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Clark Ashton Smith, The Crawling Chaos, Artistry

Artistry

Bow down, I am the emperor of dreams. - Clark Ashton Smith
my pre-ramble… :-)

Letter From Clark Ashton Smith About Crawling Chaos And Art - April 14th, 1937

Letter From Clark Ashton Smith About Crawling Chaos And Art

While doing some link rot checking using the Broken Link Checker plugin I came across this old post which is about an old edited letter from Clark Ashton Smith (CAS) to August Derluth.

A screenshot is at left – click to enlarge or see the original here.  CAS tells about the creation of The Crawling Chaos by the two authors, showing a natural deference for his friend, Howard Phillips Lovecraft (HPL).

Some people may know that CAS also sculpted, from soapstone if my memory is correct.  The letter mentions some of this, but mainly describes a gripe that all artists have – now, quoting directly from CAS, emphasised & paragraphed for web clarity by me…

I am pleased to hear that the sculptures continue to attract so much favorable attention. I am writing to Sloane, and offering him a copy of The Double Shadow if he hasn’t seen it. . . . On second thought, I’ll mail him an inscribed one anyway.

As to a volume of my stuff, I suppose there is no harm in trying, It makes me pretty sick to remember that at least five publishers asked HPL to submit story-material for a possible book and then turned it down.

It is curious how ready people are to admit the worth of a writer after he is dead, and how goddamned cautious they are about it while he remains alive. Death seems to bring about a sort of crystallization, so to speak. . . .

As for me. I am pretty tough, and come of a hardy and long-lived ancestry. I’ll survive my present difficulties. What the future holds, I am not sure. But I have made up my mind to quit California at the earliest possible date.

Plugging Away

So CAS just kept plugging away.  He never had any money, yet mysteriously, I’ve read nearly all his stuff!!  The bulk of this was some time ago when Panther published stacks of compilations by HPL, CAS and many others.  But, just as CAS mused, he was dead by the time I read them…

The original issues had wonderfully mystical, sometimes horrible, artwork by Bruce Pennington….

Crawling Chaos

When the band (The Crawling Chaos) was formed, it was just Jeff Crowe, Keith Wear & myself.  We all read and devoured everything to do with The Cthulu Mythos – and more! [e.g for myself it led me to Lord Dunsany, Robert Heinlein, Frederik Pohl, Philip K Dick, Daniel Keyes & the rest of SF]

Genius Loci cover

Genius Loci cover

In particular, since there’s only a few folks that now know this, Keith took it upon himself to copy the whole Bruce Pennington cover for the 1st Panther book version of CAS’s Genius Loci.

I scanned my book some time ago and cleaned away the title etc just leaving the work. That’s it, left.

Bedroom Wall

So…….Keith copied the key guts of the thing onto his bedroom wall in Ashington!  The whole wall…

You can see his copy as part of the cover for our first recorded output, Magnum Innoninandum (sic) here:

Crawling Chaos - Magnum Innoninandum (cassette cover)

Crawling Chaos – Magnum Innoninandum (cassette cover)

The original (nicked at Tynemouth) drumkit is there as well as the really noisy HH amp, Jeff’s record player, speakers & discs on the floorof his mum’s living room. Keith did the cover.

The Black Abbott of Puthuum

Genius Loci also includes one of my favourite CAS passages in the description of the Black Abbott.  (I think my favourite story has to be “The Coming of the White Worm“, but that’s for another time).  Anyway, here’s the bit about the black abbott blokey…

To add to their distress, the terrain grew rougher and steeper, and they climbed acclivitous hillsides and went down endlessly into drear valleys. Anon they came to a flat, open, pebbly space. There, all at once, it seemed that the pandemonium of evil noises drew back on every hand, receding and fading into faint, dubious whispers that died at a vast remove. Simultaneously, the circling night thinned out, and a few stars shone in the welkin, and the sharp-spined hills of the desert loomed starkly against a vermilion afterglow. The travelers paused and peered wonderingly at one another in a gloom that was no more than that of natural twilight.

“What new devilry is this?” asked Cushara, hardly daring to believe that the hellish leaguers had vanished.

“I know not,” said the archer, who was staring into the dusk.” “But here, mayhap, is one of the devils.”

The others now saw that a muffled figure was approaching them, bearing a lit lantern made of some kind of translucent horn. At some distance behind the figure, lights appeared suddenly in a square dark mass which none of the party had discerned before. This mass was evidently a large building with many windows.

The figure, drawing near, was revealed by the dim yellowish lantern as a black man of immense girth and tallness, garbed in a voluminous robe of saffron such as was worn by certain monkish orders, and crowned with the two-horned purple hat of an abbot. He was indeed a singular and unlooked-for apparition: for if any monasteries existed amid the barren reaches of Izdrel, they were hidden and unknown to the world. Zobal, however, searching his memory, recalled a vague tradition he had once heard concerning a chapter of negro monks that had flourished in Yoros many centuries ago. The chapter had long been extinct, and the very site of its monastery was forgotten. Nowadays there were few blacks anywhere in the kingdom, other than those who did duty as eunuchs guarding the seraglios of nobles and rich merchants

The animals began to display a certain uneasiness at the stranger’s approach.

“Who art thou?” challenged Cushara, his fingers tightening on the haft of his weapon.

The black man grinned capaciously, showing rows of discolored teeth whose incisors were like those of a wild dog. His enormous unctuous jowls were creased by the grin into folds of amazing number and volume; and his eyes, deeply slanted and close together, seemed to wink perpetually in pouches that shook like ebon jellies. His nostrils flared prodigiously; his purple, rubbery lips drooled and quivered, and he licked them with a fat, red, salacious tongue before replying to Cushara’s question. [isn’t this bit amazing? – SP]

“I am Ujuk, abbot of the monastery of Puthuum,” he said, in a thick voice of such extraordinary volume that it appeared almost to issue from the earth under his feet. “Methinks the night has overtaken you far from the route of travelers. I bid you welcome to our hospitality.”

So, buy the book, or read the whole story here.

Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams?

(clue – “The Hashish Eater”)
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-colored sun
Of secret worlds incredible, and take
Their trailing skies for vestment when I soar….

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Life is fleeting so first of all learn about death

Nichiren – The Importance of the Moment of Death

Lotus Blossom in McClelland Art Gallery - contrasts to the large sculptures...

Lotus Blossom in McClelland Art Gallery – contrasts to the large sculptures…

With it’s dramatically sombre title, “The Importance of the Moment of Death“, Nichiren tells us exactly what’s on his mind. The text of the letter shows that it was sent to an unknown person to read to the lay nun Myōhō.  Presumably she was unable to read… Whatever, Nichiren knew several lay nuns called Myoho and this one’s a widow.

We know he despised the “Pure Land” and other teachings and espoused the Lotus Sutra as being the final version of a lifetime’s work and thought by Shakyamuni, who most know as the Buddha.  His outspokenness brought him many enemies in feudal Japan.

He was drawing to the end of his life, being 56, with 4 years to go.  In this piece he states exactly what he thought – and did! The sheer poetry when he talks about the transient nature of life, is like majestic magic.

Looking back, I have been studying the Buddha’s teachings since I was a boy. And I found myself thinking, “The life of a human being is fleeting. The exhaled breath never waits for the inhaled one. Even dew before the wind is hardly a sufficient metaphor. It is the way of the world that whether one is wise or foolish, old or young, one never knows what will happen to one from one moment to the next. Therefore I should first of all learn about death, and then about other things.”

So I gathered and considered the sacred teachings of Shakyamuni’s entire lifetime, as well as the writings and commentaries of scholars and teachers.

Which is what Nichiren really did.  From a young boy he sought the true nature of existence.  And using the metaphors that without white there can be no black, and without life there can be no death, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo was the fruit of his lifetime’s studies.

Nichiren explicitly says (above) that it was from looking at dead people at such an early age that he commenced his life’s work and started studying Buddhism!  What a fantastic thing from such a gloomy beginning!

Encouragement

  • Nichiren encourages the lay nun Myoho that her recently deceased husband is okay.
  • He also says that she will be (and is currently), okay.

The persistent care and trouble that Nichiren takes over ordinary people is noteworthy; he continually encourages, when things are just pottering on as well as when people are at their darkest hour and are troubled.

How does he say these things?  Here?

The key passage for me is here:

Carina Nebula

Carina Nebula

One who upholds the daimoku of the Lotus Sutra transforms the black lacquer of the evil deeds of a lifetime, and of countless kalpas of lifetimes in the past, into the great merit of good deeds. All the more so is this true of one’s good roots from the beginningless past, which all take on a golden hue.

And when your deceased husband chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo at the end on his deathbed, the evil deeds of a lifetime, and from the beginningless past, changed into the seeds of Buddhahood. This is what is meant by the teachings called “earthly desires are enlightenment,” “the sufferings of birth and death are nirvana,” and “attaining Buddhahood in one’s present form.”

And because you are the beloved wife of such a man, the teaching of women attaining Buddhahood without doubt also applies to you.

The image is that of a huge dying star, the Carina Nebula which is likely to cataclysmically pop.  From its remains, new stars will be made, which is the whole point of it all.   Nichiren then goes on to finish saying,

…if this were to be a lie, Shakyamuni, Many Treasures, and all the Buddhas of the ten directions, who are Shakyamuni’s emanations, would be liars, great liars, evildoers, and those who deceive all living beings and cause them to fall into hell (…)  It would not be Nichiren’s lie; rather it would be the lie of all the Buddhas in the ten directions and three existences.

But consider: How could such a thing ever be?

I will explain this matter in detail when we meet.

I would love to had been at that meeting!

And in Another Letter to the Lay Nun Myoho…

ShunnedThree years later in another letter to the nun, Nichiren again encourages the nun.  Her loneliness has increased as she is shunned by her family – all for chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

In fact in this letter, we get a clue to Nichiren’s realisation that Buddhahood applies to everyone.  He paraphrases Shakyamuni’s disillusionment with the women of his time and at the same time praises the lay nun Myoho, when he says,

I have received your gift of a light summer robe.   You have been left behind by your deceased husband in a woman’s situation, and are separated from your relatives, too. You hear nothing from your one or two daughters, who are not to be relied on. Moreover, you are a woman who is hated by others because of this teaching. You are just like Bodhisattva Never Disparaging.

I had therefore thought that, though women would tarnish their names and throw away their lives on meaningless paths, they were weak at following the path to Buddhahood. But now you, born a woman in the evil world of the latter age, while being reviled, struck, and persecuted by the barbaric inhabitants of this island country who are unaware of these things, have endured and are propagating the Lotus Sutra.

She must have been a tough one.  She chanted the daimoku, probably just like in this YouTube video.

Conclusion

Operating Table

Operating Table

Nichiren does not explicitly say, to my eyes, what “The Importance of the Moment of Death” is.  But his meaning is clear.

The importance of the moment of death is to be chanting The Daimoku of The Lotus Sutra, even if it’s only in your head.

I did this when I had an operation a few years ago, just as I was going under the anaesthetic.  Of course I woke up later (like dah…), but my faith was paramount in my thoughts as I drifted off, though weirdly, I almost forgot…..  Here’s how.

I was completely empty of thoughts, or a bit shocked, as they prepared my hand for the drugs, maybe my face showed trepidation or something to the anaesthetist, but she said “most people try to think happy thoughts or faces at this time” – it was then that I remembered I’d previously promised myself many times to chant as I went under…. so I did… and just in time.

  • I continue.
  • Clifford Worley Quote

    Clifford to Clarence Worley – Click image for Quote

    I have a set drill in my head now that should I feel I’m a goner, to chant, even if it’s just inside my mind.

  • Is this mad?  Not for me.
  • Will I forget again?
  • Who can tell?  But though I quoted this at the top from Nichiren, I’ll repeat it again here…

It is the way of the world that whether one is wise or foolish, old or young, one never knows what will happen to one from one moment to the next.

“So quit fuckin’ around!”

– from True Romance (1993)


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Lifevantage Terminates and Sues Major Distributor

Introduction

Jason Domingo

Jason Domingo

Lifevantage (LV) announced that, at the unanimous recommendation of its Board of Directors, it has terminated for cause its relationship with Jason Domingo and Ovation Marketing Group, Inc., one of the Company’s lead distributors. The Company also announced that it has filed suit against Mr. Domingo and Ovation in Federal Court in the State of Utah for breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets.  See typical market report.

The detail (see link below) shows that LV made $10.9m in 2010 and $208m in 2013 – this is despite the investigative activity into Protandim, LV’s main product, by LazyManAndMoney and others…!  Distributors were paid $91m from which $2.6m went to Domingo.  They say he was the lead distributor.

The Detail in the Lifevantage Case

The case details are on PACER – summarised here:

Case details:

2:13-cv-01037-DB Lifevantage v. Domingo et al

Dee Benson, presiding

Date filed: 11/19/2013

Date of last filing: 11/19/2013

Assigned to: Judge Dee Benson

Demand: $775,000

Cause: 28:1332 Diversity-Breach of Contract

Court Filings of Lifevantage v Jason Domingo

You can view the court documents (19 pages) on the attached file:

Lifevantage v. Domingo et al

 

Jason Domingo,President, Ovation Marketing Group, Inc.

Domingo has been in business for many years.  This letter of his to the FTC is dated May 28, 2006 and he states he’s been in network marketing for 14 years, meaning he started back in 1992.  Chillingly, he quotes a Dr Charles King that by 2016 one in two Americans will be involved in network marketing.  Thankfully, we don’t appear to be treading that path.

The Court Case

The letter of his makes good reading, especially with regard to the free market and in comparison to the Lifevantage court case….  In this, they claim he:

  • Has been laying the groundwork for setting up a competitive business
  • Disparaged the company
  • Is setting up a competitive business
  • Used his disposal of 90% of his stock as proof of these claims
  • Sent  an email to Randy Haag disparaging the company where he said “there is no statement too strong that speaks to the malfeasance of this management team.  Greed and ego has gripped my (sic) beautiful company by the throat.” – Stirring stuff indeed!
  • If Domingo had worked properly, they’d have paid out tens of millions more to distributors.

In total there are three main actions, divided into a myriad of clauses.

  • They want a 12 man jury public trial.
  • They want all costs.
  • They want $775,000

Malfeasance

Domingo used the word malfeasance to describe the LV management team.  I had to double-check the meaning.  It means:

The commission of an act that is unequivocally illegal or completely wrongful.

In detail, it means:

Intentionally doing something either legally or morally wrong which one had no right to do. It always involves dishonesty, illegality, or knowingly exceeding authority for improper reasons. Malfeasance is distinguished from “misfeasance,” which is committing a wrong or error by mistake, negligence or inadvertence, but not by intentional wrongdoing. Example: a city manager putting his indigent cousin on the city payroll at a wage the manager knows is above that allowed and/or letting him file false time cards is malfeasance; putting his able cousin on the payroll which, unknown to him, is a violation of an anti-nepotism statute is misfeasance. This distinction can apply to corporate officers, public officials, trustees, and others cloaked with responsibility.

Well. Most of what I have seen about LV fits into that. It’ll be interesting to see how this case pans out. I suspect it’ll not come to court.

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Iain Duncan Smith Google Search – The Truth!

Iain Duncan Smith?  Is he…?

  1. Young?
  2. Angry?
  3. Evil?
  4. Wanker?
  5. DWP?
  6. Eating?

Answer

All of them!

A simple image search on Google for Iain Duncan Smith produces these results? (Click image for more clarity).

Iain Duncan Smith Google Search

Iain Duncan Smith Google Search

(Is Google hinting at something?)

A.  Actually, yes.      These results are effectively word association popularity stakes!!

n.b. Notice how “a quiet honourable man” doesn’t figure anywhere here…?  See this link for those that have forgotten his own self-assessment.

Instead of “quiet, resolute and honourable” (his MP title), the public think of “Young, Angry, Evil, Wanker” when they think of Iain Duncan Smith.

Google and Microsoft agree measures to block abuse images

Child Abusers

Child Abusers

I didn’t think of these two blokes on the left first.

The first thing I thought of when seeing this headline in the news, was that the major search engines would block all tory mp and supporter images, since, in my mind, there’s nothing more abusive on the planet, having ruined the lived of millions both historically and in the present.  “Lower than vermin” said Bevan, and he was right.

The real child abuse is to the vast hordes of little ones right here now, their parents paralysed with the real fear of poverty, homelessness and starvation.  Zero hours contracts.  No unemployment benefit if you’re deemed to be sick by some unqualified dork in an office.  Working for Peackocks for nothing.  IDS is one of the key foci and instigators of this terror.

Anyway, Google search has thrown up, in no uncertain terms, what are the most popular searches that include the lying bastard‘s name.  That’s them above, repeated here again….  Young, Angry, Evil, Wanker

I’ve since redone the exercise for a few familiar names. The first few returns for each are shown:

Nick Clegg: David Cameron, wife, sad
David Cameron: young, Nick Clegg, wife, smiling
Dennis Skinner: young, angry, 1970, quotes
Margaret Thatcher: Evil, 2012, Margaret Thatcher fun…, 2013
Neil Kinnock: Glenys Kinnock, Tony Benn, Michael Foot, Spitting Image
Tony Benn: 2013, Quotes, Beard
Tony Blair: 1997, Bush, 2013, Black and White
Winston Churchill: WW2, Cigar, Quotes, A Child
Ed Miliband: Wallace, Young, Wallace Gromit, Jogging
Gordon Brown: Smiling, young, Obama, Face

Interesting, huh?

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Skaill 2012

Skaill by Crawling Chaos (reworked)

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Bay of Skaill

Bay of Skaill

I’ve been playing with a digital extraction of Skaill on Reaper.  Have a listen.  Guess what’s been done….

A video is to follow (slow encoding to get the quality I need) which is highly appropriate given my partly Orcadian roots and the track title.  Skaill is the final track from “C” – “The Big C”, by Crawling Chaos.  It is Jeff Crowe and myself jamming with some post recording tape twiddling.  Skara Brae which we both fascinated by is nearby and is why we chose the track title after getting the Ordnance Survey map out!  Thanks to Jeff Lynne on TV the other night for some inspiration to get this project started.

This is the video on the Crawling Chaos website, though the sound hasn’t encoded as well as I’d liked.  The link above has better sound with the forthcoming CD even better (natch).

Rees

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