greygirlbeast: (Default)
And I begin this...here.

No. Here.

Happy birthday, David Lynch! And Federico Fellini!

The snow finally came last night, and more will come tomorrow. We're about to go forth and do what errands must be done. But first, I'll write this journal entry. Because I wish to remember yesterday, for one thing.

We left Providence a little after one thirty (CaST) and made it to New Haven (CT) by three-thirty (also CaST). There were snow flurries along the highway, from a sky that was as sunny as it was cloudy. But they were the sorts of cloud that drop snow. I read from Lightspeed: Year One while Spooky drove and kept me informed about the flurries and birds and dead racoons. We parked off Whitney, on Sachem Street (saw a bumper sticker at the labs: "Honk If You Understand Punctuated Equilibrium"), and I got about two hours with the dinosaurs at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. Mostly, I sat on the wooden benches and stared up at the creatures Marsh named, the legacy of Richard Swan Lull, and George Ostrom, and Rudolph Zallinger's famous The Age of Reptiles mural (1943-1947) bringing it all to life (no matter how inaccurate we may now know it to be; many of our own imaginings will be disproven in due course – and I am not surprised LJ doesn't know how to spell the past participle of disprove; of course, I maybe misusing the past participle, but that doesn't absolve LJ of its ignorance).

And sure, these are the old circa 1930s-40s "tail-dragging" dinosaur mounts. But those are the images of dinosaurs that I grew up with. Back before the Renaissance of the 1970s, before it was understood that most dinosaurs were active, endothermic creatures, not sluggish reptiles. Before it acknowledged that, not only did birds evolve directly from dinosaurs, but that "birds" are surviving theropod dinosaurs, and many Mesozoic theropods had feathers. And so forth. I am comforted by these old visions of blundering, ectothermic monsters.

At some point, I opened my iPad just to see if I could actually get reception in there. It felt a like horrible sacrilege, but I signed into the Yale server as a guest and posted to Facebook: "Writing from inside the dinosaur gallery at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. This is MY church." A testament to the cosmic circle. No beginning. No end. Life, being a transient state of matter, and so here is my church.

Spooky was off looking at taxidermied crows and archaeological doodads, but when she returned, we went upstairs together to see live snakes in the children's "Discovery Room." One thing that makes the Yale Peabody so precious to me is that, while acknowledging science education for children, it hasn't turned itself into a theme park, as have so many American museums. Those that have allowed budgetary panic to morph them into nightmares of "edutainment" (Oh, fuck. LJ doesn't know disproven, but it knows the vile portmanteau edutainment. Fuck.). The Peabody is still a place where I can sit in peace with the past. Where there is still a stately air of respect for science and its endeavors. Truth is, the Great Hall at the Peabody calms me more than any of my meds, or any story I will ever write, or any painting I will ever paint.

Here are some photos:

19 January 2012 )


We left about 5:30 CaST, and made it back to Providence around 8 p.m. The snow came in earnest about nine or ten. The sky was creamsicle. I love creamsicle night skies.

Since my last LJ entry, I have – in stray moments – been reading short fiction, all from the aforementioned Lightspeed: Year One. Tananarive Due's "Patient Zero" (2008), Kristine Kathryn Rusch's "The Observer" (2008), David Tallerman's Jenny's Sick (2010), Anne McCaffrey's "Velvet Fields" (1973), and Eric Gregory's "The Harrowers" (2011). I liked Gregory and Tallerman the best; most of the stories would have benefited by being a bit longer, especially "Velvet Fields," which felt like a synopsis. The McCaffrey piece is little more than an outline, really. The Gregory piece felt short, but mostly that's just because it left me wanting more, which is a good trick for an author to turn and suggests no obligation to actually provide more.

Also, here's a rather good entry by [livejournal.com profile] yuki_onna on the fluidity of names, on those of us who cast off our birth names before we become artists. And sexism.

I do mean to write about my feelings on internet piracy and SOPA/PIPA, but there's no time now. Spooky and I have to run errands before ice and more snow arrives, and I have email.

Like dinosaurs, the snow is helping.

Somewhat calmer,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (zoe1)
And as you cross the circle line,
Well, the ice wall creaks behind.
You´re a rabbit on the run.
~ Jethro Tull

Comment, kittens! Comment!

1) Two "BIG" announcements today, and you might get one now and one later, or both now, depending on when and what I hear from my agent. But. I may proceed with Thing #1: Subterranean Press has begun taking pre-orders for Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart. Yes, now. Right now. The book is scheduled for release in Spring 2012. And I'm just going to say this upfront: Order directly from subpress, because Amazon is very likely to fuck you over. Many people who pre-ordered The Ammonite Violin & Others and Two Worlds and In Between had Amazon cancel their orders. So...don't even go there. Anyway, that's the first announcement. The second is dependent on whether or not I hear back from my agent before she goes to lunch (which now seems unlikely).

2) Yesterday was meant to be the day I wrote the next 1,000-1,500 words of "Another Tale of Two Cities." Instead, it was unexpectedly consumed by the need to unexpectedly leave the house and attend to a legal matter, regarding the second announcement I've not yet made, power-of-attorney stuff related to The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, but I cannot yet say what that is, remember? Anyway, most of the day was spent with legalese and a notary public and UPS and the post office (USPS costs ~$65) and I did at least stop into Myopic Books at Wayland Square and once again drool over used copies of Sankar Chatterjee's The Rise of Birds ($15) and Lowell Dingus and Timothy Rowe's The Mistaken Extinction ($30), but was good and did not buy either (again). That was what happened to yesterday. Oh, and traffic.

3) I hate to keep "hating on" (a phrase for morons, hence shutter quotes) Kermit the iPad, but I fear he is the shape of things to come with Apple. Which is to say, the intuitive nature of Apple products, which is a large part of my loyalty, is missing from the iPad. It's like I'm wrestling with mysterious alien tech. What do all those little (unlabeled) pictographs mean? Which microscopic button in the side did I touch that made the screen go black this time? And so on.

4) I know this might have, so far, seemed like a "happy entry." But I am anywhere but at the moment. Lots of reasons. And this is my blog, so here I may bellyache about these matters. A large part of it is that all those years I had to go without healthcare (mostly neurological and psychiatric) did a great deal of damage to my body. And every time I plug one hole, another pops open. I'm beginning to think I'm going to drown in only a year or two. Sure, money's not so tight now, but "not so tight" is a long way from I can afford to have my rotten teeth and gums attended to, for example. Or from we can afford to get Spooky the checkup she's needed for years. And there are days it would scare the hell out of me, were I not so suicidal. By the way, the suicidal hypochondriac, there's a funny one, no? No, not really. But it does embody the true meaning of irony, and it does bring a smile to my face (a rare thing, that). And maybe the next year or two will change all this. And maybe it won't.

5) There is a game I like to play with myself. What if my life had taken a completely different course? It's no secret I do not love writing, no matter how good I might be at it. It's no secret my first love is vertebrate paleontology, and one of the great tragedies of my life was the derailment of my paleo' career in the late '80s by an elaborate combination of factors, too complex to here explain. That the writing career was a fallback (I was lucky to have) that arose from the ashes. I played the game last night. I would post the results here (seven steps were involved), but it would seem too much like self-pity, and while I may pity another, I may not feel pity for myself. We have all been conditioned to believe that's wrong.

6) Three matters I need to attend to, and I'm posting them here because it'll help me not forget (the Lamictal [Lamotrigine] plays havoc with my memory). Firstly, I need to send ReaderCon an updated biography, because the one they have now is very out of date. Secondly, and on a related note, I need to get new bibliographical and biographical data to the Writer's Directory before December 17th. Thirdly, back to ReaderCon, I need to send Rose Fox a list of any programming I'd like as one of the two Guests of Honor, and I need to do it before the end of the month (suggestions welcome).

7. Question @ Hand #5, kittens! Do not disappoint me. We've gotten a couple of good entries, but I need about five more, or Sirenia Digest will be the poorer for the absence of any at all. I'm not asking for great literature, okay? Oh, and don't email me your answer, please. Write them in LJ; this makes my life easier.

8. Spooky and I had a HUGE Rift binge last night, leveling my Eth warrior, Indus (she has a spectral feline companion named River) from Level 32 to 34, and we got Dancy (yes; a Kelari cleric) leveled the same. Please come and play with us (Faeblight shard, guild Watchers of the Unseen). Here is your chance to take part in an interactive story written by "one of our essential writers of dark fiction" (the NYT says so!), and you're letting it pass you by? Inconceivable!

Oh, gods. That's enough.

Spun About,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Heavy Horses)
I better number this one. Well, after I mention an extraordinarily weird dream I had last night involving a secret society of women who were capable of accomplishing mind transference, and so, once a year, traded bodies. And I was being asked to join. But it wasn't this me, it was some other version of me. The the whole affair was far more sinister than it sounds.

1. On this day in 2001 I began keeping a "blog." I'd long kept a private, handwritten journal, and I found the whole idea of a public journal oxymoronic. You know, "public privacy." America had not yet completely decided that "transparency" in all things was such a hot idea. Well, I still haven't (in fact, I know just the opposite), but I digress. It's been ten years since Neil persuaded me to give this blogging thing a try. And...ten years later, here I am. Offhand, I can think of no other author besides Neil whose blogged longer, and he's been nowhere near as fanatical about it as I've been. I started at Blogger, then at LJ beginning in April 2004, then stopped updating to Blogger in 2006. I suspect I've made an entry for 90% of all the days since that first entry. So, wow. Sure, blogging isn't cool anymore, but who gives a shit about what the interwebs deem cool?

2. [Interlude] Jethro Tull season has begun!

3. Here I will slightly amend a bit from the entry I made on the 24th of November 2009: On this day in 1859, 152 years ago, Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life was first published (by British publishing house, John Murray). If any single book charted the course of my life, this is likely it. So, 152 years ago Darwin proposed a theory of evolution to explain the fact of evolution, and, of course, the theory is still evolving, which is the nature of science. And the creationists still don't get it. Maybe in another 152 years...well...let's not go there. My inner pessimist always wins. It's enough to marvel that so many years have passed, and we've made countless discoveries that would have dazzled, delighted, and humbled Mr. Darwin.

4. I just looked at my friends list (where fewer and fewer entries appear), and Elizabeth Bear ([livejournal.com profile] matociquala) has written (regarding the subjectivity of time in a narrative):

And thus, maybe a kiss deserves an entire paragraph in one circumstance... and in another, a battle no more than a sentence. It all depends on the subjective way that time dilates and contracts around your viewpoint characters.

And this is well said, but it set me to thinking – as these things always do – that subjectivity renders these sorts of observations all but useless. On the surface, I agree with the sentiment expressed here. Things get messy, though, when the author pauses to realize exactly how incredibly subjective readers' reactions are to...well...everything. What is too little detail for Reader A is too much for Reader B is just right for Reader C, or almost just right for Reader D, or...almost too much for Reader E. And so forth. There really are no happy mediums here. We can only write our voices, and what seems to suit us, and see how it all falls out in the end. That is, in my case, how many readers will feel as I do regarding detail and how long I've lingered on any given subject or event in any given scene. And, then, of course, I ignore the consensus and continue on my way.

5. Oh! Good news re: Rift. Trion appears to have responded to the outrage of many of its players as concerns the "Fae Yule" foolishness. An enormous amount of the Xmas trees, wrapped presents, and crap vanished yesterday with the latest hotfix to patch 1.6. Now, I can mostly avoid it by simply avoiding low-level areas and Meridian (the Defiant capital city) in Freemarch. Trion, it appears you done at least half good, after all. Oh, and gods, I got a glimpse (I quickly averted my eyes) of one of the Xmas themed rifts, complete with fucking snowman. To quote [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy, "Sweet barking cheese." Pure cocksucking kitsch.

So, this evening, as the day winds down, this day on which we celebrate obesity and colonialism and the genocide of Native Americans, at the end of this day I can play Rift and pretty much be not be reminded of that which I wish to forget, namely the world's Xtian minority. By the way, last night Spooky and I played Indus (my Eth warrior) and Emris (her Kelari cleric) out in Stonefield. Emris is the only male character either of us plays (though, my main, Selwynn, a Kelari mage, is a strange sort of hermaphrodite). [livejournal.com profile] opalblack was with us (her Kelari rogue, Harlakai), but then suddenly vanished, and didn't reappear. Ah, but Spooky's talking to her now, so mystery solv'd.

By the way, as I wrote here (as a postscript) in 2008: Postscript: ...just in case anyone has forgotten since the last time i pointed this out, "Endeavor to be inoffensive to all who might have their feelings hurt at the drop of a hat" is not in my job description. In fact, I think it says something rather to the contrary.

6. Yesterday, I rehydrated, took it slow and steady, avoided caffeine, fought back the exhaustion, and wrote the first three pages of script for Alabaster #3. It's a good beginning. And Steve Lieber is hard at work on making my words into pictures. Cool stuff.

7. Back to the shuggoths! And later, William S. Burroughs.

Rolling along,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
The cool weather is still with us. A mere 71F Outside at the moment. It's cool enough inside that I can actually wear pants. But the heat's supposed to make a comeback in the next day or two, I think.

All of yesterday was spent on the editorial pages for "The Maltese Unicorn." But I saved all the really hard stuff for today. And today is the very last day I have to work on the story, so it's going to be a long, long afternoon. Speaking of long, did I mention this is probably my longest short story since "Bainbridge" back in December 2005?

I've been alerted (thanks, John Glover et al.) to the fact that Amazon.com is now saying that The Ammonite Violin & Others won't be shipping for 1-2 months. No, I don't know why. But I have just emailed Bill Schafer to see if he knows, and I'll pass the news along as soon as I have it.

---

There's an announcement I need to make, and I see no point in putting it off any longer. This will likely be the last year I do conventions. I have Readercon 21, and then another con this autumn, and I don't expect to do any more after that. They're just too expensive, require too much time and energy and time away from work, and my health isn't what it once was. And, truthfully, I've only rarely enjoyed doing conventions. Dragon*Con was fun those years I costumed, and Readercon is nice, because it's laid back and feels a little more like an academic conference than a sf/f con. But yeah, consider this my last year for cons.

---

What else about yesterday? I watched an episode of American Experience about the Donner Party, via PBS online. And later, Spooky and I marked the 150th anniversary of Thomas Huxley's 1860 debate with Samuel Wilberforce by watching Jon Amiel's Creation (2009; based on Randal Keynes' 2000 novel Annie's Box).

It's a beautiful, marvelous film. Yeah, it has its share of fictionalized and synoptic history, but it very effectively communicates Darwin's struggles with his own loss of faith, his health problems, the death of a daughter, and the tensions between him and his wife, all leading up to the composition of On the Origin of Species. Both Paul Bettany (Charles Darwin) and Jennifer Connelly (Emma Darwin) are superb in their roles. And Toby Jones was an inspired choice for Thomas Huxley. The film captures all the wonder, confusion, and terror that must have attended Darwin's protracted epiphany. Excellent cinematography, which often makes great use of bright splashes of color against drab canvases. I very strongly recommend this film.

You may recall the kerfuffle that preceded Creation's US release (it was eventually picked up by Newmarket Films; the US was one of the last countries where it found a distributor). To quote producer Jeremy Thomas, "It is unbelievable to us that this is still a really hot potato in America. There's still a great belief that he [God] made the world in six days. It's quite difficult for we in the UK to imagine religion in America. We live in a country which is no longer so religious. But in the US, outside of New York and LA, religion rules." It is, indeed, unbelievable, and a tragedy that anyone would try to prevent this powerful and powerfully humane film from being shown anywhere. It is unthinkable to me that 151 years after the publication of Darwin's great book, Americans have yet to come to terms with the fact of evolution, and that so many of them cling to the absurdities of Biblical literalism, and, in doing so, contribute significantly to scientific illiteracy in this country. Darwin wasn't wrong in fearing the storm he would ignite, but I don't think even he imagined that we'd still be weathering it this far along.

Now, the mothmen, the platypus, and the dodo are telling me there's a unicorn with my name on it.
greygirlbeast: (Neytiri)
I go to bed angry, and I wake up angry. Last night, I was near tears when I got to sleep about four ayem. Which leads, inevitably, to certain dreams. I go to bed angry about BP and whaling and a thousand other human crimes against the world. I wake up with the same anger. Angers that can never be resolved.

I dream of towering waves, crashing down on cities. I dream of fire. I dream of a world cleansed of the filth of mankind by fire and water. I dream of a world that, in time, is allowed to begin over again.

---

No actual writing yesterday, but a metric shit-ton of email. I spoke with Vince about #55. I spoke with editors. All this speaking is via email, of course. I rarely employ my physical voice when speaking to anyone Outside. I looked through my preliminary schedule for Readercon 21 (I'll post it here as soon as I have the final schedule). When I'd made it through all the email, Spooky read "Tidal Forces" aloud to me. She'd not read the ending. I was relieved to find that the story works. The heat in the House was not nearly so bad yesterday, and is better still today.

My thanks to Ron St. Pierre, for letting me know that my novels are once again available in Japan for the Kindle. Which is good in terms of sales, but I still loathe the Kindle and, on some level, am utterly indifferent to the whole matter of ebooks. I'd much prefer people to read my novels as books.

---

Last night, we watched Avatar (second viewing; first since the theater). I love this film so much. Truly. My complaints remain few and far between. Sure, it's a pretty obvious reworking of Frank Herbert's Dune. If you're gonna steal, steal from the best. This time through, I couldn't help but think about how much better Will Smith would have been than Sam Worthington in the role of Jake Sully (and this might have silenced a few of the "race fail" naysayers). My only other significant quibble is a biological one.

There seems to be an evolutionary disconnect between the Na'vi and the rest of Pandora's wildlife (which is especially annoying, since the Na'vi are so much a part of their world). We see so many wonderfully realized species, thanators and dire horses and viperwolfs and hexapedes, and they form a convincing extraterrestrial ecosystem. All these animals are, in effect, hexapods. Now, here on earth, all land vertebrates are tetrapods. What this really means is that they all share a common ancestor (something like Tiktaalik roseae), and one of the major features of this common ancestor is that it had four limbs. That's why humans have four limbs, and why most terrestrial vertebrates have four limbs (biologists call these shared "primitive" characters symplesiomorphies). There are exceptions, where one set of limbs has been lost (whales, manatees, some squamates, etc.), or where a pair of limbs has been highly modified (as with birds and bats, whose arms function as wings), or where all limbs have been lost (snakes, for example). Now, assuming that natural selection and genetic mutation (these two things equal evolution) works the same way on other planets, I look at Pandora and I see a world where "vertebrates" have evolved not from a four-limbed tetrapod ancestor, but from a six-limbed hexapod ancestor. So...thanators and whatnot have six limbs. This is all well and good. Might have happened here on Earth. By chance, it didn't.

But...the Na'vi have only two sets of limbs, not the three they ought to have. In the film, we see one other "primate" species (this is, of course, only a species analogous to a terran primate, not an actual primate, as it shares no common ancestor with earthly primates). It's the six-limbed "lemurs" that Grace points out to Jake. Maybe the Na'vi are meant to have evolved from an ancestor like these "lemurs." Maybe not. We're never told. But...somewhere along they way, the Na'vi inexplicably lost a pair of limbs. This isn't impossible (see the examples of lost limbs above), but given the ecology of the Na'vi, it's very unlikely. An extra set of arms would come in very handy for an arboreal species, and would not have been selected against. Also, most Pandora species seem to posses "nostrils" in their throat, instead of at the front of their skull. But not the Na'vi.

My guess: Cameron knew that six-limbed, throat-breathing Na'vi would be too inhuman for humans to identify with, and so they have four limbs and breath through nostrils. Also, animating an extra set of limbs on all those characters would have made the production of the film more expensive and time consuming. So, Na'vi have four limbs, even though it makes no sense from a biological perspective.

Now, this hardly detracts from the film. It's only gonna bug zoology geeks like me...and it only bugs me a little. How many people even noticed that most Pandoran animals breathe through three sets of nostrils in their throats? It's very easy to become unreasonably pedantic about "getting the science right." My favorite example, someone who complained about a tiny detail in Danny Boyle's superb Sunshine (2007). I'll quote this bit from IMDb:

In the scene where four crewmen are forced to go into outer space, with no protection, Corazon states that the temperature outside is -273 degrees Celsius. This is not exactly true, because though outer space is near absolute zero (-273 degrees Celsius) it is in fact about 3 degrees above absolute zero. She should have said -270 degrees Celsius, or 3 degrees Kelvin.

This is correct, of course. But who the hell cares? Not me, and I actually care about science. We're quibbling about three degrees, three degrees that would not have changed the story. My rule of thumb, get it right when getting it right doesn't interfere with telling a good story. The story comes first. Hence I put zeppelins on Mars in "Bradbury Weather," even though there was absolutely no way I could make the aerodynamics work (I tried for days, and even enlisted the aid of physicists). Zeppelins on Mars "look" damn cool, so I used them.

Anyway...didn't mean to go on for so long. But the mothmen and the platypus do love a good rant.
greygirlbeast: (earth)
Another wonderful video from the people at Symphony of Science, this one featuring David Attenborough, Jane Goodall, and Carl Sagan...

greygirlbeast: (white)
On this day in 1859, 150 years ago, Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life was first published (by British publishing house, John Murray). If any single book charted the course of my life, this is likely it. So, 150 years ago Darwin proposed a theory of evolution to explain the fact of evolution, and, of course, the theory is still evolving, which is the nature of science. And the creationists still don't get it. Maybe in another 150 years...well...let's not go there. My inner pessimist always wins. It's enough to marvel that so many years have passed, and we've made countless discoveries that would have dazzled, delighted, and humbled Mr. Darwin.

Also on this date, in 2001, a mere eight years ago, I began this blog. It was over at Blogger at the time. So, here I have eight years worth of online journal. When it began, I was living in Birmingham and just getting started on Low Red Moon. And I thought I knew how my life would go. I could never have imagined all the things that the coming eight years held in store.

So, there you go. Two anniversaries in one.

Yesterday was mostly spent tweaking "Sanderlings." I also made notes for a new vignette, for Sirenia Digest #48, and that hardly ever happens. Oh, and my contributor's copy of Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown arrived a few days back, and I spent part of yesterday watching the extended interviews.

Last night, Spooky and I were trying to get Shaharrazad and Surra through Dire Maul, but there was some sort of cataclysmic server breakdown. I think at least a third of the WoW servers crashed all at the same time. So, we were forced to stop killing ogres and seek intellectual stimulation elsewhere. So, we watched Peter Askin's documentary, Trumbo (2007), which was very good and almost made me glad for the server crash. I spend far too much time on that damned silly game.

I will not be writing today, because I have a doctor's appointment.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. The copy of The Five of Cups that we're offering is the lettered edition, filled with extras. Also, Spooky has sold all of her non-winged Cthulhu ornaments (Cephalopodmas is just around the corner!), and only has the winged version remaining (the one I happen to prefer). Five of those remain. You can see them in her Dreaming Squid shop.

Now I'm going to finish my coffee.
greygirlbeast: ("Dracorex")
So, here I am still excited by Limusaurus, the herbivorous ceratosaurid, and up pops a previously unknown form of the speciose ceratopsian genus Psittacosaurus (presently 10-11 valid species known), from the Cretaceous of Inner Mongolia. Psittacosaurus gobiensis, like living macaws, may have fed on nuts.



Comparison of the skull of Psittacosaurus gobiensis and a modern-day dinosaur, the macaw.



Life restoration of Psittacosaurus gobiensis.
greygirlbeast: (Mars from Earth)
So, I'm still processing the news of the discovery of hard evidence of an enormous lake that existed in the Martian Shalbatana Vallis region some 3.4 billion years ago, when I get word of an exciting new herbivorous Chinese ceratosaur, Limusaurus inextricabilis. So, it's been of of those "will wonders never cease" sort of days.




Artist's life restoration of Limusaurus inextricabilis.



Photograph and line drawing of holotype specimen of Limusaurus inextricabilis (scale bar = 5 cm). This specimen is believed to be a juvenile, about five years old.



For lots more, visit one of my favorite science blogs, Pharyngula.

Wow...I know, not as exciting as my endless complaints about the term "Mary Sue," but...wow.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
greygirlbeast: (Trilobite)
Today is not only Darwin Day, it marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, who was born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England on February 12th, 1809. Viva la Evolución!

Yesterday, my comp copies of A is for Alien arrived, along with copies of the chapbook, B is for Beginning. I was a little overwhelmed; I still am. A is for Alien is a very handsome volume, and I'm very pleased with how it turned out. I sat down and tallied up all the books I've done with subpress since I first began working with Bill Schafer late in 2001. I've done twelve hardbacks (not counting hardback states of chapbooks) and something like fifteen chapbooks. In only about eight years. And here is this latest one, and I just want to take the day off and do something I pretty much never do when a new book comes out: bask in the satisfaction of having done a good job. But, no, too much work to be done, too many deadlines. My thanks to everyone who's ordered a copy, and to Bill for taking the book on, and a special thanks to Vince Locke. Also, my thanks to Elizabeth Bear and Jacek Yerka. Like I said already, I'm a litle overwhelmed at this one. My next release from Subterranean Press will be the new trade-paperback edition of Alabaster in April (by the way, I love that on a search for the word "alabaster" on Google, out of 4,880,000 hits, this book comes in at sixth place).

Yesterday, I wrote 690 words, adding a short scene to Chapter Eight of The Red Tree, at my editor's request. Unlike the new scene I wrote on Monday (and ditched on Tuesday), yesterday's scene doesn't feel dropped in. It blends smoothly with the whole, and creates no unsightly ripples. Today, I need to substantially revise the preface, primarily because I wrote the preface before the novel, and, thereafter, The Red Tree became a somewhat different book than I thought it would be when I began. So, the preface no longer quite works with the rest.

More books up on eBay, so please have a look at the auctions.

Much of the snow has finally melted. The temperature was in the high fifties (F) yesterday, and I was even able to open my office window and let some fresh air into the room.

A very busy virtual life last night. To start with, I'm in the process of tearing down the Abney Park Laboratory in the Second Life steampunk sim, New Babbage. It will be replaced by an Arabian Nights-themed "Ladies Social and Arts Club" (with a steampunk edge, of course), which is a nice way of saying an Arabian/NeoVic lesbian bordello. I finally got bored with the whole "mad scientist" thing, so, in Babbage, Nareth Nishi will be replaced by my new alt (created just last night), Scheherazade Muramabhad. Construction of the place will begin as soon as the laboratory is leveled. Nareth will continue to rp in Toxian City, but not in Babbage. And then, later, Shaharrazad and Suraa discovered that is is possible to rp in WoW. While questing in the Eastern Plaguelands, we happened upon a bloof-elf paladin named Sularyn, and together we took the four towers in the region back from the Alliance and held them. Shah and Suraa didn't make it to Level 61, but it was a good night, all the same. Well, except for the utter apocalypse of hearts and flowers and Valentine's Day bullshit that is making it impossible to move in Undercity.

The platypus and the dodo are pretty mellow today. Darwin Day, and the bicentennial of Darwin's birth, seems to have made them both somewhat less grumpy.
greygirlbeast: (Heavy Horses)
Well, truthfully, this year's Jethro Tull Season began at 1:15 p.m. on Saturday, but everyone knows I'm a big fat liar. So, there you go. Screw St. Nick and shopping malls and all those damn dead turkeys! Break out the heavy horses and the locomotives and the dirty old homeless men with pneumonia! Yes, this is how Caitlín copes with winter. Jethro Tull.

Thanks to Elizabeth Bear ([livejournal.com profile] matociquala, a fellow Tullite), I wasted over an hour this morning destroying most of the earth's population with a viral pandemic. I failed, though I did manage to wipe out the entire populations of Russia (where it began), North America, Europe, India, Greenland, much of South America, China, and most of Africa, before the disease finally burned itself out. I even bested the attempt to create a vaccine. Every day should begin so triumphantly (even though I failed).

Also, 149 years ago today, Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species was first published. 149 years later, we are still beleaguered by creationist numbnuts.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,125 words on "The Collier's Venus (1893)," and I almost found THE END. There will be one last short scene today. It's an odd story, another of my Cherry Creek steampunk tales (this will be the fourth), revisiting much of the territory covered by "In the Waterworks (1889)" and Threshold. After the writing, and a dinner of chili, we read and proofed Chapter Six of The Red Tree. I am pleased to say I like this novel even more now than when I "finished" it last month.

We lit the fireplace last night, for the first time this year. I haven't lived anywhere with a functional fireplace since 1982.

After the reading, we watched Mike Nichols' Charlie Wilson's War, which I found extremely effective and chilling. A study in unforeseen consequences. The more things change, the more things keep getting worse. Meet the new boss, same as the old. You know the score. Tom Hanks was good, but Philip Seymour Hoffman was brilliant. Julia Roberts was just scary. And then, after the movie, there was WoW.

I think that I am finally beginning to become disenchanted with World of Warcraft. That makes what? Almost three months? It's just starting to feel far too much like a game (which, of course, is what it is), and I am too entirely disappointed by its utter failure as rp. I'm going to try and stick with it longer by scaling back the number of characters I'm playing, so there's not so much repetition (part of the undesired "gaminess"). I hate games. I want a simulation. I want roleplay, not gameplay. I want full immersion. I want to lose myself in alternate realities. And, so, I suspect it's time to forsake the visual interface and start reading more again. Reading, at least I am not bombarded by REAL LIVE idiots and by stats and leveling and all those other things that only serve to destroy suspension of disbelief. Last night, Mithwen reached Lvl 35. Scaling back, I'll most likely confine myself to Shaharrazad, my blood-elf warlock, and her little sister, Hanifah (a paladin). Spooky's talking about concentrating on her Tauren shaman, Usiku. Total, I presently have six characters, which looks pretty bad, until you consider that Blizzard permits you to have fifty. Anyway, I will continue to hope that at some point within the next few years a genuine rp "simulation" will emerge from the chaos of SL and mmorpgs and whatnot.
greygirlbeast: (alabaster2)
I've been fairly quiet on the matter of the election —— aside from those Sarah Palin cartoons —— but, today, I am going to permit a degree of latitude to wax political. No, nothing especially insightful. Cheap shots, mostly, and all at the expense of the septuagenarian billionaire and the former beauty queen. Like this (thank you, Darren):



As for yesterday, the chapbook to accompany the limited edition of A is for Alien has finally been put to bed. Ironically, I have lavished more time and attention on the chapbook, B is for Beginnings, than on the actual collection. But most of the day was spent pulling Sirenia Digest #35 together, because there were about a thousand loose ends. Regardless, it went out late last night, and, by now, all subscribers should have a copy. I apologize for the fact that there is no artist interview this month. There was a last minute mix-up regarding our need for images, and they never arrived, so the interview has been bumped to #36, by which time we will hopefully have the images we need. Still, it's a very solid issue, I think. I especially hope that people enjoy seeing more of Joey Lafaye. Next month (which is actually later this month), expect more explicitly erotic material than this month. Two new vignettes is my plan. Oh, you'll also note that, at the last minute, as I was laying out the issue, I changed the title of the new story from "The Boon of Salmacis" to "I Am the Abyss and I Am the Light," after a favorite painting by Charles Sims.

Last night, after spaghetti and artichokes, there was WoW (of course). Shaharrazad can now summon a felsteed as her mount, complete with molten hooves and flaming nostrils, which is just too damn cool. I have my very own hell pony! Oh, and she made Lvl 31. I fear I am beginning to favour Shah over Voimakas and poor Mithwen. Anyway, she and Suraa slew humans at the Lordamere Interment Camp for a time, until certain magical artefacts were recovered. Then we headed east to the Arathi Highlands, where we took our orders from a Horde orc commander at the Hammerfall garrison, and so slew ogres and renegade trolls. Everything is easier on horseback. Suraa also has a pony, a warhorse, but he doesn't snort fire, or scald the earth when summoned. He likes carrots, though.

Tomorrow, the plan is to go to Boston, though I hear it's going to rain. So what. Rain beats this blue sky, any day.

Okay. The platypus says we gotta go vote now, then come home an obsess over the exit polls some more. Oh, don't worry. The anti-McCain/Palin jabs will only get nastier as the day wears on.
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 1)
Yesterday, I wrote 2,117 words on Chapter Eight of The Red Tree. So, that's one day down, two to go. And I am so near the end of the novel. It really is unnerving. Knowing that, whatever I came here to say, I have to make sure it's said, because the curtain will be coming down soon. And it has gone to such a very dark place, this story. I do not mean ghoulies and ghosties dark (though there are both, after a fashion), or guts and gore dark, or even murder and mayhem dark. This is a darkness of the mind. There is no worse place to become lost than within the confines of one's own mind. There is no less forgiving environment. But, yes, a very superb writing day yesterday, though it left me feeling withered and disoriented.

Spooky baked oatmeal cookies (with raisins).

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions. Also, subpress is still taking preorders on A is for Alien, and the mass-market paperback of Daughter of Hounds is available. Thanks.

After the writing, and the reading what had been written, Spooky went to the market. I stayed in (too weary for eyes on me, and the autumn sky) and read "Superiority, Competition, and Opportunism in the Evolutionary Radiation of Dinosaurs" (Science, 12 September 2008), which examines the question of just how dinosaurs managed to come out of the Triassic so much better off than their crurotarsan contemporaries (non-dinosaurian archosaurs, including phytosaurs, aetosaurs, 'rauisuchians,' etc.). No clear solution presents itself at the present, only that the survival and radiation pattern could not have followed from the traditional view that it was all a simple matter of some innate dinosaurian "superiority" and competition. I also edited the Wikipedia article on aetosaurs, because it needed editing. Of course, it still needs editing. I don't know how long it's been since I stepped away from editing paleo' articles on Wikipedia. A long while now.

Anyway, last night we resurrected the ritual of Kindernacht, and had hot dogs and watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone again. And then, of course, we played World of Warcraft. We're trying to get our blood-elf characters up to the level of our night-elf characters, and then we'll do the same with our Draenei before going back to Mithwen and Syllahr. So, right now, Shaharrazad and Suraa are dug in down at Tarran Mills in Hillsbrad, helping the local undead polish off an unsightly infestation of humans. We've poisoned puppies, murdered farmers and councilmen, killed cattle with wanton glee, and collected thirty human skulls for a bored undead soldier. He gave us shiny magical rings in exchange. Poor Zhar'los (Shah's big blue minion). He just wants to go home to the Nether.
greygirlbeast: (Tuojiangosaurus)
Soooooo...I will assume by now it's old news that the news that Sarah Palin is a young-earth creationist who believes that humans and non-avian dinosaurs coexisted only a few thousand years ago. She's even dredged up the long discredited "evidence" of the Paluxy trackways, which is about as old-fashioned American creationist as you can get. This is one that even most anti-evolutionists back away from these days, so Sarah's gettin' old school on us here. A friend of mine in Birmingham has referred to this latest dusting off of the old straw horse as "Palinology," which, I'll admit, rather amused me. Anyway, the whole silly affair is rather nicely summed up in another painting by Zina Saunders:

greygirlbeast: (CatvonD vamp)
The current eBay auctions are ending today. Please have a look, if you are so inclined. That seems to be our last copy of the sold-out trade hardback edition of To Charles Fort, With Love.

---

Woke to a rainy morning here in Providence. It is impossible, of course, not the check into the NOAA website to keep an eye on the progress of Gustav, and for that matter, Hanna. I know too many people in the paths of each storm not to worry.

A week or so ago I mentioned being somewhat pleasantly baffled that Trisha Telep chose "Untitled 12" and "Ode to Edvard Munch" for her anthology, The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance. From Amazon, the following quotes illustrate my point. A reader reviewed the book story-by-story, giving each story a star rating (X out of 5). Of my two, she wrote, "My least favorite were both of Kiernan's entries...the vague poetic style of these stories left me unconnected to their characters." I am amused:

"Ode to Evdard [sic] Munch" - Caitlin Kiernan - A man shares his blood with a mysterious vamp for a piece of her dreams. (3 stars - no romance and the connection between the leads was odd)"

—— and especially ——

"Untitled 12" - Cailtlin R. Kiernan - A sick woman searches until a vampire finds her. (1 star - I detested this one. More on the horror side, the vampire and the turning were truly icky, though I debated giving an extra star to the author for inspiring such strong negative feelings with so few words.)"

There's no place here where I can say that the reader seems to have misunderstood anything, unless, perhaps, it was the fundamental principles of fiction and that low-brow bit about "vague poetic style." I am rather pleased that "Untitled 12" inspired such loathing, as it was written, in part, as a response to the glut of "romantic" vampire prOn, and "Ode to Edvard Munch," being, in part, a dream cycle, it is undeniably "odd" (though I am left to wonder how a mortal and a vampire would have a non-odd connection). I think this gets back to what I have said before about the expectation of genre readers defeating texts, and writers who cater to such readers. And the "supernatural romance" crowd is at least as bad as the hard sf crowd. For my part, I'm pleased that Telep wanted these two stories in her book, and that pleasure arises specifically from the knowledge that they were so completely opposite of what the readers would be expecting. You know, blood, instead of red cotton candy. In the end, I blame Anne Rice (who once knew better), and her idiot step-daughter, Laurell K. Hamilton, for the the sad state of affairs with vampires in genre fiction, as well as this whole absurd "paranormal romance" subgenre thing.

---

Yesterday. It throws me off making entries late in the day. But, yesterday there was...stuff. Last night, Spooky and I watched Martin McDonagh's genuinely brilliant and thoroughly delightful In Bruges (2008), which I recommend most highly. Great cast. Great script. And Bruges. I read another paper from the new Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology —— "Mahajangasuchus insignis [Crocodyliformes; Mesoeucrocodylia] cranial anatomy and new data on the origin of the eusuchian-style palate." Mahajangasuchus is one of those grand bull-dog crocs, and the observations on the evolution of the "hard" palate in crocodyliforms was especially interesting, that the structure might have arisen both as a response to the need to decouple the oral cavity from respiration (an advantage only to aquatic forms, and pretty much the leading idea since Huxley proposed it in 1875) and also as a response to torsional feeding stresses. I even have a picture:


Cast of the skull of Mahajangasuchus from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar


---

Last night, more EVE, which I do enjoy, despite the breakneck learning curve and despite the emphasis on PvP action. The latter is especially problematic, and I'm disappointed the game places so much stress on conformity and cooperation and makes no real provision for loner malcontents like me (and most of the characters I create). Then, too, there is the game's manic devotion to corporate commerce as a driving force for its story, when there could have been so much more of substance to motivate its players (religion, race, politics, etc.). Economics has always bored me to tears, and much of EVE revolves around buying and selling and stock and shares and blah, blah, blah. I just want to zip around the universe fighting space pirates (or, better yet, being a space pirate), shagging hot aliens, and gawking at new star systems. So, EVE gets two thumbs up for realizing such an amazingly complex gaming universe, and for making it beautiful, and two thumbs down for turning it into a dreadful capitalist bore that expects me to constantly interact with PvP-obsessed teenagers who name their starships after their penises and wouldn't know "suspension of disbelief" if it cut off their allowances. Regardless, tonight I have to get back to work on Howards End. It's time to attend to a lot of the details of the necropolis/warren/train tunnel complex, and soon we'll be laying the streets. My thanks to everyone who's sent me information on potential characters. If I have not already been in touch, I will soon. I just badly needed a break from SL.

Postscript (4:32 p.m.): from NOAA: 000
WTNT62 KNHC 301718
TCUAT2
HURRICANE GUSTAV TROPICAL CYCLONE UPDATE
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL072008
120 PM EDT SAT AUG 30 2008

DATA FROM AN AIR FORCE RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT INDICATE THAT GUSTAV HAS CONTINUED TO STRENGTHEN AND NOW HAS MAXIMUM WIND NEAR 145 MPH...230 KM/HR WITH HIGHER GUSTS. THIS MAKES GUSTAV AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS CATEGORY FOUR HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON HURRICANE SCALE. A SPECIAL ADVISORY WILL BE ISSUED AT ABOUT 200 PM EDT TO MODIFY THE INITIAL AND FORECAST INTENSITIES. THE SPECIAL PUBLIC ADVISORY WILL TAKE THE PLACE OF THE INTERMEDIATE PUBLIC ADVISORY PREVIOUSLY SCHEDULED FOR THAT TIME.
greygirlbeast: (platypus2)
So, my thanks to everyone who emailed to let me know about the new study published in Nature, regarding the sequencing of the genetic code of Ornithorhynchus anatinus, otherwise known as Herr Platypus. I've not yet had time to sit down and read all the reports, but there's some weird and wonderful news coming out of this study. For one, we now have genetic evidence that monotremes originated as far back as the mid-Jurassic Period, 170 million years ago (though the actual platypus fossils date only as far back about 100,000 years). This suggests that the Order Monotremata is quite a bit older than the earliest-known member of the group, Teinolophos trusleri, discovered in the Lower Cretaceous (approx. 123 mya) strata at Flat Rocks, Victoria, Australia. But far stranger is the discovery that ye olde platypus possesses "five X and five Y chromosomes..." which in theory "...means there are 25 possible sexes, though in practice that doesn't happen." A bloody shame, says I.

All hail the noble platypus, and hisherit's formidable toxic spurs!

And though it has nothing much to do with platypuses, you really should check out the James Gang. Some things are better heard and seen than described. So, have a listen. But, in the words of the Gang:

The James Gang is an updated 1920’s Vaudevillian throwback-style group of three magical entertainers that sing songs, dance, ride unicycles, perform magic and blow fire to name just a few of the things they do in their full show. There are (3) main performers with more background performers to come as the movement grows. T J G consists of Jellyroll James, Deacon Boondini and the Great Gatsby “for short we go by Jelly, Deacon and Gatsby” This group dresses in a high fashion style that is not seen today in music. They have many looks that range from 1920’s suit jackets with knickers, bow ties and knee high argyle sox to all denim jackets and pants tucked into Equestrian knee high boots with Barret and Poorboy hats armed with wooden canes. Think Harlem when they dressed really regal. It is the mission of the group to restore real performances back into the African American community and the world community at large.

Booyah!
greygirlbeast: (white)
Seems one of the cracked teeth has refused to heal. Dr. Booth warned me this was very possible. The damage was just too great. I awoke at 5:45 ayem or so, in something at least approaching agony, and it was near 7 am before I was asleep again, and the only thanks to pain pills and Ambesol. So, in all likelihood, I'll be going to have this tooth extracted sometime in the next two weeks, right in the middle of packing and all these deadlines, and I'll be losing at least a few days to recovery when I should be packing and writing.

I've been meaning to mention that "A Season of Broken Dolls" has been selected for a forthcoming trade paperback "sampler" of stories from the online version of Subterranean Magazine.

No writing yesterday, not really. We took Hubero outside on his leash, and it was good to be out in the spring sunlight, listening to the blue jays and the robins. We had someone from United Van Lines coming to give us an estimate on the cost of the move to Providence. He needed access to all rooms, and I knew I couldn't work through that, so I took a book and went to (boo, hiss) Starbuck's (and they may not have enough sense to use the apostrophe, but I do). I don't remember how many months ago it was that I laid aside Chris Beard's The Hunt for the Dawn Monkey: Unearthing the Origins of Monkeys, Apes, and Humans (University of California Press, 2004), but shame on me. It's a wonderfully written thing, and I sat there and drank a white-chocolate mocha (too sweet, but not bad), and read Chapter 6 ("The Birth of a Ghost Lineage"), which was mainly about collecting fossils of the omomyid primate Shoshonius cooperi from the late Eocene Willwood Formation of Wyoming's Wind River Basin. Meanwhile, Spooky got our estimate from a guy named Ron Goodbub, a retired Pepsico salesman from Kentucky who grew bored with retirement and went back to work (I think it's very suspicious that LJ knows how to spell Pepsico, but not Shoshonius; hell, it can't even spell "Starkbuck's" without the apostrophe). Here's a bit from Chapter 6 of Chris Beard's book I wanted to quote:

"It hardly ever makes sense to refer to a given species — whether living or fossil — as being 'more primitive' than another, for reasons that go beyond any value-laden connotations the comparison carries along with it. Tarsiers are more primitive than humans in having three premolars on either side of their lower jaws and in lacking a complete mandible formed by bony fusion at the chin. Humans are more primitive than tarsiers in retaining a separate tibia and fibula and in having much smaller eyes. The important distinction here is that, while entire species can rarely be arranged from primitive to advanced, individual features usually can be. In fact, paleontologists rely on exactly these trait-by-trait comparisons to decipher the biology of extinct organisms, as well as to reconstruct how they fit on the evolutionary tree."

Myself, I prefer to speak of character states being more and less derived from a given ancestral state than to ever use the word "primitive" or "advanced," as any given organism's evolutionary "status" can only be assessed or judged relative to how well it is adapted to its environment. Tarsiers have been around a lot longer than humans (by tens of millions of years), but they are no less well adapted to their environment than are humans, and therefore no more "primitive" (which, of course, is just another way of saying what Beard is saying above). Yes, that was a tangent.

Mr. Goodbub took longer with the estimate stuff than expected, and it was after 4 pm before I got back to work. I read over the pages I did on "Rappaccini's Dragon" on Monday and Tuesday, made some corrections, and then decided I'd spend the rest of the afternoon packing, give up a Friday off, and plan to finish the story today. I packed something like seven large boxes of books, hardly the tip of the fucking iceberg. Then again, Mr. Goodbub was telling Spooky about having just moved a mathematician who had 500 boxes of books, which makes me feel a little better.

How I'm going to cope with my schedule this month — especially with the bum tooth — is sort of beyond me. I have to finish "Rappaccini's Dragon" for Sirenia Digest #30. I have to do the line edits and introduction on A is for Alien, and an introduction for an Arthur Machen collection that's being edited by S.T. Joshi. I have to get back to work on The Red Tree and make some real progress. I have to go to Birmingham and have a tooth pulled, then recover. And Spooky and i figured out yesterday that it's likely the pace of packing will have become so hectic by the 20th that I'll be forced to stop working. We will probably leave here on May 29th, a Thursday. It's insane, truly. I'd wait and have to tooth pulled after the move, but after the pain last night, that may not be an option.

I was in bed a little after one ayem, and we read more of House of Leaves, because I needed to hear the words. I was asleep by 2:30, only to be awakened a few hours later, which is where we came in...

Ah, and only a few weeks until I hit -4, on May 26th. I do have that wish list at Amazon.com, even if it does mean more packing. Distractions are always welcome, even when i have no time for them.

Coffee, platypus. Coffee, you fool!
greygirlbeast: (Default)
One of the very good things about keeping journals — both the pen-and-paper sort and this other, virtual sort — is the ability to look back at a given past date in my life, whether it's one year ago or ten years ago, and measure how much I have changed from that time. Or not changed, as the case may be. It's like my personal fossil record, a reckoning of my own psychological evolution, whether gradualistic or of a more punctuated tempo. Yesterday, I came across this paragraph, from my 3/9/06 entry. It was heartening, as I can read these words now, a year later, and not be embarrassed by them, by the sentiment they express, which, if anything, I feel more strongly now than I did a year ago:

I wanted to say thanks to the people who've commented on yesterday's dream entry. Especially [livejournal.com profile] mockingbirdgrrl, who wrote, "Your statement, 'Magic is communication. Magic is the one-way communication between any living organism and the cosmos. We speak and the cosmos doesn't listen, but we speak because there's nothing else we can do.' resonates soundly. I kept rereading it, thinking I'd heard that somewhere before. Here it is, from Simon Black's The Book of Frank: 'Because in reality, there is no response to our howling, not here. But that fact is intolerable. The mind invents a response.'" I've never read Simon Black, but yes, exactly. Consciousness cannot help but howl. I know I've been howling my head off for my whole goddamn life. And, so far, the only response beyond wishful thinking has been the beauty and profundity of Nature and Art* that's right here for anyone who'll but open their eyes and see the small fraction that's visible. I know my howling consciousness will always long for something more, some two-way communication, but I'm beginning to accept (in the words of Elizabeth Bear) the apparent truth that "Nobody is coming for you." My dream was fascinating and helpful, but it was only me talking to me, my unconscious and perhaps a Jungian collective attempting to aid my clumsy, fretting conscious mind. Of course, it was also the voice of the "goddess," the Dark Mother and Father and Divine Androgyne, but only because I am a part of the cosmos, as are you and that lightning-struck tree and the crows and everything living and non-living, every molecule and atom and sub-atomic speck and particle and wave...and, well, I think you see where I'm headed with this. Sagan said it best. "Star stuff."

I would add, now, that "Magick is the willful invocation of awe," but I sort of suspect that more recent statement is only a refinement of "Magic is communication. Magic is the one-way communication between any living organism and the cosmos." Also, while I'm on the subject, this bit from the LJ of [livejournal.com profile] morganxpage yesterday:

I strongly believe that the subjugation of sexuality is the root of all evil in the world. It causes every complex, it starts every war, it is the only perversion. Sex is the all-pervading force that animates the Universe, to try to bridle it is disgusting. My Gods are Orgasms, we all are orgasms. Really, think about that: you are the fruition of someone's orgasm. Your whole body, your entire personality, everything about you is someone's orgasm. The whole Universe is one big orgasm.

While I would not go so far as to state that the repression of sex is the only perversion or "evil" (personally, I continue to identify wasteful acts as the greatest crimes against Nature), I wholeheartedly agree with the general sentiment being expressed here. As a child, I was raised in some odd twilight, halfway between the Roman Catholic Chrurch and the United Methodist Church. But, either way, there was that constant message, explicit or implicit, that sex was the reason for "the fall" from some imagined grace, the route by which "sin" entered the world, that, indeed, sex was such a vile act that the Xtian saviour had to be born asexually, sort of like a bacterium or a sponge. Only by spontaneous generation could a "pure" man be born. And I say now, all these years later, that one of the lights Neopaganism could, in theory, retsore to humanity is the knowledge that sex — straight, gay, bi, poly, auto, pretty much whatever floats your boat without sinking someone else's — is part of that thing which we would call sacred, magickal, divine. Anyway, just thoughts going round in my head.

Today, I expect to finish "In View of Nothing" for Sirenia Digest #16. Today, I write the last two sections — "08. The Book (II)" and "09. Exit Music (The Gun)" and find THE END. The dream in back of this story has not recurred over the last couple of weeks, and I hope that when I am done with this story, I will be done with the dream and it will be done with me.

Not much to yesterday. A day off. Last night, we watched Paul Rachman's documentary American Hardcore (2006), which was quite fine.

The platypus says it's time the make the doughnuts, and who am I to argue?

*Truthfully, though, Art is merely a subset or expression of Nature.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
An apology regarding yesterday's entry. There were many, many thoughtful comments, and usually I am very good about replying to almost all comments. I am usually very glad for comments. But something went awry yesterday. I don't quite know what. I just sort of feel like I slipped off the face of the world for a bit there. I do very much appreciate the comments, that you guys took the time to make them. I'll come back to those questions later. Meanwhile, Liz, yes I would very much like to discuss this with you further. Do you have my e-mail?

Yesterday, I did 1,511 more words on "In View of Nothing." And I do not know if this story is going to work. I cannot seem to get it right. It's like I'm writing some dim shade of the story this ought to be. Yesterday afternoon, I was ready to shelve the whole thing. But I've decided to give it one more day.

The sun is bright today, and the warmth has returned.

I read an absolutely terrifying article yesterday afternoon in the new National Geographic, about the explosive growth and Disneyfication of Orlando, Florida since the mid-1970s. My first stepfather's parents (my step grandparents, I suppose) lived there back in the '70s, and I remember Orlando as a drowzy sort of nowhere in particular place, all blue crystal springs and citrus groves. I had no idea that it had become such a wasteland of consumerism and superhighways, megachurches and exurbs and McMansions. I suppose Orlando's another place I will never revisit.

Here's a marvelous quote from Lewin's Bones of Contention (1987). It's nothing especially profound, if you spend a lot of time thinking about evolution, but it does a good job of saying what it says:

Although we usually fail to think of it in this way, the world around us today is just one of countless possible worlds. The millions of species of plants, animals, and insects we see around us are the expression of myriad interacting processes, including chance — perhaps especially including chance. At any point in its prehistory, a species might just as easily have taken a different direction, given a slightly altered confluence of events, thus leaving today's world a slightly different place. And this includes the line leading to us. If, for instance, the massive asteroid collision that appears to have spelled the end of the dinosaurs had also wiped out completely the infant primate lineage that existed 65 million years ago, then there would have been no bush babies and other prosimians, no monkeys, no apes — and no us. And if the climatic changes that so altered the African landscape between 5 and 10 million years ago had in fact not occurred, apes might have remained the highest of the primate order, as they were then. There are so many "ifs" in our history that could so easily have shifted the course of events. Despite our intense desire to believe otherwise, Homo sapiens simply cannot be seen as the inevitable product of life on earth..

Oh, and Spooky found my glasses, so I can see again.

Also, a link for those who have not yet heard of the discovery of Albertaceratops nesmoi from the Upper Cretaceous of Alberta.

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greygirlbeast: (Default)
Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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