“Fear murders the mind, but Sloth slays Soma.”
(“Sloth slays the body.”)
From Human Effort
“When you’re young you’re naïve enough to think everything is about your own personal ideals and view of the world. When you grow up you become experienced enough to think everything is about the way the world actually operates. When you become old and truly wise you come to understand that the world is about both your own personal ideals and the way the world actually operates, and what you can do to make both work together cleverly enough to transform things into the Kingdom of God.
For what does it matter if your ideals are all perfect and yet the world is still broken, or if you’ve perfectly mastered the ways of the world, and it is still but a cesspool of wrong?”
from Memorable Literary Lines
Great morning. I’m listening to Buddy Holly and the Crickets while I work.
Love that Midnight Shift
He’s got a point… the Thesean dilemma is true of all things that maintain at least some sense of their (original) integrity, even men.
But this gives me an idea for a science-fiction short story. About a ship whose components are gradually and intentionally replaced over time by new components of the exact same shape, design, and dimensions but with vastly different and more complex capabilities.
Adaptive pre-programmed (improvable future) design is one of the basic core principles of my personal method of design and invention.
Had another God awfully (in the true sense of the term God-awe-full) good and profitable. Plus it was an enormously fun day. This has become my consistent habit.
While I traveled today I finished up my lecture series on Ancient Religion in the Mediterranean World and then listened (or re-listened, haven’t heard it since I was in my twenties) to the First disc of Return of the Manticore, which was excellent indeed.
I really, really like progressive Rock groups, especially those that derive much of their work through adaptation of ancient, art, classical, and folk music, scores, and sources, as does ELP.
Plus I was able to score several truly useful treasures today including adding to my personal library two of the works formerly held in the library of Robert Jordan (really regret never meeting him, and a real shame too since he was a fellow South Carolinian and…
View original post 238 more words
A clay tablet discovered during an archaeological dig may be the oldest written record of Homer’s epic tale, the Odyssey, ever found in Greece, the country’s culture ministry has said.
Found near the ruined Temple of Zeus in the ancient city of Olympia, the tablet has been dated to Roman times.
It is engraved with 13 verses from the poem recounting the adventures of the hero Odysseus after the fall of Troy.
The tale was probably composed by Homer in the late 8th Century BC.
It would have been handed down in an oral tradition for hundreds of years before the tablet was inscribed.
The exact date of the tablet still needed to be confirmed, but its discovery was “a great archaeological, epigraphic, literary and historical exhibit”, the Greek culture ministry said in a statement.
Excavations to uncover the tablet took three years.
The Odyssey is widely considered to be a seminal work in Western literature.
The poem, spanning some 12,000 lines, tells the story of Odysseus, king of Ithaca, who spends 10 years trying to get home after participating in the fall of the kingdom of Troy.
The tablet, discovered by Greek and German researchers, contains 13 verses from the Odyssey’s 14th Rhapsody, in which Odysseus addresses his lifelong friend Eumaeus.
I love to hear Jackson Crawford speak about such subjects (the Nordic peoples, the Vikings, the sagas, the Eddas, the Norse gods, etc.). He is a superb lecturer, and one of my very favorite modern professors.
Medieval texts explaining how manuscripts are (to be) decorated are rare. Works detailing how manuscripts that have come down to us have been adorned are rarissimi. The techniques of medieval illumination are known nearly exclusively from the appearance of the manuscripts themselves. No treatise or textbook dealing with decoration, painting or illumination has survived, and there is no evidence to my knowledge that any such treatise has ever been written. Medieval authors occasionally give us some details of script, decoration, format of manuscripts they encounter, but these are neither comprehensive nor very helpful in identifying the actual volumes. For identification, scholars have to rely on things like hand-lists and library registers. In other words, they rely on identifiable texts and, sometimes, general format, not on any visual peculiarities, like details of decoration, colours of initials, layout, illuminations, etc.
In this galaxy of relative decorative darkness, the poems of Baudri…
View original post 1,507 more words
The Bible – continuing my comparative study in the original languages between the Old and New Testaments
The Other Bible – supplemental to my scripture studies
The Quantum Labyrinth
The Ascent of Gravity
The Rise and Fall of Alexandria
The 10 Minute Millionaire – research, he has a very interesting trading technique I want to test for myself once I extract the entire formula
The Oxford Book of Medieval English Verse
The Mathematics Bible
The Philokalia: Volume 4 – rereading it for about the 6th time
The Complete Enchanter – De Camp and Pratt
20 Centuries of Great Preaching – research for my own sermons, right now I’m studying the sermons of Saint Chyrsostum
Primitive Christianity: The Library of Religious and Philosophical Thought – right now I’m studying the Theraputae and the Essenes since I’m already listening to lecture on the Dead Sea Scrolls (see below)
Grimoires: A History of Magic Books – I’m seeing if there are any important or worthwhile books of/on magic, either Ancient or Medieval, that are missing from my own library or that I should obtain and read
The Grandeur that was Rome – superb! She is a great professor
The Dead Sea Scrolls – Schiffman, the professor, NYU, has an absolutely fascinating set of theories, such as: that the Essenes were really established by a splinter group of Sadducees (Sons of Zadok), not Pharisees, though they became something completely different, that the Essenes were actually a lay group of the sect established all throughout Israel and in Jewish communities elsewhere (Africa and Asia for instance) and that the Qumran community were the actual “monks” of the Essenes, that the Teacher of Righteousness completely changed the sect, etc, etc. Many of these theories go against conventional wisdom but his evidence is fascinating and compelling, though much of it is negative, that is he eliminates competing theories based on what could have not possibly been, and then deduces his arguments based on the most likely alternatives. I’m really thinking hard on his premises.
Turing’s Cathedral – not really a lecture, but a book on CD which is entirely fascinating and extremely useful, not just as research but because I love these subject matters; math, computing, machine intelligence, engineering, invention, codes and crypts.
Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World – the professor, Holland, at Allegheny, gives a superb set of lectures on Mithra, Isis, the other Mystery Religions of the period, the Republican cults of Rome, the Jews, the early Christians, and a great one on Roman Divination and Jewish prophecy and seerage with definitions I have never heard before (insight, not foresight) versus Free Will. Anyway they have inspired me to adopt some of these concepts into my own religious practice, especially a Christian modification on Divination through the Holy Spirit and to add certain of these premises into my own books and practices of the Theophilos/Theophilon.
Symphonies No. 8 (the Unfinished) one of my very favorite symphonies, and No.9 by Schubert
Howling Wolf: The Real Folk Blues – very good
Magazines and Graphic Novels:
Rememory – a small, quiet but very worthwhile little film with Peter Dinklage. He really is a superb actor. And I don’t care much for most actors. But very worth seeing and I highly recommend it.
It inspired me, in part, to write That Island on the Sea of Loss
As I have already stated I have recently been able to add several volumes to my personal library from the one-time library of Robert Jordan. Unfortunately Jordan did not make personal notes in his books (as I tend to do) he kept them in pristine condition. Nevertheless just owning them gives me great hope about my own career as a fiction author, although mostly I purchased works of non-fiction from his library. Just to look at and study his library I have to say I would have likely got on very well with the man. His library was filled with collections of history (he had numerous volumes on the Greeks and three on Greek Fire alone), Indians, magic (unfortunately they were apparently just research summations about pagan religion, not real magic, probably for his novels), detective work and skip tracing and manhunting (interesting but not worth my time, my own techniques are superior and far more evolved, those works were from the 1970s or so), warfare (a very good collection), science (he was after all a physicist and nuclear engineer), religion, Christianity, Western Civilization, math, music, etc. the man was a bit of a polymath and I regret not knowing him personally.
Anyway the books I added to my library from his include:
The World of Mathematics – I bought all four volumes, and am really looking forward to these
The Tain – the Irish epic
The Opticks by Sir Issac Newton (the Principia has a high place in ym library, but I didn’t have a copy of the Opticks and now I have Jordan’s copy.) The last time I read the Opticks was in college, so looking forward to this too.
And three books by Keith Laumer. Apparently we were both big fans of the works of Laumer. I got Timetracks, Bolo, and Honor of the Regiment (also Bolo), and the edition of Bolo I obtained is the exact same one I had as a kid (which my mother probably disposed of while I was in college).
So I have recovered my original copy of Bolo. (I play Ogre, also based on BOLO, often by the way).
The other books I got from him I’ll not mention. I’ll take up reading these works as soon as my reading schedule clears.
In addition I added these books to my library
Max Born – the autobiography
Arts of Russia, and
Art Treasures of the Peking Museum – I’m going to take up Ikon painting and pen and ink again. So these are for inspiration.
Symphonies 8 and 9 by Schubert
Symphony No. 7 Mahler
The near complete works of Henri Purcell
Well, that’s it for now.
Have a great day folks…
I met Him Risen from the Tomb
His grave the pangs of Heaven’s Womb
His flesh all healed and yet still scarred
His soul shone on, undimmed, unmarred
To man he graced an endless Gift
Life Unending, clear, and swift
Death a villain nevermore
Evil vanquished, God restored
A keyless Kingdom free to all
Let any man but heed his call
The Earth a shining, darkless Realm
The Easter’d Captain at the Helm, and
Kurios! the angels sang
I laughed to hear the bells had rang
Ascensions told, and service wrought
The Promise that all men had sought
Salvation from the lower things
That occupied his dreadful dreams
A New Man born, and so we all
He told me “John, now heed the call
Run and tell them ‘I await!’
The sky draws near, the seas elate
The mountains leveled, the valleys rise
The beast and men again allies
Just tell them come, I watch for them
The Son of God and Man I Am
Let none now linger, time bears on
The Harvest comes and comes anon
Yet all are welcomed who now thirst, and
Hunger still for their Rebirth!”
His eye did shine, his laugh was bright
His Glory rose, there was no night
I took him manly at his Word
He was Just, and he was firm
Yet Mercy Graced his countenance
A kind of Holy Radiance
I took to mean my embassy
To echo his Divine Decrees,
And so I bend my humble verse
To honor him, and reimburse
Some small measure of my debt
He ransomed me, and brought me rest
Set me free of doubt and strive
Renewed my Mind, affixed my Life
Bound my sins, crowned my Heart
Advanced my Soul, set me apart
Made Wonders in my Spirit grow
Blessed my Work, above, below
Built mansions in his Paradise
For me to Home and occupy, and
All He asked of me in turn
Was Faith in Him, and Friendship earned,
How could I spurn such potent gifts?
My Lord I’m yours, and yours to give…
It’s not much I know, but every year I try to turn my verse to do some honor of Him.
Thank you Lord, please accept my token, and my poem.
#Easter #2018 #Christ #poem #work #writing
I am in immediate need of Beta Readers for both my fictional and non-fictional writings. These writings will include everything from my fictional science fiction, fantasy, detective, mystery, espionage, military, historical fiction, thriller, regional (Southern Western, and frontier writings), and literary writings to my middle grade and young adult and children’s stories and books. Non fictional writings will include my essays, articles, scientific papers, religious writings, writings on Theurgy, detective work, some of my business plans, and books on a variety of subjects. Other materials might include song lyrics or entire song cycles (such as for an album) and poems or games or other such matters I have created.
Rewards for giving me useful feedback will include things like autographed copies of my books, advance copies of works, discounts on published works, free copies of works, advice on how to get published, information on how to secure investors, adding you to my networks, etc. And, of course, if I can repay the favor in other ways I will endeavor to do so.
To see copies of my works visit this site:
Also I am looking for a composing partner who can take my song lyrics and help develop fully realized songs out of them. As an historical example think of Bernie Taupin and Elton John. My job would be that of Taupin (the lyricist), your job would be that of Elton John, though I could really care less what instrument you play. Although I am also open to writing song lyrics for bands. I write a variety of song lyrics in different styles and genres (rock, country, bluegrass, R&B, popular, jazz, sacred, etc.) and you could take your pick. I can also provide you with themes and motifs for various songs but at this time I do not have time to compose full music for these various song lyrics. So your job would be that of composing the music for these songs. Our relationship would be that of a standard split for song writing credits.
To see copies of my songs and lyrics visit these sites:
Dark and tattered
Grey and grim
A Spook now moves
Among these men
For what he sees, and
What they can’t
He cannot leave
To fate and chance
The Spook is lonely
Wind is cold
The creatures creep, and
They are bold
He sees them stalking
Hears the ghosts
Can he find them
With their hosts
Wet and weathered
The Spook among them
Moon so blue
The clouds are heavy
Stars are dim
What awaits him
The empty tombs
The Spook is shadowed
Things come crawling
As was told
He hears them whisper
Feels their shades
Do you know them
What they’ve made
Wolves all howl
The Earth all bloodied
Churned like mud
The Spook encircled
Cloak and hood
Torn like flesh, and
Dead to Life
Numb and senseless
The Spook is haunted
The Old World’s coming
Bones and chains
He feels them waiting
Smells their lusts
Do you see them
What they must
The Locus Eaters
Watch him pass
The future written
In the past
Faint and bent
The coven hovers
The Spook will hunt them
They bite back
All have vanished
Men lose track
Has opened here
The prophets spoke it
Song of Seers,
The Spook has found them
In their beds
The Sea will swallow
The Locus Eaters
Sit and drink,
The Grael – their table
Where they dream
So it seems
The spook ignores them
A world beyond them
The Spook is lonely
Tired and cold
But he tracks them
He is bold
He comes stalking
Can he kill them
I wish him Fortune
Pray him well
Men know nothing
Like his hell, yet
Still he haunts them
Through the Heavens
Down the Halls
Where witches weaving
Charm the Beasts, and
Sit like Priests
To drink the drink
That measures out
The moment’s passing
When the doubt
Of Life, and Death,
Or endless dread,
Is just the path
We all must tread…
Last night, around midnight, I was up and reading The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun by Tolkien, which I had recently obtained. Many of the stanzas or lines were kind of clunky and even awkward (especially for Tolkien), and you could tell it was an early work, but much of the verse was simply superb. Despite it’s somewhat unpolished style I highly recommend it for it’s narrative pulse and tale. (Too bad, that aside from songs, the narrative poem has practically disappeared from the West replaced by that self-indulgent, mostly illiterate modern shit.)
Anyway, when I put the book down for some reason it immediately reminded me (in atmosphere, ambiance, and tone) of The Spook’s Apprentice, sometimes called The Last Apprentice, one of the finest set of children’s books I’ve ever read.
And that gave me the idea of writing a song about such a Spook. So I did.
Now this song is not truly about the character from the set of books of the same name. Rather it is about a literary allusion to such a Spook – as in the song my Spook is also a monster-hunter, but he is also a metaphor for Man himself, and as to whether the monsters he hunts are supernatural creatures (like those the book character hunts) or other men, or Life and Death themselves, or all of these things, well, I leave that up to the listener to decide for himself.
After I began writing the song however it occurred to me that it would be a perfect fit my my album of songs, the Locus Eater. So I wrote it in such a way that some of the Locus Eaters appear as secondary and passive characters in the song, observing the Spook (or he them) as he proceeds at his tasks. So I am going to make place form the Spook to appear as one of the songs on the album. It is, after all, a concept album.
As for some of the other songs on the album and how well the Spook should fit among them I’ll include some of my earlier posts on the album below.
I plan to find a composing partner (though I have already sketched out some themes and motifs for myself to use as a basic musical framework for some of the songs) and finish Locus Eater(s) this year. It is one of my projects to complete for 2018. I had planned to finish it earlier but so many other projects and things interfered I had to put it on the back burner.
As for this song (The Spook) I envision it as a weird and eerie song,a throwback to the best weird and eerie type songs of the height of 70s rock, and it will of course be a very long and involved and complicated song, with several instrumental solo and group sections (free of the lyrics) as I wish to make the song both psychedelic and almost transcendental in nature. As well as seeming metaphysical and mythical in nature. For much of this song is inspired both by myth and by literature, and has several such allusions contained within it.
As for the album itself you can read about the nature of it in the other associated links.
If you have any comments you’d like to make on the song then feel free to do so. Look forward to your observations.
I apologize for having been absent for so long but I’ve been working like a madman at any number of projects and I’ve also had to attend to many personal matters. That’s life I reckon. Still I plan to post more regularly this year.
Now, it is such a beautiful and sunny day that I think I’ll go outside and work awhile. Clear some land maybe.
By the way, if you are a composer or a band or a band member or individual musician who can write music and would be interested in writing full and complete songs with me (for you to play and for us to publish) then contact me. We’ll see if we can work together.
If you are an agent looking to represent a writer, poet, songwriter, and screenwriter then contact me. You can find links to my works throughout this site.
If you are an investor then contact me. I also have a couple of start-ups and inventions underway.
The river is wide
The water is deep
I dream of forever
While you still sleep
Beside me this evening
Under the moon
The sky is so open
The dawn is so close
I look for your rising
Though you’ve never known
What is hiding within me
Waiting for you
The stars have gone missing
Their light burned away
You’re closer than ever,
But what can I say?
You’re here and you’re never
You’re not and you’re there
I wish for forever
If forever might care
What I want
The sea is so lonesome
The shore is so far
Too long have I waited
To know who you are
Is it hiding within you
Still looking for me?
The Earth is so empty
I dream of forever
Not forever alone
Are you here on this evening
Or is it just me?
The stars have gone missing
Their light burned away
You’re closer than ever,
But what will you say?
You’re here and you’re never
You’re not and you’re there
I wish for forever
If forever might share
What you want
But won’t tell me
Under the moon…
Hope you like it… and Happy New Year
Not every child the Magi keep
Not every child with shepherds sleep
Not every child with beast does play
Not every child along the way
Has angels watching night and day
Yet he came to make a world
Not every child by favor blessed
Not every child has such bequest
Not every child with gifts bestowed
Not every child is fated so
Not every child his father knows
Not every child with Heavens Wealth
Comes to this world with Heaven’s help
Yet he came to make a world
Not every child their birth foretold
Not every child is crowned with gold
Not every child in utmost peace
Not every child their hope unleashed
Not every child does bloom within
Not every child at birth begins
To blossom with a Holy Grace
Adored of nature, flesh, and face
Yet he came to make a world
Every child should one day wake
The Christmas of the Lord their fate
The Noel of his life their own
Their birth his birth, his heart their home
Their Father’s keeping, love and care
His Son their brother, and their share
For on that Christmas morn they be
The Child of God, and just like he…
But disliking sloth I spent the morning hiking and practicing playing the guitar.
After that I set myself the task of writing some songs. So by the end of the day I had written four songs (or at least the lyrics for each song, I only have the music sketched out for one) and this poem, which I intend to transform into a hymn.
I had not really set out to write a hymn on that day, and that wasn’t my original
intent as I went to work on this piece. But I was only a few lines in when I realized
what it was and what it was becoming. Once I realized what it was I just went fully
and easily in that direction.
I am pleased with the result.
So I publicly submit this poem (still to become a hymn) as my work in honor of Jesus on this Christmas, the year of our Lord, 2018 AD.
I hope you enjoy it, and Have a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Very
Prosperous New Year.
God Bless you and your Family and Friends.
Maugham walked back over to Steinthal.
Steinthal asked him, “Who is that?”
Maugham was uncharacteristically blunt, and voluble.
“That is the toughest son of a bitch I’ve ever met in my life,” he told him.
Steinthal almost flinched. He had never met anyone tougher than Maugham and wasn’t much sure he liked the idea.
“Also,” Maugham went on almost to the point of being prolix (for him anyway), “he is meaner than hell and he may even be your equal in cunning and craft.”
Steinthal whistled appreciatively, just barely above the whisp of a dog-whistle. He looked hard at the man Maugham had just been conversing with when suddenly the guy looked over at him. Had he heard Steinthal’s whistle? Steinthal wondered if that was even possible.
The guy rose up from his table and just stood there, unmoving. Was he waiting, just watching, or coiling? He was short, shorter than Steinthal, and wiry, with cords of muscles that stood out up and down his neck. He had a couple of facial scars, one a long straight slice and the other maybe a burn, and sported a multiply broken nose and the look of a man who had been stabbed a few times to the point of aggravation.
He was dressed so that you couldn’t tell if he was a day laborer or an informant. Or both. His clothes looked washed out, as if they could fade smoothly into the backgorund, and like they didn’t quite fit. Or he did. Or both. He carried himself as if he could have been concealing no weapons, or any number of them.
He looked directly at Steinthal and he smiled, only it wasn’t really a smile. It was more like when a snake’s jaw unhinges and its flat lips curl back to swallow something. Steinthal wasn’t really sure if that was for his benefit alone, or just directed at the world in general, but whatever the intent it was threatening, and patiently sibilant – all at once. And about as creepy and surreal a disposition to strike as possible for anything shaped like a man.
Steinthal looked at Maugham and Maugham looked at him.
“Do you know this guy?” Steitnhal asked.
“Yeah,” Maugham said, in his typically taciturn manner.
“Know him well?” Steinthal asked again.
“Well enough,” Maugham replied.
“How?” Steinthal said seriously, more in the way of an interrogation than a friendly question.
Maugham shook his head like a bull being called in from the field. Steinthal knew that that meant and just nodded.
“Yeah,” said Maugham. “When we first met I thought you might be related.”
Steinthal furrowed his brow. Steinthal raised his hand horizontally so that his forefinger pointed at Maugham and his thumb pointed back at himself.
“You thought we might be related?”
“No,” Maugham said flatly. “I thought that you two might be related. Why I didn’t kill you immediately.”
“You didn’t kill me because you happen to like this guy?” Steinthal asked, fishing for the reason.
“No,” Maugham said shaking his head as if the question were silly and somehow self-negating. “I didn’t kill you because if you two were related then I wasn’t absolutely sure I could.”
Steinthal nodded, accepting the comment, but was doubtful that was the whole story. It was Maugham though, so what could ya really do?
Then Steinthal looked back over at the stranger. For all he knew the guy was still breathing, but if he was then he showed no signs.
Inside his own mind Steinthal shook his head while watching the guy, but as far as anyone else knew he just stared silently at the stranger.
“Why’d you set this up Maugham?” Steinthal asked. “Couldn’t have been easy to get him to play along.”
“He’s not playing,” Maugham replied. “And no, it wasn’t. But I thought that maybe, just this once, we could use him.”
Inside his own mind Steinthal nodded, but to Maugham he shook his head so that no one else would notice.
“So,” Steinthal asked. “What do I call it?”
“You don’t,” Maugham answered. And it didn’t seem contrived at all.
“Well then, should I approach it, or let it approach me?”
“Yes,” Maugham said. “That should work.”
Steinthal nodded still intently studying the other man.
“Well then,” Steinthal finally said. “Best clear the room. If we’re gonna see what happens.”
But when Maugham made no reply, and Steinthal glanced over to check on him, Maugham was already gone. And when he turned back to look for the other guy the other guy was already in his face.
“Anybody can be ambushed,” Steinthal told her. “By some evil-souled, sneaky, cowardly little sonuvabitch. That is never the victim’s fault. However being naive enough to think that you will never be ambushed, or reckless enough to never prepare for the possibility, that is the victim’s fault. By victim I mean you,” he said pointing directly at her.
“You just got lucky tonight my dear. And that’s good, but that’s all. Cause luck ain’t a plan and there ain’t much of a future in habitual bad habit. So learn from this mess. And next time you be ready to do the killing. Understand?”
She nodded slowly and then looked up at him.
“I understand,” she said.
“Good,” he said. “Because that was the point.”
from The Detective Steinthal
Recently I have been reading The Sacred Magic of Abra Melin the Mage, one of the seminal texts on Theurgy and magic from the Medieval Ages. I have a personal library of many of these texts and this book is one of my favorites.
However it also highlights one (or even some) of the great failings of Medieval Theurgy and related forms of “magic.” And as many of you know I have a very different definition of magic than is the popular conception. Which I won’t detail here as it is described in my other writings on the subject and in the books I intend to publish on the matter.
But to return to the question at hand: The failure(s) inherent in Medieval Magic.
Before I describe that however (or one of the two most glaring ones) I must say what Medieval Theurgy actually got right.
First that all “magic” is really theologically and supernaturally based (and this has been the case and the basic conception of Magic throughout human history, up until very recently, Magic is not the result of a parallel force or inanimate source of “magical” energy running parallel to the natural sciences), secondly that natural sciences used to be a part of magic (until it split away and became its own discipline and concern), and thirdly that Theurgy should concern itself primarily with understanding both the world (as it actually exists) and how God created the world to exist in that way, and why. The Fourth conception, the one I will mainly address, that there are Good Beings and evil beings (other than human beings) that exist in the cosmos (regardless of the fact of whether or how often they interact with men) is a point I shall address in a moment.
That is what Medieval Theurgy got right.
Where it went off course, and in this case badly so, is in a related idea but a wholly different sort of practice.
Medieval Theurgy was big on the invocation and summoning of Angels and benevolent spirits, a development hearkening back to ancient times and one I think that was primarily positive. However it was also big on the summoning and invocation of demons and harmful and malignant spirits.
Here are my basic problems with that suspect concept. The summoning of Good Spirits and Angels (those who remained faithful to God, to God’s morality, or were in direct contact with God) is to me primarily a good thing. Medieval Theurgists summoned angels to converse with, to seek advice from, to have transmitted to them God’s Will, to have prophecy or scripture explained to them, to seek to understand the physical universe and creation, to have various phenomena explained to them, to have dreams and visions interpreted, to receive moral guidance, to be healed of injury and illness, to be protected from evil or disaster, etc. All of the things commonly associated with angelic beings in Scripture.
All of this I applaud and think very positive. I wish more people tried this kind of thing nowadays.
Two important side-notes however: I think Medieval Theurgists erred in thinking that simply by employing certain techniques or rituals that they would be able to automatically invoke, evoke, or summon angels (or any other kind of being) and have them respond almost mechanically to such a summons. That is a very juvenile and even idiotic assumption in my opinion. First of angels, like any other creature or being, has a free will. This is obvious and self-evident or none of them would have ever rebelled against God. And secondly if a Theurgist sought advice or action contrary to the Will of God (which I think is very flexible by the way) or malignant in some way then no angel is required to respond in any way.
The second side-note I would make is that God, being the Prime Source of All Things, including Being itself (not to mention angels and creatures), well, God should always be your first point of contact. That just seems self-evident to me – always first seek the Prime Source, not any secondary or tertiary force. And if you can communicate with and/or more importantly understand the Prime Source (which will not always be the case) then stick with that, and if not, then seek other assistance.
And to a Christian the Holy Spirit should always be your first “Being of Consultation, Explanation, and Guidance.” Angels are almost superfluous as a result of this condition and this Being, except as Allies, if direct communication with God and direct Guidance by the Holy Spirit is possible. However I am also well aware of the fact that there are times when it is very difficult to properly discern the will or intent of God, and it seems as if the Guidance of the Holy Spirit in uncertain or confused (if only in our own personal reception or interpretations of what is trying to be communicated to us). So one should always seek Theurgic Communication first with God, and then only if confused, lost, or uncertain, with Godly allies or assistants. Though I also think angels make extremely good allies and will do their very best to truthfully explain and expound upon God’s Will and Nature as they understand it, though no-one fully understands the full Will of God but God Himself.
But all of that being said, and with the caveats explained above, I am in no way hostile to communication with and alliance with angelic and good spirits. Just don’t expect them to be automatons or servile in any fashion or just waiting around to serve you like a paid employee or worse, like a slave. They have an existence independent of you just as your human friends and allies do. They are obligated to you and in service to you in the same way your human friends and allies are, meaning, of course, it is a two-way street of mutual respect and benefit.
But where the Medieval Theurgist really went off track is with the practice of invoking, evoking, and summoning of demons and malignant spirits.
Let me explain the basic idea and concept involved in this odd practice. The ancients (in the West anyway) had an idea of spirits that revolved around the Greek term daemon, which basically meant “spirit.” Now a dameon could be either good or bad, and often was both. Though some tended to be mostly benign and some tended to be mostly malignant. But all were capable of both aspects of behavior, just as one might think of a human being or human companion. In other words a daemon was just like a pagan god (only less powerful for the most part) and open to capriciousness and emotionalism (it was not driven by a Universal or Inherent system of logic and morality, as our concept of God, but only by temporal circumstance or relativistic morality) just as the ancient pagan gods were.
By the Middle Ages, especially with the advent and ascendancy of Christianity and Judaism (and the Triumph of a Monotheistic God who is bound by his own sense of Morality and Virtue) that notion had become split into the idea of angel (being Good Spirits) and demons (being bad or evil or malignant spirits) and of a whole race of beings directly tied to Virtue and another whole race of beings decidedly and intentionally tied to vice. There were also other and more complicated notions involved such as Spirits that were a specific aspect of God’s Nature or of specific Godly Virtues but let’s leave that aside, as it is not germane to the current discussion.
(As a personal sidenote I should also say that I am of the opinion that there are sprits that are open to both good and ill, as are human beings, and that there are specific classes or races of Beings who are definitely and definitively good, such as Angels – a parallel case among men being Saints – and races and classes of beings dedicated to evil for their own reasons, such as is the case with some men – serial killers, habitual violent criminals, tyrants, warlords, terrorists, and so forth.)
In any case the general Medieval idea was that it was acceptable to invoke, evoke, and summon demons or malignant spirits as long as they were carefully controlled, and that the techniques used to control these beings or entities were the same techniques employed by angels and God to control them. That’s a very nice sounding theory, in theory.
My problem with that theory though is threefold. First of all demons and malignant spirits are obviously possessed of their own free will. Or they would not have and could not have revolted or rebelled against God. Secondly even if they could be controlled by some technique or in some fashion then there is no reason to not suspect that at the very least such a spirit would surely attempt sabotage of the aims of the summoner, or would most certainly attempt deception and misdirection in the execution of any “orders or commands” given it by such a summoner. Third I do not believe it is any more possible to gain summoning (or actionable) control over a demon than it would be to gain summoning control over an angel. Each kind of being has an existence beyond us and is not in any way open to manipulation or control unless they voluntarily decide to grant such a thing to another. It seems far more likely and far more logical to conclude that a demon would seek to gain control over another (forced or pact-ful or agreed upon possession) than to voluntarily grant control to another over itself. It is simply illogical to conclude that malignancy exists to allow itself to be enslaved for the purposes of third-party control.
(By the way one of the true differences between the Medieval Magician, Wizard, or Theurgist, and the Medieval Sorcerer or Warlock – and to a certain degree the Medieval Witch – was on this very point. The Theurgist or Magician believed that demons were bad but could be controlled and forced to “do good” through the agency and techniques of the summoner. The magician or Theurgist made “no pact or agreement” – other than demands and commands – with the demon but rather sought control or enslavement of the same.
The Sorcerer or Warlock, on the other hand, did seek to make pacts with such beings in exchange for personal power, wealth, or desire fulfilment. The Medieval Magician believed in alliance with angels but control of demons, the sorcerer or warlock in alliance or pacts with demons – for personal gain – and often in order to harm enemies or to exercise his own personal malignancies or evils, and in opposition to the commandments of God. It is a real and distinct difference, of course, but in all practicality it seems an extremely subtle, and pragmatically speaking, a superficial one. Yes, personally I also would like to be able to control evil and force it to do good. Merely because I so will it. But is that, in itself, not also a form of evil and enslavement, and far more to the point, could I really trust in the results or validity of such an enslavement? Even if I could “successfully” enslave evil, if it were truly evil, could I ever then entrust it? I am extremely doubtful I could. I suspect that this may be one reason God does not seek to enslave evil either. It’s just speculation on my part, but it seems reasonable to me. God could never trust enslaved evil. And neither can I. Though I would see it destroyed.)
Which brings me to my last point in this matter. Whereas I do believe that God can control anything if he so wishes, and that no demon is really a match (on a one to one basis) for most angels or for a Saint or even most truly determined good men (that is to say demons are limited in their power and scope and do not possess the ability to control angels or even men unless this is done willingly or in fear or ignorance on the part of the man) this is not to say that demons are powerless or helpless or under the subjugated control of others. That is to say that God confines the abilities possessed by a demon but he does not enslave demons (force them under his control, rather they fear him if he is provoked and can exercise no natural power over him) or he would have enslaved them already and long ago. If God was in the enslavement business (and he is certainly not, even if that seems illogical towards evil) then he would have reduced demons to mere robotic automata long ago and resolved evil in that way. He could, if he so desired, simply enslave or destroy evil and evil beings and creatures, but he does not, he merely confines them in some ways.
That being the case it makes no sense at all to me to have any truck with any being (or creature) that one knows to be habitually and intentionally evil. At the very best you could only exercise an untrustworthy, suspicious, and limited form of semi-confinement against their natural impulse to do wrong, with the likely sabotage of your true objectives to closely follow, and at the worst you would become the unwitting or willful subject of the manipulations and deceptions of such a malignant being.
Why then attempt such a reckless course as communication and truck with demons?
Well, I think for two reasons. First of all many Jewish Theurgical texts, whereas warning about such dangers, had an idea of demons that lay somewhere between the ancient pagan one of daemons (spirits being both good and bad) and the Christian conception of a demon that is wholly malignant. That is the Jewish Theurgists and magicians and Qabalists and even rabbis understood that demons are malignant (and warned of this fact often) but still felt they could be controlled with the proper techniques or knowledge. And perhaps they are, to a very few, but I have no interest or desire to test this presupposition for myself. I am too naturally suspicious and repelled by the aims of evil. So whereas I do not fear demons or malignant spirits I also have no interest in them and would rather avoid them or if necessary simply cast them away, banish, or exorcise them.
Many Christian Theurgists though, many, but not all, (some were influenced by the Jewish Theurgists and others – and by the way not all Jewish Theurgists thought it wise to consort with demonic forces or beings either) said simply that you should avoid them, abjure them, or eschew and cast them away as a source of power or trustworthy information.
(Or, as Isaac Asimov once wrote in a science fiction story I read as a kid – when the Devil came to his story character to bargain for his soul in exchange for power and long life and what the man most desired, that character replied,
“Why should I bargain with you for long life and success and power and my desires? I shall have all of those things anyway due to my own efforts and with the assistance of God. It will take long but I will owe you nothing in exchange and there will be no real cost to me other than that of patience.”
Indeed. My thoughts exactly. I am paraphrasing the reply of course; I don’t have that old story in front of me. But that was the gist of the response.)
In any case these types of theurgists (those who thought you could control demons or malignant spirits) wanted to control such beings as essentially “forced or enslaved labor.” To do Work. To execute commands and to grant favors. To accumulate wealth or power for the Theurgist. Now even if you wish to do this and your motives and aims are entirely good and beneficial you still face the very daunting and real problems I outlined above.
But even the Medieval Theurgists knew that you could not force an Angel to “do your bidding,” no matter how beneficial your bidding might be. At best you could only request the assistance of an angel (which is fine by me, I cannot force another human being to assist me either, and I cannot force God to act on my behalf, only request such assistance, but that is fully acceptable to me as a fact of life) but you could not “enforce servitude.” But many Medieval Theurgists did believe you could force or enslave a malignant spirit to do as you wished.
Or put more simply, angels and other such allies were for Information (guidance, discernment, and Wisdom), but malignant spirits could be employed for Action (forced or enslaved labor against which they would be powerless to resist).
I think that is a mistake in both cases. You cannot really force demons to “do your bidding” (be it for good or ill – without facing the difficulties described above)) and it is a mistake to think of angels as “Intel only” and not as agents of Action, though the assistance would be voluntarily granted, not given by command.
Nevertheless there were Medieval Theurgists who thought you could control demons and that it was the actions of these enslaved spirits who accounted for the Actions or achievements (or “workings”) of Theurgy.
I think those two propositions and ideas to be entirely in error and wholly wrong in conceptualization.
I think rather that the true motive force or the actions of Theurgy are not achieved by enslaved spirits, but rather by the manipulations of beneficial probability forces (the best possible outcome being caused by the best possible set of operational principles functioning at optimal capacities in each circumstance) within the field of all quantum possibilities. I also think that God and angels willingly assist in these efforts no matter how they are undertaken (by mechanical work, by science, by prayer, by theurgy, by thaumaturgy, etc.), but that these efforts are never willingly undertaken by demons or malignant beings or creatures because evil and malignant beings desire the very opposite outcomes. Not the best possible outcome, but the worst, or the most disastrous or destructive, or at the very least a decided corruption of the best possibilities.
Therefore my personal practice of Theurgy will involve and has involved seeking the best possible outcome in every circumstance (as an operational principle of Theurgy) and will involve benevolent alliances and contact with beneficial allies and forces and beings and creatures. That is to say that I do believe that there is a parallel force to the Natural (or put another way – the Mechanical) Sciences (of which I am a very big proponent) but not that it is demonically or supernaturally based (though I do have great faith in the supernatural, depending on how you define the term) but rather that it is based upon the operational field of Quantum Mechanics – with the underlying intent being, “the best possible and most beneficial and benevolent outcome in every possible circumstance or set of circumstances”).
On the other hand I will eschew and discourage any contact or involvement with malignant beings or forces as I think of them (with good and logical evidence) as sources of curses, not Blessings, and of failure and harm and malignant probabilities, not Success and Benefit and Benevolent Probabilities.
I used to save my weekends for my entertainments. Watching TV and occasionally (very occasionally) playing video games, or just sitting around and relaxing. Because I don’t do these things during the week. Occasionally I’d also go somewhere, like to a movie. Or a bookstore, or library, or I’d work on one of my novels or books. The idea being that I used my weekends for relaxation and entertainment.
Now I have a totally different weekend routine and schedule.
Because I realized that my weekends were not advancing me. At all. As a matter of fact they often allowed me to regress in my progress so that come Monday I often had to intensify my efforts to make up for lost productivity or advancement on the weekends.
I used to think my weekends were for entertainment and relaxation.
Now, instead, I think of my weekends (and conduct my weekends) as an opportunity for recreation, fun, and enjoyment.
I take pleasure and enjoyment now in different kinds of things, some very different from my prior weekend schedule, some subtly but still noticeably different from my previous weekend activities.
So let me now sketch out some of the activities I currently engage in during the weekends:
1. I continue my physical training from the week before. Not as hard, but in a relaxed form. Often this involves things that stretch me out, enhance my flexibility and my reflexes (very helpful considering my prior injuries), or allow me to recover from weight lifting and hiking in heavy packs. Things such as boxing, sword fighting, working on stealth, climbing, throwing the discus, hitting baseball, yoga, tai chi, etc.
2. I am teaching myself to play the guitar and to play far more complex chords on the piano than I normally do.
3. I spend time with my wife and kids and pets
4. I have gone back to drawing and sketching and architectural design
5. I learn new languages or improve my mastery of languages I already know
6. I practice and study Theurgy
7. I continue listening to the lectures I had been listening to during the week
8. I play games (board, role play, wargames) either with family and friends or by myself
9. I walk in the forest, explore, or Vad
10. I listen to my scanner or radios or monitor other communications (HAM, shortwave, etc.)
11. I study mathematics and physics (and other sciences, such as epigenetics, chemistry, biology, etc. as the mood strikes me)
12. I read for pleasure ( have returned to genre reading, such as sci-fi, detective, mystery, horror, fantasy, historical fiction, children’s literature, etc. – basically the same kinds of things I write)
13. I write a poem or song (if I’m in the mood)
14. I make notes in my notebooks to prepare for the upcoming week
15. I listen to music with a special emphasis on discovering music that is new to me
16. I work on my wood-craft and soon I plan to buy a small forge and master some of the arts of metalcraft (knife and sword and axe-head making)
17. I am taking up working with drones and 3-D printers and small robots
18. I try to come up with a new business idea or review our investments
19. I invent, build, or repair something, or renovate the house
20. I travel locally, throughout the state, or into nearby states
Now I’m not able to do all of these things every weekend, of course, except spend time with my family (assuming they are not somewhere else), teach myself guitar, and every weekend I try to study and practice Theurgy and explore or spend time in the woods.
But the point is that my weekends are far more active, enjoyable, productive, profitable, and refreshing (they are now Recreationally- oriented) than they are entertainment-oriented. And usually by Monday I am far more energized and ready for the new week than was previously the case.
My advice to you, and I know we live in an entertainment driven culture (movies, video-games, sports, etc.) that promotes entertainment above all else (in many cases), is to skip or put aside the entertainments as much as possible and focus instead on Recreation and more Beneficial Activities.
Personal activities, physical ones, social ones, educational ones, acting on your true goals and objectives, on your hobbies and avocations – focus on the things that bring you the greatest pleasure and fulfillment rather than upon those things that merely distract and entertain you.
For mere entertainment is a time-consuming and life-wasting trap. And more often than not it is a profit-wasting venture rather than an enriching one. And I mean that in both the financial sense (think of how much money you piss-away on bad films, group sports – where you don’t even play, you just sit on your asses watching others play, and mediocre video games) and in the general sense concerning the fact that you are wasting your perishable time and life-span on essentially useless activities.
Now before anyone thinks that I will say that I am not against all video games, or films, or even spectator and group sports. I am merely saying that far too much time is uselessly and profitlessly expended on the pursuit of these things as mere distractions and entertainments from actually living and accomplishing truly worthwhile endeavors and enterprises. Hell, even just a casual weekend hobby – such as rocketry, flying drones, exploring, , reading for pleasure, etc. is likely to be far better for your mind, body, and soul than merely sitting for hours upon your ass passively consuming (for the most part) films, television shows, spectator sports, and video games.
Finally, and not to be overlooked, by being more active on the weekends your sex drive increases. So, more sex with the wife. Sometimes a lot more.
And that never hurts a man…
Steinthal looked at the picture. Then he handed it back to Williams.
“What do you want me to do?” Steinthal asked.
“Shadow him,” Williams replied. Steinthal almost laughed at the term then caught himself. Curiosity got the better of humor.
“Maybe I can do it, but who is he, and why would I track him?” Steinthal said.
“You don’t recognize him?” Williams seemed truly dumbfounded.
“Why would I recognize him?” Steinthal said flatly. “I’ve never met him or seen him before.”
“But that’s Dale J. Soggs,” Williams responded.
Williams waited to see if the name would have an effect but when it didn’t he tried again.
“He’s the football player! First draft two years ago. Very first first draft,” Williams said.
Steinthal looked at Maugham and Maugham looked at Steinthal and then Maugham casually shrugged his shoulders.
Steinthal looked back at Williams and then, unable to contain HIMSELF anymore, laughed out loud. When he stopped laughing he scratched his neck and shook his head.
“Williams, what do I give a shit if he plays football?” Steinthal replied. “Is that supposed to be your pitch to me? You think I have nothing better to do with my time than watch fucking football? I’m a grown man Williams, not a little school girl. Look at Maugham Williams. You think he’s got nothing more important to do with his time than watch fucking football? You think he’s never done anything more dangerous than fucking football?”
Williams looked up at Maugham. He towered over them both.
“You don’t watch football either?” he asked Maugham. “Guy like you? Big as you are?”
Maugham looked down at Williams, smiled thinly, and shook his head dismissively. Then he went back to chewing his gum.
Williams looked back at Steinthal who was still waiting for a reply to his question. Williams still seemed confused so Steinthal backtracked.
“I didn’t ask you what he did Williams, if you can call that doing something. I asked you who he was and why you want him surveilled. Now who is he that you need him watched? And don’t give me any bullshit about him being a football player because I don’t give a shit. In case you missed it I don’t watch fucking football. And if this is about football then you’re killing your time and my interest. Now who is the man that you want him followed, and why?”
Williams looked stunned, then shook his head and exhaled loudly. He seemed to deflate as he did so.
“They said you’d be just like this,” he finally said.
“Like what?” Steinthal asked almost disinterestedly.
“Straight to the point,” Williams answered.
Steinthal ran his hand through his beard.
“Look, you want a play-runner or a ballet dancer then get another football player to chaperone him around. They can take notes on him, carry his little athletic bag, scrub his cleats, and type up his itinerary. Maybe take him to his pedicure or his oil bath where he can meet his side-chick. Assuming that’s what you’re after. But if I’m going to follow the man then I’m going to know exactly who and what he is and why he actually needs to be followed. Get me?” Steinthal said.
Williams blinked, then nodded. It was completely silent for a moment, except for someone vacuuming up at the far end of the hall.
“Now Williams, now,” Steinthal said. “I’m not here for the psychoanalysis and the ambiance.”
Williams blinked again and cleared his throat.
“We think he,” the team rep began. “Well, we’re not sure, you see, but we think he could be, maybe, a foreign agent,” Williams finally admitted.
This time Steinthal blinked.
“A football player?” Steinthal asked incredulously.
“Well, it’s just that, you see…” Williams answered, but Steinthal set his jaw and shook his head for silence. Then he ran his hand through his beard again, scratched his chin, nodded, and motioned to Maugham. Both men turned and walked towards the door.
Surprised Williams watched them reach the door before he thought to respond.
“Wait a second?” he blurted out. “Are you gonna do it? Will you follow him for us?”
Steinthal stopped at the door and turned to Williams.
“We will,” Steinthal replied.
“Well,” Williams continued confused. “Don’t you want any details on the man? Like where he lives, what he drives, that kind of thing…”
“No, I don’t,” Steinthal replied. “I’ll gather my own intel, and details. Call you in three days.” Then he and Maugham left, walked to the end of the hall, and punched the button for an elevator.
When they were inside and descending Maugham looked at Steinthal.
“Think this is what it appears to be?” he asked his friend.
“Hell no!” replied Steinthal. “No one would.” Maugham smiled.
“Think this Soggs guy might actually be dangerous then?” Maugham asked.
“If he is,” replied Steinthal, “we’ll find out soon enough. But in any case it won’t be because he’s a football player.”
And Maugham nodded and they both laughed.
from The Detective Steinthal
I was working on a sci-fi story last night called, The Seas the Skies, when this scene popped into my head about a new case for Steinthal and Maugham. Something I’ve been thinking of doing anyway given all of the crap hysteria about foreign agents and all of the crap about professional football in our modern society. So I wrote this scene instead. First draft. If you’ll excuse the pun.
I’ll punch out the sci-fi story today after my hike with Sam.
Have a good day folks.
So this morning after walking Sam (my Great Dane) I was practicing with my warhammer and knife when suddenly the following song came to me as I worked. (Not all of it, but the first couple of stanzas.)
Then, after finishing my practice I went to the west deck of my house, and sat in the sun, and imagined a battle and wrote the rest of the piece.
I will publish it as a poem that my character Larmaegeon composes and sings (so it really a song, but sung without musical accompaniment) for his companions right before they go into a seemingly hopeless battle. For in the scene involved they are ambushed and suddenly surrounded.
So this song will go into my novel series the Kithariune.
Since I am now learning the guitar (see here: Fade Away) and am planning on turning to the lute next I am now considering taking some of the poetic works that Larmaegeon and others compose in the novels and writing out the music to such works as well and including those in the novel too. Along with all of the other supplementary material.
I am rather pleased with Hammer and Knife, but if you wish to comment upon it (if it please you or displease you) then feel free to do so.
I’ve been teaching myself to play the guitar. Today at lunch and while screwing around and learning a particularly tough set of chords (for me to master – I’ve had my left wrist broken and it makes me slow) I thought about Tom Petty and the lyrics to the following song came to me. I have the basic chord structure, and the progression, and the flourishing but haven’t yet begun to write down the music.
This is only the second song I have ever composed on the guitar. By that I mean I usually songwrite by creating the lyrics first, then compose the music on piano. Because I’m a slow composer.
But in this case I composed the music first, on guitar, which as I said, I’m teaching myself and I’m new to playing it or working off of it.
Nevertheless I hope you like it.
Well where you think you go
Or you find you stay
The time will come
For the wind will blow
In the bitter cold, and
Your heart will slow
Well, the years seem deep
And the days are sweet
But the night still comes
Can’t wake up…
Yes the dreams are clear
In the lonely air
When you lay it down
Yet a man is through
And his heart is too
When he’s breathed his last
Then his future’s past
See another world
Where your soul’s unfurled
For just another day
What would you like to say?
Doesn’t matter much
What you cannot touch
For the wind will blow
Then can you ever know?
Well, see my friend
First you start, then end,
And if you want to go
Or you wish to stay
Still the time will come
Paul Gauguin, “Portrait of a Young Woman. Vaite (Jeanne) Goupil),” Ordrupgaard, via Wikimedia.
The trouble with writing endings is that endings don’t actually exist. Not really. Instead there simply comes a moment when we stop telling the story.
Knowing when to stop has always been hard for me. In my head, I can’t help but carry the narrative on. What happens to the hero after she defeats the evil king? What happens after the protagonist gets married? What happens to the soldiers who were part of the losing army? What happens to the rest of the universe when the brightest star in a galaxy explodes?
There is always an after. And an after the after. And another after after that.
But the writer still has to stop telling the story at some point.
Where we decide to place the ending changes the meaning of a narrative. Does the tale…
View original post 98 more words
Boulder, Colorado-based Susie Lindau recently celebrated six years of blogging on Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride, where she publishes on a wide range of topics — from surviving breast cancer to her travel adventures. To make her blogiversary meaningful for others, Susie posted her 18 best blog tips, providing frank, time-tested ideas. Below, you’ll find three that resonated with us.
What excites you? I post about the events in my life that rile me up or touch me in some way. I also enjoy reading great stories. Ones that move me to tears or that make me think differently about a subject. Ones that open my heart or make me laugh. There used to be a lot more laughter here in the blogosphere.
How much are you willing to share? I draw lines when considering other people, but anything that happens to me…
View original post 234 more words
The Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery were books I read in primary school; those thin $6.00 paperbacks (I believe from Bantam Books) with those lovely covers. I remember a couple of adaptations to the screen over the years, most notably the one with actress Megan Follows was probably the most popular among fans. I was therefore thrilled to finally get to see a new version come to a series from CBC, simply called ANNE. Living in Canada, we got to see the series last month before its premiere on Netflix, which was a bonus in its self. 🙂 Having finished watching the first season and hoping it gets renewed for a second, I have to say I’ve found a new favourite in my collection of period dramas. I love the new take on the series, everything from the cinematography, to the cast, and costumes. It’s a…
View original post 171 more words
As mentioned in my last post, I have a new publication out – an entry in the Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Medieval Literature in Britain, on the Vespasian Psalter, the manuscript now shelved as London, British Library Cotton MS Vespasian A. i. So how better to celebrate this than by dedicating a blogpost to the manuscript – with some images, something which I obviously couldn’t include in the encyclopaedia?
In brief, this manuscript is a copy of the Book of Psalms, originally written in the eighth century probably at Canterbury. In the ninth century, some texts about the psalms were added to the start of the manuscript, and an Old English gloss above the Latin words of the main work. Yet later, in the eleventh century, other prayers and canticles were added to the end of the manuscript.
The Vespasian Psalter is particularly special because the ninth-century gloss…
View original post 436 more words
We often think of maps as utilitarian tools that help us get from A to B without too many detours. For many a cartophile, however, they’re at once a beautiful object, an inspiration for storytelling and adventure, and the product of incredible craft and care. Here are three stories from the Discover archives exploring the power of maps.
Ready for your own domain name, advanced design options, and more? Find the right WordPress.com plan for you.
In his recent Longreads essay, Adrian Daub weaves together the history of fantasy maps — the kind you encounter in Lord of the Rings and the Song of Ice and Fire series — with the personal story of growing up as a map-obsessed Dungeons & Dragons geek in 1980s Germany.
They were all around us growing up, stitched into the texture of adolescence: a…
View original post 729 more words
I had originally intended to write and post all of these essays in the order listed below. But life, hurricanes, a heath problem with my child, work, seminars, my novels, start-up ventures, college (my children going to and entering college), and attempting to get my work published interfered with that intention.
Nevertheless, on the weekends, I have been working on these essays, poco-a-poco, and most are already finished though not yet posted or published. I’m working on that though.
Most of these essays deal with fantasy gaming, role playing in general, and even specifically with Dungeons and Dragons and those types of games.
My overall ambition in writing these essays is to give the game designer, the game master (or DM/GM), and even the player a basic (and hopefully very beneficial) philosophical and design basis for the construction of their own backgrounds, characters, milieus, worlds, and works (from a gaming and design point of view, of course).
However I believe that many of these principles can also be easily and readily applied to the creation of fictional worlds and systems for genre writers of fantasy, science-fiction, horror, and pulp type works. Therefore these essays can also be looked upon as providing the philosophical and structural basis for fictional world design as well.
At present my total number of Essays on Game Design stands at seventeen (17), with most of these having already been written and the rest already sketched out. However this number may very well increase over time. Actually I expect it to, and eventually I expect to collect and publish all of these essays in a book on Game and World Design.
Essay One: Crawling into Oblivion
Essay Two: To Hell With Balance
Essay Three: Where Has All the Magic Gone?
Essay Four: The Heroic Impulse – Where Have All the Heroes Gone?
Essay Five: The Tomb of Myth
Essay Six: Why the World Exists
Essay Seven: Why the Game Exists
Essay Eight: What is Modern Fantasy Anyway?
Essay Nine: Where Has All the History Gone? On Heirlooms, Legacies, and Inheritances
Essay Ten: U Plus (U+)
Essay Eleven: Luck Be Not Lazy
Essay Twelve: The Blood of Uncanny Monsters: Parts One and Two
Essay Thirteen: Scientifica Magica
Essay Fourteen: The Ability Hoard
Essay Fifteen: The Interactive Essay
Essay Sixteen: Where Have All the High Homes Gone: The Heröon, the Hometown, and the Mansion or Fortified Keep?
Essay Seventeen: Where Have All the Liturgists Gone?
The old man is wary
The old man is rough
The old man ain’t waiting
He’s had enough,
The old man is weary, but
The old man is tough
The old man is certain
He’s had enough,
The young man is angry
The old man is strong
The young man’s impatient
The old man holds long,
The young man is fearful
The old man don’t care
The young man stirs others, but
The old man will dare;
The young man is hell-wrought
The old man thanks God
The young man runs riot
The old man hits hard,
The young man talks always
The old man’s ashore
The young man still cowers
The old man’s at war,
You think age a warrant
I’m not talking time
I speak of man’s Nature
His soul, flesh, and mind;
There’s a young man in many, yet
An old man in few
Why the world is so troubled, and
Men do as they do, for
Theory’s your wisdom
Cunning your thoughts, yet
Between them together
Always you’re lost, so
Your cities are rotten
Your races are run
Your collectivist shitholes
The old man will shun, and
Your classes are broken
Your reason corrupt
Down do you stumble, and
Cannot stand up
For no man is master
Who won’t stand alone, for
You moderns are plastic, but
The old man is stone;
Thus the young men are cattle
But the old man’s a wolf
For the masses are cowards
Who cringe at the gulf,
‘Tween mankind and manhood
In their broods and their tribes
Yet he’s better than you are
For He is Alive…
From the face of the moon do the gods watch the sins
Of the dim absent dreaming in the darkest of men
Do the stars in their orbits, falling to flare
Alight in the cities, or ignite in the air
To illumine the blindness, unruly console
When the blackness eclipses the depths of their souls?
The mirror is silver, the heavens are deep
The eyes of the lightless like death do they sleep
Their tribes all afire, rimmed by the blaze
Yet their hearts are all stone, and their minds all a maze
Where the light cannot shelter, nor sun still abide
No thread to remember, no savior arrives,
For the men who are lightless grow great in their herds
Yet of hope or of Wisdom nothing is heard
An Eclipse of the Silence, the cold and the still
The Furies unfrozen, a debt to fulfill
For the Plague that was promised is spoken again
The Cure long abandoned, a whispering wind,
The masses are metered, each measured alike
For man is as nothing when compassed by night
The Earth is ill-favored, the moon eats her share
The darkness within us escapes to the air –
Though who bothers to repent, or lust for the light
When the lure of the eclipse burns yet so bright?
Encased in our Eclipse who yet occupies
That nature eternal that never can die
Or wonders to wander where darkness is rare
Where men yet make marvels, not terrors declare?
I would I could tell you, I would that I knew
For the lies of the lightless have eclipsed me and you…
My poem commemorating the Solar Eclipse in the year of our Lord, 2017, and the current (and constant) nature of man…
I began it around midnight yesterday and concluded it about 0200 hours today (8/21/17).
#writing #poetry #eclipse
The place was dark. Very dark, all things considered. The whole house seemed closed off into small compartments. However there was still light streaming in from a full moon by a window to the right of the room.
Precisely why Steinthal had chosen this night. He knew that because of the full moon his night vision equipment could make good use of the available ambient and residual light and he could operate “in the dark” without giving himself away.
Time to put on my googles he thought.
He heard a small creak.
Instinctively he ducked low but something still hit him from behind and from his left. It had struck the top of his shoulder, the backside of his neck and the base of his skull. It was wide whatever it was. And it had only been a glancing blow but Steinthal saw a flash from the impact, heard a ring in his ear, and stumbled forward a few feet. Then as he caught his balance he ran forward another five or six feet and swirled as fast as he could recover.
Someone stood there. A big someone. Big and dark. If it had growled Steinthal might have taken it for a bear. As it was Steinthal thought it might be even more dangerous.
The thing seemed to just pause there as if considering what to do next. Steinthal’s head cleared completely and he started to make for his gun when the shape charged. It came in close almost instantly and surprised Steinthal, not with a jab or a horizontal swing, but with a ferocious right uppercut. Steinthal barely had time to react but twisted some and got his left arm stiffened and intercepted the shot down low. That took most of the punch out but the guy was still so strong that he lifted Steinthal onto the balls of his feet just from the sheer momentum.
Steinthal counterpunched furiously with his right. Hit the guy solidly on the left side of the front of his neck. It should have rocked the guy on his heels, caused him to splutter and choke. He hadn’t hit the trachea but it still would have stunned most men.
As it was the only two things that seemed to happen as far as Steinthal could tell was that it made a sound like the guy had been hit with a wet fish, and the man stepped back one step. He hadn’t even bent over.
Realizing fully what he was now facing, Steinthal swiftly backtracked three or four feet and grabbed his revolver with his right and his combat knife with his left. He had only glanced down for an instance to retrieve his weapons but when he looked up the guy already had a semiautomatic in one hand and a shiny machete in the other. Where the machete had come from Steinthal had no idea but it did impress him.
The guy was now closer to the moonlight. You could partially make him out. Steinthal decided he wasn’t big after all. He was monstrous. But he didn’t look stupid. No, there was a kind of set to his face and a sort of light in his eyes that Steinthal took for real and raw intelligence. Even more dangerous.
There were several moments of tense silence while they pointed their weapons at each other.
“That kind of hurt for such a little fella,” the big guy suddenly said and spit. There might have been some blood mixed in but it was too dark to tell. “What’s your name?”
“Huh?” Steinthal said.
“I said, ‘what’s your name.’ I don’t like having to repeat myself.”
Steinthal cleared his throat.
“John,” he replied. “But most everyone calls me Steinthal.”
The guy seemed to mull over the answer.
“Yeah, you’re the one,” he said as if mentally verifying a fact-sheet.
“What one?” Steinthal asked.
“The one I’m meant to kill tonight,” the big guy said.
“Well then,” Steinthal said. “You’re one up on me. I usually know nothing about most of the people I kill until it is all over.
“Why is that?” the big guy asked.
“Because they tend to ambush me,” replied Steinthal.
The big guy chuckled quietly.
“Well then, are you going to shoot me?” he asked.
“I’d rather not,” Steinthal said warily. “But at this point anything seems possible.”
Seemingly to spite himself the big guy chuckled again.
“I like you.” The big guy said. “You’re funny.”
“Trust me,” Steinthal said. “I’m not trying to be, but if helps any then let’s just go with that.”
The big guy seemed blithe. “Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to snap your neck, but now I sort of like you.”
Steinthal noticed that despite the relaxed and easy going tone of the man’s voice his aim had remained absolutely fixed and his breathing so steady that he seemed motionless. Even while he spoke.
“Yeah, well,” said Steinthal “We all do what we can.”
The guy laughed again. If not for the circumstances then to Steinthal this would have seemed ridiculous.
When the guy finished laughing he said, “Seems kind of a shame now though.”
“Don’t it,” said Steinthal. “But, you know, the guns and all…”
The big guy looked at Steinthal’s revolver.
“I’ve been shot before you know,” he said. “By a lot bigger and more powerful weapons than that. Never killed me.”
“I’ll bet,” said Steinthal. “But there’s always that first time. And I’m pretty damned determined.”
“Also I’m armored,” said the big guy, as if he hadn’t noticed Steinthal’s reply.
“Thanks for the heads up,” said Steinthal. “Now I know where not to aim.”
There was silence again. But no movement.
“Say,” Steinthal finally said. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I get the distinct feeling you’re not just playing for time here. Do you get the idea that there might be something else going on with this whole affair that neither of us are quite square on? And that maybe we should skip the strangulations and compare notes about in private?”
More silence. But then the big guy shrugged nonchalantly and holstered his gun. It kind of disappeared entirely into the huge black mound that was his chest. But the machete remained. And the guy had never even shifted his gaze.
“Maybe… Probably… Yes. I’ve had that idea for some time now,” he said. “But I didn’t want to make any snap judgements.”
“Yeah,” Steinthal said. “It’s one of the things I appreciate most about you.”
“People think I’m stupid, you know. Because I’m so big,” the big guy said. With a kind of sad resignation that seemed almost fatalistic.
“Well fella,” said Steinthal. “I’m not most people. And whereas you are stupefyingly big, you are most definitely not stupid.”
The guy chuckled again. Then sighed softly.
“You going to lower your gun now?” the big guy asked.
“I’m thinking about it, but, you know, I’m not exactly stupid either.”
The machete clattered to the floor.
“Very nice. Now can you do that with your hands, arms, and most of the rest of you as well?”
The guy smiled in the dark. And it seemed completely friendly.
“Probably not. I come this way,” he said.
“Alright then. I’ll just take your word for it.” And Steinthal holstered his gun and knife.
“Say,” Steinthal said relaxing a little. “Since you know so much about me what say you tell me your name?”
“You’ll laugh,” the big guy replied.
“Well, if I do, then don’t take it personally. I have an excellent sense of humor.”
“Okay then. It’s Maugham,” said the big guy. “William Somerset Maugham. But my friends call me Angus.”
Steinthal whistled. “Well I’ll be damned. I’ve read all your books!”
“Yeah,” the big guy looked sheepishly at the ground. “My mother was real big on literature.”
“Nothing wrong with that,” Steinthal said. “But say, you’re a lot bigger in person than you look in the papers. Or the history books.”
“Yeah, I hear that a lot. Well, not a lot. Not recently anyway. Most people don’t read anymore.”
“Yeah, that’s a real shame, ain’t it? But that being what it is I’m not calling you Angus or Bill either,” Steinthal said.
“Well then, what are you going to call me?”
“I’m gonna call you Maugham,” said Steinthal. “Because you remind me of W. Somerset Maugham. If, you know, he had been as big as a damned Angus.”
“What say though we get outta here now Maugham?” Steinthal asked. “Before they send in a troll?”
Maugham shrugged. “Okay. I’m game if you are.”
As they were sneaking out Steinthal said, “Say, what you said back there. Is that true?”
“Is what true?” asked Maugham.
“Do you really have friends?”
Maugham stopped in his tracks and seemed to mull over the question quietly in his mind before replying.
“You know, I’m not really sure.”
“Well,” said Steinthal. “The night is still young. We’ll work at it awhile. Then see what we can come up with. One thing’s for sure though.”
“What’s that?” asked Maugham.
“After tonight I owe you one. If you’ll take friendship as payment then I’ll sure call it square.”
(This is the first meeting between Steinthal and Maugham.)
From The Detective Steinthal.
I’ve been very busy lately. Lot of travel with the wife, had a severe back injury around Easter, and my daughter just had all four wisdom teeth ganked. But I’ve been working in the background the whole time and I’m back at it now 100% and hopefully my schedule stays clear for a month or two.
Also I’ve started a Patreon account. More about that later as I get it up and running.
There are at least two consistent themes running through many (if not most) of my science fiction stories. One is of turning technology (such as data, information, Intel, electrons, etc.) into “solid or substantial things.”
And the other is of people finding multiple uses for a single piece of technology (a design idea I always try to practice when inventing) and of people accidentally discovering hidden or secret functions or uses for common pieces of technology (radios, TVs, satellites, etc).
Well tonight I was studying the etymology of some rare Anglo-Saxon and English words when I ran across this word: Pixilated.
Now pixilated has not the same meaning as our word pixelated but upon reading the definition I immediately saw the parallels. Forward (taking pixelated to its logical conclusion), and backwards (by becoming unpixelated a man becomes, so to speak, also unpixilated).
Pixilated, a very old word, means to be bewitched as if by pixies, or, to be bewildered, confused, charmed, or intoxicated, as if by pixies.
Which made me think immediately of a computer screen and the internet.
I am already writing a story in which a computer and screen basically and accidentally serves as a (Tolkienesque) Palantir-like artefcat. Though it has a second meaning: Palantir the company.
But after reading about being “pixilated” I have also decided to write a parallel story about a pixilated man. Though the way in which he becomes pixilated is by first becoming enpixelated.
Which I think will also serve as a sort of related piece to my Eye in a Distant Sky story.
a morally risk averse creature. Men will certainly do what is right and good when physically forced to do so, or for the pursuit of self-interest, or when they feel truly and personally endangered, or because others insist that must be the case (society, the law, those whom they allow to exercise power over them).
But the percentage of men who will do what is right (or even argue for or wish to do what is right) in every circumstance, and no matter the risk, the danger, or the opposition – simply for the sake of doing what is right – is at least as low as that percentage of men who seek to do harm or wrong or evil simply for the sake of doing harm, wrong, or evil.
(And trust me, there are huge numbers of people so naive and sheltered and willfully ignorant about both life and human nature that they cannot even believe that such men exist. Though they most certainly do.)
So to me the real tragedy of the entire history of man, and probably one of the highest real reasons for his need of salvation, is not that the extremely small percentage of men who are consistently dedicated to doing evil are consistently dedicated to doing evil, but rather that there is such an infinitesimally small percentage of men consistently dedicated to doing what is right simply because it is always best to do so.
(My observation for Maundy Thursday.)
Today I leveled Up. Several years ago I began directly applying the various gaming and wargaming techniques I have practiced most of my life directly to my “Real Life,” – to improve my character, nature, abilities, and to help me with my overall human accomplishments.
Lately I have improved that system.
Today I made another Rise in my Accomplishments. Or, put in simplistic gaming terms I leveled up in Real Life.
This is basically my System and how I use it to advance myself (and those around me, like my wife and children).
PROGRESSION – a minor accomplishment such as; making a ten pound increase in weight lifting routine, cutting time off of a sprint, climbing higher, faster, and farther, winning a sparring match (boxing…
View original post 661 more words
“And what of the monk Baelwich?” the boy asked.
Alternaeus smiled gently as he moved objects about the table to his satisfaction. To his apprentice he seemed harried in his manner, but also utterly engrossed and happy at his task.
“Baelwich it is hard not to love. He is fearless, and smart, and cunning, and even wise. He is one of the old monks, the ancient kind of monk,” the Wizard replied. “No matter what the high nobles and the rudely ambitious think of him I count him as one of my most trusted friends. Perhaps even, a kind of brother.”
“But he is still considered a young man, is he not? Surely he may even be younger than you. How is it then that you call him ancient?” The boy seemed genuinely confused by the Wizard’s response, or openly curious as to his true meaning. Or both.
Alternaeus halted at this labors for a moment, raised his eyebrows at the question, and looked directly at his apprentice.
“You mistake my meaning boy. He is an ‘ancient kind of monk,’ not in his mortal years but in his immortal nature. He is very much like the Apostles of old in that he fears no power on or in the Earth. His only concern is God and what is Just and Right. Such men are easy for me to befriend, and once befriended, easy to maintain in my heart. Ignorant men may call my efforts fernal-craft and sorcery, but they understand me not at all. For when it comes to what is truly essential in this world, indeed in any world, of all men there is in me no sorcery at all. Only an enchantment with the Truth.”
The boy considered the remark with some seriousness. Alternaeus returned to his labors and worked until his personal expectations were met and his meticulous arrangements fully completed. When the boy saw that the labor of the Wizard seemed finally finished he risked another inquiry.
“What then of the priest Plontius? Is he also your friend?”
Alternaeus looked at the boy somewhat skeptically and scoffed.
“As long as monks and priests are willing to martyr themselves for God, for the Right, and for the innocent then they are the most courageous and admirable of all men, and have my utmost admiration and respect. Such is Baelwich.
Yet monks and priests who watch other men struggle with wrong and will neither physically fight that injustice, nor risk the martyring of themselves to prevent such evils have neither my Earthly esteem nor the friendship of my soul.”
The boy nodded twice thoughtfully at the reply but continued to stare at the Wizard as if he still wished a more direct answer to his questions.
Seeing this Alternaeus said, “To be blunt boy, and to be brutal to your brutishness, I think little and less of the small priest Plontius. He is no friend of mine, and often I wonder if he is even a man at all.”
From the tales of Alternaeus the Wizard
In a democracy (especially a socialistic one) the general idea is that every man ought to be free enough to be able to do precisely as he will any time he chooses, be that for good or for ill.
In a Republic (especially a Christian one) the general principle ought to be that every man should be trained from birth to will himself to do only what is Good, Just, and Wise.
If you don’t understand the difference between these two radically different concepts and modes of governance (the one commanded by mere herds of mortal men, the other of the True Self) then it is probably because you have never been seriously or long trained in what is Good, Just, and Wise, or because you have made such an idolatrous fetish of liberty at all costs that what is Good…
View original post 15 more words
Most people think that Paradise Lost is first and foremost the tale of the Fall of Man and the loss of his Paradise on Earth.
In Truth Paradise Lost is first and foremost the tale of how Lucifer forever lost Heaven, Earth, Paradise, and eventually even hell to become a mere romantic hero, a fool, a failure, and a ruin of his former Self. All because he mistook license for Liberty, revolt for Responsibility, fervor for Freedom, and wrong for Wisdom.
For the Fall of Man was but a worldly incident of a Fall Unmade by a Better and far more Universal Man.
The Fall from Heaven was a universal…
View original post 32 more words
For those of you, like me, who are historical novelists.
The idea of a militia – that is, groups of armed citizens that enter military service in time of need – has a long and contentious history in the United States. The idea of what constitutes the militia under the Constitution is has stirred up a lot of debate these past few years, and was reinvigorated by the so-called militia that took over federal land in Oregon in 2016. The topic is fraught with Constitutional, legal, political, and societal issues that go all the way back to the nation’s founding. However, although the issue is complicated, with a little effort we can trace how the fundamental idea of the militia has changed over time to where it exists in State and Federal laws today.
The idea of militia goes back to English traditions beginning with the Assize of Arms in 1181: “He will possess these arms…
View original post 2,174 more words
Galilean Aramaic in the Context of Early Christianity
Mihi sufficerent et stilus et tabulae (I only need a stylus and tablets, Baudri of Bourgueil, 11th century)
Submit your logline pitch and we'll make sure it gets seen be 1000s. Over 1 million plus combined twitter and facebook followers
Sharp Words For Your Mind
Travel and Lifestyle: Jarrad Style
From one GM to another.
A Writer's Workshop
The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter
Fantasy Art and Illustration
Fantasy maps and mapmaking tutorials by Jonathan Roberts
The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter
books for kids about families, friendship, feelings and funny stuff
The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter
The Middle Ages in the Modern World
Journalist, author, musician
Hey Did You Know I Write Books
Travel the world, meet researchers
The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter