March 14th, 2007


Howard Hughes in the Year 2027

Very thoughtful comments from Mr. Tim Huntly, and since they set me to thinking a thought or three I'd yet to think with regards to "A Season of Broken Dolls" (as well as "In View of Nothing" and the "white-room dreams"), I thought, thought I, I shall share these thoughts...oh, and be sure to check out the article on Emma Darwin's diaries...

I thought that "A Season..." was a remarkable piece. It left me distinctly uncomfortable and affected. I have only a passing knowledge of Art Brut but your piece nonetheless started me thinking of the relation of surgery to aesthetics and of surgical aesthetics. This lead to reflection upon Orlan and, in particular, Parveen Adams' essay in her book The Emptiness of the Image [Routledge: 1996]. The performances at CeM and the transition of Judith Darger to the Trenton Group struck me as a reflection upon the efficacy or ethics of running from paranoid (self)mutilation into performance art & anamorphic expression (as with Orlan or maybe Lukas Zpira.)

A question that kept going round for me was: where does the introduction - or the excision - of ritual and performance sit with this movement towards surgico-aesthetics (stitch art). Is the excision of ritual (fragmentary, schizoid, or paranoiac practices that holds something in its rightful pattern or place) the first "snip"?

Perhaps not unsurprisingly these seem like questions about the notions of "trans-" activity (in the sense of any activity going across or through) and, of course, the development from a clinical position to a cultural/couture position. "A Season..." got me thinking that if the clinical is itself an archiving and accounting for/of practices, then a line can be charted through the thinking of Foucault (via Deleuze & Guattari) through Adams' Lacanian theory and thus the whole shebang is back to aesthetics and high theory, practice and critical thinking,
praxis and theoria.

Deriving from a similar source, the birdlike journalists who attend the CeM performances put me in mind of a comment of Slavoj Zizek, that "birds function as the embodiment of a cruel and obscene superegoic agency". The merit of this comment notwithstanding, the idea of these beady-eyed, buzzardy journalists (a mode to which Schuler perhaps fears she regresses toward the end of the piece) as somehow likened to parsimonious guardians of culture and morality was a distinctly bitter one.

Also, for some reason, I couldn't but think of the random unaffected way that your characters strung up the "careless hanging sculptures" at the end of "Bela's Plot."

To my mind, Schuler and Sabit's final confrontation and the passages about Schuler's reflections upon striking Sabit, were incredibly strong. The moral weight of the past tense was acutely painful and read like a snapshot distillation of something underpinning the Niki-Daria collapse in
Murder of Angels.

Hope these thoughts are of interest. As you might have gleaned, I'm currently looking at lots of psychoanalytic and critical theory. I was half tempted to hang on to these ideas until I had framed a more articulate line but came out in favour of signaling my appreciation sooner.

[I'm also attaching a link (of which you might be aware) relating to the recent addition of Emma Darwin's diaries to the online Charles Darwin archives:

Emma Darwin]

Thank you, Tim. I would very much like to hear more of your ruminations along these lines.

Also, note that two of the four free signed copies of Silk I offered to new Sirenia Digest were claimed today. Two remain.

And now, an early bedtime for nixars...

Howard Hughes and the Case of the Seductive Sloth

Yesterday was somewhat all over the place, workwise. I had to make a trip to the library at Emory for more research on The Dinosaurs of Mars (which will easily be the most researched book I've ever written). I sent "In View of Nothing" to Vince to be illustrated. E-mail to docbrite trying to locate the current e-mail address of my first agent (who was also her first agent). E-mail with Liz, my editor at Roc. Having recently remembered that my website has been languishing since the theft of Spooky's iBook waaaay back in December, I e-mailed the second page photo to scarletboi so he can make an image map of it. Stuff like that consumed yesterday. But mostly the library. Trips to the library are one of the better parts of being a writer. Jeez...still groggy. Finally, I seem to be catching up on my sleep. More than seven hours last night. Anyway, I came back from Emory with only a very modest stack of books:

Howard Philips Lovecraft: Dreamer on the Nightside by Frank Belknap Long (1975)
A Guide to Barsoom by John Flint Roy (1976)
Recent Vertebrate Carcasses and their Paleobiological Implications by Johannes Weigelt (1927;1989)
Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Man Who Created Tarzan by Irwin Porges (1975)
An Agenda for Antiquity: Henry Fairfield Osborn and Vertebrate Paleontology... by Ronald Rainger (1991)

Today I have to write the piece for Locus, which, predictably, I've let go until the last minute. And speaking of my my occasional snippets of non-fiction, the next issue of Weird Tales (#344) will include a short essay regarding a peculiar experience Spooky and I had during our month in Rhode Island last summer. Another damned experience (sensu Fort), and one I have not previously discussed. Also, note that from now through April, you may score a one-year subscription to Weird Tales, newly redesigned, for 66% off the newsstand price. That six issues for a paltry $12, just two bucks per. But the offer is only good through April 31st. Oh, here's the cover for #344:

Last night, after the library and a quick Thai dinner, we watched Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), a film I loved when it was first released and which I still find delightful. Sure, there are flaws. For example, far too many things happen for no reason whatsoever other than that they serve to drive the story forward or set the stage for the familiar adult Holmes. But, like I said, still delightful. Also, the film was scripted by Harry Potter director/producer Chris Columbus, and you can see that he brought much of the look and feel of Young Sherlock Holmes to the Potter films.

papersteven asks, "Quick question regarding the four editions of Silk: I only have the Roc tpb and the Gauntlet hc. Which is the third?"

Here are the three editions of Silk so far:

1) Silk (Roc, mass-market paperback; May/June '98)
2) Silk (Gauntlet, limited-edition hardback; August '99)
3) Silk (Roc, trade paperback; November '02)

I see it's already after one p.m., and I need to wrap this up. But I did want to pass along this link: David Roberts' ("The Huffington Post") response to The New York Times' recent attack on Al Gore and the science behind An Inconvenient Truth...or rather, the NYT' attack on the claim that the scientific consensus is that yes, global warming is real, and yes, human beings are the primary culprit. I admit, I do tend to expect better journalism from The New York Times.