January 21st, 2009


"It takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile..."

Looking back at the inaugural speech, which I've read through a couple of times now, there are two little bits that I adore and just want to give a quick mention to before moving along to other things. First, President Obama's acknowledgment of atheists and agnostics as legitimate segments of a pluralistic society. That made me almost as happy as the inclusion of gays in his acceptance speech:

We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers.

And, also, his nod to the vital role that science, set aside by the Bush Administration as inconvenient and irreligious. must play:

We will restore science to its rightful place...

And, speaking of science's rightful place, it goes without saying that I was very happy about the repeated references to global warming.


Yesterday was pretty much consumed by the inauguration. I cannot even recall the last time that a national event kept me so captivated. 9/11? Hurricane Katrina? The invasion of Iraq? The crash of the space shuttle Columbia? But, this time, I was captivated not by horror and tragedy, but by unity and the possibility of a light at the end of the tunnel. Or at least the possibility that the tunnel may have an end. That has to count for something, so I don't feel too bad about allowing the words to languish yesterday.

Today, now that I've decided on the Edgar Allan Poe theme for Sirenia Digest #38, I need to figure out, quickly, exactly what that means as regards what I'll be writing. I suspect I'll be re-reading "The Premature Burial" and "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar," and a great deal of his poetry. I'd love to write a piece called "The Thousand-and-Third Tale of Scheherazade," but that that may a little ambitious, given the deadline and all. We'll just have to see. Anyway, it should be an interesting issue.

Last night, very late (three ayem to half past four), I watched Resident Alien (1990), Jonathan Nossiter's documentary on Quentin Crisp. It didn't help my insomnia, but it was quite entirely wonderful. Crisp remains one among my motley band of role models. Is it odd to be -4 (and almost -5) and still have role models? I should hope not, but I never know how people look at these things.

I was going to say something about Second Life, since I admitted, a few days ago, to falling back into it again. Here's the thing. Upon returning, I have found some genuinely marvelous roleplayers, people I knew from before, and also people who are new to me. And here when I say "rp" I am referring to improvisational theatre, or simulationism. Total immersion. And I do treasure these people. But there is no denying that the majority of SL, so far as I can see, not only has no interest in rp, or making any sort of use of SL for artistic ends, it's also dumb as a bag of hammers. Or a doorknob. Or what have you. Indeed, I am quite certain now that SL, either intentionally or unintentionally, selects for stupidity and illiteracy, the way that natural selection might favour tricuspid teeth or osteoderms. And here I'm not talking about a casual, easily overlooked stupidity, but one that is bone-jarringly deep and constantly, aggressively drawing attention to itself. A proud sort of stupid. So, in order to take part in SL, I am having to struggle to rp around the idiots, and there are days, like yesterday, when it almost gets the better of me again. I just don't do dumb as a rock. I think I might have tried it on one weekend in 1988, but found it wanting (and a bit snug about the bust). It should not surprise me, and I see that clearly now, that SL draws to itself the lowest common denominator, those with apparent (if not actual) low intelligence, almost nonexistent social skills, and a refusal to express themselves in complete sentences. But it does. Surprise me, I mean. It just seems very sad, and like a gigantic waste of both human potential and of electricity (and time, and the oil used to make plastic, and I could go on and on), just to turn a profit for Linden Labs and enshrine the Church of LOL and provide a playground for those who deem thoughtful characterization "too emo." Still, I'm not giving up again. At least not just yet. But I came very close last night, and I thank Joah for pulling me back.

And yes, I am carping. It's something I do very well.

And if you've still not ordered your copy of A is for Alien, due out next month from Subterranean Press, please take a moment to do so today. The platypus will smile upon you.