Wyrdwend

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

THE ESSAYS ON GAME (and WORLD) DESIGN

ESSAYS ON GAME AND WORLD DESIGN

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.

ESSAYS ON GAME DESIGN

INDEX:

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?

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REAL READING AND REAL WRITING from MEMORABLE LITERARY LINES

Real Reading is far more than just mentally decoding terms and words, it is psychologically apprehending and comprehending the very most subtle and sublime ideas and ideals that it is possible for man to ever understand.
Real Writing is far more than just encoding and transcribing phrases, it is transmitting, mind to mind and soul to soul, the very marrow of manhood and the very embodiment of human experience through script, so that it may be read again whenever needed into the design of the future.

My personal take on the true nature of real reading and real writing

FRUIT OF THE BERRY

To a large degree I agree with the man.

Wendell Berry on Solitude and Why Pride and Despair Are the Two Great Enemies of Creative Work

by

“True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation. One’s inner voices become audible… In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives.”

“One can’t write directly about the soul,” Virginia Woolf wrote in her diary. Few writers have come to write about it — and to it — more directly than the novelist, poet, and environmental activist Wendell Berry, who describes himself as “a farmer of sorts and an artist of sorts.” In his wonderful and wonderfully titled essay collection What Are People For? (public library), Berry addresses with great elegance our neophilic tendencies and why innovation for the sake of novelty sells short the true value of creative work.

Novelty-fetishism, Berry suggests, is an act of vanity that serves neither the creator nor those created for:

Works of pride, by self-called creators, with their premium on originality, reduce the Creation to novelty — the faint surprises of minds incapable of wonder.

Pursuing originality, the would-be creator works alone. In loneliness one assumes a responsibility for oneself that one cannot fulfill.

Novelty is a new kind of loneliness.

Wendell Berry (Photograph: Guy Mendes)

Berry paints pride and despair as two sides of the same coin, both equally culpable in poisoning creative work and pushing us toward loneliness rather than toward the shared belonging that true art fosters:

There is the bad work of pride. There is also the bad work of despair — done poorly out of the failure of hope or vision.

Despair is the too-little of responsibility, as pride is the too-much.

The shoddy work of despair, the pointless work of pride, equally betray Creation. They are wastes of life.

For despair there is no forgiveness, and for pride none. Who in loneliness can forgive?

Good work finds the way between pride and despair.

It graces with health. It heals with grace.

It preserves the given so that it remains a gift.

By it, we lose loneliness:

we clasp the hands of those who go before us, and the hands of those who come after us;

we enter the little circle of each other’s arms,

and the larger circle of lovers whose hands are joined in a dance,

and the larger circle of all creatures, passing in and out of life, who move also in a dance, to a music so subtle and vast that no ear hears it except in fragments.

Illustration by Emily Hughes from ‘Wild,’ one of the best children’s books of the year. Click image for more.

Echoing Thoreau’s ode to the woods and psychoanalyst Adam Phillips’s assertion that cultivating a capacity for “fertile solitude” is essential for creative work, Berry extols the ennobling effects of solitude, the kind gained only by surrendering to nature’s gentle gift for quieting the mind:

We enter solitude, in which also we lose loneliness…

True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation.

One’s inner voices become audible. One feels the attraction of one’s most intimate sources.

In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives. The more coherent one becomes within oneself as a creature, the more fully one enters into the communion of all creatures.

The return from such humanizing solitude, Berry cautions, can be disorienting:

From the order of nature we return to the order — and the disorder — of humanity.

From the larger circle we must go back to the smaller, the smaller within the larger and dependent on it.

One enters the larger circle by willingness to be a creature, the smaller by choosing to be a human.

And having returned from the woods, we remember with regret its restfulness. For all creatures there are in place, hence at rest.

In their most strenuous striving, sleeping and waking, dead and living, they are at rest.

In the circle of the human we are weary with striving, and are without rest.

Indeed, so deep is our pathology of human striving that even Thoreau, a century and a half ago, memorably despaired: “What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?” But the value of such recalibration of our connectedness in solitude, Berry suggests, is that it reminds us of the artist’s task, which is to connect us to one another. He returns to the subject of despair and pride, which serve to separate and thus betray the task of art:

The field must remember the forest, the town must remember the field, so that the wheel of life will turn, and the dying be met by the newborn.

[…]

Seeing the work that is to be done, who can help wanting to be the one to do it?

[…]

But it is pride that lies awake in the night with its desire and its grief.

To work at this work alone is to fail. There is no help for it. Loneliness is its failure.

It is despair that sees the work failing in one’s own failure.

This despair is the awkwardest pride of all.

But Berry’s most urgent point has to do with the immense value of “thoroughly conscious ignorance” and of keeping alive the unanswerable questions that make us human:

There is finally the pride of thinking oneself without teachers.

The teachers are everywhere. What is wanted is a learner.

In ignorance is hope.

Rely on ignorance. It is ignorance the teachers will come to.

They are waiting, as they always have, beyond the edge of the light.

All of the essays in What Are People For? are imbued with precisely this kind of light-giving force. Complement it with Berry on what the poetic form teaches us about the secret of marriage, then revisit Sara Maitland on the art of solitude, one of the year’s best psychology and philosophy books.

CLOSE TO HUMAN

The Art of Close Writing

By posted at 6:00 am on August 5, 2014 10

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coverJonathan Russell Clark sits at his desk, writing an essay about free indirect discourse. Surrounding him are books by authors who employ the technique with considerable skill: Jane Austen, Gustave Flaubert, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Stephen Dixon, and Joshua Ferris. He recalls a time when he did not even know what free indirect discourse was, and a time, later, when he knew the term but viewed it more as a descriptor than a crucial component. He remembers how his relationship to the term evolved over the years: his initial distrust of it, as many of his favorite writers cavalierly disregarded the tactic; his frustration with its limitations: how would he communicate the thoughts of other characters if he couldn’t leave the brain of the protagonist?; his eventual understanding of its importance while reading James Wood’s illuminating (though much debated) book How Fiction Works, in which he refers to it as “close writing”; and then, finally, his acceptance and full embrace of the method. Though he still admired novelists who could successfully avoid using free indirect discourse, he knew he would never break from it himself. It was just too liberating, the way close writing allowed his sentences to spill out of him, effortlessly, like thoughts, rapid and rabid and rampant, just spit out onto the page––it was so easy, or, well, easier, because it’s not as if he’s without problems, creatively speaking, oh he has problems, like how is he supposed to know which thoughts are important and which simply aren’t? and why is he unable to write economically, why are his pieces always longer than they need to be?––but yeah anyway, he now loved close writing because it made writing fun.

To be clear: close writing is not vital to all fiction. In fact, it doesn’t even speak to most fiction. For instance, first-person narrations cannot use free indirect discourse. When a character is speaking directly to a reader, the aim of close writing is already happening; no technique required. Also, novels and stories that feature an omniscient narrator are similarly excluded––all-knowing narrators simply tell us information. The skill required to pull off such a voice is its own subject. No, close writing only relates to third-person limited narrations, and, even more specifically, ones with an active interest in the inner lives of the characters. Not all fiction cares about that.

Here’s how James Wood explains close writing:

So-called omniscience is almost impossible. As soon as someone tells a story about a character, narrative seems to want to bend itself around that character, to take on his or her way of thinking and speaking. A novelist’s omniscience soon enough becomes a kind of secret sharing.

And later:

Note the gain in flexibility. The narrative seems to float away from the novelist and take on the properties of the character, who now seems to “own” the words.

Without being able to articulate it, free indirect discourse appealed to Clark greatly. Novels that used the style effectively gave him a giddy sensation, the prose seeming to not have been written but transcribed from a person’s mind but filtered through the ostensibly distancing third-person point-of-view, and though he didn’t know it, he came to depend on such techniques to let him “settle” into a character. Even more striking, when he read a piece of fiction (especially in a workshop environment) that failed to use close writing and didn’t effectively employ another style, something irked him as his eyes moved over the words. He was made uncomfortable by these stories, but he didn’t know why. What the hell was it?

When he finally learned the term––in a college course, he thinks––he started to understand what it was that had been bothering him. Once he read How Fiction Works, he knew with satisfying finality. Free indirect discourse. Close writing. Thankfully the grey cloud hovering over his frustration had a name. Nameless things give aimless dreams.

coverHow important is free indirect discourse? In the history of the novel, it’s extremely important. Clark at first didn’t even realize that the technique had to be developed at all, but in fact it was an astonishing feat. According to Michael Schmidt’s monumental and astounding work of scholarship and criticism, The Novel: A Biography (a book so big and important it merits its own essay, which is forthcoming), early iterations of the novel concerned themselves less with verisimilitude than outright deceit. When Daniel Defoe composed Robinson Crusoe (or, to use its full title––no joke––The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, All Alone in an Uninhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having Been Cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein All the Men Perished but Himself. with an Account of How He Was at Last as Strangely Deliver’d by Pirates), “he believed he had to honor readers’ expectations of a true and edifying story. An untrue story had to seem true.” The nuanced psychology of the characters was irrelevant to the task of moral tutelage. But the method of mimicking eventually morphed into the representation of human thought.

covercoverGenerally, the development of close writing into its modern form is attributed to Gustave Flaubert in novels like A Sentimental Education, but the early traces of “inner monologue” are as subtle and elusive as the technique itself. Gabriel García Márquez “detects the original use of ‘interior monologue’” as far back as Lazarillo de Tormes, a picaresque work from 1554. James Wood points out an example in Pope’s mock-epic The Rape of the Lock from 1712. Jane Austen, who died four years before Flaubert was born, occasionally abandoned her lofty point-of-view in order to take the reader into the character’s mind, if only briefly, as in this passage from Pride and Prejudice:

Elizabeth felt herself completely taken in. She had fully proposed being engaged by Wickham for those very dances:––and to have Mr. Collins instead!––her liveliness had been never worse timed. There was no help for it however. Mr. Wickham’s happiness and her own was per force delayed a little longer, and Mr. Collins’s proposal accepted with as good a  grace as she could. She was not the better pleased with his gallantry, from the idea it suggested of something more.––It now struck her, that she was selected from among her sisters as worthy of being the mistress of Hunsford Parsonage, and of assisting to form a quadrille table at Rosings, in the absence of more eligible visitors.

Austen’s tactics are very subtle––the exclamation point punctuating the shock over Mr. Collins, the italicized she, and the sound of contemplative flow in “There was no help for it however”––but those little moments of language all belong to Elizabeth, not Austen. It is Elizabeth who can’t believe she has Mr. Collins instead; it is Elizabeth who can’t believe that she was selected from among her sisters, and it is Elizabeth who doesn’t think there was any help for it however. A reader may not be able to articulate with precision the, as Wood describes it, “marvelous alchemical transfer” that just took place, but they’ll feel it. They’ll understand Elizabeth a little bit more.

Flaubert took it a bit further. He organized his entire style around close writing. In A Sentimental Education, the prose moves into the protagonist Frédéric’s mind without any explicit hint at the shift. Here is Frédéric’s first seeing Mme Arnoux, the older woman with whom he falls in love with:

Never before had he seen more lustrous dark skin, a more seductive figure, or more delicately shaped fingers than those through which the sunlight gleamed. He stared with amazement at her work-basket, as if it were something extraordinary. What was her name, her place of residence, her life, her past?

Those last questions are Frédéric’s, as if transcribed verbatim from his thoughts. But where did that shift happen? There was no, “He thought…” Instead, the language slips first into the character’s vernacular––the words “lustrous,” “seductive,” and “delicately” are all Frédéric’s––and then into his mind. It’s quite a nifty trick. “Thanks to free indirect style,” James Wood writes, “we see things through the character’s eyes and language but also through the author’s eyes and language. We inhabit omniscience and partiality at once.”

If this all seems very basic to you, consider that there was a time when close writing simply didn’t exist. Additionally, though readers and writers often implicitly understand these ideas, sometimes the act of naming something and recognizing its traits leads to understanding. Like David Foster Wallace’s fish parable, sometimes you have to say: This is water.

coverMoreover, once the modernists enter the picture, close writing is taken to new depths: the inner thoughts of characters become just as important––or more important––than the plot. Virginia Woolf and James Joyce went so far as to construct novels that took place in a single day, Mrs. Dalloway and Ulysses, meaning the reader spends most of the narrative inside a mind as it thinks. Joyce loved to catalogue very ordinary thoughts, and through Leopold Bloom he mastered close writing like nobody before him. Here is Bloom just after he is first introduced, as he prepares breakfast for Molly:

Another slice of bread and butter: three, four: right. She didn’t like her plate full. Right. He turned from the tray, lifted the kettle off the hob and set it sideways on the fire. It sat there, dull and squat, its spout stuck out. Cup of tea soon. Good. Mouth dry.

Listen to the fragmentary nature of Bloom’s thoughts as they mingle with action. Taking Flaubert’s technique even further, Joyce gives us full access to Bloom’s mind with almost no indication he’s doing so. His thoughts aren’t profound––they’re quotidian, mundane, banal. Clark’s favorite moment comes when Bloom is unable to recall someone’s name:

Stream of life. What was the name of that priestylooking chap was always squinting in when he passed? Weak eyes, woman. Stopped in Citron’s saint Kevin’s parade. Pen something. Pendennis?

Who hasn’t had a similar moment, a name stuck on the tip of the tongue? Then, a full 25 pages later (in the 1922 text, that is), as Bloom assists a blind man across the street, and whose face strikes him “like a fellow going in to be a priest,” it suddenly hits him: “Penrose! That was the chap’s name.” The image of a priest brings to mind the “priestylooking chap” whose name he couldn’t recall earlier and he’s able to conjure the name, except Joyce doesn’t clue the reader into the association. The line is simply plopped down in the middle of another scene.

Virginia Woolf wastes no time delving into her titular character’s inner life. After her famous opening––”Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself”––the prose immediately becomes one with Mrs. Dalloway’s ruminations:

For Lucy had her work cut out for her. The doors would be taken off their hinges; Rumpelmayer’s men were coming. And then, thought Clarissa Dalloway, what a morning––fresh as if issued to children on a beach.

What a lark! What a plunge! For so it had always seemed to her, when, with a little squeak of the hinges, which she could hear now, she had burst open the French windows and plunged at Bourton into the open air. How fresh, how calm, stiller than this of course, the air was in the early morning; like the flap of a wave; the kiss of a wave; chill and sharp and yet (for a girl of eighteen as she then was) solemn, feeling as she did, standing there at the open window, that something awful was about to happen; looking at the flowers, at the trees with the smoke winding off them and the rooks rising, falling; standing and looking until Peter Walsh said, “Musing among the vegetables?”––was that it?––”I prefer men to cauliflowers”––was that it? He must have said it at breakfast one morning when she had gone out on to the terrace––Peter Walsh.

Who’s Lucy? Why does she have her work cut out for her? Why is Mrs. Dalloway buying flowers? And who is Peter Walsh? Why does he suddenly appear in her mind? Remember: this is the first page of the novel. In 1925, when Mrs. Dalloway was published, people still expected some exposition, some introductory orientation, but Woolf provides none. She doesn’t have to. That’s the power of close writing.

>Since then, free indirect discourse has become an integral part of third-person novels. Grab any one at random and you’ll probably find that it employs close writing. And there are still writers who experiment with this voice in their fiction. Stephen Dixon’s I. plays around with the separation of author and subject. The protagonist’s is named I., which means Dixon gets to write sentences like: “I. met Fels more than twenty years ago.” Yes, it’s third person, but it’s also first.  Dixon, then, further erases the gap by having the character, I., also be the writer of the prose, so that he can stop in the middle of a paragraph (which, in Dixon’s fiction, are always long) and say, “Oh, he’s not explaining himself well,” or “What’s he going on about?” Then, those murmurs of uncertainty become full-blown self-doubt:

Oh, stop with the crypt of memories swinging open and all that. Fine, then what? Simply this: he finished something yesterday––okay, a short story––wanted to start something new today––story, novel, two-page short-short: what did he care? A fiction of any length––even a play if it was possible––because he gets agitated with himself and grumpy with his family if at the end of the day after the one he finished a fiction he still doesn’t have something to work on the next day. In other words––but he thinks he explained that okay.

He continues to edit himself as he goes, noting, at one point, “that last parenthetical sentence could be clearer, and he knows it’s going to take work.” After a lengthy explanation of I.’s morning, he writes, “He could have done that so much more simply: he finished writing something yesterday, wanted to start writing something today, saw the obituary and started to write.”

The transfer of voice from the author to the character, here, is thrown right back to the author. Dixon’s I. is also the writer, so close writing here traces not simply the character’s thoughts, but the very words he’s typing. Thinking and writing meld into one organism. Dixon’s metafictional approach could be thought of as elaborate autobiography, but whatever it is it shows how close writing can still be stretched and expanded for new purposes. Dixon’s work is often neglected, or deemed too difficult for casual enjoyment. Too bad; he’s wonderful.

coverThe last writer Clark wants to focus on is Joshua Ferris, a writer noted for his experiments with voice. His Then We Came to the End is written in first-person plural, an entire office represented with the narrative we. Recently long-listed for the Man Booker Prize for To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (in the first year Americans were considered), Ferris is one of contemporary fiction’s most assured practitioners. His abilities with close writing are prodigious, as unequivocally demonstrated by his New Yorker story “The Pilot.” It basically focuses on the neuroses of Lawrence, a wannabe television writer who gets an email invitation to a producer’s “yearly blowout.” “He’d R.S.V.P’d,” we’re told, “but not immediately. Two days after the message came in. Two days plus maybe an hour.” When he receives no reply from her, he starts to worry:

He would have liked a reply. After a few days went by, he’d have liked a reply a lot. Was his e-mail too effusive? Was it a mistake to use the word “sick” to describe her show? Or maybe she was just busy shooting the season finale. She was just busy shooting the season finale. He should have just written back quick-like, something like “Thanks for the invitation, Kate. See you then.” Then she might have quick-like hit Reply, with a confirmation, and he’d have known that she knew he was coming. Did she even know she’d invited him? Sometimes, with e-mail, some programs, you hit All Contacts or something and invite people you didn’t even mean to invite. Of course she’d meant to invite him. He just didn’t have any confirmation that she’d received his R.S.V.P. That was kind of unnerving. But, think about it, would he then have to confirm her confirmation? That wasn’t really feasible. It was just…Everything was fine. She was just wrapping. He was too effusive. “Sick little fuck-you”: that might have been––no, it was fine––just a little insulting? No, no, it was fine, who knows, not him.

That is a virtuoso stretch of comic writing, and a better representation of human thought as it occurs than almost anything Clark’s read in his life. The thoughts interrupt each other, the narrator oscillates between two poles of neurotic uncertainty, even repeating himself to emphasize a statement’s validity (yet inadvertently showing how questionable Lawrence finds that validity), and yet the reader never loses the train, the writing is crystal clear, the rhythm natural. Even though Lawrence isn’t technically narrating, he owns every single word on the page. The reader is in his mind.

Close writing really is an amazing thing. Consider that this essay right now has been narrated in the third person, and yet there is no question as to what Clark’s opinions are. There was never any confusion over “who” was asserting the statements made above. The “marvelous alchemical transfer” made it so the separation between Jonathan Russell Clark and some ostensible narrator disappeared––after a while, you probably stopped noticing, except for the occasional use of Clark’s name. Here, of course, Clark and the author are the same, but the same technique used in fiction functions the same way. The writer disappears and only the character is left––the voice, the thoughts, the little details that make us human.

THE MYTH OF THE WRITER, AND THE FANTASY THEREOF

Last night a friend and I were having a discussion regarding Myth and Fantasy on his Facebook page. Since this is a subject I have much studied and long thought about I decided I would post my reply to his discussion on this page. So here is my summation of some of the more salient differences, and some of the basic similarities, between Fantasy and Myth.
This is in the form of my Facebook page response, of course, but later I will create an essay out of this and related material I have written in the past on the same subjects.

 

SOME OF THE DIFFERENCES AND SIMILARITIES BETWEEN FANTASY AND MYTH

To me it mostly depends on if you’re writing Myth or Fantasy.

Myth, such as Tolkien wrote is filled with footnotes and endnotes and much of Tolkien’s myth refers directly to real world history or is a thinly veiled modification of it, just as Classical myth is, e.g.. Homer and Virgil.

The Black Gate is a modification of the Iron Gate of the Byzantines, Rohan was a modification of a real place and people, etc..

If it is fantasy it might also contain heavy historical elements, but they are greatly modified and changed significantly. In that kind of fantasy (swords and sorcery fantasy) magic is more important than myth, the supernatural more important than technology or realism, story more important than history, and character more important than culture (typically).

Tolkien for instance created very realistic cultures and landscapes that were well developed enough to imagine living in, or wanting to live in. Howard, with Conan (fantasy), created heavily modified versions of semi-realistic, but mostly underdeveloped proto-human cultures that few if any would really want to love in. Same with Moorcock (another fantasy writer). A lot of underlying history and myth in both Howard and Moorcock, no real admirable cultures or worlds to live in. No real higher mythic and spiritual content, a lot more grunt-work and gritty adventure and survival.

I follow that same general pattern. I’m writing a mythic series (The Other World) which is a mix of Byzantine realism and the mythos of Prester John. It is also a retelling of the Fall of Constantinople and the founding of America in mythic form. It has a lot of “high, mythic, poetic, and spiritual content.”
I am writing another series of what I call magic and miracles fantasy which is based on what we now know of pre-historic and proto-human cultures, but the emphasis is not on sweeping myths or great cultures, but on personal adventure, and individual supernatural and magical experience.

(And this is paradoxically why poetry and song so rarely appear in pure fantasy, and when it does, it is almost always of very inferior quality – but in myth really good song and poetry is a primary and necessary component – Beowulf and the Iliad are poetic, in Conan real poetry and song are absent. Real Myth is poetic, by nature. Fantasy is prosaic, comparatively speaking.)

In myth magic is tightly controlled and there is little of it, especially overtly. Magic is underground and few can master it. Magic is an elite force employed by an elite few. In fantasy it is usually ubiquitous yet extremely dangerous and likely always out of control, or completely uncontrolled. In fantasy the elite think they can master magic but it almost always it overmasters them. In myth they often can master magic, be it Gandalf or Wotan, though it always has a price for the greedy and unwise. (Such as Fafnir.)

On the other hand, Conan being a fantasy character and a barbarian and a primal man instinctively knows this about his world, he lives in a supernatural and fantastical environment (not a mythic one) , well above his personal pay-grade. The way to equalize magic is not to make it rare and tightly controlled, like in myth, but to avoid it altogether, or destroy it if possible. In myth magic is really a spiritual force, good or bad, and not easily understood or mastered. In fantasy magic is not a spiritual force, but supernatural nitro-glycerin.)

In myth there are also obviously miraculous and apparently fated events. In fantasy fate is what a man makes of himself.

And to me therein lies another of the real differences. In myth, although the characters are very important, the myth is Fundamental. Obviously much bigger things than the individual are at Work.

The myth is what is really being discussed; the characters are archetypes in action.

In fantasy the cultures and the environment are the archetypes, it is the characters being discussed. The individual is what is at Work. The person is in reaction, struggling to bring things under his own control, and usually failing.

In my second series, the fantasy series, the books are about the adventures of Solimar, who is renamed by his god and given a mission to fulfill in the world. So he roams the world seeking to fulfill his mission and understand his supernatural origins, both at birth, and at “rebirth and renaming.”
Solimar, who begins as Soar (So-ar), is really a retelling of the stories of Jacov and of Abram (Solimar’s god, Olim, or Holim, inserts his own name in the middle of Soar’s name to remake him into his representative in the world) in a vaguely Conan like form. Though Solimar is not a warrior but more of a spy, and a Jack of all Trades adventurer, who has become his god’s semi-reluctant and covert Agent.

Now all of that being said I still think there is plenty of room in the middle. As a matter of fact GRR Martin and his series is exactly that. Half-mythic realism, half-magical fantasy. Half Westeros mythos (and Real World history – Dunk and Egg), and half Dragon-Egg/White Walker fantasy. And you can clearly see how the two separate worlds impinge upon and overlap one another, and you can also clearly see how they are separated by, “A Wall.” (In Tolkien the wall of separation was the frontier of Mordor.)

So if you ask me you can lean towards the ends of the bell curve, or, if you wish, seek the top and the middle.

Plenty of room to roam landscapes in all directions if you so wish.

 

 

THE ABILITY HOARD

This is an introductory essay I wrote for my gaming blog but it has far wider applications, especially in the realms of Business, Career, Self-Development, Writing, and Work.

THE ABILITY HOARD – AN INTRODUCTORY ESSAY ON PERSONAL AND CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT

When it comes to my own characters (be they fictional or gaming) and even the players and characters I DM I think of Skills, Capabilities, Abilities, Attributes, (innate personal and individual features) and so forth as much more important character elements and possessions than magic items, spells, money, and other types of what is normally thought of as “standard treasures.”

To me the single greatest types of treasures a character (or a real person) can possess are what they can actually do for themselves (and for others) in the world, devoid of all outside help, material/materiel, and extraneous accoutrements. So I’m going to call this idea and post the Ability-Hoard, or the Treasure of Personal Capacity. I think that this is where the true emphasis of “characterization” should be evident, and most brightly shine.

Let me, at this point, briefly define the Ability Hoard…

The Ability Hoard is that accumulated set of skills, talents, abilities, capabilities, extraordinary qualities (be they physical, mental, psychological, or spiritual), educational and individual merits, virtues, and sensory capacities that a character or person possesses which allows them to resolve difficult problems or to gain some beneficial advantage over others or over a particular set of circumstances.

THE TWO WORLDS

If I had my druthers I would rather live in two different worlds from the world and time and place I now live. I love my home and my estate and my family and friends and my pets, and would readily keep all of those, but the age in which I live – I am not all that impressed by the contemporary and supposedly modern age of man. Nor am I much impressed by “modern man” in general. Though, to give him his credit, he has done some amazing things – in some respects at least.

If I had my way though I’d live in two very different other worlds, or perhaps even in both.

The First World would be an immensely primitive world (compared to today) which is largely unexplored and uninhabited. I would travel everywhere by foot, horse, or wooden sailing ship. I would live in the wild frontier. I would build my own shelters everywhere I went, and small cabins anywhere I wanted to locate for a while. I would explore forests, and open plains, and mountains, and oceans and seas. Perhaps even a few deserts.

I would carry a simple and well-made sword, a spear, a bow, and a long-knife everywhere I went. Perhaps a hatchet as well. I would have forged or made these weapons myself, with great and careful craft. They would be sharp, strong, and reliable. Otherwise my possessions would be what I could carry and my clothing would be hard and durable and made for tough use and wear. I would design and build and construct things using my own two hands. Everything I made would be unique. Including the flute I made to play music and write songs as I went.

I would grow or gather my own food, drink from clear streams, fish high rivers, and swim in fresh lakes. I would go everywhere with my dog who, just like my current dog, would be a huge mastiff and a wonderful companion. Animals would be my friends and we would understand one another. I would be at peace with everything that lived. I would sketch what I saw, write what I experienced, but only for myself, or perhaps as a record for someone to eventually find and make use of. I would spend time every day with God, observing what he showed me, and I would wander the wide world uninhabited and unrestricted by anything or anyone. My money would be my own breath and blood.

I would explore both night and day, taking as much pleasure in roaming some mountain in the moonlight as I did crawling over ancient ruins at noon. Occasionally I would run across other men and women like myself, explorers and frontiersmen, people who lived in the wild. Because I would speak and write multiple languages it would be easy to communicate with them, and trade with them. We would spend a few days or maybe weeks in each others company, becoming lifelong friends. We would not have to see each other often, or speak much in the presence of the other. We would just know and understand. We would however drink, and laugh, and do crazily dangerous and enjoyable things as we wandered for a time the world together.

I would live my life deep in the frontiers; far from man, and the ways of man. When I did finally feel the desire to return to civilization I would visit some great city, like ancient Alexandria, reading in the Library, researching the Museum and conversing with the inventors and scientists and craftsmen, examining the great Wonders, like the lighthouse, and burning deep into my memory all I saw and did. And when I had once again had enough of that I would return to the forest and the fields and the lands that had no road and no well-worn path and I would disappear again.

When I finally married and had children I would be a grizzled old man, and yet I would on occasion still wander when I desired to and I would be very tough and very wise by then. And if my children wanted to explore and roam with me then I would take them from time to time, showing them how to survive and live off the land and love nature and the solitude.

That would be a happy world, a world of blood and bone and strength, a world that would satisfy my body and my soul.

The Second “World” would be immensely advanced, scientifically and technologically. I would explore countless other worlds through time and space. I would have a craft, one that I had designed and built for myself that could easily and rapidly traverse any distance or any time, and probably many different dimensions. My craft would be able to construct and create anything I needed whenever and wherever I went, including my shelter, food, and drink.

My clothing and body would be filled with immensely powerful apparatus, highly miniaturized, even down to the atomic level, which would give me immense sensory capabilities and physical and mental enhancements. I would have already long ago genetically modified myself, through recombination, to further enhance my own capabilities and I would turn those capabilities to exploration, invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

I would have a Suit; one I had designed myself, which would be an astronomical advance over my current Aisthpleis Suit. It would be my clothing, my protection, my extra-sensing device, my computer, my communications array, and an extension of my own senses and mind. It might even possess its own sentience.

I would be immensely wealthy (a trillionaire many times over by today’s standards) from my own inventions, creations, and discoveries and would use my profits to assure everyone I knew was taken care of, as well as to further capitalize and fund my numerous enterprises, expeditions, ventures, and adventures. Money itself would mean nothing to me but I would use it carefully and wisely to fund every good and noble cause I could and I would use it to explore every place and every world I could possibly discover and reach.

I would make numerous friends among other species and races and would enjoy discovering things about them and their world(s). In the periods of travel time in my craft I would talk often with God and he would advise me of what I should see and where I should go and why. I would also, in my travel time, conduct numerous scientific experiments, to placate my curiosity about how things work and to come to a better understanding of the nature of matter, energy, and life.

I would build an entirely unique observatory, probably on some uninhabited and desolate planetoid that would allow me to watch other times, different places and points in space, peer upon other dimensions, and make discoveries and observations no one else ever has before.

I would scour the universe for new God Technology and I would seek to create some of my own. I would invent new things and reinvent/innovate upon old things that would be of immense benefit to mankind.

I would find ways to extend not only my own life, but to greatly augment and amplify both my own health and well-being, and that of others. I would work cooperatively and with good friends on some great ventures and enterprises, but on most things I would work alone.

I would still travel with my dog, of course, (maybe with a few other animals as well), but he would be greatly enhanced and modified. He would be immensely intelligent, as intelligent as any person alive now, and physically he would be awesomely strong, capable, and healthy. I would extend his life too.

When I finally married and had children I would bring them with me on my travels and expeditions anytime they wished, showing them what I had discovered. I would train them in whatever they wished to learn. I would keep careful and detailed records of all I saw and did and discovered so that others could build upon my work in the future to do even greater things.

That would be a fascinating world, a world of thoughts and ideas and discoveries, a world that would satisfy my mind and my spirit.

I can live in the world I currently live in. On my lands I live a physically and psychologically pleasing life. In my work I live a mentally and spiritually pleasing life.

But I can imagine far better. And desire far better.

THE CURSE OF BAD ASSUMPTIONS (about EVERYONE ELSE)

I very often agree with Pinker’s insights and criticisms, especially regarding linguistic and intellectual matters. And in this case I think he has a point as well. At least in part.

On the other hand the equally weighty criticism of this critique of the audience is as follows: 1) it assumes that every reader and audience (or even a significant proportion thereof) is ignorant, whereas in fact literacy is at an all-time global high, and most people intentionally ignorant of a particular subject matter would not be reading your words in the first place if they truly were, 2) it assumes that your insights, definitions, and assumptions (as a writer or supposed expert) about a particular subject matter are the correct ones (and that in itself is a patently false and often easily disproven position), and 3) it assumes that the writer himself is a sort of knowledge expert (as modern men wantonly and ignorantly define the term “expert“), and few things are both as personally disgusting to me and as effortless to successfully dispute as the idea that the majority of writers are expert (modern or otherwise) on any given subject matter in any way at all. (Of course I could easily marshal other such arguments against the “curse of knowledge” premise, – sounds awful scary doesn’t it, but that is enough to work with at the moment.)

In other words just because you are writing on a given subject matter, or feel yourself qualified to write upon a given subject matter, is not evidence of any kind that you actually are qualified to write on a given subject. That shouldn’t stop you, and indeed it won’t stop most writers, and throughout history has never stopped most writers, but it should at least give you symbolic pause about your own expert assumptions about your own supposed expertise.

I do not in any way assume my audience is automatically ignorant or uneducated on any subject I write on or they read on, I do not assume that even if they were ignorant (of either a term or an idea) that they could not easily rectify this situation themselves with a modicum or research and effort, I do not assume that my writing will be “bad” merely because my audience’s intellect does not soar to my vaunted levels of erudite elocution and elucidation (interject here the proper level of sarcasm you feel might be warranted by this comment), and I do not assume that merely because I am well educated on a subject that either my conclusions, theories, or definitions cannot be incorrect. Those would be wholly unscientific and ridiculous assumptions on my part about both myself, and you, the reader.

This is the multitudinous, pretentious, and totally self-fabricated bullshit of the modern writer, modern literary theorist, the modern “expert,” and the so-called writing coach. (Or indeed almost any kind of modern coach.) It is everywhere and reflexively repeated as the common and self-evident wisdom of all good writing – Dumb it down boys and girls for you are the rarefied mental wonder of the ages whereas your reader is the dim-witted lackey who struggles to pace himself against your enlightened – whatever it is you are so dammed enlightened about (and it must be something important, after all, you’re a writer – so Hooray for you Einstein)!

Truth is this is merely a modern conceit to the modern man about what he assumes about the modern mind. That being his own mind. The modern man thinks himself smarter than everyone else and he does so without even a hint of self-irony or self-reflection. And this is, to a very large extent, why modern man is as modern man so obviously is.

I am no dammed “modern expert” on any subject matter and have no wish to be. I hold forth on probabilities as related to reality as best I can determine such things, I do not hold forth on my own expertise. To hell with that, and the probabilities entailed by it.

Modern writers often border perilously close upon the idea that subject-matter knowledge makes their writing automatically admirable, correct, useful, and illuminating. It only makes their writing informed. At least informed about what they are informed about. Which may or may not be correct. But they assume that just because it is informed this is the same as being correct. Whereas I know human nature and psychology far too well to automatically make any such laughable assumption about any information presented to me on such a flimsy foundation of validity – informed and correct can lead to entirely different conclusions about reality. I’ll let you guess which one is likely to prove the more accurate of the two approaches, because Truth be told, I suspect you don’t need my help at all.

See how that works?

I have no more automatic respect for the supposed genius and infallibility or absolute correctness of a writer, any writer, including myself, than I believe most actors give Wise Life Advice.

We (writers of any kind) like to think ourselves brilliant and Wise. Truth is we’re a dime a dozen and that’s intelligence and Wisdom on the cheap. Sure enough.

I always try to keep that in mind when examining my own ego and assessing my own writings.

The Source of Bad Writing

The ‘curse of knowledge’ leads writers to assume their readers know everything they know

Updated Sept. 25, 2014 12:06 p.m. ET

Poor wording drains vast sums of money from the economy, writes Steven Pinker. Nick Cunard/Zuma Press

Why is so much writing so bad? Why is it so hard to understand a government form, or an academic article or the instructions for setting up a wireless home network?

The most popular explanation is that opaque prose is a deliberate choice. Bureaucrats insist on gibberish to cover their anatomy. Plaid-clad tech writers get their revenge on the jocks who kicked sand in their faces and the girls who turned them down for dates. Pseudo-intellectuals spout obscure verbiage to hide the fact that they have nothing to say, hoping to bamboozle their audiences with highfalutin gobbledygook.

But the bamboozlement theory makes it too easy to demonize other people while letting ourselves off the hook. In explaining any human shortcoming, the first tool I reach for is Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. The kind of stupidity I have in mind has nothing to do with ignorance or low IQ; in fact, it’s often the brightest and best informed who suffer the most from it.

I once attended a lecture on biology addressed to a large general audience at a conference on technology, entertainment and design. The lecture was also being filmed for distribution over the Internet to millions of other laypeople. The speaker was an eminent biologist who had been invited to explain his recent breakthrough in the structure of DNA. He launched into a jargon-packed technical presentation that was geared to his fellow molecular biologists, and it was immediately apparent to everyone in the room that none of them understood a word and he was wasting their time. Apparent to everyone, that is, except the eminent biologist. When the host interrupted and asked him to explain the work more clearly, he seemed genuinely surprised and not a little annoyed. This is the kind of stupidity I am talking about.

Call it the Curse of Knowledge: a difficulty in imagining what it is like for someone else not to know something that you know. The term was invented by economists to help explain why people are not as shrewd in bargaining as they could be when they possess information that their opposite number does not. Psychologists sometimes call it mindblindness. In the textbook experiment, a child comes into the lab, opens an M&M box and is surprised to find pencils in it. Not only does the child think that another child entering the lab will somehow know it contains pencils, but the child will say that he himself knew it contained pencils all along!

The curse of knowledge is the single best explanation of why good people write bad prose. It simply doesn’t occur to the writer that her readers don’t know what she knows—that they haven’t mastered the argot of her guild, can’t divine the missing steps that seem too obvious to mention, have no way to visualize a scene that to her is as clear as day. And so the writer doesn’t bother to explain the jargon, or spell out the logic, or supply the necessary detail.

Anyone who wants to lift the curse of knowledge must first appreciate what a devilish curse it is. Like a drunk who is too impaired to realize that he is too impaired to drive, we do not notice the curse because the curse prevents us from noticing it. Thirty students send me attachments named “psych assignment.doc.” I go to a website for a trusted-traveler program and have to decide whether to click on GOES, Nexus, GlobalEntry, Sentri, Flux or FAST—bureaucratic terms that mean nothing to me. My apartment is cluttered with gadgets that I can never remember how to use because of inscrutable buttons which may have to be held down for one, two or four seconds, sometimes two at a time, and which often do different things depending on invisible “modes” toggled by still other buttons. I’m sure it was perfectly clear to the engineers who designed it.

Multiply these daily frustrations by a few billion, and you begin to see that the curse of knowledge is a pervasive drag on the strivings of humanity, on par with corruption, disease and entropy. Cadres of expensive professionals—lawyers, accountants, computer gurus, help-line responders—drain vast sums of money from the economy to clarify poorly drafted text…

THE BAD-GOOD

At what point does pointless become pointed, or pointed pointless?

The Mystery of Murakami

His sentences can be awful, his plots are formulaic—yet his novels mesmerize.

Nathaniel Rich

Aug 13 2014, 8:09 PM ET

Seasoned fans of Haruki Murakami, having patiently waited three years since the gamma-ray blast of 1Q84, will have a few pressing questions about the master’s newest book, even though they may be able to anticipate the answers: Is the novel’s hero an adrift, feckless man in his mid-30s? (Yep.) Does he have a shrewd girl Friday who doubles as his romantic interest? (Of course; conveniently, she is a travel agent, adept at booking sudden international trips.) Does the story begin with the inexplicable disappearance of a person close to the narrator? (Not one person—four, and they vanish simultaneously.) Is there a metaphysical journey to an alternate plane of reality? (Sort of: the alternate reality is Finland.) Are there gratuitous references to Western novels, films, and popular culture? (Let’s see, Barry Manilow, Arthur Conan Doyle, the Pet Shop Boys, Aldous Huxley, Elvis Presley … affirmative.) Which eastern-European composer provides the soundtrack, and will enjoy skyrocketing CD sales in the months ahead—Bartók, Prokofiev, Smetana? (Liszt.) Are there ominous omens, signifying nothing; dreams that resist interpretation; cryptic mysteries that will never be resolved? (Check, check, and check.) Will this be the novel that finally delivers Murakami the Nobel Prize? (Doubtful, though Ladbrokes currently considers him the odds-on favorite, at 6 to 1.)

No great writer writes as many bad sentences as Murakami does.

Murakami, who learned to speak English by reading American crime novels, begins with an opening paragraph that would make David Goodis proud. Tsukuru Tazaki, recently turned 20, is planning his suicide: “From July of his sophomore year in college until the following January, all Tsukuru Tazaki could think about was dying.” But where Goodis would write something like “All right, he told himself firmly, let’s do it and get it over with,” Murakami is balletic, evoking metaphysical realms and a fine sense of the grotesque. “Crossing that threshold between life and death,” he writes, “would have been easier than swallowing down a slick, raw egg.” It is one of the key aspects of his style, this seamless transition from noirish dread to mystical rumination; the most perfect Murakami title, which really could have been used for any of the 13 novels he has written since 1979, remains Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. In Murakamiland, death means merely traveling across a “threshold” between reality and some other world. It is not necessarily the end. In fact, as we soon learn, Tsukuru’s obsession with death is only the beginning…

THE AIMLESS IMPERATIVE

I completely concur. The American University System is completely screwed. And for the most part totally at odds with the Real World.

By the way I am almost always amused by Pinker and very often agree with him.

 

The Trouble With Harvard

The Ivy League is broken and only standardized tests can fix it

By Steven Pinker

The most-read article in the history of this magazine is not about war, politics, or great works of art. It’s about the admissions policies of a handful of elite universities, most prominently my employer, Harvard, which is figuratively and literally immolated on the cover.

It’s not surprising that William Deresiewicz’s “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League” has touched a nerve. Admission to the Ivies is increasingly seen as the bottleneck to a pipeline that feeds a trickle of young adults into the remaining lucrative sectors of our financialized, winner-take-all economy. And their capricious and opaque criteria have set off an arms race of credential mongering that is immiserating the teenagers and parents (in practice, mostly mothers) of the upper middle class.

Deresiewicz writes engagingly about the wacky ways of elite university admissions, and he deserves credit for opening a debate on policies which have been shrouded in Victorian daintiness and bureaucratic obfuscation. Unfortunately, his article is a poor foundation for diagnosing and treating the illness. Long on dogmatic assertion and short on objective analysis, the article is driven by a literarism which exalts bohemian authenticity over worldly success and analytical brainpower. And his grapeshot inflicts a lot of collateral damage while sparing the biggest pachyderms in the parlor.

We can begin with his defamation of the students of elite universities. Like countless graybeards before him, Deresiewicz complains that the kids today are just no good: they are stunted, meek, empty, incurious zombies; faithful drudges; excellent sheep; and, in a flourish he uses twice, “out-of-touch, entitled little shits.” I have spent my career interacting with these students, and do not recognize the targets of this purple invective. Nor does Deresiewicz present any reason to believe that the 18-year-olds of today’s Ivies are more callow or unsure of their lives than the 18-year-olds of yesterday’s Ivies, the non-Ivies, or the country at large…

YOU GET THAT WAY FROM TIME TO TIME

In the past three days I have written four poems (Three Strangers, Fall Is Not a Season, two untitled as yet), five songs (Waking in the Grave, I Took My Guns, A Hoard Did I Encounter, I’d Really Like to Know, one untitled so far), part of a new sci-fi short story (Proximal), dialogue for my novel (There is a Road), an essay, several aphorisms, 20 or so measures of music, made several blog and message board posts, started a couple of papers, outlined a new Ebook (The Trainable Man), sketched out part of a map, and wrote up part of an invention draft.

That’s a pretty good clip even for me.

For some reason I’ve just been hot over the past few days. You get that way sometimes.

THE ENTIRELY LAUGHABLE IDEA – THE BEST PIECE OF HEALTH ADVICE I CAN POSSIBLY GIVE YOU

This is the best overall health advice I can possibly give you.

Buy yourself a good axe, a hatchet, a slingblade, a fine set of shears, a machete, a long-knife, a shovel, a pushmower, and any other useful tool you will need and then go outside every day you possibly can and work your land for at least an hour or so.

Do not buy or use electronic or powered tools and equipment for these are for your convenience and work avoidance, they are not for your health, your strengthening, your toughening, or your personal good.

Instead buy high quality and durable hand tools and do all your work by hand and by main force. This will make you strong, and tough, and healthy. Work in the fresh air and sunshine, sweat freely, and do your labor vigorously and your labor will reward you many times over in your life and in the length your lifespan.

If you live in a city and have no land of your own to work then get out of such a deathtrap as often as possible and go out into nature and work at whatever you can for whomever you can whenever you can.

You will live much longer, you will be much stronger, you will become much tougher, you will be much happier, and you will be far healthier than ever before.

The sedentary and inactive man dies a little more every day, but the Active and Vital Man is reborn each time he works the world. The Earth itself is his lifeblood, his labor is his expansive breath, and his unrelenting activity is the drumbeat of his powerful heart.

Never fear hard physical labor, labor hard at the entirely laughable idea that you can ever truly live free of it.

SOMETIMES YOU GOTTA GOD-DAMN IT TO SAVE IT…

I could not agree more with this post on Novel Rocket. The modern definition of what is considered Christian is extremely narrow and restrictive and small. It tends to completely ignore evil in a misguided and juvenile attempt to be always clean, happy, pure, and safe (especially supposedly pure and safe) while completely ignoring the fact that the World is rarely that way.

I call it Cotton Candy Christianity. A pansified, effeminate, wholly emasculated Christianity. A naïve attempt to see the World (and Man) as they wish, not the world (or Man) as it/he actually is. An attempt to make the world a world of talk shows and quaint diplomacy and and polite, watery conversations and wish fulfillment instead of what it really often is, a world of brutality and struggle and barbarism and bloodshed. But you cannot cure bloodshed with spilt ink, or curses with vapid, watery conversations and quotes about how everything will be okay in the end. A real disease requires a real Cure, not just a pretty dialogue. Everyone today wants their “Voice to be heard,” but I’ll be damned if anyone has anything much worth listening to about how damned this world really is. Or what should be done about it as a result.

Christ was a man, and all man at that. He didn’t fear evil, he ran at it. Went for the throat of it. He struggled, he fought, he was unafraid of what he faced and did not seek to shelter himself from it, the people around him, or the realities of the world he lived in. He shed his own blood and faced great physical torment and execution not to produce a feel-good story about how evil and injustice was really just a pleasant pastel-colored little tale of psychosocial misunderstanding, or that human sin and wrongdoing was really just a song of sixpence everyone could afford to sing in the shower.

He showed that evil and sin and wrong-doing and death and injustice must eventually be chased down, engaged, wrestled to the ground, strangled, and buried.

That kind of thing takes a man’s effort, a truly manly effort, regardless of whether you are a man, a woman, or a child. Yet today many people are far, far too accommodating (to all the wrong things) and soft for what is actually required.

They are more offended by harsh and brutally honest talk than they are by bloodshed, murder, rape, terrorism, malignancy, and evil. You can automatically offend a lot of modern Christians with a single profane word (that will stick deep in his craw, and his memory), but let him see countless examples of murder, rape, terrorism, slavery, and tyranny and he is more momentarily “saddened and shocked and distressed” than he is angered or offended or moved to action. (God forbid he should ever be moved to real action…) I don’t know what you call that but I don’t call it anything resembling real manhood, much less any form of spiritual righteousness. Or effectiveness.

Oh yes, the secular society cusses a lot, probably a lot too much, but never at the right things. Only about self-absorbed things. But the modern Christian is so God-damned entirely self-absorbed and soft in the middle that they can’t God Damn anything, especially those things that God just naturally deans. And that’s exactly why the world is so God Damned. The secular man thinks God-damn means nothing (it doesn’t, it means something very specific and real and important), but the Christian, the poor little modern Christian thinks the world means so little it won’t even bother to God Damn it to save it. It’s pathetic and effeminate in both directions, but if you ask me, it’s especially pathetic of the Christians who are at least supposed to have a Real Mission in this world. Most of us sure as hell don’t, of course, but we’re sure as hell supposed to, or sure as hell Hell is certain.

Today’s Christianity, especially the Christianity of the West, is that of a naïve, sheltered, spoiled juvenile who cannot and does not want to understand evil or see the world as it is – yet Christians and others who live in Syria and Iraq and Africa and Pakistan and the Middle East, and Central America, many parts of Asia and Central America, they know an altogether different world.

And an altogether different from of Christianity and manhood.

Words are but wind but here in the West the wind is composed entirely of words rarely worth the speaking. We warm ourselves with entirely ineffective and insubstantial words that comfort ourselves in our moments of petty personal distress, but Real Words we never speak.

Here, because we are sheltered like little children, we live like little children. Here our tales are all of the fables of Fairy Land where no harm comes to call and all dwell forever in an artificial and unreal paradise we make for ourselves. Naturally (or preternaturally – take your pick), as a result, even our literature is anemic, naïve, and unfailingly puny.

We insistently and persistently see an unreal world, we talk endlessly of an unreal world, we greatly desire an unreal world, yet we do nothing to truly change the Real World for the better.

Until all of that changes neither will we.

 

7 Christian Classics that Could Not Be Published in Today’s Christian Market

 

I guest posted at Speculative Faith a couple years back, and my article Why Fiction is the Wrong Vehicle for Theology garnered some lively, if not predictable, responses. One of my favorite comments was from Melissa Ortega (read it HERE) in which she rattled off “classic novels” that DO contain some heavy theological elements. She writes:

There are few books that sermonize more than Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables or his Hunchback of Notre Dame. Charles Dickens sermonizes a great deal in A Christmas Carol. G.K. Chesterton’s Napolean of Notting Hill is as Free Will vs. Destiny type of story as one can get. And who can forget his Man Who Was Thursday? with its sermon at the end on becoming, ourselves, the Accuser? The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is an inside-out sermon that preaches on a multitude of sins….from Hell’s point of view, of course. And the Great Divorce steps on very, very specific toes every third paragraph at least…

REALLY SIMPLE

An interesting, simple, little writing contest that I thought some of you might enjoy entering. I’m going to enter it myself after deciding upon a proper subject.

 

0805typewriting-machine

Have you ever had a eureka moment? Tell us about it.

Think back on the instant when everything became clear. The split second when you realized that you had chosen the right career. Or the moment when you knew that your dearest friendship would last forever. Whether your epiphany changed your life or just made your day, write it down and share it with us.

 

Enter Real Simple’s seventh annual Life Lessons Essay Contest and you could have your essay published in Real Simple and receive a prize of $3,000.

Send your typed, double-spaced submission (1,500 words maximum, preferably in a Microsoft Word document) to lifelessons@realsimple.com. Contest begins at 12:01 A.M. EST on May 9, 2014, and runs through 11:50 P.M. EST on  September 18, 2014. All submitted essays must be nonfiction. Open to legal residents of the United States age 19 or older at time of entry. Void where prohibited by law. (Entries will not be returned.)

 

 

THE ZERO EFFECT

It has occurred to me in the past that if God is omniscient, omniprescient, and omnipresent (and He would be as a part of his natural set of attributes or He wouldn’t be God now would He) then there is no way the human soul can be ultimately eradicated or destroyed. As a matter of fact the same could be said of anything and everything – ultimately. As long as God has created it (it exists) and as long as it is observed (continuously) then it cannot be eradicated.

For if God is omniscient and omnipresent and omniprescient then two things are occurring simultaneously (if the term simultaneously even applies – actually a new term should be developed, such as omnitaneously) from God’s point of view – 1) time has no meaning whatsoever and simply does not exist (at least not as we think of time – with past, present, and future and in relation to space or spatial consequences), and 2) God’s observational clarity of anything and everything is absolutely perfect at all times (both in and out of what we think of as time).

Therefore given these two things – time being meaningless as an observational factor to God, and God possessing perfect observational clarity and perception at all times it therefore becomes impossible (metaphysically and physically – or in any other way) for God to observe the absolute dissolution or destruction of anything.

Everything God observes is in a continual state of existence at all times, even while it is being destroyed (in relation to other things). It is impossible for God to “look away” and to be unobservant and therefore you are left with a very bizarre and totally unique application and occurrence of the “Observational (Effect) Phenomenon.” (It also happens to be a peculiarly unique application of the Laws of Conservation.)

As long as God observes something it cannot be destroyed, and God is always observing everything everywhere perfectly.

I call this unique God perception of all events, objects and times the Zero-Effect, the Zero (or God) Observational Phenomenon, or the Un-Unobservability Effect. It might also be called The Law of Observational Constancy or Conservation.

I have had this idea for some time but it has recently occurred to me that I might be able to devise a mathematical proof to express the idea.

I am going to write an essay on the matter and attempt to devise a corresponding proof.

PAY ME NOW OR PAIN ME LATER

I am a writer and an inventor and a businessman as well. I love being those things; each one is a part of my nature. I love reading, I love researching, I love conducting scientific experiments, I love inventing, and I even love writing. But all of those things share one over-riding and pathetic defect. They are primarily sedentary pursuits. And I detest sedentary pursuits and our modern sedentary society.

That is to say that reading, researching, putting together business-projects, experimenting, writing, and even inventing to some greater or lesser degree (at least when you are writing up your invention) requires you to be bound to a particular spot, either sitting or standing in place while you conduct and execute your work.

I despise that necessity.

By nature I am a man who likes to be moving. I’m built that way, it is my nature. I much prefer to be in motion. If I could research and read and experiment and especially write and invent (I can create most easily while in motion – it’s the writing everything up I hate) then believe me I would do so. And believe me on this as well, I am working on inventing devices that allow one to do whatever work one desires while on the move. But that is for a future day, for now the sedentary requirements of what I do – well, let’s just say again, I detest those aspects of my work. Entirely detest.

Now if I had my druthers, and could get away with it, I’d spend all of my time and every day walking through the woods, running cross country, chopping wood and clearing land, hiking, riding horseback, and exploring the countryside. I wouldn’t get any real work done that way but it’s what I’d like to spend most all of my time doing, and the way I’d like to do it. I’ve often thought as I age that if I had to do my life over again I’d probably very much like to be a farmer, rancher, or maybe even a cowboy. Physically I’m cut that way.

Mentally, however, and probably psychologically as well, there are deep impulses in me to create, invent, to study, and to write. I just absolutely hate the sedentary parts of all of that.

My only real solutions to this dilemma are to dream of the day when I can transfer my thoughts straight to some device so that I can write a novel as I chop wood and clear land, or invent as I explore, or simply to endure the pain (and sometimes it is real agony due to the various injuries I’ve received over the course of my life by not being sedentary) of sitting in a chair or standing around in one spot while I disgustedly screw with some modern input method, like a keyboard or microphone set. Sitting in one spot is a real pain in my ass, no pun intended, and standing in one spot is a pain in my back and neck. One way or another it hurts to be still. So I’m still looking for a real solution.

Well, actually, there is one more solution. I go out and exercise and train for about an hour to two hours each day. Engage in really strenuous exercise, not only to recover from the strain of sedentary work, but just because I can’t really stomach being sedentary. Not physically, not mentally, not emotionally, not psychologically, not spiritually. And yes such strenuous almost daily exercise does hurt me, and often greatly so (sometimes because of my prior injuries), but if I don’t do it then I suffer both physically and mentally from that lack of exercise and motion.

When I am not active or allow work to consume all of my time I wake each morning stiff and my back is killing me (where I once broke it), my knees ache and overall I feel terrible. When I do exercise strenuously, and I have recently started experimenting with doing so about 4:00 in the afternoon right before dinner, then I hurt during that time and while eating dinner and while recuperating, but by the next morning I awake feeling fluid and loose and warm. I rise and move easily, and generally I just feel great. So, it’s pay me now or pain me later. Or pay me in pain so I get paid later. Take your pick.

Yet, either way, I still wish that I could do what I want without all the sitting around. I absolutely hate all the sitting around.

PREFERENCES AND PARADOXES

I suspect the answer to this conundrum will be The New Media Project.

Ebooks v paper

By Julian Baggini

Which do our brains prefer? Research is forcing us to rethink how we respond to the written word

Choosing books to take on holiday has got more difficult in recent years. Now it is a question not just of what to read but how – on paper, tablet, e-reader, or perhaps even a phone – and people have strong opinions on which is best. But is there any more to the decision than cost and convenience? On this question, the answer suggested by numerous studies into the neuroscience and psychology of reading in different formats is an emphatic yes.

There is no shortage of people warning of the risks attendant on the rise of “screen culture”, as the neuroscientist Susan Greenfield calls it. Greenfield has repeatedly expressed concern that, as technology takes us into unknown territory, “the brain may be adapting in unprecedented ways”. Though she tends to stress that these changes might be good or bad, that hasn’t stopped her more negative speculations being picked up in the media and amplified in far more strident terms.

On the other side of the two cultures divide, the novelist and critic Will Self recently argued that the connectivity of the digital world was fatal for the serious novel, which requires all the reader’s attention. Looking ahead 20 years, he posed a question: “If you accept that by then the vast majority of text will be read in digital form on devices linked to the web, do you also believe that those readers will voluntarily choose to disable that connectivity? If your answer to this is no, then the death of the novel is sealed out of your own mouth…”

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/53d3096a-f792-11e3-90fa-00144feabdc0.html#axzz35aHbiOmj

THE BLEEDING OF MONSTERS

THE BLOOD OF UNCANNY MONSTERS – PART TWO

Because when Monsters bleed Wyrd things happen in the World…

CONAN AND ME, PART ONE: LANGUAGE, PULP, RACE, AND FICTION

Lately I’ve been re-reading (actually listening to on CD) some of R.E. Howard’s later stories on Conan, such as The Conquering Sword of Conan.

Now every year, usually in the Fall (but at other times as well) or as the weather changes I get a desire to read or listen to Conan, or Solomon Kane, or the stories of HP Lovecraft. Adventure and horror stories. Don’t know why, I just do, it’s sort of a recurring literary theme with me. I associate Autumn and early Winter with adventure, and patrolling, and exploring, and the coming dark.

(I also at this time of year like to read or listen to the radio plays of Jack Flanders or the Green Hornet or John Carter of Mars or Doc Savage or other types of things like that I used to listen to as a kid.)

Now I’ve always liked the stories of Conan (though I have much more in common personally with the character Solomon Kane) as I enjoy a lot of pulp fiction. It’s adventurous, and that’s what I like about it. Adventure stories and pulp fiction tend to roam widely in space and time, and this very much appeals to the explorer and Vadder in me. As well as to the historian in me, as pulp stories are often pseudo-historical and often contain historical and archaeological allusions and references. I wish far more modern writers wrote really good adventure stories, especially for young men and boys, but also even for girls, such as my daughters. Alas, aside from children stories adventure yarns seem a dying or dead art. More is the shame.

But a couple of things have always bothered me about Conan and his adventure stories. One is Howard’s sometimes ridiculous use of inappropriate language, mixing antique, antiquated, and outmoded terms all in the same paragraph or sentence and doing so without a broader context. The same can be said for his general world building tendencies as well, he sometimes mixes wholly inappropriate matters and allusions and settings and events and places and personages together haphazardly and without any logical framework. I know this is part of his Sword and Sorcery Shtick but it can detract heavily from the appeal of the story. As a writer I certainly understand that every writer is at least to some extent a product of his times, and of what is known in his time. As well as a victim of his own his ideas, and a bondsman of his ideas about writing. Finally he is in at least in some sense a slave of his own language, real or invented, and his use of that language. But Howard’s language often descends into “pulp-speech” in a way that is almost an obvious caricature of pulp. In other words his writings become the very caricature of the pulp genre to such an obvious degree that it becomes impossible to read some of his phrasing without saying to yourself, “this story is pulp.” Instead of, “this story is a great adventure.”

True, sometimes his phrasing and language use is clever, even inspired, at other times though it is both simultaneously banal and overwrought. At times like that you easily remember within your own mind, “this is fiction,” and that’s precisely what you want to avoid in fiction writing.

The second thing that bothers me about Conan is Conan’s obsession (in some of his stories at least) with race and tribalism and ethnicities and “groups.”

to be continued…

THE MASTER INFILTRATOR AND THE WORLD TO COME

It being Sunday and all I thought I’d post this. Ordinarily I would put a post like this on my personal blog, the Missal. But I haven’t imported it to WordPress yet.

My friend Edie Melson put up a very interesting post on the Line between the Secular and the Sacred. I responded but I think my response was too long for her blog to eat. But because I too find this subject so fascinating I’m posting my response here. You’ll find her post link at the end of my post.

_______________________________________________________________________________

“I thought many of the responses were quite excellent. And this is a topic that interests me intensely Edie so I appreciate you discussing it.

This is my opinion on the matter:

There shouldn’t be such an imaginary line between the Sacred and the Secular. In my studies for the priesthood I learned that the early church did not use the term secular in the way it later came to be adopted (what in Latin and English would be to us the term: profanus). Rather they used the term as a type of classification of the laity and the secular clergy, meaning clergy of the people rather than the Ecclesiastical hierarchy (administration) of the church itself.

Therefore the early church did not classify the world as Sacred and Secular but rather of Godly and of the People, or put another way, as we would say, the Laity.

That’s a totally different view of Sacred and Secular than the current modern one and modern set of definitions and a far more accurate way of looking at Sacred and Secular to me than the one normally assumed by modern people. For rather than meaning it is an uncrossable line (pun intended) it is rather a People moving along a pathway towards becoming ever more holy and Godlike.

As for shaming Christ I don’t think you can. I do not disagree at all that certain behaviors are Christ-like in nature and certain other kinds of behaviors are not Christ-like in nature and that Christ will always choose his followers to pursue the Christ-like behaviors. That is not my point and I so I don’t want people thinking I’m disputing that fact. I am not.

On the other hand it is simply a huge mistake to assume (and if you read the New Testament carefully it is impossible to assume) that Christ went unexposed to or was naïve and ignorant of the very worst forms of human behavior. They were all around him, he saw them constantly and spoke of all of them. Murderers, thieves, cheats, rapists, Zealots (so called because to the Romans they were what we would call terrorists and to many Jews they were guerillas), adulterers, drunks, brawlers, sinners of all kinds. Jesus saw and heard and lived in and around things that most sheltered, comfortable, protected, mild-mannered, middle-class, Western “Christians of today” would not long endure and could not long endure. Many modern Western Christians are simply too pansyish and fragile and intentionally self-sheltered to have long endured the currents in which Christ swam. Christ’s world tended to be far more brutal than many of our modern ones, especially most of modern American society. You could immediately and easily shame many modern Christians by simply uttering the word “Damn!” in a fit of anger, you could not do that with Christ. He constantly and easily saw and heard much, much worse. It did not shame him at all.

(And in that sense I mean you could not shame him. Now real evil did anger him, and often easily so, and that’s an entirely different story, but you could not shame Jesus with either petty vices or great evil as he was entirely unafraid of either. You could not shame Jesus with wrong because he understood human nature far too well and was far too used to being daily exposed to all facets of human nature. Unlike many modern Christians who go out of their way to avoid any exposure to sin or vice and certainly many seek to avoid evil at all costs – because it so easily frightens them and makes them so uncomfortable. Jesus on the other hand was a daily hand to hand combatant with both minor vices and with great human evils. And his share of supernatural ones. You could not shame or embarrass him away from such things. He sought them out.)

Believe me, read the Bible carefully, especially in Greek and you will know that many of the Apostles and Disciples were far more “profane” than the vast majority of modern Christians. (At least in public.) Yet many of those ancient and early Christians also tended to be far more Christ-like (and self-sacrificial, and unafraid of evil, and willing to hang around and befriend other sinners) in the really important senses of the term than many modern Christians.

And I get that and even understand the dichotomy and fully understand why so many modern Christians prefer seeking to become holy (far more like Ekklesiastical Clergymen) rather than be more like Secular Clergymen or laity (and to some degree I think it is entirely justified). They do not wish to imitate or become the very thing they eschew. On the other hand if you look at Christ and the Apostles then you just have to accept the true and real facts of the matter: they all spent the vast majority of their time at secular ministries rather than seeking self-holiness or to separate themselves from the world or its sins.

The actual Truth of the matter is that they delved and penetrated deeply into the Secular world in order to overcome sin and reform the world, thereby erasing or eliminating the line between the Sacred and the Secular. They did not seem interested in overthrowing the secular world, or of ignoring and condemning it, certainly not of hiding or sheltering themselves from it, as much as they were in reforming and rebuilding it. Keeping what was worth saving and replacing what needed to be replaced with far better things. In other words a great deal of the whole idea concerning the Kingdom of God is to make the Secular World Sacred by bringing it into complete harmony with what is truly holy in the most important ways. Small and fleeting was the time Jesus spent in the synagogues or near the Temple compared to the times he spent in the “secular world.” That is where Jesus specifically chose to spend most of his time and with good reason, it is the patient who needs the physician. Then again the physician does not fear the disease nor does the disease embarrass or shame him. His job is to cure the disease, not be repulsed by it. If he is either repulsed by it, or afraid of it, or does not wish to be made dirty or infected by it then he cannot possibly cure the disease. Only the fearless man can fix the world. The man who fears evil is the victim of evil, not its conqueror. At the very best the man who fears fights a rear-guard action, he is simply far too afraid to take the fight to the enemy. The one who actually conquers goes straight for the throat of the enemy, for you actually win by offense, not defense.
That’s true of conquering disease, and it’s true of conquering evil. Or anything else you can name for that matter.

That is, you save the world by overcoming evil and reforming the vices of the Secular World, and by not by making the Sacred World an artificial and sterile and unobtainable otherworld. You do this by making the secular world a fully Living World in which Secular Things become Sacred.

(This is not to say that I believe there are no Otherworlds, such as Heaven. I do. I have a very firm and totally unshakeable confidence in many Otherworlds, including Heaven and Hell. What I am saying is that when this world behaves in a way so similar to Heaven that if you were in either place it would be hard to tell the difference between the two, then will the Kingdom of God be complete and real victory achieved. If the dichotomy between this secular world and Heaven is so stark than many could say of our world that is is Hell instead of Heaven – and many alive today can certainly say that now – then the Kingdom of God is at best a shadow of what it could be and we have much territory yet to take. But we do not want an artificial and fake Kingdom of God on Earth, a mere impossible pretense of holiness, but one that is naturally sacred and fully secular at the same time. Meaning they’ll be practically indistinguishable from one another.)

The point therefore to me is not to create an artificially sterile and impossible Sacredness of the Secular World but rather to transform the Secular World to such a degree that all the really important things become Sacred (again) as it was actually always meant to be.

Now all of that being said I am not taking issue with the idea that Jesus would have been ashamed to do evil or to harm others. As a matter of fact it embarrassed him so much he refused to sin and to harm others.

Then again neither did he fear or feel shamed by or embarrassed by, nor did he retire from the Secular world. Instead he penetrated deep into it and fight there. The Secular world was his battlefield. The secular world was exactly where he thought the battle for the Kingdom of God ought to be really fought, and he thought if he could win there then the Kingdom of God was bound to triumph. After all you don’t reconquering territory you already possess. You seek to conquer what you don’t yet control. So Jesus fought here, and the secular world was his battlefield.

And if you ask me he was sure as hell right.

You win here and Hell itself has no where else to retreat. In a very real way the Secular World is Hell’s last battlefield.

And how do you win here?

You infiltrate. Like Jesus did.

Jesus was a master infiltrator. And he was God-awful good at it.

To the world there are always frontlines and rearlines and battlefronts and homefronts. And this frontier and that line of demarcation and on and on it goes.

To the real infiltrator there is no such line, and there are no such divisions. And there never has been and never will be.

Jesus was the master of Godly Espionage. He knew exactly how to do it.

We could learn a helluvah lot from Jesus about how you really do this, and how you really kill Hell.

You do it from the inside out. You do it by going to the heart of Mordor and killing Sauron where he lives.

Everything else is just sit around and wait for a world that will never come.”

http://thewriteconversation.blogspot.com/2014/06/weekend-worshipthe-imaginary-line.html

TWICE NOW – THE TWO FRONT WAR

I have learned something over the past week. Twice now I have made faulty observations on the internet. Once I looked at a picture and thought I saw something I didn’t (I was actually viewing a different type of car instead), and just yesterday I saw a comment made by one person and it was actually made by another. I apologized in both instances and that’s no big deal when it happens every now and again, after all even Holmes and Spock made occasional mis-observations. It happens to everyone. Haste, distraction, lack of full information, wrong information, lack of proper focus, these types of things work against everyone on occasion and inevitably (if not corrected or compensated for) lead to human miscalculations.

But two such mistaken observations in so short a time period out of a well-trained observer?

I am an astute and accurate observer on almost every occasion, being long trained for just that.

I have however apparently found a noticeable fault or defect in my observational skills. One which I must learn to compensate for.

By long practice going long periods of time without sleep barely effects my observational skills to any detectable degree. I have learned through habit and practice to let my focus drift easily through tiredness and exhaustion but when it is really required then to for brief periods of time sharply focus my attention on my target to compensate. Even if exhausted or having gone through long periods of sleeplessness I generally hold a certain part of my consciousness in “reserve” so that when it is needed I can call upon it to make accurate observations regardless of how tired I might be. I’ve been able to do that since I was a kid. And I’ve honed that skill over time until it is instinctive and reflexive.

When I am in pain I have over time learned to use the pain itself as a focusing and observational tool, running my observations down the length of my pain to sharpen my focus, when needed, of a person or a situation. The pain itself becomes a line of focus which will actually sharpen my observations and intensify my sensory perceptions. This is an especially useful ability when sympathizing with a victim or analyzing a crime scene from the victimological point of view. Pain allows me to sharply focus my observations along the same basic lines as how the victim must have likely viewed a situation as it occurred. So pain can actually be very useful for me as an observational tool in those types of situations.

Usually though I face exhaustion and chronic pain as separate entities or occurrences, not a sort of “combined force.”

But apparently long periods (a week or so) of chronic pain coupled with sleeplessness (in this case because my injury makes sleep difficult – I am not suffering insomnia as much as pained sleeplessness or foreshortened periods of rest) has both such a dulling effect upon my focus and such a distracting effect upon my senses that it skews my observational capabilities. Badly.

I begin to see things that are not there, or to be more accurate I tend to “displace people, actions, objects, or events from one source to another.”

Apparently this is similar in some ways to my mind fighting a two front war. One war is against exhaustion (the sleeplessness which dulls my observations), the other against distraction (the chronic pain displacing my attention and focus from one thing to another). This is the conclusion I have reached anyway and it seems a logical one to me. The evidence (of how my observational methods and skills have been recently skewed) seems to support the hypothesis.

Now, being forewarned and having made a probably accurate diagnosis as to the cause, I will need to discover a method to compensate for such a set of circumstances in the future. More rest and the reduction of chronic pain being obvious lines of resolution, however there may very well be times in the future where I face this same set of circumstances in a way I cannot immediately resolve through either pain alleviation or accumulating rest. So I should figure out a method of compensation, just to be sure.

And now that I am aware of this observational defect I am also aware of the limitations (or a chief one in any case) on my observational capabilities. Forewarned being forearmed.

Nevertheless, at the moment, I still don’t have an effective or real solution to this defect and limitation.

Maybe in time I can now devise one.

We’ll see.

SOLO RETENDERE

Solo Retendere (Claim of Full Possession of My Own Intellectual Properties) – unless otherwise acknowledged, expressed, or specified all materials on this site (or any of the other sites I inhabit on the world wide web or similar communication structures) that were composed, created, designed, devised, formulated, or produced by me, be they in the form of Artwork, Business Ventures, Capital Projects, Career Activities, Designs, Game Materials, Inventions, Mathematical Equations, Musical Compositions, New Theories, Poetry, Scientific Works, Songs,Unique Innovations, Writings of various kinds, or any other intellectual property I own or retain control of, herein and henceforth shall be considered possessions under my sole authority and are fully protected by copyrights, trademarks, registrations and any and all applicable laws, local, national, and international, and any violation of my rights regarding any of my property, intellectual or otherwise, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. All rights reserved.

 

I am very happy to openly share ideas and to work collaboratively, I encourage that, but I do not like the theft of my ideas and property, and that I will pursue and prosecute.

Jack W. Gunter

WELCOME TO WYRDWEND

“Welcome to Wyrdwend, the strange and unpredictable fate you make of yourself as you wander through life.”

This blog is my Literary Blog. It is dedicated to my literary creations, my poetry, my musical compositions, my songwriting, my artwork, my scripts, my fiction and non-fiction writings and all other similar Career Pursuits.

I will therefore be posting in this blog excerpts from my various literary and fiction writings, my poetry, my songs, my musical compositions, my artwork, my children’s stories, my scripts, and some of my non-fiction writings.

I will also be serializing sections of my various novels and children’s books on these pages.

Agents and publishers you are most welcome to look around these pages for anything that might interest you and please feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss anything you see posted.

I am also open to being contacted by any producer, publisher, or talent and agent who might wish to enter in a partnership with me regarding my songwriting and music.

I will also be cross-linking Wyrdwend to all of my other blogs and websites. If you wish to follow my brokerage, business, copywriting, entrepreneurial and inventive pursuits then please see my Open Door Communication webpages and my Launch Port blog. If you wish to follow my Game Creations and Designs then please see my gaming blog, Tome and Tomb, and if you wish to follow my personal writings on all other subjects, such as Culture and Society, Exploration, History, Law Enforcement, Military Matters, Politics, Religion, Science, Technology, Vadding, World Affairs, and other such subjects then please see my personal blog The Missal. Feel Free to join in any and all of the conversations on any of these sites. Welcome aboard my friend.

Thank you for visiting, please return often, and enjoy the site.

Axtschmiede

Sharp Words For Your Mind

Jarrad Saul

Travel and Lifestyle: Jarrad Style

Mephit James' Blog

From one GM to another.

Kristen Twardowski

A Writer's Workshop

The Public Domain Review

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

Art of Shaima Islam

Fantasy Art and Illustration

Fantastic Maps

Fantasy maps and mapmaking tutorials by Jonathan Roberts

Matthew Zapruder

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

Susie Day | children's author

books for kids about families, friendship, feelings and funny stuff

The Millions

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

The Public Medievalist

The Middle Ages in the Modern World

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

Clive Thompson

Journalist, author, musician

terribleminds: chuck wendig

Chuck Wendig: Freelance Penmonkey

Researchers in the world

Travel the world, meet researchers

The Last Word On Nothing

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

The Missouri Review

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

The Normal School: A Literary Magazine

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

The Ploughshares Blog

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

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