Brendan Byrne has an excellent piece in Rhizome about the LiveJournal maintained by science fiction author Thomas M. Disch up until his death in 2008:
Most industry professionals knew better at this point than to engage with Disch, especially on his home turf. As Patrick Nielsen Hayden, one of the many who stopped reading Endzone in disgust, noted in his obituary, Disch “played the game of literary politics hard, and sometimes lost badly.” Disch started referring to himself as God in late 2006, a conceit from his final novel The Word of God in which the authorial voice declares, “All my justice shall be poetic.” In Endzone, Disch gloats over the death of the critic Algis Budrys and mocks his former editor Linda Rosenberg in verse. Philip K. Dick is encouraged to “rot in hell,” ostensibly for Dick’s 1972 letter to the FBI claiming Camp Concentration contained coded “anti-American” material. Disch crows that he will never allow the republication of The American Shore, Samuel L. Delany’s book length exegesis on a single story from334, due to perceived attacks on Disch’s career as SF critic.
One of the few who never gave up on Disch was John Crowley, author of Little, Bigand The AEgypt Cycle, whose blogging on LiveJournal directly led to Endzone. In the comments Crowley constantly challenges Disch’s belief in his own bile (“What’s sweet about your gall is how evenly it is sprayed about.”) and in doing so raises questions about whether he is interacting with Tom Disch the man, or tomsdisch the authorial voice of Endzone. On one of the rare occasions when Crowley blows his top, he cuts through the layers of performance and irony: “I suspect it’s YOU who enjoy the spectacle of ruination and abomination…” Either way, it is Crowley and his arguments for compassion and kindness which offer what little succor there is in the proceedings.
I think I had willfully chosen to ignore what an unpleasant person Disch was said to be.
Check out the creepy effect seen in the video above, titled “Dancing Ghosts.” It was created by photographer Micaël Reynaud, who photographed a group of people during the day using long exposure times, and then interpolated the resulting photos into a real-time video.
Reynaud tells us that he was shooting with a Sony NEX mirrorless camera with a wide open lens. To allow for longer exposure times, he restricted the amount of light entering his camera using 2 neutral density filters and 1 infrared filter.
The photographs he captured had shutter speeds as slow as 2 seconds. During post-processing, he interpolated the motion blur-filled images into a video showing real time action. “The result looks like ghosts to me,” he says.
I’m starting to think that what Jason Kottke calls “time merge media” has something to do with spirit photography. It doesn’t matter that we don’t believe in ghosts anymore since they both activate the same kind of visual pleasure, perhaps?
I love how the girly world of Katy Perry somewhere becomes connected to the deathly ridiculousness of Herzog’s visionary fool. Kajaso’s writing moves through these sudden shifts and outbursts. I love how suddenly she is no longer in the world of Twilight, but on the train from work with blood in her hair: the poem as the violent spasm between the world of Twilight and work. But these two “worlds” are infected by each other: the fake blood from Twilight is in her hair! The fake blood is a moment that feels “authentic” (the job, the train, the hair) but though this line is in the position of an epiphany, it won’t bring Kajaso’s speaker back together again …. Kajaso never becomes whole, but remains sloppy, pathological and kitschy. Sick with the necroglamour of mass culture.
In her performances, Kajaso takes all those troubling, grotesque signifiers that are brought up by Lady Gaga and other pop music performers (and traffickers of spectacular imagery), and amplifies them, distorts them, parasites them. This is not “critique” as is so common in scholarly discourse, but something else. Something more like Ryan Trecartin’s video work. Something that traverses media, that ignores rules of taste, that fan-fictions pop culture—and by “fan fictions” I mean something violent, something more like Manny Farber’s classic “termite art” …
Kajaso’s blog in Swedish is called Sonofdad, and includes some English translations. Göransson is an incredible English-language resource for some of the more exciting developments in Swedish poetry. Highly recommended also are his posts on the blog Montevidayo.
It is against this backdrop that we might try to understand what the Internet in general, and Twitter in particular, mean for experimental prose. For isn’t this, in all its narration and ungoverned excess, where we might now be going? Isn’t Twitter the most vivid illustration since Ulysses of what full inclusion might mean? There are two-hundred million people on Twitter. They are all writing, and all are writing under a formal constraint.
This leads one, almost, into a mystical formulation: on Twitter there is no “novelist” but there is a novel: Twitter is the continuity of the published thoughts of all the people present on Twitter. It had a beginning, but it has no end. And each second, thousands of pages are added, millions of contributions per day. And each person who reads it, as Heraclitus might have promised, reads something different from everyone else. This is an inclusiveness, from an unexpected direction, that might begin to affect even the practice of the conventional published novel. It’s hard to imagine that it wouldn’t: most young novelists are themselves active on Twitter now. The atomized mode of information dispersal is more and more natural, and less and less “experimental” or elite.
Though there are interesting individual experiments on Twitter, I am drawn to the original meaning of “individual”: that which is undivided. It is the undivided, undifferentiated cascade of thoughts streaming past the timeline that makes me suspect that Twitter is, indeed, elongating the perspective of human sensibility. I want to suggest, then, that Twitter is one of the futures of the novel. In a time of commercial publishing and excellent television, the novelist is smaller than ever before. But the novel itself, it seems, is suffering the opposite fate: it is getting bigger and bigger, and gradually swallowing the whole world.
On Design Observer:
Toward the end of Collage: The Making of Modern Art, published in 2004, art historian Brandon Taylor posed a critical question. “Has the Internet,” he wondered, “made collage more or less important as an instrument of contemporary aesthetic work?”
At that point, the answer seemed to be that if we apply a rigorous definition of collage as a process of physically cutting and gluing together image fragments to make a new image, then rather less of this was likely to happen in a digital age. If, on the other hand, we interpret the collage principle more liberally, then the evidence, Taylor concluded, already suggested that computer collage would proliferate for as long as software came with “cut” and “paste” commands. Within only a few years of this cautious assessment, collage of every kind — paper-based, digital, and all points between — is rampant. Some of this collage-making is finding its way into commercial projects, but there is also plenty of personal work by designers and illustrators who are passionate about collage. Cutting Edges, published by Gestalten in Berlin, assembles an international art squad of scissor-wielding collage enthusiasts and provides the perfect opportunity to take the measure of the resurgent medium.
See particularly the incredible examples Poynor gives of contemporary collage from Sergei Sviatchenko, Malin Gabriella Nordin, and Julien Picaud (whose digital collage referencing the song “When You Sleep” by My Bloody Valentine is pictured above), among others.
On Rough Type:
The next step is obvious: automating the feels. Whenever you write a message or update, the camera in your smartphone or tablet will “read” your eyes and your facial expression, precisely calculate your mood, and append the appropriate emoji. Not only does this speed up the process immensely, but it removes the requirement for subjective self-examination and possible obfuscation. Automatically feeding objective mood readings into the mood graph helps purify and enrich the data even as it enhances the efficiency of the realtime stream. For the three parties involved in online messaging—sender, receiver, and tracker—it’s a win-win-win.
Sometimes I feel like it’s 20 years ago and I’m reading Paul Virilio except that it’s today and mainstream.
Excerpted on Larval Subjects:
An angry dog barks at me on a country road. in order to get rid of him, I grab a paving stone and chase the attacker away with a skillful throw. In this case, nobody who observed what happened and picked up the stone afterward would doubt that this was the same object, ‘stone,’ which initially lay in the street and was then thrown at the dog.
Neither the shape, nor the weight, nor the other physical and chemical properties of the stone have changed. its color, its hardness, its crystal formations have all stayed the same– and yet it has undergone a fundamental transformation: it has changed its meaning. As long as the stone was integrated into the country road, it served as a support for the hiker’s foot. Its meaning was in its participation in the function of the path. It had, we could say, a “path tone.” That changed fundamentally when I picked up the stone in order to throw it at the dog. The stone became a thrown projectile– a new meaning was impressed upon it. It received a “throwing tone.”
The stone, which lies as a relationless object in the hand of the observer, becomes a carrier of meaning as soon as it enters into a relationship with a subject. (A Foray Into the Worlds of Animals and Humans, 140)