Frequently Asked Questions
The following questions are some of the more common things visitors ask about the Brazen Head. If you'd like to know more about TheModernWord.com and the Libyrinth, feel free to visit the Site Information page, accessible from the button in the upper right corner.
Who runs this site?
My name is Allen B. Ruch, although I tend to use my online nickname of the Quail. I am the Editorial Director of TheModernWord.com, and I run the Brazen Head as its site editor as well. You can read more about me, and my relationship to James Joyce, in the Introduction.
Do you accept submissions?
Absolutely! The Brazen Head is meant to be a community effort, and I gladly accept quality submissions such as reviews, papers, essays, or Joycean projects. Just drop me a line and we can discuss your idea.
Do you answer all your email?
Yes. I run quite a few sites and I get over 50 email messages a day. I try to answer most of the letters that people send me; but it usually takes me a few days. Don't let this discourage you from dropping me a note; I place a tremendous value on feedback of any sort, especially corrections, suggestions, and shameless flattery. Just understand that it may take a bit of time for me to reply. If it is very important and/or time sensitive, such as a request for permission to use Brazen Head materials for an upcoming project, or an offer to take Tori Amos out on a date next Saturday night, please write IMPORTANT in capital letters in the subject line. I will try to get to it immediately.
How do I cite this Web site on a report?
That may very well depend on your instructor. Usually it is appropriate to give the site name -- The Brazen Head -- with the URL, a date, and my name -- Allen B. Ruch. You may want to cite an individual page, in which case the URL is appropriate.
Can you offer me help on a school project or a research paper?
I often get asked to provide facts, ideas, topics, and other assistance on a research paper, and occasionally someone asks if I can email them some additional material on Joyce. As much as I would like to, I simply do not have the time to offer individualized help on research papers. All the information I have I eventually place online at an appropriate location, and I try to feature various books of criticism and links to other sites that may be of assistance to students.
Can you send me extra criticism or information about Joyce or his work?
No -- quite simply, because if you don't see it on my site, I don't have it. I put everything I can online; sometimes it may take awhile, but it'll get there. I swear I'm not holding out -- I'm not hoarding a secret critique of Finnegans Wake by Umberto Eco or anything like that. (Or so I say, heh heh heh.)
Boy, you sound grumpy. Do you ever answer any questions?
Sure! As a matter of fact, I enjoy some of the more offbeat questions. I just won't answer the kind of questions that can very easily be answered by, say, a nearby encyclopedia. (Like when people ask me, "Was James Joyce ever married?" or something like that.) Again, I am not trying to be rude, I just need to conserve my time.
The links on your pages sure do have long, funny names! Are those quotes from Joyce's works?
Yes. One of the joys of creating this site is finding quotes that set off my different subsections -- I try to select quotes with a certain degree of appropriateness or irony; but occasionally I just choose one because I like the sound of it. I realize this may be a bit confusing at first -- especially the Finnegans Wake quotes! On a related note, I absently failed to write down the exact source of each quote, and I have discovered that I no longer remember where I found some of them! So I am sorry to say that I cannot provide that information.
Do you do all the graphics yourself?
With the exception of the buttons and general framework, I do all the banner images myself -- except, of course, for the untouched photographs and any pictures of bookcovers and such. I love playing around with Adobe Photoshop, and I have a wide range of filters, fonts, and effect generators that provide me with endless hours of amusement. Some of my favorites include Kai's Power Tools, Adobe Gallery Effects, Alien Skin Eye Candy, and Alchemy Paint Magic. (One day I will make a pilgrimage to the Adobe Campus in California, and I shall reverently lay small offerings at their front door. . . . and perhaps light a few candles around a picture of Kai Krause. . . . ) I usually start with a stock image -- gathered from the Web or scanned in -- and then I throw on some music, fire up the coffee-maker, and get to work. To create a standard image -- like what I use in the title banners to many of my pages -- usually takes between two and five hours, through which I go through many alternate versions and rejects, some of which occasionally find their way elsewhere on the site.
Where do you get your ideas for the images?
I usually start with a picture of the author and try to conceptualize a visual representation of a certain aspect of his work. I then start slamming back the coffee and begin working him over in Photoshop. Music, however, is just as important as my coffee and software; and the type of music that I'm listening to as I futz around with an image greatly influences the eventual outcome. My standard favorites are Philip Glass for detail work, Phish for experimental explorations, and Dead Can Dance for more arcane creations. Besides being something of a Beethoven NUT, I'm also very partial to opera, and I find that four hours of Wagner can be wonderful to set a mood. Some of my other favorite "work music" includes Robyn Hitchcock, Aphex Twin, Brian Eno, Robert Fripp and King Crimson, and the composers Steve Reich, György Ligeti, James MacMillan, Christopher Rouse, Michael Nyman, Tan Dun, and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Other musical inspirations include music related to an author's work (Gregorian chanting, Baroque, or jazz for Eco) and music contemporary with an author's time period or background. Laugh if you will, but I listened to a lot of Astor Piazzolla and three different versions of Evita when I was designing the Libyrinth's Borges page. . . .