All posts by humanitysdarkerside

Bibliophile, small-time activist, ASD, blogger

Carvic, Heron; Picture Miss Seeton (Miss Seeton 1) (1968)

I bow down to Heron Carvic. Intelligent humour. British humour. If you aren’t a fan of either of those, don’t bother. I giggled. Then I giggled some more.

Each one of Carvic’s gallery is a Character in some way. I’m sorely tempted to compare with other authors, but that goes against everything I believe about writing reviews.

“Miss Seeton prepared to hurry by a couple pressed into an adjacent doorway, when the girl spat:

“Merdes-toi, putain. Saligaud! Scélérat, si tu m’muertes …” She ended on a gasp as the boy’s arm drove into her side.

Oh, no. Really. Miss Seeton stopped. Even supposing the girl had been rude – and it had certainly sounded so – that was no excuse. A gentleman did not hit … She prodded him in the back with her umbrella.

“Young man …”

He whirled and leaped. Deflected by the umbrella he landed beside the prostrate Miss Seeton. Grabbing her by the coat, he jerked her towards him. …”

Miss Seeton is close to retirement age, single and a teacher. Her thoughts are associative and others have trouble following along. She is like this all the way through the book. Well, not all the way. Other things do happen and other people have their own things going. But many of Miss Seeton’s encounters are about her minding her own business until some other person decides to intrude upon it. I have not met such a delightful creature in a long time.

Carvic (pen-name) understood that she needed a strong supporting cast for the concept to work. There is. Due to the crime’s nature, the police – Scotland Yard are involved. Superintendent Delphick (the Oracle) leads up the investigation involving a killer. Deplhick appears able to understand Miss Seeton’s way of thinking. Poor Sergeant Ranger often finds himself at a loss for what to say when Miss Seeton opens her mouth. The village of Plummergen is certainly not ready for her. Except for the gossips. Does she ever fuel their terrible rumours. Then we have Nigel who is trying to save his childhood friend from herself.

British humour is seldom solely about the humour. At least that is the way it seems to me. I did not have to look very hard to find a bit of satire. Yet kind. In that sense Carvic reminded me of a few favourite authors from that part of the world. Picture Miss Seeton is a mystery parody, or a parody mystery, set in a time before electronics took over our lives. I would guess that number one is set at around its publication date in 1968. This e-edition is based on the 1988 version. Apparently parts have been removed from the original version. There are 23 books in the series. Only the first five are by Carvic (he died). Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


Available at Internet Archive

Writing summaries

 

 

Writing reviews got put on hold for a couple of weeks while I wrote summaries for four chapters in two psychology books. My daughter, who attends Vrije University, Amsterdam, asked me if I wanted to write the summaries. The organization (slimstuderen.nl) that organizes the whole thing contacted me and I agreed to write summaries for four chapters. Talk about a brand new experience.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, psychology was my major. I discovered a hard truth about memory. The connections between my neurons have deteriorated. Particularly when it comes to the biological part of Cognitive Psychology and Behavior. Tsk, tsk. Most of chapters nine, “Knowledge”, and ten, “Visual Imagery”, of Cognitive Psychology (Goldstein) and chapters eight, “Control of Movement” and thirteen, “Learning and Memory”, of Physiology and Behavior (Carlson & Birkett) had to be relearned. I had a blast. Back in the day, when I was taught psychology, we were stuck with physical books. If something about the text confused us, we had to move our bodies and find a kind librarian to teach us the archiving system. OMG! The difference. The resources available – yes proper ones as well. How can people not see how amazing the internet is?

Anyways. After editing the summaries a gazillion times, they are now awaiting a verdict. I’m expecting comments to change some of it. Probably not as many for the last chapter I handed in, but definitely for the first chapter. Learning is a blast. Being lucky enough to share with others the joy of writing summaries is beyond belief. When it comes to payment, it is a pittance. But then my reward isn’t the dimes and pennies my daughter gets (yes, it all goes to her). That it would give me such joy came as a complete surprise.

My verdict on the books, themselves? For the main part great. There were paragraphs that could have flowed better. The visual aids were detailed. At times, the visual aids gave a better explanation of processes than the text. It helped that I could enlarge pictures and tables (cause digital books).

Definitely recommended – except for one serious matter. NONE of this material is written with dyslexics in mind. I believe these books are not written with students in mind but rather other academically inclined professionals. The language is exclusive rather than inclusive. My personal opinion is that valuable researchers and psychologists are kept away because of their inability to crack the code neurotypicals habitually use to keep unwanted “dross” out.

I only recommend these books for neurotypicals and “we others” who happen to crack the academic language code. Believe me. It is a code.

 

Kotzwinkle, William: Doctor Rat (1976)

Doctor Rat gives voice to the horrors of the laboratory as seen from the eyes of the lab-animals. Driven insane by the experiments performed on him, many of them without anaesthesia, Dr. Rat encourages the other animals to do their best to be supportive of the torture they experience.

“He’s sensitive chap and it was his exquisite sensitivity that caused him to dream up the item that’s become the latest rage here at the lab: the fabulous removal of the eggs from a female rat’s body—to the tail, to the ear, to the stomach. And for the past twenty-three days, he’s been grafting them to their eyeballs!”

In 2014 one of the Nobel Prizes handed out was for showing why our brain is a GPS system. Two of those who won that prize were May-Britt and Edvard Moser.

In this video, the Moser’s look like nice people. They cuddle the rats and talk about creating lesions on their brains. As far as labs go, this lab is far from the worst. However, this video does illustrate the human position as apex predators.

One argument for experiments like the ones in Dr. Rat or the ones in the labs at NTNU goes something like this “What about medical advancement and further knowledge about improving lives?” I don’t buy that argument at all even though I have benefited and benefit from animal and human experiments. There is no good argument for humans treating lab animals the way cats treat their victims.

I could not read Dr. Rat in one go. Some of the other stories I read can be as violent, but Kotzwinkle‘s writing dug his claws of horror and despair into my brain. In the end, there is a balancing event against the torturers (not only researchers) that in no way makes up for the terrible lives of these animals. Not that such treatment surprises, or even shocks, me. This is the way many humans treat other humans. After all, humans are both predator and prey in our genetic make-up.

“What are they doing to me, Doctor Rat?”

“Let me just check my notes… yes, here we are. You’ll be the tenth rat this week to have his brains sucked out by a pneumatic tube.”

While Dr. Rat is horror, it is also humour, humour of the darker kind, the kind I like. As satire, the story does its job of criticizing society’s proclivity towards violence.

Excellent story. Most definitively recommended.


Reviews:

Again, with the Geeky stuff

Every once in a while I post links that I think authors who write about fighting should know of. I do not know how many unrealistic fight scenes I have read and how much idiotic protection people wear, but there have been a lot of them. Medieval fight scenes are a particular pet peeve of mine.

Writing solely for entertainment is OK. I can read stories with idiotic fight scenes and still be entertained. But I probably won’t review that story unless the author has asked me to. Although I try to phrase things as nicely as possibly, I have tell readers that the fighting in the story is unrealistic.

Snapjelly has one of the greater sites on medieval sword fighting I have found. He’ll try to answer any question. If you scroll down this link to his videos on Youtube, you will probably find answers to most questions about that kind of fighting. This video should illustrate that the dude knows what he is talking about.

 

 

Nerdiness/geekiness

Let’s face it, I am a nerd. Probably borderline geek. On one wall of my office hang maps. There is a map of the world in the correct proportions (in 2D format), a map of sentences, a map of the body and a map of the sky as seen from both Northern and Southern hemispheres. A Diagrammatical Dissertation of Opening Lines of Famous Novels – my map of sentences – is probably my favourite one. There is something intrinsically pleasing about seeing combinations of words broken down into a diagram. Especially when placed together like this and particularly when one of those sentences happen to be the opening sentence of Don Quixote (The ingenious  gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha) by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.

I moved to the US with my parents eons ago, back when I was 13/14. My first language was Aussie English. When my parents moved back to Norway for a time, that knowledge went away. It was not something I thought I would ever get back. Then they moved to Salt Lake City in Utah and I had to relearn what I knew as a child. My breakthrough came during sophomore English. I had one of the best Teachers I have ever had. Her willingness to see me and to try to understand how I thought was amazing. We got to breaking down sentences into diagrams. You see where I’m going with this, don’t you. After that everything fell into place and all subjects worked much better, and boy did my grades improve.

One day I came across Pop Chart Lab’s Dissertation and knew I had to have it. The pleasure I get from looking at these diagrams is immense because of what they represent but also because my brain is reminded of the rules, rules I break. Not always intentionally. With great pleasure, I leave you with the opening sentence of Don Quixote and its diagram.

Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.

 

Jackson, Shirley. The Haunting of Hill House. 1959

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.

(p. 1, The Haunting of Hill House)