Wyrdwend

The Filidhic Literary Blog of Jack Günter

THE SHERIFF AS CHIEFTAIN, AND THE CHIEFTAIN AS SHERIFF

THE SHERIFF AS CHIEFTAIN, AND THE CHIEFTAIN AS SHERIFF

I was studying folklore and legend and myth and history last night when it suddenly occurred to me that a sheriff is really just the hold over from the local ancient (Anglo-Saxon) Chieftain. Except modern sheriffs tend to be elected (and are therefore popular chieftains again, in most cases) rather than appointed, as in later Medieval times.

Don’t know why it had never occurred to me to think of sheriffs as chieftains before, especially given the etymology of the word, which I knew, shire-reeve, but it didn’t. Not at least in the truly ancient sense of chieftain, not as a king-thane but as independent local Chieftain, who must approve of and support the king for the king to reign. That is, my idea of sheriff was sort of stuck in the Christian era/Medieval concept of sheriff as king-thane (kingsman) and had not truly stretched back to “ancient chieftain,” as both law-keeper and judge, and local ruler, or chief (high man).

Why do I mention this? A few reasons. This made me think of the recent (that’s right, believe it or not this was only a few weeks back in time) dispute between sheriff’s all across the country and the Obama administration. Of how the sheriff’s were moving more and more and once again to the idea of being “local law chieftains” rather than merely king’s men or king’s servants. Except in many big cities, of course, where you are far more likely to have sycophantic court men (king’s men) called police chiefs anyway. (Not independent Chieftains, but king’s chiefs, or king’s-law chiefs.)

Secondly, and far more importantly regarding my own ideas, I have been wondering how to work in to my own fantasy novels a truly powerful underground movement of sheriff’s (not the modern idea of a sheriff, but the far more ancient one) who both oppose the government and take it upon themselves to act as a front line militia and frontier’s force against border invaders and skirmishers – as a prelude to a far more extensive and permanent invasion by enemy forces. These sheriffs (they won’t be called sheriffs, but the idea will be the same) will operate both in defiance of the appointed local, state, and kingdom governments and in a manner of real desperation because they know exactly what is coming but can’t convince the urbanites and city-dwelling governments what truly approaches. Therefore they must operate much as the Rangers did in Tolkien’s work (who if you ask me were a sort of militia sheriff/guerrilla force who operated with the knowledge of and supposed sanction of the government but often against government wishes) to try and lessen or perhaps redirect invasion routes but are desperate for full support which they are mocked for by the urbanites/governments (and real governments are always truly urbanite undertakings as rural areas don’t need governments they only need assemblies, sheriff’s, and citizen militias) that scoff at their concerns.

Third, I have for a very long time been working into my fantasy novels the idea of a Lone or Wandering (Circuit) Sheriff, a guy who takes it upon himself to wander about areas of the frontier to conduct spying missions and ambushes against enemy forces and enemy skirmishers and criminals and to keep the local peace. This guy is entirely self-appointed and a vigilante (not in the modern sense of the term but in the ancient, Roman Vigilant-sense) and is a combination of the ancient sheriff idea described above, a spy, a frontiersman survivalist, a scout, and a peace-keeper. Much as the Regulators here in SC were in the pre-Revolutionary War days.

Many people consider this man a hero, others an outright thug or at least a dangerous nuisance (especially city dwellers and those in government). He will be both one of the heroes and the anti-heroes of my novel(s). But more and more I am now moving away from the idea of him being a wandering “sheriff,” and more and more he is becoming in my mind a sort of intentionally self-appointed and self-exiled frontiers Chieftain and Vigilant. Along the lines of the true Vigilants of my novel (in the Byzantine empire) but on a far more local and personal scale. For these Vigilant Chieftains (and I need to invent a name for them) are entirely self-appointed independent operators who will work with no one else.

They often warn of and pass along what they learn and discover to those in authority or those who can make best use of their Intel but they refuse to submit to any authority or methods but their own. They are in many ways the very most true of all the “Chieftains.” Though they have no clan and no tribe and no one to lead but themselves. They are “all-duty” and “complete loners” on the frontiers.

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GODSPEED TURKISH MILITARY

GODSPEED TURKISH MILITARY!

May you and the Turkish People fully restore your Republic!

I am completely behind you and wish you Good Fortune and Success.

BE FREE AGAIN, AND BE WELL AND THRIVE!

I WENT TO YOUR GRAVES

I WENT TO YOUR GRAVES

I went to your graves to speak with you dead
You answered with nary a sound, but
The echoes of stone, and the blood and the bones
Still in the air they redound
Someone must live, and someone must die
I’ve seen my share of those things, yet
You know them all well in your marrow and flesh
For the shroud is the shield that still clings
To the toil that you wore, to the deeds that you bore
To the future and past you present
When I see countrymen free, and the grass
Green overseas that otherwise death would have spent
If you could arise, recall how you died
Who then could discharge the debt?
That we owe in our souls, but don’t really know
In the war and the wound that beset
About you in harm, the wrong, the alarm
As you struggled the catch your last breath
Yet it fled far away, like your soul on that day
By demand, or command, or request,
What can I say, much less best relay
Of what your great efforts have earned?
You’ve written in blood, in anguish, in mud
We’ll honor, and then we’ll adjourn, oh
The tombs that we’ll build, of marble and steel
Carved with your names and your stars
Will pass with the times as the ages unwind
As you fade into memories afar, yet
The world that you built, the anger, the guilt
Of your blood on the altar of Mars
These will live on, and not just in song, but
In the hope and the home of my heart…

in memoriam, 2016

THE WORDY WAY – TUESDAY’S TALE

Last night while in bed I decided to write up some new lines for my Western, the Lettered Men.

I’ll do that sometimes right before I go to bed. Got some good stuff done but had to rework some of em this morning. Many of these lines are spoken by Jerimiah Jereds, also known as “Wordy” (the only name his friends call him) because he will either invent words (neologisms) or will twist around old phrases and common sayings in new ways. Wordy sometimes acts as the comic-relief of the novel, which is pretty rough in parts, and sometimes acts as the de-facto Bard of the novel, being a sort of frontier’s poet and cowboy wordsmith.

Now not all of these snippets are by Wordy. But many are.

Anywho I gave my notes to my wife and daughter this morning (before the final rewrites) so that they could look over em and give me their opinion. I heard a lot of loud laughing coming from the kitchen table downstairs as I worked from my office so I reckon I did something right. They both seemed to like what they read.

Also I should not neglect that my mother came down to the house yesterday after lunch and she also reminded me of many of the old sayings and euphemisms of my grandparents and great-grandparents, which were in many ways the inspiration for Wordy.

So here are the final write ups for the Wordy Way. All from my novel The Lettered Men.

_______________________________________________________

“He’d howl like an old hound dog if ya hung him with a new rope.”

_______________________________________________________

“Ain’t really worth mentioning Word.”

“Oh yeah?” said Wordy. “Well half of not really worth mentioning still beats ever bit a nothing all day long. Specially in the middle a nowhere. So let’s just work around with what we got awhile and see where it leads us. Maybe tomorrow it still won’t be worth mentioning, but maybe in a week or two it will be. When we’re sitting our asses by the fire back home.”

________________________________________________________

“You can’t get there from here boys. But if we can just get over to there I bet we can.”

________________________________________________________

“He smells like he smothered a buzzard and kept it in his pants for a keepsake.”

_________________________________________________________

All the boys laughed when they saw him come out of the barbers. All except Wordy. He just stared at Beau for awhile and then he stood up and circled him like a corvus round a scarecrow. “Hmmm-mmm,” he kept humming to himself as he circled.

“Well now, that’s a two bit shave and a haircut iffin I ever seen one,” he finally said. “Way I see it though she still owes ya a dollar in change just to make it even.”

“Dammit!” Beau said testily slapping his hat against his thigh. Dust and hair swirled everywhere. “I told her it didn’t look right to me.”

“Be alright Beau,” Wordy said. “You’re both new at this. She ain’t much of a judge a jug-heads and you ain’t much of a judge a women.”

“Oh, and you is you Wordy sumbitch!” Beau practically yelled.

“I didn’t say that,” said Wordy. “I just seen enough scalpings in my day to know the difference between a brave and a squaw cut.”

The boys all laughed again.

_________________________________________________________

“That whore’s dumber than a plow mule, sure nuff, but she’s still twice as easy to ride. So if you’re gonna plow with her then just cut the reins and let her wander. Save ya both a lotta trouble.”

_________________________________________________________

“He drunk up the sea and spit out Achilles.” (Wordy describing a cowboy that rode into town, got drunk, and started shooting and fighting.)

_________________________________________________________

“He’s a one mare man. True enough. But he’ll go for any stallion what ain’t tied down.”

_________________________________________________________

“Book learning ruined him for anything worth knowin. I wouldn’t trust him none.”

_________________________________________________________

“The mare’s the better horse. He ain’t worth bad oats and barn rats.”

_________________________________________________________

“There ain’t another man like him in the whole lot. Thank God. Can you imagine a whole herd a dem sumbitches?”

_________________________________________________________

“She’s got a face like a sty-sow. But he’s a pot-bellied pig so who cares who slops who?”

_________________________________________________________

“Ride her at your own peril kid. But don’t dismount till ya broke her.”

_________________________________________________________

“Why, do you think she’ll foal on me?” he asked.

“Probably not,” said Wordy, “but she’s so rough you might.”

__________________________________________________________

“Boy’s so slow that he’d hav’ta ride as hard as he could for a month just ta reach the county line.”

__________________________________________________________

“Man knifed three Comanches and a Texas Ranger,” Sole said, “and lived to tell it. So you might just wanna shoot him. In the head. From behind. While he’s sleepin.”

__________________________________________________________

“Maybe he’s just shot so many men by now that he’s plum forgot how to miss. Ever think a that?”

__________________________________________________________

“Man smells like a Mississippi pole-cat, but he tracks like an Arkansas wild dog. Just make sure to keep him downwind and you’ll run em all to ground.”

__________________________________________________________

“He’s slicker than a cold-creek water snake, but not near as warm-blooded. So keep him ahead of ya, but always in sight. Safe plays are always the safest.”

__________________________________________________________

“Sir, your coffee tastes like chickpeas and boll-weevils. Without the chickpeas.”

__________________________________________________________

“Damn Word! It smells like you shit a dead possum and then lit it on fire with pine tar!”

“Yeah,” Wordy said. “I ain’t feeling too well right now.”

“Fine,” Mason said. “But did ya have to spread it around to everybody else like that? You made the local skunks puke.”

Hart Thomas snorted, spit out his chaw, and then laughed out loud.

“Hell Hart,” Mason said, “you was the skunk I was referring to!”

__________________________________________________________

“He’s cotton-brained and toe-headed. You walk a mile in his moccasins and you’ll end up Boot-hilled.”

__________________________________________________________

“Oh, he went to war alright. He just never met a battle worth sitting through or a man his equal at a foot chase.”

__________________________________________________________

“Ah hell Bill, iffin you gave him a new bull and three pregnant cows then in five years time he’d still be a sheep farmer.”

 

Hope you enjoyed em…

 

THE SHADOW MAN

Never-before-seen Tolkien poems written before The Hobbit are discovered

NEVER-before-seen poems written by J.R.R. Tolkien have been discovered inside an old school magazine.

JRR TolkienGETTY IMAGES

Poems by J.R.R. Tolkien have been discovered

The Shadow Man, written a year before his first classic work The Hobbit was published, was found after staff at Our Lady’s Abingdon school, Oxfordshire looked through back issues of its magazine.The poem, which was later appeared as Shadow-bride, and was released as part of the fantasy icon’s Adventures of Tom Bombadil in 1962.

According to the independent school’s principal, Stephen Oliver, they began to look through their archives after being contacted by an American Tolkien scholar, Wayne G. Hammond who had seen that two of Tolkien’s poems were listed in The Abingdon Chronicle.

MagazineOXFORD MAIL•SWNS GROUP

Tolkien’s work was found in a school magazine

Now, Mr Oliver believes that the poems may have been given to the magazine after Tolkien struck up a friendship with the nuns that were running the school.As well as The Shadow Man, the poem Noel was written to celebrate the birth of Christ.

Tolkien lived in Oxford at the time he wrote the The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Mr Oliver said: “We had no idea that we had a copy of some of Tolkien’s poetry so it came as a surprise when we found them. I feel pretty privileged to have been a part of the discovery.”An American academic got in touch with us to say that he was looking to find them and that they were contained in a publication called the Abingdon Chronicle.

“At first we couldn’t find the 1936 edition and referred Mr Hammond on to the archives of the Sisters of Mercy, who founded the school, which are in London.

The poemOXFORD MAIL•SWNS.COM

The Shadow Man

My excitement when I saw them was overwhelming

Stephen Oliver

“But after we were preparing for another event for former pupils, we uncovered our own copy and discovered the poems that he had been looking for.”My excitement when I saw them was overwhelming. I am a great Tolkien fan and was thrilled to discover the connection with the school.

The magazineOXFORD MAIL•SWNS.COM

The poem

“The school magazine was something that was produced each year to provide things like updates on the alumni and would also contain bits of poetry.”It was brilliant to find it and it’s great that we have found such a great bit of heritage to tie to our school. We had no idea that there was a link between us before that point.”

THE RAINS OF THE SATRAPS OF PERSIA – FIRST VERSE

THE RAINS TO COME

This morning I awoke to a veritable deluge. After feeding the animals I sat down and watched the heavy rains fall. Something became triggered in my mind. About modern people, about the past, about how nothing is ever really learned, and still the Rains fall as they have ever fallen. And so do people, and nations… The storms always come and yet so few ever are prepared.

I just started it and then my wife interrupted me so I had to leave off. So it is unfinished, of course, but then again, what isn’t…?

THE RAINS OF THE SATRAPS OF PERSIA

This storm is like the rains of the satraps of Persia
Grey and harsh, heavy and burdensome, slavish and cold
Unrelenting does it fall across the broad expanse
Of a slumbering world blind and dumb in its naïveté –
Of unnumbered peoples in distant and yet unconquered lands
Eternally preoccupied in their basic self-absorption

Yet still the rains of the satraps of Persia drop countless
Flooding tokens of their weight, their true intent lost among
The Forgetful Minds of Men distracted by the unmarked cenotaphs
Of daily Life, though they have seen no sun in many years…

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other lines I’ve yet to work in:

No clear moon in decades now

The Reign of the Satraps of Persia
Time forgets nothing, though men forget everything
Except to remember what befalls when they don’t…

KASHMIR – BOOKENDS

A poem from my book BHAIRAVANANDA

KASHMIR

The force of the blow struck me just above the eye.
A liquid odor, heavy with thick salt, burned the air.

But I knew there was no blood.

The light wood bent gracefully under my draw.
The shaft sprung forward, my essence following after.
I felt the impact yet failed to perceive an injury.
Within myself I am a hard enemy.

Deep war drums began to sound, an ordered measure,
Like some huge stallion in motion.

The air began to warm.

The desert rose from the moist earth and drifted through me.
The air was still.

I heard the strings quiver and looked upward.
Three prey-birds floated above me a moment,
Then turned earthward.

One fell beside me whistling into the soil.
The other two struck me full in my unarmored heart, drove me down,
Pierced through.

The drums continued yet I failed to hear.

The mountain banner rose above me.

The air was still.

A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY, AND … TWO FOR FIRST VERSE

Two for First Verse.  So, lucky you, you’ve got a twofer.

 

A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY

A little goes a long way if a little’s all you’ve got
A long way is a long way though and often costs a lot,

New is sometimes better if it’s really something new
Then again tis often just the useful bid adieu,

Yet the old is still the old because it’s worked awhile
That isn’t always e’re the case, but life is not a mile,

Is new improved – a treasure hoard that purchases the world
Or is it effete novelty that’s simply trimmed in pearl?

The newer goes a long way if your way is just so long
Then again the road is wild, and it goes on and on,

Fresher is the fresh man whose foot has yet to tread
Then again he knows not yet the dangers he must dread,

If I want newer thinking then the young are where I’ll start
But guides who know the jungle are the ones who know their art,

So give me lots of young men, and new, to carry loads
They often make the portage light, divert along the road

Yet if I must into the way where paths are dim and dark
Then let my scouts be old men, and let them know their parts…

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MARX HE WENT TO MARKET

Well Marx he went to market
With theories great and grand
He sold them to the ignorant
In every foreign land,
At discount did they prosper
To fools they multiplied
In Truth they found no purchase
Yet with mobs they did abide,
Revolutions soon arose
With fires burning bright, and
Still the theories sold by Marx
Could not a dime incite,
Still what is that to theorists
Or professors in the clouds?
They packaged for their profit
Though no profit was allowed,
Well Marx he went to market
Just to find his market share, and
So he did ‘mong idiots
No Intelligensia to spare,
They took his empty theories
To spin out governments, and
That is what they’ve truly done
With dark and dim intent,
They convinced the public masses
They convinced the public schools
They tamed the dupes and gullible
Conscripted all the fools, yes
They sold Marx in their markets
In place of goods instead
Now markets teem with people
But no one has their bread…

THE WOUND THAT HEALS

THE WOUND THAT HEALS

The Wound that heals to help secure
Our Lives Eternal to endure
Was writ in Blood and sweat and toil
Then buried in the fruitful soil
That God had plowed in hearts of men
The day he died to live again

His Tomb a Rock, a mountain-top
A different world from which to spot
A brilliant Kingdom, richly cast
Full of souls and fit to last
Beyond the dark of night and death
Into the morn of what is blest
About the God who would be Man, and
Men made new by God’s Great Plan
To heal them true and make them fast
With his own Wounds, so deep, so vast;

A nail, a scourge, a crown of thorns
A cross, a spear, and sin engorged
Upon the Wound that heals us all
Upon the Man who stands and calls
To us upon this Easter Morn,

“Come my Friends, and Be Reborn!

For my Wounds were made for Thee
I give them all, I give them free
And if you’ll touch them to your Heart
Then you and God shall n’er depart –

For the constant Blood my Wounds ensue
Shall Live in God, and God in you…

 

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I had been thinking lately about the Myth of the Wound that can only be healed by the Weapon that made the wound. These thoughts made me realize, just a few days ago, that Jesus had rewritten that Myth, that the Wounds of Christ, the wounds Christs suffered via the acts of men are the only ones that can truly heal man of what most wounds him.

In other words the Wounds of Christ  inflicted by man are the very Wounds that Heal man, and remake him into the Kind of Man he was always meant to truly be.

I guess that had lain on me for the past few days for this morning I woke with this poem running through my head. So I sketched it out on the notepad beside my bed and then came downstairs and wrote it out in full on my office computer and now I post it here.

So this is my poem for this Easter and in Honor of the Wound that Heals.

GETTING MEDIEVAL

Wow. While doing my research this morning I just happened  (if you believe in that kinda thing) to run across Jeri Westerson’s Literary blog.

I have read several of her books, and as a matter of fact Shadow of the Alchemist was the last I read. I consider her one of the very best historical fiction authors (male or female) working today. I highly recommend her works, and her works have also influenced my own writings. So she is my Highmoot post for the day.

Here is the blog address: Getting Medieval

Here is her latest blog entry:

 

THE SORCERER’S TONGUE

THE SORCERER’S TONGUE

The Sorcerer’s tongue an adder crawls
To slither through the hearts of men
A viper coiled in roils of lies
Seduces all with poisoned ends,
The Necromancer of the Age
Raising up deceit and death
From tombs and tomes by ruin lost
Has given form and stirred cold breath,
Enchantments webbed and eldritch spun
Like spiders creep across the mind
So even men who seem themselves
Are slaves to him, enthralled like kine,
Hades vast and oceans deep
Are hidden in his crafty art
The conjured word is as he speaks
A servant dim and set apart,
The warlock’s gloom – bespoken like a spell
Has snared the fool and baited traps
To line the road of Truth along which
Even brave men cannot make their maps,
The Waystaff of the Witch’s word
Has charmed the Wise with venoms dark
Bound in blood men sound in every other way
By sound of him fall all unnerved
Their manhood washed away in flood,
The alchemic base of rank and rot
Has made a potent portion of regret
Yet who still speaks of deeds begot
When dread by sorcery yet abets?
The Witch’s teat, the serpent’s tongue
Eidolons frozen in the soul
Glams and dictums (dicins) doom us all
Who should by wit the Witch atone,
We have fallen all and one
Under shrouds envoked by terms of fraud
Cultic does the lie allure
Guile the noose of little gods,
If we will not soon this wrong dispel
Cut out the tongue that binds us so
Then sorcery shall be our gaol
The price of prison be our soul.

THE HEART WILL ROAM from THE ENDLESS FRONTIER

“Son, the heart will roam where the heart will roam. It may have no worthwhile destination at all, yet still it will attempt the journey. And if it thinks it may eventually find a better land to inhabit than what it now knows then there is no ocean vast enough, no desert barren enough, and no forest dark enough to turn it back upon itself.”

A short bit of dialogue from my book The Endless Frontier in which an old Mountain Man explains to a young man that the human heart was built for frontiers. All kinds of frontiers…

LOTUS EATER

LOCUS EATER

Edit: I have changed the name of the album from Lotus Eater to Locus Eater.

Baba Yaga (The Dead Witch)

Barden and the Serpent (The Viking Ship)

Cave of the Unknown Prophet

Cumhaill’s Causeway (Clochán an Aifir)

Fall of Sisyphus

Gram’s Glass

Hephaestus and Prometheus (The Tyrant’s Overthrow)

Isle of the Invisible Darkness

Myrddin’s Castle – longest song

Myrddin’s Tower – spoken poem with musical background

The Four Rivers of Paradise

The Rape of Medusa

The Spider and the Bones – short instrumental

The Storm of Tiamat – long multi-instrument instrumental

Vadd’s Desperation

Wendel’s Curse

White Stag – medium length guitar instrumental

I’ve bene thinking about doing this for awhile and last week, while out and driving around I began sketching out the titles and notes for a new album of songs I’m going to write.

Last year I finished writing my first album of songs, a country album I call “Going South.”

This year I’ve decided to do something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time but never got around to. Writing an album of rock, art rock, and hard rocks songs in the style of music from the 1970’s (if you ask me the most productive and artistic era of American music in history).

This will be my homage and tribute album to the best rock music of the 70s (and 60’s – Tales of the Brave Ulysses, etc.) although there will also be ballads and instrumental pieces and some experimental and even some Prog Rock pieces (Emerson, Lake, and Palmer).

It will be called “Locus Eater.”

I have listed the songs in alphabetical order as I haven’t yet decided on any kind of arrangement. These are the songs I have decided to include at the moment. It may change as I develop the album. It will be a double album of course, and loosely, even a concept album.

Many of the songs will be in written in these general types of styles, though the lyrics will be considerably different:

ANCIENT AFRICA, THE ORO, AEZANA OF AKSUM, AND THE RUINS OF THE DEFFUFA

As some of you know my youngest daughter recently asked if she could do a special study on some of the Ancient and Medieval kingdoms of Africa as part of her homeschooling studies. I readily agreed as I like the subject myself and she just finished a great course of study on archaeology. So this seemed like a natural extension of her previous study set.

Well, I got as much good material together as I could from our local library system, which admittedly has little decent material in the way of books on Africa (any part of Africa, especially African history). What I could get though I got. Most of the books – I wasn’t too impressed with except for a very excellent book on the early spread of Christianity throughout northern and eastern Africa called The Blessing of Africa, which I had previously read myself in my studies for the priesthood. (One day I intend to help found churches in Africa. Or refound is perhaps a better term since much of Africa was Christian until the Muslim invasions and slave trade.)

As I said many of the books were less than stellar but the video materials I got were quite good and since I’m here at the house alone today I thought I’d look at one of the videos on the Lost Kingdoms of Africa. I’ve watched two episodes so far, one very good one on the Nubians and Cushites and a truly excellent one on the Ethiopians and the Aksum Kingdom.

The guy who is the host or moderator is obviously a black Brit archaeologist (given the accent) who nevertheless tends to dress something like an American cowboy and definitely does not like desert environments. He’s got that cold blood of the Brits I guess. It’s very amusing to listen to him say over and over again, “Man, I have never been so hot!” He’s an eclectic character, and his manner of dress, speech and aversion to heat make me laugh. Nevertheless he is bright and a good host and the show explores some fascinating places and investigates some interesting history.

One thing in particular that I learned regarded Ezana the Ethiopian (Aezana of Aksum), who was educated by two Syrians who had become shipwrecked in Ethiopia. One of the Syrians was a Christian monk (Syria being the first Christian kingdom in the world – most of the entire Near East and much of Africa being Christian before the Muslim invasions) who converted Ezana and Ezana become the very first Christian Emperor of Ethiopia.

Considering his background, the size of his kingdom (which was quite impressive), the number of Near Eastern, Arabic, and Christian states it was in contact with, and given the novels I am writing I cannot help but think that Ezana was at least one chief aspect of what would later become the historical template for the Prester John myth.

Ezana converted to Christianity, expanded the empire considerably, instituted educational and religious reforms (similar to what Charlemagne and Alfred the Great would later do in France and England), imported people from all over the nearby world as advisors, and expanded trade. He was also the first to mint Christian coins, interesting since Syria was the first Christian kingdom, and he had been educated by a Syrian.

There is a character in my Other World novels, a man by the name of Erasto Qwara, and he is a primary character in the party of the Oro (Moonshadow), which is a rough analogue of the Byzantine Basilegate. The more I study Ezana though the more I think that some of Ezana’s attributes will be adopted into the character of Erasto.

Erasto, while recovering in Egypt from combat injuries decides to join the Oro to try and discover, almost precisely as the Basilegate is trying to do, why so many odd and unexplainable things are happening in our world.

Before that however Erasto has a vision, or a dream, or a mystical experience in which he is instructed to go to Alexandria and from there to Constantinople.

But while watching the video today on the Nubians I discovered that they had built a large, room-less and solid, very impressive mud-brick temple or ritual building (part of a large ritual complex at Kerma) called the Deffufa. It reminds me of nothing so much as the Ziggurats in the Near East, but it is far more oddly shaped.

Originally I had planned to have Erasto’s vison occur one night while he lay alongside the banks of the Nile, the vision echoing Abram’s vision of God when he called God a “Horror of Great Darkness.” But now I think that I will rewrite that scene to make it so that Erasto’s vision occurs while he sleeps one night alone on the top of the Deffufa, and that instead it will far more closely resemble Jacov’s vision of the Ladder or Stairway to Heaven.

Also, since later the entire Oro will have a very eerie experience with the obelisks at Karnak in which the obelisks ring like gongs and then produce weird music and a spooky voice I think I might also work in as a prelude something to do with the “Rock Gongs” of Cush and the cobras of the Split Egyptian Kingdom.

So, it seems my daughter’s homeschooling project has actually turned out to be of enormous benefit to the plot and historical research of my novels. I’m quite glad she chose this particular course of study.
Well, that’s enough research for one day so I’m going to go play Metal Gear. Have a good evening folks.
By the way, below is a brief character description of Erasto Qwara the Ethiopian, and his position in the Oro (Moonshadow).

 

Erasto Qwara – born in Axum, the third of six children, Erasto grew up following his family tradition of soldiering. At fifteen he became a Christian Soldier and rose quickly through the ranks, so that local officials were soon sending him as an escort and emissary to foreign lands, such as to the courts at Egypt. Smart, driven, and self-educated Erasto learned six African tongues and was soon able to read and write Koptic, Greek and Latin as well. Because of his linguistic skills and general education by the age of 19 Erasto was made commander of a unit formed to escort diplomatic missions throughout the Nubian kingdoms, along the coast of east Africa, into the tribute states of the Arabian Peninsula, into the Near East, and also into Egypt. The farther afield Erasto roamed the more types of people he encountered and he soon discovered that he loved to mix freely with people of different nations and races. Developing a personal interest in trade Erasto also was soon gaining experience as a trade representative in addition to his diplomatic and military skills. Born into a devout Christian family Erasto nevertheless had no interest at all in religious matters until traveling in Egypt he discovered an early copy of some of the works of the Philokalia written in Koptic. Reading it eagerly Erasto became a devout Christian and returning to Axum began to study under Aksumite Christian Masters. Erasto remained a solider but also developed a strong interest in interpreting scriptures from a Monophysitic point of view, and became such a skillful writer, fluent interpreter, and powerful debater on Christian doctrine that he soon earned the nickname, Qwara, the Cushite Christian (even though that was a misnomer). At the age of 25 Erasto was assigned to escort a trade and diplomatic mission to the Byzantine Empire by way of Egypt and the Mediterranean. At sea his ship, along with several others, was attacked by Sicilian pirates and many on his ship were killed. Erasto was severely injured in combat and had to return to Egypt, where as a result of his injuries he was retired, but allowed to retain the rank of Commander as a Christian Soldier. While recovering in Egypt he studied with Kopts in Alexandria to become a Christian Cleric and within two years was ordained. After ordination he was returning to Axum but stopped at Karnak where he met Addo and the other members of the Moonshadow.

TOME AND TOMB

I’ve got some really good and interesting stuff up on my Gaming Blog today, including a Greek animated reproduction of the Tomb at Amphipolis.

Tome and Tomb

THE VIKING CATS – background, outline, and structure

The Viking Cats – I sat down and sketched out the chapters and the progression I had been working on in my mind for my novel.

Below are the Chapter titles.

The book will primarily be targeted at young boys, let’s say 7 to 13 or so. It will be somewhere between 120 to 140 pages long (my initial estimate), maybe longer.

The story is a mix of literary, historical, spiritual, and real life (for me) influences combined in a single story that I’ve been wanting to do for a while now.

In general format it will be similar to the White Stag, one of my very favorite children’s books of all time. But instead of Attila the Hun (and later Chieftain and King of the Huns) being led by a White Stag (overland) into the West the character Hale (a very common boy of no great background who nevertheless rises by merit and courage to become a great explorer and man) will be led by a series of Signs and Wonders and Adventures in which it will be difficult to tell the natural and mundane from the supernatural and the miraculous.

In this way it will parallel the Biblical story of the Exodus.

It will also show, throughout the progression of the story the influences of Nordic, Greek, Roman, and finally Judeo-Christian culture and religion upon Hale’s development, and by extension how these Four Strains of Culture and Religion interweave, like threads of a tapestry, to create a Western Man. So the book will obviously be filled throughout with important cultural, historical linguistic, literary, and religious allusions.

It will also describe the boy’s life, from his birth to age 28-29, when he disappears from the story by sailing into the Far West with his surviving clan, friends, and animal companions.

So it is additionally the story of a boy’s growth into manhood.

Each chapter will begin with a section of a fairly long poem called, “The Viking Cats.” The verse tale will ostensibly be about Hale’s adventures with his Viking Cats as explained by the Prose sections of the story.

But the poem will really be a Riddle in verse about the Four Strains of Culture and Religion shaping Western Man, how a boy actually grows into a man, the supernatural influence of God and miracles upon the development of a kid’s soul and his Wyrd, and what attributes (such as self-sacrifice and courage) and virtues (such as justice and mercy) a boy should practice to become a strong and true man.

At the end of the book, in the afterwards, will appear the entire Poem of “The Viking Cats” presented as a Skaldic Song.

My intention in writing the book is to give young children a good and exciting adventure story, to teach them about their culture, history, languages, and religious background, and to give young boys (especially young) a pattern-story for how to grow into a man, unifying both Secular Duties with Sacred Virtues to produce a True Western Man. I want to move very far away from the effeminized boy and man of modern culture and return to the better and older model of the Strong and Courageous and adventurous Boy and Man of the West who is nevertheless open to being tamed, to becoming a gentleman, and eventually Christianized without the loss of his essential manhood. That is I want to portray Hale as all boy becoming all man while nevertheless becoming Christianized and civilized without becoming weak and effeminate (as our modern culture stresses far too much). I’ve been wanting to do this kind of book, as well as feeling it is essential and necessary in America to have such books for young boys to read, for a very long time. Now, I feel, is a good time to write this.

I do not want to come right out and say these things in the story, not pedantically of course, but if the story implies these things and children pick up on this, then I will have achieved my True Aims. In others words I don’t want to preach these subjects, as I think boys don’t like that, instead I want to ‘adventurise and enterprise’ these subjects through exciting action tales that parallel tales of Romance and Chivalry, but not as tales of nobility but as everyman/everyboy tales that kids can emulate in their own lives.

I will be posting more on the Viking Cats later, along with some excerpts from the novel…

CHAPTERS

Conn’s Son
The White Cross Cloud
The Skald, the Würm, and the Wyrd
(birth to 7)

The Hound of Geatland
The Bear in Winter
The Southern Stars
(8 to 14)

The Spear that Shattered (The Hunter and the Boar’s Hide)
Hale and Well Met
Sea-Fire
(15 to 21)

The Burning of the Red Drake (The Man that Burned)
The Great Fortune of the Wondrous Sword (+Ulfberh+t)
The Eagle of the Lake Lady
(21 to 28)

The West Beyond

Afterwards: Song of the Boy – A Riddle in Verse

THE IDEA-L IMAGE

If these images don’t give you plenty of story, poetry, song, and even invention ideas then you’re probably already dead…

This is also a Vadder’s Dream.

http://all-that-is-interesting.com/abandoned-structures?utm_source=hexagram.com&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=hexagram.com#1

THE VADDER’S IMPERATIVE

I must Vad these places one day and I don’t even have any interest in going to New York.

http://scribol.com/anthropology-and-history/5-abandoned-stations-of-the-new-york-subway-system/1

JOHN MILTON’S OLD DIGS

Being a great fan of Milton’s poetry, I really liked this:

http://scribol.com/anthropology-and-history/paradise-lost-the-crumbling-english-manor-house-where-john-milton-once-lived/1

CHERNOBYL BY DRONE

Explore Chernobyl like never before, courtesy of a drone

Prepare to see Pripyat, home of the Soviet-era Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, like never before. A British man has used a drone to offer entirely new angle on the abandoned Soviet city, which became famous for the Chernobyl meltdown on April 26, 1986.

British videographer Danny Cooke made “Postcards from Pripyat, Chernobyl” in his spare time while filming a segment for CBS News. His aerial footage, recorded using a DJI Phantom 2 drone and a Canon 7D camera, provides a fascinating look at the iconic shots that have come to define a city that has been empty for decades: Decaying ferris wheels, neglected Soviet monuments, heavily-wooded city square.

“Chernobyl is one of the most interesting and dangerous places I’ve been,” Cooke wrote on Vimeo. “The nuclear disaster, which happened in 1986 (the year after I was born), had and effect on so many people, including my family when we lived in Italy. I can’t imagine how terrifying it would have been for the hundreds of thousands of locals who evacuated.””There was something serene, yet highly disturbing about this place,” he added. “Time has stood still and there are memories of past happenings floating around us.”

Photo via Danny Cooke/Vimeo

GRIMLY GRIMM

Indeed. The original Tales (and I’ve read several of them) are powerful and horrific, more like the uncensored stories of Baba Yaga. The revised tales are mostly impotent and simple-minded by comparison.

Grimm brothers’ fairytales have blood and horror restored in new translation

‘It is time for parents and publishers to stop dumbing down the tales for children,’ says editor of uncut edition
Grimm

Not for kids … an illustration from the new edition of Grimms’ fairytales. Illustration: © Andrea Dezsö

Alison Flood

Wednesday 12 November 2014 06.09 EST

    

Rapunzel is impregnated by her prince, the evil queen in Snow White is the princess’s biological mother, plotting to murder her own child, and a hungry mother in another story is so “unhinged and desperate” that she tells her daughters: “I’ve got to kill you so I can have something to eat.” Never before published in English, the first edition of the Brothers Grimms’ tales reveals an unsanitised version of the stories that have been told at bedtime for more than 200 years.

The Grimms – Jacob and Wilhelm – published their first take on the tales for which they would become known around the world in December 1812, a second volume following in 1815. They would go on to publish six more editions, polishing the stories, making them more child-friendly, adding in Christian references and removing mentions of fairies before releasing the seventh edition – the one best known today – in 1857.

Jack Zipes, professor emeritus of German and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota, says he often wondered why the first edition of the tales had never been translated into English, and decided, eventually, to do it himself. “Though the Grimms kept about 100 of the tales from the first edition, they changed them a good deal. So, the versions with which most English-speaking (and German-speaking) readers are familiar are quite different from the tales in the first edition,” he told the Guardian.

His version of the original 156 stories is just out from Princeton University Press, illustrated by Andrea Dezsö, and shows a very different side to the well-known tales, as well as including some gruesome new additions.

How the Children Played at Slaughtering, for example, stays true to its title, seeing a group of children playing at being a butcher and a pig. It ends direly: a boy cuts the throat of his little brother, only to be stabbed in the heart by his enraged mother. Unfortunately, the stabbing meant she left her other child alone in the bath, where he drowned. Unable to be cheered up by the neighbours, she hangs herself; when her husband gets home, “he became so despondent that he died soon thereafter”. The Children of Famine is just as disturbing: a mother threatens to kill her daughters because there is nothing else to eat. They offer her slices of bread, but can’t stave off her hunger: “You’ve got to die or else we’ll waste away,” she tells them. Their solution: “We’ll lie down and sleep, and we won’t get up again until the Judgement Day arrives.” They do; “no one could wake them from it. Meanwhile, their mother departed, and nobody knows where she went.”

Rapunzel, meanwhile, gives herself away to her captor when – after having a “merry time” in the tower with her prince – she asks: “Tell me, Mother Gothel, why are my clothes becoming too tight? They don’t fit me any more.” And the stepmothers of Snow White and Hansel and Gretel were, originally, their mothers, Zipes believing that the Grimms made the change in later editions because they “held motherhood sacred”. So it is Snow White’s own mother who orders the huntsman to “stab her to death and bring me back her lungs and liver as proof of your deed. After that I’ll cook them with salt and eat them”, and Hansel and Gretel’s biological mother who abandons them in the forest.

Zipes speculates that the Grimms’ changes were “reflecting sociologically a condition that existed during their lifetime – jealousy between a young stepmother and stepdaughter”, because “many women died from childbirth in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and there were numerous instances in which the father remarried a young woman, perhaps close in age to the father’s eldest daughter”.

Cinderella’s stepsisters go to extraordinary attempts to win the prince in the original Grimms version of the tale, slicing off parts of their feet to fit the golden slipper – to no avail, in the end, because the prince spots the blood spilling out of the shoe. “Here’s a knife,” their mother urges, in Zipes’ translation. “If the slipper is still too tight for you, then cut off a piece of your foot. It will hurt a bit. But what does that matter?”
Grimm Not such innocent fun … an illustration from the new translation of How Some Children Played at Slaughtering. Illustration: © Andrea Dezsö/PR

Zipes describes the changes made as “immense”, with around 40 or 50 tales in the first edition deleted or drastically changed by the time the seventh edition was published. “The original edition was not published for children or general readers. Nor were these tales told primarily for children. It was only after the Grimms published two editions primarily for adults that they changed their attitude and decided to produce a shorter edition for middle-class families. This led to Wilhelm’s editing and censoring many of the tales,” he told the Guardian.
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Wilhelm Grimm, said Zipes, “deleted all tales that might offend a middle-class religious sensitivity”, such as How Some Children Played at Slaughtering. He also “added many Christian expressions and proverbs”, continued Zipes, stylistically embellished the tales, and eliminated fairies from the stories because of their association with French fairy tales. “Remember, this is the period when the French occupied Germany during the Napoleonic wars,” said Zipes. “So, in Briar Rose, better known as Sleeping Beauty, the fairies are changed into wise women. Also, a crab announces to the queen that she will become pregnant, not a frog.”

The original stories, according to the academic, are closer to the oral tradition, as well as being “more brusque, dynamic, and scintillating”. In his introduction to The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, in which Marina Warner says he has “redrawn the map we thought we knew”, and made the Grimms’ tales “wonderfully strange again”, Zipes writes that the originals “retain the pungent and naive flavour of the oral tradition”, and that they are “stunning narratives precisely because they are so blunt and unpretentious”, with the Grimms yet to add their “sentimental Christianity and puritanical ideology”.

But they are still, he believes, suitable bedtime stories. “It is time for parents and publishers to stop dumbing down the Grimms’ tales for children,” Zipes told the Guardian. The Grimms, he added, “believed that these tales emanated naturally from the people, and the tales can be enjoyed by both adults and children. If there is anything offensive, readers can decide what to read for themselves. We do not need puritanical censors to tell us what is good or bad for us.”

HAPPY VETERAN’S DAY

To all of my Veteran family and friends I hope you’ve greatly enjoyed your Veteran’s Day and I much appreciate your service in the cause of what is best and most noble about this nation.

Godspeed to you all.

A SUPERB METHOD OF VISUAL ENCODING

Again, another superb effort and a great methodology of graphic encoding. This would have also made a very nice espionage technique. With the pictures being both unnoticeable to most and even when apparent the visual images themselves could have passed encoded information for messaging. And what better way to pass those messages than steganographically? As a matter of fact the very uniqueness of the encoding of the graphic images would have probably deflected attention away from their subliminal use as an espionage technique.

The discoverer would probably immediate concentrate upon (or be channeled to concentrate upon) the mastery and skill required to create the artistic images rather than assume those same images possessed encoded messages – without an extremely good reason to be suspicious. Hence double camouflage.

These techniques are definitely going into my research files for my New Media Project.

Secret Fore-Edge Paintings Revealed in Early 19th Century Books at the University of Iowa

Secret Fore Edge Paintings Revealed in Early 19th Century Books at the University of Iowa seasons painting illustration fore edge painting books
Autumn by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Secret Fore Edge Paintings Revealed in Early 19th Century Books at the University of Iowa seasons painting illustration fore edge painting books
Autumn by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Secret Fore Edge Paintings Revealed in Early 19th Century Books at the University of Iowa seasons painting illustration fore edge painting books
Winter by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Secret Fore Edge Paintings Revealed in Early 19th Century Books at the University of Iowa seasons painting illustration fore edge painting books
Winter by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Secret Fore Edge Paintings Revealed in Early 19th Century Books at the University of Iowa seasons painting illustration fore edge painting books
Spring by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Secret Fore Edge Paintings Revealed in Early 19th Century Books at the University of Iowa seasons painting illustration fore edge painting books
Spring by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Secret Fore Edge Paintings Revealed in Early 19th Century Books at the University of Iowa seasons painting illustration fore edge painting books
Summer by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

Secret Fore Edge Paintings Revealed in Early 19th Century Books at the University of Iowa seasons painting illustration fore edge painting books
Summer by Robert Mudie / Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa

A few days ago Colleen Theisen who helps with outreach and instruction at the Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Iowa shared an amazing gif she made that demonstrates something called fore-edge painting on the edge of a 1837 book called Autumn by Robert Mudie. Fore-edge painting, which is believed to date back as early as the 1650s, is a way of hiding a painting on the edge of a book so that it can only be seen when the pages are fanned out. There are even books that have double fore-edge paintings, where a different image can be seen by flipping the book over and fanning the pages in the opposite direction.

When I realized the book Theisen shared was only one of a series about the seasons, I got in touch and she agreed to photograph the other three so we could share them with you here. Above are photos of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter which were donated to the University of Iowa by Charlotte Smith. How much fun are these? Keep an eye on the University of Iowa’s special collections Tumblr as they unearth more artificats from the archives.

Update: Because this post is getting so much attention, here are some more amazing fore-edge paintings found on YouTube.

TO BUILD A FAR BETTER BOOK

Whoever created this baby (book) was a person after my own heart. If only it was encoded in multiple ways and written in six different languages. Maybe though it was.

And to be honest this looks like a Medieval attempt at something like I’m attempting with my New Media Project. Or even a very primitive form of God Technology.

 

This 16th Century Book Can Be Read Six Different Ways

This 16th Century Book Can Be Read Six Different Ways history books

This 16th Century Book Can Be Read Six Different Ways history books

This 16th Century Book Can Be Read Six Different Ways history books

Sure, the Amazon Kindle might have dynamic font adjustments, and it can hold thousands of books, but can it do this? Printed in the late 16th century this small book from the National Library of Sweden is an example of sixfold dos-à-dos binding, where six books are conjoined into a single publication but can be read individually with the help of six perfectly placed clasps. This particular book was printed in Germany and like almost all books at the time is a religious devotional text. The National Library of Sweden has a fantastic photo collection of historical and rare books where you can find many more gems like this, and this, and this.

Update: And if you really like amazing old book discoveries, you should be following Erik Kwakkel, the Medieval book historian at Leiden University in the Netherlands, who originally unearthed this story. (via Neatorama)

THE TOLKIENIC RINGS

He’d have been crusty and stodgy in some ways, but it would have been hard not to like the guy.

Actually though I did know most of these things. Recently I finished reading Sigurd and Gudrun which was indeed, quite excellent. Not as good as The Fall of Arthur but very, very good.

10 Things You Might Not Know About J.R.R. Tolkien

filed under: Lists
Image credit:
Open Culture
There are plenty of things even the most ardent fans don’t know about John Ronald Reuel Tolkien.

1. He had a flair for the dramatic.

As a linguist and expert on Old English and Old Norse literature, Tolkien was a professor at Oxford University from 1925 until 1959. He was also a tireless instructor, teaching between 70 and 136 lectures a year (his contract only called for 36). But the best part is the way he taught those classes. Although quiet and unassuming in public, Tolkien wasn’t the typical stodgy, reserved stereotype of an Oxford don in the classroom. He went to parties dressed as a polar bear, chased a neighbor dressed as an axe wielding Anglo-Saxon warrior and was known to hand shopkeepers his false teeth as payment. As one of his students put it, “He could turn a lecture room into a mead hall.”

2. He felt many of his fans were “lunatics.”

Tolkien saw himself as a scholar first and a writer second. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were largely Tolkien’s attempt to construct a body of myth, and their success caught him largely unaware. In fact, he spent years rejecting, criticizing and shredding adaptations of his work that he didn’t believe captured its epic scope and noble purpose! He was also utterly skeptical of most LOTR fans, who he thought incapable of really appreciating the work, and he probably would have been horrified by movie fandom dressing up like Legolas.

3. He loved his day job.

To Tolkien, writing fantasy fiction was simply a hobby. The works he considered most important were his scholarly works, which included Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics, a modern translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and A Middle English Vocabulary.

4. He was quite the romantic (and he’s got the nerdy gravestone to prove it).

Getty Images

At age 16, Tolkien fell in love with Edith Bratt, three years his senior. His guardian, a Catholic priest, was horrified that his ward was seeing a Protestant and ordered the boy to have no contact with Edith until he turned 21. Tolkien obeyed, pining after Edith for years until that fateful birthday, when he met with her under a railroad viaduct. She broke off her engagement to another man, converted to Catholicism, and the two were married for the rest of their lives. At Tolkien’s instructions, their shared gravestone has the names “Beren” and “Luthien” engraved on it, a reference to a famous pair of star-crossed lovers from the fictional world he created.

5. His relationship with C.S. Lewis was not all it’s cracked up to be.

Tolkien’s fellow Oxford don C.S. Lewis (author of The Chronicles of Narnia) is often identified as his best friend and closest confidant. But the truth is, the pair had a much more troubled relationship. At first, the two authors were very close. In fact, Tolkien’s wife Edith was reportedly jealous of their friendship. And it was Tolkien who convinced Lewis to return to Christianity. But their relationship cooled over what Tolkien perceived as Lewis’s anti-Catholic leanings and scandalous personal life (he had been romancing an American divorcee at the time). Although they would never be as close as they were before, Tolkien regretted the separation. After CS Lewis died, Tolkien wrote in a letter to his daughter that “So far I have felt . . . like an old tree that is losing all its leaves one by one: this feels like an axe-blow near the roots.”

6. He enjoyed clubbing.

Well, the extra-curricular, after-school sort. Wherever Tolkien went, he was intimately involved in the formation of literary and scholarly clubs. As a professor at Leeds University, for example, he formed the Viking Club. And during his stint at Oxford, he formed the Inklings—a literary discussion group.

7. He wasn’t blowing smoke about those war scenes.

Tolkien was a veteran of the First World War, and served as a second lieutenant in the 11th (Service) Battalion of the British Expeditionary Force in France. He was also present for some of the most bloody trench fighting of the war, including the Battle of the Somme. The deprivations of Frodo and Sam on their road to Mordor may have had their origins in Tolkien’s time in the trenches, during which he contracted a chronic fever from the lice that infested him that forced him to return home. He would later say that all but one of his close friends died in the war, giving him a keen awareness of its tragedy that shines through in his writing.

8. He invented languages for fun.

A philologist by trade, Tolkien kept his mind exercised by inventing new languages, many of which (like the Elvish languages Quenya and Sindarin) he used extensively in his writing. He even wrote songs and poems in his fictional languages. In addition, Tolkien worked to reconstruct and write in extinct languages like Medieval Welsh and Lombardic. His poem “BagmÄ“ Blomā” (“Flower of the Trees”) might be the first original work written in the Gothic language in over a millennium.

9. He’s been published almost as prolifically posthumously as alive.

Most authors have to be content with the works they produce during their lifetime, but not Tolkien. His scribblings and random notes, along with manuscripts he never bothered to publish, have been edited, revised, compiled, redacted, and published in dozens of volumes after his death, most of them produced by his son Christopher. While Tolkien’s most famous posthumous publication is Silmarillion, other works include The History of Middle Earth, Unfinished Tales, The Children of Hurin, and The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun.

10. He wasn’t nearly as fond of Nazis as they were of him.

Tolkien’s academic writings on Old Norse and Germanic history, language and culture were extremely popular among the Nazi elite, who were obsessed with recreating ancient Germanic civilization. But Tolkien was disgusted by Hitler and the Nazi party, and made no secret of the fact. He considered forbidding a German translation of The Hobbit after the German publisher, in accordance with Nazi law, asked him to certify that he was an “Aryan.” Instead, he wrote a scathing letter asserting, among other things, his regret that he had no Jewish ancestors. His feelings are also evidenced in a letter he wrote to his son: “I have in this War a burning private grudge—which would probably make me a better soldier at 49 than I was at 22: against that ruddy little ignoramus Adolf Hitler … Ruining, perverting, misapplying, and making for ever accursed, that noble northern spirit, a supreme contribution to Europe, which I have ever loved, and tried to present in its true light.”

I hear ya Tolkien. It would have been the same for me…

WELL SPOKEN

Superb Linguistic Chart!

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When linguists talk about the historical relationship between languages, they use a tree metaphor. An ancient source (say, Indo-European) has various branches (e.g., Romance, Germanic), which themselves have branches (West Germanic, North Germanic), which feed into specific languages (Swedish, Danish, Norwegian). Lessons on language families are often illustrated with a simple tree diagram that has all the information but lacks imagination. There’s no reason linguistics has to be so visually uninspiring. Minna Sundberg, creator of the webcomic Stand Still. Stay Silent, a story set in a lushly imagined post-apocalyptic Nordic world, has drawn the antidote to the boring linguistic tree diagram.

Also worth checking out is the page before the tree, where she gives a comparison chart of words in the Nordic languages, and illustrates what an outlier Finnish is with the concept of “meow.”

Read Stand Still. Stay Silent here. Also see Sundberg’s previous work, A Redtail’s Dream, here.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

No, but I am always looking for great names for my historical fiction and even my other fictional works. So there ya go…


Ten Great Anglo-Saxon Girls’ Names

Elisabeth Okasha’s book Women’s Names in Old English details close to 300 female names from Anglo-Saxon England. Most names were chosen from two words, such as bregu (ruler), wif (woman) and cynn (family).We’ve come up with our ten favourite girls’ names – if you are considering a different type of baby name, perhaps you will pick one of these!

SEE NAMES HERE

THE OBSCURE PERIOD

Defining the occupational chronology of Mont Castel

Aerial photograph of Mont Castel. Image: © Hervé Paitier / Inrap

Aerial photograph of Mont Castel. Image: © Hervé Paitier / Inrap

A vast coastal plateau covering around twenty hectares and dominating the village of Port-en-Besson (northwestern France), this archaeological site had never been subject to archaeological field investigation. It is thought that Mont Castel may be the port of the Baiocasses tribal group, in charge of overseeing the flow of merchandise between southern England and Normandy.

Mont Castel is part of a larger network of fortified sites that formed a protection system for this area, and unique in the Protohistory of western France.

Occupational chronology

While there is evidence that Mont Castel was occupied during Protohistory, the nature and chronology of this occupation remained to be defined. The topography and pieces of information available seem to indicate that it was a fortified site during the Final La Tene period (150-30 BC), of the oppidum type, situated in a remarkable and highly strategic location since the end of the Bronze Age (1350-800 BC).

Test-pits were undertaken in 2010 following the discovery that the site had been extensively looted. These tests confirmed the first hypotheses: the site was occupied during the Final Bronze Age, followed by the construction of fortifications at the very end of the Iron Age. These test-pits also yielded Roman armaments, including a sword scabbard, ballista or scorpio darts, and lead sling-shot bullets.

An obscure period

The period between the end of Gallic independence and the beginning of Romanisation – from 52 to 24 BC – is an obscure period for historians and archaeologists because the historical records provide only vague or indirect information on the political and social situation. The year 52 and the defeat of Alésia marked neither the end of the war against Rome, nor the immediate Romanisation of the Celtic society. The foundation of the material and spiritual culture of Gaul remained essentially indigenous until the Augustinian period. After the final battle of the Gallic Wars at Uxellodunum, the situation was not entirely under Roman control. Caesar had distributed all of his legions throughout Gaul and himself spent the winter of 51-50 at Nemetocena (Arras?). Gaul was exhausted, unstable and probably unsettled by internal conflicts, requiring the presence of an occupying army.

The discovery of late-républicain militaria on Mont Castel is new for western France, but it reflects archaeological discoveries on the grand oppida of northern and central-eastern Gaul. It supports the hypothesis that the first Roman military camps were installed on the oppida at the end of the conquest before being moved away from these urban centres during the Augustinian period.

THE BLACK DEATH

Very interesting. The history of the Byzantine Empire being a major personal interest of mine, and knowing much about Justinian’s reign…

I recently read a paper linking it to other causes as well. (Of course I have read numerous theories linking it to all kinds of causes over time.) I’d like to examine the bacteriological findings for myself. I have often wondered what the exact vectors and point of origin was for this plague (prior to it’s arrival in Constantinople. and the Empire).

Sometimes secondary bacterial infections will ride upon another pathogen or secondarily infect an already weakened host.

Justinian Plague Linked to the Black Death

This Bible History Daily article was originally published in May 2013. It has been updated.—Ed.


“During these times there was a pestilence, by which the whole human race came near to being annihilated.”
–Procopius, 542 C.E. (scroll down for his full description)

The reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian I (482–565 C.E.) was marked by both glory and devastation. Justinian reconquered much of the former Roman Empire while establishing lasting legal codes and cultural icons, including Hagia Sophia, the world’s largest cathedral for nearly 1,000 years. However, his reign was scarred by the spread of the Justinian Plague, which claimed the lives of tens of millions of people in the 540s. Justinian himself was a victim of the plague. While he was able to recover, much of the Byzantine population did not, and the spread of the plague shaped world history for centuries to come. When Justinian’s troops had conquered nearly all of Italy and the Mediterranean coast, they were struck by plague and could not continue the conquest through Europe, ultimately losing much of the conquered territory after Justinian’s death. The Justinian Plague halved the European population and weakened the Byzantine Empire, making it vulnerable to the Arab conquests of the seventh century.

Recent bacterial research has linked the Justinian plague to the world’s most infamous affliction, the Black Death, which claimed the lives of up to 200 million people in the 14th century, as well as the third pandemic in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Scientists investigating DNA from the teeth of nineteen skeletons from the sixth-century German cemetery Aschheim confirmed the presence of Yersinia pestis, the bacteria associated with the bubonic and other plagues…

 

THE REUNION AND THE REGULATOR

Had a great time today at the Adair family reunion. Learned a lot of historical family information about my ancestors who had fought in the Revolution, the Civil War, and the pre-immigration eras in Ireland and Scotland.

Heard a very interesting recounting of a tale about a pre-Revolutionary Frontier’s Fort one of my ancestors fought at that Indians and white men dressed as Indians tried to ambush to start an uprising. Unfortunately for the attackers the Fort was hosting a fully armed militia garrison that one of my ancestors was serving in. So the attempted ambush turned into a trap for them.

Learned some about the name variations (Adare/Adair) and their exact ancient meanings, and the various counties in Ireland where the family had arisen.

I did not know this until today but I had already invented an Alexander Adair as a Scots-Irish for the main character, who is based upon my great-grandfather John Augustus Adair. However there really was an Alexander Adair. Though at that period of time he might have been Alexander Adare. Also my family immigrated in through the port of Charles Towne (Charleston) and I had long suspected that but today I heard it definitely verified.

A lot of this material will make superb background for my pre-Revolutionary era Frontier’s novel, the Regulator.

The event described above, about the attempted uprising and the Fort attack will make a great scene in the novel. I already have a superb scene where the main character discovers a burned out and partially ruined old Spanish fort (an expedition of Spaniards who had come north from Florida into the Upstate of South Carolina, built a very small frontier’s church, but had been driven off and killed by Indians – the only thing that had survived was the church because the Indians had been spooked by it) and has to camp and hole up there one night in order to avoid attack by a gang of criminals he is tracking.

So these kinds of Real World historical events are fuel for the bonfire.

They also made my wife sing at the Reunion. They always make my wife sing.

THE SECRET OF SAMARKAND

The Secret Samarkand. The one that first arose within the Other World.

Outside the Golden Gates of which hair-covered giants still crush stone menhirs in their hoary hands and the Green Sidhs terrify those caught at night beneath the scattered scir torn by raging, blackened, sallic skies.

Baltic ranges and Black sea ports do not describe those fertile lands, but Mariners of Silver Brows and ships of torsioned keels sail unknown seas deeper than the dreaming dark; and heights many times greater than the unfinished tower of man pierce the unmeasured vault of heaven.

There, far to the future yet to come, there is another Tower old as rime whose engraven blocks of titanic basalt were hewn by nothing man now remembers except in fevered dreams of nightmared dread. It stands upon a ruddied rampart made of things long vanished beneath the silt of time. It watches still, invisible to human thought, though by thinking nothing it will reappear as other than it really is.

And Samarkand, the ruins of that Secret Samarkand, watch it watching all else, convinced its purpose is dark indeed. As was written in the still surviving fragments:

“That unnamed Tower, Blood and Moon
Reaching forward through the past
Made by methods no more known
One of Legion, or all alone?

I sit and watch for it to show
Wond’ring what it ever sees
Steeped in manners deep and dim
To all the Wise invisible…”

I too, while walking the well-worn streets of that ancient city, have seen the oldest thing yet alive rise arcanely high into the air so that it may peer through a distant lens of night half a world away at the Tower that does not know it may still be seen.

Or does it?

Does it watch the Watchers and only pretend a kind of burnished blindness that assures it will once again become an awful and Eldritch thing? Is its blindness to its own observation another and more scissioned type of second-sight? Does it possess a covert, inner eyelid, one painted weird with glyphs which mirror every orb that peers at it?

Does Secret Samarkand even know?

Agapolis, fair Agapolis, City of the Countless Minds that race into this world from origins far beyond – she who cannot be known except by he who lives there, can even it comprehend these things when her mighty founders are so often absent on urgent business far away? Does Agapolis also perceive what that Tower sees, or does Secret Samarkand, so long in league and so deep in trade with new but timeless Agapolis have any reckon if both are blind?

And still that Tower, omen-built, prophecy-woven, lore-entombed, hewn by nothing man now remembers, looms over us and invisibly watches, while being watched, and none are ken to whether it was made to be our kin, or our doom, or if it guards the frontiers we may not pass.

Is there a Messenger among you who will speak of it?

I say only what I wot – scouts and unwared idol-merchants along the Road of Worlds have seen it wyrding as they pass, and so have I, and in the old and hidden haunts of Samarkand the shadows of suspended sages still know less than this.

Far less than this…

_______________________________________________________

Those who know me know that I feel a very deep and personal connection with four ancient cities: Alexandria, Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Samarkand.

Why, I don’t really know, as I don’t even like cities. But, be that as it may, I still feel the connection and to me each city symbolizes a certain aspect of myself.

Alexandria represents my mind, my inventiveness, and my mental and scientific capabilities. It is my problem solving side, my empirical nature, and the seat of my experimental impulses. It also accounts for a quarter of my poetic and writing skills. I think all of this is true because of the Museum and Library that used to exist in Alexandria.

Constantinople represents my soul, my psychological nature, as well as about half of my pragmatic business acumen and my detective skills. It is the basis of my psychological abilities and my ability to understand the psychology of others, especially criminal and abnormal psychology. And my strategic side. And about a quarter of my poetic and writing skills.

Jerusalem represents my spiritual and religious nature, my musical and compositional skill, my song-writing abilities, and my relationship with Christ and God and the Holy Spirit. What I call “possession,” or more often, “my enthusiasms.” In the Greek sense of the term. It represents almost all of my sacred poetic and writing skills.

Samarkand represents both my body and physical and sexual nature, and my sensory and sensual nature (the sensory means by which I perceive and understand and study the world). It also represents my more vulgar and colloquial poetry and writings, and it is the basis of my tactical side and my combat skills. It is the basis of some of my artistic skills as well as about half of my business acumen and my detective skills

From time to time one of the “cities within me” will come out in one way or another. Such as with the story above, what I tend to call, a Surreptitious Short Story. If it is a short story. That’s just what I call it.

Also I built the Internal City of Agapolis primarily of parts and components from Alexandria, Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Samarkand.

Night all.

A DAY IN THE KIFE – UPDATE

Update: So last night I went out for waffles and a ding-dong. While sitting and waiting for my coffee brunch this old lady wanders by and makes like a cat caught under a washing machine. You could hear the fur fly but nobody said nothing cause it was after closing time already. Still that kinda racket really piques my pin-cushion whenever I’m within quadruple earshot. So I got up and floated outside, but upside down so nobody would notice. Once the roof was beneath my head I called out, “Hey Method Man, take out for sixteen.” But nobody came to listen. It’s like that old analogy, “if a tree falls, then what’s the best direction to be upright?” I’ve never caught that saying in the middle of nothing, so en media res is all satellite radio to me.

But seeing as that is neither here nor there, I decided it would be best to climb back down to street level, to see what all the fuss was about. No sooner had I toed up my twinkles and caught wicked pavement than the old lady shot by me like a post modern possum. “Hooray,” I said. “How long you been screaming?”

“The whole time it took me, but nobody cares.” She said without speaking. I touched my nose and she laughed in the other direction.

With that kinda market-clout I could feel what she peddled, but no closer to home, away I did run. Three good blocks later, or half a loaf will do ya, I finally hit paydirt and rang up the bill.

“Is Pink here,” I asked. “Cause I wish he was here

“Don’t we all, and whatcha mean?” asked the Russians, but pulling pushed harder, so centrifugal tickled and I had to laugh. 2 cute for Harlem, we all know the story, and I was no farther than farther along. Well, what’s a guy to do when he’s tried nothing and everything worked, but not like he figured, so he’s back to the end? That kinda thing really gets to some guys, but not me, I just kept a pluggin and hoped not to spit. More holes though went a’poppin than I could’a covered so whenever that happens I shake my stick. Now good sticks are expensive, or that’s what they tell me, but far worse than belt loops when you buy one for free.

Now as luck would have it, or maybe on purpose, I lost the old lady, but found a new boot. Since my old one was still under warranty, I ditched it in Chelsea and wore on the gum-fingers till the treading felt right. It was good that I did so, or maybe just dancing, cause ten minutes later I was early to bed. More on this last week.

But not right now. Somebody ain’t watching, and it’s already past ten…

https://wyrdwend.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/a-day-in-the-fike/

OUTSIDE THE LINES: AKA, AN OLD TOMB IN SAMARKAND

I got photos of an old Tomb in Samarkand.

The real Samarkand, not the one in all the children’s books.

The Tome that came with the pics told me not to visit after midnight in case I caught the dead creep-walking.

I don’t mind a little creep-walking, I’ve done it a time or two myself, but I was never any good at taking advice, though I give some on occasion.

Anyway what I saw next was kinda peculiar. But I don’t mean that in a Wyrd way.

I mean more by way of the deviation.

The thing about deviations is their draw weight.

So you can always draw a picture but nobody ever tries that with gravity. If you get my meaning.

If you don’t then try it with a different mass. Or even en masse.

Sometimes that works too.

Anywho if you’ll just consult your watch you’ll eventually find I preferred the hand drawn map I never made to the black and white photographs they keep giving me. Why?

Because you can always color outside the lines.

Outside the lines is where you find all the really interesting stuff…

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