An Illumination

Here’s something I wrote, in a short burst:

You must,
In each blue moment
Embrace your Freedom.

And in the
sickly wilderness
of intention,

Recognize the you
that intends
and is free.

Fine. Sure. But what does any of it mean? What was I thinking about when I scribbled it my journal?

Because it sounds interesting. It also sound vague and greeting-cardy, depending on one’s point of view. But it meant something to me at the time.

How To Write and Edit Poetry

The actual title of the piece at the Poetry Foundation, “The Warmth of the Messy Page“, is better.

No matter what your approach, engaging in revision will help you see your work more clearly and help you discover more of what you meant and sometimes what you didn’t even know you meant. The word itself says so: re-vision. To see again, to see better. Getting back into work that felt complete may seem daunting—why mess it up again?—but always leads to deepening the poem itself and your own skill in the craft of writing. You will see your work newly each time you come back to it with the willingness to explore further possibilities. It can even be a lot of fun.

Agreed.

I Don’t NaNoWriMo, But I Do Self-Publish

I’m definitely an agnostic on National Novel-Writing Month. I’m not down on it, and if someone wants to take the moment as a inspiration to create, I’m the last guy to wrinkle my nose at such. Write, you guys. Write like the wind.

But I also don’t participate. I’ve got a few reasons for this:

  1. I Can’t Write a Novel in a Month. Based on past experience, it just doesn’t work for me. I’ve got a job and a house and a family. I consider having finished The Sword as fast as I did an achievement, and I had to abandon that several times, because reasons. Trying to squeeze one out in 30 days just isn’t realistic for me.
  2. I Don’t Like Being Told When to Create. Call it a mental habit or even a mental block, but trends annoy me. Jumping on a bandwagon because everyone else is doing it makes some part of me not want to. I want to create according to my own time and schedule. I want to set my own goals, and then meet them. Again, if you find NaNoWriMo useful, good for you. I personally don’t.

That being said, I have some plans for this November. First of all, I’m planning on rolling out some new covers on my back catalog, including giving Solar System Blues a hardcover edition. Second, I have some new poems I want to offer up in a ebook-exclusive collection, as it’s likely to be shorter than Stir. All of them were written this past year. Planned title: The Short Cool Summer.

Watch this space.

Caligulia, Dictatorship, and Monarchy

Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Saddam Hussein had been ruling that country with an iron fist for over three decades. He had prepared the way for a dynasty: his second son Qusay was his intended successor, and by all reports, Qusay was a chip off the old man’s block. Had things proceeded according to plan, Qusay would have become President in much the same way that Kim Jong-Un, and his father before him, became President of North Korea.

The obvious statement is that these are monarchies in all but name, perversions of republican forms. They claim legitimacy from the people, but all power is held by one man, and then his children. We call these governments dictatorships, Aristotle called them tyrannies.

We’ve seen this movie before.

Ancient Rome began as a monarchy, and then removed the monarch and replaced his duties with elected magistrates, elected from and overseen by the Senate, which consisted of the aristocracy. This system worked well until the pressures of governing overseas provinces created opportunities for military adventurism. The legions, drawn from the lower classes, became political institutions, on whose support a successful general could rely on when it was time to cut the Gordian knot of Senatoria conspiracy. This reached its head in the dominance of Julius Caeser and Caeser Augustus.

But Augustus did not establish a monarchy. He very carefully preserved republican forms, holding “elections”, while gathering for himself a combination of political, military, and religious positions that ensure his perpetual authority. On his deathbed, according to Suetonius, he invited the gathered senators to “applaud the comedy”.

Already power has become dynastic. The Crisis Augustus inherited is long gone, replaced by peace and order, but the combination of offices passes down to the next of kin. First Tiberius, Augustus’ stepson. Then Caligulia, Augustus’ great-grandson. Then Claudius, Augtustus’ grandson. Then Nero, Augusus’ great-great-grandson.

Nero had no heir of his body, so this would have been a fine time to restore the Republic. But the Romans had become inured to tyranny. Instead a quick succession of generals and pretenders squabbled for Augustus’ position, until Vespasian, a general lately in charge of suppressing the Jewish Revolt, established himself. He passed down power to each of his two sons in turn. The second of these, Domitian, was assassinated in 96 AD.

File_001Domtian was also childless, and here was another opportunity to end the hidden monarchy. But they did not. Instead, the Five Good Emperors followed: who governed with wisdom, care, and benificence.

Rome, it seemed, wanted neither rex nor res publica. So the tyranny continued until Diocletian and Constantine established formal monarchy in the 4th century AD.

All of which means that in the next chapter of The Meditations of Caius Caligulia, our boy is going to get into his political theory. Look for it in the next issue of Unnamed Journal in January.

 

 

Monsters and Aliens for October – Unnamed Journal 16

uj16

All kinds of bad craziness. We have three, count ’em, three, chapters of Ulysses and the Fugitive, in which the aliens start taking over and sending their agents to do their bidding. Then Drunk Vampire Hunter makes a return for When’d He Go?, which is absolutely a pun on the name of the cannibal monster from Native American legend. We also return to the universe of Chamber of Pain and Cantilever Jones Lands Hard, in which the Imperial Deathguard trap a star monk in a ruin and immediately regret it. I call it Ash on the Wind.

Read for Free on Joomag

The Chamber-Cantilever-Ash universe is currently organized under the working title Gods of the Sky. There may or may not be a novel or novella from this, or I could just keep pouring out shorts. All my Star Wars and Dune fanboyism is just pouring out of me in the process.

Break Over. Time for New Work.

When you finish a big project, you’re allowed some downtime. Now that The Sword is in the hands of readers, I’ve been letting myself do nothing. Now it’s time to get the juices flowing again.

I’ve got some stuff to write for the next UJ, and I might squeeze out a novella before the year’s out, while doing an edit on The Sword. That’s doable in the next few months, and doable gives me momentum for the next big project:

It’s sword and sorcery. It’s high fantasy with a Robert Howard flair. It’s going to be rad.

Stay tuned.