Monthly Archives: September 2012

Writing Tools ~ Organizing Creative Thought into Creative Product

Photo by CC MacKenzie
through WANA Commons

Anyone who has tried to compose a literary work of more than a few thousand words knows that the hardest part is not always the ideas: it’s keeping track of those ideas and finding ways to organize them in a cohesive and interesting manner.  Sometimes I think the problem of writer’s block is partly due to that feeling of “where did I put that?”  This is a function known as project management.  If you look that up on the Internet in hopes of finding something useful specifically designed for the creative process, well, you’ll find a lot of appointment calendars and deadline tracking software.

While participating in a thread in a writers and authors group I belong to on Facebook, I was introduced to this new and interesting concept.  Document/project management software designed specifically for the writer.  Oh my, could it be true?  Yes indeed!  Welcome to the world of electronic story boards, a modern magic wand that puts the creativity back into writing.

First, let’s look at just what project management is when it comes to a creative literary project whether or not the subject is fiction or nonfiction.  Why does an author need any more than a fairly decent word processor?  After all, literary works have been produced in longhand for centuries!  True, but the monks of the ancient abbeys of Europe didn’t have the competition for audience that we do today.  They also didn’t need to write nice tight manuscripts to attract agents or publishers or readers.  Enter, the age of computer-aided writing.

Have you experienced paper-tsunami syndrome?  Have your ideas taken off and hidden themselves away with the car keys?  How about these scenarios?  Character A seems to change eye-color between page 25 and 56.  The house or building that you so meticulously describe at location A suddenly materializes at location B.  Have you inserted a “fact” that you promised yourself you would check later but forgot which or where or when that snippet is?  These are the types of issues that can doom a project to the land of the walking dead; wonderful creative ideas that die in the process of birth.  And all it needed was a little organization.

The thread I mentioned earlier introduced two programs, both of which I found of great value.  Even though I tried to search for something similar, nothing else was easily found.  So, here is a brief synopsis of two wonderful tools and the features they offer.

Scrivener from Literature and Latte – originally for the Mac but now quite functional in the PC world.

This was the toy that really caught my attention.  I’m afraid I skipped right past the 30-day free trial and paid my $40.00 up front.  That means that the rest of my day was spent getting to know this new world.  I even went through the interactive tutorial in part because I didn’t know what to expect from such a program.  Here are some of the things I learned.

  1. This tool allows you to break your manuscript up into bite-size pieces.  There is a corkboard function that displays the titles (or first lines) from each of these pieces so that you can rearrange things as you develop your idea.  No more writing and rewriting outlines: drag and drop allows you to reorganize the order of the manuscript without tedious cut and paste operations.  If you don’t number things you don’t have to rename.  There is also an outline view if this is more helpful to your thought process.  These bits and pieces can be edited individually, as a group or as a sequence.
  2. Footnotes and endnotes.  How often do you stick your reference in the text so you don’t forget what reference attaches to what point?  Then as you reach final draft you try to shape endnotes or footnotes that stick with that thought and don’t drift all over the place?  With Scrivener you insert the reference as a footnote or endnote and when you export the file to a word processor for final formatting it ends up in the right place with the reference designation in the right place.
  3. We mentioned characters and places that changed.  This program allows you to catalogue those things and then run searches based on that category.  So, you can see how each character develops throughout the book and whether or not the character remains consistent.
  4. Each bit of prose can be labeled with a number of searchable labels such as draft, to do, done and/or labels such as idea, notes, research, chapter, so you don’t forget where that spot is you really needed to check.  A search brings up all those bits so you can review, edit, or drop.
  5. The draft portion of the program is the main text; however there is a research folder where you can set up the links to reference material with drag and drop.  So, if you have a whole list of files of any type that you are using for reference, drag them into the research folder (original location and format do not change) and you can open that reference up in a split screen to verify quotes, name spellings, or other information.  This feature can also be used as a transcription device.  That means if you tend to tape thoughts and notes driving down the road or on the deck in the morning, import the .wav file and start transcribing.
  6. These types of programs also have another important feature for writers: snapshots.  In other words, sometimes we don’t want a previous version destroyed when we save a file.  We may want to go back to the previous version and maybe even reinstate that piece of work.  Scrivener uses snapshots, yWriter uses a form of saving to create this trail of revisions for later use.

These are only the basics of what this type of program can do.  It is not a word processor.  Although there are formatting functions within the program it is created primarily to get you to final draft form.  You can then export the product to a variety of formats and polish things up with graphics, photos or more complex formatting.

In just the short while I have been using this tool, I find my project taking shape in a manner that I can control.  Yes, the initial set up is taking me time; that’s because I didn’t have it in the beginning!

yWriter by Spacejock Software   Is another program of the same type that I explored.  This program was written by a computer programmer that is an author and who understood the issues we have already discussed.  It was written for Windows.  yWriter is free.  I think that the abbreviated list of functions provided by Spacejock Software tell their own story:

Organize your novel using a “project” and chapters.  The chapters can then contain scenes or any number, with any number of characters, items and locations.
Displays the word count for every file in the project, along with a total.
Saves a log file every day, showing words per file and the total. (Tracks your progress).
Saves automatic backups at user-specified intervals.
Organize viewpoint character, goal, conflict and outcome fields for each scene.
Storyboard view, a visual layout of your work.
Reorder scenes within chapters, or chapters with the project, or any bit of information with drag and drop. Automatic chapter renumbering.

Well, now you start to get the picture!  yWriter is written primarily for fiction authors.  That doesn’t mean that it can’t be adapted to the nonfiction genre.  It is good to note that Spacejock carries a recommendation for Scrivener for Mac users.

So, there you have it.  Fun, fun tools that make the writing process creative and not the function of a file clerk.  What sort of issues do you face when trying to get the incredible vision in your head onto paper (or screen) so other people can get just as excited?  I’m pretty good at finding things, so I’m happy to look for answers and check out the ones I have!

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Filed under Stuff about Writing ~ Tips and Tools

Book Review – Language of the Heart

The Songs of Kiguli, edited and published by PDMI Freelance Publishing, available for apx $10.00.

The story of this book begins as a crossing of paths in that huge social networking soup known as Facebook.  A teacher and volunteer, Philip Matogo, in the Kiguli Army School worked on a project with his class to learn to write poetry in English.  When this project was discovered by a publisher (Nessa Arcamenel, owner/co-founder of PDMI Publishing) in the United States, she contacted the school and asked if they would like to publish a book containing their poetry.  Phil gladly took the proposal to the school board who agreed to the project.  Thus began a journey that spanned the globe and included teachers, parents, school children of all ages, and a publisher with a heart.  Nessa (Lisa McKinney) and her husband TC McKinney have brought this book into being completely out of their own pocket.  They do ask for word-of-mouth support.  If you like, you can contact the publisher to make a donation (in addition to purchasing the book).  The proceeds will go directly to the school’s fund to support ongoing projects.

Uganda is an African country with borders drawn by western colonial powers that had little to do with the ancient ranges of tribal Africa.  Thus, as in many African countries, those ancient tribal conflicts rage on.  The continent is also stressed with draughts, disease and corruption.  Effective aid is difficult for many reasons.  In part, tribal passion runs deep on all sides and supporting one tribe against another generates situations similar to the problem that arose in Afghanistan.  The other is, of course, corruption and the difficulty of getting funds to where they are needed.  In this atmosphere it appears that those enterprises that help people to help themselves have the best chance of success.  Educating the children who will, one day, lead that country will be a cornerstone to any success.

The Kiguli Army School in the Nakasongola District of Uganada is such a place of learning.  The poetry project was started by the teacher mentioned above, Philip Matogo, in his classes about English and Social Studies.  The broad subject base of the works included in the book indicates that he does his job well.  These bits and pieces of children’s lives from half a world away show a clear understanding of their own political and social situation as well as the global issues of our time.

The book is a collection weaving quotes and poetry from ancient and modern poets of western philosophy with the thoughts of children 11-17 years old.  These children write from the eyes of a mosquito, the heart hungry for the knowledge, the heart running from abuse and social ills, the spirit looking for ways to improve life and their beloved country, the spirit willing to fight back and build a better future.  This little book is built with thoughts from half way across the globe that could come from somewhere just around the corner, or somewhere deep within your own heart.  You will find that these children are quite insightful.  Their hopes and dreams, disappointments and fears are, indeed thought provoking and very much a part of citizens living anywhere on this planet we call home.

A few quotes seemed to be in order:

“The poem… is a little myth of man’s capacity of making life meaningful. And in the end, the poem is not a thing we see – it is, rather, a light by which we may see – and what we see is life.”

Robert Penn Warren

“Poetry is the impish attempt to paint the color of the wind.”

Maxwell Bodenheim

And from one of the students,  Otengo Mike

Tree is My Name

Oh Man! Oh Man! Oh Man!

Be kind to me as I am to you
Forget not that I save you and your family
You and your children crawled on my chest
Broke off my breasts and sucked themselves
Then you survived
When you were sick
You exposed my many feet
Broke off my toes and ate them
Before you survived

Oh Man! Oh Man! Oh Man!

Be kind to me as I am to you
Don’t forget that I saved you and your crops
When you and your crops were withering to death
I sweated and cried for you
My sweat and tears went up the sky
They dropped down as rain
You and your crops survived
When you and your animals were suffocating to death
You sat under my thick shade
You took my bad breath
And I took your bad one too
You and your animals survived

Oh Man! Oh Man! Oh Man!

For life on Earth
Let me multiply
And you will multiply too

 

 

 

For more information on the project, visit:

http://www.facebook.com/SongsofKiguli

http://www.al.com/living/index.ssf/2012/09/uganda_books_by_pdmi_publishin.html

http://www.pdmidirect.com

So, tell me.  What sorts of projects do you see that generate real progress for the human spirit around the globe?  Modern day anthropology is as much the study of current social structures as it is of those that came before us.  In what ways can we contribute to a better understanding of each culture so that we can improve the life circumstances of others without eradicating their own special heritage?

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Filed under Giving Back, My Bookshelf (and a movie or two), My Bookshelf ~ Current times

Book Review – Sailing with Odysseus

Book Review ~ Where Troy Once Stood: The Mystery of Homer’s Iliad & Odyssey Revealed by Iman Wilkens, $55.00, might find it for less on Bookfinder.com

I first ran across this title in a book by Clive Cussler called Trojan Odyssey.  Cussler, of course, has an incredible talent for taking a snap shot of some moment in history and building a current day adventure/action novel around a related mystery.  He referenced this title in his notes.  I immediately had to have it.  Well, not so immediately.  When I first looked for the title the only copies I could find were over $400.  A few years ago I thought I would check again and there had been a reprint.  I managed to acquire the volume for far less: I see the price is rising yet again.  I discovered that when I first went looking for the volume it was rated by Bookfinders.com as one of the most wanted out of print books on the database.  There was a reprint in 2005 which brought it back into my budget.  If you can’t afford the book, there is some information on Wilkens and his ideas on Wikipedia.

Warning label:  Wilkens’ efforts are not well accepted in mainstream academia.  This is rather sad because the questions he raises could be seriously investigated and answers are within the reach of modern archaeological techniques.  Wilkens is a native of the Netherlands and published his book in 1936. In this book he presents a credible presentation that the Trojan War did not occur in Asia Minor at all.  With a great deal of meticulous research, Wilkins puts together the case that Homer’s epic poems are drawn from the verbal traditions of a much earlier place and time.  Odysseus, in this version, is a Celtic king of an Ithaca placed near modern day Cadiz in Spain and Troy is placed in England.  The war was between competing kingdoms of Celts.  According to Wilkens the ancient verbal traditions of the Celts were taken with them when they migrated to Greece and Asia Minor.  Once there they named local landmarks with familiar names.  Finally, in around 750 BCE, Homer took on the task of putting the traditions in written form.

Whatever your position on the possibilities presented, the book is a fascinating read.  Wilkens builds the case that the tale was a way to record the sailing path to the western hemisphere without exposing such secrets to the whole world. He also shows that the tale may have included veiled instructions for the initiate in the ancient religion of the Celts.  Unlike our Atlantis fascination, this tale could have some check points if funding were provided for excavations at key locations.  Puffery or not – it is a great adventure story and crammed full of Celtic empire references.

What points in history hold interest for you?  Are there places and times you would like to know more about?  Are you curious about forgotten scientific or engineering accomplishments?  Leave a comment or two; you never know what might be lurking on my library shelves!

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Filed under Humanties for the Unbound Mind, My Bookshelf ~ Before Current Era

Book Review — Carving Joy from Mental Disorder

Love Has Its Ups and Downs, by Bonnie Rice, available for $9.00 (and on Smashwords).

This was one of those times when a post on my blog generated a request for a “look see” at another author’s book dealing with the twists and turns of our phenomenal human brains.  Well, I’m glad I followed through.  Bonnie has written a great little book.

A bit of background; somewhere in the mid 1980s, shortly after several rather crushing crises in my life, I happened to be attending a Soroptimist luncheon.  The guest speaker was a woman who had bi-polar disorder.  Like many typical cases (if there is such a thing in this disease) her life was just fine until she went off to college: then the cosmos collapsed.  In that day there wasn’t much known about the disease and it was consistently misdiagnosed.  In the end her parents agreed to shock therapy.  Something I categorize with lobotomies and leeches.  This lady had come to terms with what had happened to her and although there was a block of her life that was simply wiped from her memory; she had gained control of her condition.  I was impressed and spoke with her after the luncheon.  She recommended that I read Masks of Melancholy by John White.  Thus, the dawn broke on the horizon of my own life.

What I learned was something about the symptoms and manifestations of bi-polar disease.  I instantly recognized many of the issues in my own family, most specifically in my father and in myself.  I also understood why, all those years ago, anti-depressants had nearly destroyed me.  To this day I avoid anything that even has the possibility of a side effect involving depression.  Anti-depressants probably also contributed greatly to my father’s difficulties.  He was not actually diagnosed until many years later when another manifestation of the disease, kleptomania, reared its ugly head.  The speaker at that luncheon gave me tools and I proceeded to hone them and use them.  Bonnie’s book would have been a great help then and through the years leading up to that realization.  Suddenly, I realized why only one doctor had ever made any difference in my emotional state:  he had used lithium.  So, here are the things that most touched me about Bonnie’s book.

Boundaries.  This chapter is so critical and not only to those dealing with bi-polar problems.  It applies to any mental disorder or personality issue.  I think that if I had learned boundaries earlier in my life I would have had fewer issues with people using my propensity to depression as leverage.  It is a beautiful chapter well presented and easy to follow.  Good habits start small.  Set small boundaries first.  By the way, “God grant me the Serenity” is hanging on the wall over my desk and has been somewhere in my house for years.

Drugs.  Bonnie is not a doctor, but she has spent hours learning about the relevant drugs and their interactions.  Some of the issues she presents are fundamental reasons that people who are bi-polar do not like to take drugs.  First of all, it’s hard to give up the highs, at least some of them.  Second, life is hard enough without suddenly taking off on magic carpet rides because of some magic mix exploding in your brain.  Anyone dealing with bi-polar disorders should read through this part carefully.  Use it to do your own research and talk with the doctors involved.  Let me reinforce something that Bonnie brings up: never, never, never allow doctors to treat a bi-polar condition with only anti-depressants.  Unless, of course, you want the person to wander off and commit suicide and solve your problem completely; keep in mind it tends to trigger manic episodes and it may not be the manic that gets hurt.  If persistent depression is an issue that drives someone to a doctor, there are now written tests that can profile a patient for possible bi-polar disorders.  They obviously have to be taken at different times.  Look for the other symptoms (Bonnie does a good job of describing some of the core issues).  There are no quick fixes; neither can you rely on a specific treatment for ever once established.  Nothing affecting our brains is simple.  If there appears to be a problem, get educated.

Personally, I think Bonnie’s little book is a terrific addition to the literature on the subject.  It provides an upbeat and informative mini-course on balancing life with mental disorders without surrendering your soul.

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Filed under Caregiving Backstage, My Bookshelf (and a movie or two), My Bookshelf ~ Current times, Personal Journeys

Reflections ~ Post the First The Wizard behind My Curtain

Elbow Falls, Alberta
Photo by Victoria Adams

Over the past several weeks I have had conversations with several people who have read my little book, Who I Am Yesterday.  Some of those folks reported tears, a few laughs, and a bit of wonderment.  I have also engaged in a number of conversations with online friends who say something along the lines of how amazing it is that I manage to keep my sense of humor while being a caregiver 24/7.  I admitted it was a process.  Then I thought about it; that was only a partial answer, and not worthy of the person who asked it.  Thus, this new series for my blog: Reflections.

In the classic film The Wizard of Oz Dorothy and her friends suffer through many trials and tribulations until finally they reach the palace of the fabled Wizard.  With the help of Toto we discover that the wizard is nothing more than a little old man parked behind a fancy machine trying to scare the dickens out of Dorothy and her friends.   As it turns out, he has real and useful advice to provide each and every member of her party.  My wizard was humor; it just took me awhile to find him in the cave of my mind.

As mentioned in my little book, I am bi-polar.  High-functional, un-medicated, but, nonetheless, bipolar.  For the vast majority of my life I have fought depression, major migraines and the exhausting rush of “I can do anything in the next 12 hours.”  No, you can’t; there is a tall cliff to fall off the moment the high starts to dissipate. And that crash is always hard.

In the early 70s this disease was not easily diagnosed.  Even today it goes unresolved because bi-polar people rarely talk about the highs; they only see a doctor when they are depressed, if at all.  My doctor of the time decided the best way to handle my “anxiety” was to pump me full of Valium.  Lots of it.  Mix that with a little alcohol and a bad marriage and, well, you get the picture.   Depression doesn’t begin to describe the trip I was taking down the rabbit hole.

Then, one day, I had an epiphany.  I realized that the sun was going to rise the next day whether or not there were singing birds and blooming flowers in my little corner of the world.  The globe would not stop spinning if I couldn’t make the bills, couldn’t straighten out my marriage, couldn’t find and murder the demons that pursued me.   Every last Valium in the house went down the toilet – yep, cold turkey.  I waited a month for the massive depression to lift and to have a clearer vision of my world and then filed for divorce.

Watershed though it may have been, it was only the beginning of the journey.  I learned that my “condition” was not something to share.  For whatever reason, the people I allowed even vaguely close to me during the next few decades found that weakness and exploited it.  A person who is susceptible to depression can be easily manipulated and controlled.  You learn the hard way to sew that curtain tight and not let a soul know what’s behind it.   Behind that curtain was a very dry sense of humor; often times it was deliberately opaque.  My little wizard, building the walls to protect me.

Fast forward some 20 years or so and I meet my current husband.  He was an incredibly brilliant man who, unknown to me at the time, was suffering from his own mental demons.  In retrospect, perhaps that was part of what made us soul mates.  Part of what gave us such insight into each other’s worlds.  He saw the bi-polar tendencies and the depression even when, by then, no one else could.  One professional that I knew at the time told me that he knew I was bi-polar but in all the time he had known me he had never seen it.  I fired back, “And you never will.”  My new found friend waltzed into this fortress and clearly identified the cracks in my wall.  Instead of using those weaknesses, he taught me how to control them.  It was he who taught me how to spot the “rising tide” so that I could slow down and make the final leap off the cliff so much smaller and easier to handle.   After many years together it was with his help I conquered the depression.   But, my little wizard stayed with me, growing into a merrier, mellower sort of fellow.

It was sometime during those years of growing that I was introduced to a movie by a different friend.  It was a movie that I consider to be a perfect model of depression and how to survive it:  The Edge with Anthony Hopkins.   Briefly, the plot involves a billionaire (Hopkins) his fashion model wife and two other men who fly to a remote Alaskan lodge for a photo shoot.  During a plane trip to scout out some special photo opportunity the plane runs into a flock of birds and crashes killing the pilot.  The three survivors are faced with surviving in the Alaskan wilderness while being pursued by a Kodiak Grizzly.  Some of the scenes are rather graphic.  There are many gems of wisdom from the screen play that impacted my thought process, but we will save them for other conversations.  The scene I have in mind for this article is at a point where one survivor has been attacked and killed by the bear.  A rescue plane has flown overhead but does not appear to see them.  Hopkins’ companion starts to break down, bewailing the probability that they will never be found, the bear is going to kill them and no one will ever know what happened.  Depression 101.

In the face of his companion’s meltdown Hopkins’ character says something out of the blue: “Fire from ice.  Did you know you can make fire from ice?”  He has to repeat himself a time or two.  This actual quote is one of those gems I want to save for later.  However it does get his companion’s attention at which point Hopkins is able to explain something very critical.  The goal is not to get back to the lodge; the goal is to survive today.  I am sure there are any number of professionals who try to tell their patients that they only have to get through today.  What happens in a moment like this is you are presented with a graphic illustration of what it means to “get through today.”   You cannot change the circumstances, but you can survive them.   Do not fight the quick sand; find a way to float.  Keep floating long enough and eventually you will find a way to the lodge.

Again we move forward many years and suddenly, the world I had grown so comfortable in, the world I shared with my best friend and husband began to unravel.  Within a few short months of noticing very real changes in his mental capacity his doctor confirmed vascular dementia.    Some of the details of my mental process during this time period are provided in the book.  Suffice it to say here that I became a basket case.   My whole world was crumbling and I had no notion of what I could do to stop it.  Then, with the help of some friends, something interesting happened; I realized I had a goal.  Get through today.

It was probably some four or five months later along this new path that I started to put pieces together that would do more that “get through today.”  I realized that we could still joke, enjoy some of the things we had once loved and live a life rather than just survive.  Not the same life, but a life that could be lived and enjoyed.  That is when my humor, my beloved little wizard, came back home.  This time that humor was not a shield, it was a well seasoned support.  And so my friend, soul mate, lover and husband again showed me the path to stronger living.  Even with a failing mind.  I manage because I don’t “manage,” I simply live the life we have the best way we can and with as much humor as we can find.   No, I am not a paragon of virtue that never has an issue and always soldiers on.  But, for the greatest majority of our time together, we do just fine.   Click, click, click, “There’s no place like home.”

For nearly two decades my husband and I had spent numerous hours talking about philosophy, religion, science, human creativity, the vast reaches of the universe and the actions of the smallest particles known to man.  He would gently nag me from time to time to publish, to put my ideas down on paper, to express those things that my inner eye had seen, what I had felt and learned.  I always said, “some day.”   Partly due to my recent experience with his illness I have been driven back to those old notes and half finished pieces of manuscript.  I have watched as his mind changed and studied whatever seemed relevant to try to understand the way his world was changing and what impact any previous mental issues may have now and in the future.   So, I learned more, thought more, saw more.  Thus, as he wanted, I will write.  If I can no longer share my thoughts with him, I will do as he asked and share them with whoever will listen.

Thank you for visiting my blog and watching my journey.  Perhaps my next publication will fascinate and interest you in some way.  I certainly hope so; you will be sharing some parts of the glue of a very special relationship.

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Filed under Caregiving Backstage, Personal Journeys

Book Review – Computers in BCE

Book Review – Decoding the Heavens: A 2000-year-old Computer & the Century Long Search to Discover its Secrets  by Jo Marchant.  Readily available for around $15.00

Once upon a time, during the third century BCE, there lived one among many wise men in Alexandria whose inquiring mind could reach far beyond the accepted knowledge and question the smallest of things in order to understand greater truths.  This man, Eratosthenes, was a Greek mathematician, geographer (he is credited with inventing the discipline), poet, athlete, astronomer and music theorist.  He also invented a system of latitude and longitude, which means he knew the earth was round.  This came about because he read a sort of diary notation that at high noon on the day of the summer solstice there were no shadows in a temple town some 800 miles south of him; in Alexandria there were.  So, by hiring someone to step off the distance, and calculating that it was impossible for the shadows to differ unless the world was not flat – he calculated the circumference of the globe.  He did so with amazing accuracy.  He was also the first to calculate the tilt of the Earth’s axis.  Long before Copernicus, those with the patience to explore the structure of the world around us knew that the globe was round and just how large it was.  So, how does this relate to my selection for this week?

In 1901, in the middle of a dive to collect artifacts from a 2000-year-old shipwreck on the floor of the Mediterranean Sea, divers found an enigmatic lump about the size of a shoebox.  Named for the area it was found in, the Antikythera Mechanism has baffled scientists and archeologists for over a century.  You see, it was discovered that the “lump” was a device with many small, interlinking gears made of brass and that there were some sort of astronomical symbols emblazoned on its parts.  In October of 2006 the technology was developed to look inside the corroded lump and try to piece together its original purpose and construction.  Decoding the Heavens is a story of the discovery and the “decoding” of the working of this amazing little computer.  Yes, computer.

The Antikythera Mechanism is a navigational instrument made up of 30 gears and “programmed” to determine the position of the sun, moon and planets.  It can predict both solar and lunar eclipses.  And yet this amazing little device was found on a ship that sunk some 80 years BCE.  Such an instrument indicates that the Greeks made good use of Eratosthenes’ work and developed a reliable navigational instrument.  Yet we forgot.  As noted above, in was nearly 1,400 years before Copernicus tried to re-educate us on such a concept.

This book is a magical journey through that amazing world of accomplishments the human race made in times of the distant past.  So, again I wonder…  “Is it something we’ve left behind…”

So, what about you?  What corners of our past are you most interested in?  Let me know and, perhaps,  we’ll discover something fascinating together!

 

Just adding recent news about this discovery. The more that is known, the more complex this object appears. See the article here.

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Filed under Humanties for the Unbound Mind, My Bookshelf (and a movie or two), My Bookshelf ~ Before Current Era, Natural Sciences from the Observation Deck

Book Review – Pursuing Ancient Legends

Atlantis, The Antediluvian World by Ignatius Donnelly.  Available for under $16.00.

The History of Atlantis by Lewis Spence.  Available for under $10.00

So, this week we are back with a bang reviewing interesting and, perhaps, rather obscure texts on subjects of interest.  I have chosen to review two titles together primarily because they represent the foundation of modern thought on that mystic island in the sea, Atlantis.   Each has a slightly different perspective.  If you are truly interested in Atlantis and lost civilizations, these books provide much food for thought.

The “book that started it all” was entitled Atlantis, The Antediluvian World.  This text was written by Ignatius Donnelly an American descended from Irish parents.  He was a US Congressman and lived from 1831 to 1901.  Although many modern historians and scientists consider his approach “pseudo-science,” he is the first modern researcher to take the tale from Plato’s Timaeus and put together the pieces to see whether or not it might be true.  Plato’s works describing the conversations between Timaeus and Critias were written in approximately 300 BCE.  Be they history or be they drama is a question that remains unanswered to this very day.  They are our primary source for all things Atlantis.

The edition of Donnelly’s book that I have contains a forward by the second author mentioned in this post, Lewis Spence.  In his forward he gives Donnelly credit for much basic work in the field.  Beginning with fable and legend on both sides of the Atlantic as well as sources in scripture, Donnelly puts a case together that suggests many of our ancient legends do indeed carry fragments of fact.  He also looks to the cultural similarities shared on both sides of the Atlantic, flora and fauna (that’s beasties and plants), and ancient tales regarding the navigational hazards of the Sargasso Sea.   He also looks at art and culture as it spread through Europe during a time relevant to Plato’s chronology.  It certainly goes beyond modern-day mystic interpretations of ancient spirit guides.

The book that was built on this first block-buster was The History of Atlantis by Lewis Spence.  Spence was a Scotsman and lived from 1874 to 1955.  He was a journalist and a literature major and authored a total of five works on Atlantis. Much of his literary work was on the history of the Celts.

He deepened the study begun by Donnelly, added information that had become available in his own time a generation after Donnelly.  He also corrected a few of the observations that were developed by Donnelly.  He gives full credit to his predecessor and near contemporary.   This title was first published in 1926.

We have learned from experience that just about the time we think we have it all figured out, we discover something new and interesting about our distance past.  We know now that islands can come and go in the sea and that cataclysms can happen which create major impacts on our globe and on civilizations great or small.  If you are interested in a detailed approach to the possibility that this ancient civilization did exist, I suggest you try these volumes.  They are fast and entertaining reads.

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