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[personal profile] greygirlbeast
Well, fuck. It's almost 2 p.m. (CaST), and somehow the day is slipping past on filthy little cat feet – fuck you, Carl Sandburg, you sentimental twatwaffle. Okay. Definitely didn't mean to begin this entry that way. But, as Longbaugh reminds me, "I think a plan is just a list of things that don't happen."

Yesterday, I wrote nothing. I sat here and thought about things I should have begun writing two days ago. Finding stories. I also made a flaccid attempt at cleaning my office. I decided that if snow is the dandruff of Ceiling Cat, dust is the dandruff of Basement Cat. I stacked up manuscript boxes that need to go to storage (various incarnations of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir and Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart, typescripts and galleys). I shelved a couple of books, and then I gave up.

I read Jack McDevitt's "The Cassandra Project" (2010) and Vylar Kaftan's "I'm Alive, I Love You, I'll See You in Reno" (also 2010). Both had kernels of magnificence trapped deep inside. Both were far too short, felt like outlines, and were almost entirely devoid of voice. I'm not sure if it's true that "Science fiction is the literature of ideas" (not sure, either, who first said that, and if you can figure it out for me, you get a banana sticker), but I don't think they meant that all you need is an idea*. At least, I hope that's not what he or she meant. I look back to Philip K. Dick, William Gibson's early work, Ray Bradbury, Jack Vance, Robert Silverburg, Ursula K. Le Guin, Frank Herbert, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Michael Moorcock, Harlan Ellison...long, long list...and there is style. Voice. Good writing. Not this no-style style. From recent samplings, I fear that too much of contemporary science fiction has all the flavour of a stale communion wafer, and is just as flat. Sorry. Gratuitous (but true) Catholic reference. Where are our prose poets? Why doesn't the language used to convey the idea matter? It's not entirely true to say it's completely absent from contemporary sf. We have the brilliance of China Miéville, for example. But for fuck's sake, the short fiction I'm reading...communion wafers.**

I only just learned that Etta James has died.

I think my diet is killing me.

The snow is so bright out there, I had to shut the curtain in my office. It's getting better, though, as the wide carnivorous sky is being decently obscured by clouds. I didn't leave the house yesterday, but Spooky did, and she took photos, which you can see behind the cut (below), along with a photo from the day before of a typical Providence grey squirrel, all of which have become absurdly obese of late, in this oddly snow-free winter. Oh. By the way. Yesterday was National Squirrel Appreciation Day. I shit you not. Let’s hear it for Sciuridae.

Last night, we watched last week's episode of Fringe. A marvelously tangled web. And yeah, it's not great science fiction, but it doesn't claim to be, and, even so, it does have a flavour.


This would be a beautiful Victorian scene, were it not for the scattered ugliness of modernity (plastic trash and recycling bins, a plastic traffic cone, automobiles, power lines, etc.).


Spooky is very good at this sort of thing.

An ugly, snowy Providence cityscape, but true.

See my comments regarding the first photo.

All photographs Copyright © 2012 by Kathryn A. Pollnac

I Taste the World,
Aunt Beast

* Possibly, it was Pamela Sargent. Or, possibly, she appropriated it from Isaac Asimov.
** Near as I can tell, this has always been the case with "hard" and "military" sf.

Date: 2012-01-22 10:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Something you blogged the other day got me thinking:

It’s anti-natural being potentially recorded all the time. It’s as if everyone I speak with is wearing a wire. Any of them could (potentially) provide concrete evidence of the things I’ve said. It’s like I’m the President all of the sudden, accountable for every word, every gesture and expression.

Just before Diwali, security at an IT company I was visiting in India tried to take my camera from me. I pointed out that I was carrying a laptop with a built-in camera, a secondary (higher-quality) USB camera for the laptop, and two smart phones, both with built-in cameras. And unlike the plain old camera, those devices have the native ability to upload pictures and video to the Internet via a mobile network. This didn’t trouble them. They had been told to confiscate cameras - not phones, laptops, etc. The idea that you could actually stop people from documenting, from being connected, even in India, is seldom even contemplated. It reduces non-physical security to little more than a token gesture. (Every sizeable IT company in India has a plethora of armed guards and barbwire-trimmed fences, so they have the physical security thing covered.)

Akshardham in Delhi (which is kind of like the Disneyland version of a great temple, including a narrated boat ride with animatronic characters) does not allow electronics inside. When I visited there, I had to leave the line twice to return items to the car, a lengthy jaunt away. (The second time, I’d forgotten I had a battery for my camera in my pocket; damn that thing.) Security at Indira Gandhi International isn’t as tight. And still it would have been easy to smuggle a device inside - if I’d had a mind to. So again, the process seemed mostly for show.

Each time I have an honest conversation with anyone I work with, I’m acutely aware that a lot of trust has gone into it, even before it begins. (Being honest in the corporate world usually involves saying things that could potentially get you fired. Yet, without honest conversation, positive change is pretty unlikely.) It’s unnerving, oppressive, and relentless. With apologies to Kelly and Orwell: We have met Big Brother, and he is us.


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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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