Deciphering Culture

Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

! ZAPPED ! – a graphic novel in need of artwork

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Got some nice cover art from Erik Evans of Bottle Rocket Productions. Now, need artist(s) interested in illustrating thee body of the story. Check out the info. below then get in touch.

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! ZAPPED !

 

! Zapped ! is the story of a man called to a quest by the sudden (or as he discovers not-so-sudden) onset of a serious and disturbing disease. Unbeknownst to him, he is called not to recover what he has lost but to transform his life and himself. His journey takes him into unknown territories of alternative healing, spiritual practice, interspecies relationships, spirit possession, and the hidden depths of his own internal life.

The story is told through three intertwining narrative threads:

  • Cleo’s story –- told from the point of view of the protagonist’s wife’s dog.
  • The protagonist’s story.
  • The running commentary of two members of the Watcher Bureau, keepers of the collective unconscious, charged with recording stories of the human condition

 

Author Bio: Jeffrey Callen is a writer based in San Francisco whose work is rooted in the belief that an authentic story opens up a space of connection that creates the basis for understanding, communication and effective action. He is also a creative writer, published poet and cultural analyst. His writing on popular culture appears in scholarly and popular publications. He received an MA in Music from UC Santa Barbara and a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from UCLA.

 

CALL FOR ARTISTS: I am looking for one or more artists to work with on this project. Each narrative thread is intended to have a distinct visual image. I have imagined Cleo’s story as having a manga look; the protagonist’s story with the look of a Hernandez brothers (Love & Rockets) story; and, a film noir presentation of the Watcher Bureau. However, I am more interested in ideas that occur to potential collaborators. If you are interested in learning more about this project, please contact me at jeffreycallenphd@gmail.com or here at Deciphering Culture.

“Ethnographic Poetry”

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Excited that the first piece of my “ethnographic poetry” was published on January 7, 2011 by the UK literary journal The View From Here. The poem, “My Father Chased, Never Caught” is based on family history but as my biography in The View From Here says,

Jeffrey Callen is an ethnographer and writer living in San Francisco. Along the way to receiving his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology, he learned the bracketing of reactions, the deep hanging out, the willingness to be surprised that are the sine qua non of the ethnographic method. An ethnographic approach is integral to all his work as a writer, including his fiction and poetry. His  writing on music and popular culture regularly appears in scholarly publications and popular outlets, such as PopMattersThe Beat and Afropop Worldwide. He is currently writing a book on alternative music in Morocco and can be contacted through his professional blog Deciphering Culture.

Issue 31:Issue 31

Gorgeous, Eye Catching, Coffee Table Worthy! The View From Here – The Best of the Best in the new and emerging literary scene!

Interviews with … Naseem Rakha, Michael Kimball & Penny Legg.

Original Fiction: Kirie Pedersen, Lauren Butler & Iain Campbell.

Original Poetry: Magdalawit Makonnen , Jeffrey Callen & Rich Murphy.

Chapter 1 of our serialisation of Death Knell by Kathleen Maher

Reading Underground by Jane Turley

Book Review: You Against Me by Jenny Downham.

ISSN 1758-2903

Written by Jeffrey Callen

January 9, 2011 at 5:00 pm

“William Gibson On the Future of Publishing: Made to Order Books” (@ Speakeasy)

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Interesting interview with innovative author William Gibson (think cyberpunk) in the Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog. Thanks to Julie Norvaisis of All This Chittah Chatter for turning me on to it.

An excerpt from the interview by the Wall Street Journal’s Steven Kurutz:

Will you mourn the loss of the physical book if eBooks become the dominant format?

It doesn’t fill me with quite the degree of horror and sorrow that it seems to fill many of my friends. For one thing, I don’t think that physical books will cease to be produced. But the ecological impact of book manufacture and traditional book marketing –- I think that should really be considered. We have this industry in which we cut down trees to make the paper that we then use enormous amounts of electricity to turn into books that weigh a great deal and are then shipped enormous distances to point-of-sale retail. Often times they are remained or returned, using double the carbon footprint. And more electricity is used to pulp them and turn them into more books. If you look at it from a purely ecological point of view, it’s crazy.

How would you do things differently?

My dream scenario would be that you could go into a bookshop, examine copies of every book in print that they’re able to offer, then for a fee have them produce in a minute or two a beautiful finished copy in a dust jacket that you would pay for and take home. Book making machines exist and they’re remarkably sophisticated. You’d eliminate the waste and you’d get your book -– and it would be a real book. You might even have the option of buying a deluxe edition. You could have it printed with an extra nice binding, low acid paper.

Written by Jeffrey Callen

September 11, 2010 at 8:01 am

How WordPress is changing publishing

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Interesting article on the effects of blogging (good & bad) on the way we publish (and the way we write, read…) and the questionable value of “democratizing” the role of the writer.

Reposted from Slate‘s Big Money blog:

The Son of Gutenberg. How WordPress changed the way we publish.

By Marion Maneker  — Posted Wednesday, June 16, 2010 – 7:47am

A year ago, Justin Halpern was an underemployed comedy writer who had to move back into his parents’ home in San Diego. Today, he’s got 1.4 million Twitter followers, the No. 1 book on the New York Times nonfiction best-seller list, and a CBS sitcom starring William Shatner. All it took was writing down quotes from his father that he tweets out as “Shit My Dad Says.”

Technology and social media are redrawing the roadmap to authorial success. And for every Justin Halpern, there are 10,000 professional writers wondering how to turn blogs, microblogs, and Twitterfeeds into media empires, especially now that their magazines, newspapers, and media organizations are contracting at an alarming rate. Blogs, of course, are the first refuge for professional writers fleeing the withering establishment media, and for hordes of would-be scribes finding their own voice. For these multitudes, WordPress.com has become the 21st-century equivalent of Gutenberg’s printing press. (to read the rest, click here)

Written by Jeffrey Callen

July 2, 2010 at 10:20 am

Book Excerpt – By Heart: Poetry, Prison, and Two Lives (Judith Tannenbaum and Spoon Jackson)

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Reposted from:

Community Arts Network Reading Room

By Heart: Poetry, Prison, and Two Lives” by Judith Tannenbaum and Spoon Jackson (Oakland, New Village Press, April 2010)

Judith Tannenbaum and Spoon Jackson met at San Quentin State Prison in 1985 while Tannenbaum was teaching writing classes for prisoners. They have corresponded and sometimes collaborated ever since, producing, as this book’s publisher New Village Press puts it, “very different bodies of work resting on the same understanding: that human beings have one foot in darkness, the other in light.” For me, the book puts a finger, tenderly, on the essence of what is so vital about art for social change – the kind of change that happens in the soul. — Linda Frye Burnham, Community Arts Network

This excerpt, by Spoon Jackson, is from Chapter Two.

Chapter Two: In SilenceIndian summer at San Quentin and the sweet sun brings back the times I ran the dry river with the greyhound dogs and lay under the heavy black railroad bridge as the trains rumbled across, shaking the soft sands. In those times, I watched the shadows of the railcars dart by, and when night fell on a hot day, played kick-the-can in pure desert darkness. There were no street lights on Crooks Street when I was a boy.

A boy with no one to listen becomes a man in prison for life and discovers his mind can be free. A woman enters prison to teach and becomes his first listener. And so begins a 25-year friendship between two gifted writers and poets. The result is “By Heart” — a book that will anger you, give you hope and break your heart. — Gloria Steinem

My skin feels warm and alive this San Quentin September, as though I am a lizard sunning on a big rock. Instead I wear prison blues — shirt, pants, coat — plus brown high-top boots and dark shades, the coat and the shades I put on whenever I am outside the cell. I sit in my spot on the winding metal stairs of the San Quentin education building and see Judith bouncing down the steps from the Arts-in-Corrections office. I notice her healthy pale skin, (to read more go to the Community Arts Network Reading Room).

Written by Jeffrey Callen

March 24, 2010 at 3:14 pm

“Literature is like love; it is best enjoyed in private but has social consequences.”

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A short thought-provoking article from Axess magasin, a Swedish publication that “aims to unite academic culture and publishing culture to create a forum in which researchers in the humanities and liberal arts can meet a wider public.” The article is entitled “Imagination is the Enemy of Tyranny” and, focusing predominately on literature, author Per Wästberg writes:

The Earth is not the inexhaustible resource we thought it was; it must be protected as something very precious. The same is true of the freedom of expression – it has no life of its own; it must be protected but also defined in a debate that is constantly being renewed. In a vulnerable world fraught with danger, the free flow of ideas plays a vital role. The visions of our poets and thinkers are not concerned with easy solace or a flight from reality but instead with providing nourishment and energy, creating new connections, devising new solutions.

To read the entire article click here: “Imagination is the Enemy of Tyranny”


Written by Jeffrey Callen

February 2, 2010 at 7:49 pm

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