Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Deverry cycle

Katharine Kerr's Deverry cycle is a fanatasy series of 15 books. While she's not writing high fantasy - compared to masters of yesteryore like J.R.R. & Lord Dunsany, "the" man who inspired him - her wordsmithing has crafted something far better than your average, mediocre and superfluous modern fantasy.

(Late fantasy writer Robert Jordan could be an example of such - his Wheel of Time is truly grand through books 1-3; then comes 10 volumes of wearysome crappola before the unsupressed rage of his 100 000+ readers does its magic and sends his weak and greedy heart to an early grave. Heartattack I think they called it.)

I'd heard goodly praise of Kerrs cycle from several individuals (mayhap not strange since the first book Daggerspell came in 1986); but said Jordan thaugth me to stay far away from anything unfinished. When I heard the last book was out early winter 2009 I did start to read it, and I enjoyed it enough to buy the rest books once I'd finished the 3 first volumes availiable in our local library. (Btw: It is more than passing strange to me that the last book was available in paperback at but not at - selling off their good rep for a few kindles now are they?)

As a writer Kerr is quite capable, but she has resorted to too many shortcuts: copy/paste of descriptions and explanations is unworthy even, methinkst, Jordan, Forgotten Realms and such. Some passages/chapters can feel unduly long, saying what could have been said in 2 pages in 30 and such; and her repetitious technique of forshadowing who the main protagoinst is will be in the next paragraph will, as such things go, at first delight and later on simply annoy.

I have the same mixed feeling when it comes to her naming of the characters. Like me she does like her names to have meanings; and some of her names are simply genious: Like main character (atleast in the first few books) Nevyn(=Noone), and the reincarnated king gone mercenary Yraen(=Iron). Other times she chooses names that, while having good etymological roots, do give the whole thing more of a buccaneer-romance-novel feel than my refined and somewhat vain nature can deal with. I am, of course, escpesially thinking of Rhodry(=Rhodorix=Roseking) and Jill(=Girl). I mean, buccaneer romances aside, Rhodry? That sounds like somewhat you might call your cock.

And Im sure Jack misses Jill, so I guess its a good thing Kerr does'nt need her anymore.

Her take on magic (of a mostly hermeneuitc tradition) is the best 'daily life' description I've read by any autor in the genre - but sadly her knowledge is purly academic and there is little to learn for students of the arcane. Her portrayal of the dark arts are mostly written in the early ninties and it shows; she is clearly inspired by her times. I find it sad, and it be evil wyrd on her, that these arts are reduced to simply beeing money, drugs, blood, homosexuality and pædophilia. Escpecially when she knows enough of the light to easily revert it without making 2-dimesional evil sorcerers.

The central theme of the Deverry cycle is 'wyrd' ('fate' or even karma); and that is a truly a wholesome theme. That your actions will have consequenses; in this life or the next is such a pedagogic analogy it does'nt even matter if its true or not.

On the other hand: The notion that males are mostly reborn as males and vice verca; is likly a most harmfull notion to propagate - but it does make for an easier read and I suspect Kerr simply isn't skillfull enough to let a soul shine through a character in several rebirths of different sex and strata.

Anywhoo: recomended for anyone who wants an easy and wholesome read - especially students of english and fantasy lovers. If you can't finish it in a year you really should take a long hard look at your life...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tromsø International Film Festival - TIFF

So, week 3 2010, as the movielover I most truly am; I went to the TIFF in its 20th anniversary. I did'nt actually go see any movies; but we walked downtown one day. The only movie I feel bad about missing is legendary australian movie Bad Boy Bubby.

This is the art academy. I usually try to do the laughing with thingie, but when I caught a glimpse of this shit I really couldnt help myself. In the northern tounge we have an expression 'hånflire' witch roughly translate to 'mocking laugther'.

We did manage to go out a couple of times. But only by the most strongly urging of my host - fellow Ubrukelig ('Useless') bandmember Daniel 'Monstercock' Bragvin.

The doll beeing scaled in a 1:2 ratio was really funny and both artisticly and sexually provoking, but in a good way. And it makes D. look like the big man he would have been had his body been built in ratio with his soul.

The only tourism thingie done was a visit to Ølhallen ('The beer hall'). Open from 8 till 14 or somesuch. Amazing place if you like that sort of thing.

Truly a place for alcoholics and turists. Or both. I guess Im posing as a tourist since I've hardly drunk since Lodz/Malmö.

So what do you do in a film festival when you're to soulweary to actually go see any films?

D.'s right hand and foot is fucked up by CP. Does that stop him from playing the guitar? Nope. He's just been forced to develop some new techniques both to play and to deal with an inordinate amount of frustration.

Well, we played a lot of music. And when we tired of eachothers company we watched a couple of movies and 3 seasons of superb canadian mockumentary/TVseries Trailerpark Boys (I just might review that one later).

And Playstation3 ofcourse. Dragonage gave a goodly impression. And by chance, the purest of chance, I saw a documentary about the initiation of a japanese bodishatva. It was portrayed as a documentary of The drinking man festival - and mainly it was centered on the preparations of the men getting drunk. But the finale of the young man, the young initiate, using several hours to pass a packed square of drunken men all trying to touch his head for good look was a strong metaphor for the struggle of the individual to reach enlightenment in the masses of the unenlightened.

When the bodishatva-to be was a few meters from the temple a monk dived into the masses and helped him up. I cried then.

It would not have done to not write a song beeing a whole week with D. This'un is in the scandinavian dialect svorsk; and I will not translate it unless begged and possibly even offered sexual favors.

Jäg vil hem
text: Hanssen/Bragvin mel: Jesus er min aller beste venn

Jäg vil inte bo i Tromsö
jäg vil bara flytta hemm

Jäg tycker det ër koldt och tråkigt
hemme breññer ilden hett

Jäg arbetar för mitt semester
hvarför drog jäg nongong hit?

Vegen hemm er mycket svår
men juset viser god en veg.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Paul Chadwick's Concrete

My grandmother always used to say that 'If you have nothing nice to say, its better to say nothing at all.' Thus it is with the great doubt I tell you of my disheartening experience reading most all of Paul Chadwick's Concrete.

It was recomended to me by my very good friend Frank Miller, a man whom I since childhood have had the greatest respect for. But to be blunt: seldom have I found a 'comic' character to be as boring as Chadwicks Concrete.

Mr. Chadwick somewhere tells the story of the conception of his character; hiking in the mountains he meditates and feeling the oneness with the mountain, feeling the unmoving but still slowly moving nature of stone, feeling the patience of Gaius (the male aspect of Gaia - the earthmother) et cetera. A grand experience, I'm sure, but to write about a man who is a rock doth take more talent.

Not recomended.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre

I just finished reading german master Goethes influential bildungsroman 'Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre' (en. Apprenticeship/no. Læreår). In the afterword of my norwegian edition, by translator Sverre Dahl, its said that its one of those novels that everybody has heard about - but only very few have read.

First published in 1795-96 it is suprisingly modern; a quite easy read (even with its 500+ pages) and definitivly worth your time (whomever you might be). It has a few weak passages, and it sort of falls apart in the end - even though the ending in it self is ok, grand and happifull - it's just lacking in execution. But other than that its a great novel, and mostly it is quite inspired.

And aparently it is the first bildnungsroman - a term that is quite inadequatly translatet to coming-of-age novel in english. But then, them anglos (on either side of the pond) have never been much for bildnung - beeing savages and all. One does wonder though; will bildnung, becoming learned men (and women) of virtue and honour ever be fashionable again? Or will striving to better oneself always and in all futurity make one feel old, unfashionable and boring?

Having read both this'un and the much shorter Young Werthers Sorrows (about a young mans suicidal heartbreak - the original and possibly ultimate emokid black metal gothic novel - no man have the right to wear black eyeliner without having read this masterpiece responsible for so many sensitive young mens premature suicides) I now yearn to read Faust. Herman Hesses version is eminent - but I always found it worthwhile to search out the roots of great things.