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Also the introduction. The working title is _Six Ways of Looking at an Elephant_. I expect I will be doing more tweaking, and I need to do another pass in order to add the footnotes, but I think this is going to be the most difficult chapter--I keep forgetting how complicated lines, shapes, and forms really are. Also, I had to spend a lot of time figuring out the format of how to explain art terms, and deciding which terms absolutely needed to be in the first chapter without making that chapter huge ("elements of art" is pretty basic, "principles of design" can come later, especially since art instructors don't necessarily agree what all those principles are, just that they exist).

When I have a second chapter, I may ask for beta readers to give feedback on comprehensibility and whether I am squeezing too much into a chapter.
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An article on
The 7 Types of Short Story Opening
http://io9.com/5814687/the-7-types-of-short-story-opening-and-how-to-decide-which-is-right-for-your-story

during which I experienced the misheard word of the day:
it was "Ares," and *not* "aeryes," as I originally thought.

A notable difference.
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Kes: I was thinking of submitting this to the
Lost Pages Imaginary Book contest
http://chizine.com/chizinepub/contests/lost-pages/index.php
but it's supposed to be 150 words, and I'm way over that.

The Book House by Hurst Hathorne Montague and Richard Clipson Sturges

Built in 1899, The Book House is located in Boston’s Bak Bay and exists as an eerie synthesis of poetry and architecture. It was designed by the decadent poet Hurst Hathorne Montague and the architect Richard Clison Sturges. Montague called the house Mnemosyne, and it's numerous doors, windows, fireplaces, and staircases act as a record of the words and images from what Montague referred to as his master work.

Each individual door, window, etc.--all outstanding examples of the art nouveau style--is said to reflect a notable incident in Montague's (frequently scandalous) life. The most infamous example is the door to the master bedroom which has carved upon it two images of Montague's mistress (whom Montague also referred to as “Mnemosyne” in his poetry), the image on the outside of the door showing her reimagined as a scantily-clad Daphne in flight, while the door as seen from inside the bedroom shows her kneeling and entirely unclad with her unbound hair transforming into leaves. Montague's mistress was later to hang herself from a tree in the garden soon after Montague's disappearance.

Harvard art professor Elizabeth Blackwood states in her book _Memory and Death in The Book House_ that the doors, windows, and stairways, represent Montague's own psychic tarot of twenty-two arcana. When art critic Henry Rose dismissed this theory by claiming that there are only twenty-one of these "tarot cards," Blackwood countered that the twenty-second is the door through which Montague passed during the night he disappeared. Despite the fact that Book House was filled with approximately a hundred of Montague’s bohemian friends and acquaintances, and that at least a dozen people were in the library when Montague exited through the fateful door through which he was never to return, the uncanny door has never been discovered. Descriptions of it’s style and dimensions vary wildly, but all the witnesses agree that It had carved upon it the tarot image of the Hanged Man, but with Montague’s own laughing saturnine features.
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Kes: I have been known to say that being a horror fan is a special kind of masochist, because the amount of crap you will read far outnumbers the really good stuff. Ellen Datlow's criticism, which I quote below, concisely sums up the nature of the crappy stuff.

from an interview with Ellen Datlow
http://littlemisszombie.blogspot.com/2011/02/interview-with-ellen-datlow.html

block quote start
What qualities do you look for in a short story when selecting one for an anthology?

I want to be enveloped in the story as I’m reading it. That means the characters, setting and atmosphere, voice, and tone all work to draw me in. Those four elements when they’re just right can create a brilliant, memorable story. They don’t necessarily have to be balanced. A character can be so intriguing that it overwhelms any other weaknesses the story may have (although this happens more in novels).
But –and this may seem obvious-- the most important thing is to have a story to tell. I read many many pieces of horror fiction that are merely a series of events or set-ups whose only intention is to 1) end up with scenes of graphic torture or slaughter or 2) lead to the twist ending. This is crappy storytelling.
block quote end
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or, 6 Ways of Looking at an elephant

I only made one big resolution for 2011, and it's that this year I will add more art to my life.

The seed of this idea was planted almost a year ago, back in January of 2010, when I helped to organize a tactile tour of the Arisia art show. This annual art show lends itself extremely well to the tactile experience of art, as it includes a wide range of art forms and materials, from jewelry to pottery to fabric to ironmongery, and in 2010 even included a steampunk computer (this last was not available for touching but we all agreed that it deserved a prize for best auditory art).

For me, it was one of the most exciting convention events I had ever participated in. A large part of my enjoyment came from getting to share in the enthusiasm of other visually impaired participants and from having the chance to talk to artists who were obviously very passionate about exploring not just the visual but the tactile aspects of their art.

What took me by surprise, however, was the sense of remembering something which I had so utterly forgotten: my love of art.

For me it was a
madeleine moment
http://www.haverford.edu/psych/ddavis/p109g/proust.html
an intensely-felt but involuntary sense-memory wich made my hands itch to beholding pencil and drawing paper. More than that, however, I missed the sensation of being in "the zone," that sort of half-dream state during which one is completely immersed in giving form to something which, until that moment, has existed soly within one's imagination. That sensation, in particular, was an experience which I longed to rediscover.

After the art show, I realized how much I had missed having art in my life, and I resolved to do something about that lack.
essay continued below cut )
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Kes: I've been meaning to post the news that Cory's new short story collection, _With a Little Help_, is now out in multiple formats, as always, including as a free etext, as always
http://craphound.com/walh/

After the cut I include a couple of quotes from Cory's new article, "Zen and the Art of Self-Publishing," which answered at least one of publishing's greatest mysteries to me: what the heck is it about limited editions?

For now, here is Cory's description of the book and links to it's various formats:

*With a Little Help,* consists of 12 stories, all
reprints except for "Epoch," which was commissioned by the Ubuntu project's Mark Shuttleworth...
The book is available in many forms:

* 250 super-limited hardcovers: $275.
These are hand-bound at the Wyvern Bindery in Clerkenwell, London, and
printed by Oldacres of Hatton Garden. Each book has original paper
ephemera (see Flickr set) donated by various writer friends to the
project, and comes with a SD card bearing the full text of the book as
well as the full audiobook.

* Audiobook: MP3 CD $10. Ogg CD $5.50.
I tapped many voice actor friends (Neil Gaiman, Mur Lafferty, Wil
Wheaton, Leo Laporte, Emily Hurson, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Hugh AD
Spencer, Mary Robinette Kowal, JC Hutchins, Roy Trumbull, Jonathan
Coulton, Spider Robinson, Jesse Brown, and Russell Galen) to record the
stories in this volume, and their recordings were mastered by John
Taylor Williams, who also masters my podcast.
[Kes: Jonathan Coulton reading to me? Sqwee! Sorry, Alexx!]
continued below cut )
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Kes: The following quote finally managed to put into words why I wince whenever I hear writers going on about "world building" as I can practically see the chapters of description appearing in the air above their heads. Plus, I just like the fact that the author ca discuss writing in terms of something so simple as Legos.

Beware the Trap of 'Bore-geous' Writing
By
AYELET WALDMAN
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704243904575630580347359368.html

block quote start
Though you won't find it in Webster's, there's a word to describe the kind of meticulously constructed writing that bores even its author. A "bore-geous" novel is one that is packed with gorgeous, finely wrought descriptions of places and people, with entire paragraphs extolling the slope of one character's
nose, whole chapters describing another's perambulations through a city. These novels are often historical or set in foreign lands, their bore-geousness inspired by the author's anxiety about making an unfamiliar world feel convincing and true. It's not that the sentences aren't well-constructed, even lovely.
They are. That's part of the problem. Bore-geousness happens when you are writing beautifully but pointlessly.
block quote end

Undecided

Jul. 28th, 2010 03:00 pm
kestrell: (Default)
I can't decide if the problem is that some people have too many keys on their keyboard or if the larger problem is that they have been allowed access to a keyboard at all.

And these same people are prone to large and numerous mass mailings.

And fake self-denigration which is supposed to show you how very witty they actually are.

Miss Manners, I miss you. I believe I will spend the afternoon rereading old-fashioned guides on how to write a letter.
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Some forms of fiction seem particularly prone to inscribing meaning upon the physical body;
continued below cut )
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As in the case of the myth of the blind storyteller, many of the blind characters I will be discussing explore the connection between blindness and knowledge, so the question of how the cognitive processes of blind people differs from that of people with normal vision seems like a good place to begin the discussion of specific works in speculative fiction.

In "None So Blind" by Joe Haldman, which won the Locus and Hugo awards for best short story in 1995, the narrator begins with the question, why aren't there more blind geniuses? The story proposes that, as blind people do not use their visual cortex, their brains have untapped resources which could be used for more intellectual processes. This idea is ascribed to the protagonist, a socially-awkward geek who falls in love with a blind woman. After he becomes a brain surgeon, and without informing her of the true purpose of the surgery, the geek uses his blind girlfriend as a test subject in order to partition off the visual cortex from the rest of the brain so that the visual corrtex can then be used to increase the blind person's intelligence. When the surgery is successful, the protagonist fulfills his original purpose of having this surgery performed upon himself so that he can increase his own intelligence. The story ends with one of the blind woman's former teachers bemoaning the fact that this surgery has become the norm, and that people are now divided into two groups, the rich and powerful blind class and the poor but sighted unmodded folks.

While some of us might indeed welcome a future in which clueless sighted people are compelled to serve their more intelligent blind overlords, the sad truth is, the human brain does not work this way.
continued below cut )
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by Kestrell Alicia Verlager
Talk/discussion delivered at Readercon on July 09, 2010

To begin with, I wanted to mention how I came to propose this discussion. I graduated from MIT's Comparative Media Studies master's program a number of years ago, and my thesis was _Decloaking Disability: Images of Disability and Technology in Science Fiction Media.
http://www.blindbookworm.org/decloakingdisabilitycomplete.rtf .

One of the reasons I love speculative fiction in general and science fiction specifically is it's many characters with non-normative bodies and modes of perception. However, when it comes to fictional blind characters, I often find myself shaking my head and wishing I could talk to writers about what they have gotten wrong in regard to the experience of being a real blind person. So, when I received an invitation to submit ideas for Readercon programming, I thought, Here is the perfect audience! And the Readercon programming committee was kind enough to encourage me.

Because my goal is to discuss specific representations of blindness and blind people, I am going to use concrete examples from specific works. I don't wish for this to be interpreted as personal attacks upon the writers who wrote these works; I specifically mention in the title of this talk that these are all goodwriters, really, the best writers. The problem, I believe, is that there is so much mythologizing and misinformation about blindness and blind people that it is difficult for even the best authors to always distinguish fact from fiction, reality from stereotype.

My hope in presenting this talk is to supply some ideas and questions which people can employ in order to be more critical as writers, readers, and reviewers, for--I'm going to use a quote here from Samuel Delany's introduction to _Uranian Worlds_:--
"If we want to change the way we read, we have to change the way we write."

In considering representations of blind people in narrative, one becomes aware of how deeply woven together story and blindness are as represented by the mythic figure of the blind storyteller. Borges, Carolan, Milton, Homer--their blindness seems not merely a matter of biographical detail but something of more significance. My use of the word "significance" is intentional, for I wil repeatedly be returning to the question of what blindness signifies or means within the context of the stories I will be discussing.
continued below cut )
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In any piece of fiction or nonfiction which discusses blindness, one can typically classify the representations of blind people into one of three categories:
continued below cut )
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Kes: The idea for this story came to me pretty much fully formed as soon as I read the title of this anthology, which is due out in September: _Unicorns Vs. Zombies_ edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (Margaret K. McElderry, September 21, 2010)
http://www.amazon.com/Zombies-vs-Unicorns-Holly-Black/dp/1416989536

Bane was standing by the shore of Lake Despair contemplating the inky shadows of its icy depths when he first saw the little girl coming out of the Fearful Forest.

Granted, the kid was difficult to miss, what with the cotton candy pink pigtails and the fuschia backpack being shades rarely found in nature, at least, not in the sort of nature Bane considered to be natural.

Let other unicorns go all lavender-maned emitting silvery light out of their asses--Bane preferred the eternal twilight of ageless pine forests and the blue-black pool of an ancient bottomless tarn which Bane felt were the natural complements to his own jet black mane and sleek sooty flanks. Shine some darkness in the world, that was Bane's motto.
continued below cut )
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I need something sickening-sweet that a cute six-year-old girl would have on a t-shirt.
kestrell: (Default)
Prompted by the big revelation of the final episode of Lost.

Me: I'm breaking up with you because you never seem interested in what I want.

XBF: What? I am too interested in what you want.

Me: No, you aren't. You say you are, but we always end up doing what you want while I sit around bored watching you do whatever it is you want to do, which is usually the same thing you did last time we spent time together. I don't think you take this relationship seriously.

XBF: I take our relationship seriously.

Me: No, you're just in it for what you can get, like my Neilsen rating. You're boring and predictible and I'm breaking up with you.

XBF: I'll change. Really. I want us to be together years from now.

Me: You said that last time I wanted to break up with you. And the time before that. I'm not falling for that line anymore. I feel like you're just going through the motions and not even trying to keep me interested. The last few times we were together, I found myself staring into space imagining doing something more exciting, like listening to paint dry.

XBF: I'm exciting.

Me: Sure you are, sweetie, and some day you'll find someone who can really appreciate everything you have to offer. I'm sure there are a lot of lonely invertebrates out there. Now this is me reaching for the remote.

XBF: No, wait! Don't leave me! I need you! Who's going to prop up my singking ratings?

Me: *Click*
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I'm currently reading John Crowley's _Four Freedoms_, which features a protagonist with a disability, and I am struck, as always, by how Crowley manages to bring such a visual sensibility to his work, while also providing such a rich sense of the multiple characters's interior lives.

For those who may not know, Crowley has worked for decades in the field of documentary film, and he has a genius for the language of describing visuals. It's
thanks to John Crowley
http://bostonreview.net/BR32.3/crowley.html
that I found out that there is a word for something which I had been striving to express to sighted people for years: why is it considered
to be such an impossible dream that I expect visual artists and critics to be able to describe what they see and what they do? Language and art should not be distant countries completely unknown to one another.

John Crowley, like one of the alchemists in his own books, has the mysterious occult
word to give my thoughts shape: "The word for written descriptions, in prose or verse, of works of art is ekphrasis..."

I use the word occult not merely in its meaning of magical but in its meaning of hidden or darkened, because language helps us to cast a light upon what has up until then remained hidden or half-sensed, perhaps only because, in limiting ourselves to a single sense, we fail to place what we are examining in various lights.

It's kind of difficult to talk about art or John Crowley's writing without, perhaps, coming across as wearing one's lit crit hat, but the work which recently reminded me of this link between words and pictures was an old movie, the classic film noir "Out of the Past," starring Robert Mitchum and produced by Jacques Tourneur, whose own work says a lot about thoughts and pictures, dark and light.

What struck me in listening to "Out of the Past" was how it possesses something which I find sadly lacking in a lot of contemporary films: dialogue which is sharp and eloquent, but which reinforces the personalities of the characters and underscores the sensibility of the film.

In checking out he IMDB page for this film, I realized that the person who wrote the screenplay also wrote the book upon which it was based and the radio version. It struck me that it was no surprise that this writer wrote dialogue which was fast-paced and snappy, because radio, like Shakespeare's plays, had to put not only the emotion but the action into the words. No long panning shots to show you the backdrop, no closeups to show you the teary-eyed woman or the squinting, flinty-eyed tough guy. Just words, creating pictures.
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My surgery yesterday went well so I'm back home, but mostly just fit for lots of sleeping and reading.

From The Green Man Review
http://www.greenmanreview.com/
comes sad news regarding Kage Baker.

Bleak midwinter indeed.

Green Man Review also includes a piece I wrote about the Lovecraftian tea party I hosted back in October, although some of the details and identities have been changed or even lavishly embroidered.

It couldn't have been any more atmospheric, for on that deep winter afternoon a dirty leaden light filtered feebly through the high narrow windows of the
Robert Graves Memorial Reading Room. Outside one could hear the 'Winter wind as it broke loose and raged about like a recently-escaped jinn woken from a centuries-long dream of vengeance, tearing down curtains of cold rain while all the leafless trees bent low as if they were nothing more than trembling supplicants before a mad and merciless lord.
continued at
http://www.greenmanreview.com/
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When your neighbors have been having a band practice for the past hour, the purpose of which you can only suppose is to advertise their existence as the least musically-talented band ever tot he entire world, because they insist on amplifying their practice at 11, and you realize that you have spent the last ten minutes thinking that, if you were a werewolf, you could knock on the front door and when someone answered the door dash inside and rip out everyone's jugular with your fangs, all the while howling your rage and sense of release to the world until finally you were done and it was silent and you could go back to your nice quiet aerye, covered in warm blood but happy.
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I didn't think to check this earlier, but I have a bit of writing about the Lammas Queen posted at Green Man Review
http://greenmanreview.com/whats_new.html
--it's the rambly fictional bit toward the middling end of the page. I like to track Lammas by the new calender, because then I can say I was born on Lammas (August 12, as opposed to old calender August 1).

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