Christmas Storytime

Got Up. Did the last of the shopping. Bought entirely the wrong present for Prof Woody and am kicking myself. Knocked this out. It is not short, I am afraid to say, but my muse was with me touching me gently with his little soft blue paws and would not let me stop until it was done. I'm not sure the theme comes through, but I was trying not to be to obvious about it, and I might eventually cut out the "mad insight" paragraph at the end. I've cross-posted it to just_writing. I'd apprecaite feedback, be as harsh as you like.I'm not convinced by some of it but it will do for now. I am off to wrap presents.

Lean SeasonCollapse )

When You Reach Your Carousel

So anyway I was hanging out over at oxfordgirl's end of the woods (it's cool, they have parties there and also outbursts of hate) and there was some talk about wikipedia. I started posting a reply and then I got caught up in it, and before you know it I was back on my live-journal posting a post which having just checked my clock takes me an hour to do (I'm editing now, this is the future, what you are about to read is in the past already, all the tenses are wrong).

Purely coincidently, I have just spent - Christ is it really four hours - on wikipedia. Am spending rather as I haven't quite finished yet. I didn't mean to. I was reading up on Clint Eastwood directed movies and then I got snared by Jonestown Massacre. Then before I could finish an innocent alt-tab lead me to think examine I was actually doing.

Is it healthy to unconsciously treat wikipedia as equally reliable when chuckling at the nostalgia evoked by the episode guide to Coupling, or following chains of thought regarding Galactus as Great Old One, or considering the causes of the Jonestown massacre or the global civil rights movement, or the facts of the San Francisco trial of Dan White?

It's hard for wikipedia to get "facts" about milk or the shape of an oxygen molecule wrong. It doesn't really matter in the larger scale if they misrepresent the plot of a novel or I disagree with their comments about Wuthering Heights. Does it matter any more what their bias is on neurolinguistics or the biography of Canadian science-fiction author Margaret Atwood, or the events at Mai Lai on March 16, 1968?

Wikipedia is lazyweb at its finest. I can follow links to other sites if I want to but why should I? Surely all the information I need is laid out there neatly and in well-punctuated paragraphs. Other peoples' websites are often messy or have been constructed by people who think "magenta" is a suitable colour for text.

Will I ever crack a reference book about Jonestown? Probably not. I'm just too lazy and superficial for academia (which is why I made such a bad showing when I was there). I assume that the wikipedia entries on the Guyyana events have been written by responsible people who know what they are talking about and have tried to reduce bias. But have they? Are they? How can I check without going to the reference books, and in that case why not go to the reference books first and damn the easy-access narcotic with its pictures and easy navigation sidebar? Am I fundamentally any different from the sound-bite zombies I claim to despise?

Well yes. I think I can answer that one. Wikipedia might be an unreliable source of information but in most of the cases I've consulted it for anything more complex that the origin of Chicken Kiev it's been cross-referenced, and has appeared reasonably balanced or at least sufferd from a bias obvious enough not to confuse me. I've spent a happy hour or three poking at any number of topics. It hasn't made me an expert, and I'm self-aware enough to know that, but it has without a doubt improved my understanding of the world (albeit in a small way) in a way that watching the television news has not and almost certainly will not.

Without wikipedia I would know nothing about Jonestown at all apart from the "fact" that the Reverend Jimmy Jones fed a load of people cyandie in the cool-aid and they all died. I think I got that from a throw-away reference in a Stephen King novel (or was it Peter Straub) and maybe a pop song.

And on the third (or fourth) hand, I am keenly aware of the kind of intellectual paralysis that comes over me when I consider how much I don't know about. I'm not denigrating those people who can sit and read a three volume discussion on the Vietnam war, far from it. I recognize that the only way I could create even a mildly pure understanding of any event would be for me to dedicate the rest of my life to tracking down and reading primary historical sources. But even thats a road fraught with misinterpretation, bias and prejudice. Without the use of some sort of magical time-machine-cum-mind-reading-hat, I do not believe that I can ever know the actual truth behind anything, anywhere, ever.

Somewhere along the line I have to trust somebody else. Is the historian who writes the well-researched text-book any different to the historian who writes the well-researched wikipedia entry? For that matter is the holocaust denier who writes the pseudo-history that he passes off as fact and different or more dangerous if he writes on paper or on electrons?

pax_draconis has said "Truth - and above all, history - should not be a matter of consensus." and to a degree I agree with him. However I also hold the opinion that truth is virtually impossible to pin down, and the more moments elapse between us and the event, the harder it becomes. I think that truth has been a matter of consensus for a very long time, and that Wikipedia is no more nor less to blame for it than the methods of recording and presenting "facts" used by any previous generation, right back to Egyptian pharoahs chiselling their grandparents faces off statues in an effort to change the past.

The "danger" in wikipedia (apart from its lure as a simple go-to source of information) it's in approaching it without an awareness of bias and without accepting that what you are looking at (like the enxylopedia or the school text book before it) is not the whole of the thing. It is part of the elephant but it is not the whole elephant. I was taught that quite efficiently at school, primarily in History and English (and to a lesser degree in Biology of all places). I recall one teacher who helped me understand that the real point of education was not the rote memorization of facts, but to teach the student to think, to be suspicious, to apply their critical faculties to anything presented to them in life, and its something I've believed ever since. Without that foundation, there's no point in worrying about wikipedia becuase we are all doomed anyway.

Wikipedia is a tremendous resource. I for one welcome my new information overlord.

Kiss Hand Diamonds Best Friend

The missus put Moulin Rouge on because it cheers her up. Far be it from me to comment on how odd it is that she finds this tragic love-story cheering, but I must agree it is one of the best movies evah. I am singularly indebted to pax_draconis for introducing me (and by extension, the missus) to it. Ranks with South Park - Bigger, Longer, Uncut as my favourite musical (whichever I like better depends on which one I have just watched). Heh heh.

Watching it again I was once more taken with how affecting the colour is. Christine (who runs GOD at Maelfroth) commented how it was almost hallucinogenic, especially the first long sequence culminating in the initial version of "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend. But throughout there is a combination of colour, motion and sound that draws the watcher in, almost hynotically, and leaves even a somewhat staid curmudgeon like myself moving the upper torso in a fashion that would be entirely embarassing.

I haven't seen many other filums - with the exception of something like Peter Greenaway's The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover and maybe Kubrick's The Shining that are so powerfully effective in their use of colour, although I always appreciate it when a director makes an effort in this regard.

I'm always fascinated by clever stylistic tricks. I enhoy a film that's a bit theatrical, a bit "clever" in the way it tells its story. I love plays-within-plays, symmetrical storytelling, repeating motifs, post-modern gimcrackery of various sorts and clever structure.

Sometimes these elements damage immersion, sometimes they add immesurably to my enjoyment of a piece of work. I wish more directory-types were preapred to try something a bit differnt, a bit interesting, even a bit clever. More Hero and less Day After Tomorrow at the pictures, please.

There seems to be a great deal of embarassment, even among otherwise articulate and sensitive types, connected with the idea that a film (or TV show or whatever) can appeal to the intellect as well as being entertaining. A vague guilty feeling that discussing "art" (for want of a better word) is only for the likes of the awful Culture Show talking heads. I want to be challenged, as well as amused. I want to be treated as if I am an adult, rather than a child with a 30-second attention span. I want to be able to watch a move shinty-five times before I am satisfied that I've weaseled out all the subtlety there is to weasel from it.

I am entirely in favour of entertainment. I also feel quite strongly that if we were all a little less embarassed about talking about things like this, and the world would be a better place as a consequence (in some fashion).

You won't fool the children of the revolution, indeed.

The Beautiful People

Got Up. Got Back. Tired as fucking hell. I could froth about the Maelstrom event but isntead I will stream of consciousness the people.

I hung out with binidj as I have been promising to do for a few years and it was all I had hoped for and as much fun as a bucket of piranah fog and a nun; I also got to help him have a well-deserved [bought and paid for] send off, which made me happy. I frothed with pax_draconis and with averylaterabbit and it reminded me that I don't think I've exchanged more than a few words with a certain blondish man since EnWoah and that needs to be recrified; I got to see Karen and Euan which was great; I spent some time playing word games with the Arteman and they are always a fun if tiring group of people; I punched someone in the nuts in a friendly warning way; I frothed with more people than I can mention, in any number of camps ...

... I have about ten days to sort out DT stuff for Matt.

[edit] And the other guy who does surgery who is not the victim for yapman apparently.

Busy, Busy, Busy

Got Up. Am in Preston with The Pennington. Yesterday was a tedious but neccessary trog through Priest skills at Mr and Mrs Wilder's house (where my no crisps diet had its knees broken), and the final result was satisfactory and long overdue. Today was mostly a brainstorming session regarding the church game that I am reasonably confident will yeild fat, friendly fruit. It's also been reasonably fun hanging out with Matt and doing some writing and stuffs.

Tomorrow afternoon I am back home for tBC. I am not a muppet who went to bed immediately on getting home so they could get up at midnight and get some playing time in before work. Nor would I admit to knowing anyone who was for fear of sleeping on the sofa when I get back.

It Gets Dark, It Gets Lonely, On The Other Side From You

Got Up. I am listening to Portishead. Probably.

Had a bit of a mixed period. Christmas was the usual mess o' fun and foodery that I enjoy. The missus surpassed herself and quite a lot of it was not actually bad for me. Pleasent lewts. I have an mp3 player of my own and now just need to learn how to work it. Good company, with only a small dose of scrote.

Blink 182 now. I am not in the mood and so will skip it. My brief game of balloonery fell afoul of not-being-bothred-itis. I may try again next year. Ah Nine Inch Nails. Much better. New Years' Eve tomorrow does not especially interest me. Its just another day in Winter as far as I can see. I might have a drink, I might not.

Television over Christmas did not enthuse me. I enjoyed Doctor Who, and the Ruby and the Smoke looked like a good adaptation but I was in the middle of a game of Order of the Stick that went on too long. The fact I have a cough is not helping.

I ought to look back over 2006 and comment on the highlights but really, apart from my work in the LRP sphere I have acheived fuck all. Laziness, for the most part, although there are some mitigating circumstances. Mind you, my LRP success has been good as far as I am concerned and left me hungry for more. My disconnect from the so-called real world continues however and that cannot be a good thing. I've also spent a year stumbling from one irritating health issue to another, which has not exactly fired me up with enthusiasm for the rest of the universe.

I will see you in 2007 I suppose, if I must. Ah Wuthering Heights now ... Needs turning up.

I've just sent off the very, very, very overdue draft of something Maelstrom related to the Pennington and it is shite. Really bad. I can't write short, as usual.

The missus is in Cumbria with her family for New Year. I suspect I will have an early night instead. I was going to go to Manchester with ed_fortune just to get out of the house but this bloody attack of man-flu has left me with no desire to do anything escept veg in the dark (the fuse has gone in the lights) and feel sorry for myself.

Oh yes. Mike Hayton turned up without warning the other night - Gog from Omega - and, despite many years passage, is still a cock. It's an ill wind ...

Bah. Pay no attention to me. I feel the urge to hibernate. Or at least eat chocolate.
  • Current Music
    Foo Fighters - Learn To Fly

Immanentizing the Eschaton

This morning I have been gaining information.

From Notting Hill to immigration, to Greenwich and the Prime Meridian(s), to Isaac Newton, to the Priory of Scion* to Foccault's Pendulum and Dan Brown and then to Illuminatus! (not once but three times) and Finnegan's Wake** but wait a moment, wait a mo, that was later; from Pendulum to Et In Arcadia Ego and then the Invisibles and Zenith*** and the Filth and then a look at the history of Scooby Doo and a cartoon from America I have never heard of that pastiches Jonny Quest called ... Venture something, I forget now ... reading episode synopses and then somehow, did I end up on ARCDream downloading things like Insylum and the odd DG scenario and then - surprise - I encounter thomryng on a weird wiki somewhere mentioning "his" edition of the King In Yellow**** courtesy of the Harliquinade and John Tynes where I discover that Unknown Armies has apparently been discontinued would you credit it; Puppetland; 7eme Cercle; and somewhere in the middle there was a brief look at sacred geometry and the radio adaptation of Luther Arkwright***** and there was a brief look at the meaning of masturbation****** and a conscious effort of thought to get away from sextopics because it is far too early; the number [(3*8)-1] and its conspiratorial nature; and then a check on Ia(i)n Banks for reasons to do with the conspiratorialist theory of history******* who it turns out was born in Dunfermiline which is the first place I can remember living as a child******** and I end up in a tussle to decide whether to go and find out what happens in Cassini Division by Ken McLeod because I can never seem to find a copy in the library and then

then time starts to compress and I'm sure I've been at this for hours
but maybe not because its only half ten and then !suddenly! it's half eleven!

How the hell did that happen?

The Internet is evil; it is a drug. I am finding it very hard to tear myself away, I have a dozen little tabs open and am trying to stop reading them but there's just so much stuff out there. Too much. Information overload and the urge to follow just one more link and see whats at the end of it and bam it's half an hour later. Maybe I need more coffee and sleep and stuff. And the Count of St Germain is still sitting there, innocently, since around half-nine and I still haven't got round to finding out what wikipedia thinks about him, and yet I end up at Atlas Games without his help.

* in whatever spelling you fancy
** it's odd
*** (and a brief stop to a fan site that summarizes the Zenith run to catch up and amuse myself)
**** (but no data there, yet, or its missing
***** which brings back more memories than I can process at the moment because my eyes are starting to hurt; of that particular summar reading comics and midget gems and peoples whose surnames I knew at the time but not any more
****** - the greeks were all for it but the egyptians thought it was too magical maybe
******* the belief that history is shaped by the conspiracy theories of the participants, I can't remember where I first read it
******** My earliest memory can't be real because it seems to dreamlike but has to do with my mother trying to push a pram up a tower in Dunfermline or maybe Edinburgh I can't remember but it should be me in the pram so it can't be real.

Sick In The Head

Sickness. For some reason, it's a theme I keep coming back to. Whether it's the "...and..." joke made so often during tabletop D&D* or the whole Mutant Weils Disease Vampire-live story, through Mage and Cthulhu and Kult and Ars magica ... basically every game I've ever been involved in has at some point or another a disease motif (and in many cases it's run through the entire game although not always obviously). I can't help it. Maybe there's something deeply wrong in my psyche. Maybe I was badly upset by Blood Music when I was younger - or more likely, by that story of Ray Bradbury's about Yellow fever whose name escapes me.

Sickness is to the body as moral decay is to society. That's not exactly a ground-breaking revelation I will grant you. Sickness goes beyond trivial concerns of hit-points or body-levels. It eats away at the self on a fundamental level. It breaks you down. It invades the temple of self in a way that is both shocking and unavoidable. Sickness of the body, of the mind, of the society. Entropy. Living decay. You can keep Famine and War for my money, give me Pestilence any day of the week, whatever the heck he's got in his hands.

About the only other image I use with anything approaching the same regularity is spiders-and-squid**.

Sickness of the body. Waiting for the thing you've spent your whole life with to betray you. Listening to the gurgles at three in the morning wondering if something is wrong. Every time you get a cold, wonder if this is really pneumonia. Every physical sensation suspect.

Sickness of the mind. The sick idea, the diseased thought-process. The virus that says "Wouldn't it be a good idea to dress up in uniforms and burn niggers?" Communicable mind-sickness. Contagious neurochemisty. Infection by destructive meme.

Sickness of society. Me. You. Them.

* I say "Take 4 points of damage from the creature's hideous bite..." and the player or players involved say "...and?" and I get to say "and make a Fortitude saving throw" with boundless malicious glee. You either understand it or you don't.
** I suppose technically that's two images, but only if you are a knowlessman.