Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earth Hour: The value of symbolic acts?

I have, as usual mixed feeling towards events like Earth Hour. The deal in brief is to encourage large chunks of humanity to turn off the lights for one hour tonight. I can see a bit of value in such an act. People are using too much electricity. I have always strived to use as little as possible. It has always felt natural to me. Many people sweat heavily in their living rooms and office buildings, with a temperature reaching as high as thirty degrees Celsius, at least that. I do well with eighteen and always turn off what I don’t use.

But I dislike such symbolic acts, for a number of reasons. They have little or no value long term and work very much as a diversion, for the true issues that should be discussed in such a context, drawing the attention away from the true problem, not bringing attention to it. It is humanity’s energy needs that must be heavily reduced, not merely its use. We must return to the age, thousands of years ago, when we hardly made more than a few footprints on the planet during our lifetime.

Today we’re all destroyers. By more or less actively participating in a society that is slowly destroying all life on Earth, we’re committing collective suicide.

When we start discussing within such drastic parameters, instead of hollering in joy over such purely symbolic acts like Earth Hour it will be the start of something truly helpful.

Several other articles about the same subject on Midnight Fire:

What's wrong with civilization?


Tailspin suicide run

Chemical cocktail

The World Grinder

Living in the wild



The technological glorification of technology


Saturday, March 20, 2010

My fifty cents

Yeah, I know, a little more than two cents…

I’m quite proud to say that I have done everything, as a writer/author/artist and a Human Being I was told not to do.

I have recently been asked, repeatedly to give my advice to young writers/authors and artists in general. Here it is:

Don’t take the established path. This is true no matter what you do in any society, in my opinion, but as an artist it’s surely the death of you as a creative and free person.

I don’t believe for a second that it can be dubbed a success if you go through an established publishing house or an agent or rely on heavy, outsourced editing on your way to a given audience. On the contrary, the only thing you will achieve by that is to kill your story, to make it something stale and mediocre. To get accepted through established channels you have to submit to stupid and destructive guidelines. The truth about a given established publisher is that they want to publish their story, not yours. When they get their hands on you and your story, they’ll ruin it, as certain as day follows night. It’s the same with an agent: What you must do or be to get accepted by such a horror will ruin you as a writer and human being.

You can sell millions of copies, I don’t care shit, and you shouldn’t either. If you’re in it only for the money you should become a stock broker or something equally soulless.

BTW in the UK a writer gets 0.5 percent of the sales price on a given unit these days. Established publishers ARE frauds.

They will pick and choose pieces of your novel or work, keep what they like and remove everything else.

Writing my eleventh novel, Alarums of Reality made, if possible all this even clearer to me. Every piece of a story points to somewhere else in the story, or even several places. That's one reason why editing is such a disaster, and most books or films don't make sense. The story is usually a coherent whole when it’s delivered to an established publishing house or an agent or an editor, but when they are done only garbage in and garbage out remains.

You know what’s best for your story. No one else can even approach the mindset dominating you when you wrote it. The people at a given established and/or traditional publishing house are merely pretenders and conmen, fooling you into believing they know best... which they don’t, don’t do at all.

If anything my first year on Twitter has opened my eyes further to all this. Most of the writers and nebulous writers/artists there speak with stars in their eyes about how to approach an agent or a publishing house, and waste time and energy doing so, even now, in this great age of self-publishing.

I self-published before it was even approaching fashionable and what I learned was this:

You get true artistic freedom. You decide everything that’s going to be in your book or CD or movie and quite simply sidestep, discard completely the part of the «business» that has always been detrimental to free expression. If you can’t have free expression, can’t do something original, do your thing, don’t do it.

It’s only the best selling authors or artists that get any advantage, any advantage at all of publishing through established channels, anyway. The rest of their «stable» is usually left to rot, to fend for themselves.

Self-publishing today is everything, everything from preparation, printing and world-wide distribution, executed inexpensively through POD (Print on Demand). You get whatever good things you get through established channels and none of the bad.

To prepare a book for printing you need to be able to use two computer applications: Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Acrobat Pro or its equivalents. That’s all.

As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, you take advice, from people you trust, people that know you, but in the final analysis you decide what goes and what doesn’t. You need to get people to proofread your work. You also need at least two independent opinions of the story and its coherence and stuff. But you should frown at editing, even though you will always eventually end up doing some editing yourself, but it’s very healthy to have a skeptical approach to it.

An all-purpose personal assistant is great, if you can afford one. If not, you’re on your own, and that’s how it should be, anyway.

You may cooperate with other artists of similar bent, if possible. Cooperation can be a great asset to you, if it works. There are many ways of doing it, many ways to approach it. You may read each other’s work, help each other doing advertising and such, and part ways without hassle if it doesn’t work.

A certain prominent member of the traditional publishing business said that a current bookstore looks and should look like a modern convenience store. A very telling statement that. That, too.

I’ve discovered I don’t really have that much in common with most other writers. There is some of the basic stuff, imagination, creativity, inspiration, of course, but it shows that I have never attended any writing classes or classes anything beyond basic «education», and on the contrary shunned it like a plague. I learned writing first by reading (and learned reading by reading) and then by writing, writing, writing and my advice is certainly completely different from what other stuff is out there. The others usually tell you everything you shouldn’t do. Don’t use adverbs, don’t use too many adverbs, don’t break the rules, know the rules before breaking them, while the truth of the matter is that if you study the rules rigidly you are ruined by them, by them, too. The right approach is to discard the rules, as if they aren’t there at all.

And then, they tell you, as a matter of course to take the established route, with established publishers and agents and fucking shit, not even questioning its validity.

I don’t write a «draft» in what I imagine to be in a traditional sense, since what I write down has already been written countless times in my head before I commit it to «paper» (that’s an archaic word for you). What I write down is generally speaking the end result, with exceptions, not the other way around. I frowned at editing from night one, just like I frowned at people just mindlessly repeating the thoughts and actions of others.

You need to keep the immediate of your art (yes, writing is art).

In case you’re wondering. I don’t really have a favorite author, even though I can’t say I haven’t picked up a few things here and there. I learned a bit from Harold Robbins actually, mostly how it shouldn’t be done. His method of writing was copying his previous successes to the point that most of his stories were completely alike. Only names and scenery changed. You can say that he inspired me, in a backwards sort of way to what was to become one of my important tenets: that every new novel or story should be different from the previous, both in form and content.

Robbins and others taught me to be bold, though, to move past accepted social behavior, and don’t give a fuck about what others may or may not think of me or my work.

Strange that I should pick Robbins of all people here. My favorite of his novels btw remains The Lonely Lady, the only one, as I recall that deviated significantly from the formula.

Then there is the matter of genres and labels in general. Don’t get me started

You avoid them and deny them any life in your head. It doesn’t matter whether or not the reviewers or stores or «the market» tell you to adhere to them. Very few stories made within the confines of a genre or any labels are worth the shit they are created on.

An artist, a Human Being for that matter is a Seeker, not a bill collector or a salesman. You don’t sell yourself short or sell yourself at all. You are not into prostitution, in the true meaning of the word. Most people today sell themselves and cheaply. You shouldn’t! You’re better than that.

The filmmaker David Chronenberg, in his early bold, independent years said, in essence something like this: any society has a set parameter of accepted behavior, of «morals» people are taught to adhere to. It’s any true artist or human being’s duty to push past those limitations.

What’s the point of living? Is it only existing, or is there something far more and profound to it?

That’s all there is to it, really.

I worked a lot with this, waited for the words, flow and inspiration to come, and hope everything is here. I want there to be.

I’ll probably end up editing it…

Some specifics that I’ll probably return to later are left out.

Feel free to ask questions.

I consider all the articles pointed to in the links as an integral part of the class in session...

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

What’s wrong with civilization?

I loathe civilization with a vengeance.

Civilization, the one and only.

There aren’t many civilizations, only one.

Nothing in particular brought this on. It’s an ongoing thing.

I hate its outer manifestations, of course, with the destruction of all nature and all life on Earth, the millions of poisons it’s spreading all over the planet.

But worst of all, beneath its outer manifestations is its dehumanizing, how it constantly breaks down our spirit, ruining life itself, destroying everything making life worth living.

We encounter the Machine every day, wherever we go, in smaller and bigger things. It’s there, around us, inside us with its web, its chains and bars. You may tell yourself that you’re free within yourself, and to a certain degree that may be true, but the oppression, the pale existence rubs off on you. It rubs off on you, you know, inevitably.

Every time I walk into the wilderness I wake up from my relative slumber. Every time I return to civilization it feels like dying.

What’s wrong with civilization? Just about everything, really. The bad goes from very bad to worse and the initially good turns sour and stale. It's encouraging all our bad sides and quelling our good, strangling it, like it does us all, all life, all fire within.

Civilization is the disease, is inherently wrong and can never be anything else.

This is the looking glass all political issues and solutions should be seen through.