March, 2013

Mar 13

Another Story I’ll Never Write

A Psychiatrist is listening to a manic, delusional patient who’s saying things like, “Why shouldn’t I be exuberant, anywhere and everywhere? They send me to talk to you because I glory in life, in myself, because I want to dance on tables? Because I know I can break through the boundaries of the universe? Why not ride exultation to the stars?” The psychiatrist is thinking that it’s ironic, his previous patient was a depressive older man, who’d said, “Life is a waiting room, for people my age, where we wait to be processed for death. We have accomplished all we can hope to, by our time of life; our friends and spouses are dead. Why live? Why go on? People are just waiting for us to go away anyhow.” The psychiatrist’s reminiscence is interrupted when the manic patient shouts, “I’ll show you that I can fly on wings of pure exultation!” And he throws himself through the window, the glass shattering, he falls ten stories…onto the depressive elderly patient, who’d been dawdling in the restroom on his way out. The falling manic patient kills the depressive patient and…survives because he fell on the older patient.

“Look!” he shouts to the psychiatrist! I have flown out a ten story window and lived!” But it becomes apparent that he’s broken his spine and all his bones, is quadriplegic, and he falls into a depression… What a curious synthesis, the psychiatrist thinks…

Maybe I should write it? NAHHHHHHH

Mar 13

When the Music’s Over, Turn out the Light

When we first found ourselves at the event, we were lying about, and there were faces looking down at us. A little layer, we were crawling. Those who’d invited us to the event taught us to speak. We learned to stand up. Some were better taken care of by their hosts, than others. Some were abused. But the general consensus, when we asked one another what the event was, was something like, “This is a party you’ve been invited to. It began when you woke this morning. It ends late tonight; it ends after a period of grayness, then deepening darkness. Deep in the darkness, this party ends. We find our welcome wearing out. Until then there are many rooms, many things to see and do at the party. Some push close to the buffet; some are pushed away from it. Some create their own buffet…The party wears on. The music changes. Regularly, we lapse into a doze, perhaps on some sofa. Then we wake, though only partly, and wander through the party. We try to discuss its rooms, try to remember its entertainments, the events within the events. Despite rests, we get wearier, as the light grows grayer. The party darkens. Fatigue, and achiness, make it harder to move from one room to the next. We see other weary people at the party vanishing, snuffing out in smoke and ash. ‘Oh there goes Bill.’ …The party wears on, and wears out. Soon the party is over. So it seems to us. To others, it seems that we have vanished–in smoke and ash.”

Mar 13

From His Cold Dead Hands

“They can have my gun when they pry it from my…well, they’ll take my fingers when they pry my gun away because my fingers actually froze to the gun when I was out drunkenly chasing a squirrel when it was thirty below zero out…And yeah I thawed it out but they’re still stuck to the damn gun…I’d actually appreciate it if someone would pry the gun off and they can take my fingers too, they’re not much good anymore…

“Damn squirrel ran up a tree and just laughed at me…missed him eight times. Used up the whole clip.

“It was difficult to type this with the muzzle of a gun.”

Mar 13

“Sure it’s Okay to Sell Your Children Into Slavery, Lotta People Do it”

I’ve often puzzled over some of the extremely immoral things that fairly ordinary people do. I could come up with examples from right here in the USA but the one that’s on my mind is, in some third world countries it’s fairly common to sell your children into indentured servitude, or even to sell them into sex slavery. It’s done by rather a lot of people, all of whom can’t be psychopathic monsters. How is that possible? Two mechanisms may be at work. Rationalization, obviously: “At least this way someone will feed them. They will survive. And I must think of my wife first.” But I suspect an even more potent cause is the fact that it now passes for custom there. When a few people did it, a few others said, they did it, so can I. And when it became relatively commonplace, that made it more commonplace. People can be quite kneejerk about the “they’re doing it, it’s our way” justification.

There’s something about conformity that helps suppress empathy and conscience. Once the sickness is part of a community, it becomes an apparent “solution” to the family’s food crisis, and the parents, desperate for a solution, tell themselves that this is an accepted solution. And somehow it allows them to mute their feelings for their children, just enough…

Mar 13

Grinding up the Big Ones to Feed to the Little Ones

Some moral dilemmas I just surrender to. We have 3 cats, two dogs, and we’re bonded with our pets. They’re all spayed and neutered. But what we all do is, we take large dopey animals, cattle and pigs, also smaller ones like chickens, and we grind ‘em up, and shove the grindings in cans, to feed our pets. (My dog is confused, he wants to go hunting wild cans of dog food.) So we take big animals and grind them up to sustain the little animals evolved to comfort us. Our little biological comfort machines. And they’re wonderful little fur people, don’t me wrong. But I don’t eat meat myself, except a little fish, and I don’t like supporting the meat industry; I don’t like its cruelty, or the damage it does to the environment, nor the squandering of resources.

It bothers me that my cats get more protein than starving children in the third world. But I don’t believe that vegan pet food (yes it exists) is good for animals. And it’s too preciously “correct” to bear anyway.

So I’m stuck grinding up the big animals to feed the little comfort creatures….

Mar 13

RIP Richard E. Geis

Richard E Geis has died. Apparently, he died in early February…He won 8 Hugos for his zines! Amongst other things, he edited Science Fiction Review and The Alien Critic. He was one of the most important figures in science fiction fandom, a fine editor and op-ed writer, and my friend…

I had lost touch with him (he didn’t answer a letter I sent him a few years ago) and didn’t know he’d died. He published some nonfiction pieces by me (like my reviews of Sterling’s The Artificial Kid and Schismatrix), and William Gibson’s kindly review of my novel Cellars, and generally provided a lot of entertainment for me when I was a young, annoying man trying to write science fiction.

I visited his house one time, in Portland…a cluttered place where, as I recall, he lived with his mother, wrote whimsical porn novels (eg, “Star Whores”), and was surrounded, of course, by shelves of books…He gave a lot of good cartoonists, and other artists, a nice venue. He’ll be missed by thousands of science fiction fans who appreciated the class he brought to fanzines.

Mar 13

I Don’t Lean so far that I Fall Over

While I lean left, I don’t lean so far that I fall over. People on the right like to imagine that anyone left of them is a Marxist. I’m not a Marxist. I have some sympathy with the “real Marxism has never been tried, the Soviets etc were not engaging in the real thing” crowd, but I’m still not a Marxist. Some people on the left who conflate all “capitalism” with corporatocracy are as confused by complex social systems as people on the right. In fact many people seem almost literally allergic to complexity and diversity in political systems.

It’s possible to hold two methodologies in one’s mind at the same time; gears moving in contrary directions (one clockwise, one counter clockwise) mesh and mechanically interact, to the advantage of the mechanism’s purpose; it’s possible for “socialist” programs, like single payer government healthcare, and free enterprise to co exist, contiguously and sometimes interconnectedly.

What’s so difficult about that?