Thursday, February 27, 2014

lines & tales

I've decided that I simply mustn't write "novels."  Aside from the fact that they're a dime a dozen nowadays, it has occurred to me that they don't particularly interest me.  The only stories I've ever read are what are called "short stories."  All the authors of fiction that I like are short story writers; moreover, I read these works over and over again.  And being that I'm more inclined to linguistic felicity and improvisation in art, it makes more sense for me to write "short works of profound meaning" (which are, incidentally, my favorite kind of books) than to attempt these prose epics which are called novels.  I don't believe, for that matter, that I could maintain interest in the same subject for the length of time it takes to write even the first draft of a novel.  If I'm going to write something long at all, it's most likely going to be something I'm deeply interested in, and if I'm deeply interested in it, I'd rather write a monograph, a serious and scholarly study, than follow in the footsteps of Ayn Rand.

In sum:  poems, yes; short stories, yes; "flash" fiction, sure; monographs, yes; novels, no, no, and also -- no.  No is for Novel.


One of the great things about Robert Sokolowski is that -- true to traditional phenomenology -- he describes things, rather than arguing them (most of the time).  He sticks to talking about themes and things that no one with five senses and "common"-sense can rationally deny without looking a fool. Not coincidentally, Husserl originally said -- in the very early days -- that phenomenology is "descriptive psychology."  I think these descriptive analyses are great tools for the metaphysician, for, by employing them, he can generate a richer expository of the Existing Thing.  Classically, metaphysics is so concerned with demonstrating that a thing exists (rather than not existing, or not existing in a certain respect) that it unfortunately overlooks how the thing appears to the metaphysician, how it is noematically displayed -- the object "in the How of its givenness."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What 'Knowing' Means

"What is contained in the intellect, as an interior word, is by common usage said to be a conception of the intellect.  A being is said to be conceived in a corporeal way if it is formed in the womb of a living animal by a life-giving energy, in virtue of the active function of the male and the passive function of the female in whom the conception takes place.  The being thus conceived shares in the nature of both parents and resembles them in species.

"In a similar manner, what the intellect comprehends is formed in the intellect, the intelligible object being, as it were, the active principle, and the intellect the passive principle.  That which is thus comprehended by the intellect, existing as it does within the intellect, is conformed both to the moving intelligible object (of which it is a certain likeness) and to the quasi-passive intellect (which confers on it intelligible existence).  Hence what is comprehended by the intellect is not unfittingly called the conception of the intellect."

+ St. Thomas Aquinas (Compendium Theologiae)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Works in Progress

Having finally decided that I am, by profession, a Writer, I've sorted through the mess of ideas for projects I'd had on hold the past several months and decided on a few definite "working projects."  Who knows how all this will play out in the end, but presently this is how I am proceeding --

(1) A novel based on the general outline I posted here a few weeks ago. As I now conceive it, it should be a novel in two parts; "Part I" will essentially be a crime novel, while "Part II" will be a sort of philosophical novel, much of which will be the protagonist's reflection on his actions in the first part.

(2) A monograph on the subject of Deception.  This will largely be a study of the theme in the fiction of Dashiell Hammett, but will also explore the phenomenon of con artistry, the theory of deception held by James Jesus Angleton (the first Chief of Counterintelligence at CIA), with some T. S. Eliot and Sun-tzu thrown in.

(3) A science fiction tale about one who genetically engineers the granddaddy long-leg (which, having only "pierced sucking mouthparts," cannot bite) to bite, and uses this seemingly harmless arachnid as a weapon to perform some kind of assassination.  My grandfather, who is for all intents and purposes an entomologist, claims that the granddaddy long-leg is the most venomous spider in the world -- enough venom to knock out a cow -- but is harmless because it cannot bite. We're going to do a bit of research on this before I proceed, however, because apparently this is some sort of "urban legend" which has been "debunked" by MythBusters; but my grandfather still maintains that it's true.  So, yeah, have to do some digging first. (In any case, there are certainly many stories out there whose premise is merely an urban legend.)

(4) A submission of poems to my alma mater's literary journal, Five Points.

(5) And perhaps something concerning an idea that I had just this evening relating to the concept of "asylum."  I'm thinking either a poem or a short story.  I'm just now only toying with the idea, but besides the common parlance definition of "asylum" as a place where the insane are committed, the word has much richer connotations; it essentially means "a place of refuge"; hence the term can be used as a pun which connotes, yes, a clinic for the insane, but also any kind of hospital, or a monastery, or a place of "retreat," or, of course, "political asylum."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

writing the con

Interestingly, the structure or outline by which con artists play their game could easily be used for writing a story or novel, namely a story about a long con.  It could be used precisely as a plot outline, and complexity could be introduced into the story by certain phases going dreadfully wrong (e.g., the con might go off swimmingly until step nine or ten).  The following comes from David W. Maurer's infamous work, The Big Con:  The Story of the Confidence Man (1940).

1.  Locating and investigating a well-to-do victim. (Putting the mark up.)

2.  Gaining the victim's confidence.  (Playing the con for him.)

3.  Steering him to meet the insideman.  (Roping the mark.)

4  Permitting the insideman to show him how he can make a large amount of money dishonestly.  (Telling him the tale.)

5.  Allowing the victim to make a substantial profit.  (Giving him the convincer.)

6.  Determining exactly how much he will invest.  (Giving him the breakdown.)

7.  Sending him home for this amount of money.  (Putting him on the send.)

8.  Playing him against the big store and fleecing him.  (Taking off the touch.)

9.  Getting him out of the way as quietly as possible.  (Blowing him off.)

10. Forestalling action by the law.  (Putting in the fix.)