Sunday, September 28, 2008

I prefer the term "survivor"

So what would really happen after the world ends? Peter Bagge's answer in Apocalypse Nerd isn't very different from anyone else's: The survivors of North Korea's nuclear attack on Seattle would remain civilized until their first missed meal, and then turn on each other like starved animals. So maybe in real life they wouldn't turn so quickly into desperate killers as Perry and Gordo does here, but then again I've never gone to bed hungry, so what do I know? The style is very Bagge: Down-to-earth slapstick with bitter humor - much more bitter than in his Hate comics. The survivors are not actually forced by circumstance to become barbarians, it's more like they've been given an excuse to think they have no choice, and eagerly take it, (bemoaning what they've become while they rob the houses of their victims). It's almost funny. Almost.

Btw, go read Peter Bagge's political strips at Reason.


The external appearance of thought

"Here's the whole story of how Fain the Gardener became Fain the Sorcerer. But I'll tell it quickly by leaving out the lies." In my project to read everything by the satirist Steve Aylett, (well somebody should), I've come to his one contribution to fantasy. Fain the Sorcerer is a 90 page riff on fairy tale conventions and time travel. Fain, on escaping from the royal castle where he's failed to revive the enchanted princess, (a local tradition because it gives people "something to think about other than what is important"), comes across a lunatic who grants three wishes. Fain wishes the ability to travel backwards in time, does so, and immediately returns for three new wishes. And so on. Through elaborate attempts to avoid the loopholes of wish-granters, ("I wish to be able to see in the dark, and by this I do not mean to be able merely to see the darkness, but to see in the darkness as though it were illuminated, though without conflagration"), Fain gains many useful powers (and some useless ones), visits remote kingdoms, fights the evil wizard, woos the princess, and goes on a reckless rampage throughout the timeline. And there's the usual Aylettian linguistic bombshells and satirical stabs, though less than in Slaughtermatic. Read it, and read Aylett.


Remember when there were smart programs on TV? is a video site that wants to make you smarter. Without saying anything bad about YouTube and its imitators, this is a rare ambition on the web today. gathers videos of speeches, lectures and panel debates on topics such as politics, science and culture. The videos are long, often boring, and rarely contain even a single TV-worthy soundbite. It's my favourite new website in a long while - this is what's missing from television. In such a gathering of public intellectuals, academics and activists, you'll inevitably suffer many silly and eccentric speakers, and if that is enough to scare you away I recommend you go watch this freaking hilarious dramatic chipmunk on YouTube. For the rest of you, here are some recommendations to start with:

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Skweee like a pig

Music reviews have become pointless. Why describe, when you can link to a video and let people decide for themselves? This weekend's music selection is all strange Scandinavian funk with a horrible but Google-unique name.

Mesak - Popkumm:

Beem - Muni:

Uday - Ghetto Bomb:


Remarkable to behold and difficult to understand

I know there's something happening in David Lindsay's 1920 novel A Voyage to Arcturus, but I don't know what it is. Maskull travels (by improbably means) to a remote planet, a young and wild world where the local Creator and Devil still walks about, and the landscape changes by the minute. People's bodies correspond to their different personalities, and Maskull's body and worldview changes to match the people he meet. Compassionate people have extra organs to sense the emotions of others, while cruel people have an extra eye that projects pure will-power. He meets a sort of buddhist, a musician who plays ugly-beautiful music that kills people, and a person of a third sex. David Lindsay's purpose is philosophy, not satire as in many such stories of fantastic journeys, but I have no idea what he's trying to say. It's like an ambitious art film: Someone clearly put a lot of thought into it, but don't ask me what the scene where the clown shoots Jesus means. A Voyage to Arcturus is an unfathomable allegory of something-or-other, and that's not for me. I like it less because I have Jurgen by James Branch Cabell to compare it to. Jurgen was published at about the same time, and walks in more or less the same territory, but is one of my favourite novels. Jurgen is a hard-hitting classic of philosophical fantasy, (and read also Cabell's The Silver Stallion.) A Voyage of Arcturus is only imaginative.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Og du da, er du for eller mot rasetenkning?'s oppsummering av deres langvarige leserdebatt om rase og kultur er deprimerende lesning. Jon Eirik Lundberg konkluderer med at leserne deres delte seg opp i to leire: for eller mot rasetenkning. Jepp, man har i seks måneder diskutert om man er for eller mot inndeling av menneskeheten i raser med signifikante genetiske forskjeller, og hvilken rolle dette eventuelt spiller i aktuelle kriser og konflikter. Jeg skal ikke beskylde Hans Rustad for rasistiske oppfatningene, tvert i mot. Jeg skal heller ikke spille det avskyelige "sånt kan man da ikke si offentlig!"-kortet og be om "sensur" eller "redaktøransvar". Det som gjør meg trist er det klare bildet denne debatten gir av noe som har gått galt, et forfeilet prosjekt. For selv om alt skal kunne debatteres, er ikke alle debatter verdifulle, og som politikkblogger hadde jeg en gang en drøm om at vi kunne bygge noe bedre på nettet enn det som fantes i midtstrømsmediene. Om man bare fikk samlet alle de engasjerte, smarte amatørene som ikke slapp til ellers, så ville vi få til noe vakkert. Men det viste seg at engasjerte, smarte amatører ofte er ganske dumme de også. framviser beleste idioter av mange slag, med løsslupne nazist-beskyldninger, misbruk av evolusjonsbiologi, og hjertesukk over at de hvite mistet makten i Sør-Afrika. Det er så smart og velformulert, og det er så feil og bortkastet. sikter høyere enn de fleste, og det står det respekt av, men når noen spør meg hvorfor jeg mistror verdien av nettdebatter er det dit jeg sender dem.


The future has always been crazier than we thought

Skip the evening news today, and instead watch this talk by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, where he summarizes his wonderful book on unpredictable surprises, The Black Swan. Favourite provocation: If you're skeptical towards bishops, but believe in the stock market, you're a hypocrite.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

With a horribly human intelligence

William Hope Hodgson's 1908 novel The House on the Borderland isn't good, but it's flawed in a memorable and pioneering way. Hodgson writes like a less angsty H. P. Lovecraft, with "inhumanly human" swine-monsters emerging from a bottomless Pit to threaten an isolated house in Ireland. My favourite part foreshadows the "defend your home against the undead army" scene in a zombie movie. The second half is a vision of the end of the world, where the main character fast-forwards through the future at ever-increasing speeds, until both the Earth and the Sun is dead. It's time-lapse photography in writing, secular in content but Biblical in style. And there's an alternate dimension, containing a huge replica of the main character's house and the ghost-like love of his life. All this in less than 100 pages. The House on the Borderland makes no sense whatsoever. It jumps incoherently from one strange event to another, never really trying to tie them together. It's not even confusing. What it has going for it is its proto-Lovecraftian style, and I'm not surprised to learn that Lovecraft was a fan. He was also a better writer. But still - memorable, oh yes! (And I might just check out the comic book version.)


The deaf will be very hard of hearing

Pundits who, in these exciting times, are eager to loosen the reins on their inner prophet, will find inspiration in the words of Rabelais from Pantagrueline Prognostication for 1533:

"This year, the blind will see very little; the deaf will be very hard of hearing; the dumb will hardly speak; the rich will keep themselves somewhat better than the poor, and the healthy than the sick. Many sheep, oxen, pigs, geese, pullets and ducks will die, whilst among monkeys and dromedaries the mortality will be less cruel. Old age will prove incurable this year because of the years gone by. Sufferers from pleurisy will have great pains in their sides; those who suffer from a runny belly will frequently go to the jakes; this year catarrhs will flow down from the brain to the lower limbs; and there will all but universally reign an illness most horrible, redoubtable, malignant, perverse, frightening and nasty which will so confuse everybody that they will never know what wood to use for their arrows, and will often madly write treatises in which they argue about the philosopher's stone; Averroës (in Book Seven of the Colliget) calls it Shortage of cash."


Sunday, September 21, 2008

I'm in the loop I am the loop

Weekend music selection: An electronic kitten, and ravens with bagpipes (yes!)

Miss Kittin - Wash 'n' Dry:

Miss Kittin - Professional Distortion:

Corvus Corax - Suam Elle Ires

Corvus Corax - Hymnus Cantica:


Abstractions four or five or six times removed from reality

Jack Vance takes a sociologist's approach to SF in the three novels collected in The Jack Vance Reader, the first I've read of him: Emphyrio, about a repressive guild-based welfare state, where an old legend inspires a young man to non-conformity. The Languages of Pao, about mass-scale social engineering, where a world's ruler brings in outside linguists to make his people speak (and therefore think) like warriors, merchants, and engineers. And The Domains of Koryphon, from a world where human colonists compete with other races for land. In all these stories, the focus is on social forces and mass psychology, not at the expense of characters, but as the nuanced backdrop against which the characters act. I'll single out (at random) The Domains of Koryphon (aka The Gray Prince) for praise: Vance brings his eye for social dynamics to the issues of colonization and slavery, taking a provoking approach where the colonial landlords are morally wrong but realistic, while their urban, intellectual critics are naive hypocrites. Some have called it a racist novel with a message of might makes right, which is stupid. This is a story for adults who don't turn their brains off when they read. The Domains of Koryphon is not meant to comfort, but to provoke ideas. The moral high ground of the human landlords does makes it a problematic novel, though, and it's more fair to criticize it than to neuter it with the label of escapism. Even so, I'll return for more of Vance's speculative sociology.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

All the books in the world except one

A story for book lovers.

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Nyere norsk film - en oppsummering

Med 26 påbegynte og 5 ferdigsette norske filmer bak meg denne uken erklærer jeg meg selv herved for ekspert på nyere norsk film. Nå skal dommen avsies. Hvordan står det til med norsk film? Ikke så mye verre enn det står til med film generelt. Vi sliter med å lage intelligente filmer, men det gjør alle andre også. Vi sliter også med å lage underholdende filmer, kanskje fordi de dyktigste filmskaperne våre synes det er å sikte for lavt, og overlater terrenget til sjangerformelrytterne? Da blir det opp til flaksen om de bruker formlene kreativt (Switch) eller fantasiløst (Fritt vilt).

De eneste to klare anbefalingene er Kill Buljo, hvis du liker teit humor, og Mannen som elsket Yngve, hvis du liker et godt drama. Resten .. Schpaaa, Switch og Elling var severdige, men jeg er sannelig glad jeg ikke så de andre filmene på kino, hvor det krever usedvanlig mot å forlate en film etter 15 minutter.

  • I blant lages det ålreite norske filmer.
  • Bjørn Sundquist spiller i langt færre norske filmer enn jeg trodde.
  • Bra-til-å-være-norsk-sekseren er reell. Trekk fra to på terningkastet.
  • Norsk film er på sitt beste når karakterene holder kjeft. Talefilmen er den største ulykken i norsk filmhistorie.
  • Før eller senere kommer noen til å få til en okey norsk naturgrøsser.
  • Dinas mors død er den mest ufrivillig morsomme scenen i norsk filmhistorie.

Mitt spørsmål til norske filmskapere er: Når kommer den store viking- eller sagabaserte underholdningsfilmen? Sjangeren har hvilt på Hrafninn flýgur lenge nok.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Du er en arrogant, selvopptatt, jævla idiot

Etter en uke med intens seing av nyere norsk film begynner jeg å få et anstrengt forhold til ettertenksom humor om stakkarslige mennesker, grøsserklisjeer i norske naturomgivelser, og generelt scener hvor karakterer snakker sammen, (monologer går greit). I dag skal forholdet anstrenges ytterligere.

Jeg er Dina (2002) - Narm: Et filmøyeblikk som er ment å være dypt alvorlig, men er så klønete utført, overdrevet sippete, eller totalt absurd at det bare blir morsomt i stedet. Ga opp etter: 5 minutter.

Mors Elling (2003) - Nei interessant er ikke Elling at jeg vil se forhistorien hans også. Ga opp etter: 7 minutter.

Mannen som elsket Yngve (2008) - God musikk, troverdig dialog. Begynner langsomt, men dette er jo faktisk ordentlig bra. Så hele.

Rovdyr (2008) - Hvorfor måtte de begynne å snakke? Ga opp etter: 10 minutter.

Kunsten å tenke negativt (2006) - Optimist vs pessimist er et fint konsept, men det blir ikke ekte, bare en enkel karikatur. Ga opp etter: 12 minutter.

Den brysomme mannen (2006) - Dårlig på en rar og sjarmerende måte, bare ikke rar og sjarmerende nok. Ga opp etter: 15 minutter.

Ulvenatten (2008) - At tsjetsjenske terrorister skulle gidde å holde deltagerne i et debattprogram på norsk TV som gisler er et latterlig selvopptatt filmkonsept. På den andre siden er terrorist-actionthrillere en latterlig selvopptatt sjanger. Ga opp etter: 14 minutter.

Sånn .. da kan jeg la det gå ti år til neste gang. Neste: Oppsummering og endelig dom, av en nå ferdigutlært (eller iallefall selverklært) ekspert på nyere norsk film.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

En vandrende målskive for blind vold

Ny dag, ny runde med nyere norsk film. Statistikken så langt denne uken: 12 filmer påbegynt, hvorav 2 ferdigsett. Antall Bjørn Sundquist-observasjoner: 0. Dette er gøy.

Hawaii, Oslo (2004) - Atter et bidrag til haugen av småmystiske hverdagsdrama. Ga opp etter: 18 minutter.

O' Horten (2007) - De 7 første dialogfrie minuttene hvor et passasjertog svever gjennom snølandskapet er noe av det vakreste jeg har sett så langt. (Jeg liker tog.) Ga opp etter: 11 minutter.

Villmark (2003) - Sakte .. sakte .. saaakte trer tjernets ondskap fram. Men naturen er flott. Ga opp etter: 25 minutter.

Elling (2001) - Ettertenksom humor om stakkarslige mennesker, (dette har jeg da skrevet før?), men tross dette ordentlig morsomt. Så hele.

Schpaaa (1998) - Narkogjengvold is bad, m'key? Leker på grensen mot bra, og jeg liker stilen. Så hele.

Ungdommens Råskap (2004) - Ungdom er fryktelig irriterende, spesielt når du setter dem foran et kamera. Ikke gi dem mer oppmerksomhet! Ga opp etter: 18 minutter.

Uro (2006) - Detektimen er ikke hva den en gang var. Ga opp etter: 19 minutter, hvoretter jeg har en sterk mistanke om at vår undercover cop blir tatt av saken og etterforsker på egen hånd.

Men hvor blir det av Bjørn Sundquist? Følg med i fjerde og siste (for Guds skyld!) runde i denne styrtinnføringen i nyere norsk film.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Jævelskap blir liksom rutine når du lever som gangster

I del 1 av denne serien satte jeg meg fore å se alt jeg kan få tak i av nyere norsk film, i et forsøk på å konfrontere mine utdaterte Vibeke Løkkeberg-baserte fordommer. Seks tilfeldige filmer ble forsøkt sett, en slapp såvidt igjennom. I dag fortsetter jakten.

Amatørene (2001) - Spredte tilløp til munnvikhevelse. Min mistanke om at nyere norsk film anser stakkarslige mennesker som en gullgruve for ettertenksom humor styrkes. Ga opp etter: 10 minutter.

Gymnaslærer Pedersen (2006) - Stort tema, liten film. Gymnaslæreren gjennomgår 70-tallets kanskje raskeste kommunistomvendelse, fra småborger til AKP(ml)'er på to minutter (jeg målte). "Neimen jøss, er jeg en kapitalistisk utsuger? Okey!" Arkivopptakene er interessante. Ga opp etter: 24 minutter.

Izzat (2005) - Jeg sier ikke at man ikke kan lage gangsteroppvekstfilm fra pakistanermiljøet i Oslo på 80-tallet, bare at det er en vanskelig oppgave for viderekomne. Sikt lavere! Ga opp etter: 12 minutter.

Jenter (2007) - Huh..? Tittelen er iallefall beskrivende. Ga opp etter: 7 minutter.

Kill Buljo (2007) - Her er det mye kløning og dårlig skuespill, men du verden hvor gøy det er. Teite vitser som ikke irriterer, jevnlige latterbrøl og stort sitatpotensiale. ("Jompa, det e en ting du skal vite. Det e æ som e far din. Nææ, æ bare tulle. Men æ ha pult mor di.") Så hele.

Varg Veum - Kvinnen i kjøleskapet (2008) - Privatetterforsker blir ikke trodd av dumme politifolk. Åjøjemeg. Ga opp etter: 10 minutter.

12 filmer så langt, og minst like mange igjen!

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Så kommer du til å tryne noe jævlig

Etter en slengbemerkning om kvaliteten på norsk film og bra-til-å-være-norsk-seksere i avisene fikk jeg nylig en reprimande fra en engasjert seer av norsk film. Da jeg gjerne innrømmer at mitt syn på norsk film er farget av Wam og Vennerød-vitsene i Åpen Post, starter jeg herved et nytt prosjekt: Nå skal jeg gi nyere norsk film den sjansen den fortjener. Som vanlig plukker jeg filmene mer eller mindre tilfeldig, og ser dem med minst mulig forkunnskaper. Rull film!

Tatt av kvinnen (2007): Lovende begynnelse - og så begynner dialogen. Ga opp etter: 10 minutter.

Fritt vilt (2007): Ooh, LotR-flying i fjellheimen. Tålbar dialog og ingen store jag-bort-faktorer, men formel-grøsser til minste detalj. Øksemorder i skummelt hotell, herregud da. Ga opp etter: 40 minutter.

Varg Veum - Bitre blomster (2007): Hvorfor gidder de å gjøre dette? (Skulle forresten ikke Varg Veum være bergenser?) Ga opp etter: 15 minutter

Switch (2007) - Karate Kid på snowboard, med Peter Stormare som mr Miyagi. Noen vil kalle det plagiat, jeg kaller det å stjele fra de beste. Ikke bra, men den første filmen så langt som lever. Så hele.

Lange Flate Ballær (2006) - WTF? Og det finnes en 2'er?! Ga opp etter: 4 minutter.

Reprise (2006) - Er det ikke nok at du er refusert, må du lage film om det også? Joda, er talent her, men det er lov å bruke det utenfor navlen. Ga opp etter: 14 minutter.

I del 2 i denne serien blir det, av filmtitlene å dømme, mer av det samme!

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

As serious as a German film festival

The Middleman is television for and by TV Tropes-reading movie and TV geeks. All artificial, full of popcultural references and ironic, quick-paced dialogue that screams: "Yes, this is television. We're just a bunch of writers goofing around, come and join us!" This is your reward for knowing your Mario Bava movies and your Wilhelm scream, and your kung-fu and sci-fi and vampire lore. Popcultural trivia doesn't impress your friends and it bombs at parties, but now there's a television show just for you. Actually, The Middleman is well-written and has enough general wackiness to appeal to anyone with a passing familiarity with the genres it plays with, but it's clear who their target audience is: The kind of person who, to the annoyance of everyone around, exclaims "OMG!! this entire episode is based on Escape From New York!!" No really, I like it. I like that it goes 100% synthetic with barely an honest emotion in sight. No halfway caffeinate-it-for-the-kids measures here, just a pure dedication to superficial fun. And let me just say, for the record, that I think it's awesome that the goatee-universe version of our clean 50's comic-book-hero-style Middleman is based on Snake Plissken.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

A little malnutrition hardens them up

Earlier I wrote about a book I wish I'd read when I was 16. Here's one I wish I'd read when I was 10: The Adventures of Endill Swift, by Stuart McDonald. This is surreal children's literature in the tradition of Roald Dahl and Lewis Carroll. Endill Swift is trapped at Epitaph School, a gruesome place with sadistic teachers, labyrinthine corridors you can lose yourself in for years, a dining room where rows of animal heads grin down at frightened students, and dormitories named after weeds and insects. The library is so huge it has its own abominable bookman, living somewhere far above the floor. Endill wants to escape before the school drives him mad, like it once did his father and grandfather, and clearly also has done to the teachers, who even when they retire don't leave the school island, but go off to wander the uncharted corridors, sad and confused.

It's all done in the clear, intelligent and witty style of the best children's books. There's also plenty of satire aimed at adult readers, and it's really up to you if you want to read Endill Swift as a book for children, or a book for adults about childhood. It's brilliant either way, (and if it all sounds too dark for children to read then you've forgotten what it was like.) It's also out of print and virtually forgotten, something that happens to a frightening number of potential classics.


Sorted, snorted, munted, blunted

Today's music selection: Asimov-ignoring robots; recommendations in media technology; German lessons for party drug users; and a commentary on Chinese politics.

Anthony Rother - Destroy Him My Robots:

Pukka Orchestra - Listen to the Radio:

Lützenkirchen - 3 Tage Wach:


Japan - Visions of China:


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

This election is based on a true story

Jan Haugland is astonished at the Norwegian press's obsession with the American presidental election, and says it's worse than the last time. I hadn't noticed, partly because I pay little attention to the Norwegian news media, and partly, I guess, because I've gotten so used to their strange foreign news priorities. The abnormal now seems normal to me. My theory is that news is a form of soap opera. We invest time in its characters and their backstories, and get neverending new stories and plot twists in return. American politics is one of the best shows on air: it's written by the smartest political consultants in the world, it's in a language our journalists can read, and there's a huge amount of bonus material and fan communities on the web for those who want more. And unlike actual soap operas it has that "based on a true story" appeal for those who want to pretend they're doing something useful. American politics is important, but less for us than EU politics, (which is dull and in the wrong languages). And the truly important things, the developments that will change your life tomorrow, take place in areas like economics and technology, and in the dark corners of our social structures. You can rarely tell a riveting story about economics, so it's not told, (correction: it's told, but not reported). So while we obsess about Obama and McCain, the future sneaks up on us, ready to knock us over the heads with a hammer and say: Surprise!


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

O Bethlehem is burning down

When Thomas M. Disch killed himself this summer, obituaries said he was the kind of brilliant critic's favourite that readers ignore. After reading On Wings of Song, I see why he was admired, but also why he wasn't read. How do you describe a novel where the only escape from religious conformism and economic depression is to sing so earnestly that your inner invisible fairy flies out of your body in a state of mystical bliss, and not make it sound silly? I sure don't know how. I guess you have to take me on trust when I say that this bleak and quiet satire isn't silly or funny, and definitely not blissful. Anything good in its world is shown only as an unreachable goal that adds to the bitterness of the life of Daniel Weinreb. The near-future America he lives in is falling apart, (quietly, in the background), and it's taking him down with it, coloring him with its hypocrisy. Daniel is not an anti-hero, he seems always at the verge of success, earnestly wanting to live well, and that makes his failures more bitter. It's the moderation I admire in this novel, the way Disch creates a feeling of a world ending, (as well as a feeling that it deserves to), without piling on with tragic horrors. Not a happy novel, this, not at all. I liked it, and I think I recommend it, but neither that nor his lit fic respectability will bring crowds of readers to Thomas M. Disch any time soon.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

4 Steve Aylett quotes

"As for Tolkien, I think those movies came along at a time when people would do almost anything to avoid thinking clearly about what is actually going on, and it was good homogenous escapism. I liked Liv Tyler’s mouth, and I think all three movies should have been just a close-up of that."
- Steve Aylett

"Satire works in a bunch of specific ways, like a very precisely-geared bomb. It's a bit like something that looks harmless, and you swallow it, but once it's inside you it's too late, and it triggers, blowing up. And it's your specific inner beliefs and faulty arguments that trigger a satire bomb. If your arguments work, the bomb doesn't trigger, it doesn't need to."
- Steve Aylett

"I would hope that [death is] just the end - I'd feel really cheated if I was woken up into another realm and had a load more shit to deal with. I really just want it finished."
- Steve Aylett

"It’s a shame, sort of a waste, that most people are influenced by what the newspaper supplements tell them is the book they are meant to be seen reading this year. It seems like those people aren’t really interested in books. If you’re really into books, you havoc all over the place picking up disparate stuff which you devour hungrily, and the ‘selection’ process is more like a sixth sense hunger, a billion miles away from fashion."
- Steve Aylett

I reviewed his Slaughtermatic earlier, and I'll be back for more.


Frihet ikke frykt - hvem tar ballen?

Secure beneath the watchful eyes11. oktober avholdes en internasjonal aksjonsdag mot overvåkning og terrorlover. Arrangementet heter Freedom Not Fear, og skal markeres i mange europeiske land, men ikke Norge. Det er for galt. Teknologien har åpnet de samme dørene for billig masseovervåkning her som i andre land. Det er ennå ingen norske partier som ønsker å avlytte all nett-trafikk, eller sette et videokamera på hvert gatehjørne, men hvor lenge varer det? Veien fra EU's datalagringsdirektiv til språkanalyse av mailene dine, og fra ett kamera til hundre, er kortere enn du tror, og den korteste veien av dem alle går gjennom en velplassert bombe. Hvert skritt vi tar gjør det neste skrittet lettere. At vi har kommet kortere enn mange andre er ingen unskyldning for å la være å snu.

Noen bør ta tak i dette, og sørge for et norsk Frihet ikke frykt-arrangement. Og ja, jeg ser vel egentlig mest på dere på venstresiden. Hvem andre her til lands er det som vet noe som helst om mediesynlig aksjonering? Hvem andre har følt overvåkning på kroppen som dere? Men dette er en sak med bred appell: Vi er mange som ser hva som er mulig med dagens teknologi, og er redde for hva desperate og uvitende politikere kan finne på å bruke den til. Vi er uenige om mye, men vi er enige om at frihet og personvern er viktigere enn falsk trygghet, og at det beste forsvaret mot terrorisme er å ikke la frykten ta overhånd.


Skalat maðr rúnar rísta, nema ráða vel kunni

Today's selection of music: Metal without electric guitars, music for and by machines, and a girl singing into a large cellphone.

Korpiklaani - Kadet Siipina

Section 25 - Looking from a Hilltop

Faun - Egil saga

Unheilig - Herz Aus Eis

Kehrwert - Maschinenmusik

About the title: It's used in the Faun song, and they took it from the 13th century Egils saga. It means something like "don't write runes that you can't read / control". Or as Lovecraft wrote in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward: "do not call up any that you can not put down".


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Through hollow lands and hilly lands

I've read a lot of crappy short stories lately. Many were in a stack of anthologies by little known authors I bought at random, and there you expect that writing class air of having laboriously learned how to write, but not having anything to say. But what excuse does Haruki Murakami have? Every story in Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman starts out walking cheerfully towards brilliance, but Murakami's artsy affectations derail them towards the merely clever. What a waste of talent.

And then .. Ray Bradbury. The Golden Apples of the Sun. Perfection. Now, maybe the contrast between this and the previous books has skewed my judgement, but I'll tell you how I felt when I read it, and then you may decide for yourself if I'm trustworthy or not. Bradbury's stories have the delicate structure of an origami. They convey emotions that have no name, insane ideas that make sense. Done with less skill the origami would tear, there is no "almost" in this territory, but these, miraculously, never do. The authors I mentioned before all walk in Bradbury's genre-bending footsteps, and they all fail, but he's hardly to blame for that. I bow for Ray Bradbury. Ray Bradbury is God. Okay, that really is the contrast speaking. Then again, maybe one occasionally needs to read bad books, in order to better appreciate the good ones?


Monday, September 1, 2008

Bloggdagen derpå

Etter gårsdagens vellykkete bloggdag-feiring, innfører jeg herved bloggdagen derpå, en dag til stillhet og ettertanke for alle som i ivrig bloggrus har begått en bloggutskeielse som de senere angrer på. Det kan være noe personlig du ikke skulle ha brettet ut for omverdenen, det kan være et raseriutbrudd i en bitter bloggkrig, en flau naivitet, eller en skråsikkert framsatt oppfatning som alle nå skjønner var feil. Kanskje har du uten å tenke alt for nøye gjennom det gitt alle dine framtidige potensielle arbeidsgivere inntrykk av at du ikke eier arbeidsmoral, dine potensielle partnere at du synes det er greit å være utro i blant, og dine framtidige svigerforeldre at du egentlig har litt sansen for Vigrid. Slik en blogg kan favne alt av gode ideer og vakre tanker, er det heller ingen grenser for hva slags nedrigheter du der kan begå foran omverdenen og ettertidens falkeblikk. Det er for disse triste gjerninger og tilhørende skamrødme at bloggdagen derpå er til.

Mens bloggdagen er en dag for å fremheve det gode, er bloggdagen derpå en dag for å glemme og holde skjult. Du skal derfor ikke legge ut noen linker, og du behøver heller ikke skrive noe. Bloggdagen derpå er dagen for bloggangst og bloggtvil, og for modige løfter om "aldri mer!" Det er dagen for å meditere over alt du skulle ønske du kunne slette, men som Nasjonalbiblioteket har kopi av. Man ønsker ikke til lykke med bloggdagen derpå - man gir et klapp på skulderen og ønsker god bedring.