inkwell.vue.118 : Jack Womack: Going, Going, Gone
permalink #26 of 40: Berliner (captward) Thu 2 Aug 01 02:56
    
Good lord, Jack, was that Nick Grakhov who got shot? I used to know
him. 
  
inkwell.vue.118 : Jack Womack: Going, Going, Gone
permalink #27 of 40: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.118 : Jack Womack: Going, Going, Gone
permalink #28 of 40: 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).
  
inkwell.vue.118 : Jack Womack: Going, Going, Gone
permalink #29 of 40: 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."
  
inkwell.vue.118 : Jack Womack: Going, Going, Gone
permalink #30 of 40: Martha Soukup (soukup) Thu 2 Aug 01 11:40
    
I can't speak as rapturously as tnh, but I must see this book.
  
inkwell.vue.118 : Jack Womack: Going, Going, Gone
permalink #31 of 40: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.118 : Jack Womack: Going, Going, Gone
permalink #32 of 40: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.118 : Jack Womack: Going, Going, Gone
permalink #33 of 40: 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.
 
  
inkwell.vue.118 : Jack Womack: Going, Going, Gone
permalink #34 of 40: John M. Ford (johnmford) Fri 3 Aug 01 15:18
    
   I'm gonna do it again.  It's "Linebarger."
  
inkwell.vue.118 : Jack Womack: Going, Going, Gone
permalink #35 of 40: 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.)
  
inkwell.vue.118 : Jack Womack: Going, Going, Gone
permalink #36 of 40: 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?)?
  
inkwell.vue.118 : Jack Womack: Going, Going, Gone
permalink #37 of 40: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.118 : Jack Womack: Going, Going, Gone
permalink #38 of 40: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.118 : Jack Womack: Going, Going, Gone
permalink #39 of 40: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.118 : Jack Womack: Going, Going, Gone
permalink #40 of 40: Thomas Armagost (silly) Wed 15 Aug 01 17:24
    <scribbled by silly Mon 9 Jul 12 15:48>
  



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