Archive for July, 2011

The Authors Behind the Author of “The Hypnotist”

The Hypnotist” is probably the most prevalent name for any fictional book dealing with hypnosis: I know of at least 8 or 9 of them, not including this most recent release. There seems to be a cycle, as there are times I think that a book with this title comes out regularly, with two regular publications already this year: it could a regular feature of the blog to read and comment on them alone. But its rare that the critics take notice of such books, so its worth noting when one does.

The Hypnotist” by Lars Kepler is the most recent book of the name, a Swedish mystery novel (translated into English) where the hypnotist is not the suspect or the detective, but in this case an investigator (the third most logical choice) called in to help the young survivor of a series of murders recall information about the crime. It was a best sellar in Europe, called the biggest sale of the 2009 London Book Fair and since received excellent reviews in such venues as Entertainment Weekly, the Independant (UK), and others. Some are even calling Lars Kepler the next Stieg Larsson (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”.)

Except that author Lars Kelper is only a pseudonym for Swedish authors Alexander and Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril. They were interviewed in the US National Public Radio Morning Edition program, which can be heard here. They can also be seen in a video interview:

Principal Under Fire for Hypnotizing Students

A Florida high school principal is under fire for hypnotizing several of his students. The actions came to light after one of his students committed suicide, although there is no proof of the connection between hypnosis and the suicide other than certain derogatory elements of the public stereotype of hypnosis.

The principal, Dr. George Kenney, from the news reports, is no amateur regarding hypnosis: he wrote four books on using hypnosis for various student-related problems including test anxiety and sports performance, and on at least two reported occasions hypnotized students with their parents’ consent. Kenney’s credentials seem very legitimate, as he learned hypnosis at the Omni Hypnosis Training Center in DeLand, Fla.

Still, the controversy fuels the public misconceptions of hypnosis in a largely negative way, and thus the subject itself is a victim, as well.

Commentary:

First off, while he may have done so for the most innocent of reasons and purposes, still the perception remains that he may (and I repeat may) have done so on minors especially without the permission of their parents or guardians. In many jurisdictions, that is illegal and could very well even be termed criminal assault. That said, according to the news reports, in the case of the student who committed suicide, his parents did give the principal permission, to help the student deal with test anxiety. He is under police investigation based on a 1961 law that prohibits the practice of therapeutic hypnosis by lay hypnotists without the supervision of a medical professional. Kenney faces a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine if convicted.

Secondly, he did so despite the explicit injunction by the school board against such actions. Why the board made such a move, and that it is reported that Dr. Kenney lied about such actions, does not bode well for him and the subject of hypnosis in general.

However, what I find slightly troubling is the 50-year old law against lay hypnosis which does not acknowledge the present state of hypnosis as it is practiced today. I also have to wonder how often such a law has been applied in recent years.

References:

Two Weekends, Two Conventions

The following has nothing to do with the overall subject of the blog yet everything to do with the continual maintenance of the owner of the blog.

The past two weekends were occupied with either attending and/or working two widely different yet strangely similar conventions. (And thanks to the WordPress scheduling system, I was able to complete my posts ahead of time yet publish them on a regular schedule.) As someone who used to attend maybe 6–8 conventions a year when I could afford them, getting to more than two that aren’t local is more than a little depressing. Still, it was good to get out to them, if only to remind myself to have a good time.

CONvergence

CONvergence is a regional-sized SF convention in Minneapolis: I have now attended three, one a couple of years ago when it featured authors Mercedes Lackey (who I know as Misty Lackey from reading her fan writing before she went professional) and her husband Larry Dixon, both of whom rarely do conventions because of their busy schedules and involvement with outside responsibilities, then the last two because of invitations from a very good local friend who let me stay at her place instead of needing a hotel room.

This year I went with the purpose of having fun, and fun I did, both at the convention and with my friends outside of the convention. Because I love to do panels, and despite the lateness of my request, I was actually able to even be on two panels, one on the Legion of Super Heroes and one on Bond gadgets, and the other panels I attended it seemed as it I should have been on them, anyway, given how much I contributed to them.

What I find interesting is the very vibrant fan community in the Minneapolis / St Paul Twin Cities area, to the point it can support at least two SF conventions, an animé convention and a gaming convention, as well as a number of regular fan community activities. Its a community I could like being a part of.

IkasuCon

IkasuCon is a local animé that is a transplant from Cincinnati: the convention committee was disappointed in their local convention facilities and looked around the general area for better facilities, and when they came here, they found an excellent facility (and were given cookies, too!) Many of the staff still live in the Cincinnati area, but gradually a number of locals are “infiltrating” the ranks, including myself as the local marketing representative, which means that I walked around the convention a lot, carrying my camera and taking pictures of individuals. I found several excellent costumes in evidence and took a number of pictures that I call “money shots” that are destined for my fannish display book.

What I find interesting here is the very active local animé fans, many of whom are ardent costumers. That stands in counterpoint to the seeming lack of any kind of local organized fan community: as the second largest city in the state, there should be enough support to have its own SF convention and be otherwise active, yet there isn’t the support for an SF con, and the local gaming convention is slowly fading into oblivion. That’s why I find the animé convention so different that I hope it will be the focus of more local fannish activity.

Similarities

The similarities between the two conventions is the energy that permeates them. Its rather breathtaking for someone whose been in various fandoms for over 30 years to see the people there, many of whom are maybe ⅓ of my age: Having watched a number of the fraternal organizations my parents were a part of start slowly fading away, I have been concerned the same thing happening with SF fandom. These two conventions remind me that fandom is still a thriving culture: Perhaps not thriving in the same areas (animé, for instance) than when I started, but thriving nonetheless.

In short, attending both of these energetic conventions was like refueling: I am a social animal yet I don’t have the resources to get out as much as I would like, so a weekend (or two) like this will have to suffice.

No Award’ by Roger Zelazny

When the Secret Service employs telepaths to protect the President against assassination, the only way to get an assassin close enough is to keep the mind of the assassin somehow in suspension until the very last moment.

Description: In ‘No Award’ by  Roger Zelazny, we see the first-person stumblings of a man caught in a dilemma, being present as a Presidential address with little memory of how or why he was there. His memory and thoughts are fragmented, but disturbing flashes keep distracting him. And then, when he sees his hand produce a gun, he is immediately at war with himself, allowing the Secret Service the time to stop him.

What had happened, the man is told, is that a group intending to assassinate the President used a number of surgical and psychological techniques to separate his brain into two distinct personalities, one conscious that was the ordinary mind and one kept in a deep trance state until the proper moment and the proper trigger. Unfortunately, that process could not be reversed, leaving the man with only half of a mind, unable to communicate with the other half except through the most crude of ways.

History: This story is reprinted in “The Last Defender of Camelot”, and Roger explains the origin of the story:

Betty White of The Evening Post suddenly solicited a 3,500 word story from me one day, so I did this one quickly and she bought it just as quickly. Then I asked her why she had wanted it. She told me that she recently had her television set on and was occupied with something which did not permit her to change channels readily. A show named “Star Trek” came on and whe watched it through and enjoyed it. She had not known much about science fiction, she said, and she resolved to stop by her paperback book store the following day, buy a science fiction book at random and read it. It happened to be one of mine. She read it and liked it and decided to ask me for a story.

It is interesting to contemplate what novel Betty White read. This story was published in 1977: at that time, Zelazny had published the greater portion of his novel work, including his award winning novels “This Immortal” and “Lord of Light”, several other nominated works, as well as 4 out of the first 5 Amber novels.

MM!”

Practically everyone in this show has some kind of mental hangup, and that’s the focus of the series.

For the three main characters, they all have full-grown psychological disorders that conflict and coöperate at the same time. The male lead Tarou is a masochist, but only when women do the damage; Mio is a sadist and, in classic animé style, is self-conscious about her flat breasts; and Arashiko of the abundant breasts cannot stand being touched or even being around men and will even attack them if they get too close. Therefore, Tarou is in ecstasy when Mio or Arashiko hit him, and they do, a lot, as Mio gets inordinate pleasure from doing so whereas Arashiko does so when flustered or by accident and is immediately sorry.

Its also the running joke, that Mio is always trying to find ways to ‘cure’ Tarou’s masochism (including an candle-lit exorcism) that always wind up reinforcing his masochism instead of curing it. Of course, one of those ways involves hypnosis.

The rest of the cast all have their hangups as well: Tarou’s mother and teen-aged sister are extremely overly affectionate toward him (both want to marry him) and even compete with each other (and his girlfriends) for his affections; Tarou’s friend Tatsukichi is a cross-dresser (and quite good at it) and seems to have an alternate personality emerge when dressing as a woman; Noa, a senior, although her appearance is still that of a younger girl, is a genius who never had a childhood as she had to study all the time, and who always refers to herself in third-person; Noa’s assistant Yukinojō is a major lolicon (fan of prepubescent girls) and joined the Inventor’s Club to be closer to Noa; and school nurse Michiru knows all about everyone’s hangups, possesses an apparently unlimited supply of cosplay costumes and loves to take pictures of the students in them.

Needless to say, the entire series is NSFW.

⇒ Continue reading “MM!””

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