Tuesday, 21 April 2009
Grave New World presents an ambitious and rich account of Ballard's ouevre, tracing a handful of themes (apocalyptic social implosion, war phantasmagoria, pathological boredom, the Death Drive, the dialectic between mental and physical landscapes) from The Wind from Nowhere, Ballard's 1961, strapped-for-cash brain fart debut, through his early science fiction in its various engagements with New Wave and other avant-garde contexts, his postmodern memoirs, all the way through the recent paranoid fables up to and including Kingdom Come (2006). Not unusually for a book foreshadowed by academic papers, there's a fair amount of repetition, but it's no bad thing -- it means you can generally dip in and pick up the thread fairly quickly.
Monday, 20 April 2009
Saturday, 18 April 2009
I don't have time to rant about the science -- I'd probably be very witty if I did, I can't help it! -- but very quickly: (1) if the male Autumnal years were infertile, you can bet your barren ballsack there'd be research claiming that strong, wise, grandfathers guarding our little H. erectus litters from antique wolves, falling into tar pits etc. were a vital evolutionary adaptation, the "Butch Sage Hypothesis"; (2) sleaziness sensus strictus is a phenomenon of modernity; and (3) if we accept the normative tone of this hearsay at face value, some of the other things that are "good" for the species would be no age of consent for women, a hoary-whorey age of consent for men, no laws against rape, and totalitarian eugenics! Mmm!
P.S. Posie has a very funny picture of a eugenics tree.
Monday, 13 April 2009
David Foster Wallace
J. G. Ballard
These are my favourite "speculative fiction, science fiction, horror, fantasy, children's, slipstream, magical realist, fabulist, modernist, postmodernist, maximalist, new weird, avant garde and bizarro" authors. Even for that catch-all Chandler is a bit of a cheat, but I think Marlowe may be an android. Watch out for Dorn, Sondheim, Siratori, Prynne and Katko, they're (sorta) poets! I didn't mean for my list to include important people I haven't read or don't really go in for, like Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov. I quite like Asimov's mysteries and the list of all the books he wrote. Must get on.
Sunday, 12 April 2009
Tuesday, 7 April 2009
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
What is the point, Lara? Oh my evaginated purple dole! Let me look in my points bag. The point is not that the police make it more difficult for themselves to distinguish legal from criminal protest. It is not that they indirectly cause criminality (with provocation hovering on the edge of entrapment), for nebulous payoffs. It is not even that they stray into criminality (a kind of "salami slicing" grevious bodily harm throughout the day).
Yes, it is vital to protect the conditions for peaceful protest! But for the suffragettes, the point was suffrage, not the right to protest about it. And the point for the demonstrators this week has been global social and ecological justice.
Global social and ecological justice, of course, has broad appeal. We can all agree about it, just as we can all agree (more or less, eventually) that riot police should have better guidelines, training, forward information and purer hearts, so as to not kick and club people so much (I am probably being too soft on them. Ladies and policemen have long been natural allies, and try on each other's hats).
I think that superimposed upon the various political divisions in Europe -- progressive vs. conservative, Left vs. Right, etc. -- there is a division between what you might call the "constitutionalists" and the "essentialists" (I need better terms! -- dammit my jargon team are all in Strasbourg this week).
- Constitutionalists tend to attribute a lot of explanatory power to systemic influence. They tend to believe that the significance of human freedom can be programmed, to some extent, through careful design of the contexts in which they exist.
- Essentialists tend to prefer making moral judgements and exemplifying moral virtues within stable horizons, not analysing systemic causality, not trying to adjust the hem of the horizon. These are habits of thought, rather than ideological affiliations, though I suspect one is more comfortable on the Left as a constitutionalist and on the Right as an essentialist.
I think I am a constitutionalist.
Constitutionalists must beware of the cheap solidarity -- and the infectious fun! -- of agreeing with everyone else that Sir Fred Goodwin's pension is outrageous, or that riot police need to up their game. These are positions which can quite easily be held by essentialists who nevertheless do not question the laws, and other systems, which will inevitably and periodically generate atrocities about which we all can agree! A false consensus, in other words.
If Sir Fred were a constitutionalist, he'd make a perfect spokesperson for the anti-Capitalists (or at least for the not-so-sure-about-Capitalismists). He could make the case that it really is unfair to single him out from the many equally underserving hyperrich, just because he wandered into some limelight whilst justice was on the agenda.
Instead, gallant Sir Fred would say, we should work together and concertedly for the laws which abolish the hyperrich altogether, so we can concentrate on what's really important: love, laughter, sex, beauty, adrenaline, and ploading our consciousnesses onto needles of dense computronium shanking at near-light-speed towards the stars which I do not hesitate to characterise as motherfucking.
I am a very interesting blogger!