Friday, 5 December 2014

As promised in yesterday's post, Amoeba Dick is now available for purchase as a Kindle, priced $3.08 or UK equivalent. Here's the URL.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Amoeba Dick front cover



Behold the front cover for the brand new Kindle edition of Amoeba Dick. I took the photograph this very afternoon, when I found myself in Jamaica Street, Bristol. The Mighty Banana belongs to Chris Chalkley, the proprietor (sic) of the People's Republic of Stokes Croft, which is located just across the road from the Massage Club outside which Mr Chalkley has been pleased to kerb his Banana.

Amoeba Dick e-publishing update

I have finally done something about e-publishing Amoeba Dick. Fingers crossed, it should be available for purchase on Kindle within 12 hours, priced at $2.99. As soon as I've confirmed that this has actually happened, I'll provide a link from this blog.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Pretty Poli update

Pretty Poli is presently 36,500 words long, and feels 25-30% complete. I am spending a few days in the Middle East next week, and would like to have chalked up 40,000 by the time I go, as I anticipate not writing very much while I'm away. At the moment, it feels very much as though I can complete PP by the end of next Summer.

As regards publication of Amoeba Dick, the novel I completed in March, I really haven't done much about this. I suppose I should just publish the damn thing electronically. I guess the same goes for my PhD thesis, that there ground-breaking theory of modality. Not to mention my poetry.

I'm also considering going back to university yet again, in order to do something like an MA in History. This would give me a platform for one of my projects, which is to write a sort of scholarly history of 18th century pornography and its practitioners - Edmund Curll & co.

But this probably won't happen for a year or two, as I want to complete my next project first - my scatological Ulysses parody Odour Issues.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Pretty Poli, ch17

17.
M.Licinius Crassus, Vir Triumphalis

Sir Hearty Luncheon read with malice the management accounts of bank and finance house. A jaundiced eye he brought to bear on forecast cash flow, likewise on columns celebrating profit, alike on those denigrating loss. Mission statements and other idealistic chaff aroused in him seigneurial disdain. Most of all he disliked agm’s, which left upon his tongue the acrid aftertaste of armpit of provincial shareholder and fund manager’s bum.

A vernal forenoon. They'd taken the usual route to Anchor Road from his estate in the Mendips.
“Turned out nice for once,” had ventured from behind the wheel Mr Jagtar Singh, to which, behind him, Sir Hearty Luncheon had returned a grunt.
Just by the Blagdon cricket ground, there’d been a sudden riot of daffodils. He’d bid Mr Jagtar Singh pull over to the verge, broken off the face-chat with the Kazakh goldbug in Dubai, stepped out onto the roadside, and silently glared for a space at the pretty flowers. And then, embarrassed in the presence of Mr Jagtar Singh to have forgotten or, perhaps, never known how he was supposed to appreciate deodata, Sir Hearty Luncheon had muttered some specious obsequy, clambered back into the rear of the black Lexus, and bid Mr Jagtar Singh continue on down to the Portway. All of it: all of it had been cant, which he never had borne.

Now, in his office, listlessly, Sir Hearty Luncheon bought some money, and fretfully sold some other money. His partner, Lord Handjob, came to mind then. A wicked old goat, considered Sir Hearty, but one who revelled in his wickedness. Eminently suited to that dissolute life in Palm Springs. A fine thing, no doubt, to own such a thick skin as did Lord Handjob, to be able to withstand so blithely all that cant. Sir Hearty Luncheon's mind's eye now presented for his delectation various images of that estimable peer patting winning thoroughbreds, and patronising bewildered-looking boxers, and canoodling with showgirls in hot tubs.

This would not do. Sir Hearty Luncheon snapped himself out of his revery. For the next few minutes, he eyed furiously the green numbers parading across his screen. Then something seemed to click inside his head, and he very fretfully sold the money which he had bought, and very listlessly bought back that other money which he had sold.

Towards lunchtime, there was a muffled knock, followed by a discreet cough. Being somewhat given to the eliding manner, Sir Hearty Luncheon shouted
“Come!”
and there bustled in a minion, whom he thought he did not recognise, all exquisite tailoring, thick hair, exposed cufflinks, flashing teeth. This twerp bore upon a silver platter a small rectangle of card, intimating that Mr Don Quicksotte was below, and desirous of an audience. Sir Hearty, considering that an interruption to his brown study was perhaps not entirely to be deprecated - and quite discounting the risk of high winds attendant upon opening that particular bag - bid Hermes admit Aeolus into his presence. 

In almost no time at all, there was to be heard, emanating from the antechamber lying without the office of that great mandarin, a bruit of busyness; this being followed by a brief silence, very promptly foreclosed by a second knock, as muffled as its predecessor, and a second cough, again very discreet. Sir Hearty Luncheon affected not to notice these interventions, but for some minutes redoubled his attention to the green figures marching across his screen, and condescended so far as both to buy and to sell certain sums of money - although whether the entelechies in question were numerically identical with the aforementioned sums, is a question the resolution whereof lies beyond the scope of present enquiries.

Came there a third knock, no less muffled, and a third cough, no less discreet. Sir Hearty now deigned to look up from his screen in order to scowl, and after yet another brief intermission, to shout, again,
“Come!”
Again there bustled in a minion, although whether this minion was numerically identical with the aforementioned minion, withal manifesting identical properties in respect of exquisiteness of tailoring, thickness of hair, exposure of cufflinks, brilliance of teeth, was a question the resolution whereof lay firmly beneath the notice of Sir Hearty Luncheon.
“Mr Quicksotte, Sir Hearty,” said the twerp, “he sent up his card.”
Sir Hearty Luncheon returned to this a grunt, and said very testily
“I hope that he will spare me the cant. I never could bear cant.”

The individual in whom the great banker reposed this hope now materialised behind the announcing minion, as tall as ever, the air no doubt very thin upon his smooth and effulgent summit, this latter being wreathed in very sincere-looking smiles.
“Don Quicksotte, Sir Hearty,” quoth he, “we’ve met before, I believe. In the Ghastly Hipster.”
“That may very well be the case,” said Sir Hearty Luncheon presently, “I meet a great many people, you know. Would you care to state the nature of your business with me? And please to spare the cant. Cant is something which I never could bear.”
“I certainly would,” said Mr Don Quicksotte, nodding his great head vigorously enough to concuss himself, “to put things at their plainest, Sir Hearty, I have peered into the entrails of the eagle and the dregs of the cup and so forth and wotnot, and have formed an opinion. Not to put too fine a point on things, I fear that there will shortly be an episode of civil disorder.”
“Oh?”
“Certain members of the … er … squatting community have taken exception to your proposal to demolish a particular edifice in Stokes Croft.”
My proposal? It is no proposal of mine.”
“Well,” said Mr Don Quicksotte, very quickly seeing which way the land lay and very adroitly backtracking, “of course I mean that it is the Monchild-Rothsanto proposal to which the … er … squatting community has taken exception. My point in coming here is to suggest that the disorder which I foresee can be nipped in the bud.”
“How so?” asked Sir Hearty Luncheon very distantly and very coldly, “Do go on, I’m all ears.”
“The dissension is being fomented by a ringleader,” said Mr Quicksotte, “Perhaps you know him. He goes by the name of … um … Carbonate.”
“It is possible,” conceded Sir Hearty Luncheon, “I meet a great many people, as I have said.”
“My point was,” continued Mr Quicksotte, “that if this … um … Carbonate could somehow be as it were induced to curtail his recklessness, his sowing of the seed of discord, then the demolition and redevelopment in Stokes Croft would go much more smoothly, with all the attendant benefits that would bring in terms of sustainable energy and rejuvenating the Stokes Croft area, and of helping the Native American people of Agua Caliente in their laudable attempts to diversify away - one might almost say, liberate themselves - from that dreadful casino business they’ve got entangled in through no fault of their own. And y … er … Monchild-Rothsanto would trouser a nice profit. Everyone benefits. What’s not to like?”
Now rumbled the great Luncheon volcano, as though presaging a quake and the spitting of molten rock.
“Mr Quakespit,” quoth at last that Hephaestic oracle, “I have asked you to state your business with me. Most particularly, I requested that you spare the cant, that being something which I never could bear. It strikes me that the business of yours which you have stated is most conspicuously with someone else rather than with myself. If you think that these … er … squatters you speak of are revolting, you must address your concerns to the civil authorities. They are no concern of mine. And as for the cant …” 

Here, Sir Hearty Luncheon’s oratory ran with a shudder into the sand. This was of little solace to his interlocutor, for he saw how the great captain of industry no longer focussed upon his case, but cast his eyes once more upon the green figures marching across the screen. After some moments of being thus roundly ignored, Mr Don Quicksotte mumbled some formula of questionable grammaticity, to which Sir Hearty Luncheon returned another of his grunts. Following which, the jet stream being abated, the booster of wind withdrew from the presence of the rumbling volcano.

For his part, once he found himself alone, Sir Hearty Luncheon let it be known that he was not to be disarranged by the muffled knocks or discreet coughs of twerps, no matter how tailored, coiffed, cuffed, toothsome, mutually identical or distinct. Then he sold all the money which he had latterly bought, and bought back all the money which he had latterly sold, both transactions being marked by notable diminutions in the degrees of the respective listlessness and fretfulness of spirit in which the original transactions had been undertaken. Whether he reflected very much upon the prognoses of which his recent visitor had delivered himself, is not an issue on which I am in a position to shed any insight. Nor am I privy to the contents of his state of mind when, that vesper, Mr Jagtar Singh once again drove him in the black Lexus past the daffodils rioting on the verge by Blagdon cricket ground.



Self portrait with camera phone, early November 2014


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Pretty Poli - the progress

After finishing my germ 'n' gym-based Moby Dick parody 'Amoeba Dick' at the end of March, I took a short break from novel-writing, and spent six weeks undertaking some moderatelyy tiresome DIY on my home. Once I'd got that out of the way, I started work on my next novel.

This is 'Pretty Poli, or Monsieur Perroquet's Ascent to a High Perch'. Superficially, PP is a parrot-based parody of Thomas Hardy's novel 'The Mayor of Casterbridge'. At a slightly deeper level, it is a satire of the Ferguson Mayoralty of Bristol.

A plot summary:- Hawksmoor Perroquet, an African Grey, suddenly appears in Bristol, accompanied by a budgerigar and their egg. They visit the Anarchist Book Fair in Hamilton House where, under the influence of an intoxicating powder, Hawksmoor sells the budgerigar and egg to a passing ornithologist. When he awakes some hours later with a terrible bastard behind the eyes and a deeply troubled conscience, he repents of his misdeed and makes his way to Club Autonomie in Easton, where he swears on a copy of the Anarchist Bible to forgo intoxicating powder for a period of twenty-one years. Following an unsuccessful search for his wife and egg, he settles in Bristol, and enjoys a successful career as an architect of hipster bars.

Twenty or so years later, Hawksmoor's reputation is both well entrenched and slightly tarnished. He is planning to redevelop the neglected Stokes Croft eyesore Penistone House. In this undertaking, he enjoys the dubious backing of a shady financier Sir Hearty Luncheon, Sir Hearty's sleeping partner Lord Handjob, and the not very helpful input of various local luminaries - the City Director of Poncemaking Dr Mark Wankstein, Don Quixote the booster of wind, Crass Carbonate the champagne socialist community activist, and the latter's consort Miss Ledwitch the colonic irrigationist. The project is complicated by the necessity of demolishing Squattocrat Towers. Hawksmoor is also assailed by the two tier cocaine market which has developed as a result of his policies - the worming powder used as a bulking agent in the crack smoked by his less affluent consituents has caused agranulocytosis and neutropenia to become endemic throughout the loucher suburbs of inner-city Bristol.

And then, one morning, Hawksmoor's wife reappears, with a fledged chick presumed to be his daughter ...

I've written 16,500 words so far. I suspect that, as well as being a parody of the Hardy novel, Pretty Poli may end up with some of the features of Dickens's Gordon Riots novel 'Barnaby Rudge', and some of the scope and sweep of political novels such as Trollope's 'The Way We Live Now' or George Elliot's 'Middlemarch'.

Two more tracks, courtesy of my son Joe.

Go to:-
https://soundcloud.com/joseph-craven

Check out 'Joara' and 'It's Me You're Looking For'

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Chapter 3 of Pretty Poli

3.
Animal Rationis Capax Otiose Paenitet

The parrot in short order found himself most unceremoniously bundled from the building, much to the hilarity of the topers congregating still across the road on Turbo Island. Affecting to ignore the foul execrations flung at him by those gentlefolk, he levered himself upright and, by now without his scooter, which had presumably been appropriated by some wave-particle in the fusion of anarchy, on clawed foot took his disconsolate way down the shallow slope into the city centre. What ensued as the shadows lengthened is lost to this chronicle. The natural surmise is that the parrot took in some ditch somewhere such repose as his troubled conscience that night afforded him.

Suffice to say, at an unforgiving hour the following morning, he was to be observed in the purlieus of Easton - Robertson Road, to be precise, where it adjoined Foster Street - perched on a telegraph pole and eyeing the entrance to the premises on the corner across the road. The rain had not stinted since the prior forenoon, but had rather increased in both intensity and oleaginousness, now manifesting itself as an unremittingly nasty and viscous affair, and seeming by this means to answer to the despondency which the parrot published to the world, as he hunched up there in silhouette amongst the tree’s scanty twigs. The establishment opposite which he kept his vigil rejoiced in the name ‘Club Autonomie’, and announced itself as a community centre, a noble aspiration somewhat belied by the notices posted on its windows, a gamey stew of distinctly antisocial revolutionary socialism.

After some thirty minutes or so, there appeared without a scowling middle-aged lady in bedraggled dreadlocks, who unlocked the black door set into the corner, and then stood there momentarily, eyeing suspiciously the lengths of the two streets. The parrot, taking advantage of her stasis, fluttered down from his perch and marched in by the door which she held ajar. For her part, the lady beadle of that admirable establishment affected not to be surprised at the advent of that harlequin ambassador of the tropical, being no doubt much practised in never letting slip the mask of diversity-acceptance.

Within the Club, a number of chairs in mismatched formica were place around a couple of tables. A pungent odour of the 1970’s permeated throughout. The parrot rather wearily hauled himself onto an eviscerated reproduction fauteuil, and addressed his new companion.
“Nice gaff you got here. You wouldn’t happen to have about the place a copy of the Anarchist Bible? I did hear that you might.”
“Only certain fragments,” said that crusty personage rather doubtfully, “it keeps getting burned. Was there anything in particular … ?”
“I have in mind a sort of oath which I want to swear,” said the parrot, “pertaining to my future conduct.”
“Well,” replied the nymph of the grove, “the Book of Autonomous Actions is nearly complete, and only slightly singed, but I don’t know, it might not be sweary enough.”
“It’s all one to me,” said the parrot in his extremis, “either that or the Book of the Spectacle will amply serve my purpose.”
“Autonomous Actions it is then,” said his hostess, reaching up to the high shelf that ran along the back wall, and fishing therefrom a grimy sheaf of loose papers. This she placed upon the low table in front of the parrot’s fauteuil. The parrot clambered over onto the table and, placing his right claw upon the Holy Book, solemnly intoned the following words:-
“I, Hawksmoor the parrot, on this April Fool’s Day do take an oath before Bakunin, Kropotkin and Proudhon, the presiding spirits of non-hierarchical social organisation, here in this profane temple, that I will refrain from all equine anaesthetics, Latin-American talcums and amphetamine-based substances for a period of twenty-one years to come. And this I swear upon this Book of Autonomous Actions, and may I be robbed of my remarkable linguistic and cognitive abilities if I break this my oath.”
Fortified by the resolve which the making of this oath had implanted in his afflicted breast, Hawksmoor immediately quit the environs of the Club Autonomie, and set about searching for his forsaken consort and their unhatched egg. 

The fruitlessness of this endeavour became swiftly apparent. The gentleman with whom he had misguidedly transacted had dropped certain hints as to his being occupied as some kind of animal behavioural scientist, perhaps even the ‘hornotholojit’ of the Infirmity Lady’s divination. Nevertheless, he had left no name or forwarding particulars, email address, mobile number, or other means by which he might be contacted. Furthermore, Hawksmoor was exceeding loth to make enquiries at the municipal zoo up on the edge of Durdham Downs, lest the panjandrums of that bestiary view him under the specie of an acquisition, and lay rough hands upon him, and by main force incorporate him into the aviary which they maintained in that place. Being nonetheless reluctant to derogate from his duty of reuniting himself with his wronged consort, he made his way into the centre of the metropolis, and then up the hill at the top of which, like some Benthamite speculum surveying the life seething below it, brooded the University. Alas! withal it was an oracle of many mouths, very many of the mouths in question were stoppered by beadles officiating most punctiliously as the corks of those orifices, who drove Hawksmoor thence with staves and execrations, considering it not mete nor condign that a bird should be afforded the considerations due to an erect hominid. Other portals, in principle more willing to be of assistance, were perforce gnomic and unavailing in their efforts, Hawksmoor contributing to this lamentable state of affairs in view of being unable to supply name, nor department, nor faculty pertaining to the personage who had made off with his spouse.


Eventually, all roads leading to culs de sac and stoppered mouths, Hawksmoor was forced to concede the fruitlessness of his quest. Reluctantly, he determined that he would secure himself a perch in a district of Bristol which he had for some time had his eye on, and there seek by honest swinking to ascend the greasy pole of human endeavour. Reaching this determination, he demurred not but straightaway took wing, and flew from the centre of the metropolis out over Spike Island, until he came to Windmill Hill, where he foraged and scratched around amongst the scanty twigs and grasses of that meadow, and gradually built himself a most comely bower, which in later years became an arts centre, being known as the Parrot’s Palace.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

My son's the next Kruder & Dorfmeister

My son Joe has started uploading his compositions. Here's his URL:-
https://soundcloud.com/joseph-craven
I am a very proud parent indeed. I wish I had a tenth of his talent.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

The opening paragraphs of my newly begun novel

Pretty Poli;

Or:

Monsieur Perroquet's Ascent to a 

High Perch




A Novel


By Richard Craven
1.
Unheeding the Yellowhammers.

A most bleary dawn for May, the filthy welkin lowering ominously over the city’s roofscape. Had they been more than minimally alert, the flâneurs at that ungodly hour straggling homewards up the Gloucester Road would have had their vigilance rewarded by a very peculiar manifestation. Not to put too fine a point on things, there was to be seen, fastidiously keeping within the margins of the cycle lane there depeynted, a large grey parrot astride a tiny scooter. Perched behind this creature was a most comely yellow budgerigar. And what might you expect to see, following in the wake of this slightly ill-assorted couple, being towed on a two-wheeled and comparably diminutive trailer, and lying in state upon a bed of cotton wool and what must I think have been pencil shavings, but a mignon little egg?

To our notional observer the progress of this bizarre congeries would have appeared agonisingly slow. In his defence, the navigating bird must need negotiate the multitude of bumps and and holes and grates and turds and banana skins, figurative and eke literal, which bestrewed the portion of thoroughfare sequestered for his use. His companion saluted each of these impediments by flapping her wings, such efforts to maintain her own stability evidently coming at the expense of that of the contraption on which she perched. At the risk of unduly anthropomorphising the psittaciform, I venture to suggest that her behaviour vexed her conductor, for whenever thus disturbed he bestowed upon that dilapidated corner of creation the coarsest and most vulgar epithets. For her part, the budgerigar at intervals favoured us with, besides a medley of random and inchoate squarks, precisely two intelligible imprecations of her own - “shut up!” and “knickers!” - the incessant repetitions of which betrayed a poverty of vocabulary, and indeed a mindlessness, which can have done very little to leaven the biliousness of her consort.

With the passing of the hours, there commenced, hesitant and desultory at first then by degrees intensifying, an oily rain. A hyperborean gale intermittently whipped up the cardboard and polystyrene fragments maculating in the gutters, and buffeted the plumed personages in their hindquarters. It was a harsh affair, that wind, which did not fill their sails, withal it ruffled their feathers, inasmuch as their progress continued as jarring and as vexed as ever - indeed, it seemed to the universal speculum much as if those gaudy apparitions congealed against that dun occluded landscape of tarmac and commercial premises and discarded stuffs.

Eventually, for all that things had seemed rutted in the traces of a kind of eternal monoevent, that state of being in which they appeared enmired became a becoming. One or two and then several more lorries ground along the avenue, the harbingers of the morning’s metal tide. The people borne upon this tsunami, drivers of lorries, bus-borne somnambulists, solitary motorists, Pakistanis driving cabs, gimperous cyclists, all seemed bent on their several occupations, oblivious of the feathered emissaries of paradise. These latter followed the piste, thereby trundled haltingly down a shallow decline, at the bottom of which they were found to be passing through a leafier and  more forgiving purlieu, a place where cafes extended onto veritable prairies of pavement, and shops sold to hipsters the organic sundries and artisanal fripperies which they professed to find indispensable. Then there was a twist in the road, and overhead a railway arch, under which the avian menagerie passed, as though to signify the sneering triumph over them of some unseen but no doubt sneering miles gloriosus. Beyond this lay a vista of some two hundred yards of non-description, ceding at the traffic lights to the desolations of Stokes Croft.



Friday, 16 May 2014

The beginning of The Montpeliad, an Augustan-style satire modelled on Pope's Dunciad

The Montpeliad

by Richard Craven

Of slumming hipsters and of slurring drunks,
of raving seers, visionaries, tortured monks,
of bulimic girls with temperamental cats,
and flagellants in tin foil hats
of student anarchists and Trotskyites,
and knuckle-dragging apes with dogs that bite,
and anti-GM activists smoking GM skunk;
of all the witless wank this square mile's wunk:
sing, St Lycergus! Sing, Terpsichore!
They've snorted all the ket, and now want more.
This dawn I took my way down Picton Street,
which bore the mark of canine, smeared by feet,
and saw there party-goers from the night before
wearing wings of angel, ears of bunny, monkey's paw.
There I saw one I knew, and stopped her, crying
"That cheese you're growing in your attic's frying.
Oh keep far hence the helicopter and the snout
or with their infra-red they'll sniff it out".
Next saw I Laudanum's lover, clucking like a hen,
shivering outside the apothecary's den,
and shouting "Open like the fuckin' door!
If you've not got gear, you must at least have draw!"
Alas, the chemists in there took him for a nark
and barred the gate, and sent him to Montpelier Park.
I tarried not, but hastened to Stokes Croft,
where Banksy's imitators spray, like dogs, aloft
epigrams of Gramsci, turgid agitprop,
the granular piss of Marx, and Lenin's plop.
Passed I by the People's Rep eponymous
where Comrade Chalkley's china gathers dust,
and bent my steps past the Jamaica Bell
and Compass House, that reeking five-barred Hell
where squats Jaundice yellowing upon each brow
and Reason in a flood of White Ice drowns.
In King Square Park, a sort of mummery engaged
the very rude mechanicals upon that stage:

Monday, 5 May 2014

I have the honour of having taken the most wicket-keeping catches in Division 2 of the North Somerset Cricket League last season:-

http://nscl.play-cricket.com/subsite/web_pages/7179

My team, the Old England & Bristol Sikhs, won 13 out of 17 matches last season, and got promoted to Division 1. We won our first match of the season yesterday - although I was absent attending a 50th birthday celebration in Kent.

Friday, 11 April 2014

A Sonnet To Dinner ...

... where the witticism flows like wine,
and likewise stains the lips from which it drips.
Who has not felt the tongue's cruel flail?
Who has not quailed before that whip?

Admit me not to Pandemonium,
that two-starred Hell, where unkind hosts 
hold court, and homicidal chefs concoct
culinary deserts of burnt toast

I cannot look upon another assiette
bare but for some nanoparticle of Hollandaise.
I cannot go to banquets where I am the ghost.
I'll not be the lapdog, not the salon pet.
I'll lurk at home, and swallow takeaways
and, very coldly, sweat.


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

After finishing Amoeba Dick and sending it to an agent, I'm taking a month off writing before I start work on my next novel - Pretty Poli, or Monsieur Perroquet's Ascent to a High Perch. I'm using this time to attend to my home, for a diy frenzy is necessitated by the slum conditions and domestic desuetude in which I have become enmired whilst writing (i) my PhD and (ii) Amoeba Dick.

On the subjects of Pretty Poli, I'm going to have to do some research. The easy part will be re-reading the Mayor of Casterbridge. But is there anyone out there acquainted with a talkative, and preferably rather rude, parrot?

Monday, 31 March 2014

According to today's Daily Telegraph, "the Duchess of Cambridge isn't the only one to have turned up to an event to find a fellow attendee wearing the same outfit".

Well, duh!


Tuesday, 25 March 2014

A footnote in Amoeba Dick concerning Ockam's Razor



Ockam’s Razor, the lex parsimoniae named after the medieval philosopher William of Ockam, is a methodological – rather than a metaphysical – principle. For a given phenomenon explanandum, the Razor enjoins acceptance of the explanans with the lightest ontological burden.

It is tempting to reformulate the Razor in terms of its impact on the scope of negation in ascriptions about reasonableness of belief. Thus, letting Rϕ be ‘it is reasonable to believe that ϕ’, ‘¬ϕ’ be ‘it is not the case that ϕ’, and → denote material implication, then Ockam’s Razor enjoins us to narrow the scope of negation, i.e. ¬Rϕ → R¬ϕ. That is to say, putting things very loosely indeed, absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

Freshly-written prologue to Amoeba Dick

Prologue: the Manuscript in Mr Vagus’s Loo

Mr Vagus, who knocked up cabinets and other oddments, and was otherwise a dealer in reliquaries, died an undischarged bankrupt. I never had the honour of his acquaintance, but I imagine him to have been a fat and wheezing chump. It fell to me, as an insolvency practitioner and all-round resolver of inefficiently-prosecuted affairs, to assess what of Mr Vagus’s effects could be salvaged for the duns, and whether perchance some morsels might even be left for those unsecured creditors of his, who were to be considered the widows and orphans of his sprees.

Mr Vagus’s place of business, a knackered old workshop, skulked in the shadows of Horfield Gaol. Thither I repaired, and found the ground floor to be a meagre sort of showroom, containing little apart from a quantity of homosexual pornography, a few sticks and planks upon which Mr Vagus had performed some desultory work in the line of turning and polishing; and also a triptych, painted in acrylic on a plywood veneer, purportedly in the Russian Orthodox tradition, although so poorly conceived and executed as to afford little clue whom the Tolstoyan figures thereon depicted were supposed to represent; Rasputin, I was moved to suggest to myself.

Upstairs were living quarters. A large room, with windows looking down into the filthy street below, contained as its only furniture a table and a form of divan, which Mr Vagus had presumably made his bed following the repossession of his home in Filton Avenue. The floor in this room was strewn with spliffbutts, with many more of these clogging the fire grate. There was also a kitchenette, bare but for some jars of instant coffee granules, and some crockery, waiting for someone to wash it, stacked in the sink.

There was also a toilet. Mr Vagus had evidently towards the end suffered from a digestive complaint, for this room announced itself with the most indescribably disgusting reek, such that I scarce forbore to poke my nose round the corner of the door. However, from professional habit I did so, and my eyes alighted upon a roll of toilet paper, resting on a low stool next to the seat upon which Mr Vagus had been accustomed to take his easement. What caught my notice was that the roll in question was covered with a dense calligraphy. My inquisitiveness got the better of my repulsion, and so I purloined the tongs from Mr Vagus’s fireplace, and grasped the toilet roll with these, and slipped it into a plastic bag from the cupboard under the kitchenette sink, and immediately quit that place of desolation.

The work, when I got it home and unravelled it, had evidently passed through several hands, for it was smudged in various places and stained with diverse residues, the nature of which I preferred not to dwell on, for they cannot have been very nice. The thing itself purported to be either the memoir of a tragedy which had overtaken the members of a gym in Hotwells; or a novel, in particular a parody of Moby Dick. I could not tell which, for many of the footnotes with which it was liberally endowed appeared to be later additions by a different hand from that of the original author. I leave it to later readers to decide this question.

Perhaps, if a publisher can be found, now that I have gone to the trouble of transcribing the work from the original filthy bogroll, some funds may in due course be realised, which will to some small extent succour the aforementioned widows and orphans. Such, at any rate, shall be my hope.

Dr R_C_
Prose Watercloset Insolvency Ltd

Bristol, Bath, Palm Springs & Saratov.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Amoeba Dick is just shy of 100,000 words. I've just completed the denouement chapter, and embarked on the epilogue. I'm hoping to finish within the next two to three days. An exciting moment!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Amoeba Dick is now nearly 91,000 words long, and should be finished within the next two to three weeks. I'll take a month or so off writing, in order to attend to some painting & decorating issues at home. Then I'll start work on my next novel: "Pretty Poli; or Monsieur Perroquet's Ascent to a High Perch".

Other news: an idea came to me the other night, about a sort of eco-fetish novel, rejoicing in the soubriquet: "Forest Gimp".

Sunday, 23 February 2014

I've just copied & pasted my entire PhD thesis - all 272 pages of it - onto a Blog page. It was a thoroughly laborious process, and I'm going to have to go through the whole damn thing again at some point, as
(a) the pagination doesn't seem to have gone through; and
(b) it hasn't captured the footnotes.
Why I can't simply upload the bloody thing, I don't know! Still, it's substantially up there now.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Un petit séjour chez des amis à Paris, ou j'ai passé l'hiver de 2009-10, comme étudiant à une institue de recherches philosophiques pendant mon doctorat. A l'instant, je suis dans le biblio au Centre Pompidou, jouant le rôle tout à fait traditionel d'un romancier expat, en écrivant plus d'Amoeba Dick; que d'un Hemingway, moi!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/10625730/Downing-Street-police-porn-arrests.html This news has caused in me a change of mind. I now think that Andrew Mitchell would have been wrong to have called the Diplomatic Protection cops "fucking plebs". Plainly, he should have called them "dirty buggers" instead.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Amoeba Dick passed the 80,000 word mark this afternoon, meaning it's on schedule for completion some time in late March. Next projects:- (1) Hire an agent to secure me a publishing contract for Amoeba Dick. One agent has expressed an interest, but wants to see a complete copy of the work before agreeing to represent me. (2) Upload my PhD thesis. This process is slightly complicated by the fact that my thesis features a lot of symbolic logic, some of the formatting of which tends to get lost when the beast is uploaded onto a new platform. So it'll probably take me several days, after uploading the whole thing, to go through it with a hard copy, inputting all the lost symbols. (3) Start work on my next novel, which will be one of the following two:- (a) a singularly revolting parody of Ulysses called - and I can only apologise for this - "Odour Issues". The less said about this the better, frankly, but I think it will be jolly good. (b) "Pretty Poli; or, Monsieur Perroquet's Ascent to a High Perch"; this being a novel about a very clever parrot which scales the greasy pole of human endeavour, in particular making a career in politics, eventually enjoying a period as Home or Foreign Secretary. Withal, this is a novel of hubris, for alas our feathered friend's downfall is brought about by a character defect peculiar, it may be supposed, to the generality of parrots, viz. a liking for smut.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Earl of Rochester's Lost Scat Haikus

Lost Weekend

And Then

Die Lorelei

An Anglo Saxon Poem About Dutch Drugs

Mr Russell Brand, Talking Pants

The Choise of Valentines; or, Nash his Dildo

A Dsicussion of Enema Art by the Franco Algerian Critic P M Déridé

The Jabberwock

Ozymandias, before the subcommittee

Young Scientist in the old England

I deleted my YouTube channel, after getting a bit weary with the illiteracy, abuse, and lunacy which typifies that medium. An unfortunate byproduct of this decision has been the deletion of some videos shared with my blog. So I'm going to repost these.


Monday, 6 January 2014

3 new videos on my YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/AmoebaDick:-
(1) A recitation of Lewis Carroll's poem The Jabberwock
(2) A recitation of Heinrich Heine's poem Die Lorelei
(3) An excerpt from ch21 of Amoeba Dick, purporting to be a discussion by the Franco-Algerian art critic Paul-Marie Ridicule, of the enema art of Boucher, Bosse and Goya. This is reproduced below. If any Francophones wish to suggest corrections of any of the inevitable solecisms, I will be delighted to hear from them:-

“Ainsi furent encadrées, l’une à coté de l’autre, les deux Odalisques de Boucher, celle de la turque et celle de Mlle O’Murphy, la concubine de sa majesté Louis XV, chacune comme si offrante les fesses à un type de M.Illingworth inaperçu. En outre, pendu en face, tout à fait explicite: Le Lavement d’Abraham Bosse: le docteur, portant sa pistole (son pistolet) énorme de lavement, s’approcha de l’invalide couché. Une femme – l’épouse, la mère, ou la servante? – lui arracha la manche, comme si pour  éviter un acte tabou. Enfin, devant les toilettes, une représentation de signification ouvertement religieuse, en meme temps tortueuse: le Trágala Perro de Goya, où fut presentée une foule de moines de l’Inquisition Espagnole forçant un lavement sur leur victime.”
 

2nd Prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly May Poetry Competition

Opening my email about twenty minutes ago, I was delighted to discover that my Sonnet 142 has been awarded 2nd Prize in the Sentinel Literar...