Archive for books

Trumpian Economic Report 2020

Posted in Book Reports, Cartoon Comics, Commercial Corporations, Cooperative collaboration, Crafts, Critical Commentary of Civilization, jobs, Legal / Laws, Multimedia Communication, news, Organic Development, portraits, relationships, Services, Sales or Trade, Society Clubs or Social Groups, Sustainability, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2019 by Drogo

Artisan Vs. Commercial Market Selling

By Drogo Empedocles – January 2020

In a Trumpian economy most of us are forced to be beggars even when we offer work in return for money, due to an excess of labor not needed or desired by the rich. Trickle-down Reaganomics has failed us, and is still being pushed on us by Trump and all corporate politicians who sold out. We must resist falling to the attacks causing the destruction of our lives and plan to not just survive but rebuild a better world for our children.

Trump’s tax plan benefits the rich, and diminishes the middle class. The estate tax is gone now so that rich children can inherit all their parent’s wealth freely without earning it, while poor children suffer without deserving it. Personal exemptions have been removed. You can still itemize donations, but the standard deduction bar was raised with an overall .5% tax rate reduction. Those basic changes might negligibly benefit lower incomes, but average to upper middle class households are losing thousands on whole due to other changes in the tax plan.

I lost some financial support despite my working through the holidays on several projects. I won’t be able to do as much free or low-budget work with others, until i can secure more income to cover my own expenses at least. my income is only $700 a year recently, so i feel like i get by with quite a little actually. I only currently use one sound program most weeks, and focus on word (writing) programs, which have glitches between formats, but i am able to publish that way. So for over a year i have only been using two editing programs.

Most people should know that any work has a price; and so my work is for sale, as with any artist; we need means to live so we try to sell prints and originals if we can. If people do not know how to want to share money with others, i am not sure how i can help them except to remind them by bringing it up sometimes. I focus on my work more than sales, because i do it for the work not the sales. If i am asked to be more of a sales person i would not do it. i dont know if stating that i will keep doing my own work the way i want no matter what will reduce interest in investing in me or increase it long term; but i really do not see many options to sustain my career legacy. I may get some temporary side jobs like working for Census, but even if i got a huge increase in income what matters to me is what is created with what i have ultimately.

SCOD social capital has increased overall i believe, which is hard to define since it is not income based. I am close to founding a tristate network for hosting art, music, and writing events; but the design is mostly socially dependent, using properties in WV, MD, and VA. The financial components like ticket sales and payments are totally based on how many people i can get to coordinate together. we currently have several proposals still being formed, for multimedia broadcasting and sharing local events, i can pursue these negotiations without financial losses. ive felt on the verge of something big over the years, but i never know when the tipping point will come because … and this is the hard part to talk about, the complex dynamics of partnerships.

I am proud to ‘beg’ with something of quality to offer in return. When you buy my work, you support many other people; because I collaborate with and buy from other artists and friends. To anyone that thinks I am begging by being honest that I do not earn much, I argue that bragging about how good your work is and saying you have been ‘financially successful’ by taking more than you need is worse than begging because to me that could be considered just as unworthy of support. Getting money from other people is not proof of deserving money, it is simply how people pay their bills. Also I am not just begging because I offer plenty of services and products in various fields. I am simply saying why I could use more income, as opposed to those who do not need more for basic living. I have many jobs, and i do them. I tend to give things away for free and make reasonable deals to work with lower income people.  I apply to better paying jobs, but I do not get them, and when i have had them before i cannot keep them for psychological reasons, one being i cannot stand authoritarian control because i desire to fight back against bosses the same as I would with any willful cruel or ignorant jackass; but when we trade self-respect for money we suppress our resentment which can fester and build to a break-down or illness.

I will not spend time defending myself by arguing against assholes, they are not worth my time. I am too expensive for them because they cannot pay me enough to work for them, and it is easy enough to block them and delete their petty comments. Their attempts to troll me are pathetic when i can shut them down easily. It is amazing that people will ‘friend’ me only to wait for chances to attack, without ever once being kind.  These are the type of people that would tell homeless street musicians to “get a job” too.

If fees are low enough with time i can advertise more without major losses on more websites; in hopes to get at least a few sales. Social reception is usually less than enthusiastic on a whole from audiences on platforms. Amazon is the best example ive had because ive been using it for years, i struggle to get a few sales a year even when i post the links and talk about them etc. I know it is not because my books are not as good as ‘Diary of a Whimpy Kid’ or ‘Captain Underpants’ which are best sellers, it has to do with commercial control of the market at the high levels. I mean sure we could argue whose art or story sucks more, but with enough exposure anti-authoritarian subversive books like ours do well with children and ne’er-do-wellz, which are a large portion of the population.

Ironically most of the people who buy my books are part of the vanishing middle class; not the lowest or the highest earning. There are more lower middle class people so they do buy more books, compared to the few upper middle class people who are interested in my books. I have had people with large incomes talk with me for hours, and i gave them books and they still did not buy any, so spending money has more to do with personalities than wealth; which is why those with less wealth will spend more if they have an income, which creates financial flow and opportunities in an economy.

All of these opinions of observations are reasons why many of us are not satisfied with status-quo commercial politics. We want more leaders like Bernie Sanders and progressives on the right or left who can be held to account by their voters who are also the majority of their campaign financing. We cannot afford allowing corporate sell-outsto further rig our own economy, environment, and country against us.

[ see also Lucas Chancel, World Inequality Lab ]

 

Arts & Literature Seasonal Gathering

Posted in Education / Schools, Events / Celebrations, Individuals / Members / Monsters / Creative Writing, jobs, news, Services, Sales or Trade, Society Clubs or Social Groups, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2018 by Drogo

Day, Month, Year, Time – Arts & Literature Seasonal Gathering – You are invited to the Victorian Townhouse of the Honorable S.P. (near Market Street) __ Third Street, downtown Frederick, MD; to read anything of your choice for apx.10 minutes, and our informal group will discuss for about the same time as the reading. Tea will be served.

Democratic voting on name of group, which selections to read, whether to record, and date of next meeting.

[for actual current details contact SCOD members]

Self-Publishing Paradox

Posted in Book Reports, Commercial Corporations, Crafts, Critical Commentary of Civilization, jobs, Languages, Pub Library, Services, Sales or Trade, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2018 by Drogo

How DC area book stores handle major publishers vs. local authors in 2018.

Book stores are still stuck in the old mentality with major publishers, rather than allow the flooded local markets to flourish with support. Retail profits largely hinge on perceived ‘popularity’ of brands, which is largely self-perpetuating based on reduced whole sale rates, and exaggerated sales advertising to push the merchandise on customers. Book mongers still have a very snobbish attitude towards local authors, even more so now that printed books are in competition with ebooks. Book mongers, like other capitalists will often declare that “there is a DEMAND’ for what they are selling, just as housing developers do when they create a artificial demand by making the supply and cornering the market with advertising and debt based commercial production.

Here is how one book store describes their consignment process on their website:

“Our consignment program helps us accommodate the overwhelming number of requests from local authors who wish to sell their books and host events at Curious Iguana. If, after reading all the information here, you have any questions, email. Please do not stop by or call the store with questions about our consignment program. Click here to download our Consignment Policies and Consignment Form for Author. Note that we do not read review copies, and we do not accept any books without a completed consignment form and FEE. About events – We receive numerous event requests from local authors every week. Only authors whose books have strong consignment sales and broad reader appeal will be considered for an event on a case-by-case basis. Authors should not expect that consigning books will result in an event.”

Consignment usually forces the local author to be in debt to the local store, rather than provide them with any net income. Local authors tend to purchase more books at stores from commercial authors in one visit, than their books may sell all year; so even local authors are more likely to spend more on international authors than their own book sales will make in years. After a few years of their books not being advertised, but often hidden, the author must then contact the store and ask what has sold, and then pick up their check if any have sold. Now that there are more local authors, they are even asked to pick up their remaining books to make room for others. In essence local authors are treated like cattle, and told they are not worthy to make money, and they should be lucky to have a consignment deal before getting kicked out. Quality differences in the contents of books, whether self published or not, have very little to do with these market issues; as mistakes can be found with many mass produced products. Even National Geographic published the wrong image of a sparrow in a major commercial release; not just typos but the very information that is the focus of the ‘best selling’ book can be factually wrong.

Perhaps some day there will be a book store just for local and self-published authors, and their books will be PURCHASED just like the major brand names are now, rather than relegated to forgotten shelves and treated as though they are not worth the paper they are printed on. Perhaps some day we will invest more in our local economies, rather than giving all profits to a few rich fat cats that could barely care less.

So in this area there are basically 2 stores that accept local authors, but due to demands by local authors that they have a place to sell their books, it is increasingly rare that the small portion of the store dedicated to local authors will have room for everyone in the flooded self-published book market. It seems that self-published is a niche market that is not being allowed space due to corporate monopolist priorities. The competitive cut-throat capitalist monopoly model of economics, stands in contrast to the sharing and networking pluralist (multiplicity) more free-market model. Some business workers pride themselves for being very morally patient with customers, clients, bosses, employees, co-workers, and partners; in that they value them as fellow humans and are very generous to the point of pleasantly accepting financial loss as sacrifice for more happiness. That moral model is considered a bad business model for serious capitalists however, because survival success of business is based on financial capital, not ethical capital. There is a strong historic argument to be made that more financial wealth can be made quicker and greater by meaner people that take huge risks, rather than generous people who tend to give away and share more (studies show these people are often considered ‘poor’).

Self-published authors can be economically vital, if local stores open to showcase them as the main product. Some regional examples may soon show that people will travel from around the world to visit unique collections that support populations directly with financing. Rather than stores asking you pay to maybe keep your book there temporarily, and refusing to talk to authors in person or on the phone about the issue of slavish consignment; an alternative option will be to support stores that support self-published authors, which would make independent authors the best meaning (and most fitting use) of the word ‘common’. Possibly current store owners don’t want to be harming the local economy by practicing their old business models, but supply and demand and advertising have very real aspects that corporations do not want commoners to discuss.

The self-publishing paradox is that although the book market is flooded by grassroots citizens writing and publishing books, the means to support them are not part of conventional business models. Even alternative efforts are suppressed due to social, economic, and linguistic self-destructive elitism. Most people that write books do it because they love it or are best at it, not because of the economic incentives because it is generally well known that artists, musicians, and writers are not given living wages. The attitude that the voice of the people is not worth hearing, has never been considered wise or good.

The ‘Board and Books’ Club

Posted in Adaptive Reuse, Commercial Corporations, Crafts, jobs, Multimedia Communication, Pub Library, Roleplaying / Reenacting, Services, Sales or Trade, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2018 by Drogo

Urban Used Book Store and More

Before the apocalypse, some of us had opened a shop in the city for a place to sell what we made, to keep a collective library, and for a local hang out for geeks like us. We called it “The Board & Books” and it was an eclectic social community for all classes of gamers, intellectuals, artists, actors, musicians, and book lovers. We served some food and drink, but it was under the table to avoid needing to renovate and pay fees to code, to keep our expenses low since income was minimal mostly from monthly membership. If you stayed for more than an hour we asked that you pay to stay as long as you like, and that was incentive for return visits to get your money’s worth and have a chair and board to “call your own”. Walking sticks, paintings, and other home-made crafts of all kinds were welcome. On some days a smoking club would rent it, and we locked the door and responded only to the secret knock and call.

Our tiny shop version of the Pipedream Pub was called “The BOARD and Books” because we had at least one table to start with for playing games, writing, and studying books on. Table boards were also used for drinks and food when in private club sessions. The collective library was for our members to place books they liked or wrote, including old and new books. There were also prices on most of the books, on the odd occasion that someone wanted to own it for their personal private hoard. We even managed to sell a few poems.

We had old and new carved wood on display: walking sticks, canes, wands, sculptures, board panels, etc..

We had a converted piano made into a harp, flat-wide-screen digital monitor, and book shelf.

piano desk

Random paintings came and went. Art, music, and books were often traded.

Beamer and Tom made an awesome wooden table from old antiques and local barn boards.

railway-table-by-toyo-kichen-style-o

After a few years membership increased and so rates were raised to pay the bills and make some net profit, until Armageddon. During WW3 there was too much economic depression to charge much, and when the urban infrastructure became bad enough we had to close shop in the city, and focus on the Pipedream Pub in the country.  Many of the items and books from the shop were moved to the Pub library and hearth hall.

[ part of SCOD FALLOUT 2020 series script ]

Delft TU Library, Holland

Posted in Education / Schools, Futurist, Sculpture, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2018 by Drogo

Central Library of Delft University of Technology (TU) in Holland by Mecanoo Architects

This angular and environmentally dynamic library was opened in 1998. It was designed by Mecanoo Architects, which was a 61 person firm located in Holland near Delft TU. The library design was based on four themes: The adjacent pre-existing Auditorium (by Van den Broek & Bakema), the site absence of campus atmosphere in the university quarter, the need for advanced technology, and of course plenty of room for shelves of books.

delft mecanoo 5

It is a “Triangle of Glass and Grass”, with a large tee-pee like ‘Cone’ in the middle. The glass around a few sides allows a large amount of day-light inside. The grass sod roof brilliantly allows people to use the entire area of building as they would a yard, in addition to the library. The center cone allows natural light also, and a communal study space.

delft_mecanoo_entrance

The grassy roof lawn of the Delft TU Library forms a harmonious whole with the campus walkways that emerge from underneath the adjoining assembly hall. The Library roof can be walked upon, but also offers a place of dreaming, reading, and picnicking under open luminous sky. Teachers, students, and visitors call all meet informally in this public space.

delft mecanoo 3

The concrete / stucco Cone structure is open topped and 150 ft. high. The Cone and the cavernous entry are the only main features that are seen from campus, so it appears as though most of the building is not there. On the other sides, the wildly-canted glass wall rises from the parking lot to a max height of about 14 meters (40 ft.). At night the glass wall glows exposing activity within the 4 levels of library stacks, study areas, offices, and storage. The grassy roof shoots across the site creating a gently sloping area in contrast to the nearby ‘Brutalist’ style Auditorium.

delft center circle

Changing illumination (luminous flux) upon the Cone accentuates the sculptural shape as an abstract Platonic solid form, partially deconstructed. The channeling aspect of the Cone shape is intentional, as it is conducive to gathering with focus. The glass walls are towards the North, so they get non-direct ambient light. Horizontal bands around the glass facade facilitate ventilation between the window panes, and give distorted impressionist reflections from the outside on sunny days.

 

The perforated roof overhand is supported by stilted tubular steel struts, and rises from a foundation perimeter plinth-bed of fine stones. Under most of the structure is a spacious hall. A ring of glass circumscribes the Cone at roof level, allowing natural light (solar lumens) to wash in along the curved white stucco funnel side.

Delft University of Technology Library (DUTL) stocks one of the largest technical book collections in the World. Most of the books are stored in stock-rooms in the basement, but those that are accessible to the public are arranged in a single enormous book-case and are within hand reach. The combination of books, computers (with internet and catalogs), and people allows for knowledge, interaction, and better citizens. 300 out of 1000 study spots are equipped with computers (this may have increased).

This ‘Library as landscape’ evokes the feeling of how our ancestors believed technology to be magical, and magic arts were held by their spirits under hills to keep it safe. Not only priests and royal family members are allowed to visit this sacred place of tomes, it is open to all that seek it.

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  • (images for education only, not owned by blog)

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JRR Tolkien Essays

Posted in Book Reports, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 15, 2016 by Drogo

Reports on Tolkien

St. John’s at Prospect Hall – Catholic High School 1990-94

Taken from old reports by Walton Stowell, Robert Trainor, & Chris Chromey

*

Middle-Earth: Our History? – based on Rob Trainor’s highschool paper 1993

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in Bloemfontien, South Africa; on January 3, 1892. His father worked there as a banker, although both of his parents were from England. When John was only 4 years old, his father died. His mother Mabel then took young John and his younger brother, back to her native home in Birmingham, England. John was raised there and attended the King Edward School.

In 1904 when John was 12, his mother passed away. From then on he and his brother were raised by a Roman Catholic priest. Tolkien went from King Edward’s school, to Exeter College at Oxford. Before he got his degree, World War I broke out. In 1915 at the age of 23, John Tolkien entered the army, with the Lancashire Fusiliers regiment. The next year he married Miss Edith Bratt, who later became the mother of his children. Tolkien served with the Fusiliers from 1915 until 1918. At the end of WW1, he returned home and went back to college. John got his Masters Degree in 1919.

John studied many languages and knew a number of languages including Latin, German, Gothic, French, Greek, and Middle English. He developed his own hybrid languages, which would be the basis for his novels. John worked for a short time on the famous Oxford English Dictionary. He also became a ‘reader’ professor in English at Leeds University from 1924-25. His first publication was A Middle-English Vocabulary. Then he and E.V. Gordon published a critical text on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, analyzing the infamous old 14th-Century anonymous poem; John later translated it into modern English verse.

In 1925 John Tolkien left Leeds, and went to Pembroke College at Oxford; where he remained for the next 20 years, as Rawlison and Bosforth ‘Professor of Anglo-Saxon’. John’s imaginary languages led to him forming lands and stories around them. He sorted out places where his languages would be spoken, and what their attitudes might be culturally. John became an Oxford ‘fellow’ and ‘don’. He published Chaucer as a Philologist in 1934. Next came Beowulf: Monster and Critics. Tolkien himself had become a respected philologist. Philology is the study of written words, their origins, and meanings.

He wrote stories for his children, as ‘letters from’ Father Christmas. While grading college papers, John Tolkien began day-dreaming and sketching notes about a ‘hobbit’. In 1937, when Tolkien was 45 he was urged by his colleagues and children to publish his book called The Hobbit. It took him 12 more years to write the Lord of the Rings. It took John his life-time to write the Silmarillion, which was post-humously finished for him by his son, Christopher Tolkien.

‘Middle-Earth’ is the setting for The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. Tolkien describes Middle-Earth using familiar objects and concepts, that make it seem like it could have existed in the distant past of England. This is how Tolkien conceived many of the ideas, and to many fans there are many charming and philosophical allegories and parallels. According to Tolkien, Middle-Earth (Arda) is ultimately its’ own world set in a fictional past of Earth, and not just mere metaphor.

Tolkien wanted to create a fictional mythology for the English, as they didn’t really have one before (besides the Mabinogion, Book of Kells, Beowulf, and the legends of King Arthur and Robin Hood). He certainly achieved his goal of creation. Middle-Earth should perhaps best be considered a fantasy time period, set in the distant pre-historic past of Europe. The anachronisms and races are very much fantasy, and the themes are mythical.

References where Tolkien compared the reality of modern Europe and the fiction of ancient Middle-Earth include: the landscape and habits of Hobbiton (like Welsh), Hobbiton’s position north-west, general geography, astronomy changes, language roots, and flora and fauna (including insects). “It is plain indeed, that in spite of later estrangement, Hobbits are relatives of ours: far nearer to us than elves, or even than dwarves.” (LOTR I, 20) The land is similar to Europe, but much has changed by years of ‘wind and wave’. The significance of the comparison, is that it gives us familiarity with the setting. These descriptions also add believable gravitas; that the lands have been there for a long time, and slowly changed over time. Things like tobacco, clothing, and chimneys are clearly taken out of time and place and dropped in for amusement.

*

JRR Tolkien – based on Chris Chromey’s research paper, English 11, 1992

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell; nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit hole, and that means comfort.” – 1st paragraph of The Hobbit

In 1938 the world was introduced to its first hobbit. Somehow we fell in love with this short round creature who lives in a hole with a life of comfort and a friendly manner. Throw in an adventure of dwarves, magic treasure, and evil monsters; and you come up with a tale so enchanting that its popularity breaks new ground in literature and pioneers the way of fantasy writing.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was the brilliant inventor of the hobbit race (and Middle-Earth). The Hobbit, his first book concerning this magical world, started out as a story Tolkien told to his children in the form of letters he would give them every Christmas (via ‘Father Christmas’ mail), which contained a chapter of hobbit Bilbo Baggin’s adventures and illustrations. Later on in life Tolkien read the hobbit tales to his literary chums, in a jolly writing group called the Inklings. The Inklings were a group of scholars who met with C.S. Lewis in his Magdalen college apartments, and later in old local English taverns. They would talk, read excerpts, and drink with an air of romanticism. Tolkien enjoyed these meetings, perhaps like Bilbo gathering with friends in the Shire of Middle-Earth.

Tolkien’s academic credentials help to explain why he was able to create such wonderful literature. Tolkien studied mythology and languages, with a focus on Celtic and Germanic lore. Tolkien loved English legends, and wanted England to have more of its own mythological literature. He began creating his own languages also, and used characters (like dwarves, valkyries, and elves) from Teutonic folk-lore. Dwarves were like vikings with their Norse beards, weapons, and armor. Elves were like elegant thin human-sized medieval English style faeries. The tree-ents were like dryads, and the wild ‘wose’ men were like Gaels; both of Celtic origins.

His re-imaginings of old ideas became the basis for the modern ‘medieval-fantasy’ genre. Tolkien published the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings few books during his life-time, but he was not able to finish the Silmarillion which was his large bible of Middle-Earth mythology. Pieces of the Silmarillion were edited and published after JRR Tolkien died, by his son Christopher Tolkien. It shows his father’s genius for synthesizing imagination, literature, language, and mythology in extraordinary detail.

Although Tolkien did not use the term ‘fairy’ in his Middle-Earth books, he did create a “fairy world”, or to be more specific an old world of faeries, that humans had begun to colonize and spread into by more rapidly populating. Humans had shorter lives than the other races, so they clearly were procreating faster, and elves were leaving into the West (much as they did in Celtic myths and legends).

About JRR Tolkien’s youth, we know he had a playmate besides his brother when he lived in Africa; named Hillary. They would play fantasy adventures based on stories. When JRR was about 7 years old, he began to compose his own story about a dragon. He recalled a ‘philological fact’ that his mother was more interested in his grammar, than the story or the characters. She pointed out that he should not say “a green great dragon”, but rather “a great green dragon”. This incident ‘put him off’ from writing for many years, and he became ‘taken up’ with language.

JRR Tolkien wrote an essay (similar to Frank Baum’s intro to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) called ‘On Fairy Stories’, to explaining the relationship between reality, fiction, and folk-lore. Tolkien’s essay also addressed Andrew Lang’s ‘fairy-tales’, and what constitutes stories about the land of ‘Faerie’ and what does not (in the mind of Tolkien). Here is an excerpt:

On Fairy-Stories

Probably every writer making a secondary world, a fantasy, every sub-creator, wishes in some measure to be a real maker; or hopes that he is drawing on reality: hopes that the peculiar qualities of this secondary world (if not all the details) are derived from reality, or are flowing into it. If he indeed achieves a quality that can fairly be described by the dictionary definition: “inner consistency of reality”, it is difficult to conceive how this can be, if the work does not in some way partake in reality. The peculiar quality of the ‘joy’ in successful fantasy can thus be explained as a sudden glimpse of the underlying reality or truth. It is not only a ‘consolation’ for the sorrow of this world, but a satisfaction, and an answer to that question, ‘is it true?’. My answer to this question (that all children ask) was at first (quite rightly): “If you have built your little world well, yes: it is true in that world.” …

To summarize Tolkien’s point here, the art of literature acts as an enchantment upon our minds. A well constructed world of words that tells a story, invites us to believe that the lore is ‘real’. Every writer making a secondary ‘fantasy’ world, wants the reader to desire to believe it is real. This ‘believable’ quality is achieved by using real ‘primary world’ references or characters that can view the fiction through our perspective (and vice-versa). The joy of reading realistic fantasy, is not just escapism, but the thrill of believable travel to that world; by defining its’ own reality. If fiction is well created, it has its’ own consistent truth; which reflects our own reality, each version of every story a magic mirror. The world consistency can change, but it should be reflected on in some way, as in ‘Alice and Wonderland’ stories, the consistency is to be inconsistent with the ‘rules’; with self-exposed unpredictability, as commented on by characters or narration.

By providing linguistic and historic backgrounds, Tolkien gave us the essence of his characters. We can find out more about them, just as we look into non-fiction books for facts about our historical figures. Tolkien thrived on the fact that language is the basis to all communication, and therefore knowledge. Fantasy novels after Tolkien, often imitate his settings and plots, without the depth.

Tolkien’s work feels timeless, like by reading his words we can escape Time. Yet his words also remind us of the power of Time; as with the riddle from the Hobbit:

This thing all things devours;

Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;

Gnaws iron, bites steel;

Grinds hard stones to meal;

Slays kinds, ruins town,

And beats high mountain down.

Tolkien’s narration language seems ancient, and yet timeless because we can still understand it. One critic* accused his ‘boring’ writing of being a ‘syncretic antiquarian collage’. The critic goes on to say that Tolkien’s “ignorance of all he so conscientiously is trying to transmit” … “definitely leaves his writing lacking”. Clearly, the critic was wrong. To me this is a perfect example of how critics that go beyond factual summary, often show their own ignorance and childishness.

* Essays In Memorium; Catherine Stimpson; Salu & Ferrell (editors); Cornell University, 1979

Tolkien loved children, spent time with them, and made sure to be home at night to tuck in his own children. It was his love for children that drove him to write books for them, built upon college graduate level (adult) education and his child-like imagination (which apparently he never lost). He was not content with the children’s fairy tales he had, when he was a child. Tolkien wanted to give children books that he felt they deserved, that even their adult minds’ could grow into with maturity. The age orientation of his books seems to be progressive. The Hobbit is child-like, the Lord of the Rings is for teens, and the Silmarillion is for adults; but because Tolkien was a scholar, the books are really more advanced, always seeming to be one step ahead of the reader, transcending age at every turn.

END

*

Why Critics Can Fuck Themselves

Posted in Arts (Design & Performance), Critical Commentary of Civilization, Film Reviews, Interviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 29, 2016 by Drogo

If I have any genius instead of talent (see one of the last reviews* a critic gave Edgar Allen Poe), then my luck will not make me rich and famous during my lifetime; as with Stephen King, JRR Tolkien, or George Martin. If I truly have the amazing artistic potential or merit that a true fan might believe, then to the rest of civilization I will most likely end up poor and infamous when I die; as with Edgar Allen Poe, Vincent Van Gogh, or HP Lovecraft. In fact I realize I am no better than Henry Darger.

The real-life mystery of the death of Edgar Allen Poe makes clear how art imitates life, and life imitates art. Furthermore, there may be some problems with society, that makes the life of an artist such a torturous hell throughout history. Perhaps artistic and autistic handicaps are more similar than government support allows. Indeed Capitalism itself seems to be the enemy of human rights for those cursed with an excess of artistic mental ‘gifts’.

I create art, books, and music because I can do nothing else as well. For those that doubt whether I have tried to work paying jobs, see my resume. Yes I can socialize, exercise, and invest in the stock market; but none of those guarantee a living wage. I am lucky that I am smart enough to tie my shoes. I am lucky I can walk. I am lucky that I can enjoy food. I am lucky that I am alive, so perhaps the fact that no one can put a price on it, means that perhaps life is priceless. If life is priceless, and if all human life is worth funding to maintain (as many claim), then perhaps we should not only see the worthlessness of critics, but also we the people should contemplate whether government should direct an economy towards these ends?

 – Drogo Empedocles

*EAP’s last lecture review was sympathetic to a dying poet “…no other writer in the USA has half the chance to be remembered. Had Mr. Poe possessed talent instead of genius, he might have been a money-making author; but his title to immortality could not be surer than it is.” – Charleston newspaper editor

References: Wikipedia

Edgar Allen Poe – In 1849, Poe was found delirious on the streets of Baltimore, “in great distress, and… in need of immediate assistance”, according to a stranger who found him. He was taken to a hospital where he died after a few days. Poe was never coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition and, oddly, was wearing clothes that were not his own. He is said to have repeatedly called out the name “Reynolds” on the night before his death, though it is unclear to whom he was referring. Some sources say that Poe’s final words were “Lord help my poor soul”. All medical records have been lost, including his death certificate. Newspapers at the time reported Poe’s death as “congestion of the brain” or “cerebral inflammation”, common euphemisms for deaths from disreputable causes such as alcoholism. The actual cause of death remains a mystery. Speculation has included beatings, alcohol poisoning, delirium tremens, heart disease, epilepsy, syphilis, cholera, and rabies. One theory dating from 1872 suggests that ‘cooping’ was the cause of Poe’s death, a form of electoral fraud of forced voting, sometimes leading to violence and even murder. The author of his critical obituary hated him.

Vincent Van Gogh – suffered fits of despair and hallucination during which he could not work, between long clear months in which he did, punctuated works of extreme visionary ecstasy (like bi-polar). He was often too depressed and unable to write, but he was still able to paint and draw a little. In 1890, aged 37, Van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a revolver. The bullet was deflected by a rib and passed through his chest without doing apparent damage to internal organs – probably stopped by his spine. Doctors tended to him as best they could, then left him alone in his room, smoking his pipe. The following morning Theo rushed to his brother’s side, but Vincent was dead within hours resulting from the wound. According to Theo, Vincent’s last words were: “The sadness will last forever”.

HP Lovecraft – Throughout his life, selling stories and paid literary work for others did not provide enough to cover Lovecraft’s basic expenses. Living frugally, he subsisted on an inheritance that was nearly depleted by the time of his last years. He sometimes went without food to afford the cost of mailing letters. Eventually, he was forced to move to smaller and meaner lodgings with his surviving aunt. He was also deeply affected by the suicide of his correspondent Robert E. Howard. In early 1937, Lovecraft was diagnosed with cancer of the small intestine, and so suffered from malnutrition. He lived in constant pain until his death in 1937, in Providence, RI.

Henry Darger – Famous only post-humously. Darger’s landlords, came across his work shortly before his death. No one seemed to know or care about his art or writing before, because he kept them secret. His book ‘Realms of the Unreal’ may be the longest book known at over 15,000 pages. He was known as a poor old crazy janitor.

Medusa sculpt

Review of ‘Harpers Faery Outlaws’

Posted in Book Reports with tags , , , , , on September 29, 2016 by Drogo

Critical Review of ‘Harpers Faery Outlaws‘ by Jack Madhard

Harpers Faery Outlaws was worse than the best critic could write, if they were trying to write a bad novel. It is not even full modern novel length, which is why I guess the publisher called it a ‘novella’. It is unclear whether the author was trying to be funny, confusing on purpose, or there were multiple untalented authors that just threw their stories together for the hell of it.

This book made we want to stop reading books, it was so bad. You may read it and say “it wasn’t too bad”, to which I would say “yes, yes it was”. I was bored with the book after reading the first word. Nothing can convince me that this book was anything else but total rubbish. A first grader could have done better.

Some of the characters may have been interesting, if I was born with only half a brain. The arrogance of this author, to presume that anyone would be interested in reading his writing is beyond belief. This book is bad, so terribly and inconceivably bad. I cannot say it enough times; this book is bad.

Tell all your friends not to read this book. Do not even buy it. If you borrow this book, promptly ‘lose’ it; I recommend burning this book. All respectable professional establishments should ban this filthy liberal attempt at advancing civil-rights through medieval metaphor. The author should be ashamed, if not executed for his crimes against humanity.

Next week, I will review a much better book, by a dear friend of mine, who will most likely invite me to parties. I may have to get a lobotomy to forget about reading this book by Drogo Empedocles. Anyway, as I always say, keep on reading (except for this book)!

– Jack Madhard of the Hardford Gazette 9/29/2016

Paperback book now available on Amazon!

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Harpers Faery Outlaws Audiobook read by Author!

 

Some Thoughts on Appearance

Posted in Health & Fitness, Spiritual, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2016 by Drogo

For those that are too hard on themselves, but are able to be good to others; be content that you are ok as you are now. Growth and death are natural organic processes, that will happen with or without our conscious help. This is the mystery of internal will-power and external ‘higher’-powers. The secret to this mystery is if we are empathetically connected with life around us, our subconscious will do the hard work for us, of growing our mind ; it comes with open expanded awareness. Winning or losing need not disrupt our peace of mind and happy contentment, that we can already have; in part by our ability to be good to others, because other people may want to return our favors in order to keep receiving from us or reward us for giving. Not all promises can be kept, however. Therefore, self-generated happiness is critical to sustained contentment and joy.

Take time out to smile for yourself.

Many of us spend hours working on how we look, or thinking about how we look, or worrying about how we feel about how we look to others. All of that matters less than who we are to ourselves, and who we are to people that love us for who we are.

The cover of your book may look good, but the real book is in the inside content. People may judge your book on your cover, and may even buy it because of the cover art; however it is the people that love the book because you wrote it that matters most, even if there is no cover.

SCOD Publishing Info

Posted in Book Reports, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 26, 2016 by Drogo

SCOD Publishing Deal Description

I prefer to explain over the phone, but here is a recorded summary: Drogo talks about making books for other authors.

There are 3 basic ways to publish any book:

  1. Get extremely lucky to hire an Agent, and the agent talks to a Major Publisher (they will not talk to authors directly) then their company might pay you an advance on potential book sales, and the author gets no say on book cover, illustrator, or any details; but you get some royalties if they keep it in print.
  2. The second main way is Vanity Press, where you pay smaller publishing companies to tailor make a book for you for hundreds or thousands of dollars that you the author pay to them, and there are no sales royalties because it is a one time deal.
  3. The third way is to either self-publish with a company or hire someone (like Drogo Empedocles) with experience and knowledge of how to work the formats, programs, and monitor sales. Traditionally it was very difficult to get published as the first and second were the only ways, and when you kept a book on the market the publisher had total control over printing.

IMPORTANT: Make sure you understand these options and the agreement for slitting royalties (case by case) BEFORE sending any files. When you send the files and say you want Drogo to publish your book, consider that your request, and if he agrees to do it, that is the agreement that is as important as any formal business contract, verbal, written, or otherwise. To be clear about your desire to hire us, send an email stating that you understand the agreement and 50% split of royalties of books sold online (standard SCOD deal) and want SCOD to publish asap.

This is what you get, when you hire Drogo as your PUBLISHER:

Although we have more options for controlling the look of our books (using the new third way), SCOD is still a publisher for other authors that want us to publish their books, so we need to be the final authority on the product (much as traditional publishers). We still need to put some limits on how many changes can be made; in order to not get stuck in perpetual time-sucking loops with authors. Anyone that wants SCOD to publish their book should have a few suggestions or questions in the beginning; but by the time they decide ‘YES I WANT YOU TO PUBLISH MY BOOK’ they should realize that we have certain formats and certain parameters that can work in order to serve multiple authors, make it affordable, and make some net profit. SCOD publishing is NOT a communal, anarchist, or democratic process; SCOD publishing is run as a representative cooperative with the publisher as the appointed leader.

SCOD reserves the right to format the text, correct spelling & grammar (if an issue), and add publishing information to the front and back of the book, including a list advertising other SCOD books (traditionally at the back). SCOD can remove from publication any book, at any time, for any reason; at which point it will be out-of-print with us.

The benefits of publishing with SCOD include: being able to talk about the issues with the publisher directly, true personal concern for authors and artists, and knowing that the funds go to support SCOD work world-wide with other partners.

Art – We do NOT negotiate with artists, authors, or anyone about any designs or illustrations for the book or cover, once we have the initial agreement to publish. We do allow you to submit cover art or illustration contributions, which will then be considered or edited to fit the book format or style.

Minor changes to the author’s original ideas, should be of little concern to an author that respects the process we have for making books. This method requires authors to set aside egotism and perfectionism, in favor of having their book in print with us as we see fit. Drogo charges low rates for work, because it is easier than teaching. To teach someone our process could take many more hours, and the pay would not compensate less potential royalties, which are typically few and far between anyway in this business.

Yes if you do it all yourself or pay more money to hire another company, you may get more options; with SCOD you get your book made in SCOD style, with some consideration for suggestions. Publishing with SCOD is not the same as an ‘equal partnership’ in this case, as the client relinquishes their trust to us, for our services, to make a book that we can have on the market asap, and keep sustainably.

By hiring Drogo, you want him to make books the best way he knows, and trust him to share a fair amount of the royalties. We understand authors often get possessive of their work and would not like any changes made that they do not approve of, and for authors that want that level of control we invite them to keep looking for another publisher, or do it themselves; we expect they will find the same obstacles that we encountered which prompted us to handle all these issues this way. Some authors do not want the pains of learning and doing what we do, so we can do it for you!

If you think you want Drogo (SCOD) to publish your book, first see what his existing books look like. If you like how they are done, and trust that we will make your book based on those, then you will know if you want us to publish for you. Once we tell you how much work it will take to publish, you can say you want to make more changes, or say go ahead. PAYMENT must be up-front before we begin work, because we have done hours of work for clients and then they changed their minds, and we did not get paid at all. Ask Drogo what he thinks, and he will publish as soon as he thinks it is ready for a first printing. If there are major problems, they will be fixed asap, and if there are only minor mistakes, we can get around to them eventually. Major and Minor corrections are done to the same edition, changing it for good; while other style or format or content changes may be published additionally as other versions or editions.

As a publisher SCOD needs to be able to keep books for sale as long as possible, with as many books as possible, that is why we insist on final control of how many changes and editions are made to the book, which we have copyright to print and sell once it is published. Once a book is made, if an author becomes disagreeable about it, and breaches our verbal contract by communicating things to the contrary; the only course of action is to pay debts, remove their books from online sales, and be done with them; this is sad and costly, so that is why all sane and polite authors should understand the control that I need to operate as a publisher does not put them in a position to remove or change their book. Requests for changes can be negotiated, and the author should understand that the reason for publishing with me is not to make things difficult, but rather to publish without much hassle, stream-lined as easy as possible, and sustain availability of the book to share it with others. As long as my authors know that I value their work, but need to be patient with the limits regardless of expectations or surprises, then that trust is all that matters and I will make and keep their book available for all, as long as possible.

SUMMARY: Ask yourself a quick question to know if you want SCOD to publish your book. Can you give up control enough to be content or happy to have Drogo publish your book in his own way? Sacrifice enough ego, and the book can be made.

1. If you need things to look ‘a certain way’ and will be unhappy with any changes in font or format, and want to change things on a whim, DO NOT hire Drogo.

2. If you want your book to be published affordably and quickly, the way that Drogo can do it, and you will be satisfied enough to have it made into a book because you like SCOD, publish with us.

Make sure you are familiar with SCOD work, before you decide whether or not to publish with us. Once our book gets done, Drogo can make some improvements or corrections, but it is entirely Drogo’s product and time-table (unless there are additional payments for changes).

If this all makes sense to you, and you prefer Drogo to publish your work, then he can send you the ‘SCOD Cooperative Agreement Contract’ which contains all the details you need to know. Drogo Empedocles of SCOD  (find him on FB or email drogo76@hotmail.com)

Books Published by Drogo Empedocles  (click on the links for titles)

WOLF by Ranger Tess

Posted in Book Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2015 by Drogo

I have a copy of the book ‘Wolf’ by Ranger Tess.

First i want to talk about the author and her family homestead in Missouri. Ranger Tess is a small but strong young woman, who lives a life engaged with spirits of Nature. She does historical fantasy roleplay, which often evokes cultural memories of a time when humans lived closer to animals, plants, water, and land. She is a shepherd of many animals of all shapes and sizes; horses, deer, pigs, dogs, bunnies, and goddess knows what…. Her family all do farm and art type things also, and although humble they are quite generous, creative, devoted, and talented.

Second here is a short book report on Wolf. Wolf is the name of the main character, a boy raised by wolves (like Mowgli from Jungle Book by Kipling). Other characters include: Grant, Jess, Jackson, Scout, Tracker, Brenda, Zan, Scott, Vallon, and Taren. My edition is from 2010, with a really nice cover with hand and paw print. It is a portable 290 page book. The densely clean format and plain wording reads smoothly. The action is awesome, the messages are good, and it even has a good ending!!! I highly recommend this book to anyone that loves fantasy adventures.

 – Drogo

 WOLF video trailer

Wear A Sprig of Thyme

Posted in Book Reports, Pagan with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2014 by Drogo

angel pixie greena

Plant Spirit Magic and Healing – by Linda Ours Rago

Humans and plants exchange energies through their bodies and dreams to co-create medicinal magic. When you need healing for yourself or others, call your Plant Spirit Guide to you. This green magic handbook by renowned herbalist Linda Rago will help you to live more spiritually with plants; and is an aid to her Sacred Space Conference workshop. It is 34 pages with some illustrations by Drogo Empedocles. The ‘Green Fairy’ Angel L. Pixie was the model for the cover montage.

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Paperback book on Amazon

Kindle Ebook on Amazon

Local Authors and Illustrators Dilemma

Posted in Book Reports, Cooperatives / Communities / Networks / Travels, Crafts, Economics, Illustration, Individuals / Members / Monsters / Creative Writing, Organic Development with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 26, 2014 by Drogo

I often wonder why locals are not more interested in supporting local authors and illustrators, even those i have put in my books because I support their belief in supporting local food and history. It is not because they are too poor, because they have enough spending money for other more expensive entertainment like events, shows, internet, drugs, etc… so i was going to send out a survey to understand the lack of market better, but after thinking about it i think the surveys would not do much good.

i think there is just no existing market example; at least none established like a Common Market for local books. So people do not think my books are worth investing in, even when they are well made and even have the reader in the book! Of course thank you to those who have invested and purchased my books!!

Funny thing is i have given away many books for free, and have even published entire books for other authors for free. And people have actually seen the books in person, like at a festival even… still very few sales. Ok there is one local book store just opened last year; ill ask there sometime when i get the courage, but i have asked at libraries and other stores with no success. There are other local books stores for used books or historic books, but you would be surprised how stuck-up most venues are… they already usually have too many books that don’t sell enough they say.

Going door to door worked for my historic book for the town, but organic person to person has not worked for BOG PEEPS strangely… perhaps it is the income difference so they view themselves as lessers or equals; rather than benevolent sponsors…. even though both actually have the money to afford a copy if they believed in the product and it would not hinder their bill paying.

Hopefully a time will come when people view ARTS as a local ‘produce’ worth supporting in weekly common markets. We can make it happen by supporting local artists and authors with actual purchases and financing. Supporting individual artists and writers is not fantasy, it is real and we need to live it.

 

 

 

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Self-Publishing

Posted in Book Reports, Individuals / Members / Monsters / Creative Writing, Pub Library, SCOD Online School with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2014 by Drogo

If anyone has a digital file for a book, i can publish it for about $100 within a month. That is a very low price that the author can pay for my services, to do all the work of format editing and publishing on Amazon and Kindle. It usually takes me over 10 hours, so at $10 an hour that is quite a deal!

Any book sales I will report and share with the authors. It is in my interest to do so, because we could make more successful projects. Identifying success potential is key. I have published over 20 books. Want more information on SCOD publishing? Find me on Facebook or click HERE to collaborate on a book project!

Books Published by Drogo Empedocles

– Drogo Empedocles of SCOD

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Drogo’s Books

Posted in Book Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2013 by Drogo

Link to main SCOD Book List webpage. <<<

Books written, edited, illustrated, published or contributed to by Drogo Empedocles: (click on titles to link to their Amazon pages) *

1.  MOSS – My Old School Stories  (compendium of fiction stories)

2.  Harpers Ferry Houses  (with Kip Stowell)

3.  Hoppers Furry Tale

4.  SCOD 2000  (Architecture Thesis version) / SCOD Thesis 2000 (v15)

5.  Ten Consciencious Objections to War – Operation 10 COW

6.  BDU – Air Force Basic Training Journal Unauthorized

7.  Pitcher of Immortality – Byzantine multiple-choice fantasy

8.  Art Beyond Reality  –  my art portfolio 1  (1976-2012)

9.  Multiple Choice Adventures  –  Interactive Short Stories

10.  Art By Nena  –  Nena Stowell’s artwork  (1960-2012)

11.  Kip Stowell Biography  –   (abridged Kindle)

12.  Blackberry Cove Appalachian Herbal  –  (color illustrated)

13.  Wear a Sprig of Thyme – Plant Spirit Magic & Healing  (illustrated)

14.  Harpers Faery Magic Bible  –  New Age Testament (Kindle)

15.  BOG Peeps: Beautiful Organic Garden People (Kindle) (Paperback)

16.  BOG Peeps 2  (paperback)  (kindle)

17.  Dragon Flyer by Kallie Stephenson – fantasy novel (out of print)

18.  WAY TOO MUCH:  Successful Living

19.  Grass Root Words  (SCODzine)

20.  Friend In Need – Christian witch-craft spell book

21.  Monstors Last Battle – Sir Mongold & Sir Stowell

22.  Whisper Chronicles by Taylor Wilcox (out of print)

23.   Bed Time For Democracy – Politics For Kids

24.  SCOD Economics – Alternative Economic Theories

25.  SCOD Philosophy: Historic Theories – Part 1; Part 2

26.  Harpers Faerie Chronicles

27.  Little Wyld Eyes – Victoria Bamber

28.  Woman Who Watches From Windows – Poems by Elizabeth Macula

29.  Rainbow Star Prophesies – Omi (out of print)

30.  Stowell Italy Travel Journal 1983 – Nena Stowell & Family

31.  Traveling Girl– Linda Rago Memoirs

 

**  Link to SCOD Books **

** Interactive Short Stories – (ISS Series Volumes)

1 – Multiple Choice Adventures 1

2 – King Grimlok the Bandersnatch: Beauty & Beast

3 – Falling Waters

4 – Crop Killer

5 – Harpers Faery Fellowship

6 – Multiple Choice Adventures 2

7 – Power Made Easy: Wicked Wizard on Loud Heights

8 –  Haunted Faery Hilltop Hostel

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Books compiled into the compendium MOSS:

1.   Stories of Fiction, Fantasy, & Adventure  (SFFA)

2.   Tales of Amazing Magic & Science  (TAMS)

3.   Generic Illustrated Fiction Stories  (GIFS SOS v1)

4.   Son of GIFS  (SOG SOS v2)

5.   Strange & Amazing School Stories  (SASS SOS v3)

6.   Medieval Fantasy Stories 1984-1994

7.   Science Fiction Stories 1984-1994

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Want to publish a book with me?  SCOD Publishing Info