Saturday, July 25, 2015

New England Platypus

There were awesome sweeps of vivid valley where great cliffs rose, New England's virgin granite shewing grey and austere through the verdure that scaled the crests. There were gorges where untamed streams leaped, bearing down toward the river the unimagined secrets of a thousand pathless peaks. Branching away now and then were narrow, half-concealed roads that bored their way through solid, luxuriant masses of forest among whose primal trees whole armies of elemental spirits might well lurk.


... there was a strangely calming element of cosmic beauty in the hypnotic landscape through which we climbed and plunged fantastically, Time had lost itself in the labyrinths behind, and around us stretched only the flowering waves of faery and the recaptured lovliness of vanished centuries--the hoary groves, the untainted pastures edged with gay autumnal blossoms, and at vast intervals the small brown farmsteads nestling amidst huge trees beneath vertical precipices of fragrant brier and meadow-grass. Even the sunlight assumed a supernal glamour, as if some special atmosphere or exhalation mantled the whole region. I had seen nothing like it before save in magic vistas that sometimes form the backgrounds of Italian primitives. Sodoma and Leonardo conceived such expanses, but only at a distance, and through the vaultings of Renaissance arcades. We were now burrowing bodily through the midst of the picture, and I seemed to find in its necromancy a thing I had innately known or inherited, and for which I had always been vainly searching.

-H.P. Lovecraft, The Whisperer in Darkness

Friday, July 24, 2015

New England Platypus

At evening Iranon sang, and while he sang an old man prayed and a blind man said he saw a nimbus over the singer's head. Bust most of the men of Teloth yawned, and some laughed and some went away to sleep; for Iranon told them nothing useful, singing only his memories, his dreams, and his hopes.

"I remember the twilight, the moon, and soft songs, and the window where I was rocked to sleep. And through the window was the street where the golden lights came, and where the shadows danced on houses of marble. I remember the square of moonlight on the floor, that was not like any other light, and visions that danced in the moonbeams when my mother sang to me. And too, I remember the sun of morning bright above the many-coloured hills in summer, and the sweetness of flowers borne on the south wind that made the trees sing.


"Long have I missed thee, Aira, for I was but young when we went into exile, but my father was thy king and I shall come again to thee, for so it is decreed of fate. All through the seven lands have I sought thee, and some day I shall reign over thy groves and gardens, thy streets and palaces, and sing to men who shall know whereof I sing, and laugh not nor turn away. For I am Iranon, who was a Prince in Aira."

-H.P. Lovecraft, The Quest of Iranon
Qui Transtulit Sustinet

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Fellowship: The Platypus Reads Part CCLXXXV

The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings is the first major comprehensive study of the influential group of Oxford writers since Humphrey Carpenter's The Inklings. This is above all a book whose time has come. Since Carpenter's initial study, a veritable floodwater has passed under the academic bridge. Philip and Carol Zaleski do a fine job of organizing and synthesizing this vast body of literature into an appropriately hefty (644 pages with the notes) portrait of the group that not only covers the Big Four (Tolkien, Lewis, Barfield, Williams), but also the second tier and allied-periphery (Warnie, Coghill, Dyson, Havard, Wain, Dundas-Grant, Cecil, Christopher Tolkien, Hardie, Sister Penelope, Ruth Pitter, Eddison, Sayers, and Eliot). The Zaleski's are at their best when they are weaving the complex stories of these authors' individual biographies and group interactions into a coherent narrative. They do have a bad habit of repeatedly snipping(making sharp, undefended judgements) at anything and everything in the authors' extensive corpuses that they don't like. While a persistent irritant, it is the only fault I can find in an otherwise triumphant work of scholarship. The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings has every chance of becoming a standard text on the group in the years to come.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Sages Seal Gannon (Reprise) Touch-Up: Creative Platypus

I've patched up The Sages Seal Gannon, or "Nocturne in Blue and White No3".  The sages in the middle and on the right of the top row have both been shifted right.  The right middle sage has been brought into alignment with his fellow.  These changes have improved the overall blocking of the picture and (to my surprise) the changes were relatively easy to make with a workable eraser and stippling the new colors over the old.  I probably should have adjusted the middle and right sages on the bottom row, but I chickened out.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

The Platypus and the Eldritch Horror (Cont.)

I did some thinking after my original analysis of Fantasy Flight's cooperative board game Eldritch Horror. One of the draws of the game seems to be its way of mirroring life. The investigators are presented with a set of unknown challenges that may or may not be solvable in the time allowed. These challenges are revealed one at a time as the game progresses and are of differing complexities and difficulties. Each round, the investigators create a plan for solving the current challenge and attempt to put it into effect. This would be hard enough except that at the end of every round a card is drawn that vastly complicates the situation. These are the Mythos Cards. Mythos cards come in three varieties and three level of difficulty. Each mythos card creates a variety of helps or challenges according to its type as well as adding a new element to the plot. The investigators may be down on their luck and suddenly find themselves presented with a host of clues plus a little aid from the Silver Twilight Lodge. Alternatively, the investigators may have finished a grueling round of battle only to find that the Ancient Ones have revived their defeated foes. And that's how life works. In the end, there is very little that we can actually control. Most of what we can control is in the way we react to outside events. What do we do when our plans are laid asunder? How do we deal with sudden windfalls? These are the choices that make or break us as we set out in an uncertain world.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Happy Fourth of July

239 years and still free
Qui Transtulit Sustinet

Friday, July 03, 2015

Pencils, Paper, and Power Metal: Creative Platypus

I've been working through a Heavy Metal music appreciation course set up by one of my former students on and off for about a year now.  I'm moved through the stuff I remember from the 80s and 90s and into the Brave New World (thank you Iron Maiden) of the 21st Century.  This past month has featured Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Kamelot and I thought the "Angel of Afterlife"(a nod to Phantom anyone?) from the album cover would be a great subject for my new pad of black paper.  Trying to conceptualize everything in terms of negative space still throws me for a loop, but I think I'm beginning to get the hang of it (in a high school art student sort of way).  My wife adds that this looks like Karen Sullivan (a character from an unpublished novel).  I can imagine a shade like this emerging from the stacks of the old library after hours.

What Happened to the Platypus' Summer 2015 Reading?

A typical summer here at the Platypus of Truth features literary reviews or live blogs of series such as Terry Brooks' Shannara or my projected plan to work through Garth Nix's Abhorsen series.  This year, while some books are being read (Moby Dick and The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings) most of my time is being sucked away by a change of apartment complex and a slew of medical tests trouble shooting my perennial stomach problems.  In the meantime, pencils and pastels have become a favorite distraction and hence their proliferation on this site.  We'll see if enough reading gets done to still post the "Seven Heavens of Summer Reading" awards at the end of August, but that may not happen.  In any case, literary criticism will resume as soon as possible and the trip through Nix has not been forgotten.  Until then, whatever's going on with me, the Platypus speaks Truth.