Theatre of Hades Illustration Wish List

November 26, 2012 at 12:05 am (Uncategorized)

For those of you that have arrived here know that I am looking for illustrations for my magical realist and Occupy inspired novel Theatre of Hades.

A great deal of the images would be related to architecture (towers, buildings, factories, and theatres). Other consistent images are murky ooze, living things infused with metal, caves, and military detention. Most of the images will be leaning towards the morbid side but any flavor is welcome. The posted titles of my chapters are as follows;

The 12 Prophets

  • Dr. Greek Goes to Washington
  • The Land of the Living
  • Cora’s Game
  • The Fall of the Tower of Words
  • Delphic Oracles and the Seraphim’s Vision
  • Case Files of HADES
  • The Cave Under the Bedroom
  • Girl Schools and Think Tanks
  • The Hidden Refuge of the Gnostics
  • The Mistress of Seeds

Concluding Attractions

  • The Numerologist Can’t Stop the Bees
  • The Garden of Treason
  • The Bank of Secrets
  • The Coffee House and the Quarter Machines

Part 2: Theatres

Introduction to the Theatres

  • Theatre of Prophets
  • Theatre of Tragedy

There are some stories that I’ve yet to write that I’d like to include:
Hemlock and the Playground
Theatre of Mirrors

I’d be interested in whatever people come up with, provided it’s dramatic. No kittens with sniper rifles or mushrooms eating toast. If a good idea came from the following list just comment on something I right. You can keep the originals if you’d like. The story being a film makes copies work just fine. Have fun.

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Orphan Receptors

December 14, 2010 at 5:43 pm (Uncategorized)

If a drug changes the nervous system and hence our behavior, it’s probably doing one of two things. Either it is a neurotoxin that damages nervous tissue, or it changes the activity of neurons.  Neurologists understand the mechanisms behind the well known drugs.  (Most stimulants affect dopamine. CNS depressants generally affect GABA receptors, narcotics affect opiate receptors, etc.)

These exogenous (coming for outside the body) compounds are better understood than their endogenous (produced by the body) counterparts. Neurons have receptors for various neurotransmitters, neuro-modulators, and hormones. Presumably these receptors are meant to be stimulated by endogenous compounds in the body. But it is often the case that scientists are unable to conclusively identify the compounds that psychoactive drugs mimic. Nerve cells are thus said to have orphan receptors. 

Perhaps a good place to start are the benzodiazepenes. (Xanax, Valium, Ativan, etc.) These drugs are GABA agonists (they increase the effectiveness of the mind’s no. 1 inhitory neurotransmitter). There is a site on GABA receptors where the benzodiazpenes bind to, but to this author’s knowledge no conclusive endogenous compound has been found.

This puts scientists in something of a pickle. What, exactly, are these orphan receptors for? Some time ago opiate receptors were orphans. This lead to the discovery of the familiar endorphins, which seem to be released as a reward for certain types of behavoir, such as active exercise and sex. What activity would the benzodiazapene by trying to inhibit when it binds to GABA receptors, and where does it come from? The answers (to both benzodiazipine receptor sites and orphan receptors in generally) should help us understand more about our minds and bodies, and this is only one of the orphan receptors found in the brain. Research into any receptors has serious potential for new medicine.

(Note, after finishing this entry I came across another interesting fact. A previous orphan receptor, the cannibanoid receptor, has an antagonist, cannabidiol. It blocks the cannabinoid receptors and is being looked at as a potential antipsychotic. Bizarrely enough, it coexists with THC in the cannabis plant. )

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The Collective Unconscious

November 19, 2010 at 10:09 pm (Uncategorized)

I can’t take credit for this speculation, take it up with Carl Jung. Freud advocated an individual unconscious that repressed that which ego couldn’t handle. Jung went a step further and proposed a collective unconscious. This wasn’t people connected to each other by magic brain waves, it was that evolution left in all human beings an unconscious as a result of our history as a species.  It was primitive and highly symbolic, and its inability to rise to the surface of human thought was not a disease process of repression but a reflection of how far down human consciousness went.

Recurring themes, myths, dreams, visions, and art are all a way to access this treasure trove of information. What else would disturb the ink of the poet, the tedious organizing of oral traditions, the slippery memory of a dream, the dissolution of reality of the visionary?

Perhaps a tangent of more empirical source: the degenerative brain disease called Huntington’s disease. Huntington’s disease affects many areas of the brain, including the basal ganglia, known to help modulate movement. The degeneration of the basal ganglia inhibits the afflicted’s ability stop random movement: hence the sudden jerking movements that develop in the afflicted. I bring this up because it suggests that a great deal of brain activity lies not in initiating electrical impulses, but inhibiting them. What lies behind that inhibition?

Perhaps clarity? A great tale in science comes to us from Kekule and the benzene ring. Vexed by his monumental difficulties, Kekule decided to rest. He began to imagine a snake eating its own tail. The metaphor (a common mythological creature)  that pointed to the benzene ring that is one of the foundations of organic chemistry (carbon rings).

What lies in the collective unconscious is symbolic, universal truth–a truth undiluted from the lies, blocks, and misperceptions of the ego and its personal unconscious. The ability of the brain to inhibit is among its greatest achievements. That which would crowd or injure conscious space is pushed back. But the ability to go around the brain’s blockades (in fact to recognize the blockades as blockades) is a feat greater still, and requires the ability to let consciousness go (up to a point) and explore the unconscious truth of symbols, be they physical, surreal, or spiritual.

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Gravity Drive

October 29, 2010 at 1:53 am (Uncategorized)

Sci fi stories set in space always seem to ignore three horrendous difficulties: escape velocity, reentry heat, and artificial gravity. Ignoring the first two makes it easy to hop from planet to planet. Artificial gravity lets film crews shoot on solid floors. It makes it possible to avoid any counter intuitive interactions that occur in from a 360 degree environment. It also allows one to ignore the terrible effects long time weightlessness causes (muscular atrophy). But for a blog post let’s not ignore anything. What challenges lie ahead for designers of gravity drive?

Gravity has always been deceptively simple yet overwhelmingly complex. When a flat earth was circled by other celestial bodies the idea of gravity must have been a moot point. Things just went down. The rotating earth orbiting the sun had to have some force to keep things from falling/spinning off.  That force was soon to be called gravity.

Newton’s gravity become the stuff of legends for science, because it proposed that the properties of heavenly objects obeyed the same rules as the ones down here. Newton even developed an equation for calculating the gravitational force between to objects.

What Newton was unable to do was explain why gravity exerted the force it did. This work was staggeringly complex and lay undone until Einstein, over two hundred years later. Gravity resulted from the curving of time and space.

Einstein’s equations revolutionized celestial mechanics, but gravity has remained as difficult as ever. How is the curving of space-time achieved? Some scientists have posed the idea of a graviton, a particle like a photon that would carry gravitational force. No such particle has ever been found.

Where would it be located? In the nucleus? Hovering around matter? How would one extract it? In terms of the four forces in physics (electromagnetic, strong, weak, and gravity) extracting the strong force from the nucleus results in atomic fission, which can create an atomic explosion. Would the science of manipulating gravitons simply be too risky or expensive?

It’s simply impossible to tell at this point. Despite the simplicity of the falling apple that inspired Netwon’s gravity, gravity is still nowhere near being understanding, and it’s so complex that your lay person without an intensive scientific education probably won’t understand it anyway.

So ignore gravity in your sci fi tales? If they involve ships moving from planet to planet I’d say yes. Otherwise, centrifugal force might be a workable replacement. If your craft were spinning fast enough, you should be able to keep your feet on the ground (that ground being the outermost layer of the wheel like space ship). But who wants to go thtrough the trouble of explaining that kind of architecture?

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