Sunday, 17 September 2017

The Future History Of Demythology - Flash Fiction

Avant-garde is time bound. Hidebound. In our age of rapid technological change and shrinking attention spans, the avant-garde are the nostalgics. The left-behind, derrière-garde guardians of the remembered past, (forlornly) demanding concentration and application..

Body Politic was a metaphor that came into use through a fifteenth century understanding of medical anatomy. With the human genome and the structure and function of DNA becoming known, new metaphors present themselves which we currently remain insensible to.

Consciousness will not reveal itself from human genomics (see B). For how can we objectively observe fully in the round something in which we already stand within? Anticipating our consciousness to demurely deconstruct itself for us, as us. Consciousness forever as the dark side of the moon.

Decidedly deciduous deicide, yet dread of death and the dangled deal with a desperately conjectural afterlife, denotes the divine obtains still.

Ethics derived etymologically from a group or cultural disposition or mien and then back engineered to apply as obligations for each individual member of that group or culture. Only in this atomised age, singular group cultural identities evanesce. All morals and moral behaviour are relative. Ethics have become superannuated, duty obsolete and there is nothing binding us together, be it natural or moral law. 

Freedom: if you are reading this of your own free will, then you have a reasonable degree of freedom. If you disagree with even a single proposition here, then you are enslaved by your programming. If you agree with every single tenet here, then you are enslaved until you break free of what they counter. What lies on the other side once you have burst through? Who can say as it is unexplored terrain. Probably a whole new set of super-subtile myths to enslave you afresh. 

Game Theory is applied to many aspects of life, positing that when humans calculate that cooperating with one another, it best redounds to their mutual interest. The deterrent argument follows this flawed logic, since as David Hume explained through his white swans, a single appearance of a black swan on the pond erases the proof of your senses for the entirety preceding that occasion; that is, the nuclear deterrent argument only has to be disproved from holding once and we are all finished for eternity anyway.

History is the Butterfly Theory in effect. Yes it constantly repeats itself (since its actors are all humans given to repetitive behaviours), but the starting conditions are different each time so that the outcome will not be the same as previously. Once upon a time and only once indeed…

I is not in the word ‘team’ (more’s the pity) but it is in ‘time’, which is ironic seeing as after a brief span, the I drops out permanently. I is not only in the word ‘identity’ but actually leads it; but what is the point of spending as lifetime establishing an identity, only to have mortality erase it permanently? I also leads the word ‘intimacy’, yet this proves nothing. 

Je t’aime… Je m’aime (consider that phonetically) more like it. For we are but a clump of sensory information receptors, who have hit upon the evolutionary decision (randomly of course) that they are best served by aggregating and maintaining a unified outlook of the whole. But they are still in control of this consciousness rather than the other way around (see C).

K, Josef was guilty and he knew it, Kafka knew it, Max Brod knew it and now you dear reader know it. 

Language is not fit for purpose. Conceals as much as it communicates. Slippage and seepage. Ellipsis and elision.   

Myth is pernicious since it dresses up ignorance (of cause and effect in the natural world) in supernatural pretence in order to justify the exigencies of the local institutional and power relations among humans. Though science has provided better approximations of cause and effect to strip away the supernatural and replace it with ‘reason’, science itself is a myth-based body of knowledge (see S).  Myth, like ethics (see E), is man-made and therefore self-imposed and should only be demanding of voluntary adherence.

Nouns are Plato’s Ideal Forms in linguistic form. That is, they don’t actually exist either. Objects classified as one noun or other are approximations and simulacra. “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” et al.

Once upon a time (see H).

Pangram of “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” only holds for the temporary duration of the ban on fox hunting perhaps, when the fox knows it has legal protections from the dog. An example of the viral algorithm infecting language,with periodicy, permutation and prosaicness.

Quantum Mechanics are scientists hedging their bets. Mathematically proven probability. Probably.  

Reality is a construction of the human mind. The notion of an objective reality is merely a human consensus. The templates of what we take for reality are imprinted in our brains and our senses only scan for deviations referenced against the template in order to prompt our responsive action. Our reality templates are premised on our three-dimensional perceptions, yet scientists posit 11 or 12 dimensions of existence (see S).

Science bears more of an elegant, logically consistent canon than religious beliefs, but it is no less a credo. Whatever the equations prove, our limited perceptional apparatus means we can only conceive in three dimensions, four at a stretch, yet current theories are up at around 11 or 12 dimensions of existence (see R). 

Tripartite human brain, reptilian, mammalian and human, does not represent unalloyed progress and upgrade. Greater processing power yes, but we have barely progressed from reptilian filial infanticide, to mammalian killing of a rival’s offspring, to human kind’s targeting of any and every one of its own species (see G).

Uroborus is perhaps of all mythic symbols the one that resonates most. However, take your pick of the myriad of symbolic representations it proffers: Circle of Life; creative renewal; duality, synthesis and integration; immortality; eternal immutability; perfection; kundalini energy; hermetically closed systems; feedback loops; the philosopher’s stone; the singularity from which all existence stems. Go pick the bones out of that little lot. 

Vicious circle applies to not only language (words defined in terms of other words), but to this very exercise itself, (many of these definitions refer the reader on to other definitions listed here). There is no inertial frame for logic, nor language (see C,L). 

W; literally double ‘u’, itself already the elongated sound of twin oo’s. Tautologically redundant as an outcome of an alphabet whose characters and their sound bear no relationship to the meaning of the words they delineate (See L). 

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Honeyed Tongue - Flash Fiction

More jaundiced eyes might charge she pouted every one of her words. But my vision was more forgiving, seeing as I was in thrall to her beauty. So I would submit, the way speech puckered her lips was more akin to a child blowing bubbles. With the same blend of beguilement and tremulousness; breath bated hoping they would sustain and float, rather than evanesce and dissolve. Close my eyes and hearing the timbre, I picture her with the heel of her open hand osculating her chin, so that she could blow the word-kisses from her palm runway, as if helping a ladybird take wing. But when those gossamer words that take so long to sail across to me, finally moor at my ear canal, their brutal lading becomes plain. Iron waspish sting delivered by the tip of a velvet tongue.  

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Three Dreams In The Key Of G

In October my new novel will be published by Dead Ink Books. "Three Dreams In The Key Of G" tackles many large themes, from parenting and child development, through "Nature" versus "Nurture", sectarian politics to what it means to be human. Part parenting guide, part mother's journal of despair, the book is full of bitter humour (some extracts can be found here).

Stylistically the book is quite daring as well, with visuals, two different sized alphabets (our 26 letter and DNA's 4 letter alphabet), as the book drills down beneath the level of word to that of the letters themselves).

Three very powerful female characters, Mother, Crone and genetic Creatrix. None of them will meekly submit to their besiegers. Their three narrative voices, intercut and interweave with one another. In a sense, all three are palimpsests, constantly writing over, and being written by, one of the other two. Whether they are aware or not, they are being informed by another intimate voice so close at hand, as to be under the skin. 

In post Peace Agreement Northern Ireland, a young mother feels besieged. Both by the demands of motherhood and her militant Loyalist husband, decommissioned with the advent of Peace and thrown back into the world of the domestic hearth; whither the violence of his soul? To stop her mind becoming silted up through inactivity, surrounded by the infantile and the exasperating, she maintains a journal. Through which she pursues questions of nature versus nurture in the development of her children, within a divided society such as Northern Ireland, proffering its rarefied environment of acquired symbol and historical legacy. Only, why is her journal all out of sequence and what meaning can it therefore provide to answer her despairing question, 'why do we even have children?'

In Florida, a British septuagenarian with no papers and no official existence, also finds herself under a state of siege. Her community is currently surrounded by FBI, ATF and DEA armed agents. Yet they are not a sect of any kind, rather a refuge for battered women. And while it is true she does have a scheme for redrawing the map of the world, it could hardly be said to be a doomsday scenario. Except maybe, if you're a male of the species. Her fight is for hearts and minds, which might explain why her principal manifestation appears to be through the internet. Where lurk useful allies for her in the war of information technology.

In commercial laboratories all over the world, the human genome is being decoded and compiled. Or ravished and dissected depending on your point of view. What is that textual voice feedbacking through the monitors? Protesting the assault; challenging the epistemologies of both scientist and theologian; chiding us for our linear notions of relationship, the depleted metaphors with which we construct thought and even our 26 letter alphabet in the face of the genome's intricate weaves formed from combinations of just 4 letters. Goading us that we will never unravel the mystery that lies behind the genetic code, unless we open up our very natures to unlimited potential. 

Here is a small extract from the Northern Irish mother as she realises her daughter has reached an important developmental stage

You can pre-order "Three Dreams In The Key Of G" direct from the publisher here

paperback £10.00
hardback £20.00
PDF for e-readers £7.00

For incentive prizes for purchase, see here; the chance to win all 5 of my flash fiction collections, a unique personalised flash fiction story I will write for you, a limited edition sculpture or my latest beautifully designed (not by me) chapbook with 24 stories. 

Pledges Mean Prizes - Incentives for pre-ordering my new novel

In October, my fifth novel "Three Dreams In The Key Of G" will be published by Dead Ink Books. You can read full details of the book and view a 3-minute reading by me from the book here.

For the month of August, the publishers Dead Ink Books are crowdfunding for mine along with 4 other new fiction books they are releasing between now and the end of the year. This is the money that will determine the size of the print run for the books, that is how many copies they will be able to get printed up.

A pledge to the crowdfunder at the very minimum serves as a pre-order purchase of the book(s) you pledge to. In addition, I am offering the following prizes as incentives to pledge either to my book alone, or to bundles of all 5 books.

Incentive 1) Five lucky people who pledge £10 to buy a copy of my book during the crowdfunder, will be entered into a draw to win a copy of my chapbook "Viciss-Etudes", hand designed, illustrated and bound by the wonderfully talented Little Appleseed. The chapbook has 24 of my flash fiction tales and offers something very different from your usual chapbook.

Incentive 2) For three lucky pledgers of a bundle of all 5 novels in e-book format, for the princely sum of £25, I will match it with a bundle of mine own - All 5 of my flash fiction collections in Kindle format, so you will need to have a Kindle e-reader to take advantage of this prize. There is no geographical limit to this, unlike the other analogue prizes which are limited to the UK and EU states. 

Incentive 3) For those of you who have watched my video reading from the novel, you might have noticed the sculpted female torso figure in the foreground. This original art work will be awarded to one lucky winner drawn from those who pledge for a signed hardback copy of my novel.


Incentive 4) For anyone generous enough to pledge for the hardback and original artwork for the cover, at the princely sum of £80, I will pen them an exclusive flash fiction story - both the handwritten draft version and then the mint typed version, signed and dated by me and framed. If you want, you can give me some elements you want incorporated into the story, such as a character name, or three words I have to use, or anything else that takes your fancy. This will be a limited edition of precisely 1! If there is more than one pledger, then each will get an original story. 

So there you have it. By pledging anything, you get my new novel at the very least. With a bit of luck, you could win one of the prizes I've listed above.

Many thanks and I hope you enjoy everything that's on offer.


Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Excerpts from "Three Dreams In The Key Of G"

My new novel "Three Dreams In The Key Of G" is available for pre-order throughout August. For prizes and incentives for ordering, see here

The synopsis can be read here. 

Here are some extracts from the novel

Friday, 18 August 2017

What Did The Ancient Greeks Ever Do For Us?

I mean apart from democracy, philosophy, architecture, statuary and theatre, what did the Greeks ever give us? They always come off favourably in comparison with the supposedly more barbarian and plagiarist Romans, but for 'democracy' you also had 'despotism' (read Plato's "The Republic" which shows the way democracy can very easily slide into tyranny through its own lack of true awareness of important values). However it's the philosophy and the theatre which I really want to challenge for the supreme value of their heritage as it has passed down to us. 

I'm not going to say too much about the philosophy, except where it has resonance in art. Plato's phenomenalism is a crucial concept to how we perceive reality, with his famous example of slaves in a cave viewing the shadows thrown on the cave walls by their fire, equating to perceptive reality for these slaves who have never seen the world outside of the cave. He derives this example through his belief that the whole world of appearances which we take for reality, is but a degraded version of true reality and (aesthetic/mathematical) beauty.

For the highest existence of any object is its ideal form and in our world, actual objects never attain such an ideal form. Now this represents an important way of thinking & perceiving even in our modern world. Of course there are no 'ideal' forms of objects, but what there are is linguistic nouns which categorise all sorts of various 'non-ideal' forms of similar things; all breeds of dogs are 'Dogs' is the simplest representation of this. But consider something more debatable - is a flatpack table in Ikea's warehouse still a table before it gets sold and erected? Is a slave or hired prostitute at an orgy, who is ordered to bend over so that food can be served from their naked back, are they a table? Is the ammo box that the soldier utilises while on patrol to quickly scoff down his rations, a table, or is it still only an ammo box containing rocket propelled grenades? 

Phenomenalism and particularly Nominal Phenomenalism, means that the supposed evidence of our senses and particularly the dominant one of sight, actually goes through a pre-filter of language, grouping similar things together as a shorthand that may not in fact do justice to the complexity of 'reality'. And this filter of language is of course the mainstay and dominant tool of us writers. We can use it to not only describe reality, but to challenge its consensus by really examining its linguistic short-cuts. So we could and possibly should be challenging accepted reality and showing how it has been constructed. Those writers and philosophers who study signs and symbols (semiologists) do this on one level, but writers can bring it to the linguistic realm. 

Now let's come to Greek Theatre. It is absolutely entwined with politics in Ancient Greece, that politics being in the main direct participatory democracy (the military oligarchy of Sparta didn't produce much in the way of playwrights). Plays in Athens were performed during religious festivals, the rest of the time the theatres in the small administrative demes were used for political meetings of the whole community entitled to vote. Plays in these festivals were in competition and accordingly were sponsored by patrons, most of whom were professional politicians, else citizens who wanted to wield influence. Many plays debated the issues of recent or contemporary events, while comedies lambasted real prominent citizens to their faces sat there in the audience, to remind them of their place to serve the Polis rather than their own interests. The ancient Greek word for playwright has as its root 'teacher' or trainer, while the word 'Praxis' which Aristotle coined for the dramatic action, also stands for a body of practical political action.  

So Greek plays were not politically neutral and for all their show at having both sides of the debate (much like Plato's dialectic philosophical style), actually there was really only one message either the playwright, or his patron wanted to impart (just like Plato's "Republic", though his other dialectic works were more ambiguous and even handed in their conclusions). Plays were always geared to preaching to their audience and that audience were those with the vote in the democracy (so not women or slaves who were excluded from voting). The plays preached reasoned debate, when in fact they were tilting for a single point of view, with their own constructed democracy as the highest value (not an 'ideal' one in Plato's eyes, far from it as above). Those individualist citizens who weren't team players, or those with a tendency towards demagoguery, were constantly being defeated on stage.

For such men displayed 'hubris', that is the excess of pride in imagining yourself above your station within the society. Any individual citizen who wasn't a team player, was regarded as having hubris and all Tragic dramas in the Greek canon had men brought low by their hubris. Indeed even the word 'hero' which reverberates so powerfully in our own society, initially emerged from Greek theatre, not existing outside of that context beforehand. The dramatic hero is a demiurge, that is a man who sees himself superior to his fellow man, halfway to being a god and of course, such tragic heroes are felled by their hubris. The stage actors had to play both heroes and gods, an act and an appropriation involving of hubris in itself just in case any of them got ideas above their station. Hubris implicitly reinforces a 'know your place' attitude, for to flout it inevitably means personal destruction. 

The clinching point about this propagandist theatre comes from a word the Greek's themselves coined, 'catharsis'. Catharsis means a purging, initially a purification in the religious sense. But when applied to the theatre by Aristotle in "Poetics" it has a more manipulative meaning. Theatre, in line with praxis, is vicarious, the audience experience the play as brought to them by the actors. We don't know whether they were passive in the amphitheatres, or like Shakespeare's 'Pit' rowdy & interactive with the stage. But by the end of a tragedy, having seen Orestes put out his own eyes, or the abasement and cruelty visited upon "The Trojan Women", or the double suicide of the lovers to conclude "Antigone", the audience are purged of their passions through the very extremity of the emotions wrought in them by the action on stage. That is, the playwright has taken them on such a journey, they are useless for anything at the end of the play. Certainly no call to action, only the playwright's sly reinforcement of whatever particular message he was putting across and the audience too played out to resist that message. Wrung out and spent, they go home marvelling at the stagecraft, story and spectacle, confirmed in the moral teaching the playwright conveyed. 

I could go on about how the heritage from the Greeks has further hamstrung us in our modern age. That Greek philosophy's main thrust was seeking to answer the question 'what constitutes a good life?', which for Plato, in the context of a city, was living a 'Just' life. For Aristotle it was living a balanced life, avoiding excess at either end of the spectrum of behaviour. Now this may or may not be a reasonable philosophical question to consider (I would say there are more pressing ones along the line of what is man, why is he here on earth, what is he supposed to achieve in his short life?) But - and you can't necessarily blame the Greeks for this, their inquiry into goodness was hijacked and taken on by the Christian theologian-cum-philosophers, whose answer was of course faith in God and following a set of moral and behavioural commandments. Again, a rigid moral unilateralism that is today in tatters and has led to the evils of slavery, colonialism, subjection of women and our own bodies, which have only furthered the crippling issues we face today. 

So yes, I do declare, what have the Ancient Greeks done for us, except to set up the parameters by which we have navigated to our very troubling modern age?