Posts Tagged: writing

It is That Time Again: The Annual NaBloPoMo!!!

Yes folks, after you have said your “Rabbit Rabbit” and properly put on your All Saints Day / Día de Muertos attire*, it is time to start with the 9th annual November National Blog Posting Month!
If you need a few reasons to blog daily, Eden Kennedy is here to help.
I am going to do my very best to write out a text / typed post every day during November and a photo or photo/essay. I also have a backlog of photos** that need to be posted, including some awesome black and whites from the Nikon FM3a.
* What?!?!? You aren’t dressed up as your favorite Saint or Día de Muertos’ figure today?
** Can I say Helsinki and the visit to Nokia House in July? Ummm… Why yes, those photos did fall down into the black hole that is my computer’s ‘Pictures’ folder!

It is November 1st and it is NaBloPoMo again!

National Blog Posting Month

Yes, folks… depending on your persuasion November 1st could mean for you that it is rabbit rabbit rabbit time, All Saints Day, first day to start your mustache for Movember, or the start of National Blog Posting Month, or some other good thing.
Here at Black Phoebe, I am going to do my best to blog away happily and jump start my daily blogging practice again.
The nice BlogHer folk at NaBloPoMo have stated: “The theme for November’s NaBloPoMo is blogging for blogging’s sake.”
Yay! So here I am, blogging for blogging’s sake! Rather than tweeting for tweeting’s sake, of which I will do when I push publish on this post to encourage folks participate in NaBloPoMo.
Blogs away!

Fantasy, Science Fiction, Imagination, Faith, and Modernity

There has been quite the internet blog-o-sphere to do revolving around Michael Weingrad’s essay “Why There Is No Jewish Narnia“, which led to D.G. Myers asserting that “Fantasy is a Genre of Christianity“, where upon E.D. Kain proposes that it is not Christianity but Anglophone culture that is the root of Fantasy literature in “Fantasy and the Anglosphere“.
In “Fantasy and the Anglosphere” Kain writes,

“When I published my fantasy piece in the Atlantic it was linked (reproduced?) by Richard Dawkins’ site and a number of the atheists in the commentariat had scathing things to say about fantasy literature. Apparently it is not enough that readers of fantasy do not, in fact, believe in their make-believe. Apparently the fact that dragons and sorcery are not based in science is enough to earn the scorn of some anti-religious types.
This reminds me of the reaction of many conservative Christian groups to various fantasy novels, from Harry Potter to The Golden Compass and the attempt by some conservative groups to ban these books in schools due to all that witchcraft and other devil-worshipping (you know, all those satanic rituals Harry Potter and Hermione engage in before the strange sexual acts begin.)
But many, many Christians and atheists and people of various other faiths enjoy fantasy. “

It struck my absurdity bone as darkly funny that folks are unable to enjoy fiction because it is not science.
And then being the internet it gets better, as Alyssa Rosenberg jumps in the fray with “Is Fantasy Inherently Christian?” and Adam Serwer joins in with “High Fantasy is a Subgene of Fantasy“, wherein Mr. Serwer brings in the fantasy traditions of many cultures worldwide.
What I find interesting is that none of the writers above, after name checking C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, and Chesterton, with one or two brief references to Arthurian legends of the high Middle Ages, discuss the Romantic and Victorian infatuation with all things that we would now label as Fantasy: elves, fairies, the sublime, the door between the worlds, other worlds, etc. Not just the folks in the British tradition, but also Wagner (The Ring Cycle), the Russian literature around Baba Yaga, the Welsh Mabinogion, the Celtic revival of Yeats, Wilde, et al, etc etc.
Or how about the writer that both Lewis and Tolkein gave much credit to, George MacDonald. While MacDonald was a poet, writer, and minister, many of his tales border between a mash up of older Scottish fairy tales with the early Modern Christian allegory tradition, wherein the fairy tales come out a bit stronger in his stories than any claims to a 19th Century version of Pilgrim’s Progress.
Wherever we want to trace the history and genealogy of contemporary Fantasy literature, it is far deeper and broader than Tolkein, Lewis, and Chesterton. The Bridge of Birds immediately leaps to mind.
Also to say that Judaism is only concerned with the here and now, and thus couldn’t produce a tradition of Fantasy is also only looking at the last 100 years or so of history. I would love a time machine to take me back to 1100 or 1200 AD to Cordoba or Granada to sit at the feet of a Jewish storyteller and hear of the tales being told in that moment in Andalucia. Maimonides may have had a few good fantastical stories to tell that weren’t all theological in nature.
We, a people who have lived through and beyond the age of the early Modern explorers, the empires where stories leaked back and forth between subject & subjector, as well as the Modernist love of all things industrial progress and the rational, dip into many strands of fantasy in our TV, books, films, and now internets, of which many of these strands may have root in the primary culture we live in right now or the stories may scamper up and down other trees and roots of places we have not yet seen nor heard of.
Many of the stories we now think of as Christian or Medieval are stories that have been radically reshaped or completely created anew in the last 200 years the Industrial Revolution, the Romantics, and the various Revivals of the late 19th century. How much of the current genre we call Fantasy is not necessarily the creative child of Christianity but really the rebellious teenager of rational Modernism?

Digital Archiving : Project52 : Week 1

Ashe to ashes, dust to dust. Pixels to electrons, electrons to delete().
As a person who studied art, art history, and graphic design in the first round of my college education, I spent a lot of time reading about and studying artists and designers of the past. We know and study those artists and designers by the physical objects, paintings | journal entries | letters | etc, that were left after their deaths. We know them by their objects.
How will future generations know about our generation when we have spent so much of our time and efforts tossing the physical object to the wind and embracing digital ephemera? For the first 10 plus years of the internet revolution, the giddy joy was in the ephemera, the shifting sands of the bytes blown by the winds of chance and a forgotten domain registration. But the winds have shifted, a few of the early generation of internet pioneers have passed away and now we wonder what will happen to their writings, photos, and their primary sources when the domain expires or the hosting goes past due?
How will future scholars know who were the true pioneers, the giddy bon vi-bloggers from the corporate marketing shills that followed fast on their heels? Do we give the college freshman of 2567 CE/AD an introductory digital studies of Steve Ballmer meets Proctor & Gamble, or do we protect the writings of internet and blog pioneers such as Brad Graham and Lesile Harpold who died too early to write a will or a set up a trust that considered their seminal writings and blogs to be passed on to a university collection?
Now some would say, it is just the internet – here today, gone tomorrow. I would counter that we don’t know what others in future eras will want to know and what will be just assumed about our era, and that more the more well preserved primary sources we leave the better for future scholars and pundits to be able to analyze and learn from our time in a way we are too close to see with any clarity.
A discussion started on the “Remembering our friend Brad” Metatalk post between Matthowie, barbelith (Tom Coates), Maximolly (Molly Steenson), myself, holgate, and a few others how to preserve blogs to an archive that can be accessed past the time the domains have expired and the files deleted off the web hosting server.
Tom suggests that:

“We should consider talking to George Oates at the Internet Archive to see if they have any options for this kind of situation. They might be the perfect place to put sites after someone dies like that.”

I agree with Tom that the Internet Archive is a great place to start, as I use it to find all of my own 1996-2001 website archives given that I can’t find the files on any old disks anymore. But the problem with the Internet archive is that it does not bring any photos or other image files, only the text from the sites that it archives.
After watching in the past few years the work that George Oates did with the Library of Congress while she was still at Flickr, I wondered if we should be considering a long term strategies that would go beyond registering a blog’s copyright or even a periodical ISBN with the Library of Congress or other Copyright Libraries (such as Oxford or Trinity) but should we not also be archiving our text, images, and presentation (css) files to the copyright libraries for future study and access?
In the Metatalk thread, I asked:

“Previously if one was a writer or artist or scholar or otherwise historically/culturally significant, one would give one’s writings & ‘collection’ to a university library. What do we do with our websites & blogs past the time we can pay for them?
How can we know now what might be significant for study 100, 200, 500, 1200 years from now? How do we archive bytes?
Some folks are printing out their blogs to custom ordered books, but this is not necessarily the best solution, as what will the children or grandchildren of our friends and families do with those books? Will they end up at flea markets along with 78rpm acetate records? But maybe that is good, the randomness of the find.
By choosing to engage in the frontier online space, we have chosen to some degree to toss the long term to the wind. The suggestion of the Library of Congress, or other institutions that function as a cultural respository, may be a good bet for the long run in terms of keeping an archive of text|image|ephemera, as after 2 recessions, I don’t trust the market to keep a reliable archive.
If we can now register our copyright with the Library of Congress or the Copyright Libraries (such as Trinity, Oxford, etc), and we can get an ISBN or periodical number for our blogs, how do we start to archive the actual posts and images to a repository.
Do we lobby our congress|political critters to set aside resources for blogs that are periodicals to be archived OR as Matthowie suggest do we donate to an institution such as the foundation and make sure that it can function as a cultural archival NGO?”

Is the Library of Congress or the various other copyright libraries up to the task of the pioneer digital generation donating their archives to the libraries in question or do we donate to the Internet Archive so that they can provide a more robust non-governmental/academic solution to archiving blogs and pioneering digital media?
Ashe to ashes, dust to dust. Pixels to electrons, electrons to save().

Daily Practice Makes for Good Creative Habits

Tues 11.03.09 – Regardless of whether you are participating in National ________ Posting/Writing Month or just reading/watching others, I think the best part of the November novel writing, blog posting, vlog posting, drawing, and any other permutation, is that daily practice really does hone one’s creative skills and ingrains, in a good way, the habit of the activity.
One of my favorite authors of all time, Madeleine L’Engle, frequently in articles, her books, and in writers workshops would encourage folks to write at least 30 minutes every day. She stated that with the daily habit comes the inspiration, not the other way around.
For a few years after taking the workshop with Ms. L’Engle, I would draw for 30 minutes every day. And then by the late 1990s, it became taking photos for at least a total of 15-20 minutes every day.
Rather than attempt to count up time and compare it to one creative activity, now I make sure that I reserve 30 mins to 1 hour every day for a / some creative activity be it writing, drawing, blogging, photography, or mobile blogging. By doing this regardless or schedule or busy-ness, it means that I carve out time time to slow down, time to create and explore.
Today on Twitter I started asking who of my circle of association is doing one of the Na__ __ Mo’s? I found that a good variety of folk were participating in the original NaNoWriMo, NaBloPoMo, NaVloPoMo (video blogging), and NaDrawMo (drawing).
One of my Twitter friends made apologies for his lack of participation saying he was not creative, I replied back that one can blog about whatever, it doesn’t have to be a story or long post. I would like to reiterate that this month is not about being the best or most polished or even the most creative, but about clearing a space for yourself to establish a new daily habit or even just to challenge yourself in something that you have always wanted to do but never did. So many of the folk who are writing novels this month have never written fiction but are doing the NaNoWriMo to really let go and loose their inhibitions about the activity.
It is not too late to join us.
Here is a list of the folks that I know in real life or via the Internets who are participating in National DoSomething Everyday Month:
Kasper Jespersen
Steve Lawson
James McNally
Sudhamshu Hebbar
Velvet Verbosity
Mrs. K (of course)
Jessica Spengler
Vikki Chowney
Lauren Isaacson
Laurie White
Mauricio Reyes
Utku Can
Ann McMeekin
Mike Maddaloni
James Whatley
Lloyd Davis
Benny Crime
Rupert Howe
Shaun Inman
Trey Piepmeier

NaBloPoMo 2009, Or November is The Month

NaBloPoMo is back!
November is the original and annual National Blog Posting Month and if you have been making excuses to yourself all year that you would like to get back in the swing of blog posting – here it is starting tomorrow only for 30 days – a good challenge.
For the last two years I have been on the 365 Blog Challenge to post every day, of which most of my posts end up being mobile photo blogged (mo-pho-blo), and on the months that I participate in NaBloPoMo I also attempt to post a text blog post every day.
Tomorrow I am going to start on the November NaBloPoMo and post a text/writing blog post every day for the month. Join me and all the others who are participating in NaBloPoMo and it doesn’t matter if you post text every day or a photo or a video or a combo of your choice, it is good fun!
Thanks to Mrs. Kennedy for thinking NaBloPoMo up and organizing it.

Poetry Ear Worms : We Were All Beautiful Once

For as much as I can get ear worms of songs stuck in my head for weeks at a time, I also find that a line or two of poetry can worm into my head, reverberate, expand, and live a full multi-week life, and not exit.

Lately, I have had two lines of poetry on rotation in my head along with’s* “Chunky” from Madagascar 2, one line from “The Act” by William Carlos Williams and one line from Ursula Le Guin’s “The Old Lady”.

Tonight I will point you to William’s “The Act” as I blogged about it when Vanessa, Edel, and I were turning it into an interactive flash piece in February of 2006:

The Act
There were the roses, in the rain.
Don’t cut them, I pleaded.
They won’t last, she said.
But they’re so beautiful
where they are.
Agh, we were all beautiful once, she said,
and cut them and gave them to me
in my hand.

Tomorrow or the next day I will blog about Le Guin’s wonderful new poetry book, Incredible Good Fortune. For now I am off to bed.

* p.s. Am I the only one who thinks that and animation team at Dreamworks are having good fun at poking at “My Humps?”