greygirlbeast: (walter3)
[personal profile] greygirlbeast
1. Dreams give us another reality, realities that are, more often than not, terrible or horrific or surreal. But, always, those dream realities are brilliant. The are radiant, even if they radiate darkness and seethe with violence and fear. Then we awake, and we're back here again. Here, where the world is banal, and all is shit, and there is nothing. (A thought more perfectly realized in the instant of its conception, but, like a dream, it began fading as I tried to write it down.)

2. I have been sitting here contemplating measuring the speed of time as a physical constant. If not in this worldline, then in some other. Light's easy, that c we take for granted, a simple 299,792,458 m/second, but what if time moves? How does one state the speed of time without resorting to circular reasoning?

3. Yesterday, I did only one new page on Alabaster, Page Fifteen, because I realized that I'd set the plot on the wrong pivot (so to speak – pivot, fulcrum, whatever), and the first half #3 was the last chance I'd have to set it straight in the first series, and if I didn't set it right then the wrongness would echo down through many issues to come. Writing comics, plot is one of those things that are first and foremost. When I'm writing prose, I almost always let plot worry about itself. Usually, it accretes naturally out of characterization and mood and theme, those things I prefer to write. Actually writing plot is, I find, agonizing. Like picking buckshot out of your own flesh, then putting it back in another way round, but finding that configuration just as "wrong," and starting over and over and over. Life has characters and moods and maybe even themes run through it, but it has no plot. Which is why a plan is only a list of things that never happen. Like my proposals and synopses for unwritten stories. Anyway, I'll still hit my deadline on #3.

4. Apologies for not posting the "Question @ Hand" last night. Tonight, for sure. I'm dithering.

5. Played more of SW:toR last night (though only about a third as on Saturday), and, as promised, I was going to attempt to explain my thoughts on how it might be that video games make lousy movies, but Star Wars: The Old Republic is the best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back (1980). But, [livejournal.com profile] slothman has saved me the trouble:

When you get 3000 years away from the main setting, you can ignore 95% of the issues of continuity with the stories from the films and the vast majority of Expanded Universe fiction. That frees up the creators to tell entirely new stories, using the familiar ingredients of lightsabers and the Force and a hundred sentient species. In my opinion, the best Star Wars work takes place at least 1000 years before the films (the Knights of the Old Republic games and comics), and the second best over 100 years after (the Star Wars: Legacy comics).

Which is essentially what I was going to say.

I'm going to play again tonight, then summarize my thoughts on the beta tommorow. But I am still loving it mightily, but also allowing myself to see the blemishes. The one that bothers me the most (she jumps the gun!) is that SW:toR takes us three-thousand years into the past, roughly three-thousand years before A New Hope, and...all the technology is essentially the same. The starships, the shuttles, the weaponry, the speeder bikes, the droids, and so on. Now, this would be akin to watching technology on earth having failed to evolve significantly since, say, the Third Intermediate Period of Ancient Egypt (roughly 1060-664 BC), or...well..pick another culture – China, Persia, the Mesoamericans, etc. – they all work in this analogy. Maybe, if I were a bigger Star Wars geek I'd know some bit of lore to explain the reason for this technological stagnation spanning millennia. As it is, I find the phenomenon baffling. Were the creators too lazy to fashion a genuine history for this galaxy long, long ago and far, far away? Do they fear fan backlash? It can't be that. Not after LucasArts unleashed Jar Jar fucking Binks on an unsuspecting world. Sure, later we get death stars and light sabers fall out of favour and whatnot, but nothing really changes in the course of three-thousand years.

6. I just got the news that Ken Russell has died. Truthfully, I hated almost all of his films, with the only notable exception of Whore (1991). But still...damn. As Russell said, "“Reality is a dirty word for me, I know it isn’t for most people, but I am not interested. There’s too much of it about.”

7. Part of last night was spent catching up on "television" (id est, streaming via Hulu). Very good episodes of both Fringe and American Horror Story. And I read chapters Five and Six of Barnum Brown: The Man Who Discovered Tyrannosaurus rex before sleep, which didn't come until about four ayem. I was in bed at two, but my mind (despite a literal handful of pills) had other plans.

Here For Now,
Aunt Beast

Date: 2011-11-28 05:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaz-mahoney.livejournal.com
Actually writing plot is, I find, agonizing.

Oh, dear Dog, me too.

Date: 2011-11-28 05:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Oh, dear Dog, me too.

Why is this not obvious to everybody?

Date: 2011-11-28 06:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaz-mahoney.livejournal.com
Right?

I find it really strange to think of plot before character. Characters create plot when their desires come into conflict. That's the only way I can think about it...

Date: 2011-11-28 06:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Characters create plot when their desires come into conflict. That's the only way I can think about it...

That's one of the correct ways of thinking of it.

Date: 2011-11-28 07:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaz-mahoney.livejournal.com
True! There are many more.

Also, I like your LJ icon. I like writerly ones.

Date: 2011-11-28 08:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Also, I like your LJ icon. I like writerly ones.

It's actually from Fringe.

Date: 2011-11-28 09:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kaz-mahoney.livejournal.com
Oh! I should have realised that.

I'm behind on Fringe (on S3 now), but is that Walter's typewriter? The one that the ZFT manuscript was typed on...

Date: 2011-11-28 10:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

but is that Walter's typewriter?

Yep.

Date: 2011-11-28 06:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ashlyme.livejournal.com
Yep. I've wasted goddamn YEARS trying to find plots in some cases. These days I aim for something I'll pretentiously call "structured atmosphere".

Date: 2011-11-28 06:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

These days I aim for something I'll pretentiously call "structured atmosphere".

Interesting phrase.

Date: 2011-11-28 07:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ashlyme.livejournal.com
I worry about sounding pompous; but, yeah, I'm more interested in mood and character than a tidy plot. Plots can break characters before you get a chance to do it.

Date: 2011-11-28 08:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Plots can break characters before you get a chance to do it.

I don't think that's pompous at all. The characters are the plot.

Date: 2011-11-28 05:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] homewardangel.livejournal.com
I'm pleased that you enjoy American Horror Story. I'm not sure I'm into where the previews for next week show it is headed but I've been enjoying the ride so far.

Date: 2011-11-28 05:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

I'm not sure I'm into where the previews for next week show it is headed but I've been enjoying the ride so far.

Haven't seen the trailer, but we watch it one week behind, because of Hulu. But out next episode has Zachary Quinto, and, honestly, nothing else matters.

Time

Date: 2011-11-28 06:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rexallen.livejournal.com
I prefer the "block universe" view of time myself.

From Brian Greene's "The Elegant Universe", which summarizes a long discussion of the implications of Einstein's special relativity with respect to time:

"Just as we envision all of space as really being out there, as really existing, we should also envision all of time as really being out there, as really existing too. But, as Einstein once said: 'For we convinced physicists, the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, however persistent.' The only thing that's real is the whole of spacetime.

In this way of thinking, events, regardless of when they happen from any particular perspective, just are. They all exist. They eternally occupy their particular point in spacetime. This is no flow. If you were having a great time at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, 1999, you still are, since that is just one immutable location in spacetime.

The flowing sensation from one moment to the next arises from our conscious recognition of change in our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. Each moment in spacetime - each time slice - is like one of the still frames in a film. It exists whether or not some projector light illuminates it. To the you who is in any such moment, it is the now, it is the moment you experience at that moment. And it always will be. Moreover, within each individual slice, your thoughts and memories are sufficiently rich to yield a sense that time has continuously flowed to that moment. This feeling, this sensation that time is flowing, doesn't require previous moments - previous frames - to be sequentially illuminated."

Re: Time

Date: 2011-11-28 07:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

I am familiar with all of this, of course. A different perspective, perhaps applicable to other universes, occurred to me is all. There is good cause to believe the Laws of our universe our not applicable to others.

Re: Time

Date: 2011-11-28 11:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rexallen.livejournal.com
What are "laws", do you think?

Are physical laws merely descriptive distillations of what we observe? Or are physical laws actively prescriptive - do they actually "govern" the course of events?

If they only describe, then they don't count as true explanations of reality - they are only calculational devices, useful for making predictions, but only metaphorically (and not metaphysically) true.

But if they actively prescribe - then what enforces their consistent application? And what enforces the enforcement? And what enforces the enforcement of the enforcement? And so on...

Where do you stand on scientific realism vs. instrumentalism?





Date: 2011-11-28 07:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alumiere.livejournal.com
You say American Horror Story is good? I may have to watch some; I was surprised at how badly done Grimm is. The running joke through the episodes we caught was that it reminded us of Forever Knight.

Date: 2011-11-28 08:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

You say American Horror Story is good? I may have to watch some;

It wasn't so great at the start, but it's getting quite good.

I was surprised at how badly done Grimm is.

Gods, that show stinks.

Date: 2011-11-28 07:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] corucia.livejournal.com

Light's easy, that c we take for granted, a simple 299,792,458 m/second, but what if time moves?

Well, then lightspeed isn't a constant, if you can vary the denominator. Which means you might have explained the discrepancies in the CERN-Italy neutrino experiment - it isn't that the neutrinos are going faster than light, it's that time's a bit wibbley somewhere along the course....

Date: 2011-11-28 08:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

it's that time's a bit wibbley somewhere along the course....

And wobbly. Damn, I'm brilliant.

Date: 2011-11-28 08:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] corucia.livejournal.com

Also, apparently, a Time Lord.... is this how you decided to step back into the shadows?

Date: 2011-11-28 08:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

s this how you decided to step back into the shadows?

No comment.

Date: 2011-11-28 07:53 pm (UTC)
mithriltabby: Rotating images of gonzo scientific activities (Science!)
From: [personal profile] mithriltabby
I wondered about the lack of technological change myself; the explanation I came up with was that there’s an equilibrium technology level in that universe. If the tech level gets too high, people start developing world-devastating superweapons like the Death Star, the Galaxy Gun, the World Devastators, the Mass Shadow Generator, the Sun Razer, and so on. Civilization then promptly bombs itself back to a pre-superweapon level of development. The equilibrium level has blasters, hyperdrive, force fields, repulsorlifts, and lightsabers.

I figure that the Star Wars galaxy are the survivors of a long-ago conflict involving bioengineered soldiers, nanotech-based weapons, and superhuman intelligences, and people carefully avoid getting in more trouble with them. (There’s a delightful example of why you need to be careful creating droid intelligences in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. I can give you spoilers if you want, but the game is well worth playing.) In the game I’m running, if anyone hears someone is messing around with freeswimming nanobots or self-programming droids, they get out the big orbital mirrors and start melting cities, just to make sure whatever is there doesn’t escape to wreak havoc in the galaxy. (There are also three known matrioshka brains that attract all the extropians. Anyone who finds a cache of transhuman propaganda can pay a light freighter to go to the edge of the system and shoot an escape pod containing a willing upload at the big dark cloud surrounding a star, and if they hang around, they’ll be beamed a message about just how awesome it is in there. They shudder and continue on their way.)

Date: 2011-11-28 08:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Thank you. These are interesting thoughts. Though I don't think they completely explain the problem. There would at least be changes to the design of ships, fashion, etc.

Date: 2011-11-28 09:11 pm (UTC)
mithriltabby: Serene silver tabby (H1D20)
From: [personal profile] mithriltabby
Hooded robes are going to be common in any era where people want to avoid species prejudice (and mass surveillance), though in my game I’ve been playing up hooded trenchcoats as an option. What goes under them should be radically different from one generation to the next, let alone between millennia!

Though that universe does have a few long-lived species, the most influential of which are the Hutts, who can live to be a thousand. In fantasy games, I often handwave the lack of progress as being the fault of the hyperconservative elves, who exert their influence to avoid drastic future shock. Hutt investors and their millennium-long agendas may be vital to galactic stability!

In the KOTOR games, they took the time to make sure that Sith troopers looked very different from stormtroopers while still being Faceless Minions™, and the military ships that show up late in the first game look very different from the wedge shapes of the movies. (My in-game ruling is that the amount of advantage you get from your Faceless Minions being more intimidating because they’re faceless outweighs the rare problem of someone stealing an outfit.)

For the thousand-generations-ago game, I’ve been changing things out a lot— Ewoks are vicious paleolithic savages, Tatooine is lush and green because the local lord is showing off his orbital-bombardment skills by sending ice asteroids into atmosphere-grazing orbits, and any sentient species that’s remotely analogous to anything on Earth gets mating habits that would make sense if it evolved from that type of creature— aliens should be alien! (e.g.: the leonine Cathar are monogamous in the source material; I have them being a lot more like lions, so I’m stealing gleefully from C J Cherryh’s Chanur books for them. And one of my players is having great fun playing a cetacean Herglic, giving her character the horniness of a dolphin.)

The setting is full of exotic jewels like glowpearls and nova rubies and corusca gems. I fleshed that out to be that mundane diamonds and corundum are far too easy to crank out in a lab, so diamonds and rubies and sapphires (of every color of the rainbow) are seen as gaudy junk jewelry for the underclass, and the prized stuff has much more subtle microstructure. The guy playing a tramp merchant captain happily keeps a chest full of cheap jewels just in case he runs into some pre-contact culture that can be bribed with mere baubles.

Date: 2011-11-28 09:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

In fantasy games, I often handwave the lack of progress as being the fault of the hyperconservative elves, who exert their influence to avoid drastic future shock. Hutt investors and their millennium-long agendas may be vital to galactic stability!

Okay, now I'm giggling.

aliens should be alien!

Yes, yes! A thousand times yes!

KOTOR games

Confused. Are you talking pen-and-paper tabletop?

Date: 2011-11-28 09:51 pm (UTC)
mithriltabby: Serene silver tabby (R'lyeh)
From: [personal profile] mithriltabby
I was referring to the video game (which is excellent); it has a sequel which is very good, though not quite as good as the original. There is also a comic book series that is well worth reading. It was also the title of a short run of the Tales of the Jedi comic series, which is available in a couple of collections and worth reading if you’re digging into the back story of the universe, but is nowhere near as good as the other stories.

If you own an Xbox or PC, I highly recommend the video games. They look a bit dated on modern hardware, but the stories are still a lot of fun. You can pick them up on Amazon for $20 or less these days.

Date: 2011-11-28 10:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

Ahhhhh. Thanks for the clarification.

Date: 2011-11-28 08:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] edwarddain.livejournal.com
I've been enjoying American Horror Story as well (and I cannot believe that the writers are still making Fringe work - that's simply amazing given the story arc), but I'm interested in what you liked about Ken Russell's Whore?

D.

Date: 2011-11-28 08:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

(and I cannot believe that the writers are still making Fringe work - that's simply amazing given the story arc),

YES!

but I'm interested in what you liked about Ken Russell's Whore?

I only recall liking it a lot, which shocked me, as much as I'd hated his earlier films. I've not seen it since '91.

Date: 2011-11-28 08:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stsisyphus.livejournal.com
The technology stagnation is even more confusing when you consider that between the prequels and the original trilogy, the sophistication of technology (or at the very least, design) actually seemed to have backslid.

On the other hand, the idea of a Galactic Republic enduring some millenia basically intact makes the "modern" Galactic (Papatinian) Empire basically a historical footnote being as it doesn't seem to last even 3 decades before being overthrown. The Expanded Universe (a term I can already tell you're fatigued hearing) makes the reestablishment of the Republic a lot more tenuous, but still. How serious can you take a government that doesn't last half a Terran century before some farmboy manages the topple the thing in a few battles?

Honestly, I think the whole setting implies some kind of curious, social and intellectual stagnation. Either than, or periodic armageddons (as above) and/or technological transcedencies which leave only a remnant to continue on as they have been for millenia. Not that the lore actually gives us anything like that, but whatever. This is Star Wars, it's space fantasy, not "science" fiction in any regard.

Date: 2011-11-28 09:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

The technology stagnation is even more confusing when you consider that between the prequels and the original trilogy, the sophistication of technology (or at the very least, design) actually seemed to have backslid.

Yup.

(a term I can already tell you're fatigued hearing)

Very much so.

How serious can you take a government that doesn't last half a Terran century before some farmboy manages the topple the thing in a few battles?

Well...it's an old story. We might as well ask something similar of Sauron and Frodo.

Not that the lore actually gives us anything like that, but whatever. This is Star Wars, it's space fantasy, not "science" fiction in any regard.

Yes, noting that it is fantasy is very important (don't get me started on how much I hate to "mitochlorian" crap).

item (2) Minkowski space-time

Date: 2011-11-28 09:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lost-typeface.livejournal.com
in the Minkowski space-time (einstein and all that ...)

if you are standing still then you are

traveling through time at the speed of light!

Re: item (2) Minkowski space-time

Date: 2011-11-28 09:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lost-typeface.livejournal.com


POETRY YES.

there is no 'non-motion';

stillness is a point of view

Re: item (2) Minkowski space-time

Date: 2011-11-28 10:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greygirlbeast.livejournal.com

stillness is a point of view

That moment when the log ceases to float down the river.

Date: 2011-11-29 12:19 am (UTC)
sovay: (Sovay: David Owen)
From: [personal profile] sovay
Actually writing plot is, I find, agonizing.

I wonder if it is possible to construct a novel where multiple potential "storylines" only exist because the reader's need to locate a recognizable narrative out of observed events. (I don't want to write it, though.)

Apologies for not posting the "Question @ Hand" last night. Tonight, for sure. I'm dithering.

Just saw it, as I catch up backward on my day's worth of friendlist. It's a good one.

Date: 2011-11-29 03:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] phaedrine.livejournal.com
I got my stills from Drowned Girl in the mail today! They are so beautiful, I can't wait to read the text (and see the trailer, of course).

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

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