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The ten thousand things and the one true only.

by Kip Manley

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It pleases me to announce revised editions of volumes one and two, and the first edition of volume three, are now available through Ingram to booksellers and libraries in most of the corners of the globe.

But what, you might ask, if one is not, oneself, a bookseller, or a library?

Bookshop.org IndieBound.org

Enter the American Booksellers Association, with IndieBound and Bookshop.org. —Bookshop is just the sort of dead-simple online bookstore you might already be familiar with, but: 10% of the list price of every book sold is placed in a pot that’s divvied every six months among ABA bookstores. —IndieBound allows you with a smidge more effort to funnel your purchase(s) directly through the local brick-and-mortar of your choice, to their benefit.

And at prices pretty much guaranteed to be less than those of a certain riverine monopolopsony.


—posted 10 hours ago

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of what it’s about.

To tell a story on screen, you create a physical world that serves your purpose. But in Un Chien Andalou, the physical world is thicker, more resistant, more alive (and more dead). Instead of smoothly setting off the characters’ desires and fears, it becomes an opaque field of desire and terror in itself. The events that can happen in such a world are full of passion, comedy, horror; it’s just that they never get resolved and tidied up by narrative explanations. There are people in the film, but it is not “about” them—it is about us, our reactions, our disgust and perversity.

Jonathan Jones

—posted 52 days ago

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Updates; outlines.

The entire text thus far (vols. 1 through 3) has been (lightly) edited, correcting some infelicities such as erratically capitalized Graces and a stray “hell” or two, lodged in the wrong mouth; the edited text has been poured into ebook shapes and published, and flowed into newly redesigned paperback templates in the new layout software, and tweaked and kerned to de-widow and un-orphan, mostly, and it’s mostly in shape, mostly. Still fiddling and tweaking. But! That means the PDF ebook of vol. 3 is almost done, and the edited and redesigned PDF ebooks of vols. 1 and 2, and we’re just about ready to take the next step in un-Amazoning and printing some paperbacks through a much more reputable or at least less monopsonically destructive company.

Then I just need to redesign the website, or at the very least update it with the edited text…

And! But! Also! Whither vol. 4, you might well ask. What is up with Betty Martin. —Right now, I feel like that bit in Marquee Moon when Tom Verlaine’s guitar is about to go soaring off from Fred Smith’s bedrock bass and the crashing surf of Billy Ficca’s drums and Richard Lloyd’s relentless lighthouse of a riff, climbing in what I’m told is a mixolydian mode until the whole thing somehow doesn’t break apart but crashes all together into whatever itself is, and the thing about that is you don’t just have to have the soaring to make it do what it does, but also the bedrock and the surf and the lighthouse, so that the crash when it comes (and it will come) doesn’t end up breaking the whole dam’ thing apart. —So I’ve been trying my hand at outlining.

I’ve done it before: you may well have seen this image, on a scrap of paper much softened with age:

The outline.

First scribbled down maybe fifteen years ago, now; a suggestion of a roadmap, a guess as to a possible route through the first two volumes. —But we’re further along, now; there’s more moving parts, and I hacked my way through vol. 3 without any idea where I was going, except a question, and its (second) answer. A guess, a suggestion, a scribble is no longer enough. Behold: my stab at a Levitz Paradigm:


Well, anyway. It’s a start.

—posted 123 days ago

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(Originally posted on the Patreon.)

Things to keep in mind:
The secret of making mistakes.

I make so many mistakes when I play—it’s just that people don’t pick up on them. There are any number of ways to get from one place to another on the neck of the guitar that I don’t know about.

Tom Verlaine

—posted 137 days ago

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of heroism.

The ancient poetries of Europe—Greek, Saxon, Welsh, Irish, Norse, and German—have lately been studied together as common examples of heroic poetry, and certainly no reader can help being struck by the fact that all these poetries have chiefly to do with the prowesses of men of strength and courage, whom the poets believed to have lived in a more or less distant past when human powers were greater, and whom they called by a special term which we translate as “hero.” It is wrong, however, to go on and suppose that heroic poetry (in this sense of the term) is due to any law in the growth of literature. The poetry is heroic only because it is created by people who are living in a certain way and so have a certain outlook on life, and our understanding of the heroic will come only as we learn what that way of living is, and grasp that outlook. We find, for example, that cattle-lifting is a common theme in the ancient European poetries, but it is found there because of no law of poetry, but because these peoples happened to live in a way which led them to the stealing of cattle on the one hand and to the practice of poetry on the other. It may seem far-fetched to say that any one has gone so far as to suppose a law of poetry which makes cattle-lifting a common theme at a certain stage in the growth of poetry, and which results in reaving, but still that is implied by those who study the heroic element in early poetry as primarily a literary problem. Its proper study is even more anthropological and historical, and what Doughty tells us about cattle-lifting among the Bedouins is more enlightening, if we are reading Nestor’s tale of a cattle raid into Elis, than is the mere knowledge that the theme occurs elsewhere in ancient poetry.

Milman Parry

—posted 153 days ago

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of compellence.

One can thus see the many formidable challenges facing a coercer. Precision of thought and language can matter greatly in compellence, while a degree of vagueness occasionally can be useful for deterrence. A nuanced understanding of the needs, fears, capabilities, interests, and will of the target state is essential. But the coercer must possess self-knowledge as well, including an understanding of the importance of the stake involved, and the likely commitment to it—by policymakers and by the domestic population—over time. And the coercer must be able to articulate the demand in ways the target state can comprehend and comply with. To understand all this is to understand the deeper meaning of Carl von Clausewitz’s insistence on the linkage between war and politics, and the need to recognize the relationship between the stake and the scale of effort required to achieve it. It is also to understand, beyond a superficial level, the meaning of Sun Tzu’s insistence on knowing one’s self, and knowing one’s enemy.

One should note here, too, that democracies engaging in coercion will face a challenge inherent in the structure of their system of governance: Communication is complicated by multiple power centers—built by design to check one another—and myriad interest groups. Indeed, bureaucratic (and organizational) models of decision-making are at the center of many scholars’ critiques of US foreign policy, and deterrence in general.

Tami Davis Biddle

—posted 167 days ago

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Springing toward Summer.

Now that we know what happen(s)ed in March and April in the City of Roses, it might maybe be time to start figuring out what will having been happened in May and June?

—or Betty Martin.

Contents may settle during shipping; void where prohibited by law; also available in Spanish. —There’s work yet to do: the ebook’s out, sure, but the paperback’s got a ways yet to go—paperbacks, actually, since I’ve got to final the final edits and reflow and redo the lot, and I’m still dithering over whether to stay with 5.06 × 7.81, or goose it up to 6 × 9. But that’s all background, busywork, gears to grind while the rest of the cognition engine’s whirring away at what happens next. —I have a structure (see above), but that just tells me where to look, and when. I’m not yet sure just what we’ll see. (Meanwhile.)

—posted 177 days ago

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of the series.

The particular form I’m talking about is probably clearest in the Foundation tales, though you can trace it out in almost all the others. Put simply, the first story poses a problem and finally offers some solution. But in the next story, what was the solution of the first story is now the problem. In general, the solution for story N becomes the problem for story N+1. This allows the writer to go back and critique his or her own ideas as they develop over time. Often, of course, the progression isn’t all that linear. Sometimes a whole new problem will assert itself in the writer’s concern—another kind of critique of past concerns. Sometimes you’ll rethink things in stories more than one back. But the basic factor is the idea of a continuous, open ended, self-critical dialogue with yourself.

Samuel R. Delany

—posted 192 days ago

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of brevity.

In brief, the story we might have written had things been only a little different would have told of bravery, wonder, fun, laughter, love, anger, fear, tears, reconciliation, a certain wisdom, a turn of chance, and a certain resignation—the stuff of many fine tales over the ages. But in those weeks Pryn did not once think of dragons.

Thus, we review them briefly.

Samuel R. Delany

—posted 200 days ago

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of enchantment.

There’re so many levels to enchantment in reading these texts. A lot of it has to do with sublime experiences, and this feeling of being connected to something bigger than yourself, but also being special within that framework. But often that specialness is a form of privilege, and that privilege comes at the expense of other people, and if you pause and think about it, it’s really uncomfortable really quickly—or if you don’t come from that background and you’re reading these kinds of texts, maybe you figure it out with a shock at a certain point, or you detect it early on and are not interested in these texts at all.

Maria Sachiko Cecire

—posted 208 days ago

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