Despatch from beneath my bed

The signs are everywhere. West-Coast fires, climate change, habitat and wildlife destruction. The pandemic and threat of others to come. Trump’s reign, the global rise of right-wing nationalism and fascism together with widespread human displacement and migration. Social media, AI and their effects on individuals, societies and cultures. A local social and political volcano on the bubble. The price of durian. Justin Bieber outbreaks in coffee shops everywhere …  

Are we indeed living in the End Times, or is it just too early in the morning and I didn’t … Read more

“The great contemporary terror is anonymity”

The current Leader of the Free World probably fears anonymity more than most.  So he expresses his ‘look at me, I’m a spoiled brat having a tantrum’ shtick in a manner perhaps proportionate to that terror. 

Tom Brenner for The New York Times

Chris Hedges, in his book Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2009), quotes the critic William Deresiewitz:

The camera has created a culture of celebrity; the computer is creating a culture of Read more

Me: A Rabble

In this time of lockdown, cabin fever is my Muse

Yo. Who’s in the mood for something confessional from a writer locked down with plenty of time on his hands but too much distraction? And too little self-discipline to shoot his friggin’ internet router. 

Cri de coeur

Is my own life following a plot, or has it always been merely notes toward a motley assortment of lives I no longer have time to live? 

Hamstrung by distraction

There. That’s me, … Read more

Space invaders (2057): Windows on our future

The great escape (failed). As you drive south on the Rama II expressway out of Bangkok, you approach wooded patches and scenic hills in the distance. Not that you can see them. Rows of gigantic billboards line the road to demand your attention, blocking out the natural attractions, what might have been visual relief from life in the big city.

Who erected these billboards, and why? Who did they consult before doing this; who didn’t they consult? And why?

 … Read more

Space invaders

Space invaders (2019)

Soft drinks giant PepsiCo has consulted with a Russian space startup offering brands the chance to project their logos into the night skies via low-orbit satellites.

                              “Pepsi considers space billboards to project logo across night sky using satellites

                                          (The Independent)

No problem, eh? Just part of a global campaign to erode our private spaces and our private choices to vanishing point. More and more, without so much as a by-your-leave, commercial interests invade … Read more

One born every minute: Wherein Melrose rips Bangkok right off

Bangkok currently lies enshrouded in a great cloud of fine particulate matter. Hey, but listen to what an Andromedan named Melrose had to say about pollution back in the 1990s, back in the days of leaded gas and black-belching city buses. Chacun à son gout, eh? The following originally appeared in the Bangkok Post Sunday section, and was later collected in Bangkok Old Hand (Bangkok: Post Books, 1993).

One born every minute

As most of you already know, the … Read more

Eclipse, MAGIC CIRCLES-style

Eclipses being a media meme du jour, I’ve decided to post a theme excerpt from MOM, the first novel in the MAGIC CIRCLES series.

 

The ‘primordial campfire’ in the first paragraph of the excerpt refers to the notion of a magic circle. From the series glossary:

magic circle (n.) 1. sphere of coherence cognitively rooted in the circle of light and companionable narrative thrown by the primordial campfire; 2. area, commonly measured as a radius, within which it … Read more

God serves notice on Mel Brooks

mel brooks portraitItems overheard on BBC radio this morning: Japan is forbidding entry to anyone with tattoos; and Argentina is suffering a plague of beavers, a non-native species that has has changed water drainage patterns sufficiently that native plant species are going locally extinct. All this comes hot on the heels of Trump winning the US presidential election, and I take it to be further evidence of space-time dimensional slips that have us careening from one progressively less adjacent parallel universe to … Read more

Outsource our minds? What a good idea!

pre-internet boredom xkcdThe times, they are a-changin’.

Old news. But these days our technology transforms our environment, both external and internal, at an ever-accelerating rate. And we aren’t always conscious of how much or how fast we ourselves are changing in response to this.

Here’s just one example. More and more, people are consulting smartphones and tablets in mid-conversation. Only half attending to whatever any given speaker is on about, they’re digitally retrieving bits of information they think might add value to … Read more

How I quit smoking: And what climate-change deniers can learn from this

 quit smoking

My fix

I’m lucky to be alive. For one thing, I began smoking cigarettes at the age of nine. By the age of 12, I was smoking at least half a pack a day and, by the time I left home at the age of 15, I had a 40-50 a day habit. By the time I was 16 going on 17, I’d smoke another pack if I spent an evening in a tavern. I eventually stopped after 28 years … Read more