I am currently reading No Name, by the excellent Wilkie Collins. If you haven’t heard of him, for shame. If you haven’t read anything of his, you are pitiable above all creatures. To relieve (if only temporarily) your miserable wretchedness, I offer to you, without any pretense of context, a brilliant extract which merely feels at the edges of the creativity of this long dead, yet terrifically talented author.Captain Wragge, the Swindler
“Swindler is nothing but a word of two syllables. S, W, I, N, D—swind; L, E, R—ler; Swindler. Definition: A moral agriculturist; a man who cultivates the field of human sympathy. I am that moral agriculturist, that cultivating man. Narrow-minded mediocrity, envious of my success in my profession, calls me a Swindler. What of that? The same low tone of mind assails men in other professions in a similar manner—calls great writers scribblers—great generals, butchers—and so on. It entirely depends on the point of view. Adopting your point, I announce myself intelligibly as a Swindler”…
“Now observe…Here am I, a needy object. Very good. Without complicating the question by asking how I come to be in that condition, I will merely inquire whether it is, or is not, the duty of a More >
In a recent post, I shared a snippet from the Irish epic, Tain Bo Cuailnge (The Cattle-Raid of Cooley) in which the bard lauded the virtues of the ancient hero Cúchulain. Lest one thinks that these are an exhaustive list of this hero’s awesomeness, a few pages on in the epic, we find a detailed description of Cúchulain’s valor and feats in war. In this selection, Cúchulain’s foster-father, Fergus, sings the praises of the feared “Hound of Ulster”:
We have not found there a man-at-arms that is harder, nor a point that is keener, more terrible nor quicker, nor a more bloodthirsty wolf, nor a raven more flesh-loving, nor a wilder warrior, nor a match of his age that would reach to a third or a fourth the likes of Cúchulain.
Thou findest not there…a hero of his peer, nor a lion that is fiercer, nor a plank of battle, nor a sledge of destruction, nor a gate of combat, nor a doom of hosts, nor a contest of valor that would be more worth than Cúchulain.
Thou findest not there one that could equal his age and his growth, his dress and his terror, his size and his splendour, his fame and his voice, his shape and More >
I’ve recently been working my way through the Irish epic, Tain Bo Cuailnge (The Cattle-Raid of Cooley). One of the more interesting characters I’ve come across so far is Cúchulain. Cúchulain was a magnificent warrior, and was famous for his single-handed defense of Ulster against a formidable army. In one passage, he lops the heads off of four charioteers in a single swipe, and proceeds to conspicuously affix their heads to poles in an effort to goad the invading army to pursue him to their doom. Seven-fingered, seven-toed, and seven-pupil-ed, Cúchulain was a paragon of the human species, and is therefore lauded by the epic writer for his various and numerous virtues:
Now, many and divers were the magic virtues that were in Cúchulain that were in no one else in his day. Excellence of form, excellence of shape, excellence of build, excellence in swimming, excellence in horsemanship, excellence in chess and in draughts, excellence in battle, excellence in contest, excellence in single combat, excellence in reckoning, excellence in speech, excellence in counsel, excellence in bearing, excellence in laying waste and in plundering from the neighboring border…
I imagine he was the envy of his high-school class, and probably was featured on the majority of the More >
Ok, tonight was my first foray into my NaNoWriMo entry. I spent an hour and a half, and about half of it was spent looking up words, figuring out names for some of my characters, and finding a synonym for “candle.”
Anyway, I managed to eek out 350 words or so. In the scope of 50,000, it’s a drop in the bucket (probably less than that, actually). However, I did enjoy the 350 words I created, and the process of sitting down and writing has generated a lot of ideas for tomorrow’s efforts. I’m making notes, and getting excited for what this will shape up to be!
My entry is entitled “The Book of the Universe.” That’s all I’m going to disclose regarding the entry itself, but here are the first 350 words. Enjoy
Chapter 1: Ancient of Days
The light from the lone candle cast long and warm shadows over the sparse, wearing-down inhabitants of the study. It was not a study in the fashion of other studies; were it not for the small, weary writing desk and the cracked wooden stool, the room could scarcely have been distinguished from an abandoned closet. In such a condition, then, it is quite understandable that the More >
I’m pretty proud of myself: over the last 3 months, I have become much more consistent about blogging (nearly daily), and I’ve also started reading regularly again. Part of this is due to my schedule slowing down a bit, and some of it is thanks to some better decision-making on my part.
To celebrate–and hopefully extend–this run of success, I’m actually going to be taking a bit of a furlough from the blog, or at least my normal posts about ColdFusion and theology. Through the end of November, I’m going to be participating in National Novel Writing Month.
National Novel Writing Month (or NanoWriMo as it’s affectionately called) is a simple challenge to the world to write a 50,000 word novel…in 30 days. While it seems like a ridiculously compressed time frame, I think it’s an intriguing idea, because it forces ideas to be put down on paper while leaving less room for the procrastination-breeding eye of the perfectionist. 50,000 words don’t come easy, so every second counts!
So anyway, I’m going to give it a shot. This is my first year to try, so I’m not sure what to expect. However, I think it will be a good experience whatever the outcome, and More >
Philip Pullman is, to me, a polarizing figure. His Dark Materials is, without a doubt, among my favorite reads of all time. Sure, he manages to not-so-subtly weave the “evils” of the Roman Catholic church into his invented fantasy world. But honestly, the story is so otherwise compelling that such a deliberate and malevolent slight can be overlooked for its pettiness and childishness…in fact, in many ways, it serves the story quite well.
So given Pullman’s overt and public vitriol for Roman Catholicism specifically, and religious belief in general, I had some pretty strong assumptions about what he would do with the story of Jesus. Now let’s be honest: such is inescapable when approaching any book–our presuppositions always drive our experience. In this light, then, I think a really outstanding piece of writing is one that turns presuppositions on their heads–like His Dark Materials did. A meager and ultimately unsucessful attempt, on the other hand, is one that leaves the reader saying to themselves, “Well, that was terrifically predictable.” To spoil the ending right out of the gate, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ was the latter.The Predictably Demythologized Jesus
Pullman’s work is a part of a larger collection of books by various authors in More >
Just got this in the mail…quite excited to dive in!
- Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)
- Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
- Share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
- Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)
- Click to print (Opens in new window)
A quasi-sequel to his "Elegant Universe," Fabric is an intriguing foray into the wild and wonderful world of quantum mechanics and speculative physics. Prima facie, the subject matter would appear to be significantly beyond the interests and capacities of the general, non-specialized public. However, Greene does an exceptional job of distilling the relevant issues of the content into managable, comprehensible and–most importantly–interesting reading.
As in Elegant Universe, Greene briefly traces the historical developments which have laid the foundations for the revolutions of quantum physics in the twentieth century. To do this, he examines "classical" conceptions of space and time, showing how very fundamental beliefs about the nature of these realities are being challenged and overturned by rapid discoveries in the field of quantum physics. With this established, Greene moves onto to discuss cosmic origins. Of particular interest is Greene's in-depth critique of deficiencies in the standard big-bang model. After discussing these issues at length, Greene proceeds to apply considerations of quantum physics to propose a new model of origins, the inflationary model.
After dispensing with considerations of origins, Greene brings the previous discussions to bear on one of his particular interests, String Theory. To Greene, String Theory encapsulates one of modern More >