Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thumb-twiddling . . .  Can I just be unconscious until Thursday?  I'm waiting with baited breath to see my article in full public view!  In the meantime, I thought I would bring to your attention one thing that was very different about this article from the Roundtables that we have done so far.  When I submitted the "Truth" article, I made the following comments to my editors:

                      This turned out to be a VERY challenging article.  
                It's really eye-opening how different it is writing one of 
                our Roundtables alone--I enjoyed the struggle of trying
                to sound like more than one person, but gone was 
                "the liberty of knowing that I do not need to report every 
                detail of our content."  The amount of popularly-known 
                background material on this subject is massive, and I 
                am certain that I missed a few tidbits somewhere.
                It was hardest to figure out how to include all that
                content and still have any space to say anything about
                it, but I did it.

One criticism that we have received about our articles is that readers claim to be unable to figure out what is going on in them.  Hopefully, the alternating prose and narration passages will be more comprehensible to readers and also make our previous (as well as future) articles more understandable.  The only real difference between what I have written (seeming to be a prose essay in the odd-numbered passages and an unrelated narrative in the even-numbered passages) and our multi-authored articles is that the Roundtable articles are written in turns by four different writers who do not plan their content in advance, nor do we communicate about our content between passages outside of CCing every participant with each submission.  The resulting spontaneity can be a little disconcerting.

In normal academic articles, thoroughness is expected and even required by critics, professionals, and most readers.  In our roundtable articles, as I said in my interview, I enjoyed the liberty of knowing that I do not need to report every detail of our content.  I knew that I was co-writing an article with three other writers who--as far as I knew--intended to cover all of their material thoroughly, in some cases resulting in redundant repetition.  There is no harm in such repetition when the material is being presented from a different perspective.  [This effect has been called "polyphonic" in the study of Dostoevsky's novels.]  Such was the case in the "Whence Cometh Evil" article, when BabySnoopyFan and Draciron and Happy Hiram presented different research materials on the topic, some of which supported another writer's arguments, and in others left it feeling unrelated.  Meanwhile, knowing that the other three writers were writing academic essay-styled paragraphs in which they reported statistical detail and analytical observations, I persisted in writing out a scene which seemed to be saying nothing about Evil in any philosophical sense.  And my co-writers pretended to ignore my silly antics and continued to report their educated analyses of the topic.  It is different, and it can result in discordance, but it is spontaneous, and we do read each other's passages before writing our own passages in turns.  Take the time to reread the 'Whence Cometh Evil" article with me, chuckle at the shenanigans I have written, appreciate the fervent passion which BabySnoopyFan employs in the statistical report of abusive upbringing, grimace alongside Reva as she indignantly runs the topic through a griste mill, and delight in Happy Hiram's effort to upstage the Behemoth.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

First Street Date Announcement

In order to announce the street-date of the Truth blog, I thought I would interview the legendary literary character, Wraxtiorre. This is all fictional, of course, since Wraxtiorre is only an Internet persona.

TWM: When is that article you keep talking about going to be published?
Wraxtiorre: According to the webmaster at BreadnCircles, the first six parts of the article should become the Top-Page on November 26th.
TWM: That's Thanksgiving Day! Wait, whaddaya mean, first six parts?
Wraxtiorre: I submitted the article in ten 300-word sections, alternating between essay-like prose and story-like narration, so as to give it the appearance of having been written by more than one person. Only the first six parts will become available this Thursday, and the rest will be posted a week or two later.
TWM: Is there anything unusual that I should ask about?
Wraxtiorre: You mean, aside from my new hairdo? Yes, you should ask about the layout issues.
TWM: Layout issues? What layout issues?
Wraxtiorre: The article is being posted in an extremely wide layout, with margin spaces for commentary being added by fellow BnC editors. So, before leaving it, make sure to scroll all the way to the right from the top of the page all the way to the bottom so as to catch all the additional commentary and reactions from my fellow philosophers.
TWM: Tell me about your unique narrative style of writing in an academic philosophical blog. Why do you tell stories instead of writing prose?
Wraxtiorre: Most people refuse to read philosophy because it is written in such a dry, technical tone. How often do you pick up the reference for your Windows XP (or Vista or 7) to read it for its entertainment value? How often do you read it at all? Would you know more about your Windows if you did? It's the same thing. I want more people to know about philosophy, but I don't know everything. So, I try to make entertaining jokes inbetween passages of academic learning so that readers will keep interested while my fellows teach them some stuff about philosophy. Also, sometimes it is easier for me to portray a thought than to tell it, and it is also easier to grasp some complex ideas if they are shown instead of explained. Besides, most often it is the same thing as what my fellow writers are saying.
TWM: What are you really like, as a person?
Wraxtiorre: I'm constipated--I mean, complicated.
TWM: Does it bother you that some people fail to take you seriously?
Wraxtiorre: I'm not here to be taken seriously. If readers are still there when I am finished writing, I am happy merely that they stayed to listen to the stories, and read what my fellow contributors had to say--and maybe chuckled at a few of my jokes while they were reading. It is more important to me that they take my fellow writers seriously.
TWM: Who is the Itinerant Philosopher? What will happen to Saint Sixedog? The last I heard, he was flailed against a light-pole by the Behemoth. How is he doing? Is he getting medical attention?
Wraxtiorre: The Itinerant Philosopher is just a mouthpiece for the narration, not really a representative of any particular school of thought. As for Saint Sixedog, a discussion topic has been started in the Facebook "Bread n Circles Fan Club" to allow for requests or suggestions about his fate, but being in the future, even I cannot predict what will happen to him.
TWM: What are your plans for the next blog?
Wraxtiorre: I have no idea. I don't plan the future--I just create it.
TWM: Do you think that any of the storylines from Yahoo!Answers, such as the Stoic Cat and Cartoon Dog, might be included in future writings at BreadnCircles?
Wraxtiorre: They will have to be fresh writings, I cannot just cut-n-paste the existing narratives that have already been posted at Yahoo!Answers for copyright reasons--but I own the rights to the characters, so I can write new episodes using the names.
TWM: Is there anything you would like to repeat for your readers?
Wraxtiorre: Just a self-serving reminder of my excellence. Don't forget--Thanksgiving weekend at Bread n Circles! Read my article, and discuss it loudly!


This article appears in my new book, Appearing to Study Particle Physics, which is currently available at Lulu.com in hardback and paperback!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hidden Easter Eggs at BreadnCircles

For those of you who missed the posting of the "Hermagoras Forgotten" essay and fear that it was removed entirely from Bread n Circles website archive, fear not. Although the essay's content was not well received by the editors, they happily posted it and debated its merits offline. Once the interviews resumed, the Hermagoras Forgotten posting was archived as the October 14th posting, and listed in the sidebar buttons by name. However, more recent postings have been remiss in connecting the links for those two buttons--specifically. However, if you go back to the Interview with BabySnoopyFan--the "Hermagoras Forgotten" on that page doesn't work either, but you can still find the essay by clicking on the "Oct.14" button. The need for this awkward path is likely the result of lacking thoroughness. In the event that it works, here is a link that should take you directly to the archived page containing the controversial essay.


The reason that I am bringing this article back into my reader's attention is that the Truth Blog which should be posted within the next couple of weeks is a vivid portrayal of the perspective displayed in that essay. So, read and enjoy Happy Hiram's Interview, and go back to reread the Hermagoras Forgotten essay when the Truth blog gets posted.


Update:  During the Summer of 2011, the Bread n Circles website was taken down.  For the story of the roundtable discussions and the fate of the website, please read The Behemoth Saga on its own page in this blog.  The "Hermagorus Forgotten" essay has also been preserved separately

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Delays, Delays, Delays!

As expected, the webmaster is having several different types of chaos interfering with life ("Everybody gets a turn!"), and the new-fangled expression of narrative and technical mastery will not be posted for at least a week to ten days. Even still, it will have to be posted in 2 or 3 installments, so look forward to a cliffhanger existence through December and into January.

Remember, though, that I am looking for this article's posting to be the thing that puts Bread n Circles on the Google Map, so for those of you who have grown weary of waiting and may have gone elsewhere, all I can say is stay close to your Facebook, your Twitter, and Yahoo!Answers. The Truth will be "Out There!"

On the interesting side, the promise of Roundtable-like commentary is being encouraged, as my webmaster has noted that the other contributors will hopefully provide sidebar commentary, or perhaps engage in a follow-up Roundtable, discussing the topic in the shadows of my article. So far, the working name of my article is "Wrax vs. Wrax, The Truth." However, while I was writing it, I described it several different ways, including "The Mosaic of Truth," and "The Ugly Truth."

Friday, November 6, 2009

My weary eyes are sagging as I rest my weary soul (sweating), closing the books that have been my only friends as I close my eyes, I carelessly let the pencil drop to the floor. The work is done, the rest is come. The TRUTH will be known, as the words will be shown.

For those of you with weaker sensibilities, the gruesome details will be a bit more shocking than in past articles, but I have done it! I have written short snippets of wisdom, reported historical research, quoted original texts (as is usually my habit anyway), and summarized complex theories. Yes, there was lots of looking up stuff in Wikipedia, Stanford Online Libraries, www.sacred-texts.com, and even physical books that I pulled out of my attic. There was also lots of creative energy being burned, interpretive dialogues and narrative arrangements. There are jokes of varying degrees of subtlety and obviousness as well.

"What is it that you are talking about?"

The latest blog article at Bread n Circles. I have been slaving over it for several weeks, shaping it and honing its text, to make it both something encyclopedic as well as something only I would have written. It should be posted sometime this weekend. Announcements will follow when it goes up!