Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I started blogging yesterday and then did not finish

I dont even remember what I was blogging about. But let me free associate here. I am currently reading John Crowley's book "Little, Big." This is a magical realism tale about a new england family that is some how connected with fairies. It is not necessarily plot driven - rather the plot is figuring out what the twist is or why we should be interested in this family in the first place. The book has fairy tale logic.

I have a love/hate relationship with John Crowley's books. I read his Aegypt series on the Kindle when I lived in Hong Kong - and I remember sitting in the IFC court yard during my lunch breaks reading this book and feeling connected to home. I like his ideas. The integration of mystical and magical elements with everyday life. The possibility that esoteric knowledge is practical rather than fantastical. This is not like generic magical realism in that Crowley is integrating historical esoteric elements into his book. He creates a world where the esoteric knowledge, or mystery schools of thought, actually are valid. However, the novels are more like an exploration of these topics rather than a structured story. It is almost like when you are playing a video game and the exploration of the levels is more interesting than the boss fight.

Journey to the west is a tale that treats the 'boss fights' with drama and exposition - fantastic stuff. I like the exploration though, why is probably why I am drawn to Crowley's novels.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Has it really been 3 weeks since my last post!

I wish I had something to write. I have blogger block tho. I blame it on the intense heat that is making me lethargic, unable to focus, and physically weak. There is something about the heat that makes reality less real. So, it is hard to get worked up about work. The flip side of this lethargy is that I am no longer suffering from a low level malaise. How can you feel malaise if it is hard to feel anything. I need inspiration. I was inspired by the 13Bit road trip to document collectors, however I was to exhausted to turn this inspiration into anything concrete. All I can do now is execute the little things, doing laundry, logging footage, reading a poem, walking the dog, and perhaps a short blog post.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

the scrivener

I use scrivener to write. Paul and I use it to write our screen plays. I use it to write my stories, plays, and currently I'm using it to write a graphic novel. I was once in an airport bookstore and spied Bartleby the Scrivener, and read it on the flight back to NY. How is scrivener the software like Bartleby the scrivener? Perhaps some industrious 11th grade English student somewhere can deconstruct this. Really I like the scrivener software because I have different outline modes, I can write in a corkboard mode, and it is easy to keep track of research and themes related to a particular topic.

So, can I write a game using Scrivener? Good question. I don't know, maybe I should try that.
I'll post here the first paragraph of my latest short story - it is the documentation for a cellular automata program.

"Documentation for a Computer Program"

Out of the IOStream comes theWorld. The stream is blue, not a microsoft blue, but deep sky blue, #00BFFF, and it is not web safe. theWorld is created from a pseudo random number generator. The first iteration of theWorld was created with a Perlin noise filter. But that produced too much geographic diversity. The purpose of this experiment is to see how cells interact, so we need to strip out all extraneous variables - geographic diversity was the first to go. The pseudo random number generator, and that provides much less variation in worlds from one Universe to the next.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Great American Novel

My husband always says that I should write a novel. I have no idea where he gets the idea that I am capable of such a feat - but it is an interesting idea to entertain. I have about 20 half finished novels and some new novel ideas, but so does everyone.

A novel is more than an idea. It is not a knock knock joke, a one liner. A novel is not just a good idea - it is the unfolding and refolding and crumpling up and tossing on the floor of everything that surrounds that idea. What novel should I write? I ask my husband. Write that novel about Detroit. I had a idea about a novel that follows generations of a detroit family through immigration, the automotive revolution, and finally to current decay. "How should I start?" I ask. "Dont try to write War and Peace." My husband replies. That is actually very good advice. But the Detroit novel really does seem to have a War and Peace scale, so I try and pick up another idea. Ok - I was thinking about something golem related. For some reason I have been thinking about Golem stories. I have a nascent screenplay on a Golem and World War 2. I also love Jewish esoteric stories (the hasidic tales, tales of nachman) - I like weird esoteric stories in general. So I was thinking about combining the two. A group of jews hiding one night from the pogroms in early 19c russia stay up all night telling stories. Shamelessly stealing from the Decameron, The Canterbury Tales, and other stories in a story. I love framing devices almost as much as the stories they frame. I started writing this but all I got was a frame. A fictional story of my grandmother writing down her recollections from this night 50 years later. And my possession of this manuscript after her death, via my aunt. I actually had a beginning and an ending and all i need to do was fill it with stories. This has proven more difficult that I first thought. (I was also inspired by The Manuscript of Saragasso)

I was going to do 10 stories based on the 10 Sephirot (levels of creation) based on Kabalistic ideas. The first story I was writing was based on Daat (knowledge) and was a fictional account of Spinoza - really a glass grinder in Amsterdam. I was playing with ideas of rationality, speculation. But that is all I got - no plot ! I am thinking that there should be a video game based on the 10 sephirot. Maybe I should do that instead.

Being stymied, I decided to get into shape by writing short stories. Short stories are a different beast than novels - and I think most novelist dont get this. At the moment I am enjoying the short stories of George Saunders - he writes some dystopic fiction about amusement parks or modes of entertainment. Really great stuff. Since I was reading about vagueness in philosophy - I thought it would be interesting to write a story that explores vagueness. I sketched out a story about a bunch of adolescent girls who go to an amusement park and the different rides they can take based on the 'You are this high' mark - a sort of exploration of living in vague territory. I was going to end it with a death - but that was really a bummer. I really could not get behind it. It did not seem like a story I would write. And it really did not have a 'turn', a strong idea. A short story is sort of like a knock knock joke. Maybe I should write some science fiction.

This post was written while listening to passion pit.