Tag Archives | Literature

Mitt Romney’s Favorite Novel Is L. Ron Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth

Just when America thought it couldn’t be any more confused by Mormonism, Romney went and said this. To be fair, he added that his favorite book overall (nonfiction included) is the bible, an answer which all Republican presidential candidates must give from now to eternity. A nugget from the New York Times five years ago:

“What’s your favorite novel?” is a perennial campaign question, the answer to which presumably gives insight into leadership. A “Moby-Dick” lover may understand the perils of obsessively chasing of a goal. A fan of “To Kill a Mockingbird” may well focus on racial justice.

When asked his favorite novel in an interview shown yesterday on the Fox News Channel, Mitt Romney pointed to “Battlefield Earth,” a novel by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. That book was turned into a film by John Travolta, a Scientologist. A spokesman said later it was one of Mr.

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Occult Inspirations

Bulwer Lytton

Trust Mark Frauenfelder of BoingBoing to persuade erudite author Joscelyn Godwin to choose his favorite novels inspired by the occult. Here Godwin and writing partner Guido Mina di Sospiro pick five in addition to their own The Forbidden Book:

Zanoni, by Bulwer Lytton, is the premier occult novel of the nineteenth century. Lytton was a novelist and playwright, a dandy, a politician, and eventually a Baron. He is supposed to have been initiated into a German Rosicrucian order, and to have been in the Orphic Circle, a London group that used child clairvoyants. Dickens and Disraeli were his friends, but they didn’t follow his arcane interests. For instance, they weren’t with him when French occult author and ceremonial magus Eliphas Levi, in Lytton’s presence, evoked the spirit of the Greek Neopythagorean philosopher Apollonius of Tyana on a London rooftop. Zanoni is a description of initiations by one who has evidently passed through them.

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Dante’s Inferno In ‘The Graphic Canon’

Graphic Canon Panel[Disinfo ed.'s note: This week I had the distinct pleasure of meeting up with Russ Kick for the launch of his epic series of classic literature anthologized in graphic form, The Graphic Canon. Although it's not published by disinformation, I'd encourage all disinfonauts to check it out; the quality is self-evident through and through. Russ and his publisher, Dan Simon, kindly agreed to let us give you another taste (also check out The Book of Revelation if you missed it previously).]

The Inferno is far and away the most well known, influential part of The Divine Comedy. No one can resist the inventiveness and appropriateness of the punishments suffered by sinners. Hypocrites wear outwardly beautiful cloaks that are lined with lead. Fortune-tellers have their heads on backward. Gluttons lie in putrid mud like pigs. Those who were violent against others boil in a river of blood. Flatterers, meanwhile, spend eternity submerged in shit.… Read the rest

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Richard Dawkins: Why I Want All Our Children to Read the King James Bible

King James BibleRichard Dawkins writes in the Guardian:

A native speaker of English who has never read a word of the King James Bible is verging on the barbarian. In the week after the 2011 census, my UK Foundation commissioned Ipsos MORI to poll those who had ticked the Christian box. Among other things, we asked them to identify the first book of the New Testament from a choice of Matthew, Genesis, Acts of the Apostles, Psalms, “Don’t know” and “Prefer not to say”. Only 35% chose Matthew and 39% chose “Don’t know” (and 1%, mysteriously, chose “Prefer not to say”). These figures, to repeat, don’t refer to British people at large but only to those who self-identified, in the census, as Christians.

European history, too, is incomprehensible without an understanding of the warring factions of Christianity and the book over whose subtleties of interpretation they were so ready to slaughter and torture each other.

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The Politics of Steampunk

Steampunk Mask

Photo: Jim (CC)

I thought it would be interesting to continue the discussion from my previous post on “Steampunk and Anarchism” (found here). This next article by Magpie Killjoy explores the intersection of radical politics and steampunk fiction and aesthetic Via TOR.com:

I first consciously got into steampunk back in 2004. It was the perfect aesthetic lens for my interests: history, mad science, genre fiction, the underclasses, and radical politics. It was steampunk, really, that helped me realize how awesome it is to be classy yet poor, that we can celebrate individual and communal ingenuity without babbling on about how great this or that nation or empire might be.

Now, seven years later, I’m constantly amazed by how many people, including some of the most die-hard steampunk adherents, seem to believe that steampunk has nothing to offer but designer clothes. There are people (a minority, I would argue, just a loud one) who act like steampunk is simply a brassy veneer with which to coat the mainstream.

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Anarchism and Steampunk

Aerial HouseExploring the radical roots of a popular science fiction genre. Via Airships, Anarchists, & Anachronisms:

Steampunk began as a radical satirical form of fiction, but today it encompasses much more. What precisely is steampunk? As the editors of Steampunk Magazine explain, steampunk is “a vibrant culture of DIY crafters, writers, artists, and other creative types, each with their own slightly different answer to that question.” By its diverse nature, steampunk resists definition. Furthermore, in the ever evolving nature of steampunk, “as each new iteration of the idea be­comes more ambitious, the mutations are delightfully limitless and unpredictable.”

This definition seems in line with Rachel A. Bowser and Brian Croxall’s statement that, “Steampunk is more about instability than any other single characteristic. It resists fixedness by unsettling the categories from which it cribs.” Yet, the authors do provide a definition for those looking for the quintessential steampunk. They write:

That being said, one common element arguably shared by all steampunk texts, objects, or performances is the one on which this journal is predicated: the invocation of Victorianism.

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William Gibson Answers Readers’ Questions on Intelligence Communities, Style and More

WilliamGibson

Photo: Gonzo Bonzo (CC)

Here are some notes from an older (September 2010) questions and answers session from William Gibson’s Zero History tour. Via Technoccult:

Asked about the intelligence communities in his books

I don’t want anyone to think I’ve gone “Tom Clancy” but what you find is that you have fans in every line of work. How reliable those narrators are I don’t know, but they tell a good story.

Asked about humor in his work.

Neuromancer was not without a comedic edge. My cyberpunk colleagues and I back in our cyberpunk rat hole sniggered mightily as we slapped our knees.

But writers can’t have more than two hooks. “Gritty, punky,” sure. “Gritty, punky, funny” doesn’t work.

I asked him about the slogan “Never in fashion, always in style” because I read that slogan on his blog and never found out what company that slogan actually belonged to.

Aero Leathers in Scotland.

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Groundbreaking Experimental Author Christine Brooke-Rose Dies At 88

thruPioneering, yet little known by the general public, in her mind-bending works, she “exploded the fixed architecture of the master narrative.” The Guardian writes:

One of Britain’s most radical exponents of experimental fiction, the marvelously playful and difficult novelist was fond of the device of omission.

In her 1968 novel Between, she left out the verb “to be” throughout, to stress the narrator’s disoriented sense of personal identity – the year before George Perec’s novel La Disparition omitted the letter “e”. She left out the word “I” from her autobiographical novels, instead describing the narrator as “the old lady”.

Her first truly experimental novel, Out (1964), was narrated by a white character facing racial discrimination in the aftermath of a nuclear war, with pale skin now indicating radiation poisoning and dark skin health.

As a Women’s Auxiliary Air Force officer during the second world war, she worked at Bletchley Park, assessing intercepted German communications.

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The Invention Of The Meritocracy

rise-of-meritocracy-coverThe New Inquiry unearths the 1959 work of sci-fi satire that arguably coined the term — now used in earnest by many pundits to describe and defend our current society:

Michael Young’s The Rise of the Meritocracy begins in 2034 with a puzzled member of the commanding elite of the future wondering why in the world various discontented factions of the meritocratic society could be contemplating a general strike.

The more plausible meritocracy seems, the more self-righteous and intransigent the “meritorious” will become. In other words, the obvious shortcomings of the meritocracy myth don’t prevent beneficiaries of the status quo from taking ideological comfort in the idea.

There are inescapable problems of definition and measurement. What counts as merit? Who decides, and how is this decision objective? What sort of tests can be devised to isolate “merit” from some inherently privileged position in society that facilitates it? Doesn’t power redefine merit in terms of itself, and what it needs to preserve itself?

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