Author Archives: -

Historically accurate to an arbitrary degree

She looked at the painting and grumbled. Clearly, the painter hadn’t grasped the finer points of the technique employed, and thus had bungled several key strokes, presumably in an effort to finish the darned thing as fast as possible. It always amazed her that artists who were prized and famed for inventing a style or technique often lacked seemingly any proficiency whatsoever in these styles and/or techniques. For all the fame, glory and extensive biographies devoted to these people, they really could not paint better than whatever euphemism for off-colored excrement was in vogue at the moment

She, however, could outpaint even the masters. She had done so on several occasions, in fact, and prided herself on having her work put on prominent display in several of the world’s most prestigious art galleries. Her name was not attached to the painting, of course, seeing as she was technically a forger, but that didn’t matter; she knew, and that sufficed. Above and beyond this secret nugget of satisfaction, she knew she could get into any museum she pretty darned wished, after a sudden strategic recovery of lost art from centuries ago. She took some measure of pride in her work

Alas, one of the drawbacks of having mastered the Ancient’s arts better than they ever did themselves is that the originals had begun appearing to her as first rough sketches. This meant that her more accurate forgeries had to scale back on the artistic ambition and play up the decidedly non-artistic application of arbitrary rules set down by (more often than not) the fact that certain kinds brushes or turpentine were unavailable at that particular historical moment, or some such silliness. The key to historical accuracy was to do it with random precision

If only the ancient masters had been better equipped, she muttered, and set to work on another undiscovered original. She had discovered a collection in Antwerp which did not yet feature her specific brand of art history, yet displayed one of her competitors with an undignified degree of prominence. This lack of artistic integrity simply would not do

Incongruous embodiments of the Nous

One must admit that the proposal had merits at first glance. Truly, bringing together the many disparaging strands of thought into a single volume would make the prospect of cataloguing and comparing that much easier. The current necessity of having to collect and collate a massive number of sources, some of which are exceedingly difficult to get a hold of even at the best of times, has brought down recruitment numbers massively over the years. Likewise, even seasoned veterans grow weary of keeping track of who’s who and what’s what, and the innumerable minute differences from one author to another. Yes, one singular book to collect everyone would simplify matters immensely

However

The non-intuitive (albeit obvious in retrospect) drawback to this project was that it collected everything into a single volume, making it easily accessible. The Official Book of Esoteric Wisdom brought it to the ready attention of the multitudes, at which point it all stopped being esoteric and simply became another body of knowledge to be read. The enthusiasm with which the erstwhile esoteric scholars set to work soon translated into a bored acceptance into the fold of the exoteric mainstream

Before anyone knew it, a new esoteric corpus emerged, even more difficult to procure and understand. Perhaps, this time, the whole enterprise would stay esoteric

A comprehensive list of things Meat Loaf would do for love (and some he will not)

Will do:

run right into hell and back

pray for silence

pray for soul

pray to the god of sex and drums and rock ‘n’ roll

raise me up

help me down

get me right out of this godforsaken town

make it all a little less cold

cater to every fantasy I got

hose me down with holy water, if I get too hot

take me places I’ve never known

 

Will not:

lie to you (and that’s a fact)

forget the way you feel right now

do it better than I do it with you

screw around

Cheesing the system

He had a strange hobby, borne out of his very specific circumstance. He had a mild aversion to cooking, slightly too much money, and an interest in human-machine interfaces in organizational settings. Thus armed with these preconditions, he set to work

Soon, he discovered what could only be described as a lack of consensus. An input in one location led to a different outcome than in another, and in a third, and so forth. Gradually and systematically, he tested out the parameters, documenting the variations as he went. After much ado, he had a comprehensive map of the permutations of the local area. The reasons for these seemingly random differences eluded him, but this did not perturb him overly much. If it worked, it worked, and that was sufficient

His friends, however, were less than impressed by his efforts, and more than once questioned his sanity. Nevertheless, he used his newfound knowledge to great effect. Entering in an order for extra halloumi into the machine of one franchised burger joint resulted in significantly more halloumi than at another, while the reverse might be true for fries. Removing one ingredient whilst also adding more of another similarly led to different results. And so on and so forth for the multitude of locations in his vicinity

Thus, depending on his mood and predilections, he could optimize, constructing elaborate custom orders according to a robust system. On the balance of evidence, he ever so slightly preferred getting the biggest possible burg with five cheeses, over being able to let a friend in on how it’s done

A template for a rejection letter

To whom it may concern,

I am honored that you have considered me for this award/nomination/appointment/coauthorship/[appropriate term here], and take great pride in being a name mentioned in the discussions surrounding this occasion. Truly, I am in great company.

However, I can not in good conscience accept this award/nomination/appointment/coauthorship/[appropriate term here]. The reasons for this ought to be obvious, as your efforts at due diligence should have indicated them in extensive detail. I wish you well in your search for a better suited candidate.

Sincerely,

A whodunnit written for analytic philosophers

The butler did it

The veil of foreshadowing

She floated in a void. This was not a usual occurrence in her life, as best as she could tell. Suddenly, a line of text appeared, shouting:

DO NOT BE ALARMED. THIS IS THE INTRODUCTORY PHASE

Ever so slightly alarmed by this revelation, she wondered just what or whom she was being introduced to

YOU HAVE BEEN PLACED BEHIND A VEIL OF IGNORANCE

That sounded more than a little familiar. She could vaguely remember what it was all about. The memory became stronger as the mysterious lines of text spouted exposition about choosing the best kind of society on the premise that you do not know your place in it. This went on for quite some time

Then, the baby kicked

“Well then”, she thought. This was the first piece of useful information she’d gotten all day

Gamers said it could not be done

They faced a challenge. Or, more correctly, a meta-challenge. As a game development studio that specialized in making exceedingly difficult games, they had a reputation of making very difficult games indeed. So far, they had managed to perform the difficult balancing act of keeping things difficult but not completely impossible. To be sure, most players would give up and declare their games impossible, but the games were (in an ever more technical sense) not actually impossible. Just headscratchingly, hairpullingly difficult

At various points during the studio’s many years of doing business, the question of whether they’d achieved peak difficulty had arisen. Every time, the gamers had responded by taking what seemed to be impossible challenges and rendering them far easier than they should have been. Using tools, strategies and vernaculars that became increasingly opaque and specific with each iterations, the gamer base responded by demanding more difficulty, bigger challenges and larger impossibilities

This time, however, doubt lingered in the air. They’d thrown everything that could be thrown into a game, and even the kitchen sink based challenges had eventually been overcome. All hell-class difficulty spikes had been employed, having already used the ideas previously deemed to be of merely limbo, purgatory and wrath levels of non-completability.  In short, they were fresh out of hells

If only, one developer mused, there were additional hells. That’d do it

They did not know it at the time, but this one off-hand remark was just the inspiration that was needed. After some deliberation, it was decided that the next step in the studio’s trajectory would be to hire a slew of literary scholars, of which at least one had read both Dante and Joyce. It was time to up the difficulty to new, previously unimagined levels

Alive and/or kicking

She had died

This was a very confusing thought to have. She’d always imagined being dead as a great big nothing, the darkness to end all light, the absence to define all things. This whole business of surprised realization was not at all in the cards. And yet, here she was

Besides being when not expecting to be, she also found she was not what she expected to be. Rather than the comfortable but limited form that had been her from birth until death, she was larger somehow. More cosmic. More capable of bringing universes into being and ending them, as suited her whim. More ambiently omnipotent. That had definitely not been part of the skill set of her mortal coil

As she examined this greatly expanded capability of getting things done, she thought a phrase common to her generation:

I understand and accept these new terms and conditions

Speedy scene transitions for writers in a hurry

There is now a door in the closet. Don’t ask

The protagonist entered a mansion through the wrong door. They are promptly sent on a deep expedition to the asteroid belt beyond Mars until things cool off

One of the protagonists notices a rock that doesn’t look like normal rocks. This is what they do now

The chorus comments that something is amiss

Eagles

After glancing a painting, the protagonist suddenly remembered with unusual vividness and verbosity that one time when

A presumably benevolent forest bard barges into the situation and recites poetry for a while

As they carefully opened the outer door, they found out they were not on a space ship after all

Following the dictum that it is better to rule in hell than serve in heaven, we went

As the music started to play, everything faded away

He awoke. This surprised him to a great extent

As she awoke, she noticed the dinosaur was still there

As the bear creatures carried me away,

Among the great certainties of space travel, was the fact that space elevators take a long time

The drugs kicked in faster than I thought

While the invention of teleportation sure sped things up, it was considered polite to ask first

Computer, end program

A new character enters from stage left. They bring news

The cat escaped. We followed

The need to soliloquy suddenly grips one of the usually silent characters

There is one new notification

This snowball has more gravity than it should have

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Thus, we suddenly found ourselves in

Snake magic. Why did it have to be snake magic

Having thus closed the book, she sighed

Expelliarmus

A small clockwork device lay on the floor. As I cautiously picked it up, it started to whir and rotate in an ever faster manner

Let me tell you one thing: budget cuts sure shift things around

We fell. It took a while

Have you heard about the Kenosha Kid?

It was at that moment my spider sense started tingling

Everything is almost ready to go. There’s just one thing left

No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the taste of the tea and the cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could, no, indeed, be of the same nature. Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it?…And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom , my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it. And all from my cup of tea.