“This morning I crossed a river on a horse made of lightbulbs.”
That’s just another day (June 4, to be exact) in Bob Schofield’s The Inevitable June (theNewerYork Press, 120 pages), an agreeably strange book structured around an unnamed narrator’s calendar for the month of June. Using text, cartoons and distinctive graphics, it is unclassifiable in terms of genre but it manages to create a self-contained world of its own.
Continue to Dactyl Review.
April 12, 2014
Based on a talk at the Leonardo Art and Science Rendezvous (LASER) meeting in NYC, Victoria N Alexander, PhD discusses how scientists can benefit from interaction with artists. This is the second video in the “Science, Art and Biosemiotics” series, produced and directed by Lucian Rex.
This video features painting, Epiphany, 1998 by James Gilroy
Tokyo, 1994. Japan is now well into what observers will later call the “lost decade,” a downward spiral triggered by the Japanese central bank’s bursting the speculative bubble of the 1980s. The seemingly inviolable climb of the Japanese economy—and society—has reversed.
Triangle, the 2001 novel by the respected Japanese writer Hisaki Matsuura released in its first English edition by Dalkey Archive Press (233 pages) this month, is an attempt to transform the Japanese downward spiral into a metaphysical thriller. But novels—even literary ones—based on conceptual ideas rarely work.
continue to Dactyl Review.
Liam Howley opens The Absurd Demise of Poulnabrone (Jagged C Press, 344 pages) with an introduction to Cornelius Solitude Conlon, an aging man who, I assumed, was the primary protagonist. In fact, my assumption continued throughout a good portion of the novel, even though the narrative shifted to various other characters as I read along. Nevertheless, as the story progressed, Cornelius became but one piece in the game board that is Poulnabrone.
It is, in fact, Poulnabrone that is the centerpiece of this story. Primary and secondary characters appear on the scene, make an impact, and leave. Some return later on, some never appear again, yet others remain present to weave the fabric of the tale as it is spun along, carrying with them the thread of continuity without overshadowing the main premise. Continue reading on Dactyl Review.
Claire Vaye Watkins writes as if she scratches her stories from the grit and mining detritus of the Nevada desert she grew up in, then transforms the elemental by gathering language as rich and as natural as the sand or minerals found there like an alchemist. The work is as layered as the often brutal human history of the region, a history she both draws upon and to which she will surely add her own narrative. And like the harsh landscapes and histories that everywhere informs these brilliant stories, when you peer long enough, closely enough, at what seems an empty, heartless place, you not only see its unforgiving beauty within the parched hills and among the tailings castaway after decades of exploitation, you also find glitter among the hardscape, the glint of silver and gold. Like the characters in her story collection Battleborn (Riverhead Books, 283 pages), the truths Watkins unearths require strong stomachs and strong wills to digest but reward the reader with sparkling prose, hard but achingly accurate portraits of unforgettable characters, and gemstones of hope among the chaos of despair and interior pain.
Continue to Dactyl Review.
This is a unique American novel, written in the language of the heartland before Jesus became a pawn in the political battle for the American soul. It is written in a subdued, subtle, understated lyrical style. It is as rich and diverse as America herself. It is at once a romance complete with trains, whorehouses, steel mills, and the death of the drive-in-movie theater and a coming of age novel in which the protagonist emerges from the chrysalis to transform into a singing butterfly.
Continue to Dactyl Review.
Death is always bearing down in Dennis Must’s somber, disquieting novel, The World’s Smallest Bible (Red Hen Press, 232 pages). Death knocks on the window above the bed shared by brothers Ethan and Jeremiah Meuller in the small town of Hebron, in north central Pennsylvania; death is in the hand-me-downs they receive as gifts from the parents of soldiers who have just been killed in World War II; death brews inside their suicidal mother Rose, who has been scorned by their father; death dogs at their Aunt Eva, a stripper at the Elks Club; and death badgers their neighbor, Stanley Cuzack, as he tries to invent a perpetual motion machine. Half suffocating himself, Must’s narrator, Ethan, tries to push himself away .
The boys are about ten and eight when their mother orders the younger Jeremiah back into the children’s bedroom. She’s had it sharing her bed with her son, just another reminder of the man who’s supposed to be there and isn’t. Continue reading on Dactyl Review.
As the twenty-fist century accelerates toward a new low point in modern political history, eighty-five people possess about forty percent of the world’s wealth (that’s not a typo),* second- and third-generation war-terrorized children are born to benumbed, dehumanized parents, and most news reports would probably seem horribly unreal to even Bradbury and Orwell.
Continue to Dactyl Review.
February 24, 2014
What happens in your body when you choose to go right or left? What makes your decisions? your Self? What do we mean by the word “choice”?
VN Alexander, PhD discusses the science of making choices from a complexity science-biosemiotic perspective. This is the first in a series of videos “Science, Art and Biosemiotics,” produced and directed by Lucian Rex.
Coming in March
Please come out to see our own Ben Monk’s new play
Manny’s Last Stand.
PURCHASE TICKETS or donate to raise money to make the film version, a Dactyl Media production.
Shooting for television the play Manny’s Last Stand. A burlesque club featuring
an alcoholic comedian who achieves greatness through sobriety. Manny Aarons goes on the wagon. Goes to AA, does yoga, sees a therapist, meditates. He works on new material. We end with Manny’s sold out show at Carnegie Hall. Audience members get orchestra seats and are encouraged to heckle.
March 5 @ 8:45 Wednesday
March 8 @ 7 Saturday
March 9 @ 6 Sunday
It starts in adolescence. The questions come to you while lying in bed (certainly now with a growing awareness of your sexuality), the walls of your room expanding into endless grainy darkness, as if the room itself could encompass the entire world: why am I here, why is there anything at all?
Continue to Dactyl Review.
January 23, 2024
VN Alexander interviewed on “No Lies Radio” about her new political satire novel Locus Amoenus, politics, Dactyl Foundation, Dactyl Review and the arts generally.
This wry, touching novel, The Grievers (The Permanent Press, 175 pages), takes an intelligent look at the meaning of friendship, a distinctly pertinent topic in an age when “friend” and “unfriend” are ubiquitous verbs referring mostly to people we’ve never met. It’s a novel of ideas that also dares to be funny, a dangerous strategy when so many critics see humor as a crime against literature. After all, doesn’t serious writing demand uncompromising hopelessness and despair?
Continue to Dactyl Review.
December 23, 2013
In the past three years, Dactyl Foundation has concentrated on developing the literary fiction community, which has dwindled over the past twenty years as publishing houses began to focus on big sellers ignoring the niche market of fine literature.
In 2010, we launched Dactyl Review, a community of literary fiction writers who review literary fiction and nominate works for Dactyl Foundation’s $1000 annual prize. The contest is open to any living literary fiction writer, regardless of date of publication or type of publication. We are especially interested in books that came out some time ago and have not yet received the recognition they deserve.
This year we decided to award two prizes. We are pleased to announce that the first award goes to The Double Life of Alfred Buber by David Schmahmann, published in 2011 by The Permanent Press. The second award goes to Cocoa Almond Darling by Jeffra Hays, self-published in 2011 on Kindle.
Support this worthy project now by becoming a member or renewing your membership. Click here. We’ve got a lot of interesting and important work ahead of us. We can’t do it without you. Thanks in advance for your support. Dactyl Foundation is a 501 c3 organization, and your donation is fully tax-deductible.
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
reviewed by Charles Holdefer
Dactyl Review Project
There’s a long tradition of writing about sport that tries to be more than writing about sport. Journalism, it seems, is not enough. The events of a game and the constraints of its rules become raw materials for allegory. Much fuss has been made in recent years about the rise of nonfiction and its power over the popular imagination—but when it comes to sport, the lure of myth remains strong….
Created by and for the literary fiction community. See our latest review Witz by Joshua Cohen. Review by Jeffra Hays.
Lecture by Victoria N. Alexander, Director, Dactyl Foundation
International Biosemiotics Studies, 13th Annual Gathering, Castiglioncello, Italy.
(numbers refer to slides)
CHANCE. What is it? What’s it got to do with the idea that interpretations are not determined by physical laws?
Thursday, September 27, 2012. 1-3PM
Our popular discussion forum is back! Live online! The CompostModern forum is made up of artists, poets, fiction writers, playwrights, scientists, mathematicians, musicians, actors and any one else interested in joining. Instead of presenting formal lectures or panels, we open the floor to the community. Featured guests and audience members are able to talk freely and on equal terms about everything from beauty and meaning to pop-culture. As the name implies, the CompostModern forum aims to re-cycle our rich aesthetic history. If the project of postmodernism was to deconstruct traditions, it has left us with a fertile soil out of which new forms may emerge. It is with the belief that all new forms of art must evolve from a history that we approach the guiding question of the forum: What is creativity?
Admission free. Reservation required. Write to email@example.com for the meeting link.
June 6, 2012
Escher’s Journal by Norman Lock is now available from ravennapress.com.
“I wrote this imaginary journal to explain a genuine interest in Escher’s work and to think as profoundly as I am able about the grand metaphysical notions that spellbind even the most cynical practitioner of the arts in our time: truth and semblance, the finite and the infinite, the temporal and the timeless, natural law and the dictates of unconscious life, dreaming and the creative imagination. (Those of us for whom to write is to consider ideas, playfully more often than not, seem never to tire of these oppositions.) And so Escher’s journal is also mine.” – Norman Lock, from the Afterword
Click on the cover to purchase the book from Amazon and 4-6% of your purchase price (at no additional cost to you) will go to support Dactyl Review.
A new online review of strictly literary fiction, created for and by the literary fiction community. For readers. As literary fiction disappears from the pages of major book reviews, it becomes harder to find good books to read. With tags for style and influence and easy access to excerpts, Dactyl Review is unlike any other fiction review site, helping readers find the particular kinds of “literary fiction” they prefer. Because we’re not a commercial site, we don’t favor the newest books or books by best-selling authors. We publish reviews of only the best literary fiction, older and new, as judged by other literary fiction writers. For writers. Helping to promote and support the kind of work you admire will help build a readership for your own work. Reviewers with the highest percentage of positive feedback will be noted in the top ten reviewers section. Go to dactylreview.org
February 23-26, 2012
Dactyl Foundation recommends the short play, “You Can’t Blame Me for Trying!”, starring Dasha Kittredge and Ben Monk (aka Ben Jorgensen), which is being featured as part of Week 3 of the Players Theatre Short Play and Musical Festival. The theme of all shows, in keeping with the Valentine’s Day holiday, will be “Sex!” (with an exclamation point). There will be FOUR performances:
Thursday, February 23, at 7PM
Friday, February 24, at 7PM
Saturday, February 25, at 7PM
Sunday, February 26, at 3PM
To reserve a ticket, visit the website below and select one of the four performances of “SEX!” listed above.
An important note: when purchasing tickets, you will be asked if you have a “promotional code.” The code is “cast.” Entering it entitles you to a $5 discount. The total cost of a ticket thus becomes $23.12 ($20 for the ticket plus a $3.12 “convenience charge”).
(Please note that plays in the festival may contain nudity and that no one under 18 will be admitted to the theater.)
January 18, 2012
SOPA/PIPA New bills in the US Congress and Senate are attempting to give corporations the ability to censor and shut down websites without due process. Protect non-profit and educational fair use copyright laws. Go to americancensorship.org
For a number of years, publishing has been dominated by commercial fiction. Literary fiction novels and short story collections by small presses or independent authors have little chance of being noticed by reviewers or placed on bookstore shelves. Even the literary fiction written by relatively well-known writers published by big houses has been pushed to the side by pseudo-literary fiction — written and reviewed by those who don’t know the difference between thought and sentimentality, poetry and the use of adjectives — such that the meaning of “literary” is lost. With the way the publishing system is currently organized, books aren’t given much time in front of judges and audiences. Those that don’t make it immediately are tossed in the remaindered bin. A deep pity, as literary fiction is slow-growing and takes time to find its audience. [continue...]
Now you can support Dactyl Foundation’s art-science programs next time you make travel reservations using any one of the major online companies, like Orbitz or Travelocity, or when you make any purchase on Amazon.com. 6% will go to Dactyl Foundation at no extra cost to you. Just use the links below to enter your favorite online site and make your reservation or purchases as you normally would, and Dactyl Foundation will receive a 6% donation. You will see the same low prices as you would if you entered these sites directly.
Next time you make travel reservations online, enter your favorite site through this page Hopetels.com
Next time you’re buying ANYTHING on Amazon.com, enter through this page
The Biologist’s Mistress: Rethinking Self-Organization in Art, Literature, and Nature
We have an exciting conference and art exhibition on mimicry and crypsis planned for fall 2012. Stay tuned for the call for papers. Thanks for supporting Dactyl.
Dactyl Foundation is pleased to announce the publication of Victoria N. Alexander’s The Biologist’s Mistress: Rethinking Self-Organization in Art, Literature and Nature.
Teleology is like a mistress to the biologist; he dare not be seen with her in public but cannot live without her –J. B. S. Haldane
Drawing on her experiences as a complexity theorist, novelist and art-theorist, Victoria N. Alexander examines the history and practices of teleology, the study of purpose, in nature as well as in human behavior. She takes us “inside” paradoxically purposeful self-organizing entities (which somehow make themselves without having selves yet to do the making), and she shows us how poetic-like relationships—things coincidentally like each other or metaphoric and things coincidentally near each other or metonymic—help form organization where there was none before. She suggests that it is these chance language-like processes that result in emergent design and selfhood, thereby offering an alternative to postmodern theories that have unfairly snubbed the purposeful artist. Alexander claims that what has been missing from the general discussion of purposefulness is a theory of creativity, without which there can be no purposeful action, only robotic execution of inherited design. Thus revising while reviving teleology, she offers us a secular, non-essentialist conception of selfhood as an achievement that can be more than a momentary stay against the second law.
The book includes anecdotes about Dactyl Foundation’s artists and history. All proceeds from book sales will be donated to the foundation to help support educational programs and research in art-science.
New Summer Hours 2011 4-6PM
The CompostModern forum is made up of artists, poets, fiction writers, playwrights, scientists, mathematicians, musicians, actors and any one else interested in joining. We meet every Friday, and at least once or twice a month, we have a featured guest or two. Instead of presenting formal lectures or panels, we open the floor to the community. Featured guests and audience members are able to talk freely and on equal terms about everything from beauty and meaning to pop-culture. As the name implies, the CompostModern forum aims to re-cycle our rich aesthetic history. If the project of postmodernism was to deconstruct traditions, it has left us with a fertile soil out of which new forms may emerge. It is with the belief that all new forms of art must evolve from a history that we approach the guiding question of the forum: What is creativity?
The Eleventh Annual International Gathering in Biosemiotics will be held from June 21 to June 26, 2011 under the auspices of the Dactyl Foundation at the Rockefeller University for Biomedical Research in New York City, USA. Biosemiotics is an interdiscipline that seeks naturalistic understandings of metalistic phenomena, grounded in biology, and, in turn, seeks understandings of biological processes in terms of a general semiotics.
What can be learned about human semiosis, interpretation, communication, creativity and meaning-making by studying less complex but analogous phenomena in cellular signaling, chemotaxis, zoosemiotics, embryonic development, or the immune system? Can the pervasive metaphoric usages of chemical “message,” genetic “information,” and ”signaling” in contemporary biology be defined more precisely by taking them literally? While human symbolic representation may be species-specific–or at least unique to unusually big-brained animals–it must have emerged out of less complex semiotic processes and proto-semiotic processes. What are the antecedents of human semiosis? And how can the exploration of these antecedents help bridge the unnatural gap between body and mind that was imposed centuries ago more for religious than scientific reasons?
All are welcome to attend. For registration information click here.
Want to learn more about Biosemiotics? Visit the International Society for Biosemiotic Studies website, or listen to ISBS Vice-President Don Favareau on BBC radio.
January 1, 2011
Shadowplay (Ellipsis Press, 137 pages) by Norman Lock is the 2010 Dactyl Foundation Literary Fiction Award recipient. A dense fable, mixing magic realism with self-reflexivity….. See Dactyl Review.
NORMAN LOCK is the author of The King of Sweden (Ravenna Press), Shadowplay (Ellipsis Press), A History of the Imagination (FC2), ‘The Book of Supplemental Diagrams’ for Marco Knauff’s Universe (Ravenna Press), The Long Rowing Unto Morning (Ravenna Press), Two Plays for Radio (Triple Press), and–writing as George Belden–Land of the Snow Men (from Calamari Press and in Japanese from Kawade Shobo). Two short-prose collections – Joseph Cornell’s Operas and Émigrés – were published by Elimae Books and subsequently issued, in Turkish, by an Istanbul publisher as part of its New World Writing series. Together with Grim Tales, they were brought out by Triple Press as Trio. Cirque du Calder, a hand-made artist’s book with afterword by Gordon Lish, was presented by The Rogue Literary Society. [continue...]
In her new film El Monte, Yelena Yemchuk’s crisp black-and-white rendering of a feverish dream is reminiscent of Fellini’s 8½, even using a breathless soundtrack in homage to the opening of the Italian director’s autobiographical masterpiece. An elegant, if unsettling, platform to showcase a festival of vintage gowns, El Monte features supermodel Natasa Vojnovic, who gives an accomplished and poetic performance, actor Ebon Moss-Bachrach, musician Melissa Auf der Maur and the haunting voice of Elisa Silver. Filmed at Dactyl Foundation for the Arts in New York, with mid-century furniture on loan from Chelsea’s Demisch Danant gallery, the set designed by Ukraine-born Yemchuk could easily be mistaken for a location featured [continue...]
The Eleventh Annual International Gathering in Biosemiotics will be held from June 21 to June 26, 2011 under the auspices of the Dactyl Foundation at the Rockefeller University for Biomedical Research in New York City, USA. The Scientific Advisory Committee of the Eleventh Annual Gatherings in Biosemiotics welcomes paper proposals from researchers in any academic discipline who are investigating the presence and the role of sign processes in living systems.
What is Biosemiotics? Listen to philosopher Don Favareau on BBC radio.
The call for papers is now closed. [continue...]