September 11th, 2003



My hair has reached the 'long enough to be almost more trouble than it's worth' stage again - this isn't so much a set length as a periodic phase where I'm exasperated with it. I'm not entirely of a mind to cut it though, either, which makes me think it's not so much frustration with my hair per se as something deeper. Although some of it I grant is the amount of time it adds to getting ready to leave the house.

Maybe venting my frustration in print will suffice. If I show up with a buzz cut, though, you'll know what happened.

I finished Dead Air - it was good, though I doubt it will be one of my favorites. The strangest thing was the main character, who is a London radio DJ - one of the "shock jock" types. However, his politics - as fairly explicitly stated throughout - mirror mine to a frightening degree of accuracy. I had no idea I was such a radical... If the novel is accurate in its portrayal, it's apparently quite shockingly in-your-face to be a left-wing liberal with a healthy dollop of cynicism. I've never been able to listen to Howard Stern long enough to know much about his politics, now that I think of it.

It was really quite eerie - the character isn't much like me in any other respects. Or maybe he is and I simply don't see it - but I'd prefer to think I'm less of an asshole. I certainly have a much less eventful love life - but really, given the circumstances, that's ok. I don't really want to be having a secret affair with the wife of a mob boss, even if it were to be conducted entirely in posh hotel suites.

It's really a mark of how much I like Banks' work that I enjoy his 'non-M' (i.e. mainstream, not Science Fiction) novels as much as I do. I like to think it's the quality of the writing, at least. I don't generally like what I think of as 'shadenfreude fiction', where you follow a character around thinking "Oh, no - don't do that. Oh dear. Oh, now you've put your foot in it. Oh, now you've REALLY put your foot in it." and so forth. Where, inasmuch as I can tell, part of the enjoyment of reading it is thinking how, under the same circumstances, you personally would have handled things in a much better manner. I've been known to remark - and I'm sure I will say it many times more - that I read fiction/watch movies/etc. to get away from the idiots I am forced to deal with in real life. I don't wish to spend my recreational time wincing at fictive people's stupidity when daily existence provides so many and varied opportunities to do so, should I choose. So I admire the fact that Banks can keep me reading where people like Kingsly Amis (or Martin Amis) lost me long ago.

I'd seen a review or two that seemed not to care so much for Dead Air, but I didn't encounter any gratuitous flaws... I wonder if they simply didn't care for the theme? It is a fairly unflinching look at some of the effects of 9/11/2001 that I suppose could be seen as lacking a required gravitas. But I think investing the disaster with a sort of artificial reverence is as disrespectful in its own way as simply shrugging and dismissing it would be.


For example, the wastes of carbon/silicon/oxygen who think sending me spam about anti-spam anything is a bright idea. How do these people remember to breathe? Who gave them a computer? Why haven't they crossed against the light and been run over by a bus yet?

[I know the answer to the first one, actually. The bundle of hiss detects a build up of carbon dioxide in their bloodstream. The second two questions I lay at the feet of the universe, however.]

harping on a theme today

Freeway park would be really, really cool if humans weren't the filthy, disease-ridden scum they so inevitably are. The fountains, the sculptures, the gardens - I can see how it looked paradisiacal on paper. Too bad it's actually a rape-trap, mugging and murder venue redolent with the stench of urine and ordure, where the water in the fountains scuds up into a nasty, foul-looking foam. Bah.

It's been a good day for apoplexy. Stopping for coffee this morning revealed the headlines where I learned that "unreasonable obstacles" currently exist to the investigation and prosecution of terrorism here at home. You know, pesky things like the burden of proof, people being presumed innocent until proven guilty, privacy and protection from unreasonable and unwarranted searches of ones person and property...

Then a voice comes on the loudspeaker at work, asking us to observe a moment of silence to commemorate Patriot Day, when "our country and the world changed forever." Who writes this stuff?!? They must have slept through the last several hundred years of world history - or are they really so arrogant as to believe that terrorism is only a Big Deal in the last two years? Just to tie some personal threads together, I'll quote from Dead Air:
There was one [rant] shaping up about context, about blindness, about selectivity, about racism and our intense suckerhood when it came to reacting to images and symbols, and our blank, glazed inability to accept and comprehend reality in the form of statistics.

It's because there was a reliable-source statistic Phil discovered the other day; that every twenty-four hours about thirty-four thousand children die in the world from the effects of poverty; from malnutrition and disease, basically. Thirty-four thousand, from a world, a world-society, that could feed and clothe and treat them all, with a workably different allocation of resources. Meanwhile, the latest estimate is that two thousand eight hundred people died in the Twin Towers, so it's like that image, that ghastly, grey-billowing, double-barrelled fall, repeated twelve times every single fucking day; twenty-four towers, one per hour, throughout each day and night. Full of children.

We feel for the people in the towers, we agree with almost any measure to stop it ever happening again, and so we should. But for the thirty-four thousand, each day? Given our behaviour, and despite the idea we're supposed to love our children, you could be forgiven for thinking that most of us just don't give a damn.

Even if the numbers are off, it's still something to think about. Not to mention that I'd like to think that there was a little more to patriotism than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. My condolences to those who weren't quite patriotic enough and survived.
  • Current Mood
    bitchy, cynical, etc.