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Breathing in only doubt

Yesterday, I wrote 1,934 words, which makes yesterday my second-most productive writing day during this forced march to THE END. Not bad, nixar. Now, see if you can't do better today.

I've decided to extend the offer of a FREE signed copy of the trade paperback of Silk to new Sirenia Digest subscribers. The offer is now good until midnight on January 31st, as it seems to be attracting new subscribers, and new subscribers are always welcome. Also, new subscribers need to e-mail Spooky (crk_books(at) yahoo(dot) com) their snail mail addresses. Otherwise, we cannot send the FREE book.

A decent enough Kid Night last night. We rented Terry Jones' mostly marvelous Erik the Viking (1989) from Movies Worth Seeing (where it seemed I'd not been in ages). I'd seen the film two or three times, but Spooky hadn't, and I have a soft space for it in my heart. Sadly, Sony canceled the DVD release last year, so we had to go with VHS (pan and scan, urgh) and chase the spiders out of the VCR. Very quaint. Anyway, I'd not realised until last night that Jim Broadbent has a cameo/bit part at the very beginning, when Erik is "raping" Helga. It's a very funny movie, except when it isn't, and that's about the best I can ask of anything these days. Then I played a couple hours worth of Final Fantasy XII, at last managing to escape the Draklor Laboratory in Archades and defeat Cid and his four little robot thingies. Afterwards, we went to bed, and I read Sonya's new story for Sirenia Digest #14 — "A Voice in Caves" — which has turned out to be a very nice counterpoint to my own "The Sphinx's Kiss." For those of you who've been wanting to see more gay male fiction in the digest, this issue's for you. Later still, Spooky made me cocoa. It was after three a.m. (CaST) before I found sleep.

Oh, and yes, as implied above, I did leave the house yesterday, for a full hour or so. I have become quite intrepid.

I see there will be a new VNV Nation disc — Judgment — out on March 7th. Good news I needed.

—————

Honestly, I'm seeing very little in the way of negative criticism regarding Daughter of Hounds. Though I have noticed a few complaints about there being too much dialog (???) and too many "dream sequences." The latter complaint, which I should add my agent has also voiced, follows in part, I think, from a misunderstanding of the nature of "reality" in much of what I write. There are a few genuine dream sequences in Daughter of Hounds, but a lot of what I think some people are reading as dreams were intended as something else. They may appear dreamlike, but only because certain consensus assumptions are held so dear about "waking reality." At any rate, I find both these criticisms rather specious and am paying them little heed.

—————

I have spent almost my whole life living inbetween. It's what I do, mostly, existing in transitional zones and connecting hallways. But lately (meaning since sometime in 2002), I have been struggling with a new sort of inbetween, which has placed me in an especially deep conflict with myself. A tug-of-war between the old rational me and an unexpected me bent upon seeking out and understanding magick (here defined as "the willful invocation of awe," though other definitions may be pending), even when it threatens my comfortably mechanistic worldview. It feels at times as though I am being torn in two, and I know how that feels, having been divided more than once already. Mostly, though, the division does not occur. And neither side gains any ground. So I live uneasily inbetween, like some Matthew Arnold cosmology. Too mystical for the scientists, too skeptical for the witches and magickians. At this point, I would prefer to either move forward or go back. In or out. Shit or get off the pot, as Byron would say. Sometimes, I seem to be waiting on something, something which often seems very near, and other times I seem merely indecisive. Except...decision and resolve are both useless here, or nearly so. I cannot will myself into belief or faith. As Anne Sexton said, "Need is not quite belief." Oh, I have need aplenty, but, for me, belief comes only from experience. And, thus far, my experiences leave me neither here nor there. They leave me undecided and still asking questions.

It's like a season that breeds neither snow nor green grass, neither rain nor drought, but only despair. I know that simple despair is no longer fashionable, but then neither am I.

I did have this thought two nights ago, and it seemed important: One must not be skeptical merely for the sake of skepticism. It is not an end unto itself. Critical thought should have the intent of bringing one nearer truth (even if Truth is ultimately unobtainable). It is not the goal of critical thought to tear down, but to build up, to let in the light, to sweep aside ignorance and superstition and fear.

These thoughts are ill-formed and poorly expressed, and I apologise for my inability to articulate.

—————

The platypus says enough's enough. Them words ain't gonna write themselves.

Comments

( 34 comments — Have your say! )
sleepycyan
Jan. 27th, 2007 04:54 pm (UTC)
I was at Borders yesterday, and I looked for your books while I was there. Our Borders always places your work in the horror section, and there were three copies of Threshold on the shelf. They were all faced. There weren't any copies of Daughter of Hounds, so I went to the new release section to see if they had it there, but sadly, there were no copies in the store. The computer said that it was out of stock, so I'm hoping that it's just been selling quickly, and they'll get more in. It's brilliant, and everyone should have a copy or three.

Just thought I'd let you know. I'm not sure if this is helpful information or not. I always find myself depressed when I see the selection at the book store. I noticed that there wasn't a single Shirley Jackson novel anywhere in the store.
sfmarty
Jan. 27th, 2007 05:52 pm (UTC)
"These thoughts are ill-formed and poorly expressed, and I apologise for my inability to articulate"


hahahahahahah

As if.
cause_catyljan
Jan. 27th, 2007 05:59 pm (UTC)
new subscribers need to e-mail Spooky (crk_books(at) yahoo(dot) com) their snail mail addresses

Will get right on it

Do you know what the situation with DoH's UK publication is? I work for Waterstone's and its not even in our system, let alone available to stock order. This may be us and not reflective of the availability nationwide. We're pushing personal recommendations at the moment - we've taken care of Poppy, now we need to sort you out...
greygirlbeast
Jan. 27th, 2007 07:15 pm (UTC)
Do you know what the situation with DoH's UK publication is?

There will almost certainly not be a British edition. I've never sold British rights for a novel and doubt I ever shall. Online booksellers have made British rights increasingly unattractive to British editors who know readers rely very heavily now on Amazon.com, etc. However, I have heard news that the US edition is showing up in UK bookshops.
(no subject) - cause_catyljan - Jan. 27th, 2007 07:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Jan. 27th, 2007 10:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
chris_walsh
Jan. 27th, 2007 06:20 pm (UTC)
One must not be skeptical merely for the sake of skepticism. It is not an end unto itself.

I once had the thought that one could call skepticism "useful cynicism." Cynicism is, I find, usually useless; it can take the worst tendencies of skepticism that you noted and magnify them. I work with a couple of people who are very cynical (as well as several who aren't, thank everything), and I decided that the cynic's way of looking at the world could be summed up as "Only I am smart enough to see eveything that's dumb and wrong in this world, so A) I'll only see what's dumb and wrong, and B) I'll just bitch about it, and thus C) feel superior without having to do anything to actually change things for the better."

I'm trying to sum it up with a poem in progress. It starts: Nothing works, nothing's right, is what we smart ones realize... and later there's the line So never mind, so give it up, and all we'll do is criticize.

I know if I get too cynical, I get wrapped up in a little ball that seems weighed down by the world, like it's the Earth that's on me. I don't like that sensation. I avoid it. I think it's part of why I'm fond of the Lemony Snicket books, where the Baudelaires have to learn how to be skeptical of these hapless or villainous adults, none of whom are really willing or able to look out for the orphans' best interests. Skepticism can be a defense mechanism in cases like that, but again, it should lead to something (and you know how the Snicket books end).

Critical thought should have the intent of bringing one nearer truth (even if Truth is ultimately unobtainable). It is not the goal of critical thought to tear down, but to build up, to let in the light, to sweep aside ignorance and superstition and fear.

You're headed, I think, in the right direction with that thought.

***

And to close with a really happy thought, today is the 175th anniversary of Lewis Carroll's birth!
greygirlbeast
Jan. 27th, 2007 10:15 pm (UTC)
And to close with a really happy thought, today is the 175th anniversary of Lewis Carroll's birth!

Thank you. I had completely forgotten.

Cynicism is, I find, usually useless; it can take the worst tendencies of skepticism that you noted and magnify them.

Personally, I do not draw such a close association between cynicism and skepticism. Skepticism is a highly desirable and necessary aspect of thought. Cynicism, on the other hand, is an affectation rising not from honest questioning, or even any real questioning at all, but from a need to feel superior to others and perhaps also from repeated exposure to the way that humans often behave towards one another. I detest cynicism, but there are times I do understand how people become cynics.
(no subject) - chris_walsh - Jan. 28th, 2007 01:45 am (UTC) - Expand
sovay
Jan. 27th, 2007 07:26 pm (UTC)
One must not be skeptical merely for the sake of skepticism. It is not an end unto itself. Critical thought should have the intent of bringing one nearer truth (even if Truth is ultimately unobtainable). It is not the goal of critical thought to tear down, but to build up, to let in the light, to sweep aside ignorance and superstition and fear.

These thoughts are ill-formed and poorly expressed, and I apologise for my inability to articulate.


That is hardly an incoherent statement, and it is a necessary one.
greygirlbeast
Jan. 27th, 2007 10:09 pm (UTC)
That is hardly an incoherent statement, and it is a necessary one.

Thank you for saying so, but I remain frustrated at an inbility to express what I am thinking...or, more correctly, feeling.
(no subject) - sovay - Jan. 28th, 2007 12:56 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Jan. 28th, 2007 04:23 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sovay - Jan. 28th, 2007 04:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Jan. 28th, 2007 04:50 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
greygirlbeast
Jan. 27th, 2007 10:20 pm (UTC)
And thank you for the extension of the offer.

You're welcome.

Most of those calling themselves skeptics, today, are merely tearing down that which does not fit with their ready-made views.

See, I suspect I have not said what I'm trying to say. And I suspect that if we were to talk at length, face to face, you'd likely find me another one of those people shackled to "ready-made views," in that I don't believe there is a need to reinvent the wheel (so to speak). I do not believe that the foundations of Western thought are necessarily mistaken, for example. I'm more about tweaking than tearing down and rebuilding, at least so far as science and philosophy are concerned.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Jan. 28th, 2007 04:35 am (UTC) - Expand
furrylittleprob
Jan. 27th, 2007 08:17 pm (UTC)
greygirlbeast
Jan. 27th, 2007 10:20 pm (UTC)
It's Region 2 pal, though.

Ah, well.
woodrunner
Jan. 27th, 2007 08:21 pm (UTC)
...too much dialog...???

I share your puzzlement. I would rather read dialog than big long winding paragraphs that fill up pages and pages with nonsense and gets invariably skipped anyway so that I can get to the action bits.

I'm reading Daughter of Hounds at present, as the copy finally arrived via Amazon.ca. I'm only the Prologue through, and now I need to find more time to read the remainder.
greygirlbeast
Jan. 27th, 2007 10:49 pm (UTC)
I share your puzzlement.

It just baffles me. Years ago, when I published Silk, people complained there was too much description, not enough dialog. These days I get the opposite. Go figure.
ladyeuthanasia
Jan. 27th, 2007 09:39 pm (UTC)

I can very much relate to what you're saying about being in and out at the same time, mostly because I don't believe anything I haven't experienced. (Now that you've been reading my journal a little, you might know what I'm talking about.) And most people who are into the things that I work with do so on faith to some degree. I haven't a drop of faith in my body. I've simply experienced a lot of things and want to give them meaning -- or maybe refine the meaning I might have assigned some years ago.

As a result, I recently started calling myself a "spiritual scientist." I absconded with the word from Sam Harris (not someone I like a lot, but his term I liked immensely). It's a legitimate stance in my world. I suspect it's exactly what your world is about, too.
greygirlbeast
Jan. 27th, 2007 10:35 pm (UTC)
As a result, I recently started calling myself a "spiritual scientist." I absconded with the word from Sam Harris (not someone I like a lot, but his term I liked immensely). It's a legitimate stance in my world. I suspect it's exactly what your world is about, too.

See my comments above in response to wolven.

I want to caution people not to align themselves with me. I truly have not done a good job of making myself understood. Here, for instance, I would never refer to myself as a "spiritual scientist," as I do not accept to existence of spirits, in either a broad or narrow sense. For me, this is not at all about spiritualism (though it may have a great deal to do with psychology). And as science cannot yet demonstrate or disprove the existence of spirits, spiritualism is generally something which exists well beyond the boundaries of science. I would therefore call the phrase "spiritual scientist" an oxymoron. At least until such time as there is some means whereby physicists or biopsychologists or whoever can empirically investigate the possible existence of spirits or souls or what have you.

Now that you've been reading my journal a little, you might know what I'm talking about.)

Another example here. Reading your journal, I see that you are an astrologer, and, in all honesty, I must admit that I find astrology to be one of the most unlikely of all occult studies. I know enough about celestial mechanics and astronomy, physics and gravity, etc. & etc., to know that, from my POV and that of science, that there is simply no way that distant galaxies or even relatively nearby planets may affect the fate of human beings. And yet I will not discount that astrology may have great personal importance to you. But, still, this is a good example of why I would caution people not to be too quick to side with me on these matters. I have not made myself clearly understood at all, I fear.
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Jan. 27th, 2007 10:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ladyeuthanasia - Jan. 28th, 2007 04:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
bluharlequin
Jan. 27th, 2007 11:37 pm (UTC)
I subscribed. I've been putting it off for ... well, I don't really know why. So anyway, that's done.

And yeah, VNV Nation. Good times. And did you hear they're playing Coachella this year? How surreal is that?
reverendcrofoot
Jan. 28th, 2007 02:26 am (UTC)
I finished Daughter of Hounds and as usual of your work found it a entertaining read. The characters were good. The story held quite a bit of excitement and twists, leading to a better understanding of the mysteries your universe. I absolutely loved the variant worlds.

My only negative comments on the book are not the "dream" sequences as such, but the fact Emmie constantly derides nearly everything as a dream. (I'm preparing to deal with this.)

That and "bad" guys are too easily dealt with, especially their final battles. I felt only in a few sections of the book was anyone in grave danger. But that's how I felt about LOTR.

Anyways, a good book that I have recommended to all my friends.
shadowmeursault
Jan. 28th, 2007 02:37 am (UTC)
"Reality is the only word in the language that should always be used in quotes." --sample from some Thrill Kill Kult song or another. those specious criticisms made me laugh, and i find your Descartes quote from the other day especially relevant.

i'd like to comment on the last portion of this entry. unfortunately, i'm only supposed to be here as a break from my art history reading. so i leave you with an oft-forgotten (at least by me) skeptic's creed: absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence.

and one final note: if one were, how shall we say, impoverished, but felt that they could not live without a gay male issue of SD, how would one go about ordering this single issue?
greygirlbeast
Jan. 28th, 2007 04:21 am (UTC)
how would one go about ordering this single issue?

That's easy. Subscribe. You'll get the issue. Then, simply unsubscribe. Alternately, and much more simply, you may pay Spooky $10 via PayPal (at the crk_books addy above). However, in this instance, I can't afford to offer the free copy of Silk, which I hope you'll understand.

absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence.

It is, indeed, a very good sentiment. But I think a stress should always be placed upon necessarily, as this bit is too often quoted in an effort to bolster claims of extremely unlikely phenomena. Basically, the sentiment works quite well, as long as it's counterbalanced with a healthy bit of parsimony.
(no subject) - shadowmeursault - Jan. 28th, 2007 04:50 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Jan. 28th, 2007 04:52 am (UTC) - Expand
opalblack
Jan. 29th, 2007 07:38 am (UTC)
Have you read much of Robert Anton Wilson's stuff?
greygirlbeast
Jan. 29th, 2007 02:41 pm (UTC)
Have you read much of Robert Anton Wilson's stuff?

I've tried. It just never worked for me.
(no subject) - opalblack - Jan. 30th, 2007 04:52 am (UTC) - Expand
( 34 comments — Have your say! )