Sunday, November 21, 2004

I come bearing gifts, and luckily they're wipe-clean

One-page comics adaptation of the first part of Thaddeus' short story serial below. Pdf format only
Art and adaptation by Withiel, original story by Thaddeus Glands.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The Painter


Decker stood in the entranceway and allowed his eyes to adjust to the gloom. The room was roughly square and looked a bit like the inside of a church, although there was no altar. At the other end of the room were two doors, one at either side. On the floor were many hard wooden benches. Many of these benches were covered in sheets of paper, and on these were many drawings and sketches.

He looked up and noticed that the walls, too were covered with paintings and drawings; fantastical, surreal imagery that held the eye in a vice-like grip and would not let go.

“Welcome, Wanderer.”

Decker tore his eyes from the paintings on the walls and looked to one of the corners. A girl of about nineteen stood there, working with great speed and dexterity on a painting of and owl with five wings composing its eleventh symphony. The girl’s hair stood out madly from her head and she was wearing elaborate robes. What struck Decker most about her, however, were her eyes. They shone brightly out of her head and seemed to pierce through his skull and out the other side. At first he thought that the girl might be mad, but then a thought jumped into his head; this might be the sanest person he would ever meet.

The girl peered at him with her burning eyes.

“Oh, you look very much like him. Very much like him indeed. I’d be careful if I were you, for that one is deep trouble, and you should avoid being associated with him. But from your looks, that may not be possible.” The girl smiled. “Yes, the resemblance is too close. Trouble will come to you, I fear.”

“What? Who are you talking about?”

“You’re late, you know,” she said. “But that’s alright. I thought I wasn’t going to finish it.”

“Finish what?”

The girl said nothing, but simply turned back to her musical owl. Decker wondered what she was talking about, but then looked to her right. On the wall next to her was a large painting of a tall man with long brown hair wearing a hat and a trench coat. The hat and the coat were the colour of twilight. Images flicked and flitted across the fabric of his coat, but could not be made out. Decker knew exactly who the man in the painting was. It was him.

The painting showed him walking down a street of dream, through mists of scrambled thought and lurking insanity. Behind his doppelgänger was a shadowy figure, half-concealed by the screaming, tumbling mists. From his open hand tumbled a few grains of sand, which became part of the mists, even as they left his shadowy palm. The figure looked familiar, like an old, half-forgotten acquaintance. Decker looked back at the image of himself. Perched on his shoulder was a raven.

“Nevermore,” whispered Decker. The girl laughed, a musical sound that seemed to become part of, and draw its vitality from the many images in the room. Decker looked back at her.

“Who are you? Where am I?”

“The wrong questions, those are,” answered the girl. “No doubt you’ll discover that in time.”

“I don’t understa-“

“Eleven,” said the girl suddenly.

“What?”

“Be wary of it. Yes, very wary indeed! Do you know what it signifies?”

Decker looked up at the raven. Did it just turn its head and look back at him? He could not tell.

“Death,” he whispered.

The girl laughed again. “But for whom?” she said softly and looked down at her hands. Suddenly she looked up again, at something behind Decker.

He felt a hand placed on his shoulder.


-T

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Sometimes, when I am feeling particularly masochistic, I sit and watch history being unmade.

How many times do we need to be told that, not only are the '60s over, but they never should have happened in the first place? Society is reverting to its pre-revolutionary form, and the Young Leaders of Tomorrow have already donned their tailored suits, picked up their briefcases, and are toddling along the yellow brick road to Power, Achievement, and a Happy, Productive Life. The older generation grow more reactionary, as the older generation are wont to do, and their tie-wearing spawn "rebel" against the percieved "liberal" mores of "wishy-washy" society, secretly pleased that their parents approve. Their future selves already run the world, full of self-righteousness and camera smiles. And they have bombs, and riot police, and dress codes, and the hearts and minds of the young.

They don't want you to think.

Education has been reduced to rote-learning, reality television is a mental trap, freeing viewers from the travails of having to use their imaginations to predict an outcome. Evangelists wipe the minds of the weak and credulous, who sport their acronymic wristbands and smug celibacy-before-marriage like dogs proudly displaying thier collars. It's as if thought has become unfashionable: those who question are refuted by platitudes disguised as certainties:

"But everyone knows Communism can never work!"
"Don't be stupid; Winston Churchill was a great man."

I have vowed to violently masturbate into the hastily-removed spleen of the next person to mention the words "family values" or "unnatural" in my hearing.
There's no doubt about it: the State as Corporation and its crony Evangelical Religion are winning. After all, they have the money and the guns and the government and God what have we got to challenge that?

I'll tell you what we've got.

We have Art and Beauty and Love and Truth. We have a flourishing counterculture that's more alive than anything the mainstream has produced in the last twenty years. We have semiotic sorcerers and guerilla literary theorists. We have Chaos Majick. We have sexual deviancy. WE have the talent and the information-delivery media to reprogramme the minds of Young Corporate Leaders and drive them, frothing, into the sea. We have memetic attacks and the vote. Most importantly, we have much better hair.

I don't think they can ultimately limit the human psyche to any meaningful extent. Anyone can be made to think. And once they've started, it becomes harder to stop. We're not a cohesive political group. We have no parliamentary agenda. There's no threat to your children here.

This isn't about politics, or globalisation, or even plain nostalgia. This is about reclaiming the human mind.

Worth a try?


~Withiel

Fast Fiction

The trains hate this part of the journey.

The very act of leaving their tunnels to be exposed to the grim light of Perivale causes them to slow and strain between the blocky houses and piles of refuse.
They sing to themselves, an oily-sweet music of groaning couplings and whining wheels. It doesn't help. The journey trails and drags to the passengers, too, and the very soul seems somehow sordid by Northolt.

It's all to do with sex.

Even the Underground symbol itself is a sign of penetration; the warm, dark tunnel of red, slid through effortlessly by the serpentine blue bar of subtle strength. The uncocooned part of the journey, then, is the return to the prosaic after the Great Ecstatic Mystery, apres petit mort.

Post coitum omne animal est triste

The undead genitalia-by-proxy of the bygone engineers are intended to journey through the long dark noisy spaces below ground. They wither and shrivel in the sunlight, even the tarmac-filter ersatz of Ruislip. The proper authorities know this, of couse, and try to make their wheeled Freudian charges feel at home by adding the occasional arch or tunnel over the exposed track. This is, to the trains, and unwelcome act of unsatisfying masturbation, and adds to the general feeling of indignity that seems to permeate the journey.

At the height of the moralistic campaigns of the '80s, a young vicar in the employ of the Civil Service was sent to convince the lustful locomotives that their behaviour was unacceptable. In order that they would not prove to be a bad influence on the young. He was not seen again.

It just goes to show, you don't fuck with the trains.

~Withiel

Open Sky #1 is compete, and awaiting your viewing pleasure.

WARNING: May contain pirates and/or robots.
pdf me!
html me!


~Withiel

Monday, November 08, 2004

Story Time

I wrote this quite a while ago, but as I haven't posted any real content on here in some time, I thought I'd stick it up for you to read.

Decker stepped out of the alleyway as the last embers of the Sun's fire fell below the skyline. Off in the distance, he could hear the rumble of the Gears as they turned in their endless toil.

He knew that Decker was not his real name, but he could not remember what that was. He also knew that the place he was in was called the Dreamscape, and more specifcially the City, but he did not know how he knew this.

As he looked out onto the empty street, the lamps flashed on, one by one, filling with incandescent fire-mist. The haphazard shadows they cast brought another dimension of unreality to the buildings lining the street, buildings which already had an eerily chimeric quality to them. Down to one end of the street was a square, at the centre of which was a structure that looked like the inside of a kaleidoscope. The very tip of it had caught the last rays of the sun, and light was cascading down it in many colours.

The other end of the street was shrouded in mist, but out of this mist poked a clock tower. The clock face was made of glass and shone with an eerie blue light. The clock proclaimed the hour to be eleven past ninety in the evening, although Decker did not understand how this could be, as it had no hands. He was suddenly overcome with a fierce desire to see the rest of this strange building and made his way toward it and into the fog.

In the fog he could see nothing but the bright haze of the lamps and he could hear nothing but the echo of his own footsteps and the constant dim thunder of the Gears. Nevertheless, he was sure of his direction and continued at a steady pace whilst the misty ghost-lamps floated past him.

Slowly, the building began to loom out of the encroaching mist, the clock tower with its spectral clock high above him. The doors were thick and wooden and set in an impressive gothic archway. As he approached, they swung slowly open, revealing a gloomy interior.

Decker paused, then strode inside.


---

I may write more of this later, and do some accompanying art. Time will tell.

-T

Sunday, November 07, 2004

"Semantic Bandwagon" is not a Googlewhack.

"mar·riage ( P ) (mrj)
n.

1.
1. The legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife.
2. The state of being married; wedlock.
3. A common-law marriage..."

Hmp. As you may have guessed, I don't much like dictionary.com. This definition matches up to my battered old Chambers' 20th Century dictionary, but lead me to wonder why...

Pedantry aside, it seems that this whole "gay marriage" debate is based on a semantic rather than a pragmatic basis: the dictionary definition of the word describes its common linguistic usages, rather than necessarily a precise meaning. To be blunt:

Why do we have the word "marriage" anyway?

It seems that what is being described here is the legitimisation of sexual relations by a State-approved contract (Capital letters for Big Scary Organisation), or, in layman's English: it's a big bit of paper from your superiors with "Permission to Fuck" written on it. Now, I personally think that there's something a bit wrong with people who need to have their bedroom antics approved by anyone else, but disregarding this for the moment, from a government's point of view, extra regulation is a good thing. If the government doesn't ban homosexuality entirely, then it must endorse official partnerships for same-sex couples, purely for consistency's sake. Unless, of course, that government would like to ban homosexuality but daren't.

At this point I emphatically do not point to the United States of America. There's not much more to say. I'm for gay marriage as long as there's an institution of marriage at all, but I don't see any reason, other than that of administrative ease, for an institution of marriage in the first place. Whatever your Corporate Oppressors do tomorrow, hope they do it consistently.

~Withiel

I have returned, full of vim and vigour...

and in my renewed virility I bring gifts. Specifically, a refutation of the Argument From Para-Logic, hot off the press.

What do you mean, "You what"? Just read it.

The trouble with being an atheist is that there's an incontrovertible argument for the existence of God. It's not even as if the aforesaid argument is little-known or convoluted: it's very simple, and it goes like this: "all arguments disproving God are false, because God being God (with a Capital Letter), is supremely perfect and transcends human logic, and therefore he exists."

This tends to be a bit of a conversation-killer.

At first it seems that this argument is incontrovertible proof for lots of things; including the Great Sky-Goat with Bells On. This:
a) sounds silly, and
b) is an argument proving that every possible concept exists.

Which leads to a re-evaluation of the word "exists" (as the above is clearly untrue), which is distinctly unhelpful. Actually, the Sky-Goat is not a good candidate for existing due to para-logic, unless its properties include "supremely perfect", and "infinite". And if they do, then it counts as "God" anyway.
This is because a Sky-Goat is (relatively) easily comprehensible, and can be evaluated by physical means. (Is there a great big goat with bells on in the sky? If not, then the Sky-Goat doesn't exist.)

However, God is by definition non-physical, and is indeed so far above human intellect and perception that he isn't necessarily obvious to us even if He does exist. Which seems to lead straight to theism. All sub-arguments at this point are answered with para-logic. However, this raises some interesting questions about (mono)theists themselves. If God is indeed para-logical, how to worshippers understand Him?

As best they can, through a Holy Book.

The question is whether you can trust a being with the capacity to fool you utterly as far as you can throw him? (Which, given the aforementioned non-physicality, isn't that far). The answer is that God is said to be perfectly good. There is no reason that moral perfection implies human-level goodness, however. A perfect moral code, already described as beyond human comprehension, couldn't possibly be described by a simple human adjective such as "good". If the answer is that "with God, all things are possible", then there's a problem, in that you've just completely discarded human logical thought: if the above statement is true then no possibility, however improbable, can be disregarded.

The Great Sky-Goat rears its ugly head yet again, as does the idea of a Divine Deceiver. You may attempt to salvage the situation with an, "Ah, but God is also perfectly Good", and THEN you'll have to explain how one goes about knowing that in the first place. With an omnipotent being, it's impossible to be sure, unless you've predefined the aforesaid being to fit in with a moral code that will be on your side, as it were.

Therefore, any concept of a God who is a demiurgic pancreator*, and supremely perfect and morally good has to be one constructed to fit a pre-existing hole in human logical construction rather than something that could exist. Furthermore, a supremely perfect being must then surely smell and feel perfect: but God is non-physical, and so doesn't posess there qualities. Although it does follow (and fit in with conventional monotheist thought) that therefore physical presence is an imperfection and total non-physicality is a divine perfection, it raises the question of perception. "Perceptibility" seems to be a legitimate divine perception, thereby bypassing the claim that God is only perfect in those things that it is possibly to be perfect in**, and futhermore seems to be something that God is not perfect in, or He doens't exist. To whit, that an unclear instruction booklet, say, is not very perceptible, in that it is possible to mistake the meaning for other things: we can also get it "wrong" about God. Moreover, it does not even seem as if it is possible to mistake God for, say, a Great Sky-Goat with Bells On, because he's supremely perfect. Therefore, by definition, it shouldn't be possible to percieve an existing God wrongly.

But we can.

Manifestly, people believe all kinds of things about God. Either all well-defined religion goes, or God does. Any other response is a logical contradiction. In fact, the fact that I'm writing this disproves any sort of traditional monotheist God.
Finally, the existence of a discussion between an atheist and a monotheist on these sort of terms proves that the theist believes in human logic anyway. Which makes the use of the Para-Logical argument a bit futile.

*Creator of Everything
**which invalidates the "supreme" bit in "supremely perfect being"

Thank you, and goodnight,
Withiel

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Technical Difficulties

I apologise for what undoubtedly appears to be (and, in fact, is) more filler, but we're all too busy to entertain you right now.

Withiel, Thaddeus and Talyn are busy applying to universities. Withiel is also busy running a poster campaign for the Bisexual Semiotic Pollution Society, writing a graphic novel, and nursing his various hangovers. He and I have put any attempt to bring out the first edition of UHM (Unheard Magazine or simply "um...") on indefinite hiatus. I am busy rehearsing for four shows, two gigs and a concert, as well as running publicity for The Young Theatre (www.youngtheatre.org.uk), whilst also attempting to compose something vaguely meaningful for any of the bands I'm supposedly a member of (at least two of which also include Withiel) and (apparently) trying to break into radio script-writing. Oh yes, whilst teaching four guitar students per week and working forty-two hours per week as a lab technician. Thaddeus is busy trying to regain consciousness, and Talyn is busy scripting/designing/filming several non-budget experimental shorts. Mr. Hazlenut has no excuse to my knowledge, however mercifully seems to have stopped posting anyway.

As soon as I've got enough "spare" time left to sleep in, and I've stopped crying, and I can't find anything mind-altering to consume, I promise some deeper insight into, for want of a better word, stuff. The same, of course, goes for Withiel, Thaddeus and Talyn.

In the meantime, however, since Withiel seems to have forgotten it, pray visit his new online gallery at www.withiel.tk and tell all your friends too.

/Veins