New Year

A calendar completes its course, it’s cycle ends this day,

People see this as a chance to live a different way.

But opportunities for transformation come each hour,

Not just when fireworks fly and great bells ring from every tower.

 

Every waking moment we have space to turn around

Reevaluate our goals and aim for higher ground

Through willpower freer than the chains of our own circumstance,

We can change the style and aims of our own journey’s dance.

 

Repentance quite literally means that you change your mind;

Transform the way you think and value every end and kind.

This precious gift from upon high to reverse our decay

And key to free us from the debt we never could repay.

Talent Contests and the Superversive

I am happy to announce that I am now a regular contributor over at SuperversiveSF, where some of my old posts from this blog can be found, together with some new stuff that won’t appear here. This piece will be posted both here and there at roughly the same time.

Talent Contests and the Superversive

I once wrote a very rambling post on this issue, I’ll not bore you with that one, merely provide a link to it at the end. I’m not going to talk about the sort of talent shows you might see at school or church where there is no competition going on, but the mass-market talent contests such as Superstar, x-factor, This or that country’s got talent and whatever other such formats you are familiar with or will arise in the future.

Here there’s no-one declaring every entrant to be a winner just for taking part, here there is genuine evaluation of artistic qualities, of whatever sort are being sought by the given contest. Here we want people who massively overrate their own abilities to receive an honest (if not withering) assessment, and those who have a genuine and well developed gift but are full of doubt about themselves to receive the acclaim and encouragement they need to further hone their abilities and produce something truly worthwhile.

Many people in the audience at the show are there to savour the maulings at the hands of the panel, some to poke fun at the people too full of themselves, and some just hope for a decent bit of entertainment from somewhere, but what really makes their day and ends up going viral (and what the organisers of the contest if not the audience really hope for) is when in the midst of the drudgery and humdrum performers a humble unassuming package contains a gift so refined that the audience gains a peek into a higher world, there is the faintest glimmer of heaven opening just a crack to give everyone the briefest whiff of celestial air; true beauty, living and dynamic that bears witness to the truth. Talent contests are a public hunt for the superversive.

Many such instances have been captured through the years where the lesson to draw is not to judge a book by its cover, but there was one such incident (there may be others that I am unaware of, I don’t follow these shows, only occasionally catch one of the viral videos) that illustrated a great deal more than that, opening my eyes to the value and purpose of friendship, and by extension, the value and purpose of art.

I am referring to the pair of Jonathan Antoine and Charlotte Jaconelli. Over the course of their progress through Britain’s Got Talent, in particular their initial audition (but also in their performance in the next round), demonstrated not just performances of high artistic merit, but strengths of character and a depth of friendship that is worth remembering and emulating. At one point one was in a position of power over the other and then later the situation was reversed. At those times each used that power to support and defend the other rather than grab glory for themselves. Harsh criticism was not used as an excuse to mope and give up, but as motivation to focus and improve.

Each complemented the other and enabled the other to reach new heights. Neither one of them would have been able to make that transformative journey without the other, and both of them acknowledged and appreciated that fact, and valued each other as friends. Inquiries as to whether they were romantically involved with each other were not denied with a sense of shame, but simply answered with the disarming vitality of innocence.

I understand that they have now gone their separate ways artistically, but even should everythgin fall apart form this point on, through their journey together they showed me the following things, for which I am grateful:

Firstly, the purpose of good art is to soar and take the audience with you – to catch a glimpse of the divine, take hold of a little piece of heaven, bring it down to earth and share it.

Secondly, the purpose of friendship is to help someone else to soar, to overcome their flaws and achieve something worthwhile.

Thirdly, by extension, the purpose of parenthood is to prepare your children to soar, to grow, strengthen and properly use their wings, show them which way is up, instil in them the character they need to recognize and persevere towards worthy goals, and cultivate in them the skills they need to reach them.

Not bad for a pair of teenagers, eh?

 

The original rambling article

 

The Word

Before the moon, before the sun,

Before the universe had begun

Limitless existence true

Spoke the Word, and all was new.

Astounding power, so intricate,

Made mighty things and delicate.

 

The Word is not just uttered speech, for Logos is the term;

By it the old Greeks wisdom and pure logic did affirm.

Through Him the undetectable divine can be revealed,

Through Him the greatest secrets in the world can be unsealed.

Through Him all things that have existed find their loving source,

Through Him all things in current motion run their active course.

 

This greatest of all principles, the ground of all that is,

Descended to take human form to rescue all that’s His.

Almighty full divinity erupted into space,

Yet clothed with full humanity, bringing love and grace.

The power behind all wonders did become a helpless babe,

To suffer and to sacrifice Himself, the world to save.

A Year

A year she has sparkled,

A year she has grown,

A year she has learned so much

And through her beauty shown.

 

A princess among princes,

A doe among the bucks,

A precious jewel in our crown,

With this important crux:

 

That she and all her brothers

Are loved as gifts from God,

Encouraged to fulfil the call

With more than just a nod;

 

To live full lives of service

To honour and to bless

The lives and world around them,

Even under stress.

 

Each day we will protect her

And guide her as she learns;

Making new discoveries,

Finding new concerns,

 

Safe in the sure knowledge

That she is dearly loved;

The latest of the living gifts

Sent us from above.

What is this mysterious sweet temptation?

What is this mysterious sweet temptation?

Table manners are very important in this family

Table manners are very important in this family

Reviewer Praise for Beyond the Mist!

In the official review of Sci Phi Journal Issue 2 over at Castalia House, the reviewer had this to say about my contribution:

 

There were two standouts in the fiction category: “The Quantum Process” by David Hallquist, a frightening snapshot of a mind duplication procedure gone wrong, and “Beyond the Mist” by Ben Zwycky, a new serial with a mind-bending beginning that hopefully will keep getting better.

 

read the review here

Read the first chapter of Beyond the Mist and see if you agree with the reviewer.

 

I have to agree with the reviewer about “The Quantum Process”, it was the most powerful and best-written fiction contribution in the issue in my opinion. For my work to be placed alongside is praise indeed. I also hope that the continuation of the serial, appearing in Sci Phi Journal Issue 3 in January, will live up to people’s expectations.