I apologize for the vehemence displayed in this piece, and I apologize for interrupting the series “Catastrophe!”. I will finish it up hopefully within a day or two. I also apologize for the incredible (even for me) length of this article. I hope you’ll take the extra 60 seconds to read it…. I thought I fell for a scam… here is how it happened….
What The “Artist” Published
I can’t remember exactly how I found it, but I was over at LibraryThing doing a bit of research and I clicked on their blog. Reading through the top post, I noticed the following update:
“Update from Tim: We’ve removed one book. As a blog comment pointed out, there is said to be controversy over whether the publisher has the right to publish the book. The publisher puts this front-and-center on their website, claiming the consent is “expressed, albeit obliquely, in the book itself.” If the controversy is real, it’s clearly in violation of copyright. If false—as I suspect—it’s an irritating promotional stunt. Either way, we don’t want to have anything to do with it.”
So I decided to follow this little path for awhile.
A quick search on Google for the word “zireaux” gave me a few good hits. At zireaux.com I found this:
“November 28, 2007
It has recently come to my attention that one of my poetic works — which I had composed in personal notebooks and read at public recitals — has been copied and published in book form, under the title “Kamal,” without my permission.
My legal council has contacted the publisher and demanded that all distribution activities concerning the book be stopped immediately and that all copies of the book be destroyed.
I was also advised by legal council to publish this statement declaring my objection to the book. I request anyone who has purchased a copy of the book to destroy it, and anyone who is considering purchasing the book to desist.”
It’s signed: Sincerely, Zireaux.
There are no other links there. It’s a static page. This is all Zireaux wants to say here. This is all I could find that he has published. Time to move on.
Moving On, The “Thief” Emerges
And so I did. Clicking on the next Google link took me to a page on yahoo.net, where I found my first introduction to ImmortalMuse Publishers Ltd. Allow me to give you some of my first, and lasting, impressions.
The page at first appears to be a nice “About The Author” type of thing, but within literally a couple of seconds exposes itself for what it actually is. In the first paragraph we find this sentence:
“And even though a poet may be well-known in New Zealand, there’s still ample opportunity for an American scholar and editor to be the “first in the world” to discover him and publish his works.”
Basically, this guy is saying right there that he is stealing the work of the artist, simply because the artist is not well-known in the thief’s geographical area. Yeah, jerk, based on the information available… I’m calling you a thief. “Ample opportunity” does not give you the right to publish anything against the will of the artist. If you were in front of me right now, I would have “ample opportunity” to explain this to you in a more substantial and physical way. But that opportunity would not give me the right to hit you. So. I will take this “ample opportunity” to say I think you are a thief, and “Bite Me”.
Reading further, we find a section titled “About The Editor”, wherein it is claimed that this guy, Bernardo Winson, lives in the USA and holds a PhD in English Literature. It further states that he “discovered” Zireaux on a visit to New Zealand. I searched for about an hour, using every engine I could think of, and I couldn’t find any references to this guy that he didn’t write himself. Usually, the holder of a PhD in any discipline can be found by searching Google alone. Why, you say? Because to get that title, they have to actually publish something new. This guy appears to have published nothing.
“But Look How Hard I Had To Work To Steal This Stuff!”
Reading onward through the page, we find a section called “A Note about the Transcription of Zireaux’s Work”, wherein the thief tries to justify his crime by showing the amount of work it took to produce the book. By his own description, the work was never intended for publication.
“A Note about the Transcription of Zireaux’s Work:
The works published by Immortal Muse were recovered from a box of 198 small, red-covered, 100x160mm spiral notebooks, each with 50 leaves, or 100 pages which flip nicely over the top, the kind of notebook which once used to identify newspaper reporters (a stubby pencil behind an ear). These notebooks, at one time, were the property of Zireaux, whose writings they contain.
The leaves of these notebooks are neatly ruled in blue (21 rules per page) and Zireaux seems more or less frugal with space, only occasionally skipping lines. A typical Zireauxian stanza of just 12-14 lines, however, can end up scattered across 15 pages or so in a tangled wreckage of arrows and scribbled deletions. To further complicate one’s attempt to rescue these lines, whatever text survives – often circled or starred or just laying there quivering beyond the crash zone – is further crippled by Zireaux’s atrocious penmanship. And even then, even once a stanza is compiled and stretchered to safety, Zireaux rarely composed his verses chronologically, forcing one to decipher his unique numbering system in order to rehabilitate the stanza to its correct position within the larger context.”
Notice that we are never told how he came to be in possession of the notebooks. Notice how he insults the true author, how he exposes the author’s creative process and ridicules it. This is the work of a true loser. Not only is he insulting the author whose work he has stolen, we find him here trying to manipulate us into somehow justifying what he has done. Let’s look a bit deeper, shall we?
The Publishing Company? Where Are The Rest Of The Books?
On the homepage for Immortal Muse there is only one focus, and that is this book I am talking about here. I am reprinting the text here for you all to see:
“Dear Potential Reader,
Kamal, Book One, is a novel in verse of five cantos, in structured, mostly iambic tetrameter or pentameter rhyme, totaling 5,472 lines. For more information about the book, click here, or you can download a pdf copy of the first 27 pages.
Kamal was written by Zireaux, a fact I would never deny. He is the true creator, the official birth-parent so to speak. Nor would I deny him the legal copyright to this book, as you can see in the copyright notice on the title page.
To those readers and critics who may question my decision to publish Kamal without its author’s permission, I implore you to proceed with your reading and interpretation of Kamal as a work of art rather than to allow myself, or Zireaux, or anyone else to sully your experience with questions about the legitimacy of this book’s existence.
I think you’ll find that even if Zireaux claims I have no rights to publish his work, his consent, in fact, is expressed, albeit obliquely, in the book itself – through its narrator, its main character and themes. And whether or not the right is granted, it remains incumbent upon us, as compassionate beings, to preserve a specimen made vulnerable by its beauty (even if we aren’t its original creator!).
In this regard I believe my publication of this book and my accompanying footnotes – meant to make Kamal accessible to readers from even the remotest outposts of the English language – represent the least I could do to fulfill my most basic obligation as a literary scholar and human being.
— Bernardo Winson, Ph.D.
New York City”
His most basic obligation being, it would seem, to feed his bank account with ill-gotten earnings from another’s dedicated work.
This is just some guy. His top level website uses only one page, which links to a Yahoo page which he calls Immortal Muse Publishers Ltd, where he hawks ONE BOOK. The entire site is devoted to it. Where are the other books, Bernardo? And you received your PhD from which school? And the Ltd in your name means … what? Do you even know? And why can I not find ANY information on you ANYWHERE on the net under that name, or with those credentials? Are you even who you say you are? I, for one, doubt it. I welcome your response, which I will publish here for all to see.
The Wordout Response To Losers
I’d like to say a couple of things to this whaledung-on-the-bottom-of-the-ocean type of mentality.
I have a few boxes of notebooks full of things I never plan to publish, too. And yes, these notebooks have words crossed out, underlined, parenthesized, arrowed to and away. They are full of cryptic abbreviations and symbols that you will never decipher in a million years. These notebooks are practically unreadable to anyone else but me. Those who have seen or read the finished works that came from these notes have formed their opinions of the work. But they did so without having been exposed to the inner workings of my process, without being tainted by the chaotic and messy structure of me talking to myself within my notes.
Regardless of whether my name is known in New York or not, you do not have any right to publish these books without my consent. You do not have the right to ANYTHING belonging to another person, regardless of what it is, without their explicit consent.
You, jerk, are a thief. You say that the permission is implicit within the words of the narrator character in the book? Come on, who do you think you are fooling? A character in a story now has legal rights? You’re just trying to sell a copy of the book by baiting us on something that cannot possibly be there in the way you say. I call BULLICUS on you, Bernardo Winson! You are a thief. Everyone sees the huge “L” on your forehead. You must see it yourself, each morning in the mirror. And what the hell does that last sentence in that paragraph mean? The only thing that remains incumbent on us is that we respect the wishes of the author and follow the laws of our land. You have done neither.
If Zireaux wants his work published, on a page or on the web, he will have it done or do it himself. From what I can find, Zireaux is more of a “performance artist”, delivering his works to his audiences in person. He uses words, yes, but they are spoken by him in the way he wants them heard. He may feel that the words need his own voice, or the presence of his own body, his own facial expressions… whatever. For some reason, Zireaux has decided that this is his method. That is his decision to make, and ours to accept whether we understand it or not.
In case you want to do a little investigating for yourself, here is the contact info published on the Immortal Muse site:
Phone/Fax (UA): +1-661-452-1599
Interesting way of writing the phone number, isn’t it? Almost like this guy has no idea how to annotate a phone number for the USA. UA is the international abbreviation for Ukraine, but the number appears to belong to a company called Ammas, an Indian search firm.
Many of you know that I believe in going directly to the source to find the real info, so feel free to send emails to Immortal Muse to get their opinions, reactions, and philosophy concerning publishing raw notebooks dubiously found in a box belonging to a successful, contemporary artist. If they give you anything interesting, come back here and share with the class! I’d recommend calling them, but it’s just a machine hosted by another company. Of course, if he has to pay them by volume….
Whatever you do, please, do not buy this book from anywhere.
I am Jon, and I’m no friend of Immortal Muse Publishers Ltd.
It appears that, as Tim has noted in the comments, I have been had.
Check out these 2 whois reports:
LOOK FOR “IMMORTAL MUSE – REVISTED” FOR AN UPDATE TO THIS STORY!
Definitely do not buy this guy’s book.
And Tim, Thanks for the heads-up from all of us reading Wordout!
I am Jon, and THIS STORY AIN’T OVER, either…
We now return to our original programming…