Arthur S. Halsey, Jr.



Biography and Origins

While there exists no doubt that Arthur S. Halsey, Jr. (ASHjr) is a cur­rent, and secre­tive, writer, there are dis­tinct ques­tions con­cern­ing his iden­ti­ty, most notably a gen­er­al con­fu­sion as to his absolute time spec­trum. Reports have indi­cat­ed that ASHjr “attend­ed school­ing” in the 1980s and is a mem­ber of Gen­er­a­tion X, hav­ing been born in the ear­ly 1970s. This would put him in his late 30s (sum­mer 2010), and the gen­er­al con­sen­sus is that ASHjr is a cur­rent author, writ­ing con­tem­po­rary to now. (In fact, much of his mate­r­i­al is con­cerned with the inter­ac­tion of the 21st cen­tu­ry net­worked world with that of the recent past, espe­cial­ly var­i­ous pin­point moments of the 20th cen­tu­ry.)

How­ev­er, there are oth­er con­tra­dic­tions in the historic account. Arthur S. Halsey was known for devel­op­ing a “bomb rack and con­trol” in 1933, and his appear­ances had been briefly doc­u­ment­ed in both Great Britain and New Eng­land at var­i­ous points in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry. It has been pro­posed on at least a few occa­sions that the real ASHjr, a vision­ary, had writ­ten his entire oeu­vre in the past and the work is only sur­fac­ing now due to delayed agency release. This propo­si­tion does not seem like­ly. Oth­er spec­u­la­tions indi­cate that some of these ref­er­ences are actu­al­ly to ASHjr’s father, or to oth­er per­sons of no appar­ent rela­tion. What­ev­er the case, the secre­cy and con­fu­sion has only ele­vat­ed Halsey to cult sta­tus as a writer.

Online “disappearances”

Inex­plic­a­bly, there were occa­sions when it appeared that Halsey had all but dis­ap­peared from the Inter­net. This phe­nom­e­non has not been explained and can­not be caused by brief net­work out­ages as the actu­al ref­er­ences in the links appear to have been cut, but appear lat­er in a future time. The “dis­ap­pear­ance” has an uncan­ny con­nec­tion to actu­al sit­u­a­tions and themes in his work, as will be shown.

Writing style and work

ASHjr is pri­mar­i­ly known for a new fic­tion style described by read­ers and crit­ics at times as “extra­or­di­nar­i­ly fun,” “cin­e­mat­i­cal­ly vivid,” “extreme­ly strange and fright­en­ing” and “thrilling.” This style appears con­cerned with explor­ing lost and con­tem­po­rary ideas of history, the para­nor­mal and the unknown in a lit­er­al “fab­u­list” man­ner, heav­i­ly atmos­pher­ic in an often noir mode, and his mate­r­i­al (often lit­er­ary in style while bla­tant­ly com­mer­cial in char­ac­ter and design) is some­times described as para­noir, a genre that seems exclu­sive to him. A char­ac­ter­is­tic ASHjr piece involves “timebend­ing” and “time splic­ing” (varous events occur­ing at two sep­a­rate moments in time and con­nect­ed, or two dis­tinct scenes at dif­fer­ent times occur­ring at the same loca­tion, or a lin­ear scene whose prin­ci­ples or nar­rators are oper­at­ing in reg­u­lar time but are cut­ting through time and space at a dif­fer­ent speed, or mul­ti­ple iso­lat­ed moments — dis­tant in time and space — that are con­joined in the nar­ra­tive to reveal plot motion and mean­ing); ele­va­tion or reduc­tion to dif­fer­ent men­tal states involv­ing exper­i­men­tal psy­chol­o­gy, psy­chotrop­ic phar­ma­col­o­gy and NLP; the use of styl­is­tic and atmos­pher­ic ele­ments from vin­tage com­mer­cial gen­res (film noir, espi­onage, true crime, west­ern and clas­si­cal mys­tery); “lost” leg­ends, secret histories and para­nor­mal tropes; a the­mat­ic obses­sion with the loss or break­ing-away from rea­son; pop­u­lar sci­en­tif­ic mod­els and cul­tur­al arti­facts as they exist not at the nar­ra­tive present but from some dif­fer­ent time (1910s Egyptol­ogy accounts, impli­ca­tions of 1930s cos­mic ray the­o­ry, long descrip­tions of rare 1967 acid rock vinyl, unsigned mem­oirs of 1990 Man­ches­ter “acid house” scene, Sony Dis­c­man hacks, Palm Pilots, Ray-O-Vac 9v bat­tery flash­lights as a hand­held “elec­tric torch”) jux­ta­posed in or on top of oth­er eras; break­downs of char­ac­ter, “char­ac­ter mold­ing,” and alter­nate or sub­con­scious views of the same per­son; “con­stant themes of dis­ap­pear­ance, obscu­ri­ty, resur­gence and bilo­ca­tion” (Haps­burg 2008); cut-up dia­logue or descrip­tion; philo­soph­i­cal puz­zles or log­i­cal para­dox­es that are what he calls his char­ac­ters’ “bar­ri­ers to entry.”

The Agency

Lit­tle has been revealed about the “agency” that ASHjr has been asso­ci­at­ed with; it is unclear if this agency is a writ­ing group, a spon­sor or bene­factor, or some oth­er type of orga­ni­za­tion who are work­ing to devel­op the ideas pre­sent­ed in his fic­tion. It is known that the agency oper­ates online and con­sists of a great many writ­ers, pos­si­bly in the upper hun­dreds. It has been spec­u­lat­ed that the agency exists or was formed as a counter to the pre­vail­ing post­mod­ernism. But the pre­cise ori­gin and even name of the agency is not known; ASHjr fans have at times referred to it as “The Agency.”


Published fiction and excerpts

Infor­ma­tion on pub­lished mate­r­i­al by ASHjr has been dif­fi­cult to obtain, as appar­ent­ly much of his ear­ly work had been pub­lished on small press broad­sides and dis­trib­uted via local chan­nels and have yet to be prop­er­ly cat­a­logued or col­lect­ed. How­ev­er, as of this writ­ing (Aug 2010) there appears to be a new resur­gence of his work.

“The Dream­reapers,” a new story, has been col­lect­ed in The Lift­ed Brow no. 7 (Aug 2010); it chron­i­cles the work of agent Arthur Mun­frey and has been not­ed as part of a larg­er “story-cycle”; the unnamed “agency” that Mun­frey is or has been employed by is thought to be a fic­ti­tious par­al­lel of the secret agency that Halsey works for.

Var­i­ous quo­ta­tions have been attrib­uted to ASHjr, most notably the ear­ly phrase “Become who you hate,” but the orig­i­nal con­text of this quo­ta­tion is not known.

Oth­er quo­ta­tion-graf­fi­tis that are known as ASHisms:



For futher reference

In devel­op­ment.

First published on August 12th, 2010 at 11:23 am (EST) and last modified on August 10th, 2011 at 8:43 am (EST).

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