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“A Mistake” by Czeslaw Milosz

9/12/2014

I thought: all this is only preparation
For learning, at last, how to die
Mornings and dusks, in the grass under a maple
Laura sleeping without pants on, on a headrest of raspberries,
While Filon, happy, washes himself in the stream.
Mornings and years. Every glass of wine,
Laura, and the sea, land, and archipelago
Bring us nearer, I believed, to one aim
And should be used with a thought to that aim.

But a paraplegic in my street
Whom they move together with his chair
From shade into sunlight, sunlight into shade,
Looks at a cat, a leaf, the chrome steel on an auto,
And mumbles to himself, “Beau temps, beau temps.”

It is true. We have a beautiful time
As long as time is time at all.

(found at Centre For Public Christianity)

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I Luvz Me Some RADIO FREE ALBEMUTH

5/12/2014

PKDRadio_free_albemuth

It’s widely accepted that (a) Philip K. Dick was the greatest novelist to work in the science fiction genre[1] (b) wrote five of the best sci-fi novels ever but (c) nobody can agree which five of his 40+ books those are and (d) was a bugfuck crazy paranoiac and (e) a doper and (f) experienced profound religious visions of a degree that would leave Billy Graham weeping with envy.

Are ya with me so far?

None of which is to say any of that is true or for that matter than any of it is false — or rather, any of that is factual or any of that is fantasy — because the mind and/or universe that PKD inhabited does not seem constrained by simply binary yes/no true/false constructs.

It’s entirely possible they’re all true or none of them are true or they are true and un-true simultaneously or even that they are all true and un-true simultaneously but in a manner we can not comprehend.

Still with me?

PKD may have been crazy but he sure wasn’t stupid and he realized telling too many people outside the circle of sci-fi fandom that he was experiencing intense religious revelations from an entity he sometimes referred to as God but more often as VALIS (Vast Active Living Intelligence System) was a surefire way to get himself even more good & ignored that he already was in his lowly status as sci-fi writer to he turned his experiences into an autobiographical sci-fi trilogy in which he was no the recipient of these visions but rather just a supporting character in another protagonist’s story.

Are ya still with me?

Dick’s work always touches in some form or another on the quest for ultimate Truth, to know what really is is, to tear away the veils & masks around us and truly know our place in the universe.

It is, by its very nature, a religious quest as well as a psychological and philosophical one.  Dick and his characters are seeking operating instructions from on high, something that will give them sense in what appears to be a senseless universe, something that makes the pain and suffering of everyday existence meaningful and worthwhile.

Radio Free Albemuth is a tangential part of Dick’s unfinished VALIS trilogy (the trilogy consisting of VALIS, The Divine Invasion, and the unfinished book The Owl In Daylight).  Essentially a first draft of VALIS, it also differs considerably from the latter book although remaining a fragmentary part of that “universe”.

You see what I’m getting at re not being able to easily categorize PDK’s work?

The variant of Radio Free Albemuth / VALIS that I’d like to draw your attention to, however, is the long-in-production / finally-released feature film, Radio Free Albemuth, currently available on Netflix.

PKDRadio_Free_Albemuth_FilmPoster

Radio Free Albemuth is everything I look for, everything I hope for in not just a sci-fi film but any sort of movie.  It’s actually about something as opposed to senseless / pointless chasing / fighting over a macguffin.

Radio Free Albemuth follows music mogul Nick Brady (Jonathan Scarfe) as he becomes aware of VALIS attempt to communicate with him through an alien[2] satellite orbiting Earth.[3]

PKDphpThumb_generated_thumbnail

The problem — or perhaps it would be better to say the reason – is that Radio Free Albemuth doesn’t take place in this reality but in an alternate one, where President Ferris F. Fremont[4] rules the US of A with an iron fist, sweeping aside Constitutional limitations and fighting a never ending war against a terrorist organization known as Cobra Aramchek, which apparently exists only in his mind.

Fremont and his Gestapo-like thugs, the Friends of the American People (derisively referred to as FAP in a delicious piece of unintentional irony), fear the message coming from VALIS via the satellite, a message that basically pulls back the curtain and reveals that Fremont’s power and authority comes from a false fear, that all people are capable of living in peace with one another, and that wars and hatred are foisted on us by those seeking power for their own ends.

PKDphpThumb_generated_thumbnail2

Brady and his muse / co-conspirator Sylvia (Alanis Morissette) are tracked down and killed by FAP, and Brady’s friend Philip K. Dick (Shea Whigham) is imprisoned as an enemy of the people.  In prison he learns from a fellow inmate, a former pastor now held for subversive ideas, that the ideas Brady and Sylvia received and tried to spread were identical with those of Jesus and the early Christian church, and that while VALIS and the Truth may have suffered a set back, other followers have gotten the message out and the seeds of a rebellion against the authoritarians is starting to grow.

If this sounds like a too-spot-on transliteration of contemporary US politics, guess again; Radio Free Albemuth was written in 1976 and only published posthumously in 1985.  Dick was long gone from the scene before the country was stampeded off in a panic for a war on terror.

The film is well made; inexpensive, but wisely focusing its attention less on spectacle and more on the attempts of human beings to come to terms with an idea that will transform their world…if they can live long enough to implement it.  It’s well cast, and while production and post-production were strung out for nearly a decade, it looks and feels the right scale for the story.

Highly recommended,
no matter what your
level of reality.

.

.

.

[1]  Acknowledging that greatest novelist doesn’t mean wrote the best science fiction novel or best writer of science fiction or even best writer of science fiction novels but rather was the best master at the specific art & craft of writing 50-80,000 word stories that we refer to as novel-length format.  Because there’s a lot of truly exception writers vying in this field and although PKD was among the very best, we can’t put him at the absolute pinnacle, so instead we give him a slot near the apex and a qualifier that honors his skill & talent without painting us into a corner quality wise.  ‘Cuz Bradbury and Ellison are duking it out on the short story side and Bester has a lock on the best sci-fi novel ever although his output pales in comparison with Dick’s.

[2]  Implied angelic beings tho never clearly identified as such in the film.

[3]  Dick, in the novel, shifted much of his own experiences away from his character and onto Brady.

[4]  “Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast.” — Revelation 13:18 (MEV)

 

 

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Fictoid: at the crematorium

30/11/2014

SleepNoMore015

art by Lee Brown Coye
text © Buzz Dixon

Read the rest of this article »

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Fictoid: if you want the right answer, ask the right question

28/11/2014

norman rockwell - sinister drunk

the supernatural entity sat in the bar / nursing a drink / singing this song of woe:

It’s always the same, billions and billions of times.  Doesn’t matter who, doesn’t matter where, doesn’t matter when; it’s always the same deal, and it’s always the same answer.

Here’s what I offer them:
I’ve got a job for you.  It will be hard work, but it will never require more than forty hours a week from you.  It may be difficult, at times distasteful, but it will never harm your body or soul.

It will be a meaningful job, a productive job.  No one will be made to suffer in any way because of this job.

In return for forty hours a week of your best effort — and there are benchmarks to determine this — you may have anything and everything you want.

Let me repeat that: 
Anything and everything.  As many mansions as you like, as many yachts, private jets, food, drink, toys, whatever.  Things that haven’t even been invented yet, things you can’t even imagine will all be yours.

The catch?  Why, yes, there is a catch.  What ever you earn, the rest of humanity will get for free.  You may not tell anybody about your job, you may not take credit for their easy lives.  You will work thanklessly, anonymously, and for the rest of your life to provide a golden age for everyone else.

There is my offer: 
A lifetime of toil in return for a lifetime free of want, but you will be the only person who has to work for it.

Am I angel or devil?  Your answer will reveal which you think I am.

And wouldn’t you know it?

They all have

the same.

Damned.

Answer.

.

.

.

art by Norman Rockwell
text © Buzz Dixon

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out along the cygnus wall

27/11/2014

cygnuswall_pavelchak_1600

out along the cygnus wall
where great star factories roam
a trillion miles from nowhere
is a place that we call home
and it’s not much to live on
but it’s mighty grand to see
a nice place to think about
but a nicer place to be
you’ll find worlds by the thousands
of every kind and size
kingdoms made of diamonds
bright heavens made of sighs
cold hells made of heartaches
colder hearts made of stone
find anything you want
when you call the wall your home

no one lives forever
yet no one really dies
when your heart’s in the heavens
of the grand cygnus skies

.

.

.

photo © Nick Pavelchak
text © Buzz Dixon
with a tip of the space helmet
to Robert Service
and Rudyard Kipling

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On The Convention Trail: LosCon 41

25/11/2014

on conv trail 1950_04 ed_cartier_gnomepresscalendar

Heigh-ho!  Heigh-ho!
Off to LosCon 41 I go!

LosCon 41 will be held Nov. 28-30 at the LAX Marriott (that’s the good news)
and they’ve invited me to participate on two panels. (that’s the bad news)

My schedule & co-panelists:

SAT 5:30 pm – 6:45 pm: 916. YOU DID WHAT?

Atlanta Room

A panel in which each panelist starts a story and ends by dumping the next panelist into it!

  • Dr. Jerry Pournelle
  • Lawrence M. Schoen
  • Martin Young
  • Neo Edmund
  • Kenn Bates
  • Todd McCaffrey

SUN 1:00 pm – 2:15 pm: 1053. A SHOT RANG OUT

Saint Louis Room

Improvised storytelling under pressure of time and madness. See us invent stories and characters too bizarre for fiction just so we can set up random lines the audience picked for us.

  • Larry Niven
  • Sarah Adams
  • Lawrence M. Schoen
  • David Miller
  • True Thomas
  • Martin Young
  • Todd McCaffrey

In commemoration of the panels’ theme of improvisation in story telling, I’ll be running a batch of fictoids for the rest of the week.

Happy Turkey Day &
see you at LosCon!

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it happens

24/11/2014

it happens enough and if
it happens at all then
it happens too often

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a poem for eternity

21/11/2014

what happens to rich people after they die is this:

they get every thing they ever wanted
and more
every thing
but not everything

there are no

slaves
servants
sycophants
stooges

in the afterlife

rich folks want something
all they have to do is imagine it

poof!

it magically / quantumly appears
want a forty-thousand room mansion with a full size bowling alley in each?
think about it

poof!

it appears

you can get any thing
and every thing you want

trouble is
your neighbors get it, too

oh yeah
this is one crowded afterlife
all of your friends and
most of your family are there
waiting for you
and everyone gets exactly the same thing
all the time
so nobody has one iota more
or one iota less
than anybody else
everybody’s equal
everybody’s the same
no one to look down
no one to smirk at
no one to act smugly superior to
no one to envy you
admire you
desire to be you
everybody same-same
all the time
forever

JC Leyendecker - disdainful couple

looking down from heaven
God shakes His head and says:
satan
sure
is
one

sick
sadistic
bastard

art by J.C. Leyendecker

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Charles Bukowski On Writing

19/11/2014

bukowski at work

Writing isn’t work at all… And when people tell me how painful it is to write I don t understand it because it’s just like rolling down the mountain you know. It’s freeing. It’s enjoyable. It’s a gift and you get paid for what you want to do.

I write because it comes out — and then to get paid for it afterwards? I told somebody, at some time, that writing is like going to bed with a beautiful woman and afterwards she gets up, goes to her purse and gives me a handful of money. I’ll take it.

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“Tommy” by Rudyard Kipling

10/11/2014

I went into a public-’ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:

O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-’alls,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.

Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?”
But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;

While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”,
But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

 …..

bernie saunders quote re vets

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