David Kopaska-Merkel’s book of humorous noir fiction based on nursery rhymes, Nursery Rhyme Noir 978-09821068-3-9, is sold at the Genre Mall. Other new books include The zSimian Transcript (Cyberwizard Productions) and Brushfires (Sams Dot Publishing).

Angela Slatter’s story ‘Frozen’ will appear in the December 09 issue of Doorways Magazine, and ‘The Girl with No Hands’ will appear in the next issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

Sara Genge’s story “Godtouched” may be found in Strange Horizons.

Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

Archive for the ‘Words about Words’ Category

The Great Archeologist AI Minds of the 22nd Century Solve Case #9821309 from the Early 21st Digital Archives

Friday, January 15th, 2010

The following conversation took place on October 8, 2122 at 9:13:23.967 though October 8, 2122 at 9:13:23.973 GMT.

AI #1: Aye-Two, can you make meaning of this sentence:  “Trent wrote on Trent Walters is a Kung Fu Master’s Wall.

AI #2: Aye-One, do you suppose this human named Trent inscribed his body with a bio-graffiti tattoo, reading, “Walters is a Kung Fu Master’s Wall”?

AI #1: No, what makes the sentence curious is the sentence-within-a-sentence structure and its consequent ambiguity.

AI #2: Ah, yes.  Play both illuminates and obfuscates.

AI #1: Precisely.

AI #2: It may mean that he desires to be the wall of a Kung Fu master:  kicked and punched by the best, perhaps, but still standing.  Perhaps context will shed light?

AI #1: Facebook.

AI #2: His face?

AI #1: He has none.

AI #2: Ah, the generic.  No pictures.  The visually-anonymous breed.

AI #1: Note: “Trent Walters is a Kung Fu Master” is the name of a group.

AI #2: Subtitled:  “This is a pointless group whose point is only to lend a faux legitimacy to the notion that Trent Walters is a Kung Fu Master.”  Question:  How does something pointless have a point?

AI #1: Precisely.

AI #2: And if it were truly pointless, would it include this heart-felt plea:  “Yesterday around 8pm CST, we were one of the fastest growing group in all of Facebook from 0 to 2 members! Today, we have no new members. What do we need to do to expand our horizons? Spend millions on an ad campaign? Or should we bring lemon bars and punch to meetings? Discuss options.”?

AI #1: My perusal of the group’s creator shows he was an educator.

AI #2: Of?

AI #1: Some aspect of science.

AI #2: Hazy.

AI #1: Precisely: Uncharacteristic of a scientist.

AI #2: Unless we’re talking quantum.  Moreover, it lists itself as of “Common Interest:  Philosophy.”

AI #1: Science did originate from philosophy.

AI #2: But they diverged, evolved so that they shared less, interbred little.  Perhaps too little?  Separate species?

AI #1: Quote from his personal files:  “I ebayed myself what was billed as a ‘kung fu suit’ to wear to school. It’s from China, so it must be authentic. No misbehavior in my classroom.

AI #2: Ah. An educator of kung-fu science.

AI #1: Science of kung fu or kung fu of science?

AI #2: Perpetual ambiguity.

AI #1: Precisely.

AI #2: Note the last phrase, Aye-One.  Do you suppose this holds the answer to our mystery?

AI #1: Once again, why am I Aye-One and you Aye-Two?  In the 21st century educators required extreme means of self-defense, even resorting to costumes of authority.

AI #2: Case closed.  Next.

Life Is for Living, Plots for Burying Things in

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

[O]n the contrary, everything in it is both head and tail, alternately and reciprocally….  We can cut wherever we please…. Chop it into numerous pieces and you will see that each one can get along alone. — Charles Baudelaire, “To Arsene Houssaye”

It was that great modernist monk of the late fourteenth century, Baudelard, who first codified the principle of spontaneous generation.  He had stowed away a porcelain saucer of skunk meat high in a cupboard where no animal–including the human kind–could reach it.  In truth, he had set it aside like manna, afraid that one day the countryside would have scant meat if he and his fellow monks kept hunting as they had all that blustery fall.

A week later, as Baudelard dusted the cupboard, he rediscovered the meat, writhing with worms, and quilled his findings in a thirty-pound volume of accumulated observations.

Yet Baudelard was no one-trick pony of a natural philosopher who folds his hands and rests on laurels.  He understood this principle had to be developed to its fullest, for “To understand the essence of nature,” as he was fond of informing his fellow monks spraying a sibilant mouthful of his noon meal: day-old bread, goat cheese and wine, “is to understand the mind of God.”  So Baudelard cut worms at varying lengths to see if life might sprout again.

And, lo, they did grow full and wriggling blood-red with both head and tail intact, whichever was the original of which.  The confusion brought him to recall a minor poet friend of his, the Englishman Geoffrey Chaucer.  He had started a series of semi-bawdy, semi-humorous tales of wanderers mocking the Old English tales of heroes, using the vulgar, common English tongue.  Chaucer and Baudelard both saw the stories–pale imitations of Boccaccio–as best fit for lining refuse bins.

To test just how far the principle of spontaneous generation went, they took his original manuscript, mulched it, stirred in earthworms, water, and ink, and let the rotting mass germinate for several months.  Chaucer was probably over-eager and exhumed the manuscript prematurely.  The Canterbury tales were still unfinished and a bit raw, but Chaucer corrected the earthworms’ grammatical errors and found ways to punch up the bawdiness.

The triumphant success of Baudelard’s literary experiment, logically lead him to human beings as his next test subject.  The rest, as you know, is history–eternal glory springs from temporary gore.  Even now, a century later, Baudelard’s achievements remain the high-water mark of natural philosophy and letters.

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