avevale_intelligencer: (Default)
Well, sort of. I've started posting videos on my Patreon page, of a concert I did with my bandmates Chris, Valerie and Silke, back in 2012. The first one, Road Song, is free, the second, Centipede Questions, is patrons only ('cos it's an original Zander-style song). You can find them, along with the first two episodes of a piece of D'niverse fanfic and various other bits and bobs, at https://www.patreon.com/zandamyrande or thereabouts. If you haven't looked already, why not head on over?
avevale_intelligencer: (Default)
It's patrons-only, so if you want to see it sign up for as little as a dollar a month. And if you like it, tell your friends!
avevale_intelligencer: (Default)
The importing process has now finished. Sadly all my lovely LJ icons are gone, and since the computer I made them on is also one with Nineveh and Tyre, they probably won't be coming back. I've only got the option of fifteen on here anyway.

I still don't know what if anything was wrong with the new LJ user agreement, except that it was in Russian, but the deed is done now. An era ends, a new one begins. We'll see what happens.
avevale_intelligencer: (bitmoji)
So, um, hi. If you follow this journal you'll know I have a Patreon page now, which I've started in a desperate attempt to put my abilities to some use in plugging our leaking domestic economy. I have thirteen lovely patrons right now, which is a wonderful start, but I am really hoping for more.

I've made it a monthly-pledge Patreon rather than per-thing, because I have no idea how to price my things even when I manage to finish them. So for as little as one dollar per month (it's a US site and they show everything in dollars, but they'll take whatever) you get access to everything new I put up there, and I'm aiming to put up at least one piece a day.

Looking at other people's Patreon pages, that looks like a heck of a deal.

And the more you pledge, the more I can do. I intend to start putting music and art up there in due course.

There are now more reward tiers, if you feel able to pledge a bit more. You can comment on my posts and tell me what you like or don't like, what you'd like to see from me. I really hope you will.

Because this isn't just about the money, though that is important too. This is about you and me having a conversation, getting to know each other better. It's about me getting better at making art for you. As long as it's something I can do, I promise to try.

If you know someone who might enjoy my stuff, tell them. If you enjoy my stuff, pledge a little (or a lot if you like, but a little will do if you spread the word).

Let's see if we can make this work.
avevale_intelligencer: (Default)
So, um, hi. If you follow this journal you'll know I have a Patreon page now, which I've started in a desperate attempt to put my abilities to some use in plugging our leaking domestic economy. I have thirteen lovely patrons right now, which is a wonderful start, but I am really hoping for more.

I've made it a monthly-pledge Patreon rather than per-thing, because I have no idea how to price my things even when I manage to finish them. So for as little as one dollar per month (it's a US site and they show everything in dollars, but they'll take whatever) you get access to everything new I put up there, and I'm aiming to put up at least one piece a day.

Looking at other people's Patreon pages, that looks like a heck of a deal.

And the more you pledge, the more I can do. I intend to start putting music and art up there in due course.

There are now more reward tiers, if you feel able to pledge a bit more. You can comment on my posts and tell me what you like or don't like, what you'd like to see from me. I really hope you will.

Because this isn't just about the money, though that is important too. This is about you and me having a conversation, getting to know each other better. It's about me getting better at making art for you. As long as it's something I can do, I promise to try.

If you know someone who might enjoy my stuff, tell them. If you enjoy my stuff, pledge a little (or a lot if you like, but a little will do if you spread the word).

Let's see if we can make this work.
avevale_intelligencer: (bitmoji)
https://www.patreon.com/posts/conversation-8571542

A short-short story this time, stand-alone. Patron-only. I hope you will look at it and like it.
avevale_intelligencer: (Default)
https://www.patreon.com/posts/conversation-8571542

A short-short story this time, stand-alone. Patron-only. I hope you will look at it and like it.
avevale_intelligencer: (bitmoji)
S., you may remember, is the creation of JJ Abrams, of whom it has been said, and writer Doug Dorst. It consists of a novel, Ship of Theseus by the fictitious V M Straka, beautifully packaged as a nearly seventy-year-old library book, extensively annotated by two fictitious readers and lavishly adorned with miscellaneous documents stuck between the pages.

This is a book that could only ever be a book. There is no conceivable way to translate the whole of it into any other medium. The story...well, there are at least three stories, possibly four; the story being told in the novel, which itself goes disturbingly nonlinear at times, the story of the writer and his translator and what happened to them while the book was being written and thereafter, and the story of the two aforementioned readers, told via differently coloured annotations in the course of at least four separate passes through the book and not necessarily sequentially. The possible fourth story consists of what may or may not be going on in the world around the readers as they pursue their relationship with each other, with the book, with the author. This is a book that could never be filmed, dramatised, even read aloud. Even as an ebook (which has been done) it's missing a whole dimension of experience.

So, it's clever. What else? Well, I find the novel, Ship of Theseus, not the sort of thing I would go out of my way to read, but very compelling nonetheless. The story of Straka, like the unseen fourth story, I have only imperfectly grasped; hence the reread. The story of Jen and Eric, the readers, is very well done indeed. It never seems implausible that they are conducting this conversation entirely by writing in the pages of a printed book and then leaving it on a shelf for each other to find. They are believable, well-drawn, flawed and vulnerable characters and I grew to like them.

The only problem I find with S.--and it may not be a bug, but a feature--is that it's all but impossible to pick a storyline and stay with it. The novel, the prior and subsequent passes of Jen and Eric, the maddening codes and ciphers contained in the translator's footnotes, all conspire to distract the attention, and I end up flipping back and forth through the pages, unable to settle on a story and stick with it, unwilling simply to put the book down and try something less demanding. It's worth the effort, though. The last words in the book (apart from the endpapers) mean nothing unless you've read the whole thing first...and when you have, they're funny, and moving, and hopeful.

I will treasure my copy of this book as long as I live. Whatever you think of Abrams' efforts in other areas, this he got right. Unless you're uncontrollably enraged by people who write in books, you might like to give it a try.
avevale_intelligencer: (bitmoji)
Okay. If I have done this right, the following link should take you to what is probably the beginning of a new Gestalt story:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/possibly-new-8553397

But, if I have done this right, it will only do so if you have signed up as a patron, for as little as one dollar per month. I don't know if this will work, and I'm not sure if I like it, but this is the path I've started down and I have to give it a fair whack. We really do need the eggs.

If you aren't a patron and you can see it anyway, please let me know.
avevale_intelligencer: (Default)
Okay. If I have done this right, the following link should take you to what is probably the beginning of a new Gestalt story:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/possibly-new-8553397

But, if I have done this right, it will only do so if you have signed up as a patron, for as little as one dollar per month. I don't know if this will work, and I'm not sure if I like it, but this is the path I've started down and I have to give it a fair whack. We really do need the eggs.

If you aren't a patron and you can see it anyway, please let me know.
avevale_intelligencer: (Default)
Here's the link: https://www.patreon.com/zandamyrande

I hope to earn some financial support this way, instead of just panhandling. Wish me luck.
avevale_intelligencer: (bitmoji)
Here's the link:

https://www.patreon.com/zandamyrande

I hope to be able to earn some financial support this way, rather than simply panhandling.
avevale_intelligencer: (bitmoji)
[livejournal.com profile] watervole responded quite impassionedly to my suggestion for some dialogue that I would quite like to see in a movie, in response to a certain rather tired cliché that I have encountered rather too often in various forms of fiction, and most recently in Doctor Strange, which we otherwise enjoyed quite a lot. She seemed to think I had missed the point of the statement. Since the point she thought I had missed was stated in the immediately following line, I rather think I did get it. I just didn't agree with it.

Quick show of hands. How many of you here reading this (not many any more, I know) actually treat every single moment of your lives as precious? How many fill each and every unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run? How many live every day as if it might be your last? Every moment? Every minute? Every day? Honestly?

Can't see your hands, of course, but I'm open to the idea that I'm the only one here who ever gets bored, ever feels dull and uninspired, ever gets tired and just wants to stop. I've always known I was deficient in many ways, and if I was alone in that terrible vulnerability that wouldn't surprise me. But if by some chance I'm not, if there are others of you out there who have black moments and terrible quarter-hours and days when you just want it all to be over, tell me this: how does it make you feel when someone tells you that you should really regard every moment of your life as precious because it might end at any minute?

Exactly. It's rubbish. As a reason for valuing your life, it's among the least rational of all. When (not, thank gods, if) I have times when my life seems precious to me, it's because I have friends and family, chosen and unchosen, whom I love, and because I have things to say that I think need saying and music to make that I think will make the world just a tiny fraction richer and people whom I believe I could make laugh if I could just get the words in the right order, and because there is more to see and more to do and more to experience, and the notion that all that could be chopped off at any moment by a random stroke of fate...just makes the whole thing seem even more pointless. Half the time when I want to die it's because I know that I'm going to, at some point, and when it happens I probably won't be ready anyway, so it might as well be now when I'm as ready as I'm going to be. What can I say, depression isn't logical.

Life isn't gold. It isn't some useless metal that only has value because it's scarce. Life has value for a whole host of reasons, and the fact that it will end is not one of them. So no. Death does not even give life meaning in that way. It just takes it away. And if you are so far down that the only reason you could possibly have for valuing your life is its temporariness...then that's not going to do it for you either. Trust me on this.

And I wouldn't have gone any further into this, except that a piece of speculative movie dialogue got mistaken for a serious philosophical essay. Which is probably my fault, for not making it clearer what I was doing. I'm sorry. But I stand by what I've said in both posts.
avevale_intelligencer: (bitmoji)
"'Death is what gives life meaning'? You're seriously saying that to me? That's your conclusion based on however many centuries of thought you've given to the matter? Okay, then, here's a question. What is the actual meaning that death gives to life? What meaning will my life have after I'm dead that it didn't have before I died? Because my thinking, my feeling on this, is that it's what you do while you're alive that gives your life meaning, it's what you say and what you think and what you do before you die, and what death does, the purpose and function of death, is to stop you doing and thinking and saying any more, it's to end the meaning in your life, to put a limit on it and curtail it, kind of like the full stop that ends a sentence, and you'll have noticed that I haven't ended this sentence, I haven't used a full stop, and I could have done, I could have put in lots of full stops and made it into lots of little sentences, and it would have meant exactly the same, but the thing about life, the real bugger about life, is that we only ever get one sentence. We only ever get one sentence. We. Only. Ever. Get. One. Sentence. A life sentence, ha ha. And too many of us, far too many of us, never get to finish it, so our sentence, our sentience, ends up meaning nothing. Death is the full stop that ends our sentience, often before we've even got to the verb. Death is what takes away the meaning from our lives.

"Death has functions, useful ones. It stops the planet getting even more choked up with life than it is already, it frees up the matter and the energy that's held in our bodies so that it can nourish other life, it ends pain, it provides closure for lives that have long ago stopped meaning anything, sentences that have just become word salad. Death is useful. Nobody denies that. But to say that 'death is what gives life meaning'...well, people who say that, they either haven't thought about death at all, or else, like you, they've thought about it for so long that they've lost sight of whatever sensibility they might have had, lost sight of how life feels. It's nonsense. It's meaningless nonsense. And nobody should believe nonsense.

"Believe that when we die we go on to another place. Believe that when we die we're born again. Believe that when we die we rejoin the great cosmic mind. Believe any of that. But never, never, ever, believe that death is what gives life meaning, and don't try to make me believe it. And don't ever try to stop me fighting against death. Because my sentence is nowhere near ready for a full stop."
avevale_intelligencer: (bitmoji)
"Everyone's entitled to their own opinions. Nobody is entitled to their own facts." (Internet truism)

I've said before that essentially, nearly all "facts" as we understand them are in fact opinions, based on or supported by what we believe to be evidence, as filtered through our sensoria and interpreted by our brains. In practice, for the most part, this is a difference that makes no difference, and anyone who makes anything serious of that argument is being studenty and pretentious. There is one reality, and for the most part, in most cases and most of the time, we can agree on what it is. What it *means*...well, that's another kettle of fish entirely.

The abovementioned truism has been getting quite a lot of use in the last couple of years, and with Tronald, the current President of the USA, and his team busily coming out with "alternative facts," that seems likely to go on. What interests me about it, though, is the large hole it blows in the idea that non-religious people (who, I believe, comprise the majority of users of said truism) are actually capable of religious tolerance in any real sense.

When you call them on this, they stoutly maintain that they think everyone should be entitled to believe whatever they wish, as long as they don't try and force it on anyone else. Which is as good as saying that everyone is entitled to "their own facts," since it must surely be obvious to anyone who thinks about it that, to a religious person, a religious belief must of absolute necessity have the status of a fact, or what exactly does the word "belief" mean? Christians are not "of the opinion" that God sent His son to redeem mankind. Buddhists do not "incline to the view" that the material world is an illusion that must be transcended if the soul is to attain Nirvana. Jews are not "prepared to entertain the notion" that Passover night is different from all other nights. If any of them say they are, then in my estimation (and I admit I'm an outsider, see below) they're just being nice and trying to avoid causing conflict or offence, which is laudable but not conducive to greater understanding. An atheist friend, not so circumspect, told me quite flatly the other day, "it's a fact. There are no gods." It may be her fact, but it's not everyone's.

How all these contradictory beliefs may be reconciled is not an insoluble problem--I can think of half a dozen reasons why a deity might have communicated, or been understood as communicating, different truths about itself to different peoples, without using the words "sadistic," "psychopath" or "deceiver" once--but happily, it's not my problem. I have no facts in that area. None. Nor any opinions. I have nothing to defend except truth and logic.

But when you say "nobody is entitled to their own facts," and then claim to be okay with different people believing that different deities created the world, you are contradicting yourself. Because a belief is not the same as an opinion.
avevale_intelligencer: (bitmoji)
I've just read an article, which I can't now find, by Gabrielle Bellot about this subject and a new book by Mark O'Connell called To Be A Machine. It was on a site called Literary Hub. I hope that will give you enough clues to find it if you're interested.

The article made a lot of good points about transhumanism, and had some interesting information in it, but one thing was borne in upon me with smashing force as I read; how deeply, pitifully pathetic it is.

Transhumanism is for people who can't hack being human.

They can't cope with physical weakness, so they want to be stronger. They can't cope with being slow so they want to be faster. They can't cope with having to remember stuff, so they want a computer terminal in their heads that can access Google in nanoseconds so they don't need to remember anything at all, even where they put their phone. All these enhancements, all this tech, is just training wheels and water wings and crib sheets for being human. Which, up to now, we've had to manage on our own, without any of that.

And--as is manifestly clear to anyone who looks around--we haven't come close to getting it right yet. Some individuals, yes. The species, no. We all know this. We haven't mastered living on a planet, or getting off a planet, or living with each other or living without each other, or anything. Banging the rocks together is still about our speed.

So it's hardly surprising that some people, seeing this complete and abject failure becoming more and more likely to be our last, think: let's move the goalposts, then. Let's make it easier by cutting out the need to be human in the first place. Robot bodies don't need an ecosystem, get on better without it. Computer minds don't need emotions, we know this from Star Trek, get on better without them. Let's cut out all this human weakness and become something better.

Something weaker. Something that never has to make an effort, because it depends on mechanisms which make effort unnecessary. Something increasingly flabby and etiolated, encased in gleaming metal, safe from the world.

Some people will tell you that there's no difference between having a cyborg body and using a shovel, or having a computer beaming information directly into your head and having a smartphone, or a television. But of course there is. Using a shovel, using a smartphone, switching on the telly, requires effort, requires will power, requires choice. Shutting off the damn smartphone, turning off the telly, requires even more effort and will power. How much nicer to have that option permanently removed, to have cyberspace screaming constantly straight into your head. You'd get used to it. After a while you probably wouldn't even notice it. Like leaving the telly on when visitors come round, so you don't miss anything important.

Your freedom to swing your fist, they say, ends just where my nose begins. Our freedom to remain human ends just where our skin begins. Of course it's all a matter of choice. Plastic hips, pacemakers, these don't make us any less human. They keep us able to function at the level that other humans do. But when we admit that we can't even manage that, and cry out for machines to take all the drudgery and pain of being human away from us...we've lost the point. It's not evolution. It's abdication.

We can make ourselves better than human...by making ourselves better at being human, at being better humans. There ain't no other way.

(The article ends with Mr O'Connell saying "the meaning of life is to live, to imbue your life with meaning." If anyone can tell me whether or not this word salad actually means anything, I shall be very surprised. It also occurs to me that Jack the Ripper probably imbued his life with a great deal of meaning for a while there. I think I'd want something with a bit more of a moral dimension.)
avevale_intelligencer: (bitmoji)
I love Stranger In A Strange Land. It's about the only thing of Heinlein's I do actually love. There is much wrong with it besides what I'm going to talk about, but much right as well. He did, however, fall victim to the very common fault of idiot plotting.

This is where, in order to make the story work, some or all of the characters have to be too stupid to do what to the reader is the obvious thing. To be fair, this may be because it wasn't obvious to Heinlein either, but since he conceived the characters, the situation, and the plot, one has to ask why not.

The omniscient narrator states as a fact that the driving force behind all humanity's strivings is the bipolar nature of human sexuality. If there's evidence to support this contention, I missed it. The driving force behind humanity's strivings is far more obvious to me, and if it had been explained to Mike early on in the book, a lot of heartache might have been avoided.

Jubal, or Jill, or Ben, or someone, could so easily have sat Mike down and said something like this. "Look, kid. Where you come from, when Martians get old they leave their bodies and hang around as Old Ones giving advice, right? They transform into some sort of incorporeal form of life. We don't. When we get old, we die, and we either stop existing altogether or we go somewhere else, we don't know where. Opinion is divided on this because we don't know.

"We just don't know. We don't know anything. We don't know what's going to happen next. We don't know what the universe is really like. We don't know, but we want to, real bad. And since we don't know and we don't have any way of finding out...we guess. We imagine. We make up stories. We guess what happens after we die and we call it heaven, or hell, or reincarnation. We guess where the universe came from and we call it god. We guess what's going to happen tomorrow, and if the guess is good we call it hope, if it's bad we call it fear. And when we guess right, we figure there must be a reason and we make a guess about that and call it intuition, or clairvoyance, or reasoned deduction, but all it is is a guess, because we don't know."

And that is the real driving force behind all our strivings. We strive to take care of our future needs because we don't know if we'll be able to do it tomorrow. We desperately strive to understand the universe because we don't know what it's going to do next. And we defend our guesses, whatever they may be, because if we lose them we're back where we started, in the void of unknowing, and we don't trust other people's guesses because we don't know what's going on in their heads. But all the while we know, deep down, that everything we like to think we know is just a more or less informed guess, and the only thing that makes that uncertainty bearable...is faith. Faith in our guesses, whatever they may be. Faith in the reliability of science, faith in the validity of the evidence we think we have, faith in the veracity of our own perceptions, faith in other people, faith in the rightness of law, faith in the future, or faith in gods. It's all faith. Because we don't know.

Faith is what drives human beings. It's all we have.

Heinlein's Martians don't have any of that. They know everything about their universe, because Heinlein decreed that it should be so. And nobody in the book twigs that that's the difference, that's what tears Mike apart, because he feels he should share that certainty, he tells himself he does, but he doesn't have the equipment to perceive it. Of course Heinlein also decreed that there was an afterlife for humans in his universe as well, but the humans didn't know that and neither did Mike, till after he was dead. Up to that moment, just like everyone else, he was relying on faith.

Maybe Heinlein did know all this, and his apparent nescience was a sophisticated bluff...but it certainly leaves what looks like an idiot plot right at the heart of Stranger, because nobody ever explains to Mike the central fact about human beings that sets them apart from Martians, and it's certainly right out there with a big neon sign pointing to it.

Or maybe I'm wrong. I don't know.
avevale_intelligencer: (bitmoji)
Re-reading Colin Wilson's first two "Lovecraftian" novels, and wondering what the hell I ever saw in them.

I mean, people talk about HPL's repellent views, and they're right, but if this reflected anything of what Wilson was actually thinking then he's just as bad. Only he wasn't (for his time) particularly racist. As far as I can gather from the text (and his challenge from August Derleth, having vilified HPL in an earlier book, was, I gather, to express his personal philosophy through the medium of a Lovecraft-style story) he viewed all ordinary people with much the same contempt and disgust. Because, of course, he was an intellectual. He was special.

These books express exactly the feelings I've talked about in earlier posts, here, on FB, everywhere. "We" are not ordinary people. Ordinary people have small minds, they live on an emotional level because they aren't capable of rising above their emotions and achieving true detachment, and they are bound to be superseded by the superior man who is a creature of pure reason and intellect and therefore lives in a constant state of ecstasy (which is presumably not an emotion for the purposes of this argument) and has mysterious psychic powers because he uses all his brain at once.

I mean, talk about your adolescent power fantasies. Eat your heart out, Superman. I can quite see, on reflection, why my younger, misfit bookish brat self would have gobbled this stuff up. It's all part of the immature, fans-are-slans closet elitism that pervades, not just fandom, but the whole of the so-called progressive movement. We are the future. Stand aside, old-style humans, and bow down to your new rulers who have your best interests at heart. You just got out-evolved.

The sheer arrogance of my younger self appalls me. Thank gods I got past that.

I just hit the bit in The Philosopher's Stone where the protagonist and his friend are discussing how atrocious a writer Shakespeare is, having just decided that he was actually Bacon, and how a Shakespeare play is like listening to "two queers arguing at a party." I know I baulked at that even back then. (And decided that if that was his opinion of Shakespeare's writing then his opinion of HPL's writing was probably worth about the same.)

I do notice that the main effect of the protagonists' mental advancement in both these books is to make them more and more bored and discontented with life as it is, which is presumably the "new existentialism" that Wilson was apparently into. Fortunately they manage to find solace in exploring the wonders of the universe and not bothering with mere humanity any more.

If I thought this was the way forward when I was whatever age I was, I was an idiot. That hasn't changed, but at least I'm a more experienced idiot now, and I can see the traps of hell a bit more clearly when they gape.

I may actually let these books go. I'm not decided yet.

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