Hamilton Institute » Arts and Literature http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com Smart Content for Smart People Fri, 13 Jun 2014 05:23:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.1 So you want to be a Fiction Writer? http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/so-you-want-to-be-a-fiction-writer-2/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/so-you-want-to-be-a-fiction-writer-2/#comments Sat, 18 May 2013 15:49:57 +0000 udey http://hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=391 Don’t we all? In a world where Information Age has enabled flow of communications at the blink of an eye, everyone is an author in their own rights. All of us posting our thoughts, ideas and opinions either in some blog, forum, as comments on popular websites, or even making podcasts and graphics to convey the same. So by the elementary definition of “writer”, any active internet user has already transformed into an “author”.

Yet, we all seek the glory and honour of traditional printed word. To see our name on a magazine or book-length work – to be associated in the exclusive cadre of “published authors”. Here then, the word “published” refers to having our fiction works accepted by a publisher who has made its name in literature. So, I will spare you my open-source ranting and not tell you that technology has enabled you to earn more and get a wider audience by self-publishing through print-on-demand with the only investment being your brain, your imagination and maybe a word processing software on a computer.

Refer also to my Writing Primer posted at Hamilton Institute  long time back.

Here the “method” described is purely with the aim of getting your work published. Whether it meets your artistic integrity is something you have to find a way to fit it into the primary agenda of being “published”.

List of Topics:

  • Creativity and Language
  • Writing to be published
  • Exclusive or Saturated
  • The beginning
  • Proposals before Writing
  • Pragmatic way to get Practice
  • Conclusion

Creativity and Language

English is a fun language, ever growing and evolving. So if you are writing in English, already your fiction market is bigger than any other non-English fiction writer. But if you see an opportunity in creating works that will sell well locally in your local/ regional language – go ahead and get it done. This generation has proven that language doesn’t limit your market. My best and favourite example is Haruki Murakami, a Japanese author with global fame who was even holding a position as a writing fellow at Princeton University at the height of his fame, which still grows.

Creativity on the other hand ensures equality in scope and opportunity to all the talented aspiring authors. What you can think, what you can imagine, what you can put into words – the limit is only what you put upon yourself. In fiction anything is possible, even the English dictionary can’t limit you for authors have created their own language/ words in their fiction. No I am not speaking Klingon here. “A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess is an example from 1962. It is more well-known as one of many great movies made by Stanley Kubrick. The author created a fictional slang language called “Nadsat”.

So you see, not just spaceships and alien attacks are possible, but dogs could talk to you or you could fit inside a rabbit hole. Maybe you see utopia in near future or dystopia in present. Maybe your characters are men of valour or they may have turned into zombies due to a strange government conspiracy.

Let your ideas flow. Note them down. Only notes for now.

Now we have to see feasibility, market expectation and publisher demands.

Writing to be published

One has to realize that businessmen don’t really need exceptional artwork to earn profits. But exceptional artwork definitely needs businessmen to make some decent money for their projects/ income.

So shun the hippie attire and know that without the marketing/ sales effort and acumen of these publishers/ agents – no one really knows your creation. And like with all creation, we think our baby is so special that it will stand and run all by itself. The truth is that we need the support of publishers/ agents to be able to make our work available to the audience who would otherwise never know what a delight it is to hold your creation.

How do you write to be published? Keep in mind that you are writing with the aim to be published in mainstream publications. At the same time, don’t insult them by hack-writing something you believe represents their catalogue. You need to pick a genre. See what is popular with the readers of that genre. Then see the list of titles your preferred publishers are trying to sell. Then you only need to adapt your ideas to meet such expectations from readers and specifications of the publishers/agents.

  1. Identify the market you want to be in
  2. Identify the exceptional and the popular works in that market
  3. Know your targeted readers, their expectations and preferences
  4. Document your target publisher/s’ titles in that market
  5. Is there a match, a common factor or point where your ideas meet the above?

You have to find some common ground. This without losing your artistic integrity. You need not sell your soul, but you need to understand the market before you sell any books/ stories.

So even before you produce or pen anything related to your great masterpiece – you need to first acknowledge, respect and understand the market, its key players and the scope for you in the same.

Exclusive or Saturated

We all complain how new authors never get a break. That it is some elite clique of snob-nosed phonies who congratulate each other and sneer at others.

If you however log-off Amazon.com and walk into a large bookstore, you will see that among the heavyweights, the prizefighters and welterweights are also some amateur people who have donned the gloves and stepped inside the ring. They too have promoters and backers who have made it possible for them to be there among the greats.

So clearly, there is enough flow of new authors every year from which some go on to publish second and even a third book. Best thing for you to do is to make a good first impression by putting your best foot forward. So if you have a range of writing and ideas – analyze it as per market as suggested to pick one and use it to pitch for your first novel length work. Your first novel should make the readers and publishers happy. This first impression will ensure if they wish to meet your future works.

So though the literary career may seem exclusive, it is actually saturated.

Saturated with a horde of people submitting novels and stories and a respectable publisher will get pitched a dozen book manuscripts by agents everyday for 365 days a year. So if you are one in those million people, you better make a strong case to prove your worth in their court.

The Beginning

Yes, you have to approach it like the interview for the most desired job. Or a legal case where you prove the merits of your book or have it tarnished in that agent/publisher’s records. So now you are a savvy charming lawyer drafting your case to plead in favour of your client i.e. the book. The book can’t do all this but if you do it, the book will generate the income and popularity for you. Not to mention the future career in writing. LOL.

The premise of the 2 analogies suggested above (interview/ court-case) is to get you to see the seriousness required in your approach.

Your approach – right at the beginning, before you even write the book.

  1. After having narrowed down to the ideal idea for the ideal market/publisher
  2. Note the points that makes your book appealing to your audience
  3. Note the points that makes your book the best pick for your publisher/agent
  4. Now create a Proposal for your fiction novel

 

Proposals before Writing

So this is your case to support your book before it’s written.

Why? No, not for anyone else!

This proposal is for you! This is so that you can see in black and white whether you have a good idea for a novel at all. If not, go back to previous steps and rediscover your idea, your marketed audience and your agent/publisher.

So when you have collected these pieces to form a Proposal, you will be able to see for yourself – the feasibility of that fiction novel to be a real worthwhile product.

Proposal Pitch contents:

  1. The Title
  2. The tag line or blurb text within 2 sentences. Yes, you should be able to grab a person by maximum 2 concise sentences to intrigue/ interest them to read the rest of the proposal
  3. Why are you proposing this novel?
  4. Purpose/ Subject Matter/ Genre
  5. Your contribution – what makes a novel so special when coming from you?
  6. Intended audience – maybe even the demography/ geography of the audience. Have you ever seen how Amazon.com suggests other relevant books when you view one book. You could also think about how your novel fits in a genre – which readers of particular books or fans of which authors it can be related to.
  7. The competition for your subject matter/ theme/ genre/ market
  8. Length – expected word count
  9. Chapter Outlines – each with their plot outlines
  10. Timetable – plan out how you will make this novel-writing happen
  11. Publishers – list of established publishers who deal with the theme/ topic of your novel.  Maybe even list agents who have done well in that genre.
  12. Background information – your relevant professional credits first. Then educational. And then very briefly your personal contact details. No need to list hobbies and memberships unless it can be leveraged to pitch your book to anyone. The best thing about a writing career is that even people who are in blue-collar professions can have wonderful tales to tell. So don’t downplay this “background information” section of the proposal.

So this is your first document even before writing a novel.

You need this only for yourself – not to share this with any agent/ publisher at his point of time.

Read what you have filled and then analyze:

  1. if this looks like a good investment of your time/ energy – a profitable venture for you.
  2. if this is enough to convince you to start writing the novel
  3. if your idea/art can be adapted/ modified to meet this document’s expectations

Then you start writing your novel!

So you have reversed the way you go to a publisher/agent. You have done the groundwork first and know how to meet the demands. So now – you have an “artistic product” (not an oxymoron). You will have a novel that is saleable to both the audience and the publisher/agent.

And of course you have a ready Proposal for them, which you defined and can reuse now to send along with the manuscript to agents/ publishers. Because your fiction novel is based on a sound feasible Proposal. No more pains of having written something great and then hunting for a way to make it useful for a reader/ agent/ publisher.

Pragmatic way to get Practice

Ghostwriting may seem poor choice for authoring a book. We all want to put our fabulous name to the books we write. But again, you are thinking in a conditioned way.

Practice! Practice they say makes you perfect. But who will give you practice in writing a novel that is published and distributed and read? How will that practice come? Do you want to risk ruining your author “brandname” when an amateurish, not so popular book of yours comes out, by not making a good first impression?

Ghostwriting is a good way to write for the market and also earn a decent income for your effort.

  1. Helps you understand the market better – since the publisher/ agent or person would give you the readymade description of what is to be done.
  2. When the book comes out, you don’t need to worry about the results – you need to analyze how the publisher/agent’s formula clicked with the market – how they made it happen – or maybe what was missing that limited its popularity
  3. You get crucial practice in writing as per reader-expectation,
  4. You get crucial practice in understanding how agents/ publishers are convinced of a book’s worth
  5. You are able to hone your creativity and get feedback on your writing and on your style from a professional editor from a publishing house

Actually this list could go on and on depending how much you are able to grab out of such an opportunity. The efforts you make to learn “the trade” – will make you a professional writer.

And of course, these ghostwritten books would be proof of your skills – so do it well and make a portfolio of novel-length published works – before even having written your own first novel.

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a ghostwriter who wrote music for wealthy patrons.
  • Robert Ludlum wrote only 3 novels dedicated to Jason Bourne character (Bourne Identity, Bourne Supremacy and Bourne Ultimatum). How many do you see in the bookstores using the Ludlum’s name long after his demise?

Another opportunity is trying out varying genres. As a newbie, it is always good to be open to writing in multiple genres and styles. I have written macho Motorcycle Adventures such as “Wayfarer series”  and then also been able to present the same publisher with a Western Cowboy Adventure in “The Railroad”. And as you can see Bikernet.com is a magazine primarily for bikers, yet I found a connection – because modern bikers are just an adaptation of the way old west had horse-riding men and posse, etc.

Conclusion

If you don’t know where you are sailing to, you are lost at sea. Know the market and navigate it to reach your audience.

Too many analogies here, but well, hope you get the gist of its concept after reading it.

**** THE END ****

]]>
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So you want to be a Fiction Writer? http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/so-you-want-to-be-a-fiction-writer/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/so-you-want-to-be-a-fiction-writer/#comments Mon, 06 May 2013 06:30:10 +0000 udey http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=13624 So you want to be a Fiction Writer?

By Ujjwal Dey

 

Don’t we all? In a world where Information Age has enabled flow of communications at the blink of an eye, everyone is an author in their own rights. All of us posting our thoughts, ideas and opinions either in some blog, forum, as comments on popular websites, or even making podcasts and graphics to convey the same. So by the elementary definition of “writer”, any active internet user has already transformed into an “author”.

 

Yet, we all seek the glory and honour of traditional printed word. To see our name on a magazine or book-length work – to be associated in the exclusive cadre of “published authors”. Here then, the word “published” refers to having our fiction works accepted by a publisher who has made its name in literature. So, I will spare you my open-source ranting and not tell you that technology has enabled you to earn more and get a wider audience by self-publishing through print-on-demand with the only investment being your brain, your imagination and maybe a word processing software on a computer.

 

Refer also to my Writing Primer posted at Hamilton Institute long time back.

 

Here the “method” described is purely with the aim of getting your work published. Whether it meets your artistic integrity is something you have to find a way to fit it into the primary agenda of being “published”.

 

Creativity and Language

English is a fun language, ever growing and evolving. So if you are writing in English, already your fiction market is bigger than any other non-English fiction writer. But if you see an opportunity in creating works that will sell well locally in your local/ regional language – go ahead and get it done. This generation has proven that language doesn’t limit your market. My best and favourite example is Haruki Murakami, a Japanese author with global fame who was even holding a position as a writing fellow at PrincetonUniversity at the height of his fame, which still grows. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haruki_Murakami

 

Creativity on the other hand ensures equality in scope and opportunity to all the talented aspiring authors. What you can think, what you can imagine, what you can put into words – the limit is only what you put upon yourself. In fiction anything is possible, even the English dictionary can’t limit you for authors have created their own language/ words in their fiction. No I am not speaking Klingon here. “A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess is an example from 1962. It is more well-known as one of many great movies made by Stanley Kubrick. The author created a fictional slang language called “Nadsat”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clockwork_orange   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nadsat

So you see, not just spaceships and alien attacks are possible, but dogs could talk to you or you could fit inside a rabbit hole. Maybe you see utopia in near future or dystopia in present. Maybe your characters are men of valour or they may have turned into zombies due to a strange government conspiracy.

 

Let your ideas flow. Note them down. Only notes for now.

 

Now we have to see feasibility, market expectation and publisher demands.

 

Writing to be published

One has to realize that businessmen don’t really need exceptional artwork to earn profits. But exceptional artwork definitely needs businessmen to make some decent money for their projects/ income.

 

So shun the hippie attire and know that without the marketing/ sales effort and acumen of these publishers/ agents – no one really knows your creation. And like with all creation, we think our baby is so special that it will stand and run all by itself. The truth is that we need the support of publishers/ agents to be able to make our work available to the audience who would otherwise never know what a delight it is to hold your creation.

 

How do you write to be published? Keep in mind that you are writing with the aim to be published in mainstream publications. At the same time, don’t insult them by hack-writing something you believe represents their catalogue. You need to pick a genre. See what is popular with the readers of that genre. Then see the list of titles your preferred publishers are trying to sell. Then you only need to adapt your ideas to meet such expectations from readers and specifications of the publishers/agents.

 

  1. Identify the market you want to be in
  2. Identify the exceptional and the popular works in that market
  3. Know your targeted readers, their expectations and preferences
  4. Document your target publisher/s’ titles in that market
  5. Is there a match, a common factor or point where your ideas meet the above?

 

You have to find some common ground. This without losing your artistic integrity. You need not sell your soul, but you need to understand the market before you sell any books/ stories.

 

So even before you produce or pen anything related to your great masterpiece – you need to first acknowledge, respect and understand the market, its key players and the scope for you in the same.

 

Exclusive or Saturated

We all complain how new authors never get a break. That it is some elite clique of snob-nosed phonies who congratulate each other and sneer at others.

 

If you however log-off Amazon.com and walk into a large bookstore, you will see that among the heavyweights, the prizefighters and welterweights are also some amateur people who have donned the gloves and stepped inside the ring. They too have promoters and backers who have made it possible for them to be there among the greats.

 

So clearly, there is enough flow of new authors every year from which some go on to publish second and even a third book. Best thing for you to do is to make a good first impression by putting your best foot forward. So if you have a range of writing and ideas – analyze it as per market as suggested to pick one and use it to pitch for your first novel length work. Your first novel should make the readers and publishers happy. This first impression will ensure if they wish to meet your future works.

 

So though the literary career may seem exclusive, it is actually saturated.

 

Saturated with a horde of people submitting novels and stories and a respectable publisher will get pitched a dozen book manuscripts by agents everyday for 365 days a year. So if you are one in those million people, you better make a strong case to prove your worth in their court.

 

The beginning

Yes, you have to approach it like the interview for the most desired job. Or a legal case where you prove the merits of your book or have it tarnished in that agent/publisher’s records. So now you are a savvy charming lawyer drafting your case to plead in favour of your client i.e. the book. The book can’t do all this but if you do it, the book will generate the income and popularity for you. Not to mention the future career in writing. LOL.

 

The premise of the 2 analogies suggested above (interview/ court-case) is to get you to see the seriousness required in your approach.

 

Your approach – right at the beginning, before you even write the book.

 

  1. After having narrowed down to the ideal idea for the ideal market/publisher
  2. Note the points that makes your book appealing to your audience
  3. Note the points that makes your book the best pick for your publisher/agent
  4. Now create a Proposal for your fiction novel

 

Proposals before Writing

So this is your case to support your book before it’s written.

 

Why? No, not for anyone else!

 

This proposal is for you! This is so that you can see in black and white whether you have a good idea for a novel at all. If not, go back to previous steps and rediscover your idea, your marketed audience and your agent/publisher.

 

So when you have collected these pieces to form a Proposal, you will be able to see for yourself – the feasibility of that fiction novel to be a real worthwhile product.

 

Proposal Pitch contents:

  1. The Title
  2. The tag line or blurb text within 2 sentences. Yes, you should be able to grab a person by maximum 2 concise sentences to intrigue/ interest them to read the rest of the proposal
  3. Why are you proposing this novel?
  4. Purpose/ Subject Matter/ Genre
  5. Your contribution – what makes a novel so special when coming from you?
  6. Intended audience – maybe even the demography/ geography of the audience. Have you ever seen how Amazon.com suggests other relevant books when you view one book. You could also think about how your novel fits in a genre – which readers of particular books or fans of which authors it can be related to.
  7. The competition for your subject matter/ theme/ genre/ market
  8. Length – expected word count
  9. Chapter Outlines – each with their plot outlines
  10. Timetable – plan out how you will make this novel-writing happen
  11. Publishers – list of established publishers who deal with the theme/ topic of your novel.  Maybe even list agents who have done well in that genre.
  12. Background information – your relevant professional credits first. Then educational. And then very briefly your personal contact details. No need to list hobbies and memberships unless it can be leveraged to pitch your book to anyone. The best thing about a writing career is that even people who are in blue-collar professions can have wonderful tales to tell. So don’t downplay this “background information” section of the proposal.

 

So this is your first document even before writing a novel.

 

You need this only for yourself – not to share this with any agent/ publisher at his point of time.

 

Read what you have filled and then analyze:

  1. if this looks like a good investment of your time/ energy – a profitable venture for you.
  2. if this is enough to convince you to start writing the novel
  3. if your idea/art can be adapted/ modified to meet this document’s expectations

 

Then you start writing your novel!

 

So you have reversed the way you go to a publisher/agent. You have done the groundwork first and know how to meet the demands. So now – you have an “artistic product” (not an oxymoron). You will have a novel that is saleable to both the audience and the publisher/agent.

 

And of course you have a ready Proposal for them, which you defined and can reuse now to send along with the manuscript to agents/ publishers. Because your fiction novel is based on a sound feasible Proposal. No more pains of having written something great and then hunting for a way to make it useful for a reader/ agent/ publisher.

 

Pragmatic way to get Practice

Ghostwriting may seem poor choice for authoring a book. We all want to put our fabulous name to the books we write. But again, you are thinking in a conditioned way. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghostwriting

 

Practice! Practice they say makes you perfect. But who will give you practice in writing a novel that is published and distributed and read? How will that practice come? Do you want to risk ruining your author “brandname” when an amateurish, not so popular book of yours comes out, by not making a good first impression?

 

Ghostwriting is a good way to write for the market and also earn a decent income for your effort.

 

  1. Helps you understand the market better – since the publisher/ agent or person would give you the readymade description of what is to be done.
  2. When the book comes out, you don’t need to worry about the results – you need to analyze how the publisher/agent’s formula clicked with the market – how they made it happen – or maybe what was missing that limited its popularity
  3. You get crucial practice in writing as per reader-expectation,
  4. You get crucial practice in understanding how agents/ publishers are convinced of a book’s worth
  5. You are able to hone your creativity and get feedback on your writing and on your style from a professional editor from a publishing house

 

Actually this list could go on and on depending how much you are able to grab out of such an opportunity. The efforts you make to learn “the trade” – will make you a professional writer.

 

And of course, these ghostwritten books would be proof of your skills – so do it well and make a portfolio of novel-length published works – before even having written your own first novel.

 

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a ghostwriter who wrote music for wealthy patrons.
  • Robert Ludlum wrote only 3 novels dedicated to Jason Bourne character (Bourne Identity, Bourne Supremacy and Bourne Ultimatum). How many do you see in the bookstores using his name long after Ludlum’s demise? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Ludlum

 

Another opportunity is trying out varying genres. As a newbie, it is always good to be open to writing in multiple genres and styles. I have written macho Motorcycle Adventures such as “Wayfarer series” http://www.bikernet.com/fiction/PageViewer.asp?PageID=2329 and then also been able to present the same publisher with a Western Cowboy Adventure in “The Railroad” http://www.bikernet.com/fiction/PageViewer.asp?PageID=3100 . And as you can see Bikernet.com is a magazine primarily for bikers, yet I found a connection – because modern bikers are just an adaptation of the way old west had horse-riding men and posse, etc.

 

 

Conclusion

If you don’t know where you are sailing to, you are lost at sea. Know the market and navigate it to reach your audience.

 

Too many analogies here, but well, hope you get the gist of its concept after reading it.

]]>
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Discover traditional print comics http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/discover-traditional-print-comics/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/discover-traditional-print-comics/#comments Tue, 29 Nov 2011 20:43:30 +0000 udey http://hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=440 As opposed to the Webcomics we discussed previously here and here this post will highlight regular newspaper strips syndicated by the big guns in the funny business. There are quite a few syndicates who work with a range of cartoonists to sell them to newspapers across the world. But we will concentrate on those who display it online and provide you with a daily tickle even if you don’t get that joke in the daily newspaper you subscribe.

First on our list is the obviously named comics.com. They have some big toons on their portfolio. So lets get these publicity hogs out of the way. There is peanuts by the late Charles Schulz. Yes he passed away but left a long running series which is being rerun with considerable success by public demand. Charles had refused anyone else to draw his strip after he stopped making them so it lives on by its archives. Another such legacy is that of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan which is a serial strips which means you have to read it daily to follow the story. They call it Tarzan Classics while there are newly drawn strips on Tarzan Sundays. Another easily spotted biggie is the office nerd dilbert by Scott Adams. It is easily the best office humour you can get. Recent strips has the Indian IIT grad die in space on a poor prototype of Dilbert, gets cloned and reincarnated into a new body. The twist? Carol used Asok’s DNA bottle to store Snickers bars, so Asok’s clone who is part human and part candy after “guided reincarnation” uses “advanced shapeshifting” to get back to his normal self (Apparently he learnt that at IIT).

Now to come to the truly under-appreciated comic strips. These are gems that should be in every news rag but isn’t. First on my should be world-famous list is the late Bob Thaves who had an unlimited supply of puns at the disposal of his creation frank and ernest (the strip title itself is a pun). It is the first comic panel to appear as a strip. The duo has appeared as a variety of beings and even inanimate things in different times, places and worlds. His son draws the strip now after Bob passed away in August 2006. boNanas was a great strip on Life and World until its creator John Kovaleski decided to end the 4 year popular run. He will be selling his BoNanas books signed copy soon at his website and you can read the last week of the comic strip at his website.

Stephan Pastis has a great offbeat comic strip called Pearls Before Swine (yes, reference to the Bible sentence) in which an ego-maniac rat stars alongside a simpleton pig, pig’s pet duck (very violent but obedient pet), an intellectual goat, a good-natured zebra and the insanely stupid crocodiles who want to hunt but can’t. This is the fastest growing comic strip in recent comic history. The cartoonist sometimes makes an appearance in his strip and also has guests from other popular comic strips. It is as wicked as you can get conventionally in a daily print medium. Wizard of Id has been there for a long time and I don’t find its appeal any less though not many people appreciate its unique humour. The cast is great with the wizard, his belligerent wife, the egoistic arrogant King, the cowardly Knight, the village drunkard, the poor man behind the dungeon cell (for what seems like an eternity) etc. Last but not the least is Diesel Sweeties by Richard Stevens. This was a webcomics phenomenon where the cartoonist established a business on his website solely through the popularity of his comic strip. In the newspaper version of the same you get a sobered down strip but funny nonetheless. If you want to read the uncensored version get to Richard’s website. It is offbeat but not far from truth.

Finally if after visiting and browsing through the past 30 days of these comic strips at the given links you think you want to look for yourself then the wonderful people at comics.com have an index where you can search comics by category and suit yourself. You can navigate to the comic’s page and read 30 days worth of strips free. So bookmark your favourites and let me know about them too.


Let us move on to our next big online laughter club gocomics.com. This has considerably larger playground of comic strips appearing daily with an accessible backlog of 30 days. There are some repeats from comics.com discussed in previous post, namely – BoNanas, Frank and Ernest and Wizard of Id.

So let’s clear out the hogs popular and surely you have heard of them. First up is the ever hungry, ever scheming and ever loved orange cat Garfield by Jim Davis. Jon the “master” (only for technical accuracy) is a cartoonist with his stupid dog Odie and of course the lazy cat named Garfield. As Jon goes through his boring days the capers of the cat kicking the dog and befriending the mice and swatting spiders keeps us entertained now for over 2 decades. Appearing in 2570 newspapers around the world this comic strip has critics who are disgusted with its gross commercialisation and merchandising while 263,000,000 daily readers still love the furry evil incorporated cat. Guinness World Records has named Garfield “The Most Widely Syndicated Comic Strip in the World.” You have seen the TV animation, you have seen the movie, now catch up on his daily strips.

Next heavyweight is of course the only Pulitzer Prize winning comic stip in history – Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau. Started in a college newspaper it now appears in 1400 newspapers. Having witnessed more wars by USA than most of its readers, the characters and the creator have battled politicians and editors with the strong support of its dedicated fans. He has now successfully caricatured both Bush Senior and Bush Junior. Being a long running series with many characters it may be difficult at first to recognise and associate with the regular people in the strip. But it is addictive nonetheless. Garry’s 60 books have sold over 7 million copies. Check out the Doonesbury Town Hall.

Another giant, albeit a dormant one is the archives of Calvin and Hobbes by award winning cartoonist Bill Watterson being rerun in newspapers with the same zest as shown for Peanuts. Bill stopped making the strips and refused anyone else the right to draw them. It appeared in 2400 newspapers at its height of fame. The cute imaginative Calvin and his stuffed pet tiger Hobbes have become part of culture in America. Bill was one of the cartoonists who opposed mass commercialisation and spoke against Garfield’s Jim Davis’s strategy. Bill Watterson’s books and strips continue to sell in large numbers still. In 1986, Bill had became the youngest person to win the prestigious Reuben Award for “Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year” from the National Cartoonists Society.

Well I am sure you already knew and loved these but just for documentation I have to mention 2 other long-running comic strips which both have strong leading characters and are both serial strips. Brenda Starr is still keeping the flag aloft for sincere journalists everywhere with writer Mary Schmich and artist June Brigman keeping it afloat in the media of which Brenda Starr is fighting to keep principles over the bottom line. Another public hero is Dick Tracy running his 75th year since his first investigation in 1931. A Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Dick Locher is running the show for this strip now. Note that he won the Pulitzer for Editorial comic and Garry Trudeau is still unique in his win.

Okay! Finally the ones that may have gone unnoticed by you in the clutter of strips you come across. Non Sequitur is Wiley Miller’s take on absurdities of everyday life. Though the title describes its content it does have some regular characters who have a theme for a few days. The Sunday strip currently has a fantastic tale told like a running comic book serialised. Published in over 700 newspapers it is clearly successful with the audience. It is the only comic strip to win the coveted National Cartoonists Society award in its first year of syndication and the only one to ever win in both the best comic strip and best comic panel categories.

Rich Tennant is more famous for his cartoons appearing in the publishing phenomenon “For Dummies” series. In The 5th Wave he continues to surprise us with a daily panel that relates to the average user. He is the father of the computer cartoon. Scott Stantis has a controversial politically active comic strip called Prickly City. Deriving its title as a metaphor from the American Southwest desert where “everything is designed to prick you, wound you or eat you” it has a liberal Coyote pup named Winslow befriended by a conservative coloured kid named Carmen. Lot has been said about Scott’s strip but discover the humour in the local news and politics for yourself after browsing at least 15 of the 30 strips displayed online. Aaron McGruder’s The Boondocks was popular until the creator headed for Hollywood stopping his work on the comic strip. It is a unique look by an African-American cartoonist at the racial relations between his characters and media’s view of this ethnicity. It is still having reruns though and the political and social satire is worth a click.

David Alvarez is the only cartoonist I have watched, interacted with on a forum and had a conversation before he hit it big time with the syndication of his strip Yenny. He is a talented guy who has worked years in comic book industry, has had his own previous comic series and worked on Looney Tunes series as well. Yenny of Villa Los Kubos beach is a 22 year old wannabe model who has friends, pets (an iguana and a turtle), competitor, boyfriend troubles, etc keeping her on the toes of her large feet. She has her own site as well. Post syndication there has been not been any major change in the erstwhile webcomic as it was pleasant and acceptable as always. David sure has a keen eye for the female form and the pretty ladies on the strip will keep you coming back for more fun.

Last but not the least for all you feminists starved for a comic strip to relate too, your wait is over. Presenting C’est la Vie by Jennifer Babcock. Starring transplanted Parisienne Mona Montrois and her friends in the City of Angels this strip will relate to most urban women. And of course she has the advice of confidant, adviser Monsieur Smoke, her stuffed bunny, when she has had enough smokes. Deal with boyfriends, roomies and the city with your daily dose of UCLA undergraduate Jennifer’s brilliant work.

So you still hungry for more? Yes, let me show you to the gocomics buffet right here. Let me know what you love and like.

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Animation as a Comedic Narrative: The Influence of Comedia, Intrigue, and The Absurd in One Piece http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/animation-as-a-comedic-narrative-the-influence-of-comedia-intrigue-and-the-absurd-in-one-piece/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/animation-as-a-comedic-narrative-the-influence-of-comedia-intrigue-and-the-absurd-in-one-piece/#comments Tue, 29 Nov 2011 19:19:18 +0000 admin http://hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=402 Introduction

 

Owing a lot of its meaning to Aristotle’s Poetics, the term ‘comedy’ has always been seen not only as a sort of humorous discourse generally intended to amuse and make fun of situations, but also as a tool often used to make political, social, and religious statements. Traditionally, comedy has been written by a playwright and has then been acted on stage by a theatre group. Regardless of the period by which the term ‘comedy’ is defined, and regardless of the comedy style, whether it was Aristotle’s classic era or the modern 21st century, there has always been a playwright, there has always been a stage, and there has always been a public. However, with the development of new media technologies it has become a valid inquiry to question the nature of comedy. Is comedy still written by a playwright and then performed? Is comedy still a passive means of entertainment where the viewer engages passively with the narrative being told? Or has the new media being made available to consumers and the intricate levels of interactivity integrated into these mediums changed comedy from a linear narrative told on the stage to a style of narrative that can be distributed widely through mass media and is not, necessarily, performed on stage?

In her book Hamlet on Holodeck (1998), Janet Murray argues that virtual interactive narratives are in themselves a form of Aristotelian theatre, and that newer narratives of this nature, mainly online cyber narratives which are weaved by multiple participants and with the complete lack of a script,  can be seen as improvisational theatre influenced by Comedia del’ Arte. This is only one example of how new media narratives can be considered comedy.  Certainly, although the academic purist definition of comedy is extremely exclusive and encompasses only comic theatre, it may be time to open up to new possibilities that include new means of narrative as a dramatic and comical venue. It is time for a more inclusive definition of comedy, and, perhaps, of drama in its entirety. Critics such as Lisa Trahal (2002), Lawrence E. Mintz (1985), and Lauren Labnivotz (1991), among others, agree that television is a valid means of presenting narrative structures, including drama and comedy, to the audience. However, most of these critics argue in favor of the American Sitcom and Stand-up comedy as being the sole academically acceptable means of portraying modern comedy. Not many scholars outside the field of Popular Studies will agree that animation is a valid style of comedy worthy of scholarly analysis, much less Japanese animation. However, a close look at several Japanese animation shows will show that they are, indeed, an agreeable means of transmitting a comedic narrative. This essay will take a critical look at the Japanese animation One Piece (1997) and trace its influences back to Comedia del’ Arte, Comedy of Intrigue, and Theatre of the Absurd, in order to demonstrate that modern media, regardless of the place of origin, can be as valid of a cultural tool as classic works of literature are and that, in turn, these new forms of media owe a lot of their presentations to the older narrative structures.

 

The Great Age of Pirates: The Comedy

The Components of Comedia, Intrigue, and Absurdity in One Piece

A term hailing from medieval times, a comedy is a literary word that “is marked by a happy ending and a less exhaled style than tragedy” (Harmon & Holoman, 1999). Being one of the lighter forms of drama, its purpose is to entertain and amuse the viewers. The humorous effect in comedy often comes from the disagreement or distortion of speech, action, or character. As previously argued, this comedic ‘play’ does not have to take place necessarily on a stage, as other means of narrative, such as television shows and virtual narratives, can also include comedic elements. Certainly, many modern Japanese animations owe a lot of their appeal to comedic elements.

One Piece is one of these Japanese animations that owe a lot of its humor to elements of comedy. The basic plot of the series involves a young and childish “Mwgiwara no Luffy” (Straw Hat Luffy) setting off on a grand voyage during the great age of pirates in order to become The Pirate King. This action-packed adventure story, however, is about close calls, unexpected meetings, and heaping mistakes over mistakes as it is about character interactions, resulting in a humorous intercourse of plot and character that owes much of its humor to comedic styles that have existed since the 16th century. Truly, the humor found in One Piece owes a lot to the Comedia del’ Arte stock characters, to the plot principles of Comedy of Intrigue, and to various lose elements from Absurd Comedy.

 

Commedia del’ Arte refers to a type of improvised play full of physical comedy and acrobatics originating in Italy in the 16th Century. The traditional plot in these plays is that the innamorati are in love and want to marry, but one or several elders are stopping them, leading the lovers to ask the zanni for help. Typically the story ends happily, with the marriage of the innamorati. Plays conforming to the Comedia del’ Arte structure had several stock characters that never changed, and each character had his or her own distinctive qualities. It is in the character traits found in these stock characters that a relationship between One Piece and Comedia del’ Arte can be seen. It can almost be said that One Piece characters, in a way, evolved from Comedia de’ Arte stock characters.

The first paralel that can be seen between Comedia characters and One Piece characters is in the way they are named. This is specially true of Il Capitano, La Ruffiana, the Innamorati, and Arlechinno. In Comedia del’ Arte these five characters are named after their position, their looks, one of their character traits. Likewise, some of the character names in One Piece are fashioned over character traits or positions. However, being a comedy of exaggeration, there are more characters in One Piece that are named because of personality traits or looks.

 

The most prominent example comes in the form of Mwgiwara no Luffy, or Straw Hat Luffy. Even though this pirate captain’s full name is Monkey D. Luffy, he is more often addressed by his nickname Mwgiwara (Straw Hat) by those who are not part of his crew, and simply as Sensho (Captain) by those in his crew, much like Il Capitano, whose name is supposed to be improvized by the actor during play, is simply addressed as Capitano. What this shifting of name does is simply reduce all of the character’s traits into a single stereotypical entity: a captain, or a captain with a straw hat.

Another example on how names are tailored according to character traits is Ussopp, whose case can be seen as a paralel to Comedia del’ Arte character La Ruffiana. La Ruffiana, which in italian has the connotation of being a whore, is an older female character with a shady past. What little is known of her is that she used to be a prostitute. While she is often in a relationship with Pantalone, one of the wealthier Vecci, her relationship can often be cut off if it suits the plot. Ussopp’s name, like Ruffianna, comes from an inherent character flaw – that of being a liar. Ussopp’s name is derived from the word ‘Uso’ from Japanese, which means ‘you lie’ or ‘that is a lie’. Just like Ruffianna’s relationship with Pantalone, when Ussopp’s character is first introduced he is in a relationship with Kaya. However, this relationship is based solely on Ussopp’s lies.

However, Ussopp’s relationship to Comedia del’ Arte character traits does not end with his name alone. Like Pluncinella, Ussopp sports a ridiculously long nose. Being a masterful liar, like Brighella, Ussopp always has a lie in store for any possible situation. Furthermore, like Il Capitano, Ussopp’s lies often revolve about great adventures he has had fighting wars overseas or fighting giant monsters, like a giant goldfish whose droppings were the size of an island. Just like Il Capitano, when Ussopp’s turn to face actual danger comes, he turns tail and flees like a coward. In essence, even though Ussopp’s name is based on the same mechanics used to name La Ruffiana, his behavior is actually representative of Il Capitano. Furthermore, the character of Il Capitano is sometimes depicted without a mask. However, when a mask is used, it is usually flesh-hued with a large nose and a moustache that is either straight and bristly or turned up at the corners.Likewise, Ussopp is most of the time portrayed without a mask, but when he needs a certain degree of bravery not contained by his ‘Captain Ussopp’ persona he resorts to wearing a mask representing ‘Sogekingu’ (King of the Snipers). Just like Il Capitano’s mask, Sogekingu’s mask is flesh-hued with a large nose and a moustache that is either straight and bristly or turned up at the corners. Still, in Sogekingu’s mask we often see markings of Coviello’s character. Coviello’s mask usually portrays him with a ridiculously long beak-like nose, often near as long as his whole face. He sometimes wears glasses, and is frequently shown with plumes in his hat.

 

Still, even with Mwgiwara and Ussopp as examples of how Comedia del’ Arte has influenced modern Japanese animation, the most prominent example can be seen in the amazing paralels between Sanji and the innamorato Flavio. The innamorati, often the main characters in a Comedia del’ Arte play, are the two young lovers. The innamorato and innamorata have had many different names over time, although Isabella was a predominantly popular name for the innamorata, as Flavio was popular for the innamorato. These two young and righteous characters are hopelessly in love with one another, and often wore the most fashionable dress of the period in which they are acting. Unlike the other Comedia del’ Arte characters, the innamorati never wore masks and they spent a lot of their time singing, dancing, or reciting poetry. They are madly in love but never seem able to get together. The innamorati were often dressed in the latest fashions of their time, unless the scenario forbade it. Although the characters of the innamorati were foolish, the appropriate language was filled with ornate poetical phrasing. Unlike Il Capitano and the other host of cowards presented in Comedia del’ Arte, some of the innamorato characters were notably rash in their willingness to fight. Just as the innamorato Flavio, Sanji is a hopeless romantic. His foolish acts, such as swooning over the crew’s female navigator, Nami, while being attacked by 10 Marine battleships at the end of the Secret Government Agency Cipher Pol 9 Saga, are often acompanied by poetic similes and metaphors such as comparing Nami’s gracefulness to that of a swan. This innamorato without innamorata seems to be constantly on the lookout for someone to marry, and never hesitates to rush into a fight, either for the sake of love or for the sake of friendship, but never for self interest. Furthermore, just like Flavio, Sanji is always dressed in the latest “yuppie” trends of the late 20th and the early 21st century, sometimes sporting formal pants and a blue silk shirt, others wearing a formal tuxedo with tie, and sometimes even wearing the latest fashionable summer and Christmas clothing reminescent of those found on stores like The Gap during the aforementioned seasons. Certainly, Sanji is an innamorato.

While it is obvious that some characters in One Piece have been influenced by Comedia del’ Arte, stating that all of the characters in One Piece have been influenced by Comedia del’ Arte in one way or another is too an exaggerated of a claim. While there might be some paralels between other character types in Comedia del’ Arte and One Piece, stating that the harlequins that appear during the Sakura Island Saga are inspired by Arlechino, or that Dr. Chopper, a speaking, transforming raindeer whose knowledge in medicine is unsurpassed, can be interpreted as Il Dottore because they are both doctors from old-money families, is simply too far-fetched. Elements like the skeaking medical raindeer Doctor Chopper, the talking annonymous harlequins, the lightening god “Kaminari God Enel” (Kami is God in Japanese, while Kaminari is lightenint), and the giant bear-man who can deflect anything Tyrant Bartholomew Kuma (Kuma is bear in Japanese) seem to be more characters born out of the surrealist absurd and injected into One Piece for the sake of the plot that revolves around comedy of intrigue.

There are very few elements of the absurd found in One Piece. One of them is the surrealist, almost dream-like elements of the landscapes and the chatacters not influenced by Comedia del’ Arte. The most absurd quality of One Piece, however, if the main character’s vision and entanglement with the world, which is infantile and childlike. This quality of the infantile main character is one found in Ubu Roi, often considered as the urtext of absurd theatre. Mwgiwara no Luffy’s involvement with the world, meaning the way he sees it, is as infantile as, if not more than, King Ubu’s way of seeing the world. Luffy thinks of the world as a playground. His reason to travel the world in a ship to become king of the pirates is only in part a promise made to his childhood friend Shanks, but largely because of his sense of wanting something to do. His sense of boredom leads him to see the Grand Line, the most dangerous sea in the world, as a playground. This childlike engagement with the world, however, is not something found only in One Piece, but that is also found in several modern Japanese animations. In the Dragon Ball series the immature main character Goku sees the world as a fighting playground, while in Kodomo no Omocha a ten year old Sana-Chan sees the world, literally, through the eyes of a child. It can be safely stated that absurd theatre’s main character’s engagement with the world is something that has influenced a lot of Japanese animations to date.

Still, Comedia del’ Arte and th absurd are not the only movements to have influenced Japanese animation, or more specifically One Piece. Comedy of Intrigue is a comedy in which the manipulation of the action by one or more characters to their own ends is of more importance than the characters themselves are. Also known as “comedy of situation” (Handbook), this style of comedy focuses on the plot. In this style of comedy the background information and the setting take a second role to incongruous situations, the heaping of mistakes, the multiple plots, disguises, mistaken identities, unexpected meetings, and close calls. This plot-centered dynamic focusing on multiple storylines, unexpected meetings, and close calls is what characterizes One Piece the most.

Although the plot in One Piece revolves around a young man, Luffy, who wants to become king of the pirates, the narrative voice often changes to events happening elsewhere. This is true especially after particularly close calls. The most recent example comes in episodes 350 to 378, where the Straw Hat crew have docked in a mysterious island filled with chimeras in an absurd parody of the film The Island of Dr. Monroe. After being greeted by Dr. Hogback, whose calling in the island is to revive zombies, Luffy and his crew are quickly separated. This allows for multiple simultaneous narratives which include not only the members of the crew but other characters who have yet to be introduced in the main narrative plot. A sudden unexpected meeting in this narrative arc involves Sanji meeting face to face with Absalon, a man who had “stolen his dream” by gaining the powers of invisibility. Still, two even more surprising encounters are those of Doctor Chopper with Doctor Hogback, who had been his hero since he began to study medicine, and, more impressively, that of Luffy with Moryia, one of the Sichibukai (seven warlords) and the real master of Thriller Bark – the mysterious island. In this same narrative arc encounters with characters such as Skull Bones Brook – a perverted skeleton – and Bartholomew Kuma – one of the Sichibukai – make the viewer remain on edge not knowing who to expect next.

 

Conclusion

 

In the end, it is obvious that One Piece draws from several comedic traditions. While it might still be argued by the most stubborn scholars that the connections are too general, the truth is that many of the Japanese anime writers have been trained in western universities. Certainly, the Japanese sense of humor is different to the western sense of humor, but the influence of these two cultures on each other is observable in every day life. Certainly, the influence of western drama on Japanese animation is there. Perhaps it is time we revise our notions of what comedy, and drama as a whole, is and we look at the big picture – new technologies are changing the way we do drama, therefore, we should change the way we look at it too.

 

 

 

 

 
References

 
Crick, O. & J. Rudin (2001). Commedia dell’Arte: A Handbook for Troupes. New York, NY: Routledge.
Duchantre, P.L. (1966). The Italian Comedy Duchan. Dover Publications.

Harmon, W. & C.H. Holoman. (1999). A handbook to literature. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

 

Mintz, L. (1985).Standup Comedy as Social and Cultural Mediation. American Quarterly. 37 (1), 71-80.

 

Nicoll, A. (1331). Masks, Mimes and Miracles: Studies in the Popular Theatre. George G. Harrap & Co Lt..

 

Rabnivotz, L. (1991).Television Criticism and American Studies. American Quarterly. 43 (2), 358-370 .

 

Trahair, L. (2002).Short-circuiting the Dialectic: Narrative and Slapstick in the Cinema of Buster Keaton. Narrative. 10 (3), 307-325.

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Mathematical Problems of David Hilbert 23 http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/mathematical-problems-of-david-hilbert-23/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/mathematical-problems-of-david-hilbert-23/#comments Sun, 10 Jul 2011 18:17:48 +0000 admin http://hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=385 Problems in Predicate Mathematics or Word Problems    (x, y and z integers)
Algebra Preliminary or Algebra I                                                  ax + by + c = 0
Algebra Intermediate or Intermediate Algebra             xn + yn = zn 

 

Please offer Geometry diophantine morning. |

Pascal, Blaise

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The Sub-Human, the Human, and the Human Potential: The Colonized in Shakespeare, Behn, and Conrad http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/the-sub-human-the-human-and-the-human-potential-the-colonized-in-shakespeare-behn-and-conrad/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/the-sub-human-the-human-and-the-human-potential-the-colonized-in-shakespeare-behn-and-conrad/#comments Mon, 17 May 2010 18:22:06 +0000 admin http://hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=388 There are several notions about what it means to be colonized and whether colonization is a positive or a negative practice. Objectively speaking, one would have to argue that the positive or negative aspects of colonization are an issue that can only be resolved at the individual level and is highly influenced by the images and texts to which one is exposed to during their formation. Some have argued that colonialism is a positive thing. Certainly, during the eras of slavery and colonization this was the general notion. There are some today that would still argue that colonialism should be encouraged, as it means survival of the fittest and is, essentially speaking, an evolution of humanity as a whole. Others will claim that colonialism should not be encouraged as it eradicates entire cultures and allows for the practice of economic slavery and abuse. These two points of view are not notions that can be developed overnight after reading a chapter in Fanon’s Black Skin White Masks. Notions of the positive or negative aspects of colonialism are more heavily influenced by the media and texts one is exposed to. It is no surprise, then, that from the early days of slavery to the early 1900s colonialism and abuse of the colonized became an increasingly popular notion, since as time progressed the image of the colonized “savage” became more dehumanized. It is this dehumanization of entire races that allowed for the inhumane practices of slavers and plantation owners, who in the name of progress, oppressed millions of people. In order to evidence how the image of the colonized savage became more dehumanized, this essay will look at how Shakespeare, Aphra Behn, and Joseph Conrad portrayed the colonized in The Tempest, Oroonoko, and Heart of Darkness.

The portrayal of colonization in The Tempest is one that represents the colonizer as a dominating, almost supernatural, force, and the colonized as deformed, almost demonic, beings whose station is beneath that of the human, or as beings who, due to the circumstances into which they were born or due to bad negotiation on their part, end up being subservient to the colonizer. This second breed of colonized, however, has a chance to redeem itself.

The two figures of ‘the colonized’ in The Tempest are Caliban and Ariel. Calibann is the demonic child of a demonic earth goddess-witch, a being for whom language is useless, who has little cognitive faculties, and who is willing to engage in betray and deceit to obtain what he wants. Many critics have commented on Caliban as being the stereotypical notions of Shakespearean England’s idea of what a native African is like. Ariel, on the other hand, is described as “an airy spirit” whose gender isn’t identified. Although some have argued that Ariel is a male spirit, the gentle way in which Prospero converses with it and calls it “my spirit” might suggest that Ariel is a female. When one takes into consideration the traditional mythology of England, where female nymphs are the air spirits, it would be hard to imagine that Ariel the nymph is male. This female spirit of air has been read by critics as the Caribbean Creole elite who are willing to bargain with the colonizer and engage in subservience in order to obtain their freedom.

Africans, as represented by Caliban, are represented as a naïve race born of sin. Their mother, a demon-witch, whom presumably can be read as the African continent, was destroyed by Prospero, the English nobility, and thus Prospero was able to enslave them. According to the western vision this would be a far better fate than being lost to their sub-human ways. Still, regardless of the sub-human status of Calibann, he is still given some degree of humanity. In The Tempest Caliban is made out to be someone who can learn the colonizer’s language and who can use his limited cognitive faculties to be able to formulate the criticism that the only good thing he can do now that he knows the colonizer’s language is curse. Furthermore, Shakespeare allowed Caliban the ability to criticize how the colonizer came, killed his mother, and enslaved him, and to thirst for freedom. However, in his writing Shakespeare did not allow Caliban an independent thinking faculty or the ability to conspire to obtain his freedom on his own. It is only through his association with one of Prospero’s enemies that Calibann can strive for freedom. By doing this Shakespeare has successfully conveyed the (wrong) message that Africans may want freedom, or claim that they want freedom, but are too docile and dependent to look for it on their own; that they need to look to someone else to help them be free. Full of defects, lacking basic human-level cognition, and  being considered as less than human, in The Tempest we see that Africans are not the featureless shadows lurking in Conrad’s forests, but simply an inferior, sub-human race of homo-sapiens.

Ariel, on the other hand, is a Creole with enough common sense to realize that Prospero is her master and that it is only by doing Prospero’s will that she will obtain her freedom, and this is exactly what happens in the play. Ariel, after playing various tricks on Prospero’s enemies and following Prospero’s instructions, is ultimately granted her freedom. This can be taken as Shakespeare’s commentary on the nature of peoples – he portrayed England as the dominating country, Africans as a sub-human species, and the offspring of both as an inferior race with the potential of earning their freedom. Here, the notion that colonized people should be slaves but that there should be some exceptions is prominently argued for.

This same notion is shared by Aphra Behn. Being the wife of a slave trader, it would be hard to argue that Aphra Behn was against slavery. Her novel Oroonoko, considered by many as the second novel in the English language (the first being Aphra Behn’s Love Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister), is a story that revolves around the young African prince Oroonoko and his lover Imoenda, the daughter of the king’s foremost general. In this novel Caliban’s people, the Africans, are shown as a race of people with a culture and hierarchical system of their own. However, as the plot shifts away from Africa Oroonoko becomes more and more an exception to the rule, and Africans in general are relegated to being silent background shapes. Oroonoko is described from the begning of the novel as a regal figure, a majestic being. His being betrayed by the ship captain leads him to become a slave – however, even as a slave he is favored. All the other slaves look up to Oroonoko, and when he decides to starve himself to death all the other slaves follow. This is an indication of his right to what some critics have called “natural kingship”. Aphra believed that a land needed to have its natural kings, and that without those kings the land would be taken over by lesser, corrupt men. European-featured Oroonoko was one such king.

As Oroonoko kept being betrayed by people he grew more and more hesitant to trust the white man, until he finally leads the slaves into rebellion. In another act of betrayal, Oroonoko is asked to stop the slave revolt in exchange for amnesty, which he does only to later be whipped as punishment. Enraged by yet another betrayal Oroonoko and Imoenda decide to take their own lives in an act distinctly close to the Japanese Harakiri where a warrior, instead of being dishonored, decides to take his own life and that of his wife. Oroonoko, however, is prevented from taking his own life and is instead cut up into pieces which are then scattered, as were William Wallace’s remains, across the earth.

As evidenced by her own life, Aphra Behn was not against slavery. She believed that the naturally powerful nations should enslave the naturally powerless, never mind that, as Conrad argues, a nation’s power is nothing more than an accident of fate. However, in portraying noble Oroonoko as an almost celestial figure, Aphra argued for the right of Kings and against the notion that all of the colonized Africans should be enslaved, as kings are kings no matter where they are born. The featureless shadows that make up the background of Africa, however, are inconsequential and can, therefore, be enslaved.

In both Shakespeare’s and Behn’s works the colonized has been given some degree of human characteristic. Caliban is allowed some small degree of reason, and Oroonoko is allowed his royal status. However, in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness almost all trace of humanity is wiped from the colonized. Despite Conrad’s many instances where he forcefully states that he African is not an enemy or a criminal, and that the African is indeed human, his stereotypical, almost cartoon-ish depictions of Africans might suggest to the reader that these natives had no culture.

In Heart of Darkness Conrad’s avatar, Marlow, travels into the heart of the Belgium Congo, where he decides to become acquaintances with an almost mythical Kutz, an universal genius. During his travels he describes scenes of horror and death where the non-slave but colonized African “goes off to die”. Conrad’s depictions of the colonized is an image of a people who have no language beyond grunts, and whose only use for language is to ask the colonial power, Marlow, if they can eat someone else. These savages with bloodshot eyes and death hanging around them will appear as nothing more than shadows and flame. In addition, the fact that prolonged exposure to these savage natives might turn one into something worse than a native, perhaps into something sitting high in the pantheon of their cannibal heathen gods, as Conrad suggests, makes the accusation against the colonized victim even stronger. This idea of “going native” is exemplified in the novel by Kutz, a universal genius whose mother was half-French and whose father was half-English. He was someone to whom all of Europe had given something to make. This great explorer delved into the heart of darkness to hunt for Ivory, and during his stay he started using the natives as raiding and hunting parties. He began to kill and abuse everything for the sake of Ivory, and in this hunt the colonized native is portrayed as yet another shadow with bloodshot eyes following the command of the colonizer. While in Shakespeare and Behn the colonized was given some form of outlet to allow for the possibility of an eventual freedom, even if it was a freedom only allowed to a very specific section of the colonized (in Shakespeare to the Caribbean Creole and in Behn to African royalty), in Conrad the native was given no option of freedom except death. Finally, literary representations of colonized natives arrived at the image of a few shadows of blood and fire; the image of the colonized had become completely distorted.

This short essay followed the transition of the image of the colonized through three distinct works of literature. In Shakespeare the colonized is seen as a sub-human demon with some cognitive ability and some language faculty. Furthermore, this colonized is complimented with the figure of a second colonized, one who has complete language and cognitive faculties and is only colonized because of her circumstance. This second colonized had a chance of being redeemed and earning its freedom, while the sub-human demon had some human characteristics. In Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko the second, more human, figure of the colonized is discarded and replaced with a figure that represents the elite of the sub-human demons. Although this elite has European features and, Behn argues, should not be subject to slavery, the “regular” sub-human people of Africa should be enslaved, as, Behn argues, it is only natural for the powerful to enslave the powerless. By the time Conrad wrote Heart of Darkness the elite colonized figure has been discarded, and all that is left is shadow and flame, bloodlust, cannibalism, and death in the image of the colonized. With no voice, no cognition ability of any kind, and nothing but a drive to eat each other, the image of the colonized had hit the worst of its days. It would take a miracle of counter-rhetoric to undo what nearly five hundred years of negative media propaganda had done to the image of the colonized, and it was Achebe who valiantly took up the task…

… however that is a topic to be discussed in an essay dealing with the post-colonial.

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Writing a Review http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/writing-a-review/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/writing-a-review/#comments Mon, 06 Jul 2009 18:38:37 +0000 udey http://hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=393 Whether to review the creative effort of a musician, filmmaker, artist, author, etc. you need an open mind, careful choice of words, conscious effort to examine the piece of work, and mostly an interest in the subject/ art-form so as to give an authoritative or at least a comprehensive commentary on the work in question.

In this article we will briefly go over the basic motives, purpose and required skills to do an effective review of a creative endeavour.

Purpose of a review:

Mostly, the basic aim to review a movie or a book, etc is to state your experience of that movie/ book for the benefit of others who haven’t experienced it as yet. When you review a movie, you are giving your feelings toward the movie to others who are interested in watching movies. So this is something personal, yet it is something influencing others. You may be able to find a book so worthy that you would deem it necessary reading for everyone. So if you feel that strongly about a work of creativity, you have the natural desire to share it with the world – to tell them that this is good, that they need to experience it as well.

Simply saying a movie is “awesome” doesn’t really help. You have to give a coherent analysis of the work to influence others. So if you hated the “Transformers” movie, simply saying so doesn’t tell others how bad the movie is. You need to put into words the horrible experience and state reasons why moviegoers should preferably avoid it.

For aficionados money may be of no concern. So that is a very lame reason to state – don’t buy that because the book isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. It is lame because you have given no insight into the novel. It’s not just juvenile but also unfair to the person who is reading your rant-like review.

So the purpose:

1. Express your feelings and experiences of the work in question

2. Influence others with analysis and review of the work in question

3. Establish your own position as an authority on the subject with insight and thoughtful commentary

4. Avoid ad hominem attack on the creator or fans and justify your stand with critical but unbiased view

Essentials of a Reviewer:

In today’s internet age, no one needs qualified credentials to write a review. You don’t need a Doctorate degree in the subject to state your experience/ opinion of the creative work. Nor do you need to be an engineer to review a car or a laptop. If you have read a dozen books by different authors and find that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is still better than today’s detective authors – that’s fine. You don’t need to have a Masters in Literature to come to that conclusion. Because it is your personal opinion based on your personal experience. Nonetheless, you need to prove your point. Simply saying Sherlock Holmes tops Philip Marlowe gives us no benefit of your experience. You need to be able to compare and criticise and analyse the works in question.

The word “criticise” itself seems to have got very strong negative connotations in modern times.

The definition we should consider here is:

criticise (verb) = Act as a critic

critic (noun) = A person who is professionally engaged in the analysis and interpretation of works of art

So all you need to do is apply thought and focus on evaluating the authors/ characters/ plots/ scenes/ dialogues/ flow/ prose/ etc. to show us why you think Sherlock Holmes is better than the other works of detective fiction.

Essential Pointers:

1. Be open-minded, unbiased, and open to the exploration of the subject

2. Be Analytical and state reasons for your choice, likes/ dislikes, etc.

3. Illustrate for the reader your passion for or against the movie/ book/ product/ etc. being reviewed

4. Educate, inform and be engaging/ entertaining

5. Give feedback to the creator/ seller

6. Don’t miss the forest for the trees

7. Separate the work from the creator

8. Don’t write a Wiki, don’t giveaway spoilers

9. Create value or degrade value – create interest or project disinterest

10. Basic writing skills (elementary school essay writing level at the least)

The detached spectator:

A good reviewer knows how to detach personal emotions, ambitions, bias, favourites, etc. to look at a creative product in its naked state. He needs to be free from guilt or prejudice. To view the work in its entirety as well in its fragments.

Such an open-mind is not easy to maintain for everyone. To read “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and appreciate that drug-addled adventure, it’s not something everyone can do. But see the story and the characters and the words and emotions instead of focussing on the thought of your personal disgust of drug-addicts.

If you, for instance, have a severe dislike of smokers, and then you see a movie where the upright hero is a chain smoker – you should be able to view the character and story for what it is instead of bringing personal disgust of the habit into the review.

For example: The hero of a book is married but cheats on his wife with other women. So he then goes on to great things and even gets a happy ending despite his immoral behaviour. Maybe he divorces and finds true love elsewhere.

Now if you as a person can’t associate with this man, that’s fine. You may think he is corrupt beyond forgiveness and may wish the book was never published. But you need to analyse and reveal to us in your review why the story is good or bad. Don’t bring your own personal belief system to a work of art. If you hate “Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown, bring more to the table than the Bible.

The book and the movie “The English Patient” for example, does have a wife who cheats on her husband and her husband does die devastated about his cheating wife.

But also, it is a great emotional tale, set in the grand backdrop of World War II. The story analyses not just human emotions and their nature, but also gives us a greatly engaging tale of love and war and fate, etc.

So be detached from personal bias. Prejudice against a subject won’t help you give a worthwhile review.

That is not to say that you should be a cold-blooded surgeon dissecting the work.

You should be able to show your enthusiasm or disgust in words that are analytical and state valid reasons why the work is great or lousy. Saying Harry Potter feeds souls to the Devil is not a critical review; it’s just lame and lacks any critical thought.

Passion is indeed an asset to the critic. The passionate reviewer inflicts on his reader a contagious thought about the book he reviewed. This effect of a review to excite the reader about a book or movie is part of the job for the critic. The reviewer’s passion spreads to his reader to make the reader feel strongly about watching that movie or deciding not to watch it.

Another aspect of this detachment is to remove yourself from your feelings toward the creator. Some may love all movies of Steven Spielberg just because it is directed by him. A reviewer needs a sharper judgment. You need to analyse his movie for what it is, not by the director’s past work and certainly not by your love of his past movies. You may have grown up admiring him for his movies, but as a critic you need to shed that Indian Jones fedora hat and be rational. Same goes for authors whose books you love. Analyse the next book for what it is instead of assuming it to be great because it is by that famous author you adore. You may love Sylvester Stallone and he has starred in thrilling action movies, but now try to look at his movie without feeling so strongly about Stallone – instead focus on the character he plays – is that a good character, is the plot of the movie playing out well, etc. The character in the story is more important than the actor who plays it for a reviewer. But of course you also need to evaluate the actor’s ability at acting, for his screen presence, dialogue delivery, etc. This detachment is not so easy and needs practice and conscious effort. Same way, just because you dislike an actor or even hate his personal lifestyle, avoid bringing all that personal baggage of yours into the review of his movie.

One should always try to separate the art from the artist.

For example: Just because a musician is critically or commercially appreciated – it should not be assumed he is a great guy in person – and he should also not be expected to live a life of Sainthood.

It works in reverse as well: Example: Just because a filmmaker like George Lucas is a great guy, great human – it doesn’t have to mean that any fan is obligated to assume his crappy prequel of Star Wars is as good as the past ones.

Of course people have expectations from their idols, it is a given. It is also a given that they are humans after all.

To thine own art be true:

So it is a fine balance actually to be passionate about something, yet give a fair unbiased commentary on a creative endeavour or any product/ service. Example: If you hate Bill Gates, that’s fine. But use your critical skills to tell us why Windows OS doesn’t deserve to be widely used. Security issues, or privacy issues, etc. could help you build a case against Microsoft Windows and then you can add to it by comparing the benefits of Linux or Mac OS, etc.

If you are fiercely vegan, you can’t possibly give an honest review about the new KFC franchise that opened in your town. You won’t know how good the chicken tastes, or other aspects of their menu. So sometimes, you just have to stick to subjects you have the knowledge about.

The positive reviewer:

A good reviewer entertains as well as educates with his review. You could inform the reader about the wonderful new restaurant and at the same time poke fun at its competitors. Essentially, people taking time to read your review need to receive – they deserve to receive – benefit from your experience/ opinion.

Also your review is your feedback on the product/ service/ artwork.

So you have the chance to weigh the pros and cons. You can also make suggestions or say how that bit of dialogue seemed out of place in a movie.

As an editor of Freedom Fiction Journal at http://freedomfriends.in/, I have edited and reviewed many fiction stories and digital art. But since these authors and artists have sincerely taken efforts to create something and wish to share it with the editor, it is important for me to give them a good analysis. So I always ensure that irrespective of whether their work is accepted or rejected, they receive feedback on their skills as a writer or artist. They know I have read and scrutinised their work, that I have responded to their creative efforts with an effort to help them improve, or to simply tell them what is right about the story, why it is good work.

So that is another way to look at reviews. A feedback from a consumer to the creator/seller of the movie/ book/ video game/ toaster/ etc. – anything – anything that is sold or offered for use by others can be reviewed.

Also it is of prime importance that you don’t ruin the experience for others. If you blurt out the complete plot of the novel or movie, you are just ruining things for everyone and not being helpful to a book-lover or movie-buff. So ensure you watch out for things which may make the review into a Wiki of a movie/ book and thus defeat the purpose to inspire/ influence a person’s intent of reading that book or watching that movie.

Ensure that you can be true to yourself as a user and thus share an experience from which others can learn and appreciate the value of the product.

For example, if you think that a fashion store is really giving value for money, that they have quality products at affordable prices, do mention that to show how valuable that store itself is to a fashionable city-gal. Generate the value for their service. Sometimes a good review of a DVD has been known to create a surge in sales of that DVD. You don’t get any money out of it but you have shared your joy with others and given them the benefit of your experience. Coming back to the store, there are columnists who write simply about the best place to buy something. They review stores, for example various shoe stores to find that best one. Then pick another product, say coffee and review various cafés to inform us from their experience.

So reviewers sometimes make the leap to be professional critics. Usually newspapers and magazines won’t employ someone as critic without valid credentials/ qualifications. But there are enough examples on the internet on how a simple blog or online web-magazine has influenced decisions of consumers and also that of creators/sellers. There are professional bloggers who have successfully attracted an audience of readers who appreciate the reviews and allow the reviewer to thus be a fulltime critic.

Basically, if you know what you are talking about, it is a good review and people will read it and come back again for your views on other products/ creations.

Few Tips:

1. Passion without abuse or ga-ga fandom

2. Analysis and evaluation of that creative work or product or service

3. Reasoning to support your claims of it being good or bad or average

4. Words that entertain as well educates

5. Ensure you don’t ruin other’s experience of it by revealing details that make the reader’s experience of it redundant

**** THE END ****

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Jade http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/jade/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/jade/#comments Sat, 20 Jun 2009 20:06:18 +0000 sjeffers1 http://hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=485 Jade – A short book of poetry

Seven stars
for seven angry skies
and their tears fill the void
and their rain falls on the morning
to heal the world
to finish its dreams.

Through it all
we grow stronger every day
till we see with a mind and clarity
far greater than our own
faith is ever tested
belonging to eternity
and not to this time.

 

***

I choose above all else,
above all other noble things,
to find serenity and solace,
in the facets of how you change my very day,
when that day finds me beset to speak with you.

i promise i create only with the hope desperate, to begin your day with a beautiful thought;
a token of how you touch my depths of feeling,
as often my beautiful thought is only of your grace.
***

You have and will inspire all the days of my life.
Beyond the physical you, the dream that I was never alone.
Ours is the exquisite art,
the gentle first driven snow,
that lays silent all the tremors of the world.

My heart is at peace,
given life within your presence
while time is our enemy no more.
It is the growing miracle
that God has granted hope
with each coming dawn.
***

You have become my first breath in the barren morning, my final tear to fall with the moon’s light;

Let others speak of us and learn of the extraordinary transcendence of self sacrifice, knowing with certainty that a greater love in the universe does breathe and exist;

Alone, I speak to you in my mind with a dream that you hear me with your heart and understand the truth of my existence, that I was made to watch over you always;

One soul set across two forms, in places separate, exacted in the same time, held in the infinity of space and circumstance.
***

Where I am wisdom, passion and energy;
You are strength, compassion and patience.

In natural and effortless compliment; one to another.

Where my wisdom draws to an end, your strength becomes my own;

Where my passion makes me foolish and sends me reckless, your compassion makes a better way;

When my energies do not suffice and fail to move me further, your patience is my teacher and my home from the surrounding storm.

In natural and effortless compliment; one to another, long apart or very near, you are the better part of me in so many ways I never had imagined real.

while others are trying in earnest to question, through proof or disproof, the existence of God; we being convinced of his existence can only question what he wants from us; when the answer to both questions is so simple any child can understand…love. who can debate the existence of love, since it is all around us, everywhere; and who can question its motivations, it simply exists whether we choose of our own free will to experience it or not.

***

If religion is the milk of God for the masses, science is His fire and I read each day by the candlelight of that flame of inspiration. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

All war is based on deception. – Sun Tzu
Every endeavor of humanity is warfare cleverly veiled. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

Change occurs at the edges and works its way inward. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

If you do not both love and fear a thing, you can not truly respect it. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

Great warriors are never lovers of war, they are lovers of the victory of peace. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

i am more God than man and less God than God and for this i suffer endlessly in fear and turmoil as to my fate and future. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

In all things and in all ways it is better to fight and win a battle before anyone has come to realize that you even have declared war – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

And summer came to gaze upon the stars and softened overnight to fall asleep and give way to a chill and the fall. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

Sometimes on a quiet night, when the air is lofty still and somewhat languishing, time unfolds history over histories so that we can see who we were, are, and will be, all under the same earl grey October sky. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***
my years without the friendship were like a cancer, an undiscovered country formed from the blessing i required but did not realize in my own eclipsed imprisonment, without Sol, without illumination, without love unconditional. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***
And comes the morning, where God’s universe infinite, for a glimmer, comes down to you..and me.

***
I’d forgotten how in love i was with the sound of your voice, as it whispers in secret of inner beauty.

 

***

I kiss the vile years past as they bring us now to face. I thank the blood, the barrenness, the nights stolen without spice for my appreciation of reunion. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

A great general knows how to greatly inspire his troops. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

The joy the stars must feel when the sun and the moon laugh together to heal each other’s scars. Oh how our laughter eclipses all things and gives cause for sadness to tremble. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

The price of an extraordinary life is more pain than any ordinary person could bear to experience and endure, but on the other side of that pain is glorious beauty enough to erase all memory of suffering. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

And comes the morning, where God’s universe infinite, for a glimmer, comes down to you…and me. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

She becomes a wraith, given to God, given by God, the past in form corporeal, a haunting snow falling cold into a blanket remembered and made of me destined to be forgiven with empathy. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

…that’s not the right question. the question you are really asking yourself is, am i man? or am i superman? man is forgiven. superman fights the pervading rage and becomes forgiveness to heal the arena watching from the gallery, searching for absolution tender and encompassing. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

For so, too many years, I couldn’t find the words. Then one day, I heard a song, this song, in the rhythm of you…and the words found me and the sky…the sky became vast and bathed me, awakened me, clean. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

What is there more beautiful than to inspire another. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

Yesterday’s a vivid dream, she came into my soul. The sun it shined so brightly, as we talked, the world grew cold. And, I…I run to her. I run…to her.

***

your kindness loving is my harbour, protecting me from storm, nurturing my strength, anchoring me in laughter. It is where I go…to be.

***

Our friendship, a blessing. Beautifully unwraps us in the rising sun, folds us again with its setting, gives us breath, gives us voice poetic, binds us and knows us well.

***

so very rarely in my experience has my breath been taken away by the presence of another. A solitary feminine downward glance was all required to render deaf, dumb and breathlessly enthralled my mind, body and soul at their core in the most literal sense possible. I may pass from this world a true believer, knowing now that beauty has a name and lives among our eyes and walks drifts about my head. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

Listen to the words of your sometime gentle Spartan prince. Although he leaves, he never lies, and at all times of need returns. Although he fears and cries out, he is powerful in your defense, your strength flowing through his veins and arms and days, Athena. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

Affection shines through my eyes as they fall upon my goddess. If only she could see what I see, she would know the depths of how elegantly she affects those in her arena, alive and with breath for her essence. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

When our eyes meet. Will you know me then? Ends the separation, that feels like, I’ve known you for so long.

***

I surrender and surrender, and surrender being not one but many. Is it him or is it me inside, my head. My heart beat smooth, beats steady. Like it sees the future, carry on, and carry on. Is it him or is it me, the lyrics fill my head, don’t entertain, just be. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

it takes trust and trust takes time. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

if you know another heart as you know your own, then you know you are where you should be, and that you should not be afraid of anything more than losing what you’ve found. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

true love is an infatuation that addictively recreates itself, so as to last a lifetime. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

Only…Am I the only, one?

Who breaks and bleeds,

where no one sees.

Am I the only…one?

Whose horizon’s needs

trial empty things.

 

I have to understand

that the world, is only,

what any think to know.

 

I see horizons fall

before me.

 

I understand, it seems I’m

always where no one

needs to go.

Am I the only…one?

 

I’ve been here before,

So many times,

So many ways.

Am I the only…one?

***

don’t anybody tell her because it will ruin the illusion…but I surrender when I pretty much darn well want to surrender and not a moment before. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

Our friendship in love, sanctioned by the will of God, baptized in the Jordan, cradled by the cloud at day and pillar of fire at night is my possession of greatest importance as I grow in wisdom and greatest circumstance. A ballet of emotion through our eyes ever shining, our hands intertwined as symphonies play on and play on. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

just remember that when I touch you

the more you shake, the more you give away. – Evans Blue

***

When you are lost and cold and drifting, seeming forever, follow the breadcrumbs along your path and find your way…home. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

Listen to the words of your sometime gentle Spartan prince. Although he leaves, he never lies, and at all times of need returns. Although he fears and cries out, he is powerful in your defense, your strength flowing through his veins and arms and days, Athena. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

Affection shines through my eyes as they fall upon my goddess. If only she could see what I see, she would know the depths of how elegantly she affects those in her arena, alive and with breath for her essence. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

When our eyes meet. Will you know me then? Ends the separation, that feels like, I’ve known you for so long.

***

I surrender and surrender, and surrender being not one but many. Is it him or is it me inside, my head. My heart beat smooth, beats steady. Like it sees the future, carry on, and carry on. Is it him or is it me, the lyrics fill my head, don’t entertain, just be. –  Sean Maurice Jefferson (from Jade)

***

it takes trust and trust takes time. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

if you know another heart as you’ve known your own, then you know you are where you should and always would be, and that you should, not be afraid, of anything more than losing what has found you as you rested your past in the dark. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

true love is an infatuation that addictively recreates itself, so as to last a lifetime. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

Only…Am I the only, one?

Who breaks and bleeds,

where no one sees.

Am I the only…one?

Whose horizon’s needs

trial empty things.

 

I have to understand

that the world, is only,

what any think to know.

 

I see horizons fall

before me.

 

I understand, it seems I’m

always where no one

needs to go.

Am I the only…one?

 

I’ve been here before,

So many times,

So many ways.

Am I the only…one?

***

don’t anybody tell her because it will ruin the illusion…but I surrender when I pretty much darn well want to surrender and no time before. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

Our friendship in love, sanctioned by the will of God, baptized in the Jordan, cradled by the cloud at day and pillar of fire at night is my possession of greatest importance as I’ve grown in wisdom and greatest circumstance. A ballet of emotion through our eyes ever shining, our hands intertwined as symphonies play on and play on. – Sean Maurice Jefferson (from Jade)

***

just remember that when I touch you

the more you shake, the more you give away. – Evans Blue

***

When you are lost and cold and drifting, seeming forever, follow the breadcrumbs along your path and find your way…home. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

feel free to question, feel free to doubt, it’s only as natural as the air we breathe, to wonder at anything that rings so true as is hard to believe such things wander into our lives. we’re free to question, only ever doubt, burn the inspiration, if returning, is true, if returning, the spirit in you. –  Sean Maurice Jefferson (from Jade)

***

Because of my love for you, even a crumb fallen from your table holds great meaning. God makes of me a servant of insistence and compromise for the sake of your needs common and uncommon. In surrender each morning it begins anew, flowing from the spirit and not just my self. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

Spires of heaven bleed in to my ever weary heart of hearts, consume the consumer before the darkness climbs from the pit and spittle. Why now? Why even spread me open and let fly the crimson ruler of every needful thing. Let fly the fury and past regrets Augustus could not bear. Let fly the salted seeds of pride and pity, scorn me no hope, no other tally of melee before the funeral pier. Weigh not heavy on my throat of cries, ‘till they fly no more. –  Sean Maurice Jefferson (from Jade)

***

as the river Time flows, the gift she becomes, the spirit within, more than a broken arrow, piercing the heart, making blood new, the water of life, wisdom over logic, sacred cover for the throne, tender to the flow. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

Horizons fall before me and worlds crumble away toward the prime mover. Here in my heart where, close away, I hide the rest of me, saving, the best of me for a promise kept in hope for something that may not want. –  Sean Maurice Jefferson (from Jade)

***

today I call you Willow, as it is my most favored among the trees, provider of shade and protection, wonderful to mine eyes, unique in the grove, a tall and elegant drapery in jade, shimmering and dancing with the wind in the sun, dry beneath the Winter’s snow and Fall of rain, ever steady, never too far a walk to lie beneath and within. Today…I call you Willow. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

because I fear too, the best I can ask is that you put your hands and trust in mine, so as, if by faith, we do not fear, and do not dance this life, alone. –  Sean Maurice Jefferson (from Jade)

***

it comes to me often that there are two kinds of people in this world, those who study history and those who make it, some in violent action and some in violent risky thought.

***

nothing and no one ever truly leaves us. the transformation terrifies, begins the separation, turns back the page, throws for the cavern, change at the precipice of mortal sacrifice. Each end beginning something more, than what was coming before, letting nothing and no one crash and empty shallow all our hope. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

is that mockery? it tastes as so. bitterness on just the tip of my tongue, sweet beyond, only a slight sting, a playful tug, shy in thoughtfulness, fun with a prick of pain…then again, as i think more of it, mockery brings out the wicked in your smile my love. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

oh how I have missed you, a brightly awakened spirit of springtime after so long winters in solace without rhyme. Even the creeping cold at the feet of my midlife is chased away by the warmth of your presence renewed.

***

It has come to me that each, each written step, is a little love, letter, over time, becomes a book, over time, tells the history and lives of just two, over two.  –  Sean Maurice Jefferson (from Jade)

***

ACHILLES: I’ll tell you a secret—something they didn’t teach you in your temple. The gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because every moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful for the doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are right now. And we will never be here again. –  David Benioff  (Troy screenplay)

***

the ones we hate are only half of the war. The deepest casualties, we bury within. –  Sean Maurice Jefferson (from Jade)

***

In the deafening silence a whisper is all He needs. The evolution comes to the ones who have nothing, but to listen, blind to all else, hungry from morning to dusk, empty in surrender, closer to the end, courage unafraid. –  Sean Maurice Jefferson (from Jade)

***

careless, oh so careless, breaking grind on the hallowed ground beneath me. my feet brought me, in tribal steps, here, giving much, too much. Careless, oh so careless, as I’m waiting on you. My prison, cage, is how you see me as I see myself looking in while I sing this song beneath an auburn crazy sky. Careless, oh so careless am I, am I. – Sean Maurice Jefferson (from Jade)

***

you are the best, of everything I have ever known. apart from you all is havoc, red rain and lightning seed. So slow I burn for you, in spite of any better judgment, stealing me away, so small, that I can’t stand enough, tall, to see my mirror and see the little dream in streams falling from my eyes. So small, I swear, I hadn’t known what love was, until so slow, I burned for you. – Sean Maurice Jefferson (from Jade)

***

***

Listen to the words of your sometime gentle Spartan prince. Although he leaves, he never lies, and at all times of need returns. Although he fears and cries out, he is powerful in your defense, your strength flowing through his veins and arms and days, Athena. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

 
***

 

Affection shines through my eyes as they fall upon my goddess. If only she could see what I see, she would know the depths of how elegantly she affects those in her arena, alive and with breath for her essence. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

 

***

When our eyes meet. Will you know me then? Ends the separation, that feels like, I’ve known you for so long.

***

I surrender and surrender, and surrender being not one but many. Is it him or is it me inside, my head. My heart beat smooth, beats steady. Like it sees the future, carry on, and carry on. Is it him or is it me, the lyrics fill my head, don’t entertain, just be. –  Sean Maurice Jefferson (from Jade)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQ92eyxnxmQ

***

it takes trust and trust takes time. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***

if you know another heart as you’ve known your own, then you know you are where you should and always would be, and that you should, not be afraid, of anything more than losing what has found you as you rested your past in the dark. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

 

***

true love is an infatuation that addictively recreates itself, so as to last a lifetime. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***
Only…Am I the only, one?

Who breaks and bleeds,

where no one sees.

Am I the only…one?

Whose takes then needs

end on empty things.

The only one…

 

I have to understand
that the world, is only,
what any think to know.

seeing horizons rise
horizons fall
and nowhere home.
– Jade

 

***

 

don’t anybody ruin the illusion…but I surrender when I pretty much darn well want to surrender and no time before. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

 

***
Allied in love, sanctioned by the will of God, baptized in the Jordan, cradled by the cloud at day, illuminated in the pillar of fire at night, greatest in exception of omnipotent importance as grown through wisdom and olivian circumstance. A ballet of emotion through our eyes ever shining, our hands intertwined as symphonies play on and play on. –  smj (from Jade)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGHH-BK66GY&NR=1

 

***
And hope is like the stars — the unseen cascade in the daylight sunshine of prosperity, ever only able discovered during the night’s long shadow, adversity. –  smj (from Jade)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqJMYtf85PQ
***

What thing have I done that have not I’ve done before. The crushing choke of

Inspiration’s grasping hand is more to bear than the one can suffer. To be many things seen in single form is to be a candle surrounded by mirrors, only image of possibility, no sense, no structure, breathless whispers accounted for in too short a time, their fleeting mire. For there is no glory seen from the sun. To know this, you must burn away any and all doubt of what you feel is of meaning…as though it was of coincidence never. –  smj (from Jade)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joGt2eUPCVg

***
just remember that when I touch you
the more you shake, the more you give away. – Evans Blue

***
When you are lost and cold and drifting, seeming forever, follow the breadcrumbs along your path and find your way…home. – Sean Maurice Jefferson
***
feel free to question, feel free to doubt, it’s only as natural as the air we breathe, to wonder at anything that rings so true as is hard to believe such things wander into our lives. we’re free to question, only ever doubt, burn the inspiration, if returning, is true, if returning, the spirit in you. –  Jade
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-o9BCQP0cns

 

***

Because of my love for you, even a crumb fallen from your table holds great meaning. God makes of me a servant of insistence and compromise for the sake of your needs common and uncommon. In surrender each morning it begins anew, flowing from the spirit and not just the fire. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oo8QmLMUphA&feature=related
***
Spires of heaven bleed in to my ever weary heart of hearts, consume the consumer before the darkness climbs from the pit and spittle. Why now? Why even spread me open and let fly the crimson ruler of every. needful. thing. Let fly the fury and past regrets Augustus could not bear. Let fly the salted seeds of pride and pity, scorn me no hope, no other tally of melee before the funeral pier. Weigh not heavy on my throat of cries, ‘till they fly no more. –  smj (from Jade)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqY5lO1DKyg

 

 

***

For when she feels dead inside, now starts the craft of the Father…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAAkL1qiAUU

***
as the river Time flows, the gift she becomes, the spirit within, more than a broken arrow, piercing the heart, making blood new, the water of life, wisdom over logic, sacred cover for the throne, tender to the flow of souls opium. – Jade
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHMJARPLmcg&feature=fvw

 

***
Horizons fall before me and worlds crumble away toward the prime mover. Here in my heart where, close away, I hide the rest of me, saving, the best of me for a promise kept in hope for something that may not want. –  smj (from Jade)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrGHN9-kpVo

***

today I call you Willow, as it is my most favored among the trees, provider of shade and protection, wonderful to mine eyes, unique in the grove, a tall and elegant drapery in jade, shimmering and dancing with the wind in the sun, dry beneath the Winter’s snow and Fall of rain, ever steady, never too far a walk to lie beneath and within. Today…I call you Willow. – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***
because I fear too, the best I can ask is that you put your hands and trust in mine, so as, if by faith, we do not fear, and do not dance this life, alone. –  Sean Maurice Jefferson (from Jade)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KO9BMAbiOfc&feature=related

***

it comes to me often that there are two kinds of people in this world, those who study history and those who make it, some in violent action and some in violent risky thought. –  Jade

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72RD-g76Rmw&feature=related

***

nothing and no one ever truly leaves us. the transformation terrifies, begins the separation, turns back the page, throws for the cavern, change at the precipice of mortal sacrifice. Each end beginning something more, than what was coming before, letting nothing and no one crash and empty shallow all our hope. –  Jade
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrpI8XZXj8Q&feature=related

***

is that mockery? it tastes as so. bitterness on just the tip of my tongue, sweet beyond, only a slight sting, a playful tug, shy in thoughtfulness, fun with a prick of pain…then again, as i think more of it, mockery brings out the wicked in your smile my love  – Sean Maurice Jefferson

***
oh how I have missed you, a brightly awakened spirit of springtime after so long winters in solace without rhyme. Even the creeping cold at the feet of my midlife is chased away by the warmth of your presence renewed.

***
It has come to me that each, each written step, is a little love, letter, over time, becomes a book, over time, tells the history and lives of just two, over two.  –  Sean Maurice Jefferson (from Jade)

***

ACHILLES: I’ll tell you a secret—something they didn’t teach you in your temple. The gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because every moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful for the doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are right now. And we will never be here again. –  David Benioff  (Troy screenplay)

 

***
the ones we hate are only half of the war. The deepest casualties, we bury within. –  Jade
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KO9BMAbiOfc

***

In the deafening silence a whisper is all He needs. The evolution comes to the ones who have nothing, but to listen, raging blind to all else, hungry from morning to dusk, empty in surrender, closer to the end, than the beginning, courage be unafraid. –  Jade
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_klil_eOEY&feature=fvw

***
careless, oh so careless, breaking grind on the hallowed ground beneath me. my feet brought me, in tribal steps, here, giving much, too much. Careless, oh so careless, as I’m waiting on you. My prison, cage, is how you see me as I see myself looking in while I sing this song beneath an auburn crazy sky. Careless, oh so careless am I, am I. – Jade

***
you are the best, of everything I have ever known. apart from you all is havoc, blood red pain and bridled see. So, slow I burn for you, in spite of any better judgment and wills, stealing me away, so small, that I can’t stand enough, tall, to face the mirror and see the little dream in streams falling from my eyes. So small, I swear, I hadn’t known what love was, until, so slow, I burned tides for you. –Jade
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHMJARPLmcg

***
Seven stars for seven angered skies and severed their tears fall through the void and their reign, fill the morning, to heal the world, to finish its dreams. Through it all we climb stronger each every day till we see with a mind and clarity far greater than our own faith is ever tested, belonging to eternity and not tender this time. –Jade
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INRDAksO_pY

***
beauty, sit, still in the candle room, slip into this, song, wear it well in wait, haunted silent…for me to take ravish of you. epic, so there will, can, be no other. – Sean Maurice Jefferson (from Jade)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rY4LnZ3F22A&feature=related

***

there has always been something so noble in how Superman endures.
***

of all the gifts I’ve received in time, you are my, the one only, gift of God. I loved you then, I love you now, I’ll love you when… taken, my spirit and my heart, become gifts to you. – Jade

 

***

If ever a soul could be brought to hell for just barely a stolen kiss, it is I who need be afraid in the hidden quarter, ever well entranced. If fall I ever, ever I fall, let it all be forgiven as I lived it a thousand times before the one I failed time. – Jade

***

so much, so many things that apply to us, apply to so very many as well, so much so that when we manage to live our lives unafraid as lions of the cold dark winter we become a ministry of days as days pass by. – Jade

***
it’s not in when I succeed that I know God loves me, it’s when, I fail blatantly, miserably, crawl in flame, then come to turn around finding Him already waiting to hold me that I know just how deeply I am loved. As it is until this day I don’t know what it was to be forgiven. – Jade

***
on the first morning of the first day of the new year, awakened by the Marked and faded words of a ghost, brought me here kneeling to fall before this song, a call for each to live a life, of every day inspiration.
***

You hide behind your walls
Of maybe nevers
Forgetting that there’s something more
Than just knowing better
Your mistakes do not define you now
They tell you who you’re not… – 3 Doors Down
***

The ghosts of our better loving angels walk among us, ever by our side, forevered on our side, quiet hidden in the sometime fear that seems we walk alone. – Jade
***

First we listen, then we learn, we grow, then…we bridge all distance. – Jade
***

 

You have and will inspire all the days of my life.
Beyond the physical you, the dream that I was never alone.
Ours is the exquisite art,
the gentle first driven snow,
that lays silent all the tremors of the world.

My heart is at peace,
given life within your presence
while time is our enemy no more.
It is the growing miracle
that God has granted hope
with each coming dawn.
- Jade

***
when I love most the look in her eyes, when she turns them fully upon me. I never feel more aloft, remade and framed in confidence, sublime, perfect if just in a momentary glance. – Jade

***

it is impossible to use the shield in your hand if you turn your back to your enemy, so much more when fear is the enemy and faith is the shield. – Jade

***

Alpha
I stride to bring to you flowers of the spirit over flowers born in trident fields. the blossomed of this world, for all their breathtaking glory, fade broken and die in the grip of time, disappointment before your laden eyes. flowers of the spirit bloom in blossom, rise inside you, wanting only to surround your heart with fragrant everlasting as the hands of a loving God brush the sand of time from sight knowing the messenger is not the message. – Jade

***
what is stronger in sincerity than the depth, hunger and passion, feeding desperate lasting, the truest love that comes as necessity to us again… and again. – Jade

***
of all I do, of all of what it comes down to, by Lord, destiny is the something I can not do alone. Your spirit calligraphy passing over the darkened oceans of life filling the void I made as I painted in pain myself throughout the lasting night. –  smj (from Jade)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-jgzVHyZd4

***
a cover for the never-ending book.

***
sometimes a promise means more than our pride, if pride is all we have left, then enough, we do not have. Pride is earned from the promises we hold, the promise we give up to our lives to keep. – Jade

***
This love, true love, can never surrender, because it has seen and been all the other places…and has nowhere else to go. – Jade

 

***

Dust
come out into the garden. come to me alive with anticipation. feel your skin, drinking in the color of life, sunlight spinning circles in the dust. If we are only dust, come alive, feel the rhythm in the wind, freedom as free as the ageless given wing, singing within, sing within. If we are only dust, let it be. let us be the dust on everything we touch and touch everything that is good in this life. this is life – Jade

***

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjV_fRDC440
the truth needs no proof

Either it is or it isn’t

you know by the way it feels…and the way the feeling stays

***
The Fallen
as I continue to try and accept God on my time, on my terms, within my comfort, all I end up with is half a God and sometimes half a God feels like no God at all. But when the story is not over, just a chapter in the middle, the soul can find forever, for the pain is just for today. This is the great war come upon us, both near and far, because in this life we have so very far to go and so little time to get there. – Jade

***
the more you fight against your destiny, the more it hurts to have a destiny.

***
I don’t believe in luck. But it sure doesn’t hurt to have it just the same. – smj

***
I never know where my daily journey will take me, but before each day ends I always seem to find myself surprised, even if in some little way – smj

***
David’s victory against Goliath came not because he fought well, but because he believed well.  –  Stephan Blinn

***
give me some incentive to believe in who you really are. Give me some honor. For it is truly the honor of kings to seek out truth and I, I a man of scorn. –  Stephan Blinn

***
though taciturn and veiled, still we learn honor and mercy through a silence richly golden in spirit as He speaks in whispers, riddles and rhyme, being everywhere while seen nowhere at all. – Jade

***

never accept anything less than everything. – Jade

***
have I the unbearable suffering of history in my hands. if I live just one inch below my potential to rise above, everything changes and none for the better, so find a better way, any better way. – Jade

***
sleep child, sleep away soundly and dream the tomorrow things – smj

***
the art of God, is the art of love, it is up to each of us to have the spirit to become a living masterpiece. – smj

***
I can sum up Christianity in just three words, for a life; a life given – smj

***
We must sit and wait and die the little death while God rebuilds purpose, as it is His to give and His to take away in seasons and in dream. – smj (from Jade)

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As Years Rolled By http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/as-years-rolled-by/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/as-years-rolled-by/#comments Wed, 06 May 2009 18:55:35 +0000 admin http://hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=398 Going out for a walk at night had always been a pleasure, when the lady u love the most in this world accompanies you…

I remember, when I used to walk in the footpath on the road which my mom has restricted me from being using it on the daylight,… it’s a greatest gift.. You run at a slower pace, so tat she don’t lose u on sight,… plucking the leaves from the shrubs and trees around, in that night chillness,..exploring the dark urself with the careless attitude around but still not stopped by the watchful eyes… you are set free to be urself (child),.. to know urself.. Learning lessons from life starts from there.. you do all things tat u want to do, but checked for every deed now and then.. You sit by the side leaning over the beloved one, and she takes u into the world of wisdom.. u luk at the stars and she comes out with a story tat u had never heard before… she teaches u some morals, gives u some facts, talks to u about ethical behaviour… but the kid’s hand is decorating the heap of sand with some clever designs not listening to… but those words are not lost.. it’s the way the kid listens to.. Years rolled by…. Nothing changed much… same road tat is desserted, same old trees tat never stopped from adding music to the dizzy night, same pavement, same moonlight…. Tears rolled out, acknowledging the opening of the eyelids… The kid is now listening but his mom is speechless and motionless… The kid in front of his mothers grave..

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E-Zine: The Pulp and The Grind http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/e-zine-the-pulp-and-the-grind/ http://www.hamiltoninstitute.com/e-zine-the-pulp-and-the-grind/#comments Sun, 22 Feb 2009 18:51:44 +0000 udey http://hamiltoninstitute.com/?p=396 EZine: The Pulp and The Grind
The fight for Creative & Editorial Freedom

EZines were all the rage in the nascent stage of the internet; long before the boom and bust of the dot com empires. EZine or a web-only magazine was a natural metamorphosis of the dying Pulp Fiction Magazines in print media. So are they to die again?

Pulp Fiction was the term used for popular literature in magazines that appeared from as far back as 1920’s till the 60’s and were printed on cheap paper, mass marketed at inexpensive rates. These gave birth to the styles we still see in Genres such as Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and all other Speculative Fiction.

The E-Zine as a business and cultural entity

As far back (in Internet Generation) as 1984 the EZine made online appearance as the “Cult of the Dead Cow” magazine http://www.cultdeadcow.com/ which is still in print after 20 years. They started on the BBS (bulletin boards) and are now still surviving the many phases of online economy.

Today many EZines are battling for clicks and sponsorship, some even reduced to openly ask for donations. They continue to publish Fiction and Non-Fiction online, free for readers worldwide. The Editors who go through the slush pile of Submissions of fiction do so as volunteers; that is, they don’t get paid. Running a website, sustaining archives, attracting talent and readership and then to scour for sponsors, the very business of an EZine is an example of online entrepreneurship by ardent fans with a passion for Pulp Fiction. It is an icon of self-publishing raised to a new level of web-media. There is yet to be found a successful business model for running an online magazine. They are not even aiming to make profit, they would be happy just to break even. And few are able to achieve that.

Black Mask Magazine, http://www.blackmaskmagazine.com/ the very soul of pulp fiction which saw the introduction to writers such as Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Erle Gardner, was revived online but failed to generate any revenue through its back issues. They also own the rights to cult brands such as Dime Detective, Strange Detective Mysteries, Terror Tales among others. Strange Horizons http://www.strangehorizons.com/index.shtml runs on donations by patrons and is probably the only volunteer-run EZine to be making any money to stay afloat. The Thrilling Detective http://www.thrillingdetective.com/ is still winning awards and fans but yet to see any profits from it. It was the Winner of 2008 Gumshoe Award for Best Crime Fiction Website. Hardluck Stories http://www.hardluckstories.com/ had announced in 2008 that they have decided to stop publication after their 5 year run and put out their last issue in 2008 (it was a free to read, non-paying market run by an author who is now busy). Bikernet http://www.bikernet.com/fiction/ publishes fiction as an add-on for its readers and is otherwise mainly a motorcycle magazine and successful at that. Chizine http://chizine.com/ won a Bram Stoker Award for Horror fiction in 2000 but is yet to catch on with the business of making profit through an EZine. Helix http://www.helixsf.com/, Revolution SF http://www.revolutionsf.com/ (surviving since year 2001), Pulp and Dagger http://www.pulpanddagger.com/pulpmag/contents.html, Big Pulp http://www.bigpulp.com/ and Anotherealm http://anotherealm.com/ are some other web-only magazines trying to cruise in the murky sea of information highway of the web. Helix announced finally that they are shutting shop after their 2 year run. Apparently Helix, a paying market for fiction couldn’t find support from its readership in monetary terms to continue operations.

Among these upstarts are also some seasoned businessmen trying to make money and investing funds to raise the bar in web magazine standards. They pay competitive remuneration to their fiction contributors and are backed by experienced media and publishing honchos. SciFi http://www.scifi.com/ is a website by SciFi Channel and is just a big online advertisement for their TV channel. They closed their fiction department as it was not attracting enough hits compared to their other popular sections online. They lost a great opportunity to capitalise on their TV brand and carve a niche in publishing world. But others like Futurismic http://futurismic.com/  are making new business models. They have a single strong sponsor who gets exclusive advertisement coverage and are thus able to pay an astronomical (in EZine world) sum of US$ 200 to their original fiction short story contributors. Apart from this their website is in blog format making it familiar and also allowing the benefit of updated content everyday. Most Web Magazines are quarterly or at most monthly, so there is no content to attract clicks on a daily basis. Futurismic, with its blog format plans to attract more hits with new content on a regular basis.

Fantasy Magazine http://www.darkfantasy.org/fantasy/ is another such EZine who has a single backer in Prime Books who hope that the free short stories will encourage the readers to buy from their catalogue of novels, thus boosting the Fantasy Market. They are currently offering “Fantasy Friday: blog for a beer” scheme where contributors submit a blog and if published get US$ 10 and Fantasy Magazine gets easy fresh content of good quality from fans. Thus they too intend to run an updated website and not an occasional issue to avoid losing eyeballs.

But these big players have not discouraged the original volunteer driven, peer-reviewed journals as envisioned by the Netizens of the nascent internet.

Astonishing Adventures http://astonishingadventuresmagazine.blog-city.com/ are paying a decent fee for fiction now after their first issue garnered interest and are also publishing the magazine in print to be sold on Amazon.com thus making the best of both worlds of self-publishing. Freedom Fiction Journal http://freedomfriends.in/ aims to not only revive the speculative fiction genres such as Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror, etc but to also give hope to other classic Pulp Fiction genres such as Detective, Hardboiled, Noir and Splatter fiction among others. Freedom Fiction http://freedomfriends.in/ has listed their first year run to start with an issue released in October 2008 and February 2009 each; an issue every 3 months. After the 4 issues in quarterly format they will publish an Annual Digest of anthology of the first year’s stories. They even encourage writers and digital artists to experiment and break all the rules.

Apex Book Company http://www.apexbookcompany.com/apex-online/ are already into print media and maintain the free short fiction page only to create reader interest similar to Prime Books’ Fantasy magazine venture. Elbow Creek http://www.elbowcreek.com/ is the only surviving E-Zine I found which is dedicated solely to Western Genre. They are a branding exercise for Elbow Creek Mall which sells Western apparel.

The fate of these speculative genre E-Zines endeavour is not necessarily speculative. Space Westerns http://www.spacewesterns.com/ are going strong with a good portfolio of issues released and available for free reading online. Sicence Fiction Trails http://www.sciencefictiontrails.com/ and Raygun Revival http://www.raygunrevival.com/ are also going along for the long haul with the latter releasing its 50th issue in January 2009. Paradox Mag http://www.paradoxmag.com/ has found its unique niche market in Historical Fiction. However their wares are not for free and on sale at their website. Their survival proves that finding a niche segment which has loyal readership will go a long way in determining success. Space Westerns also has such a segment – space operas and cowboy style pulp in space, SciFi Westerns, etc. Besides fiction they have also a good mix of articles, interviews and artwork.

It will be important to note here that even in the print media the churn of magazines is similarly high. The only players surviving Speculative Fiction Genre in printed magazines are Asimovs Science Fiction http://www.asimovs.com/, Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine http://www.sfsite.com/fsf/ and Analog Science Fiction http://www.analogsf.com/ ; the big 3 flying the flag for a dying genre.

So what is the future of EZine? Will it continue to bring us spellbinding fiction from unknown amateur writers or will book companies takeover from volunteering fans of the genre to make websites that are just a poor front to sell their print novels?

With the growing ease of using the internet, self-publishing and competitive rates of webservers/bandwidth, it seems only those dedicated to the craft of Pulp Genre will survive, irrespective of what cash is stuffed into the dot com. Against quality fiction, the big players won’t stand a chance if they meddle with Editorial decisions to direct the thought-flow of the market. Such manipulation can’t be capitalised on when in today’s World Wide Web, any and everyone is an author in their own rights.

 

**** THE END ( ? ? ? ) ****

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