Non-Binary Review call for submissions on Dante’s Inferno (deadline 24th Oct 2018)

More info here:

NonBinary Review is a quarterly digital literary journal that joins poetry, fiction, essays, and art around each issue’s theme. We invite  authors to explore each theme in any way that speaks to them: re-write a  familiar story from a new point of view, mash genres together, give us a  personal essay about some aspect of our theme that has haunted you all  your life. We also invite art that will accompany the literature. All submissions must have a clear and obvious relationship to some specific aspect of the source text (a character, episode, or setting). Submissions only related by a vague, general, thematic similarity are unlikely to be accepted.

We are open to submissions which relate to Dante Alighieri’s 14-century epic poem The Inferno, which you can find herePlease bear in mind that we’re looking for pieces that relate to the BOOK ONLY. References movies or television shows will not be accepted.

Submissions which do not tie into the plots or make use of characters/settings from the book WILL NOT be considered–there needs to be a clear connection to the source material. 

We want language that makes us reach for a dictionary or a tissue or  both. Words in combinations and patterns that leave the faint of heart a  little dizzy.

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“Cocks exist for the hen, but hens exist for the cock” – is there such thing as self – parody? with Bernard Richards, Max Beerbohm, Algernon Swinburne, Henry Reed – and Tennyson, Eliot and Kipling

This letter from Bernard Richards in the 29th June TLS caught my eye:

Sir, – Francis Hope spoke in his reprinted review of Nabokov’s Ada (From the Archives, June 22) of authors writing “self-parody”, including Henry James in The Golden Bowl. One quite often encounters this accusation, but in my view it is not sufficiently subtle or accurate. Writers who produce parodies have the intention of mocking their victims, by exposing their benighted attitudes or quirky stylistic techniques. Surely when late James, for instance, was producing his strange and distinctive style he was not doing so with the intention of mocking and exposing himself. What he was actually doing was pushing the boundaries of his originality and distinctiveness further and further, building on and utilizing features which had been developing for decades. He was, in effect, writing self-pastiche not self-parody. There is a distinct difference between late James and Beerbohm’s brilliant parody of him in A Christmas Garland, if only in intention. One might be tempted to think that a good deal of Tennyson is self-parody, but it can’t hold a candle to the real thing: Swinburne’s “The Higher Pantheism in a Nutshell”. Ditto T. S. Eliot, but nothing could be as good as Henry Reed’s “Chard Whitlow”.

Self-parody is fairly rare, if only because most authors take themselves seriously, and have not been able to stand back sufficiently from their own styles and preoccupations to see them for what they are. A rare case of genuine self-parody is Swinburne’s “Nephelidia”, which does indeed mock the Swinburnean. It is said that Kipling’s “Municipal” is self-parody. One hopes it is, because it is pretty bad otherwise.

BERNARD RICHARDS Brasenose College, Oxford.

Being an owner of John Gross’ Oxford Book of Parodies and a former owner of Simon Brett’s Faber Book of Parodies, I am familiar with “A Christmas Garland”  and here is a link to “The Mote In the Middle Distance”, the parody of James in the volume. The echo of James’ rococo style is evident from the first sentence:

It was with the sense of a, for him, very memorable something that he peered now into the immediate future, and tried, not without compunction, to take that period up where he had, prospectively, left it.

“The Higher Pantheism in a Nutshell” was a little harder to track down. It is one of Swinburne’s Hepetalogia, “Or The Seven Against Sense”,  of which digital copies can be found here. As Richards mentions, there is a Swinburne auto-parody, as well as parodies of other contemporaries:

THE HIGHER PANTHEISM IN A NUTSHELL

One, who is not, we see: but one, whom we see not, is:

Surely this is not that: but that is assuredly this.

What, and wherefore, and whence? for under is over and under:

If thunder could be without lightning, lightning could be without thunder.

Doubt is faith in the main: but faith, on the whole, is doubt:

We cannot believe by proof: but could we believe without?

Why, and whither, and how? for barley and rye are not clover:

Neither are straight lines curves: yet over is under and over.

Two and two may be four: but four and four are not eight:

Fate and God may be twain: but God is the same thing as fate.

Ask a man what he thinks, and get from a man what he feels:

God, once caught in the fact, shows you a fair pair of heels.

Body and spirit are twins: God only knows which is which:

The soul squats down in the flesh, like a tinker drunk in a ditch.

More is the whole than a part: but half is more than the whole:

Clearly, the soul is the body: but is not the body the soul?

One and two are not one: but one and nothing is two:

Truth can hardly be false, if falsehood cannot be true.

Once the mastodon was: pterodactyls were common as cocks:

Then the mammoth was God: now is He a prize ox.

Parallels all things are: yet many of these are askew:

You are certainly I: but certainly I am not you.

Springs the rock from the plain, shoots the stream from the rock:

Cocks exist for the hen: but hens exist for the cock.

God, whom we see not, is: and God, who is not, we see:

Fiddle, we know, is diddle: and diddle, we take it, is dee.

Eliot himself loved Henry Reed’s parody, “Chard Whitlow”:

Most parodies of one’s own work strike one as very poor. In fact, one is apt to think one could parody oneself much better. (As a matter of fact, some critics have said that I have done so.) But there is one which deserves the success it has had, Henry Reed’s Chard Whitlow.

 

Here it is:

Chard Whitlow
(Mr. Eliot’s Sunday Evening Postscript)
As we get older we do not get any younger.

Seasons return, and today I am fifty-five,

And this time last year I was fifty-four.

And this time next year I shall be sixty-two.

And I cannot say I should like (to speak for myself)

To see my time over again—if you can call it time:

Fidgeting uneasily under a draughty stair,

Or counting sleepless nights in the crowded tube.

There are certain precautions—though none of them very reliable—

Against the blast from heaven, vento di venti,

And the frigid burnings of purgatory will not be touched

By any emollient.

I think you will find this put,

Better than I could ever hope to express it,

In the words of Kharma: “It is, we believe,

Idle to hope that the simple stirrup-pump

Will extinguish hell.”

Oh, listeners,

And you especially who have turned off the wireless,

And sit in Stoke or Basingstoke listening appreciatively to the silence,

(Which is also the silence of hell) pray, not for your sinks, but your souls.

And pray for me also under the draughty stair.

As we get older we do not get any younger.

And pray for Kharma under the holy mountain.

 

Richards expresses a hope that Kipling’s Municipal was an effort at self-poetry; otherwise it is merely very bad. I would have held myself familiar with much of Kipling’s poetry, but not this one. All I can say is that I concur with Bernard Richards – at best it is a rather laboured effort in the mock-heroic vein:

Why is my District death-rate low?”
Said Binks of Hezabad.
“Well, drains, and sewage-outfalls are
“My own peculiar fad.
“I learnt a lesson once, It ran
“Thus,” quoth that most veracious man: —

 

It was an August evening and, in snowy garments clad,
I paid a round of visits in the lines of Hezabad;
When, presently, my Waler saw, and did not like at all,
A Commissariat elephant careering down the Mall.

I couldn’t see he driver, and across my mind it rushed
That that Commissariat elephant had suddenly gone musth.
I didn’t care to meet him, and I couldn’t well get down,
So I let the Waler have it, and we headed for the town.

The buggy was a new one and, praise Dykes, it stood the strain,
Till he Waler jumped a bullock just above the City Drain;
And the next that I remember was a hurricane of squeals,
And the creature making toothpicks of my five-foot patent wheels.

He seemed to want the owner, so I fled, distraught with fear,
To the Main Drain sewage-outfall while he snorted in my ear —
Reached the four-foot drain-head safely and, in darkness and despair,
Felt the brute’s proboscis fingering my terror-stiffened hair.

Heard it trumpet on my shoulder — tried to crawl a little higher —
Found the Main Drain sewage outfall blocked, some eight feet up, with mire;
And, for twenty reeking minutes, Sir, my very marrow froze,
While the trunk was feeling blindly for a purchase on my toes!

It missed me by a fraction, but my hair was turning grey
Before they called the drivers up and dragged the brute away.
Then I sought the City Elders, and my words were very plain.
They flushed that four-foot drain-head and — it never choked again!

You may hold with surface-drainage, and the sun-for-garbage cure,
Till you’ve been a periwinkle shrinking coyly up a sewer.
I believe in well-flushed culverts. . . .
This is why the death-rate’s small;
And, if you don’t believe me, get shikarred yourself. That’s all.

Submissions to “Miscellanea: A Transdimensional Library”

I have previously noted that online publications that do me the honour of publishing me tend to go out of existence. Another example was Miscellanea: A Transdimensional Library.

It was only six years ago that Miscellanea was calling for submissions, but there is now little trace of its existence. Yesterday I posted four perhaps cryptic posts here; these were all my submissions to Miscellanea: A Transdimensional Library.

Alas, the Transdimensional Library is no more. This page (scroll down to the 13th July 2012 entry) mentions it:

A new story of mine is now available free online at the website of Eggplant Literary Productions. In fact, “Yggdrasil” is more properly a fragment of a non-existent longer work… As editor Raechel Henderson explains: “Inspired by such fantasy libraries as those found in Robin McKinley’s Beauty and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, Eggplant Literary Productions presents Miscellanea: A Transdimensional Library. The shelves will be filled with books of the other: books that have never existed and that haven’t been written yet. What I am looking for are excerpts from such books.”

Here’s the Duotrope listing . The Eggplant Literary Productions site is no more, its twitter feed unchanged since July 2014.

For what it’s worth, I will post my four submissions here – one of which, “The Book of Silences”, made the grade:

The Book of Silences, Volumes 1 – 23343
From the introduction to Volume 1

… the editors have found the task of compiling all the silences of recorded history a challenging one. Firstly, we had to set some kind of beginning point for our work. However, we did not to limit our task to this century, or the post war years, or even some remoter start point of early or high modernity. All beginnings are arbitrary, and exclude, and this was to be the first truly inclusive book in existence. The written word has recorded utterances, speeches, debates, thoughts expressed in suspiously neat prose and lofty poetry, thoughts expressed in suspiciously down-to-earth and populist argot, but has not before collected silences. We do not mean contemplated silence, or debated silence, or defined silence. We mean recorded silence. Authors have reflected that silence is an absence; we treat it as a presence. In this book, we record the silences of our texts, from Sumerian cuneiform tablets to blogs and wikis. The first few thousand volumes, of course, only get us some of the way into Classical Antiquity, and work has to be recommenced as archaeology reveals further writings, but our universal history of silence has continued implacable, expanding, perhaps never to be utterly finished but equally never to be utterly abandoned …

Here is The Transfinite Codex. The feedback on this was that it was too self-contained, not a part of a larger work:

The Transfinite Codex

From the Introduction

The Infinite Annex is an annex of this library which consists entirely of infinite stories. The annex, via the use of an innovative filing system, contains an infinity of volumes. Each volume, via the use of innovative printing techniques, contains an infinite story, one with a beginning and then no middle and no end, just continuance. Every story imaginable; romance, adventure, comedies of manners, tragedies of morals. Of course, each infinite story will eventually contain every one of these stories, perhaps with different names, or with the events in a different order.

There is still another story possible, one which does not exist in the Infinite Annex. Take the first line of one story, the second line of another story, the third line of another, the fourth of another, and so on. In this way another infinite story is created, but one which differs from any particular infinite story. Because it has one and only one line in common with each story, it has an infinity of lines that differ from each particular volume. Thus the Transfinite Codex is a single volume which possesses an infinitude beyond the infinitude of the Infinite Annex.

From “A Practical Guide to Time Travel”, also too self-contained… Ironically it was written as a reference to this story….

From page 132 “A Practical Guide to Time Travel” by Brendan McConnell

… What they don’t tell you about time travel is the emotional dislocation. I suppose my voyage, undertaken as it was explicitly for emotional reasons, has allowed me appreciate this most. But my conversations with those who, before and after my voyage, have journeyed purely from a spirit of scientific discovery or confirms my suspicion. The technical challenges – plotting co ordinates to ensure that one lands in a time and place conducive to staying alive – are of course formidable, but surmontable. What many find hardest is the sudden realisation that the past is now not only past but includes what was one’s future, and that loved ones and loved places are no more. Accelerated future-driving has proved a boon to historians and policy makers, and has made many aspects of contemporary life more civilised for us all, time traveller and future native alike. The realisation we have all made that, completely contrary to theoretical predictions and expectations, that while futuredriving is possible, travelling back has not yet been achieved, and that we are stranded in a place more forbidding than any we know, has driven some to the ultimate expression of despair: suicide.

Finally, this extract was indeed from this story. The feedback here was that the concept was interesting but not the execution….

Aphorisms (for an age beyond Aphorisms), Or, Reflections of an obsolete headshrinker

by Bert Gallagher MB BCh BAO MRCPsych

Published in what the author insists be referred to as the Year of Our Lord 2052

(extract)

# 35: Yesterday’s miracle cure is today’s dangerous treatment is tomorrow’s boring routine. Twas ever thus.
# 36: Life without illusions is lifeless.
# 37: When the anthropologists are interested in you, you know you’re on the way out.
# 38: The self is still the self. The self may be an illusion, but it is a true grand illusion..
# 39: When the anthropologists are interested in you, you know you’re on the way out. You also know that you’ll be back
# 40: Illusions that stubbornly persist may not be illusions after all
# 41: No brain scan ever will reveal my essence, my self, my soul.
# 42: When the philosophers are interested in you, you definitely know that you are on the way out.
# 43: Reaching my age has had the great advantage of allowing me no longer to care what it is fashionable or acceptable to think and say.
# 44: When they banned books, they said they wanted to liberate us from the illusions of the self that reading fostered. Little did they realise what illusions they laboured under.
# 45: Being thought an amusing throwback to a vanished age has been the only way I have survived.
# 46: The abolition of the mind was supposed to put me out of business, but business was never better than after they abolished the mind.
# 47: No one really believes they are just a brain.

From “The Book of Silences” Introduction to Volume 1

The Book of Silences, Volumes 1 – 23343

From the introduction to Volume 1

… the editors have found the task of compiling all the silences of recorded history a challenging one. Firstly, we had to set some kind of beginning point for our work. However, we did not to limit our task to this century, or the post war years, or even some remoter start point of early or high modernity. All beginnings are arbitrary, and exclude, and this was to be the first truly inclusive book in existence. The written word has recorded utterances, speeches, debates, thoughts expressed in suspiciously neat prose and lofty poetry, thoughts expressed in suspiciously down-to-earth and populist argot, but has not before collected silences. We do not mean contemplated silence, or debated silence, or defined silence. We mean recorded silence. Authors have reflected that silence is an absence; we treat it as a presence. In this book, we record the silences of our texts, from Sumerian cuneiform tablets to blogs and wikis. The first few thousand volumes, of course, only get us some of the way into Classical Antiquity, and work has to be recommenced as archaeology reveals further writings, but our universal history of silence has continued implacable, expanding, perhaps never to be utterly finished but equally never to be utterly abandoned …

From “The Transfinite Codex”

The Transfinite Codex

From the Introduction

The Infinite Annex is an annex of this library which consists entirely of infinite stories. The annex, via the use of an innovative filing system, contains an infinity of volumes. Each volume, via the use of innovative printing techniques, contains an infinite story, one with a beginning and then no middle and no end, just continuance. Every story imaginable; romance, adventure, comedies of manners, tragedies of morals. Of course, each infinite story will eventually contain every one of these stories, perhaps with different names, or with the events in a different order.

There is still another story possible, one which does not exist in the Infinite Annex. Take the first line of one story, the second line of another story, the third line of another, the fourth of another, and so on. In this way another infinite story is created, but one which differs from any particular infinite story. Because it has one and only one line in common with each story, it has an infinity of lines that differ from each particular volume. Thus the Transfinite Codex is a single volume which possesses an infinitude beyond the infinitude of the Infinite Annex.

From “A Practical Guide to Time Travel” by Brendan McConnell

From “A Practical Guide to Time Travel” by Brendan McConnell, page 132

… What they don’t tell you about time travel is the emotional dislocation. I suppose my voyage, undertaken as it was explicitly for emotional reasons, has allowed me appreciate this most. But my conversations with those who, before and after my voyage, have journeyed purely from a spirit of scientific discovery or confirms my suspicion. The technical challenges – plotting co ordinates to ensure that one lands in a time and place conducive to staying alive – are of course formidable, but surmontable. What many find hardest is the sudden realisation that the past is now not only past but includes what was one’s future, and that loved ones and loved places are no more. Accelerated future-driving has proved a boon to historians and policy makers, and has made many aspects of contemporary life more civilised for us all, time traveller and future native alike. The realisation we have all made that, completely contrary to theoretical predictions and expectations, that while futuredriving is possible, travelling back has not yet been achieved, and that we are stranded in a place more forbidding than any we know, has driven some to the ultimate expression of despair: suicide.

Aphorisms (for an age beyond Aphorisms), Bert Gallagher

Aphorisms (for an age beyond Aphorisms), Or, Reflections of an obsolete headshrinker

by Bert Gallagher MB BCh BAO MRCPsych

Published in what the author insists be referred to as the Year of Our Lord 2052

(extract)

# 35: Yesterday’s miracle cure is today’s dangerous treatment is tomorrow’s boring routine. Twas ever thus.
# 36: Life without illusions is lifeless.
# 37: When the anthropologists are interested in you, you know you’re on the way out.
# 38: The self is still the self. The self may be an illusion, but it is a true grand illusion..
# 39: When the anthropologists are interested in you, you know you’re on the way out. You also know that you’ll be back
# 40: Illusions that stubbornly persist may not be illusions after all
# 41: No brain scan ever will reveal my essence, my self, my soul.
# 42: When the philosophers are interested in you, you definitely know that you are on the way out.
# 43: Reaching my age has had the great advantage of allowing me no longer to care what it is fashionable or acceptable to think and say.
# 44: When they banned books, they said they wanted to liberate us from the illusions of the self that reading fostered. Little did they realise what illusions they laboured under.
# 45: Being thought an amusing throwback to a vanished age has been the only way I have survived.
# 46: The abolition of the mind was supposed to put me out of business, but business was never better than after they abolished the mind.
# 47: No one really believes they are just a brain.