And here's what I think.
Here's what I think I think.
I was born into a world that was doing a pretty decent job in terms of communication: print, actual letters delivered by an actual postal service, AM and FM radio, manual and electric typewriters, telephones, network television, motion pictures, dictophones, carbon paper, photocopiers, a vast range of still photographic tech, phonographs and vinyl records, ruled notebooks, pencils, pens, and...probably I'm leaving something out. We even learned cursive. Yeah, there were computers. IBM was out there, and Texas Instruments, but computer technology was a nascent and expensive thing, and few people were directly touched by computers. Let's say that I was born into and came of age in a period of interpersonal communication and mass media that spanned 1964 to 1982, birth through high school. I didn't use a computer until 1986, and I didn't use a computer for anything but writing until 1994. I was thirty before anything resembling today's "social media" touched me – when I got an AOL account and was introduced to Usenet, Gopher protocol, and GEnie (General Electric Network for Information Exchange). The next year, the web went public.
In the intervening twenty years, the world has been changed by the web in ways that I only begin dimly to comprehend.
But I do see that the world is not a better place for it. It isn't a smarter world. It certainly isn't a smarter America; quite exactly the opposite. We are not better people. We are not more humane. We're just busier, more distracted, less focused people, buried in (almost) infinitely more white noise than humans had to cope with two decades ago. Most days, it seems that the internet spreads ignorance and hate more rapidly than it spreads anything else. There are hundreds of millions, billions, who no doubt disagree. I don't care. I'm not saying this to spark "a dialogue." In a very real sense, my world – the world that I understood, that I understood how to function within – slipped away in the early nineties. And it has been replaced by something that I'm very tired of trying to keep pace with.
My science fiction is, without exception, dystopian, and only recently have I truly begun to understand why.
This isn't my world, and I'm very near to completely opting out of the technological rat race. There's nothing available to me now that I need as a writer that wasn't available to writers in 1964, nothing. And the irony that I'm using a blog to deliver this message doesn't escape me, nor does the fact that a blog, paradoxically, is very appropriate to the delivery this message.
But there's some shit I have to figure out about how I'm going to live the rest of my life.
Yesterday, I answered a lot of email, and I did the E entry for The Aubergine Alphabet. I sat down and puzzled out my short story deadlines for 2015, and the picture isn't quite as grim as I'd thought. Still, I have a 15,000-word novella I have to write for Centipede Press due no later than July 31st, and that alone is almost enough to freak me out good and proper.
The anti-distraction curtain I put up, to block out the sight of the snow, proved to be a boon:
Neil was at home for about twenty-four hours. He dropped in for half an hour last night, and he met Hubero, and Hubero seemed very much to approve of him and he of Hubero. Selwyn hid in bedroom. Spooky, Neil, and I talked about the End of the World.
Here's the world's most out-of-focus photograph of a writer meeting a Siamese cat.
Tomorrow, we head back to Providence for one night. I don't expect to have time to make another entry until Friday morning.
See You Then,