Well, I’m starting this on Thursday, which tells you how my week has gone. Travel back from Connecticut, and then just a lot of to-do upon returning to Ithaca means that this is the first proper workday I’ve had. And, of course, I’m spending it on this, not paying work. Which is a problem, so expect brevity this week so I can actually do some paying work.
What I’ve Been Up To
C.f. the first paragraph. Sunday was family, Monday was driving, Tuesday was errands, Wednesday was mostly hanging out with Lexi (see “The Part Where She Leaves You With a Song”) before she leaves for Brooklyn for a few months, today is gym and then doing some prep/research work on Last War in Albion. Friday is currently scheduled through to about 3pm, at which point I’ll work / remember that I’m doing a complicated dinner that night.
Yeesh. That’s grim when you put it all out there. That said, there’s a lot of my job that, you know, happens quietly in my brain. I’ve got seven more pages in Britain a Prophecy #7 to write a rough draft of, and I’m trying to figure out exactly how to use them. I’ve got bits of the section on The Doll’s House slowly filling in my brain. I’ve almost cracked the precise beats of the end of Act I of the novel, which I’ll hopefully get through the critical stuff fast enough to get to later this month. I’ve also been continuing to think about doing a heavily annotated 90s music playlist, probably titled “How to Be an Egg in the Age of Lilith Fair,” so that might happen, whether on Patreon or here idk. (Last minute addition: I’ve at least built the playlist.)
On Twitter And Its Horrors
I’ve had Kieron’s thoughts on largely leaving Twitter going through my mind a lot over the past week and change. They’re good thoughts, because of course they are, it’s Kieron, but here’s the bit that sticks in my head:
If twitter wasn’t there, anyone dumb and hungry enough want to do comics would have gathered somewhere else (or several somewhere elses) because anyone who really cares to get in knows how to google. Hell, artists especially can do it semi-passively by just showing their work – Instagram is a far better place for artists than twitter. Writers? I came in through the forums – which obviously were deeply imperfect in so many ways… but so is twitter. We would work out something else if there wasn’t twitter. You use twitter. If it wasn’t there, you would use something else, because you are brilliant and smart, and finding tactics to manouvere through an environment is what creatives do.
And yeah. That’s a lot of what I’m trying to do with this as a very different sort of way of maintaining presence. But I want to talk about another key way that Twitter has changed, and changed in a way that renders it untenable as a major platform for what I want to do right now.
So, over New Year’s I was with my family. And I tweeted a quick thread about, basically, how charming it was to be surrounded by cis people all of whom were both genuinely invested in not screwing anything up and deeply clueless. And I mentioned an anecdote where I suggested Penn follow along with my uncle and cousin-in-law so he could go have a cigar and some whiskey with The Boys, who I was confident would be “puzzled but delighted by being joined by a charming faggot.” For which I ended up eating a twelve hour Twitter ban.
Now. We can debate the reclamation of a slur, by which I mean fuck off and don’t waste my time with an argument that boring. But, well, first of all the fact that this was a reclaimed slur being used in love, which was obvious in context. But apparently expressions of queer love grounded in real experience aren’t covered by Twitter’s supposed focus on free speech. Just, you know, Graham Linehan and Chaya Raichik.
Which, yeah, I’m not deleting or anything. Everything I post there gets a couple hundred views, most things go over a thousand. It’s a platform with good reach. But equally, I’m bitter about it. I’m acutely aware of what squeezing queer expression out of public spaces means. And I’m increasingly uninterested in playing.
Kieron linked this essay by Noah Smith, “The Internet Wants to be Fragmented,” and it feels true right now. I didn’t break out on big centralized social media. I broke out on GallifreyBase, in the AV Club’s comment section, via links from Adventures With the Wife in Space, and through word of mouth from people like Rob Shearman. That’s part of why I’m at the weird midsize career I am—it’s a career that came up out of fragmented spaces.
Time to lean into that more, I think.
Some Tumblr Asks To Fill Space
As always, if you want to ask me something, I have Tumblr asks open, including to anonymous asks. I literally always need content for this thing, so you’ll usually get an answer.
What do you think is the weakspot of your body of work? What perspective or tool that you intentionally avoid/ignore surprises you that no one has ever critizied you for? It sorta feels like I am asking a videogame boss to kindly reveal their weakspot lol
I struggle to think of something that applies broadly across my career. Like, we’re talking about twelve years of work here. It’s not something that was written by a singular person with a singular viewpoint.
I can point to things that bother me at any given moment. Eruditorum is obviously quite liberal in ways I don’t love. Last War is… I’d probably pick a topic that isn’t all white dudes (and at this point I am comfortable asserting that the statements “Grant Morrison is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns” and “Grant Morrison is a white dude” are both true). Neoreaction a Basilisk… actually, I’m largely circling back towards serious contemplation of pessimism and antinatalism again, so that book legitimately looks quite good to me right now, even if the Lizard People chapter never worked.
But frankly if I had a good general case answer I’d take that as an obligation to change and evolve.
Do you think the Daleks have the problem of getting used too often, and thus loose their power as villains and run out of good stories to tell with them? I know that’s been a common critique levelled against the revival series for a while (even from people who otherwise love it), so I’m curious what your stance is there.
I mean they were used five times in the entirety of the seventies and only one of those was straightforwardly a good Dalek story. I don’t think scarcity intrinsically helps.
what’s with the tiptoeing around language happening in britain a prophecy no 3? you did a whole thing with gay slurs at the top of no 1, feels like a conscious shift
What, in the scene between Terrence and Molly? I mean, mostly it’s a matter of what characters are speaking. Jack and Molly are very different people. Jack is a catty old queen who likes being showy, and is with an old friend. Molly and Terrence don’t know each other, and for Molly disclosure and coming out are a constantly vexed and dangerous proposition. She recognizes that she and Terrence are in the same gay community, and is enjoying not having to come out as trans.
If you look at four you’ll see her using language very differently once she’s more at ease with Terrence, and then using it very differently once again when she wants to make someone a little uncomfortable.
i was thinking more about “sex worker” tbh
Oh, OK. Well, the term was coined in 1978, and entered popular use in 1987. I don’t have a month of publication for the anthology credited with popularizing it, but Terrence, as a social worker who works as a de facto liaison to the queer community, would credibly know it. I decided to have him do so specifically to highlight the fact that the past is more complicated than we think.
This actually gets paid off in issue four alongside Molly’s self-references to her transness.
Bugs and Populism
You may have missed the return of the Bug Report, and A.E. Robic’s subsequent exegesis of it and defense of the project. Both are, I think, worth reading. I mean, that’s obvious, because I publish it. And sure, as I said on Tumblr there are people I’ll publish anything from, but I don’t want that to sound like I don’t fully back the project.
Lexi (oh, there she is again) has suggested the division between Bauhaus goths and Sisters of Mercy goths, which is to say the division between goths who like their goth punk and weird and a little inaccessible and goths who want MASSIVE BANGERS. I am unquestionably a Sisters of Mercy goth. inasmuch as I’m a goth at all. For all that these days I rail against Marvel movies, I have relatively populist taste. Sure, yes, I loved Men and The Northman and plenty of other kinda weird films, but we’re still talking about big pretty mainstream indie stuff—the established, mass market level of weirdness. I’ve never been the one who’s actively excited to sit down and watch Maya Deren or Kenneth Anger.
But that’s also never meant I don’t respect the avant garde. For the most part, I wish I had the patience to derive deep enjoyment from it. And my taste has definitely gotten appreciably weider in the twelve years I’ve been doing this. (Which, in the course of double-checking, I realized the twelfth anniversary of TARDIS Eruditorum is on Tuesday.) But honestly, I’ve lost more patience with the mainstream than I have gained for the avant garde, and, more to the point, I think that’s a character flaw. I’ve always thought the actual fringes were important. I wasn’t covering Kenneth Grant and J.G. Ballard in the early days of Eruditorum for nothing. I’ve always thought the avant garde was important. This was a major theme Chris O’Leary teased out in Pushing Ahead of the Dame that I always related to—the constant tug of war between Bowie’s appreciation for the avant garde and his pop instincts, and the fact that Bowie seemed to always wish he was more avant garde than he was.
So yes, when someone whose work I respect comes to me and asks if they can do a post-Burroughs experiment that uses AI writing instead of the cut-up method I say yes and put it on the site, the same way I put Jane’s esoteric mysticism on. Because this doesn’t have to be my favorite stuff in the world to be important, or for me to realize that the world would be greatly diminished if it lacked the avant garde. And honestly, I’m a little puzzled that someone who can’t look at post-Burroughs literature and broadly see what it’s doing has been following this site long enough to be annoyed about it.
I dunno. Take this in line with the Twitter section up above. I’ve got my niche, poised between grudgingly admitting that Everything Everywhere All at Once was quite good even though it’s blatantly a “save the cat” piece about forgiving your homophobic parents and being a bit more bored by Titane than I wanted to be, and trying to bridge that gap.
The Part Where She Leaves You With a Song
Right. So, Lexi. The simple explanation is just that she’s Penn’s and my girlfriend, and, y’know, I don’t foreground my personal life over my work—quite the opposite really—but equally I do talk about what I’ll, with manic narcissism, refer to as my supporting cast. And Lexi is specifically a really big influence on my thought right now, as this post has made clear, so she feels worth properly introducing.
So, let’s see. Lexi is a scholar currently working on a big thing about black metal and the notion of de-creation. She’s a musician with both dungeon synth and harsh noise projects—she’ll also be working with Penn and me on Ithaca a Sága. And she’s just one of my favorite people on the planet and my life as a casual blogger who talks about random shit in her brain gets a lot easier if I can just say “so I was talking to Lexi the other day about X.” She’s mostly on Twitter at the moment, which is ironic all things considered.
Anyway, her best known project is Prayer Rope, which is a harsh noise project with themes of queerness and religion. So here’s “Synodus Hrorenda Part 1.”
See you Monday for more V for Vendetta. You caught part one, yes?