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Encyclopedia > A Dancing Bear

A Dancing Bear is an online novel purportedly written by the Australian author Mark Osher (born 1970). The book, which is savagely comic in tone, tells the story of a duplicitous and sexually deprived university undergraduate named Fenton Bland, who joins a society of student Maoists in order to get near a female Maoist with whom he is helplessly in love. The girl, Charmaine, turns out to be already spoken for: she is involved with the chief Maoist, the obese, depraved, and possibly dangerous Gus, who is determined to transform the Maoists from a disreputable rabble into a crack cadre of revolutionary terrorists. As the Maoists embark on a series of calamitous and increasingly worrying terrorist exploits, Bland must deal with a growing moral dilemma: either he can continue pretending to be a Maoist, thereby running the risk that he will one day find himself perpetrating a genuine, unbungled terrorist atrocity; or else he must dispense forever with his only hope of getting the girl. Online means being connected to the Internet or another similar electronic network, like a bulletin board system. ... Daniel Defoes Robinson Crusoe; title page of 1719 newspaper edition A novel (from French nouvelle Italian novella, new) is an extended fictional narrative in prose. ... Mark Osher (born March 26, 1970) is an Australian novelist, whose only known work is the online novel A Dancing Bear. ... 1970 (MCMLXX) was a common year starting on Thursday (the link is to a full 1970 calendar). ... A comic novel is a work of fiction in which the writer seeks to amuse the reader: sometimes with subtlety and as part of a carefully woven narrative, sometimes above all other considerations. ... Representation of a university class, 1350s. ... In some educational systems, an undergraduate is a post-secondary student pursuing a Bachelors degree. ... Maoism or Mao Zedong Thought (Chinese: 毛泽东思想, pinyin: Máo Zédōng Sīxiǎng), is a variant of Marxism-Leninism derived from the teachings of the Chinese communist Mao Zedong. ... For other uses of the term, see Cadre (disambiguation). ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Terrorism refers to the use of violence for the purpose of achieving a political, religious, or ideological goal. ... An ethical dilemma is a situation that often involves an apparent conflict between moral imperatives, in which to obey one would result in transgressing another. ...

Contents


Authorship

Officially the book is said to be the only work of Mark Osher, who is said to have disappeared exactly one year after completing it, having been driven to despair by his failed efforts to get the book published in his native Australia. Bloggers have questioned this dramatic story, pointing to several ambiguities and omissions in the available data. For example, Osher is not listed in any publicly accessible missing persons records; a supposed photograph of him on the original Dancing Bear website is permanently broken; and the site was registered on April Fool's Day 2005. Taken together, these facts raise the possibility that the Osher authorship story is at least in part a literary hoax – a genre in which Australians have traditionally excelled, from the Ern Malley affair to the more recent cases of Helen Darville and Norma Khouri. This article is about a type of web application. ... This page as shown in the AOL 9. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with HTTP 404. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... A genre is a division of a particular form of art or utterance according to criteria particular to that form. ... The Ern Malley edition of Angry Penguins Ern Malley, fictional poet, was the central figure in Australias most celebrated literary hoaxes, and has become one of the best-known names in the history of Australian poetry. ... Helen Darville (born 7 January 1971) is an Australian journalist and writer. ... Norma Khouri (Norma Majid Khouri Michael Al-Bagain Toliopoulos, 1970-), a Jordanian woman living in exile in Australia, is the author of the book Honor Lost: Love and Death in Modern-Day Jordan. ...


Definitive information about Osher is supposedly available at the original Dancing Bear website, via an unlinked page that can only be accessed after the reader has completed a rigorous questionnaire concerning the book's contents.


Plot Summary

The novel is set on an unnamed Australian university campus. Its setting in time is also unspecified, but internal evidence suggests that the action takes place in either the late 1980s or early 1990s. The first chapter narrates Bland's traumatic inauguration into Maoism, and ends with Gus hastily announcing his plan to enter the field of revolutionary terror. The second chapter sketches the ideological backdrop of the book: Bland is a student of "Socioliterology," a fictional discipline in which the study of literature is subsumed under a more general and highly theorised study of culture, society, language, and other systems of oppression. The Head of the Socioliterology Department is Professor Ivan Lego, whose books and lectures are parodically reminiscent of those of Foucault and Derrida. The Department’s sole remaining exponent of old-style humanism is a lecturer-cum-tutor named Robert Browning – a "haggard defender of the canon" whose losing ideological battle with Ivan Lego encapsulates recent real-life trends in the Humanities. The Universitätscampus Wien, Austria ( details) Campus (plural: campi) is Latin for field or open space. English gets the words camp and campus from this origin. ... The 1980s decade refers to the years from 1980 to 1989, inclusive. ... See also 1990s, the band The 1990s decade refers to the years from 1990 to 1999, inclusive, sometimes informally including popular culture from 2000 and 2001. ... This is a list of academic disciplines (and academic fields). ... Old book bindings at the Merton College library. ... The word culture, from the Latin colo, -ere, with its root meaning to cultivate, generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activity significance. ... Human relationships within an ethnically diverse society. ... Oppression is the negative outcome experienced by people targeted by the arbitrary and cruel exercise of power in a society or social group. ... In contemporary usage, parody is a form of satire that imitates another work of art in order to ridicule it. ... See: Léon Foucault (physicist) Foucault pendulum Michel Foucault (philosopher) This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Jacques Derrida Jacques Derrida (July 15, 1930 – October 8, 2004) was an Algerian-born French literary critic and philosopher of Jewish descent, considered the first to develop deconstruction. Positioning Derridas thought Derrida had a significant effect on continental philosophy and on literary theory, particularly through his long-time association... Humanism is a broad category of active ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appeal to universal human qualities—particularly rationality, common history, experience, and belief. ... Lecturer is the name given to university teachers in most of the English-speaking world (but not at most universities in the U.S. or Canada) who do not hold a professorship. ... // English secondary schools In English Secondary Schools the Form Tutor is similar to an American Home Room Teacher. ... The Western canon is a canon of books and art (and specifically one with very loose boundaries) that has allegedly been highly influential in shaping Western culture. ... An ideology is an organized collection of ideas. ... The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view. ...


The following chapter introduces the third and last of the book's main narrative strands. Bland sits down for coffee with a childhood friend named Pamela Scratch, whom he has a dim memory of having had sexual relations with in a sandpit at the age of five. In the years since, Pamela has turned into an uncompromising and fiery radical. She is founder and spearhead of the campus organisation SNARBY, an anti-nuclear group ("Stop Nuclear Arms Race, Barbaric Yankees") which has, following the untimely cessation of the arms race, found it hard to settle on a new project that is "both politically valid and consistent with the acronym." After campaigning for the release of an all-too-briefly imprisoned grandmother ("Secure Noelene Astle's Release, Bureaucratic Yes-Men"), Pamela is on the lookout for a third cause. Bland cursorily suggests that she campaign for the liberation of some other prisoner with the same initials. He then impulsively mentions the name of Neville Aggot, a notorious and patently guilty psychopath currently housed in an institution for the "Differently Sane" after hacking to death a well-to-do family of four. To Bland's surprise, indeed to his horror, Pamela considers the idea an excellent one, and she proceeds to energetically run with it. Coffee Coffee is a beverage, served hot or with ice, prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant. ... The anti-nuclear movement holds that nuclear power is inherently dangerous and thus ought to be replaced with safe and affordable renewable energy. ... An Arms Race is a competition between two or more countries for military supremacy. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Backronym and Apronym (Discuss) Acronyms and initialisms are abbreviations, such as NATO, laser, and ABC, written as the initial letter or letters of words, and pronounced on the basis of this abbreviated written form. ... There are several common types of campaign: For organized efforts, each toward specific political goals, see political campaign. ... Alternative meaning: Initial (linguistics) Detail from a rare Blackletter Bible (1497) printed in Strassburg by J.R.Grueninger. ... See Also: Antisocial Personality Disorder Theoretically, psychopathy is a three-faceted disorder involving interpersonal, affective and behavioral characteristics. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Social organisation. ...


As the book proceeds, the paths of all these characters intersect. The Maoists compile a death list, and put Ivan Lego at the top of it. They resolve to plant a bomb near his office. When it emerges that none of the Maoists is an explosives expert, Gus unilaterally appoints one of them to the position, and gives him a month to build a working device. Unilateralism is an antonym for multilateralism. ...


In the meantime, Ivan Lego has published a runaway best-seller entitled Empty Pages. The book consists entirely of blank pages, in keeping with Lego's celebrated theorem that "every speech act is an act of semantic genocide." On the domestic front, Fenton's life is disrupted by the death of his housemate's cat, whose corpse is bizarrely allowed to remain lying on their TV room carpet for the rest of the book, thus becoming the ultimate symbol for humankind's ongoing inability to resolve disputes over the removal of household garbage. A bestseller is a book that is identified as extremely popular by its inclusion on a list of top-sellers. ...


Pamela Scratch strikes up a personal correspondence with Neville Aggot, and persuades a TV network to air an hour-long special dedicated to his plight. The show is a public relations disaster, but in its wake Aggot receives a slew of marriage proposals through the post. He proceeds to marry one of his admirers in a small ceremony in the grounds of the Butterfly Lodge facility. Robert Browning reappears in the degrading role of workshop leader for Fenton's Lego Studies class. The Maoists' explosives expert is mildly maimed when a half-finished device goes off in his backyard bomb lab. Neville Aggot, while playing in a Staff versus Client football match on a pitch located outside the confines of Butterfly Lodge's electric fence, escapes. He drives to the apartment of Pamela Scratch, who isn't home. He removes a raw chicken from her fridge and violates it sexually. He then disappears, and becomes the subject of a massive manhunt. A television network is a distribution network for television content whereby a central operation provides programming for many television stations. ... Public relations is the art and science of building relationships between an organization and its key publics. ... Look up Football in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... An electric fence is a barrier that uses a painful or even lethal high-voltage electric shocks to deter animals or people from crossing a boundary. ... Manhunt can mean: A police search for a particular individual. ...


With Aggot still at large, Gus is inspired to launch a new terrorist plot, whereby the Maoists, for very complicated reasons, will slay Ivan Lego in such a way that the crime can be pinned on the psychotic escapee. Thus Gus and Fenton, packing a tomahawk and a meat cleaver respectively, attempt to enter Lego's home in the dead of night. The philosopher catches them in the act, and blackmails them into targeting Robert Browning instead. The novel's penultimate chapter finds Fenton, wielding an untraceable handgun, inside Browning's dimly lit apartment, negotiating a mutually suitable way out. In the novel's final chapter Charmaine talks Fenton into rejoining the Maoists, and we are left with the impression that his experiences have taught him nothing at all. Tomahawk may refer to: The tomahawk, a type of axe made and used by Native Americans The BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missile, built in the United States The Curtiss P-40 fighter aircraft Tomahawk, an alternative rock band fronted by Mike Patton Tomahawk, Wisconsin, a city and Tomahawk (town), Wisconsin... Chinese and old North American cleavers A cleaver is a large knife that varies in its shape but usually resembles a square-bladed hatchet. ... A philosopher is a person who thinks deeply regarding people, society, the world, and/or the universe. ... Blackmail - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ...


Style and influences

The book owes a clear debt to what is perhaps the best-known campus novel of all, Kingsley Amis's Lucky Jim, as well as to the more surreal and dark comedy of Evelyn Waugh and Joseph Heller. (Indeed a character from Waugh's Put Out More Flags also bears the surname Bland.) There are also echoes of Martin Amis and of the Don DeLillo of White Noise. The insertion of "found" magazine and newspaper articles to advance the narrative is reminiscent of James Ellroy's use of the same technique. Christine (Sharon Acker) and Jim (Ian Carmichael) only moments away from their first kiss Lucky Jim is a comic novel written by Kingsley Amis, first published in 1954. ... Evelyn Waugh, as photographed in 1940 by Carl Van Vechten Arthur Evelyn St. ... (May 1, 1923 – December 12, 1999) was an American satirist best remembered for writing the satiric World War II classic Catch-22. ... Photo of Martin Amis by Robert Birnbaum Martin Amis (born August 25, 1949) is a British novelist. ... Don DeLillo (born November 20, 1936) is an American author best known for his novels, which paint detailed portraits of American life in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. ... White Noise is a novel by Don DeLillo, and is considered a landmark in postmodern literature. ... Photo of James Ellroy by Robert Birnbaum James Ellroy (born Lee Earle Ellroy on March 4, 1948 in Los Angeles, California) is an American writer. ...


The novel's preparedness to deploy multiple styles for parodic purposes (the chapter describing Aggot's escape from Butterfly Lodge is written in the hackneyed style of a football match report; a chapter on Lego's sudden success is rendered as an article from a People-style magazine; and the approach of Gus and Fenton to the Lego murder site is written in a pastiche of Stein/Hemingway/Chandler tough-guy prose) suggests that the author has read and approved of certain chapters in Joyce's Ulysses. Indeed a late and short chapter of A Dancing Bear is rendered entirely without punctuation – a technique that inevitably calls to mind Molly Bloom's interior monologue in Ulysses, but that also, on a simpler level, evokes the rugged style of the Australian joke or yarn. Gertrude Stein, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1935 Gertrude Stein (February 3, 1874, in Pittsburgh - July 27, 1946) was an American writer, poet, feminist, playwright, and catalyst in the development of modern art and literature, who spent most of her life in France. ... Ernest Miller Hemingway aka Papa (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) was an American novelist, short story writer, and journalist. ... Raymond Chandler Raymond Thornton Chandler (July 23, 1888 – March 26, 1959) was an Anglo-American author of crime stories and novels. ... The name Ulysses can mean: The Roman equivalent of Odysseus A 1922 novel by James Joyce: Ulysses (novel) A 1967 movie based on the novel, Ulysses (movie) A solar probe: Ulysses (spacecraft) A poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson A anime television program produced by DiC Entertainment: Ulysses 31 An indie... The name Ulysses can mean: The Roman equivalent of Odysseus A 1922 novel by James Joyce: Ulysses (novel) A 1967 movie based on the novel, Ulysses (movie) A solar probe: Ulysses (spacecraft) A poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson A anime television program produced by DiC Entertainment: Ulysses 31 An indie...


External links

The original A Dancing Bear website, containing the full text of the novel, together with an account of its background and history, and a small glossary of Australian terms and expressions (http://www.adancingbear.com).


A blogger's view (http://blog.kynan.org/reviews).


See also


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