Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Oremus pro alienis...

From Maureen Wittman's blogg, as said by her son:

"Dear God please bless everyone in the whole entire world. Specially help the bad guys so they turn good. Bless everyone in the whole entire universe and everyone in space and all the spacemen and all the aliens floating in space and living on other planets. And bless Jesus and all the angels floating in heaven and my whole entire family. Amen."

Before you click on the comment box to argue, you might wish to note that the Greek word for "world" in St. John's gospel (1:29) "Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who taketh away the sin of the world." really is "kosmos" which in the Latin is "universe".

And perhaps this young man will be a priest by the time we discover star drive, and will lead a mission... But until the breakthrough, we have a good bit of work to do on our own planet. Let's be sure to also pray for laborers for the harvest.

Fighting - the Right Way

Please finish your food and drink before reading!

I think it is one of the funnier aspects of the calendar of the Saints that on September 29 we have the archangel St. Michael "the Scrapper" (as William Dunnigan calls him in The Miracle of the Bells) - and the very next day, September 30, we have St. Jerome - who was also rather a scrapper, and a holy man as well.

It brings to mind that we as Chestertonians must utterly reject the "intolerant" and the "judgemental" rejection of us because we are intolerant and judgemental. Why of course we are. We have to be. There's too much at stake! Apathy is not a virtue, nor is ignorance. You don't let a child eat a mushroom you know is poisonous, even if you have to grab it out of his hand. Nor do you let him eat it if you don't know it's edible! There has to be some sense and proportion as to what matters, whether it is eating or reading or any human activity.

But perhaps that seems too violent. It is always a joke to me when people talk "non-violence" as if that was some Christian thing. (But we must be careful about terms here.) Didn't they ever hear Jesus cursing the Pharisees? Wow. Brood of vipers! Hypocrites! Sure He said that. Or Herod: That fox. Yeah.

Again, perhaps too violent. But then are there not times when one must be very stern, even abruptly so - when the error is very serious? (As in the case of Hey kid you can't eat that!)

So what is the issue here? There has got to be something. It seems that there are different cases, and different ways of handing errors. OK, so let us see how Chesterton deals with his foes - how about good old George Bernard Shaw:
I am not concerned with Mr. Bernard Shaw as one of the most brilliant and one of the most honest men alive; I am concerned with him as a Heretic - that is to say, a man whose philosophy is quite solid, quite coherent, and quite wrong.
[GKC, Heretics CW1:46]
What is the point here? The point is that it is possible and even permissible to say someone is wrong - providing one has the sense that there is a point which that person needs to consider - or reconsider, and which you are trying to bring to his attention. Not that one says, or means, "you are wrong, and so I want to hurt you" or something of that kind. Chesterton wasn't like that. And a fortiori, (that is, "how much more") Jesus wasn't like that. Don't you remember this:
And which of you, if he ask his father bread, will he give him a stone? Or a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he reach him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father from heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask him?
[Luke 11:11-13]
Jesus would certainly have grabbed a child to keep him from swallowing something poisonous... that's what He was trying to do with the Pharisees. And lest you think it didn't work, just remember one of the most famous Pharisees is the man we now call "SAINT PAUL". Yes. Though there was a bit of violence too, but just enough to get him to pay attention.

So I think that's part of the point about St. Jerome (who might also be called the Scrapper). About St. Mike - well, that's a little different. We all know the Enemy he has to deal with, and that there's no chance he's going to change his mind.... Chesterton reminds us of such serious cases when he points out the danger in one of the truly nasty uses of printing - I won't use the word here, you know it, it starts with P, O, R, N - but he said: "There is such a thing as p*rn; as a system of deliberate *r*tic stimulants. That is not a thing to be argued about with one's intellect, but to be stamped on with one's heel." [The Common Man 127] I think you can readily grasp the allusion to Genesis 3:15 - it's the same Enemy.

I should mention that one needs special training when one must engage in this necessary but very difficult form of warfare. That training used to be spoken of as a sacrament - "Confirmation" or something like that - which had the Latin sense of "STRENGTH". But there's also something to be said for training in the milder forms of correction - cases where one can use true humor - that is, where one points out the silliness of a statement, but in a way which is utterly devoid of any personal insult or ridicule. Chesterton was a master of this, and there's one quote of his that almost always gets me laughing heartily. You need to see it, so I will show it to you... yes, it would be good for you to have a deep laugh just now, and it will also enlighten you on the method to be used:
That capable and ingenious writer, Mr. Arthur Symons, has included in a book of essays recently published, I believe, an apologia for "London Nights," in which he says that morality should be wholly subordinated to art in criticism, and he uses the somewhat singular argument that art or the worship of beauty is the same in all ages, while morality differs in every period and in every respect. He appears to defy his critics or his readers to mention any permanent feature or quality in ethics. This is surely a very curious example of that extravagant bias against morality which makes so many ultra-modern aesthetes as morbid and fanatical as any Eastern hermit. Unquestionably it is a very common phrase of modern intellectualism to say that the morality of one age can be entirely different to the morality of another. And like a great many other phrases of modern intellectualism, it means literally nothing at all. If the two moralities are entirely different, why do you call them both moralities? It is as if a man said, "Camels in various places are totally diverse; some have six legs, some have none, some have scales, some have feathers, some have horns, some have wings, some are green, some are triangular. There is no point which they have in common." The ordinary man of sense would reply, "Then what makes you call them all camels? What do you mean by a camel? How do you know a camel when you see one?"
[GKC Heretics CW1:167]
Oh, my. Some camels are triangular. Hee hee. What's instructive for us to see is the difference when GKC handles his good old enemy H. G. Wells who tried say something similar:
Then there is the opposite attack on thought: that urged by Mr. H. G. Wells when he insists that every separate thing is "unique," and there are no categories at all. This also is merely destructive. Thinking means connecting things, and stops if they cannot be connected. It need hardly be said that this scepticism forbidding thought necessarily forbids speech; a man cannot open his mouth without contradicting it. Thus when Mr. Wells says (as he did somewhere), "All chairs are quite different," he utters not merely a misstatement, but a contradiction in terms. If all chairs were quite different, you could not call them "all chairs."
[GKC Orthodoxy CW1:238]
What works better? Well, the nearly mathematical argument used against Wells works very tidily, and perhaps Wells nodded in a somewhat chastened acknowledgement that there was perhaps something wrong in his words. But the feathered, triangular, winged, green camels of Symons is far more memorable, and perhaps even he laughed about it as he grasped how odd his own words were.

I think I will give one more example, since it seems to fit in well with GKC's "feathered camels" - it is a bit less personal, but perhaps even more effective:
I have just received a long, elaborate, and very able document from the Moral Instruction League, describing what they conceive to be a complete system of sensible education in ethics; a scheme of ethics to which everyone assents and which can therefore be substituted for the moralities of all the creeds. It is supposed to represent the morality in which all men agree. And really, I do not think I ever read a document with which I disagreed so much. I do not mean at all that it is an exceptionally silly document; in many ways it is exceptionally capable. The only mistake in it is the mistake (as I freely admit), of almost all the enterprising educationalism of our day. That mistake is simply that all the people who think about education never seem to think about children. I solemnly assure the reader that I have read whole books about education written by intellectual people with great ingenuity; and I can only describe the effect on my mind by some kind of wild parallel. It felt as if I were reading a book called "How to Breed Horses," and it was all written like this: "Many people can enjoy the sweet voices of the horses singing at daybreak who nevertheless know little of the way they build their nests; and who (when they have tamed them) will often neglect to clean out their cages and be content merely with occasionally smoothing their feathers." One could only come to a sort of blear-eyed conclusion that the man was not talking about horses at all. Exactly in the same way many modern educational documents, including this one, strike me as not being either bad for children or good for children. They are not about children. The man who wrote them has obviously not the most glimmering idea of what a child is like. To take the most obvious point, they all talk as if the child stood still to be educated.
[GKC ILN May 30 1908 CW28:111-112]
You see? That's the trick... the point is not to insult the enemy - but to show him his error. In most all cases of human interaction, the man is a friend who made a mistake, and you need to shwo him with all kindness - as you might wish to be corrected when you fail (willfully or not). But we must also not forget that there are real dangers which may require more stringent action on our part. The Scholastics used that word distinguo (I distinguish) when one needs to divide a matter so as to think, see, understand (and argue) more clearly and correctly. We need to pray - to St. Michael, and St. Jerome - for light to know how and when to be kind and humorous - or severe - as we must be.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Prayers for the Dying #2

The second of the high tech and Chestertonian implementation of subsidiarity in the most generous manner - that is, the second of "three tender and useful prayers for the dying" - the Latin from the 1898 Rituale Romanum, with my attempted translation. (I have also tried to indicate the changes to plural.)

Tres piæ et utiles morientibus Orationes cum tribus Pater noster, et tribus Ave María, in agone mortis recitandæ.

Secundo dicitur: Kyrie eléíson. Christe eléison. Kyrie eléison.

Pater noster. Ave María.

Oratio. Dómine Jesu Christe, qui pro nobis mori dignátus es in cruce, óbsecro te, ut omnes amaritúdines passiónum, et pœnárum tuárum, quas pro nobis miseris peccatóribus sustinuísti in cruce, máxime in illa hora, quando sanctíssima ánima tua egréssa est de sanctíssimo córpore tuo, offérre et osténdere dignéris Deo Patri omnipoténti pro ánima hujus fámuli tui (horum famulorum tuorum) N., et líbera eum (eos) in hac hora mortis ab ómnibus pœnis et passiónibus, quas pro peccátis suis se timet (timent) meruísse: Qui cum Patre et Spíritu sancto vivis et regnas Deus in sæcula sæculórum. Amen.
Which is, approximately:
Three tender and useful prayers for the dying, with three "Our Fathers" and three "Hail Marys" for recitation in the agony of dying.

Second is said: Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.

Our Father... Hail Mary...

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Thou Who deigned to die on the cross for us, I beseech Thee, that all Thy bitter sufferings and punishments which Thou bore for us miserable sinners on the cross, most of all in that hour when Thy most holy soul departed from Thy most holy body, Thou would deign to offer and show to God the Father Almighty for the soul of this Thy servant, and free him in this hour of death from all punishment and suffering, which he fears he has merited for himself by his sins. Thou Who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.
It will be our turn one day. Perhaps by this publication someone will say them for you. Or me.

PS: if you can supply a better translation, or corrections to mine, please do so.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Told you there were Carmelites...

Of course, Joe and Andy don't get to see them... but they do hear them in chapter 33 of the novel.

Above you see the Carmelite Monastery just outside Harley on Stanton Avenue, across from Mort's gas station... Listening to the heavenly singing are our two intrepid cyclists, Andy and Joe. If you want to know more, you will have to read the book.

Note: You may be wondering what model bike that is - it's a Federal Custom Trail, sometimes called the Indagator (yeah, it's street legal too) - but like the Hododromes and Erebors from Rota, it only exists in the subcreated world. Also our artist seems to have difficulties with getting certain things in recognizable form, including cars and people. Oh well. We must put up with such things; we're happy we have any pictures at all!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Prayers for the Dying #1

Why do I post such an odd thing? How is it tech? How is it Chestertonian?

It is tech, because prayer is the greatest form of communication and because it is a grand implementation of subsidiarity, even more amazing than using subsidiarity to do spot transport for cable television.

It is Chestertonian, since it deals with The Common Man in his longing for The Everlasting Man.

And, paradoxically, we ought to ponder death as one of the most healthy ways of living - all the greatest saints point to the Four Last Things. We shall all die - let us then think of those who are about to die - few of us will be there for them, as a physician or as a relative or close friend, but we can be generous in the only way we may be able to be generous - by prayer. It is enacting subsidiarity - being of assistance to others, as we hope to be assisted when we need it in our own extremity.

Here, then, follows the first of "three tender and useful prayers for the dying" - in the Latin from the 1898 Rituale Romanum, with my attempted translation. (I have also tried to indicate the changes to plural.)

Tres piæ et utiles morientibus Orationes cum tribus Pater noster, et tribus Ave María, in agone mortis recitandæ.

Primo dicitur: Kyrie eléíson. Christe eléison. Kyrie eléison.

Pater noster. Ave María.

Oratio. Dómine Jesu Christe, per tuam sanctíssimam agoníam, et oratiónem, qua orásti pro nobis in monte Olivéti, quando factus est sudor tuus sicut guttæ sánguinis decurréntis in terram: óbsecro te, ut multitúdinem sudóris tui sanguínei, quem præ timóris angústia copiosíssime pro nobis effudísti, offérre et osténdere dignéris Deo Patri omnipoténti contra multitúdinem ómnium peccatórum hujus fámuli tui (horum famulorum tuorum) N., et líbera eum (eos) in hac hora mortis suæ ab ómnibus pœnis et angústiis, quas pro peccátis suis se timet (timent) meruísse: Qui cum Patre et Spíritu sancto vivis et regnas Deus in sæcula sæculórum. Amen.
Which is, approximately:
Three tender and useful prayers for the dying, with three "Our Fathers" and three "Hail Marys" for recitation in the agony of dying.

First is said: Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.

Our Father... Hail Mary...

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, by Thy most holy agony, and prayer, which Thou prayed for us on the Mount of Olives, when Thy sweat was like drops of blood running down on the earth: I beseech Thee, that Thou would deign to offer and show to God the Father Almighty Thy great bloody sweat that for fear of anguish Thou copiously shed for us, against all the many sins of this Thy servant, and free him in this hour of his death from all punishment and agony, which for his sins he fears he has merited for himself. Thou Who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.
It will be our turn one day. Perhaps by this publication someone will say them for you. Or me.

PS: if you can supply a better translation, or corrections to mine, please do so.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Two New "Joe" Chapters

I have added two chapters to the novel. We learn a little more about Stu - he orders a draft Dailey's, which shows good taste - and then we get to meet yet another pretty girl - her name is Ruth. She's important later on. We also get to hear - I think for the first time - the name of the very famous cargo vessel that wrecked on the shoals east of Quayment on Saturday December 22, 2001. Of which more in a future installment.

Happy Birthday Bilbo and Frodo!

Please finish your food and drink before reading!

Oh! It's the autumnal equinox, and the birthday of two of the most wonderful characters I ever met!

Ah... I wish that I had my spot transport system again, and could extend it so I could bring you all through the e-cosmos to my place for a party... out in the Field, under the Party Tree - or perhaps the Big Dish. Well, whatever. I don't have it, and it didn't do that kind of transport. So you will have to have your own party at your own house, and we will be with each other electronically.

Hold on while I get some refreshments, and then we can talk...

So - (munch, slurp) - how are things? Ah, yes. Busy? Facing difficulties - and some successes? Yeah, it's how life is. It needs lots and lots of prayer, and hard work... It's great to have a buddy somewhere who has at least some vague, half-hearted (though often ill-expressed) concern and care and interest in what is going on. I mean, that is, without being invasive or hoping to acquire privileged information, of course!

Me? Thanks for asking. I can't say too much here, it's a wide open system, you know - but I am busy with things, trying to get a preliminary map of Quayment drawn, and a floor plan of the very famous Weaver's Bookstore. And then I am writing the sequel to The Black Hole in the Basement - I'm almost finished with "part 1". I've been thinking about that "food" book some more, but haven't gotten to work on it much. And I'm reading Tolkien for the 30th anniversary of my first reading. Very great.

Another thing: in flipping through that old Rituale Romanum I found three very beautiful prayers for the dying, so I've been trying to say them each day, though I am not sure I am converting the singulars to the plurals correctly. I will have to transcribe them when I have a chance, and show them to you.

Let's see... what else? Oh, yes - I know I'm behind with my postings for Joe the Control Room Guy, so I will try to remedy that shortly. Maybe later today.

OK, enough of the personal stuff, let's play a game. Nah, they haven't released eGype yet, I'll have to e-mail Dale about that. I wonder what it will be like. OK - riddles? Well... that's not exactly the best way of remembering Hobbits. Word games, then - yeah, that's more appropriate, given what Tolkien really was.

Besides, I was wondering about words. It's the thing one ought to do on a Hobbit Birthday like today... How come when we send a package by car it's a shipment, but when it goes by ship it's a cargo? Well? And how come there's floor wax but no ceiling wax? Huh? What do you mean of course there's sealing wax? I never heard of such a thing. Or is this some kind of stupid joke like getting up on an elephant? What do you mean, getting down from an elephant? You are nuts. Getting down from a duck - how do you get up onto a duck in the first place? See what I mean? Words. I wonder what the Greeks called that. Antidistropholysis or epiklytoseon or something like that. Accents? No... just put an umlaut or two on the thing and send it off, see if I care. No I am not going to get out the Liddell and Scott, not today. What does Greek have to do with Hobbits? OK, then I wonder what the Elves would have called it. Hee hee.

OK, here's another word question. Yes, it has to do with Middle Earth! (Sheesh!) How would an Ent say Chesterton's famous long word: "plakkopytrixophylisperambulantiobatrix"? Yeah, I don't know either. OK, but if he started in the Third Age, would he be done by the Fourth? Yeah, that's what I thought too. Reminds me of the old joke about the speed of the Cray supercomputers: "they do the infinite loop in a second and a half." Yeah. I guess so, sure would save debugging time. No, mine's not that fast either. NO, I don't say the Poppins word here, and I don't care if you get an Elf chorus to sing "Chim-chim-chiminey" in Sindarin, either. But that was a really cool picture of the rooftops of London, oh yeah. Yeah, chimneys are cool, too - in my BHB sequel the chimney in Mark's room has an important role. You'll see.

All right. Back to words. If Sauron had a blogg, would he call it the "One Blog"? You can almost hear his sinister voice, "One blog to rule them all..." Nasty. Another thing - I wonder how this blogg shows up on a palantír. You know if Microsoft finished the driver yet? Yeah, palantír - it's kind of an Elf version of a crystal ball with an ethernet router or something... I wonder, was Feanor the first network engineer? But the palantír was interesting, though. I just used that word in my sequel, and I had to look up where the accent goes. No, there are no elves in it, and there are no palantíri) either, but plenty of teratoids. Very strange. Yeah, they live in the walls. No, I'm not going to tell you how they got there! Maybe they got down off a passing elephant. Do they arrest a passing elephant if he doesn't signal? They do in this state, they're strict about that sort of thing. Oh, well, if he used his horn. Horn? I didn't think elephants had horns. They have trunks, though. I know something about another kind of horn, but it's...

What? You have to go? Yeah, me too. One more and then I will have to go back to work.

Speaking of chimneys....Since I built a pipe organ once a long time ago, I know about the various kinds of organ pipes, which are mostly either flue (which means "chimney") or reed. The sound from flues comes from the air hitting the "edge" of the pipe, just like in the orchestral flute, or the old instrument called the "recorder"; the reeds make their sound from a strip of metal flapping back and forth, just like a clarinet or saxophone. But there's one other kind of sound-making pipe which is a bit different - it's called the "diaphone". It was invented by a very clever inventer, Robert Hope-Jones, who had worked for the telephone company and learned all kinds of tech tricks which he brought over into the pipe organ business. But the diaphone is kind of a souped-up reed pipe - they are some of the loudest sounding things in existence, and not just in pipe organs either. I had completely forgotten that diaphones are used in a non-musical setting - until I was looking through a book about lighthouses for background about Quayment. Yeah - you guessed it. The diaphone is used as a foghorn. Oh yeah.

Oh, I forgot to say what the word was. No, not diaphone! Sheesh. That wasn't the word. I was thinking about music but you were pestering me about the elves singing Poppins songs! What a joke. It's really odd, too. The word is "English horn". This is not like "jumbo shrimp", which is just a poor attempt at forcing paradox onto a crustacean. More on that another time. But there's a real problem with "English horn" - because it is neither English, nor a horn. It's really a kind of French alto oboe. Or something. Now let us conjugate that into Quenya, and use it in a sentence... What is the ablative plural of oboe, anyway? Hee hee. And if you think that's silly, there's something called "English soup" - which is an Italian dessert. Perhaps it's using "English" as an adjective, it makes all kinds of things upside down and hilarious. Maybe that was GKC's secret?

OK... Bye for now! Thanks for coming, I had a really good time... huh? Why don't I write about current events? That's what everybody else does. I have a different job.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Galileo Was Wrong!

Oh boy - I sure got your attention with that title! Well, of course he was. You already know that it wasn't his own idea that the planets go around the sun, that old Polish scientist Kopernik and some Greek guy named Aristarchus said also that - but Galileo had this thing about circles, and didn't want to hear any opposition. But Kepler showed that the planets go in ellipses, not circles as Galileo claimed - it's the data, stupid! That's why we talk of Kepler's Laws of planetary motion now. And Galileo's use of the tides was shown to have an error in the use of the reference systems. Even when he was told of that error to his face - no, not by theologians, by scientists - he was a bit too full of himself to listen. No, he didn't say "and yet it moves". No, he didn't drop balls from the Leaning Tower. No, the Church didn't condemn him; it was science that rejected his work. But the myths persist.

Why do I bring up such an old dull controversy today? Well, today, September 17, is the feast of St. Robert Bellarmine, who was a Cardinal and dealt with the Galileo case. Someday perhaps I will write at length about the matter; Fr. Jaki has lots of scattered details, and there are a few books around which go into the various aspects of the case - but for today I will just give a short excerpt from one of Chesterton's essays, mainly to lighten the discussion with humour and with insight.
One reason for reconciling oneself cheerfully to regarding the sun as a strange star is that it seems likely, in the light of the latest science, that we shall find it illuminating a very strange world. I am a child in these things; and so long as the child is allowed to play in the garden, he does not bother very much about the rules regulating the visits of that shining stranger, who has of late been very much of a stranger. But he does know enough about recent revolutions, in the ideas about space and light and atomic structure, to know that not only the sun, but also the garden, grows more mysterious every day. We may come to regarding the sun almost as a secret; like the sun that wore the mask of the moon in Mr. Max Beerbohm's fairy-tale; a deceptive luminary; almost, if the contradiction be allowed, a dark luminary; with crooked rays; with invisible violet rays; with something resembling black rays, beyond the dreams of the blind. It seems to be anything but the simple golden globe with which the simple Victorian naturalists dealt so easily, when they taught us the use of the globes. Some of the things that are now said about it astonish me very much. For instance, Mr. Rene Fulop-Miller, the highly intelligent and impartial historian of the Bolshevist Revolution, has recently written a book about the Jesuits. It is equally detached about the Jesuits; it is entirely detached from the religion of the Jesuits. The writer is an ordinary modern rationalist; very emphatic upon the need to keep abreast of modern science. He narrates, as any rationalist would, as any reasonable man would, the victory of Galileo and the Copernican astronomy, with its earth going round the sun, over the old Ptolemaic astronomy, with its sun going round the earth. I should, of course, entirely accept that Copernican victory; it never would occur to me to do anything else. But I was considerably startled when Mr. Fulop-Miller, after stating the ordinary view of the Solar System which everybody accepts, and I have naturally accepted, goes on calmly to write as follows -
It is true that the most recent mathematical and physical theories necessitate a revision of this commonly held opinion, for no longer does the teaching of Ptolemy appear "wholly false," nor that of Copernicus "alone true," as Galileo thought. Rather does it appear that both the systems have fundamentally an equal claim to recognition, and that the superiority of the Copernican system rests solely on the greater simplicity of the astronomical calculations effected with its help. Cardinal Bellarmine had, however, already recognised this when he warned Galileo's pupils to regard the Copernican doctrine only as hypothetical, and not as the sole truth.
In other words, the scientific rationalist, invoking the very latest scientific views, says something that I for one should never have dreamed of saying: that Galileo was as wrong as he was right; or at least that he was no more right than he was wrong, and no more right than his opponents were right. This seems to me a very amazing remark to appear in a book by an ordinary modern sceptic. Anyhow, it is a remark that will not be found in any book by me, or any of those who are regarded as religious reactionaries.
Let nobody go away and say that I have made the remark. Let nobody wail aloud that I say the Solar System is a Solar Myth. I never interfered with the Solar System. I never disorganised the sun and moon; I never in my life gave the planets or the fixed stars the least cause for uneasiness. Copernicus and Newton are good enough for me. I only say the sun must be a very strange star, and must stand in a very strange relation to a very strange planet or satellite, if any sane sceptic can really say that it is just as true that the sun goes round the earth as that the earth goes round the sun. The real truth, which he has in mind, is probably some very subtle mathematical relation, to which both of those contrary images are merely relative. The only effect on me, at the moment, is a merely imaginative, or even a merely artistic effect. It makes the sun much more extraordinary; and it was extraordinary enough before. I have not the faintest intention of meddling with these problems in the higher world of mathematics. I only say that the immediate effect of them on the fancy is almost to bring back the sun into the world of mythology. In that sense, the sun is much more of a Sun Myth; it is at least a Sun Mystery.

[GKC ILN July 11, 1931 CW35:553-5]
St. Robert Bellarmine, pray for us, and for all scientists!

PS: The details I have mentioned about Galileo can be found in books by Jaki and other sources. There are two surprising things we ought to learn from all this: (1) Galileo was right - about the religious issue. St. Augustine had answered the matter about 1000 years before. (2) The Church was right - about the science. Galileo didn't check his work, didn't ask for help, didn't take advantage of the work of others in his field. Hence, let us remember that we need to work together, carefully, and humbly: "The rebuilding of this bridge between science and human nature is one of the greatest needs of mankind." [GKC, The Defendant 75]

One more thing: the unarguable proof about the rotational motion of the earth was provided in 1851 by an experiment in a former Paris church with a pendulum... and that experiment was done by a Catholic - Léon Foucault. (For details, see Christianity and the Leaders of Modern Scienceby Karl A. Kneller, with an introduction by S.L. Jaki.) One of the curious links to GKC is that the famous ILN (Illustrated London News) carried four articles (with illustrations) of this experiment! Just for reference, proof of the earth's motion around the sun was provided in 1838 when Bessel published his measurements of the parallax of 61 Cygni.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Update wrt BHB at Loome


I will say it in plain English: "This is an update with respect to my fantasy The Black Hole in the Basement which is available at Loome Books."

If you want to find it, go there and put "Thursday" in the author box and click "search". But I must warn you!

They have added the illustration I did not add to my previous post on this topic.

It is the scary one of Kakokarp and the other evil ones, working to open the portal by which they will bring a fragment of the neutron star in the center of the Crab Nebula in Taurus (also known as M1) into Weaver's bookstore, in an attempt to destroy - well...I mustn't say just now. And no - it's not as simple as destroying Earth, or Quayment or the east coast of the United States, either. It's something very specific, and very unusual. But they don't care how much other damage they do, as long as it gets destroyed... No wonder Uncle and Auntie are so worried!

And this rare copy of my story can be yours for the paltry sum of $11,500. That is, until the illustrated edition comes out, at which time the rare one will probably come down in price... but then bibliophiles are crazy. I ought to know.

And if you are wondering about the sequel: it's "under development" even as we speak. Or it will be once I get finished posting this entry. Hee hee.

30 years - there and back again

What a posting to make on a Tuesday! Thirty years ago was 1978. Wow. At work we had gotten our new system running - it had ONE 50 megabyte hard drive! It was as big as an end-table. In 2008 the typical home computer has 1 gigabyte (20 times larger) "central" or working memory, and you can buy hard drives 20,000 times larger (a terabyte) right in the stores. Amazing. Of course that machine did stuff no typical PC can do, but that's progress. I had written the program to translate the programs and files from the "old" machines into the new one, it was lots of fun. And you can't get that sort of software off the internet, either! But that's also "progress". (Or, as we would read from WATCHER, Conspici Quam Prodesse. More on that another time.)

And it was in August 1978 that I had been to the annual fraternity meeting, and stayed up late with some new friends, talking about all kinds of things - one of the topics was a certain book, or set of books, by a man named J. R. R. Tolkien. I had heard of those books some years before, and had felt a certain hesitancy to read them.... Now, however, after the conversations, I decided I would check into them.

So I got the first one, The Hobbit. I didn't know the word "hobbit" and thought it was probably going to be very strange, with odd little pixie creatures, but started reading anyway. But there were no pixies. A hole in the ground... Bilbo Baggins, what a stupid name... lots of food, that's great. Ah, Gandalf! a wizard! Cool. smoke rings, bla bla. And then, about three pages in, I got caught.

Oh, really, Doctor? (you ask, quite doubtful of my sanity) What was it? The suspense? The thrill of the adventure? The misspelled "dwarves" and their musical instruments? The wizard? The dragon? The food? The silly song?

Oh, no, nothing like that. It was just a simple line, explaining how Bilbo would forget his appointments unless he made a note:
Gandalf. Tea. Wednesday.
Yes, that was it. I read that line and laughed! And then I knew I would like it. And I did.

And I liked the sequel, the vast scary and inspiring (but non-Hobbit-like) sequel in six "books" called The Lord of the Rings... but I will talk about that another day. For now, suffice it to say that I read The Hobbit for the first time, back in September 1978 - and I have just finished reading it again. This time I noticed that Tolkien did not here take the same meticulous detail with the moon as he does in LotR, but that is easy enough to overlook - so many people don't seem to pay attention to the moon these days! Hee hee. And it would have been easy enough to fix. I do know how hard it is to get all the details right when one is building one's "toy theatre". Ahem.

But I must I thank "CJ" and the others whose enthusiasm led me to enjoy this great book, and JRRT for writing it. It is a great debt, and if you have not read it, I hope you will - soon. I do think you will enjoy it.

I must also add just two token (hee hee) Chestertonian comments, starting with GKC's deep and very curious view of adventures:
An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.
[GKC ILN July 21 1906 CW27:242]
(Do you hear Bilbo and Gandalf there?)
Or the amazing Hobbit favourites "gold and green" which show up in this quote which strangely presages JRRT's Two Trees of Valinor:
"I was waiting for you," said Gregory. "Might I have a moment's conversation?"
"Certainly. About what?" asked Syme in a sort of weak wonder.
Gregory struck out with his stick at the lamp-post, and then at the tree.
"About this and this," he cried; "about order and anarchy. There is your precious order, that lean, iron lamp, ugly and barren; and there is anarchy, rich, living, reproducing itself - there is anarchy, splendid in green and gold."
"All the same," replied Syme patiently, "just at present you only see the tree by the light of the lamp. I wonder when you would ever see the lamp by the light of the tree."
[GKC The Man Who Was Thursday CW6:483]
Then there is this "Tuesday" thing. I almost forgot I had one more thing to mention. The word "Tuesday" does not appear on the first few pages, but it is to be understood from what Bilbo ought ot have written - yes, it was a Tuesday when it all started. So was the first scene of Harry Potter.

And so also was the first public scene of Jesus... the miracle of Cana was reported by St. John as happening on a Tuesday. [John 2:1] So I guess it may be a good thing to re-read GKC's "A Picture of Tuesday" [in CW14] if I want to get further into this matter.

But I must stop here. Shortly I shall proceed into a re-reading of the sequel, and then I will comment on that too.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

How the Flag got into WATCHER

What is WATCHER? If you have been reading my novel, you know that is the name of the marvellous program which the Control Room Guys of AC&TG use to keep watch over the activities and status of the Field - the 200-odd remote computer systems which do the ad insertion of local spots onto cable television. In the real world, it was the same thing. Of course it does not exist any more. For details on that, see here and here.

Anyway, I was able to find a snapshot of a WATCHER screen for you to see:

It is interesting because of the American flag in the upper right. It was just seven years ago tomorrow that it was added to the software. I have written a short story about how that happened - it is the story of what really happened there, just slightly altered to let our hero Joe Outis be its main character, though anachronistic, since in the novel he only started work in 2004. (But that's how fiction works, hee hee.)

So if you are a literary person, you can enjoy that story. But if you are a tech person, you might wish to see what it was "Doc" was typing, and I decided to show you that as well. And it has the heraldic stuff too, which makes it even more fun than usual. Unfortunately, it does not come across very well, for the programming language called "C" requires careful use of indenting, like a fine poem. Not that "C" is poetic, except in the Greek sense! But perhaps some students of heraldry will appreciate it. Note: I am aware there are better ways of doing the stars. You have to remember I was writing this while I was talking with - uh - "Joe"... and on the day after 9/11.

Yes, for real. But obviously it was something worth doing, and WATCHER showed the flag for the first 10 seconds of every minute, as long as the systems continued to run, in fitting memory of September 11...

--Dr. Thursday

PS: note this is the real code, but there are other pieces of the gearwork one will need. So you're on your own if you wish to try to make it functional. I'd help, but you might not want to pay for it.

// draw a star on the hdc centered at (xc, yc) with radius r
void ShowStar(HDC hdc,int xc,int yc,int r)
int i;
double a,aa,xx,yy;
POINT poly[5];
HRGN reg;
int factor[5]={0,2,4,1,3};

}//end for


// draw the flag of the United States on hdc within the given rectangle
void ShowFlag(HDC hdc,int xlo,int ylo,int xhi,int yhi)
POINT poly[5];
HRGN reg;
int i,j,bar;
double dx,dy,xm,ym,r,ddx,ddy,x,y;

// barry of 13 gules and argent...

for(i=0;i < 13;i=i+1)
if(i < 5)
}//end for

// a canton azure...



// with 50 mullets argent...

if(dx < dy)

}//end for
}//end for


}//end for
}//end for


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pictures for The Black Hole In the Basement

As you may have heard, Loome is offering a rare copy of my fantasy, The Black Hole In the Basement for $11,500... We haven't talked about this, but I do think there will be some affordable alternatives at some future time. Meanwhile, my friends at Loome (and other places) were wondering if there were any pictures (I mean illustrations) to go with it.

There weren't then, but there are now.

So, even though the issue of whether the BHB will be put on my story blogg or another, or only offered in "tactile" form is still being explored - I will show them to you, just to give you a taste. (One is kind of scary, so I have to omit it - it shows the bad guys, and they are nasty.) The others might not make a lot of sense, but I will try to explain a little, even though the explanations no doubt will also not make sense - until you read the book. Of course, they still may not make sense then either. It's the risk you run, as the Romans said: caveat lector. Hee hee.

Ahem. But you want to see pictures. Here you go:

Here we see Uncle and Auntie, busy erecting their famous "Thomistic Birdcage" - that is, a dodecahedron of flying folios of the Leonine edition of the works of St. Thomas Aquinas - in an attempt to isolate the evil black hole.

Next we see Mark Weaver riding his cycle on the way home late at night - in the distance, up on the hill, is his father's store, the famous Weaver's Books, located in what was once the "Psephic Church of God". They were a little-known sect in the mid 1800s, but died out long ago, and the building was bought by Mark's great-great grandfather in 1907 to store (and sell) his growing collection of used books. Normally it is not glowing blue like that. It's quite late at night, but something is going on inside, and Mark, intrepid and quite crazy as he is, will go and investigate. (No, this scene is a good number of pages after the one shown in the other picture.)

In this scene, which comes just a page after than the previous one, we see Mark meeting Uncle and Auntie (not their real names) for the first time. If you are wondering where the Black Hole is at this point, I can tell you. It's in the basement. (Gee, it's almost as if the title has some relation to what goes on in the story!)

So if you are intrigued and have $11,500 you can order the book from Weaver's. I mean Loome's. But if you don't, let us know if you are interested, and we'll see about getting reprints. The reprint, unlike the rare copy, will undoubtedly contain these pictures, hopefully in colour, and perhaps more. There are some other very exciting parts.

Finally: you will be happy to learn that there is every expectation of a sequel...

Monday, September 08, 2008

Happy Birthday Mary!

Today I ponder the wonder of calendars... One of the grand puzzles we computer scientists face is the strangely odd eccentric gearwork called "time" we humans have invented over the last few millennia. You are surprised? Don't be.

For computers, deep down, are like drummers, merely keeping a beat as the master clock (usually a chip of quartz set into vibration by that wierd AMBER, I mean electric stuff) ticks away. That tick, or clock pulse, makes all the various gates open and close and do their work. If we want to count the pulses, we can, and nobody cares very much, as these counts are just another integer, usually we could millions in every second.

Second? Ah! As soon as we come back to reality, out of the maze of gates and chips, we find things like "seconds", "minutes", and "hours" which are not all that bad, if a bit strangely shaped (where's this sixty come from?) Or the even more strangely varied weeks and months and years, all trying to give some order to the strangely shaped (yet quite regular) motions of the moon and the sun - well, OK .... perhaps I ought to say motions of the earth. For even the most astute astronomer commits Copernican Heresy when he looks out at the Evening Terminator and says to his wife, "What a beautiful sunset!" (hee hee)

These motions, as God ordained (Genesis 1:14) give us signs and seasons, and not only days and years... they mean that there ought to be a shape to time, and not just shapes in space. So we have holidays, and seasons, and jubilees, and we remember anniversaries - foremost of these are birthdays.

And now that nine months have completed since the Immaculate Conception, we celebrate Mary's birthday, when Anna her mother gave birth to the baby girl, the Woman foretold in Eden who would be the Enemy of the Serpent.

Now, as you may also recall, this seventh month (which the Romans call September) is dedicated to the Holy Angels. (Computer programmers know September is the longest month, though you May have to think about that a little.) As part of my own celebrations, I like to re-read a certain book this month, one of the great Chestertonian books which GKC did not write. It's called The Miracle of the Bells and was written by Russell Janney. I have a very beat-up paperback edition which I keep because of its unbelieveable back cover blurb:

The Miracle Makers
A poor young girl from a coal mining town who went to Hollywood as a stand-in and became a leading lady overnight.
A sincere young parish priest in Coaltown, Pennsylvania whose church was always nearly empty.
A dapper Broadway press agent who risked everything to pull off the greatest publicity stunt of all time.
A Jewish movie producer who was one of the first in Hollywood to make million-dollar movies.
Saint Michael the Archangel, undefeated champion of heavenly battles.
Yes, you read it correctly. St. Michael has a very important role in this story.

But so does Mary:
"Bill Dunnigan had gone to sleep with the strong conviction that it was now up to him to carry the ball. But it seemed that Saint Michael thought otherwise - Saint Michael and an Ally even more powerful, no less than the Blessed Virgin Mother herself!
Now, I don't want to go any further into this, in case you have not yet read this wonderful (and surprising) book. But did you note something in the tiny excerpt? I mean this:
"an Ally even more powerful"
Wow. Yes, in the Litany of Loreto we call Mary "Queen of Angels"; I might attempt some excavation into Biblical hints and allusions to this role, beginning with the marvellous address of the angel Gabriel, and the Psalms (e.g. 44(45) of the mystical warrior/writer/woman) or the Song of Songs (e.g. 6:9 about she who is bright as the sun, yet ready for battle like an army!)

But I won't. You will have to read the book.

Just one more thing. In a previous post about the Elements, I quoted the Creed:
per quem omnia facta sunt = "through Him all things were made."
Angels are not elements, as they are pure and simple being, without accidents - yet the angels are included in this "making"... how powerful they are, for whom the greatest stars, the most distant galaxies, the most complex equations, the most poetic songs, are trivialities... and yet they all had to wait, like the gates of the computer, or the drummers of the band, for Mary to give them the signal to sing:
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God...
[Lk 2:13]
Yes, for she chose life: "be it done unto me according to thy word". God exalted the humble and deposed the mighty: old Lucifer, the light bearer, the morning star, the head angel, has fallen, and now in his place sits the Woman - who is the bearer of Light Himself.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Chesterton on Magic (and Dragons) in Stories

Please finish your food and drink before reading!

I was thinking about my writing, and laughing about those who find it hard to deal with magic in fiction. It is symptomatic of a failure to read Chesterton, though perhaps it is some kind of enzymatic deficiency. Perhaps they need to eat more. (I have got to stop writing these things before lunch.)

There's plenty of interesting GKC articles about writing in general, and even some about fairy-tale and magic. I was reading one some time ago about the Loch Ness Monster because someone asked about what GKC had to say about it, and there's a great bit of commentary in it. I thought you might wish to enjoy it too:
He [Robert Lynd] wrote an article on the Monster of Loch Ness, in a recent issue of the News Chronicle, which exactly illustrates the elusive thing I mean. It was a very good article; but it was full of hesitations and (if I may use the jargon) of inhibitions. He said first, with obvious common sense, that it is very difficult to contradict the evidence of a hundred apparently normal and respectable and independent witnesses. The same might be said of the great Sea-Serpent; the number of people who could swear to having seen it must by this time amount to pretty nearly a hundred. So far so good. It is for the other side to rebut this evidence definitely and in detail: to cross-examine these witnesses; to prove a rather improbable conspiracy; or to construct some theory to explain that number of people having been deceived. But the critic, feeling that in fairness he must pass on to state the other side, states it in a way which is supremely typical of modern irrationalism. He says, in these words or words to the same effect: "But if I agree to believe in the Monster of Loch Ness, where am I to draw the line? There are such a lot of other stories about other monsters"; and he proceeds to pour forth the riches of his wide reading, introducing us to the most fascinating and agreeable monsters of Celtic or Norse mythology; and seems gloomily resigned to go through with it and swallow all the monsters one after another, back to the whale that swallowed Jonah or the dragon that was to devour Andromeda. Anyone addicted to the antiquated mystery of Logic, so much studied by the superstitious Schoolmen or the Middle Ages, will be rather disposed to stare at this statement of the difficulty. He will naturally answer: "Well, I suppose you will draw the line where the evidence fails. You accept this Monster because there are a hundred people to give evidence. You will naturally believe less where there is less evidence, and not at all where there is no evidence. There is really no need for you to draw abstract a priori distinctions between a Seven-Headed Dragon in Persia and a Nine-Headed Dragon in Japan." The truth is that the critic is misled from the first by a vague idea that, in accepting any such story, he is stepping across the border of fairyland, where any fantastic thing may happen. This is a fallacy, even about preternatural things. A man may believe one miracle and not another miracle; knowing there are true and false miracles, as there are true and false banknotes. But the Monster is not a miracle. Something like it may occur along with magic in magic-tales. But a man might as well say that millers and cats and princesses are fabulous animals, because they appear side by side with goblins and mermaids in the stories of the nursery.
[ILN Jan 6 1934; reprinted in Avowals and Denials. Special thanks to Frank Petta and my mother for these non-CW ILN essays.]
You will note with delight that he refers to the "Schoolmen" - those are the guys who do that awesome "thirteenth century metaphysics" which we used to make all that cool stuff happen where I used to work... Yeah, the Control Room and WATCHER and all that.

Wow, I wonder if Control Room Guys and Field Techs and policemen and Carmelites are fabulous animals? (Cellists I already know about; all these fretless string players are fabulous. Hee hee.) Oh, we haven't gotten to the Carmelites, yet - have we? Let me just check... oh, yes - we do very shortly. Just be patient, it's great. No you will not get to see them, they're cloistered. Yes, yes. What else? Oh, we'll see some police action (yes, there will be a car chase, of course, all fiction these days has to have that!) What else? An old guy on a boat, and another pretty girl, some more magic, some more food, and a map of North Belloc from the 1880s... Oh, yeah - and perhaps something even more terrifying... oh yes. Now don't get scared, it's nasty enough to make your skin crawl. Yes, you're going to meet... A LAWYER (!!!!!) But it's OK, since he's fictional. Completely imaginary. No, he's not going to come out of the computer and give you a subpoena! Heavens, what a horrible thought. He's just a figment of the imagination, thank God. Actually there will be several lawyers, but some of them are "good". Yes, I said it was imaginary. Whether there are any such in reality I shall not attempt to discern at present. Ahem.

At the risk of getting myself even deeper into complexities, I shall give you the cross-links to the reference about true and false banknotes:
A false ghost disproves the reality of ghosts exactly as much as a forged banknote disproves the existence of the Bank of England - if anything, it proves its existence.
[GKC Orthodoxy CW1:358]

No conceivable number of forged bank-notes can disprove the existence of the Bank of England.
[GKC ILN Apr 14, 1906 CW27:164]
Or, as a certain lab-coat-wearing lunatic writer might put it, "No conceivable number of fictional control rooms (or used-book stores) can disprove the existence of the AC&TG Control Room (or Weaver's Books)." Which is a good thing.

Post Script: Just before I posted this, I was thinking about how one tells the difference between "good" lawyers and the common or garden form, and I was wondering if the "good" ones are the ones that don't have horns. Then I remembered the stuff in the Apocalypse/Revelation about the angels blowing horns, and got kind of confused. So is it the bad guys who have horns or not? It reminds me of the "Far Side" comic, in two scenes. The caption below the first reads: "Welcome to heaven, here's your harp", and on the second: "Welcome to h*ll, here's your accordion." Hee hee. Incidentally, the best information I have obtained to date puts the viola at the forefront of musical insults. Not even drummers get abused as bad as they do. But I cannot go into that here. I know too many musicians, and somedays I are one. And when I'm not, I build pipe organs, or wish I was building them. Great! Swell! (Oh boy) Ever notice how talk about laughter sooner or later comes around to music? I think that's hinted at in The Never-Ending Story where Falkor says "All the languages of joy are related." Or that Professor Harold Hill's real name is Gregory? Yes, it is. Amazing. This kind of stuff only happens in the real world. Thank God.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Loome's Blurb for BHB

At the risk of never being permitted to buy books from Loome again, I have decided to post their "sales" blurb for my fantasy, The Black Hole in the Basement.

I must point out that the book is not available from them, and it is not to be found on their web site. Do not try to call and ask to buy a copy, even if you do have $11,500. They are not going to sell theirs. At least not yet. They are waiting for the sequel. But I was mistaken! See below...

Thursday, Doctor. The Black Hole in the Basement. (publishing house details omitted) Pennsylvania, 2007. Three unbound stapled booklets, 8vo, [32pp]+[28pp]+[48pp]. Purported fictional account of how magical beings use a black hole to disrupt activities at a world-renowned used-book store. Author a known lunatic. Soon after its release Benedict XVI resurrected the Index of Forbidden Books and placed it there, warning faithful Catholics to avoid this book "like the plague". Extremely rare.
Price: $11500.00


I sit corrected. I was wrong! This book is on their site - just do a search for "Thursday" as author!

Incredible. (We have not yet heard from Roma about the Index, but one never knows.)

I guess I will have to get busy on the sequel(s) now. I do have a new spin-off story finished, and I've gotten good reviews so far. Stay tuned for more incredulity.

another update

I forgot there was also a spurious movie blurb written by some imbecile in our organization. No one has approached me about making a movie, about BHB, the novel, or any other story. Not yet anyway. That will no doubt occur soon after the books come out. (Yeah, sure) But here it is, and if it digs my hole even deeper, so be it:
Visit Quayment, see the amazing Weaver's Bookstore housed in an old church (any resemblance to bookstores in Stillwater, Minnesota is entirely accidental), watch the crazy antics of the Weaver triplets (will Mark actually hit Matt with a banana slice flung off his spoon?), ponder the struggles of Auntie and Uncle as they confront the Enemy (Who are they, anyway? Where is their power from? And what are people like them doing, vanishing and appearing, drinking from floating teacups and going to DAILY MASS?) and learn the WHOLE story of (drum roll)


Coming soon to theaters everywhere.

Thank God it doesn't give away too much. But if you got about 12 grand to spare, you can read it before the movie comes out. (I expect the price will come down sometime, you know how the market can be. Hee hee.)

Oh, man. Now I gotta do illustrations for it...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Doc Knows Magic? Oh yeah!

Yes I used magic. (I even have a magic wand, though (as you will learn) my kind of magic doesn't use a wand.)

But yes, we certainly used magic where I used to work. Ask the Control Room Guys! I wrote magic into the system, to take care of things that couldn't be done any other way. It was great. Dangerous? Sure. Power like that, to directly command the... well, I can't go into that here. But you can get a sample in the chapter of my novel I just posted.

I know some of you think it is all a fantasy. But there was a real company, and you can read about it here. Our former customer still can't get our run rates, but that's their problem now. I've told you it's done by thirteenth century metaphysics, which means Aquinas and Bonaventure and all that bunch. With actual 24/7 Carmelite backup, too. Quite serious. But when necessary, we also did magic. And yes, it is all completely licit.

So I am quite happy to have written an authentic Catholic novel which contains magic. Dragons? No, there are no dragons. Sorry. Not in this story. But even the Bible, even the old blessing of telegraphs have dragons... OK ! So maybe a future story will have dragons, but I'm not promising anything. Ahem. But the fact that Pope Benedict was talking about resurrecting the Index just to put my works on it is another matter - that was due to my short-story sequence called "The Black Hole in the Basement", which happens in Quayment. I have not yet posted that on my story blogg. If I do, you can decide whether it's worth writing to Roma about. You may wish to write anyway. I can't stop you. But I think he'll enjoy my story, because it has subsidiarity in it, which is lots more powerful and harder to spell. Hee hee.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

"A Special Guest" posted

Since September is the month of the Holy Angels, I have posted a story called "A Special Guest", which previously appeared in Something Good To Read; the Editor-in-Chief has kindly given permission for it to appear in my story collection blogg. Though it's about a television show, it has nothing to do with the fictional company called AC&TG in my novel.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Liddell and Scott: a Matter of Belief

People are saying that there is no way any real human being holding an immense Greek lexicon could be as happy as the "Doc" seems to be in this picture from my novel:

Real people, I mean in the real world, just don't get so joyful about large, specialized reference books like that.

Well, since you do not believe accurate, carefully drawn artistic renderings (I mean, it is difficult to get an impression of just how heavy that book is from the picture) perhaps you will believe a photograph of the Doctor, holding the text in question?

Yes, an authentic text, which I ordered from "Weaver's Books" in Quayment. Well, not exactly, but truth is stranger than fiction. Yes, that's the reference section, where I do most of my laughing, I mean, my work. Please note, I am much larger than the photo suggests. The artist also had a difficult time, but that's because I was wearing a lab coat then.

It is also true that Professor Henry George Liddell (1811-1898) was a Greek scholar, and the father of Alice Liddell - her name will live in fantasy fiction forever, because Liddell's friend C. L. Dodgson was a math professor at the same time, and wrote under the pen name "Lewis Carroll". Yes, his daughter was that Alice.

Of course, the pun is that the Greek word aletheia means "truth"... a fitting enough choice for a character in a fantasy by a mathematician.

But the smile on the Doctor seen above is just as truthful. (No, I don't have a moustache any more; that was just for the novel. I also had a haircut. Hee hee.)