Saturday 2 December 2023

A Milestone and A Millstone

You blink, and then it turns out you've hit Two Hundred and Fifty posts. I'm not certain that there's a really good way to mark this (though the suggestion of 250 paragraphs of 250 words each on 250 topics was advanced). Well, instead I have compiled the following list: 250 artworks, topics, images and so forth discussed by this blog. If the entry is in bold, there's probably most of a post devoted to it. That's at least one way to review the changing character of the blog.

To make this more than a list, please see also a little piece of writing afterwards. There is an extent to which the former is a clue to the latter, but I shall say no more.
  1. Jack Vance's Dying Earth
  2. Goblin Market
  3. Wolfe's The Wizard Knight
  4. The Song of Roland
  5. The Kalevala
  6. The Stress of Her Regard
  7. The Cosmic Trilogy
  8. The Banner Saga
  9. Procopius
  10. Count Belisarius
  11. Marco Polo in the Court of Kublai Khan
  12. The Pillow Book
  13. The Book of the New Sun
  14. Gormenghast
  15. Virconium
  16. Julie Taymor's Titus
  17. Richard Holmes's The Age of Wonder
  18. Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle 
  19. Gulliver's Travels
  20. The Chronicles of Narnia
  21. Van Dyck
  22. The 52 Pages
  23. King Solomon's Mines
  24. The Pilgrim's Regress
  25. The Pilgrim's Progress
  26. John Ruskin
  27. Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser
  28. The Mignola-illustrated Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser
  29. Macbeth
  30. Coriolanus
  31. Othello
  32. MR James
  33. Where Eagles Dare
  34. Ice Cold in Alex
  35. Shadowrun
  36. Tim Powers's Declare
  37. The Ill-Made Knight
  38. Anathem
  39. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  40. Mass Effect
  41. Last of the Mohicans
  42. Castle of the Otter
  43. Aguirre, The Wrath of God
  44. Mad Max
  45. The Anabasis
  46. Yoon-Suin
  47. The Thousand and One Nights
  48. Snow Crash
  49. The Tower of Babel
  50. Barsoom
  51. Cyclopean architecture
  52. Ruritania
  53. Appendix N
  54. Popski's Private Army
  55. Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour
  56. The Mughal Empire
  57. Henry the Navigator
  58. Dune
  59. Fallout 
  60. The Difference Engine
  61. The Napoleon of Notting Hill
  62. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  63. Shada
  64. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
  65. Discworld
  66. John Wyndham
  67. The Quatermass Experiment
  68. Dan Dare
  69. The Prisoner
  70. Elric
  71. Strontium Dog
  72. Judge Dredd
  73. Rogue Trooper
  74. The Children of Men
  75. Neverwhere
  76. A Canticle for Liebowitz
  77. The Saga of Recluce
  78. Silverberg's Majipoor
  79. The Third Man
  80. Erast Fandorin
  81. Rendezvous with Rama
  82. Star Trek
  83. The Culture
  84. Firefly
  85. The Blazing World
  86. Lamentations of the Flame Princess
  87. Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey
  88. Blake's image of Urizen in The Ancient of Days
  89. The Man who would be King
  90. William Morris
  91. The Poetic Edda
  92. J R R Tolkien
  93. A Sing of Ice and Fire
  94. Tom Holt
  95. Mere Christianity
  96. Izaak Walton, The Compleat Angler
  97. Isaac Watts
  98. Isle of the Unknown
  99. The Winter's Tale
  100. The Aeneid
  101. Twelfth Night
  102. The Tempestuous Voyage of Hopewell Shakespeare
  103. Pygmalion and Galatea
  104. The Steel Bonnets
  105. The Dark Tower (CS Lewis)
  106. Riddley Walker
  107. Puck of Pook's Hill
  108. Nathan J Anderson's Malacandra illustrations
  109. Castle of Days
  110. The Rivan Codex
  111. The Mysteries of Udolpho
  112. The Mausoleum of Thoedoric
  113. Maria Lack Abbey
  114. Trier Cathedral
  115. The Book of the Long Sun
  116. A Voyage to Arcturus
  117. Nebulous
  118. Iain Moncrieffe and Don Pottinger's Simple Heraldry - Cheerfully Illustrated
  119. Clark Ashton Smith in the Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks edition The Emperor of Dreams 
  120. The Monk
  121. The Castle of Otranto
  122. Ivanhoe
  123. Arms and the Man
  124. Flashman
  125. The Mask of Demitrios
  126. Barry Lyndon
  127. Veins of the Earth
  128. All Saints, Margaret Street
  129. Edward Bulwer-Lytton's The Coming Race
  130. Journey to the Centre of the Earth
  131. The Gardens of Ynn
  132. The Talos Principle
  133. The Critias
  134. The Timaeus
  135. Journey to the West
  136. Equestrian Portraits of Charles I
  137. St Mary Le Strand
  138. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  139. The Diamond Age
  140. The architecture of John Outram
  141. The Ishtar Gate
  142. Age of Mythology
  143. St Peter and St Paul's Church, Pickering
  144. Seeing Like a State
  145. Reflections on the Revolution in France
  146. 'Catapaulta' by Edward Poynter
  147. The Stygian Library
  148. The Name of the Rose
  149. Roger Corman's 1964 film of The Masque of the Red Death
  150. Paul Kidby's Discworld illustrations
  151. Votan
  152. Not For All the Gold in Ireland
  153. The Ancient Greece of Odysseus
  154. Marian and Trinitarian columns
  155. Ilium and Olympos
  156. Thackeray’s History of Henry Esmond 
  157. Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon
  158. A Song of Ice and Fire
  159. The art of William Nicholson and James Pryde
  160. Silent Titans
  161. Seven Pillars of Wisdom
  162. Shardik
  163. Vita Sackville-West, The Eagle & The Dove
  164. An Atlas of the Soviet Union
  165. Doctor Syn
  166. Mythago Wood
  167. Stardust
  168. Rogue Male
  169. The Day of the Jackal
  170. HCK's Maximalist City-State World
  171. The Fall of the House of Usher
  172. The House on the Borderlands 
  173. HMS Apollyon
  174. Excalibur
  175. The Cruel Sea
  176. Electric Bastionland
  177. Francis Spufford's Red Plenty
  178. Mistress of Mistresses
  179. Tip & Run: The Untold Tragedy of the Great War in Africa
  180. The Vorrh Trilogy
  181. Tumanbey
  182. The Well of the Unicorn
  183. Joseph Wright of Derby, 'A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery', 1766
  184. Appian's Roman History
  185. Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's Monday Starts on Saturday
  186. Garth Nix's 'Down to the Scum Quarter'
  187. Fallen Empire
  188. The Shooting Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch
  189. A Tale of Two Cities
  190. Costumes from the 1883 Cambridge Greek Play production of The Birds
  191. Fading Suns
  192. Passion Plays
  193. Richard III (1995)
  194. Candide
  195. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  196. Magical Industrial Revolution
  197. Tales from the Mausoleum Club
  198. Max Beerbohms's Seven Men and Two Others
  199. Henry Kuttner, Fury
  200. Northwest Smith
  201. Fever-Dreaming Marlinko and Slumbering Ursine Dunes
  202. The Bas-Lag Cycle
  203. The Search for Immortality: Tomb Treasures of Han China 
  204. State of Emergency
  205. The Taheiki
  206. Anvil of Ice
  207. The Cthonic Codex of Paolo Greco
  208. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
  209. Warhammer Fantasy
  210. A Very British Civil War
  211. Conquest: the Last Argument of Kings
  212. Demon Bone Sarcophagus
  213. Time Bandits
  214. John Dryden
  215. Hic Sunt Myrmeleones
  216. Spanish-suited playing cards
  217. They Were Defeated
  218. Lazarus and World of Lazarus
  219. The Dragon Waiting
  220. The history plays of Mike Walker
  221. The Dream of the Red Chamber
  222. Jack Vance's Emphyrio
  223. The Metabarons & The Incal
  224. Pilgrim (not the radio plays)
  225. Layer Cake
  226. The Search for the Perfect Language
  227. Dr Zhivago
  228. The Ring Cycle
  229. The High Crusade
  230. Giulio Cesare in Egitto
  231. Lord of Light
  232. Dorothy L Sayers
  233. The Papers of Samuel Marchbanks
  234. The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table
  235. The Knight in Panther Skin
  236. The Last Coin
  237. Tales of the Alhambra
  238. Middle-Earth Strategy Battle Game
  239. Mouse or Rat?
  240. An Instance of the Fingerpost, Iain Pears
  241. Conan the Barbarian
  242. Diplomacy
  243. Holinshed's Chronicles
  244. Tales of Hoffman
  245. Indo-Saracenic architecture
  246. Ely Cathedral
  247. Ronald Blythe's Akenfield
  248. Towers of Trebizond
  249. Evelyn Waugh's Helena
  250. Troika!
So, you've probably been cursed.

You opened the book. You touched the little statue in the dark alcove. It was something like that, surely. Now you see things.
    There's a world beyond this one. A world of constant violence, of struggle. You see men there, or things very like men. They fight and they talk: they talk about fighting, they fight about talking, they fight about fighting, they talk about talking. It's riveting, but it shouldn't be a surprise to you. The ancients, after all, could enjoy rhetoric and wrestling both.
    For a time - for a few times still - you walk the pavements, you sit at your desk, you sway in the train carriage, and there's a thrill to it. You know what's waiting for you when you close your eyes. There a world beyond this one, and there's always something happening there, monumental in every moment. The details flash into your head: place, costume, mannerisms, scene, weapons, names, faces, deeds. 
    And then you concentrate a little, and you see a little more. There's someone telling you all this. Even if there's no narrator's voice, there's a choice in what you see, what you hear. So you think about them, and maybe there isn't only one. Or maybe there wasn't ever any more. But you are locked into the deciphering process. When you sleep, when you speak, when you drink, part of you is working away at it. Work is fun: don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Labouring away at something you love is rewarding and satisfying and occasionally beautiful, and now you can do it all the time. 
    Really, you're quite lucky.
    But anyway, that part of it all aside, you also reflect on the events playing out. The characters - who fold and refold on one another, archetypes or commentaries or variations upon a source. If the things you see didn't vary so wildly in its people and moments or appear on so vast a scale, you might become dizzy with the degrees of sameness. And this too is a mystery, and thus an amusement. The ticking of your brain, as familiar and as alien as your heartbeat, or the music of the spheres, is slowly changing its rhythms to match.
    Then there's a slight change in the visions. It started with a slowing, an approach to the sort of crescendo you expect. It didn't quite stay that slow, and it didn't quite ever stop being that slow. There's an oddness to it. Figures - men - beasts - demigods - angels - circle you, warring and declaiming and crying out and beating their breasts. They clash and reset: swing, address, return. The motion round you is faster and faster, the figures ever more solid, ever better-defined in detail, ever more ready to spring to life. It is like staring at a circle of monoliths, framed gloriously against the sun, and knowing at the deepest conceivable level that these rocks will leap, will blur into sudden, astounding motion - and perhaps they did, and perhaps they did. 
    Again, you think again. You dip your head in cold water. You stretch. You ease your body. There are those sorts of problems that you need to step away from occasionally. Again, you think, again.
    It isn't like it was - well, of course it isn't! Never could be: some processes change you. Not something to lament overlong. But maybe you can capture a glimpse of what it was, once in a while. 
    Perhaps you might talk it over with someone. But this isn't really the sort of thing for polite conversation. Too much finicky background to lay out. Too much violence, too much religion, too much politics. Other people must know of it, though, mustn't they? 
    You can't recall who gave you the book. If it was a book. The picture. The play. The mezzotint. But it had to have come from somewhere. The world - this world - is not so strange that such things can creep up on you all on there own. There was a chain of cause and effect. Somebody gave you the book, long ago.
    So you search, and you do not search in vain. There are people who have seen something of what you've seen. But they won't talk about it, or they'll talk about all the wrong bits in tedious detail and in obvious ignorance of all the most vital points. The process is fruitless, and you get some very scathing looks into the bargain. 
    That doesn't matter, though. You've got work before you, and a handful of social ties to cultivate and maintain, and at the end of it all, a whole other world to go back to. 
    So you do. There's something coming, you can feel it. Something terrible and thrilling and revelatory, so literally apocalyptic, in its content and implications. 
    And then it's not there. Not there at all. Neither climax nor anticlimax, but still it persists. Believe it or not. The stone gathers neither moss nor speed, but it does keep rolling. There's a hint of tedium in the air, like the fug of men trapped too long indoors. Hell's bells, but it's dull. Still, you have to dig in. The initiate into new knowledge undergoes several trials, remember. 
    There is a biting of the bottom lip, a gnawing of fingernails, a wanness of countenance. Has someone commented on it? Vanity: most people you know have far better things to do than comment on your appearance. Whether or not they are, you apply nose to grindstone for a solid fortnight. They might call you a boring So-and-So now, but that's probably preferable than remarks about bloodshot eyes.
    You go back. You think things have changed. Perhaps they even have. Things move slowly, like a cinema reel put into a slide projector. There's a whirring from somewhere, and the sight of dust motes in a beam of light. The image is changing, slowly, resolving before your eye into what you always knew it would be. There should be comfort in that.
    The day is overcast. It is cool, but not chill. Your lunch hour is almost over. You pick up the little book from the bench, and slip it into your pocket. You'll be going back soon. 


  1. Whoo! Congrats on hitting two-fifty!

    1. Thanks Patrick! Any of the above seem familiar?

  2. It's been a good run! Here's to 250 more!

    1. Indeed! There's some way to go before I hit a satisfactory state on TRoAPW, at least.

  3. Congrats! To help with the next 250, you may know this, but Mosfilm has a Youtube channel where you can find works of imagination and war, both known (Idi Smiotri, Stalker, Solaris, War and Peace) and lesser known (Kin-Dza-Dza, White Tiger, the LIberation series).

    1. Stalker I need to go back to sometime. Chew it over once again.

  4. Bravo! On to 500! Obviously, this table makes an excellent d1000/4 (round up), the component 3d10 of which can even be converted to a bell curved 3d6 for ability scores, 1 = 1, 2-3 = 2, 4-5 = 3, 6-7 = 4, 8-9 = 5, 10 = 6 if one feels the need.

    I got 819 (i.e. 205 in the list, Str 11): The Taiheiki:

    The container post has a fully representative level of Sol VK topic breadth, including an audio rendition of 8 Pious Arachnids!

    (and see the following fantastic set of prints by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, ostensibly depicting characters from said epic but apparently repurposed from pictures of Warring States period - I particularly like the guy with a cannon - no. 47),%20Part%20I.htm

    1. Thanks for The Taiheiki illustrations! I quite like that some of those are in court dress or merely passing through society.

      Also, once again I give into the Tabletop Blogger's tendency to turn everything into a random table:
      '...pointing emphatically with two retainers in armour.'
      THIS ORC IS...
      '...seated on a cushion with folded arms by an open book.'
      THIS DEMON IS...
      '...running with spear past an overturned tray of refreshments.'
      ' court robes, having just knocked off the court cap of Takachi Michihide with his fan.'

  5. Belated congratulations, man. Even beyond the hobby side of things, no other blog comes close to this one in terms of its impact on my reading habits; an influence that’s all the more impressive to me because the collegial tone you use in something like, say, an Evelyn Waugh post keeps readers from feeling like they’re being lectured at (a skill I have yet to master!) Hope to see you at 500 some distant day.

    1. Thank you! That means a lot.
      An illustrative anecdote: during my Master's dissertation, my supervisor once quietly chided me for my tone. 'A little too like a Victorian Gentleman's Magazine,' I think was his description. I never did exactly take that fully on board as criticism, though I don't suppose it did much for my final score.