figure common lot image of title character

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 Chapter One: Cette Illusion de la Mortalité

Section i. Battlefront


Honoré Gremot is the first of four narrators, a Belgian not of the working class, not of the bourgeoisie . . . and not (though, like all Belgian Gremots, consumptive) persuaded life’s options are limited. Richard Everard has lost the family farm, as had Monsieur Gremot, Honoré’s father; in Richard’s case, through intemperance and loathing, rather than the fatal Gremot ambition. The Everards and the Gremots have a connection in common (annoying to both clans if they knew it) through the Sartains of Paris and New Orleans. Young Richard inherits the full weight of the Everard legacy, and the unrequited admiration of Élucide Gremot, of the Indiana Gremots.



Excerpt: A Figure from the Common Lot



My friends, often we say in our hearts, “I cannot forgive”; when, what we mean to say is, “I cannot excuse.”

Many acts of a selfish or heartless kind are more than we can make excuse for; and failing to find reason adequate to justify such cruelty, we feel that the act is unforgiveable. Yet, it is not the act; rather it is our sin, our human weakness, that frailty that is the inheritance of all mankind, that we understand and forgive. And this we may do, without excusing the act. It is myself that I forgive, when I forgive my brother.


from chapter four, “The Eye of a Magpie”; section i., The House of Gremot

(Honoré, an inmate of the almshouse, reads a religious tract)


He conjectured, Honoré thought, that Claudette’s spirit had descended from what Ebrach liked to call “the other realm”…or that she had materialized from the ether, and had drawn close to her brother. Her unseen hand had touched his, and through some occult conduit (one which no doubt Ebrach’s book explained), her soul had spoken—and he, Honoré, had comprehended its langauge. Therefore, last night, he had known with the heart what he could not know now, by the light of day, with the intellect. And yet…he did feel convinced Claudette had died, and could give no sound reason for thinking so. She had never been ill as Honoré had been. And he himself lived. Even so, he trusted this revelation of Ebrach’s…but could not call his surety faith.


from chapter four, “The Eye of a Magpie”; section i., The House of Gremot

(Honoré interviewed by Ebrach)


Bedlam (sequel) predicted for 2020
“1881: the perfect palindromic year”



Sending a book out to publishers is like fishing by tossing a worm onto the surface of a pond, and checking back from time to time to see what sort of progress the worm is making. This table of contents illustrates why A Figure from the Common Lot is difficult to pitch. People want the first three chapters, and Figure‘s chapters would take the reader to page 393. Chapter sectioning is not typical in fiction, but it happens.



all bedlam courses past expected 2020 heroine Elucide

Bedlam continues the story, with the railroad scheme forcing evacuation of the county Hospital for the Insane, the registering of unknown buried, the end of the mandate specified by the founder—and of interest to new board member Ebrach—to determine (having the use of the inmates) the cause of insanity; this, beginning in the year of the Garfield assassination. Élucide finds, as Young Richard had said long ago, that the world makes a place for you and keeps you there.



See slide show and hear theme music:


Poems and Songs

The Culture

We are important

Our three-letter alphabet

Constructs our limited language

The gravitational center

Draws our attention-seeking message

The message is

I am important

Yet you don’t know me


On an oxbow

The current passes

A fallen tree, submerged

At a cross-angle, green murky-brown

Depths, hot from the sun

The surface still, gnats rise

Kingfishers, blackbirds, bank swallows

The river has right-of-way


Its current carved the land

Many more miles long

Than the eye can see

Landholders, granted degrees

On the bank, exchanged in principle

The ornamental alloy



Leaf, sharp, continuing, under-hand

Wheeling gears, dying in prison

The message

Is a low-rate postcard

Issued by the government

One follows, the other is drawn behind


A fuse, a wreck

The weight of gold

The magnitude of moral conduct

Floods the bank and leaves behind

Slippery oil, combustible

Where is your confident belief?

Your commitment and your care?

You have competition

You have been consumed by fire

You have not lived five hundred years

You have not risen from ruin


But you have bought a tract of land

You have enclosed the grounds

Unlawful, inhumane

Spoiling by ineptitude


Every act and every choice

Must be a contest

Nothing you know

Bends to accommodate

Your love is a word

The word is nothing

The word is the deed

And love is nothing


The Culture II

The Kreutz Sungrazer

Should it return

Centuries ahead


Trail its nebulous vapor of ammonia



The devil’s alloy

Nickel-plated offerings


text slide a figure from the common lot


Commodify your tears

Make your work efficient

Import your tears in boxcars

Be done with it

A question harms you

A word destroys you

Step from the shadows

We will hear your voice



Then hear mine


text slide a figure from the common lot


Pearls to swine

Cede to the shake-down

Know yourself, protect yourself

Donate early and often

To the community coffers

Pull down the rafters

Pry up the shingles

Break the foundation

Menace with symbols


Your road-blocking

Your smoldering debris

May burn like lime

But the times


text slide a figure from the common lot


Have your back to the ledge

You hold

Within a shaking hand

Your fortune told

Doomed to wander, or to linger

Once the card is drawn


Your pyramid is the inverse

Top-weight crushes the future

Leverage, secrets, access

Entrée to other classes

The Culture: Prurience


High-pitched and shrill

Take notice, be alert

Be furtive, surreptitious

Come out of your hiding place


Make overtures, besiege, beset, bedevil

You bear a close resemblance

Today’s project

Is your own desire


You feel an unreasonable emotion

An unwanted preoccupation

Akin to stealing

You play a traveling game of pursuit

Sidling, confiding private matters


die schönheit verse a figure from the common lot


This intolerable passion

This disordered invention

This fulfilled wish

You have a political character

An organized policy

The power to sway

You’re inflamed, excited, fear-mongering, obsessed

Talk around, talk about

On the rooftops, in the hallways

Talk it over, talk it out

In the gutters and the alleyways

Eye-popping, nodding, hand-waving, humiliating

Slippery, oily, through side-doors and back-doors

Silence and darkness


Unyielding, unapologetic, intractable


You’re a victim

The unfair scrutiny

The world’s cruelty

The life blood

The backbone

The veins and arteries

The fortress stones

The den of righteousness

The good people



Elucidate: Go without fear (psalm 27)




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