Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Right now, I'm not sure if I feel more like I'm going to vomit, pass out, or suddenly come apart in a cataclysm of protoplasmic, subatomic reversal. I might have slept two hours. When I got up at 8 a.m., there was just enough snow on the ground that it was pretty. Now, there's only a quickly melting scab. But it was our first snow of the winter, regardless. Presently, it's 33˚F. No windchill at the moment.

No writing yesterday. Yesterday was all about not giving into the crazy, the noise ricocheting off the inside of my skull. So, I took Klonopin and got dressed and went to the market with Kathryn. She's fixing black-eyed peas today, so that's something to which to look forward. I managed to avoid the sorts of meltdowns that marked Saturday and Friday. But no writing. Some email with S.T. Joshi, late in the day, about the CRK tribute book that's been in the works since early 2015. But that was it, workwise.

I posted this to Facebook:

Yesterday, it occurred to me that I have outlived the context that made sense of my existence. I now exist out of context, like a dodo bird in a cyberpunk story, and it's a terrible way to be. I suppose I'm saying I have become an anachronism. But it seems worse even than that. Anachronism makes it sound dignified, and I feel no dignity in this.

And though I asked folks not to comment, David J. Schow wrote:

A feeling of forced obsolescence at the height of one's powers, ability and discretion.

And yeah, that's definitely part of it, and it touches on why I find myself pretty much unable to write about the present. Has there ever been a time when writers of an earlier generation found themselves so set aside by a generation entirely immersed in technology changing as an unimaginable pace? Would I have felt like this if my career had begun at the start of the forties, then sprawled into the 1960s? I don't think so. I don't think there's anything in human history comparable to the present shift, not in degree and not in rate of change. For me, it is a nightmare. It isn't the only reason I'm having so much trouble writing, but it's part of the raveling tapestry of my current dilemma. I can't write about a world where people live through "devices," not write about it as an actual present time. I won't write casually about social media and smart phones and cars that drive themselves, emojis and Skype and Uber and fake news websites and Yelp and remote-controlled drones you can buy at Rite Aid and on and on and on. Sure, I can write stories set in the present and leave all that shit out, but that's not telling the truth.

And, really, it's far more complex than the hardware/software of the early twenty-first century. It's more the psychosocial changes wrought by the technology. I do not know these millennial minds. I can only be on the outside looking in, and I don't know how to do that, either. And I don't want to write a book about being lost and adrift and out of place in the present – which I surely am. I can only imagine setting books in the past, which is why my screenplay for The Red Tree was being set in 1979, and it's why the little I've managed to write on The Starkeeper is set in 1978. It's why "Interstate Love Song" (the short story) is set about 1994, and why Interstate Love Song (the novel), if I can spit it out, will be set in 1954 and 1994. I can set a story fifty years from now, even, but I cannot set a story now. Now – NOW – has become, to me, inscrutable. Unfathomable. Alien.

At fifty-two, I am not of here. I'm a foreigner in my own land, displaced by time. I am more in tune with 1916 than I am with 2016. The present is hostile to my being, and it is hostile to my imagination.

It's a matter of what philosopher of science T.S. Kuhn called incommensurability. I no longer know how to converse with the present; mine and its worldviews have become incommensurable.

And I have this photo from yesterday:

Aunt Beast


( 14 comments — Have your say! )
Dec. 5th, 2016 04:06 pm (UTC)
You mentioned working on the Red Tree screenplay in past tense. What's the status of that now?
Dec. 5th, 2016 04:08 pm (UTC)

Dec. 5th, 2016 05:24 pm (UTC)
I am not of here. I'm a foreigner in my own land, displaced by time. I am more in tune with 1916 than I am with 2016. The present is hostile to my being, and it is hostile to my imagination.

I can identify with this. I've never really felt like I've belonged in any place or time. I've read stuff about having those feelings but it all seems pointless for me.

I'm having a hard time with accepting advancing technology too. I personally find it distracting to read novels that frequently reference the latest technology. For me a novel is more successful if it can manage to both be in the present but not tied down by it. It's hard to achieve something timeless.
Dec. 5th, 2016 05:28 pm (UTC)

as an author, I have always striven to capture a sense of place and a sense of time. Those things are of utmost importance to be, second only to characterization. Silk and Threshold are the Deep South in the early nineties. But every novel after them I've had to, increasingly, combat this problem. With The Red Tree I tried to mostly ignore it. With The Drowning Girl I did a bad job of making now feel like now and painted Imp as someone out of time (in contrast with Abalyn).

I just don't know.
Dec. 5th, 2016 06:15 pm (UTC)
From technological psychosocial changes to 'outside looking in' or 'not of here' and beyond, there are times I feel like an abstract twin.
Dec. 5th, 2016 08:07 pm (UTC)
like a dodo bird in a cyberpunk story

I was trying to visualize what that Dodo would look like and decided it would be a Dada cybird.
Mick Quinn
Dec. 5th, 2016 08:43 pm (UTC)
I turn 50 next month. My partner is 27. I am not sure whether that makes it more palliative. I think it makes it more difficult. I have 2 sons who are 28 and 30; but I see this occurring most in the life of my daughter who is 14. I have been feeling the press of existing out of time, too. I loathe it, which leaves me seething and demonstrating pitiful attempts at imitation that is too young for me to pull off anymore. But I also am curious about it from a socio-cultural standpoint. It is just so beyond me that I couldn't find the best words to describe it...but you have; and I'm troubled by them, but why I am isn't as clearbto me. I fear I have, regardless of my fighting to avoid the contrary, been conditioned somehow to rebel against time and change by my generation, the new generations that came after mine, or some innate human fear that springs out of people when they turn 50. I really think this is one of your very very best, most poignant, LJ entries ever. Because it doesn't leave the residue of an answer. There are no quick fixes here. In fact, nothing is really broken, is it? I can say that it is BECAUSE of this out of time, against superficial "progress", is that your relevance is thrown into sharp relief. (I don't read and collect Caitlín R. Kiernan because she mirrors thin characters caught up in the brevity and dull anonymity of the social media crazw or any other shallow technology of a generation. I read you because your work is more out of time, fluid within time, and timeless where it needs to be. There is a reason I read Lovecraft (I think you read hin for similar reasons), and this is the same reason the future will read you. I'd like to say it is the antithesis of surface "relevance", the very rebellion in your prose and your style that makes you relevant at a deeper level. The Emersonian "Poets" are Town Criers, speaking for their Age.. The real poets, the Ginsbergs, the Plaths, the Sextons, the Adrienne Riches, they don't portray the news, or praise or herald cheap progress; they aren't content watching and reporting the black and white 2-dimensional movement forward; they observe, wide-eyed and incredulous, the stupidity of the masses until feel a howl building inside. Desperation at the course of a generation. And, since "realism" is dead (it never existed outside of subjective trappings), the only thing the real poet can do is bleed and howl into a glass bottle, like lightning, and carry it on her back for all to see.
Mick Quinn
Dec. 5th, 2016 08:48 pm (UTC)
RE: Wow.
Sorry about the typos. The phone buttons are small and I'm in a manic cycle and writing too fast.
Dec. 5th, 2016 10:13 pm (UTC)
When I saw the “dodo bird in a cyberpunk story”, my first thought was “Neon flamingos! Robot hedgehogs! Mad Hatter in mirrorshades!”
Kiki Lang
Dec. 5th, 2016 11:11 pm (UTC)
Jonathan Swift take a holiday.
Bull shit. No body is writing about this time. This is going to be a lost generation, in the same way those who grew up in Nazi Germany, or those who's formative years was wasted China's Cultural Revolution. Every smart phone, tablet, and drone are diversions, so this generation doesn't realize it has nothing. What's to write about? People working two three jobs, while spending what little life they have on things that have the permanence of falling leaves. No body is writing about this current time, because there is nothing to write about.
Dec. 6th, 2016 04:55 am (UTC)
RE: Jonathan Swift take a holiday.
I never really thought of it that way, but it does make a sort of sad sense; my son surely felt this way as he struggled so hard with depression and meaninglessness and not finding a place for his own soul's deepest needs here in this generation. His attempts to make life better for those he could help was the only thing that ever made him feel better; he felt pretty hopeless most days about the rest of it.
Dec. 6th, 2016 04:51 am (UTC)
I'm 54 and I feel the same way; you put into words so excellently the way I've felt for the past few years at least, with the sense of isolation and detachment and feeling adrift in my own world increasing daily. Things really started spiraling last year with the death of my son, then '16 hit with David Bowie, Prince, Rickman, the frigging election...what fresh hell is this, why is it when I go out all I see are people glued to cell phones and taking 'selfies' and kids who never look up from their ipads and tablets...it's the future I read about when I was a kid, but I find I'm not very comfortable at all living in it in the now. It's not just the technology, it's the PACE of things, the feeling that when people claim we're all still basically the same and people are still good and caring and so on, that it's just a lie; maybe it's me who's becoming more soulless than soulful, but I just feel this vast gulf of emptiness yawning before me most days. I don't WANT to feel this way, I want to feel connected to my life, my environment, my fellow humans and the world around me; but I don't think I've felt 'at home' in the world since probably the '80s, sigh.
Mark Orr
Dec. 6th, 2016 06:58 pm (UTC)
I know the feeling well. I'd had it, or rather, it's had me, all of my 58 years. It's why I pursued my completely useless BA in history. On the other hand, I did learn that there is truth in the old French saying, plus ca change, plus ca mem chose - the more things change, the more they stay the same.

I can think of several technological shifts that have inflicted this much angst on the previous generation. The phonograph, for example, turned Western civilization from a culture of music makers into a culture of music consumers. I'm sitting a few feet away from my great-grandfather's fiddle. It's over a century old, from a time when it was common for several members of the family to play instruments. Now, most of us do well to upload songs to our cell phones without help from a pre-teen. C'est la vie. No one expected professional level playing in the parlor, then. Now, we barely tolerate any sound that isn't digitally tweaked to perfection. The ability to consume music without having to actually create it took society's permission to fall short of perfection at something we love doing away from those of us not blessed by professional level talent. Maybe the paradigm shift we're living through is simply restoring some of that freedom, in another area.

Or maybe I'm just blathering on without really saying anything. That's my own inner demon, the suspicion that I haven't got the foggiest notion what I'm doing despite the people around me being fooled by my mien of competence and deep voice and height and posture into thinking I have a fricking clue. Ha! time for another pill.
Michael Norwitz
Dec. 29th, 2016 06:01 pm (UTC)
Mark - on the other hand, the phonograph brought complex and professional-level music into the hands of the lower classes, which was not an entire negative.

I roil against my peers who gripe about 'kids these days,' although I acknowledge they face challenges which I never had to.

For my part, I'm currently hawking a comic which has been universally hailed by reviewers as a 1980s throwback, and I thought I was telling a contemporary story. I suppose I've had to embrace my being a 1980s throwback.
( 14 comments — Have your say! )