May 17, 2014

The Really Very Occasional Bitslice V3N1

The Really Very Occasional Bitslice

Volume Three Number One


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Editor's Note

You didn't miss any, it has been basically two years to the day since I did one of these. 

I'm going to channel my inner Kate Moss and refrain from explanation. Years happen. Nobody cares why. What are you up to now?

Or, as Daniel Dennett put it:

Natural selection automatically conserves whatever has worked up to now, and fearlessly explores innovations large and small; the large ones almost always lead immediately to death. A terrible waste, but nobody’s counting.

It has been two years of evolutionary innovation, mostly deceased. 

What interesting darwinian cul de sacs are the branches of your soul decomposing in? 

Welcome to Volume Three of the Occasional Bitslice.


Never Learning Lessons

At 44 years old I'm still doing stupid bullshit. Like, things I've done over and over to no good outcome. I know it's never going to work. I tell people I know. In public

Then the autonomous mannequin that puppeteers the slowly unfolding humiliation that is my life clicks its gears and grinds away another layer of self esteem. 

That's a fancy way of saying I just damaged another important friendship. It is very hard to figure out where following impulses is necessary for growth and where it is offensive. 

I was going to use the phrase "Especially when... " and then refer to the dilemma of being a middle aged male who, really, no one wants to hear about your emotions... but I'm sure that middle aged women face the same sort of social editing. You're an adult, single, not particularly charismatic. Shut up and do your job. Don't expect empathy, it's reserved for the unfortunate, and you are materially fine. You're 44 and you're not sick or poor. We've got the sexy and the miserable to care about. 

But, you know, fuck man. 

I'm stuck in this skin, and as it gets older and people spiral away around communities that are receding from me, I'm increasingly trapped in a well of involuntary self regard. Don't really know how to get out.

So I'll shut everyone out and make things.

Things Made

Still here? Your angst-fu is strong.

Some things I've made since we last spoke:

Confabulation Engine

Confabulation Engine is a podcast about speculative fiction. Catherine Weiss and I read books and converse, while drinking. We did an episode zero last year about all the Game of Thrones books that is utterly ravaged by spoilers, then last month we released the official episode one about Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age, a post cyberpunk girl power bildungsroman. We'll have episode two out soon, and they should be going once per month for a while. In a rare flash of foresight, we recorded several before beginning to release them, so they're mostly queued up. We're kind of proud of them, so why aren't you listening to them right now!? 

Also, if you want to engage, hit us up in the comments sections of the blog posts they appear in. Comments are hosted by Disqus, but if you don't have a Disqus account you don't have to join it, just type your comment and click the "I'd rather comment as a guest" box and engage while preserving your precious bodily anonymity!

Bad Easter Bunny

Nudity and Blood! That is not hyperbole. If you don't want to see that don't click it.

But that's the most recent, coherent piece of photography I've done. I made the ears, bought the eyes, built & painted the skull, and shot. Zelda loosed the hounds all over this one. It was our way of celebrating the rabbit haunted season of Astarte.

Speaking of Rabbits

Started building this thing. But you'll have to wait for the payoff on this one.

And Bleargggh Posts

I'm really proud of this one, and the short comment exchange that follows it:

The Past Is For Burning

And I've curated the fuck out of this luscious tumblr:


I'm sure there was a bunch more stuff. Shot video for a music video and a short comedy sketch for some friends. Took a lot of photos and drew a lot of pictures, but somehow they aren't really things that need to be seen. Slowly withered in my job, dated futily and fucked up some friendships by being an ass. Drank a bunch, got embarrassed of myself, messed around with my appearance. Indulged in mid life ennui.

Hell, I'm still soaking in that.

So now that we're all caught up...

... and I've transparently solicited hits for my weird little blog, let me type at you something that hasn't been seen anywhere else.

Soon I'm going to be bending this newsletter into a promotional tool for my artwork, pointing out things like:

Hey, I'm selling prints on Society6!

And other pop hits.

But to do that I really have to figure out what the fuck is my brand. Like, I do things, but how does it hang together? What's the shape?

It's a funny word, brand.

A brand is a burn scar on flesh that marks you as property forever. 

To be branded is surrender. To brand yourself? That's commitment. You own yourself. You make yourself into property, and you start pulling your own strings.

Up above I bitched about the unseen homunculus that puppeteers me into offenses. That's what you brand yourself to defeat. You have this conscious passenger just kind of riding along up in there, looking at what your body is screwing up and thinking up reasons to not feel like an asshole, and at some point, if you're lucky, that thing snaps, pulls out a hot iron and gets your attention by searing intention into your cheek. And if that thing is good at it, it rides you like a sandworm  through the shield wall of Arrakeen.

A brand is a deliberate obstruction. Like some serious Von Trier grade Dogma restraint. 

A brand dares you to innovate coherently. 

A brand wants you to not simply conquer, but rule. A brand is Daenerys Targaryen deciding to stop Alexander the Greating across Essos and figure this Queen shit out.

It's a good idea.

A good brand is not a definition, it's an assertion. It says, in the face of objective irrelevance, this matters. 

Think of the taxonomic ranks in biology. A Genus is too vague. Like Canis. Canis is all the dog things. All. The. Dogs. That's a weak brand. Nobody knows what that is. Species is better. Canis lupus is better. It's the wolfy dog things. That's a bit better, but still quite a bit of variety. Still lots of things to be in there. A dingo is in there. So is an Arctic Wolf. Lots of innovation inside brand Canis lupus. But you can get even more niche, and still have lots of room to make yourself up. Canis lupus familiaris is just brand Domestic Dog, and inside there is all of this madness. You can be brand Domestic Dog and go all your life making new stuff up and never repeating yourself. In fact, you can probably be more crazy things inside that brand just because some of the basics are taken care of for you. It's not like you can just have lobster claws or a beak. There's a basic configuration that fits the brand. But restrictions like that simply show you where to focus invention, and then all of this can be yours!

And honestly, it's all just dogs. The universe doesn't care. All Dogs Get Forgotten In The Inescapable Heat Death Of Forever. But when you look at all those different kinds of pet dogs, it looks like someone cares. They're interesting. People understand them, and they want them. They are a fun, successful brand. Like god hired Don Draper before he launched that product line.

I'm tempted to end this by typing "Brand Yourself. Be Your Own Bitch." but I'll pretend I didn't because it's really not that clever. Just, you know, dogs and all.

So Vaporous, So Treacherous

And now your fun with literature... featuring Bruce Sterling from his lovely Love is Strange (A Paranormal Romance):

That so-called "real world," thought Gavin. How "real" did any world turn out to be, once a man got old? "Real estate" - his father's legacy. The real world's most solid, most conservative business investment! How had "real estate" become so vaporous, so trecherous, so ghostly and so haunted? A "real estate bubble." To be "real," and yet a "bubble" - so fragile, so transient. The great, new, tragic story of the 21st century.

It took time to ruin a real world. But, time was all it took.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to pass this thing along to your friends if you like it, or your enemies if you hate it. Just let them know I made it, so they can rain their love or rage down on my shivering head.