‘You’re not who you think you are’

The title of this blog is one of the more provacative statements made by Carolyn Elliott in her exhillarating 2020 book Existential Kink.

Existential Kink: Unmask Your Shadow and Embrace Your Power (A method for getting what you want by getting off on what you don't) by [Carolyn Elliott]It’s tempting to respond, “Oh yeah, well then who the hell am I?”

Students of metaphysics, medicine, psychology, philsophy, and new age ideals–among others–have pondered the who am I really question for years. I don’t really feel competent to write a review of Elliott’s book here. She draws on a lot of areas, many of which we have stumbled across but never put together into a coherent system, about why we aren’t who we think we are and why our positive affirmations don’t seem to work.

One key is that we are more than our ego (in terms of ego, superego, and Id) and that the ego tends to ignore the unconscious part of the Self as though it’s either unimportant or doesn’t exist. So, from Elliott’s perspective–which agrees with Carl Jung–who we really are includes the part of ourselves we tend to deny. When we do this, the unconscious part of ourselves is actually running the show, that is to say, (in Jung’s terms) the shadow.

The answer, which appears counterinitutive, is integrating the Self rather than denying/disliking most of it. I leave that idea here as something to ponder. Jung says that the part your Self that you don’t include in your conscious approach to life will come upon you a fate. Elliott mentions that the whole Self always gets what it wants and that much of what we do in our daily lives amounts to magic we don’t realize we’re practicing.

Personally, I think I need to keep studying her book (or else).


My novel “The Sun Singer” is a hero’s journey book, one means of integrating the Self.

Enjoying Christine Carbo’s four-part Glacier Park Series

There are four novels in Carbo’s Glacier National Park police procedural series. I just finished The Weight of Night which was released in 2017. The books have a lot of snap, crackle and pop to them, strong characters, and accurate descriptions of the world of Glacier.

From the Publisher:

The Weight of Night: A Novel of Suspense (Glacier Mystery Series Book 3) by [Christine Carbo]In a land sculpted by glaciers, the forest is on fire. Thick smoke chokes the mountain air and casts an apocalyptic glow over the imposing peaks and vistas of Montana’s Glacier National Park. When firefighters are called in to dig firebreaks near the small town bordering the park, a crew member is shocked to unearth a shallow grave containing human remains.

Park Police Officer Monty Harris is summoned to the site to conduct an excavation. But with an incendiary monster threatening to consume the town, Monty seeks help from Gretchen Larson, the county’s lead crime scene investigator.

While the two work frantically to determine the true identity of the victim, a teenager suddenly disappears from one of the campgrounds in Glacier. Could the cases somehow be connected? As chances for recovery of the missing boy grow slimmer and the FBI finds only dead ends, Gretchen and Monty desperately race to fit all the pieces together while battling time, the elements, and their own unresolved inner conflicts.

The Weight of Night is the latest novel in an award-winning series which “paints a moving picture of complex, flawed people fighting to make their way in a wilderness where little is black or white” (Publishers Weekly). It is a gripping tribute to the power of redemption set against one of America’s most majestic and unforgiving landscapes.

Any one who enjoys police/suspense novels will probably find this to be a page-turner. Those of us who worked in the park and/or visit it often will enjoy “going back again” via Carbo’s stories.


Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing


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Malcolm R. Campbell’s novels include a few set in Glacier National Park and a few more, including “Fate’s Arrows,” set in north Florida.

Constantly re-designing my website

My boredom with everything static drives me to constantly tinker with my web site.  It’s definitely eccentric because–so I have been told (or accused of)–I am eccentric. I suppose when it comes down to the why of the website, it’s a continuing attempt to find kindred spirits, those most likely to read my novels.

What I’ve done here is added two Tarot cards from the Swords suit in the Thoth deck, the ace and the Knight (called the king in other decks). Swords represent the various aspects of the Air element, and I am very partial to this. The ace is the beginning, the first thought/idea: as I look at the world (and magic) the ace comes before everything else. The knight is my “personal card” in the deck, representing the analytical trickster.

According to Biddy Tarot, “The Suit of Swords Tarot cards deal with the mental level of consciousness that is centered around the mind and the intellect. Swords mirror the quality of mind present in your thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs.” I like this way of looking at swords.

Raven Tarot, a wonderful site for those who use the Thoth deck, says, “So the Swords represent the qualities of intellect and rationality, but also to every considerated achievement like culture, science, philosophy or any ongoing process that later ends up as ‘history’. This almost explains by itself why the Swords can be blessing and malediction the same time.” I also like this way of viewing the suit.

These symbols on the website obviously mean something to those who read or study Tarot cards and the associated Tree of Life. Like a tuning fork that causes a nearby tuning fork to vibrate at the same frequency, I believe these symbols are also a calling card to like-minded people who may have little or know knowledge of the Tarot. The images of the cards speak of magic, of course, and a way of seeing the world outside our consual view of reality. Those are the prospective readers of my books.

Does the site sell any books? Hard to say. If so, that’s good. If not, then my point of view is “out there” and (for me) that’s more important than the books.


‘Facing the Mountain’ by Daniel James Brown

“The 442nd Infantry Regiment was an infantry regiment of the United States Army. The regiment is best known as the most decorated in U. S. military history and as a fighting unit composed almost entirely of second-generation American soldiers of Japanese ancestry (Nisei) who fought in World War II.” – Wikipedia

Daniel James Brown’s highly readable, deeply researched, and illustrated with maps and photograps book Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II tells the heartbreaking and glorious story of second generation Japanese Americans who, though reviled by many Americans and thrown into concentration camps by the President while their homes and personal property were confiscated, rose up and did their duty, as they saw it, to become one of the United States’ most effective and feared regiments fighting the Germans. Their motto was “Go for Broke.”

The book is strongly personal because it follows an ensemble cast of characters throughout the shock of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the ordeal of President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 that relocated without probable cause 120,000 Japanese Americans, 2/3 of whom were native born American citizens, into POW camps, and the decision by over 12,000 of the men to join the Army and fight for their country in spite of that their country had done to them.

From the Publisher

They came from across the continent and Hawai‘i. Their parents taught them to embrace both their Japanese heritage and the ways of America. They faced bigotry, yet they believed in their bright futures as American citizens. But within days of Pearl Harbor, the FBI was ransacking their houses and locking up their fathers. And within months many would themselves be living behind barbed wire.

Facing the Mountain is an unforgettable chronicle of war-time America and the battlefields of Europe. Based on Daniel James Brown’s extensive interviews with the families of the protagonists as well as deep archival research, it portrays the kaleidoscopic journey of four Japanese-American families and their sons, who volunteered for 442nd Regimental Combat Team and were deployed to France, Germany, and Italy, where they were asked to do the near impossible.

But this is more than a war story. Brown also tells the story of these soldiers’ parents, immigrants who were forced to shutter the businesses, surrender their homes, and submit to life in concentration camps on U.S. soil. Woven throughout is the chronicle of a brave young man, one of a cadre of patriotic resisters who stood up against their government in defense of their own rights. Whether fighting on battlefields or in courtrooms, these were Americans under unprecedented strain, doing what Americans do best–striving, resisting, pushing back, rising up, standing on principle, laying down their lives, and enduring.

This story falls into the rather large category of history that most of us did not learn in our high school American history classes. That adds insult to injury. In one sense, Brown’s book is an apolgy. In another sense, it sets the record straight for all who will listen.


stormy weather, keeps raining all the time

What do you make of this?

What you see here on RADAR is the remains of hurricane (briefly) Nicholas. They’re like the haint that won’t go away. Ida haunted people all the way up into New England. At present, Nicholas appears to be heading more or less north. Is there a reason for this?

Those with PhDs in stormy weather can show you on a weather map how so-called “global winds” determine the route of a hurricane (or its remains). The models seldom agree 100%, so we tend to see hurricane path maps as a bunch of spaghetti–a twisted mass of potential routes.

My view, which isn’t accepted by anybody other than those who are considered kinky, is that the storms’ paths are determined by the people who want to experience them.  Obviously, credible meteorologists don’t include the human equation when considering where a storm will go next. Global winds, though, aren’t the whole story when you exclude people–en masse–who want or need a storm. That is to say, they call it into their neighborhood.

Why would they do that? Excitement, getting out of stuff, pitting oneself against the elements, doing heroic deeds, increasing one’s supply of “war stories,” mind-bending highs, living on the edge. Most of that is subconscious, so people can claim they don’t know anything about it and, yes, act offended when anyone suggests the storms go where they are most wanted.

What others believe about storms doesn’t bother me. That is to say, I have no agenda insofar as enlarging the scope of what meteorologists consider in their metrics. And yet, if you secretly enjoy the thrill of storms, then perhaps you know that you and others like you created that reality on your doorstep.

Gosh, is that crazy or what?


Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing


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Phoebe Snow Rode the Rails in a White Dress

One of the more inventive advertising campaigns at the beginning of the 1900s was the Phoebe Snow promotion by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad to promote its use of anthracite coal. This is top grade coal and burnt cleaner in steam locomotices than bituminous coal. In the days of steam locomotives, one problem was the cinders that trailed behind the locomotive and flowed in through passenger car windows soiling clothes and sometimes starting fires.

This happened less often with anthracite coal. The railroad, which ran in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania until Conrail absorbed it in 1976, had a nearby source of anthracite coal. This meant that using a campaign character who rode the rails in a white dress was made to order.

Elmo Calkins created the campaign and its fictional character who was portrayed as a socialite who frequently rode between New York and Buffalo in a white dress and a violet corsage became, according to Wikipedia, “one of the most recognized advertising mascots in the United States, and in further campaigns she began to enjoy all the benefits offered by DL&W: gourmet food, courteous attendants, an observation deck, even onboard electric lights”

Says Phoebe Snow
about to go
upon a trip to Buffalo
“My gown stays white
from morn till night
Upon the Road of Anthracite”

Now Phoebe may
by night or day
enjoy her book upon the way
Electric light
dispels the night
Upon the Road of Anthracite

Later the railroad would bestow the name Phoebe Snow on one of its trains, and the singer Phoebe Snow would take her her stage name from the railroad’s advertising character. 

A glance through railroad history books shows that during the days of privately owned (pre-AMTRAK) passenger service, advertising was a competitive art.


In the 1990s, Campbell served as the collections manager, researcher, and grant writer for a railroad museum in Georgia. Unsurprisingngly, his fiction–such as “At Sea” often includes railroads.


Our sick cat: she got better

A while ago, I wrote a post about the day every pet owner dreads, the day your pet leaves you. I was thinking of our 18-year-old female cat, Marlo, who has had inoperable cancer for quite a while. Nothing we can go about it. Then suddenly, she got worse. No apparent pain, just a near total collapse. I’ll spare you the graphic details.

She became thin as a ghost. Could hardly walk. Slept a lot. We had meds to ease pain, but she didn’t have any. So the meds relaxed her, something she needed when she got hyper

We weren’t ready for her to go. One is never ready. When her condition got out of hand, we talked about putting her down, something we’re generally opposed to doing, yet decided perhaps we’d take her to the vet the following day. But then we didn’t.

And she got better. Started eating again. Drinking more water. Walking without staggering. Eyes bright and focused. We were stunned. Once false move, and we’d jinx it, we thought. And yet, for reasons we may never know, she’s moving well (and fast, too), dozing in one lap or another while we’re watching TV, and hanging out at her familiar places throughout the house.

She’s really hungry. I’m not surprised. She needs to put on weight.

So, what happened?

I don’t have a clue. A random prayer, perhaps. Or maybe she just changed her mind, figuring she had a lot of mischief left to cause. Yes, that’s probably what happened.


We lost the brief love and unity our nation felt on 9/12/2001


The days that followed, much like the days after Kennedy’s assassination, were days of communal grief and processing. Let it be noted – it is important that this be noted – that in those first days after the attack, unlike the ugliness of the military misadventures that have come to mark America’s official response to that day over the last twenty years, the people of the United States were beautiful. In our heartbreak and horror people were vulnerable, actually, and open. – Marianne Williamson

When a family experiences a tragedy, they draw together and support each other and console each other with love and compassion that they may feel uncomfortable displaying on normal days. So, too, a town wiped out by a flood or a tornado or a nation hit with a terrorist attack that takes nearly 3,000 lives.

Those feelings of national unity and concern for each other didn’t last. We lost our chance to keep that focus during the last 20 years. Now we find ourselves in a polarized nation where the default response to the smallest of things is often uncvilized hatred.

“Hey, there’s an old lady without a mask; let’s beat the shit out of her.”

“What do you mean I can’t come in your store without a mask? I’ll be back tonight to torch the dump, teach you a lesson you son of a bitch.”

I guess if one feels righteous enough, they can be immature.

Some of you will disagree, but I place a substantial amount of the blame for today’s polarization and uncivilized behavior at the foot of the U. S. Government. In my view, its response to 9/11 was about as inept as its response to leaving Afganistan. The so-called “Patriot acts” are an example. When a government spies on its own citizens, what kind of result should it expect? We can’t even get on an airplane without being searched. So much for probable cause.

The remains of our country’s once great news media have taken chaos and turned it into biased reporting, and that includes both CNN and Fox news. Both networks highlight divisiveness because it’s good for the ratings even thought it harms the country.

So today, while I will not forget 9/11, I also will not forget the unity and compassion of 9/12. We lost 3,000 innocent people on 9/11/2001 and then in the years that followed, we lost our national soul. Two paths diverged in a wood, and we took the low road, the one that’s killing everyone who survived 9/11. Today I wish we could, as a nation, look at how things anded up and resolve never to allow them to end up that way again.

I don’t think we will, but I can hope.


Women’s prize for fiction goes to Susanna Clarke’s ‘mind-bending’ ‘Piranesi’

Susanna Clarke, who published her debut novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell 17 years ago and then was struck down with chronic illness, has won the Women’s prize for fiction for her second, Piranesi. Narrated by its eponymous hero as he explores the endless halls of a house that imprisons an ocean, Piranesi is “a truly original, unexpected flight of fancy which melds genres and challenges preconceptions about what books should be,” according to the Women’s prize chair of judges, Booker-winning novelist Bernardine Evaristo.

Source: Women’s prize for fiction goes to Susanna Clarke’s ‘mind-bending’ Piranesi | The Women’s Prize for Fiction | The Guardian

When I reviewed this book on this blog a year ago, I have the novel five stars, concluding, “For those who don’t require fire-breathing dragons or the snap of lethal energies flung from the hands of protagonists and antagonists in epic battles, this book is a treasure to be savoured like fine wine.”

This is one of the most creative books I’ve ever read and a worthy follow-up to Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Clarke became ill after finishing her first novel and never thought she’d recover enough to write this one 17 years later.  I’m pleased that she was able to complete it and happy about today’s news about the prize.


Briefly Noted: ‘Getting Around in Glacier National Park’ by Mike Butler

Mike Butler, who drove one of Glacier’s iconic red busses some years ago, has put together a compelling book about the park’s transportation history in the “America Through Time” series from Arcadia Publishing. Like most Arcadia authors, Butler has included a wealth of spectacular photographs: definitely a high point of the 128-page book that was released in Febuary.

From the Publisher

“Getting around in Glacier National Park was quite difficult for early travelers seeking to experience its towering mountains, deep glacial valleys, and extensive lakes. With Glacier’s location in the far northwestern corner of Montana, just getting to the park when it was formed in 1910 was a challenge for travelers. To meet this challenge, the Great Northern Railway brought early tourists to this remote location, transporting visitors to its East Glacier and West Glacier stations. From these entry stations, tour buses took passengers to majestic hotels which the Railway built at East Glacier, Many Glacier, and Waterton Lakes. Visitors seeking adventure within the park could then take horseback trips from the hotels to remote chalets, also built by the Railway. Boats plied the waters of Glacier’s lakes, taking tourists to chalets and hiking trails. Over 900 miles of trails were built across the park. Finally, as automobile travel gained in popularity, the magnificent Going-to-the-Sun Road was completed across the Continental Divide at Logan Pass in 1933.”

In his review in the Glacier Park Foundation’s newsletter, Mac Willemssen said, “The book’s chapters describe the development of the railroad, the roads, the boats, the buses, the trails, and the hotels. As such, it’s a great complement to anyone’s Glacier library. It’s very readable and easily puts the reader right in Glacier, whether in a bus, a boat, or on a trail.”

Butler is also the author of five other Arcadia titles: Around the Spanish Peaks; Great Sand Dunes National Park; Southern Colorado: O.T. Davis Collection; Littleton; and High Road to Taos. His brother David is the author of the 2014 Arcadia book Fire Lookouts of Glacier National Park.

In the Daily Interlake’s February review, Carol Marino wrote, “Getting Around in Glacier National Park is packed with historical details and over 150 photos of the park’s early years. It offers such rare glimpses into the park’s pictorial history, such as explorer George Bird Grinnell standing on a glacier in 1926 with his wife Elizabeth Grinnell. Both he and James J. Hill played a pivotal role in the establishment of Glacier Park.”

If you love Glacier National Park, this volume is a treasure.