hypertext, words and more


  • I’m absolutely distraught to learn that the incomparable Scott Wampler has passed. He leaves behind such a vast void. He had a way with words. I loved hearing his perspectives on film, fiction and horror. He was a stalwart in the film community and was the former editor over at Birth.Movies.Death.

    He was close with filmmakers, writers, directors and creatives from all walks of life. The man was a bonafide comedian and in recent memory, began reaching new heights with The Kingcast, a podcast that largely covers the works of Stephen King. Guests included Elijah Wood, Guillermo del Toro and of course, Stephen King and more.

    We are worse-off without his quips, insights and jeering tweets. He will be sorely missed 😢

  • Deb Amlen, writing for the New York Times

    Speaking of not taking criticism well, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention one of the most hostile “Oh yeah?” insults of the period. The Roman author Catullus’s poem “Carmen 16” was a response to two men, Furius and Aurelius, who were going around telling people that Catullus’s poetry was soft, a euphemism for effeminate. (This was considered an insult in those days.)

    Catullus, who had apparently woken up on the wrong side of the bed that morning, proceeded to let the men know in no uncertain terms that not only had they missed the point of his work, but that he was willing to inflict great bodily harm on them to prove it.

    The poem opens with a criminal threat that is so filthy and violent that it can’t be included here. And, humorously enough, his main point — after threatening the two men — was that sometimes softly rendered messages could be more erotic than openly prurient writing.

    “Carmen 16” is available online for those who are inclined to search for it.

    I am indeed inclined and then some! Translated from the Latin, here’s the hilarious and sexually hostile insult Catullus hurled at Furius and Aurelius:

    I will sodomize you and face-fuck you,

    bottom Aurelius and catamite Furius,

    you who think, because my poems

    are sensitive, that I have no shame.

    For it’s proper for a devoted poet to be moral

    himself, [but] in no way is it necessary for his poems.

    In point of fact, these have wit and charm,

    if they are sensitive and a little shameless,

    and can arouse an itch,

    and I don’t mean in boys, but in those hairy old men

    who can’t get it up.

    Because you’ve read my countless kisses,

    you think less of me as a man?

    I will sodomize you and face-fuck you.

    Dang! Catullus is ready to square up with Furius and Aurelius!

  • I think any genre succeeds from a few of these recommendations. But, a good rule of thumb, constraints are good. Typical creative constraints make you squint your eyes and see the world differently. Think of them as adding or subtracting weight resistance like at the gym. Only instead of working out your body, you’re exercising your brain! Here’s the first tweet in the thread:

    Adrian Bowyer is a retired Mechanical Engineering professor from University of Bath. A careered researcher in computational geometry, geometric modeling, and Biomimetics. According to his website, he is the founder of the RepRap Project, “humanity’s first general-purpose self-replicating manufacturing machine.” Pretty awesome! Sounds like he has some insights we should all hear out.

    Here’s the entire thread (saved from Thread Reader here) in a bullet-list for posterity:

    • The overriding rule, never to be forgotten, is: “Coincidence is a failure of art.” – Tom Stoppard
    • It is easy to blow something up. It is hard to have a character say something original, insightful and clever. But writers are dirt cheap. The ratio of explosions to wit should be 1:10 or less.
    • If at any point a reasonably scientifically informed audience is going to say, “But… PHYSICS?!” do it another way. The same goes for not following Darwinian evolution.
    • If the action is set in the future or the past, go through the script and remove every contemporary informal idiom of speech, where “contemporary” means at least the last fifty years. Replace EVERY cliche with a newly-coined metaphor or phrase.
    • The good guys should not beat the bad guys (if they do) because the bad guys have a system with a single point of failure.
    • Human culture has much more continuity than saltation. Have characters in the future occasionally do something from the past as a hobby – making bread, riding a horse, painting in oils; that sort of thing.
    • Spend money on set dressing. They won’t have oil drums in the future, nor will ship’s containers make it to other worlds.
    • Constraints make things more, not less, interesting. In particular, if something is powerful it should be difficult to use. For example, if someone is capable of telekinesis, then, when they use it, it should cost them a few days bed rest. And so on.
    • The Universe runs on conservation laws (Lagrangian symmetries). To make them more convincing new phenomena should also exhibit conservation laws.
    • Arthur C. Clarke’s “indistinguishable from magic” law is true. But that’s not an excuse to put in any old glowing-orb nonsense when the plot needs a deus ex machina. Go back and rewrite the plot so the deus ex machina isn’t needed.
    •  Faster than light travel makes everything parochial, and therefore less interesting.
    • Bipedal life will be very rare in the universe, as it is on Earth.
    • Artificial gravity is less captivating (!) and less probable than weightlessness.
    • “Go with your gut,” will be just as terrible advice in the future as it is here and now. Plots should reflect this immutable fact.
    • Brainstorm a number of un-commented-on technical innovations and put one in the background of each scene for the audience to notice, or not.

    Give Adrian (@adrianbowyer) a follow on Twitter here.

  • From The Age:

    As a teenager, Murakami had read “all the great authors” – Dostoevsky, Kafka, Flaubert, Dickens, Raymond Chandler. He spent his lunch money on pop and jazz records. He wanted a lifestyle that guaranteed maximum exposure to the warmth of Western books and music, so he opened a jazz club where the music was too loud for conversation and read books at the bar until his customers considered him anti-social.

    And then there was an epiphany. “Yes, epiphany is the word,” he says.

    It is, he says, the only truly weird thing that has ever happened to him. He was watching a baseball game between the Yakult Swallows and the Hiroshima Carp one day in April 1978. A US player called Dave Hilton hit the first ball way out into left field. And at that extraordinary moment, Murakami realised he could write a novel.

    I began reading 1Q84 a little over a year ago (I’m a slow reader, and admittedly horrible at starting books and not finishing them). I don’t have a long-form review of 1Q84 (other than you should go read it), but I think it’s worth picking up. So, I won’t claim to know or fully understand Murakami’s entire catalogue. But they are ensconced in beautiful and complex vistas I crave to visit and know. Parallels, strange events, pregnant mysteries and enigmatic characters that are his hallmarks — and they are fun.

    I just love Murakami’s apocryphal “epiphany.” Not only is it an apt for the author, but it should be more widely known that Japanese Baseball is 100% more badass than the American League.

    PS: this ultra-rare version of 1Q84 produced by the international imprint, Harvill Secker is absolutely stunning:

    1Q84 used to be produced in three volumes, but now it is commonly bound as one. The iconic cover and jacket, was designed by Chip Kidd, the same creative genius who designed the infamous Jurassic Park jacket:

    Photo by @swallace99