Wednesday, December 14, 2011

to peck away

Painting studio lobby after the end of the semester

William Gibson, Neuromancer
Silversun Pickups, Seasick
M83, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
My Morning Jacket, Circuital


William Gaddis, Agape Agape
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, The River

  • NeuromancerFirst time I read Neuromancer about 15 years ago, I was excited about the profligacy of computer networks that laid before me, and now that I taught a course in digital branding last semester, it is interesting to see how we are still catching up to Gibson's fever dream of dicey cognitive perception and dissolution of the physical self into a loosely wrought digital world. Great science fiction is like great science (and great fiction, too) in that the world it proposes is both terrifying and dazzling, impossible and very real. I'd finished the book sooner had I not read it in my iPad where I could with a few gestures leave the stream and join my own shimmering digital environment. When you check Facebook a few times during a passage where a character is jacking into different digital existences like flipping TV channels, the story starts to bleed into life.

    I should add: Neuromancer is what got me into dub. The long distance space pilots are all Rastafarians who listen to dub across the vast stretches of space, which sounds alright to me.
  • I just executed a productive transaction via LinkedIn. I think it's the first time LinkedIn has proven to be useful. Not just for me, but maybe ever.
  • This song is speaking to me right now.

    My Morning Jacket, "Outta My System". I'll hold on to black metal in case things get dicier.
  • Agape AgapeI had an occasion recently to peck away on someone else's manual typewriter - it was at a  party a poet was having and a poem was sitting there reeled up on his little desk being ruined by his guests, so I joined in and I added a line and then suddenly couldn't remember how to do a carriage return. I grew up with the things so I knew but technological adoption had pushed this minor skill to a box in the attic. I knew there was a bell when you got to the end and the speed by which you get to that bell is very satisfying, tethering the text to the paper, making the word a very real thing. I can see why poets like these things.

    I feel that schism is one of the many being bridged in Agapē Agape, one endless paragraph that went on for a tidy 100 Kindle screens in which a fading Beckettian old man bounced around his walls, lamenting the passing of how you used to do things. I like the way Mr. Gaddis frequently finishes a phrase with "the" e.g., "...the only game in town, because that's what America's wait, little card falling on the, there!" It's like this thing is dying to be a poem but he's long forgotten how to do a carriage return. It's like a thought starts dying the second it hits the air, like the aliens in War of the Worlds.

    One of the supplemental essays offers that Agapē Agape started as an essay on player pianos, and I can see that, but it diminishes what's going on here. It's about a million little alliterative conceits, mixing up Pushkin and pushpin, Agapē vs. Agape, pitting Plato and Philo T. Farnsworth against each other. It is hallucinatory and gibberish-y in the best way, like a hose put to your brain one last time before the tower is drained of water.
  • It should be added that formatting both of these reviews (x-posted from Goodreads) for this post took much longer than it would have if I'd just used a typewriter and rabbit glue. Perhaps Heraclitus is right and it all ends up in the river no matter what we do.

    Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, "Point Blank"

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