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.

I dabble, with unapologetic amateurism, in drawing. There are all sorts of intellectualised reasons I could give. One influential one was reading Tristan Gooley’s observations on how well artists read landscapes. Ultimately enough to say I quite enough it and it is nice to do something without a particular thought of what others might think… and there is a nice sense of achievement when it isn’t totally awful.

Anyway one thing that dabbling in drawing and sketching has done for me is an appreciation of how skilled artists are, and a realisation that capturing water in all its forms is a stupendous human achievement. I haven’t read Tristan Gooley’s How To Read Water yet, and I wonder if he also refers to how artists treat water.

Therefore I was fascinated by this post on the blog of artist and teacher Maja Pitamic:

Water in all its forms was a source of endless fascination and interest for Turner. It was for him an almost mystical element that gave his work not just a visual impact but an emotional depth. From the rivers of the Rhine and the British Isles to the channel sea off Margate to tranquil smooth […]

via Turner and water — Maja Pitamic

Escher on video and in Lego form

Escher on video and in Lego form

The Escher Museum in the Hague have a page with lots of Escher videos

Here is an excerpt from a National Film Board of Canada film which elegantly animates Escher’s work:

Here is what is apparently the only surviving film of Escher at work:

Part 1 of a 2 part documentary on Escher with Roger Penrose:

I long to attempt some of these Lego versions of Escher images.

Firstly, via the website of Andrew Lipson, here is Ascending and Descending (the ever-rising staircase)

lego_ascending

Again via Andrew Lipson, here is “Relativity”:

lego_relativity

>

And again via Lipson, here is “Waterfall”:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here is a gallery featuring the above images, and other Escher-based Lego creations by Lipson and his collaborator Daniel Shiu, with the originals for comparison.

Here is a Daily Mail article from 2011 on Lipson’s Lego work.

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.

“A sort of oriental yearning for Nirvana” – Miklós Bánffy on doomed Hungarian geniuses

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There is a famous anecdote told about Enrico Fermi, when he asked why there was as of yet no evidence of intelligent life from other planets despite the statistical likelihood of its existence, getting this reply from Leo Szilard “They are already among us, they just call themselves Hungarians” (edit – originally I thought the punchline was Fermi’s)


Reading Miklós Bánffy’s epic Transylvanian Trilogy is a slow, rich, rare pleasure, at risk of sounding too blurb-y. I have resisted posting any excerpts but will make an exception for this passage from “They Were Found Wanting” Balint Abady, the main protagonist, has just met Jopal, who in the first volume “They Were Weighed” is met having invented a flying machine – just after Santos-Dumont and the Wright Brothers. Jopal angrily refused Abady’s offer of help, and in this passage had just appeared as part of a delegation of charcoal burners at a development conference. Jopal has totally abjured technological and scientific work. In the passage that follows, Abady considers a whole host of Hungarian lost geniuses:

As Abady walked over to the restaurant he was thinking over what had happened to Jopal. How strange it was, the destiny of Hungarians! How many there were like Jopal, as full of talent as their greatest rivals in the world but who, once they had reached their goal, would give it all up as easily as it had been obtained. Such people would never fight for the recognition they deserved; it was as if they would soon lose all interest if everything didn’t go their way from the beginning, and that they had striven so far only to prove to themselves that they could do it if they wanted to, and not for worldly success. Several names at once occurred to him. There was Janos Bolyai, one of the outstanding men of his generation, who gave up everything at the age of twenty-one; Samu Teleki, who had explored so many hitherto unknown parts of Africa and discovered Lake Rudolf, but who never bothered himself to write about his travels; Miklos Absolon, who had been to Lhasa but who never spoke of his travels except obliquely and as humorous anecdotes. Then there was Pal Szinyei-Merse, the forerunner of the Impressionists, who gave up painting and did not touch his brushes for more than fifteen years; and, of course, Tamas Laczok, who earned fame in Algeria where he could have made history but who abandoned it all to return to Hungary and work on the railways as a simple engineer.

There seemed to be a sort of oriental yearning for Nirvana, a passivity as regards worldly success which led his compatriots to throw away their chances of achievement, abandon everything for which they had striven for years, sometimes justifying themselves with some transparent excuse of offence offered or treachery on the part of so-called friends, but more often offering no explanation at all. Perhaps it was the other side of the coin of national pride which led them to throw everything away as soon as they had proved to themselves that they could do it if they wished, as if the ability alone sufficed and the achievement counted for nothing. It was like an inherited weakness transmitted from generation to generation and, of course, it had been epitomized in Janos Aranyi’s epic poem about Miklos Toldi, who under appalling difficulties conquered all his country’s enemies in a few months and then retired to till his fields and was never seen again until extreme old age.

Most of the notables mentioned above are easily enough found on Wikipedia, with the exceptions of Miklos Absolon and Tamos Laczok; for the excellent reason they are characters in Bánffy’s epic tapestry. Laczok’s career in Algeria and subsequent humble worklife does echo the career of Amity Cadet’s father

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 …