sided up to him, bearing a bowel of nuts and two fresh pints of mead, which she set gingerly down before the two seated warriors. She looked first to Baldric then to Gunvald and smiled pleasantly. When Gunvald made to pay her she shook her head and held up her heands in entreaty.

“For a hero such as thee, tis on the house. As many as you like. Tis our pleasure, m’lord.”

“I thank thee, and you’re old master,” Gunvald responded stoically, his eyes leaving the dark pool of his cup only briefly, then returning to distanced reverie. The bar maiden stood uncertainly for a moment, as if she wished to speak but could not formulate the words until at last she bowed, saying only, “Well, I do not wish to disturb thee any longer.”

Baldric gave a laugh and, as she left off, slapped her straight upon the bum.

“Get ye off to the other guests, Ebba, my pretty, little minx.”

“Incorrigible scoundrel!”

The bar maid made a show of huffing and puffing but crack a delighted smile despite herself and whirled away tsk-tsking.

“Have ye lost ye manhood entire to the cup?”

“Nay.”

“Ya didn’t even spare Ebba a glance, an she a right ole looker – oh how she makes my heart leap with every new visage! Should go after her, I saw the way she was a’looking at ya-”

“That isn’t what I want.”

“Well, what do ya want? Hell, you and the rest of the town haven’t yet realized it, but you’re a bloody hero, you can have anything you want. Anything. Hear me, lad? I should know, I read you’re letters and the missives tracking your legions movements through the Rimn. When I read the last one my soul nearly leapt from my body, my heart, ceased it’s knocking and… I don’t mind saying it, tears sprang into me eyes. It had come by wing from one of Eadwulf’s falconers; it read:

Fenrald’s 3rd Legion surprised by Grey ambush at Rivenlore.

No survivors.

“Upon its reading I froze and there starred at the words and read them again, but they did not change. The horror was immovable. So many of my friends. Dead. Buried or burnt all. The worst of it was the casting of my mind to thyself, my dearest nephew – to have lost you to that stony, ice-wrapt waste… I know not what I would have done! And yet, here ye sit, glum and stolid as ever, but here and well and alive none the less! I was o’erjoyed when the next letter came – the war was ended; the Grey Chief slain. Split from knave to chops and shoulder to shoulder, his head unseamed from his villainous corpse! And by none other than by thee, my dearest nephew.”

“I’m surprised ye have yet to send for Eadwulf. He’ll be desirous to know of my presence.”

“Oh, no ye don’t, I know you’re ways, ye want me ta call him so that ye can return to the dutiful fold of His Grace. So that you can get aback te fighting! Well, ya’ave slain well enough and now, to rest.”

“Twas four months in the crossing from the Rimn to Tor alone. I’m rested well enough. Now send for Lord Eadwulf.”

“Ack, that kin wait – looky ere, tis Freyda. Isn’t she just the bonniest thing-”

Without warning, Gunvald slammed his fist hard into the table and turned frightfully upon his uncle, his eyes wide, intense and burning with some effulgent property that filled Baldric’s mind with a sudden terror.

“Spare me the bar-room whores. Take me to Eadwulf. Now.”

Logos Circular 5/19/2017

The Logos Club here presents a brief list of links to some of this weeks most enlightening, amusing and incisive pieces of writing from all across the web.

First up is

How To Make It As A Left-Wing Polemicist

which comes to us from the talented Hubert Collins of Social Matter. The piece is a ironic, caustic how-to list of dos and don’ts for how to become successful as a communist in contemporary Wiemerica. Mr. Collins amusingly notes,

E. Don’t stake out a firm position on immigration policy. While conservatives who oppose immigration are racists, identitarians who favor open borders don’t understand how that depresses wages. Never note both of these things at once–do so separately to hide your uncertainty about what to do about it.

Though one criticism we had of the piece was that he also writes,

F. Do be opaque. Use lots of jargon and obscure references to ensure newcomers won’t be able to just dive in. Throw around lots of words and phrases from grad school like: hegemony, false consciousness, late capitalism, conjuncture, etc.

NRx does precisely this (with good reason) and I’ve not heard much of an outcry about it. Though we here at the Logos are not mind-readers one might perhaps venture to guess that his point of contention was due to the fact that the socialist/post-modernist critic of the left has no precise demographic in mind whilst building his eldritch lexicon and merely does so for affectation and spectacle rather than effective communication.

At any rate it is a highly recommended piece and one that incisively dismantles much of the anti-dem Leftist project.

Next up is

A Quick History of the Russia Conspiracy Hysteria

from the insightful individuals over at EvolutionistX which chronologically details some of the origins of the resurgence of McCarthyite, Russian paranoia within the United States. Brief, but insightful, especially to those who may not follow politics with any regularity. Anon notes,

Russia is bad because they oppose US efforts to install Islamic fundamentalist governments in the Middle East, because they oppose gay marriage, and because taking Crimea is basically the same as Hitler’s invasion of Poland.

Russia is full of hackers. Assange is a Russian agent since he publishes information leaked from the US. Trump is a Russian agent since he opposes war with Russia.

Well… that’s neocon reasoning for you.

STEEL-cameralism v Steel anarchism.

Last up is easily the strangest but most unique entry in the list, Steel-Carmelism vs. Steel-anachism from Imperial Energy, a very interesting site dedicated to historically rigorous political theory (namely, Steel-carmelism). As one might assume from the title, the monograph deals primarily with the similarities and differences between Steel-carmelism and Steel-anarchism to determine which holds more future promise. Sites such as IE are exceptionally valuable as they offer a positive vision rather than merely negative critique (invaluable though it is) like the vast bulk of dissident/reactionary political/philosophical websites one is likely to encounter. Here IE critiques neoreactionary statecraft whilst simultaneously remarking upon the division of powers.

Divided power results in a weak, insecure, central power. This power will, nevertheless, immediately begin to centralise and consolidate its power by subverting, destroying and or absorbing all the other centres of power which prevent it from carrying out its four “feeding” functions. The paradoxical conclusion that neoreactionaries posit, however, is to remove as many barriers as possible for the state to achieve its functions – to have its “feed.”

For its sprawling incisiveness, Logos acknowledges Steel-carmelism vs. Steel-anarchism as its most highly recommended of the week.