athelind: (Default)
I am ... off, this morning. I don't know if I'm still fighting off the vestiges (or a relapse) of last week's cold, or simply reeling from the aftermath of a night full of stress-anxiety dreams. I've got that fuzzy, light-headed feeling, so it's entirely possible that the former induced the latter, and the answer is "all of the above".

St. Paddy's or not, I probably shouldn't have had that beer last night.

The dreams ran through the night, I think, or at least through the last bit of it, but the real roller coaster hit after I woke up, looked at the clock, thought, "Oh, hey, time to get up" -- and promptly rolled over and went back to sleep. That hypnopompic state seems to be kind of a sweet spot for memorable dreams for me -- to my dismay, this morning.

This one combined major adrenaline-stressors ("Those cars are going the wrong way -- in my lane!!") with minor irritations in such a way that every time I came close to waking, I backed off and retreated back into sleep, because I was somehow associating all that anxiety with the waking world.

This is not to say that I don't have some cause for anxiety in my waking life these days, but when I finally did surface, I wasn't reacting to any of that. I was disoriented and shaken, but that was due to the rapid-fired combination of narrowly-averted accidents, police encounters, car trouble, bicycle problems, and gods-know-what-else that were bouncing around my brain.

Sublimation? Maybe.

More probably, given my current mental state, it's the aftermath of that cold.

I think I may start setting my alarm in the mornings -- something I haven't bothered doing much since moving to the evening shift at the game store almost a year ago. Most people find "sleeping in" to be a luxury, but I've always been the sort who likes to get up and dive right into the day -- ideally, because I have something structured to do and get out of the way. When I do that (as I did on Sunday), I'm in great shape. Rolling over and catching more ZZZs does nothing good for me -- it just makes it harder to get moving, and -- frankly, it underscores the lack of focus, direction and purpose in my current existence.

Which just makes it harder to overcome that lack.

Besides, I don't want to have to fight with the Hypnopomp anymore.


athelind: (Default)
J.K. Rowling is getting sued by the clueless again. Yes, yet another plagiarism accusation. Making Light goes into great detail about the spuriousness of the claim, and the wretched quality of the claimant's allegedly-plagiarized work.

You don't really need to read all that. You'll find the meat of the whole issue before you even have to scroll down the page, when Ms. Hayden points out three things about such lawsuits. Her second point addresses something that comes up a lot in pop culture conversations:

“Non-writers think it’s the ideas, rather than the execution, that make a book. They’ve got that backward.”



I submit this as a Law of the Internet, on a par with Godwin's and Poe's: "Hayden's Second Law".

As I said, this comes up a lot. "Plagiarism", per se, is seldom invoked, but milder euphemisms abound: "derivative" is a popular epithet, and to many, "originality" seems the highest criterion for literary merit.

The career of the Gentleman from Avon indicates otherwise.

I should note that I'm guilty of this, myself; I've repeatedly tabled my own flailing attempts at writing because my characters, settings, or plot seem "derivative".


Addendum: just a few hours before I made this post, [livejournal.com profile] foofers provided a technological example of "it's not the ideas, it's the execution" -- in this instance, whether the ideas got executed at all.
athelind: (Default)
... I'm also going to give up The TV Tropes Wiki for the duration of Lent.

It tends to be my default time sink when I don't feel like doing anything useful.


athelind: (Default)
… I have an icon for "pointless, repetitive, soul-destroying work", but not one for "vital, productive, fulfilling work".


athelind: (Eye of the Sky God)
Fasten your seatbelts, kids; this post starts talking about current Pop Culture, then veers into politics, philosophy, personal development, and metaprogramming.

It all started when I was doing something I normally avoid: reading comments on an internet blog. Unmoderated comment boards are usually overflowing with ill-considered, insulting, infuriating nonsense that can completely ruin an article I may have otherwise enjoyed.

In this case, however, the opposite occurred.

The io9 Blog's review of James Cameron's Avatar is the same blah-blah-blah-Mighty-Whitey-IN-SPACE critique that I've heard over and over. Nothing new here. The comments, on the other claw, are full of feedback from non-whites and non-Americans that undercut that as a being a white-Americans-are-the-center-of-the-universe interpretation that's at least as insulting, if not moreso.

I think my favorite comment thus far is this one:
All stories are about someone leaving a group or joining a group, it's just that some of these groups are a racial group. Outsider Luke Skywalker joins the rebels and becomes their number one gun. That's a heroic journey story, but if Luke was the only human and all the rest of the rebels were aliens suddenly it becomes a white guilt story? I don't buy it.


And now, Mood Whiplash. This shook some things out in my head, and I think they're worth sharing:

I've been sorting through the cognitive baggage cluttering my mind lately, and you know what? I think that "White Guilt" is a particularly toxic meme. To be more specific, there's a pervasive idea that any action that may have "White Guilt" as a motivating force is automatically invalid, or just more cultural imperialism. This is bullshit. It is an invitation to inaction.

Your Obedient Serpent, when he's not a dragon, is a middle-aged Anglo-American, raised in a middle-class suburb, who's seriously considering an opportunity to teach middle school science in a "high-need", inner-city environment. The very idea of standing in front of a classroom is a massive paradigm shift for him, and coming to this decision has involved jumping over a lot of mental hurdles.

You know what? True Confession Time: One of them was "Mighty Whitey".

"What right do you have to come swooping in with your degree and your laptop and your melanin deficiency, to try and "save" these kids? That's no different than England coking along to "civilize" India!"

Sounds really stupid when you verbalize it, doesn't it?

But people keep saying this, over and over: these stories are bad, they're unprincipled, they're just new and different ways for the privileged to lord it over everyone else. And if these stories are morally suspect, and your life-choices parallel them, why, then, those must be bad choices, right?

Once again: it sounds really stupid when you verbalize it. Stupid and arrogant. The only thing more arrogant than casting yourself as The Great Savior is to walk away from helping people because you're afraid people will think that's what you're doing.

That's part of the point: there are a lot of unexamined assumptions that mass media promulgates on an entirely sub-verbal level. It's good to examine them, it's good to scrutinize them -- but it's an iterative process. What unexamined assumptions are the critiques carrying with them?

One of the big ones, in this case, is the assumption that any real person's real life is simplistic enough to use fiction as a valid model. This isn't the first time I've fallen into that trap, and I'm sure it won't be the last -- but at least now I'm aware that trap is out there.

Or in here.


athelind: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] eggshellhammer and I just had an online conversation about gaming and pop culture that might be worth sharing, at least for my own future reference. It started out being about gaming and pop culture, anyway ... .

[livejournal.com profile] eggshellhammer:
I've been in this noir DnD game, for... I dunno. Maybe 20, 24 sessions now.

And it's getting hard.

Not that it isn't fun -- but it's hard to endure it.

Because the world I exist in when I go there is such an agonizing moral vacuum. and even though my character has such great power to kill and to endure suffering, I can't make things better.

I don't have anything I can punch that will make a better day rise.

Because in noir, there are no good decisions.

And my only power is violence.

I'm constantly trapped in cycles of violence, and I can't escape them. I can't resolve them.


Your Obedient Serpent:
Sounds frustrating.

The secret in noir is to play the Hard Boiled Detective: do the best you can, help who you can, and maintain your own integrity in the face of a hopelessly corrupt world, because, if there's any moral dimension to that existence at all, it's what you bring to it.

Your quest is noble because it's futile.

The difference between Philip Marlowe and Don Quixote is that Marlowe knows that he's not going to win in the long run, and that even his little victories are often Pyhrric. But he keeps pushing on, because there's an important difference between "Not Winning" and Giving Up.

When you give up, you've lost.

If you keep pushing, and fighting, and striving, then even if you haven't won -- you haven't lost.

If you were playing in a Gothic-Punk game like the old World of Darkness, that would be part of it. Part of playing that game is embracing the Emo. Noir isn't too far off from that. You're a Tragic Hero, and you know it -- and that's what gives you strength. You're standing in front of the tank in Tiannamon Square, and flipping it off.

The Hard Boiled Detective doesn't back down, doesn't compromise, and if he gets the shit kicked out of him or gets killed, he does so knowing that he did it on his terms.

The people who look at an "agonizing moral vacuum" and decide it doesn't matter what they do, that they can kill and torture and do whatever it takes to accomplish their goals?

They've already lost.

The people who curl up in despair because they're not Saving the World? They've lost, too.


...and somewhere along the line, I think I might have stopped talking to Eggshell about his game.


And no, I didn't realize the inherent pun in advising "Eggshell" to play a "hard-boiled" character until I was almost ready to post this. Observing this in the Comments is both redundant and unnecessary.
athelind: (Default)

You know, I used to think that it was awful that life was so unfair.
Then, I thought:


Wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair,
and all the terrible things that happen to us come
because we actually deserve them?"


So, now, I take great comfort in the hostility and unfairness of the universe.



-- "Marcus Cole",
in J. Michael Straczynski's
Babylon 5

athelind: (Default)
A statement like that might seem to need qualifiers, but really, it doesn't.

I don't know what the hell I'm doing.

About very nearly anything.


athelind: (Default)
Mostly for my own reference:


Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design




While Dr. Akin is an aerospace engineer, most if not all of these Laws apply to systems design in general.

[livejournal.com profile] normanrafferty should take particular note of the following:


14. (Edison's Law) "Better" is the enemy of "good".



Snagged from [livejournal.com profile] theweaselking, whom I forgot to credit when I first posted this.

.
athelind: (Default)

Pessimism is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So is optimism.


-- distilled from Robert Anton Wilson,
"Ten Good Reasons to Get Out of Bed in the Morning".




My thinking is broken. I've assimilated unhealthy memes.

Taking control of my life means, first and foremost, taking control of my head.

Re-Reading List:
  • Robert Anton Wilson, The Illuminati Papers
  • S.I. Hayakawa, Language in Thought and Action
  • R. Buckminster Fuller:

    • Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth
    • Utopia or Oblivion
    • Ideas and Integrities
    • Critical Path (Have I actually read this, or has it just been sitting on my shelf for years?)

  • Sun Bear, The Path of Power
  • Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity
  • Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  • Richard Bach:

    • Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah
    • Jonathan Livingston Seagull (Hush. It's my metaprogramming list.)




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