atolnon: (Default)
( Oct. 27th, 2016 05:23 pm)
Major chunk of writing done today, putting me at 35 pages complete. Clearly not gonna get done by the end of October. I guess it could, if I let things get really desperate. Like, if I absolutely needed two more sections done, it could probably get done. Or like, "done," definitely in quotes. I'm pushing things as hard as I reasonably can, and there's a lot of effort on the wrong side of the reasonable curve to tap into that I don't really have to do, but notwithstanding, I'm probably going to start pushing even further in that direction. I'm not doing further planning tonight because I've got a Marvel game session, though. Tomorrow's probably an all day planning on the next section's structure, getting my probably notes together, going over theory - section two is the heart of the essay, and the thing I've been trying to get to this entire time.

Chapter one is kind of... it has to me more than describing the history of science fiction, and it has to be more than determine William Gibson's probable intentions. It's the chapter where I have to make the case that there's a real perception in the science-fiction community of a "white, Western, male" core demographic that's what science-fiction is. Note that I said "perception." Also consider that I said "a." "A perception." That doesn't mean it's a consensus or that it's accurate, but that enough people share it to influence writing and culture, and not just that it's a perception in the body literate, but that it's kind of a major perception in the general public. So, I mean, I tapped the Hugo Awards nomination fiasco of the last few years, some solid academics, and Gibson's interviews themselves for the sci-fi angle.

There's more to it, but that's the gist. My overall thesis is that Gibson's Blue Ant trilogy - if it's not about the anxiety specifically - contains symptoms of a white, Western, nationalistic anxiety that surrounds the deterioration of the post-Cold War superpower identity and how its been superceded by a kind of new-ish version of this - a technocratic, post-national oligarchy that doesn't care about the old white Western identity, except in so far as the oligarchs are willing to auction off or aquire elements of these establishments to create the foundations of their empires. I say "white" and "Western" fears because if you're not white, not Western, and generally speaking, not male (though that's surprisingly not the major theme, though I'd argue it's still present), you've already experienced this. You're not a central or generic narrative focus, you're diasporic, borderless or post-border, living in the past and future simultaniously, colonialized and post-colonial, already existing withing a dual conciousness, and so on. The fears that we see now have already come to pass - in many ways, white people are living in the past, while people of color, people of non-Western origins (and these are cultural constructions, mind you, but functionally exist), they live in the present. They've experienced the things white dudes are anxious about having happen to them. So, chapter two is examining how these things are present in the text and how Gibson treats them.
In a few hours, I have to go to the vet to pick up one of our rescue cats. I mean, he's fine or, like, fine-ish, since there's a reason he's at the vet, but we had a scare. I guess it was 1 AM. I was dead fucking tired, since I'd been up doing last minute grade submissions, and had something of a plagirism concern I simply can't verify - all the grades are in and I'm finishing off a hard cider, and Kay's like... doing litter, I guess, and our cat was peeing somewhere he really wasn't supposed to and, second, peeing blood. I was going to say, "an uncomfortable amount of blood," but doesn't that go without saying? You never see blood in your pee and go, "Oh, okay, cool. That's not too much blood."

If you do, that's bad.

At the risk of being overly obvious, there's never really a good clock-time for this, but Kay determines that he has to go to the vet, and we both determine that this is not plausible at this time of the evening, so I'm up again at 6:15 AM to take him to the vet. All told, I'm not jazzed about the time between yesterday and today, but it's whatever. I'm fuckin' tired. I'm not really getting any good sleep, lately.

Technically grade are due today - well, were due today - at noon, so I'm done with all that. I've done literally everything I could think to do that would help, but I still ended up failing students who just couldn't seem to get some critical work in. Overall, though, I would say that things generally went well. Maybe too well, in some cases, as I ended up handing out more A's than I actually wanted to, but it's a product of how I structured the class and assignments, coupled with the fact that many of my students genuinely showed impressive progress in their writing. Students who came in and didn't think much of their ability to write came out doing markedly better while students who figured they were going to do well and started out by blowing the class off ended up sweating for their A's and B's (or C's). I put an astounding amount of energy and time into the class, which the students seemed to notice, but the emotional labor was equally taxing to me.

I've taken a few days "off" in order to get my shit in order - cut the grass, sweep the house, do laundry, take care of myself, and do research reading. It looks like my thesis is narrowing to an analysis that's rooted in a kind of post-colonial marxist reading that analyses how William Gibson constructs the identity of culture and communities in his Blue Ant trilogy - especially focused around his internalized socio-political and cultural views. It's really not a particularly negative reading, nor one that I really think he'd disagree with himself - just an acknowledgement that the white, technocratic West that's situated around the former Soviet and US powers isn't the world default, even though it ('it' as a kind of universalized gestalt idea of "the West" which, The Soviet Union railed against but mirrors - I understand that this is dangerously broad, here) constructs itself as such. I mean, the dissonance in that is something I'm looking to write on. I don't have it fully parsed yet.
atolnon: (Default)
( Mar. 5th, 2014 02:58 pm)
Doing any work besides what needs to be done around here is still difficult, but I was checking my notes against my reading of Pattern Recognition and started to compile some writing that demonstrated something I'd suspected but hadn't really gotten around to putting my finger on yet. I was reading an interview from the Paris Review, I think, and Gibson stated that he doesn't really plan his novels out in advance. He's also a guy who gets asked a lot of the same questions, over and over again, and has done a good number of interviews - especially in the last ten or fifteen years. He never really seems to get tired of answering the same questions, but over time, his answers change in subtle ways; I think that because he's asked the same questions so often, he's had a lot of time to think about them. So, when I see an interview with a similar question answered with a similar answer, it's easy to conflate it was a previous interview he's done. Specifically, he ends up talking a lot about the nature of the cyberpunk designation, marketing, the future, dystopian fiction and the nature of dystopia, and the nature of technology and its uses.

What I see in his writing - especially in the Blue Ant novels - is that the stuff he says in the interviews personally is often mirrored in what his characters say. He'll quote characters and characters will occasionally come dangerously close to simply quoting him. While I'm a firm believer in the concept of death of the author, in terms of overt themes, I think the stuff that Gibson says specifically are good indicators of themes in his books, and that those themes are intentional. I mean, intentional in that Gibson is often writing a book about dealing with certain themes where the plot is just an overt mechanism to display those themes at its most realized and almost something of an afterthought in others. 
atolnon: (Default)
( Jun. 5th, 2012 12:43 pm)
I have made the dangerous assumption that the question of what I have been writing implies a sort of interest as to the inner workings of those particular mechanics. 

That said, here's a link to today's blog post, if notes for a future essay (also to be posted) are of any interest whatsoever.

I naturally assume I'll be getting a call from a publisher any moment now. 

atolnon: (Default)
( Jun. 4th, 2012 03:43 pm)
I have a stack of notebooks on my desk, one book, several uncounted note cards, and 9 tabs in my browser baring the name of one William Gibson as I look for a very specific quote that I never seem to have added to my every increasing list of notes on the man and the subject of dystopian cyberpunk. 

Having re-read old notes and accidently stumbled upon ever newer things that should have been there in the first place, I took a look at what was currently in progress vis a vis my blog and realized that the post is going to take longer then I thought it probably would. My state of affairs is bordering on the ridiculous, but it's a situation I take seriously, so it needs to be remedied. 

In the mean time, let me assure you that my presence here is not mandatory. I genuinely kind of want to talk to you. I am aware that I am freeloading, but there is also time for this kind of business - especially when this kind of business frames my struggles with an amusing feeling of purpose. 

Did you know I specifically cleaned my desk so that I could mess it up with literature notes? It's true. That is a long way of saying, "Obviously, I am a nerd."

The quote I was looking for was when Gibson said that his writings were not really intended to by dystopian, but what I did find came close. The interview was with Scientific American*, and he was asked, "Your fiction has depicted wide class gulfs in which "lowlifes" co-exist with the rich and feudallike corporations that concentrate mind-boggling amounts of wealth... do you think that this disparity will continue to greater extremes as they develop further, and could they potentially restructure the current social order somehow?"

The printed answer, "I depict those socioeconomic gulfs because they exist and because most of the imagined futures I grew up with tended not to depict them. Migration to cities is now so powerful, so universal, that people will create cities, of sorts, simply through migration—cities that literally consist mainly of the people who inhabit them on a given day." is similar to what I assumed the reason had been, or what I remember saying, I forget which is which. Basically that this wide gulf already exists, and when you write it, it looks like a dystopia. 

What I'm writing doesn't hinge on that, but it's certainly part of it. There are lots of times, because Gibson repeats himself, where he says that most fiction, and especially his fiction, is about when it was written. 1984 is about 1948, The Sprawl trilogy is about the 80's, and The Bridge trilogy is about the 90's - regardless of original intentions. This is all in the writing, by the way, so you'll see it again with proper sourcing. If you want to ask about the relevance of cyberpunk, the thing to remember is that it almost can't help being social commentary no matter what the tropes are. Perhaps especially because of the tropes, but probably not.

I really had to take a break and write on this because my writing of this isn't done yet and I wanted to have something up, at the very least. We're still fucking around trying to get a 'yes' or 'no' out of the insurance company about the crawlspace, and when one's as good as another, it's time to fuck off and just find another way of dealing with it since there's very little chance that it's going to be over the deductible in the first place. I also know that I slipped the whole 'I'm getting married.' in kind of under the radar, like some kind of shitty test to see if you're paying attention. There's so much ridiculous shit going around at the moment that something simultaneously good and fun a year away seems akin to fiction and, even if it's on the level, is probably happening either to or for somebody else. 

Like I said before, I'm not sure on the details, so I guess you're likely to know whenever we do for sure if you're the type of person to whom these details are or become relevant and generally speaking, you know who you are.
There's no easy way to say this, and believe me, I've wracked my brain, so I'll just lay it out on the table like so : I'll be at PAX, but only on Sunday.

Too much build up, or just right? I can never tell.

I'll be at PAX this Sunday, presumably until it closes, but maybe a little later. I do need to come back and feed guinea pigs, and if you have ever met them, you'd understand, but other then that, it's a convention day. There are a few things that are unusual about my decision to attend - the fact that I really only attend one convention on average a year and that conventions usually exhaust me, but also that when I go, I usually go all out. I didn't really realize the nature of the convention until it was too late; I'd heard things, you understand, but even though I am coming only into contact with it in its most diluted form, I assume the institution will lay it on me in a heavy way. I will probably need Monday to recoup. 

Let's put it this way - I like people a lot, but I'm not good at it. If you are a certain type, you will understand what I mean immediately and if not, it may never parse correctly, but that is the clearest way to put it.

You can expect me to be in good spirits then and on prior days. Friday and Saturday, I have nothing on my plate. I will probably be doing Magic things, if Magic things are not put on hiatus because everyone is at PAX (which is possible). If you are in town for PAX and would like to do something (which I realize is frighteningly unlikely given the circumstances), you may message me on this journal and I will endeavor to schedule something. For me, it will not be difficult. I am terrible at travelling anywhere, but I am good at scheduling.

I posted a review of Gibson's Pattern Recognition on my Xanga which I linked to my Facebook, so I have two out of three covered. I was terribly dissapointed in it and will probably be writing more to improve my review skills (such as reviewing in text may be considered a skill). If you would like to see it her, inform me, and I will meet your needs - but don't say I haven't warned you.

Terribly, I still need to engage in this activity referred to as work. You are likely familiar with the basic concept, so I won't elaborate any further. I will simply go and do.

Very short, since I'm doing other things, but this occured to me so I'm writing it down.
Hunter S. Thompson and William Gibson have one large element of their writing in common, and it's that both are very precise on brand names and the physicality of objects. I was going to suggest that they diverge on drug and substance names, but even this isn't true. Both are very specific about the types, origin, and effects of controlled (and uncontrolled) substances. What happens in the story is as important as what it happens with, make, model, origin of manufacture, and what happens when you press the red button.



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