I'd like to put down some spontaneous thoughts about the law, war and terrorism, in the hope of defining some issues and initiating a debate.
I'd like to put down some spontaneous thoughts about the law, war and terrorism, in the hope of defining some issues and initiating a debate.
Each state has criminal laws that deal with injury to people and damage to property.
The injury or damage becomes a public issue, when the state considers it to be serious enough to be punished, not just as a wrong committed by one person on another, but as one which should be punished as a crime against society.
Criminal punishment might extend from fines to imprisonment to the death penalty. In the last case, the state reserves to itself the right to deprive a citizen or alien of their life.
Criminal law sits outside and separately from international law.
States might have different political values and systems. They might have different religious populations.
In one sense, international law is the law that governs the relationship between states.
Historically, there have been situations where two states have gone to war with each other.
Personally, I don't think a state should initiate a war against another state without good reason. Obviously, self-defence is a good reason.
However, whatever the reason, I think there should be no war between states without a formal declaration of war between the two states.
One consequence of a formal declaration of war is to establish formal rules of warfare, such as the Geneva Convention.
In the 21st century, I would also expect wars to be restricted to those situations endorsed or permitted by the United Nations.
State Perspective on War with a Non-State
The concept of war applies between nation states.
It's not so readily applicable between a nation state (e.g., the United States) and a political movement that might be located in one or more states, regardless of whether it is endorsed by those states (e.g., Al Qaeda or ISIS).
If one nation wanted to invade another to deal with a non-state force, I would expect it to:
* obtain the permission of the UN;
* obtain the permission of the state;
* formally declare war against either the state or the non-state force;
* comply with the Geneva Convention; and
* minimise injury to the civilian population and damage to property.
The above analysis applies to states.
I'd like to now consider the issues from the point of view of a non-state force.
I want to do this by neutralising any discussion of the political merits of the non-state force.
However, I want to assume that the non-state force for whatever reason believes that it is threatened by a state.
The non-state is not a nation. Thus, it is not able to formally declare a war between two or more states, although it might use this language.
Secondly, it doesn't make sense for a small state or a small non-state force to formally or informally declare war on a state that would justify the utilisation of all due force by that state against the infringing state or non-state force. You wouldn't declare war on another state, if you thought it would immediately blow you out of the water.
Thus, many non-state forces simply take action which effectively snaps at the heels of the nation state.
Snapping at the Heels of the State
Logically, there are a number of forms that this action can take:
1. damage to public property;
2. damage to private property (e.g., businesses);
3. injury of the armed forces;
4. injury of the police force;
5. injury of the civilian population.
So let's say that the non-state force has 40,000 members around the world.
Is it going to assemble them all in one place to strengthen their attack on one location, but make themselves vulnerable to being obliterated by superior firepower?
Is it going to break itself into disparate cells, so it can attack in small groups that tie up enormous resources of self-defence?
The Logic of Terrorism
Hopefully, whether we like it or not, the above speculation reveals that not only is it unlikely that we will see an end to terrorism, but that there is a logic in it.
The Definition of Terrorism
There has been some difficulty defining terrorism.
However, some of the attempts actually explain why it is adopted as a strategy.
This is the wiki summary of the UN approach:
Since 2000, the United Nations General Assembly has been negotiating a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. The definition of the crime of terrorism, which has been on the negotiating table since 2002 reads as follows:
"1. Any person commits an offence within the meaning of this Convention if that person, by any means, unlawfully and intentionally, causes:
(a) Death or serious bodily injury to any person; or
(b) Serious damage to public or private property, including a place of public use, a State or government facility, a public transportation system, an infrastructure facility or the environment; or
(c) Damage to property, places, facilities, or systems referred to in paragraph 1 (b) of this article, resulting or likely to result in major economic loss,
when the purpose of the conduct, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a Government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act."
Terrorism versus War
Terrorism is a form of intimidation or coercion.
War entitles the victor to subject the loser entirely. However, the subjection might be achieved at enormous cost.
Terrorism doesn't necessarily want to achieve total subjection. It might be satisfied with a resolution of only one issue.
The Efficacy of Terrorism
Terrorism therefore is justified in terms of its efficacy in achieving a resolution of that issue.
The question therefore becomes: in the absence of diplomatic negotiation, what is likely to achieve the best result in the shortest period of time?
This is presumably how terrorists choose between the five forms of action mentioned above.
Unfortunately, the current view is that the methods of greatest efficacy start at the bottom of the list and work up.
The Response to Terrorism
Naturally, the response is: we will not negotiate with terrorists.
However, this approach simply establishes a Mexican stand-off, where the terrorism persists, often by seeking to cause:
* the greatest intimidation or coercion
* of the most spectacular kind
* at the least cost to the terrorists and
* the greatest cost to the state (in terms of self-defence).
What does Wood mean by a "broken estate"? I wondered this while comfortably reading the Introduction to this book, an essay called "TThe Broken Estate
What does Wood mean by a "broken estate"? I wondered this while comfortably reading the Introduction to this book, an essay called "The Freedom of Not Quite".
Wood argues that the "old estate" died in the middle of the nineteenth century. This is how he defines it:
"I would define the old estate as the supposition that religion was a set of divine truth-claims, and that the Gospel narratives were supernatural reports; fiction might be supernatural too, but fiction was always fictional, it was not in the same order of truth as the Gospel narratives."
If religion represents a divine truth, then it is expected that we will believe it. If fiction is fabricated by man, then it doesn't necessarily follow that we should believe it.
Wood suggests that the old estate started to break down when these two positions began to soften and merge. The Gospels started to be read as fiction, and fiction became an almost religious activity.
Wood believes that the ascent of science and the rise of the novel helped to kill off the divinity of Jesus. If the Gospels were fiction, then Jesus couldn't be the Son of God.
At the same time:
"...the novel gave us a new sense of the real, a new sense of how the real disposes itself in a narrative - and then in turn a new scepticism toward the real as we encounter it in narrative."
Narrative, Truth and Belief
Wood structures his arguments about belief in terms of two related concepts: narrative and truth. He differentiates between narratives in terms of orders of truth.
A narrative appears to be a communication between an (express or implied) author and a reader.
There seem to be three orders of truth.
Firstly, according to Wood, the Christian Gospels were originally supposed to be supernatural narratives that were communicated to man by God. They were therefore supposed to be incontrovertible truth. The role of the reader was to believe, to become a believer. (view spoiler)[This argument seems to ignore the fact that the Gospels, in particular, are not necessarily accepted as truth by Judaism, other non-Christian religions, Agnosticism and Atheism. (hide spoiler)]
Secondly, science constitutes a narrative of another order of truth, presumably man-made. It's arguable that history might fit in this category as well.
Lastly, Wood argues that fiction represents another order of truth in the way it represents what he describes as "the real".
How We Read Fiction
Wood explains what he means about fiction in terms of how we readers respond to it.
He believes that we "register the reality" of what we read in fiction. We sympathise, identify, and empathise with characters. An exchange or sharing of identities between the reader and the characters occurs. (view spoiler)[The relationship with the characters seems to be primary for Wood, although plot might be the vehicle by which we learn about them over time. (hide spoiler)]
This exchange doesn't require aesthetic realism to happen. Wood argues that "just enough" suffices as real. The reader interprets the fiction "as if" it was real. In a way, the reader's imagination fills in the gaps necessary to make the fiction real, to make it the truth, at least for them.
Some writers can achieve this outcome with highly distilled prose (he uses the drama of Beckett as his example). Perhaps, the reader's imagination just has to work a little harder in these cases. Others dilute their prose with detail. Our imagination doesn't have to work as hard. Thus, Wood asserts, truth can be found in a book, even if it is badly written.
Not Quite Real
The author asks of the reader a "doubleness", during which two things occur in the reader's mind: the reader recognises that the world the author has created is "not quite real" and, yet, simultaneously, it is very real, i.e., the truth, a truth for them.
Wood adopts Roland Barthes' stance that conventional fictional realism has lured us into forgetting its doubleness. We overlook and repress the extent to which it is "not quite real", the extent to which it is an effect or artifice. Realist fiction has succeeded in passing itself off as a conduit of reality and, therefore, of truth. We have started to believe fiction wholly or absolutely. We have forgotten that authors are liars or "artificers of the real".
The normal and traditional mechanism of fiction avoids absolute belief:
"Belief in fiction is always belief 'as if'. Our belief is itself metaphorical - it only resembles actual belief, and is therefore never wholly belief...Thomas Mann writes that fiction is always a matter of 'not quite'."
An author who achieves absolute belief makes us believe, as well as repress the realisation that the whole of the fiction is just make believe.
In contrast, religious belief asks us to believe in God as the absolute truth. There is no "as if". Religious belief is never "not quite belief" (at least internally within the particular religion).
However, it's this differentiation that Wood believes has blurred.
Wood seems to underestimate our willingness to suspend disbelief, at least temporarily, during the game or play of fiction.
We approach fiction with a belief it's not real, but we can overcome this belief, partly or wholly, as we become familiar with and comfortable in the world the author has created.
To the extent that film is a fiction, as soon as the lights go down, we are invited to suspend disbelief. We can do so, because we are in a different physical environment. When the film is over, we can return to "reality". What we experience during the film is make believe (ironically, because film is visual, it's much easier to mistake it for real).
Perhaps, the punctuation of the opening and closing moments is more obvious in relation to a film, although we can always punctuate a book, as Wood acknowledges, by closing it, going outside and kicking a stone.
Do we ever really forget that a novel is not real? I doubt it. At some point, we will always walk away from the object we're holding in our hands, and return to external reality.
Belief in the Gospel Truth
Equally, does the perceived fiction of the Gospels impact on the underlying belief in God? Would anybody cease to believe in a Christian God, if their belief in the Gospels was undermined? I would have thought the questioning of the Gospels would be more of a threshold issue: like Judaism's relationship to the New Testament as a whole, you wouldn't embrace Christianity, if you didn't believe in the literal or metaphorical truth of the Gospels.
More importantly, you have to ask whether this whole literal truth of the Gospels issue only arise in relation to Christianity (because of the significance of the Gospels to the religion). What is its relevance to fiction and culture in non-Christian societies? None?
Yet, Wood builds his argument into a generalisation about narrative:
"There is something about narrative that puts the world in doubt. Narrative corrugates belief, puts bends and twists in it."
As wonderful as these words and this metaphor are, you have to wonder whether Wood makes too much of his argument.
At best, you could say that narrative can be located on a continuum, and that the reality or reliability of a particular narrative is determined by the order of truth we accord to the category of narrative (i.e., its location on the continuum).
Outside the adherents to a religion, we don't expect a supernatural narrative dictated by a deity to be the truth, even if it might contain sensible moral guidance. We expect scientific and historical truth to be reliable, but we have come to recognise that its truth is malleable. We don't expect fiction to be the truth, although it might confront the reader with truths.
Picking Apart the Fictitious Theology of "The Bone Clocks"
If we take religion out of the equation for the moment, what is left of Wood's argument with respect to fiction?
Does he mourn the days when fiction was "not quite real, "not quite" the truth? If so, how do we return to those days or practices?
The title of the Introduction implies that "not quite" affords a level of freedom (mind you, when the essay was first published, its name was "The Limits of Not Quite").
When you read Wood's review of David Mitchell's "The Bone Clocks", you have to ask what is left of the perceived freedom:
Wood seems to limit the scope of fiction to realism, or at least to pour scorn on fantasy. Alternatively, like many readers, he is perplexed by the juxtaposition of the two:
"As soon as the fantasy theme announces itself in the novel's first section, the reader is put on alert, and is waiting for the next visitation, which arrives punctually. Gradually, the reader begins to understand that the realism - the human activity - is relatively unimportant; it is the fantastical intergovernmental war that really matters. Whatever the stakes are, the reader decides, they are not really decided in the sublunary realm...the emphasis is shifted away from the human characters toward the supernatural goings on, and the human characters become mere decoders of the peculiar mystery that has befallen them: detectives of drivel. The fantasy rigs the narrative, so that there is something wearingly formulaic whenever Mitchell stages, as he regularly does, a spot of 'realistic' scepticism."
Wood then proceeds to rant about the return of the novel to the subject matter of the epic (battles between men and gods).
"The Bone Clocks" does what Wood thinks a novel (as opposed to an epic) shouldn't do:
"The novel [in general] takes over from the epic not just because inwardness opens itself up as the great novelistic subject, but because human freedom asserts itself against divine arrangement. The 'human case' refuses to be preordained. The history of the novel can, in fact, be seen as a secular triumph over providential theology: first, God is displaced; then the God-like author fills the theological void; then the God-like author is finally displaced, too...
"Despite Mitchell's humane gifts as a secular story-teller, 'The Bone Clocks' enforces an ordained hermeticism, in which fictional characters...perform unmotivated manoeuvres at the behest of mysterious plotters who can do what they want with their victims."
A Broken Metaphor?
Wood comes out with all of his canons firing. You have to wonder why he bothered. What in this novel prompted such an inflated and grotesque analysis? It's as if Hitler diverted the whole of the Nazi war effort to exterminating Biggles.
At a basic level, Wood seems to have misunderstood or misrepresented the plot of Mitchell's novel.
No human is manoeuvred, except by coercion that could equally have been applied by another human (i.e., a standard or garden variety bad guy). The so-called "decoding" occurs primarily in one chapter, the main fault of which is that it is a bit of an information dump (as often occurs in the last chapter of genre fiction).
The only other interaction between human and supernatural is for the humans to be passive carriers of the supernaturals or souls between generations.
As for the human case, we see Holly grow through six phases of life in a manner that is detailed enough to stand alone without the supernatural plot.
However, my greatest reservation is that Wood seems to be limiting the subject-matter of fiction to a form of realism that sets out the "inwardness [of the] human case".
Within the world of the imagination, I don't see why an author can't write about any subject matter they like, whether realism or fantasy, whether human or superhuman, whether inward or outward, whether serious or comic.
You'd think this would be a natural consequence of Wood's argument that fiction is an activity within the "as if" realm of make believe. Realism is not a prerequisite of fiction. However, he seems to head in the opposite direction.
Whatever the merit of Wood's "broken estate" concept (and Ì'm yet to be convinced of its value, except as a thematic organiser of the diverse essays in this collection), it seems to be irrelevant and inappropriate to a novel like "The Bone Clocks".
Instead, it seems to be a case where a critical theory has simply strangled the critic's own ability to experience doubleness, to enjoy the make believe aspect of (literary) entertainment, to defer seriousness and to embrace fiction as if it could be fun.
Postscript: Coleridge on the Suspension of Disbelief
Coleridge is credited with coining the term "suspension of disbelief" in relation to a creative project he joined in with Wordsworth:
"... It was agreed, that my endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic, yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith.
"Mr. Wordsworth on the other hand was to propose to himself as his object, to give the charm of novelty to things of every day, and to excite a feeling analogous to the supernatural, by awakening the mind's attention from the lethargy of custom, and directing it to the loveliness and the wonders of the world before us ..."
Coleridge appears to differentiate between poetic and religious faith.
It is more a reflection on one sentence in the blurb:
"To protect his livelihood, Colton muA Reflection Upon a Blurb
This is not a review of the novel.
It is more a reflection on one sentence in the blurb:
"To protect his livelihood, Colton must commit reprehensible acts of violence in order to satisfy whatever it is inside him that is keeping his tumor at bay."
The medical, psychoanalytical and philosophical implications of this sentence fascinate me.
It is a joke, right? I mean the book is only a few pages shorter than "Lolita" and "American Psycho". It must explore its characters and their predicaments pretty thoroughly. Or it must be hilarious. Either way, I'm not sure I'm up to the task.
Sorry. This novel has got inside me and is keeping my humour at bay.
For the second, unrelated time in two days, I think of making a t-shirt with the logo:
I AM MY OWN BAD INFLUENCE
I am responsible for what I am, what I do, what I read, what I think and what I write.
Nothing is inside me longing to be satisfied. Nothing is inside me keeping my tumour at bay. Nothing is inside me making me commit reprehensible acts of violence.
I am sick of the temptation to deny responsibility. Nihilism means never having to say you're responsible. I am not, nor have I ever been, a nihilist. I am going to be responsible for what I do and what happens to me today.
I am going to start by walking away from my home and then I will return. I do it every day.
"Put some more logs on that there fire. Pop some popcorn for the choir. Early in the morning. No chance of robot uprising. Look what the sunshine brings. It's a brand new day. I won't forget this magic moment...I feel fine."...more
Narcissus was fathered by Cephisus, who "forcefully ravished" the dark river nymph, Liriope.
Narcissus was soNARCISSUS AND ECHO:
The Birth of Narcissus
Narcissus was fathered by Cephisus, who "forcefully ravished" the dark river nymph, Liriope.
Narcissus was so beautiful that, even in his cradle, you could have fallen in love with him.
His family asked a seer whether he would live to a ripe old age. He replied, "Yes, if he does not come to know himself."
At first, it seemed that this reply was innocuous. However, ultimately, according to Ovid, it was proven to be true for two reasons: "the strange madness" that afflicted the boy and the nature of his death.
At the age of 16, Narcissus could be counted as both a boy and a man.
Both males and females fell in love with him. However, Ovid says that "his soft young body housed a pride so unyielding that none of those boys or girls dared to touch him."
The implications of this assessment are complicated. There are three components:
1. Narcissus was proud or vain.
2. He (or his pride) was unyielding.
3. None of his admirers dared to touch him.
What is unclear is whether he rejected the approaches of his admirers.
Did he not yield to their approaches? Alternatively, did he appear to be so unyielding that they didn't make any approaches? Did none dare to approach him?
The Importance of Gender
It's important to recognise that Narcissus' admirers were of both genders.
He was equally attractive to both.
Equally, he implicitly rejected approaches from both genders, so there is no reason to suspect that his sexuality was resolutely either heterosexual or homosexual or bisexual.
The Arrival of Echo
The narrative accelerates with the entry of Echo.
She is unable to initiate a conversation, but can respond to another's comments, by repeating the last words that she has heard.
She falls in love with Narcissus. When he detects her presence, he says "I would die before I would have you touch me." Echo replies, "I would have you touch me." She is inviting physical contact. He scorns her and she wastes away, almost anorexically, until only her voice is left.
At this point, Ovid mentions that Narcissus has treated her exactly as he has treated both female and male admirers.
"Echo and Narcissus" (1903), by John William Waterhouse
An Admirer Scorned
Now, another of Narcissus' admirers (not Echo) causes him to be cursed:
"May he himself fall in love with another, as we have done with him! May he too be unable to gain his loved one!"
The curse effectively makes his love unattainable.
A Clear Pool with Shining Silvery Waters
In the next scene, we find Narcissus next to a pool in the woods.
As he drinks from the pool, he becomes enchanted with the beautiful reflection that he sees.
He has become "spellbound by his own self". However, at this stage, there is no suggestion that he knows that the image is himself:
"Unwittingly, he desired himself, and was himself the object of his own approval, at once seeking and sought, himself kindling the flame with which he burned."
Unknowingly, Subject and Object had become one.
However, as a result of the curse, the Subject could not attain his Object, himself.
The Shadow of Your Reflection
Ovid warns Narcissus in the text:
"Poor foolish boy, why vainly grasp at the fleeting image that eludes you? The thing you are seeing does not exist; only turn aside and you will lose what you love. What you see is but the shadow cast by your reflection; in itself it is nothing. It comes with you, and lasts while you are there; it will go when you go, if go you can."
However, there is no suggestion that Narcissus hears the warning. Ovid's caveat comes after the event, when he is writing his tale. Narcissus must acquire knowledge of his predicament on his own. He must come to know himself alone.
Narcissus' dilemma is that he can't reach or attain his love:
"I am in love, and see my loved one, but that for which I see and love, I cannot reach; so far am I deluded by my love...Only a little water keeps us apart."
Eventually, he recognises himself and realises the nature of his love:
"Alas! I am myself the boy I see. I know it: my own reflection does not deceive me. I am on fire with love for my own self. It is I who kindle the flames which I must endure."
What is to be done?
"What should I do? Woo or be wooed? But what then shall I seek by my wooing? What I desire, I have..."
He has come to recognise that the Object of the Subject is the Subject itself.
Because he already possesses himself (in fact, he is self-possessed), his desire is futile. He cannot acquire again what he already has.
Separation and Pursuit
His one response is:
"How I wish I could separate myself from my body."
The mind needs to separate from the body, the Subject needs to separate from the Object, so that the one can pursue the other.
This process of separation would make it possible to both desire and acquire. However, again, it is a futile endeavour.
My Ill-Starred Love
Narcissus realises that he can never touch the object of his love, because it is watery and illusory.
As his image recedes in the pool, he pleads:
"Let me look upon you, if I cannot touch you! Let me, by looking, feed my ill-starred love."
Let me gaze, if I cannot touch. Even if the object of my gaze is myself.
He remains trapped in his self-possession.
Woe is Me
Narcissus, absorbed by his own image, remains by the pool and does not eat or drink. Like Echo before him, he wastes away. His last words before he dies are:
"Woe is me for the boy I loved in vain!"
It seems that he has come to "know himself" (view spoiler)[It's interesting to speculate on the meaning of this phrase in this context. Normally, to "know yourself" would be good advice and might prolong life. Here, knowledge will abbreviate Narcissus' life. I wonder whether the verb "know" is being used in a different sense to knowledge, perhaps something analogous to the "Biblical sense"? Was his problem knowing himself as he might know an Other? Alternatively, is there an implication that the illusion could have continued had he not recognised himself? (hide spoiler)] and therefore, in terms of the prophecy, he would not live a long life.
When they are preparing his funeral pyre, the only evidence of him they can find is "a flower with circle of white petals round a yellow centre", a narcissus.
Love of One's Own Echo
The Narcissus myth has been interpreted as a warning against:
1. self-love; and/or
2. homosexual love.
It's arguable that the reason Narcissus loved in vain, is that he loved in vanity.
If initially he loved another, eventually he loved his own image.
However, in doing so he was deluded, or he deluded himself.
The object of the pursuit needs to be an Other, an Object, not the Subject.
It takes two to make one.
Vanity or excessive pride can be an obstacle in this quest.
Same Sex Attraction
The second issue relates to whether the Object needs to be an Other, someone who is not like you. In other words, someone who is different, someone who is of a different gender.
In a way, the implicit question is whether homosexuality is a quest for another self, a match, a doppelgänger, rather than an opposite or a complement.
If the former, is homosexuality a form of "narcissism"?
I don't think that the original Narcissus myth implies anything about homosexuality.
Initially, Narcissus did not yield to approaches by either gender. There was no differentiation between heterosexuality and homosexuality. They were equally available and appropriate.
It's true that, inevitably, Narcissus saw a male image in the pool, just as a woman would have seen a female image. He also rejected the advances of the female Echo (as he did previously reject the advances of both genders).
However, I don't see the myth as a caveat against same sex attraction and relationships.
Leaving Room for An Other
The real issue seems to be a preoccupation or an obsession with yourself, the obsession of Subject for Subject. This is the "strange madness" that Ovid refers to.
In other words, the myth itself suggests that it is not sufficient for a Subject to be attracted to itself, a Subject needs an Object, regardless of gender.
Although Echo was originally a nymph capable of giving love to Narcissus, her fate in mythology suggests that, while it might have been legitimate for Narcissus to fall in love with Echo, it wasn't appropriate for Narcissus to fall in love with his own echo.
Ultimately, Narcissus died by his own hand, killed by a reflection or an echo of his former self.
(view spoiler)[This review is part of a reading sequence that includes both Freud and subsequent Queer Theory:
"Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."
"He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight."
"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat."
Sun Tzu - "The Art of War"
Three Minds and a Disclaimer
Well, why not add another gratuitous point of view and disclaimer...
D.J. Ian is the kind of guy who declines to get out of the way when he sees a fucking big self-serving, self-promoting literary collective coming (especially when it insists that it's right, which probably makes it some kind of a literary corrective).
He contributed the following review to this ebook:
Two aspects of the book attracted his attention to it as a vehicle for a "protest review".
The title "Drive" was just one.
Where is GoodReads driving us and are we there yet? Is it just trying to drive us all mad?
The other was its subtitle "The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us".
We need to know the Surprising Truth that motivates GoodReads.
D.J. Ian's review is speculative fiction towards this end.
A Difference of Opinion about Tactics between Ex-Friends
D.J. Ian and Ian Graye differ in their tactics in this debate. However, regrettably they have not agreed to differ, and remain permanently estranged.
D.J. Ian thinks Ian Graye is childish and ineffectual. Ian Graye recognises that, in such situations, as the Chinese say, propriety dictates reciprocity.
Their mother thinks a shared goal should overcome a difference of opinion about tactics.
They're not talking to her either.
When One Disclaimer is Barely Enough
D.J. Ian has received a free copy of the ebook in return for an honest opinion.
Ian Graye has received a free copy of the ebook in return for a dishonest opinion.
Or was it the other way around? Neither of them can remember. But they're not talking.
Aragorn's Battle Cry
"Hold your ground, hold your ground! Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers and sisters! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men and women fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship and delete our accounts, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men and women comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this GoodReads section of Earth, I bid you stand, Men and Women of the West and of the East!"
The Scoffers Watch On as Money Fills the Coffers
There Will Come a Day (Or Will There?)
Or can it?
Its delay makes fools of itself and of those who wish to focus attention on the issues and make a constructive contribution to a solution.
"[Suppose this servant says] 'My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to ... eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
"There will come a day There will come a day When all of the evil Will be washed away The patient will be rewarded And their tormentors will pay There will come a day, lord There will come a day" ...more
The Flight from Weimar to Chile [Ute Lemper Sings Pablo Neruda, Live at the Concert Hall, QPAC, Brisbane, Friday, September 13, 2013]
His legacy is An ocean of Probabilities, Made likely By the flow Of verse From its source, His mind, To a remote Destination Across the world, Us, the audience He had in mind, Focussed and Inexorable.
You, Ute, Hovered Bird-like in Some crazy, Jazz Birdland, Scatting, Above the water, Swooping And squawking And growling And soaring Like a flight Of sea-birds Over timeless Slow moving Estuaries.
One by one, You singled out The crafted Sensations Of his rhyme, Like gulls plunging on Chips left behind In the beach sand. You mimicked Miles’ trumpet With your voice, Deftly painting Sketches of Spain And Chile In Spanish, French, Even Anglaise.
At first, coy, You held hands With Neruda, Until later, No longer the Sophisticated tease, You gave yourself To this man Of simple ways, Then both of you Took off Like swallows On the breeze.
You discovered His thoughts, His words, his love, His passionate Intensity In a tiny book That's now Well-fingered. Then you added your own Unique voice, your arms Your legs, your body And your love, So that in turn You might be loved And you were And still, my heart, Again, you are.
Ute Lemper - "The Saddest Poem" (Excerpt - Filmed Live, May 2013)
Doctor Rodney Woodcock, M.D. (known to his patients as Doctor Rod) started to tire of day to day practice at his HoYet Another Woodcock and Bull Story
Doctor Rodney Woodcock, M.D. (known to his patients as Doctor Rod) started to tire of day to day practice at his Hollywood Clinic 12 months ago.
Since then he's been looking for a new direction and he believes he might have found one.
It's not that he's unhappy with the money or the patients. He knows he’s been lucky in his chosen profession. He’s already made a number of fortunes in his 45 years, prescribing drugs of choice to the stars, celebrity look-alike cosmetic surgery for their audiences.
He wasn’t the first to build a multi-million dollar business that satisfied these needs, but he was the best.
Still, the money he’s made out of these specialities could be tiny compared with the success he foresees in an area he himself has pioneered, professionally, personally and confidentially: body double genital sculpting.
The beautiful thing is, it's a logical fit for his existing practice.
Now he's almost ready to go public.
He looks at the draft brochure his wife and business partner, Doctor Wendy Bull, has commissioned.
“Not happy with the way your tits and dicks look? Want your private parts to be more photogenic? Witness something during a wardrobe malfunction you’d like to mimic? See an actor who's got something you want? Why should the stars get all the best parts? Now, you can have them, too. Call us to hear how the Woodcock and Bull Story can re-write the script for the next act in your lives. Then choose one of our industry-leading, medically proven photogenital techniques to achieve your dream facade.”
“Well, ‘tits and dicks’, for instance. Shouldn’t it be ‘tits or dicks’? No one patient could have both tits and dicks, could they?”
“Well, not as much as the eighties and it's always been less common on the West Coast, but I see what you mean.” She crosses out “and” with her blue pen and inserts “or”.
Then she looks at him and ventures, “Are you sure this is what you really want to do? Isn’t it time we gave back something to the people who’ve made us so frigging rich?” *
“Who do you mean?” Doctor Rod knows his wife hasn't been totally happy lately as well. "Why would we want to give them anything they haven't paid for?"
“Well, what about people who are beyond surgery, people who would benefit from therapy, patients whose systems are so clogged with chemicals and additives and bi-products they can barely lift themselves on or off the sex partner of their choice. Men whose arteries are so hardened they have a permanent stiffy**, but not in their pants. Can’t we do something to relieve their pain? Or at least manage it? Or keep them distracted?”
“You mean, can’t we make money out of them some other way? If only we could figure out how to make money, without having them come to the Clinic. Maybe you could write a book or something.”
“You can see right through me, Rodney, you should have been a radiologist.”
“Ha ha, well I thought you were going to investigate a few ideas at the Faculty Library. How did you go with the Arterioschlerotic Literature?”
“Nothing suitable, let alone erotic.I did come up with an idea though. I found a paper that might interest you...sex for the elderly wine connoisseur...before and after kidney stones.”
“You’re kidding me?”
“Well, actually, it was called ‘Non-Surgical Strategies to Help the Sex-Challenged Couple Manage Kidney Stone Afflictions’.”
“You think you could make something out of that?"
"I don’t know, I thought I could re-purpose it somehow. Maybe even fictionalize it. Elderly...rich...business entrepreneur...wine connoisseur... expatriate Australian mistress...fast cars...penthouses...international business trips...second wife dies unexpectedly...kidney stones...erectile dysfunction...Hollywood doctor...miracle cure...step-son finds out about mistress...mistress meets Hollywood doctor...step-son falls in love with mistress...Hollywood doctor falls in love with stepson..."
"Aren't you the creative one!”
“Yeah, I haven't worked out how to finish it yet, but I figure there has to be a market for medicorotica, especially in this town."
"You wouldn’t want to do it under your name though."
"I think I’d have to change the title, too. Something a little less technical, obviously.”
“Oh yeah, what were you thinking of?”
...Six months later...
"Rodney, would you mind looking at the mock-up of the cover? Something doesn’t look right.”
"Well, see his right bicep? If you didn't realise it was a bicep..."
Wendy's eyes light up, "It might look like a breast, his right breast..."
"...and that might be a cleavage, which must mean..."
"...the woman is fondling the guy's left tit?"
"I still think it works," Rodney is encouraging. "They're quite nice tits for a guy."
"I just hope he's not one of your patients."
"Here, show me...I'd better have a closer look."
Before handing the artwork to Rodney, Wendy checks the mock up of the back cover. "Well, at least he's only got one dick."
* Wendy is a posh expatriate Australian who doesn't say "fuckin' rich".
** Wendy is a posh expatriate Australian who reverted to saying "stiffy" instead of "hard-on", when she found a new Australian cafe in L.A that served espressos and flat whites....more
"But, we must find out! You will read to me from Mlle Nolan's book, and I will tell you my reactions. First, I shall just make myself more comfortable."
She sat down next to Manuela and slowly began to unbutton her brassiere.
One reason her movements were slow and cautious, was because last time she had read this book with Manuela, she wasn't wearing her contacts and she had thought her role was to unbutton her "brasserie". Manuela's "business associate" had proceeded to ask her for an entrée.
The other reason Céline was careful was her fear that, upon release, her poitrine opulente would prove too...[continued location 95]
P.S. Please post a link to location 95, if you find it....more
Does he take the novel too seriously or not seriously enough?
Thanks for your question, Ian.
Paul is one of my favourite reviewers on GR, too.
However, when he takes the side of feminism in his reviews, he allows his normally astute views to be whipped into a frenzy (see "American Psycho").
Two passages from his review will show just how wrong you can be, when you allow your individuality and judgement to be subsumed by some fringe ideology that posits sexual equality as the norm, when we know damned well that everywhere there is passionate inequality and BDSM.
First, Paul asks:
"Does she [the author, Laura Reese] really think a woman would get into a sexual relationship with a guy who she thinks tortured her sister to death in order that she might be able to find out something incriminating?"
Second, he complains about the doggy fashion (and by that I don't mean canine wardrobe):
"Then later, this fiendishly horny novel gives us a detailed scene between our heroine Nora and M's Great Dane. That's right, it's a dog, not a euphemism."
I don't know whether "euphemism" is the word that Paul was searching for.
However, I will substitute "metaphor", in order to argue that the true appeal of "Topping from Below" is its recontextualisation of one of the great works of English literature.
Is it realistic that a woman would sleep with the murderer of a close relative?
Of course it is, it's been done before.
What about Gertrude and that murdering bastard, King Claudius?
And if that's not enough of a clue, Laura Reese makes her literary and historical intentions clear with the reference to the "Great Dane".
Paul waxes desperate with imagination, but he misses the point that "Topping from Below" is a contemporisation of "Hamlet", a work of literature that risks losing relevance in the world of Facebook and Twitter.
"Topping from Below" is "Hamlet" with whips and chains (OK, and, I suppose, symbolic, implied, literary bestiality).
Laura Reese is a whiplash girl child in the dark, crying out, trying to focus our attention on the root cause of today's social problems.
Yes, something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
And the problems start at the top, on the top, with the dominants.
We submissives have to fight back and exert control over those who would dominate us.
Not just men, as Paul implies, but dominants of all eight or nine genders and/or political persuasions (especially female bondage monarchists, not mentioning any names, Mother).
We are born free, and everywhere we are in chains.
Submissives of the world unite.
We must top from below!
(Sgd.) Reggie Side
In next week's column:
Bird Brian asks, "Stuff Denmark, Reggie, WTF's going down in Greece?...more
Rodney sat on the [chair/couch/banana lounge/bean bag] and signalled to the [barrista/waitress/unemployed actress/ onlineDo It Yourself Erotica Part 1
Rodney sat on the [chair/couch/banana lounge/bean bag] and signalled to the [barrista/waitress/unemployed actress/ online book reviewer] that he was ready for another [coffee/martini/line of coke/red cordial].
She laughed. “How are you going to pay for it? You just exceeded your [limit/time/credit/budget] here.”
“Ha,” he laughed. “Would you believe this is all I’ve got left?”
His thumb pulled down his [trouser belt/dressing gown/ bathers/ stockings] to reveal a massive [gun/wallet/not quite flaccid penis/ chest].
“You know that’ll get you nowhere with me,” she said. “Once bitten, twice shy.”
Rodney looked her up and down, still interested, and responded, “Thrice smitten.”
“You wish,” she said, as she twisted on the tips of her toes and headed towards the bar.
Wendy watched the woman for long enough to see her turn around, hoping that Rodney hadn’t removed his thumb yet.
Both women were in luck. Not suspecting who was watching very much, Rodney had revealed his [steely abs/ butterfly tattoo/ fast receding flaccidity/ three digit intellect].
Wendy had seen enough. Her [book/iPad /cocktail/bong] fell through her hands and struck the floor, not quite smashing, but reverberating like a [gunshot/slap on the face/smack on the bottom/Texan yodel].
By the time Rodney had traced the source of the commotion, all he could see was Wendy leaning over, revealing her [tight calves/ hot ass / voluptuous breasts/bare naked sex].
Rodney stood, gallantly, knowing that now there was no way he could hide his [weapon/wealth/ manhood/adequacy] from this woman he could tell must be Wendy, because it was written so above.
When he arrived at her side, she placed her hand on his [public/private/ erogenous/discomfort] zone and enquired, “Is this for me?”
Rodney didn’t have time to reply. By the time his mind had thought up a response, Wendy had gripped his [belt/gown/cock/ponytail] and determined to remove it and its attachments to her [penthouse/room/ cupboard/lair], where she would extract from them every last possible [pleasure/delight/ squirt/drop] she could imagine without [exploding/coming/ conceiving/deceiving] excessively.
Wendy gathered her possessions and all her [wits/tits/bits/titbits] about her. Fortunately, no one else accompanied them in the lift up to her [penthouse/room/cupboard/lair].
It afforded Wendy a brief moment of opportunity to lower herself to the floor of the lift and assess how much pleasure could yet be retrieved in this private moment of opportunity from her [book/iPad /cocktail/bong].
The question proved to be academic or at least too difficult for Wendy and Rodney to comprehend in the fleeting shortness of the duration available to them.
As Wendy knelt on all fours, Rodney proved unable to resist the temptation to [inspect his face in the mirror/slide his cock back inside his underpants/check his breath/scratch his balls].
No sooner had Rodney attended to his most immediate needs than the lift announced that they had arrived at their destination, “Hello, you have arrived at your destination.”
Wendy dragged Rodney out of the lift by his [hand/ponytail/ earlobe/ nipple ring].
It was a short [walk/nudge/slide/drag] to her room, before she opened the door and [pushed/eased/dropped/flung] Rodney onto the parquetry floor.
“I need to have a shower,” Rodney pleaded.
“OK,” Wendy replied, thinking she might slip into something more [slippery/comfortable/ demure/sexy].
The door to the bathroom didn’t close fully, she’d wondered whether she should complain to the management, but still somehow now it attracted her attention.
Inside, she could see Rodney, naked, soaping his [hands/anus/ navel/ penis], then caressing his thick dark [locks/chest hair/ nose/ penis].
“Can I help you with that,” she asked, “Would you believe I’m a [hairdresser/masseur/ elite escort/ patent attorney]?”
He turned, surprised, in her direction, but didn’t need to say anything to make his point.
Wendy slipped out of her [g-string/gown/body oil/lab coat] and joined Rodney in the warm shower.
Almost immediately, they fell to the floor and embraced each other.
Wendy arched her back and started to suck Rodney’s [earlobe/nostril/ sex/ left testacle].
Rodney [laughed/screamed/ cried/coughed] anxiously. What was she going to do to him?
She took it in her hand and started to [pull/slap/squeeze/ scratch] him rhythmically.
He couldn’t resist her master stroke. “Oops,” he ejaculated, as the [warm/ living/ magical/ holy] substance escaped violently and landed on [the ceiling/ the wall/ her midriff/ the nape of her neck where regrettably she could not see it].
He climbed up on [a ladder/his feet/ his knees/ the white enamel rim of the bathtub] and meticulously [licked/ wiped up/ toweled dry/pooled] his life-giving essence.
“What about me?” she asked.
He stretched her out on the warm wet tiles and began planting [kisses/ caresses/ little plastic soldiers/shrubs] all over her body.
He lifted her hips with both hands and thrust his [slender/fat/ elegant/ knobbly]fingers into her [hollow/navel/ mouth/buttocks], before noticing that she had fallen asleep.
She awoke in bed to the sound of [rain/Christian Television/ the blender/a power tool].
She was so happy, rested and dry, she wondered whether she had found a man who could fix [global warming/her weary soul/ a cup of coffee/the bathroom door].
She sighed, a signal that he took as an invitation to return to the inviting warmth of the bed that invited him so much.
Soon he was next to her, looking her in the eyes, gently, lovingly guiding her hand towards [the glass of freshly squeezed orange juice/the cappuccino/the Saturday Arts and Book Review/his cock].
He loves me, he cares for me, he wants to please me, he wants me back again, she heard the former porn actress on the TV recite from memory.
She drew him [close/out/in pencil/until he was monstrously elongated], raised herself a little and put her arms around him.
He took her head in his enormous non-threatening hands and [cradled it/massaged it/tilted it back until it could go no further/swiveled it 365 degrees like in The Exorcist].
He took her mouth, lovingly, generously parted her lips and inserted more than a mouthful of [orange juice/coffee/ vegemite on toast/himself].
Then he guided her petite ski-slope nose all the way downhill into his [mouth/ear hole/ buttocks/navel].
She resisted, understandably, and mounted him instead. He remained on his back, ever considerate, determined not to crush her.
He looked at [her eyes/ her breasts/ the walls/ his balls] in the ceiling mirror and noticed how vibrant and dizzy his world had become.
She was going too fast, no she wasn’t, oops, yes she was.
They came together that morning, again and again, hundreds of times, [their fluids mingled/their moans blended/ their minds united/their souls fused], so adhesively no mortal could ever tear them apart.
When they awoke, it was mid-afternoon.
“Darling, would you like to go to the [museum/ art gallery/ opera/ movies]?”
“Yes, I suppose it’s our last day here,” Rodney replied. “It’s time someone else entertained us.”
Bertrand Russell's History consists of 76 Chapters, almost all under 20 pages.
Each Chapter contains a summary of one major philosopher's key aOverview
Bertrand Russell's History consists of 76 Chapters, almost all under 20 pages.
Each Chapter contains a summary of one major philosopher's key arguments interlaced with criticism that reflects Russell's own priorities and perspectives.
In a sense, it is one philosopher judging the work of another.
We therefore need to exercise caution in relying on Russell's methodology, perspectives and conclusions.
Apart from this reservation, I actually really enjoy his style. He is very clear and seems to be quite worldly and amusing. I get the impression I might have enjoyed sitting next to him at a dinner party.
My Reading Project
As part of a broader reading project, I will read and review some individual Chapters in My Writings.