(An Imaginary Review.)
Ah, the 1970s, when the unprofitable and idealistic hippie cultures had collapsed in a wave of tragically-betrayed idealism, and, for a strange, gloriously soulless ten years, all the psychedelics and the drugs and the weird, weird aesthetic choices went straight into corporate culture. “I don’t know what that is,” said corporate America, “but a bunch of really strange stuff went down, and apparently people want that. Why not put it on TV and the radio?”
“Yes, I think that is a wise and well-chosen decision,” said 877,523 tons of cocaine.
Not everyone is privileged to know how much good this did for literary science fiction. And when I say “good”, I mean “The best parts have survived and made it through to today, but unsung and unknown, there are thousands upon thousands of gems of just the worst possible ideas. I collect old scifi books of that period. And let me tell you: it’s horrifying.
Go ahead and think of that era as being synonymous with”Rendezvous With Rama”, “The Shockwave Rider”, or, on very very slightly lighter note, “Gateway”.
You do that. I’m going to sit here with “Caduceus Wild”, a novel about a dystopia ruled by doctors, or “I: Weapon”, in which the human race is only saved by interbreeding multiple different species of human (humans are multiple different species in this distant future, each with their own superpowers) so that this one particular individual can go and win a war with space aliens by (at least partly) breeding with them (I am not making this up). (No, this isn’t porn; this stuff just…happens.) Yeah, we got “Illuminatus”, but we also got “Thongor and the Dragon City”, and sure, I worship the former book and really enjoy the latter, but I am too weird for words and the fact that I like things means you should consider running from them very, very quickly.
So for all those whose first criticism is that Star Wargs isn’t science fiction, you’re probably right, but the 1970s bent, twisted, mangled, spun, and warped “science fiction” so much that it doesn’t matter. Consider yourselves lucky that you got spaceships, you ungrateful sods.
Star Wargs had a lot of things going for it, but what it had, more than anything else, was an insistence on its own reality, and it made shameless use of force modifiers which tore through our sense of proportion and forced millions of us to fall in love.
It’s easy to call Star Wargs “Wizards In Space”, but that’s just part of it. It kept pushing past the sale, until few people had the ability to resist, and even fewer had the desire.
Realistically, Star Wargs had Wizards who actually did stuff. Consider how infrequent this is. Magic is generally either world-breaking or frustratingly limited. Either it can do just about anything—in which case, why do magic-users ever have problems?—or it seems to be so limited that one might just as well stick with physics and chemistry and reliable diesel engines. But The Force is an energetic field pervading all life. It can manipulate both matter and spirit because it is a bridge between the two, and its metaphysics do not depend on exterior powers, like demons or angels, nor on incantations, or (in general) on ritual (let’s not get into Sith sorcery, eh?) and therefore, it can do a multiplicity of things, limited mostly by individual strength of will, focus, attunement, and, obviously, as is essential with the supernatural in pretty much all video media, plot convenience.
And they had swords. You can (but I certainly do not intend to) run down the various arguments for and against the utilization of some sort of hand-to-hand weapon in an age of beamed weaponry. Sure, we wouldn’t consider bringing swords into combat now, and presumably our primitive firepower is pitiful compared to the power available in the far future. But these aren’t simply space swords; it’s actually a very natural mechanic for The Force, this combination of will and focus. It makes the magic into some combination of an extension of what we know we can do at the upper echelons of human achievement, and also something which is transformatively powerful, that, if you have the strength of character, the determination, the training, and the sense of self, you can do incredible things.
Some argue that setting these things in a space opera setting, rather than a fantasy setting, is dishonest. Hard disagree. The space opera setting was key to the Star Wargs universe. It said that humans were not, primarily, held to the devices and mechanisms of primitive times, dependent on the fickleness of magic; in fact, the Universe was full of sentient, spacefaring beings of all varieties, engaged in complex and sophisticated pursuits, the result of thousands of years of advanced knowledge, applied through engineering and technology, and even then, in fact, especially then, spirit and will were still the most ultimately meaningful things in the Universe.
This is part of why it was so crushing to find out that the entire set of films was a ruse.
When it was revealed that the creator of the series was, in fact, a Sith Lord, and when he bent, not just this world, but every world in the Galaxy to his will, and crushed our souls and minds in the relentless grip of his merciless dominion, we were shocked, demoralized, and utterly defeated.
Plus, he took away our space swords, and that was such a bummer.
She sits in a small, Venetian plaza outside of a small, easily passed-by cathedral snuggled in amongst the many larger, unmissable ones. The stool is hard on her bottom, the sun hot on her head. Worse, she is hungry. Not just now hungry, but days hungry. Weeks hungry even, so that her clothes hang loosely over skin drawn tight. It is all, really, that is left of her, hunger; hunger for success, hunger for a companionship which wouldn’t destroy any chance for that success, and the constantly gnawing hunger for food.
Hers in not the busiest plaza, but as with most any other via in Venetia there is a somewhat steady stream of tourists along this one.
And one has stopped. He is looking at her favorite, “The Bridge.” It is so much her favorite that she has only recently begun to bring it with her to show, hoping she might keep it while “living” on the lesser ones, but what she is doing could hardly be called living. If she doesn’t sell something soon then there will be no apartment to return to at the end of the day, and so nowhere to leave it behind, so common sense finally told her that she must offer someone else the opportunity to enjoy it.
It has been a minute, and he is still looking. She is growing uncomfortably anxious, though she tries her best to hide the signs. It is never easy to have a stranger critique your canvassed passions, even silently… especially silently. He does not appear to have the money for such a painting, but he is obviously American. She is told this by his clothes, which are nice enough, but have an odd, frumpy style which is definitely not European. With Americans it is impossible to tell about money. She once dated an American while at university, and one would have never guessed that Kenneth had money, nor where it came from, but he always did. She should have stayed with him, but he had demanded time that she could not give him, just like the others. It wasn’t that she hadn’t loved him, it was just that she loved her art more. Why is it that two loves must always collide?
Despite her reservations she steps from her stool, wandering closer while trying to appear disinterested in his interest, straightening “Il Leone” on it’s easel as she goes, the gnawing in her stomach ever present. Closer, she sees that he is handsome, but his eyes are only for the painting. She thinks to herself that she could take a lover… for a while… one who would feed her. A “patron” might be nice. Some handsome, rich, older friend to make love to her, and to offer her endowments, and to endorse her work to his or her friends?
“It is not the Bridge of Sighs?”
“No.” She answers quickly. Too quickly? Too desperately?
“Every painting of a bridge elsewhere that I see is The Bridge of Sighs.”
”Si. That one sells to tourists.” Her Italian accent is heavy. He is forced to lean towards her to better understand. “I do not paint for tourists." She is not meaning to sound condescending as she says this, but it still sounds a bit so. "I create art.”
”Ah. I see.”
His surety is offensive to her, though she could not have explained why. He is just another stupid-fucking American. What did he know of her? Or of art?
”It has no price," he wonders aloud. "The others are all priced?”
In her anger she had nearly forgotten her hunger… nearly. “It is new. I have not set a price.”
He smiles. "There is a date beneath the artist’s signature. It is not new.”
Fucking Americans, believing they know everything. “It is newly offered for sale.”
”It is a favorite then? Possibly even sentimental? What price would you put on it, were you to price it?”
She did not want him to have it. It was too good for him. “You could not afford it.”
”I paid €26,000 for The Spanish Steps yesterday.”
The heart in her chest stopped its beating. €26’000! What she could do with €26,000!
She did not want to undersell, but too high could be deadly, he might just walk away. Bianca could not afford to let this one walk.
”Well then, you are in luck! This one is only €20,000.” Her conscious screamed at her even as the words flooded out of her mouth, “NO! That is too much!“ But it was done.
He did not run away, as she half expected him to, but pushed his hands down deeper into the pockets of his khaki slacks as he contemplated her price.
”I don’t think so,” he finally replied. “I am looking for The Bridge of Sighs.”
The hungry voice in her head screams at her, "stupid, stupid, stupid!"
Panicking, she counter-offers, her voice weak with desperation, “I might let it go for €17,500?”
He shakes his head. “No. I want The Bridge of Sighs.”
“It is a stupid tourist site.” It was her way of calling him a stupid tourist.
”It is historic, and famous, and besides, an artist should give people what they want.”
”Then she is no longer an artist.” There was venom in her voice. “Then she is a sell-out!”
The stupid American actually smiled at her anger, pissing her off even more. “So now I am a capitalist pig, huh? Well, none of your other paintings has more than €3,000, and you are trying to gouge me for €20,000, so maybe I am a capitalist pig, but I am also the one with the money, and I know what it is I want.”
With that he turns. As he walks away the gnawing in her stomach spreads to her throat, and her cheeks, and her ears. He knows what he wants, and what he wants is not her. “Fuck you!” She roars as he fades into the tourist throng.
The stool remains hard on her bottom, the sun remains hot on her head, the gnawing in her belly remains unchanged. From where she sits The Bridge looks back at her from its easel, shaming her. It is pretty, but certainly no masterpiece.
Perhaps tomorrow she should paint that other bridge...
The best gift...
It is a widely maintained secret, circulated, but never stated explicitly, among those in the know, in the higher echelons of gift giving-- you know, The Martha Stewart's, The Rachel Ray's, The Doctor Phil's, The Oprah Winfrey's, of the world-- that the best gift, hands down, whether for close friend or family member, or co-worker, or teacher, or other necessary recipient, for whom you have such difficulty picking precisely --of course with careful consideration as to brand, and package, and other minor details, as to size and name--- is of course, the scented candle. Always good for regifting.
Intro to the Evolution of the Hunt: EVO 101
Our lecture today is on the various perceptions of the phenomenon of The Hunt.
We previously examined the psychology of early man, as hunter/gatherer. We concluded that the distinction between the two is negligible. A cycle of life is arrested in either case. Of course, we pointed out that we cannot speak as well to the suffering of plant life in the plucking and knifing, as well as we can bear witness to the duress of the animal kingdom.
Only Man remains as Killer, we established having consciousness, and conscience, rather than consciousness and instinct. Early Man seldom found himself in the position of The Hunted, unless straying from the safety of the group structures (physical barriers and social constructs). This vulnerability is best recognized broadly. The Hunter must step outside to marginalized venues to practice The Hunt. And the criminal mind is not far from that mentality of similarly stalking the periphery.
The Killer seeks the gaps of safety net from which to make his Take.
Now, where the psychology becomes very interesting, is where the Hunted goes on the hunt for The Hunter. Whether "criminal" or not, this is known commonly as the Ourobus Complex. Among the more notable cases, is that of Admiral Leane, who in water deprived delirium, did not realize that the Lion he was after, was in fact looping in on his trail. This ended tragically for both the Hunter and the Hunted, when game wardens were notified, from the helicopter.
But a more interesting case, previously classified, is that of Arthur X, who began to stalk himself, perceiving his person as an anonymous stranger out to get himself. Every slightest vague reflection of his self, whether in window or cutlery, provoked in him repressed agitation.
Oddly the release of that tension was not the physical attack of said images. Rather he chose a blunt instrument, plotting his demise with a pen. A Hunt known as Slander. This is of course an extreme case.
FFF#8 The Hunt challenge @ChrisSadhill
*no facts were sacrificed in the writing of this fiction
Raindrops replaced tears as she traced memories along the window. I lent her my hand while I drove. Her reflection revealed the weight of the past year. Silhouettes camouflaged her face; our daughter’s ghost stained it— a flood damming at the corners of her eyes. She’d been strong until today, the anniversary of Anastasia’s murder. I parked adjacent to a dimly lit warehouse, interrupting her mournful trance.
“Where are we David?”
“You’ll see. I’ve gotta surprise that’ll cheer you up. C’mon.”
We entered through the backdoor. Before us sat our daughter’s killer tied up, a red bow around his neck.
Infectious Artistry: Keeping the Orifice Of Human Understanding From Puckering
Poverty tends to be a common affliction amongst the artistic of every medium. Edgar Allan Poe, Dickinson, Mary Shelley, Emily Bronte, Dante Alighieri, H. P. Lovecraft, Oscar Wilde, and Herman Melville are all hailed as literary giants and all died virtually penniless. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Robert Johnson, Billie Holiday, Judie Garland, and Marvin Gaye created angelic music, yet all joined the heavenly choir broke. Vincent Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Monet could replicate nature's beauty with little more than paint and canvass, but they too entered the gates of heaven as destitute souls. Sometimes it is only after great artists die that publishers, music industry moguls, and gallery owners reveal the full brilliance of the deceased to the world. Ultimately, they gain great wealth from the works of those who can no longer benefit from monetary wealth. Can artists prosper alongside those who sell their work to the public? Of course. We see it with the likes of Frank McCourt, the Beatles, and Andy Warhol. My question is does it matter? Did the great artistic geniuses of the past create to fill their pockets? They did at least to a point because an artist's got to eat (I've heard they're always starving). Still, would they create even if there wasn't a penny to be had for their work? Duh. For those of a creative bent, withholding the art that rages within would be as impossible as holding in the Arby's mystery meat sandwich a person ate the day before. In short, the creative disciples of all mediums must create because if they don't the virulent infection of artistic expression stewing within the bowels of their souls can only be purged by projectile, explosive art. What matters is that the artist has what they need to continue to express their creativity. Unfortunately, except for a few lucky bastards, this often means working a nine to five. Working a steady gig insures that both the body of the artist and the body of the artists work remains healthy. Thankfully, the art virus will enter remission just long enough for the infected to make the return home from the daily work commute which insures that the infected can continue to spread .
When I was in high school, I had an AP English teacher who wrote great poetry. Looking back, my favorite poems that she shared had an almost spoken word feel. While most of her work was silky, delicate, and colored in shades of Whitman, I preferred when her verse took on a blatant, raw, and a caustic kind of honesty that scarred the listeners thoughts. Though brilliant (and I'm hoping published in poetry anthologies), Mrs. Fitzgerald also had bills to pay, therefore she taught and inspired a love for the word in others. Her husband, was an artist who taught art at Shasta College, a community college in Redding. He also did graphic art work on the side. I only saw a few pieces Mrs. F shared of Mr. F's work (he was eclectic and seemed to do a bit of everything), but to my novice artistic eye he was also very gifted. I always thought of the Fitzgerald's as old school hippies whose jobs allowed them to pursue their art while also keeping them fed, housed, and with enough cash to attend the occasional Grateful Dead show. Though I don't know for sure, it seems that the experiences, problems, and interactions the Fitzgerald's have in the work world may also have provided inspirational sustenance for their artistry. I can't say that Mrs. Fitzgerald's poems and short stories are well known or that Mr. Fitzgerald's pieces sell for six figures in a fine art galleries around the world. Of course, I think their work is worthy of such attention, but I don't think it's enjoyed this level of commercial notoriety. However, so long as the bills were paid, I believe the Fitzgerald's were content to be artistic typhoid Mary's spreading the artistic virus they carried through their work to whoever chose to be susceptible to the infection.
So, what about the great creators who created masterpieces while suffering in poverty? Would they have created even if they knew that their brilliance would go unnoticed until they slept eternally in their pauper's grave? I think they would have pursued art even if it meant living in the gutter. The desire to recreate, reinvent, and reexamine beauty with word, paint, stone, or melody is more visceral than the desire to become wealthy or even the hope to someday be dressed up as a German school boy and spanked with a rubber chicken by a 200 pound Polish lady body builder wearing a Swedish milkmaid costume. No, the desire to create art is an all consuming, virulent compulsion to bend the human condition over and repeatedly thrust new visions, textures, sounds, and ideas in until the orifice of understanding has expanded. Let publishers, art dealers, and the music industry reap the benefits of the dead. Those of us infected by the creativity virus must continue to hump the human senses sans lube because the orifice of human understanding is always in danger of puckering especially when it is cruelly exposed to the likes of the Harry Potter books, Thomas Kinkade paintings, and the sounds of Taylor Swift or Nickelback.
Can those who create poetry, literature, art, and music enjoy monetary success alongside the opportunistic executives who specialize in selling the various artistic mediums? Of course. However, the person infected with the artistry virus will create no matter what. The desire to be wealthy will always be secondary to the feral desire to produce beauty. So to those also infected with the virus of creativity, I say we much continue to go at human understanding doggy style, because if we don't I'm afraid Franklin Mint collectors plates, reality television, and (gag) country music will become the new, much diminished standard for what can be considered art.
How I look at Existence
Here is my perspective on evolution and the stages of existence.
I Break it down into distinct stages of:
I believe that evolution is not just a biological process but a universal one, affecting all aspects of existence.
The first stage, which I call 'pre-life', encompasses the first 9 billion years of our universe.
This was a time when the cosmos evolved, forming galaxies, stars, and solar systems from swirling cosmic dust. It was a period of profound cosmic construction, setting the stage for everything that followed.
The second stage is 'life' as we know it on Earth. This stage spans over 4.3 billion years, marked by the evolution of life in its myriad forms.
From the simplest microorganisms to the complexity of human civilization, this stage represents the incredible diversity and adaptability of life.
Now, I believe we are on the cusp of a third stage, which I term 'after-life'.
This isn't about the traditional concept of an afterlife, but rather a new phase of evolution. I envision this as a future where life transcends its current biological limitations, potentially integrating with technology to create new forms of existence.
This stage could involve advanced artificial intelligence, radical developments in genetic engineering, and perhaps even changes in our understanding of consciousness and reality.
These stages aren't just a framework for understanding the past and present; they're a vision for where we might be heading. It's a perspective that sees evolution as a universal process, affecting not just biology, but the very fabric of existence.
Rest in peace, Shane.
The world lost a shining and inimitable talent yesterday. Mr. Love paid a beautiful tribute, and we wanted to express it here, and on the channel, along with our condolences to Mr. MacGowan's family, friends, and fans. Go easy, Shane, and thank you for your years here.