A Sense in Which a Genius Can’t Be Wrong

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1264) Red Pine in Finding Them Gone (2016) visits Chinese poets of the past through their homes, graves, monuments, in a one-month pilgrimage, with photographs, across China by rail, bus, taxicab, foot.  He is a raconteur, with good taste in bourbon; he brought for libations (he indeed pours them on the ground) an 18-year-old Willett and the 2011 George T. Stagg (“the last of the Guggenheim money that made my trip possible,” p. 15).

“Red Pine” is the literary name of a man living in Port Townsend, Washington.  In legend Ch‘ih Sung = Red Pine four and a half millennia ago, ending a drought by sprinkling water from an earthen bowl, was made Lord of Rain with a dwelling on mythical K‘un-lun (= cinnabar) Mountain.

Two millennia ago the Roman poet Horace praised the Greek poet Homer, eight centuries earlier, for plunging listeners into the middle of the story as if it were already familiar (The Art of Poetry ll. 147-49; T.S. Dorsch tr., Classical Literary Criticism p. 84, 1965).  RP begins “I checked out of the Beijing Friendship Hotel at five thirty, before the sun was up.”  Catching the bullet train he three pages later is at the birthplace of Confucius, who lived after Homer, before Horace.

On Day 17 at Anlu where the poet Li Po (also “Li Pai” as RP has; 701-762) lived RP gives a photo of a thousand-year-old gingko.  He quotes poetry, talks with Chinese, suffers a misstep on Day 25, and four months later ends Day 30 with Han-shan (“Cold Mountain”, a literary name; lived about 800; Van 1243) and a poem by Gary Snyder (1930-  ), whom Han-shan inspired.

As with The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse (2014; a literary name; Van 1262, 1263) RP writes e.g. the name of Li Po’s earliest known poem “Visiting the Taoist Master of Taitienshan and Finding Him Gone” (Finding p. 120).  In the Wade-Giles system of transliterating Chinese, which RP mostly uses, it would be Tai-T‘ien Shan, but I believe RP means this amounts to one C word, like loudspeaker; it’s Bearing-Heaven Mountain but that’s not foremost in mind.  However he lands himself in fresh difficulties: leaving out the aspiration mark to avoid Tait‘ienshan he confuses the eye a new way: it’s worse a few lines above, where he writes Taming Temple.

But there’s a sense in which a genius can’t be wrong.  This poem in the original is an octet of two two-couplet quatrains, each line in five characters, with patterns of C’s Four Tones, par­allelism, and rhyme.  J. Minford & J. Lau’s Classical C Literature v. 1, pp. 748-49 (2000) has A. Cooper’s version “On Visiting a Taoist Master in the Tai-T‘ien Mountains and Not Finding Him” (AC’s Li Po and Tu Fu p. 105, 1973 [Tu Fu 712-770; C omits on, in, of, a & the, and, separate sing. & pl., much else; AC says “I have put the Chinese half-lines on separate lines”, p. 82; M & L keep “Taoist” but re-spell “Daitian” according to the Pinyin system]).

Word for word (shows parallelism):

Here’s Red Pine.

Sutton Breiding and I have been savoring Red Pine’s work.

Take A Knee Playing Out in SFF Media

The iconic protest is beginning to gain a following among sf/f TV casts.

#StarTrekDiscovery #takeaknee

A post shared by Sonequa Martin-Green (@therealsonequa) on

Congressman John Lewis, co-author of the award-winning March graphic novel series, added this:

I don’t know whether these are the only examples or just the ones I’ve found so far. A few writers also have retweeted others’ photos or added support in text messages.

[Thanks to JJ for the story.]

Another Shoe to Try On

By John Hertz:  While reading a collection of writings by Abraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935; rhymes with “look”) I was struck by this passage (B. Bokser tr., Abraham Isaac Kook pp. 233-34, 1978; written 1919).

The author is (literary present tense) a mystic.  Thus he starts talking about radiant souls.  You’ll have to see for yourself if the shoe fits and decide whether to wear it.  I had to.

Withdrawal and Sociability

The person with a radiant soul must withdraw into privacy frequently.  The constant company of other people, who are, for the most part, crude in comparison with him, even in their spirituality, dims the clear light of his higher soul.  As a result his important work will diminish.  He might have been able to benefit the people, his society, by frequent withdrawals, without terminating his relationship with them even then.  He would have kept the needs of his generation before him, to pray for them, to delineate their virtues, the treasure of goodness that is in them.  But they will suffer decline through his decline, through reducing his spiritual potency as a result of their distracting closeness to him.

It is very difficult to suffer the company of people, the encounter with persons who are totally immersed in a different world with which a person who is given to spiritually sensitive concerns, to lofty moral aspiration, has no contact.  Nevertheless, it is this very sufferance that ennobles a person and elevates him.  The spiritual influence that a person of higher stature exerts on the environment, which comes about through the constant encounter, purifies the environment.  It lends the graces of holiness and freedom on all who come in contact with him.

And this nobility of a holy grace returns after a while with stronger force and acts on the person himself who exerted the influence, and he becomes sociable, abounding in spirituality and holiness.  This is a higher attribute than the holiness in a state of withdrawal, which is the normal fate of the person to whom the higher spiritual concerns are the foundation of his life.

 

Where Are We?

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1234 – which is, he notes, “the last sequentially numbered issue until the year 2038”)

Troubling me about fandom these days is not so much young folks’ failing to heed old folks and old folks’ failing to heed young folks but more generally our failing to Look out!  By which I don’t mean Something will hurt you any second now but, as I sometimes put it, Be bigger than your immediate adventure.  This is of course an element of human nature evident across cultures and eras.  Diversity magnifies it.  It’s related to What haven’t I thought of?– a question which can’t be answered but is nevertheless vital so had better be managed – here diversity helps – and Why wait to be taught?  Also to the limitations of “role models”, and why neither theory nor practice alone is safe to rely on.

Once He Said Thirty-Two Words

By John Hertz: Happening to think about Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933; U.S. President 1923-1929), I noticed this passage in Ch. 3 of his Autobiography (1929, shortly after he left office; 1931 printing, p. 91).

He is commenting on a 1904 campaign he managed while Chair of the Republican City Committee, Northampton, Massachusetts.

He ran for office nineteen times, winning seventeen.

We made the mistake of talking too much about the deficiencies of our opponents and not enough about the merits of our own candidates.  I have never again fallen into that error.

Batman and Green Hornet Roundup

By Carl Slaughter: Batman, Robin, Green Hornet’s Kato. Adam West, Burt Ward, and Bruce Lee.

(1) Their golden years. In this 2003 film, Return to the Batcave:  The Misadventures of Adam and Burt, 1960s series actors Adam West and Burt Ward follow mysteriously placed clues to find a stolen Batmobile while they ponder the supervillain actors, fight the bad guys, and reminisce about relationships, casting, and days on the set

(2) Original Sixties screen tests. Adam West and Burt Ward versus Lyle Waggoner and Peter Deyell.  West and Ward definitely had the more campy portrayal.  Waggoner later starred opposite Lynda Carter in a television series about another DC character, Wonder Woman.  Because they under contract during the Batman series, West lost a chance to star in a Bond movie and Ward lost a chance to star in The Graduate.

West makes the better Batman, but Waggoner makes the better Bruce Wayne.

(3) Bruce Lee. Robin — Burt Ward — on Bruce Lee.

(4) Assisted launch. Batman series / Green Hornet series crossover scenes

My Father/Myself

Vertlieb family in 1948.

By Steve Vertlieb: This is a love letter to my dad. It’s Father’s Day and, while there isn’t a moment that goes by when he isn’t alive in my thoughts, the inspiration that fuels my heart, I guess that his memory becomes ever more special to me, ever more dear, on this day that honors dads. I know that everyone thinks that their dad was, or is, the most wonderful dad who ever lived, but he and I know the truth. No other dad ever possessed the purity of soul, and of tenderness, that was his. He seemed, at times, the wisest man on Earth. Whenever I needed advice or direction, his words seemed to guide me toward right and satisfying conclusions…and yet there were times when I might confidently have sworn that he was no older than I. There was a gentle sparkle in his eyes that radiated almost childlike wonder…a tender innocence of spirit that joyously belied his age. His silver hair always made him appear older than his years, but those silver threads shone in wondrous profusion, and reflection of God’s lyrical rhapsody.

As a little boy, I idolized the fatherly images of Western star Hopalong Cassidy, as portrayed by William Boyd. Hoppy was unlike other heroic cowboy movie stars of the period in that his hair was prematurely silver, as well. His hair sparkled as vibrantly as his famously white stallion, Topper. Hoppy represented everything that was strong, good, and wholesome to a generation of boys my age and now, as my own hair magically sparkles in well-earned luminescence, it occurs to me that it was actually my dad astride that gallant stallion, adorned in spectacular black hat and attire, bringing bad guys to justice, while rescuing the downtrodden and innocent. If other children teased me about his superficially elderly appearance, I found solace and quiet redemption in the darkened theaters of my youth watching the embodiment of my dad ride across dusty Wyoming trails atop his brilliant steed in the unforgettable imagery of Hopalong Cassidy. Yet, it was actually my father who secretly became my Saturday matinee silver screen role model and hero.

I know that our relationship sometimes sailed upon troubled waters. Perhaps, it was because we were too close…too similar…too much the same person. It is when I gaze into the mirror now that I often see his face. It is when I speak aloud that I frequently hear his voice. If I grow frightened or afraid, I know that it is his own insecurities that continue to haunt me. If I feel pride over some accomplishment or achievement, I know that the best that I can be is the finest that he ultimately was. Whatever goodness dwells within me is simply the tender legacy of the sweet and gentle soul that dwelt eternally within his fragile frame.

When I was but a small and lonely child, his shadow and influence stretched out in immensity across my path, a wondrous tapestry of goodness, offering shelter and comfort from the imagined terrors about me. When I grew to strength and maturity, he became the child and I was, in times of quiet desperation, His sturdy blanket of security and peace. Some years ago when my dad led his loyal family on a Summer excursion to the shore, we were accompanied by a succession of small, medium, and very large suitcases on our journey. Ever a gentleman, and an undeniably proud remnant of the “old school,” he insisted upon becoming the valiant protector of our small entourage, shouldering the brunt of the heavy luggage on his own. He wanted us to have faith that he was the strong head of our household, and that he would lovingly make any sacrifice in order to spare us the burdens of toil or drudgery. He was not a young man, and my mother grew understandably concerned for his safety and physical well-being Reacting from emotional fear, rather than cool logic or deliberation, she yelled at him to put down the luggage, reducing his stature before a crowd of strangers, and unwittingly humiliating him. My dad retreated from the limelight, and walked silently away from us. He had only wanted to be a hero to his family. Instead, he felt somehow emasculated…no longer a man. I followed him to see if he was all right, and I could see that he was crying. I went back to my mom to let her know what had happened, and she wept “Oh, My God,” racing to his side to hold and reassure him that she loved him, and was only concerned for his health. I saw in that moment that my dad was not a super being, but merely a man, a gentle, fragile soul as conflicted, frightened, and vulnerable as the rest of us.

Yet, whether healthy or sick, strong or frail, youthful or aged…he was always unfailingly there…ever at my side…until his legs would no longer hold him erect…until the breath of life and sustenance would no longer support him. One day, several months before his death, I took him out to lunch, and we shared several meaningful hours together as joyful father and son. We sat together on a bench, and I observed his frail, trembling hands. I took them in mine, looked into his eyes, and told him that I loved him. He looked sheepishly down at the ground, embarrassed somehow, but obvious moved. He smiled at me, and said “I know.” As I held his hands tenderly in my own, and gazed into his fatherly image, I felt that he had ascended at last to the spiritual summit of sublime humanity and that, in that miraculous moment, that God and he were as one.

On this Father’s Day remembrance, I need to tell my dad that he remains, even now, the very best of me. I am his proud legacy…and he is mine. His love was unconditional and is, as it was, a cherished chord in my own enduring melody…for, without him, I could never have become the man that I am. Each of us, in every successive generation, rides through life upon the shoulders of those giants who have gone before us, basking in their accomplishments, reflecting their virtues, yet perpetuating their legacy by building upon the foundation that they have so nobly pioneered on our behalf. I doubt that a moment has gone by or expired in the thirty years since my dad left us that I haven’t asked myself if I’ve honored his memory today, or somehow expanded the building blocks that he so gracefully lifted me upon by his own cherished example. I try each day to live my own life as he lived his…in honesty, decency, integrity, and in the profoundly sacred nobility and goodness that characterized his soul. I kiss the fragrant image and memory of his cheek. I grasp the sacred recollection and warmth of his hand, and I am forever comforted by the sweet reality that he lives on within each vaporous breath that I absorb…My Father…Myself.

Family trio at wedding in 1979.

Pixel Scroll 2/28/17 There Are No Pixels Like Scroll Pixels

(1) SF AND THE PARTY. In New Scientist Lavie Tidhar explains why “In China, this is science fiction’s golden age”.

In the 1980s, science fiction once again fell foul of the ruling party, as a new “Anti-Spiritual Pollution Campaign” emerged as a backlash to Deng Xiaoping’s modernisation and liberalisation policies. Deng’s opponents in the party railed against Western “bourgeois imports” of all kinds, and with sci-fi seeming to fall firmly in that category, it was all but wiped out for a time.

The genre’s recovery was partly led by the emergence of Science Fiction World magazine in Chengdu, and its energetic editor, Yang Xiao, herself the daughter of a prominent party member. Having such influential backing allowed Science Fiction World to bring together many young writers for an “appropriate” reason.

By the end of the century, Chinese sci-fi entered its own golden age. Although the authorities still raised the issue of literary “appropriateness”, the old restrictions had gone. One prominent contemporary sci-fi author is Han Song, a journalist at the state news agency Xinhua. Many of his works are only published outside the mainland due to their political themes, but Han is still widely recognised at home. His fiction can be dark and melancholy, envisioning, for instance, a spacefarer building tombstones to fellow astronauts, or the Beijing subway system being turned into a graveyard in which future explorers, arriving back on Earth, find themselves trapped on a fast-moving train. Along with Liu Cixin and Wang Jinkang, he is considered one of the “Three Generals” of Chinese sci-fi.

(2) SHARING THE MUSIC. The LA experimental hip-hop group Clipping, reported here the other day as seeking a Hugo nomination for their sci-fi oriented album Splendor & Misery, has raised the ante. Now they are giving away free copies to Hugo voters.

Their goal is to be nominated in the Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) category.

They are distributing free download codes via Twitter, but voters are allowed to share.

I figure it wouldn’t be fair to post it online – Clipping could have done that themselves – but i you’re a Hugo voter who’s not on Twitter and want to get the DL code, email me a mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com and I will send it to you.

(3) IMADJINN TIME. Nominations are open for the 2nd annual Imadjinn Awards given to small press and independently published authors. Authors nominate their own titles (a form Is provided at the site).  A professional jury determines the finalists and the winners. The awards will be announced Saturday, October 7 at the Imaginarium Convention in Louisville, KY. (See last year’s winners here.)

(4) GUNN THEME. A book about 2013 Worldcon guest of honor, Saving the World Through Science Fiction: James Gunn, Writer, Teacher and Scholar by Michael R. Page, has just been published by Macfarland.

One of the major figures in science fiction for more than sixty years, James Gunn has been instrumental in making the genre one of the most vibrant and engaging areas of literary scholarship. His genre history Alternate Worlds and his The Road to Science Fiction anthologies introduced countless readers to science fiction. He founded the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction in 1982. But Gunn has also been one of the genre’s leading writers. His classic novels Star Bridge (with Jack Williamson), The Joy Makers, The Immortals and The Listeners helped shape the field. Now in his nineties, he remains a prominent voice. His forthcoming novel is Transformation. Drawing on materials from Gunn’s archives and personal interviews with him, this study is the first to examine the life, career and writing of this science fiction grandmaster.

(5) CHUCK TINGLE, VOID WHERE EXHIBITED. I tell you, they can’t give this man a Nobel Prize too soon. The only delay will be thinking up a category for it.

Hugo nominated author Dr. Chuck Tingle is well known for his thoughts on love and romance, but there is another side to this revered modern philosopher that is needed now more than ever. Dispensed within this non-fiction volume is everything that you need to know about The Void, a terrifying place outside reality that is constantly overflowing with cosmic horror. Will you know what to do when The Void starts leaking into your timeline? Within Dr. Chuck Tingle’s Guide To The Void you will find multiple strategies for battling The Void, as well as survival techniques that could save your life, should you ever find yourself lost within The Void’s infinite grasp of existential dread. Most creatures of The Void are covered in detail, including Void Crabs, worms, Ted Cobbler, and The Man With No Eyes And Wieners For Hair. Also included within this guidebook is important information on Void related subjects like reverse twins, Truckman, the lake, and the call of the lonesome train. For anyone interested in the darker planes that lie just outside of The Tingleverse, this book is for you. Warning: This book includes mind-bending depictions of existential cosmic horror. Read responsibly, and stop immediately if you begin to suffer any symptoms of Void Madness.

(6) MEMORIES. Connie Willis added two new posts to her blog this month.

But certainly not to us. My family and I have known him for over forty years. He had dinner with us countless times (and especially one memorably snowed-in Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s house), taught my daughter Cordelia to hang spoons from her nose, and loved talking to my husband about science, especially on the trip to the total eclipse we took to Montana in 1979. (I feel so bad he won’t be here for this summer’s eclipse. It’ll be right in his hometown, Wheatland, Wyoming.)

He was one of my best friends, and I’d rather have talked to him than anybody. He was smart, witty, and full of fascinating stories about horror movies and urban legends and weird news articles. At our last dinner a mere two weeks ago at Cosine, an SF convention in Colorado Springs, he had all sorts of wry and insightful comments about Saturday Night Live, the movie Hidden Figures, and Donald Trump.

But he was not just a friend. He was also a mentor to me before that term even became popular. He taught me how to write, how to critique, how to find my way around the complex maze of the science fiction world without getting in trouble. He encouraged me to go to conventions, introduced me to everyone he knew (and he knew everybody from Jack Williamson to Harlan Ellison to George R.R. Martin) and got me onto panels. He even got me my first Hugo nomination by relentlessly talking me up to everybody.

  1. A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN by Betty Smith.

This book about a girl growing up in New York City in the early 1900s was loaned to me when I was ten or so, by somebody who thought I’d like it, and I adored it, even though I was probably too young to really understand it. But I totally identified with Francie, who loved to read and spent all her time in the public library. At one point, she decided to read her way alphabetically through the library, so I decided to do that, too, and discovered all sorts of books I’d never have read otherwise: Bess Streeter Aldrich’s A Lantern in Her Hand, Margery Allingham’s A Tiger in the Smoke, Peter Beagle’s A Fine and Private Place (about which more later), and Peter DeVries’s Washed in the Blood of the Lamb, which had the memorable line, “The recognition of how long, how long is the mourner’s bench upon which we sit, arms linked in undeluded friendship, all of us, brief links, ourselves, in the eternal pity.”

Unfortunately, I’d only made it through part of the D’s when I discovered science fiction and I abandoned Francie’s plan to read everything with a spaceship-and-atom symbol on the sign.

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • February 28, 1965 Dr.  Terror’s House of Horrors premieres in North America.

(8) REFERENCE BOOKS. People are still buzzing about Sunday night’s Oscar mixup, especially those hoping to leverage social media attention by mentioning it. But librarians?

(9) ARMAGEDDON ACTOR. Heritage Auctions is auctioning celebrities’ collections in Dallas on March 18. One of the items of genre interest was owned by Bruce Willis.

Among his top offerings is a French Movie Poster from Forbidden Planet (est. $3,000). This large-format poster in French “grande” size (47 by 63 inches), from the 1956 Metro-Goldwyn film, features one of the most iconic images from the science fiction genre: Robbie the Robot carrying an unconscious beauty. All text, including the film’s title, is written in French. The poster includes a letter of authenticity signed by Willis.

 

(10) NEVER SEEN. The following week at the Vintage Movie Posters Signature Auction a rare Invisible Man poster will bring top dollar.

Perhaps one of the most impressive of all of the great Universal Studios horror posters, a terrifying, 1933 one sheet teaser poster for The Invisible Man could sell for as much as $80,000 in Heritage Auctions’ Vintage Posters Auction March 25-26 in Dallas. “Even the most advanced collectors have never seen this poster in person,” said Grey Smith, Director of Vintage Posters at Heritage Auctions. “(Artist) Karoly Grosz does a hauntingly wonderful job capturing the insanity that slowly takes hold of the film’s mad scientist. In only a few instances did, the studio produce a teaser for their horror greats but when they did they were often outstanding.”

(11) WOMEN OF LEGO The proposed “Women of NASA” LEGO set covered in last July in the Pixel Scroll has been approved for production the toy company announced today.

Design, pricing, and availability

We’re still working out the final product design, pricing and availably for the Women of NASA set, so check back on LEGO Ideas in late 2017 or early 2018 for more details.

(12) PROMO. Kameron Hurley sent supporters custom dust jackets forThe Stars Are Legion, released earlier this month.

She also has done a blog tour to promote the book. The posts are listed here.

(13) MAINTAINING HIS IMAGE. French campaigner uses tech to be in two places at once: “Holograms, mistrust and ‘fake news’ in France’s election” from the BBC.

The communications coup of the French presidential election so far goes to far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon who, with a flick of his fingers, appeared at two simultaneous rallies 350 miles apart and created more internet buzz than he could have imagined.

The technology required was nothing new – he does not have the money – but the performance was done with panache. Walking on stage in Lyon, Mr Melenchon materialised at exactly the same moment in hologram form before supporters in Paris. He then made a speech to both audiences for 90 minutes. He likes to talk.

Afterwards Mr Melenchon claimed 60,000 live followers of the event on Facebook and YouTube. Millions more in France and around the world read about the exploit afterwards and clicked online for a taster. In publicity terms it was magisterial.

(14) SHELF SPACE RACE. History of an object important to many fans.

The Billy bookcase is perhaps the archetypal Ikea product.

It was dreamed up in 1978 by an Ikea designer called Gillis Lundgren who sketched it on the back of a napkin, worried that he would forget it.

Now there are 60-odd million in the world, nearly one for every 100 people – not bad for a humble bookcase.

(15) THE ADULTS IN THE ROOM. Were Chuck Wendig and John Scalzi channeling their inner McCalmont and Glyer when they had this Twitter exchange?

(16) TERRIBLE PUN. Wish I had thought of it first….

(17) A SPACE TAIL. Spark, a teenage monkey and his friends, Chunk and Vix, are on a mission to regain Planet Bana – a kingdom overtaken by the evil overlord Zhong. Voices by Jessica Biel, Susan Sarandon, and Patrick Stewart. In theatres April 17.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, Eric Franklin, JJ, Cat Eldridge, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Karl-Johan Norén.]

A Nonconformist Among Nonconformists

by John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1228)  May I, who voted for Trump’s opponent in the Presidential election, speak against the notion Trump’s supporters were “people … scared silly by the progress we’ve been making for the non-Christians, the blacks…. [who thus] don’t know their place anymore”?  I hear that often.  In an objection we on the Left are quick to raise in our defense, it’s dismissive.  It waves away any possibility that Trump’s supporters have any creditable basis for their opinions – which unsurprisingly those folk maintain we lack.  I think we on the Left have long been smug, self-righteous, arrogant about our opinions.  That isn’t good argument.  It isn’t good politics.  It isn’t neighborly.  It violates our own principles.  Trump cried Aren’t you tired of all those left-wing people’s telling you what to think?  Had we been better preachers, teachers, reachers, that would have been laughed down.  A well-known man in November 1963 was wrong, I believe, to say “The chickens are coming home to roost”, but perhaps that’s a lesson for us now.