These are the projects that I have lined up next for completion and publication:
Sparkles on the Inlet: Lyrical Sketches of a Deep Cove Childhood
This is a collection of my earliest memories of growing up in North Vancouver’s Deep Cove in the early 1960s. Illustrated with selected family photographs, Sparkles provides an intimate look, through the eyes and ears of a four-year-old boy, of that unique time and place.
“Moving Day,” one of the stories in this collection, has been produced as a video performed by Val Cole. Watch and listen here.
The Odyssey Television Scripts
I’m bringing out e-book versions of the scripts for season 1 of The Odyssey, the fantasy TV series that I created and wrote with my writing partner Warren Easton. The half-hour series, which ran on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation from 1992 to 1995, followed the adventures of 11-year-old Jay Ziegler when he falls from a tree fort and ends up in a coma, where he finds himself with amnesia in an alternative world populated and ruled by children as a kind of police state. The show has been broadcast in more than 50 countries. I’m publishing the first 13 episodes as facsimile editions of the actual shooting scripts, and will also make them available as a set.
While I am not a professional or an academic philosopher, I am a human being and therefore engage in philosophical thought and have arrived at certain beliefs. In this way I am a kind of citizen-philosopher, and I would like to offer my more worked-out thoughts to my fellow citizens of Earth for their consideration.
Meme 0 (so numbered to be like the origin of a Cartesian graph) is the first in a series of short monographs, each dealing with a single idea. The American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce said (and I believe him) that reasoning, or “thought in action, has for its only possible motive the attainment of thought at rest,” or belief. The Memes I’m presenting are where my own thoughts have come to rest in the form of beliefs, argued and expressed briefly, and summarized as pithy propositions that you can take home, if you choose, and add to your own stock of beliefs.
The Hour of Separation: A Love in Letters, volume 1
Kahlil Gibran wrote that “love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.” Two longtime family friends of mine, whom I knew as Harvey and Dorothy Burt, discovered the truth of this in May 1955. For at that time they were lovers married to other people and had been conducting a clandestine affair since 1951. Dorothy, who had no children, was ready to leave her second husband, but Harvey, who had a young daughter, was deeply torn about breaking up his family. In frustration and despair Dorothy decided to leave the situation behind her and fled to Europe, where she joined their friends author Malcolm Lowry and his wife Margerie. A torrid correspondence between Harvey and Dorothy began; they quickly realized that they could not live without each other, and they wrote to each other almost every day for the next year.
This correspondence survives almost in its entirety, and was bequeathed to my mother, Frances Vitols, before Harvey’s death; she took on the task of typing the letters. Now I am editing them and will bring them out as a series of books. Here is a large collection of love letters written with passion by two people who were educated, candid, and well spoken. As far as I know, nothing like it exists in the history of literature. It’s exciting to be bringing such a powerful and intimate document to the world.
Samten: Diary of a Buddhist Monk
On Valentine’s Day 2002 I flew across Canada to take up a one-year residence at Gampo Abbey, a Buddhist monastery on the wind-scoured coast of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Taking temporary ordination as a monk, I ceased to be Paul Vitols, husband and sometime television writer, and became Samten, which is Tibetan for “meditation” (or “absorption” or “stable mind”). This is the journal of my stay: an account of my day-to-day experiences and of my interactions and relationships with the people there. It is a record of what I regard as a peak experience of my life, even as there was also plenty of boredom, anxiety, and conflict along the way. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a Buddhist monk, you’ll get a glimpse here—or at least learn what it was like to be this Buddhist monk.
The Odyssey Odyssey
In February 2008 I started to tell the story of the creation of The Odyssey in a series of posts at my old blog, Genesis of a Historical Novel. I am currently reposting the series here, on my new site, for readers new and old to enjoy. At the moment, there are 26 installments.
I plan to finish the story and publish the whole thing in e-book form. If you’ve been following The Odyssey Odyssey on my blog, then you’ve probably acquired a taste for tension, network politics, and artistic differences. Maybe not exactly The Day of the Locust—how about The Day of the Spider Mite?
The 20 Best Movies Ever Made: A Screenwriter’s Choices
What makes a movie good, and what makes us disagree about this? In 2016 the British Film Institute’s list saw Vertigo replace Citizen Kane as the greatest film of all time, but neither of these movies appears even in my Top 20—or my Top 100. So what made my final cut, and why?
In this book I present my top films in countdown format. I look at how the movies were produced, at their critical reception, what to look for when you watch, and how each has earned its particular place on my list. Chances are you’ll disagree with me, at least sometimes (heck, the British Film Institute does), in which case you can let me know what your picks are and why. Maybe we can duke it out. But I provide strong and specific reasons for my choices, so you’d better have some of those too.
While you wait for publication day, you might get some ideas by browsing the alphabetical list of my Top 100 movies. What, yours aren’t on there? Oh dear.
The Age of Pisces, episode 1: The Mission
The Age of Pisces is an epic series of novels about the events leading up to the birth of Christianity, experienced through the eyes of a number of passionate characters. Each novel in the series forms one episode.
Episode 1, The Mission, opens as the civil war that is shaking the Roman empire arrives at a turning point: the leader of the conservative republican side, Pompey, is killed in Pelusium as he flees his adversary Julius Caesar. This event sends a shock wave through the whole Mediterranean world, including the little state of Judea, where a shrewd and ruthless man named Antipater rules under Roman suzerainty.
The action brings Antipater’s ambitious son Herod, aged 26, into conflict with a charismatic magician named Menahem, a leading member of the austere spiritual community known as the Essenes, who have a secret agenda of their own: to restore the ancient monarchy of David.
Watch me talk a little bit more about The Age of Pisces in this short video.
Green and Free
Western civilization has flowered and prospered on the basis of freeing and empowering the individual. The political philosophy of liberalism, with its economic counterpart capitalism, has produced a new kind of human society on Earth, one that is wealthy and free. But the forces of freedom and wealth have also led to the degradation of our environment, such that we, Homo sapiens, are in the process of bringing about the sixth great extinction event on Earth, destroying countless living things and maybe ourselves too. Were the creation of liberal philosophy and capitalist technology fatal mistakes?
Green and Free is my effort to harmonize political freedom and environmental prosperity. I don’t like to think that we human beings must undergo mass die-offs in the manner of animals that cannot control their behavior or their numbers, or that we must put ourselves under the authority of a green dictator who decides what and how much we are each allowed to consume—and perhaps who among us is to live and who to die. I want to live in a world where each individual is precious and free, and where the natural world is vast, vital, and treated with the reverence it deserves. With this book I will seek to lay the intellectual foundation for creating such a society and such a world.