Asher Black ®
Asher grew up in rough circumstances and carved out who he is while surrounded by rough trade. He has been hit by bats, hammers, bullwhips, ceramics, innumerable fists, and a number of cars. He's taken on predators, parasites, and bullies. He's faced down guns, machetes, torture, and knives. He's stood off gangs, mobs, and secret societies. But he's still here and some of them aren't.
"We live by outlasting the dark," he says, "until we are the most formidable thing it contains." Asher exhales resilience.
He is a corporate storyteller and serial entrepreneur by day, and a former digital magazine editor. By night, he lives the secret life of a fabulist and reporter from the dark side of human passion.
Asher is a New Yorker by transplantation and affinity. He is "Eastern" Orthodox and a skeptic, vegetarian, and a rational anarchist engaged in apolitical politics.
Asher's Haunt™ is the expression of the four quests Asher says all human beings attempt: identity, understanding, meaning, and vocation, or else the single quest to answer four questions: Who am I? What is the world? What is my relation to the world? What do I do now? (Asher's 47th Maxim)
His Friends Say About Him:
"Asher is not a tame lion."
"Asher is, deep down, a predator–at least when he's looking directly at you."
When Asher walks into a place, he has presence. There's no insignificance in the way he fills a space."
"You're a bonfire, Asher."
"Asher is a diva, a man, a survivor, a heretic, a social engineer, a miscreant, an original."
Bio Contributed by a Haunt Resident
Asher Black® is an enigma, but observation *will* reveal certain things about him. For example, on the most basic, surface level, it is evident that mine host is a talker first, and a writer second. In fact, he is currently exploring technology that will turn spoken words into written ones, enabling him to conflate talking and writing. Anyone who has spent any time with him at all knows that he loves to hold forth, and discuss, and discourse, and argue, and incite, and bewilder, and instruct, and persuade, and cajole, both in person and in print. And that he does these things most brilliantly after midnight.
Observed a bit more attentively, Asher reveals further a tendency toward devious thought, and an inclination to the heretical. Moreover, he rather likes these qualities about himself. The latter trait arises, perhaps, from the fact that he will listen as intently as he will hold forth, and if he perceives himself to have been wrong about something, he changes his position immediately to be right. (This, however, is a more speculative observation, and so let us return to the traits of Asher’s that pure attention reveals.) He is unafraid of the dark, can think about and act upon several ideas simultaneously, and smokes, not absent-mindedly or efficiently, but ritually (and please put your Freud away. Sometimes a pipe is just a pipe. Now, cigars, on the other hand…definitely Freudian. Just think about it.).
Asher was heard to remark recently, “I like my food like most things (Asher said “women”): delicate yet hearty.” This remark is germaine here because it points to another trait of Asher’s which it is impossible not to observe: he is an epicure of the old school, or at least an assiduous student thereof. In tobacco, food, clothing, and so on and so on, Asher knows what he likes, and what he likes are fine things.
Asher demonstrates an unmistakeable facility in writing, with a tendency toward the Romantic (heretical?). He has written editorials, poems, stories, and other, less easily classified works, some of which he has displayed for the delectation of Haunt residents. A far wider audience is indicated, in the opinion of this humble scrivener.
Another Bio Contributed by a Haunt Resident
Asher Black is rumored to have an alter ego.
Black Asher™ has the voice of a smoker. Not dry, but a little rough. But his voice is also like the bitterest and smoothest of chocolate, the kind one takes in small bits and toasts over the flame of candle late at night. One sinks slightly into that voice whenever he speaks, without quite being aware of it until one must move to extricate oneself afterward.
He has been called “persuasive”, “resourceful”, “ingenious”, “impetuous” and something of a “miscreant”, but he has a penchant for conspiracy. He has a tendency to teach, even when he doesn’t mean to. His style in everything has the flair of the passionate romantic. He is moody, ranging from delirious comedy to fits of dark brooding.
He is tall, very dark haired, limber, always wears all black, down to his exquisite socks and lacy black wingtips or calf-length black boots. Favors trenchcoats, sometimes but rarely wears a “sam spade” hat. Smokes a pipe – generally black sandblast briar.
He will not say where he is from, and is capable of a variety of strange or foreign accents, and bits of language. His parents, he says, are long dead, and he has no family. It is rumored that he has a secret love. He is also a heretic of several churches.
Familiar with the knife, suggesting a rough background, yet his tastes run to fastidious refinery. He cooks, usually Italian, favors certain wines and liquors but is never drunk, prefers a blend of tobacco that is moist pitch black but not overly sweet laced with spicy Turkish and pungent American Indian varieties. He tends to look angry or unhappy when he is only thinking, which is most of the time.
Black Asher has certain unusual capabilities or tendencies.
Bio From the Second Haunt
Asher Black has lived in many places, been and done many things, worn and still simultaneously wears many hats. Asher has also, at times, quite drastically changed his appearance, and (in keeping with his motto) changed organizations, beliefs, and relationships. Certain things, however, have remained constant. Asher is currently:
These things seem unlikely to change, since Asher can’t help but do them wherever he goes, in whatever capacity he works or lives, and however he appears. And if one looks closely, Asher has always written, published, or taught, in part, to persuade. So naturally, he has been many times a salesman, business owner, founder and/or leader of enterprises and organizations, and has appeared (on occasion, in one shape or another) before a microphone, in the lens of a camera, and under a public spotlight.
He has sometimes been told to turn off his mind or keep quiet (which, for Asher, are the same thing). But one day, he looked at himself and said (along with Happy Harry Hardon), “So be it.” He has sometimes been called arrogant or foolish for not taking the advice, but Asher long ago found himself unable to be ashamed (again, very much like the Eat me, Beat me Lady). One could even refer to this web site as though it were a nude portrait — “Asher Unashamed”.
Another Contributed BIO
I first met Asher in a diner, where he was holding forth one night (it’s always at night) on why no one had thought to apply the principle of saline batteries to the fact that the earth is mostly covered by ocean. Recently, he was arguing with someone about the terminology of sex appeal and, during pauses, castigating US foreign policy as based on apocalyptic eschatology. I hadn’t known what eschatology meant until that conversation. To say Asher has a sharp wit is an understatement, but he’s also a bit of a fop. He’ll sit there with a cashmere scarf draped around his neck, ensconced in a velour robe, wearing silk pajamas and polished loafers, smoking a pipe. The waitresses are fascinated by him. When he orders tea, he says “tea service, please”, because he lives in the South, and “tea” by itself is invariably delivered iced.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that, for a long time, I took Asher for pompous. Now, I wouldn’t put it like that. He’s arrogant, but he’s actually capable of the things that most arrogant people are pretending about. I will say he’s not fully aware of how other people are feeling at times. If he has an overriding flaw, it’s tending to regard people as interesting objects in an amusement park of ideas and, when they fail to interest him, as mere ornaments decorating and perhaps even interfering with his fascination with the world. Asher doesn’t clearly delineate where the world and people are distinct. As a result, he can hurt feelings, and he can really annoy people who aren’t open to an entirely new form of personality, but if people push farther and get to know him deeply, he is a source of constant interest, intrigue, and moral and intellectual challenges. Asher, in short, is not for the faint of heart – he’s for the brave.
Asher himself is brave, if not invincible. We’ve come to his rescue on more than one occasion when the bar crowd gets out and storms the diner, and some loud pugilist sees Asher’s confidence as a threat to be broken. Most of the time, he can handle it. You’ve seen those movies where the villain doesn’t know he’s dead, but eventually looks down and sees the hero’s handiwork? That’s Asher in a rhetorical conflict. It’s only when the guy is clearly planning to bust him up, that we have to remind everyone that this hodgepodge of jokers, outcasts, and lovers of sci-fi is a group. Mess with one of us, and you get us all, even the scary ones.
Asher needs defending – he’s like a rare savant in the world, except there’s never been anyone quite so endearingly foolhardy and, if Asher is a savant, they haven’t yet invented the subject area that accounts for his brilliance. He’s a bright, pathetic star, that keeps lighting our world. That’s why it hurts so much. That’s why it’s so hard that he’s sick.
Editor-in-Chief: Winter 2002-Autumn 2007: Asher founded MYTHOLOG as a way of operating an electronic literary magazine with a globally distributed staff (cutting edge at the time) as a publishing venue for the decidedly odd. The theme of the magazine was literature with some connection to mythic themes, though not in particular mythological topics. The magazine’s editorial staff voted on submissions, edited, copy-edited, proofed, and published the work. The magazine eventually became a paying venue for writers. After a stellar five years, Asher decided to retire the publication (he says “suspend it indefinitely”) in order to pursue his own literary work. “Stopping things on a high note is perhaps the best way to go on to other projects. We created a successful, working magazine that did everything we intended to do, with a great staff, great writing and illustrations, and it’s still a great web site, too.” The magazine’s full contents are still on the web for readers’ enjoyment at MYTHOLOG (.com). From the magazine itself:
Literature of Mythic Proportions
MYTHOLOG is a paying market that operates not-for-profit. It is a quarterly collection of stories and poems, essays and reviews, writers and editors, illustrations and artists, that find myth in places odd and ordinary.
We aren’t hardwired to genre or media. We’ll publish things that fall between the cracks and perhaps stick their claws up to horrify or tantalize us, literature on the mythskirts of a genre. We’re interested in anything that is part of the modern mythos or part of the construction of myth, from the ancient and traditional to contemporary culture, whether it be dark, bright, erotic, mysterious, adventurous, dystopian, folkloric, or fantastic. We define myth as universality of theme and story. The thread of continuity for us is mythic development.
Myth, for us, does not exist merely as a local and historical category of literature. Rather, it is the presence of a universal theme, even when the author decides on local and historical contexts. Myth isn’t simply contained in particular explicit elements such as the gods, the sidhe, or unicorns. Myth can make use of or be completely devoid of such magic elements.
We do want living stories. While truly personal writing evokes universal themes, we’re not interested in literature that is so “personal” that the universal is buried alive, only to be divined by the enlightened gravedigger. The genius of myth is that it persists, because it typifies, liturgizes, and recapitulates the human condition. That is what we look for, publish, and extol in MYTHOLOG.
Genesis and Journey
MYTHOLOG was founded in October 2002 by Asher Black and Clear Glass, released its first (Winter) issue in December of that year, and became a paying market in Autumn 2004. Authors like Brian Ames, and J.R. Cain, as well as Terry Dartnall have included our stories in their anthologies. MYTHOLOG is listed at Ralan and Spicy Green Iguana, as well as Speculative Literature Foundation. Our fiction has been mentioned in Broad Universe Catalog and Eidolon. For other respected links, see our Links Page. For more about our past, see our Issues Archive. There's also a little discussion at Surlalune and AbsoluteWrite.
With peer-judged submissions, high production values, and high standards of professional ethics and copyright adherence, MYTHOLOG demonstrates the relative ease with which electronic publication may equal or surpass the professional qualities of print publications. Furthermore, breaking some assumptions about professional publication itself, MYTHOLOG does not pay writers by the word, but insists that the length of a piece of writing should be that demanded by the story. We buy stories, not words. Since it did not pay writers during its first two years, MYTHOLOG also demonstrated the capacity of free publication to rival the professional qualities of paid publication. Finally, in regard to censorship, MYTHOLOG has taken a simple stance: The internet, like a library, is not a “safe” place. It’s a place that evokes and represents the whole range of human experience. While we censor for literary sophistication, we do not censor for the implications of the content. MYTHOLOG is a free speech electronic publication.
A full description of MYTHOLOG also exists at AboutUs.org
ABOUT GREEN MAN REVIEW
Managing Editor (and Hand Sinister) 2002-2003 (Emeritus from March 2003): Green Man Review was (at the time) the world’s ‘largest’ review magazine of folk music and folk-related literature. Asher joined Green Man Review as a staff writer and quickly rose through ‘the ranks’, holding a variety of roles, including Staff Reviewer (12/01-3/03), Senior Reviewer (6/02-3/03), Proofreader (2/02-03), Layout Editor (2/02-3/03) and Film & Video Editor (2002-03), dramatically increasing the number of film reviews at the magazine and winning the Excellence in Editing Award (2002, August 25). Ultimately, Asher became Managing Editor (4/02-03), and helped bring the staff to 70 members, perhaps the largest globally distributed staff of any electronic magazine at the time. This was before the electronic media revolution, at a time when people still thought of electronic publication as somehow second to print, a situation that has since reversed, much like online education now and electronic publishing as it is developing. Asher became an Editor Emeritus from March 2003. Example reviews include the films Mists of Avalon, Excalibur, and Babylon 5 'Day of the Dead'.
First GMR Bio
Asher Black began reading, writing, and getting into trouble when he was very young. His first science fiction story – a satire on one of the young peers who’d been taunting him – received a summary “F” from his teacher and doomed him to be interested in literature from that time forward. Tossing him Tolkien’s books only encouraged him and he was eventually discovered in the library after hours studying Robert’s Graves’ The White Goddess and other such obviously subversive material. In the couple of decades since then, he’s published poems, articles, editorials, reviews, edited a few minor publications of a similarly “unsavory” nature, and is currently writing short stories. Any wishing to consort with his ilk can contact him here.
OUTGOING GMR Bio
Asher Black is a former Managing Editor, Film Editor, and Senior Writer for The Green Man Review who also managed Layout and served a year as a Proofreader for us. He has also served as an editor of Modern Heresy, is currently Editor-in-Chief of Mytholog, and writes fiction as well as reviews. He is reading the works of Guy Gavriel Kay, Neil Gaiman, Sheri Tepper, and Terri Windling. He can be found lurking about Asher’s Haunt. Asher served at GMR from December 2001 through March 2003.