NOTICE

NOTICE

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

EPIC!


I've been asked what is an epic poem and why do I like the form.

The definition comes from Wiktionary ... An epic poem, epic, epos, or epopee is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation.

I do love epic poetry.  It isn't the sound of the words upon my ear, not the rhythm, but, what they talk about, how they talked about the subject, and how very important most of these have been to the gathering of history, and the placement of each story into the context of their time.

What the poetry in this form does is tell you how a deed was done, in a fashion of verse, that was common to its day.  It might be that the work is factual, or perhaps it is more about the idea of it all.  But what you might not realize, is that these works actually tell the truth, regardless of the events being "truth" or not.


There is a place, far beyond our conscience that understands that Beowulf and Grendel was not about a true king killing a beast, but is an allegory for the rise of some people and the fall of others, or the competition between the religious beliefs of the people of that world.

Whichever metaphor or allegorical subject is closer to the truth, does not matter.  The lessons of such collisions of culture inform us while we read or listen to the adventures of the day.


Gilgamesh was an ancient king and hero, descended from the gods, at least half of his lineage, that is, and he fought beasts, rescued people from disaster, dealt with a world wide flood, and after his great companion Enkidu was killed, he visited the afterlife to fight death and to find eternal life.  These were important concepts of the day.


The world around us today, in the present is far different in many respects from that of the past.  But while I recognize this, being upon a search for meaning, to learn about my spirituality, to find and defend friends, to become aware of the values of being a human are all mutual experiences.  That they are captured in such works allows us a glimpse into the mind of the day.



Friday, August 11, 2017

Curiosity rather than evil

As an historian I find the tapestry of human record, event, and public act to be magnificent.  Sometimes even the most horrible thing is packed with information and truth that you otherwise would not experience.  I've read some of the most horrifying facts on record but, due to my interest, I find it without the punch others experience.


My curiosity needed to be satisfied.  Even should it be murder, famine, or massacre, the truth is not harmful.  And in some cases, it needs to be known to prevent repeating of the events.  It isn't just curiosity though.  I have an insatiable desire to know everything possible.  I get frustrated with my flesh when I am too tired to go further.  Sleep is great, but when I do research I find a zen place of reading solidly.  So, it is a compulsion for who knows what reason.



Someone asked me why I want to read about events that are dark.  I think it isn't the right question.  I had come to be fascinated by the rise of and the fall of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.  When my brain wondered why the Nazis didn't work I went to read about 25 books about the history of the Nazis, their organizations, their crimes, and the Holocaust.  After doing so I had no attraction or curiosity about them.  I didn't read this information because I like the darkness, it is because I hate the acts of the Nazis that I had to understand why they did what they did.


Now, as I don't enjoy the darkness if you are aware of what this Kanji says, it is saying I am my own demon.  I believe this.  It isn't me sacrificing to Demons or Satan.  It isn't me practicing evil.  It is, the person who disappoints me the most is me.  I eat things I am not supposed to eat.  I do things I am not supposed to do.  I want things I should not want.  And I lust for things that I should find the strength to fight.

Some people believe any sort of inquiry about a dark subject means you are fantasizing or wanting to do it.  I guarantee that I do not want to be gassed like in Auschwitz or murdered by a madman.  But I am curious what made them do it.   I can listen to a song of Nazi propaganda songs without becoming or even agree with the Nazis.   I do take seriously the Nietzsche quote "He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster.  And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee."  But what I do is not like this at all.  I refuse to be moved by the abyss.


I will say this... it is true that sometimes evil is not recognized for what it is.  If it is beautiful or charming, it can often weasel its way passed your defenses.  Satan was called the Bright Morning Star.   The Portuguese Man O War are beautiful, in their blue translucent bodies.  They can also sting and kill.  A politician is often slick, often of better appearance than others.  But he might well have a dark plan.  Just remember, slavery was legal.  Hitler was elected legally.  And American leaders called for and achieved the Japanese American Internment.  That is, free people who had done nothing illegal were placed in barbed wire enclosures, with machine guns aimed inward.   Because they MIGHT do something.



Beauty is often deceiving.  And when I see it I am often struck, looking very much like the deer in the headlights.  I often say, beautiful women make me stupid.  And it is the truth.  But usually beauty is natural, positive, and hopeful.

So do not focus upon the abyss should you gaze.  But gazing is not always going to end badly.

My background of study for King Arthur


Many people assume that a fictional work is done without research.  I read more than 3 dozen books about King Arthur and general Celtic myth for my books Lancelot, Arthur Rex Eternus, The Quest of Arthur, King of Ages, and with a focus on non-Arthur Celt myth and legend, Mythic Memories, Sacred Ground, and Visitations into Sidhe and Tir na nOg.


It is the fact that the more true the setting you create feels, (verisimilitude) the more depth the characters you create or use will become.

 “So endeth the story of the winning of Excalibur, and may God give unto you in your life, that you may have His truth to aid you, like a shining sword, for to overcome your enemies; and may He give you Faith (for Faith containeth Truth as a scabbard containeth its sword), and may that Faith heal all your wounds of sorrow as the sheath of Excalibur healed all the wounds of him who wore that excellent weapon. For with Truth and Faith girded upon you, you shall be as well able to fight all your battles as did that noble hero of old, whom men called King Arthur.”
― Howard Pyle, The Story of King Arthur and His Knights

To that extent, my studies focused mostly upon the history that is known, the history that was speculative, and the historical studies that regard the era.  Roman Britain is an area of writing that fascinates me, it moves me, from both sides of the conflict.  The fact that Arthurian legends place a real Arthur, a war general, shortly after Roman withdrawal from Britain suggests that the real life Arthur had been a Britain officer in a Roman Legion.  Perhaps he had risen as a result of being left behind as a leader to be certain of his loyalty to Rome, but it is more likely that he'd been trained and fought at the side of the Romans.

“Yet some men say in many parts of England that King Arthur is not dead, but had by the will of our Lord Jesu into another place; and men say that he shall come again, and he shall win the holy cross.”  Thomas Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur

Arthurian legend has roots in Britain, as it was a story of pride, tragedy and romance.   A piece of evidence towards the legend having roots in reality, Glastonbury Tor is where Arthur and his queen's bodies were said to be unearthed.  When the legend says he died in Avalon, an island of apple trees and beauty, surrounded by mist.  Glastonbury Tor is a great hill, which is circled on either side by rushing rivers.  In the morning dew, mist, Glastonbury looks very much like an island, surrounded by mists.


The castle Arthur is said to have been born in is found at Tintagel, found in Cornwall, upon the shore of the ocean.  This is a site far from Londinium (modern London), far from the Saxon far shores, perhaps he was born in a place that was a remnant population of Britons, the last stand of such.


For purposes of familiarity I read books that told the story with an eye for the commonalities, rather than the divergences.  But even reading fictional stories, I chose the most scholarly so that I might read the original language and understand the work more deeply.  I made some changes to the legend, because, I can, but also, by casting out a number of late additions one brings the core to further light.


I've read that people of the present do not have a familiarity to the story, but more than just that, to the impact of the legends and myths in the past.  King Arthur was a very rich field for prose, non-fiction, art, and almost every form of media.  And as Batman, Superman and Spider-man are the fantasy characters of the present, King Arthur and each additional story were the heroes of the past, especially in Britain. 


Some have argued for Arthur as the quintessential Briton.  That he was from the original people of Albion, (a name for Britain), he won 12 battles that kept Britain free for 50 years before the Saxons flooded the island.  But while Arthur's core stories are British, they were later enhanced and expanded by French authors, and even Germans.  The nature of the medieval education meant that there was a smaller core of knowledge and those authors of the day wrote about the biggest legend as a means to both fame, but also to establish more of the legend.  Lancelot and my favorite knight Galahad came late to the party, and the holy grail was not part of the original tales.


French poet Chr├ętien de Troyes is the source of the first mention of the Holy Grail, which is a few hundred years after the original tales.  Some argue that the grail saga was commentary of how the leaders of the land grow powerless if they become separated from the land and people.  Only a return to faith by the leader, in this form the Holy Grail, can allow a rebirth of the land.  God has anointed the leader and if he falls away, the leadership becomes corrupted, and can only be redeemed by a return.

"It's obvious that it's after dinner," says sir Kay unable to hold his tongue. "There are more words in a potful of wine than in a barrel of beer". Chr├ętien de Troyes


While for me I loved knights from a very early age, what kicked my mind into overdrive were the books of Geoffrey Ashe.  He explains and explores the roots of the legends.  He is brilliant, and deeply informed my study.


I have read dozens of the stories, and enjoyed them all.  But of the fiction I most enjoyed Parzival, by Wolfram von Eschenbach and of the non-fiction was probably Roman Britain and Early England by Peter Hunter Blair. 


I love the world of King Arthur and I suggest you do a similar study if you are moved to do so.



Sunday, August 6, 2017

Great and talented creative talents in the world of comics


I used to have a list of people in the world of comics who have done work that I most like.  I don't have a spreadsheet, or some sort of means by which I decide who belongs upon that list.  All I have is a sense of taste, a rather wide spanning view of work I like, and, the shortcomings of my ability to buy and read whatever it is I am interested in.  There are numerous, perhaps thousands of talented people who I have not been able to develop a taste for due entirely to finances.  To some small degree, since the advent of the internet and emails, I have discussed the works with the author, thus, making my interest greater informed.  I used to keep a list but stopped when the effort was greater than any kind of purpose was served.  But, I've been getting a number of emails from people reading my work at Poplitiko asking me favorites, best comic stories, best artists to talk to to avoid bad interactions.  So, this is a relatively broad list, without specific works or why they were listed.  There are writers, artists, and writer/artists, and, there are talents who are able to do many things that make them on the list more than once.   I am making this list without any order within each list. I like so many more talented people it hurts to make lists and not include them all.   Also, I would like to do a category of best cover artist, but, I have loved so many it would be a wee bit extensive.



Writers

Grant Morrison
Jamie Delano
Chuck Dixon
Mike Carey
Alan Moore
Dean Motter
Mike Baron
Alejandro Jodorowsky
Steven Grant
John Ostrander
Paul Jenkins


Artist

Ashley Wood
Jack Kirby
Timothy Truman
Tom Mandrake
Jan Duursema
Moebius/Jean Giraud
Bill Sienkiewicz
Alex Sheikman
Simon Bisley
Chris Weston
Wally Wood
Michael Gaydos
Tim Bradstreet
Leonardo Manco
Jae Lee
Alex Schomburg
Paul Harmon


Artist/Writer

Frank Miller
Jack Kirby
Mike Grell
Walter Simonson
Timothy Truman
Hayao Miyazaki
Paul Grist
Erik Larsen
Josh Howard
Steve Ditko
Stan Sakai

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Evidence of the Manga I have enjoyed

(Click each image for a larger & clearer view)

I love Japan.  I love Japanese people, arts, history, and even the language.
As I am writing about comics, doing interviews and reviews, I was asked
why no Manga?  And I am not able to extend my coverage to manga and
thereafter anime due to a number of factors.  There is a language barrier.
I can't interview most talent from Japan.  I do not have review works and
it is often hard to do so from thinks like pdf or jpgs.  And lastly, I have
no money to invest in new series.
 

But, I have bought and read many manga, and my son is a fan of other series.
I've read numerous editions and expanded my view of works to include up to
date works like Attack on Titan and Deathnote.  I like them a great deal.


I should say, my favorite works are Lone Wolf and Cub, Samurai Executioner,
Path of the Assassin, Appleseed, and Nausicaa.  I like these works all a great deal.
So, while my comic book journalism has not covered Manga much at all, it isn't
due to matters of taste.


Friday, August 4, 2017

Pure pursuit


All of my published and self published work
A poetry blog with almost 2000 poems
The Amazon page for my work

Untamed passion to pursue something good is a very rare and wonderful thing.  A lack of passion for pursuing something good is a bad thing.  Untamed passion of a pure pursuit of evil, is very dangerous. And a lack of passion following something evil is modestly good, since evil shouldn't be pursued at all.

I have spent my life pursuing a variety of things.

Love.  My world was often painted black, by depression, by fear, by being hurt so often.  So, I needed but rarely found love.  I need it, as anyone human does.  I've often said, until I knew my wife loved me, I had no guarantees that I had ever felt loved.  (Rightly or wrongly).  Until I had my son, I had never experienced joy.   I don't know anything about other people's pursuit of love, of joy, but I can say, for me, it healed me.  I had many wounds, and being loved and experiencing joy made my appreciation of the love and joy, all the greater.

I pursued a number of goals related to finding the tools I would need to find the answers to numerous question.  I needed to understand things like how to type, how to write papers for academia, and things like how to perform research and more recently how to utilize the internet for your research.  I was never a student who cared about grades, I just wanted to know and use what I had learned.

I pursued an answer to the question, 'Why do we exist?'.  I went to university for more years than I should have, in the sense of the "four year degree" for me was not a goal, at all.  I took classes that moved me, not those that I had to do so.  As a child of rape, given up for adoption, there were many mysteries in my life.  Finding out things like, human history, or literature or art, allowed me to emotionally understand a variety of questions.

I pursued an answer to the connected questions, 'What is holy and who is God?'. I've read hundreds of books wherein the questions I asked were considered.  I sought to know God.  I sought God because I believed that he was at the core of truth I needed to know.  I read the Buddhist, Zen, Hindu sacred texts along with those of Christianity.  My search encompassed areas of philosophy and logic that were so deep my brain hurt.  And, following these searches, I believe that I understand God, and have pursued the moral and ethical means of joining God when I die.

I pursued sanity.  Suffering from depression since as early as I can remember, I sought medical advice to overcome.  I did overcome but I was also outspoken about my path of healing.  I believed, and still do, that if you make known your issues to begin with, the people who would use it against you, would be clearly marked.  I also have advocated for a variety of people locally, as well as have been told by more than 5 people that I saved their lives, because they were going to commit suicide prior to my speaking with them.  Whether that is true or hyperbole, I don't know.

I sought to be healed from PTSD.  Although I did the many things people are supposed to for such a thing, I still experience this.  Sometimes it keeps me awake, such as a few times in the last few weeks.  I am averaging 5 nights of sleep every 7 nights, since the 2nd of January.

“In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within
me there lay an invincible summer.”  Albert Camus 

And, I pursue poetry.  So I've read and written such for over 45 years.  I cover that so often I do not need to go much further.

And what does all of that mean?  Did I really answer those questions, did I truly believe, did I become sane?  I think so.  But I am not certain by any means.

I believe that my search, my pursuit of all of these things will end only upon my final breath.  The Civil War general Robert E. Lee was said to have said, "The education of a man is never completed until he dies."  I believe in thisI sought in life to learn.  I think that much has been achieved.

There are many people who helped me survive this life.  And I would be gravely mistaken to list some but not all.  And with my memory issues being what they are, I would definitely forget some.  So let us agree that, all people are in need to a quest, a pursuit, to fulfill themselves, and I was jackpot lucky to have help from a variety of great people along the way.