Wednesday, February 22

"figures like Heinlein and Gingrich"

Just in case it's been a while since you were profoundly irritated by a "Science Fiction is like this" piece in a mainstream media outlet, Neil Gaiman mentions a really high-test instance of the genre: Newt Gingrich's Fantasy Campaign—and the Fictions That Gave Rise to It.

There's a lot to be said about the American political dynamic and SF, especially in an age when the right-libertarian impulse is so ascendant here. I don't begrudge anyone the effort; it strikes me as important subject matter. I do wish, without much hope, that journalists making such efforts would occasionally go to the trouble of knowing things.

Thursday, February 9

cicle

Monday, February 6

Terminal 5, Heathrow. A Science-Fiction-right-now scene - all glass and girders, bright lights, giant screens playing ads for BMW and the Olympics and Gray Goose Vodka. (The bottle opens, clear liquid splashes onto ice in a tumbler, some guy does a high dive, the car rounds a corner sportily, the gymnasts celebrate, your correspondent's mind numbs.)

A small blond child wearing rainbow pants and bright red rainboots, whatever they call them here, bumbles past, and everyone smiles.

I'm leaning against a glass railing. The lady sitting next to me, Japanese I think, has offered me a thin foam pad to sit on. It is infinitely more comfortable than the floor, and I am thinking either that this particular Japanese lady is exceptionally clever or that she comes from a culture which has thought through one of the basic problems of travel better than mine ever did.

I'm trying to maintain some sort of dystopian through line to my thoughts, colored first by having spent the last couple of weeks in Hungary, where a pack of protofascist right-wing populists are busily destroying the basic institutions of a democratic society, and secondly by having spent yesterday shuffling through a sequence of inscrutable airport failure modes because the British don't know about snow.

I want to be all moodily intellectualizing and shit, but people — middle aged Japanese travelers, hyperconservative Hungarian Star Trek fans, harried airline checkin clerks — keep making this difficult by being basically decent.

Thursday, February 2

I have just realized that I hate most travel writing. The whole doomed, formulaic aesthetic of the thing. The evaluative tones of restaurant critics applied to cities and countries and people. The labored wringing of metaphor from landscape. The desperate ennui of authors pacing back and forth across flattened geographies of the mind which must at all costs yield meaning before final paragraphs. Local color. Measured use of dialect. Surprising worldliness. Shocks of recognition. The hopeless sense of displacement. The whole world a dull mirror reflecting the endless indistinguishable constructed selves of privileged interlopers and day-tripping supplicants to some significance supposedly unattainable in native homes.

Feh.

wednesday, february 1

sometimes, i think
that the entire world is a text
i have lost my ability to read