Thursday, April 24, 2014

Rejection and Harry Potter

I'm recieving job and ms. rejections at the rate of about 2/day. When I've told other writers that I submitted BA they all reminded me not to get down about rejections. It a funny thing because I said 'Yeah, no rejection isn't a problem' and you always hear about these great authors who had their novels rejected by fifty or a hundred presses before hitting one and then getting it big. Rejection is an insidious thing though. I get the e-mail, log the rejection, shrug it off, look at how many more active submissions I have but it takes a deeper toll. A thing that lasts sort of a long time. And it compounds too in a way that is really really hard to shake.

After getting two ms. rejections and a job rejection yesterday I watched Harry Potter three in the afternoon. The weather is shit here so we just stayed inside and watched Harry Potter. I laughed my ass off. The movie was great. Plus J. K. Rowling's plotting is so tight. Obviously this was filmed off of the screenplay but still... I haven't read one of the HP books in years but she has this subtle genius. Her names are brilliant: Muggle, Dumbledore, Hagrid. There are so perfect, like this mix of British/Scottish but also something else (the magical culture there). She has this perfect imagination that straddles that incredibly thin line between the familiar world and this other world that is something like mythologies that we are familiar with but also totally new. It's like she is somehow forging ahead with new material while jumping off of these mythologies and tropes and ideas that have been present in western culture for centuries. One thing that really struck me was having the hippogriff bow. I guess I'm not totally sure that this has never been done before but honestly: I know nothing about hippogriffs--I think I've seen drawings of hippogriffs two or three times in my life--and yet having this trait, this sort of pride, this mix of animalistic fear with the need for respect seemed to fit so perfectly as to be invisible. It's like J.K. Rowling is able to tap into the soruce material of these minor tropes and extract the heart of them, lift the idea up by its bootstraps, expand it out from its own heart. It is really pretty amazing.

I'm reading Wittgenstien's Philosophical Investigations right now. I haven't read too much philosophy, a little Nietzsche, a little Schopenhauer this primer on Metaphysics. Honestly more often than not I got bored or confused to the point of finding it unreadable. The insights were generally pretty sparse and rarely made up for the sheer confusion. PI on the other hand in confusing but engaging. I can just sort of scan page after page and feel okay not getting everything 100% percent. Witt. sort of restates things over and over again at different levels of depth or from slightly different angles so that you can get a general idea of what he is talking about on the first go without worrying about all the facets and details. Really his basic ideas are so simply and intuitive too. Plus he rarely if ever relies on obscure or unusual words or phrasings (obviously...). I'm already looking forward to reading it again. It definitely seems like the sort of work that you get more and more form each time you read it. He seems like he would have been a cool guy too. Unpretentious. Kind of kindly calling bullshit on everyone else. Kind of pointing at the moon, as it were.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

About MH370

This lost plane enjoyed a particularly long stay on the news cycle. Even if it had been found off the coast of Australia a day or two after it had been lost the speculation as to why it had gone so far off course would have only lasted a week at most and then only on the dusty and seldom trodden 'southeast asian news' pages of the major news sites. While it is certainly a thought provoking and tragic story there seems to be something deep lurking here. While civil unrest in Venezuela went almost unreported and the action in the Ukraine took a back seat the world was gripped for a time in a frenzy over this lost plane. And perhaps sadly not because of the loss of two hundred lives, or the strange political dynamics. At least on the news I read the stories shied away from too much theorizing or analysis and relied heavily on the story of the technology used to track and locate the plane. Particularly the failure of these technologies. One long running headline on the BBC was something along the lines of 'How can a plane just disappear?'

I think the beautiful thing about this whole story, about the whole event really, including all of the people watching and the wonks working overtime and the analysis of signals to the end of the world is that it represents sort of the first major scale event where the steady, stochastic machinations of reality have punctured a significant whole in the web of technology that we have been weaving around ourselves. For the past ten, twenty, fifty, hundred years the international consciousness has been so caught up in the increasing abilities and reach of technology (people were outraged, yes, but not particularly surprised at the revelation a year ago that the NSA was having a hard time finding information it couldn't track and store) the weave of networks and connections that grow tighter and tighter by the day, that catch more and finer events in its electric claws that this event, the apparent disappearance of an entire everbeeping, radio-reflective airliner, seemed impossible. True there was sadness from the families of those lost on the place but you saw more shock and disbelief from the world at large. The confusion of 'How could something that big, something that well connected just disappear?' We have been steadily shrinking the world and placing our markers on more and more objects that this one has seemingly fallen into the last furious blackhole of the world. The last empty space left in our world of absolute connection.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Problem

The problem with the future is that it is uncertain. I find it nearly impossible to confidently choose a path because there is no way to tell whether it will be fruitful or a bust, enjoyable or a drag. One can work incredibly hard to achieve something, hate the work, live out dozens of years in turmoil and angst and frustration then 'achieve' their goal and find themselves no further than they started. Life is so axiomatically full of failure that ambivalence (and I say this partly joking, partly serious) seems to be the best possible course. At least one can hope that the world will lead them to a decent place (I like to think of it was the lowest energy spot, like a round rock resting carefully at the bottom of a pit) and that personal interests and half-formed ideas and naive notions won't push one off into some terrible and bizarre place. Plus if you leave things up to chance you can at least blame fate and not just yourself.

I'm at this place in my life right now where I have worked fairly hard to get to a 'desirable place', where I can theoretically get a well paying and probably stable job in challenging area but I could also get one of these jobs and end up way over my head, totally miserable and laid off within six months or a year. This is the thing. I just have no way to tell. I could, too, take a radical tack: pursue writing unremittingly and end up in an unheated shack somewhere, alone and destitute and--more likely than not--not even producing any work. This might come off as dramatic but it seems like the two most likely positions for me. There is, of course, a path in the middle but this is more like a greyscale of possible paths, a range or area of gradations that are generally unsavory.

The problem with the future is its possibilities. Knowing that the future will have a definite outcome and yet this outcome is impossible to perceive or even guess accurately. It's like this hidden box with a million possible ants and a million possible butterflies and you are supposed to stick your hand in and just grab one.

Who knows.