March 27, 2011
For God is but a great will pervading all things by nature of its intentness. Man doth not yield himself to the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble will.
- Joseph Glanvill
(Just one of those random samples from a Suns of Arqa track that has been bothering me for years that I have been meaning to look up. The guy who reads it (and more) has an amazing voice. Apparently Glanvill was “the leading propagandist for the English natural philosophers of the late 17th Century”. A longer version of the quote appears at the start of Edgar Allan Poe’s story Ligeia.)
Today’s post brought to you by sleep deprivation and old tapes in the car.
March 23, 2011
You all should be reading the latest series of posts on No Right Turn about what National is doing economically.
Basically, their do-nothing policy of economic mismanagement means we have a recession and no money. They are blaming the earthquake for having to cut the budget of the tiny $800 million they had allotted for government spending, mostly on health and education, which will negatively effect the worst-off kiwis. However, with the other hand, they are still managing to pass laws which will give $500 million in tax cuts to the wealthiest New Zealanders.
Instead of having the poorest New Zealanders paying the cost of the earthquake, we could split the load more fairly via an earthquake levy. Of course, John Key won’t do that.
This government is consistently acting against the majority of its people.
Stark when pointed out.
March 22, 2011
I had a post brewing about the middle east/north african revolutions. Libya kind of superseded that, though it still is there in draft. In it I note at length I have no grip on what is going on.
Anyway. Plunging on in.
A no fly zone to stop civilian massacre = a good thing. Governments murdering their own people is one of the major causes of preventable death worldwide.
That is where it stops being simple.
Regime change? No mandate, no plan. And at a guess no one wants to occupy Libya, unless someone (maybe France?) is really desperate for a bigger slice of the oil pie there.
Knocking off Gaddafi and installing a Western-friendly dictator-lite under the guise of democracy? Standard operating procedure for the last century, but probably not what the people have in mind. Also: see regime change.
Funding and arming the opposition and letting them figure it out themselves? Some kind of defacto splitting of the country between Gaddafi and opposition forces? Awkward. Also, the opposition is a diverse popular beast.
Continuing the suspension of slaughter and hoping that it resolves itself? aka “Wait and see.” Not exactly dynamic, or satisfying, but probably what needs to happen.
Chaos has come to town. Who the hell knows.
March 21, 2011
Make clicky on the picture for more information.
March 17, 2011
Came across a copy of Pilgermann by Russell Hoban in a second hand store. Opened it at random. Read the following paragraph.
No. We assume always too much, we assume what cannot be assumed. We see dots so we connect them with lines and we claim to know what the lines and dots signify. There is a marching, there is a galloping, there is a hissing of arrows, a clashing of swords; or it may be that there is simply a stretching forth of the neck to the sword, there is a wrapping in the Torah scroll, there is a burning alive and we assume (always the assumptions) that these things are happening to different people. We assume that the Frank is distinct from the Jew who is distinct from the Turk but I cannot now think of it as being like that. It seems to me now that that busy line, that motion in the circuitry, did not leap from one dot to another: from the leap of its original impulse its being continued on its way to flash into Christian, Jew, Muslim, fortresses, rivers, dawns, full moons, battles, crows, the wind in the trees, anything you like. Mountains in the dawn; the shock of Thing-in-Itself, the enormity of Now. So it is that although my being is in one way or another continuous I cannot present to you Pilgermann as continuous, only flashes here and there.
That book, man. That book.
March 15, 2011
So I have seen some bits of Glen Beck’s show a few times now. (One of the oddities of having satellite TV.) I had heard the legends but never experienced it.
He wears glasses and a sweater with a collar peaking out. He has a couple of blackboards, which he writes stuff on, in big letters with arrows. He moves around between these blackboards and other big simple displays. It is quite like a school teacher designed for multiple angles to give it dynamism on TV. He speaks earnestly and with concern about the fate of the world.
What is weirdest is that it is oddly comforting. Simplistic explanations that make no real sense as they wash over you, but delivered with passion. If you didn’t know anything about the world, it would be a convincing act.
It is pretty surreal. The content makes it more so. What is fascinating to me is that in his own way he is quite genuine and concerned with what is going on in the world. He is trying to deal with the complexity of the world, and the massive changes underway; the economic, ecologic, and energy crises underlying the decline of America’s dominance, and explain it to his people.
I hope he is genuine because if he isn’t he would have to be completely insane, rather than just … wrong.
As it is, he is simply someone who, from my perspective, has made a number of flawed fundamental assumptions about the nature of reality and what is important, and then proceeds to analyse the world from that starting position. (NLP cofounder Richar d Bandler observes that crazy people have often just made one bad assumption, the proceeded logically from there, until they make a whole crazy world which confirms it. For example, if you think the CIA are watching your every move, then innocent things, the car parked over the road, take on new meanings, etc.)
The overall effect makes me wonder what it would look like if the left had some sort of equivalent. I am imagining David Icke with an hour a day in primetime to explain to people what the hell is going on. Over time he would seem a lot more reasonable.
And, more importantly, why don’t we have some sort of equivalent? (Forget Icke for the moment; that was not a serious suggestion.) The format Beck has hit upon is weirdly powerful. Where is the primetime TV preacher for a saner political view?
March 9, 2011
Way back we commented on the documentary The Persuaders
This is the full interview with Clotaire Rapaille, by far the most interesting person they interviewed, and coiner of the term reptilian hot buttons. It is probably the most interesting thing you will read about human psychology, communication, and influence in a long time; and why we do what we do, and how this can be accessed and utilised; and how different cultures construct meaning.
March 8, 2011
Over the past few days I reread my first novel, Eidolon. I hadn’t looked at it for maybe five years. Eidolon took several years and many drafts to get to its current state of abandonment. (Novels are never finished, only abandoned.)
Reading it was fascinating. Recognising every reference, every line, every piece which came from somewhere, was just a staggering ride through the kaleidoscope of my past self, now gone. More intimate and magical – and jarring – than a diary.
It needs a completely new first chapter. And about 10% of it cut. Other than that it holds up pretty well. Very little of the prose needs anything; some surface tweaking to situate conversations and dialogue better the main consideration. One the whole it is wild and mad and brilliant and uncomfortable and uncompromising.
Odd things to note: I had always felt description was a weakness in my writing. Perhaps I had overcompensated, because the description was dense and amazing. Some huge paragraphs. And the vision of how it would feel to be in a changed society, and both how close that is to what draws me in to burning, and how different; though I had not been to a burn when I wrote Eidolon, I was aware of it, and it influenced my thinking.
Most of what needs cutting is ranting the result of it being my first novel and putting in everything I had to say about anything. And while what I had to say was pretty sharp, it doesn’t always need to be said right there – yet more distance allowing me to kill some more darlings. In many ways it probably should have been a non-fiction book (or two). One on politics and economics, social organisation, technology and social change; and the other about consciousness.
I have since written about consciousness at length. A large part of what inspired the reread was realising I should pull out the stuff on politics, economics, technology, social organisation etc, and bash it into some sort of shape as ideological freeware. We have just about hit the technological substrate required for my ideas to be put into practice, and people may be readier for the vision now than a decade ago when it formed.
I may do some slashing and surface tinkering, then sling it online, maybe as a free pdf, maybe as a very cheap ebook (will probably comment more on that angle later; thoughts on the publishing game in general at the moment).
But yeah. It was awesome to revisit these characters, and this vision. So much of what I think, and the seeds of my later non-fiction books, are all there. Confronting the energy, passion, and rage of my earlier self was humbling, and revitalising.
Much as I loved it, I doubt I will read it again for a long long time. It is part of the process I went through to get here, now, and my attention needs to be here, now.
March 7, 2011
Every now and again Warren Ellis justifies his existence in the most excellent fashion.
This time via providing this treasure from Ubuweb, a documentary about Buckminster Fuller..
“This film by Oscar-winning filmmaker Robert Snyder, like his other documentaries on “the greats” (Michelangelo, Henry Miller, Willem de Kooning, Pablo Casals, among others), transports the viewer into Fuller’s mind and soul. Told entirely in his own words, the film is an intimate, personal and inspiring message from Fuller to our fragile world.”