Sunday, 8 December 2013

Maturity Wanker

A Maturity Wanker is an insincere writer; insincere in a special way.

I recently read a book of stories by Milan Kundera. Although I enjoyed them enormously, if I was a (healthy) woman I would have been extremely annoyed by the sexual politics of the writing. All the stories were fundamentally based on the objectification of females.

Although I disapprove rationally of such an outlook, I like Kundera's honesty in this regard. He's utterly sincere about the cynicism of his own psychology, which, if we are going to be completely candid, is also the psychology of most males....

There are too many insincere writers out there who constantly glance over their shoulders to see who is behind them and tailor their prose to please that audience. "Better make myself look nice in front of women!" "Better make myself look compassionate and reasonable!" "Better do something to attract the pink pound and the socialists!"

Such writers are maturity wankers.

True sincerity is about accepting what you are; being open about your perfectly natural dark, aggressive and selfish desires (which are really only promptings of the Id, which we all have) and never pretending you don't have them. Morality consists in choosing reason over urge, not in pretending not to have the urge in the first place.

Writers who pretend not to have the urge are maturity wankers. A great many modern writers are maturity wankers. They are, in fact, in the majority.

The prime aim of a male maturity wanker is to make himself look good. To make himself appear reasonable, nice, tolerant, fair, sagacious and ethical, and he does this for a specific and acqusitive purpose: to be approved of, to make himself liked by women in order to get them into bed more easily. Because the fact is that reason, niceness, tolerance, fairness, sagacity and ethics are alien to the human condition on anything other than a tactical level. These are tools of social acceptance and communal interaction used to make our lives easier. They are not products of our deep psychology, of our true drives.

A male maturity wanker is a writer who has learned that if he says "I want to fuck women!" his chances of fucking women will be diminished; but that if he says "I think that women should be treated as human beings and not as sexual objects!" his chances of fucking women are vastly increased. He has learned a technique.

I prefer writers who don't pretend to be nice but who are truthful instead, no matter how much damage they risk to their reputations as a result.

Saturday, 2 June 2012


A Meatocrite is a meat-eating writer who dares to pass any moral judgement whatsoever on a vegetarian writer.

Example: a meatocrite called M may accuse another writer called V of being "insensitive", "aggressive" and "unpleasant." But if V is a vegetarian, then M is automatically more insensitive, aggressive and unpleasant than V could ever be.

The brilliant Nobel Prize winning writer Isaac Bashevis Singer once said:
"When a human kills an animal for food, he is neglecting his own hunger for justice. Man prays for mercy, but is unwilling to extend it to others. Why should man then expect mercy from God? It's unfair to expect something that you are not willing to give. It is inconsistent. I can never accept inconsistency or injustice. Even if it comes from God. If there would come a voice from God saying, "I'm against vegetarianism!" I would say, "Well, I am for it!" This is how strongly I feel in this regard."
And that's exactly how I feel too.


A writer is a former norm.

There are two broad categories of writers:

Fiction Writers: who tell deliberate lies.
Non-Fiction Writers: who tell accidental lies.

Despite what is generally believed, it is possible for writers to revert to being norms again. All that is required is to fail to publish anything for a period of five years or for one's Beerbohm rating to fall to exactly zero.


A Permashades is a writer who wears sunglasses all the time, even indoors.


Dorkvice is advice given by a less experienced writer to a more experienced writer.

Not to be confused with badvice and sadvice, both of which are malign, dorkvice is generally given sincerely. The only problem is that the writer giving it has far less experience of the world than the writer he is giving it to, rendering it ludicrous, embarrassing and worthless.

An extreme example of dorkvice: a baldie hackling weirdminger telling a metamature vanderkat that the best way to impress girls is to write convincing weepy boo-hoo.


A Semisult (alternatively, halfsult or hemisult) is the first half of an insult, although frequently it is mistakenly regarded as a whole insult by itself. But without the application of the second half, there is no real insult.

The truth about insults is that they are taken, not given. The last time I was in Morocco a group of children shouted at me in Berber, a language I don't speak. They might have been verbally abusing me for all I knew! But did I feel offended? Not in the slightest! Why? Because I didn't convert their words into an insult in my own head. I didn't provide (through my own volition) the second half of the 'insult'.

And that essentially is how an insult works, that's the mechanism: it's the person who feels insulted, not the person who casts the 'insult', who completes the insult, who brings it into being, who makes it a proper insult. Without the contribution of the insultee, there is no insult. There is only a semisult. In fact the insultee (or semisultee) is more responsible for creating the insult than the insulter (or semisulter). If it ever became the case that insults were made illegal, it is the person who feels insulted who logically ought to be arrested.

Writers and hacklings semisult each other all the time; almost always the recipient of the semisult provides the second half of the insult as a reflex.

Friday, 1 June 2012


It's a curious but true fact that most male writers of great ability have good heads of hair. Baldies are male writers without much hair on their heads (sometimes none) and they tend to be grotesquely untalented.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. Aristophanes was reputedly bald.

A bald male writer who is nontheless imbued with great ability is called a Watson, after the writer Ian Watson, who is shockingly bald but massively talented.

Weepy Boo-Hoo

Weepy Boo-Hoo is any kind of writing that attempts to make a reader squirt sentimental eye juice.

Slipstreamers often include passages of Weepy Boo-Hoo into their prose works. In contemporary literary culture, Weepy Boo-Hoo is considered in a more positive light than formerly and is inexplicably associated with 'maturity', a fact noticed and exploited by maturity wankers, many of whom are Lit.Tharios.

The truth of the matter is that it is foolish to waste pity on the tribulations of fictional characters for the simple reason that fictional characters don't exist. Their sufferings are therefore illusory. Every individual with a mortal lifespan logically has only a finite amount of pity inside them (let's give this amount the number P) and on each occasion that pity is expended, this value decreases. When P reaches zero it will be impossible for the individual to feel pity thereafter; but circumstances may subsequently arise in which pity is needed. Why waste your pity on non-existent 'characters' when you could save it for living people or animals, or even yourself? Don't spend your P willy-nilly!

Empathy Problem

Few 'problems' in the literary world cause as much inexplicable anger among writers as the Empathy Problem. Attempts to discuss the Empathy Problem are generally met with extreme hostility and exposure to the full arsenal of tactical twatism.

Breifly stated, the Empathy Problem runs as follows:

How do we manage to feel empathy for fictional characters? How can the plight of beings that don't exist affect us emotionally? The question isn't whether or not we feel empathy for fictional characters: patently we do. The question is how? What is the mechanism that makes such empathy possible? This is a genuine philosophical problem that still hasn't really been solved.

Consider two characters created for the sake of this argument: Sea Tiger and Ramphastos. They are fictional characters. Do you already have empathy for them? Unlikely: you don't know enough about them yet. But that's not the point. The point is that I could make Sea Tiger and Ramphastos into characters that a reader might have empathy for if I wanted to; or at least I could try to do so. And in such a case, and if the reader did indeed end up feeling empathy for them, what exactly would be going on? There is a profound mystery here. Sea Tiger and Ramphastos don't exist. That's unarguable. And it's impossible to feel empathy for beings that don't exist.

It is often suggested that this basic premise is faulty. But it is difficult to see how. It's impossible to feel empathy for beings that don't exist. Where's the fault in that statement? Surely the proof is in the definition of the word 'empathy' itself? To have empathy means to identify with some other individual, to put yourself in their shoes, to see the world from their point of view. But fictional characters don't exist and something that doesn't exist is a void, a nullity. So when you empathise with a fictional character, you are logically identifying with a void. If may be stated that we gradually develop empathy with fictional characters as we read about their lives, but we should take care to remember that f
ictional characters don't have lives, for the simple reason that they don't exist.

To restate the problem again: fictional characters don't exist and it's impossible to empathise with beings that don't exist (can you have empathy with the number 0 or with a cubic metre of vacuum?). Stop for a moment and try to imagine what would happen if you did manage to successfully empathise with a being that doesn't exist! By empathising and therefore identifying with a void, you would become that void, and the only way back out would be to empathise with something else quickly, but this would be impossible because to empathise you need a brain and a void doesn't have one, so you would be stuck in that condition forever, an empty space where your body had once been, a black shapeless non-mass like one of the characters in Jack London's short-story,'The Shadow and the Flash'. Briefly stated, turning into a void is a one-way trip.
And yet we do empathise with certain fictional characters. As a personal example, I often identify with Jack Vance's protagonists: they are often individualists trying to surmount social obstacles and make their mark on the cultures they live in. I feel empathy for those imperfect heroes, but how? What is the mechanism by which I do so? What is the mechanism by which you identity with your own favourite fictional characters? Whenever I posit this question I never get a straight answer. I mostly get a grumpy reaction that seems to consist of variations of the response, "Well, I'm capable of empathising with fictional characters even if you aren't." And yet, at no point have I said that I don't empathise with fictional characters. What I'm asking is simply how do I empathise with them?

It was pointed out to me that even though Anne Frank doesn't exist, we can't fail to be moved by her diary; and that Bertie Wooster also doesn't exist but that we feel an emotional resonance with him too. But these examples don't belong in the same category. To put them together is a category mistake.
 Anne Frank doesn't exist now, true, but she did once exist, and we must bear in mind that although her internal ego has vanished, her external ego persists (the concept of the external ego is less well-known than it deserves to be; simply put, what we are is not just what we think we are, but also the effect we have had on our environment). Proof that Anne Frank's external ego exists is demonstrated in the fact that you know whom I'm talking about and know that she was a real person. Bertie Wooster, on the other hand, has neither an internal ego nor an authentic external ego. And yet it's true that we can empathise with both of them. But the mechanism must be different, at least if we accept that Bertie Wooster is a fictional character and Anne Frank isn't.

Suspension of disbelief may be cited as a mechanism to enable us to feel empathy for beings that don't exist. We simply stop believing that they don't exist. But this doesn't change the basic fact that they don't exist. I can believe in a wide variety of things, that the moon is made of glass, that unicorns work in pubs, that a dandrum's favourite hobby is to forestall a bugaboo, but that doesn't make any of those things true. Even if I convince myself that Bertie Wooster really lives, the fact of the matter is that he doesn't. It would seem that the most we can really feel for him is quasi-empathy. And quasi-empathy isn't empathy, in the same way that a quasi-blurb isn't a blurb.

So is all empathy for fictional characters really just quasi-empathy? Is the whole process of feeling empathy for a fictional character some sort of mistake or unsolvable paradox? I don't think so. I have a feeling that the empathy we feel for fictional characters is real empathy; and yet if that is so, a viable mechanism is needed to explain it. I would like to suggest such a mechanism, namely the 'many worlds interpretation' first developed by Hugh Everett in 1957 as a solution to the quantum mechanics problem of what act of observation could collapse the wave function of the entire universe, a problem that Bohr's Copenhagen interpretation was unable to resolve satisfactorily.

In plain language, Everett's theory allows for the coexistence of a vast number of parallel alternative realities in which every possible outcome of every potential action is real. So in trillions upon trillions upon trillions of universes, Bertie Wooster doesn't exist, just as he doesn't exist in this universe; but somewhere, in at least one parallel reality, he does exist, he's real, a living person with an internal and external ego and therefore someone we can empathise with without violating logic.

This seems to me to be the most plausible and satisfying solution to the problem of how we manage to empathise with fictional characters. The answer is that, yes, they are fictional in our universe, but elsewhere they exist. So when we feel empathy for them and identify with them, we aren't identifying with a void (which could be dangerous) but with beings that have substance, life and purpose. It just happens that those beings exist in another dimension. The logical outcome of this happy reasoning is that Sea Tiger and Ramphastos are also real, somewhere, and probably enjoying a series of absurd but charming adventures together.

Simper Bunny

A Simper Bunny is a writer who produces or promotes Weepy Boo-Hoo.


A Slockley is a reviewer who never reviews the free books he receives but sells them on eBay or other online auction sites.

Slockleys have been known to actively request expensive hardcover books by the same author from publishing houses, sometimes failing to review the entire corpus of a particular writer's career but making money by selling the 'not for resale' review copies.

Thursday, 31 May 2012


Wisdumb is fake or stupid wisdom.

Most wisdom is in fact wisdumb. Wisdom doesn't work. Take a look at the world around you. For thousands of years, sages, gurus, holy men, sadhus, philosophers, hermits, wizards, witch doctors, shamen, mystics, gnostics and various other 'enlightened ones' have been dispensing advice about how to make the world a better place. If such advice really was effective, the world would be a better place now. But it isn't.

Some wisdumb is deliberately generated to mock the entire idea of 'wisdom'. Rhysauruses are prone to doing this. A typical example:
"Just be yourself! If you are an idiot, act like an idiot! If you a fool, act like a fool! If you are a moron, act like a moron! Don't be afraid to be what you really are! If you are a fake, be an authentic fake. Don't be a phony fake!"

Simian Flipflop

A Simian Flipflop is a closed circuit of exactly two monkeybators.


A Deaditor is an editor who never responds to a writer's enquiries and acts as if that writer doesn't exist.

Some Deaditors really are dead. Most are not.

Magic Realism

Many writers are described as Magic Realists when in fact they aren't. Magic Realism doesn't really have a specific mandate and yet ther are some rules; and while it is good and healthy and wise not to apply overly strict criteria in one's own fictional use of it, before breaking the rules it's also good to know what the rules are. Magic Realism isn't just a hazy definition but a precise term for a precise thing (Terry Pratchett defined Magic Realism as "fantasy written by someone who has gone to university"; he was wrong).

It's the same with Surrealism and Absurdism. They don't just mean what you want them to mean or think they might mean (i.e. stuff that's a bit weird or doesn't make sense). They have specific manifestos: Surrealism is intimately connected with Freudian psychoanalysis; Absurdism is intimately connected with Existential philosophy, etc.

It's fine to take elements from those movements you agree with and discard the rest, and it's even possible to argue that the original meanings have changed over time and that the correct definitions are now those of modern consensus, but again, it's nice to learn the original meanings too, just to give yourself a firm basis to show what you're working from.

One of the problems with lazy definitions of Magic Realism in particular is that misunderstandings of its intentions and techniques can produce embarrassing work. John Updike, for example, was so enamoured of the surface effects of such writers as Gabriel García Márquez and Jorge Amado that he wrote a novel (called Brazil) full of the effects without the rationale. In true Magic Realism people don't just start flying for no reason whatsoever or because it's pretty: the flight is a concrete symbol of an emotional state (intense happiness, for example).

Magic Realism simply means a style of fiction where the author doesn't write about how the world actually is, but how it sometimes feels... So it's emotionally based, rather than intellectually, politically or philosophically based. It uses exaggeration, overstatement and grandiosity to put over a wholly subjective world view (inter-subjective world view really, because all the different subjectivities should interact and modify each other). Understatement has little or no place in Magic Realism.

There's a character in One Hundred Years of Solitude who has bad wind. In Realism it would simply be stated that he farted loudly; in Magic Realism his farts kill sparrows in mid air and wither palm trees. This doesn't mean (as Updike seemed to think) that the sparrows really were killed by the fart, but that the fart was so powerful it felt like a phenomenon that might kill sparrows in mid air. So Magic Realism makes very heavy use of symbolism. Every significant event is a symbol or extended metaphor.

And yet, even though all the events are determined by a literal application of feeling, those fantastical events are presented in a very deadpan style. So if someone is deliriously happy they might start flying, but nobody around them will comment on this, or even note it, because the flying is actually internal.

I now expect to told that actually Magic Realism has always been an ambiguous term. Yes, that's true, but the above is a good place to start for a definition.


A Lit.Thario (alternatively, Dong Juan) is a male writer who mistakenly believes that being published will directly result in sexual experiences. Back in the 1930s, when female readers were more naive and easier to manipulate, this might have been true. "Look at me, I've just published a novel! Suck me off immediately!"

A surprising number of modern writers are Lit.Tharios. They fail to understand that the girls they are vainly seeking to get into bed are probably writers themselves and thus feel no compelling need to submit to the ego of the Lit.Thario, whom they often regard as little better than a weirdminger.

There is a school of thought that claims the Lit.Thario is an honest and relatively harmless form of tactical twat, in the sense that what he wants (sex) is natural and understandable and less grasping than what most tactical twats want (power, status, ego reassurance).


Sadvice is a specific kind of badvice designed to discourage the recipient by fostering a hopelessness in him. The point of sadvice is to deflate aspirations by utilising a feeling of exasperated melancholy as a weapon.

Example: a writer will 'thoughtfully' tell another writer that a particular market is too difficult to break into and that it's not worth even trying and that he would save himself a lot of heartache by giving up writing altogether and doing something more in tune with his natural talents, such as working in a newsagent's.


Badvice is bad advice given by a writer or hackling to another writer or hackling for tactical twatish reasons.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012


A Harrendence is an artist of genius who is able to produce extremely high quality illustrations within an amazingly short time.

A writer may make a casual remark such as, “Squinty the cyclops was short-sighted and had to wear a monocle; he was very upset when the other cyclops children called him, ‘Two Eyes’.”

A simple offhand throwaway joke; but if made in the vicinity of a Harrendence, the chances are high that an hour or so later a superb illustration of that scenario will be presented to the astonished writer out of the blue. A Harrendence is prone to rendering the scene or situation in a way that is superior to the original conception.

The word is an allusion to Chris Harrendence, an artist of genius who is able to produce extremely high quality illustrations within an amazingly short time. His work often resembles an original hybrid between that of Edward GoreyGary Larson and Jože Tisnikar.

Sentimental Eye Juice

The formal name for tears, those drops of water adulterated with salt and other minerals that come out of upset human faces through special ducts.

Characters in stories by girls, slipstreamers and maturity wankers often seem to lose a measurable amount of Sentimental Eye Juice during the progress of the prose tales they are encased in.

A reader’s reluctance to drip sentimental eye juice when reading ‘emotional’ books is frequently cited by tactical twats as evidence of that reader’s immaturity. Some of these dry-eyed readers may indeed be immature, but in fact it is metamaturlings who are most unlikely to waste precious bodily fluids on fictional (and therefore non-existent) tragedies.

Victoria Plumjob

The archetypal bad romance novelist. A fictional figure, Victoria was originally called Victoria Plum but things got sticky when she burst on the literary scene. After her marriage to Dominic Job, she became Victoria Plumjob and re-launched her career.

Victoria Plumjob describes herself a ‘writer’ but is actually a hackling with a very low Beerbohm rating (less than 0.0001). Her books are mainly ebooks and self-published. She is a monkeybator, fart signer and simper bunny, prone to squirting sentimental eye juice, and often reviews her own titles under various pseudonyms.


Victoria Plumjob will make you believe that cake fairies really do exist and can fall in love with handsome moon doctors! I was totally captivated by her haunting and evocative and haunting prose; and her kissable descriptions took me by the hand and led me into the wonderful world inside the fabulous mind of this magical authoress. — Cassandra Chestnuthair.”

Gunky Fibbon

A Gunky Fibbon is a reader, critic, reviewer, writer, hackling, cocknob, maturity wanker, softvark or tactical twat who disparages a work of literature purely because of a dislike of its creator.

Gunky Fibbons make value judgments about a book or story based on how they regard the moral worth of the author. For instance, one may read a Felipe Alfau novel and enjoy it immensely; later one learns that Alfau supported Franco in the Spanish Civil War; suddenly the book is no longer as good as it was. That is gunky fibbing.

The lowest kind of gunky fibbons are those who not only erroneously use the moral life of an artist to gauge the independent worth of the artwork but whose reasons for gunky fibbing are petty and personal (example: the author has refused to like the gunky fibbon’s own literary efforts; the gunky fibbon will then take ‘revenge’ on the author by pretending his work isn’t good.)

A song popular in the 1970s encouraged honest citizens to injure gunky fibbons. The simplistic refrain went as follows:

Do, do, do the gunky fibbon!”

Too Soon Guru

A writer or hackling who acts like a fully-fledged guru before he is properly ready to be one. To deserve the privilege of being allowed to dispense advice and wisdom about the writing world while adopting a guru’s characteristic inner pose, one first requires a minimum Beerbohm rating of 1.75.

Too Soon Gurus are frequently found ‘teaching’ creative writing to norms; ‘authoring’ How to Write documents; and ‘sharing’ wrong tips (singly or bunched in lists) on little-visited blogsites.

Among many other causes, the creation of a Too Soon Guru may be the result of pure egotism, tactical twatism, arsebollocks or monkeybation. Some Too Soon Gurus are sincere but misguided; many are lebbonizers, oblique crows or curt simians; most are twonkies.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012


This is the act of deviously promoting a fellow hackling by voting for his story in competitions or by writing artificial letters of praise in his favour to magazine editors, etc. The unspoken understanding is that a hackling who arsebollocks (also a verb) another hackling will be arsebollocked in return. When arsebollocking reaches an absurd intensity it becomes Hazardous Flapdoodle.

Knobworking is a form of Arsebollocks.


Unknown hacklings frequently solicit little prose packets of approval from other equally unknown hacklings. On the surface these packets look like blurbs but they have no real conviction or force. They are in fact only quasi-blurbs.


Victoria Plumjob once again demonstrates her breathtaking ability at creating believable characters in fraught domestic milieus who are all writers like she is and almost as brilliant and lovely. — Miranda Poutylips.


A personality in the writing world who is simultaneously a writer, editor, reader, lecturer, publisher, project generator and many other roles. The astounding energy, remarkable competence and refreshing originality of the Vanderkat is what marks him out as different to the ordinary run-of-the-paper-mill literary multitasker.

Glibtone Facetitious defines a Vanderkat as, “Someone who acts like a human Spiderpus.”

The word is a reference to the writer, editor, reader, lecturer, publisher, project generator, etc, Jeff VanderMeer.

Lamblake Heinz

The archetypal bad horror writer. A fictional figure, Lamblake Heinz likes to dream ‘eldritch visions beyond the ken of mortal man’ and inflict them on innocent readers in the form of hackneyed plots embedded in crude prose. He is the ultimate Crusty Mustard and is thus the mortal enemy of the equally fictitious Glibtone Facetitious.

Example usage: “There are fifty-seven examples of appalling prose in this paragraph. Did Lamblake Heinz sneak in during the night and write it for you?”


A Twonky is a writer or hackling who habitually refers to himself in the third person.

Instead of saying (for example) “My first book was called Happy Go Lucky Weasels,” they will say, “The first book of Lamblake Heinz was called Happy Go Lucky Weasels. There will be a reading by Lamblake Heinz in the Underpants Room five minutes from now…”

Twonkies frequently have large protruding stomachs that they use to push open the swing doors of hotels during literary conventions without having to use their hands.


A hackling is a ‘writer’ who hasn’t yet earned the right to call himself a writer. An unpublished writer is never a writer, no more than a prime minister or president who actually isn’t in power is a prime minister or president. You can’t be what you aren’t doing.

And being a writer takes more than simply placing words on a page or screen. That’s the beginning of the task, not its completion. Unpublished writing is not really writing in the strictest sense. The artform known as ‘literature’ is a process, a process in which the writer is only one stage. Other stages in this process include agents, editors, publishers, designers, printers, distributors and (most crucially of all) readers. An agent who has never sold a book would never describe himself as an ‘agent’; nor would an editor who had never edited anything describe himself as an ‘editor’; this reticence applies to all stages in the process. Can you imagine a reader who has never been near a book in her life sincerely describing herself as a ‘reader’? No, you can’t.

Thus a writer who hasn’t published anything should never describe himself as a writer. If he has never been read in the approved fashion (plucked from a shelf by an unknown reader in a shop) he is still a hackling. He is still on probation.

Hacklings only become genuine writers when they acquire a success rating of one Beerbohm or more.


One Beerbohm is the minimal level of success necessary to differentiate a writer from a hackling and corresponds exactly to the posthumous amount of success enjoyed by the writer Max Beerbohm (1872-1956).

Fame and renown are therefore rated on the Beerbohm Scale. Max Beerbohm himself had a rating of one Beerbohm; Salman Rushdie has a rating of six Beerbohms; Gabriel García Márquez (the most famous writer in the world) has a rating of ten Beerbohms.

A rating of less than one Beerbohm (between zero and one) defines a hackling. A rating of exactly zero Beerbohms defines a norm or possibly a chicken or egg.

A negative Beerbohm rating may be possible but it is currently unclear how.


A suggested new entry for this Glossary from an external source that is successfully incorporated. So far this has only happened once (see Chrisbell).


A Chrisbell is any writer (or hackling or norm) who suggests new entries for this Glossary. If the suggestion of a Chrisbell is accepted, the suggestion is known as a dingdong.

The term alludes to Chris Bell, a writer who suggested a new entry for this Glossary, specifically this one. His suggestion therefore dingdongs itself.


A Monkeybator is a hackling who excessively and obsessively praises and promotes the work of another hackling, chiefly through quasi-blurbs and arsebollocks, on the understanding that the other hackling will reciprocate. Two reciprocating Monkeybators are said to form a Simian Flipflop.

When there are more than two Monkeybators arranged in a closed loop, the correct term is a Monkeychain.

Simian Flipflops and Monkeychains are forms of Tactical Twatism.

Monday, 28 May 2012


A Betswickian mode or attitude is one periodically indulged in by certain instinctively left-wing writers. It consists of sincere astonishment at the fact that socialism isn’t necessarily the default setting of human political awareness.

A writer who is Bestwickian or prone to Bestwickianism lives in a permanent state of surprised disappointment that the entire human race doesn’t regard socialist politics and economics as obviously true. For a Bestwickian, socialism equates exactly, point for point, with ‘common sense’. Bestwickians seem to believe that socialist values are hard-wired into the human organism at the cellular level and that competitive and individualistic individuals simply require an education in order to turn them into socialists too. When a Bestwickian discovers that these individuals are often competitive and individualistic because of their wider experience of reality, he is always astonished.

However, rather than adopt a more pragmatic political worldview and adapt to the messy and contradictory flux of the world as it really is, Bestwickians resolutely cling to their belief that socialism is the basic setting of human psychology. They never lose the feeling of surprise and it remains as fresh and intense for an old tottering Bestwickian of pensionable age as it does for a Bestwickian who has just entered puberty.


A Weirdmonger is a writer of extremely strange, generally brief but dense weird tales that often don't make sense, sometimes do make sense and most frequently do and don't make sense at the same time.

This word was coined by the writer D.F. Lewis who typically wrote extremely strange, generally brief but dense weird tales that often didn't make sense, sometimes did make sense and most frequently did and didn't make sense at the same time.

A Weirdmonger should not be confused with a Weirdminger or a Weirdsponger.


A mythical entity that consists of a giant octopus mounted on the back of a giant spider. With eight arms and eight legs the Spiderpus is capable of almost any achievement.

A writer who is snowed under with too many projects or harassed by looming deadlines and who feels that he might fail will often express the desire, “I wish I was the Spiderpus!”


A Guslandi is a reviewer insufficiently knowledgeable about the entire spectrum of genre writing to be competent at his task.

Typically, a Guslandi will be familiar with the work of M.R. James, H.P. Lovercraft, Bram Stoker and similar Crusty Mustards; but utterly ignorant of Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, Boris Vian, Milorad Pavić, Mikhail Bulgakov and other Grand Knights of the Order of the Toucan.

Signed Fart Biter

Kurt Vonnegut defined a ‘twerp’ as someone who ‘leans forward to bite the bubbles when he farts in the bath’. A Signed Fart Biter is a lackey and monkeybator who is willing (and even eager) to bite the signed farts produced by Fart Signers.

Fart Signer

A Fart Signer is a writer who values his own work so highly that he willingly autographs the bubbles of his own farts in the bath. The most devoted followers of the Fart Signer are the Signed Fart Biters.

Weirdless Weird

Weird writing that isn’t at all weird really.

Fiction that belongs to the weirdless weird (the vast majority of weird fiction) merely shuffles pre-existing scenarios and clichés into different patterns. But genuinely weird fiction is an outwards journey at a tangent to itself.

I must now make a confession that won’t endear me to those who believe there is a sacred canon of weird writers and that they all lived in the past and are already dead. The blunt truth is that most of the so-called ‘masters’ of fantastic fiction leave me unmoved and deeply unimpressed. My belief was always been that the ‘literature of the imagination’ should be exactly what it claims to be, namely original and inventive, overflowing with truly ingenious conceits.

But it so rarely is. The ‘masters’ have made false promises or have had false promises made on their behalf. They were supposed to create work that was imaginative to an extreme degree, that dreamed dreams beyond those I am capable of dreaming by myself. But they didn’t. The ‘masters’ let me down. They just aren’t capable of blowing my mind. None of them make me jump up and ruffle my hair. I’m sorry to say it because I know it’s a dreadful thing to admit, like many disappointments.

Crusty Mustard

A writer of the Weirdless Weird, in other words a writer who doesn’t try hard enough to produce (or is incapable of producing) authentically imaginative work. A Crusty Mustard is so named because he never ‘cuts the mustard’ with experienced and intelligent readers.

Modern Crusty Mustards are said to be Away with the Rodens.


An Egg is a writer in embryo. Eggs always hatch into writers, sometimes even bypassing the hackling stage. A Chicken may become an Egg but an Egg never turns into a Chicken. This observation finally answers the question, “Which came first?”


A Chicken is a Norm who wants to become a writer but who is too scared to start trying. Although an extremely rare event requiring a combination of many unlikely factors, a Chicken may sometimes turn into an Egg.


A Weirdsponger is a 'full time' writer who lives off his girlfriend, or off his mother if he happens to be a Weirdminger as well.


A Norm is a human who isn’t a writer.
Some Norms are readers; and some of those readers are Signed Fart Biters.


A Factshandle is a writer or norm who is so desperate to win an argument that he/she is willing to resort to using facts in order to do so. The blade on the end of a Factshandle might be blunt or sharp but the damage inflicted is always justified by an appeal to the Great Tyrant Truth.


A writer or hackling who seeks to disparage the accuracy or impartiality of this Glossary for reasons of a Tactical Twatish nature.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Cliché Paradox

The little-known (and even less frequently discussed) Cliché Paradox runs as follows:

"That's such a cliché!" announces a reader or editor or rival writer after encountering an overused scene in a book. Readers and editors and rival writers have been making the same announcement for generations, centuries, perhaps even millennia.

The remark, "That's such a cliché!" is a cliché. The danger of Recursion is therefore very high.

Pat Cadigan

To Pat Cadigan is to treat a specific working day of the week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc) as an opponent that needs to be engaged in a physical show of strength in order to wrestle it to the ground and proclaim one's victory over it.

The phrase alludes to the (excellent) writer Pat Cadigan who often treats specific working days of the week as opponents that need to be engaged in a physical show of strength in order to wrestle them to the ground...

Example usage: "I have a lot of work to do and my publishers are on my back, so today I'm going to Pat Cadigan until the work is finished..."


A Weirdminger is an ugly (male) hackling (or writer) who has a poor physique and a grotesque face, is usually pudgy and socially awkward and who is massively unsucessful with women.

Glibtone Facetitious

Glibtone Facetitious is a mythical perfect author, a writer who is simultaneously an Appled Upper, Self-Parodist, Metamaturling, Metafictionist, Unpalatable Truther, Rhysaurus, Aardvark and Grand Knight of the Order of the Toucan. His Beerbohm rating is off the scale and he is never Away with the Rodens. Although he doesn't exist, he is useful as an imaginary standard against which to compare living writers.

Away with the Rodens

To be Away with the Rodens (alternatively, Living the Roden Life or Living with the Rodens) means to have ultra-orthodox tastes in literature, and by extension also in music and the other arts.

A writer of weird fiction who behaves and works as if the past 100 years never happened is said to be Away with the Rodens. He/she will regard modernism, imagism and symbolism with dismay; and be actively frightened of surrealism, absurdism and postmodernism. This aversion to the new may express itself by means of a certain amount of incoherent (and ineffectual) aggression.

The ultimate Away with the Rodens cultural experience can be closely approximated by sitting in a chair in a room with magnolia walls and listening to a James Taylor song while reading an M.R. James story and eating boiled cabbage without any herbs or spices while wearing a black jacket, white shirt and tie on one's upper body and large offwhite Y-front underpants on one's lower half.


To Ciscoate means to write weird fiction that is genuinely weird.

Most 'weird' fiction isn't very weird at all, but compounded of pre-existing blocks of fairly ordinary and decidedly unweird scenes and situations. The creepy old house, the ghost, the curse, the monster, the twist that isn't a twist, the attempt to evoke a certain atmosphere by using certain descriptive devices. When analysed properly, all are hackneyed and comfortable.

Ciscoesque fiction is different and relies on authentic imagination. It is named after the writer Michael Cisco, the possesser of an outstandingly original imagination.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Phony Fake

A Phony Fake is a fake who isn't what he/she seems.

Most people have had an experience with a phony fake at one time or another. Example: you meet someone and instantly mark them down as a fake and then years later you discover that they really are heroic and did rescue a child from drowning and you realise you’ve been duped again!


Tuckerization is the custom of using real people in stories, usually after changing their names slightly (generally in an absurd manner).

This isn't the same as using real-life historical figures in historical fiction, or famous living world figures in contemporary fiction (as J.G. Ballard did). Tuckerization is on a smaller scale and is more concerned with in-jokes (naming a character after one of your friends rather than inventing a name from scratch). The word was derived from the name of writer Wilson Tucker, a regular Tuckerizer.

Cocknobs and Twonkies are often offended when they are Tuckerized.

Trumpet Sucking

Trumpet Sucking is the opposite of blowing one's own trumpet.

Not all writers are capable of Trumpet Sucking. Twonkies and Too Soon Gurus, among others, tend to insist that they have never written anything bad in their lives. This is flapdoodle. Only three writers in history have never written a dud and those three authors are: Homer, Wu Cheng'en and Glibtone Facetitious.

It takes far more guts to suck your own trumpet than to blow it. To blow your own trumpet just takes a certain aptitude in Tactical Twatism. But to suck your own trumpet takes nobility, strength of spirit and honour. To sacrifice your own ego on the altar of entertainment by disparaging your own work... Greater love hath no other author!

Grand Knight of the Order of the Toucan

A Grand Knight of the Order of the Toucan is one of those exceedingly rare writers who combine vast talent, massive wit and enormous intelligence with considerable experience of the world and a tendency to be extremely original, insightful and inspired at all times. They are philosophical, erudite, frequently contrarian, passionate, phlegmatic, astute, dreamy, utterly independent and totally authentic. They often have backgrounds in science or engineering (rather than the arts) and constantly overflow with brilliant ideas and wonderful conceits. They nearly always have a good physique and superb heads of hair and operate alone as heroic individuals rather than as members of a writing group or cartel.

Because of jealousy and petty resentment, Grand Knights of the Order of the Toucan are frequently unfairly targeted by inferior writers such as hacklings, and also by maturity wankers and clunk cliquers, all of whom resort to dirty tricks and tactical twatism.

Emotional Cripple

This is a term of abuse frequently levelled at characters in fiction who are assassins or warlords or who simply refuse to weep in public.

The truth is that the phrase Emotional Cripple is a bit glib, a second-hand pop-psychology tag.

When talking about physical disability, the word "cripple" is currently unacceptable; so why is it fine when used to denigrate men who don't openly empathise or weep in public or do any of the other things Cosmopolitan and other modern lifestyle magazines declare that men ought to do? There's a lack of symmetry there.

Secondly, assassins and warlords are workers: the job is to kill people, so obviously there are certain qualifications needed for such a job. Callousness, lack of empathy, ruthlessness are some of the requirements needed when applying for such a position. It's the same with any job. A manual labourer requires a muscular physique and an ability to whistle. A factory worker in a bakery needs the ability to stand still and wear a hairnet while gossiping about television soap operas. These are the necessary qualifications. To regard such people as emotional cripples seems a bit unfair. They are merely fulfilling the terms of their job descriptions.

Was Genghis Khan an emotional cripple because he boiled his enemies alive in a pot? That was part of his job. If he wasn't able to do it, he wouldn't have deserved to be who he was.

Pun Tennis

A game in which two writers bat puns back and forth between each other.

There are no official rules governing the playing of Pun Tennis; but it is considered desirable that the puns become more outrageous and absurdist as the game progresses.

Generally only the cleverest writers are capable of playing Pun Tennis. It is an activity well-suited to Grand Knights of the Order of the Toucan, Rhysauruses and Appled Uppers, but completely beyond the abilities of Hacklings, Monkeybators and Pared Downers.


Punophobia is a morbid fear of puns and other wordplay.

Punophobes are unable to understand that wordgames are a bonus to the major elements of a work of fiction, the sidedish or pickle to the main feast, so to speak, and should not be confused with the main course. Surely it is generous of a writer to provide this bonus rather than simply presenting a plain ungarnished meal? It's rarely perceived that way. The punophobe will seize instantly on the sidedish and examine it almost exclusively, insisting that it somehow stands for the true feast. This is bizarre.

One of the reasons that wordgames (especially puns) are disparaged by Punophobes is because there's an assumption that the most respected writers of the past avoided them entirely and only employed sober language. But in fact it was the mid-level authors (Henry James, John Galsworthy, Jane Austen, etc) who adopted that approach; the truly great masters relished the use of wordplay. A casual mention of Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, John Barth, Thomas Pynchon, Flann O'Brien, Gilbert Sorrentino, Vladimir Nabokov and Donald Barthelme, among many others, should be sufficient to prove this point.

Most ( but not all) punophobes are Fully Groan Men.


A Rhysaurus is a smartarse (smartass). Whether a justified or unjustified smartarse is debatable or irrelevant.

Fully Groan Man

A Fully Groan Man is a writer who reacts to puns or other examples of clever wordplay by vocalising (or writing) the word, "Groan!"

This word is possibly uttered as a superstitious protective formula.

It has been claimed that Fully Groan Men tend to make bad writers, as they are strangers to originality. They seem mentally unable to engage in Pun Tennis and perhaps even incapable of perceiving that any encountered pun can be regarded as a challenge to a round of that game.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Funless Wonder

A Funless Wonder is a writer who resolutely refuses to be amused or to find anything amusing in any situation that arises, especially those situations connected with the writing world in general and his/her own work in particular. Funless Wonders never crack a smile. They believe that the world and life itself is an utterly serious matter; or at least that is what they claim to believe. The truth is more likely that they desperately want to be taken seriously as 'proper writers' and regard any and all enjoyment generated by amusement, comedy and fun as a deep spiritual betrayal of this aspiration.


For a definition of this word, please click on this link.


Metamaturity is hypothetical third emotional state beyond immaturity and maturity.

It is generally assumed that there are only two states of emotional development, namely (a) immature and  (b) mature? Why can’t there be a third stage beyond maturity? Let’s call this third stage ‘metamaturity’. Couldn’t it be the case that the traits of a metamature person might sometimes resemble those of an immature person and yet not be the same?

For instance, an immature person laughs at X slipping on a banana skin; he laughs because he is selfish, because he can’t empathise with the pain of X. A mature person refuses to laugh; he is silent to demonstrate that he takes no pleasure from the humiliation of X. But a metamature person might laugh, and laugh loudly, to express defiance at the cruelties of fate, to vocalise his solidarity with X against the whims of the universe. Clearly this laugh still sounds like an immature laugh, but is entirely different.

The next time you are tempted to call someone “immature”, stop and think for a moment. Are you quite sure they aren’t being metamature instead?

Thursday, 24 May 2012


A Softvark is a writer with extremely thin skin, so thin that he/she is excessively upset by insults and negative criticisms, often to the point of harbouring a grudge (which may or may not be acted upon) for years. Softvarks are the opposites of Aardvarks.


Adultish is the correct term for behaviour frequently and incorrectly described as 'childish'.

Hitler is often called 'childish', as if his misdeeds were those of children in general, rather than of one highly specific adult. Hitler wasn't childish. He invaded Russia! That takes a great deal of organisation, even if the operation ultimately backfired; far more tactical expertise than any mere child can boast. History records the actions of very few children. Never has there been an authenticated case of a child invading Russia or any other nation. For one thing, they would have to be home in time for tea!

It might be pointed out at this juncture that 'childish' is a reference to Hitler's petulance, not to the logistics of his campaigns. Nonetheless, real petulance and greed are refinements of the adult. When we casually employ the term 'childish' to dismiss grown up people, we are committing an injustice, for children actually have fairly clean motivations and few requirements. They want attention; unconditional love, entertainment, automatic forgiveness, presents. That's all. They almost never demand justice, sovereignty, empowerment, enfranchisement, hegemony or revolution. Their schemes are modest and small scale. It may be pointed out that those schemes are of the same type: that a child's desire to take a coveted object, say a toy, away from another child is the same as a dictator's desire to deprive another ruler of a country, say Russia. It can be insisted that the difference is quantitative, not qualitative.

But in such cases quantity is inextricably linked to quality and adjusts the quality as a consequence. A toy is an insignificant thing really; Russia is not. To be whacked by a stick once is qualitatively no different from being whacked a hundred times: so runs common wisdom. The difference is only quantitative. Anybody who accepts this should subject themselves voluntarily to a hundred blows and then judge the lack of difference in quality.

When we utter the insult 'childish' we are in fact objecting to actions or utterances that are properly and profoundly adult in nature. The correct word to describe examples of selfishness, power hunger, bursts of anger, the bearing of very long grudges, the attempted manipulation of psychology, and even the glib vocalisation of inappropriate responses, is Adultish.

Adult behaviour rarely has much to do with maturity. The average adult is not mature. The average adult is not childish either, but far worse than that. The average adult is Adultish.

This depiction of children as innocents who are satisfied with the basic emotional necessities of life may appear artificially naïve. Children twist the arms of playmates; they pull legs off spiders; they are bullies. But who excels at such behaviour? Who acts that way on a vastly bigger scale? Adults. Rather than label adults who indulge in such cruelty 'childish', surely it's more accurate to say that aggressive and cruel children are exhibiting precocious Adultish traits!

A fully-grown man or woman who rants and raves, who is selfish, glib or petulant, grasping, egotistical, isn't acting like a child; on the contrary, a child in the middle of a tantrum is practising for adult life. The upshot of all this is hardly profound but is often conveniently forgotten: the normal adult human being is a monster.

It is nicely symmetrical to state that there is only one thing that is 'childish' when an adult does it, namely accusing other adults of being 'childish' in an attempt to belittle them. That truly is childish... But in fact adults do this all the time and children never do it, so it can't be childish; it must be Adultish instead.


An Aardvark is a writer with a very thick skin who can be insulted on a regular basis by individuals or a mob with no seeming adverse effects. As such, he/she is the opposite of a Softvark.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Harrison Bunkum

The erroneous belief that the "deliberate intention to illustrate human values by describing their absence" is feasible and/or desirable. Writers who use Harrison Bunkum generally produce work that is extremely bleak and certainly much bleaker than their own experience (which tends to be only moderately bleak at best). There is a tenuous connection between the principles behind Harrison Bunkum and Negative (or Apophatic) Theology, which attempts to describe God in terms of what He is not, rather than in terms of what He is. The assumption is that nothing at all meaningful can be said about God, because He is beyond human comprehension and that therefore the only way to approximate a description and understanding of God is to highlight the properties and objects that aren't Him, in the same way that an artist might draw a tree by sketching the absences between the branches.

Harrison Bunkum is named in honour of M. John Harrison, a writer of clarified prose who consistently made attempts to highlight the absences around humanity.

Horror Paradox

An inherent paradox embedded in the horror genre that is rarely confronted or even recognised by horror writers. The paradox runs as follows:

Either (a) horror works and is morally wrong (because it horrifies people); or (b) it doesn't work and is thus aesthetically wrong (because it fails to achieve its stated aims).

Modesty by Proxy

The art or action of being modest on behalf of someone else. Typically a writer will take it upon himself to downplay the significance of another writer. This isn't necessarily the same as arrogance, although it is frequently labelled as such. When exercising Modesty by Proxy, the first writer isn't required to sing his own praises but merely to cast doubts on the worth of the work or character of the second writer, either with or without the second writer's knowledge. If done without malice, or with malice very carefully concealed, Modesty by Proxy can be (or seem to be) a useful and positive service.