Final entry, summation to follow after I let this sink in for a bit.
I am to friggin tired to think about that anymore for now though. It gets a day of rest before I tear it up and put it back together, and then...PERFECTION!!
posted by Seth # 8:38 PM
The first third of Evansiana is done. That is just around 60 pages of pure, pencil written down home epic goodness. By my estimation that is just about 42,000 words. Most of this which was written from the beginning of my day at...well, 5pm, but hell i was pretty F'in productive in the final count. 20,000 words in a day is like fucking monstrous, hell it took me 2 weeks to write and edit Firefly Flore and that's just a short story.
Editing is the fun part though, writing makes editing look easy. Maybe its not so much easy as it requires more whimsy and less fucking scrunchy detail. For some perspective I probably have 30,000 words written for Fair Coin and until now thought I was doing well. I guess its a good idea that I put it on the shelf so I didn't wind up hating myself for ever dreaming up Maynard Cassidy and Evin Mira's hijinx with Sig Segovia and that fruit cake Gabriel Carpenter.
No, now its all fun in the Legion [sun] on Aederon with Aevan and Sevar Steelcraft. And now, it's Ikaruga time. Later today I will be posting my latest short story, Firefly Flore, just because I am sick of emailing it out to people all the friggin' time. If its not here now, check back later today.
posted by Seth # 5:50 AM
First a quick update on the new project, Evansiana. I have since coming home written 33 hand-written pages of the new epic. That's about 22,000 words after being edited. It takes place on a new planet not entirely suited to life for men. Certain details about the origins aren't all coherent yet, but it is a world with 40 hour days and 412 day years. The temperature is hotter than earth and it is the equator rather than the poles that are least hospitable to life.
The Protagonist Aevan Steelcraft is a blacksmith's son who is taken to the capital of Aederon Island for his education. There, with his brother Sevar and a noble Tomz Bratler he learns about the world he lives in. Pretty soon he'll be leaving the island in exile.
Perhaps the most fun part of the new world, possibly called Nautus, is the creation myth. See the whole idea is that their God Deas created the universe. Same ol' good vs evil battle played out when his favorite, Legion, rebelled. The twist is that evil won out. Now in control of the universe Legion could do whatever he wanted. This included slaying all the angels of Deas and taking control of the people of Nautus. Only problem is the whole God bit doesn't sit well with Legion. People started to unite against him and that pissed him off. So he created two lesser God's, unaware of his existence, for the people to stand with. Now he just kicks back and watches the fun stuff go on. Kooky eh?
But that's not the point of this blog. I flipped on Tivo for a moment and 'Miracle on 34th Street' was playing. I watched for a few minutes about the trial of santa claus. It was interesting. One line Santa's lawyer said caught my attention.
During the closing arguments he said "...I ask the court which is worse, a lie that draws a smile or a truth that brings a tear?" Now you know I would say that the lie is worse. But I do want and think people deserve to be happy.
So I tried to reconcile this with my own beliefs and decided it could have been phrased much better. Perhaps the truth is best but certain details are not always necessary and can have bad consequences.
Consider this scenario: A person finds out their boy/girlfriend has cheated on them. They know that their partner was untrue. But how much of the actual infidelity should they learn about. If your girl/boyfriend told you, tearfully, that they had been unfaithful but wanted you to forgive them could you do it?
I suppose I might not be able to, but it would of course depend on the girl, the situation and all that.
Now consider you have a video tape or something that shows your partner through the entire act in gruesome detail. Every moan, every scream and every motion would probably stick with you much more clearly than if you had just heard 'i slept with bob that night we had a fight.' Seeing Bob's face as he came inside your supposed lover would probably send you into a homicidal rage. It wouldn't surprise me if that situation had the same effect on me.
It all goes back to our imperfect conception of the world at large. Anyone who has been to a library knows that you cannot possibly see the entire world accurately and comprehensibly. There is just to much data! Chemical formulas for what makes up your body alone could occupy a scholar for years, let alone everything else on the planet. Understanding completely cannot happen, but we can get a good idea of the general stuff.
If the world was a tree we might not need to measure the exact specifications of every twig and leaf to know that we are looking at a tree. Detail would be needed to see just what kind of tree it is, but microscoping a single leaf would not give you any greater insight into the tree at large. This may be an imperfect analogy, but the intent is true. Over analyzing one area of life and trying to relate it to all others doesn't always work.
We do this though, every one of us. Our filters to the world are usually either what has hurt us most or what we hold dearest. I look at life with the intent of putting stories together then retelling what i have learned to make things more real and interesting because that's what i love. Jodie always sees relationships more bleakly than everyone else. Mike, is a horny bastard. That's life, can you dig it.
posted by Seth # 3:00 PM
Riot Party is up to page 32!
Now I figure it was time for a good rambling pseudo philosophical post in honor of me leaving Raleigh tomorrow. So here goes!
Ok, if you'll first make a note of the title of my blog you'll notice that it's 'Searching for Subtlety' and the little intro thing has nothing to do with either. It's actually just something I kind of made up on the fly as i was getting the blog out of idea and into actuality stage. But, in the spirit of noticing things, as I do, I am going to comment on some subtlety i picked up tonight.
If you haven't seen Van Wilder, you should, but I am going to ruin some plot elements. I hope niether of my fans will take offense at this. Basically, hilarity aside, the thing that caught my attention was Tara Reid's relationship with the Delta Iota Kappa (DIK) frat guy.
She's the typical super hot/skanky/anorexic female dive and he is the absurdly anal bad boyfriend. Now from the get go you can see that it's the relationship bound to fail and she'll end up with witty and cheerful Van. Yea for unpredictable plot progression.
The problem with this is that girls in real life do not often leave the dick head for the super cool guy. No no, they tend to either stay with an asshole or leave one asshole for less of an asshole. The cynical comment (and one made infallibly by the 'nice guys' out there) is that girls have terrible taste or judgement. You might go so far as to say that they are blessed/cursed to make decisions that are uniformly good at making bad things happen in their life. I don't know either way, but I may have nailed it.
Some sort of reaction, be it bad or violent or just dangerous, is what girls seem to want. Now I am not the first to say it, but something occurred to me the other day and yes I am the verge of a possible sexist and horrible comment. Perhaps rendering the matter slightly more lucidly.
If you ever read a romance novel you know they have exactly two varieties. One is the 'meet some great guy who appears to be bad but isn't and we eventually fall in love' kind. Or there is the 'soem guy ends up raping the girl and then making things all better' kind.
Now you can disguise a rape fantasy in all sorts of makeup and cultural devices...and don't worry I am not going off on a mother culture kick...but it does not change the fundamental urge. People want something or someone that does not go towards the happy goal of making things better for everyone, just for themselves. The perfect guy can only exist in a shitty ass world.
I am sure it goes for girls, though most guys settle for sex with a hot slut. So much for nobility or true love.
Another thing I was thinking about was something an escort said last night. It was a black girl from Lee to Wood hall. Halfway there, on the boardwalk behind the tennis courts she asked how Jimmy and I got started with student patrol. I proceeded to tell her my tale:
At the beginning of sophomore year a friend of mine had just gone for her freshman year at a small college in Florida. It was Hailey P. going to FC to worship JC and not get VD. So one day she and a guy friend got robbed on their way back to campus. Not only were they robbed but the guy got his head smashed by a big scary dude with a pump shotgun. Needless to say she was pretty damned scared and the guy had to go to the hospital.
Then a few weeks later 9-11 happened.
Though there is little residual emotional attachment to either event, at the time I was fairly traumatized. I explained that I was rethinking my whole life in college and all that. And that I thought I could make a difference here in my local little area and however small it would be better if I did than not.
Jimmy said he needed the money.
It was a nice story, mine took about 100 yards, jimmy told his in three steps. Speaking of work, the girl brought up wanting to get a job and proceeded to crack some jokes about doing something useful. Yes I initially wanted to bitch slap her, but that's kind of anti-thetical to the point of my whole story. Looking back its funny because of the current situation with work and how we're more a taxi service cum fear-tampon than anything else.
I don't think that's necessarily such a bad thing. The point is I really do want to do some good and leave this world better off than had I never existed in the first place. Maybe 23465 have died by some inadvertant consequence of crossing paths with me. Maybe 1 person didn't die that might have, it's hard to keep track of things like this but i'll be sure to ask God if I ever see him.
Now I really wonder if other people do, or if they are just here to make the best of it and fuck other people if I can be a little more comfortable. It's kind of a shitty thought, but not as much as 'what if so am I and I just don't realize it.' Granted I would like to make money, I have little aspirations of becoming rich and or famous. Hell, I would be fine with just kickin' around and writing for the rest of my life at about a middle class level. Even that seems unlikely sometimes, but we'll just have to see and maybe, just maybe, I'll get lucky.
Until then, we'll just have to see how it goes. I hope to have Riot Party and the second part of the first story 'Brain Hack' completed by the new year.
Ting a ling!
posted by Seth # 11:59 PM
Well on top of exams and all that fun crap I managed to get in 27 hours of work and bust out 15 more pages of my latest story "Riot Party." It is the newest and first story in a long line of successive works which will comprise the new book project. Fair coin has been put on hold for a while and I just needed to get away from it and focus on something else, something grander.
I suppose it may seem strange that writing an epic would be more difficult than a simple novel about a guy struggling through college with what troubles and trials life throws his way. One thing I have learned is that details are much harder to fit together in a small scale than on a grandiose one. Perhaps soon I will have the time or patience to write on a smaller scale. Maybe I need to get something off my chest first.
Progress so far has been 25 handwritten pages which generally translates into 17,000 words. And I am not even done with the first part of the first story. Needless to say it is a project of epic scope in simple length, but it aims to start on earth and end at the edge of our galactic super cluster. I plan to spend about 200,000 words getting there. For comparison's sake you might look at my blog progress thus far and see that it is about 100 single spaced pages in microsoft word. That's a lot of fucking writing and yet it is only a mere 50,000 words.
I am basing that on typical short story length, the blog tends to be nearly dialogue free so it may be upwards of 60,000 actually. And its only 4 months old!
Now I could sit here and kiss my own ass all day, but that's not really productive and so i'll not. What is productive lately is the psychotic ease with which this story flows. First I'll detail some of the plot elements then explain their relevance and the fluidity of its progression.
Riot Party takes place in 2007.
The protagonist is a medium/minor character from Fair Coin. Thomas Mason begins his role as an indecisive milksop attached by friendship to the antagonist's hip. Anyone who knows the plot knows that things don't end up well for either Thomas or Shane (antagonist). But Protagonist M, no relation to Hiro, befriends him and passes on several lessons which harder the character and resolve of Mr. Mason.
In contrast to the edge that Thomas is left with, Riot party begins with him failing out of a psychology class his senior year. Just one class seperates him from graduation, but it turns out he is in kind of a tight spot. See, he fails out of a summer class and can't afford to go back to school for the next semester, so its going to be a major pain in the ass. A former teacher offers to put in a good word on his behalf if Thomas will participate in a huge (psych) experiment the following day.
The point of all this is to set up his involvement with the development of the rudiments of what will eventually be called the "Free Nation." Basically a bunch of psychologists, geneticists, historians and computer geeks have decided that things aren't going to change if we just keep trying to tack technology onto people. It is profitable but not always right. Using their combined wealth and a few interesting sources of income they begin introducing a paradigm shift not on paper but in the real and practical world.
Slavery and shitty working conditions are a plague of the entire world. Maybe there isn't anything we can do about it, so why not at least make these shitty conditions less shitty. And no they aren't going around making sure safety regulations and stuff is followed, they are actually using drugs and technology to make people LOVE their shitty jobs. Not all of the technical details are important and I can't reveal everything now can I?
The point is, they are going out and fucking DOING something. Moreover, its something important that a few thousand years of religion, philosophy and law have not managed to change. Better, things later get switched to where people are convinced of the benefit of melding cooperation with constructive competition. Much different than American sports and performance standards, there is attention paid to everyone who is good, not just who is the absolute best at everything.
Better sharing and cooperation allows everyone that the builders of Free Nation forefathers makes contact with to do better and power inside the Free Nation grows. Its an attractive concept, to think that a perfect world is not likely possible with the current standards and rules of human life. What makes this attractive is the idea that the rules themselves can be changed so that people are better suited to life in a civil culture. As I am sure you can imagine there are plenty of problems that can and will arise from this. That's not the point, the point is that its a positive and necessary step in human progress.
I am getting tired, but this idea has been something of a lifelong dream. Maybe a secret ambition is a better way to describe it. Not only to come up with a good idea but to HELP out people in general. Who knows, maybe it'll get noticed and some people will listen (or read) and if nothing else it will be interesting. But then again, and this may be like hoping on a lottery ticket, maybe others will agree with me and we might make something new happen. If you look at history you'll find that human life is monotonously plagued with so many similar problems and all that really changes are the appearence and proportion of aristocracy, tyrants, warlords, scapegoats, plagues and wars.
Nothing would please me more than to radically alter the course of human history in unthought of ways. I don't want to steer humanity down a bend in some frantic mindless course into the future. I want to throw the first stone of a dam that will allow ideas and experience to flow in all directions and to constantly deepen.
I promise I will never be an L. Ron Hubbard though.
posted by Seth # 9:52 PM
This is another writing post, many inspirational things went into it. For example, the ten most recently published blog's thing on the blogger home page. Every time I post, I take a look to see what others are doing with their free webspace and almost every time I am disappointed.
Today was no exception.
So, in the spirit of self-centered blog-happy ranty things here goes. I begin with a quote, yes its of my own design, but its relevant so deal with it or piss off.
Evolution does not grant purpose, only possibilities.
Now I am pretty sure I have commented on this before (but even I don't feel like digging through my many many pages to find out) and here it is again.
I was trying to think of a good way to anti-paradigm my future projections. Its hard because you can't take break throughs into account. Or perhaps a better way of saying this, and I stole this analogy from 'Angle of Attack', is that you can't see around a bend in the evolutionary road. It makes sense though, who would have thought of Computers just as electricity was being invented!?
No one sane that's for sure.
And then you look at our universe and think think THINK of all the possibilities. I promise if you have any sort of imagination you could do that forever, but being human i'm sure you'll find something better to do instead. But, what if the paradigm of not seeing break throughs in and of itself is one that will someday change.
Don't bother me with 'but its impossible' shit either. I have no idea how it could happen, but maybe we'll meet some aliens with all the answers and steal their technology and be happy with that. Except I don't think that would work at all.
Consider life that evolved on a different planet. Zero similarity in genetic history would make trying to splice some sort of happy adaptation onto ours would be like trying to put an aircraft carrier's flight deck on a kontiki raft. Or on a humpback whale if you feel more comfortable with that.
Certain things change, but don't really fundamentally. Society, so far as I can tell, has changed a good bit over the past 3,000 years. But human nature is still human nature and the fundamentals of that have not changed at all. Alter that, and you can alter the course of human history for good or ill. 1984 route could turn people into shitty slaves and that would suck. Or, you could do something more fun and weird. Now here comes a big analogy to better illustrate the ramble that this paragraph would inevitably turn into.
Think of single celled life. Its a bunch of molecules working together to get food, avoid getting eaten and multiplying. Not much the individual chemicals can do themselves, not purposefully anyways, but as a whole they get to eat and fuck. Now, extend that a few hundred million years and you come to multicellular life. Again, the life form does well as a bunch, but each individual cell just makes a function and gets fed only if the whole shebang is working out.
This can be a good thing. Multicellular life is a happy way to get bigger, move faster and do more with the environment. But each cell itself benefits most if the whole organism works together. Swing back to people and the planet and reason something with me.
Wouldn't we all be better off if everyone did their damned jobs and didn't try to rob/kill/rape the other cells? I think its pretty easy to agree with.
But people aren't cells, people are people. A sad fact of the world is that the individual takes precedent over the group pretty much every time. Or maybe its a small cell cluster over the big super clusters. Inevitably destructive competition turns out in the same form over and over through the span of human history. What you get is aristocrats and despots having much more than everyone else and most people being unhappy about that.
Now, that one fact has remained outside the influence of all other technology. No one and nothing has entirely changed the rules of existence. If we could do that, we could change the world. Turns out though its pretty fucking hard to rearranged the world like that. But there are ways, oh yes, and we can use them.
Consider WWII Germany, you know, the Nazi's and all that. Before the start of WWII there was the Great War (aka WWI) this left the place in pretty much ruins and everyone was poor and hungry. Hitler drew his power by gaining support of the people. This support came from promises to free, feed and restore the pride of his people. In other words, he used their dependence on the basics of life to gain much power and do much evil. What if he couldn't do that? Things would be very different, but they would have had to be very different in the first place also.
A long time ago, it was about a year, I thought about writing a short story based entirely around a single phrase and situation. I wanted there to be a guy in a bar in some interstellar future to over hear some girl being really loud and him saying "goddam low gravity yokels need to learn how to speak in real air." It never got written. But before I scrapped it I tried to expand the idea.
One thing that occurred to me is each and every planet will have different conditions from earth. Assuming we terraform the place and don't ahve to deal with other life there will still be different temperature, gravity, day/night cycles and all that. It would also be better to fix people to live there and not try and force a 36.3 hour day on someone with a 24 hr circadian rhythm. But also, lungs for lower and higher air concentrations, better joints and muscles for the conditions would be better. And then something hit me.
What about the fucking Ocean!?
Its a whole new world and its only a 4 hour drive from me! What the hell have we been doing on land all these years, the ocean is where really fun stuff can happen. And with a few million man hours of genetic research we can turn land people into sea people. Sea people would probably not be mammals per se, but they would be free of constraints of life on land. Think of how much open space there is, and what're a few sharks compared to that kind of freedom!? It goes so much further than that though.
Sea people would be free of life on land, but what about other people. To a degree yes, but as long as you need to eat and sleep you can still be bought, sold and fucked around with. What if we could change that?
Easier said than done, I know. But there are ways to lessen and distance the kind of control people can put on us. Food, water and heat are basic necessities that everyone needs. If its possible for everyone to get these, it becomes harder to force people into what they know is wrong.
Robots could help, but they are ultimately vulnerable to the damnable EMP and entropy of course. Nano machines could probably smack disease around, but not generate food. But again, genetic engineering could take care of that. Coupled with nano bots (probably needing some sort of computer control) we could be almost free of agriculture.
Don't get to skeptical just yet, just listen. The most common organic substance in the whole world is cellulose. It is in damned near everything made of plant. Know something else, people can't digest it! We lack a crucial enzyme or enzymes to do this. That's why fiber makes your poopie bigger.
Cellulose is fundamentally just a big F'in chain of glucose molecules though. Add this to human genes (cellulose tolerant people) and you can eat anything on the whole damned planet. You could live off of WOOD for god's sake. Think how long you could survive off of a single pine tree. That makes you unstarvable, because as long as anything made of non toxic plant material is around then you have food!
Now this is a pretty extreme circumstance and wood stew is probably not that tasty. But it could help you survive if necessary. For a more day to day basis we could use robots. Robots cost nothing and eventually will be able to do pretty much any goddam thing people can do. So, as long as robots aren't controlled by malevolent governments then we would be ok. The trick is, with that much surplus stuff (think how cheap crap would be if there were almost zero labor costs) everyone would be taken care of. There would be nothing left to do but make stuff up and hang out, it'd be grand.
I want to write more, but I am damn tired. This will be revisited both here and as my latest project about the Free Nation.
posted by Seth # 11:23 PM
The sunrise was interesting today. Little streams of photons cascading through the early morning as dew turned to mist and all that I can see to the south was veiled in a cloud of vapored water. Night and day are not so different as people think. Insomnia has made clear something that I have known for a while. We live on a strange planet with many strange and wonderful things.
Wade and I discussed the notion of simple beauty. We agreed that people would not be so 'advanced and interesting' if we didn't live on an interesting planet. Earth is a pretty spectacular place if you know where to look. We are lucky enough to live in a part of town free enough of light pollution to afford us a decent view of the sparkling stars. Just seeing Orion on a nightly basis is a charming part of my every little walk around our block.
Stars are quite humbling to the keen observer. They should serve us as a constant reminder that we are not only very very small, but that we are part of something very very big. True enough the rest of the universe is so vast it makes our planet, our sun and indeed our galaxy seem insignificant. But life alone makes Earth the most interesting place for many many light years.
I have tried to capture some of this in my writing. Creating an entirely new world was not a very difficult task. All I had to do was draw some lines on a piece of paper and let my hand wander into rough shapes that took form as islands, oceans, fjords and rivers. Mountains come in ranges, the water is just blue squiggles. Geography is easy, life was only slightly harder.
The thread of human existence is a gossamer strand of protein roughly 3 billion base pairs long. DNA holds every piece of life and every unique individual together. Though vastly differing in size, shape, diet, mode of transportation and behavior all life follows certain trends owing to our planet's unique and violent history. Two eyes, bilateral symmetry around a vertebrae, bone structure that is the same in nearly every creature, dental formulae that are common in many ways to every mammal and 5 common senses bind every land dwelling creature.
On Metis, these trends are carried only by the people that live there. Creatures that swim on the ocean and amble about on land would not be recognizable to any biologist that had lived on earth his or her whole life. Plant and animal still keep the same balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide (or we could not survive there) but much else is wholly different. Brains do not rest atop heads for example. Heads are a rather earthly thing. Creatures of Metis possess two spinal structures and house their brains in the center of their bodies. Three hearts, six limbs, no hair or feathers, a different range of visual perception, keener hearing (owing to the slightly less gravity) and entirely different olfactory organs are just a few. But even coming up with a crude evolutionary history is not difficult compared to crafting something so subtle as culture.
Transplanted by fate in this new and strange land the mena are tied to their forbears by language and the previous knowledge of technology that cannot be maintained and fades into legend. Relics exist, make no mistake, but all the same problems of war, death, disease, poverty, predjudice and lust have are the true legacy of human life. It's like starting over in a way. Remember how much of our present depends on the infrastructure we have built on for thousands of years. Every problem that we have 'solved' can go away and people turn right back into barbarians if you just give them a chance.
There is a lesson in that.
But people do learn and they do rebuild on what their previous ancestors had done. With no earth history apart from a few stories, new religions, new ideas and new ways of life form and thrive. Culture is so complicated because it pervades our every waking thought. I think in english, the language i speak aloud is also the filter through which i see the world. Trying to imagine the thoughts and consequences of not just one but an entire world of people is sure to give anyone a headache.
There is a lesson in that also.
In fact the lesson is pretty simple and holds true for both. Culture is the ULTIMATE subtle and powerful survival tool. It allows us to set up a positive feedback cycle in which every generation, providing good records are kept and bad ideas weeded out, can become more advanced than the last. While this holds true for technical aspects of life, the fundamentals rarely change. But how could they, every person has to learn how to live on their own. No one skips out on puberty or morality, they just can't. It's part of growing up and everyone that is a blank slate can be writ upon in certain ways that do not change.
People have needs, needs are their dependencies from the world around them. Imperatives drive these needs with a mighty engine of emotion. Some people cannot function and their engine breaks down. Others harness the power of other's emotion and that leads to what we call 'government.' It is important to remember this should you ever read my epic.
Speaking of the epic, i'm up to 84 pages now. Aevan is on the brink of his journey into the wild world. Now my task becomes most difficult because I have to create not just one but a dozen cultures that all unique to Metis (as species are) but which are tied into the fundamentals of human culture (like life in general). As he goes out and discovers his place in the world Aevan must also uncover some of these fundamentals. They are important because they do not belong to the planet Metis, they belong to somewhere else. Whether the word Earth will ever reach his ears I do not know. But the sense of hopeless distance from a place where at least human and animal life are in synch is crucial to both the story, and to the lesson I hope to convey.
Now, to bed I must go.
posted by Seth # 5:00 AM