G A N Z E E R . T O D A Y

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34 pages left on PROJECT OLDBOOK, after which I'm sure I'll come out the other end completely transformed. Can already feel my brain getting rewired.

“It is to Cubism that the next serious innovators are bound to return.” – John Berger, THE SUCCESS AND FAILURE OF PICASSO

I feel this, in a sense, is very spot on. Not so much Cubism's aesthetic, as much as its intent.

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“Between 1884 and 1900 the European powers added one hundred and fifty million subjects and ten million square miles to their empires. By 1900 they had reached the stage where, for the first time, there was nothing left to claim—except by claiming from one another.”

16 years. A mere sixteen years that are more or less responsible for all the wars and struggles, independence movements, genocides, and border conflicts that have taken place around the world since, including within Europe itself. From John Berger's THE SUCCESS AND FAILURE OF PICASSO, which as the passage suggests touches upon much more than just Picasso. No one exists in a vaccum.

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“Caribbean sugar plantations constituted the first truly modernized societies in the world where people, mobilized through violence and oppression, were thrust into remarkably industrial settings for their time. The sugar industry also created the economic basis for the European merchant and commercial classes to challenge, gradually, the monolith of the feudal aristocratic order.”

From Dominic Boyer's NO MORE FOSSILS. Here's another bit:

“The automobile has a surprisingly deep and complicated history, one that intertwined with the locomotive for many decades. A rail-less automotive machine was a serious aspiration of inventors no later than the end of the eighteenth century. The locomotive won out for both engineering and infrastructural reasons and was safeguarded by inconvenient legal measures like the British Locomotive Act of 1865 that required non-rail automobiles travel at a maximum speed of four mph and be preceded by a man waving a red flag.”

Personally, I'd love to see a return of the above legislation, but I know I'm in the extreme minority here. Another bit:

“The philosopher Andre Gorz argued back in the 1970s that the class structure of capitalist society was sustained by a phenomenon he termed the 'poverty of affluence.' What he means is that capitalism utilizes scarcity as a means for reproducing social inequality and preserving class heirarchy. New technological achievements and luxuries are enjoyed first only by the elite, which displays them as status symbols to attract the desires of the masses toward them. As the masses gain access to old luxuries, new unattainable luxuries develop to replace them. This treadmill of luxury means that no universal “good life” will ever be enjoyed in a capitalist society.”

One more:

“Green capitalism as a whole is paradoxical. It will never be satisfied by sustainability. What we call capitalism is a metastasizing arrangement of production, trade, rent-seeking, and consumption that constantly fights for more resource usage and technological development. Its hunger is sucropolitical, it thirsts after the sweet taste for more. Its bones and sinews, especially in the rapidly industrializing world, are still surprisingly carbopolitical, driven by machines and coal toward relentless production of more things. Its epidermis is petropolitical, mobile, plastic, ever reshaping itself in response to technology, desire, and fashion.”

NO MORE FOSSILS by Dominic Boyer

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Hit the 100-page mark on Salman Rushdie's THE SATANIC VERSES, my threshold for testing my appetite for any given book. It still feels like a drop in THE SATANIC VERSES' hellish waters, because it's not even a quarter of the way through and I'm not entirely sure what it's even about yet. Rushdie writes beautifully. It's all very poetic, but I haven't the slightest clue what the hell is going on most of the time. When I do have a grasp on the narrative, it is in fact captivating, but those pages are far and few between.

Just put the child down and my body is aching and my brain is dead and I cannot for the life of me see myself spending my extremely limited leisure time carrying on with THE SATANIC VERSES. Do I feel guilty for putting it aside? Not right now. Maybe tomorrow.

Need a palette cleanser of sorts, something easy that I know I'll enjoy. It's been years since I've read Elmore Leonard, who's always an easy bet for me. I think I'll read TOUCH, a battered old paperback of which I picked up in Denver for three bucks some years ago and have yet to crack open. Pages literally falling out, this may be the last time this particular copy will ever be read by anyone.

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Third day in a row to wake up with a migraine. Beginning to think that the culprit lies in my new supplements.

In other news, my TBR pile has grown rather unruly.

Some of these are partially read (a terrible habit), and that's not even taking my Kindle titles into consideration. I also have a borrowed copy of Rushdie's THE SATANIC VERSES coming in from a friend. Will have to move onto that one so I don't end up holding onto it for too long, and then I think I'll get going on Thompson's FEAR AND LOATHING which I have actually yet to read but am kind of dying to after watching the film adaptation for the first time a few weeks ago.

It's a hot, beautiful day here in Houston, Texas, temperatures soaring at 26 celsius just asking for one to kick back and linger but I cannot turn off my brain from the great many to-do`s on my plate, whether it's continued work on some of my ongoing projects or the resuscitation of things I've been neglecting like the website and newsletter. I've also been putting off accounting for way too long now, and there are a number of houses things to tend to.

Also thinking about how to best maneuver work stuff with the summer month I'll be getting to exclusively spend with my kid (a first for me). Was initially thinking of planning a trip for us to Egypt during that month, but there are time, cost, and logistical considerations to take into account.

No wonder my head hurts.

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Another thing that stood out to me from HITCHCOCK TRUFFAUT; apparently, a great many films from the silent era were based on plays. That is fascinating, because dialogue tends to be the core story engine of playwriting, whereas silent filmmaking is concerned, you have to do without dialogue altogether, save for a handful of title cards.

It's got me thinking about adapting plays to silent comix and all the different changes one would have to make along the way. Changes that would inevitably alter the plays rather drastically I think.

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Woke up in the middle of the night and decided to crack open the volume of HITCHCOCK TRUFFAUT that's been jeering at me unread from my shelf for a while now. A few pages in and I was prompted to beam Mernau's DER LETZTE MANN on the projector, which both Hitchcock and Truffaut express their admiration for. First minute into this 1924 silent film and I was hooked! The framing and shots are just absolutely gorgeous, and the story intense, told entirely without words got me thinking about the big vacuum left unfilled by the absence of silent visual storytelling in today's world. The potential to reach people across borders regardless of language or culture is immense, especially if phones/social-media were to be utilized as the delivery mechanism. But that would necessitate coming up with short ultra-condensed narratives of about one minute or a minute and half tops. Which in itself is something of an attractive limitation.

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Painting of living room has commenced. My break between coats has been to read passages from Isaac Asimov's FOUNDATION TRILOGY, a 1955 hardback edition I purchased for $8.50 back in Denver some six years ago and never got around to reading.

First of all; I really cannot believe it's been six whole years, and second of all; thus begins my mission to read all the unread books in my possession in the new year to come before buying anything new.

Right.

130 pages in and enjoying it a great deal.

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Comp copy of THE BIG BOOK OF CYBERPUNK arrived, and what a sight to behold it is. Obligatory glamor shots of the thing below, along with a look at the impressive table of contents and the opening page of my story, CRISPR Than You.

I quite like how they're categorized by theme, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading Jared's sub-intro for each section. A truly masterfully put-together collection that—at over 1100 pages—will take me quite a while to get through and most likely fuel years of inspiration in the process. Very humbling to be a part of.

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“There’s no question that cyberpunk had a shockingly brief existence as a cohesive entity. Born out of science fiction’s new wave, literary postmodernism, and a perfect storm of external factors (Reaganism, cheap transistors, networked computing, and MTV), the genre cohered as a tangible, fungible thing in the early 1980s, most famously exemplified by the aesthetic of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982) and the themes of William Gibson’s Neuromancer (1984). The term cyberpunk itself, as coined by Bruce Bethke, came into being in 1983. The neologism captured the zeitgeist: the potential of, and simultaneous disillusionment with, techno-capitalism on steroids.”

From Jared Shurin's excellent introduction to THE BIG BOOK OF CYBERPUNK in which I have a story called CRISPR Than You.

“Cyberpunk was born of the punk ethos. A genre that, in many ways, existed against a mainstream cultural and literary tradition, rather than for anything definable or substantive in its own right. This is, at least, an argument posited by those who believe the genre peaked—and died—with Bruce Sterling’s superb anthology Mirrorshades (1986). Accepted as the definitive presentation of cyberpunk, Sterling had pressed a Heisenbergian self-destruct button. Once it was a defined quality, cyberpunk could no longer continue in that form.

“Although this is a romantic theory (and cyberpunk is a romantic pursuit, despite—or perhaps because of—the leather and chrome), it is not one to which I personally subscribe. While collecting for this volume, I found that the engine of the genre was still spinning away, producing inventive and disruptive interpretations of the core cyberpunk themes through to the start of the next decade.”

I love Jared's intro a great deal. Read more at CrimeReads.

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