Colonialized: The Peak Experience

vic peak sara enhBelow us lies a massive growth of porous luminosity, its cellular steel and glass exoskeleton inhabited by various species of soft light. A colossal marine organism has emerged to colonize the harborside. Brighter creatures enjoy mutualistic relations with the colonial host. Some of them, Logo spp., are neural parasites that prey on humans.

Sara and I stand atop the Peak Tower with a bunch of other creatures, not yet colonial but through the wonders of digital technology fast evolving … Read more

Losing the plots

This is the longest I’ve neglected my blog since I started it about three years ago.

And right now I should be working on a novel, rather than poking at this post. Except I’ve lost the plot. The structure of my narrative escapes me just now.

Call it writer’s block, or simple lack of sleep. Or maybe this book is really a classic hobologoistic project that should be presented to the jury now, with a view to burning the ms. … Read more

Saving the world: Sea squirts to the rescue

Save the whales; save the gibbons. Yeah, yeah. But here’s how to help save the whole world. Be the first on your block to start ranching sea squirts. It seems these leathery wee bags with two openings and way-kinky social lives might be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to clean energy.

 

Back in 1995, at the request of White Lotus Press, I collaborated with photographer Ashley J. Boyd on a natural history of Thailand’s coral reefs, … Read more

Starbucks is a jungle

I’m sitting here like a prat in a coffee shop renowned throughout the modern world as the natural habitat of prats with laptops who, in their whole attitude and disposition, claim to be writers. I’m struggling to make sense of a world of my own design and construction. In fact, I grapple with an idea so arcane that previous science-fiction writers who entertained it had to be institutionalized.

I look up from my MacPro to gaze at the ceiling … Read more

What’s lurking beneath *your* garden?

 

Rude revision to one’s life plans: Florida man disappears with bedroom into sinkhole.

The news these days is enough to have us all hiding under our beds. Not that this strategem is foolproof, it seems.

 

Other network-newsworthy causes for alarm:

Near miss: asteroid.

Near miss: meteorite shower over Russia (largely spares pop. centers).

Near miss: fiscal cliff; sequester still plunging through atmosphere inspiring panic in many quarters.

Etc.

How many other near misses go unnoticed and unremarked? There’s … Read more

Zombie nation: Shutting down

In my previous post I suggested that persons and cultures, our very realities, are narrative in structure. What happens when you interrupt such narratives? Many of us are finding out, thanks to our increasingly ubiquitous and much-beloved digital communication technologies. There follow two especially obvious ways this is happening.

Applying a cell phone to the side of one’s head in public has the effect of disconnecting the brain. In this condition, cellphone users show characteristic signs of aimlessness, milling about … Read more

Realities and stories: Realities *are* stories

The big news du jour — after the colorful and convoluted transgressions of celebrity athletes — is the imminent Academy Awards. The three top  contenders for Best Picture are Argo, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty. These three have at least one thing in common: They all stand accused of playing fast and loose with the historical truth of matters.

But what is “objective” about history or, for that matter, about reporting? History is always written by the … Read more

Tans for two: Multitasking tea-time

So I’m sitting here on my balcony with this commanding view of rich folks’ gardens, assailed by birdsong from left and right, and I’m bonding with my Bali pig.

In fact I’m multitasking. I’m reading in the sun, improving my mind though not so much I know better than to work on a tan at the same time.

I’m drinking tea—my souvenir sencha from Japan—a rumored antidote to damaged chromosomes. I remain skeptical in this regard, but trust the placebo … Read more

Recipe for a 10-stone story: Souffles as boat anchors

“Good writers have two things in common: they prefer to be understood rather than admired; and they do not write for knowing and over-acute readers.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche

1. Expanding on Nietzsche’s insight

The writerly impulse to be admired rather than understood is generally associated with certain stylistic horrors.

Right away, seeking the admiration of “knowing and over-acute readers,” the unwitting writer  serves up long and complex sentences like a tangle of  spaghetti. The more clauses the better, eh? And … Read more

Autonomous smartphones: Is your gadget evolving?

So I’m sending an SMS on my iPhone, and I’m using “jesus christly” as a compound adjective, when this phone, even though it’s only a 2G model, takes the liberty of capitalizing “Jesus”. What’s next? It’ll probably start offering prayers to Him on my behalf. Maybe even promising I’ll do a 20-year tour of duty as a missionary in Africa if only the babe over there at that other table, here in Starbucks (which I never frequent), gives … Read more