Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Culture of Food

By James Curcio

This is not an article that could possibly give a complete picture of the topic I have on my mind at the moment. This is so often the case with blog posts: we have to skim the surface, and one day we will return, again and again, and one day that might become a book - or it will have to remain a stab in the dark. Made with a needle, maybe, but if it hits the right spot, a needle can do a lot of damage.

So give me your jugular.

Today, I want to talk about food.

love food. I don't love it the way many Americans seem to love it. I don't love an excess of quantity. I don't love the things that desensitize and distance us from our food, which seem so epidemic in some parts of the country. I feel my gall rising when I think of chain restuarants. Massive grocery stores make me want to vomit on my shoes. (Though I love giant open air markets, where tons of local farmers, butchers, cheesemongers, and the like come to sell their wares. More on that, maybe, some other day.)

I love food because, like sex, it is a great common thread that runs through all people. We all are different in how we react to these needs, how we satisfy them, and how we accept ourselves or run from ourselves. But it's a problem all of us must contend with, and those are the fault-lines of myth. Myths arise - always - at these points of necessity. They arise at the points where biology juts up against culture. Fault-lines, as I said.

Food is a great indicator of myth. It is like a way-marker, and if you follow it, you can learn a great deal. You just need to dig a little, be inquisitive, and really ponder it. In fact, if you really want to understand a culture, and you want to do it quickly: eat with the locals. Don't have them take you to the bullshit place that they think you, the tourist, want to go to. Have them take you to the place they like.

I can't say I learned this from Anthony Bourdain, but it is the principle that his show capitalized on all these years, and it certainly helped open my eyes to so many more cultures I wish I had the opportunity to explore.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mindspeak Review of Fallen Nation: Party At The World's End

"This book is a modern-day crusade against, well you fill in the blank. Comparable to masterpieces dealing with matters of the mind as Pink Floyd's The Wall, Curcio's book hops heads effortlessly, taking the reader into deeper waters, weaving in mythological lore applied to today's society. The plot itself is fairly straight forward, mixed in with a dose of insanity, (but is it really?) a diverse cast of characters, and lots of toe-curling sexy scenes. Add in a big-bang of an ending in this quick read and you have what amounts to a fine piece of independent literature.

But don't take my word for it...check it out yourself."
(Full Review.)

Friday, August 26, 2011


Yesterday morning, I finished reading Murakami’s Norwegian Wood. It was raining, unusually cold for an August morning, and almost coal black. I couldn’t imagine a better morning to finish this particular book. I sat in silence for a good hour after closing the cover, thinking to myself. (Who else would I think to?)

Beethoven was playing in the background. It colored all my thoughts for the rest of the day. While reading, I suggested it to several people, and one of them asked me if I could explain the ending to her. She was looking for a sort of resolution that Murakami seems typically reticent to provide. As a result, I’ve been thinking about resolutions. Well, I’ve been thinking about many things, but one of the threads is resolution.

I’ll share my notes, and hope that you aren’t offended by “spoilers,” because personally, I could give a damn—any story worth reading is worth reading. It isn’t about the ending. The idea of “spoilers” themselves gives us a starting point. There are certain expectations that most readers put on endings. It’s an unrealistic expectation, given the nature of life—often the endings that count the most seem to come unexpectedly, out of nowhere. You’re crossing the road thinking about the complications posed by the two women you love, and wham! a truck hits you. These endings resolve nothing.

 My point is, endings and resolutions are not the same, and an ending doesn’t need to resolve anything. Something can end, people can drop out of our lives as if they had instead dropped off the face of a steep cliff. But there is no resolution. Similarly something can resolve, and in the process transform into something else, which is a way whereby an end can be turned into a beginning. The Death card in the Tarot is said to be a resolution, for instance. It isn’t necessarily an ending. Now that we’ve got that straight, I’d like to return to Murakami’s ending for Norwegian Wood, and its lack of resolution.

Read the article on The Nervous Breakdown.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Party At The World's End Press

For Immediate Release: Philadelphia, 24th of August 2011

Mythos Media is proud to announce the publication of ‘Fallen Nation: Party At The World’s End,’ a novel by James Curcio, co-written by Jason Stackhouse. This is an extremely topical, dystopian urban fantasy dealing with political themes, “flash-mobs,” and youth revolution.

It is available in print, Kindle and other eBook formats now.
ISBN-10: 0615512771
ISBN-13: 978-0615512778
Kindle ASIN: B005GHN4KK

About ‘Fallen Nation: Party At The World’s End’:

Fallen Nation: Party At The World’s End is a mad ride past the event horizon of sanity with a group of young, escaped mental patients that come to realize – or believe – that they are demigods. They form Babylon, a band that captures the spirit of the age as sex, drugs, and chaos reign in the final years of the American Empire. It questions many of our cultural assumptions, makes us re-examine them, and hints at where they might lead.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sirona Records "Signs" EgoWhore

Sirona Records picked up an LP version of EgoWhore for free distribution. You can now check out 5 of those tracks under a creative commons license here. DJs, podcasters, all of you should feel free to spin and use our stuff with impunity so long as you credit it within the broadcast.

The follow-up, "Murder The World," is both more extreme and far more genre-breaking than EgoWhore, so we all hope you check that out as well. ($5 gets you 8 pre-masters now, and all 13 tracks the moment the masters are released.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Turkish Bath-house

"As soon as coffee is in your stomach, there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move...similes arise, the paper is covered. Coffee is your ally and writing ceases to be a struggle." Honore de Balzac (1799-1859)

Want an interesting variation on a socially acceptable fix? Try this.

Grind up a goodly size of your favorite dark roasted beans with a small amount of cardimom and dried coconut. I use a mortar and pestle but motorized is fine. Bring a cup of water , pinch of saffron and a cup of evaporated milk to a boil.

Use a french press. If you do not you are an unwashed barbarian and should probably be shot.

Add equal parts raw honey and maple syrup. Bit of cinnamon.

My elaboration on the "Turkish Bathhouse" continues.

Calling On Artists: Nyssa

As we move into the fall, I'm setting up new projects to go into production. One of those is an illustrated short modern fairy tale (part 1 of 4) called Nyssa.

I was contacting people individually and then realized it'd be much easier on me to put all this in one place.
I'm looking for artists that would like to lend their hands to this project. I'm looking for people with a solid sense of style, that can lend work both a sense of being "sketchy" and finished at the same time. However, you don't need to illustrate the entire piece. In fact, I am just looking for a handful of pieces from each contributor, so as to not demand too much of your time, and also to help create the "scrapbook" feel that I want to create with layout for part 1.

Obviously, this will make a lot more sense based on the actual story, but I don't want to share that publicly. Contact me if you are interested, and I will share the text with you and we can talk details.

This piece will also have a photographic element, which calls for one photographer and one model to play the lead. I've already picked my photographer a while ago, but the two of us need to find the right model for the part. Contact him if you are in the Philly area and are interested. (We may also do try-outs at his studio. That hasn't been nailed down yet.)

My goal isn't to direct you, tell you what to draw. Instead it's to say, "here's this short story, draw what inspires you, if you're inspired by it." Similarly, the art you make is yours, you're lending me the rights to use it. It's just a communication between word and imagery - my intent with this in terms of production is to help lend some inspiration and a credit for you.

  • You will be credited, on the web and print / eBook materials for the title. 
  • The title will be shopped to several "title-owned" type comic publishers. If they pass, it will be released through Mythos Media. 
  • Due to the number of contributors, financial compensation is unlikely. I'll be picking contributors on part 2-4 out of those I work with on this one, and should it become a success you can bet I'll cut you in. (Parts 2-4 will likely have a higher demand on fewer contributors, so a profit-share will make more sense in that case.) 
  • You are lending nonexclusive rights to your work. In other words, I can use it for Nyssa related materials, you can use your work (should you feel the urge to) for whatever you like. If a publisher demands otherwise, you will either be financially compensated, or I will tell them it's no deal. 
My goal is to release this in the Winter-time (unless if the publisher requires otherwise). So I'd like all art to be in by November 30th to give ample time for layout.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Party At The World's End Trailer

New trailer for Fallen Nation: Party At The World's End

Music "Nothing Is Sacred" from HoodooEngine's album Murder The World
Video/motion and some still work by Daniel Warwick, other still visuals by James Curcio, rest of the credits at the end of the video. Enjoy, and show your support by picking up a copy!

Friday, August 12, 2011

"Murder The World" available for pre-order and listen!

Johan unleashing DIY FURY
The album is chock full of tongue-in-cheek occult and conspiracy missives served up as part of an all out auditory assault.  You can preorder for $5 on Bandcamp. That means 8 pre-masters now, and the whole 13 track album when it comes out. All for five bucks. Kick ass! It's going into mastering now at Bob Idakaar's studio -- tubes should lend some nice warmth. We're hoping for a final release in September, though it might be slightly after. After working on this project for years, there's no sense in rushing the final stage.
Check out this interview for Dark Entries if you're new to the HoodooEngine style of insanity, and want to know a bit about the project. Or this podcast interview on solipsisticNATION along with Karsh Kale, Tim Skold (Manson, KMFDM), and Ogre (Skinny Puppy, Ohgr.) 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Apocalyptic Imaginary

Toward a Psycho-Philosophy of History

Prof Rowan is teaching a course at Binghamton College by this name which includes The Immanence of Myth in its curriculum. The whole reading list looks interesting.

I will be joining him up there in October to co-teach 2 classes, 10/11 and 10/13, unless we re-schedule. I plan to record those conversations and podcast them here.

I also hope that more professors choose to incorporate this book, the work we are doing here on the Modern Mythology site, and forthcoming books such as the forthcoming Best of Modern Mythology 2011 anthology in future classes. We plan on bringing a new interdisciplinary approach to the study of these overlapping issues. More on the basis of that thinking here.

The Immanence of Myth is in final layout now and will be available on Amazon very soon.

Felix culpa: fortunate failures as creative process

When working on a project in any medium, it has often been observed that - to a certain extent - the tools dictate or at least direct the end result. This is something that is often met with a sneer by purists, "Oh, I can tell that such-and-such was made in such-and-such application!" or "I know how they did that in photoshop," as if to dismiss the end result entirely if you can decode how that result was technically arrived at.

There's a certain comedy in that, but what I'd like to get at is beyond that- looking at the actual comedy of errors that, for me at any rate, oftentimes dictates the direction a project is going to take. For instance, when developing a design in photoshop, or when implementing it in CSS, there are countless opportunities for "mistakes" - dictated in regard to your initial intentions - to guide your hand. You may set up a class on a div, and check it out in a browser and discover that it did something totally different than you had hoped, or you may apply a filter when producing an audio track, with similar results. Sometimes, those results are undesirable, and you backtrack. But other times, it drives things in a completely new direction.

That for me, is creativity. Not the intention that got you started in the first place.

The control freak in us screams that the results must always match the intent. However, I have always found serendipity a much more thankful muse, and a very dynamic connection with both the chaos that actually dictates life as well as our own subconscious. I rarely get the results I set out expecting or intending, and so it is with life as well. It is equally constricting to set out with a particular "sound" in mind, or even- well, this applies to everything, doesn't it? You set out on a journey, you take the first step with a clear intent in mind- the rest are reactions to what is, when viewed from the present moment, blind uncertainty.

Can you embrace the random and dive in, or will you try to control the end result? Which is better? Which is more liberating?

December 23rd, 2022

(From Fallen Nation: Party At The World's End. Pick up the eBook for $2.99 or paperback for $16.99.)

It would seem Judgment day came nearly eleven years late. I woke up this morning with the certain knowledge that it would be my last. I have fallen my entire life, as if through empty air. Now I can see the ground rushing up to greet me, and I am almost eager to make its acquaintance.

But it isn’t just me. The world is changing: the tide rises a little each day, never receding. There are terrible floods, fires, hurricanes. Solar storms. The constant catastrophe numbs you to the end result. Then one day you realize you’re about to eat asphalt.

Of all the people in this crumbling city, I had the most warning. I could have fled and started yet another life from scratch. Maybe I could have stood out on the sidewalk wrapped in three layers of thrift store trench coats, showering passersby with prophetic warnings and a plume of spit.

We all had our warnings. This end has been prophesied in our religions, in the newspaper headlines, and in the countless feverish dreams we choose to forget upon awakening. It has even happened before, and it will happen again, when the next civilization comes to its own grinding halt.

At the end of the lifespan of a universe, a culture, a life, it is destroyed, and a new one born. But for it to be born, and for life to be renewed, a divine sacrifice must be made. On the other side is a new dawn, and a new world.

Why People Don't Read

By James Curcio
I want to talk very briefly about what is a fairly complicated issue. That is often the case with blog posts. So bear with me.

Tell me if you have heard any statements like these lately:
"I used to read a lot, but I don't anymore really."
"I just can't seem to focus enough to read these days."
"I don't enjoy reading. I do too much of it on the computer at work as it is."
And so on. I hear these often as reasons why people don't read not just my books, but any books at all. My emotional response is somewhere between sadness and abject terror. If this is as much of an epidemic as it seems to be from the people I talk to, then we have a serious issue on our hands.

Many people have waxed philosophical about the cause of this disengagement. I have my own. (And of course, like everyone else, I believe mine is right.)

It comes down to something very simple. I've been reading a lot of Murakami lately, so I'll use him as an example.

It's hard to put your finger on Murakami's style, that's kind of what's distinctive about it. But it has a lot of emotional honesty, and that's surprisingly hard to pull off well.

The reader has to meet that more than halfway. But the reader has to meet anything more than halfway. Books are like maps to mental or emotional territories. We've still got to go there ourselves. From a lot of reviews that I read, I mean of other people's books, I feel like more and more readers expect a book to somehow reach out and knock them over the head the way a $100 million tentpole Hollywood movie can.

In other words, people have become so used to what I would call exclusively passive entrainment, that they no longer have derive pleasure from the additional effort that is required for active entrainment. When you read a book, it is triggering your imagination. The book is merely a guide, but it is coming to life inside of you. In fact, many times when people find a failing in a book, it is a failing in themselves. (Though certainly there are many ways that an author can fail their audience. Many, many ways. But if someone can't stand Jazz, even Coltrane is just blowing in the wind.) 

I offer you a challenge, if you are one of the people who has been making statements like the ones I began with: for one month, I challenge you to make yourself read for one hour, every day. That's it. One hour, every day. Could be on the bus. Could be at home. But do it at a time when you still have the mental energy to breathe life into what you are reading, because, remember, unlike the television or movie screen, a book depends on you. It's quite a responsibility, and an interesting relationship, shared in silence between author and reader. 

Choose books that are well-written, but which fall within your interest range. Obviously since you should be reading something new, you may need to ask someone for advice.

If after a month nothing has caught your attention, I don't know, man. Maybe you're a goner.

(Note: There's absolutely nothing wrong in my opinion with taking in narrative content from a screen. Some "readers" like to look down their nose, as if every episodic series is the intellectual and moral equivalent of Full House, and every movie is Snakes On A Plane. No. There is just something different about reading a book. Do both.)