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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn

magic window

27mar2015

All is not doom and gloom on the rejiquar front! (Although posting may sink back into apathy if instagram starts working properly again, plus I have a deadline and so will need to actually get back to making art, as opposed to merely posting it.) I promised an update on Aiden Meehan's celtic interlace, so here ’tis!

In the 17Mar post I promised an update on the Meehan omnibus volume Celtic Design, 2007, which comprises the Beginner's Manual, Knotwork and Illuminated Letters. The library didn't have the last volume, but I got Celtic Alphabets and his Spirals volumes in lieu.

The short answer: if you're wanting just one book on how to do celtic art, then I stand by my original suggestion, and here's why:

Celtic interlace, at least for me (& I suspect for many other folks) can be learnt in a very linear fashion: beginning at the beginning, with simple exercises, and keep practicing. Meehan breaks the steps down in pretty easy chunks, and for those of you for whom even that's too tedious, tends to include lots of examples, grouped by sub-style, that copying makes for an excellent learning process.

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26mar2015

My energy levels have been kind of low, probably because I'm fighting off whatever upper respiratory tract infection that's laid f2tY low; so I've been doing more reading. I heard about Francesca Haig's The Fire Sermon (which I immediately nicknamed Omega in my head owing to the striking cover design) via [someplace or other, evidently not Whatever] & decided to check it out.

There's a lot to like about this book. I was immediately entranced by the setup: in a post-apocalyptic world, everyone is born twins, perfect alphas to always-disabled omegas. Omegas typically are missing something—an arm, a leg; or they have too many arms or eyes—or visions. Seers, visibly indistinguishable from alphas, see visions—of the blast that destroyed their world; glimpses of the future, sensations of others nearby—but are still considered omegas.

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25mar2015

Northern white abolitionists are often castigated today for their racism, and rightfully so; but I can't help thinking they focused on the damage slavery did to (white) society in general and slaveowners in particular because they were pitching their arguments to other white people. Blacks had no problem whatsoever understanding slavery's evils. They didn't need to be persuaded.

More than a few people have speculated what our descendants will find willfully, obviously blind in us. As a sf&f reader (& would-be author) I've thought about this as well, and I've come to the conclusion that there probably are already those out there pointing out our society's problems, which I tend to suspect will fall into several basic categories:

  • Treating our fellow humans with decency and respect
  • Treating other living creatures with decency and respect
  • Living a sustainable lifestyle (treating everything with decency & respect...)

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24mar2015

Just finished Edward Baptist's brilliant The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism yesterday (unlike the previous entry, which I actually wrote in the beginning of March...), and wow.

This is the book that formed the basis of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ argument “The Case for Reparations” (which more properly is The Case for Making a Case for Reparations). In it, Baptist explains why the currently popular argument in some circles—that American chattel slavery was on its way out and we really didn't need to fight a war over it—is specious, and economically indefensible.

Summed up, slaves, after land, was the second biggest chunk of the US economy before the Civil War. Moreover, free labor was not more efficient than whip-driven slave labor, which could pick 200 lbs/cotton, versus 120 as the absolute max, and that was with 90 odd years of improvements to make it ‘more pickable’.

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22mar2015

So I read skimmed read the first 50 pages and much of the last 50, skimming inbetween Chuck Gannon's Fire with Fire, which I'd ordered through interlibrary loan after the marvelous experience I'd had with Sarah Monette/Katherine Addison's Goblin Emperor. The Gannon was either a nebula, or more likely, hugo nominee, so after checking out some reviews on amazon I figured, why not?

I was prepared to like the book. Given that I'd just had a giant-ass filling replaced, I was achey and not feeling very productive, so I hopped into bed right after dinner, hoping to have an enjoyable evening (just not so enjoyable I ended up staying up till 2 or 3am....) And, if you're wanting some good old Campbellian 50s sf in which the men are square-jawed, the women are gorgeous, and the aliens assorted, then it's quite likely you'll enjoy this space-opera.

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21mar2015

I had an excuse to go see a film, and I was gonna see the current live-acted Disney fairy-tale reworking, but my bestie told me that Jupiter Ascending was still playing, and I should go see that instead. I'd already seen the Mary Sue and similar feminist/geek/sf&f sites’ recces, which can basically be summed up as ‘gloriously awful’ and ‘as if someone took your girly 14 year old fanfic and threw a hundred million dollars at it’. That reviewer wryly wondered if this was how the 18–24 year male set felt all the time at the movies.

So I had very low expectations. The costumes were reputed to be good, at least. —However, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Granted I was pleased with this film from the very outset, when they decorated the opening logos with lovely gold curlicues. This, I figured, was something I was gonna enjoy. (Major spoilers: what follows is analysis, not critique.)

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