The true weirdoes, god love them, can't help themselves. I wasn't one of those folks, and I knew it.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2020/02/13 08:00
Some people called it "avant-garde", "underground", or "alternative". The term that stuck in my head was "High Weirdness". It was Einstürzende Neubauten, William S. Burroughs, Bob Cobbing, Peter Brötzmann, John Cage, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Kurt Schwitters (and Merzbow), the Gerogerigegege, and on and on.
When I grew up, I told myself, I was going to be all of those things and more. Or at least one of them. Or some random gene-splice of them. Ha, ha, ha.
On Scrivener, Granthika, TiddlyWiki, and now my project for helping writers organize their work.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2020/02/10 08:00
I'm currently developing an organization tool for writers and other creative folks, a Python-based replacement for TiddlyWiki. Someone who didn't really understand the project asked me if it was like Scrivener or Granthika. I knew of the first but not the second, so I had to go look it up (by way of a WIRED article about its creator). The short answer is no, and so now I wonder if what I'm coming up with is going to be that useful. I believe it is, so long as people know what they are getting.
Why I no longer write reviews of stuff for my own site.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2020/02/04 17:00
While cleaning up some other things on this site, I browsed some of my older movie reviews, like The Hurt Locker, and noted to myself how bad it is to do things out of cloudy motives.
Why I don't mention Zen much in "mixed company".By Serdar Yegulalp on 2020/02/02 13:00
This blog, and a few people close to me, are about the only places in my life where I talk openly about Zen or Buddhism. Everywhere else, I don't mention it unless people ask specifically about it. Trying to push the subject on others never works. Most people have warped ideas about what the whole thing consists of, thanks to popular culture, and are generally not serious about correcting any misconceptions they might have about it. If they demonstrate that they're curious, genuinely curious and not just making conversation, that's different.
But what most people know about this stuff is somewhere between the Dalai Lama (another figure people think they know more than they actually do about) and hippies taking LSD. As it turns out, not talking about this stuff much with other people caused me to have a profoundly different relationship with it than I might have.
It's not about being ready; it's about being willing to fail.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2020/02/02 08:00
I once had a would-be collaborator who wanted to work on a really sprawling, ambitious story with me. He had it mapped out in considerable detail, but could never actually put the key in the ignition and turn it and start driving. Something always came up. I finally decided this person wanted more to talk about the work than actually bring it into being — a work you never finished is always perfect in your head, right? — and gave up. We lost touch entirely not long after that.
"I'm not ready" is such a creative buzzkill. After having confronted it a few times, both in myself and in others, I think I know now that it's got nothing to do with being ready or prepared or any other such red herring. It's about not being willing to accept failure of any kind as the cost of creative work. It's about perfect or nothing, which is Not How Any Of This Works. And you probably know that, but how many of you ignore it when it comes up and just do stuff anyway?
Most every story I've written has a soundtrack.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2020/02/01 08:00
Most every story I've written has a soundtrack. I don't listen to the music itself while writing, though; it's hard to concentrate otherwise (I have a dedicated playlist for that, mostly Brian Eno and such). Still, every story has its own playlist, scored scene by scene as if it were a movie. It helps me visualize the goings-on and establish the mood. But with The Fall Of The Hammer, my current novel-in-progress, I feared I was running out of music.
None of this happened overnight. Neither will overcoming it.By Serdar Yegulalp on 2020/01/31 17:00
... even if Trump is not reelected we will still have the very same people now helping to finalize Trump’s cover up either running the Senate or in sufficient numbers to block its action if they don’t get their way. We’ll have a judiciary that has been stacked over the last three years to perpetuate GOP political rule.
There’s no simple turning back the clock. Trump is much less the issue than the political environment in which he has thrived. He might be booted next year but the climate and bases of support that made him possible won’t have gone anywhere.
I know this all sounds like kind of a downer. It’s not meant that way. It’s simply to note that perseverance is one of our most necessary, basic, indeed essential tools.
A vital point and one worth repeating. None of this happened overnight; the suddenness of its onset is only because it was building for so long just out of sight. Overcoming it doesn't happen overnight either.
I think this is also worth mentioning in light of the way Trumpism is referred to as a cult, and one of the characteristics of cults is a charismatic, singular leader. (Charisma is subjective; what matters is that someone knows how to draw in others by some means.) Remove the leader and the cult falls to pieces. Fine, except that the pieces remain, and nothing prevents them from empowering another cult figure. Cultism, not cult leaders, is the problem, and it spreads wherever people are driven to dissatisfaction, whether real or imagined. And a mindset — nebulous, universal — is far more difficult to fight than an organization.
Václav Havel comes to mind as well, as he does often in these days:
...we never decided to become dissidents. We have been transformed into them, without quite knowing how, sometimes we have ended up in prison without precisely knowing how. We simply went ahead and did certain things that we felt we ought to do, and that seemed to us decent to do, nothing more nor less.
Maybe the one characteristic of a country is the tenor of those who are most willing to fight for it, whoever they may be and however they may do it, as opposed to those who are simply most willing to take it as it is. On a practical level, everything beyond that fades in importance.
Science fiction, rebooted.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind