Monday, December 29, 2008

Lou Reed

"And I thought you were a Christian . . . ! Shouldn't you be listening to Michael W. Smith or [insert your own favorite Christian music]?" WHAT WOULD JESUS LISTEN TO? How could we know? I have a hunch he would be listening to Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, and Tom Petty (insert your favorite singer-songwrtiters here). After all, the gentry (i.e., the Pharisees, etc.) excoriated Josh for hanging out in the wineshops with tax collectors, whores, thieves, and other riffraff. These were the people who were telling him what was really going on. I'll bet if there were poets and singers to be heard, he listened to the ones describing the underside of life. Of course, he was on a mission from his Father, so he was trying to keep them from going down in flames--showing them the Kingdom of God.

I'm not saying Lou Reed has been preaching the Kingdom of God . . . far from it, sometimes. What he's been doing for the last forty or so years has been picking up the rocks under our feet, turning them over, and showing us the things we've hidden, kicked under there. Then he's been searing them across our hearts with words like hot branding irons in songs such as "Sweet Jane", "Heroin", and "Waitin' for the Man", anthems to the underside of life, messages from the black holes beneath our society. Like Dylan, Lou has never sought lasting popularity. He has constantly changed and experimented with his music. I don't like all of it; I think Lou would be surprised if anyone did. My favorite is Rock 'n' Roll Animal and Lou Reed Live! recorded at a concert at the end of 1973 in New York. Of all rock concerts, this is the one I wish I had been at. Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner fronted a five-piece band, playing magnificent, symphonic, dual-lead guitars. Hunter's "Intro" to "Sweet Jane" is "arrogantly long", as one critic said, and brilliant--worth the price of admission itself. After all these years, it still sends shivers through me. The rest of Lou's noble and comic characters show us everyday life, as she is lived at the street level. Thank God for Bach--and thank God for Lou Reed. Rock on, baby, rock on!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Merry Christmas, Richard!

This column is dedicated to an author I encountered online recently. Your website is highly interesting to me, dealing with what I call "protohistory". In particular, your expertise in anthropology and linguistics inspire me. You have published several books in the general area. In addition, you write very well, which is a rarity. I assumed we had some common ground, so I initiated an e-mail correspondence with you. You thanked me for being a "fan". This is a term I will gladly suffer for someone I really respect. For instance, I am happy to be a fan of the great writer Gene Wolfe. Then I made the mistake of telling you I am a creationist. My few readers know this--and still read me, apparently!--even though their views are not necessarily the same. You have taken the trouble to read my columns in this blog, Richard, and have responded by telling me I know nothing about science, history, or anything else and that I am a bigot. Please! I am opinionated, stubborn, and sometimes facile, but anyone who knows me knows that I try hard to rid myself of unreasoning prejudice. We Christians call this quality humility. You told me--warned me--that you were neither atheist nor Christian. This should have tipped me off. I still assumed we could share some common ground in our interest in a previous great civilization. I was wrong. I see from Wikipedia that you are in your mid-seventies; I am 60. I guess that as one ages one's views either harden, like arteries, or become more open, more accepting--though one must beware of gullibility. I have been accused of being overly credulous, and I have had to admit I didn't know what I was talking about. It hurts. What hurts even more, Richard, is unreasoning rejection and the imputation of narrow-mindedness. I know when I am wrong, and have done wrong, Richard; do you? I know you will not read this; you have cut off any communication. But I will try my best to pray for you, Richard. Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


In Genesis 6:2 it says, ". . . the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose." In 6:4 we are told "the Nephilim [giants] were on the earth in those days. . . the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown." This is from the New American Standard translation, perhaps the most literal of tranlations. Some of the older ones have "giants" instead of Nephilim. The root of the word means "fallen". Whether this is in the sense of fallen angels, or demons, or men who "fall" upon women, is debatable. The term "sons of God" seems generally to mean angelic beings. There are, as far as we are told, two classes of created beings: humans and angels. Demons are angels who rebelled against God. Demons seem to be able to take physical form and interact with humans; there are a number of instances in the Bible. The resulting offspring might well be giants, "mighty men . . . of renown".

Aside from Biblical references to Goliath and other giants, there have been numerous discoveries of giant burials: great skeletons measuring seven to twelve feet in height. They were often buried with armor and weapons of great size and weight. I believe these were descendants of demon-human interbreeding: nephilim. They originally possessed great intelligence and strength. The pantheons of "gods" refer to these nephilim. In other words, Zeus and Thor existed as actual beings. Any preternatural powers they might have possessed would have come from their demonic sires. Great intelligence, demonic knowledge, and great physical abilities would have been enough to dominate their world. Several epistles of the New Testament, Peter and Jude, indicate that God chained some of the fallen angels responsible in deep pits (i.e., Hell).

The fabulous creatures of myth, legend, and folklore (MLF), such as pegasus and centaurs, were actual beings created by demonic manipulation of genetic material. This, I think, is perhaps the main reason why God chose to wipe out most life on Earth. The Enemy perverts, but only God can create. "There were giants in the earth in those days . . ." Until the Flood. . . .

Monday, December 8, 2008


Herewith a post I originally wrote in September but didn't publish. Perhaps my left brain doesn't know what my right brain is up to . . .

"UFO" stands for " unidentified flying object". As a fair percentage of these objects go into, come out of, or operate in water, the "U" could also stand for "underwater" (actually, "USO" is used--S for "submersible"). They have been reported by U.S. astronauts outside the atmosphere and even on the Moon. The existence of these objects, their display of advanced technology, and their reported flight characteristics would seem to place them outside of human manufacture. Their acceleration and maneuverability strongly imply a negation of inertia and control of gravity far outside our capability, let alone physical theory. They exist. There are some interesting hypotheses about what they are. Most people think they are intelligently guided, manufactured craft. A few believe them to be alive! That is, they are manifestations of unknown aerial life. Some fascinating work has been done on this hypothesis but is not relevant here.

If they are made and guided, who made them? At best, the military-industrial black operators (who undoubtedly exist) have only succeeded in "revese engineering" captured or crashed craft. If they are not products of extant technology, where do they come from? There are four answers: aliens, the future, the past, or parallel dimensions. The first and last possibilities place the phenomenon outside the Bible and God's creation. I do not believe in aliens--that is, I do not believe in intelligent non-terrestrial beings. The Bible only mentions two kinds of self-reflective created beings: humans and angels (including fallen angels). I think fallen angels, or demons, have confused the picture here. As for parallel dimensions, I cannot reconcile them with God's creation of the Universe. Why do we need more than one? God may create whatever He wishes, of course. . . . A third suggested origin is the future. This would involve us travelling back in time to observe and interact with our present selves. This has been suggested by Jacques Vallee, a French ufologist, among others. Putting aside problems of causality violations and paradoxes, time travel would seem to be a prerogative of the Lord. Since God is the author of time, He must stand outside of it. Only once did He violate His own nature. . . .

The last possibility is that these craft come from the past. I don't mean by time travel. I believe we are being observed by our own ancestors. These are the descendents of the civilization which flourished before the Flood, or Cataclysm, the world-altering event that happened circa 10,000 B.C. The ancient Dravidian scriptures, some of which may hand down information of a non-religious nature from before the flood, have numerous references to flying machines, called vimanas, including how to make, maintain, and operate them. There are also discussions of space flight, including father-son advice on the subjugation of the "three planets" (Mahabharata)! Atomic bombs and warfare; the effects of nuclear explosions; and the aftermath of nuclear attacks are discussed. Perhaps some of our pre-Flood ancestors survived off-planet. I do not wish to argue with "Genesis"--that only Noah and his family survived. My speculations are definitely extra-Biblical. If UFO's exist, though, this is one explanation.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Apologies to my many readers (all three or four of you!) for not having written for weeks. I'm treating this blog more like an irregular newspaper column than a daily journal. "Choose the middle way, Grasshopper!" So, a moderate essay on a big, though occult subject. Remember, "occult" means hidden. There's a good reason for this, from a Christian viewpoint. First, a quote from James Blish (approximate): All magic, without exception, is performed by fallen angels (demons). No lesser class will serve. I am going to illustrate this with several examples, chief of which is a fascinating book, Fire From Heaven, by Michael Harrison. By magic, I mean all preternatural, supernatural, and paranormal manifestations that seemingly originate from human beings. The only exception to this is any and all acts of Yeshua bar El, i.e., Jesus Christ. If you are God, You do what You will. All other acts of this nature are done by angels, fallen or otherwise, sometimes with express impetus from God.

In The Devil's Day ("Black Easter" + "The Day After Judgment") Blish deals with ceremonial magic in a serious manner, neither playful nor romantic, but rather as a species of engineering, almost. Why demons would make bargains with humans is a good question, but beyond the scope of this essay (later, Grasshopper). Remember, all angels are created beings, just like us. Some may be much older and wiser than most of us, but they were still created by God. One Creator, many created. Satan (whose name is probably Samael) was an archangel in Heaven, leading the Worship of God, until he rebelled. He is a powerful being, very knowledgeable, and is to be respected. He also hates God and us passionately, and must be opposed at every turn. Satan and his demons cannot create or destroy; they can only change and distort. God's angels, led by Michael and Gabriel, implement His plans and creations.

Michael Harrison (Maurice Desmond Rohan) was an English writer who wrote fiction and non-fiction. He wrote a "biography" of Sherlock Holmes as influential as William S. Baring-Gould's. His book, Fire From Heaven, deals with spontaneous human combustion (SHC) most intelligently. He also includes sections on Kirlian or aura viewing and "slow vaulting", or control of gravity. The great Russian danseur, Nijinsky, is reported to have been able to prolong his leaps greatly, and to land as lightly as a thistle. This last ability is similar, perhaps identical, to one of the siddhis, or paranormal abilities, developed by yogic masters in India. Garima and laghima confer the abilities to increase or decrease gravity. SHC seems to involve intense heat (2000 degrees C. +) localized or controled so tightly that sometimes clothes are not burned. Often chairs, floors, and other nearby objects are scorched but not burned or melted. There is no tenable natural explanation. To me it smacks of demonic interference--that is, all the molecules within a circumscribed area are accelerated terribly.

Other "psionic" abilities, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, telekinesis, and teleportation, seem to exist, at least sporadically, in people. I don't believe it. I don't believe these "gifts" are inherent in us, at least not in God's present plan. I believe that any miraculous manifestations, whether levitation or healing, are performed by angels, by spirit beings, either God's or Satan's. We are warned in the Bible about trafficking with witches and sorcerers: it is an abomination to God. These "powers" exist, people. So does Hell.--Dan Moore

Monday, October 6, 2008

Rock of Ages

How old id the Earth? To many, this is a frivolous or meaningless question. The Earth is under our feet: it was there yesterday; it'll be there tomorrow (we hope). . . . I think it is the pivotal, central question about our origins. The scientific and educational establishments have made it the centerpiece of their religion of uniformitarianism. This ill-gotten jawcracker simply means the Earth formed billions of years ago and gradually changed into the form we see now. Bible-believing Christians and others (Muslims included) believe our planet was created by God thousands of years ago and that the Great Flood killed almost all life, re-arranged the surface features, and created the strata, complete with "fossils", the uniformitarians (Lyell-Agassiz-Darwinists or LAD's) call the "geological column". Young-Earth creationists (YEC's) are also, of course, catastrophists, although not out of the Velikovsky mold. Dr. V. was a brilliant man and a careful observer of the effects of our catastrophic past, but his causative hypotheses of the Deluge were too wild to believe. Simply put, YEC's believe Earth was created 6,000+ years ago and all the life at the same time. This included dinosaurs and us. Many species (or kinds) did not survive the Flood.

What about carbon-14 dating? Radiometric dating has been shown (RATE Project, etc.) to be alarmingly inconsistent. Some objects have been dated by different labs at anywhere from 50 to 50 million years old. "Erratics", dates out of sequence, are routinely discarded. Catastrophic events have been shown to affect the balance of isotopes (C-14 to C-16 ratios, for instance). The traditional YEC's, on the other hand, adhere rigidly to dating established by Bishop Ussher from Biblical genealogies. They think (see the linkages in "Genesis" from Adam to Abraham are inclusive and admit of less than 2,000 years. Abraham was born about 2,100 B.C. Thus they date creation at about 4,004 B.C. I believe it to thave been at least ten-thousand years before that date. I cannot logically defend that hypothesis; the traditionalists might accuse me of ignoring the Bible's authority. I still strongly believe in young-earth creation by God. Ex nihilo!--Daniel Moore

Friday, October 3, 2008

Algis Budrys

I just heard about Budrys' death (June 8 or 9?), three months after the fact. He started writing in the early Fifties. He had been been praised by Blish and Knight early in his career and by many others later. His style was clean and flexible, poetic when necessary; his dialogue was great; and his characterization and plotting beyond reproach. He made you think about what he wrote; he made you ponder the ideas and situations he showed you. Not all writers have this reflective quality. Many writers are evocative, operating at an emotional level (if that). A few convey images and feelings and make you wonder about their convictions. Budrys' signature novels, such as The Death Machine (aka Rogue Moon), Who?, and Some Will Not Die have this quality: they get under your skin and stay there. He wrote many excellent stories and was also a perceptive and influential critic. His short fiction and criticism cry out for comprehensive collections. He wrote ten novels, mostly published in paperback; several have never been reprinted. An omnibus of his best novels would be nice. I remember one of his critical columns in a sceince-fiction magazine from the Eighties. He was discussing one of the middle novels in Gene Wolfe's magnum opus The Book of the New Sun. He said he could usually look behind the scenes and see how the author was getting the effects the reader perceived. In Wolfe's case, Budrys said he had no idea how Wolfe was doing it! He called Wolfe a magician.

Budrys was Lithuanian, from an important political family. They fled to the U.S. after the Soviets took over, and Algirdas Jonas Budrys (his name translates approximately as "Gordon John Sentinel"--Damon Knight says it was adopted) was raised and educated in America. He worked in magazine and book publishing and advertising and taught writing. He was largely unknown outside the speculative fiction genre, and unsung. He deserves at least a symphony.--Dan Moore

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Probable cause

It's been a few days since I've posted. . . . Hope you junkies aren't yelling, "I'll be danned, where is he?" Ha ha. Neal Adams' ideas on our expanding planet have given me pause (to follow the debate, go to the blog). His premise is that Earth has expanded, forcing the original land mass apart and forming continents and crustal plates. Apparently gravity has also increased. My question is: where did the additional mass come from? Adams invokes "pair production", which, if I understand it at all, involves photons hitting nuclei and producing electron-positron pairs, which annihilate to release energy. Conservation applies. I don't buy it. God creates; man converts.

What I want to discuss is the cause of the Deluge event. This event and its aftermath is the most important thing that has ever happened to us and our planet. The ultimate cause, of course, is God. His dismay at the depravity of man and the fallen angels led Him to initiate our destruction. His love for us gave Noah and his family a chance to try again. The question is: was the mechanism of the cataclysm internal or external? That is, did God activate something on or in the Earth or did the impetus for destruction come from outside? Traditional creationist models, some of them quite ingenious, center on an internal cause. I cannot accept these. Overhead oceans collapsing onto the surface ("vapor canopy") and other absurdities would seem to invoke such special circumstances that we might as well quit and just say, "God did it." Allan and Delair and many others agree that an external cause makes much more sense. As I said in a previous post, why would God create a damaged, chaotic Solar System and call it good? I believe God made Planet Five--Phaeton--explode, thus bombarding many of the planets, specifically Earth. The remnants of Phaeton are the Asteroid Belt; the rest hit the other planets or escaped into space. A fifty-mile-diameter chunk of Phaeton hitting the ocean with sufficient force could penetrate the crust and raise tsunamis up to 10,000 feet high. A number of bolides this big or bigger would break the crust and swanp the continents, at the least. Allan, Delair, and others think that a supernova explosion relatively close to the Solar System blew super-dense chunks through our system and adversely affected the Earth and other planets. Tom Van Flandern's exploding planet hypothesis (EPH) makes more sense to me. Occam's Razor applies, I think. God does as He pleases, but He doesn't seem to complicate things unnecessarily.--Dan Moore

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Terra ex nihilo

Genesis is the first book of the Bible. It details God's creation of the Earth and all the life on it. A literal understanding of this book is essential for Christians; I am also convinced that a correct understanding of the book is necessary to understand our planet and its history. After God finished creation, He is reported to have said, "It is good." I take this to mean that the Earth--and the Solar System--were created in a relative state of perfection, at least before the Fall of Man and, later, the Deluge event. What I have to say now will probably alienate half of my readers (both of them). I believe God made the Earth with an un-fractured crust (no tectonic plates) and no vulcanism or seismic activity; with an upright axis (no inclination) and a circular orbit; and, therefore, with a climate defined mostly by latitude. Man lived with all the animals and plants ever created, including the dinosaurs. Though it was a golden age in one sense, man's increasing wickedness and the direct involvement of fallen angels caused God to initiate the Cataclysm, which altered the face of the planet and nearly killed all living things.

Much of the rest of the Solar System was damaged at the same time. Mars and Venus were heavily damaged and nearly destroyed. Both were, I believe, habitable--and, indeed, were inhabited by us. Why would God create a planetary system so damaged and disrupted? What we see now is the result of our sin, our turning away from God. It's not what He made for us originally. Why would He?--Dan Moore

Saturday, September 20, 2008

As I Please

Hello, my name is Dan. I'm a reading junkie. I get panicky if I don't have books around me. I read constantly. My wife tells me I would rather read than talk to her. . . . My office has two desks, a filing cabinet, a daybed, eleven bookshelves, and over a thousand books, not to mention the books in other parts of the house. To his credit, our ABCD (American Border Collie dog), Corey, prefers my office. When I travel, even to the store, I take a book. I had trouble learning to read when I was young. My mother would sit with me after school and we would practice with the latest issue of Walt Disney's Comics and Stories. The adventures of Donald Duck and his nephews and Uncle Scrooge always used new words in every story and didn't talk down to kids. I still love the Disney characters. When I was 11 I discovered Edgar Rice Burroughs and my lifelong infatuation with fantasy began. When I was 12 I started buying Ace "Doubles" and reading Andre Norton and John Brunner. Reading is nearly as essential to me as breathing.

When I was 13 my parents bought Merriam Webster's Second International Dictionary (like Nero Wolfe, I prefer it over the third edition), and my addiction blossomed on this heady fertilizer. I began reading this great tome like a novel, page by page. I was permanently drunk on words. I discovered I could manipulate them in a way that pleased others. When I was 15 I began writing poems. My family was musical and I sublimated any musical talent I had into poetry. My Celtic genes were expressing themselves. Reality for me became a series of imaginary worlds punctuated by epiphanies. Now in my maturity I am tasked with sharing theophanies with others.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


The Bible tells us that a catastrophe altered the Earth greatly, at least until the second coming of the Lord. Many other traditions speak of this event. The first book of the Bible, Genesis, says, ". . . the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened . . ." (7:11, NAS). It then rained for 40 days. Before I deal with the cause of the Deluge, its existence must be posited. Aside from the various accounts recorded around the world, which skeptics classify as myth, legend, and folklore (MLF--or, to the establishment, "mostly ludicrous fiction"), physical evidence exists which indicates a worldwide disturbance in the recent past. This includes many deposits of shattered animal and vegetal matter mixed indiscriminately and often forced into caves, fissures, and ravines. Broken skeletons of whales are found on mountaintops; other unlikely scenes abound. Evidence of enormous wave action is everywhere. Temperate and tropical remains found near the poles and the remains of buildings found under water demonstrate a great derangement of the crust of the Earth. Allan and Delair, in their heavily documented book Cataclysm!, provide copious reports of an event that altered the surface of the Earth, extinguished almost all life, inclined the axis of our planet, and fractured its crust. A "nuclear winter" scenario followed unprecedented, worldwide vulcanism, and the first (and only) ice age was born. These "Oxbridge" authors claim that almost all evidence of widespread glaciation could have been caused by titanic tsunamis and super-hurricane winds.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Well, by popular request, here is the first of many posts on my hypothesis of human provenience. [Pardon the alliteration; I believe it may be genetic . . . or perhaps due to birth trauma; 45 years of scribbling poems on yellow legal pads doesn't help!] This should get rid of my readers (both of you). . . . I believe that the earth and its attendant universe was created recently, perhaps 20,000 years ago. This makes me a young-earth creationist. I differ from most other YEC's (that's pronounced yekk!), such as the doctors Morris, Ken Ham, etc. (for whom I have great respect), in that I do not follow Bishop Ussher's creation date of 4,004 B. C. I think a slightly longer span of time is required. To you firebreathing evolutionists, a difference of a few thousand years can hardly matter. About 12,000 years ago, God caused Planet Five (Phaeton), located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, to explode. The resultant planetary shrapnel wreaked havoc throughout the Solar System. Uranus was knocked on its side; Mars was hit so hard that half its crust and most of its atmosphere and water were blown away; Venus (quite possibly habitable) had its rotation reversed and was mostly resurfaced with lava; and Earth was swept by enormous waves, had its axis of rotation altered, and its geography greatly re-arranged. This event is remembered as the Deluge. Cultures around the world (400+) have stories about the ending of the previous age. The history of our planet can be divided into two periods: Protohistory (antediluvian) and history (postdiluvian). The term "prehistory" refers, in uniformatarian jargon, to the advent of writing. I believe writing has existed almost since the creation of man, so this term is useless. All geological ages, epochs, etc. are fictions of unformatarian science. Catastrophism, by its nature, is anathema to most geologists and biologists, indeed, to most scientists of any sort. More anon. Ex nihilo!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


A friend who blogs tells me I'm a little stiff in my blogging. I guess I have to choose between being George Orwell and Ann Coulter. That is, am I writing for posterity or for entertainment? Is there a happy medium? Or does she drink? I have my own voice when I write poetry . . . which took quite a bit of writing to develop. I'll just have to keep journalling for my imaginary audience and see what happens. I just watched a trailer for The Day the Earth Stood Still. The new version is coming out in December. Speaking of stiffs, Keanu Reeves plays the emissary from wherever. My son, Tom, who is a good actor, tells me Reeves is a stiff and can't act. I think he just underplays. There are so many people out there chewing on the scenery that subtlety seems foreign. Besides, you can't argue with megabucks.

Stiffs aside, is it possible to be Christian and get into science fiction? I started reading sf and fantasy when I was 12. I have always had a soft spot for the stuff. My father, and others, told me it was a soft spot in my head. By the time I was 17, I had over a thousand paperbacks and magazines, all sf (please don't use the abomination "sci-fi"). I was a science-fiction nerd. I am going to advance the notion that science fiction and Christianity are antithetical (is that the sound of sawing I hear behind me?). Here's why: Sf is predicated on the premise that Man is perfectable, that he has what he needs within him to solve his problems. Science is man's savior; progress is nearly infinite. Evolution is a fact. Christianity teaches us that God created us--and the world--in a state of perfection, but that we are rebellious, hence fallen. He gave us free will, so we could choose Him, or rely on our own efforts to overcome our problems, our fallen nature. God created the universe and all living things in it; we have not evolved but have actually regressed from our initial perfection. Only relationship with Him can save us. So, I have problems with the underlying ethos of science fiction, no matter how much I love the stuff. Fantasy is a different matter. Some of it is, indeed, non-Christian--paganism is so much more fun. Tolkien wrote from a Christian perspective, though The Lord of the Rings has some strange elements in it. At least it's not anti-Christian. I love it. I'm looking forward to The Hobbit flicks. Remember, we were created ex nihilo!

Saturday, September 13, 2008


I take the title of this "As I Please" from the great early technical critic of science fiction J. D. Blight (this is my amalgam of James Blish and Damon Knight), who defined it ". . . as the systematic avoidance of the word 'said,' in a misguided search for variety" (pp. 125-127). This is from Blish's The Issue at Hand (as by "William Atheling, Jr."); Blish's other other critical books are More Issues at Hand and The Tale That Wags the God. Damon Knight's great early critical work is In Search of Wonder (3rd ed.). Both men were superb writers and unrelenting, trailblazing technical critics of science fiction. More than one hapless hack quit the field after being dismembered by them. If I refer to them henceforth, it shall be collectively (and lovingly) as "J. D. Blight". By the way, if I mention obscure or out-of-print books, go to your public library and look for them! or other online booksellers often have amazingly cheap and good used books--try them. To return to said-bookisms . . . they are also known as speech-tags. There are only a limited number of legitimate verbs that can be substituted for said: whispered, shouted, yelled, etc. The rest, including such favorites as snapped and grated, make the speaker sound as though he's communicating from the zoo at feeeding time. Even worse are the adverbs appended to these clinkers: "A shining example," he smiled sunnily. Another oft-abused example: "Where are you going?" he asked. If there is a question mark, this verb is not needed. Said is fine. Speech tags are really only needed to differentiate speakers, so the reader knows who is saying what. Let your context indicate inflection, intonation, and emotional states. Otherwise, you are repeating yourself.

The above diatribe concerns an aspect of style. Content and style are, or should be, inseparable. Writers, unfortunately, reflect the molar splitting or schizophrenic duality of this fallen world. Thought and feeling are sundered; form and content are wrenched awry. We get popular novels that are travelogues or heavily-researched compilations. At the other end of the spectrum, though rarer, we suffer through stylistic confections so idiosyncratic as to be unintelligible to the average reader (often produced by university writers). The infrequent book in which style and content blend seamlessly is a jewel, flashing from its facets and refracting from its hidden heart. My favorite example is an early novel by the English novelist Susan Hill, The Bird of Night. I find the novel flawless and highly moving; I could not imagine changing a word. It shows us a great, though schizophrenic, poet, Francis Croft, through the eyes of his companion, the Egyptologist Harvey Lawson. Harvey's language is precise and descriptive, if a touch pedantic, as we watch Francis phase in and out of creativity and madness. Perhaps this novel affected me profoundly because I am a poet. Another work about a poet which melds style and substance perfectly, though in a comic vein, is Anthony Burgess' Enderby. This is made up of four short novels detailing the lunatic--and very funny--travails of a shy, middle-aged, flatulent English poet. Burgess was one of the most brilliant writers of the 20th century. He should have had a Nobel Prize and much more popularity (more on Mr. Wilson anon). What I'm trying to tell you, people, in my rambling way, is this: You cannot separate how you say something from what you say. It's like Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle: the very act of measuring a thing changes its value, its measurement. Therefore, speak like a dramatist, observe like a poet, and narrate like a novelist; be economical; and strive for unity. God will honor it, and so will men. Cheeers--Dan

Friday, September 12, 2008


I am appalled when I troll sites on the Internet at the lack of good style--indeed, at the lack of even basic compositional skills, let alone proofreading. Some of my favorite sites deal with fascinating topics and some are ferociously researched, but many seem to have been written by inept sixth-graders or to have been badly translated from Urdu (not to malign that language or any other; have you heard Persian spoken?--it's lovely). I am vaguely aware of a "trend" in virtual reality and the e-world towards comressed, simplified style. I remember an interview with the imminent fantast Gene Wolfe I read many years ago. It was published in a science-fiction fanzine: Algol, I believe. Wolfe (about whom more in a later post) specified some of the tools any writer needed to communicate with his readers effectively. Among them were a good grasp of English grammar and punctuation. He felt that readers would be repelled by clumsy construction, erratic syntax, and inconsistent punctuation. It erodes a reader's confidence when a writer bungles these basic skills. Here we must differentiate between skill and talent. A good writer is born with--or at least acquires early--the talent that makes him unique. This encompasses musicality, diction, juxtaposition, and many other qualities beyond the scope of this piece. Skill, though, is what the writer learns so he can handle his language clearly and precisely. An English lady had a book called Eats, Shoots and Leaves published a few years ago on the topic of punctuation. It is a hilarious primer on the peculiarities of the marks that organize our words. The point is that these skills can be learned. You should know the rules and traditions of your medium before you begin fracturing them.

Style, then, is a combination of talent and skill that makes a journeyman writer different from all others. A masterful writer is one who is emulated. Gore Vidal wrote an essay many years ago in which he vivisected the top ten bestselling novels of that period. The results were hilarious and horrifying. Some writers have a gift of storytelling, often combined with a great deal of research, that makes them almost compulsively readable. They sometimes sell an astonishing number of books, despite a lack of one or more of the skills I have been discussing. Some of them seem, as I said above, to have been poorly translated from a foreign language. Science fiction and fantasy (to a lesser extent) was rife with these half-literate storytellers not so long ago. Stylists like Sturgeon, Bradbury, Budrys, and Aldiss were the exception, rather than the rule. To sum all this up: You can learn the skills that will bring your talent to its fullest pitch. Even if the readership is degenerating into electronic Newspeak, you have a duty to express yourself as well as possible. Words live and have power; be wise in their use. Tomorrow: Said-bookisms. Siempre viva!


I had forgotten when I made my first post about the attacks of seven years ago. I was driving to work at a local high school (special ed.) when I heard about the airplane suicide-murder strikes. I remember the same feeling of numb unreality I felt as a student in my high-school classroom when JFK was assassinated . . . going home to watch the TV in shock, desperately wishing for disbelief to descend. It didn't. It is fashionable to attribute the "Islamist" outrages to a small minority of Muslims. Numerically, this is so--thank God. As a Bible-believing, committed Christian, I have to question the co-existence of Islam and Christianity. Most of my fellow believers don't bother, preferring the assumption of a tiny, fractious fraction of Allah's militants. Most Muslims don't bother, either. The shopkeepers and others I come in contact with want only to make a living and get along. The Koran is quite explicit about its options, however: (1) Convert; (2) be a subjugated "citizen"; or (3) die. The leaders of Iran and other Islamic theocracies have no qualms about the subject. To them, Israel does not exist and the USA is the "Great Satan". I do not believe co-existence is in their vocabulary, let alone their game-plan. Jesus abjures us to love our enemies, though they smite us. There is no more difficult teaching in the New Testament.

To continue my introduction of myself: I have been married to the artist (and now psychology student) Gloria Megan for 25 years. We have four children: Michael (31), Thomas (24), Laurel (23), and Timothy (22). Tim, a high-functioning autistic person, still lives with us. Sometimes I wonder if my rampant drug use before I got married contributed to Tim's problems. Questions like this are probably best left to Himself in Heaven. I have been clean and sober since meeting Gloria. Actually I had quit the wild life before meeting Gloria to become a practicing Hindu. Anyone remember Baba Muktananda? It's easy to say he was a slice of Hindu fruitcake, but there is power in such things--and it doesn't come from God I know. After I started chanting "Om namah Shivaya" I didn't need drugs! Siempre viva in Christo Jesus!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

anno Domini 2013

My name is Daniel Moore . . . known to friends as Dan; to family as Danny; to certain others as "fat asshole" (pardon the language; I try hard not to indulge in pejorative language: vulgarity, obscenity, and profanity). As the title of this seminal entry indicates I am both Christian and eccentric. Josh (Yeshua) was born before Herod the Gross burst in 4 B.C., so Zero Dating should add about five years to the current date. This puts paid to the Mayan chiliasts (sorry, Whitley!). There are some interesting reasons to believe His birthday was actually September 29th: hence the ancient observance of "Michaelmas". Dr. John Morris at has a fascinating article on this. Then again, the Mayan calendar begins with the year 3113 B.C. (if I remember correctly), so what does this mean?

As to the title of this blog (what an ugly word!) . . . I am a poet (45 years worth) and a generalist or eclectic synthesist (jack of all knowledge, master of none). Apologies to Master Herbert; blushes to Master Heinlein (my maths stop with algebra). I have nearly sixty ae and am retired form teaching high school English and special education. I keep my hand in by hometeaching a few students (Lunatics-R-Us division) at a time. Though born in the District of Columbia, I was raised and still reside in the high desert of SoCal (Land of Fruits, Nuts, and Fakers). We refer to Ciudad de Los Angeles as "Down Below". The implied reference to Hell is not accidental; they should have a large sign over I-5 (north Valley): "Abandon all hope . . ." I am a journeyman poet. In my old age, I am beginning to navigate the creative waters of the vast, undulating swamp of Prose. I will inflict no more poetry on you than necessary. Perhaps I will upload Selected Poems to some virtual annex at some point. . . . Ex nihilo!