Writing takes so many shapes. This is a little gem from Bob Lefsetz recount of the LA earthquake. The post is a great mix of journaling, essay and reporting. The segment above struck out to me.
But if I make a decision, if I buy the book, I go down the rabbit hole. The experience is singular, definable. Hell, in today’s era, story is king. Which is one of the reasons TV is dominant and music is a second-class citizen. We’re looking for context, we’re looking to make sense of this world, we’re already overwhelmed with input, which is why you can dance to the tunes, go to the festival and shoot selfies as the band (DJ?) plays in the background, but you’re not gonna sit in front of the stereo looking at the album cover while the music plays.
Are we looking for narratives? Is there ahead of music these days? Or are we looking for art that reflects the times? Are these times any more absurd than any in the past, and force us to make sense of it all?
A True Story is a novel written in the second century AD by Lucian of Samosata, a Greek-speaking author of Assyrian descent.
I love travel adventures, and I’m always curious to see how genres and narrative changes over time. I’ll have to add this one to my to-read list.
[A True Story] is the earliest known work of fiction to include travel to outer space, alien lifeforms, and interplanetary warfare. As such, A True Story has been described as “the first known text that could be called science fiction”.
Quick thoughts on the writer’s block
I haven’t experienced write’s block. At least not that dreadful block that’s often been described almost as a malady for writers.
I have experienced days of low inspiration, but I always found that once I start writing, good stuff comes out.
Writing is work. Paraphrasing Seth Godin. A plumber doesn’t show up at your house and then says “I really am not feeling like I can do this work now.” They just show up and get the work done.
That’s my take on it. Write the stuff. Afterwards you can always edit or throw it all away. But first get it down. I might struggle with plotting and completing large projects, but not with writing words down.
Writing is a craft, not an art. Maybe re-writing is an art, but putting words down, is a matter of consistency and habit. And showing up.
Yet I have come to suspect these punk derivatives signal something more than the usual merry-go-round of pop culture. These punks indicate that something is broken in our science fiction. Indeed, even when they reject it, these new subgenres often repeat the same gestures as cyberpunk, discover the same facts about the world, and tell the same story. Our hacker hero (or his magic-wielding counterpart) faces a huge system of power, overcomes long odds, and finally makes the world marginally better—but not so much better that the author can’t write a sequel. The 1980s have, in a sense, never ended; they seem as if they might never end.
The persistence of cyberpunk under different labels is, perhaps, to be expected. After all, as many writers insist, science fiction isn’t in any real sense about the future. “Prediction is the business of prophets, clairvoyants, and futurologists,” Ursula Le Guin writes in the introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness. It’s “not the business of novelists.” The real business of science fiction writers is to offer metaphors designed to help us see ourselves more clearly. And, though few think mirrorshade glasses are cool anymore, cyberpunk’s interests in the collision of digital media, underground subcultures, and transnational corporate power can feel as relevant today as they did when William Gibson’s first Sprawl short story, “Burning Chrome,” was published, or when Katsuhiro Otomo’s manga Akira first appeared in 1982. If we’re still drawn to cyberpunk, that might be because 2019 is far more like 1982 than we’d care to admit.
It’s definitely hard to ignore how much closer to dystopia we are now compared to 30 years ago.
All of these strategies can produce terrific stories. But none seems capable of generating the sort of excitement cyberpunk once did, and none has done much better than cyberpunk at the job of imagining genuinely different human futures. We are still, in many ways, living in the world Reagan and Thatcher built—a neoliberal world of growing precarity, corporate dominance, divestment from the welfare state, and social atomization. In this sort of world, the reliance on narratives that feature hacker protagonists charged with solving insurmountable problems individually can seem all too familiar. In the absence of any sense of collective action, absent the understanding that history isn’t made by individuals but by social movements and groups working in tandem, it’s easy to see why some writers, editors, and critics have failed to think very far beyond the horizon cyberpunk helped define. If the best you can do is worm your way through gleaming arcologies you played little part in building—if your answer to dystopia is to develop some new anti-authoritarian style, attitude, or ethos—you might as well give up the game, don your mirrorshades, and admit you’re still doing cyberpunk (close to four decades later).
Whether the article is right or not on saying that there is “something wrong” with SF, I like the critizism of the formula.
One notable and recent exception to this formula is Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation trilogy.
I guess we need a new genre of Millennial Sci-Fi. Let’s see… A twenty-something barista in skinny jeans, attends his regular yoga class, where he overhears two angel investors discuss their new acquisition: an AI company building mind-controlling expresso machines. The investors’ goal: to place a machine in every household. The barista’s goal: to stop their plan and pay off his student debt.
Here is an author that has eluded my to-read list. Oliver Sacks.
I have a fascination with hallucinations. This video covers one particular kind, those caused by the Charles Bonnett syndrome.
Unlike psychotic hallucinations, that interact rather aggressively with the subject who suffers them, hallucinations caused by the Charles Bonnett syndrome, are non-interactive. Almost like watching a film that has nothing to do with the subject.
How the theater of the mind could be generated by the machinery of the brain
— Charles Bonnett
Young man on acid
“Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Heres Tom with the Weather.”
Go checkout some more great quotes from Mr. Hicks, a stand-up comedian who delved into heady topics, and referred to himself as “Chomsky with dick jokes.”
“Watching television is like taking black spray paint to your third eye.”
A Kurzgesagt video about what I consider to be one of the greatest mysteries in science. This clip looks into what brings consciousness and some moral dilemmas when considering conscious robots.
Do human rights come from our ability for experiencing suffering?
If robots don’t feel pain, is it ok to “mistreat” them?
Should humans program robots to feel pain?
Kurzgesagt has a few other interesting videos about
existential dread the nature of life and reality:
The Protagonist’s Journey
It’s not just plot, it absolutely must involve the psychological journey of the characters, most notably the Protagonist. Indeed, what I am exploring in the book is this premise: Begin with character. End with character. Find the story in between.
In my view, there is far too much attention in today’s online screenwriting universe focused on a script’s page count — this event has to happen here, while that event has to happen there —and an overall trend to simplify how to write a screenplay as opposed to embracing the mystery of character development and putting our trust in them to lead us into and through the story-crafting process.
—A blog about this blog
Scott Myers speaks about writing his next book: “The Protagonist’s Journey: Character Driven Screenwriting and Storytelling.”
On reducing noise
Just a small note to report what I’ve been up to in my quest for productivity and reduced noise.
- Uninstalled News app
- Uninstalled Twitter app
- Uninstalled Facebook app
- Uninstalled Pinterest app
- Uninstalled Instagram app
- Installed Forest
- Installed Freedom
Tricking the monkey brain
Adding friction helps reduce the likely hood that we will take certain actions.
I am trying Freedom to make internet one step farther and help me focus.
In some way this is a way of programming our brains. Our rational mind knows what we need to do, now we need to program our brain to execute our actions, without the interference from the monkey brain.
So we look into ways of tricking the monkey.
Like adding friction. Make getting to a distraction harder, so we will not so easily fall into the habit.
Likewise, make habits really easy to execute, so our default mode — the inertia of the monkey – will help us move forward and complete the action.
Make room for silence and solitude in your life. Make more time for doing nothing. That’s how you get more done.
If there’s something we don’t do enough of, it’s sitting alone in silence. It’s easy to forget how productive this can be.
—Dan Pedersen Getting Things Done
Satoshi Kon’s only tv show.
On Distributed Thinking
A recent talk by Dominic Sivitilli shows the quality of independent thinking that manifests in the suckers of an octopus arm. Demonstrating a kind of distributed thinking, where actions taken by the arms (actually the suckers) are not driven by the central brain but by the processing that occurs on their own neural system on the sucker.
“When I do my work I look at how the arms are acquiring information from the environment, and how they are collectively making decisions about that information. That’s where most of their nervous system is, and it allows them to process massive amounts of information in parallel.”
— via Of octopuses and astrobiology: Conference talk speculates on cognition beyond Earth
And let’s not forget to bring up this speculative take to octopus intelligence:
The unique nature of octopus intelligence has sparked a rather peculiar debate recently: A group of researchers (not associated with Gire and Sivitilli’s study) has suggested that an octopus’ mind might seem so foreign because it may be alien. The hypothesis, published in 2018, states that octopus evolution may have arisen, in part, because of a retrovirus (a type of RNA virus) delivered to Earth by an asteroid during the Cambrian explosion about 541 million years ago.
—via Thinking is for suckers, but if you’re an octopus, suckers are for thinking
I love this video featuring Natan Last: Crossword puzzles with a side of millennial socialism.
Just some beautiful short about the handmade process involved in the Birth of a book.
Here is my list of favorite movies which story consists on a time loop:
- Groundhog Day: The original movie that was so successful it turn its title into a new concept.
- Source Code
- Edge of Tomorrow
- Russian Doll
Since I’m here, I just finished Russian Doll, so here are my top favorite thing from the movie:
- Great characters. Specially the female protagonist who is a somewhat of a “cunt” (her best friend’s words), but more importantly a woman comfortable with herself, who is not playing the role in life she chose for herself. Independent, saucy, cynic, dark, rude… Think Edina Monsoon, and replace her superficiality with existentialism.
- Great visuals. From the vaginal-black-hole-ish bathroom where the movie restarts every few minutes, to the protagonists’ looks, etc, etc.
- Great mind-bending idea. I love mind-bends.
3 kinds of people
I was listening to a podcast yesterday – I’ll see if I can find it – in which Seth was talking about change and how there are three kinds of people when it concerns change.
First are the neophiles. Those who get excited about trying new things. They are the first ones to jump onto something new.
Then there’s the masses. Those who want to do what everybody else does. They won’t be the first ones to try something new. They will try it once“people like them” are already doing it. They are the majority.
The majority of Americans only read one book a year. And the book they read is the mega-hit. The read the best seller that everybody else is reading. Harry Potter, 50 Shades, The DaVinci Code, etc.
Lastly, the third group of people are the “salute folks”, the “pledge of alliance folks”. They are the fans of the purest renditions of The Star Spangled Banner. They are the last ones to try something new because they don’t like things to change. They like what they like because it’s safe.
These are the ones Kaepernick upsets the most. They like the Superbowl as is, and they don’t want the change Kaepernick brings in.
So. Who is your audience? Who are you talking to?
Exercise, meditation, and writing are my basic habits for keeping me sane.
Most of us would understand that exercise and meditation are activities that help our mental health. For me writing is just as important.
I think of writing as talking to my therapist. I don’t have a therapist but the blank page. Writing gives me an opportunity to take these confusing ideas out of my head and into the real world. Shaping thoughts helps process information, helps understanding, helps analyzing and helps solve problems.
Problems inside my head don’t get solved. They get messier.
Problems in the page get simplified. Demons placated.
I write because I need it to be sane.
The goal is not to work 24 hours 7 days a week. the goal–for an artist–at least is to be ready and willing to work any minute of the day.
“Writing While Noisy”
WWN is one of my goals. Write whenever the opportunity presents itself. Even when I don’t have my tools. Even when I don’t have a good idea. Even when i don’t know what to write about. Even when i don’t feel like writing.
Always be closing.
Same idea. Always be making progress. 24/7. Ask yourself this question: is what you are doing right now going to get me closer to my goal? Try to always answer yes.
Even if you are sleeping. Sleep will refresh your mind. So will exercise. Or meditation. Watching a tv show? Not so much.
Always be working.
Writing While Noisy. Is bad grammar, but a great habit.
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