South Park Self

tuned to a dead channel

I do not appear to feel much like blogging at the moment. Right now that's possibly because I have a Horrible Cold In The Head, courtesy of my mother, who also has a Horrible Cold In The Head which she picked up from my niece. Children are plague pits. Fact. Anyway, we're both dragging ourselves around the house gravitating to heat sources (it's bloody cold, there must be snow on the mountains), her with a pestilential snuffle, me with a head full of cement. I have re-read two-thirds of my Phryne Fisher collection in the last three days. Bohemian flapper detectives may be keeping me sane.

In default of anything more intelligent, I present for your delectation the intelligence of others.

This is an incredibly interesting interview with William Gibson in which he talks about his own influences and writing processes, but even more about the interaction between the world and science fiction. My favourite bit is the ending:

If you’d gone to a publisher in 1981 with a proposal for a science-fiction novel that consisted of a really clear and simple description of the world today, they’d have read your proposal and said, Well, it’s impossible. This is ridiculous. This doesn’t even make any sense. ... Fossil fuels have been discovered to be destabilizing the planet’s climate, with possibly drastic consequences. There’s an epidemic, highly contagious, lethal sexual disease that destroys the human immune system, raging virtually uncontrolled throughout much of Africa. New York has been attacked by Islamist fundamentalists, who have destroyed the two tallest buildings in the city, and the United States in response has invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. ... You haven’t even gotten to the Internet. By the time you were telling about the Internet, they’d be showing you the door. It’s just too much science fiction.

By way of antidote to all this contemporary bleakness, this is a rather lovely graduation address which exhorts graduates to be kinder, and thereby gives me lovely ammunition in some of the recent arguments I've been having with my therapist. My commitment to the therapeutic process has a very well-defined limit beyond which I simply don't buy the idea that it's OK to prioritise yourself above all else. It is an index of the success of the therapeutic process so far that I'm actually capable of arguing with her about it.

I need to go and blow my nose, again. I hope you are all well.

Subject line quote is, of course, from the opening sentence of Gibson's Neuromancer, which he apparently wrote without having any idea of where the novel was going to subsequently go. Writers' differing processes are fascinating.
1981 is an interesting choice, as that was on the cusp of change (and yet, only 32 years ago!). The first AIDS cases in America were identified in 1981 (it was originally called GRID - Gay-Related Immune Disease). The early internet was based on the standardization of TCP/IP in 1982, and the expansion of the proto-internet, ARPANET, in 1981. I remember the film "WarGames" in 1983, with Matthew Broderick, which I guess introduced the world to the idea of hacking, computer networks, and computers controlling physical sites. The environmental movement has been going since the 19th century, with hydro power being utilised even back in the 1930s, but I guess it's never been as prominent, particularly with regards to the use of clean/renewable energy.

I guess other changes they would have dismissed out of hand include a complete ban on smoking in public places; I remember travelling on a flight to London in the mid-80s and choking as I passed through the smoking section. And more recently, gay marriage. Small changes in society are also remarkable I guess.
I darkly suspect William Gibson is a man who really knows his cusps. But I agree, sometimes the apparently trivial changes are actually profound and pervasive in their effect. It's the cigarettes which really give me a period feel in a 70s film - that segment of Cloud Atlas, for example. And the other major one is cellphones. The structure of a detective novel has changed utterly since cellphones. It's also that thing Gibson says in the article - you can predict the tech, but not the use of it. Star Trek had communicators but no Twitter or texting. Weird.

Edited at 2013-08-08 01:05 pm (UTC)