Auden on Tolkien

“To present the conflict between Good and Evil as a war in which the good side is ultimately victorious is a ticklish business. Our historical experience tells us that physical power and, to a large extent, mental power are morally neutral and effectively real: wars are won by the stronger side, just or unjust. At the same time most of us believe that the essence of the Good is love and freedom so that Good cannot impose itself by force without ceasing to be good.

“The battles in the Apocalypse and Paradise Lost, for example, are hard to stomach because of the conjunction of two incompatible notions of Deity, of a God of Love who creates free beings who can reject his love and of a God of absolute Power whom none can withstand. Mr. Tolkien is not as great a writer as Milton, but in this matter he has succeeded where Milton failed.”

W.H. Auden

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Website

We finally have a ‘true’ website for EB. The URL is the same, of course, eggshellboats.com, but also eggshellboats.insolentlad.com. Yes, it is a subdomain at the Insolent Lad Media site, rather than just a page there.

Decidedly bare-bones for the moment but a step in the proper direction. We shall update as we feel motivated to do so—definitely before VOYAGES goes to publication.

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Cather Quote

“I don’t think you help people by making their conduct of no importance — you impoverish them. As long as every man and woman who crowded into the cathedrals on Easter Sunday was a principal in a gorgeous dram with God, glittering angels on one side and the shadows of evil coming and going on the other, life was a rich thing. The king and the beggar had the same chance at miracles and great temptations and revelations. And that’s what makes men happy, believing in the mystery and importance of their own little individual lives. It makes us happy to surround our creature needs and bodily instincts with as much pomp and circumstance as possible. Art and religion (they are the same thing in the end, of course) have given man the only happiness he has ever had.” ~ Willa Cather

I’m not a great fan of Cather, from a technical or stylistic standpoint, finding her writing clumsily constructed and too fond of an outdated pop-psychology, but liked this passage from ‘The Professor’s House.’ She certainly had good ideas in her work.

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Voyages

The first poetry title to be published under the Eggshell Boats imprint will be Stephen Brooke’s VOYAGES, scheduled for release on November 1, 2017.

voyagescovnet

Voyages presents 75 poems and songs of the human journey, of sea and of land, of yearning for distant horizons and the welcoming hearths of home. From Eggshell Boats, an imprint of the Arachis Press.

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Bouncers

I put up a new short story on the ‘Stories’ page. Whether I shall continue to put that sort of material here, I do not know. Probably not, as I continue to transition to the poetry publishing thing. But it is there now.

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Things

In a sense, Love does not exist. It is not a ‘thing;’ it has no physical substance. It is a construct, a word we fill with what meaning we will, attempting to describe a range of emotions and desires.

The same is true of ‘art’ and ‘faith’ and a thousand other abstractions we use every day, pretending they are real things. Perhaps it is true of ‘god’ as well.

I can hold a woman but I can not hold love. I can open a book and call it ‘mystery’ or ‘literature,’ but it remains paper and ink. My naming it something other produces no transubstantiation. Canvas and paint is ‘art’ only in my head.

We tend to confuse words with things, ideas with the concrete. It is true that all ‘reality’ is ultimately built in our minds, made of the metaphors we create. Still, one can not pick up a piece of love nor peel faith like an orange.

There is most certainly a place for the sort of magical thinking that makes things of ideas. Our world would be an impoverished place without it. But it is ‘being’ that matters. The rest serves to help us understand what is, brings us bits of truth to add to the reality we construct.

For love may not exist, as a thing, but such ideas hold the things that are real together.

Stephen Brooke ©2017

Notes toward an idea, not particularly finished (and perhaps never to be).

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Imprint

Eggshell Boats is now ‘officially’ an imprint of the Arachis Press; that is, we listed it as such on our publisher profile at Bowker for anyone to see — not that said ‘anyone’ might be interested. Why a separate imprint? We thought it a good idea to have a line between our ‘literary’ offerings and the fantasy adventures that make up the bulk of AP’s offerings.

So, our first book (probably) under the new name is likely to appear near the end of this year or early next. That will be a poetry offering, titled VOYAGES, by Stephen Brooke (yes, that is I, your humble publisher). More on that to come.

We are interested in publishing poetry by others. Now that we have jettisoned, at least for a time, the magazine concept, we can turn our attention to such. More on that later, too. For now, we shall place the occasional review and the like on this blog.

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Tolkien’s Choice

There are many thoughts, both large and small, in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. The largest of these is the warning against embracing evil in hopes of doing good. In other words, the end does not justify the means.

We see where it leads Saruman, or Boromir and his father. We see that many are tempted and some have the strength to turn their backs on the wrong kind of power. Not on power itself, mind you. Legitimate power, such as that of the returned king, is embraced.

Just what power is legitimate is harder to see in our world than in that of hobbits and wizards. But even there, it is not always easy. We see failings and redemptions among our heroes, and learn that the little choices of ordinary individuals also count. We must all turn from what is expedient for advancing our own agendas, if it is not also right.

And what is right? I suppose we must each work that out, though there is plenty enough advice! The thing is to actually think it through, not jump at the easy answer, the one that looks attractive at a glance but makes compromises of one sort or another with evil.

When we do, we have chosen the wrong side.

Stephen Brooke ©2017

This little piece is mostly just so I don’t neglect this site utterly!

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Moving Forward

Having pondered the future of Eggshell Boats for something like a year, we have decided to move forward as the poetry imprint of Arachis Press. This does not mean there will not be a magazine — perhaps a yearly anthology sort of thing — but that it will not be our primary focus for now. Reviews and news and the like will appear here at our blog, not in magazine form.

It seemed sensible to have a separate identity for the more ‘literary’ work AP published, as the bulk of what it offers are adventure-oriented novels. My own (Stephen Brooke’s) current poetry books will be transferred to the new imprint — eventually! — and we shall be interested in publishing new work. More on that to come.

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Scalloping (poem)

Scalloping

The sea-grass seems almost black
at this depth. A cold hand gently
presses. I look up at blue distortions.

To my business. They are easy
to see if one knows how. There,
the sand settles, barely perceptible,

marking a passage. My gloved fingers
slip another scallop into the net
bag trailing at my waist.

Up for breath, all the way up,
not just through the snorkel.
Where is the boat? Momentary

disorientation. Used to that.
I prefer the shallows, I think,
wading the flats that seem

to extend forever into the warm
Gulf waters, green-straw, the gulls
wheeling and wheeling.

Down again, to depths of filtered
summer sun, to dark grass beds barely
acknowledging the sluggish current.

Nothing marks my passage, here,
a parting of water, a parting
of life, all flowing in behind.

Stephen Brooke ©2016

Ha, if one were to remove the line breaks this could be a passage from one of my Cully Beach novels. Why am I posting a poem here? Well — as I wrote earlier, I am rethinking how to use this blog and may jettison the magazine concept altogether. We shall see.

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