Monday, 31 May 2010

Second Person | Introduction | The Real Fictional You

Week 2 | Second Person | Contents

Tuesday | Poetry | Are You Talking To Me?
Wednesday | Fiction | Choose-Your-Own-Article 
Saturday | Mixtape | Songs for Natalie
Sunday | Mini Essay | Half-laughter, by Phil Brown

The narratologist, Helmut Bonheim coined two terms to attempt to describe the resultant ambiguity and multifunctionality  of use of the second-person pronoun in second-person texts. The first, "referential slither" explains the capacity for ‘You’ to address the actual reader and narratee as well as a fictional protagonist. The second term, "conative solicitude," directs our attention to the power of the second person narrative to engage our emotions and connect with us more deeply – the reader is closer to the story as he or she more literarily steps through it.

Between them, the terms highlight the two key characteristics of the second person – that it is ambiguous and that it asks for a connection.

It’s all about you.

It begins with the you of folktales that evokes the universal ‘You’. You – you specifically who could be anybody.

It has always been handy in guide books/self-help books/do-it-yourself manuals to tell you what to do.

It found form in the game book – choose your own adventure - with the reader as protagonist, making choices, determining action and responding to the plot. A story where you are you but with a stretch of the imagination.

Much had happened since the game book enjoyed popularity. There has been an exponential growth of virtual realities – new places where you can seem to be and who you are is variable. Video games. The industry of time in others boots is big and the spectrum it supplies is vast – wild fantasy, magic, mutation, aliens etc to simulations of the real.

As technology advances the differences between you and the virtual ‘You’s’ narrows – a tightening of the relationship between narrator, narratee and story world. It seems to be the next thing we demand of game consoles – for us to be part of the game. Combined with the ever-increasing freedom of our interactivity we edge closer to the point where we play ourselves telling our own story. The real fictional you.

Project Natal, a technology Microsoft is launching later this year, enables you to interact with a game that ‘knows you’ – face, voice and full body recognition. A story where you play you.

This week we will mostly be talking about ‘the second person’. 

James Harringman

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Issue 1 | Mini Essay | Three Creations of Omar Khayyam, by John Clegg

But nothing's lost. Or else: all is translation
And every bit of us is lost in it… James Merrill

It’s a nice trick to get famous in two diametrically opposed fields, especially when the fame is as weird as Omar Khayyam’s, who isn’t primarily remembered for his work in mathematics – where his achievements are undisputed – but rather for his poetry, which he may never have written. The first references to him as an author of quatrains occur about 50 years after his death, and the earliest collections of his poems (compiled about 200 years after his death) are full of misattributions and doubtful attributions. A core of 16 or so quatrains appears to be the work of a single author from the proper time period, and maybe this is some or all of the real Khayyam, but maybe it’s someone else. In any case it’s the best kernel we have.

The first creation of Omar began sometime not long after he died. He had a reputation for unorthodoxy, perhaps undeserved; his philosophical treatises argue from a mystical Sufi perspective. After his death, anonymous verses which edged on blasphemy were attributed to him (in the same way as anonymous witticisms are often attributed to Oscar Wilde, or a huge body of existing proverbs was attributed to King Solomon). As these attributions piled up, the burgeoning reputation of Khayyam drew more and more material into its orbit (incidentally, Khayyam had described a heliocentric solar system decades before Copernicus). By 1600, collections of Khayyam’s poetry contained as many as 1000 quatrains. Omar was suddenly enormous and important; 16 quatrains, perhaps the work of an afternoon, had exploded into an oeuvre.

But the second creation of Omar is the more well-known. Borges described it best, with his usual technique of turning all literary history into a Borges story: ‘A miracle happens: from the fortuitous conjunction of a Persian astronomer who condescends to write poetry, and an eccentric Englishman who peruses Oriental and Hispanic books, perhaps without completely understanding them, emerges an extraordinary poet who does not resemble either of them.’ One effect of this was a smoothing out; as befits an anthology containing hundreds of authors, the original Rubaiyat didn’t hang together in any way. Fitzgerald added a narrative and, perhaps more importantly, a tone: not an artificial exoticism but a distinct London idiom, one of the reasons for his poem’s enduring popularity. (‘O, take the Cash in Hand and waive the Rest.’)

Over the next century came another creation: a wave of re-translations, correcting Fitzgerald’s egregious errors, sometimes presented as definitive (in the case of Robert Graves, with the backing of a forged manuscript and some phony scholarship), other times presented as additional (in the case of Frank Kuppner, say, whose version is for my money the best recent Rubaiyat). Sixteen short poems had become a thousand, which had become one long poem in a different language, which had become thirty-odd long poems from different authors. Working backwards it reminds me of the opening credits to the BBC’s adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: a series of Russian dolls climaxing in a doll without a face, and finally emptiness. As a mathematician, Khayyam’s greatest innovation was [x], the algebraic symbol for an unknown quantity.

By John Clegg

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Issue 1 | Mixtape | Mixtape I, Berry Men

Music As Reading: Mixtape I, Berry Men

Bukowski was a jerk! Berryman was bester! He wrote like wet papier-mâché, went the Heming-way, weirdly on wings and with maximum pain – we call upon the author to explain.

This mixtape represents the coming together of songs drawing upon the imagery slash message slash romanticism of a poet’s life and career, musical literary criticism, work with very similar creative specifications to the same poet’s best pieces, and combination’s thereof – the focus being that writer most beloved by contemporary American guitar bands, John Berryman. And more specifically, his 385 Dream Songs. In order to pose the following questions: can music about literature bring with it new understandings of literature? If not, does it have a right to essentially then leech off this literature – even if the result is a compelling new piece of work? What happens when a song like Okkervil River’s John Allyn Smith Sails reflects upon both literature and music (i.e. the Beach Boys) simultaneously? Do certain of these songs bring something new to the real-time experience of reading Berryman (have a look at Dream Song 4 with Gainsbourg on in the background and you’ll see what I’m getting at)? Is a musical thematic project (say, write a ‘Dream Song’) the same as – or at the very least, related to – a similar literary thematic project? And what happens in the spaces in between these questions – is the existence of a composition for a brass quintet entitled Fancies, Toyes and Dreams: His Rest pure coincidence?


Part one, Biography

Intoxicated Man – Serge Gainsbourg
Stuck Between Stations – The Hold Steady
John Allyn Smith Sails – Okkervil River

Part two, Literary criticism

We Call upon the Author – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
Mama, Won’t You Keep Them Castles in the Air and Burning? – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Softly and Gently (Angel), the Dream of Gerontius Op. 38, part 2 – Edward Elgar

Part three, Other people’s Dream Songs

Dream Song – Matthew’s Southern Comfort
Coat Check Dream Song – Bright Eyes
Dream Song – Scott Matthews

Part four, Combinations thereof

Papa Won’t Leave You Henry – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
We Live As We Dream, Alone – Gang of Four
Fancies, Toyes and Dreams: His Rest – Giles Farnaby

Sam Kinchin-Smith
Music Editor

Friday, 28 May 2010

Issue 1 | Chapbook | Calendar by John Bowman


Experimental, challenging and bloody brilliant.

John Bowman delivers a chapbook that takes its time - builds over the months and maps out in little squares the madness of the day to day. 

Click here to read.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Issue 1 | Music | Music As Reading Introduction

The Music As Reading Silkworms Ink Spotify Mixtape Collection, an introduction

The act of reading is, by and large, taken for granted. At least, the pragmatics of it are. Yes, critical discourse enjoys referring to good and bad reading(s), to close and, increasingly in a world of so-called world literature, distant reading. And popular debate about the positives and problematics of reading novels and newspapers from the screen of a Kindle or an iPad, about the essential literary qualities of the throw-aroundable paperback, continues to fill far more cultural comment column-inches than, really, it ever should have done. Still, certain practical basics of reading are taken for granted, assumed, agreed upon in a way that, when you think about it, is rather curious: we stand or, most likely, sit; we look at a book and only that book; we concentrate on the words, fully; we read them in the direction slash sequence that their author intended us to read them in; we re-read until we understand – perhaps due to distraction, maybe because of the especial complicatedness of a passage. And so on.

Now, of course, and particularly within poetry, this is not universally the case: B.S. Johnson’s avant-garde experiments with literary ordering, experimental sound- and picture-poetry by the likes of Keston Sutherland and David Morley (a chapbook of whose is a highlight of the current Silkworms crop), approaches to reading themselves taken for granted by non-Western and-or archaic cultural traditions (calligraphy, say; right-left reading versus left-right; Blake, and others, etching the originals of their poems in mirror-writing; codes; aural traditions) all attest to this fact. That many of these exceptions represent little more than tweaks to the conventional reading formula – often over-serious, invariably self-consciously niche, frequently debated with a fervour that far outstrips their actual, real-terms significance – suggests, though, that they might well be rule-proving ones.

Question is, is this reading-conservatism a problem? In many ways, no. In fact, it strikes me that reading is one of only a scattering of things that unambiguously benefit from a reasonable dose of conservatism – another example would be making tea. It is of fundamental importance that individuals continue to approach texts with the time, patience, reverence (to a point), a work-ethic, philosophy, lack of hurriedness, lack of expectation of immediate meaning, vocabulary – not to mention imagination, creativity, belief in magic – to do said texts justice. If this concept falters, at the highest levels of reading (for that is what we’re discussing: rigorous, scholarly, energetic reading, not snapshot-thought – so no, Twitter isn’t going to destroy proper reading, it’s simply a new tool for different reading) then literature falters with it.


To focus too much on these conservative fundamentals is to lose sight of less conservative methods of preserving them in a changing world (ugh, changing world – my apologies). Indeed, it seems to me that for all somebody like Sutherland’s attempts to scissor poetic form and the block-structures of reading into something that constitutes, in itself, a form of political polemic, regardless of what convention states the actual words mean, his process represents in many ways an affirmation of the most traditional and conservative tenets of the actual act of reading (slash listening – are they really so different?) Getting anything out of a Sutherland text or reading requires a good deal of old-fashioned hard work. (We’re edging, I think, towards an Adorno-esque understanding of the crucial role difficultness has to play in resistance – a difficultness that is born, probably, out of a conservative approach to the pragmatics of reading – but I suspect that’s a story for another day…)

Long and short of it, difficultness is a good thing! Difficultness equals good reading! Difficultness is poetry, certainly! A by-no-means-new idea, but one that something like, y’know, the internet can facilitate in any number of new ways. The act of reading is taken for granted. This is a problem, because it has the potential to mean that reading, per se, gets left behind, churned in the wake of the digital revolution (ugh, digital revolution – my apologies) – at the expense of the part of reading that must be taken for granted, i.e. difficultness, rigour. We need New Readings. No, that’s not quite right:

We need New Old Readings. In this digital age (Jesus Christ, stop) of ours, we need more Sutherland-style new approaches to preserving traditional principles.

It’ll be with this somewhat lofty concept in mind, coupled with a more humdrum desire to find a way of featuring music on a literary (slash t-shirt) site – because music is a good thing – that Silkworms Ink will launch a brand new feature this coming weekend: the Music As Reading Silkworms Ink Spotify Mixtape Collection. I’ll let that sink in for a moment or two…

The Music As Reading Spotify Mixtape Collection will, like the Silkworms Ink Chapbook Collection, be added to each and every week of the year, the result being a glossy, erudite archive coming together in notimeatall, available for free to anybody – be they regular, contributor or stumble-acrosser. Like the Chapbook Collection, it will be open to submissions from anybody with remarkable ideas – all we ask for is a title, an explanation-blurb, a brief bio and a tracklisting and we’ll do the rest, artwork, the works. What I’m hoping most of all is that some of you start submitting Music As Reading Mixtapes featuring your own compositions, symphonies, soundtracks. But I’m getting ahead of myself again.

The premise behind the Collection is a very simple one. We need New Readings. So here’s an idea: musical readings. Or, more specifically, Music As Reading: what happens when we make music central to, a fundamental part of the act of reading; if we sandwich music between a text and our comprehension of it; if we regard music as a means to unlocking literature as opposed to an alternative or accompaniment to it? What is music that claims to be about literature, or vice versa? Can lyrics, say, or a libretto, ever constitute music and literature simultaneously? Forget ekphrasis, art about art – what about a synthesis? What about art on top of art?

What happens when we read with music? Do good things happen?

Each week, a new mixtape will explore a different fragment of this utterly massive question. It may be a particularly tiny shard; in fact at the beginning, it probably will be, as the collection finds its feet – not to mention poetry-focussed, as this is where, I’m sure you’ll agree, the most obvious intersections occur. It may be a factual shard (exploring, I don’t know, Songs About Poets), a more practical-experimental shard (Listen To This Song Whilst Reading This Poem And See What Happens) or a philosophical-metaphysical shard (Is A Poem Not Exactly The Same As A Song?) There may be no coherent sequence over the course of a few weeks, followed a few weeksworth of mixtapes exploring exactly the same thing, in slightly different ways. Mixtapes might come complete with new writing, or aim themselves at ancient writing. All that is certain is that, every six weeks or so, my weekly blogpost will focus not on that week’s theme, but on what new lessons and understandings might have been gleaned from the Music As Reading experience of six new mixtapes. The introduction of new mixtapes will generally centre upon a clutch of questions: these mini-essays will hopefully offer up an answer or two.

I think I’ll leave this probably-too-long-already introduction there. Just a few practical details. You’ll need Spotify to listen to each week’s mixtape – register for, at the very least, the free, basic (‘Open’) service here. Mixtape submissions can take, really, any form you like as long as they include the basics listed in bold above – whack them over to, but I’d recommend leaving it a few weeks to see what the collection’s about before doing so. Music As Reading is a concept best understood through practical demonstration. Mixtape-Chapbook joint submissions are also welcome – up to you how you go about doing that.

A final thought: as this week’s theme is Issue 1's here’s a video of what might be considered the first major new-tech example of Music As Reading – on any number of levels. Music As Reading Issue One, then: Nick Cave, musician turned author, reading a chapter of his second novel published last summer, the Death of Bunny Munro, accompanied by a soundtrack composed especially by Cave and his right-hand Bad Seed, Warren Ellis. Oh, and below that, an App advertisement making the case for Cave and Ellis’ project representing a new mode of reading. Revolutionary technique or corporate gimmick – you decidez, kidz…

Nick Cave, novelist
App advertisement

Sam Kinchin-Smith
Music Editor

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Issue 1 | Fiction | First Lines

 Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton

Graham Greene begins with, A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.  How handy it is, then, that one should so often ‘choose arbitrarily’ a moment of experience that can be summed up by a pithy, aphoristic opening sentence.  And, occasionally, one that also touches on the nature of beginnings itself.

A morning’s trawling through my bookshelves has led me to a very strange conclusion on this subject; that no talented author, no matter how serious-minded they are, or how interested they claim to be in breaking down the form of a novel, is able to resist the allure of a flashy opening sentence.  Even Beckett, to my disappointment, starts Murphy with The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.  More obvious show-offs- Rushdie, Nabokov, Heller and Joyce- show off, still more obviously.   Donna Tartt gets several minus points for trying too hard with,
The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation.
Sometimes, of course, a perfectly ordinary opening sentence can seem like a mannered, polished one because it’s so well-known.  But the vast majority- James Bond, with two double bourbons inside him, sat in the final departure lounge of Miami Airport and though about life and death, or Iain Bank’s exploding grandmother, or the near-completely unnecessary clocks striking thirteen of 1984?  These are very much pre-meditated.

I can understand why we, the reading public, like snappy first sentences.  Novels are great sprawling, messy things; opening lines are easier to pin down, especially if we believe we can then use them as some sort of key to the infinitely more complicated stuff that follows.  But, for these very same reasons, the aphoristic opening sentence, the self-reflexive opening sentence, the surprising juxtaposition that the rest of the book often fails to live up to- these should, logically speaking, be anathema to the fiction writer, who has the space and the words to push beyond the self-contained nonsense of, say, Every happy family is exactly alike, or that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
Naturally, a writer wants to engage his or her readers from the very start.  But I don’t believe the publisher who claimed she was gripped from the moment she read that most exceptionally mannered first sentence, of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone-
Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
It would have been the opening scenes that gripped her; the opening line just stuck in her head and claimed the credit.  Very few readers, I imagine, have tossed a book aside because they didn’t like the first sentence, or praised the entirety of a bad novel because they did.   So why do writers feel the need, consistently, to come up with something so flashy and demonstrative?  Is it so difficult to write a truly unobtrusive opening sentence- one that simply starts the novel, nothing more, but which is put together expertly nonetheless?


My irritation over this problem carried me here to the Internet, where I spent some time at the website of the Bulwer-Lytton prize, and its spin-off, the ‘Lyttle Lytton’, both of which claim to award a “pittance” every year to the writer who can come up with the most “atrocious” opening sentence to a novel.  It doesn’t, of course; most years, the prize goes to an excellent comedic opening sentence to a novel that would probably run out of steam fast.  Jon Tando’s A lone testicle lay in a barren field, for instance, verges on genius; I liked Peter Berman’s Gordon strove to be a nice pimp as well.  It takes real effort to find one that actually lacks a basic sense of rhythm, such as Graham Swanson’s 2008 winning entry,
Because they had not repented, the angel stabbed the unrepentant couple thirteen times, with its sword.
Simply wonderful.  Less intentionally bizarre is the first line of Paul Clifford, by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, after whom the prize is named;
It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.
The nature of the prize suggests we’re supposed to sneer at Bulwer-Lytton’s overwrought prose, his decision to break up the imagery with an off-putting parenthesis, and the probably unnecessary clarification that the night was dark.  But I quite like it.  It’s guileless, completely sincere in its desire to build atmosphere, and it fails in its attempt to show off.  I imagine Graham Greene’s narrator would have hated it

Jon Ware
Fiction Editor

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Issue 1 | Poetry | C-Words

I’ve always been somewhat of a completist. As a comic-book aficionado I would never be satisfied with a series until I’d owned every copy dating right back to the first. If I hear a song I enjoy on the radio, I react by saving up enough money to buy that band’s entire back-catalogue. If I enjoy a film, then I make a point of watching every  featurette and every interview I can find on the DVD until I feel like an authority on that movie.

I wouldn’t have brought this up unless I’d known that you all do this too. We’re a society obsessed with being vs. seeming. We trawl through bonus-discs and acoustic versions and making-ofs and rare B-sides and interviews. We’re addicted to what’s on the other side of the curtain.

In many ways, this outlines our obsession with those two dirty ‘C’ words in poetry – ‘Collected’ and ‘Complete’. Those two flirtatious little words are dotted across the spines on my shelves making the same promise we’ve all fallen for; ‘To read me, is to have the whole picture. I will take you back to where it all started and you will know this poet.’

We all want to go back to the start, read the complete Robert Frost as if we were the first people to discover him and chart his progress. We all flick to that first collection thinking ‘now, I will be experiencing the real poet, before he learned to hide himself in all that poetry.’ The idea sits there in our heads, that if we can go back in time to where the poet is finding their feet, then we will find that, just as we suspected, they are just like us behind all that talent and fame.

The more I play the debut game though, the more I realize it’s a false economy. The debut collection often represents the poet at their most guarded. The esoteric allusions come thicker and faster in many cases as a résumé to ward off the anti-youth brigade. It’s also a cliché but entirely true that a debut collection has often taken a whole lifetime longer to write than any of its follow-ups… often a lifetime spent without much first-hand experience of the literary community and professional criticism. I do genuinely believe however, that the internet is slowly but surely shifting trends in self-awareness and the value that writers and people who write place on their work.

Let me save you some time. Behind all that talent and (often posthumous) fame, poets are just like you. They watch trashy television shows and eat fast food. They have the exact same relationship problems that you have. They all worry sometimes that their life has been pointless. They lay awake at night wondering whether or not to send an email to their ex. They get pissed off when other poets beat them for a promotion. At one point or another, they have all broken wind. If you take all these things as read, then you will not need to go trawling through ‘Complete’ collections waiting for the poets to tell you this for themselves.

What you will find in debut collections, however, is the poet’s opening gambit. Their entrance music if you will. I have taken the liberty of composing 30 Haiku-Reviews of debut collections from people I respect. You will see that, in a few cases, it is not their abilities as a poet that I respect in these people, but there is nobody on this list that I do not look up to for one reason or another.

Ted Hughes – Hawk in the Rain

powerful in its address
and orality.

T.S. Eliot – Prufrock and Other Observations

How very awkward
and solipsistic it is
to be middle-classed.

Robert Lowell – Land of Unlikeness

So very prolix
and esoteric. Who knew
he’d write Life Studies?

Robert Frost – North of Boston

If you are after
long, rural and lyrical
poems, you’re in luck!

Geoffrey Hill – For the Unfallen

Don’t worry mate, I
didn’t really get what he
was saying either.

Charles Bukowski – Flower, Fist and Bestial Wail

some goddamn asshole
in the flat next door won’t stop
screwing his damn wife.

Sylvia Plath – The Colossus and Other Poems

Some fine craftsmanship
but Plath will drag you into
a morbid hell-world.

Rudyard Kipling – Barrack-Room Ballads

A little racist
on occasion, but the man
sure had good rhythm.

Elizabeth Bishop – North and South

Knowing how angry
the ‘female’ prefix made her
… just ‘a good poet’.

Walt Whitman – Leaves of Grass

Depending on which
edition you own, you could
be here for a while.

Dylan Thomas – 18 Poems

So much beautiful
nonsense – so shallow that it
appears to be deep.

DH Lawrence – Amores

Get lost in the cold
music of melancholy,
wise lyricism.

William Blake – Songs of Innocence

Something tells me that
this series is due to take
a rather dark turn.

Billy Corgan – Blinking With Fists

Seriously bad.
And I’m not just saying that.
Really bad writing.

Tim Burton – The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy

Not for young children
but ideal for those dark souls
who enjoyed Corpse Bride.

Matthew Welton – The Book of Matthew

Once you get your head
into his weird semantic
mind-fuck, you’ll love it

Luke Kennard – The Solex Brothers

Trippy prose poems
to leave you scratching your head
whilst laughing out loud.

Wallace Stevens – Harmonium

If nothing else, you
will learn a lot of new words
(keep Google open).

Hugo Williams – Symptoms of Loss

Probably his worst
collection but worth a read
for exposition.

John Berryman – The Dispossessed

It’s all there, the wit,
incantational syntax,
a drunk genius.

Tennessee Williams – In the Winter of Cities

Whilst it’s his drama
we remember, his poems
gave him his vision.

Nicholas Swingler – Dream of the Condom and other poems

It’s a tragedy
that more people don’t know this
book. Go buy it now!

Ray Diamond – The Runner of Little Races

One of the few books
I own set in sans-serif.
It’s very good though.

Jacob Polley – The Brink

One of few writers
able to write metaphors
that serve their purpose.

Stephanie Leal – Metrophobia

American gem
I like the one she wrote on
her vile ex-boyfriend.

Ross Sutherland – Things to do Before You Leave Town

I laughed my ass of
at the titular poem
and ‘Two Moons For Mongs’.

Les Murray – The Ilex Tree

Strewth! Bleedin’ bonza
bushwackin’ boetian boy
breaks onto the scene!

Seamus Heaney – Death of a Naturalist

These are the poems
on which a legacy’s built –
that one about spades.

Daljit Nagra – Look We Have Coming to Dover!

A moving collage
of the voices that have been
soundtrack to his life.

William Shakespeare – Venus and Adonis

The moral being
that clingy chicks get in the
way of a good hunt.

Phil Brown
Poetry Editor

Monday, 24 May 2010

Issue 1 | Introduction | Brave New World

Week 1 | Issue 1 | Contents

Tuesday | Poetry | C-words
Wednesday | Fiction | First Lines 
Friday | Chapbook | Calendar, by John Bowman
Saturday | Mixtape | Berry Men

Silkworms Ink

A map of the internet circa 2003 showing the connections between different internet routers, from the Opte Project

Renownedly, the blogosphere has fertile soil; things fizz within and its surface is relentlessly broken up and out by the new. It is a network – a thing to join, or not. And joining in is not an act of participation; more, being part. And then, once you are integrated, you may realize what you have done.

In a recent lecture, Nickolas Christakis explained his findings on the influence of networks on our behavior – how those around us define us – like a ripple in fabric where each stitch goes with the flow. He demonstrated, through a study of body mass, the tendency of obesity to cluster. The study- as a graph- is a line of diminishing rectangles, with height representing the increase in probability of one's obesity, given that a social contact is obese. The largest, leftmost rectangle represents a 45% increase in your risk of becoming obese if your friends are obese. Increasing the degrees of separation, if only your friends' friends are obese, then your chances of becoming obese are 25% higher, friends of friends of friends – 10%. It is only until friends of friends of friends of friends that there is no longer a relationship between your body size and that of the network at large.

Of course, the principle is by no means limited to belt length. Layer upon layer of networks operate at the levels of our lives – smoking, drinking, hobbies and even emotions can be mapped out and the patches of shared feeling and action visualised. Collective existences are formed – and the network is what dictates its properties. Christakis uses the analogy of carbon in both coal and diamond. Both materials are constructs of carbon – it is not the individual components that dictate the final form but instead the arrangement of the network.

It is a strange way of seeing the world, as a place of group thinking and domino trails. However, it does present an opportunity –  a chance to sneeze good things in your face.

So Silkworms Ink has stepped up its game. We have three new editors.

Poetry Editor - Phil Brown
Fiction Editor - Jon Ware
Music Editor - Sam Kinchin-Smith

We even have a schedule and a weekly theme.

Monday – Introduction – James Harringman – A letter from the editor on the week’s theme.
Tuesday – Poetry Article – Phil Brown
Wednesday – Fiction Article – Jon Ware
Thursday – Music Article – Sam Kinchin-Smith
Friday – Chapbook – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Friday’s business will be as usual – a weekly chapbook sized dose of poetry or prose from some the best writers around.
Saturday – Mixtape – Keep your ears peeled; these are going to be awesome. I won’t spoil the surprise with details now.
Sunday – Mini Essay – Something new.  Interested in submitting? Click here for details.

This week's theme is 'Issue 1's'. And so it starts.

Lastly, Bob (Dylan) if you are reading this - Happy Birthday

James Harringman