Category Archives: literature

Victor Hugo


So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age — the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night — are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless. ~ Victor Hugo; part of his preface to Les Miserables.

Thoughts on Wot We Speek


One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple. ~ Jack Kerouac

Who wouldn’t be confused by a language where a pastry is a sweetmeat and a pancreas is a sweetbread? ~ Anon (my favourite writer)

“It is often forgotten that dictionaries are artificial repositories, put together well after the languages they define. The roots of language are irrational and of a magical nature.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges

“Correct” spelling, indeed, is one of the arts that are far more esteemed by schoolma’ams than by practical men, neck-deep in the heat and agony of the world. ~ HL Mencken

“The older I grow, the less important the comma becomes. Let the reader catch his own breath.” ~ Elizabeth Clarkson Zwart

The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary. ~ James D. Nicoll

“The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read.” ~  Oscar Wilde

Those who only use language to throw crude rocks are vulnerable to its sharp and deadly rapier thrusts. ~ Anon

 

 

The Peacelike Mongoose


Some decades ago there was a writer named James Thurber.
He wrote many very wise words.
I think he foresaw the 21st Century.

IN cobra country a mongoose was borne one day who didn’t want to fight cobras or anything else. The word spread from mongoose to mongoose that there was a mongoose who didn’t want to fight cobras. If he didn’t want to fight anything else, it was his own business, but it was the duty of every mongoose to kill cobras or be killed by cobras.

‘Why?’ asked the peacelike mongoose, and the word went around that the strange new  mongoose was not only pro-cobra and anti-mongoose but intellectually curious and against the ideals and traditions of mongoosism.

‘He is crazy,’ cried the young mongoose’s father.

‘He is sick,’ said his mother.

‘He is a coward,’ shouted his brothers.

‘He is a mongoosexual,’  whispered his sisters.

Strangers who had never laid eyes on the peacelike mongoose remembered that they had  seen him crawling on his stomach, or trying  on Cobra hoods, or plotting the violent overthrow of Mongoosia.

‘I am trying to use is reason and intelligence,’ said the strange new mongoose.

‘Reason is six-sevenths of treason,’ said one of his neighbours.

‘Intelligence is what the enemy uses,” said another.

Finally, the rumour spread that the mongoose had venom in his sting, like a cobra, and he was tried, convicted by a show of paws, and condemned to banishment.

MORAL;
Ashes to ashes, and clay to clay,
if the enemy doesn’t get you your own folks may

The New Idol


Some thoughts on the State by Freddy Nietzsche

as written in “Also Spake Zarasthustra”

 

Somewhere there are still people and herds, but not with us. . . .  Here are states. . . . .

A state is called the coldest of all cold monsters.nietzsche Coldly lieth it also; and this lie creeping from its mouth: “I, the state, am the people.”

But the state lieth in all languages of good and evil; and whatever it saith it lieth; and whatever it hath it hath stolen.

Confussion of language of good and evil; this sign I give unto you as the sign of the state.

Everything will it give YOU, if YE worship it, the new idol: thus it purchaseth the lustre of your virtue, and the glance of your proud eyes.

It seeketh to allure by means of you, the many-too-many! Yea, a hellish artifice hath here been devised, a death-horse jingling with the trappings of divine honours”

The state, I call it, where all are poison-drinkers, the good and the bad: the state, where all lose themselves, the good and the bad: the state, where the slow suicide of all—is called “life.”

Just see these superfluous ones! They steal the works of the inventors and the treasures of the wise. Culture, they call their theft—and everything becometh sickness and trouble unto them!

Just see these superfluous ones! Sick are they always; they vomit their bile and call it a newspaper. They devour one another, and cannot even digest themselves.

Just see these superfluous ones! Wealth they acquire and become poorer thereby. Power they seek for, and above all, the lever of power, much money—these impotent ones!

See them clamber, these nimble apes! They clamber over one another, and thus scuffle into the mud and the abyss.

Towards the throne they all strive: it is their madness—as if happiness sat on the throne! Ofttimes sitteth filth on the throne.

 

Thus spake Zarathustra not of but about

my country and my now; Australia 2014.

How many can you name?

 

The Purity of English


Oh The Places You’ll Go


Based on Dr. Seuss’s final book before his death, this is a story about life’s ups and downs, told by the people of Burning Man 2011.

Dr Seuss and flashes of nudity are not concepts I would normally include in the same sentence. For this is from Burning Man and of course there is some innocent nudity.

Mostly there is a thoughtful challenge.

Burgled from Dolce

Cthulhu Arrived


In a care package which crossed the seas, my tatty cyber-Sis Marty had enclosed a creature close to my heart.

A creature from dimensions far from ours which will one day eat my soul!

Although I may contact John Carter who will be able to save me!

Oh, and Marty, I love craft work like this  🙂

Book Review; Pair of Dice Lost, Jeremy Ludlow


This is a volume for which I have been searching for many years. I first found a reference to it in the original Index Librorum Prohibitorum. By the fourth edition of this list, Pair of Dice Lost had been removed from the list, perhaps an indication of just how seriously the Catholic Church took this heresy.

While I have still been unable to find a copy of Ludlow’s work, I have at least found a review written by Tad Tuleja in his Catalogue of Lost Books.

An engraving from the original manuscript shows that Michelangelo was aware of this heresy although he could only code an allusion in his work.

It is also probable that Albert Einstein had access to this manuscript and his reading of it, coupled with his rejection of the heresy, led to his famous comment that, “God does not play dice with the Universe.”

Pair of Dice Lost (1671), Jeremy Ludlow

John Milton’s great poem Paradise Lost covers the biblical ground from the revolt of the rebel angels to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden. Milton’s younger contemporary Ludlow, who was “enthralled by Mr. Milton’s sonorities,” nevertheless felt the epic lacked something, and he endeavored to provide it in a “predendum.” What was lacking, he felt, was a fuller depiction of Heaven before the revolt, when Lucifer was still the Son of Light and the favorite of God’s admiring legions. “It was Mr. Milton’s own picture of the Archfiend,” he explained, “that compelled me to intrude myself into his poem: for I felt that a Being so fully tortured must speak his case with the lacrimae doloris sui, and not the bombast of a Drunkard caught out at tippling.”

Ludlow was not the first or the last to question the rhetorical excesses of Milton’s “Archfiend,” though he was certainly unique in his response. Pair of Dice Lost describes the “halcyon aeons” from the beginning of Creation to Satan’s defection, during which the Creator and his luminous companions amuse themselves by running interplanetary races (Satan has the record for the Mercury­to-Jupiter circuit), quaffing an ethereal beverage called “nebula,” and when they tire of these exertions, gambling. Using polyfaceted “cosmic” dice, they play not for gain but for preeminence: the winners get to oversee the Milky Way for the next millennia, or (an even more coveted prize) to sit closer to God’s throne.

All goes well in this celestial entertainment palace until, around nineteen aeons A.C., Satan comes to a disturbing realization: since God is both omniscient and omnipotent, there is no assurance He is not cheating at the game, either by placing his bets on a fore­seeable outcome or by manipulating the dice as they fall. The favorite angel broaches this sticky subject, and is informed magisterially, “Have you then invented Morality, my shining One? And when I breathed upon the waters, where were you?”

Understandably upset at this response, Satan muses darkly, “If the Almighty will not then set down Rules, why his loyal subjects must need set down their Own.” So thinking, he steals the cosmic dice, hurls them cavalierly in the direction of the planet Earth, and waits for judgment. It is not long in coming. Unable to tease an apology out of Satan for “rashly picking up My marbles and going home,” God banishes him from the celestial presence and con­demns him to an eternity below on Earth. “On thy belly thou must goe,” Ludlow echoes Milton, “and eat dirt with the creatures that I send you; so much thou must endure until thou save my dice, and restore them to their proper horne.”

Satan never does find the dice – which is why, in Ludlow’s wry estimation, “This green yet besieged orb of mud and mistiness/ spins yet uncertain, the Almighty’s plan defied.” The Latitudinarian implications of this comment won Ludlow no friends among the Puritan hierarchy, and indeed his “spirited despatch” was soon made anathema both by Canterbury and (redundantly) by Rome. In the bitter whimsy of its theme – his hint that God himself may be out of control-it speaks more strongly to the modern temper than to Ludlow’s own.

For Harry Potter Retail Therapy.


List of all the shops located in Diagon Alley:

Found here

Looting the Corpse


I often drop in on Melbourne artist Jennie Rosenbaum’s website yet it was her twitter entry this morning which resonated with me. I was preparing this post under the title “Goodbye Borders”.  Thank you Jennie for the new title and for the validation of my feelings.

She tweeted;
The borders closing sale is both intriguing and sad, it feels a little like looting a corpse.

Two days ago I was in Perth and walked by the Border’s store in Hay Street. I had read the newspaper reports of this book store being placed into receivership and closed down. Not just in Perth but Australia-wide.

It wasn’t until I went inside that the full extent of this tragedy hit me.

I am a sucker for book stores and I found myself tearing up just a little. I also dropped thoughts of buying any books. It felt sacrilegious. I knew I would not be able to enjoy reading anything bought here under these circumstances.

I snapped these shots and said a mental “Goodbye”

Macabre Humour


I enjoy wandering through second-hand book stores. Sometimes I find genuine treasures. Unluckily, most store owners recognise the gems before I spot them. A case in point was a very expensive book I found a while ago. At $115 it was a little rich for me although it was an almost mint copy published in 1972.

In 1963, illustrator and author Edward Gorey published an alphabet book so delightfully subversive that it destroyed the very premise of the genre — making children feel comfortable and inspiring them to learn — that it took the macabre humor genre to a new level.

From ““A is for Amy who fell down the stairs,” to “Z is for Zillah who drank too much gin.”  The Gashlycrumb Tinies was a delight for those with twisted minds.

Anyway,  I came home, made a note on my “to do” list. A few days ago I found that note  and did some googling. I found this version on one of the aggragator sites which I will not publicise here as it leads to so many other sites, not all of which are suitable for children.

The Gashlycrumb Tinies

The Gashlycrumb Tinies

I just found “another site which has just published a tribute entitled A Very Gorey Alphabet Book “ to this twisted genius. How dare he use  the ultimate title for this subject!!!
Cyberspace is becoming coincidental.

Power Dolls


Men and Women


The battle of the sexes needs to be renewed. Vive le différence.

Women upset everything. When you let them into your life, you find that the woman is driving at one thing and you’re driving at another.
George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950), “Pygmalion” (1913)

Misogynist: A man who hates women as much as women hate one another.
H. L. Mencken (1880 – 1956)

I hate women because they always know where things are.
James Thurber (1894 – 1961)

The male is a domestic animal which, if treated with firmness, can be trained to do most things.
Jilly Cooper

When the candles are out all women are fair.
Plutarch (46 AD – 120 AD), Morals

Don’t accept rides from strange men, and remember that all men are strange.
Robin Morgan

Men live in a fantasy world. I know this because I am one, and I actually receive my mail there.
Scott Adams (1957 – )

Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.
Timothy Leary (1920 – 1996)

For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.
Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941)

Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned,
Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.
William Congreve (1670 – 1729), The Mourning Bride, 1697, act III scene 8

A Novel Question


Single Lettered Novel Titles

One of the novels short-listed for this year’s Booker Prize was “C” by Tom McCarthy. It is not the first novel to be identified with a single letter. Literary Gods such as John Berger, John Updike, and Vassilis Vassilikosall have titled novels with a single letter.  In fact, McCarthy has reused a letter which has titled a novel by another author.

This may not be the way to go in this digital age as Google has a problem when searching for a single letter. Internet marketing could be a problem. Instead of word of mouth advertising, you would need letter of mouth publicity.

However, should you get the urge to title your next novel with one letter,  there are some letters still untaken.

B, D, F, I, J, L, R, T, and U are still available.

So, now the question.

With that clue, think upon which letters have already been taken and can you name any of the authors. Other than the three mentioned above. With those three, name the novel.

After you have given up, head on over the jump. Continue reading

Banks and Money


A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don’t need it.
Bob Hope (1903 – 2003)

Drive-in banks were established so most of the cars today could see their real owners.
E. Joseph Cossman

A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining, but wants it back the minute it begins to rain.
Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)

I don’t have a bank account, because I don’t know my mother’s maiden name.
Paula Poundstone

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.
Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826), (Attributed)

He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.
Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790)

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.
Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870), David Copperfield, 1849

If all the rich people in the world divided up their money among themselves there wouldn’t be enough to go around.
Christina Stead (1903 – 1983), House of All Nations (1938) “Credo”

Endless money forms the sinews of war.
Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC), Philippics

Lack of money is the root of all evil.
George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950)