Ochre Sepulchre

Hraban Amsler came to the end of the forest path and continued apace. The sparse, charming wood thickening swiftly before him. Ochre and gold. Colors the harbingers of Fall.

He knew the route well and yet felt as if he’d taken a wrong turning. The feeling came unbidden into his mind, though the man knew he had taken the correct path, as he had countless times before.

After several minutes spent vainly attempting to recall his surroundings, he paused in a clearing and looked about, puzzled by the alien peculiarity of the place.

Skeletal branches scrapped the barren welkin as if in the throes of anguished fury and where once there had been stars there was now only ruts of deeper blackness, like scars upon shadow.

There was no wind; nor bird-song; nor cricket cry; nor the croaking of frogs; nor the gallop of deer; nor the skittering of skinks; nor the grunting of boar.

All about were bones and silence and nowhere was the path to Harrohane.

I swore I took the right path. And yet…

Amsler looked down at the watch strapped to his left wrist and muttered a curse. It was later than he expected, though the sun seemed not to have moved at all from when he left the well-worn path. If he didn’t arrive on time he was sure he’d be fired.

Amsler paused and rescanned the forest which seemed to be closing in about him. All about the trunks of the mangled wood were marks of wear, the bark torn and smoothed like deer-sign. He moved closer to the nearest tree, which bore no similarity to any species the man could recall, and bent to the smoothed area about its radius.

They were the marks of hands.

Human hands.

Hands moved by desperate, reptilian fear.

“What place is this?” Amsler wondered aloud, his breath coming cold before him, despite the oppressive heat of the vegetal enclosure. Again when he looked the trees had closed about him, the ground becoming thicker with snaking vines and grasping roots.

“Perhaps I’m dreaming.”

He felt his head as the sky became dark with the leafy canopy, the malevolent foliage drawing shadows upon the ground which danced as if in mockery and obscured the skittering insects which poured forth from flesh-sated soil and spilled like ocean waves against Amsler’s boots.

“Or hallucinating.”

The stalks of the ferns and trunks of the trees were now so thick about the man that the forty-by-forty clearing into which he had stumbled, had nearly disappeared, having now shrunk to the size of a living room.

“What I see, what I hear—this cannot be real, but rather some trickery—of my mind’s construction, or another’s. The marks upon the trees and the bones beneath them attests to the utility of panic. Even if this is some strange, new reality—which I do not believe—to react as my predecessors would prove fruitless. No, this is nothing more than a momentary fit of some kind. I know not its origins, but I know its solution.”

Steeled of mind, Amsler moved loquaciously forth, to a small stone mound in the middle of the clearing and there sat down upon it as branches reached out to him and insects flooded about his boots, exhuming the bones of the wood’s victims with their consumptive fervour.

He closed his eyes and inhaled as the stars, like arrows, fell from the welkin.

“I am unafraid of illusions, truthful though they be.”

When he opened his eyes the wood, and all within it, had gone. In place of the forest, a great sea of ash stretched out before him. The detritus began to shift, revealing a human form, skin cracked and glassy and breathless, and in its hand, a small bronze key, pristine amongst the flat, sandy expanse. Some fifty feet away from the ashen exhumation, a great manse stood out against the starless sky. Amsler observed the door of the house, which, like the key, was also of aged bronze. He bent to the curled corpse and trepidatiously reached towards the artifact.

Fiction Circular 3/8/19

§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).


§. AUTHORS


¶From Glahn, Goats. The less that is said about Glahn’s absolutely fantastic tale of chanting stick-pointers, the better. Highly recommended (if, that is, it is still up, the author’s posts are removed at regular intervals).

*Best of the week.

“Merrily we walked out of the town in the opposite direction of the bridge. Out of the town. Grand, huh? to expel yourself, to follow the inclinations of self-exile! I had forgotten I was a single thing back there but now I felt my rugged old heart swell and spill-”

 

— Goats


¶From Julian Gallo (via Medium), An Ashcan Burns At The Feet Of Christ. An allegory, equal parts poetic and grim.

“In the back alleys of Jerusalem a prophet lies naked, drunk and covered in sick-”

— An Ashcan Burns At The Feet Of Christ


§. ORGANIZATIONS


¶From Cheap Pop, Hell, by Jennifer Wortman. A story of dogma and youthful social fracture.

“She’s a part of your world, like the buckeye tree at the edge of your yard and the cardinals and robins that land there, and the dandelions everywhere, and the fat worms shining on the sidewalk after it rains.”

 

— Hell


¶From Literally Stories, The Shroud of Tulsa, by John B. Mahaffie, a story of the ways in which the most mundane and miniscule details can be transmogrified into myth.

“So before too long, starting with Tina retelling the stories all that day, and forgetting details and substituting some of her own, we ended up with water turned into wine, a man walking on water, and what came to be called the Shroud of Tulsa, now Plexiglass-encased at the Free and Independent Church of the Almighty on Leedy Turnpike, out past the landfill. “Tulsa,” since “Shroud of Springdale” doesn’t sound like anything.”

 

— The Shroud of Tulsa


¶From STORGY, I Did Not Push My Wife Off A Cliff, by Steve Gergley.

“I was there. And let me just say that that game was a heck of a lot closer than fifty-eight to nothing would suggest to the layman—er, excuse me—laywoman—God forbid I offend anyone…”

 

— I Did Not Push My Wife Off A Cliff

From Terror House Magazine, Anfisa, by Serge Clause. A tale of longing set in Russia.

“As time went on, spring came and the frost stopped. My friends took out their iron horses, and we from Stars Town began to ride our motorcycles in Ulan-Ude.”

 

— Anfisa

¶From The Arcanist, Leave No Trace, by Gabrielle Bleu.

“The damage from the wildfire five months ago was extensive. The park still needed all hands to aid in its recovery. And there was that increase in poaching on protected lands, an abnormal thinning of elk and deer herds started shortly after the wildfire had subsided. Beth eyed her rifle case. Funny that, the way the two coincided.”

 

— Leave No Trace


¶From The Dark Netizen, Clouds. Ms. Jadeli (a commentator on Netizen’s site) had noted that, to her, it sounded like a “excellent beginning to a book.” I’d agree. Hopefully it will be expanded upon at a future-date.

“The villagers speculated that the boy was not right in his mind. They asked the other children to stay away from this child who seemingly suffered from poor mental health. However, the little boy did not mind being alone. He would hunt for food, bathe under the waterfall, and sleep on trees. He did not need anybody.”

 

— Clouds


¶From Surfaces, Terminal Lux, by Nick Greer, a peculiar, esoteric digression on simulation and class.

“:: dwell not on the epsilon beyond your binds.”

 

— Terminal Lux


¶From X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, The Whole Flow, by Angie McCullah, the story of motherhood, illness and the fluidity of emotion.

“It is now just the boy and me and boxes of a chemical his own body can’t supply and also the beta fish in a bowl I bought to cheer him up. We sit in a small rowboat, bobbing. If you were to pull back from the tiny craft, a sunset pink behind us and a whole gray ocean slippery with fish and other sealife below, we would look like two brightly colored scraps barely tethered by my outrage, which is better, at least, than liquefying and drowning.”

 

— The Whole Flow


§. LITERARY EPHEMERA

¶Nothing to report.


Thank you for reading. If, in place of buying a cup of (probably over-priced) coffee, you would like to support our work, you can do so here.

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.

Fiction Circular 1/21/19

Circular Notes: Fiction Circular is focused on unearthing, presenting, congratulating and critiquing the best in new, independent fiction. By independent, we mean small presses, litmags and e-zines (with a particular, though not exclusive, focus on American works). Work is separated into three categories: Independent Authors (which covers self-published prose-works), Independent Publishers (which covers work from self-sufficient sites that feature the work of independent authors) and Literary Ephemera (which covers everything that isn’t prose-fiction, ie. poetry, experimental works, literary reviews, news, etc). If you know a piece, author or site of literature that you think we should include in our circular, do let us know, either through our email (logosliterature@yandex.com) or via the social media account of our admin (Kaiter Enless).

INDEPENDENT AUTHORS

Nothing to report.

INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS

X-R-A-Y published LAND SPEED by Alex Evans.

“On October 24th, 2011, Oscar Valentine broke the land speed record riding his Schwinn through a suburb outside of Madison, Wisconsin. People said that this was impossible, that Oscar Valentine, being neither a professional high-speed driver nor a legal adult at the time of the achievement, could not have exceeded 760 miles per hour.” — LAND SPEED, A. Evans.

From Terror House Magazine, Cannae (2019) by Proteus Juvenalis, a gripping and emotional tale of an unhappy and unfulfilled life and a fantastical flight from it. Mr. Juvenalis displays a unique prose style which mixes crisp minimalism with biting social commentary. He follows one of the best rules for short stories: omit needless words, as a consequence, we’d highly recommend his work.

“College-degreed, underemployed, on the wrong side of thirty. The scorn of my fellow American. Yeah, fuck you too.” — Cannae, P. Juvenalis.

North-Californian literary journal, Jokes Review has released Issue 5, featuring both prose-fiction and poetry.

“It’s my ritual,” he told Kurt the night he set fire to his first Applebee’s. “It helps me really hear the record.” — Thomas Burned Down The Applebees But The New Record Sounds Amazing, Kevin Sterne.

LITERARY EPHEMERA

Avani Singh of Blogggedit published a collection of her horror stories in the Kindle-available volume, Existence: They Do Exist (2019). I’m not really sure what to make of the name. Those who wish to support independent horror authors you can pick up a copy of her book through Amazon Kindle.

Alina Hansen announces work has begun on her first novel and promises future updates on the process.

Seasoned horror writer Laird Barron announces the definitive release date of book two of the Coleridge Series, Black Mountain.

Thanks for reading.

If you enjoy our work you can support us here.

If there are any authors or publications you think should be included in the next circular, feel free to let us know in the comments.

On Dialogic Consistency In Fiction

If, in your fiction writing, you can describe something in but a single word, sentence or paragraph, but choose instead to write in excess of the requisite amount for the task-to-hand, pause to consider precisely why. There are, sometimes, good reasons for writing in excess of the amount for the task-to-hand, but if due consideration of the reason(s) for the length of one’s writing is not paid, one places oneself in danger of waxing unduly wordy and this, in turn, can entail a whole host of additional problems (such as the inducement of bordem to the reader through repition, given that the more you describe a single, discrete thing, the more likely you are to repeat yourself and at a certain point this becomes superfluous; for instance, there are only so many ways to describe the roundness of a ball and, generally speaking, a limited need to do so).

One example of such a exception would be what I term dialogic consistency, by which I mean: writing in keeping with the verbal style of a particular character (such as a loquacious individual). The principal of dialogic consistency can best be described by an illustration; let us turn our attention to the cover image, which contains two figures, from left to right: a chic woman and a suave man, respectively. Let us call them Stacy and Sven and let us further flesh out the characters by attributing to Stacy a extremely loquacious, easily-distracted and gossipy turn and to Sven, let us attribute the faculties of precision and focus in combination with an extreme stoicism. In this example, when writing both of these characters in conversation, from the above descriptions alone, one would write Stacy in a far more wordy and talkative way (because Sven is by nature, reserved).

The best test of a writer’s dialogic consistency can be found in whether or not the reader can differentiate characters in conversation by their dialogue alone (without the writer telling the reader who is speaking, either directly or indirectly). Let us use Stacy and Sven to illustrate.

“Oh, hey, hey, come here – I almost forgot to tell you. Kelly is pregnant. I know right. Totally out of the blue. But Joey doesn’t know so… don’t tell him or anything. Ok?”

“My lips are sealed.”

“Ok, good, so anyways… Why do you look so glum?”

“I don’t like keeping secrets.”

Now from this brisk exchange alone, after some comparative study, we must determine whether or not the most average of readers would be able to pick out which speaker is Stacy and which is Sven. As you likely were able to tell, the first speaker is Stacy and the second is Sven; this process will, of course, be made easier on less discerning readers in a lengthier text where the speakers are referred to (at least once) before speaking, in some variation of the form: Stacy, whirled around around the corner, squealing with glee, “Oh, hey, hey… etc”.

OVERLOOKED FUNDAMENTALS OF FICTION WRITING (PART III)

Passive & Active Character individuation

The accent, cadence, lexiconical reach and narrated description of a character all lend themselves to differentiating them upon the page from every other, however, the former three are oft neglected by burgeoning writers. This is usually a by-product of theme fixation and character repetition and should be guarded against. Having all of your characters speak the same is wrongheaded for obvious reasons and lends itself to a narcissistic reading (even if that reading is incorrect) by the audience; the assumption by critical readers will be – generally – that the author is simply asserting himself through a panoply of different avatars to better pound some pulpit or another. Very tedious and often, quite condescending.

Active individuation is any portion of a story which has a character actually doing something that differentiates him or her or it from the rest of the cast. Manner of speech (and thought, if there are to be internal monologues) here is paramount. If you are from a coastal US region the intricacies of other state accents will be largely foreign to you and likely be beyond your ability to reliably and authentically recreate. If you are writing a story surrounding a poor youth living in the deep south of the US and have little knowledge of the south, for instance, then you’ve some legwork ahead of you. You must study the language of the area, the collective mannerism and phraseology, hammer out the regional accents and home in on a very specific model of speech and stick to it throughout the entirety of the story. Linguistic active individuation is made doubly difficult due to the tendency for most people to write in much the same fashion in which they speak. Social media is a testament to this, where dialectical tendencies can be observed in real-time breaking down along fairly predictable national, ethnic and racial lines. Also of importance, after having garnered a handle on the dialects one wishes to employ within their story, is to take a measure of the dialect continuum to be utilized, where it becomes less intelligible to other groups of your fictional world and where it ends completely and trammels off into total unintelligibity.

A dialect continuum is any geographically contained series of varied language groupings which are all, to some degree, intelligible (though not mutually) to every other member of the total language block. In the US, the English language is the primary “block” whereas all of the various different variations thereof, such as southern, Ebonics, New York and the transcontinental accent, make up the variations of the block, or the sub-blocks of the primary language and though, not mutually communicable to all other sub-blocks, each block can be reliably understood to communicate on the most rudimentary of levels. Taking this real world example of language variability into your own stories will help to add a level of both immersion and believability which simply will not be able to be achieved without it.

Passive individuation, we shall define, as any portion of the story which defines a character through something other than their direct action, from some source that is beyond their agency. The most common form of passive individuation is narrative description of the character, such as, “Franklin was a stocky man, graying about the temples, some forty years of age, with a wrinkled brow and a surly grimace perpetually distorting his wind-chaffed and pitted face.”

Here it is important to establish visual motiffs, whether they are movements, some portion of their physiology or some notion or mythos concerning them which is propogated by some other portion of the cast. For example, in my latest (and as yet unfinished work) the novel, Tomb of the Father, there is a ominous character who stalks and hunts down criminals, he wears peculiar bracelets, adorned all with bells and everywhere he walks there is a faint jingling preceding his steps. I utilize this aural motif at subsequent sections later on in the story to establish both a eerie precursor to his appearance as well as a vector which forces other characters within the novel to recall their interactions with him; for example, one of the principal characters is passing beside a merchant who is hocking chimes and their metallic chittering reminds the character of the ominous man. Such symbolic motifs are imminently useful for establishing a particular tone or mood and are highly underutilized in modern literature wherein most authors will rather satisfy themselves on spoken themes and rigidly articulated talking points, this can be fine but is inherently inclined to wax either stale or obnoxious.

OVERLOOKED FUNDAMENTALS OF FICTION WRITING (PART II)

Overlooked aspects of character and theme

Whilst bearing the overwhelming importance of world inconsistency in mind we will now turn our attention to characters and their portrayal. A good fiction writer must be a good actor, his characters must not all be but mere extensions of his own idiosyncrasies, if so the characters will assume a kind of bland and unconvincing uniformity, becoming not separate entities, but rather, component parts of one overbearing hive mind with a totalizing consistency of thought. Characters should all have their own inner lives unless you have a reason within the story to portray them “flatly.” For example, you might wish to portray a nameless “random henchman” type character in a comedy tale to parody action genre-convention, with its seemingly endless host of utterly incompetent and drone-like shock-troopers who are curiously never daunted by the fact that their masters continuously send them up against foes girded by the indomitable power of plot-armor.

Two good examples to compare and contrast for the purposes of elucidating “well rounded” characters and “flat characters” can be found in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged respectively. In The Fountainhead all of the principal characters (and even most of the minor characters) are distinctive, both in terms of their thoughts, words and deeds whereas in Atlas Shrugged nearly all of the principal heroes are facsimiles of John Galt (with the sole exception of Dagny Taggart) and all of the principal villains are echoes of James Taggart (with the sole exception of Dr. Robert Stadler). A repetition of a certain character type is problematic because it necessitates a repetition of theme. In the case of Atlas Shrugged it is established that John Galt believes that a kind of enlightened selfishness is not only good, but the highest moral good. Since nearly all of his compatriots in the novel speak, act and think exactly like him (to the point of being indistinguishable upon the page without moniker) one knows precisely what they’re going to say and what they are going to do. Furthermore, this tendency breeds a (often unintentional) preachiness which is both extraneous and irksome; there is, after all, only so many times and ways one can repeat “selfishness is the highest good” before the reader is inclined to inwardly shout, “By the underbelly of Apophis, I get it already!”

If your purpose, in writing any particular story or portion thereof, is to convince your audience of something, it were better that you restrain from incessantly beating them over the head with your ideas, as that is about the least convincing thing you could do. Furthermore, regardless of your purpose, the aforementioned type of character repetition (and thus, theme repetition) breeds stilted and unbelievable characters who will utterly bore all as the reader has already met them a dozen or more times before! As with films, there are some books that are so profoundly bad they’re good precisely because they’re so humorously bad, but whoever heard of a book so boring that one simply must read it?

Overlooked Fundamentals of Fiction Writing (part I)

Fiction writing, like all other forms of art, is predicated upon communication.

First and foremost, a fiction writer should focus on ensuring he has the requisite ability to communicate his or her thoughts via the written word and to communicate them effectively. It doesn’t matter how extensive your lexicon, nor how captivating your style, if you cannot arrange sentences in such a way as to drive home the meaning contained therein. We shall not cover, in any depth, the rudiments of the English language nor of any other and will, instead, assume a certain degree of literary proficiency and creativity from the reader (one should be careful not be to too bound by forms which can sap the work of its vigor and inventiveness). Instead we will be turning our fevered imaginations towards the specific ways (the forms) in which the themes within a given work are communicated.

Pay particular attention to your opening sentences.

There is no more important section of a given story than the opening sentence(s), for if your audience does not find it sufficiently eye-catching they are like as not to read little further. Certainly, if the whole opening paragraph is either mundane, impenetrable or both, then one should not expect any sizable readership to follow. For instance, in my recently published short story The Chittering, the tale begins with a evocative description of the scene and the principal actors within it. I wrote:

Night fell like a blanket of smoke over the hunters, the clicking of crickets in the forest beyond the old bunker, the only sound, save for the rustling of the lonesome wind.

The purpose of this introduction was to provide a description of both the “stage” and the “actors” upon it as well as lay the snare which was to pull the reader deeper into the story. It was my hope that the mention of mysterious hunters, huddled in a old bunker would cause the reader to ponder, “Who are these hunters, what is this bunker? Why are they in it? What is all this about?” This is not to say that one should not begin with naming or detailing their characters (that’s perfectly fine), however, there is something to be said of cramming too much information into one particular place. Information overload (something author’s like DeLillo delight in, i.e. Underworld) occurs whenever you attempt to describe multiple events and/or characters all within the space of a single line of text. Something like, “Tim, the Freemason, was feeling queasy, he figured those lobster’s which Sherry, the cook, had given him for Clancy’s birthday, were the likely culprit.” The sentence is a little difficult to follow, but more than that, it is rather clunky and reads like a paint-by-numbers description (he did X, then he did Y because she did X, etc), which is not particularly interesting and can wax rather robotic.

Whilst we are on the topic of painting-by-numbers, another attribute of one’s story which will return dividends if cared for is the rhythm of the text itself.

Rhythm.

The rhythm of a particular line of text is also of considerable importance not just for the “flow” of the story but also for the impact of particular portions thereof. Consider the way following passages:

His hands shook upon the handle of the smoking gun as he loomed over the twitching ruddy creature upon the ground, now twitching no more.

Chopping this sentence up (“changing the rhythm”) can be a method to place more emphasis upon particular actions, like so:

His hands shook upon the cool handle of the gun. Coils of smoke, like phantasmal worms, moved about the rafters. He looked down to behold his victim, twitching like some bird-rent crab.

Twitching.

Twitching.

Twitching no more.

The first description is more compact and more “correct” grammatically speaking, but it doesn’t have the same level of visceral impact as the second description. Neither is necessarily better, in any total and all-encompassing sense, but certainly, one or the other will be much better for certain types of scenarios and deftly navigating between the two kinds of descriptions (those being: “matter-of-fact” and “poetic”) will make for a much more enjoyable read, it will also allow you to explain certain segments of your story in a way the other will not.

World consistency.

Any cinephile worth his salt will have seen at least one film series wherein a character or place or theme is introduced and becomes important only to vanish in the next installment and never reappear again. I call this world inconsistency to differentiate it from a plot-hole as the two are not necessarily synonymous. World inconsistencies occur when one builds up a particular portion of their world(s) over a particular portion of one’s story and then suddenly and inexplicably glosses over or ignores everything there created. Such inconsistencies typically occur either through forgetfulness or a misbegotten desire towards flair (i.e. it just sounded good at the time). World inconsistencies often occur in sequels which are, in the current artistic climate, usually driven my market demand and are thus hastily cobbled together re-imaginings rather than detailed elaborations. A good example of this phenomenon can be found within the Hannibal Lecter (or Lecktor as Manhunter puts it) series of novels written by the notable and stylish crime author, Thomas Harris.

In the novel, Hannibal Rising (2006), the individual who is most formative to the budding serial killer is his fiery adoptive aunt, Lady Murasaki, a Japanese woman of considerable refinement and ability who I assume (though do not know) was patterned off of the 11th Century Japanese writer,  Murasaki Shikibu, known for her text, The Diary of Lady Murasaki. Despite her prominence in the sequel novel, Lady Murasaki is never mentioned or referenced in anyway in any of the other novels, those being: Red Dragon (1981), Silence of the Lambs (1988) and Hannibal (1999). Now we should forgive Harris this oversight due to the fact that, firstly, he did not want to write the book to begin with (Dino De Laurentiis forced him into it due to studio pressures; i.e. maintaining the franchise) and secondly, he couldn’t very well change his other previously written books right off the bat and would have had to have made additions to one or more of his previously released novels. Now what he should have done (other than just refusing to write the book to begin with) was write yet another novel or novella, occurring sometime after Hannibal Rising, but yet before the last book in the series, such that all the various strands of Hannibal Rising were tied together into the rest of the previously established Lecter mythos. Failing this, one is left with prominent thematic attributions which dissolve into utter nothingness.

[continued in part 2]

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Sex, Violence, Death, Toil: A Brief Primer on Fiction Writing, Prt.5 [Coda]

Those that wish to shift any power structure will need to pervade not just in the military, the media and the legislation-complex but also in the arts.

– A Brief Primer on Fiction Writing, Part. 4

In the previous installment of this series I briskly documented the strange case of the self-styled “Leftist Fight Club,” created by the organization, Knights of Socialism (no, really, that’s what they call themselves) of the University of Central Florida. The group was inspired by the film Fight Club which was, in turn, inspired by the fictional novel of the same name by freelance journalist and transgressive novelist, Chuck Palahniuk. I illustrated this organization due to how starkly it showed the way in which art can work as a model for human action (outside of a momentary shaping of consciousness – that is to say, that which moves well beyond merely evoking a, “Ah, that’s cool.”). But it is far from a isolated incident.

Art as a model for human action.  (continued)

Casting our attention back in time to the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte we can see the power of dynamic art to sway the minds and hearts of men by the numerous cartoons which were printed by the British to defame him after that once venerable sovereignty had set its sights upon the newly founded French Empire.

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The Plumb-Pudding In Danger, by James Gillray. The pictured-above is the most famous of the Napoleonic Cartoons & features the Emperor himself [right] seated across from British Prime Minister, William Pitt [left].
Such ridiculous caricatures upset the Emperor nearly as much as it amused its target demographics. In fact, the artwork so perturbed Napoleon (who as a master statesman knew well enough the import of “optics”) that he attempted, unsuccessfully, to convince the British newspapers to suppress them which only further inflamed the pre-war tensions between the two countries and invariably contributed to Britain’s ultimate decision to topple the new, and seemingly ever-expanding, French regime. The British, however, were not the only one’s utilizing art to their political ends, for Napoleon himself commissioned numerous paintings of himself, typically highly romanticized, after each of his successful battles to the effect that every battle was garnished in a aura of sacrality. The most popular of these numerous portraits, Napoleon Crossing The Alps, is still endlessly reproduced today.

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Napoleon Crossing The Alps by Jacques-Louis David

But let us return to our central concern, writing, and flash forth to 1909, Paris.

Le Figuro has just published a most shocking text upon the front page of their magazine.

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“Housing with external lifts and connection systems to different street levels”, from La Città Nuova, by Futurist Architect, Antonio Sant’Elia

The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism.

The text, penned by the avante-garde Alexandrian-Italian poet, F.T. Marinetti,  venerate the arrival of the machinic age and establish, “-war as the world’s only hygiene-,” and “-scorn for woman-,” as well as a whole host of revolutionary political aspirations which were as negatory and violet as they were prescient and constructive. The document would go on to spawn the socio-political art movement known as Futurism (not to be confused with Futurology – someone who is interested in prospective technology, a term which, today, is often used interchangeably with what we shall call lowercase ‘futurism’). The Futurists in their near 40 year reign, lead by Marinetti, aided in the creation of Fascism, guided the rise of Mussolini, championed both World Wars (and fought in them), pioneered the arts with the creation of noise music and free word poetry and inspired three of the most well known modern art movements, Dada, Vorticism and Surrealism – all three of which, in turn, continue in their own subtle ways, to influence art to this very day.

The reason futurism was so successful is that, despite it’s chaotic veneer, it, rather uniquely, was expressly designed and consciously, methodically implemented into every sphere of life. There were futurist theories on war, aesthetics,  dance, music, politics (they advocated for women’s suffrage and sexual liberation for the express purpose of destabilizing society). They even had futurist cook books. But more than all of the ephermera, Futurism was a philosophy of life, wherein one strove ever to extend and glorify, not just one’s self, but the whole of the world even at the cost of its selfsame destruction. It was the endless, ceaseless, remorseless, ripping away of all that which was stultified and corrosive and hurling oneself at the world with, as Marinetti put it, “-ardor, splendor, and generosity, to swell the enthusiastic fervor of the primordial elements.”

 

All this from a five page short-story/manifesto written by a relatively unknown, non-native-born poet.

Remember that when next you doubt the efficacy of your penmanship.

Lift up your heads!

Erect on the summit of the world, once again we hurl defiance to the stars!

-ending verse of the Futurist Manifesto

Logos Anthology: Free e-book

The Logos Club proudly presents a collection of some of our finest choice writing featuring: Kaiter Enless, Cygnus-X, Gio Pennacchietti & Joel Hyduke. Re-distributing or altering the contents of this anthology will result in immediate manly challenge and a subsequent duel at ten paces.

Click the link below to receive the book and many thanks for your kindly patronage.

Official Logos Club Anthology, Part One