Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Free vampire story for halloween

Click for a free vampire story, The girl who was not a vampire. Fair enough, my heroine is not a vampire, but there is definitely a vampire in the story.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Recipe for a happy marriage

Milton Marmalade's recipe for a happy marriage:

(1) Find someone you fancy and who loves you despite your being a bit of an idiot sometimes;

(2) When (s)he pushes your buttons, bite your tongue (this too shall pass);

(3) When (s)he's in the mood, give her (him) a good time.

That's it.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Increase levity using Milton Marmalade's Remarkably Silly Stories for Grown-ups

If you take yourself lightly enough you may one day learn to fly.

Milton Marmalade's Remarkably Silly Stories for Grown-ups front cover

Milton Marmalade's Remarkably Silly Stories for Grown-ups are here to help you into a light frame of mind. They are mostly happy tales with just a bit of necessary darkness.

This is a slim volume of strange tales which struggle with universal questions like the meaning of now, infinity, and why Wolf fell in love with Redcap. The girl who was not a vampire (complete story available on this web site - just click the link) celebrates the condition of being ordinary. Chocolatina is a satire on the odd puritanism that informs some New Age diets and at the same time a paean in praise of chocolate. I have also sneaked in a few poems, mostly silly and one just a little bit erotic (not enough to make you spurt your takeaway coffee in public, although what you do in private is your own affair). In a deliberate protest against the decayed mores of the age, the poems rhyme. A literary tapas time for curly minds everywhere.

At a mere US$5.99 (€5.99, £4.99), a bargain stocking-filler for chuckles over a mince pie. Available from Amazon worldwide and good bookstores everywhere.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

We are still birds, and children of the sky

gloomy fish

Swims a gloomy fish through muddy weeds,
There hides the flickering tail-fin of despair;
The bottom-dweller on detritus feeds:
A Something sees all this, and is not there.

Between the half-lit gloomy depths and air
Exists a surface shimmering and free:
Beneath this subtle boundary despair
Drifts through an imaginary sea.

We looked below and fancied ourselves fishes;
Our vision caught, we understood not why
Our airy state had turned to brine-worn wishes;
We are still birds, and children of the sky.


This is the only serious poem (leaving aside the slightly erotic one) in my forthcoming book of poems and stories, Milton Marmalade's Remarkably Silly Stories for Grown-ups. I shall post a silly poem on this blog soon, together with news of the new book, which should be available in an inexpensive edition in time for Christmas. Suitable for anyone with a curly mind.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

This is a draft cover for my new collection of short stories and poems. The revised title will be Milton Marmalade's Remarkably Silly Stories for Grown-ups, and the cover will be very stylish when it's finished.

Here is the copyright notice, because I thought the usual copyright notice a bit dated:

Remarkably Silly Stories are all copyright, all rights reserved, and if you steal my stories and I later get famous my lawyers will certainly be after you. 
My lawyers are called Bloodfang & Wolf and they have a reputation. If you go into their office on a full moon you will find yourself at the front desk where a very pretty woman sits. In one corner is a carved wooden candlestick holding a fat off-white church candle, its tiny flame guttering ineffectually. 
You see the woman by the moonlight streaming through the gothic windows. She is wearing a black dress calculated to show off her figure, in which roundness in all the right places is emphasised by an almost unfeasably small waist. She has raven hair and her eyes are pools of darkness. Though she is beautiful you feel for a moment as though you are staring into the soul of an animal. 
You ask to see one of the partners but she tells you ever so sweetly that since it is a full moon neither of them are in. However she assures you that your case is in the best hands and anyone who steals your work will be sure to regret it. Somewhere outside you hear a scream which you think may be a fox or maybe not. 
Because she is smiling at you, and also because her low cut dress suggests breasts of surpassing wonder, you think about asking her out on a date. The moonlight casts a glint on one of her unusually sharp canine teeth.
You lose your nerve and find yourself out on the pavement again wondering quite what happened. The fox, or whatever it was, screams again, briefly, then there is silence. 
Check back again soon for updates on the book, which will be pocket-size and as affordable as printing costs will allow.

Friday, 14 September 2018

The world turned upside-down

Ibn 'Arabi refers to The Reality, meaning (as far as I can tell) that God is objectively real and implying that our subjective states are just that - their reality is partial and dependent on something larger.

In our post-Enlightenment world we tend to view the world the other way up, as though our subjective beliefs were the touchstone of reality. We see, as St Paul says, 'through a glass darkly.' Or as Xenophanes has it, 'Only the gods see things as they are, but for us it is a woven web of guesses' (cited in Popper, The World of Parmenides). We are so habituated to seeing the world as it were upside-down that we take materialist explanations (chemical changes in the brain etc.) as more real than the experiences themselves. We think we are phenomenologists but our post-Enlightenment discourse is full of mechanistic hypothesis.

It is difficult to think outside the materialist paradigm. If we met something greater than ourselves we would reduce that to a chemical change in the brain, even though we know that experience forms and reforms the brain through neural plasticity. Causation works in both directions. Delusions and hallucinations occur, but not everything that we experience is illusory. Sometimes we don't know which way is up.

For this reason we don't understand Parmenides. His Way of Truth is his approach to reality, and his Way of Illusion (a reputedly large work now mostly lost) described what we would think of as science.

Does that mean we should abandon science? Assuredly not, because that which belongs in the material realm can correctly be dealt with by the methods of the material realm. Fantastical notions are still subject to appropriate demolition.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Some thoughts about pedantry

Pedants enjoy deprecating 'bad' uses of English. I am myself one such, acutely aware of 'correct' and 'incorrect' language.

I was brought up, for example, to believe that the word 'deprecate' meant to curse or abominate, and that 'deprecate' was often wrongly used when 'depreciate,' to belittle, was intended. I had a vision of cursing with bell, book and candle.

Now, however, the Oxford Dictionary, while acknowledging that the origin of 'deprecate' is from roots meaning 'to pray against,' states that it means 'to express disapproval of' or 'to depreciate.' Another piece of pedantry dies, like dried seaweed on the shore of usage.

As has always been the case, language mutates and diverges. An early English king had to send an interpreter to accompany a mission to Northumbria. Reality TV, Facebook and the fact that English is no longer the official language of just one island mean that we have the conditions in which the only things holding the English language together are precisely the media in which all its variations are expressed.

Might I recommend David Crystal's very entertaining The Stories of English? Some patterns of speech deprecated in their time are now normal even for pedants, and the earlier preferred alternatives sound stilted or odd.

Crystal argues that in Chaucer no single regional accent had more prestige than another. The precedence of Received Pronunciation I think has to do with political and commercial power being centred in the South East of England, the dominance of the Midlands during the Industrial Revolution not having lasted long enough to make more northern accents associated with power and success. Needless to say there are many regional dialects such as in the Caribbean that have never had prestige despite having their own poets.

It is worth remembering that Chaucer was himself establishing an underdog language (English) as an acceptable vehicle for serious literature, and Robert Burns tried to do the same for Scots English.

The function of language is to convey meaning. If it does so unambiguously then one can argue that it has done its job. If Shakespeare bent the rules it was probably because he was looking for a particular effect on the ear, and that has to do with the music of language. Some scholars have suggested that early pre-humans might have sung rather than spoken, and it is also the case that we hear repeated spoken phrases as music, so the effect of language is both to convey meaning and to convey a feeling.

If we are looking for quality in language then we need to look beyond what happens to be fashionably 'correct' in our small corner of the vast English-speaking world. Rather we need to write and speak for clarity, and for the all the techniques of rhythm, assonance and rhetoric that make language a pleasure to read and to hear.

Meanwhile the majestically protean English language ebbs and flows leaving us mere pedants behind like bleached driftwood in the littoral zone.