Nod’s Way – a miscellany from under the hood

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Nod’s Way, the Author’s Edition is scheduled for release in a few weeks, and Stikmantica will have copies for sale if I can raise the funds. Please help make this happen by placing an advance order now through the Stikmantica Market. What follows are stray thoughts from the oracle’s deep background.

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Before switching to Austin College as an English major minoring in philosophy and art, I spent two years at state universities majoring in art while minoring in English and philosophy. During my first few terms at AC, I hitchhiked back to Denton many weekends for caffeine-fueled hours with my best friend, a drawing/painting major, discussing surrealism, theories of archetypes, Marcel Duchamp, and dematerialization of art objectives. My thumb would be out early Sunday morning for a return to Sherman and wordy homework.

During that time I was also groping my way out of a Jungian analytical frame toward the less spiritualized posture of semiotics. Thanks be to Kant for a boost. One division of my intellectual history separates into before and after The Critique of Pure Reason. Whatever other adjectives one attaches to the Robert idoru, “dialectical” must be prominent among them.

Notably, I inhaled Frye’s Anatomy of Criticism concurrently with Kant. Not long after, a friend remarked of one my papers, “This reminds me of Roland Barthes.” I wondered, “Whom?” The AC campus store had translations of S/Z, Writing Degree Zero and The Pleasure of the Text. Barthes led to Umberto Eco by exploratory association. Eco led to Eco’s fiction. You can imagine where that led.

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During my never-finished stint as a graduate student, one of my papers was returned bearing the comment, “Analysis is sound but tone is dangerously close to parody of academic style.” My thought? Next time, try harder.

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Fascinations of long standing in my imaginative world are puzzles with multiple solutions and games without competition or end. A project created for my first design class, when aged nineteen at then-called North Texas State, was a non-terminating game in which rule-governed moves alternated between two sides that did not interact. Not a bad teen-aged foray into conceptual art, but there was no reason to play it. Development has been long and slow to arrive at a basis of open-ended gaming, self joined with chance. Everyone has a reason to play.

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Possibly my favorite class of puzzle (by which I mean also puzzling things) includes those problems in algebra with two solutions of equal mathematical validity, one of which describes consensus reality and the other of which describes something else. I spend considerable time projecting into the hall of mirrors of that something else. I missed half credit on a problem on the final exam of second year college algebra by going down a rabbit hole instead of plowing the surface. Each step was solid, which was worth something, but the proposed solution was unreal. Defending it as work of speculative fiction carried no weight.

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This will make sense to few, so I’ll say it here and then not mention it again. Nod’s Way synthesizes the precedents of Laozi, William Morris, Emma Goldman, Marcel Duchamp, Doris Lessing and Edward Tufte into a uniquely Stikmantic aggregate. There are footprints of the Shelleys and Blake and Laurence Sterne. The Welsh Triads and The Mabinogion lie beneath it all, a Red Dragon.

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Nod’s Way is a dice oracle in honor of my stepson, Tony Manuel, who was an avid D&Der with many special dice as a teen.