per mutatio…

In art nouveau, and particularly the work of Alphonse Mucha, we frequently see an arc of ever-smaller circles around both sides of a round frame. Mr. Mucha found this structure fascinating and, I must admit, I do as well. I won’t go as far as to suggest it counts as part of sacred geometry (either for myself of for Mr. Mucha). But it is very appealing to my aesthetic.

In mathematics, such a figure is called either a Pappus chain or Steiner chain – depending on specific tangency. I’m certain it has a name in art world but I haven’t rediscovered the term (yet).

As you may have seen in previous posts to this blog, I am creating sculpture and art in addition to written fiction. The Star Trek-inspired novel¹ on which I am in progress has introduced a sister muse. The television series and motion pictures showed us very little Vulcan art. Much as I might prefer otherwise, I do understand that Vulcan culture is not the main point of Star Trek. But it is the emphasis you’ll find on The Taan Shop².

ta'an 2Just this week I was able to blend two examples of Vulcan art and symbolism (the IDIC and the coffin-shaped chime/gong) with the Mucha crescent. The words shown are kau and yehtwise and true, respectively.

Pandora’s Pets are creatures of expressed emotion. The items presented on The Taan Shop could count as the opposite. Or maybe not. Fans of Star Trek know that Vulcans embrace logic. We know from the salute of “Live long and prosper” and the philosophy of “Infinite diversity in infinite combination” that their perspective is more nuanced than commonly thought. It seems more likely that the Pets and the ta’an are two sides of the same flag.

Both projects are evolving and I feel they should. You are invited to pay a visit.

Vulcan Tarot frame


¹ “All We Now Hold True
² More accurately, the Vulcan word for gift would be transliterated as ta’an but that would confuse the URL.


Note: The Vulcan font was designed and provided in beta form by Britton Watkins. He is the developer and director of conlanging, a documentary on the art of making fictional languages and writing systems.

Seriously?…

seriously

Whether called reboot, reimagining, or remake – there is, at least, one almost guaranteed reaction when Hollywood makes the announcement: There is nearly always complaint by loyal fans of the quintessential (older) version.
And when the film is released, it never plays to a completely empty theater.
Nearly 125 remakes were released between 2003 to 2012. That would be one a month, on average. Said remakes brought in a combined box office gross of $12 billion.
The explanation for the remake frenzy is “the foreign market”. I’m not sure I buy that. Surely folks in The People’s Republic of China (中华人民共和国) get just as bored by/tired of an endless chain or rehash as anyone else.
I think… I hope — that the people of the Republic of Nauru (Naoero) are desirous of new and original ideas and content.
Hollywood’s emphasis on the reliably bankable is a polite way of saying they are risk-averse. Similarly, when they want it accessible, that means they don’t want to challenge or offend.
But personally, I enjoy having my assumptions challenged and my knowledge expanded. A film can be both confusing (at first) and offensive (if for effect) – so long as the end result is teaching a valuable, needed lesson. And, yes, I do expect a message from entertainment. If there isn’t to be a message – fireworks displays are free and generally ubiquitous during blockbuster season.
Nearly all work by the motion picture industry is based on brand & franchise now. There were times – and not so very long ago – when filmmakers were just as interested in story and moral as I still am.
The above Hollywood preferences may have contributed to the opinion – voiced by many – that Hollywood is out of ideas. That’s absurd. There are new novels being published every month.
The solution is clear! Reward storytellers.
Don’t go a see a film unless the trailer, pre-release press, and/or critical reviews illustrate that said film presents a new idea.
Buy a book instead.
You probably know an author. You may be one. We craft stories that we feel make important observations about life and may offer the equivalent of life-hacks within our work. Sometimes telling these stories means a sacrifice or two in the life of the author. There are tales behind the tales a reader may never know. When you hold a new book, and before you start reading, try to imagine the heroic journey the author (along with her or his allies) have already been on to see it safely into your hands.
The novel is a kind of gift-with-purchase. What you pay for is that unknown adventure the author has been through to tell you something potentially important.
If enough people do this – buying a book Instead of seeing a movie – some studio is bound to option a story you’ve read. We won’t have wasted money on a disappointing two hour retread. We also actually own a book as an added bonus.
Everybody wins! You, the book store, the publisher, the editor, and the author all get to smile. The film executives will wonder why – until the buy and read it too.
Coming soon…

Tilting at the Windmills of My Mind…

As Pandora’s Pets are not made singly, except in the case of a commission, it isn’t so easy to say precisely how long each takes to make. They take as long as they need. Their creation is a collaborative process with Leanna Renee Hieber, who gives them their individual details and augments their personalities. We haven’t precisely timed that process either.

PetsWhen each is finished as a work of art, they’re not fully complete until a customer adopts them. There’s a procedure when each is sold that we consider vital. Every one of Pandora’s Pets needs a name. We keep a record of the name of each Pet.

To be honest, however, I didn’t want to have a list containing common or ridiculous appellations. This meant there needed to be a process. Within the lore of Pandora’s Pets they’re meant to be quite ancient, somewhat otherworldly creatures. What follows is a (mostly) complete account of how the naming chart was created (in January of this year); this isn’t entirely random facts:


circa 3800 BC
Ur was a Sumerian city-state and served the Mesopotamian culture as an important port. Since the end of that period, silting of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers have added almost 200 miles of land between the Great Ziggurat and the Persian Gulf. At its peak, however, Ur was immense in terms of both scale and splendor.


c. 832 BC
The First Temple in Jerusalem is begun. Myths about its construction probably began about this time, too.


c. 1100
The Scots adopted the word glomung from Old English. It became gloaming and still means twilight or dusk. In some parts of Scotland it may also mean dawn.


1583
By this time, the esoterica about King Solomon‘s included the recruitment of 72 spirits, each of whom had special talents. Johann Weyer and others attempted to list them all. The lists don’t match at every point.


1821
John Keats invented the word gloam for his revision of the ballad, La Belle Dame sans Merci.


Thinking about these things and along these lines produced the following chart:

d20: Name Tribe
1 Kut(h)- -as(h)/es(h)- -tis Chill
2 Tel- -par/pur- -lor Pitch
3 Ur- -kah- -tos Murky
4 Kis(h)- -el- -ax Shade
5 Der- -gaht- -far Ghast
6 Ad- -veh- -ur Wight
7 Jem- -ix- -as Ghoul
8 Eri- -ib- -for Brood
9 Ak- -daht- -par Gloom
10 Es(h)- -sal- -eth Frost
11 Gir- -o- -gos Gaunt
12 Lag- -bey- -las Weird
13 Lar- -mu- -mon Cloak
14 Shu -ru- -ius Bleak
15 Har- -neh- -ith Ghost
16 Din- -day- -son Dread
17 Bad- -ara- -thin Haunt
18 Is(h)- -tra- -ion Eerie
19 Kua- -euh- -eus Qualm
20 Bad- -has- -os Cloud

Column № 1 – represents the result on a 20-sided die. A different, color-coded die is used for each subsequent column at point-of-sale.
Column № 2 – The names of some of civilization’s most ancient settlements (or syllables thence) became the prefix for each Pet’s name – to suggest extreme age.
Column № 3 – The middle of each Pet’s first name is pure invention to serve as a bridge.
Column № 4 – The suffix of about thirty percent of Solomon’s helpers are also suffix for the Pets.
Column № 5 – The Tribes to which each Pet may belong are called by synonyms of gloam and other spooky 5-letter words.

The next batch of Pandora’s Pets will mean there are more than 100 of them in the world! As making them helps both Ms. Hieber and I smile – and then the people to whom they’re offered for sale – that’s an already uncountable number of smiles that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

Note: While making this post ready my entire computer froze. I’m attributing the smile that resulted from not having to start over to the Pets as well.

Couching a Tale…

The characters in any story may be compared with the id. The related ego is the author and any collaborators. The superego could be a combination of critique partners and editors. If this theory of mine is accurate, it may explain why writers will tell you they have arguments with their characters about what they would or would not do within the story. And while it is the author-ego who determines the “reality” of the story, the character-id makes it Go. A wise author will let the characters be the engine and do his or her job of driving.

There is an immensely strong id in Leanna Renee Hieber’s newest novel – The Eterna Files (released by Tor and available at fine booksellers like Barnes & Noble and here). The character in question is known as The Visitor (and by another name I’ll not reveal here (spoilers)). Within the context of Eterna’s first installment, The Visitor may be an actual zeitgeist – attempting to inspire the other characters as they face supernatural and potentially calamitous new realities.

Excerpt, The Eterna Files, p. 14 —
“What is it this time?” Clara gasped.
“Hello, Clara,” the visitor said quietly. One didn’t mistake an ordinary person for the visitor, for it brought with it the weight of time itself. “It’s been awhile.” The visitor smoothed the skirts of its long, plain, black, uniform-like dress, something a boarding school girl might wear. “Have you been waiting?” the visitor asked.
“I’m not a girl who waits,” Clara replied.
“That’s why I trust you,” the visitor said, pleasure in its voice.

The broader arc of The Visitor began before I was invited to be Ms. Hieber’s collaborator on some projects. The author of the above had written about her before in vignette and cameo fashion a few times before we’d actually even met. In what was unrelated brainstorming for possible inclusion in a well-known franchise, Ms. Hieber and I started to develop a strong, female character in command of her own starship. There were some difficult directorial reactions to our plans. And to the Captain’s plans. She – The Captain – almost immediately took command, as she’d been designed to do, of her own destiny.

Before long both Leanna and I had the epiphany that The Captain was The Visitor. That development and The Mission of Captain-Visitor character-id is only part of why I’m fascinated by The Eterna Files. I repeat my recommendation of buying the book and curling up on the couch with your copy.

Video credit: PsychWing and The Nerdy Duo

Excerpt, The Eterna Files, p. 16 —
“Why can’t you stop terrible things if you’re aware of them?” Clara demanded. “Why can’t I?”
“Not in our skill set,” the visitor replied. “You’ve taken too much ownership of something that is not your responsibility, Templeton. What is your responsibility, is to—”

“‘Wake up?’ Yes, I hear it, on the wind. In my bones. What does it mean?”
The woman gestured before her, to Clara’s iterations. “You see the lives, don’t you?”
“Yes.” Clara swallowed hard. “Do you?”

Georg Hegel is given credit for coining the word – zeitgeist. But he did not use the term. He believed that the spirit of the time is our own spirit and that “both” may evolve. The Visitor’s mission is the most heroic I can imagine and may be related to Hegel’s assertion that “World history is thus the unfolding of Spirit in time, as nature is the unfolding of the Idea in space.” I am genuinely excited to help write The Visitor’s future and past. She may prove to have an important role in A Song Heard in the Future and in at least one other story that sometimes makes it difficult to sleep.

“You see the lives, don’t you?”

Yes. Won’t you?