3 Easy Steps to Reignite Your Creative Fire

Image for 3 Simple Steps to Reignite Your Creative FireFighting the January “Back to Work Blues”

I took some time off between Christmas and New Year, vacationing with family (fun!), and then friends came into town (more fun!), and the next thing I know, it’s Monday, Jan 7, 2013 at 1:10 PM. The holidays have worn out their welcome, and I have no more excuses not to get back to work… but my motivation, which was going strong just a couple of weeks ago, seems to have mysteriously evaporated.

Has all the wine and chocolate gone to my head as well as my hips? Am I destined to become an indolent slacker, carefree laugh belying the vacant, glazed look in her eyes and the hollowness of her soul? Read more »

Creating Our Dream Life – What We Can Learn from 4-Year-Olds

Creating Your Dream Life, by Melanie Lamaga, The Metaphysical CircusCreativity and Change… Because I Want To

As anyone who has been around kids knows, at a certain point around four years old their favorite phrase becomes, “Because I want to.”

It got me wondering, when do we stop believing that this is reason enough? For example, a friend or family member asks you to do something you prefer not to. Do you feel that can you can politely decline… just because? Or do you have to come up with a whole string of justifications?

When we are four years old, we KNOW without a doubt what we want. Now, granted, those urges may not always be socially acceptable, or even in our best interest, but damn it, we know what they are.

The socialization process and learning to delay gratification certainly have their uses, but often we become so well trained, so domesticated that we lose touch with what we really feel and want. Or, we may feel it, but shove it aside as unimportant or unattainable. Read more »

Review of Silently and Very Fast by Catherynne M. Valente

A Beautiful View of The Singularity

Imagine if you could go anywhere, do anything, and never be alone. Would it bother you if your closest companion and co-creator was a machine? You might think so, but then again you might change your mind after reading this gorgeous, evocative novel, narrated by Elefsis, the machine in question.

The Turing Test and other criteria for sentience lurk at the periphery of Elefsis’ consciousness and world-view. But by making Elefsis the narrator, this novel shows the question to be moot. Ipso facto, a being this sensitive, this capable of love and appreciating beauty cannot be denied personhood by anyone worthy of that title themselves.

At the beginning, Elefsis is merely an intelligent house, concerned with heating and cooling, cooking food, and monitoring the vital signs of the occupants, especially the children of  Cassian Uoya-Agostino, the house’s eccentric creator. Read more »

Review of lost boy lost girl: a novel, by Peter Straub

A Metaphysical Circus review of lost boy lost girl: a novel, by Peter StraubThis novel, which won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel, is part murder mystery, part ghost story and part family drama, with an unexpected, transcendent ending.

The story follows Tim Underhill, (a character from earlier novels by Straub), as he attempts to cope with a series of tragic, mysterious events afflicting the family of his dour brother, Phillip.

First is the seemingly inexplicable suicide of Nancy, Phillip’s wife. Next, their teenaged son, Mark, becomes obsessed with the abandoned house across the alley, with its labyrinthine secret passageways and seductive, dangerous former inhabitants: a pedophile, a serial killer, and the ghostly lost girl of the title. Read more »

Creative Thanks Giving, Reclaim Your Holiday

illustration of article by Melanie Lamaga Creative ThanksGiving, Reclaim Your HolidayHow is Creativity Like a Turkey?

Thanksgiving, gratitude comes from feeling of abundance– that you have enough and some to spare. But American culture has always been about striving to improve ourselves, which too often devolves into a bottomless desire for more, more, more.

It makes me wonder if Thanksgiving is really about gratitude, or is it just another day off from the ‘Race to a Higher Tax Bracket’ that is our true national religion? Read more »

Traveling with Joy

 Boost Creativity and Productivity through Bliss

Last week I wrote about the book Get High Now (without drugs) and, somewhat coincidentally, this week I find myself blissed out to an extent I haven’t felt in quite a while, and as a result, my creativity is humming.

I know it’s probably foolish to analyze this. The minute you try to grab a hold of the bluebird of happiness, it craps on your head and flies away, right? But on the other hand, I have noticed there are certain nests, certain seeds you can put out that attract that fickle creature more than others.

So, boldly risking the bluebird’s wrath I ask, why? Why am I so damn happy right now? I’m not any thinner, richer or more famous than I was a month ago… and that’s all any of us really wants, right? Read more »

Classic Literary Fantastic Novels by Elizabeth Hand, Released Digitally

Elizabeth Hand, www.elizabethhand.com

For those of you not familiar with Hand’s work, she is one of the titans of what (for simplicity’s sake) I call the literary fantastic, with an artistic stature large enough to gracefully straddle that silly, artificial divide between literary and genre fiction.

Hand’s work, which she calls visionary and semi-autobiographical, explores themes of spiritual transcendence and the artist’s life, set against the backdrop of human frailty and violence. Her stories are complex, powerful, and beautifully written. I highly recommend that you check them out, whether in hardback or your favorite digital format.

From Open Road Media:

This month, Open Road Media is pleased to add five titles from popular fantasy writer, Elizabeth Hand, available in digital format, along with brand new cover art. With the reissue of these five titles, fans alike can explore the imaginative worlds and seductive plotlines Hand has created.

** WATCH THE BOOK TRAILER on: OpenRoadMedia.com**

The full title list includes:

more literary fantastic fiction book recommendations from the Metaphysical Circus

Get High… Creatively

Stoke Your Creative Fire with Visual Cartwheels, Mood Altering Sounds, and More Brain Candy

Get High Now (Without Drugs), by James Nestor is a reference book of techniques for shifting your consciousness. Some are more advisable than others (you won’t catch me staring at the vomit vectors), but I applaud the range of options offered.

We need some new (or old, but new to us) methods of getting high. After all, everybody engages in consciousness altering behavior, whether they admit to it or not.

Of course, people who use illicit drugs are normally honest about their intention to get high now. But other people like to kid themselves that if it’s legal or food based (alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, high-sugar and high-fat foods), or if it’s prescribed by a doctor (pain killers, sedatives, diet pills), well, THAT doesn’t count. Read more »

A Review of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

Jane Austen Dreams of Harry Potter and Writes 1000+ pages.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell was Time Magazine #1 Book of the Year, Winner of the Hugo Award and the World Fantasy Award, as well as making about a dozen top fiction lists in 2004, the year it came out. In short, it is one of the most respected works of the literary fantastic to come out of Britain in recent years. With a pedigree like that, of course I had to read it.

This novel centers around two English magicians in the early 1800s, who spearhead the reemergence of practical (as distinguished from theoretical) magic. In this alternate history, magic was once a common and accepted practice in England.

Its greatest practitioner was a mysterious figure, known variously as John Uskglass, the Raven King, the Black King, the King of the North, and a faery name, which no one could pronounce. According to legend, Uskglass was stolen as a child and raised in Faery, where he learned the skills that made him a magician of unparalleled skills (and possibly, a demi-god), before returning to rule England for many years. Read more »

The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier

The Illumination is a literary novel with only one fantastic element, but it’s a doozy: one day, inexplicably, the bodily pain of each and every human being on earth begins to manifest as a white light. Everything from a headache to leukemia shines out of the body like a beacon for all to see.

The story follows a sequence of people who come into possession of a journal of love notes, transcribed by a woman named Patricia, from the notes her husband left her on the fridge every day of their marriage. She and her husband get in a car wreck just before the phenomenon called the Illumination begins. Thinking that her husband is dead, grieving and fatally injured, Patricia gives the journal to her hospital roommate, Carol Ann. Read more »