Beginnings, endings, and making stuff

August 3, 2010

Doing magic outsideI’m a bit bored of Twitter. Probably because there are now so many people on there that no one  pays me any attention any more and the only way to get as many ‘faves’ or ‘retweets’ as I used to is to post five hundred tweets a day and think about it all the time. I’ve been on Twitter a long time but it’s become a weird thing and I don’t see the people getting recognition who I think deserve to get recognition. But mainly I don’t want to look back on my life and realise I spent these years generating a desperate barrage of crappy internet ephemera and no bugger even retweeted it.

Anyway, my point is, I found some links I thought were good. I don’t want to throw them away on Twitter wrapped in a callous 140 characters, and I don’t understand how to use delicious or stumble upon or whatever it is, so I thought I’d share them here.

I love magicians. Indeed, I believe they were in my top 10 “Professions women actually find attractive” – a blog post I did for a site called Dollymix back when I used to edit blogs for Shiny Media and which I’m definitely not going to track down and link to. My! How everyone mocked me for putting magicians on the list. But ladies, I don’t think you can honestly deny it. And finally, after all these years, I got to be a magician’s assistant on this week’s Shift Run Stop. Nothing clever to say about that really. My delight is genuine.

Russell Davies pulls a rabbit out of a hat himself in this month’s Wired with an insightful column about endings. This is something I think about a lot and Russell articulates it brilliantly. How do you stop things, these days? How do you say “that’s over” when everything is geared towards new beginnings, somehow perpetuating our perception of endlessness, invincibility (… immortality?) If anything ends online it’s by accident, as Russell says: “The internet means never having to say The End.” And this is me, not Russell, but I do think it’s interesting that the virtual always accidentally defies the arrow of time. Old websites are firmly frozen in their prime, time-capsules that don’t yellow or decay – they can appear everywhere, forever, for they are the simulacra! And their history is immune to detection.

You can get to the end of something physical, and if you wait long enough, it gets to the end of itself. Games and interactive stories are formats, not forms. They don’t degrade like books, they change with structure – not with time. But if a story can never end, what the hell kind of a story is it? The one the infant thinks he wants, maybe. It’s Edmund in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe getting sick on the infinite Turkish Delight. Keep interacting. Keep talking. Keep jumping from train to train without getting off. Because if we can stay involved, maybe we’ll be able to influence the world and stop that habit things have of constantly drawing to a devastating close. And that’s why people have children.

Or is it? Here’s Frank Cottrell Boyce, father of seven, author, and celebrator of all things family. Well, you know I think the importance of family is tremendously over-established by our society. Insulting for those of us whose families are strange and fragmented through no fault of our own; those of us who don’t have the choice to go to any historical ‘home’, who see their nearest twice a year, tops. Are you listening, ‘grounded’ celebrities? I’m sick of hearing about your Big Family Christmasses and your Sunday roasts.

This piece is interesting though, all about the way the buzz of family can enhance creativity. Well, I’m not convinced by the relationship between children and chaos. Mess, maybe, and I think that’s different – and a condition many writers choose to work in.

But there’s some very good stuff in this piece (in the Guardian G2) and the comments underneath are great: “I really doubt that looking after children is such a burden for these artistic souls. In fact interacting with other people might well bring them much-needed sanity and perspective” – and someone wanting to hear what sort of amazing creative work his wife produced during the same years. From the article, then:

“Being a parent confronts you with your mortality, every day”

“It’s not that I don’t like a break now and then. I just don’t buy the idea that the break is “because I’m worth it” or that I’m taking “the time to be me”. What is “me”, if not the sum of all my relationships and obligations? A customer, that’s what.”

Well, yes, interesting angle. Because of course someone with a family never has to buy anything. But seriously, we can have plenty of relationships and obligations without having children, without even being off-spring in any dutiful sense, and still want to get away from them all because they become so unbearably chaotic. We are all producers and we are all consumers, and we all have our pram in the hallway, I reckon.

Finally here’s a great thing about how to intercept mobile phone signals, from US Wired. Build a massive antenna, basically.


One Response to “Beginnings, endings, and making stuff”

  1. Brian Howland Says:

    Amazing goldfish trick!. I changed my twitter account and follow scientists. I have been learning a lot about physics. I can bore anyone in less than 30 seconds with the physics I have learnt. It has come in handy when I get a long phone call just before bed-time!

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