Friday, June 29, 2012

Samples - The Slaves

  One page or so from my novel about modern slavery - The Slaves:

  The frost traveled with them, to the Ohio mining town, between the high wires, well armed guards and dirty faces. On a low, wooden platform Nick, Jonas and Carla attempted to be heard in a cauldron of boiling blood and hopelessness and seething rage.
  – I can feel it, Nick mumbled, and Jonas heard him. Through all the ruckus Jonas heard him. – I can feel everything here. It’s strengthening me. It’s weakening me. I had never thought… never imagined it could be like this.
  He stepped forward, and it was like he grew there and then, as if he suddenly was twice as tall as one second earlier. Carla smiled brightly and Jonas looked at him in awe.
  – YOU’RE AFRAID, he shouted.
  Everybody stopped talking, stopped shouting, started staring.
  The shouts among the miners faded. Even the scorn from the men with guns surrounding the gathering lost its potency. Everybody listened.
  – Never forget the reason you do this. He spoke quietly now, almost subdued. – Yes, you need money. Money is needed in this world, this wretched world… But never forget why you’re doing this, why you’re opposing the mining companies, and the people lining their own pockets aided by your suffering. Never forget that you’re doing this because you want to claim your dignity, your right to be treated as a human being, not a sheep. For you to organize, to start labor unions is one step in the right directions to do that, to claim your dignity, your birthright as a human being, as a sentient, living individual and person. Remember that there is strength in numbers. Yes, you are alone, and perhaps you won’t get help, but always remember that giving up, believing the lies of your «employers», will only serve to weaken you and return you to the codependent creatures you were before, before you took the crucial step forward and claimed your humanity.
  He spoke different from the people in the valley. His wording was more «sophisticated», more elaborate, but they understood him.
  – Remember that freedom can’t be given, but must be taken. You don’t kneel before another man and beg him for favors, for elementary, fundamental human rights. The human being is born free, but today, in our fundamentally unjust and dominant society, this… pyramid of fear, chains are shackling us from the moment of our first breath, and freedom must be taken. The chains must be broken, so they can never more be used to shackle us, to make us something less than human. This is the message I’m sending to you and to your professed masters.

  And another:

  – It’s happening, Carla exclaimed weakly, thunderstruck. – It’s finally happening.
  She looked at Nick, looked at him in fear and affection.
  The three kept heading south, and during the days to come it was Carla’s excited face Jonas kept seeing.
  – A Woman wasn’t a person fifty years ago, Carla Wolf said, to a hall of shouting women and men, a meeting discussing women’s rights, in Charleston, West Virginia. – After marrying she wasn’t legally allowed to handle her own affairs. Not according to the law of United States of America, the land of the free. She was a non-person, one totally without legal influence over her own life. And women are still oppressed, not allowed the freedom and economic power denied them for so long.
  Cheers and boos rose at her, at the three of them at the podium, like knifes, like prods stuck in the fire. Carla smiled.
  – Let me say one thing: Men aren’t the enemy here. They, too, are oppressed by the system, the world pyramid with the many below and the few above. This is a system hostile to all humans, not only to women. But women are a «natural» underclass in this system, because they, in some key places in society are still considered less than human. Fifty percent of humanity, ladies and gentlemen, and we aren’t human?
  A man stood up and screamed at her. Spittle flowed from his mouth.
  – Thank you, sir, she grinned. – Always nice to be appreciated.
  And the laughter drowned the man’s insane glee, and an insane rage was lit in his eyes.
  Another man shouted.
  – YOU’RE A WITCH, a woman shrieked. – A SERVANT OF SATAN.
  – So odd, Jonas shouted back. – To fear the truth…
  And it was satisfying to hear a few cries of agreement.
  But even among the people they had come here to support there was… hesitation. They probably felt Carla had gone overboard in her speech, probably felt unease over the passion in which she spoke. Jonas nodded to himself. Something had changed, in Carla, and thereby the world. He felt a thrill shoot through his body, his fevered, excited mind.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The rather lousy usefulness of reviews

  Don’t get me wrong, reviews aren’t totally useless to a given artist or enjoyer of art, especially when reviewing the work of an unknown artists. They give attention to the given book, film or piece of music or art and might draw attention to it that way. But they rarely say much about it. If the review is negative, they tend to exaggerate faults and even actually invent them, and if it is positive they tend to play them down. The somewhat «neutral» is often indifferent, boring pieces of texts helping nobody but earning the reviewer some more easy-earned cash.
  I tend to see professional reviewers as culture’s parasites. They don’t do anything but present one person’s opinion of art, something anyone could do. Some people claim that they have a special knowledge of one or more given art form and that we should give them special privileges, but I have never adhered to that stupid notion. To me they seem very set in their mold, very inflexible and therefore less able to give a piece of art anything even resembling a correct description.
  The very idea of reviews (and especially reviewers…) has always seemed… wrong to me. I often watch or read or listen to something that has been given scolding negative reviews, and very often find that I love it. I scratch my head and wonder if said reviewer has actually read, watched or listened to said art.
  Bloggers are a bit different, though. At least some of them approach it from a position of love. They genuinely love the written word, the moving images, the collection of chords and pieces of art, and they work hard to be honest in their assessment and don’t pretend to be demigods giving their divine opinion to poor mortals.
  I should point out that this isn’t about me. My low, general opinion of professional reviewers existed long before I published anything myself. I have been given both favorable and very unfavorable reviews (they tend to be either or), but even though I can’t claim they do not affect me (of course not, since I’m human), they don’t truly move me much either way.
  Each time I give a review I usually write an introductory note stressing that this is only one person’s opinion and that it shouldn’t be taken for more than what it is.
  So, you shouldn’t really care about reviews, one way or another.
  To me the ideal «review» would be a short description of the story and a few critical, honest comments.
  I get my best feedback and learn a lot when I have private, informal conversations for mutual gain with my readers, mostly through emails. That’s certainly one advantage of having sold fairly few copies. Bestselling authors don’t have that. Their feedback is doomed to be more impersonal.
  It is strange how more honest and open and bold people are in emails, compared to during an ordinary conversation. I may have to assure them several times that I appreciate them telling me both pros and cons before they start mentioning what they didn’t like about my story, but it works.
  The classic review doesn’t.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Stand up and stand out

  Many things are wrong with current human society, but one major wrong is most people's total inability to stand up for themselves, for their uniqueness and inner life. They're afraid to stand out, to show themselves as different from the herd.
  I see it all the time, even among my friends. One might discuss a lot with them in private, but as soon as it becomes somewhat public, in the media or in a crowd or otherwise, they pull back. They’re not willing to stand up for their unpopular and strange opinions.
  This is how current society works. We’re shown, at an early age the consequences of being a thinking, independent human being. The picking order is established quickly, like in a henhouse. Children see how the odd one is treated and learn their lesson.
  So, one crucial method of opposing today’s oppressive society, is to be very open about one’s radical opinions, both those overtly «political» (everything is political) or not, to be unafraid or at least brazen faced with possible public condemnation.
  Most adult brains are wired for submission today, instead of being the center of wild independence and savage freedom they should be.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Alien abductions - Missing Time

  In his non-fiction book Missing Time Budd Hopkins describes and explores several cases of alien abductions, focusing on seven of them. What strikes me the most is how well documented everything is, and what a cautious and rational approach he and other paranormal investigators have to all this. It’s just as much a study in good methodology, as in alien abductions. Anyone claiming he is asking leading questions is clearly not very rational at all.

  He and J. Allan Hynek and many others clearly reveal themselves as trained and laid-back psychic investigators, not sensationalists or quacks.

  You see, the thing with the UFO-experience and other paranormal events is that they are often confirmed by many people, who have, independently of each other experienced and witnessed the same events. They don’t know the other witnesses and may live far away from them, but still give many of the same details, details different from the general, well-known stories.

  Contrary to common opinion, also among people calling themselves scientist the UFO-experience isn’t anything new. It has happened during the entire human history, easy recognizable in primitive legends and religious texts. The modern abductions and sightings started during the eighteen nineties and have continued throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

  Budd Hopkins wrote:
  It is ironic but true that the very possibility of an extraterrestrial cause works against scientific interest in the UFO phenomenon. All of our thinking, all of our boundaries are anthropomorphically determined. Science is based upon human intelligence dealing with the empirical world. The nature of other possibly "superior" but surely different intelligences studying us is literally ungraspable. The whole business, potentially, is nothing less than a second, more devastating Copernican revolution, and none of us, scientist or not, can ever truly be prepared for that. And, of course, anyone who wishes can deliberately ignore all the photographic evidence, the written reports and radar contacts, and so on, and simply take refuge in the fact that, so far as we know, the one piece of evidence we are lacking is the central one — we don't have a captured UFO parked somewhere as the final, invincible clincher, the corpus delicti. As a friend of mine once said to me, "I believe they're up there all right, but I won't be content till I kick the tires on one of them."

  I disagree slightly with him here. I believe firmly that the United States government has at least one «flying saucer» stacked at «Area 51» or elsewhere and that other governments may have one or two as well.

  There is quite a bit of evidence for that, too. The saucer crashing at Roswell didn’t just disappear.

  But I agree that the ultimate proof isn’t present in the public eye.

  There are many quacks and attention-seekers out there, but that shouldn’t be used as an argument against the extensive body of evidence that is also out there.

  I think the «UFO-phenomenon» is many things, mostly the pervasive presence of extra-terrestrials, but also possible time-travel and inter-dimensional visitors and other related and unrelated paranormal «phenomena».

  It isn’t modern folklore, isn’t confabulation, isn’t false memories, isn’t multiple personality disorder or similar pseudo-scientific «explanations». It is clear to those who have truly studied this for a while, for decades that the attempts at explaining away the UFO experience and other paranormal events use far-fetched and weak arguments, bordering on the ridiculous.

  Yes, I have been abducted myself, but my experience isn’t really that much different from most others, so there is no need to describe it here. I will probably publish the story one day, anyway.

  Budd Hopkins died last year, leaving a stunning legacy and true contribution to mankind.

The UFO Experience by J. Allan Hynek (Contemporary Books 1972 ISBN-10: 0809291304)

Missing Time by Budd Hopkins (Richard Marek Pubs 1981 ISBN-10: 0399901027)

 Hopkins also has a great list of suggested further reading at the back of his book. 

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Losing yourself, finding yourself

  I lost myself in myself yesterday. When I came to twelve hours had passed, twelve hours without food and water, without peeing or moving from my chair. It happens sometimes, equally when I lose myself in my stories and magick and inner and outer world. The amount of work I had done was just phenomenal, both in quantity and quality. It isn’t like I don’t know where I am or anything, just that I focus everything on going deep within myself, slip into an altered state of consciousness, to find what truly matters and is exciting beyond words.