Archive for June, 2010


“Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”  — Carl Jung, Psychologist 

“Everyone has a shadow-self. Those that accept their shadow are happy, peaceful and content.”  — Deepak Chopra 

“Got a little Twist of Cain from the God Below.”  — Glenn Danzig 

How can any fan of Dark Fantasy not like DANZIG? Well, I suppose if you’re not a fan of hard-hitting, guitar-driven rock with a punk edge and metal sensibilities…or if you’re offended by works of art that might challenge your conception of Christian theology…or if you just don’t like music at all (is that even possible?). 

The new DANZIG album drops on June 22...DETH RED SABAOTH. Beware...

As a life-long fan of hard rock music, I’m amazed and inspired that Glenn Danzig (at the humble age of 54) is still cranking out dark, horror-inspired rock music with all the intensity of a man in his early 20s–and with far more skill thanks to decades of honing his craft. 

While “mainstream” America might believe Danzig peaked with the early-90s radio hit “Mother,” true Danzig fans know better. That was only the beginning of one of the most fascinating and original careers in the annals of rock-and-roll history. Danzig remains an artistic powerhouse, one who never stopped perfecting his songwriting, singing, and musicianship over the years. In the music industry his reputation as a songwriter of the highest order is well recognized. In addition to punk/metal/rock, he’s written symphonic/classical albums, and even songs for the late Johnny Cash. 

Danzig's brilliant 2006 album, CIRCLE OF SNAKES, was his 8th solo release. Tommy Victor's bludgeoning guitar tones added a metallic edge to the most bombastic tracks including "1000 Devils Reign" and "Netherbound."

Some potential fans are turned away by Danzig’s preoccupation with Satanic and anti-religious themes. Lyrically, he enjoys taking on the role of demons, devils, murderers, forces of evil, or even Lucifer himself. His works often condemn the hypocrisy and brutality of historical Christianity (anybody remember the Spanish Inquisition? The Crusades?).

With album titles like Satan’s Child, Lucifuge, and I Luciferi, it’s easy to wonder if the guy is a true Satanist. Danzig has denied this. My favorite quote from him is: “I embrace both my light and dark side.” And therein lies the genius of Danzig, the man, the artist, the legend. He’s not afraid to embrace his “shadow self” and use it to empower his art.

DANZIG 6:66 SATAN'S CHILD (his 6th album, natch) marked yet another new direction for the singer, with lush production and bottom-heavy riffs that rose well above punk minimalism. The lyric "God don't love no Satan's Child" provides the provocative title, and Simon Bisley's gorgeous artwork completes the package.

Today’s psychologists and self-help gurus tell us that embracing the darker side of one’s personality is a healthy thing to do. Carl Jung (the “father” of modern psychology) said decades ago that any dark or shameful thoughts that are repressed only grow stronger and can cause mental health problems. Today we have books such as THE SHADOW EFFECT by Chopra, Ford, and Williamson, an instruction manual for confronting, embracing, and ultimately overcoming your own Dark Side. (No, George Lucas didn’t invent the whole “Dark Side” idea, nor did Jack Kirby. It’s real, dude.)

Danzig 5: BLACKACIDEVIL was a total surprise for Danzig fans: a blend of techno-industrial beats, noise rock, and punk attitude laced with Danzig's trademark horror imagery. By making such a dramatic shift way from his accustomed sound, he gained a legion of new fans and proved that he could not be pigeonholed. It was the beginning of Phase 2 of his career, and the first album without the backing band who had played on his first four albums. Some Danzig fans avoid this album; personally, I love it.

This is where Danzig’s albums play a role in my own life. There is nothing quite so providing of release, so therapeutic, so pulse-quickening as some outrageously loud, overly aggressive, bass-thumping, window-rattling Hard Rock blasting from my amplified speakers (or my car stereo). Glenn Danzig’s genius is how he combines driving rhythms, killer guitar hooks, and soulful-yet-powerful singing with the morbid beauty of Dark Fantasy and Horror. 

A comics fan from boyhood, Danzig presents the sonic side of his muse with some of the best packaging in rock: His albums feature exquisite artwork by some of the best artists working in and out of comics. From Simon Bisley to Joe Chiodo to Martin Emond (R.I.P.) to H.R. Giger, the art of any Danzig album is just as important as the music it contains…the visual side of a multi-sensory creation. Back in 1987 his first solo album (self-titled) introduced the “horned skull” image, which remains one of the most iconic and enduring images in the history of rock. The final jewel in Danzig’s dark crown are his provocative, horror-laden, and inciteful lyrics. 

777: I LUCIFERI was Danzig's 7th album, which kept the heaviness of SATAN'S CHILD but moved back toward raw, punk-style production. It stands as one of his greatest achievements (and one of his scariest albums), with terrific guitar work by Todd Youth (of The Chelsea Smiles and Murphy's Law). "Kiss the Skull" and "Wicked Pussycat" are some of the best in Danzig's repetoire.

A new Danzig album is an experience in Dark Fantasy every bit as powerful as your favorite writer’s newest novel. In fact, Danzig’s albums are very much like novels…or short story collections…exploring the shadow-side of human nature (and demonic nature). We live in a world that is equal parts Good and Evil…and every human being is at once an Angel and a Demon. It’s the choices we make that determine the road we travel. This is the very heart of the Human Condition: the endless struggle between Selflessness and Selfishness. (Good and Evil as terms are too simplistic.) 

Danzig’s love of horror comics, horror movies, and the occult infuse each of his albums with a dark intensity often bordering on the malevolent. He has cast himself as the Demon King, the Tortured Soul, the Prince of Pain, the Master of Darkness. But at the heart of all this posturing is the soul of The Artist struggling for expression. Like many of the great artists he challenges his listeners, often to the point of frightening them. 

DANZIG III: HOW THE GODS KILL is a true classic. One of the best Danzig albums to sing along to as you're listening. The band here had gelled on its third album to a solid chemistry of blues-metal perfection. "Dirty Black Summer" was a huge hit, even while "grunge" bands were dominating the rock scene of the early 90s.

He takes the Great Christian Mythology as the prime framework for his storytelling (and he first and foremost a Storyteller)…a mythos ripe with fallen angels, hungry devils, winged succubi, godly plagues, suffering, death…and enlightenment. 

For example, the song “God of Light” from I Luciferi evokes an unstated comparison between Satan, who dispensed forbidden knowledge in the Christian Bible, and Prometheus, the Greek god who brought the forbidden knowledge of Fire to humanity and was condemned by Zeus.  Or “Bringer of Death” from Danzig 4, where he sings: “See the Devil kiss the hand of God, See the Devil crying tears of Blood, See the Devil bite the hand of Christ, And know the Devil is the work of God.”  

Another great Simon Bisley painting graced the cover of THE LOST TRACKS OF DANZIG, a two-disc collection of rarities, remixes, and unreleased material spanning Danzig's entire career. Some real jewels here including "Warlock," "Malefical," "Soul Eater," and "Lick the Blood Off My Hands." Yikes!

There is far more to Danzig’s body of work, however, than Christian deconstructionism…most of it is pure fantasy of the darkest flavor. He is particularly enamoured of sinister, powerful, women who may or may not be demons. “Her Black Wings,” “Lilin,” “Circle of Snakes,” “Serpentia,” “Wicked Pussycat,” “Lady Lucifera,” “Apokalips,” and “She Rides” are hymns to such pagan beauties. It’s no wonder his fan base includes a substantial portion of wickedly beautiful women, as any live Danzig show will attest. 

Danzig has a brand-new album called DETH RED SABAOTH to be released on June 22. There is a free advance track, “On a Wicked Night,” available for listening at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MREBqMtJeao  The track isn’t what you might expect, but a low-key ballad with typically soulful singing over restrained guitar. Fans might compare it to the terrific “Thirteen” from the Satan’s Child album, or “I Don’t Mind the Pain,” from Danzig 4. My guess is that Glenn’s saving the truly heavy tracks for those who buy the album. 

DETH RED SABAOTH is Danzig’s 9th solo album. He usually replaces his backing band with each album, although some musicians seem to rotate in-and-out of his group, such as former Prong guitarist Tommy Victor, who played on the superbly crunchy Circle of Snakes album, and does guitar duties on SABAOTH; and drummer Joey Castillo (from Queens of the Stone Age), who has banged the skins on more than one Danzig album.

Danzig’s doing only 9 live shows to support this album…I’ve already secured my ticket to see him at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco on July 27. It shall be a gathering of Wicked Pussycats and black-clad rockers the likes of which is rarely seen in the Bay City. Walls will rattle, roofs will quake, pulses will race. We will embrace the shadow as one, and so free ourselves of its malevolent power. 

Danzig and his music are proof that Dark Fantasy need not be limited to prose fiction. True art knows no bounds. Light and Shadow are bound together in an infinite dance. Good and Evil are two sides of the same cosmic coin. To create true Understanding, you must consider the Whole. Only by journeying through the darkness can we reach the light. 

Don’t be scared. It’s only rock and roll… 

Peace! 

John 

Mike Kaluta's Demon/Angel "yin-yang" image from DANZIG 4 expresses the concept of "Good and Evil" or "Dark and Light" as being two sides of the same coin, i.e. the forces that compose the universe. Later, Danzig would express this sentiment in such songs as "Black Angel, White Angel," from CIRCLE OF SNAKES.

 

“Into the silence of eternity. Deep inside the fabric of matter and energy, there are gods and goddesses in embryo. Waiting to be born.”

–Deepak Chopra

The Roots of IRONSPELL

THE WEIRD OF IRONSPELL (my novella currently being serialized at www.blackgate.com) is an unabashed tale of Swords-and-Sorcery inspired by my favorite S&S writers. While it’s still running I wanted to do a post about the most obvious influences on the tale. So here they are:

Robert E. Howard’s CONAN tales were a huge influence on me as a youngster. I first discovered them via the Lancer paperback series with the amazing Frank Frazetta covers. I bought and devoured as many of them as I could. Many of these books–especially the later ones–featured stories by other writers than Howard. Even at the age of 10 or 11, I could tell that the Howard stories were far superior to any imitators. “The Phoenix on the Sword” and “The Scarlet Citadel” still ring in my memory as two of the most amazing tales I read in those formative years. Of course I had been led to the CONAN paperbacks by Marvel Comics’ CONAN THE BARBARIAN and SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN comics.

Reading the actual prose of Robert E. Howard, the originator, was a wholly different experience: immersive, powerful, and full of fantastic imagery. I still remember being shocked and amazed by the scene in “Phoenix on the Sword” where King Conan smashes the hilt of his broken sword into an ememy’s skull, splattering blood and brains. It wasn’t until many years later that I read Howard’s only Conan novel, HOUR OF THE DRAGON. It stands as my favorite Conan tale, the greatest of his many achievements with this character. It’s nearly impossible to write a sword-swinging fantasy hero without a little bit of Conan the Cimmerian creeping in…

I don’t remember when I first discovered ELRIC OF MELNIBONE, the first of Moorcock’s Elric novels. It was sometime during my late teens. By then decades’ worth of tales about the Albino Prince had been collected into a basically chronological order in a series of “novels,” although most of them were story compilations. STORMBRINGER, the conclusion to the original six-book saga, was the greatest. Moorcock blows the hinges off the doors of his invented universe in this one…Elric engages in full-on battle against the Dukes of Hell (whom he previously served) and ends up blowing the Horn of Fate and ending the world!

Elric is an amazing character because he reconfigured the normal patterns of Sword-and-Sorcery: he was both swordsman and sorcerer in one. Beyond that, he was tormented by his unending guilt…doomed to be the one who would save his universe by ending it. He KNEW he was evil, and it tormented him even unto his final doom. His soul-drinking hellblade, Stormbringer, has to be THE coolest sword in all of literature. Elric’s constant companion in the later tales is the clever litle warrior named Moonglum, who takes care of practical things (like stealing jewels) while Elric focuses on the big picture. There is definitely some Moonglum in Ironspell’s longstanding chum Tumnal the Swift. And Ironspell, in the later part of his saga, is every bit as tormented as Elric, albeit for very different reasons.

I must admit that I didn’t discover the genius of Fritz Leiber’s FAFHRD AND THE GREY MOUSER stories until sometime around 2004. When I read the “Three of Swords” collection (which contains the first half of the substantial saga) I simply could not believe I had missed these tales. Leiber is credited with having coined the term “Sword and Sorcery” to describe these types of stories. No wonder. He writes about Fafhrd the barbarian swordsman, and The Grey Mouser, the wizard-turned-thief, with such originality, such flair, such skill and inventiveness, it could put any author, in any genre, to shame.

In the fantastic and surreal fantasy world of Newhon (pronounced “No-When”), Leiber’s characters live and breathe with such realistic fervor…they have three-dimensional personalities and very human foibles, despite being the greatest two swordsmen their world has ever seen. Another thing Lieber could do (which in most other writers would infuriate me) was incorporate humor in his stories…it was as much a part of Fafhrd and the Mouser’s personalities as their terrific swording skills. It’s said that he based the two characters on himself and a close friend (another author) and the fantastic city of Lankhmar on his  home city of Manhattan. And therein probably lies the key to the sheer believability of Leiber’s fantasy setting.

After reading the first half of the entire FAFHRD and MOUSER saga, something “clicked” in my brain. It was as if I’d found an mystical ingredient that was missing in the literary spells I’d been trying to weave. It was an epiphany that changed the way I approach fantasy forevermore. Leiber wrote these tales decades ago, but they were teaching me fresh lessons. There is definitely some Fafhrd and Mouser influence peeking through in the relationship of Ironspell and Tumnal (especially in the “Jewel and the Giant-King” chapter, where Tumnal is introduced).

There has never been a fantasist quite like Clark Ashton Smith, who was one of the “Big Three” legendary WEIRD TALES writers in the 1930s (alongside Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft). I first discovered Smith’s superb fantasy stories in bits and pieces, here and there in anthologies in the late 70s and 80s (mostly Lin Carter’s anthologies). I began seeking out his stories in new and used bookstores wherever and whenever I could. No  other writer has achieved such a poetic mastery of phantasmagorical imagery, lyrical prose, mythical imagination, and dark splendor. My favorite CAS works are his stories of the far-future continent Zothique, which were collected in the mid-90s into a slim volume called TALES OF ZOTHIQUE.

Zothique is a dying realm full of imperious wizards, demonic presences, deadly sorcery, blood-curdling necromancy, and strange, decaying cultures. Unlike most fantasy writers, Smith practically refused to give his warriors and wizards a happy ending. His tales take readers through a realm of dark delights, where entropy, weird forces, and cosmic destruction are nearly impossible to avoid. This is DARK FANTASY…these tales may even be the original prototype for all dark fantasy that has followed them. To read Smith’s lush, evocative prose is to be immersed in the Poet’s twilight web of glittering opulence and terror. The perfect blend of horror and fantasy. There is more than a touch of horror in the IRONSPELL novella, and Azazar the Undying would have been right at home in the ruined metropolises that sprawl beneath Zothique’s bloated and dying sun.

I mentioned Lin Carter’s legendary anthology work already, but here’s my favorite of Lin’s works of fiction: LOST WORLDS from 1980. In fact, it’s one of my favorite books ever. In this volume Carter exposed my 10-year-old self to stories he had written based on outlines and fragments left decades earlier by Clark Ashton Smith (“The Scroll of Morloc” and “The Stairs in the Crypt”), and Robert E. Howard (“Riders Beyond the Sunrise” featuring King Kull). While posterity remembers Carter more for his editorial sensibilities than his fiction-writing talents, this book stands as a testament that Carter could write a mean Sword-and-Sorcery tale. The stories are rollicking, colorful adventures, some laced with old-school horror (specifically the Smith collaborations).

Here were two of Carter’s best Thongor of Lemuria tales (“The Thieves of Zangabal” and “Keeper of the Emerald Flame”), a nod to H.P. Lovecraft (“The Thing in the Pit”), and some splendidly original wizard tales (“The Seal of Zaon Sathla” and “The Twelve Wizards of Ong”). In fact, “The Twelve Wizards of Ong” is my favorite Lin Carter story, ever. I won’t bore you with a summary, I suggest securing a copy of LOST WORLDS as soon as possible and discovering its greatness for yourself. Wildside Press released a reprint version back in 2008 that is still available at www.amazon.com 

Of course, the reprint is missing the magnificent original cover art by “Enrich.” This painting of a warrior maiden brandishing bloody sword and severed head while riding on the back of a savage centaur has to be one of the best fantasy book covers to ever see print. Like Frank Frazetta’s wonderful paintings, it sings with infinite possibilities, an image of pure adventure, a gateway to the fantastic worlds that lie in these pages.

Ironspell’s quest across the world chasing after Azazar was definitely inspired by Kull’s long-distance quest to confront Thulsa Doom in “Riders Beyond the Sunrise.”

 There is another influence I have to mention when it comes to Ironspell. Back in the 70s and 80s Mike Grell wrote and drew a Sword-and-Sorcery comic called  WARLORD for DC Comics. As a kid I was enthralled and utterly captivated by these barbaric tales of a modern-day pilot cast into a savage world beneath our own. Travis Morgan became a hero to the time-lost people of Skartaris in Grell’s exquisitely drawn adventures. The first few years of the title remain spectacular examples of Bronze Age comics. This was the ONLY comic that could approach Marvel’s CONAN THE BARBARIAN for heroic fantasy adventure.

I probably got my first issue of WARLORD when I was 12 years old, and it set me on a quest to find every back issue I could. I combed the flea markets, yard sales, and garage sales…I found a few early issues here and there; each one was a treasure. This was in the days BEFORE comic shops, when you had to pick up old comics wherever you could. Eventually I did complete a  sizable run of the early issues (when Grell was still inking his own work–THAT was the true gold).

Along about issue 16 Warlord’s nemesis, the sorcerer Deimos, steals his infant son and begins a story arc that would end in tragedy for the hero. There is no doubt in my mind that this storyline–so powerful to me as an impressionable youth–led to the theft of Ironspell’s son in THE WEIRD OF IRONSPELL.

These are the main ingredients that bubbled up into my story from years and decades previous. As to what I’m trying to do with the story, well, I want to take it somewhere that Sword-and-Sorcery rarely (or never) goes. And that’s why I love the work of Darrell Schweitzer so much. He takes Sword-and-Sorcery concepts and tropes, spins them on their heads, and invents something new and transcendent in the genre. His brilliant fantasies are often surreal in theme, deeply rooted in character, and filled to the brim with uncompromising sorcery.

Like Clark Ashton Smith, he tends toward a dark flavor in his works; and like many of the authors I’ve already named, he is a true master of the craft of fantasy writing. Like many of the Great Masters before him, Darrell often does not get enough recognition for his superb and innovative creations. He has written over 300 short stories, but his best-known book is probably the masterpiece of dark fantasy that is MASK OF THE SORCERER. A young boy inherits the immortal curse of sorcery (and it is indeed a curse in Schweitzer’s world) from his wicked father. A universe filled with dueling and murderous sorcerers attempts to wrest the boy Sekenre’s unwanted power from him. If Sekenre kills another sorcerer, he gains their power, their memories, their souls, and all the souls they have devoured. He carries multitudes of dead sorcerers’ personalities in his lanky 14-year-old’s body. There has never been a dark fantasy like MASK, and there very well may never be one that surpasses it.

After the novel, Schweitzer wrote plenty more stories about Sekenre’s cosmic and earthly adventures, which were eventually collected into SEKENRE: BOOK OF THE SORCERER. The novel and its succeeding stories have affected my own writing in deep and important ways. Very few writers can bring classic fantasy tropes to life and breathe fresh vitality into them as well as Darrell Schweitzer. Seek out his books and see what I’m talking about. He has many short story collections, but you can start with MASK OF THE SORCERER to really get a full grasp on why Schweitzer is an essential figure in modern fantasy.

Hopefully, when all is said and done, the ending of my Ironspell saga will bring a unique conclusion to this melange of influences. To rise above one’s inspirations is a lofty goal for a writer. In any case, THE WEIRD OF IRONSPELL will stand on its own as a tale of swashbuckling, wizardry, and heroic adventure. If it has any value beyond that is not for me to decide.

Peace!

John

Alex Sheikman provides the artwork for the serialized IRONSPELL saga. See more of his work at http://sheikman.blogspot.com

Over at www.blackgate.com the latest installment of my heroic-fantasy novella THE WEIRD OF IRONSPELL has just been posted. “The Tomb of Azazar” is Chapter 6 of 8.  

Two more chapters will wind up the saga:  

7. On the Mountain of Sorrows  

8. The Breaking of the Weird  

This story is something of a tribute to the great Sword-and-Sorcery writers: Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, and Darrell Schweitzer.  

Hopefully IRONSPELL will take these inspirations on a long, enjoyable ride and end up somewhere unique and refreshing. That’s the goal anyway.  

Peace! 

John

Yes! This is bound to be good: “Namor: The First Mutant,” a new ongoing series by writer Stuart Moore and artist Ariel Olivetti. I think it’s brilliant that Marvel Comics has finally made Namor the Sub-Mariner part of the X-Men. Afterall, as the title says, he WAS the first mutant (i.e. a mutated superbeing born of human and Atlantean parents).

Now he’s getting this new series by a creative team that is bound to please. Olivetti’s art is always amazing, and Stuart Moore (former VERTIGO editor) has a long track record. As a writer, he’s ready for the bigtime and this is it. This gorgeous cover by Jae Lee is the icing on the cake. The series launches in August. As they used to say in the sixties: Make Mine Marvel!

It’s Monday. A perfect day for some Tom Waits. “Chocolate Jesus” is one of  his best. This clip comes from the Letterman Show. Enjoy…

“You are fully awake when you see and feel the presence of spirit in everything.”

“You can live with effortless ease by allowing universal intelligence to flow through you without interference in the form of fear, resistance, or attachment.”

“The key to lasting happiness is to identify with the unchanging essence of your inner self, your source. Then you no longer look for happiness because you know that you already have it.”

“When you identify with the eternal spirit, the unchanging essence of consciousness itself, you transcend all suffering, including the fear of death.”

These are some of my favorite statements; some of the wisest sentences I’ve ever read. And they all came from the same book: POWER, FREEDOM, AND GRACE by Dr. Deepak Chopra. No, it’s not a religious text. Nor is it some “New Age” bible mean to brainwash the masses. What Chopra has created here is a Great Work of Philosophy.

This book, more than anything I’ve read, has changed my life in subtle and lasting ways. I first read it about three or four years ago, and since then I keep coming back to it again and again. It is a seemingly boundless source of wisdom and principles that can lead you to your own personal enlightenment. I recommend it to EVERYONE. If you’ve ever asked yourself “What does it all mean? Why am I here? What’s the point of life?” then you need to read this book.

Chopra does not lay down a set of dogma, he doesn’t tell you what to believe. Rather, he brings together modern science, classic and contemporary spirituality, and the ancient Indian philosphy called Vedanta, and combines them all into a seemless whole that literally EXPLAINS THE UNIVERSE. The thoughts and concepts in this book are so deep and so crucial, I found myself wanting to read it front-to-back over and over again. It’s almost like the longer I stay away from this book, the more “modern society” tries to erase this wisdom from my consciousness. The simple act of surviving often distracts us from our spiritual side, our eternal essence, and drowns out the quiet wisdom at the center of our being. So coming back to POWER, FREEDOM, AND GRACE again and again has been like returning to a Well of Spirit to drink deeply of its cool waters whenever I get thirsty.

Chopra puts an emphasis on daily meditation. This is something I’m still working on. With my busy schedule as a teacher, and trying to fit in my creative writing on my days off, I find myself reluctant to sit down and MEDITATE. When I do this, the benefits to me, mentally, emotionally, and physically, are phenomenal. Yet something in me (conditioning?) doesn’t want me to sit down and meditate. I have to make it a regular part of my daily habit. When I do this, the quality of life improves tremendously. I mean it’s the gateway to happiness. Daily meditation.

One of my favorite film directors and artists, David Lynch, has been singing the praises of meditation for many years. He also has a great book called CATCHNG THE BIG FISH: MEDITATION, CONSCIOUSNESS, AND CREATIVITY, which explores the link between daily meditation and creativity. He points out, as does Chopra, that meditation brings you in contact with the Universal Consciousness where ALL ideas are born and exist beyond time and space. When you sit and observe your own breathing for 20 minutes twice a day, you are connecting yourself with this Universal Consciousness. The more you do it, the more in touch you get. Lynch compares meditation to fishing, going deeper and deeper into the Universal Consciousness, the Eternal Intelligence of the Universe, and finding those answers, solutions, and inspirations that drive the artistic process of any kind.

Chopra goes far beyond meditational practice in his book, explaining how Vedanta and modern science have come together via the discovery of the Unified Field of Existence. That is the name for the vast energy field that comprises the ENTIRE UNIVERSE. We are all of us merely “events” born of this Unified Field; but truthfully we ARE THE FIELD, which erupts into the phsyical world through our body/minds. Chopra (and Vedanta sages) call this field the Cosmic Consciousness or Universal Intelligence. Our bodies and our minds, he explains, are localized manifestations of this nonlocal consciousness…as are planets, galaxies, trees, rocks, water, air, rubber ducks, horseshoes, and everything else inhabiting the universe. We are attached to EVERYTHING at the level of spirit (i.e. consciousness). It is a comforting thought indeed.

In fact, our bodies and minds (which he calls the body/mind, since they cannot be separated) are localized phenomenon along the Unified Field. We are all simply drops in the ocean…but we are also the ocean in the drop. All consciousness comes from the same place: the vast resevoir of limitless spirit that is the Eternal Awareness. When we meditate, we remember this by consciously linking ourselves to this inexhaustible source of power. When we realize that we are all part of the same field of Universal Intelligence, we realize that there is no difference between us and our fellow man, no difference between us and the nature that we inhabit.

In fact, the brain creates the world outside your body. This is a bit hard to swallow at first, but the more you think on it, the more sense it makes. The world, the universe is really just a vast “cosmic soup” of energy (which we classify into molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles). That’s all it is. When our 5 senses recieve input from this “cosmic soup” it’s our BRAIN that process this input (photonic light; sonic waves, etc.) into THE WORLD. We don’t realize that we are all beings of energy (light) floating and existing within a vast field of intelligence (spirit energy) because our BRAIN takes the raw feed from our SENSES and transmogrifies it into the “real world.” The real world is, in fact, an illusion.

Reading this book reminded me of something I have long known, ever since my spiritually wandering college days when I sought answers to the Big Questions: It reminded me that We Are All One. The Unified Field connects us all. The world we inhabit is the world we make!

The legendary physicist Werner Heisenberg stated this another way. He said that when you observe a phenomenon, your observation CHANGES that phenomenon. In other words, if you watch something, the very fact that you’re watching it changes what you’re looking at. This has been proven in scientific labs all over the world. It’s called the Heisenberg Principle. This applies not only to subatomic and atomic levels of reality, but to ALL levels of reality. And from this we get physicist Max Planck’s statement: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

POWER, FREEDOM, AND GRACE is the most empowering single book I’ve ever encountered. For those who want to move their consciousness far beyond the “prison” of the physical world, this is the book for you. For those who have been searching for “happiness” all their lives and finding little, this is the book. In fact, for any thinking human being, this book will open your doors of perception far wider than any drug. At the same time, it supports and reaffirms existing spiritual beliefs. If mainstream religion had more of THIS, a lot more people would be finding their answers there.

To all the Thinkers and Dreamers reading this, let me recommend Chopra’s POWER, FREEDOM AND GRACE in the spirit of love, creative consciousness, and brotherhood. And for those of you who are creative types, you’ll want to check out David Lynch’s CATCHING THE BIG FISH as well.

By opening ourselves to the boundless Creative Consciousness of the universe, the field of intelligence that is the source of EVERYTHING, we energize our art, our writing, our creative endeavors, and most importantly, our very lives…

Peace!

John

Heeeeere’s Johnny!

Welcome to my Official Website! This page will serve many functions: it’ll be a blog where I announce my latest projects, stories, and books; I’ll be venting every now and then; and I’ll sing the praises of the latest and greatest in books, comics, film, and music. In short, this is my Virtual Sanctuary, and a place where those who read my fiction can come and see what I’m up to next and comment on the topics of the day.

Here’s what’s up right now:

My heroic fantasy novella THE WEIRD OF IRONSPELL is now running in weekly chapters at www.blackgate.com  Check it out if you like classic sword-and-sorcery adventures in the flavor of Robert E. Howard, Fritz Lieber, Clark Ashton Smith, and Michael Moorcock. The first five chapters are up now with three more to follow. I also have a couple of stories scheduled for future print issues of BLACK GATE (you can subscribe at the web site).

I have a story called “This Is How the World Ends” in the DAW Books anthology CTHULHU’S REIGN, a collection of masterful horror stories dealing with the rise of H. P. Lovecraft’s most famous cosmic monster; specifically, what happens after Cthulhu rises up to conquer the world. Some amazing stories in here by Laird Barron, Ian Watson, Darrell Schweitzer, Jay Lake, and many more. Find it at your local bookstore as well as www.amazon.com

“The Thirteen Texts of Arthyria” is a tale of deep wizardry that explores the truth of the One True World lying behind the veil of illusion in which we all live. It will be featured in the forthcoming Prime Books anthology THE WAY OF WIZARD, edited by John Joseph Adams. Also in this collection will be stories by Neil Gaiman, Peter S. Beagle, and George R. R. Martin. It’s going to be a terrific book. Pre-order now at www.amazon.com

“The Taste of Starlight” (a gut-wrenching blend of science fiction and horror) will be in the October issue of the online magazine LIGHTSPEED. Check it out at: www.lightspeedmagazine.com 

“The Gnomes of Carrick County” will be appearing in a future issue of SPACE AND TIME magazine. This is a historical fantasy involving Irish immigrants crossing the untamed Cumberland Gap and the strange creatures who may have followed them from the Old Word. It’s the first story I’ve written set in my native state of Kentucky, albeit the Kentucky of 1779. The mag’s site is: http://spaceandtimemagazine.com/wp/

My graphic novel PRIMORDIA has be rescheduled for release as an “ultimate hardcover edition” this fall from Archaia Comics. The original 3-issue series is pretty hard to find these days, and the hardcover collection will include many cool extras such as pin-ups by guest artists, a new PRIMORDIA short story by me, behind-the-scenes designs, and a new wrap-around cover by artist extraordinaire Roel Wielinga. You can preview some of the pages at my old site: www.myspace.com/primordiacomic

In the past few years, my fiction has appeared in WEIRD TALES, BLACK GATE, SPACE AND TIME, as well as the comics ZOMBIE TALES and CTHULHU TALES. I’m always looking to penetrate new markets with my stories, and I’ll make announcements on this blog to let everybody know where my latest tales will be appearing.

My high-fantasy novel SEVEN PRINCES is currently being represented by my agent Bob Mecoy. www.bobmecoy.com/

Peace!

John R. Fultz