greygirlbeast: (walkenVNV)
Sometimes, I feel it's most important that people know and believe the truth – which is passion, but also no small degree of arrogance, to imagine I know such a thing. But other times, I feel it's best they believe whatever comforts them, regardless of my ideas of truth (and fact), so long as they do as little harm as possible. But that's pretty much the whole of the Law, isn't it? (Rhetorical question.)
greygirlbeast: (alabaster2)
After much ado, follow this link. There will be much more news next Wednesday (the 9th of October), but I think the discerning reader of my work can gather quite a lot from this Dark Horse teaser. And, though I dislike speaking of the tips of icebergs, well...such things are. I hope you're as excited by this as I've spent the last year being (as yes, I've been sitting on this secret, in one form or another since Oregon and my GoH stint at the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival, when the mega-cool editor Rachel Edidin of DH asked for a meeting with me. So, make of all this what you will.

Props of [livejournal.com profile] corucia for guessing halfway right, and to [livejournal.com profile] chris_walsh for making the most utterly fucking absurd guess: "I'm hoping the news is that science (Science!) has figured out how to download Harlan Ellison's mind into yours for safe keeping."

And now...other things, but comment, kittens, as I wish to revel in your excitement (and further speculations).

Today, between a zillion other distractions, Spooky and I are making the final edits to Blood Oranges before it goes to my agent and editor. Just piddly stuff, really. Mostly continuity.

Here in November, in this House of Leaves we pray.

Yesterday, I finished writing the new story for Sirenia Digest #71, "Latitude 41°21'45.89"N, Longitude 71°29'0.62"W," which required of me 1,187 words. Written yesterday, I mean to say. And don't forget, really cool NEVER BEFORE RELEASED Silk archival material, available only to subscribers! Means, kittens, this is a good damn time to subscribe!

And I suppose, since I allowed Anne Rice to speak yesterday, Miss Stephenie Fucking Meyer deserves equal time, so I'll quote the article from The Atlantic Wire, for all the precious and celibate teen members of Team Edward out there (by the way, note that Miss Meyer fired the first shot in this little skirmish). Thus, I quote:

"But I can't read other people's vampires. If it's too close [to my writing], I get upset; if it's too far away, I get upset. It just makes me very neurotic." And Interview with the Vampire presumably gets her on the upset--the "too far away" kind of upset. "I've seen little pieces of Interview with a Vampire when it was on TV, but I kind of always go YUCK! I don't watch R-rated movies, so that really cuts down on a lot of the horror."

Yes, she really did say "yuck."

Last night, we played RIFT, and I got enough magma opals my fucking Ash Strider mount! Booya! And we finished Season Four of Mad Men, which would make me really sad, having to wait for Season Five, except we have the two-discs that collect Season Four of Californication incoming from Netflix tonight; I love me some Hank Moody. I think I got to sleep about 4:45 ayem. There was a dream this morning of apocalypse, but it's been forgotten (thank you, poisonous meds).

Did I mention this link?

I leave you with another beautiful photograph from The Drowning Girl shoot, courtesy [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy:



The genuinely intrepid Sara Murphy as Eva Canning, in the Providence Athenaeum.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Yes, kittens, it's going to snow 1-3 inches here in Providence tonight, and we're the lucky part of New England. Apparently, Autumn took the year off; I don't blame it. I hear it's snowing in Manhattan right now.

Still, I wish I were at the sea today. I want to watch a heavy snow fall on the olive-green waves.

Okay, here's some news, so perk up those ears. I've been sitting on a secret for many, many months, and many of you know this. On November 2nd, there will be some manner of revelation, and on November 9th, all will be revealed. That's Wednesday, and then the next Wednesday. The NSA has agreed to declassify the files, and the MiBs will go public. The gag order will be rescinded. Some of you will not hear the news here first. Machineries are in motion that are far greater than am I. But...I believe there will be a lot of happy campers among you, and I think the wait will have been worth it. It's worn me ragged, keeping this secret.

And that's what I worked on yesterday, this secret thing. Meanwhile, Spooky attended to line edits on Blood Oranges, using the old iBook (Victoria; the old girl's got a lot of life left in her).

---

Yesterday evening, as the sun was setting, we arrived at the Steel Yard, for the 6th Annual Iron Pour. A most appropriate post-industrial celebration of Samhain (though, of course, Samhain proper isn't until Monday). Five-thousand pounds of molten steel poured from a blast furnace, molten metal to fill jack-o'-lanterns, a great skull-shaped mold (the skull, weighing hundreds of pounds lifted, glowing, by block and tackle). Hundreds of voices screaming, "Fire." Enormous effigies to be devoured by fire: demons, witches, the head of a goat. A woman with the head and wings of a bat, dressed all in black and on stilts. A chainsaw that belches flames. The burning effigies are revealed to have wrought-iron skeletons. Deliriously eldritch and aharmonic anti-melodies played on violins, saxophones, and coronets. Volcanic showers and liquid iron of sparks filling the air, and raining down almost atop our heads. That's the Iron Pour in Providence. There are pictures behind the cut, below (though, batteries were low, we forgot to change them, and the camera, therefore, acted up).

Do people know about the not-so-secret pagan rites in Providence? Well, more than know about the Big Chair Rites of Moosup Valley.

---

After my post yesterday, and my mention of seeing The Rapture (1991) again, an analogy occurred to me. It's one thing to call the Judeo-Christian god petty and sadistic. It's another to explain what you mean. So, here's one of a...well, of countless...examples: That whole Garden of Eden thing, Adam and Eve and the serpent. That chestnut. Here's the same story - the very same story – recast in less fantastic language. An unnamed adult (ADULT) places two three year olds, a boy and a girl, in a large room filled with every manner of toy they might ever desire, every sweet confection, a computer with the best games, every imaginable three-year-old delight, and the children are told, "You may play with all these things, and eat whatever you wish, and as much as you wish. But...you see that jar of Watermelon-flavored Jelly-Belly jelly beans over there? You do? Okay, now...that's the one thing you must not eat from. Now, I'm going to leave you to your own devices. Be good, kiddos." (No explanation is offered as to why the beans must be left alone.) And the adult goes away. And the two children have a blast, for days and days and days.

But, eventually, a loudspeaker mounted in one corner begins to whisper sibilantly about those Watermelon-flavored Jelly Belly jelly beans. It whispers, and most persistently, and, kids will be kids, and...when the unnamed adult returns to find the forbidden beans of jelly have been tasted, the two children are shamed with the harshest possible language, then tossed from the paradise of that room. They're thrown out into the cold winter streets, and guards are placed at the doors, that they can never again enter the marvelous room. Because they ate jelly beans that were placed there so that they would be tempted to eat the jelly beans. And there was that voice planted there to help them along, right? Don't think for a moment the adult didn't put that speaker there (whether or not the voice was his or hers, that's another matter). But it gets better, which is to say it gets worse. For having tasted the Watermelon Jelly Bellies, no child may ever again enter the room, and all the descendents of these two children will suffer unspeakable agonies and trials, and die, and face an eternity of torment unless they love the sadistic adult (ADULT) in question, despite this dirty, little trick with the jelly beans and the whispers...and, well, you know the story. And no, this is no more simplistic a parable than the original. Just a tiny bit more honest. And don't give me that "freewill" bullshit. ADULT knew better. He/she knew the nature of the children, she/he made them. The whole thing was rigged. For the Bible tells us so.

---

Spooky's Hallowe'en Sale isn't quite over, so have a look.

Last night, some good RP in Insilico, and then a tiny dash of RIFT. Then we watched last week's episode of Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story, and...it was...surprisingly better. It was actually...haunting. A tremendous number of story threads and themes were skillfully tossed about and interwoven and, hell, it would have made a fine last episode. Still that Dark Shadows camp, but elevated just a bit. Moments of genuine chill. I think it's possibly more interested in the problem of hauntings than in ghosts, and that would be a good thing. Oh, and now Zachary Quinto, also known as Spock #2 and My Second Husband (you get to guess who's my First and Third husbands are), has joined the cast...so I have to keep watching.

Later, I read Steinbeck's The Log of the Sea of Cortez until I could get to sleep, about four-thirty ayem.

And now, I hear those black panel vans...You know, Tom Waits* needs to write a song entitled "Black Panel Vans."

Clandestine,
Aunt Beast

28 October 2011 )


* "Mankind is kept alive by bestial acts."
greygirlbeast: (river2)
Cold and sunny here in Providence. Tonight, we are promised it will be colder, but still mostly clear, for the Steel Yard annual iron pour. Meanwhile, we have a winter storm watch set to begin tomorrow at five p.m. and run until early Sunday morning. The first nor'easter of the year, and early. Looks like most of New England's going to get hit, but it also looks like we're in a narrow band that will escape the worst of the weather. Yay, us. I'd really like to have another six weeks or so until I have to worry about the blizzards. Anyway, as long as weather predictions are being made, I predict this is going to be a long and bad, bad winter.

Yesterday, we made it through the last two chapters of Blood Oranges. What a weird book. But, also, what a funny book. How did I do that? It's pretty much Buffy the Vampire Slayer directed by Quentin Tarantino. I think maybe the more interesting question is why did I do that? Was I trying to purge the deleterious effect that writing The Drowning Girl: A Memoir had upon me? That seems to be the popular opinion, but I can't say for sure. But it does hold up, and that's a great relief. I shall think of it as a belated tonic against the waning ParaRom market. I won't even dignify "ParaRom" with the sobriquet "genre." Not even "subgenre." It's just a market. You know, like varieties of porn. No, wait. I like porn. Porn is useful, and has dignity. Especially the creepy stuff from South Korea.

Oh, and I'm thinking of calling the obligatory sequel Fay Grimmer. No one will get the Hal Hartley reference who isn't meant to get it.

Today, it's back to work on Project Arrowhead for the MiBs at No Such Agency. As I said to Spooky, it's going to be the first long day of a long weekend at the beginning of a long winter.

Last night, in the rain, sleet, and snow, we went forth into the darkness to run errands. I got two new (and badly needed) pairs of shoes for the winter. I went all last winter in my Cros, coupled with New Zealand bedsocks. Which is really no fit state of affairs. Anyway, and the cat food/litter place, we had to go there, too, and also get dinner, and it must have been nine p.m. by the time we got home.

After dinner, there was RIFT. Mostly, dailies and world-event stuff, and then we watched Michael Tolkin's The Rapture (1991). I'd not seen it since the video release in 1992 or whenever, but after seeing Red State, and discovering that Spooky had never seen The Rapture, I very much needed to see it again. Well, I could have done without David Duchovny's mullet. But the rest of the film has aged very well. There are few better examples of the "Christian horror film." It's sort of Red State turned inside out, and the horror isn't so much what people are willing to believe (though that's bad enough). The horror lies in the objective existence of a sadistic "god" who demands it be loved, like a spoiled child demanding attention. It will be loved, or you will be damned. It will be loved, and you will destroy yourself for it's love, or you'll spend forever alone. Even if you are a "good" person, it will still damn you, unless you love it. In the final moments of the film, the film's protagonist redeems herself by finding her own salvation simply by telling the Bully in the Sky that no, she won't love it. "Who forgives God?", a question asked moments before the climax, is especially apt. So, yes, this is a keeper. A film which doesn't so much question the cartoonish Biblical eschatology, as it questions the ethics of a omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being who would subject its creations to a living hell, just to get its ya-yas off. You know, just because. Like any shitty parent or schoolyard bully. See it, if you've not already. And if it sounds like the sort of film that would piss you off because you're a good Christian, then you especially need to see it. If you're that sort of person, this film was made for you. It won't change your mind. But, nonetheless.

We read more of Wildwood.

And now, I see the black van has pulled up outside.

Off to the Airbase,
Codename: Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Starbuck 3)
I didn't forget this morning's dreams. And more's the pity. I dreamed that the Eastern Seaboard had been destroyed in a nuclear war by the Japanese (????), and I was a child in Jacksonville, Fla. and all was soot and ruin, and I watched a television broadcast of a firestorm raging across Texas. A million little details in my head.

This is why I generally hope to forget my dreams. Also, just now, right this very fucking minute, I'm having to refrain from one of those "You kids these days! Get off my lawn!" tirades, this time about how much I hate the way that the abbreviations of the states were dumbed down (i.e., simplified) back in the 1980s or when the hell ever. Florida is not FL; Florida is Fla. Massachusetts is not MA, it's Mass. Michigan is not MI, but Mich. West Virginia isn't WV, it's W. Va. Yeah, okay. I'll stop now. But I haven't lost all the battles. For example, the Girl Scouts of America, at least in the state of Colorado, are now trans friendly. I still marvel at the emerging phenomenon of transgendered children being permitted to express and explore their gender identities as children. Sure, it's still not even close to being included in this society's "normative state," but its become ever more common in the US. Kids these days...

Yesterday, we made it through chapters Five and Six of Blood Oranges. Assuming the MiBs leave me alone today, we'll get through Seven and Eight, and all that will be left to be done to the manuscript is actually making the marked corrections (there are a bazillion, so it'll take at least one long day). And since tomorrow will definitely belong to the spooks, It'll likely be Sunday before those corrections can be made.

And here we come to a note regarding Sirenia Digest. I am very, very sorry, but #71 is going to be late, and by late I mean maybe as late as the 10th of November (whereas it's "due" out on the 5th). October was a monster, and here I am with four days of it left, and I've not had a moment to put towards the digest. But it will come as soon as I can pull it together, and I apologize profusely. I'll do my best to never be this late again.

Last night, Spooky made astoundingly yummy turkey legs (toss in mushrooms, apples, onions, garlic, etc.) with mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts (a cultivar of the wild cabbage, Brassica oleracea). I had a hot bath. Oh, wait. The bath was right after I made my blog entry, which means I had to wake up twice, because warmth makes me sleepy. Anyway, after dinner, Rift, and after Rift I finished reading Steinbeck's "About Ed Ricketts" to Spooky. So much is quotable, but I'll settle for one. On religion and Ricketts, Steinbeck writes:

He has no religion in the sense of creed or dogma. In fact he distrusted all formal religions, suspecting them of having been fouled with economics and power and politics. He did not believe in any God as recognized by any group or cult. Probably his God could have been expressed by the mathematical symbol for an expanding universe. Surely he did not believe in an after life in any sense other than chemical. He was suspicious of promises of an after life, believing them to be sops to our fear or hope artificially supplied.

I love those words. And now, four more stills (by [livejournal.com profile] kylecassidy) from the October 15th shoot at Rolling Dam (Blackstone, MA) and Thundermist Falls (Woonsocket, RI):

Beast on Location )
greygirlbeast: (starbuck5)
One of the things about being a freelancer – and here I mean the sort with nothing resembling a regular gig, the sort who lives hand to mouth, short story to novel to short story and so forth – is that there's a lot of waking-up time. You might have to worry about paying the bills, but you can take three hours to chase the sleep away. But now, because of The Secret, I'm another sort of writer, and I'm having to get used to rolling out of bed and hitting the floor running, frosty, eyes wide, bright and shiny, Cap'n. I'm getting very good at faking awake and articulate.

I actually slept eight and a half hours last night.

Yesterday, I worked. A lot.

I just got word of the Decemberists EP that comes out on November 1, and there's the new Tom Waits next week. Music madness!

This morning, Spooky kindly made me eggs and bacon for breakfast. These days, left to my own devices, my usual breakfast is a can of Campbell's vegetarian vegetable soup. And now I have my sugar-free Red Bull, so all is right and Ceiling Cat is in his clouds, rubbing shoulders with the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

I wish I had a good Hallowe'en party to attend this year, But, likely I shall not. Likely, we shall attend the Molten Masquerade, the annual iron pour at The Steel Yard, where over 500 pounds of liquid steel will flow beneath the night skies of Providence. It's hard to think of a better way to welcome Samhain. I mean, hard to think of a better way to welcome Samhain that doesn't involve nudity. And a sacrificial Scientologist.

A favor, please. If you've received your copy of Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan (Volume One), please leave a comment to that effect (and your location, if you don't mind). I just like watching my new books spread, like a pandemic.

Last night, after work, after Spooky went to the farmer's market, after meatloaf, we played RIFT for...a while. And then we read more of Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis' Wildwood. While Spooky read aloud, I used astronomy "apps" on Kermit to explore Mars and then the Moon. Ah, and yesterday I also managed to read four (!!!!) papers in the latest issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology: "A new Barremian (Early Cretaceous) ichthyosaur from western Russia," "A Carboniferous emblomere tail with supraneural radials," "The first temnospondyl amphibian from Japan," and "New evidence of large Permo-Triassic dicynodonts (Synapsida) from Australia."

And that was the best of yesterday. And now I will leave you with five more randomly chosen "behind the scenes" photos taken by Ryan Anas during last weekend's shoot for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir trailer. However, these are so random, I think I'll add captions:

Ryan's Behind the Scenes, Part Two )

Dear God,

Oct. 9th, 2011 08:59 pm
greygirlbeast: (Bjorkdroid)
Once my favorite song, for a time. Still much treasured.

greygirlbeast: (Tuojiangosaurus)
This morning (technically, this afternoon), I'm a little taken aback at otherwise sensible people who are feeling sorry for the disappointed, depressed, and down-at-heel followers of Harold Camping. As kids these days are wont to "say," o.0.

Here we have these cowardly fuckers who were hoping to be yanked away to some heavenly playground where they could wallow in eternal bliss, while 97.1% of humanity endured unspeakable horrors and fire and everlasting torment. And I'm supposed to feel empathy or sympathy or whatever for the idiot cult of Harold Camping, because they didn't get their wish? Hah! I admit that I have no especial love of humanity, and I've often thought total annihilation might not be such a bad thing, BUT at least I include myself among the annihilated. My doomsday is utterly indifferent and doesn't discriminate. I don't imagine some Old Man in the Sky who passes judgment. Who picks and chooses, and is willing and eager to spare you infinite agony if you'll get down on your knees and kiss "his" feet and stroke "his" ego and tell "him" you love no other god but "him."

So, no. The followers of Camping will get no sympathy from me. Let them weep. Let them gnash their teeth and feel the weight of the godless universe upon their cowards' shoulders.

---

Yesterday, I wrote 1,529 words on Chapter Two of Blood Oranges. And Spooky had trouble reading it, because she kept having to stop to laugh. She tells me that's a good thing, and I hope she's right. This is strange new territory for me.

The day is overcast, and it's only 54˚F out there. Hello, pretender to the throne of May.

Spooky has listed a new necklace in her Dreaming Squid Dollworks and Sundries Esty shop. You should buy it. Spooky's necklaces are grand.

Last night, I revisited Gregory Hoblit's Fallen (1998), which I think is somewhat underrated. Spooky had never seen it before. And we played Rift. And read Under the Poppy, which I hope you're reading, too. Also, I read two articles in the January issue of JVP: "New information Wumengosaurus delicatomandibularis Jiang et al., 2008 (Diapsida: Sauropterygia), with a revision of the osteology and phylogeny of the taxon" and "A small alvarezsaurid from the eastern Gobi Desert offers insight into evolutionary patterns in the Alvarezsauroidea."

Proudly Unraptured,
Aunt Beast

Oh, and dinosaur (etc.) photographs:

May 17-18, Part Three )
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Cloudy and a bit chilly today. All is glum.

Easier to shut the curtain.

So, lift my spirits, kittens. Comment.

Today will be an Assembly Day. That is to say, a day spent assembling the latest issue of Sirenia Digest – in this instance, #65 – so that it can be mailed out to subscribers. Which you ought to be, if you're not.

I'm mentioned very briefly near the end of this article, "Lovecraft's Providence" (in "Fine Books and Collections," which, near as I can tell is a webzine only*). Anyway, the article's by Nick Mamatas ([livejournal.com profile] nihilistic_kid), and both me and Brian Evenson are quoted.

Also, a couple of weeks back, I took part in a "One Word Interview," in which the word in question was silence. I meant to post the link, but I often forget these things.

Yesterday I was a bad kid and played hooky. Spooky and I went to Warwick and saw a matinée of Francis Lawrence's Water for Elephants (from Sara Gruen's 2006 novel, of which Spooky is a great admirer). I'd never have thought the man who made I Am Legend (2007) and Constantine (2005) would have been the right director for this film, but I would have been wrong. The film is superb. The entire cast is excellent (yes, including Robert Pattinson), especially Christoph Waltz. If you place any weight in my opinion, this is a must-see film. And no more hooky for me until at least June.

Please, please have a look the current eBay auctions! Thanks.

Last night, curiosity got the better of me, and I did a thing I'd sworn I would not do. In Rift, I created a Guardian-side character. Now, if you know the Rift backstory, you know that the Guardians are loyal to the old gods of Telara, while the Defiant have rejected the gods and pursue a technological and scientific means by which to defeat the two factions' common enemy. Each side blames the other for the rifts, and so on, and so forth. Anyway, I created Mithrien, a High Elf, and Spooky created another High Elf, Serrafina. And we played them through the first ten levels. My conclusion? The Guardians should be renamed the Godbotherers. No, really. It gets very obnoxious after a while, and I doubt I'll be playing much of Mithrien, what with all the praying and inspiration and talk of faith and whatnot. But here's the thing that really got me. At several points, polytheistic Guardian NPCs refer to the Defiant as "heathens." Do the people at Trion who wrote the script know what that word means? Because, in point of fact, the Guardians are nearer to being heathens, while the Defiant would be more fairly described (by theistic folk, anyway) as infidels or apostates, but not as heathens.

However, big points to Rift for the lesbian thing with Kira Thanos and Uriel Chuluun (Defiant side).

Okay, yeah. Big queer nerd-out. Sorry.

Um...where was I? Ah, fuck it.

You are reading Kathe Koja's Under the Poppy, right?

Glumly,
Aunt Beast

* Nick tells me it is, in fact, a bimonthly print magazine.
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Yesterday, I wrote 1,020 words on "The Prayer of Ninety Cats."

Very cold morning here in Providence. I dreamt of snow last night. Well, not last night, but, rather, this morning. The insomnia had me awake until about 5 ayem. It finally took Sonata for me to find sleep.

Not enough milk for the coffee this morning, so it's sort of blackish. And I hate black coffee. Mostly, I hate coffee, but milk (or, preferably, half and half) makes it bearable. Anyway, there would have been enough milk, but we made pumpkin muffins last night. Not that I'm that fond of pumpkin muffins.

Last night, Spooky read me Kelly Link's "The Constable of Abal," which is another amazing story. It's like this woman is incapable of getting it wrong. There's a passage I want to quote:

You could kill a man and you could lie and steal as Zilla had done, and if you lit enough candles at the temples, you could be forgiven. But someone who ate little devils and caught ghosts with ribbons and charms was a witch, and witches were damned.

Which pretty much sums up my sentiments on the hypocrisy of...well, lots of stuff.

Right now, winter is a stone about my neck.
greygirlbeast: (white)
Another line from Kristin Hersh's Rat Girl, and she's writing about the sort of music Throwing Muses was doing in 1985, but it's true of every sort of writing I've ever done:

"It's hard to learn something that no one can teach you."

Actually, it was Leslie Langston (the band's original bass player) who said that. Kristin Hersh wrote it down.

---

Yesterday, I wrote 1,169 words on the new vignette, which now has a title. I'm calling it "John Four."

Also, my old passport came home to me yesterday. I'm very pleased that it was sent back to me. I just asked Spooky exactly who sent it back to me, and she said, "I don't know. The passport people." So, thank you passport people. I wanted to be sure I got the old one back (though it now has two holes punched in the cover). It has my immigration stamps from places like Dublin and Shannon and London.

Spooky says "fuck" a lot more than I do. Which is saying something, because I say "fuck" an awful fucking lot.

Jupiter was amazing last night. I sat in the front parlor, and it amazed me. This startling, beautiful point of light just left of the moon.

---

Weird rehashed thoughts about "God" this afternoon (I can't pretend it's still morning). Like, is it not obvious that there's something seriously warped about the idea of a god that demands praise, and if you don't deliver, you'll have really, really bad shit happen to you? I mean, in Xtianity, it's pretty much that simple. Love me, and tell me you love me every chance you get, or you get sent to the bad place when you die. Imagine if a human treated you that way, a human being with comparable expectations. Tell me you love me, and that I'm the best, and tell me that over and over and over, on you knees, head bowed, or I'll beat you. How can something this self evidently wrong not be self evident to everyone?

Anyway, speaking of vicious "gods," I have a snazzy looking ad for the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival and CthulhuCon. So, lights, action, tentacles:



---

How did the world suddenly grow so brittle?
greygirlbeast: (goat girl)
1. No, I'm not dead. Though, round about night before last, it would have been preferable. I am much, much better this morning, so hopefully I'm quickly recovering. Tiger Balm patches are a marvelous thing. Now, if my body would just shutdown the mucus pumps for a while. But, seriously...people are always asking, why do you never go anywhere or do anything? I say, "Because I'll get sick. I look at a crowd of people, and all I see are hundreds of billions of virulent germs." People scoff and call me silly. I go Outside. I get sick. And then I lose writing time I can't afford to lose. Now, yeah, I know it's very bad for me, never leaving the house, but being shut down for five or six days to some bug isn't very good for me, either. It's a damned conundrum.

2. I've spent most of the past two days in bed. There was a lot of TV (on laptop via DVD) and a lot of reading, mostly, Spooky reading aloud to me. We finished Peter Straub's very, very wonderful A Dark Matter (due out February 9th). I'm going to say more about it when I'm a bit more articulate, but it really is a grand novel. I also read more of the December issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology— "Comparison and biomechanical interpretations of the vertebrae and osteoderms of Cacops aspidephorus and Dissorophus multicinctus (Temnospondyli; Dissorophoridae)," and "A possible new ctenosauriscid archosaur from the Middle Triassic Manda Beds of Tanzania." And I began the paper on the pedal morphology of the "marsupial lion," Thylacoleo, one of the the most splendidly bizarre bits of evolutionary tinkering known thus far. It makes Spooky start talking about "blender mammals." Also, we watched all of Season Five of Weeds in two nights.

3. On Wednesday, the February National Geographic arrived. Had I not already been sick, the cover story would have done it. Some ancient old Mormon extremist fucker with five wives, forty-six children, and 239 grandchildren. Recall David Szydloski's modest proposal from The World Without Man? I quoted it at length. Now, I know it's a fairy tale of sanity and restraint, expecting a human reproduction rate of one child per each man and woman. I know that perfectly well. But...here we have six adults who, rather than producing about twenty new humans (which would be in keeping with the worldwide average), they've squirted out a total of 285. I think I'm going to have to tear the cover off before I can read this issue.

4. I did manage a very small amount of writing. Very, very small. 410 words on Wednesday, and the day before that, Tuesday, 204. That's how bad this week has been. Monday, I've got to call my agent and talk about the feasibility of certain deadlines.

5. I am officially puking sick to fucking death (this has nothing to do with my plague, different kinda sick) of reactionary internet twitwad word police who seem to exist for no other reason than to get pissed at the drop of a hat. Which is to say, if I proclaim "I'm no one's bitch," I am not feeding into so-called "rape culture" (see the last paragraph of this entry by Himself if you are wondering what I'm on about). This is almost as fucked-up as the jackass on Twitter who accused me of encouraging discrimination against transgendered people. By the way, as it happens, I am Spooky's bitch. And the platypus'. But that's all. The bitch line ends there.
greygirlbeast: (white)
Looking back at the inaugural speech, which I've read through a couple of times now, there are two little bits that I adore and just want to give a quick mention to before moving along to other things. First, President Obama's acknowledgment of atheists and agnostics as legitimate segments of a pluralistic society. That made me almost as happy as the inclusion of gays in his acceptance speech:

We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers.

And, also, his nod to the vital role that science, set aside by the Bush Administration as inconvenient and irreligious. must play:

We will restore science to its rightful place...

And, speaking of science's rightful place, it goes without saying that I was very happy about the repeated references to global warming.

---

Yesterday was pretty much consumed by the inauguration. I cannot even recall the last time that a national event kept me so captivated. 9/11? Hurricane Katrina? The invasion of Iraq? The crash of the space shuttle Columbia? But, this time, I was captivated not by horror and tragedy, but by unity and the possibility of a light at the end of the tunnel. Or at least the possibility that the tunnel may have an end. That has to count for something, so I don't feel too bad about allowing the words to languish yesterday.

Today, now that I've decided on the Edgar Allan Poe theme for Sirenia Digest #38, I need to figure out, quickly, exactly what that means as regards what I'll be writing. I suspect I'll be re-reading "The Premature Burial" and "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar," and a great deal of his poetry. I'd love to write a piece called "The Thousand-and-Third Tale of Scheherazade," but that that may a little ambitious, given the deadline and all. We'll just have to see. Anyway, it should be an interesting issue.

Last night, very late (three ayem to half past four), I watched Resident Alien (1990), Jonathan Nossiter's documentary on Quentin Crisp. It didn't help my insomnia, but it was quite entirely wonderful. Crisp remains one among my motley band of role models. Is it odd to be -4 (and almost -5) and still have role models? I should hope not, but I never know how people look at these things.

I was going to say something about Second Life, since I admitted, a few days ago, to falling back into it again. Here's the thing. Upon returning, I have found some genuinely marvelous roleplayers, people I knew from before, and also people who are new to me. And here when I say "rp" I am referring to improvisational theatre, or simulationism. Total immersion. And I do treasure these people. But there is no denying that the majority of SL, so far as I can see, not only has no interest in rp, or making any sort of use of SL for artistic ends, it's also dumb as a bag of hammers. Or a doorknob. Or what have you. Indeed, I am quite certain now that SL, either intentionally or unintentionally, selects for stupidity and illiteracy, the way that natural selection might favour tricuspid teeth or osteoderms. And here I'm not talking about a casual, easily overlooked stupidity, but one that is bone-jarringly deep and constantly, aggressively drawing attention to itself. A proud sort of stupid. So, in order to take part in SL, I am having to struggle to rp around the idiots, and there are days, like yesterday, when it almost gets the better of me again. I just don't do dumb as a rock. I think I might have tried it on one weekend in 1988, but found it wanting (and a bit snug about the bust). It should not surprise me, and I see that clearly now, that SL draws to itself the lowest common denominator, those with apparent (if not actual) low intelligence, almost nonexistent social skills, and a refusal to express themselves in complete sentences. But it does. Surprise me, I mean. It just seems very sad, and like a gigantic waste of both human potential and of electricity (and time, and the oil used to make plastic, and I could go on and on), just to turn a profit for Linden Labs and enshrine the Church of LOL and provide a playground for those who deem thoughtful characterization "too emo." Still, I'm not giving up again. At least not just yet. But I came very close last night, and I thank Joah for pulling me back.

And yes, I am carping. It's something I do very well.

And if you've still not ordered your copy of A is for Alien, due out next month from Subterranean Press, please take a moment to do so today. The platypus will smile upon you.
greygirlbeast: (Blood elf 2)
I just opened the blinds in my office for the first time in days. I can see no evidence of snow remaining out there. The sky is a gentle blue dabbed with swatches of white cloud, and the washed-out New England sun. It's easy on the eyes.

I know better than to look at the news, but I find myself looking, anyway. More and more often. No, I don't know why. Morbid curiosity? Anyway, I was oddly pleased to learn of a study demonstrating that teens who take those silly virginity pledges are no less likely to have sex than those who don't. And, what's more, it appears the virginity-for-Jesus crowd are more likely to have unsafe sex. Which makes sense, really, since their sexual activity is more apt to be spontaneous, and the repression of normal sexual desires will have also required the repression of knowledge about STDs and birth control. Kids, listen...just get laid. If there is some sort of great cosmic boogeyman out there, he has far bigger things on his hands than whether or not you're doing the nasty. If you want it, just do it. But, please, have the good sense and foresight to be safe about it. Anyway, back to news pollution, we have government-sponsored hatred in Tennessee, Canada has at least ruled that seals must be dead before skinning, and I'm not even going to get started on Israel and Hamas.

Yesterday, I wrote 1,112 words and finished the piece that is no longer called "Untitled 34," but is, instead, now known as "Lullaby of Partition and Reunion." It will appear in Sirenia Digest #37, along with a second vignette, which I will write over the next couple of days, based on an illustration by Vince Locke. The platypus says that the 29th of December is a truly excellent day to subscribe to the digest, by the way.

Anything else about yesterday? A last day of isolation before I am forced out into the world. It's been almost a week since I left the apartment. After the writing, there was a nap on the sofa in the front parlour while Spooky made a feast of leftovers from Saturday night's Chinese takeaway. I had a long hot bath and washed my hair. There was more WoW, Shah and Suraa still wandering the sandy desolation of Tanaris. They stumbled upon and into the Caverns of Time, which rather rocked my little ring-tailed lemur world. Later, I nibbled at Turkish delight while Spooky read to me. I got to sleep about three ayem, and didn't sleep enough.

It was a day.

This afternoon, I have the dreaded doctor's appointment.

Please do have a look at the current eBay auctions. Your bids are greatly appreciated.

And now...another day.
greygirlbeast: (grey)
I'm awake, but every muscle and every bone seems to ache.

I don't have to write about the sky this morning, because the blind is down. But there's snow coming. Tomorrow. Substantial snow, it would seem. I can sit here and watch it. For a while, it will take the sharp edges off winter, and I won't tear my eyes on the view from my windows.

No writing yesterday. I read Angela Carter aloud, because sometimes that helps to prime the pump, so to speak. "The Smile of Winter," "Overture and Incidental Music for A Midsummer Night's Dream," and "The Merchant of Shadows." There's this passage from the beginning of "The Smile of Winter" that says how I feel about the heaviness of the sky far better than I have ever managed:

"The coastal region is quite flat, so that an excess of sky bears down with an intolerable weight, pressing the essence out of everything beneath it for it imposes such a burden on us that we have all been forced inward on ourselves in an introspective sombreness intensified by the perpetual abrasive clamor of the sea."

I think I'll have all my teeth pulled, cutting to the chase, and replaced with titanium teeth that are tinted that shade of black just before green, or that shade of green that comes just before black. I'll have the prosthetic modeled on chimpanzee teeth, with fine large canines, sharp enough to pierce. We'll, I would, were I afflicted with that sort of money. If I were, I am quite certain I could find a dentist who would deign to perform the procedure.

I'm not sure how to describe my feelings about President-Elect Obama having chosen a bigoted bastard like evangelical pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration. I don't think I'm surprised, just a little more sickened. I understand Obama's desire to create an environment of inclusiveness, but I don't quite grasp how one fosters inclusiveness by providing a platform for those who seek to exclude. In fact, one does not. But politics has never been overly concerned with fact. Rather, it is concerned with mollifying as many people as possible, an act which will always be at odds with fact.

Last night, we watched the latest episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and it was a decent enough episode. Though I am perplexed that the problem of the three dots, already solved, is still being solved. Did Cameron just not bother telling Sarah? Another episode without much Thomas Dekker, and that helped. I do hope that when the geeks with a hard-on for self-aware AI get around to teaching it morality, they don't start off by begging the question with the concept of a "god" (or goddess) as arbiter of right and wrong. But they probably will. One would think that intelligent, educated people could find a better basis for their beliefs than "Because God [fill in the blank]." If that's the best reason you can come up with to justify a belief in the sanctity of human life, the race is lost before it's run.

Likely, I will not write today, either. I should try to get Outside before the storm gets here.

Please have a look at the current eBay auctions, in the interest of helping me to offset the unforeseen deficit of December caused by my miscalculations. Thanks.
greygirlbeast: (white)
Even if I don't actually have one. Now, if Margaret Cho would just do "Keep Your Jesus Off My Pussy."



Word.
greygirlbeast: (Ellen Ripley 2)
Very, very not awake this morning, and stricken with dreamsickness. It's become an issue again. I wonder if Sarah Crowe is to blame. Of course, if she is, that means I'm to blame.

I suppose I'm over the hump as regards my self-imposed "catching-up" trick of doing at least 2k words per day for three consecutive days. Yesterday, I did 2,190 words on Chapter Eight. I'm thinking, at this point, I am no more than six thousand words from the end of the book. That's probably 4-5 days, which will just leave me enough time to get Sirenia Digest #35 done. Maybe in November I can take a very short breather. But, more likely, not until December. I have to get all the final corrections to A is for Alien off to Subterranean Press sometime in the next two or three days, because the book goes to the printer late in November. The time just melts around me.

---

Theres a problem; feathers, iron,
Bargain buildings, weights, and pulleys.
Feathers hit the ground before the weight can leave the air.
Buy the sky, and sell the sky, and tell the sky, and tell the sky.


---

I think I failed to make myself clear when I made the addendum entry yesterday regarding time displacement. For one thing, I wasn't saying that this is a new phenomenon. And, looking back at the bit I took from Wikipedia, I think that's fairly clear (though the wiki article only carries it back to television, really). I would say this is, obviously, a process that has been at work for millennia (Why the hell does LJ not know how to spell millennia?), so long as human beings have been devising ways to employ technology to fritter away "spare" time and alleviate boredom. Before the internet, television. Before television, telephones, movies and radio, before movies and radio, mass-printing books, and so forth. But, to me, it seems as though there has also been a process of acceleration at work, and that the problem is not so much one of kind as one of degree. The Culture of Distraction has been with us for ages. However, it is, I think, experiencing a sort of exponential growth now. The internet, I suspect, changed the rules a bit. And I was certainly not pointing any fingers yesterday, unless I was pointing one at me.

I do not wish to live my life in mass media, or on the web, taking social interaction via virtual contact. I wish to live it in the world. However, the world is very, very hard for me (and we need not go into all the whys), and here is this great seduction, making it so easy for me not to make the huge effort required to step out into the real, external world. And, for that matter, not to buy clothes that aren't rags, or get enough sleep. This is my journal, and here I am speaking most emphatically to me. I spend far too much time online, hiding from the world. I am striving to do better, because I would like to see myself consciously work against time displacement in my own life. I do not see it as an acceptable alternative. It is nothing I desire. For my part, I'll take beaches and city streets, libraries, forests, crowded bars, and comfortable parlors filled with genuine conversation between people I actually know. Those are the things I have to find my way back to, and those are the things that this computer so successfully serves to substitute. But, in my eyes, it is no fit substitute. It's a tool that needs to be treated as a tool, and as an occasional source of entertainment.

As for others, as regards time displacement, I am not here to either validate or invalidate how other people choose to live their lives. Maybe I should be, but I'm not.

And that's what I meant to say.

---

We have eBay auctions ending today. Please, please take a look. Thanks!

---

Postscript (1:40 p.m.): I was pleased, by the way, to learn of Colin Powell's strong support of Obama's bid for presidency. I was also pleased by this bit I just read in [livejournal.com profile] curt_holman's blog: Colin Powell seemed particularly angry about the accusation, stoked by some McCain supporters, that Obama is a Muslim--and not only because it's inaccurate: "The correct answer is 'He's not a Muslim. He's a Christian.' ... But the really right answer is, 'What if he is?' Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is 'no.' That's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she can be president?" Booya!
greygirlbeast: (Howard Hughes)
It's hard to think of a worse way to begin a day than to begin a day angry. For me, personally, I mean. I suppose it works for some. For me, Anger is like that especially potent stimulant you reserve for special occasions when absolutely nothing else will do. It's the next to the last resort, the last resort being Rage. Regardless, I am beginning this day angry. I won't go into why, because it's about stupidity, and nothing good ever comes of me telling people how stupid they're being. And this headache isn't helping. Or the heat. Or two fits in two days.

Yesterday, as predicted, was a library day. But instead of Brown or the Athenaeum, we decided to have a go at the University of Rhode Island's College of Continuing Education and the central branch of the Providence Public Library, both on Washington Street. Most of the Useful Books (research for The Red Tree) were gathered at the former, though the latter was a far more interesting library. Most of it occupies a building constructed in 1872, with an ugly "functionalist" add-on from 1952. We only know the dates because Spooky just called the library to find out, and the librarian herself referred to the 1952 addition as "ugly," so I feel safe calling it that here. Presently, the Washington Street entrance is closed, and so you have to enter via the ugly bit on Empire Street. But, we were at least able to explore some of the old portions of the library, what hasn't been buried beneath hideous dropped ceilings and carpet and drywall. Gorgeous architecture, and I can only hope that, at some point, the library system (which is surely too strapped for funds to worry about renovation) can restore the structure to its original glory. Anyway, books were found.

Also, the ARCs for A is for Alien arrived yesterday. We came home and found the package waiting on the steps. The ARC looks nice, like a little Dover paperback. Of course, the hardcover will look far nicer, and will include artwork by Vince Locke for each story. I expect Subterranean Press to begin taking preorders very soon.

I have decided that my donations to the KGB Online Raffle will be a complete run of Sirenia Digest, plus a one-year subscription to the digest, and also a signed copy of the 3rd edition of Tales of Pain and Wonder. The back issues of the digest (all 32 of them) will be delivered on CD. The book will be raffled separately.

What else yesterday? After all the librarying, we drove down to visit with Spooky's mom in Saunderstown (where it was much cooler). Her dad's in Ft. Lauderdale right now. We stopped by Newbury Comics on the way down, and Spooky finally finished off her birthday thing by getting two Sigur Rós CDs and one by cellist Julia Kent (one of the original members of Rasputina). Oh, and she got me a Sid Haig button, which as very kind of her. When Rob Zombie finally decides to make Daughter of Hounds, Sid Haig will play the Bailiff. Who else could? Oh, that reminds me, Amazon is now taking preorders for the mass-market paperback of Daughter of Hounds, which will be released September 2, so if you want the trade paperback 1st edition, you should probably order soon, as it will soon be remaindered. You can reach the preorder page for the new mass-market paperback here; the text is the same as the text in the original, but more compact. The cover will be the same as well (alas). And, of course, it will be cheaper that the tpb ($7.99 vs. $14, $11.90 after the Amazon discount). But I'm rambling. What was I saying? Oh, Newbury Comics, yeah. Fortunately, they'd sold the set of Bram Stoker's Dracula action figures, so I could not be tempted a second time.

Last night, we were feeling like a double feature, and two movies had just come in from Netflix —— Perfect Creature (2006) and Revolver (2005). Not a bad double bill. Glenn Standring's Perfect Creature surprised me by not only being both sexy and pretty (which is the minimum I ask of a vampire film), but also a little smarter than average. No, it's not a brilliant film, but it's great eye candy (steampunk alternate history with zeppelins and a Church run by vampires, come on). As for Guy Ritchie's Revolver, I liked it a great deal, and it was good to see Jason Statham in a role where he does more than kick people in the face. And that was last night, pretty much.

Three photos from yesterday, behind the cut:

July 8th, 2008 )


Oh, and if you need any further proof that, yes, humans are still stupid, just read this story about some guy supposedly holding a bit of Eucharist hostage. The Catholic Church is calling it kidnapping. And a hate crime. And the worst sin imaginable. Yes, kiddos, the Old Man in the Sky will send you to hell forever, and ever, and ever, where you will suffer eternal torment...for stealing a cracker.
greygirlbeast: (bluenareth)
So, yesterday I'm slogging through Núrn, just editing and cursing and minding my own bloody business on the fourth day of this goddamn Mordorian Death March thing, when suddenly I'm set upon by a pack of goblin assholes, and who should I find holding their reins? Hmm? A certain nefarious [livejournal.com profile] setsuled, that's who. And I'd thought he was still busy down there in Khand. What's more, after relieving me of my paltry few provisions and weapons, he hands me over to the gorramn orcs for "entertainment"! But what can one expect from anyone who keeps company with Easterlings and goblinfolk? Fortunately, I had secreted upon my person an extremely sharp flake of obsidian I'd picked up in the foothills of the Ered Glamoth a few days back. When the first goblin came for me, I opened its throat from ear to ear, then gutted the pair who rushed to its defence. In the commotion that ensued, I was able to slip away, only a little worse for the experience. I think my pride was wounded more than anything. I should have anticipated such an ambush, but hoped not to encounter this sort of trouble until I'd reached the northern shores of the inland sea, at least. Wrong. I did manage the wrest from one of the goblin bastards a decent short sword, better than the dagger this [livejournal.com profile] setsuled rogue took from me. So...now I have lost precious time, am likely being stalked, and must make all haste to reach the Gurthrant, which I would have gained before sunset yesterday, if not for the savage attack.

On a brighter note, I found a title for "Untitled 27," which is now "Outside the Gates of Eden." Also, the sf anthology that printed the Czech translation of "Riding the White Bull," Trochu divné kusy 2, has been awarded "best anthology of the year" by the Czech Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. I should have gone with Czechoslovakia for my death march, clearly.

Yesterday was frustrating enough without the orc attack, thank you very much. I've reached a point where I can edit no more until my editor returns from vacation tomorrow and talks to people at Paramount and certain problems are resolved. Which means that today will be spent on the 100-word Norse/Anglo-Saxon lexicon. Oh, and thanks to Sonya ([livejournal.com profile] sovay) for coming to the rescue with Latin translations yesterday. If only she'd been around to help me fight off those gobllins. Have you ever seen an orc penis? Well, it's not something one can soon forget, I'll tell you that for nothing.

A long walk with Spooky yesterday to the market to get stuff for dinner, and that was nice, as this part of Atlanta is a fair bit kinder on the eyes and the feet than the plains of Núrn. Later, we watched Heroes, and I wished the whole season had been as good as last night's episode. George Takei frelling rules. And I fear I may have a crush on Sylar. I think it's those eyebrows. And the fact that he looks a great deal like Burt (on Sesame Street). David called about 10:30 to say he was back from Connecticut. Later, we read more of The Children of Húrin, chapters XI and XII ("The Fall of Nargothrond" and "The Return of Túrin to Dor-lómin"), and then I stayed up too late reading another chapter of the Steinbeck biography.

---

My thanks to [livejournal.com profile] extatika for this link, an article at RichardDawkins.net by Dan Gardner about the "backlash" against all us mouthy-ass uppity atheists. This quote:

In the past, I've tried to avoid talking about religion in such sharp terms. It's not that I fear giving offence (which would be something of a limitation in my line of work). Rather, I know, as all humans do, that it's scary knowing you're going to die. And if belief in angels on high eases the existential fears of some, I won't begrudge them. Whatever gets you through the night, as a long-haired prophet once said.

But a series of books doing quite well on bestseller lists — by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and, soon, Christopher Hitchens — argues it's time to be a lot less deferential to faith, and I have to say I find it hard to disagree. After all, we live in a time when blowing children to bits is an increasingly popular form of worship, the most powerful man on earth thinks he's got a hotline to God, and much of the electorate who gave that man his power would never consider replacing him with someone who does not believe the son of a carpenter who died 2,000 years ago sits in heaven advising presidents, fixing football games, and waiting for the day he will return to the Earth to brutally murder all unbelievers and erect a worldwide dictatorship.

Private, quiet faith is one thing. But when the guy holding the launch codes believes the end of the world could come any day and that's a good thing, those who believe lives are limited to one per customer have a problem.


Anyway, now I must away to explain about Odin and Loki and scops and thanes and the World Serpent and what have you. And I must keep my eyes peeled for my pursuers, if they have not given up the chase. I hope to have reached the Thaur Road by sunset...

Postscript (2:08 p.m.): Speaking of fundamentalist assholes, I just heard the news that Jerry Falwell is dead. This should be a day of rejoicing.
greygirlbeast: (europa)
So, yeah. To quote Yervant Terzian, the David Duncan Professor in the Physical Sciences and former astronomy department chair at Cornell University (taking the position after Sagan's death), "Carl was a candle in the dark. He was, quite simply, the best science educator in the world this century. He touched hundreds of millions of people and inspired young generations to pursue the sciences."

I discovered the works of Carl Sagan when I was still in high school, probably around 1980 or so. PBS was airing Cosmos, and it absolutely blew me away. I even went out and bought the Vangelis soundtrack (on vinyl; I still have it). At the time, I was in the middle of that messy divorce from the Xtianity that had so dominated and stifled my childhood, and I wanted nothing in the world but to spend my life studying the genuine mysteries of the universe and the evolution of life on Earth. And, along with Stephen Jay Gould, Carl Sagan gave me the road map I needed. After the wonders of Cosmos, I backtracked and read Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science (1974) and The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence (1978). Contact came along in 1985 and pleased me immensely, as it articulated so many of my hopes and curiosities. Only recently have I read Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (1994), published only a month or so before his death, and I still haven't gotten around to the posthumous volume, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (1996).

Sagan's work — as a scientist, as a humanist, as a rationalist, as an enemy of ignorance and superstition, a peace-activist, and freethinker — had such a profound and far-reaching effect upon me that I cannot possibly hope to sum them up here. He showed me that there's good reason to believe that life is common in the universe, and that even our own solar system may harbour it in places other than the Earth. He helped me to see the beauty of Nature and that there is no greater wonder. He helped me learn the difference between science and pseudoscience. Very few men or women have had such a tremendous influence upon the path my life has taken. Ultimately, I think the best I can do here is to provide a few of my favorite quotes from Sagan. He will always speak for himself better than anyone else might speak for him:

The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what's true. We have a method, and that method helps us to reach not absolute truth, only asymptotic approaches to the truth — never there, just closer and closer, always finding vast new oceans of undiscovered possibilities. Cleverly designed experiments are the key.

from "Wonder and Skepticism", Skeptical Enquirer Volume 19, Issue 1, (January-February 1995)

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and, I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

from Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (1994)

The choice is with us still, but the civilization now in jeopardy is all humanity. As the ancient myth makers knew, we are children equally of the earth and the sky. In our tenure of this planet we've accumulated dangerous evolutionary baggage — propensities for aggression and ritual, submission to leaders, hostility to outsiders — all of which puts our survival in some doubt. But we've also acquired compassion for others, love for our children and desire to learn from history and experience, and a great soaring passionate intelligence — the clear tools for our continued survival and prosperity. Which aspects of our nature will prevail is uncertain, particularly when our visions and prospects are bound to one small part of the small planet Earth. But up there in the cosmos, an inescapable perspective awaits. National boundaries are not evident when we view the Earth from space. Fanatic ethnic or religious or national identifications are a little difficult to support when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars. There are not yet obvious signs of extraterrestial intelligence, and this makes us wonder whether civilizations like ours rush inevitably headlong to self-destruction. I dream about it, and sometimes they're bad dreams.

from Cosmos (1980)

Those afraid of the universe as it really is, those who pretend to nonexistent knowledge and envision a Cosmos centered on human beings will prefer the fleeting comforts of superstition. They avoid rather than confront the world. But those with the courage to explore the weave and structure of the Cosmos, even where it differs profoundly from their wishes and prejudices, will penetrate its deepest mysteries.

from Cosmos (1980)

—————

That says a lot. More wonderful things than I shall likely say in all the years of my life. And I just want people to remember this man who was worth remembering, who showed me that we really are, all of us, star stuff.

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greygirlbeast: (Default)
Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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