Yearly Archives: 2001

Fuerchtenunabwendbarfreundlich

Fuerchtenunabwendbarfreundlich :: dread of something inevitable yet benign.

Resolutions
I shan’t use the word modern or postmodern, or left or right, or anything reductive or totalising. I’ll believe in magic. The key words for 2002 are lightness and multiplicity. I’ll put myself out and about. I’ll confront evil, though I’ll keep in mind it’s best to trip them than punch them. I won’t speak for others. Concentrate on the gaps.

This is just a mantra, good for what ails you. Take freely.

To give some shape to the year, I think I’ll go to Sydney in Feb/March.

Reads
In 2002 I wish to introduce myself to King Lear and the world of Dune, to Hemmingway and later Heinlein. I want to see more Miyazaki and re-acquaint myself with Geoff Ryman. In 2002 I want to become Invisible.

The Biggie
No junk food. That is: no McDonald’s, no KFC, no Hungry Jack’s or Burger King, no Pizza Hut, not even Pizza Haven or Red Rooster. Or their ilk. I may eat other pizzas, but I will not eat any hamburgers. There are always cheaper, tastier, nicer alternatives.

Hand in hand with this I will reject non-infrastructural entities that are trying to commoditise themselves, that machine urge to turn themselves into a franchise.

In this vein I already have stopped purchasing products at Minotaur, in favour of Comics R Us and Slowglass. It’s funny, because Minotaur have but one shop, and they have a name that comes with an amusing one-of-a-kind mascot, while Comics R Us have a perverted name and two shops… but Comics R Us are run by humans who love what they do and are happy to have a chat to you any time, while Minotaur have the charm of a kwik-e-mart.

Meanwhile
It’s quiet in Canberra.

Review

/* I had tea with Ainsley. Tonight I’ll drink with Harris. */

I did not read any biographies in 2001. Nor any books on democracy or by Borges. Perhaps I will read Borges next year. For the rest, I am content. I have done well.

(There was more, but this message is self-destructing.)

He was a cop, and good at his job. But then he committed the ultimate sin, and testified against other cops gone bad. Cops who tried to kill him, but got the woman he loved instead. Framed for murder, now he prowls the badlands. An outlaw hunting outlaws, a bounty hunter, a RENEGADE!

Note: avoid cliche.

Review
Media 2001. I read and saw a bit. 5 Kurt Vonnegut novels, 7 Doctor Who novels, 2 Shakespeare plays, lots of comics, 42 films, etc.

Best discovery of the year has probably been Wong Kar-Wai, who has become my favourite director. Ashes of Time joins my top five favourite films (along with Red and Dancer in the Dark).

Obit
We lost Douglas Adams. He never really produced much after the Hitch-Hiker’s series, but I expected he would grow old and not produce much more.

We lost the girl who played Marmalade Atkins. It seems shocking to me that I never knew she was in lots of things that I’d seen and liked her in.

We lost Shirl, that fantastic Australian.

We lost George Harrison, one of the greatest musicians of all time. Few will ever be in a band as amazing as the Beatles. I can’t think of anyone who then gets to be in a band as amazing as the Traveling Wilburies.

We lost Nigel Hawthorne, who secretly ruled the world.

We lost Ken Kesey.

Reasons to strive harder to make up for the loss.

This is a test

/* It finally exceeded 30 degrees Celsius. It reached 36. Nice. And we won the cricket, unexpectedly given the earlier weather. */

/* I watched [film] Amelie from Montmartre at the Rivoli with Andrews Lee and Bowie. We retired to the latter’s house to watch Battle of the Planets and the latest edit of Andrew Lee’s new short. */

Mugwump/Panic

Kind readers,

Changes to the layout, FAQ, catalog, links are coming. I’m thinking about changes in the content generation. I’ve already hinted at drafting. Discussion today prompted another thought.

The internet is a point by point medium, suited to taking things apart. Adversarial and acid in nature. It’s easy for teenagers to take to that. It’s harder to be an adult and be free.

Discourse on the internet is a diamond. In bottom of the diamond one merely broadcasts or receives: trolls and portal-heads. In the middle is strength and intelligence, but not the heart to use it.

I don’t want just to move to the top of the diamond. I want to move the diamond up. At least from a certain point of view. This means not simply shuffling everyone along. There is nowhere for the people at the top to go, yet. Redefinition is required.

2001 has been a good year. 2002 will be better. Lists and hopes to follow.

higs, Dave
PS I haven’t left the house in two days.

Moria

[I]   don’t think I’m going to say much about the first Lord of the Rings movie. I owe it to expectations to say that I enjoyed it, though it is a greatly diminished form of the novel (so far).

My favourite chapter in the entire novel is ‘The Bridge of Khazad-Dum’, so I cast a particularly harsh eye on this portion of the film. Nice action. Excellent troll (I think they may have stolen Harry Potter‘s render farm for extra crunchy real looking CG). Lovely Balrog design. Wasn’t quite happy with the staging of Gandalf’s last stand: it looked like the Balrog’s weight cracked the bridge, and that Gandalf simply lost his grip in the end.

You didn’t know that Gandalf died? Get over it. He comes back in the next film. (He did die though.)

One Sleep

Wanted (boilerplate)
I need someone. They have to be intelligent, articulate, slightly quirky is good, and interested in men. I need one in the Carlton area who drinks, enjoys cinema, literature and fantasy. Ideally a down-to-earth type, practical and sober, but with an wry sense of humour.

One of my sisters hangs out with my parents when she needs free food because she’s spent unwisely. I, apparently, hang out with my parents when I’m lonely.

All I want for Christmas is a way to meet someone.

Eve
When I was young I anticipated and delighted in the John Martin’s Christmas Pageant.

In Adelaide there was only one Santa. He made his way to John Martin’s via the Pageant. There was a Star Wars float in that pageant. And other wonderment.

It was a televisual thing. I only saw it live once or twice, in my teen years, IIRC.

Today I doubt the craft and intent of the Myer Christmas Windows. But eventually I come round.

Sense and Senility
I sometimes wonder if I make any sense here. I get confused. I feel that I could do better if I introduced some drafting to this blog next (Gregorian) year.

The Year of the Yin Metal Snake (4968) ends in January/February. I’m a Fire Snake and a Pisces. Contradictory but always a dreamer, subtle and lucky. I am Ouroborous, the snake who swallows his own tale.

Strangers in the Rain

Children and grandparents will come, though I doubt you realise it. I wonder how many people do? (Certainly older people who came to the internet with children on their knees.) Everyone else talks about employers. We are good little production units.

So you made your first post to alt.fuck.head. You sat and trolled in rec.arts.sf.clancy. Your first web page on Geocities, alive and full of ooze. Mission ooze. You think all these things will be lost. Though you worry about employers, present or future. (Maybe you’ve posted something nasty about a past employer.)

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Bridges on fire in the archives of Google. Pickled posts in the Internet Archive. Your children and grandparents will come to them in time.

biohazard:

I thought of this in the Line. The Line had strange psychic powers.

I was in the Line, outside at the Mitre, to get some free sausages. I’d had a pint and a pot of Draught. The Line was long and sometimes indeterminate. But if you asked, the Line made itself apparent.

No jumping in Line. The Line had power. We barely needed to speak. Our strange psychic powers worked their magic.

(It was safe and warm in the Line. I was part of something strong. I checked out the sexy people of the pub with assurance.)

I remember in primary school, there was a ceremony for letting someone in line. I can’t remember how it worked now. Social contracts allowed for people to get into primary school lines. The social contract of the Line says you must join the End of the Line.

I can see how one might generalise the Line to the queue that boat people are allegedly jumping, but one would be wrong.

biohazard:

The history of LOTR is incomplete which is why it is perfect. You can complete the history: there are many histories, lost tales, genealogies and the like. You can read the appendices and preface and everything. But you’d have lost that perfect point.

Right

Being right… is the enemy of poetry.

I’m not against it. I embrace it. I remember Rich talking about this years ago. How strange, ragged old man. Now I need children and grandparents.

atom: Thanks to Brent Simmons.

I finished Book 1 of Lord of the Rings on Sunday. I’m in Moria now, in Khazad-Dum. The novel (so far) is better and worse than I remember. I have judged it unfairly in the past, though that was fair comment then. It is a fair tale, though it is sad, as are all tales.

One thing strikes me as the biggest question for the film: will it be a story of medieval slowness?

Bilbo finds the Ring. Decades pass. Frodo takes the Ring. Decades pass. Gandalf decides that the Ring should be moved. Weeks pass. Dragonball Z moves at a faster clip!

I wondered at the slowness at first. Don’t they fear the Dark Lord swooping down on them? But these are medieval times and the land is large and harsh. It seems strange to a modern mind, but perhaps it is an apt metaphor for the way in which we work.

I think of the Osama bin Laden jokes about nuclear strikes and other operations that overestimate our capabilities. There is great power in us and yet we are constrained. (So don’t mention the Singularity to me without a smile on your face.)

atom: Thanks to Brent Simmons.

Middle ages, Middle Earth. That’s us now. A better time than ever before, though still not the best of all possible worlds. Metaphorically it seems that there were giants in the past, with better tech. Hmmm.

Keep Watching

Gattaca was on last night, though I didn’t watch it. It is one of the best science fiction films to my mind.

A superficial reading easily identifies the symbolic individual rising against the masses. From there it’s very easy to get the idea that the author is eschewing genetic determinism. But the story is not without complexity or self-critique.

There is a very clear scene of genetic determinism (repeated), starting and ending Vincent’s fight. His brother, Anton, fails when put under specific conditions. Anton’s body is not made to succeed there.

Vincent’s scariest failure is intensely personal for me: having lost his contact lenses, blind as a bat, he braves a busy freeway. Here and elsewhere we are shown a body that we wouldn’t allow into space, even without genetic testing.

Here is the triumph of the human spirit: and the human spirit is shown to be lying and cheating, foolhardiness and killing.

There’s more. Genetics may give someone eleven fingers. I was given ten fingers, but I can’t play any ten-fingered concertos.

And there’s more.

atom: Thanks to Brent Simmons.

Blogger Insider

Questions from Leah for Blogger Insider

1. This is an overused question, but how long have you been blogging, why did you start, and why do you keep at it?

1 1/3 years.

I ain’t finished writing the world yet.

2. When I was little I was obsessed with the very idea of Australia. What’s something interesting about it that I wouldn’t have known when I was eight?

Our streets are lush with trees. We do terrible damage to our countryside, but we love the green in our cities. Plenty of native trees, like the sturdy Aussie eucalypt, but also many European varieties. Melbourne is the city of the elm.

3. Do you like what you do in the computer field? Is it stressful?

I get considerable enjoyment from my job. My career, in fact. My company has commitments to their employees and quality. I work with pleasant, professional people. I have many opportunities. That also means lots of responsibility. Working on big, difficult things can generate a lot of stress, but the pluses mitigate against that — by design.

4. If you could spend the rest of your life doing anything you wanted and get paid for it, what would you do?

I don’t think it’s got a name yet. I’m sure it involves international travel, thinking/walking in the sun, talking/drinking by the fire, writing on the internet…

5. Since you’ve made it through a slightly larger number of years than I have, what’s something you’ve learned about life in the past six years that has helped you greatly?

Reality doesn’t matter. You have a model of it in your head. No one else has that model. I try and always take those other models into account. Being a happy and good person is vital to this. For me, habitually trying to flip my thinking around helps. Trying opposite responses to my first. (I’m probably a bit empathy deficient, though.)

6. Do you have siblings? Pets? Significant other(s)? Who are your greatest companions?

Three younger sisters. Melody, who is married and scatter-brained. Katie (going out with my friend Bowie) who likes cool music and kid’s cartoons. Hayley who is a blossoming artist.

I have too many great companions I neglect. Bowie and Ains, who I dragged in to my work with me. Rich over the internet. Harris through the years. Rob. Andrew Lee. Lukas…

7. One of my friends asks this question. He says the answer tells him more about a person than any other question. Are you an artist or a scientist?

During my early years on the internet I found many tests that I filled out to little satisfaction. Questions like this stretch me thin between answers that I don’t see as seperate. My mind begins to spin nauseatingly as I split down the many branches of possible meaning to the question/answer…

8. What makes you happy?

Sunshine. Good company. An exciting idea.

9. What’s something interesting about the view outside the nearest window?

The window is in the door to the atrium next to my computer. I love having the sky inside my house like this.

10. What is your favorite movie? song? book?

Three Colours: Red. (dir. Krzysztof Kieslowski)

Ma Meeshka Mow Skwoz, by Mr Bungle.

Slaughterhouse 5, by Kurt Vonnegut.

11. Ten years ago, where would you have imagined that you’d be today?

Dead.

Is your current situation better than that idea?

Oh yes.

Worse?

Oh no.

12. Have you done much travelling?

I’ve been around the Australian states of South Australia, Victoria, and Tasmania. I’ve been to Sydney. Overseas I’ve been to Singapore, Malaysia, San Francisco, and Japan.

Where’s your favorite place so far?

San Francisco.

13. If you were given $10,000 to do whatever you wanted with, how would you spend it?

Put it in the bank.

With a bit of prodding I might do something more radical in terms of a holiday.

14. When you were little, what was your favorite thing to do on the playground? Why?

Climb.

Because I could.

Conversation with a Vampire Slayer

[B]

You died for me. You saw that one life was precious.
[Merrick] I had believed that my life was important. Following the rules, there was no more music in me than the forces I was fighting.

[B]

Then there is no plan?
[Merrick] Keep things going.

[B]

No final battle?
[Merrick] Tolkien believed things got worse, that magic left the world for good. But magic can always come back. Nothing is fixed. Until the end there will always be someone to once more enter the fray.

Attack of the Sugar Plum Fairies

The damnedest thing about the Potter phenomenon: four years of mega-success and still I didn’t know what the plot was. I’ve seen the film now — will readers of the book now break the silence?

Why does Dumbledore humiliate three houses at the end? Why isn’t there an apology to Snake? And just why is Ron allowed to be such a cow to Hermione?

Nonetheless I was unfair claiming the best punches (primarly concerning the complexity of the adult world) were buried under the “tedium of the real”. The Real probably isn’t a problem for kid fans of the book. It’s the above questions and the direction that spoiled the film for me.

To some extent, the weight problem is the weight of the modern (franchise) and the weight of the origin, neither trivial problems for stories of the fantastic. But in the main, the weight comes about because the books stand in the genre of subcreation: they are worlds to get lost in.

I’m reading a Lawrence Miles novel in the rain right now, which recalls another of his friendly novels read on a wet lonely night, which brings back the fourteen year old boy lost in The Lord of the Rings or an equally fictional Tom Clancy novel. What records Frodo listens to, what gauge drum Jack beats, are not important to the plot, but they are important to make the world somewhere you can spend time.

I still enjoy a good subcreation (the world out of sight rarely exists for me but in words I can twist) but it is no longer enough to present it to me like some contrived-clockwork populated role playing puzzle game. It must be presented dynamically. It must be presented with stark contradictions. It must keep me off balance.

I’m old and navigate simple paths only for leaden irony.