Saturday, 31 December 2016

Reflections On Earlier Reading

Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016).

One conversation between two people is one event but two experiences. This was never more clearly shown than in the two accounts of the encounter between Marla and Ben. We have no idea of what is going on inside Ben when all that we have read is Marla's experience of their brief bizarre dialogue.

"Chaotic" and "embedded" (see here) seem contradictory but I am sure that they are thesis and antithesis although the synthesis, reality perceived and understood as both dynamic and complete, eludes me. Each person is simultaneously a part of the totality and a part of its self-consciousness but only a part. As yet, I know only seven chapters of this million-word novel although the rest of the text already exists, stretching ahead of me from p. 245 to p. 1174. Right now, most of 2017 also stretches ahead of us. I am certain that it is real although not that it is present - but I am about to read about Snowy Vernall's "...glimpse of the elusive fourth plane, the fourth axis, which was time." (p. 245)

Happy New Year.

"Embedded In The Future"

Snowy Vernall in Jerusalem shares the perspective of Doctor Manhattan in Watchmen:

"The chaotic childbirth onto the South London cobbles couldn't be avoided; was embedded in the future."
-Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016), p. 244.

"Some marble blocks have statues within them, embedded in their future."
-Alan Moore, Watchmen (London, 1987), Chapter IV, p. 24.

Also, on Mars:

"It's called chaotic terrain." Chapter IX, p. 14.

"To distill so specific a form from that chaos of improbability, like turning air to gold... That is the crowning unlikelihood. The thermodynamic miracle." Chapter IX, p. 27.

Chaos, childbirth and embedding in the future are common to these texts. "Jerusalem" evokes the Bible and Blake. "Watchmen" evokes Plato and Juvenal.

"Alan Moore is the Watchman on the walls of civilization."
-Kathy Acker, quoted on the back of Voice Of The Fire.

Endings

This image shows the "monoliths," mentioned here.

Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016).

The Prelude, "Work in Progress," ends with Alma's exhibition about to begin. This is indeed a prelude.

"A Host of Angles" ends with Ern's death, a closure.

"ASBOs of Desire" ends with a cliff-hanger:

"She walked towards the car." (p. 93)

"Rough Sleepers" ends with anticipation:

"This looked like it was going to turn out to be quite a night." (p. 123)

"X Marks the Spot" ends with the monk Peter's death and last word, another closure.

"Modern Times" ends with anticipation or apprehension:

"Somewhere not too far away, he hoped, an audience was waiting. The gas mantle hissed a dismal premonition." (p. 173)

"Blind, but Now I See" ends with a revelation.

"Atlantis" ends with another cliff-hanger as Ben tries to return to writing poetry:

"His right hand trembled, inches from the snow-blind, empty page." (p. 241)

That is as far as I have read but it is a great deal of human life and death already, to say the least.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Monoliths, Beamed Down

Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016).

OK. Ben has met Marla (see here) and we have found out what happened to her. We knew that she had got into a car and we think now that she was in the crashed car but it is something else. Ben reminds me of our Ben in Lancaster who is an amdram merchant, not a published poet.

Alan Moore's Ben recalls a historical miracle that sounds familiar from Voice Of The Fire although I am not about to check it out at this time of night after watching an episode of Arrow, then reading more of Jerusalem.

This is good - two tower blocks are:

"...black as Stanley Kubrick monoliths, beamed down by an unfathomable alien intelligence..." (p. 239)

Two sf screen references right beside each other. Monoliths, beamed down. We all understand it. And it is just two blocks of flats. But Ben, who thinks the comparison, is a published poet, of course.

Addendum: See comments below.

The Blogverse II

See here. Also:

Science Fiction
Ghosts And Time Travelers

Logic Of Time Travel
Further Digging

Religion And Philosophy
"It was still there..."
"Time Does Not Exist"

Comics Appreciation
Justice And Truthfulness
The Blogverse

Personal And Literary Reflections
Novels About Cities
New Worlds And Angel Language
Synchronicities
Layers Of Language
Multiple Viewpoints
An Historical Edifice
Abandoned Supermarket Trolleys
A Painter, A Prostitute And A Published Poet

A Painter, A Prostitute And A Published Poet

Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016).

In "Work in Progress," we meet Alma Warren, a painter.

In "ASBOs of Desire," we meet Marla, a prostitute, and Marla meets a self-proclaimed published poet.

In "Atlantis," we meet Benedict Perrit, a published poet.

Thus, when Benedict sallies forth into the city center, we expect him to meet Marla and he might still do so but first he meets Alma. Thus, having seen Alma from her viewpoint and that of her brother, Mick, we now see her from the pov of old school friend, Benedict. The fictional characters seem real and behind them are real Northamptonites. Thus, we experience:

reality;
fiction reflecting reality;
realistic fiction -

- or, to combine the three, realistic fiction reflecting reality. What prehistoric genius invented fiction, which is neither truth nor lie? Fiction is implicit in language because any proposition entails negations, e.g., "The sky is blue" entails "The sky is not red, green, yellow etc," which immediately inspires the thought, "But what if it were?" Who wrote a story about the sky possibly being a different color? When Alan Moore's Miracleman had changed the world, his daughter, returning from space, noticed that he had been redecorating and remarked that he had decided to leave the sky that color...

In Alan Moore's first novel, a prehistoric moron does not understand that statements can be untrue. He is "'...not glean that one may say of thing while thing is not.'" (Voice Of The Fire, London, 1996, p. 28)

He was on the site of Northampton but in 4000 BC so is Jerusalem a sequel?

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Abandoned Supermarket Trolleys

Someone said on the radio that the abandoned supermarket trolley is a powerful symbol of promised plenty in the midst of urban dereliction.

What is the difference between a supermarket trolley and a non-executive director? The supermarket trolley has a mind of its own but a non-executive director can hold more food and drink.

"An abandoned shopping trolley rolled towards him menacingly for perhaps a foot, but then thought better of it, creaking to a sudden standstill."
-Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016), p. 211.

Sf story idea: shopping trolleys are mobile AIs and some have escaped into the undergrowth like wild dogs.

When I still worked, the Book People left a complete Thomas The Tank Engine in our office. It included a map of the fictional island off Barrow where the series is set. Alan Moore treatment? - The engines are experimental AIs confined to an artificial island...

An Historical Edifice

In Alan Moore's Jerusalem, read Henry's story to the end. Since I am a denizen of the late twentieth and early twenty first centuries, I have never seen a mark on a slave - but I did see a number on a Holocaust survivor. I wish we did not have to keep resisting racism and neo-Nazism - but we are the heirs of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

In Jerusalem, we appreciate the writing as it unfolds in every line and also the cumulative effect as the characters interact. We have entered the vestibule of an immense four dimensional structure. To discern the extent and shape of that structure will require at least one full rereading. I greet you from p. 205 of a first reading. I will arrive, changed, at p. 1174 at some time in my personal future.

Multiple Viewpoints

Alan Moore's Jerusalem (London, 2016) is a multiple viewpoints novel. We read a conversation in "Rough Sleepers," then reread the same conversation from the other pov in "X Marks the Spot." It is also in another century but the supernatural is involved.

A character is described as seen by others in "Modern Times," then he turns out to be the viewpoint character of "Blind, but Now I See." Henry is a "Way Henry saw it..." kind of guy:

"Way Henry saw it, people could like what they wanted to, so long as it weren't nothing bad." (p. 175)

I imagine that conversation with Henry might consist of being asked to agree with propositions that turned out to be tautologies. Because this is Henry's pov, the text is appropriately ungrammatical:

"Clouds was piled like mashed potatoes in blue gravy..." (p. 178)

A striking image once we get past the ungrammar!

Would you believe this? When I attended primary school, 1956-60, a fellow pupil wrote a short story from a young boy's pov. A member of the pastoral staff, not a teacher, read the opening passage of the story and set out to correct the grammar. When the young author explained, "The boy himself is writing this...," the officious adult did not understand what was being said to him! Those guys thought they could tell us things! And they could tell us some things but we had to sort the wheat from the chaff. The same guy told me that I knew that marriage was a sacrament whereas, of course, the truth was that they were telling me that marriage was a sacrament.

Meanwhile, all praise to Alan Moore for writing, from Henry's pov, "Clouds was piled..."

Read the novel to find out why the image for this post is relevant.

Layers Of Language

Alan Moore, Jerusalem (London, 2016), "Rough Sleepers," pp. 95-123; "X Marks The Spot," pp. 125-149; "Modern Times," pp. 151-173.

A Benedictine monk called Peter differentiates aspirational faith from falsifiable belief. Is Peter's undogmatic Christianity anachronistic? Is his understanding of Islam mistaken? If all religion were as envisaged by Peter, then there would be mutual respect, not strife. However, there would still be underlying economic causes of conflicts. These would be rationalized by ideological disagreements. In those days, ideologies were religious - which gets us back to where we started.

Alan Moore plays with two meanings of the word "centre." Where is the centre? The centre of England, the point furthest from the sea in any direction, is somewhere in Hamtun/Northampton, pointed out by an angel. Alternatively, the centre is the sports and recreation centre where they play billiards.

P. 151 begins, "Sir Francis Drake..." so we think that the fictional narrative incorporates this historical figure. However, this Sir Francis has a pocket watch and smokes Woodbines. So maybe we are in alternative history? However, the second paragraph reveals that "Sir Francis Drake" is merely a nickname. The following page reveals that we are in 1909. Alan Moore would be well aware that he has evoked historical fiction, then alternative history, before returning us to our twentieth century.

We move through fictive layers. Peter saw a parliament of rooks kill one of its members, thus evoking an installment of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman.

Synchronicities

Poul Anderson's Time Patrolman Manse Everard speculates about synchronicity. Alan Moore explains "synchronicity" on p. 41 of Jerusalem (London, 2016).

Jerusalem is published by Knockabout Limited whose address is on Lancaster Road in London. I am blogging from Lancaster.

When visiting family in Leicester, I was able to make a day trip to nearby Northampton, home of Alan Moore. Once in print, I was mistakenly described as living not in Lancaster but in Leicester.

I attribute no significance to these accidental connections.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

New Worlds And Angel Language

I have not discovered an America but I have discovered three Columbuses. Poul Anderson and SM Stirling open up new worlds, including even pre-Columbian North America in various periods and timelines, whereas Alan Moore shows us this world in new ways:

a painter hears an angel and/or goes mad in St Paul's Cathedral;

a Northampton prostitute knows that the royal family killed Princess Diana because Di predicted it so she must have had precognition;

a homeless man practices a weird kind of time travel that I have not yet come to grips with.

The author on the creative process:

"This is the magic place, the mad place at the spark gap between word and world. All of the subtle energies pass through here on their journey into form. If properly directed, they'll provide the closure that the narrative demands: the terrible black dogs shall come. There shall be fires, and severed heads, and angel language."
-Alan Moore, Voice Of The Fire (London, 1996), pp. 296-297.

As I said in a fan letter to Alan Moore, this is angel language!

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Novels About Cities

A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is about the real London and Paris of the French Revolutionary period.

Ulysses by James Joyce is about the real Dublin.

Dublin: Foundation and Ireland: Awakening by Edward Rutherford are about the historical Dublin.

New York by Rutherfurd is about New York.

Mother London by Michael Moorcock is about the real London.

The King of Ys Tetralogy by Poul and Karen Anderson is about the mythical Ys.

Voice Of The Fire by Alan Moore is about the historical Northampton.

Jerusalem by Alan Moore is about the mythical and real Northampton.

Cities:

London
Paris
Dublin
New York
Ys
Northampton

The Blogverse

I signed off for 2016 from Poul Anderson Appreciation here. However, since then, I have posted on six other blogs:

Science Fiction
Kinds Of Sequels (comparing Poul Anderson and SM Stirling; citing Larry Niven)
Reviews (comparing Stirling to Anderson; quoting Harry Turtledove)

James Blish Appreciation
Armageddon (comparing Blish and Stirling)

Logic of Time Travel
Back In Timeline 1 (Stirling)

Religion And Philosophy
Meanings Of A Word (gods and God)
Atman And Anatta (non-theistic religion)
Doctrinal Disagreements About What Exists (non-theistic religions and physics)
Preliminary Thoughts On "Eternalism" (responding to the Awesome Mage of Northampton)

Comics Appreciation
The Name And The Man (possibly of more general interest)
Jerusalem (the Awesome Mage)
Green Arrow: A Mini-History (comics stuff)
Green Arrow: A Mini-History II
DC Screen Continuities
Different Versions
Shado And The Huntress
Hell Or Hern (Hern the Hunter)
Christmas Presents
Changes In Comics (Hern)
Rupert Bear

Personal And Literary Reflections
Archery, Wicca, Kipling And Tyre (Stirling)
Introducing Michael Havel... (Stirling)
Another Transtemporal Inn (the Mage)
The Blogverse (which you are reading)

Another Transtemporal Inn

I have found another inn of indeterminate ontological status to add to Poul Anderson's Old Phoenix and Neil Gaiman's Inn of the Worlds' End. In Alan Moore's Voice Of The Fire, an English pub called Labour In Vain is often unnoticed, seems not always to be there and initially looks as if derelict but, when it is entered, the reader recognizes characters from other chapters/centuries.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Introducing Michael Havel...

"Michael Havel..."
-SM Stirling, Dies The Fire (New York, 2005), Chapter One, p. 1.

Who is he? Well, we don't know yet. Starting to read a new (to us) novel, we expect to be introduced to a whole new cast of characters. More specifically, having just finished reading the multiple viewpoint Nantucket Trilogy and now starting to read the opening volume of another series set in a much later period of the original timeline, we are obliged to accept a whole new cast of characters. But the author is able to introduce a considerable number of them in just a few pages.

Dan and Gerta Fogarty employ Havel as an aviator and Gerta's aunt introduces him to five new passengers. We quickly forget our Nantucketers although they exist off-stage for the first hour of the new narrative which begins on:

"Tuesday, March 17th, 1998
"6:15 P.M., MST - Change minus one hour." (p. 1)

Many will die in the Change but most of the newly introduced characters must be destined to survive or there would be no point in introducing them. Will some Fundamentalists believe that the Change was the Rapture and that they have been Left Behind? Fortunately, I understand, there will be some comparatively sane Wiccans among the cast. Nowadays we inherit all the traditions and can opt to celebrate life through a myth different from that of our parents.

We knew that the Nantucket Event must have been perceived by people outside Nantucket but now we know how they perceived it:

"'Some sort of electrical storm off Cape Cod - not just lightning, a great big dome of lights over Nantucket, half a dozen different colors. The weather people say they've never seen anything like it.'...
"The voice of the on-the-spot reporter cruising over Nantucket Sound started to range up from awestruck to hysterical...
"White light flashed, stronger than lightning..." (p. 7)

After the Event, the Change. Suddenly, Havel is flying a dead plane... 

Is the Marvel Comics White Event connected?

Archery, Wicca, Kipling And Tyre

Does a sentence get its meaning from the words or do the words get their meanings from their positions in a sentence? It has been argued that it is the latter. Certainly the difference between the bark of a tree and the bark of a dog is their relative positions in this sentence. Despite the paradoxical nature of sentences, each of us every day utters phrases and sentences that have never been heard before yet are instantly understood. I doubt if anyone has listed "Archery, Wicca, Kipling And Tyre" before.

In Dies The Fire (New York, 2005), SM Stirling acknowledges a work on archery. Works for me: archery will revive when gunpowder stops working and I am watching Arrow dvds. Stirling also acknowledges help with Wicca. Works for me: I know several Wiccans and one of my few neighbors who is neither a Muslim nor a University student has an altar with images of the horned god and the goddess.

Stirling quotes Kipling:

"Far-called our navies melt away
"On dune and headland sinks the fire;
"Lo, all our pomp of yersterday
"Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!"

This resonates. Stirling quoting Kipling referencing Tyre evokes the Bible, a poem by James Elroy Flecker and a Time Patrol story by Poul Anderson.

A title can be a quotation or a deliberate misquotation. It seems that Dies The Fire is the latter. Other examples:

Goethe's Faust wrote, "In the beginning was the deed!";
TS Eliot, in The Wasteland, wrote, "I will show you fear in a handful of dust," whereas Neil Gaiman's The Sandman was advertised with the phrase, "I will show you terror in a handful of dust...";
a poem based on Gaiman's Endless characters ends with the line:

"Rage, rage against the dying of delight."

Saturday, 20 February 2016

In Preston Today

The English Defense League held a small national rally in Preston, bringing their message that immigrants are not welcome. This is the group that, when it was able only a few years ago to demonstrate in large numbers and was not heavily policed, ran riot and attacked Asians.

In response, Preston City Council, Preston Trade Unions Council and Preston Mosques held a "One Preston, One Community" rally with music, speeches and free food provided by the mosques. An officer of my former public sector union helped to organize the event together with the national Unite Against Fascism campaign. Several hundred people, including families with children, attended and a Muslim community leader proposed that this become an annual event. We occupied the central square of the city.

The EDL, escorted by the police, held a brief rally in a nearby side street, arriving long after us and leaving long before us. We saw the tops of their banners above a police barrier. We were not visible to them because of the barrier but made sure that we were audible. The Leader of Preston City Council and other Councillors of his political party went as a group onto the stage. He spoke of refugees who have recently been welcomed into Preston and have become members of the local community. He also linked this to the welcoming of Jewish refugees in the 1930's.

We were able to return home after an enjoyable event, confident that the EDL message of hate and division had been decisively rejected.