Berliner (captward) Thu 2 Aug 01 02:56
Good lord, Jack, was that Nick Grakhov who got shot? I used to know him.
Jack Womack (jack-womack) Thu 2 Aug 01 07:02
My Ace edition of LO! was the Don Wollheim edition indeed. "TO READ CHARLES FORT IS TO RIDE ON A COMET," the cover excerpt from Ben Hecht's review stated(and having read the original review, it's that good all the way through; and clearly Hecht liked the same things about Fort that I do). Before moving further, I think I should be far less subtle than I usually am (Mike & Patrick know this about me, I know, but others may not): When it comes to woo-woo, I believe in the people who believe in and write about woo-woo; I don't believe in the woo-woo itself. Let me repeat that. I don't believe in the woo-woo itself. (I can say without hesitation, however, that Charles Fort is far and away the James Joyce of cranks, and speaking strictly in the literary sense, I do mean brillance. When in the past I have called Fort a great American treasure, I meant it. I should hope that one day there'll appear a Library of America volume of Fort's five books including his very good, if utterly uneventful, novel THE OUTCAST MANUFACTURERS. Stranger things have happened.) (And I don't want to hear any smart remarks from my well-informed colleagues along the lines of "well it is safe to say Fort was a better writer than Dreiser ho ho ho snicker snicker.") The case can be made (Martin Gardner and Carl Sagan have made it best, with a minimum of fuss and, yes, woo-woo extrapolation) that a pervasive belief in woo-woo within a society can lead to bad things. Sometimes to very bad things. Almost everyone in Russia has always believed in woo-woo, of every possible description, from astrology to card-reading and from anti-Semitism to Lysenkoism, and look at Russia today! Of course, almost everyone in the US has always believed in woo-woo, of every possible description and look at the US today! (I suddenly feel like I'm writing for MAD magazine, in the Gaines years, but this is not a bad thing.) Much woo-woo is terrifically boring but without the necessary frisson. There are no channeled texts in the Womack collection, for example, save for my sister's book (she makes her living channeling angels, we rarely speak, she's generally on a higher plane, somewhere. It was in Rockland county and is now in Santa Fe.). There is nothing about astrology, save as it appears in such academic works as the 8-volume HISTORY OF MAGIC AND EXPERIMENTAL SCIENCE (Columbia University Press, 1923 on..)I have no works on palm reading, on divination, next to nothing on ESP. The books I have on Spritualism are either historical accounts or 19th-century volumes I've picked up for a song simply for the fact that I could pick them up for a song -- any bookperson knows how that works. However, confronted with BIBLICAL DINOSAURS, and quickly realizing that the author is actually proferring the theory that the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel were, in fact, dinosaurs, stops me dead with -- well, that all-important sense of wonder. The author isn't saying: man lived at the same time as dinosaurs, as creationists are wont to do. He's taken it several extra steps further, to a truly unique position, and that's where the fascination, to me, comes in. Through what possible process of logic did the author arrive at such a conclusion? Find the book, and read it for yourself. What I get from the books I collect is a sense of the human mind in all its possible manifestations, good, bad, indifferent, and crazed (sometimes, delightfully, all four in the same book). This gives me ideas. It increases my appreciation of the workings (or lack thereof) of the brain. It enables me to see how extrapolation can not only go off on a tangent, it can slide off the edge of the world. The comic aspects, almost inevitably inadvertant, of course delight me. (Again, Fort: unlike any other crank of whom I can think, he has a wonderful sense of humor -- almost Slavic, indeed, in his ability to keep a straight face while he posits the possibility that the sky may be made of glittering jelly, for example. "I no more believe my tales than I believe twice two makes four.") Making myself familiar with the way people think, confronted with what they *perceive* to be outre, arcane, or paranormal situations, allows me to allow my characters, and situations, to more believably take that all-important sudden left turn into WomackWorld, as it were, when the time comes for them to do so. How, exactly, this works -- how I can go, in my own way, from dinosaurs to dinosaurs being the 10 Lost Tribes -- I don't know. Simply the mysterious workings of my own mind -- coincidence or conspiracy, who can say for sure. Next installment in the Womack Collection: how it is organized, and what may be found therein.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 2 Aug 01 09:26
> Jon, did you actually leave a message??? It was a brain warp, nothing more. However... Never imagined I would find another fan of the Frank Edwards/Charles Fort weirdness. It is tragic that I failed to hang onto any of those books, though I found my way into stuff that was far weirder. I'm wondering if you saw issues of Fringe Ware Review, a magazine Paco Nathan and I published beginning around '92-'93. We were deluged with messages, books, and zines produced by cranks and pseudocranks (the best of the latter being the great Bill Barker, whose schwa alien images still occupy a chamber or two of my overstuffed brain).
Patrick Nielsen Hayden (pnh) Thu 2 Aug 01 10:30
Jack, Teresa (formerly <tnh> on the Well) wishes to interject: "The concept of BIBLICAL DINOSAURS momentarily deprived me of speech, motion, volition, willed thought; of everything but a sense of delight. I was therefore temporarily incapable of sin, knowing only rapt joy in the contemplation of God's creation: in short, a foretaste of heaven. "As I'm sure Jack would agree."
Martha Soukup (soukup) Thu 2 Aug 01 11:40
I can't speak as rapturously as tnh, but I must see this book.
Jack Womack (jack-womack) Thu 2 Aug 01 12:23
First of all, Martha (hello) and Teresa (hello), I went immediately to abebooks.com and find the following: 1. Baker, Ronal J. Biblical dinosaurs trade pb, fine . Bookseller Inventory # 72410 Price: US$ 10.95 convert currency Presented by Patricia Price Bookseller, San Bernardino, CA, U.S.A. order options You're on your own from here. Ellen Datlow donated my copy to me close to ten years ago, when it arrived unsolicited in the Omni offices. As may be seen from these brief exchanges, the kind of books that most please me are the kind that cause people's jaws to drop upon first sight, if not cause the person to collapse entirely onto the floor, felled by the notion that such a thing exists in reality as we know it to be. Berliner: Max Maslakov is my friend who got plugged; he was made editor --when? Sometime in late 1999/early 2000? The last time I saw him he'd just returned from the Playboy Mansion, in fact. Jon, I remember the name Fringe Ware Review but don't recall if I ever saw a copy. If I did, I suspect I appreciated it but it may not have made the cut. (Nothing personal in that, certainly.) And you're far from being the only person who appreciates Charles Fort, although defenders of Frank Edwards -- well, as we know, many once well-known figures fade from public memory like the image on a glass negative. Part 3 of the Womack Collection: Structure. Arranged alphabetically by subject. Prior to the last time my apartment was painted (1998) a semi-Jeffersonian arrangement was employed, but it proved with time to be more Roget (non-dictionary style)and toward the end not even I could figure out what was where. Now, when I check my catalogue (currently 2,500 in, another equivalent lot to go)in FileMaker Pro it matches (theoretically) the shelves. The Subjects: Beginning with Advertising, going on through Amusements, Animals (in relation to people)Anthropology, Archeology, Architecture, Art, Assassinations, Astronomy, Atrocities, Bibliographic, Bibliophilic, Cannibalism, Cities, Comics, Cranks, Crime, Cryptobotany, Cryptozoology(including sea & lake monsters, yetis, yowies, bunyips, Surrey panthers, ghostly mongeese, Owlman(Mothman falls under UFOs), Cults (including Scientology, People's Temple, Elvis), Death(including Forensics and Funerals), Disasters, Disappearances, Drugs, Eccentrics, Fairies (traditional sort), Film, Forteana, Frauds, Gastronomy, History, Hoaxes, Holocaust, Japan, Kentucky, Literature (outre/puzzling/incomprehensible), Lost Continents, Lycanthropy, Magic (stage, cultural), Manias, Medicine, Military Blunders, Mind (altered states), Music, Nature, Nazis, Occult, Pets, Photography, Popular Culture, Propaganda, Racism, Rumors, Russia, Satanism (pro and con), Science (so-called i.e. Tesla et. al.)Sea Mysteries, Sex, Skepticism, Stripping, Subcultures, Teeth, Teratology, Transgender, Travel, UFOs & related (cattle mutilation, crop circles et. al.), Vampires, Witches, Women (badly behaved),Zombies. I think there are some other topics but that's basically it off the top of my head. Within some of the topics, as noted, there are subtopics. Within each I use a simple alphabetical-by-title method of shelving. Part 4 will detail what makes the cut, and why.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 2 Aug 01 12:59
Frank Edwards was a bit of a hack, really. Fort was a poet obsessed with excluded phenomena; no one quite like him since. Fringe Ware Review had limited circulation; there were a few pieces you would have found intereseting, most notably John Shirley's piece about Gurdjieff. I'm assuming you're famililar with Gurdjieff and conversant with the 4th Way stuff. His life raises the question whether you can be a crank, a scoundrel, and an enlightened being simultaneously. Does the content of this library you've constructed find its way into your fictional works?
Jack Womack (jack-womack) Fri 3 Aug 01 07:51
Frank Edwards was totally a hack; it was his metier. Fort, a poet, yes. Gurdjieff, a scoundrel, essentially. The content of my library always finds its way into my books, one way or the other. One of the more understated patterns in the underweave of GOING, GOING, GONE is the fact that in the Parallel world, Fortean phenomena occur in the sense that Fortean phenomena are imagined to occur, i.e. it just happens that occasionally frogs do fall from clear skies et. al. Certainly, the self-help group/cult in the book, the Personality Dynamos, have bits and pieces of their basic structure taken from a number of other cults with which I'm familiar, but notably from a book called THE PIT (1972), author I don't recall off the top, which described a sales-building/management training encounter group, genuine, whose group leaders actually would punch participants in the face etc. (And I couldn't resist adding the bust of the founder that appears to be sculpted from chopped liver.) And many of the details in LET'S PUT THE FUTURE BEHIND US came from various books on Russia that I have -- on the architecture, politics, sociology etc. This brings up an important point; a comparative minority of books in the Womack Collection are pure woo-woo, themselves (although the ones that are include most of my favorites). I have scholarly books on unscholarly subjects (WILD MEN OF THE MIDDLE AGES, Bernheimer, Harvard, 1952); books on a single subject, covering the subject to the point of Ballardian-character obsession (THE EROTIC ART OF THE ENEMA, AMERICAN FUNERAL CARS AND HEARSES); reference works on subjects of interest, with additional interesting tales to tell (CRASH INJURIES,which was also of course Ballard's source material; outre novels (THE DISINHERITING PARTY, by John Clute, every page a Clutean bonanza of impenetrability); PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE by Linedecker, a/k/a Cordwainer Smith); interesting association material (my copy of LIFE & DEATH IN HOLLYWOOD, an ur-Hollywood Babylon text, with Weegee's stamp on the title page; my author's copy of THE RADIO-ORBICULAR PROCESS OF THOUGHT; my copy of Ed Wood's CARNIVAL PIECE that came from the collection --unprovable, sadly -- of William Lindsay Gresham); original source material of interest (THE MOON HOAX, 1st edition in separate pamphlet form, LIFE OF CHANG AND ENG THE REMARKABLE SIAMESE TWINS both c. 1857), books with deeply odd subject matter, although straightly-written (SODOMY & THE PIRATE TRADITION, A LETTER TO THE MAN WHO KILLED MY DOG, FROG RAISING FOR PLEASURE & PROFIT, SCATOLOGICAL RITES OF ALL NATIONS, this list is really almost endless); material that has taken on an inadvertantly humorous nature over the years (RUNAWAY GIRLS AND THEIR ADVENTURES)key volumes of outre subject matter (my 1st edition Forts, Arnold's THE FLYING SAUCER AS I SAW IT, Oudeman's THE GREAT SEA SERPENT, 1st English as well as the Swedish translation [the latter a donation from Johan K], Dr. Wertham's SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT, Charles Willeford's book on Son of Sam, the first book on Jack the Ripper); volumes on celebrities or on interesting people of special nature (THE FALL RIVER TRAGEDY, which was the instant book on Lizzie Borden, 1st, 1892; Christine Jorgensen's autobiography, autographed of course, HOW TO BE A WOMAN by ex-Mickey Cohen-lover Liz Renay, I WAS A NEGRO PLAYBOY BUNNY); historical documents (RED CHANNELS, the actual media blacklist from the days of McCarthy; the 1937 Intourist guide to Moscow); volumes of crank science, the crankier the better (A JOURNEY TO THE EARTH'S INTERIOR, GOD OR GORILLA?); impenetrable volumes written by full-tilt cranks, paranoid schizophrenics, psychotics (CROOK FRIGHTFULNESS, by "A Victim" which tells the personal story of a man chased from London to New Zealand by evil ventriloquists; ELLEN: THE STORY OF AN OLD PINE, in two gigantic volumes, which presents the lengthy dialogue between 15-year old Ellen and an old Vermont pine tree on such subjects as the squaring of the circle; GRAVITY IS THE 4th DIMENSION, with blurb from Richard Feynmann "I am unable to disqualify it.") I could go on for days. But suffice to say the Womack Collection contains much that is sensible and vastly usable, merely in unexpected form.
John M. Ford (johnmford) Fri 3 Aug 01 15:18
I'm gonna do it again. It's "Linebarger."
Jack Womack (jack-womack) Sun 5 Aug 01 06:58
And I can only send a tip of the hat back to Mr. Ford who once again has made corrections when necessary, which I much appreciate. This is what happens when I start running off with these things while they're not actually in sight, though how I could have confused Linebarger (author of fine sf stories, and an extremely fascinating work on propaganda et. al.) with Linedecker (the only one that comes to mind is the one who can whip out insta-crime mms for St. Martin's in a matter of hours, following the conclusion of the trial, or of the murder itself.)
Life in the big (doctorow) Tue 7 Aug 01 14:53
> John Clute (my favorite critic, and a longtime friend) has said more > than once to me, in person and in print, that I seem to imagine that > Dryco functions without an infrastructure. > > And I have said to him multiple times, *of course* it has an > infrastructure, but were I to describe it I'd be commiting that most > egregrious of SF sins, pointing to a refrigerator and then describing, > in lengthy multi-sentence dialogue All right, then -- your fiction hat is off and you are at liberty to exposit at length (or at brief, for that matter). What *does* go on underneath Dryco? What's a day at the office like when, for example, the coffee guy fell under the wheels of a bus the night before? Or the mailroom guy? Or the sysadmin? What's it like when your company is acquired in single combat on a killing floor? Will this part of Dryco ever be exposed (a la "The Space Merchants")? -- And on another subject -- or rather, returning to another subject -- tell us about the life of a literary publicist. What does your daily round consist of, and how -- if at all -- does it enter into your fiction? Likewise, do you think about your career in the context of publicity? That is, when you work on a novel, do you think about how best to promote it? How does *your* publicist deal with you (who shaves the barber?)?
Jack Womack (jack-womack) Wed 8 Aug 01 11:36
When anyone doesn't turn up, the expectation is that the worst has happened although the position may not be reassigned or filled for some time after the fact. Just as in real life, although the worst that happens in real life (short of death or accident) tends to be sudden dismissal/layoff. The killing floor method of acquistion in fact occurred only for a short period of time, immediately before and during the action of AMBIENT, at the instigation of crazed younger Dryden. The rest of the time, competitors are taken care of in ways that would seem all too familiar. But Dryco is first and foremost a metaphor. Other than that there's nothing to expose. As for a typical day at publicity, I write galley letters, press releases, track reviews, begin or followup on pitches to venues of all sizes from the biggest to the smallest, work with the editors on how an author heretofore overlooked may, perhaps, get more attention, talk with or email writers regarding various matters, mostly always publicity-related. My experience with publicity vis a vis my own books is as follows: the only book that ever got publicity in the active sense (features actively sought and obtained, a tour, networking on the part of both editor and publicist) was for RANDOM ACTS, which coincidentally has been the one that has sold the most. When I do write my next novel, and it is published, I feel sure that it will be promoted about as well as it can be promoted, at least so far as what a publicist can do solely through preparation of the press material; as I feel sure I'll be doing it myself.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sat 11 Aug 01 15:54
Jack and Cory, let me step in here and say thank you for being such interesting guests for the last two weeks! Please feel free to stay and chat as long as you like.
Life in the big (doctorow) Sat 11 Aug 01 21:40
Sorry I've been a little absent for the last couple days -- I've been on the road (in a hotel room in Boston right now, in fact). Jack, I'll have at least one more question for you tomorrow.
Thomas Armagost (silly) Wed 15 Aug 01 17:24
<scribbled by silly Mon 9 Jul 12 15:48>
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