Here is some background – Movie written by algorithm turns out to be hilarious and intense
No one has time to read every article. We read synopses, abstracts, tweets, and headlines to get the gist of what’s happening. To save time and space we take a pernicious short-cut. We say Republicans when we mean many or some Republicans. We say ‘the left’ when we mean many, most, or some on the left. We say women when we mean some-but-not-all women.
This is the fallacy of composition.
Description: Inferring that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some part of the whole. This is the opposite of the fallacy of division.
A is part of B
A has property X
Therefore, B has property X.
Until we can be more specific and accurate with our civic language we will never cross the communication divide. If I want to get a better understanding of conservative arguments, I reject them immediately when they that something is true of ‘the left’ or liberals, that I do not believe.
Civic communication, on a broad scale, will improve if we, and the headline writers of the world, follow the simple maxim — Be Specific.
It may be time to revisit Ursula K. Le Guin’s acceptance speech at the National Book Awards for her Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
“I think hard times are coming, when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies, to other ways of being. And even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom: poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.”
“Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. The profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable; so did the divine right of kings. … Power can be resisted and changed by human beings; resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words. I’ve had a long career and a good one, in good company, and here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. … The name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.”
Miriam C. Brown Spiers’s scholarly essay “Reimagining Resistance: Achieving Sovereignty in Indigenous Science Fiction” popped up in my email this morning. As I dug around on the web for more information about indigenous science fiction I came across a really cool new media SF piece titled TimeTraveller™ (You can watch the episodes here.)
In her post about indigenous futurisms Denise Wong gives some background to help put TimeTravellerTM into context.
“The movement towards self-determination in cyberspace by Indigenous communities is best illustrated by the CyberPowWow project (1996) produced by Mohawk artist Skawennati Fragnito and a group of Aboriginal artists and writers. The project eventually led to the creation of Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC) community, which seeded Skawennati’s TimeTravellerTM, a nine-episode machinima film series created in a virtual environment. The protagonist, Hunter, is a young Mohawk man who uses a fictive TimeTravellerTM edutainment system to travel between the 22nd century and moments of historical conflict dating back as early as A.D. 1490. He encounters the female Mohawk character Karahkwenhawi who also journeys through time using TimeTravellerTM. The two characters not only interact with a breadth of characters in the past, present, and future, but their presence becomes a part of the reality on screen.”
A substantial portion of Spiers’s essay is given over to an analysis of Trail of Tears by Blake M. Hausman.
“A surrealistic revisiting of the Cherokee Removal, Riding the Trail of Tears takes us to north Georgia in the near future, into a virtual-reality tourist compound where customers ride the Trail of Tears, and into the world of Tallulah Wilson, a Cherokee woman who works there. When several tourists lose consciousness inside the ride, employees and customers at the compound come to believe, naturally, that a terrorist attack is imminent.
“Little does Tallulah know that Cherokee Little People have taken up residence in the virtual world and fully intend to change the ride’s programming to suit their own point of view. Told by a narrator who knows all but can hardly be trusted, in a story reflecting generations of experience while recalling the events in a single day of Tallulah’s life, this funny and poignant tale revises American history even as it offers a new way of thinking, both virtual and very real, about the past for both Native Americans and their Anglo counterparts.”
I added that, and Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction by Grace L. Dillon, to my “buy soon” list
I think poetry makes the world a better place. To this end I occasionally post a poem because we all need More Poetry!
For the Anniversary of My Death by W. S. Merwin
Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Like the beam of a lightless star
Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what
It’s no secret that Tampa’s culinary star is rising. Tampa’s demographics are also nearly identical to the demographics of the US as a whole. This is one reason restaurant chains often test here before going nation-wide.
This means Tampa is the best place to test the in vitro meat market.
In vitro meat is meat grown in a cell culture rather than cut off an animal.
“Bistro In Vitro is a fictitious restaurant with a menu of in vitro dishes that may one day end up on your plate. We prepare exclusive cuts of meat, cultured and prepared with surprising flavours and textures that you would never encounter in the wild. By exploring and pushing the boundaries of our food culture we want to do away with the idea that cultured meat is an inferior meat substitute. That is why we serve you a digital selection of sustainable, animal friendly, exciting and delicious dishes that will prompt thought and discussion on in vitro meat.”
From the desert menu:
“Forget autographs and posters on the wall. Show you are a true fan by literally eating your favourite celebrity. These Celebrity Cubes are made from celebrities’ stem cells. Bistro In Vitro serves the stars dipped in a whiskey glaze. A deliciously addictive dish.”
Embrace the future, Tampa!
From his introduction to Diary of a Genius (1974) by Salvador Dalí.
“The uneasy marriage of reason and nightmare which has dominated the 20th century has given birth to an increasingly surreal world. More and more, we see that the events of our own times make sense in terms of surrealism rather than any other view — whether the grim facts of the death-camps, Hiroshima and Viet Nam, or our far more ambiguous unease at organ transplant surgery and the extra-uterine foetus, the confusions of the media landscape with its emphasis on the glossy, lurid and bizarre, its hunger for the irrational and sensational.”
“The American Dream has run out of gas. The car has stopped. It no longer supplies the world with its images, its dreams, its fantasies. No more. It’s over. It supplies the world with its nightmares now.” -Interview in Metaphors No. 7, (1983).
“The advanced societies of the future will not be governed by reason. They will be driven by irrationality, by competing systems of psychopathology.” -As quoted in J. G. Ballard Quotes : Does The Future Have A Future? (2004) edited by V. Vale and Mike Ryan.”
UPDATE: It turns out I never felt comfortable with the title Hillsborough River Chronicle, so just before the end of 2016 I changed the title to Balderdash and the Moon. The new title, I think, ties in better with the titles of previous blogs.
Blogging helps me cope. I don’t know how to respond to our new political reality, so I’ve decided to take up blogging again.
If you read the series Of Blogs Past you may note I have a fondness for obscure terms and neologisms: Intelligencer, Re/Creating, patahistory, abderitic. I decided I wanted a title for this blog that didn’t come with an asterisk and an explanation. I also wanted something rooted in the real, natural world. The inspiration for the title Hillsborough River Chronicle lies with Warren Ellis’s opening to his newsletter which begins with some variation of “Hello from out here on the Thames Delta.” I like that he’s writing from a geographical landmark rather than a city or country. I want this title to serve as a reminder to stay grounded in the natural world as the mediated world churns up humanity’s psychopathologies.
The Hillsborough River Chronicle will cover whatever I want. I live in Tampa, so I’ll be blogging occasionally about local issues. I continue to work on my writing craft, so sometimes I’ll post about stories, rejections, maybe even a story or two. I like to share stuff I find on the Internet, so sometimes I’ll point to those pages. I’ll also be posting about what I’m reading or watching or eating or listening to. Sometimes there will be long silences because I want to prioritize my fiction writing over my blog writing. It will be, in effect, a combination of all the interests of blogs I’ve written over the last decade and a half. I hope that it is part entertainment, part educational, part practical, and heavily spiced with weirdness.
Welcome to the Hillsborough River Chronicle.
For me, blogging is an extension of zine culture. Throughout the 1990s I wrote for, and published, lots of zines. These were mostly photocopied works created by my friends and I, and we rarely produced more than 100 copies at a time.
The Internet killed zine culture, so after a few years without any outlets for my hobbyist writing I took to blogging.
I was in school between 2001 and 2010, and that took up nearly all of my writing energy. Short stories and novels took a back seat to research papers, with the occasional short burst of energy directed to blog posts.
By the end of 2010 I was ready to turn my hand to more substantial fiction writing so I took up the NaNoWriMo challenge. I successfully met the challenge in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. In 2015 I decided to devote my attentions to improving my knowledge about the craft of writing. I knew I could produce at great length, I knew I could have fun writing and I found it satisfying, but the quality wasn’t where it needed to be if I were ever to get paid for a piece of fiction. And so, I created Abderitic Review to publicly keep track of my writing goals. Over the course of 2015 I produced a score of stories. The goal in 2016 was to polish these stories and send them out to short-fiction markets. 2016 was to be “The Year of Rejection.”
It turns out I had a hard time figuring out where to send the stories I’d written. The paying market for SF/F and weird fiction is small. I’ve collected a couple of rejections this year, but not nearly as many as I wanted. If 2015 was a successful writing year, 2016 has been less so. That doesn’t mean I haven’t written anything. I’m currently working on a novel that I’m striving to write to the best of my ability. I expect to complete it in the summer of 2017.
So, Abderitic Review was active during 2015, but mostly moribund through the first part of 2016.
Abderitic, by the way, is a reference to an essay by Immanuel Kant where he attempts to answer the question “Is the human race constantly progressing?”
He argues there are three potential futures for humanity.
“The human race exists either in continual retrogression toward wickedness, or in perpetual progression toward improvement in its moral destination, or in eternal stagnation in its present stage of moral worth among creatures.”
“The first we can call moral terrorism, and the second eudaemonism …, but the third we can term abderitism because, since a true stagnation in matters of morality is not possible, a perpetually changing upward tendency and an equally frequent and profound relapse (an eternal oscillation, as it were) amounts to nothing more than if the subject had remained in the same place, standing still.”
About abderitism he writes:
“This opinion may well have the majority of voices on its side. Bustling folly is the character of our species: people hastily set off on the path of the good, but do not persevere steadfastly upon it; indeed, in order to avoid being bound to a single goal, even if only for the sake of variety they reverse the plan of progress, build in order to demolish, and impose upon themselves the hopeless effort of rolling the stone of Sisyphus uphill in order to let it roll back down again.
“The principle of evil in the natural predisposition of the human race, therefore, does not seem to be amalgamated (blended) here with that of the good, but each principle appears rather to be neutralized by the other.
“Inertia (which is called here stagnation) would be the result of this. It is a vain affair to have good so alternate with evil that the whole traffic of our species with itself on this globe would have to be considered as a mere farcical comedy, for this can endow our species with no greater value in the eyes of reason than that which other animal species possess, species which carry on this game with fewer costs and without expenditure of thought.”
I was once quite the fan of progress and optimism, but as I move closer to the sweet embrace of the tomb I find myself planted firmly in abderitism.
The term abderitic never caught on, but during Kant’s lifetime there was a popular work titled History of the Abderites by Cristoph Martin Wieland. Abderites were the foolish rural counterparts to the cosmopolitan urban Athenians. Notably, Democritus, the laughing philosopher, was from Abdera. Cicero described Abdera as a republic of fools, and it became short-hand for the classical Greeks for the folly of the self-satisfied and petty-minded. These are indeed abderitic times.
I wanted to stick with the gerund/Tampa title structure, but everything I considered was too narrow. Reading Tampa? But, what if I want to write about movies or television? Screening Tampa? But, what if I do some interviews? Meeting Tampa? But, what if…?
I finally settled on Recreating Tampa. At the time I was immersed in speculative urban design and wanted to write about ways Tampa could be improved. The term also lent itself to writing about fun stuff, i.e. recreation. And so, the slash was introduced – Re/Creating Tampa. It also gave the title a unique element I could use for brand distinction.
Writing Re/Creating Tampa was awesome fun. I met lots of great people in the community, I had a city council member comment once, I was interviewed at WMNF, and I even got a book out of it.
I launched Re/Creating Tampa in 2008 and shuttered it in 2012. In 2008 I was still a grad student (and then an under-employed graduate), but by 2012 I was working as a full-time professional and didn’t have the time to keep up a blog. Especially not one as far-reaching as R/CT.
Plus, it was clear it wasn’t going to generate any income. I promoted the book for months and ended up selling a single electronic copy. Ouch. (Here’s what it looked like circa November 2011.)
The original iteration was conceived as a free, urban weekly, but online. It had sections (Greening Tampa, Screening Tampa, Reading Tampa, Eating Tampa), it linked out to as many Tampa blogs I could find, all of them neatly categorized. And, it had ads (which never generated any income).
I was sad to see it go, and tried to narrow the focus to just being a blog about books (Reading Tampa), but I didn’t have time to keep it up. It was time to move on. By 2012 my blogging days were effectively over.
NEXT: Abderitic Review