Notes on Schopenhauer’s The Art of Literature (1893)—II

† continued from part I


§.08—Our author continues, remarking upon material modalities.

“Unless an author takes the material on which he writes out of his own head, that is to say, from his own observation, he is not worth reading. Book manufacturers, compilers, the common run of history writers, and many others of the same class, take their material immediately out of books; and the material goes straight to their finger-tips without even paying freight or undergoing examination as it passes through their heads, to say nothing of elaboration or revision. How very learned many a man would be if he knew everything that was in his own books! The consequence of this is that these writers talk in such a loose and vague manner, that the reader puzzles his brains in vain to understand what it is of which they are really thinking. They are thinking of nothing. It may now and then be the case that the book from which they copy has been composed exactly in the same way; so that writing of this sort is like a plaster cast of a cast; and in the end, the bare outline of the face, and that, too, hardly recognisable, is all that is left of your Antinous¹.” (A. Schopenhauer, The Art of Literature, p. 6)

§.09—“… a plaster cast of a cast,” how perfectly apt is this description; how many stories of ‘chosen ones,’ or the ‘girl interrupted,’ wherein the distinctive attributes are merely cosmetic—a name, a setting, a hairdo, a historical reference—yet the form and function is essentially the same as popular narratives preceding it. However, I differ from Schopenhauer in holding authors who “take their material immediately out of books” in such totalizing contempt; what is of paramount importance in the question of textual information acquisition is the quality of the information contained and (as he notes) its verification (for whatever qualities). Given that the information acquisition and exploitation from a text is fundamentally no different than any other kind of information acquisition and exploitation, it is mistaken to vitiate information derived from a text and information derived from studying a tree or a stone (ie. one’s own observation”). That is to say that the writer is always writing “out of his own head” a distinction that may seem trivially semantic, but which is conceptually crucial.


Sources

  1. Arthur Schopenhauer. (1893) The Art of Literature. Swan Sonnenschein & Co.; MacMillan & Co.
  2. Elena Martinique. (2016) Is Consumerism Depicted in Art Relevant a Relevant Critique of Contemporary Society and Culture? Widewalls.
  3. Farooq A. Kperogi. (2016) Myth of the Decline in Standard of English Usage and Grammar. Nigeria Village Square.
  4. Ranulf Higden, trans. John Travisa. (1364; eng. trans. 1865) Polychronicon Ranulphi Higden Maonachi Cestrensis.
  5. R. L. S. (2015) Johnson: Language anxieties: A Long Decline. The Economist.
  6. Sabina Nedelius. (2017) The Myth of Language Decay: Do Youths Really Not Know How To Speak? The Historical Linguist Channel.
  7. Sarah Waters. (1995). The Most Famous Fairy in History: Antinous and Homosexual Fantasy. Journal of the History of Sexuality. University of Texas Press. 6 (2): 194–230.
  8. Steven Pinker. (2014) The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide To Writing In The 21st Century. Penguin.
  9. Stuart Henry. (1897) Hours With Famous Parisians. Way & Williams.
  10. Thomas Adajian. (2018) The Definition of Art. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

End Notes

¹ Antinous (also Antinoüs or Antinoös) was a Bithynian Greek, friend and lover of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. After his mysterious death, the emperor deified Antinous and organized a cult in his honor. Schopenhauer, in the passage above, utilizes ‘Antinous’ as a metaphor for the artist’s creation.

In Tooth & Claw (Supernatural Horror Anthology Review)

Contains spoilers.

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Daniel Soule’s In Tooth & Claw (Rotten Row Publishing), an anthology of surreal and supernatural horror stories, begins with the novelette, Plight of the Valkyrie, the story of a soul-reaping guild that seeks out a empathic, medically skilled serial killer for recruitment. The premise is fascinating, however, the deployment of a extremely lengthy monologue midway into the story concerning the purpose of the spectral guild to which the protagonist (Mortimer) belongs both saps the story of its tension and, at the same time, creates a build-up without a pay-off. That the guild angle is central to the story and also the very thing which removes the unsettling atmosphere the story generates in its impressively moody introduction suggests that the story might have been more effective without recourse to supernaturalism, as Val’s murderous medical proclivities proved sufficiently intriguing so as to have been able to carry the tale in its entirety, should the author have so-desired.

The next story—The Breed—is one of the best in the collection. The tale centers on a number of paratroopers from Nevada who are sent to the Middle East to liquidate a number of Farsi-speaking and thus, presumably Persian, terrorists at the behest of the US military. Of course, given the title, one can assume the novel angle: The soldiers are werewolves, born out of a secret nazi experiment that was coopted by the US government. Despite deploying a premise reminiscent of David Brückner’s Iron Wolf, the narrative nevers falls to schlocky mediocrity, firstly, owing to the deftness and three-dimensionality with which the paratroopers are detailed, secondarily because of the competence of the prose and the structure of the story, and thirdly because the narrative threads are drawn together with a seriousness and authenticity typically absent from the kind of exploitation and shock-horror film it brings to mind. The 1987 film Predator is mentioned in the story’s opening and presents itself as a good point of comparison, as The Breed is as different from Iron Wolf as the beginning of Predator is from its own middle and end.

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Illustration depicting a scene from ‘The Breed’ by Stuart McMillan.

To Kill A Quisquilia (a title I first erroneously read as ‘To Kill A Quesadilla’) concerns a young woman’s death and a supernaturally gifted boy’s contention with a demon (the titular ‘quisquilia’) disguised as a garbage truck (which, as far as disguises go, is quite original). The tale provides a tonal break from the two proceeding tales, as it begins as a grim mystery and swiftly develops into a jaunty, macabre comedy. A welcome bit of levity to break the tension of the preceding tales.

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Illustration depicting a scene from ‘To Kill A Quisquilia’ by Stuart McMillan.

Next is The Switch, a psychologically introspective murder mystery. Its interesting in that the mystery lies not in who the killer is, but in why the killer did what she did (the reveal is quite gripping, so I shant spoil it).

After that is The Breed: The Last Watch, a continuation of The Breed’s mythos. It fails to match up to the original, chiefly because of its clumsy structure, as the reader is constantly jostled between numerous underdeveloped characters which are scattered throughout different time-periods. The problem with the story is not that there are time-jumps, but rather that one has no idea what is going on as a consequence thereof.

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Illustration from ‘The Breed: The Last Watch’ by Stuart McMillan.

Next up, Only Some Things, the story of a deformed man waiting at a bus stop. Though emotionally evocative, it feels unfinished, namely because it ends so abruptly. As a sketch for a longer work, however, its thoroughly intriguing.

Next is Witchopper, my personal favorite in the collection, which tells the tale of a father and son who set out to investigate the veracity of a local urban legend. Unlike, The Breed: The Last Watch, the time-jumps are very deftly deployed such that never once did I have to re-read a line or skim back up to the preceding page in a attempt to understand what was going on. It also features several scenes of impressively atmospheric tension.

Concluding the anthology is The Lostling, which, much like Only Some Things, is a story about which little can be said, as it also feels underdeveloped. There is no middle or end, but only the introduction of a introduction. That being said, it is also one of the most ambient and haunting of all the pieces.

In Tooth & Claw is a thoroughly mixed-bag, but never a boring one.


My thanks to Mr. Daniel Soule for providing me with a early copy of the anthology.

The Highly Selective Dictionary For The Extraordinarily Literate (1997)

“The Highly Selective Dictionary can be thought of as an antidote to the ongoing, poisonous effects wrought by the forces of linguistic darkness—aided by permissive lexicographers who blithely acquiesce to the depredations of unrestrained language butchers.”

 

—Eugene Ehrlich, Preface to The Highly Selective Dictionary For The Extraordinarily Literate.

Eugene Ehrlich’s The Highly Selective Dictionary For The Extraordinarily Literate (Harper Collins, 1997) is a treasure trove of obscure words. The 192 page book is divided into six sections, Acknowledgements, a Preface, Pronunciation Notes, a Introduction and, lastly, The Dictionary proper and features such obtuse and oft-unuttered words as blatherskite (a person given to blathering), dysphemism (a unpleasant or derogatory word or phrase substituted for a more pleasant and less offensive one) and galimatias (confused or unintelligible talk).

One of the unique strengths of the book is its omission of commonplace words whose meaning(s) are widely known (such as “door,” or, “car”). In leaving aside [near]omnipresent words, the book focuses wholly on those words a common English reader is apt not to know, which sets it apart from other reference dictionaries that include words which most, quite simply, will not ever need to look-up. It might also be remarked that the proliferation of the internet, which was not so pronounced upon the writing of the book as it is now, further mitigates the need to include commonplace words in reference dictionaries, given the readiness with which they can be accessed through the web.

However, simply because one can find obscure words online doesn’t mean that one will (in a suitable timeframe, if at all)—hence the importance of having a reference book to hand. To this end, The Highly Selective Dictionary is excellent.


You can find the book online at Thriftbooks, Amazon, or Ebay.


Cover image: Man wearing Gernsback Isolator (invented 1925) at writing desk.

Fiction Circular 7/11/19

THE LOGOS FICTION CIRCULAR is a weekly series which collects independent fiction from around the web so as to treat the works to a wider audience. Recommendations for new author/publisher inclusions are welcome.


§00. Editor’s note: Links affixed to author/publisher’s name (if any) will redirect to author/publisher social media; links affixed to story/article titles will redirect to a relevant site whereupon the named piece is archived. The ‘authors’ section focuses exclusively on individuals who author and publish their own literary work; the ‘organizations’ section focuses exclusively on independent presses (lit-mags, e-zines and other literary outlets comprised of more than one person) who publish fictive work of (at least) more than one author. Lastly, the ‘literary ephemera’ section focuses on non-fiction work, including (but not limited to) certain poems, such as news articles, reviews, interviews and critiques. All author/publication names arranged by alphabetical order (including ‘the’ and ‘a’).


§01. Editor’s note on criteria for inclusion: A publication is considered ‘independent’ if it does not rely upon the staff, organizational prowess, or financial backing, of one or more large corporation, academy, government or other large institution. For example, Sink Hollow Litmag will not be included in the circular, not due to the quality, or lack thereof, of their work, but rather, because they are supported by Utah State University (and thus, are not independent); Thin Air Magazine, likewise is supported (in part) by university funding and hence, will not be included.


§02. Editor’s note on timing of publication: All works included are those read by the editor during the week of publication; their inclusion does not mean that they were written / published the same week as the circular containing them.


AUTHOR (FICTION)

From Jane Dougherty, Ambush.

 “… if I sit here much longer I’ll be so old I’ll have forgotten how to string a bow.” (J. Dougherty, Ambush)


From Jeff Coleman, The One That Got Away.

Giles has the man right where he wants him. He’s not a man, of course—at least on the inside—but something much worse… (Jeff Coleman, The One That Got Away)


From Little Fears, Be Someone.

“Is that another Sprite?” asked Cuttle.

“I think so,” sighed Parrotfish. “It’s depressing. They pass on so fast. They barely have time to figure out who they are.”

“I don’t care,” replied Cuttle. “When I was young, my mum said I could be anyone I wanted.”

“Isn’t that called identity theft?” asked Parrotfish. (LF, Be Someone)


From Shantanu Baruah, Whimsical—A Flash Fiction.

She was a mystery, no one knew where she came from. (S. Baruah, Whimsical)


From The Dark Netizen, the microfiction, Beast.

Its appearance disturbed the quiet of the forest.

The legendary beast was as beautiful as it was ferocious. It made quick work of most of the party. I was enthralled by its presence as it chewed up my last remaining partner. I did not want to harm it.

It didn’t resonate with those thoughts… (Netizen, Beast)


ORGANIZATION (FICTION)

From 101 Words, Exist To Nowhere by Lauren Everhart-Deckard.

We ripped the doors off my rusty mustang, Joni and I. They came off easy, like moth wings. (L. Everhart-Deckard, Exist To Nowhere)


From Aphotic Realm, Sherrick And The Train by Dan Maltbie.

A single BOT stood before the executive area with its blaster mechanically trained on the bounty hunter as a swarm of cleaning drones sprayed and tidied the offices beyond. When Sherrick neared, an electronic croaking emerged from the dingy security robot.

“HALT! Bounty hunter!” (D. Malbie, Sherrick & The Train)


From Crystal Lake Publishing, Shallow Waters Vol.1: A Flash Fiction Anthology (Kindle Edition) edited by Joe Mynhardt.

Shallow Waters—where nothing stays buried.

With twenty-two dark tales diving beneath the surface of loss, love, and life. (Amazon promo synopsis for Shallow Waters Vol.1)


From Horror Sleaze Trash, The Night I Drank With Bukowski’s Ghost by Benjamin Blake.

I took a sip of whiskey, and started playing air guitar along to the bluesy track coming over the speakers. (Benjamin Blake, The Night I Drank With Bukowski’s Ghost)


From Jellyfish Review, Repeat Visitor by Rachel Wagner.

he runs down the hill away from the green monster and steps down its steps to rescue his toys from the car. (R. Wagner, Repeat Visitor)


From Literally Stories, Beneath Your Skin by Rose Banks.

You weren’t yourself, that night. (R. Banks, Beneath Your Skin)


From Milk Candy Review, Bodily Fluids by Marissa Hoffmann.

Nicole Kidman says she doesn’t kill spiders or even ants. I wonder if that’s because she has people to do that for her? (M. Hoffmann, Bodily Fluids)


From New Pop Lit, Jerusalem by Zachary H. Lowenstein.

The air was crisp and cool. The scent of pine was wafting and the Earth continued to exist despite anyone’s desires. (Z. H. Lowenstein, Jerusalem)


From Reflex Press, Hagstone by Chloe Turner (excerpted from her book, Witches Sail in Eggshells).

 She’d thrown off last night’s childish panic; had woken calm, absolved, a greedy hunger in her belly. The answer would come from the stones. (C. Turner, Hagstone)


From Short Prose, Bones (excerpted from Glass Lovers).

“This city lost its compass, I am telling you, Miguel. Bones. This city is filled with bones.” (Excerpted from Glass Lovers)


From Spelk, The Promise Of Science by Tim Love.

Mathematicians love finding connections between once unrelated topics.

Descartes connected geometry and algebra. He had less luck with body and mind — as different as time and space, he wrote. Einstein created space-time but couldn’t connect gravity with quantum mechanics.

Meanwhile entropy and aging took their toll, random mutations accumulating with each cell division, not all bad. The strongest survive. (T. Love, The Promise Of Science)


From The Cabinet Of Heed, Suppose by B. Lynn Goodwin.

Suppose Hannah, age 9, closed her eyes and announced, “I have windowless eyelids”? Would she be creative or silly? (B. L. Goodwin, Suppose)


From The Drabble, Spittin’ by Maura Yzmore.

After Mom turned the house into a shrine, with Father’s photos everywhere, his college graduation portrait spat on me from the windowsill. (M. Yzmore, Spittin’)


From The Fiction Pool, Suvvern Cabman by Tommy Sissons.

The occasional hedonistic partygoer, donned in the macabre, or barely donned at all, was passed out on the yellow lines, dreaming of fluidity – ex-partners and money. Slews of drunken plague doctors, Pennywises, Day of the Dead señors, mime artists, brash women with demonic and celestial get ups bustled into pools of human jungle at every doorway. (T. Sissons, Suvvern Cabman)


From Story Shack, The Lone Pine by Martin Hooijmans (with art by Lars de Ruyter).

In his grief he did not notice that the square had filled up with people, all looking up at him in expectation. When an amplified voice started speaking he noticed though. He also noticed that no one was laughing at him. Then, one by one, lights started flicking on in the buildings surrounding the square, and that’s when he saw. His fellow trees, all decorated as well, surrounded by people laughing happily, brightened the numerous rooms of the buildings. When they saw ‘Lone Pine’ in the middle of the square, he could swear many of them began to glow even more. His heart lifted. (M. Hooijmans, The Lone Pine)


LITERARY EPHEMERA (NONFICTION)

From Alina Hansen, Ceramic (poem #417).


From A Maldivian’s Passion For Romance, a review of Before Jamacia Lane by Samantha Young.


From Cajun Mutt Press, A Perceived Shift by Jonathan Hine.


From Cristian Mihai, Do You Want More Readers? Write Like Yourself.


From David A. Estringel, the poem AI! AI! AI! (A Tartarus For Youth) at Blood Moon Rising Magazine(Issue #77).


From Examining The Odd, Lord Dunsany (Edward Plunkett).


From Human Pages (Tim Miller), My Mother’s Sister by C. Day-Lewis.


From Jaya Avendel, the poem Inside The Heart.


From Joanna Koch (Horrorsong), Clutch.


From JPC Allen, a writing prompt for those seeking to try their hand at historical fiction.


From Monica Carroll, I Am A Thorn.


From New Pop Lit, a short piece on the literary works of Ayn Rand.

 


From Okay Donkey, the poem Wound Study by H. E. Fisher.


From Søren Gehlert, the poem I Care Beneath The Alcohol.


From The Mystique Books, a review of The Farm by Joanne Ramos.


From The American Sun, a rumination on American culture as reflected in the nation’s fiction in Quiet Desperation is the American Way.


And lastly, from Thoughts Of Steel, The Crucible.


 

Fiction Circular 7/4/19

THE LOGOS FICTION CIRCULAR is a weekly series which collects independent fiction from around the web so as to treat their works to a wider audience. Recommendations for new author/publisher inclusions are welcome.


§00. Editor’s note: Links affixed to author/publisher’s name (if any) will redirect to author/publisher social media; links affixed to story/article titles will redirect to a relevant site whereupon the named piece is archived. The ‘authors’ section focuses exclusively on individuals who author and publish their own literary work; the ‘organizations’ section focuses exclusively on independent presses (lit-mags, e-zines and other literary outlets comprised of more than one person) who publish fictive work of (at least) more than one author. Lastly, the ‘literary ephemera’ section focuses on non-fiction work, including (but not limited to) certain poems, such as news articles, reviews, interviews and critiques. All author/publication names arranged by alphabetical order (including ‘the’ and ‘a’).


§01. Editor’s note on criteria for inclusion: A publication is considered ‘independent’ if it does not rely upon the staff, organizational prowess, or financial backing, of one or more large corporation, academy, government or other large organization. For example, Sink Hollow Litmag will never be included in the circular, not due to the quality, or lack thereof, of their work, but rather, because they are supported by Utah State University (and thus, are not independent). All works which are included are those which were read by the editor during the week of publication; their inclusion does not mean that they were published the same week as the circular containing them.


AUTHORS (ficiton)

From Avani Singh (of Blogggedit), a announcement pertaining to the release of paperbacks for her most recent book, Existence.


From Jan’s MicroStories, some prose sketches.


From Karine Writes, Experiment 228.


From Nin Chronicles (Jaya Avendel), Cursed.


From Søren Gehlert, Dark Shiny.


From Steve Hart, Act 192: If the medicine is with him… (a installment in his serialized novel, The Promise of Shaconage).


From The Dark Netizen, Fell and Brave & Free.


ORGANIZATIONS (fiction)

From 101 Words, The Prodigal Son.


From Channillo, The Art of Falling (#1, Thirteen Moons Series).


From Fictive Dream, The Bicycle Orchestra by Helen Chambers.


From Gold Wake Press, their Summer issue for 2019 (featuring Peter Clarke).


From Literally Stories, Stripped by Hugh Cron.


From Spelk, Sixth Period by Andrea Rinard.


From The Drabble, A Fire In A Downpour by J. David Thayer.


From The Fiction Pool, A Morning To Remember by Babak Norouzi.


From The Red Fez, Something True You Never Told Me by Scott Parson.


LITERARY EPHEMERA (non-ficiton)

From Caliath, the poem (Memnos II)—A Silence In Which No One Sings.


From New Pop Lit, a new entry in their all-time American writers tournament, Most Charismatic #12: Allen Ginsberg.


From Public Books, Authorship After AI.


From The Booky Man (David A. Estringel), seven new haikus published at Cajun Mutt Press.


From Writer’s HQ, Why Litmags Matter (And Why Writers Need To Read Them).


 

Fiction Circular 6/20/19

The LOGOS FICTION CIRCULAR is a weekly series which collects independent fiction from around the web.


§00. Editor’s note: links affixed to author/publisher’s name will redirect to author/publisher social media, links affixed to story/article titles will redirect to the site whereupon the named piece is archived. The ‘authors’ section focuses on lone individuals who publish their own literary work, the ‘organizations’ section focuses upon independent presses, lit-mags, e-zines and other literary organizations who publish fictive work of multiple authors and ‘literary ephemera’ focuses on non-prose non-fiction literature, such as certain poems, news and art theory articles, reviews, interviews and critiques. All author/publication names arranged by alphabetical order (including ‘the’).


§01. Editor’s note on criteria for inclusion: a publication is considered ‘independent’ if it is self-contained and sustaining, that is to say, if it does not rely upon the staff, organizational prowess or financial backing of large corporations, academies, governments or other large entrenched organizations. For example, Sink Hollow Litmag will not be included on the list, not due to the quality or lack thereof of their work, but rather, because they are supported by Utah State University (and thus, are not independent). All works which are included are those which were read by the editor during the week of publication; their inclusion does not mean that they were published the same week as the circular containing them.


AUTHORS

From Avani Singh, The Abandoned House: 5, a short about haunted TVs.

All the television screens in America shut down. There was a murmuring on the TV that some believe was the devil’s voice. (Singh, The Abandoned House: 5)


From The Dark Netizen, a brief sketch, Target Practice.

Control your breathing and calm your nerves, lads, just like we practiced.

Hold the bow firmly and keep your aim steady, and release when you feel you are ready to hit the target.

Don’t let those eyes begging you to miss, distract you from your goal of executing traitors, and put an arrow right between those eyes… (The Dark Netizen, Target Practice)


From Wicked Fables (author of the excellent scifi short, Immortalitus) Servant. On social media the author provided some background to the piece, “A shortstory I wrote a long time ago, but freshly edited. Maybe it’s good, maybe I’m just sentimental about it.”

I’ve found it extremely useful to, from time to time (every year or two) go back over old, unpublished material and see how it holds up. I’d recommend the practice, you might be surprised how good some it is (and how much better it can be made with a little contemporary editing).

“The base of the hill reached, greedy hands found unearthly metals. Careful fingers worked the more useful pieces off the beasts. Of the varied dead, stunted lizards[-]like creatures were equipped with the more interesting bits. Having seen such a variety of monsters over the past decade Dal no longer attempted to classify them.” (WF, Servant)


ORGANIZATIONS

From Literally Stories, Awaken the Forest of the Gods of Torn Jaws by Daniel Newcomer, a surreal tale of one man’s journey into a cursed forest. Newcomer has a instantly recognizable style and its put to effective use in the creation of an atmosphere of miasmic dread, though the story seems somewhat underdeveloped and leaves one with far more questions than answers—perhaps that was his intention. If his goal was to keep the reader from determining what was, and was not, real, he surely succeeded.

You’re still driving to the sun but, as any journeyman does, you wonder if the sun has fallen down. Maybe that’s it. The sun has fallen and won’t be getting up anytime soon. (Daniel, Newcomer, Awaken the Forest of the Gods of Torn Jaws)


From Milk Candy Review, I-65 by J. Bradley.

Can we get a gas tanker truck or something to hold her, Mitch asks.

Mom might eat through the metal, I say.

We could use the body we built for her.

(J. Bradley, I-65)


From Okay Donkey, The Flat by Michael Alessi. The tale has a intriguing opening hook, though, if its a metaphor, its a rather opaque one (creeping decrepitude of aging? —man’s reach exceeds his grasp… man’s grasp exceeds his nerve?).

I’m changing a tire with my father when his hands fall off. (Alessi, The Flat)


From Reflex Fiction, Wind Turbine Army by Mark Newman.

There is an army of wind turbines approaching, her father says, and she finds herself mesmerised by their beauty. (Newman, Wind Turbine Army)


From Spelk, The One True Thing, Andrea Marcusa. A Gatsbyesque tale of wild romance in the big city. Vivacious prose.

At 42nd Street, we saluted the noble, stone lions that flanked the stairs of the New York Public Library. (Marcusa, The One True Thing)


From The Fiction Pool, Boxing Photographer by George Aitch.

 Combat is all or nothing and so is he. (Aitch, Boxing Photographer)


LITERARY EPHEMERA

From Alina Hansen, Golden Eyes (a poem).

golden eyes glower,

dreaming of darkened nights

during day time. A heartache turned

sour, inspiring visions of violence,

and a disastrous summer.

(Hansen, Golden Eyes)


From, Always Trust In Booksa review of the scifi thriller, Double Edged (Bulari Saga Book I) by Jessie Kuwak.

The Bulari Saga series is part of Jessie Kwak’s Durga System universe, a fast-paced series of gangster sci-fi stories set in a far-future world where humans may have left their home planet to populate the stars, but they haven’t managed to leave behind their vices. (Always Trust In Books, Review of Double Edged)


From Break The Code, Hyperstitional Daemonism: Reality as a Fictional Daemon, by Assem A. Hendawi, a short commentary on fiction as an egregore-generation mechanism.

That which is not real can have real effects and be felt as real, concomitant with the degree to which it is believed to be real or real-acting by those apprehending.

Whitley Strieber in his series of works on Alien Abduction would state in an interview:

What have I done? Have I conjured something, in effect by occult means, by writing these books or…? I mean sometimes I have the feeling they’re like breaking through—that I’ve opened a door that is supposed to remain closed, that they’re just sort of coming through it like a bunch of, you know, like they’re hungry little monsters…2

Strieber believed “by writing about these experiences, he was unleashing a terrifying reality into the world, and into his own life.” (Horsley) One could find hundreds of examples in literature and other pop-cultural or Western Occulture of such hyperstitional infestations. (Hendawi, Hyperstitional Daemonism)


From Deseret News, a review of Orson Scott Card’s newest novel The Hive (co-written with Aaron Johnston).

Readers can expect the same level of writing quality from the preceding four prequel novels, all of which were co-authored by Card and Aaron Johnston. The sci-fi concepts, plot and character motivations are carefully thought out, and as always the characters are well-developed with an intriguing variety of perspectives, although at times there is far more expository dialogue than there needs to be and the story bogs down in the middle as a result. (Heidi Burton, Review of The Hive)


From Drunken Pen, DPW Podcast Episode #24: Sci-Fi Madness, on the different types of science fiction writing and numerous other topics, in which they ask the pertinent question, “Why is everybody [in scifi] a bipedal humanoid?”

“I don’t know man, maybe I just been thinking about giving up on writing and finding a new career—like, an easier one… maybe we should just become rappers, don’t need much writing talent for that.” (from: Episode #24 of the DPW Podcast)


From JPC Allen, Writing Tip—Casting Against Type. Food for authorial thought.

In this movie from 1951, two strangers meet on a train. One is a well-known tennis player, Guy Haines . The other is a rich man’s grown son, Bruno Anthony. Haines’s troubled marriage is well publicized, and Anthony suggests they swap murders — he’ll do in Haines’s wife if Haines will kill his father. Haines’s gets away from the weirdo but humoring him and saying he agrees with the idea. Anthony takes him seriously and kills his wife. Now he expects Haines to uphold his end of the deal.

What made Bruno Anthony one of classic movie’s great villains was that he was played by an actor known for his cute, boy-next-door roles. To cast such an actor as a spoiled brat psycho was unusual at the time, but actor Robert Walker was up to the task. His Bruno glides into a room and charms everyone he meets. But when someone thwarts his plans, he’s like a child having a temper tantrum. Only this child has no problem committing murder. (Allen, Casting Against Type)


From New Pop Lit, The Decline of Literary Criticism, a incisive piece that examines (what the author perceives as) the decline of the American literary all-star.

In 1950 NFL football was scarcely a blip on the cultural radar screen. It produced zero (0) figures as recognizable and renowned as Ernest Hemingway.

Today the situation is reversed. (NPL, The Decline of Literary Criticism)


From Newsarama, The Full First Issue of John Carpenter’s TALES OF SCIENCE FICTION – THE STANDOFF (a comics anthology). Looks promising.

“The movie that changed my life was ‘It Came From Outer Space’ […] 3D—glasses on—this meteor comes screaming out of the night sky and blows up in my four year old face, and I felt something, and I got up and I was shrieking in terror. But I’ve gotta tell you a couple of seconds later it was the greatest because I felt such a high. I survived the meteor hitting me right in the face—it came out of the screen. I wanted to do that, I wanted to experience that, because I was alive. It told me I was alive.” (John Carpenter, 1990)


From The Art of Blogging, How To Write A Great Blog Post: A Beginner’s Guide, by the prolific Cristian Mihai, a brisk and straightforward tutorial on improving the quality of one’s blog posts.

When it comes to headlines, this is the one rule you must never, ever forget about. Do not deceive your readers. (Mihai, How To Write A Great Blog Post)

Also from Mihai, The Bittersweet Truth About Making Money Blogging.

You must blog in order to genuinely help your readers. Imagine who your readers are, what they look like, what they want most in this world, and figure out ways to help them. (Mihai, The Bittersweet Truth About Making Money Blogging)


From The Stray Branch, the release of the Spring/Summer 2019 issue (no 23, vol 20) featuring, The Dead of Venice by Dan Klefstad and cover art by Amber Berk.

Stray Branch founder, Debbie Berk, also has a new book of poetry and prose out titled Seasons and Shadows.


The fiction circular will continue next week.


If you enjoy our work, you can support us here.

Fiction Circular 6/13/19

§00. Editor’s note: links affixed to author/publisher’s name will redirect to author/publisher social media, links affixed to story/article titles will redirect to the site whereupon the named piece is archived. The ‘authors’ section focuses on lone individuals who publish their own literary work, ‘organizations’ section focuses upon independent presses, lit-mags, e-zines and other literary organizations who publish fictive work of multiple authors and ‘literary ephemera’ focuses on non-prose non-fiction literature, such as certain poems, news and art theory articles, reviews, interviews and critiques. All author/publication names arranged by alphabetical order (including ‘the’).


§01. Editor’s note on criteria for inclusion: a publication is considered ‘independent’ if it is self-contained and sustaining, that is to say, if it does not rely upon the staff, organizational prowess or financial backing of large corporations, academies, governments or other large entrenched organizations. For example, Sink Hollow Litmag will not be included on the list, not due to the quality or lack thereof of their work, but rather, because they are supported by Utah State University (and thus, are not independent). All works which are included are those which were read by the editor during the week of publication; their inclusion does not mean that they were published the same week as the circular containing them.


§.AUTHORS

From Circular regular, The Dark Netizen, the microfiction, Studying Fishes, a darkly humorous tale of deep sea exploration and a diver who gets far more than he bargained for. Netizen has a true Shyamalanian talent for twist-endings, one skillfully deployed in Studying.

All I wanted to do was to get closer to the school of undiscovered fish I saw before me.

I was already at maximum safe distance from the vessel.

I had swum out quite far away from the other divers, who were trying to hail me on my communicator.

Ignoring the garbled message I was receiving, I held my arms out in full extension hoping the fishes would come towards me.

My idea worked and all the fishes started swimming towards me, just as I received the message clearly.

“Red alert. Red alert. Return to vessel. Fishes confirmed as man-eaters…” (Netizen, Studying Fishes)


§.ORGANIZATIONS

From Literally Stories, A Major Error in Judgment by Harrison Kim, the tale of a troubled man living in a town which rejects him. One of the more eccentric pieces I’ve read this month.

 “Princetown will not escape my wrath.” (Kim, A Major Error In Judgment)


From Reflex Fiction, the flash-fiction Hidden House by Patrick Flanary, a exposition on the vacuousness of a fickle and passionless affair.

‘I leave Beijing after New Year’s Eve,’ she’d texted. No punctuation, but an emoji stifling its own giddiness with one hand. Maybe Jessica wanted a fling. Yes, maybe tonight, with no tomorrows in store, they would beat the holiday intrusion of solitude together. (Flanary, Hidden House)


From Spelk, the mournful microfiction Urn by Ernest Gordon Taulbee.

When their baby died, the corpse was cremated. They split the ashes and separated. (Taulbee, Urn)


 

A Consideration of Wenclas’ Vodka Friday Night (2019)

Kirk Fannin was the dangerous one– yet for a moment Stacey Shemke was the aggressor. (Wenclas, Vodka Friday Night)

§.00 Karl Wenclas’ short fiction Vodka Friday Night was the first incarnation of what the author has described as the ‘3D Story,’ a self-conscious attempt to generate a new, vitalistic literary model.

§.01 The plot—sharp as a razor—revolves around a rogues gallery operating in the seedy underworld of Detroit after the murder of ruthless gang leader named Lenny Z.

§.02 At the first, the style is breathless, almost entirely (and presumably intentionally) devoid of punctuation save the period mark and the occassional comma and features a interesting utilization of bullet points (1. 2. 3.) to delineate character perspective (which I induce to be the genesis of the 3D label). The brisk yet vivid characterization and punchy, clipped descriptions like “He looked mean, and was.” or “Kirk drove hard. Night fast.” harken back to the pulp neo-noir of the 60s and 70s from magazines like ADAM. However, certain lines stick out like weeds on a manicured lawn, such as, “Kirk knew Lenny Z’s reputation and knew the man was serious. He looked serious. Deadly and serious.” If a man looks serious the reader will internalize it the first time. Other lines appear to have been missed in the editing process, such as, “The opera had been a modern updating-.”

The gunman in the car behind Boyd’s took more deliberate aim, his gloved hand– an expensive yellow soft leather glove– squeezing the trigger red jets of flame glimpsed within the barrel gun kicking a row of shots sent off like hopeful children toward their destination. (Wenclas)

§.03 Despite these minor problems, the overall effect is one of tension, speed and intensity. Its a thoroughly rousing tale of egoism, crime, passion, loyalty and betrayal with a colorful cast of characters, told in sparse, machine-gun’d prose and one which I would highly recommend.

In The Mouth Of Madness (1994) | Review

| | Drama, Horror, Mystery | 10 Dec. 1994 (Italy) | 3 Feb. 1995 (USA)

Direction: John Carpenter | Cinematography:  G. B. Kibbe | Music: J. Carpenter, Jim Lang

Screenplay: Michael De Luca

Cast: Sam Neill, Julie Carmen, Jürgen Prochnow, Charlton Heston


Summary: Horror novels by a reclusive writer begin driving its readers to madness. The author of the novels, Sutter Cane, vanishes. To find him, Cane’s publisher, Harglow, hires insurance fraud investigator, John Trent and partners him with Cane’s editor, Linda Styles. Trent believes that the bizarre happenings are all a set-up by the novelist, Styles and Harglow to generate publicity for the books. Yet when Trent sees things described in Sutter’s novels, he begins to question his sanity.


John Carpenter’s In The Mouth Of Madness opens with rock music blaring over scenes of a printing press churning out copies of a book with the same name as the title of the film. Near the end of the film, the book from the beginning becomes a movie itself.

Metanarrative runs throughout, as does the theme of penitential madness, which finds a host in the clever and cynical John Trent, portrayed wonderfully by Sam Neill who, in the 80s and 90s, was partial to playing smart lads who go mad under harrowing circumstances. [There should be a triple-threat boxset featuring: Possession (1981), In The Mouth Of Madness and Event Horizon (1997)]

The film has some tense, unnerving moments (such as the early axeman/coffee shop scene) but fails to maintain atmospheric consistency, partly as a consequence of the outlandish extra-dimensional creatures which populate it and the ineffective jumpscares which they are party to.

In one particularly bad scene (it was my least favorite in the entire film) Trent sees a grotesque policeman with inhuman eyes. He then wakes up to see the monster leering at him from his couch (the shot hangs far too long). Then Trent wakes up again and this time for good. Fake-out scenes are common in horror films (as when a protagonist discovers someone standing behind them and they think its the antagonist but its merely a harmless side character) but double fake out scenes are pretty rare. One likely reason as to why is that they are 1. lazy (uncreative) and 2. inherently difficult to execute properly since the scene builds up tension for the first jump-scare (the first fake-out) but then has no time to build up tension for the second (since jump-scares must happen fast to have any hope of being effective). That being said, the supernatural author, Sutter Cane (Jürgen Prochnow) was properly threatening (certainly more so than the fish-squid-dogs and bloody-faced children at whose appearance the viewer is supposed to recoil) and his scene with Styles (Julie Carmen) is nerve rattling… until, that is, the screen pans to a prosthetic monster that gurgles and twitches. Its supposed to be menacing but it comes off as merely cartoonish.

I note the scene mentioned above as the addition of a ridiculous element to an otherwise effective scene is a persistent problem within the film. A further example of this can be found in the scene towards the end of the film wherein Sutter Cane becomes a void into which Trent peers as Styles monologues ominously in the background. Its a terrific scene, one of the best in film, until, that is, the monsters (once more) show up, looking like the subterranean cannibals from C.H.U.D. (1984).

A pity there was not more exploration of the film’s themes — such as popular fiction becoming religion and the fear of the loss of identity (a theme that runs throughout much of Carpenter’s work) — monsters, however terrifying, can be killed, a shotgun to the head, a knife to the heart, but ideas appealing to the basest of human impulses, are another matter entirely, for an idea cannot be bruntly eradicated without likewise eradicating all who hold it. There is in that a kernel of terror, unfortunately, the film chooses to overlook that kernel for rubbery stumble-grumbling spooks.