Thursday, June 30, 2005

A Pen should never be Green

I was feeling a sense of impeding doom a few hours ago, coupled with perhaps the barest tinge of nostalgic affection for the "Good Ol' Days" of the early youth. Lounging with Lord of the Rings or Watership Down fresh in the mind, on a sunny, windy morning in some date in December.

So I picked up my old, battered, browned, tattered, splotched, and in past times oft-read copy of Jedi Search, by the ol' Kevin, and whaddaya know.

No superfluity!

(To all those mystified by these seemingly nonsensical words, please finish Horizon Storms as quickly as you may.)

No stilted dialogue!

No unnecessary add-ons!

Okay, maybe that was exaggerated. There was that characteristic Anderson ethos, but it was almost nonexistent. Submerged under the comfortable label of Star Wars.

This has led to the disturbing theory that Anderson thinks that his present writing style is good, an improvment to the slicker scribbling of his youth.

To verify this disturbing theory or postulatum further I read Darksaber and found elements of this superfluidity beginning to emerge in his writing.

I am expecting a small brick to appear on eBay. And I may even be proven right.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Saga of Seven Suns

Warning to impending readers of Horizon Storms: Here be Dragons. Avert thy eyes.

The Saga of Seven Suns
continues with Horizon Storms, an Aspect (TM) Paperback.

This post does not contain a synopsis. Please feel free to write your own.

Well, Horizon Storms was a mere continuance in Kevin J Anderson's style and plot development. Roamers are marginalized. Hansa is demonized. Peter is glorified. Theron is rasterized. Jess Tamblyn is transformed into a motif of Wental power. Klikiss robots continue to lug DD around everywhere. Robb Brindle is not dead! Beneto (in a move of dubious wisdom and tact) is resurrected. As a golem. Kevin, why? Why?

As always, Anderson continues in his distinctive writing style, which is rather irritating in the way that each sentence always ends of with an unnecessary expansion, or interjected by extraneous outgrowths. Transmuted to a tape recorder, Anderson can be said to ramble. The sheer superfluidity of his prose and the resulting awkwardness in his structuring cause a sort of empty feeling in the reader.

Maybe a small part of the issue can be explained by the fact that that's exactly what Anderson does. He goes off on treks in the mountains, alone, carrying a tape recorder, and rambles storylines into it while he walks.

The phenomenon becomes doubly bad when it comes to passages describing tragedy. The rambling profuseness of his dialogue and the painful lengths that the prose goes in stating tragic events again and again, without any attempt at masking it with poetic window-dressing, coupled with the insuficient graphicity of the said tragedies, turns the tragedy so-called into an unwitting farce that has no emotional impact on the reader. Anderson would have done well with clipped, brusque statements and broken, incomplete sentences, arranged in artfully exquisite fashion to compound agony for agony, graphic detail for graphic detail, instead of the superfluous and precariously arranged prose with not a dose of poetic drapery.

Anderson also likes separating sentences with commas, bringing out their meaning, thinking that this gives a surreal atmosphere, a veritable life, to his sentences, and ending them by trailing off...

Because of this writing style, characters like Celli, Nira, and many Therocs come across as naive and innocent. And the corresponding dialogue is embarrassingly stilted (because it, too, contains elements of extraneity).

"Embarrassed by their gratitide, her newly green skin flushed dark. Nira said, "I'm glad I could do one last thing to help my family before I embark on my great adventure." Or, "His shoulders slumped. "That is who we are, though sometimes it is a difficult thing.""

Those two were extracts from Hidden Empire, where the effects of this style were most pronounced. Thankfully, its less apparent in the following novels.

Anderson's plotting, world-creation and sheer ambition overcome this prediliction. Three books already and Anderson's saga spans epic proportions and has a sense of primal scale. The aliens, modelled after the Elements, are purveyors of an ancient conflict which has destroyed worlds. For a space opera, Anderson has been successful in portraying the historical depth of the Saga of Seven Suns world. This world is carefully crafted, and conceived as a very plausible future scenario with realistic enough economic and political undercurrents. Anderson has a proclivity for making Deus Ex Machinas that work. Faeros at Theroc, for example. And he is not afraid to let his characters die, even if some of them do come back afterward. Like they do in Horizon Storms, much to my chagrin. His plot is a complex tapestry of survival, betrayal, love, and danger, set in a brilliantly realized universe that seethes with new concepts.

If only he could improve that writing style of his, that has plagued all his works, he would truly shine.

"When accosting a wall, be sure to put on our reliable safety vest. The wall does not take lightly to being accosted by unprotected people, whether brick or metal, having the troubling penchant for collecting large amounts of bloodstains and angrily scrawled graffiti."
-Adapted from Joshua

Monday, June 27, 2005

Learning to Learn?

Verisimilitude. The appearance of being real.

The June holidays lack verisimilitude. They are like a passing dream forgotten upon waking. Adaptation, otherwise, is an attributing factor to this twisting of experience in the sun-basked realm of life.

The past is always a dream, maybe. Especially when you never experienced it. Intellectually, I know that events have shaken the planet we live on; the World Wars, Vietnam, famines in Africa and elsewhere (which are blown up and exaggerated, according to some analyses); emotionally, I cannot help but view them as events in a story, a fictional tale.

The sphere, the confines, of the mundane pen me in and force me to adopt disbelief at the most primal level.

The present, as Hazel would say, is what is important. The Here and Now. And the past is a dream. The future is ours to weave. But not ours to decide on a grand level, definitively. Or not.

Learning to learn. A chicken-and-egg problem. When viewed in a certain way.

Sunday, June 26, 2005


Just read Michael Yue's entry. I must say I find it difficult to believe that one can glean anything of introspective interest from this blogs last few entries.

I feel I'm getting more incoherent in my effort to make the blog more of interest to people. This is not an "oh-let's-see-what-I-did-today" blog. Rather its a "hmm-I-seem-to-have-a-muse-or-something-to-write" blog. Not even a blog in sooth.

I dislike tempura. Much as I dislike fish and chips. Same reason. Ironically I used to like fish and chips. A lot.

What caught my eye was the self-introspection. The question of losing your consciousness, your self, after death. It is scary. The only thing one can do is to push the awful truth away to the unconscious. I've thought about it many times. An eternal stream of oblivion, stretching out unto eternity. Like the incorporeality of the past.

Never think, feel, touch. Again. Can it be?

I wish I did believe in Heaven, sometimes. Instead of grasping at the question of life, finding no answers to questions whose answers are never tangible. But I cannot help it. I'm sort of an empiricist.

RD words of the day


Saturday, June 25, 2005

Random Thought

I was rereading Asimov. In fact, I'm still rereading Asimov.

And I feel that Asimov wasn't a bad writer, as critics are wont to portray him as. Not exactly...bad, in the sense of the word, but, uninspiring. He was a great thinker, they say, full of fresh ideas and resonance. He wrote like a stenographer, recording is thoughts clearly and succintly as prose, hardly taking any liberties with his ascribed poetic licence. His characters are mostly flat, and are devices in the conception of a worldview, instead of the reverse.

All these things are true, but they don't necessarily condemn him to be a bad writer. The function of a novel is to entertain and to inspire reaction, positive response. If the novel is deep enough, it will inspire something more, introspection and reflection.

A good novel thus inspires positive response. I don't see Asimov's idiosyncrasies to impede his ability as a writer. He churned out good novels that inspire positive introspection and reflection. His characters draw out this quality. His canvas was not the soul, but the Universe and its laws. His setting was a galaxy of intrigue and decay.

His later novels did attempt to tie together the two; weaving a story of soul and humanity. The latter Robot books, the Foundation Preludes; all these tracked the lives of characters and observed their changes, their adaptations. Asimov began to explore the depths of the human soul, while plotting the course of Empire. This has again caused condemnation.

Being a writer must be difficult.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

From the Ashes

"The Republic has ever endured. For more than twenty thousand years it has brought civilization to the galaxy, ever in league with the Jedi Order. It has withstood every trial, every tribulation; from the Great Jedi Schism, the Great Hyperspace War, the machinations of Exar Kun, to the Mandalorians; and it will withstand the resurgent Sith of the present day.
With the redemption of the Jedi Revan and the destruction of the Star Forge, the end to this destructive conflict is closer than ever. Darth Malak is dead, Saul Karath nothing more than a mote of vapourized matter floating in the ruins of the
Leviathan. Revan has told me that most of the Dark Jedi have been killed, many by his own hand. The Sith are in disarray after the deaths of their leaders, the annihilation of their war machine, and the crippling or their navy at the Battle of the Star Forge. They have fragmented; wayward, disparate factions fighting among themselves for a piece of the disentegrating colossus. They pose little threat to us now.
It has been sixteen months since the destuction of the Star Forge, and the Republic Navy, under the command of Admiral Dodonna, has made great strides in recapturing lost territory. I'm told that Admiral Kardan of the Sith Second Fleet is dead. Thule and Arkania have been liberated. The Perlemian Trade Route will soon be free of Sith domination.
General, your worries about this supposed emergent Sith Lord are quite baseless. He cannot possibly pose any sort of threat against us. He will lack the ships, the men, the equipment, to be able to make any sort of headway against us. The Republic may be weak now, but it is recovering its military strength, taking the oppurtunity of this reprieve to build up our forces. Your Sith Lord will be taken care of. This Nihlius seems to have no strategy whatsoever. He hasn't made much of a move against us, infighting with the rest of his brood. They will destroy one another. It's their way, as Revan told me. Without a strong leader the Sith cannot hope to survive. And Nihlius hardly strikes me as capable.
Another matter, General. Revan's been acting disturbed, lately. He says he has dreams. One moment he's walking beside me and the next he's kneeling on the floor, gasping. He claims he's been regaining some of his memories. I want you to keep an eye on him, General. Just be very careful of what he does.
I'm not taking any chances, even though he's my friend. The man he is can be trusted. The man he was..."

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Another Brief Rant

Why do Sith have British accents all the time? And why is Sion Scottish?

Such questions are the stuff of temporal meaning. The significance of the mole on the right cheek as compared to a stray hair on the underside of your chin.

Fish. Dolphins. It's the dolphins. Dolphins are not fish. It's a conspiracy. A conspiracy, I tell you. Wittgenstein, would it that we had a complete report out of your green-brown dossier!

Why do we have misconceptions about everything? Because the important stuff just isn't stressed out enough. That's it.

Dolphins are not fish, we aren't descended from apes, we are apes. And Michael Jackson Does Not Play In the NBA. And, for God's sake, Lucas, Venus is not a gas planet. Anymore than Earth is. I doubt Yao Ming's ever reported news in front of a camera crew too.

The ISS may be a white elephant. Congress may be narrow minded. And Norman Foster doesn't have a clue about non-glass and metal facades.

And we don't outlaw gum. Never did.

I tell you, the Super-class SD is 14km long. That should be a reasonable estimate.

A degree of separation is six.

[ADD-ON] Well, I didn't want to start a new post, so there.

I think I'm really going to do it. Write that KOTOR story. Just monitoring psychological patterns...

Temporal Resonance Detected

I swear, there's something fishy going on here.

I mean, to those who've felt their time percolate away from them like a squirming live eel, there is definitely something going on. One week. Left.

In the refulgent coruscation of scintillating glory that permeates across the distant gulfs of the empty cosmos, the stuff and meaning of life seems a sequestered dream. But whither do we walk the shores, gazing at the perpetuity of the starry empyrean? What for the vistas of those prodigous, herculean dances of gas and refracted light that fill the inky darkness and drives away the night? What for the swirls of dust and matter that coalesce around the newborn stars? The question, the justification, for terrestrial reality remains an ungraspable truth, an abstraction without the capacity for being understood.
And yet we walk the comforting shores and look upon the face of Heaven, and for all our brief existences, there is comprehension.

Monday, June 20, 2005

A Brief Rant


David Brin irritates the stuffing out of me. Writing treatises on the "anti-civilization" nature of Star Wars, ruining Asimov's work with his inconsistent capper of that terrible "Second Foundation Trilogy", and being enthusiastic about, of all things, the gradual artificial evolution of human beings into specialized biological constructs with four limbs with opposable thumbs. Like chimps, eh? I'll bet. Ben Bova and Card, too. Somehow this League of scientist-turned-authors (not Card), so full of themselves when writing their elegant hard sci-fi masterpieces, attribute the shortcomings of others with factors they are themselves prey to.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


It was evening. Anywhere else, it would have been a good evening.

In the centre of a town, shabbily clustered around a group of factories that belched forth inky smoke towards the heavens, an old man walked with a heavy rucksack thrown tiredly on his aching back. His face and clothes were stained with tarlike dirt and coal residue. He let forth a torrent of heavy coughing, and black dust mixed with saliva flew from his breath. The torrent of hacking went on, having gained a veritable life of its own, creating painful reports of noise that reverberated on and on, continuous and agonizing to the sympathetic ear. At last, out of breath, the old man desisted and the painful tension of truth, palpable in the evening smog, faded away. It seemed that the normal bustle of miserable noise, having retreated meekly to the unseen corner during the coughing fit, came back in full force, as if the old man's bout had been a dream, immediately forgotten upon waking.

Exhausted, the old man stumbled on the bare path, following unconscious instinct that had served him every evening for the past three decades. The fit of coughing had left him drained of strength. He tried to draw in a deep breath, but the filthy presence of oily smog only made him gag. He would have vomited, if there had been any food in his stomach. There was no choice but to stumble off the edge of the track towards a fallen log. He needed to rest. Get his bearings.

He sat, shivering with hunger and cold, his old eyes squinting at the intermittent few who, like him, were trudging on the track back to their homes, in time for whatever dinner their families could scrounge. The old man allowed air to whistle through his yellowing teeth, drawing long, unsatisfying breaths to reenergize his stamina, a technique learnt from thirty years of working in this town. A technique to minimize the foul stench of smoky air.

The day's wages were in his pocket. Two grimy coins, denominations unseen through the caked dirt, barely sufficient to tide by a day or two on bare flour and cabbages. The old man stared at the miserable coins, and slowly, tears welled up in his old eyes and slid softly down his wrinkled cheek.

After a minute or two, the old man rose painfully to his feet, joints creaking, muscles aching, back burning from arthiritis, hauled the rucksack up with all his strength and trudged the remaining length of his journey back to his home.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Batman Begins

And so it begins. A little discrepancy in the chronology, as compared to the progression of the real timelines of filmography. Batman Begins. I have no idea how anyone won't like this latest instalment in the Batman franchise. I mean, it's the optimal movie cocktail; with all the low-grade booze shoved roughly to one side and the cherries on top. Orange swirls, too. No, not that sort of cocktail. Really, there's these sophisticated action sequences, all that random swishing ninja sword fighting with Mr Mysterious Mentor Henri Ducard (a short-haired Neeson who vaguely resembles Viggo Mortenesen) spouting outwardly-chiding-but-secretly-proud mentor lines like "You were always unaware of your surroundings" (note that I'm paraphrasing here), the delving into dark history sequences complete with shots of an appropriately angsty Wayne delivering one-twos upon Chinese convicts, the emergence of superhero parts that are always essential for any fan-drool marathon, and the Righteous Police Commisioner(to-be), Lt. Jim Gordon, played, most inappropriately, by (gasp here for dramatic effect), Gary Oldman. Gary Oldman. What. Oldman, the classic villian? You know? Quiet British actor, bearded, can fake good accents, guy who played That Russian (Ivan Korshunov) in Air Force One, Dr Zachary Smith the Villianous GP/Terrorist Wishing to Blow the World Up in Lost in Space, (where he really spouts evil Sith/British anti-ideologue and gets the Sarcastic Treatment by Matt LeBlanc, the guy from Friends), Dracula in Dracula, and nearly got to be the voice for General Grievous in Sith. And Sirius Black (whoever that is) from Harry Potter and the [insert names of latest two movies here.] Enlighten me on the details. Anyway if you've watched Oldman in many of his roles you'll realize that guy is just scary. Look at him. In Batman Begins. Wearing the John Bolton (moustache), being the Only Honest Policeman Left in Gotham City. He emanates this aura of honesty and goodness. And competence. And his accent is American. In Air Force One its Russian. In In Lost in Space it's British. In Harry Potter and the [insert names of latest two movies here], it's uh...never mind. He is a terrifyingly good actor, because he just projects auras, from his manner, his voice, his expressions. He was absolutely unrecognizable in Batman Begins as the classic Oldman.

Anyway, Batman Begins is a good movie. Probably the best of the Batman movie franchise. (though I have yet to see Tim Burton's versions.) And I thought Batman and Robin was acceptable. George Clooney the pseudo-angsty Dark Knight seems to have little angst to justify being the Hammer of Justice. Maybe he's just too long on the job. Many have panned his "smirking Batman" and Batsuit nipples that are the legacy of Schumacher Batman movies.

Sticking to the point. Batman Begins is a fitting introduction to the series. The plot, while still a tad superhero-ish, is the most macabrely twisted and the darkest of superhero plots seen so far. Circles within circles...and the Illuminati-esque capper is most satisfying of the twists. I like how all the elements of conspiracy come together in a very neat but not contrived way. Deus ex Machina is thankfully missing. The Oriental Bit at the start, with Bale/Wayne spouting the hilarious wo bu shi huai zhe! (I am not a criminal!) in half-there intonation is priceless. While a little mystically charged the League of Shadows can be genuinely unsettling at times. Especially when Neeson/Ducard/? reveals that they were behind the burning of Rome, the Plague of the Middle ages, and other catastrophes that have "restored the balance and elminated decadence" in the world, the weight of history does hang deep. Fabricated, yes. But nevertheless. Cliched? Maybe, a little. But at least it's done with style. And style is all that matters in reviewer scribblings. Ken Watanabe (Ra's Al Gul) makes me wonder if he can actually speak English.

Acting is generally excellent all around, with Bale projecting the right amounts of emotional angst. Cillian Murphy (Dr. Jonathan Crane) scares me. His disconcertingly smug, unsettling, almost-insane stare is perfectly conjured. And when he dons the bag and becomes the Scarecrow, it wouldn't have been out of place in a horror movie. Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox) has been described as never failing to deliver good acting chops. While he doesn't stand out, at least he still gives a believable performance. Tom Wilkinson (Carmine Falcone) is British. And he plays an Al Capone-esque, gun-toting gang boss who sounds like he was weaned in Brooklyn. Need I say more? Alfred the Butler radiates fatherly charm and concern, but I actually (shock horror) prefer the Alfred in Batman and Robin. Not to say that Michael Caine was bad. He was good, and hailed as one of the best actors in Batman Begins. Katie Holmes, (one half of TomKat) who plays Rachel Dawes, Batman's love interest ("but," you shout. "We never saw anything like that in the cartoon!") was acceptable. Not the underdog. But not outstanding. I actually am less sensitive to acting ability.

Direction. Good cinematography, good acting chops, nice closeups, very emotional. That aside, I would like to say that Batman on fire is disconcerting. He's a superhero, for crying out loud. Spoiler Alert! Anyway, Nolan is better known for the independent psyschological movie than a big-budget blockbuster, and he puts his talents for drawing out Freudian, er, themes, to good use. Batman Begins is more character driven than most summer blockbusters. The obligatory action sequences are not the centerstage. Bruce Wayne and the Internal Struggle of How He Actually Turns Into Batman is. As Bruce in his playboy persona blithely says to a group of clustered companions, "A guy who dresses up like a bat...clearly has issues." Oh yes. Humour is actually quite abundant for a supposedly dark (which it is) movie such as this.

The funniest line in the movie goes like this.

Crane: He's here.
Random Street Enforcer: Who?
Crane: The bat-man.

The way he says it is just hilarious. I am going to buy the VCD/DVD and play it over and over again. Just joking.

Anyway, Batman Begins is good, and is probably the best of the superhero movie franchise to date.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Cycle of Rage

Night over the city.

As the last of the sun's scintillating rays were smothered by cloud and dusk the lights of the bustling downtown flared bright in answer, as if defiant to the coming of darkness. The hustle of habitation continued even as the sky darkened to a dull indigo. Night fell, and it seemed that nothing had changed. There was no lapse in the buzz, the hum, of fervent activity, the pulse of urbanity.

Downtown, where a warm wind still persisted in the cavernous valleys of glinting skyscrapers. The ataxia of activity was at its most hectic here. It helped little that there was a minor commotion in the walkways.

This commotion was a certain heavily garbed personage. Oblivious to the surrounding bedlam and the brief, incredulous stares of other pedestrians, he waded his way through the crowd. Swathed in jackets, a wide brimmed hat a few decades out of fashion, and dark glasses which hid his eyes in murky half-light, it was no wonder that this strange, comically attired character was subjected to such aporetic attention.

Little did they know that boiling within that man was a deep, monstrous, uncontrollable rage, and it was waking to the silent, brief derision. The man strode on. His comparatively large bulk and strange attire were instrumental in clearing a path for himself. That, and the growing sense of the man's impending rage, burgeoning, ever more palpable in the semiconscious tunnel-visions of surrounding pedestrians.

Finally stumbling his way out of the thick sea of humanity the man headed off to a side street. Relief puckered his unseeable brow. The red hot demon hovering at the edge of his consciousness cooled, and faded away. He flexed fingers that he hadn't known were clenched. Loosened his hold on gritted teeth. Stopped the continuous, unconscious torrent of curses he was muttering through those teeth. And walked on.

Halfway through his sojourn through the more decrepit areas of downtown he heard steps falling in with his own.

"It would help if you didn't wear those clothes, you know."
The man barely turned his head. "Shove off."
"That preposterous hat should go off first. Nobody wears those things anymore."
The red heat started to throb in the recesses of his mind. "Which part of 'shove off' don't you understand, Runt?"
"Those two words ain't in my dictionary."
With a casual swipe the man struck a blow on his companion's stomach, sweeping him off the road. Runt skidded and struck his head on the kerb. Momentarily stunned, he lay there a few moments. Finally, just as the man was about to turn a corner, he bellowed, "Wait! Where're you going anyway?"
"Where else would make me so damned irritated?"
Runt stared. "Anger management?"
Enraged, the big man turned. "Whatever in hell gave you that idea, Runt?"
"Hey, relax. I...I was just, er, joking, you know..."

The big man turned and walked off. His anger was not assuaged by the fact that he was getting so predictable nowadays. And by the money spent so far on something that never worked, especially because everyone now looked at him with apprehension. Another thing that made him angry.

Behind, Runt sighed. He often wondered at the big man. And why hid himself to disguise his identity when going for such classes.

He would probably still get angry anyway.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Dissection of Epic Fantasy

Epic. That's the word for writers today.

Ever since Fellowship of the Ring burst out (albeit unassumingly) on bookstore shelves have a century ago, the genre of epic fantasy has been revolutionized. No longer are tales of elves and goblins confined to the parables told at the bedside. Instead, modern, adult fantasy (please, don't get any ideas) has blossomed and children's tales have yielded the stage.

Today, fantasy is widespread. You could say ubiquitous, for the shelves are full of understated, pulp fantasy. Examples include, to a certain extent, game-to-book adaptations and some larger series. However, epic fantasy, or High Fantasy, is different. It chronicles the events that shake empires, that move worlds, all against the background of fantastic creatures and strange magic. Fantasy is not fantasy if there is no magic or creatures. The time period does not matter, indeed, some epics have chronologies that span millions of years. Throughout these storyarcs, the stories of its characters, preferably not flat or one-dimensional ones, fill the pages. Epic fantasy is preferably human (as in, it deals with interpersonal relationships between characters), but set against the backgrounds of fabricated histories. Epic fantasy is also characteristically long and drawn-out.

Some examples of epic fantasy: Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, George RR Martin's A Sword of Ice and Fire series, Goodkind's Sword of Truth series, perhaps some of Donaldson's, Edding's, and Brook's works as well.

The Confines of the Mundane

The sky, the celestial ceiling, so deceivingly impenetrable, is dead. Dead, for how else can Everyman describe the blinding, pseudopungent colour of a dead fish's belly (and thus the words In the Belly of the Carp ring), slathered like melted mayonnaise on heaven? Complete with the grey mouldy growths of insubstantial clouds, wandering their aimless, itinerant way through the realities of ciel.

Still the ravaging deadness covers the habitations of Man! Not merely the sky, but the air, balmy, stifling, initiating claustrophobic bouts in the appropriately attuned. Not even the wonders of modern technology (what, indeed? You wonder. An inappropriate and cliched term, oft-used to the point of weary irritation.) can eliminate the troubles that the overcast hue of the sky bring upon my thoughts.

{insert appropriate onomatopoeia here.} It's the heat, the stifling balminess that is normally found in the Doldrums, near the Sargasso sea. Inhale the air, taste the tangy, stale flavour of it, roll it around the mouth like a connoisseur of wine, an enologist, not without aristocratic distinction, practicing with self-assured poise the cultured swirling of the golden liquids in the crystalline glass.

Combined with the mundane shrike of Unfinished Business (aka homework, if you must know) the stifling heat in a stifling sky gets to even the most stalwart of those who live within.

And I am not even in the upper echelon.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Defining the Matrix

So far this "blog" has been a hodgepodge of disparate entries, ranging from normal posts to short descriptive essays. I recently realized, much to my chagrin, that the content really has little to do with infinite dreams or some plain/savannah where one may hallucinate at his or her leisure(though these things do exist in burning deserts in Africa and elsewhere.)

Of course, the logical solution would be to do nothing, and so I won't.

Wait. Won't change anything, that is. Not not doing nothing. You get the picture.

I shall end this entry, and you shall realize that everything that has been said so far amounts to absolutely nothing. Have a nice day, and may you not live in interesting times. (Yes, I am starting to read Discworld.)

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Urban Decay

The sky was not characteristically dark, tortured or roiling with the distant anger of erstwhile gods. A cool, rejuvenating wind blew from the east, a voiceless throwback to better times. Midmorning shone with soft golden light upon the streets. In the silence of the day, an invisible morass stalked the city.

Missing were the everyday noises of regular urbanity. The noise of cars, people, pets; the vital rumble of habitation; they did not exist, here, now, in this time. So silent was the deserted city that the gentle reverberation of the wind filled the ears. Tumbles of dust swept the roads, tiny molecules beating against the sides of tenements, shearing past used newspapers flying aimlessly with the air's motion. A lone car, proud in its exalted vintage, was parked beside a kerb, on a double yellow line, a blatant disregard of the message printed in bold warning on a nearby sign. A piece of white paper struggled wildly, given spirit by the gentle wind, wedged uncomfortably between the windscreen and its wiper.

The sidewalks provided little indication of habitation. Broken, cracks in the tiles exposed dry grey cement, powdered. Occasionally a gust would sweep these particles into a frenzied, tearing dance, gouging microlevel trenches on the tar roads. Half-collapsed stairs would lead to a seemingly undamaged door, antique, heavy, but not without a certain peaceful candor. But the heavy glass would not conceal the dust-covered, spiderweb-ridden realities of the interior, a veritable ghost-house of popular reckoning.

So, quietly, the city stands, aloof, unyielding against the light wind. Apartment blocks rise out of the concrete-covered ground, sometimes, with tops irrevocably altered by some force, jagged, broken, with electrical wiring and steel skeleton jutting forth, naked, exposed, in the bright sun. A train, stationary, still in the middle of the elevated track; like some image from a postcard, the entire scene projects an air of being eeriely mundane. Stained by dirt and the silent processes of decay, however; this train is hardly any qualified representative for pushing the city's image. Windows, mostly intact, do not hide the emptiness inside; where empty ice-cream cups, a handbag, clumsily disposed coke cans litter its floors, reminiscent of the bygone perpetrators of such antienvironmental villany. More distant, the missing tops of once-beautiful skyscrapers are indicators of the roving decay. But, even with pinnacles ending in chaotic, geometric barbarity, these buildings yet glimmer in the midmorning sun, yet project a semblance of their former majesty.

Hear the penetrating silence, broken only by the lonely call of the wind. See the broken tops of buildings arrayed in a vast field around you. Wonder at what agent of entropy could have brought such a thing to be. The silent removal of the life of the city brings about the edifices of its present condition. Without the mantaining energy of its inhabitants the city goes into decay. Decay caused by the destructive processes of inevitability.

Above the city, a silent peal of laughter can barely be heard, laughter that strafes through the growing wind.

The Distant Mountains

She lay there on the soft grass, as the world moved in cathartic slowness around her. Experience focused into a narrow cone of awareness, channeling a sense of peaceful solitude into her perceptions. Around this lush mound towering claws of the earth jutted out of the ground, so sheer, so tall, that their very summits were shrouded in impenetrable mist.

These were the peaks of her imagination, so distant that it would take a day on a jeep to reach the base of these colossal pinnacles, yet near as the intimate touch of the tendrils of her mind. White snow and char-coloured rock upon icy blue sky, a field of mountains piling into the faraway horizon - that was what she had come to love, a representation of the dreams that had infused her soul with yearning.

So she lies, supine, on the soft grass, with the artifices of her mind's eye arrayed around her, and she is at peace. And the mountains become sentinels to guard her, she who has spent her life studying them, loving them, as children of her mind.


Another experimental piece.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

A Shell of Art

Recently the remarks of a certain author have greatly bothered me. Though the can be little doubt that his works are emotive and meaningful, and that they have had an effect on many, the plastic, sneering tone of superiority and casual slamming that he infused into these remarks are disturbing and undermine the content of his works in a very fundamental way. One is led to wonder whether his own works can be believed in any longer to be the fruits of introspection of the human condition.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


Billowing rain washed the grey plaza. Watercolour shading, fading away into the washed-out hues of an autumn evening. The sky, painted grey-on-white, as liquid torrents poured forth from the heavenly chalice.

A red umbrella, jarring as the explorer in the cloying mist, announced its presence with a silent proclamation of its uniqueness. Red, for passion. Red, for the shades of emotion. A man held this umbrella, sitting on a parka, waiting out the autumn squall. Grey bodies moved in and out of his field of vision. Grey fountain gushing forth monochrome water, merging messily with the torrential wallop of the heavens. Black bird, polished, the ideal of any self-respecting avian, perching atop black marble, stylized man, on a stylized horse of polished obsidian. All on a polished pedestal of white marble, patterned with the glistening rivulets of celestial tears.

Shift, and summer paints the gold leaves green. Blue sky on clear water. Pigeons, flocks of them, strafing the ground of the white plaza, glimmering in the morning sun. Pigeons land near his boots, pecking on everything that can be found. Oh, the unadulterated tastes of pigeons, indiscriminant in the gentle breeze! A paper bag floats lazily around the man's legs, and the light-hearted crinkle of its motion caresses his ears. Music plays softly in the distance, the mellow calling of horns issuing clear tempests in the bracing air. It is the season of birds, and feathered hats perch on the finecombed sculptures of hair sported by the young ladies of the revolutionary temper. They rush past, handbags flopping. High heels tapping repeated crescendos on the cobbled plaza floor.

But the man's eyes do not wander. Merely fixating on one spot, near the parka. A young lady sits there. She smiles, and the world is lit up in summer brilliance. Auburn locks held snug under a fashionable pink cap. Cashmere over furrowed mink. Dainty, delicate leather gloves, oh, the stitching on the long, slender fingers, working on a stray hair! Face powderkits, perched atop those long fingers. Slender appendages holding a brush, as the fine hairs of some poor animal come into contact with that smooth cheek. Movement, swift as the flitting birds, sure as the actions of one long familiar. How, oh how it comes together, the way she sits, crossing her legs in that fashion, kneecap over lower femur, high heeled boots tapping, like a lively metronome, onto the marble kerb. Silvered button over soft fabrics. Eyelash slitting a black cut over green iris. Red lips framing white, even teeth.

He sits there, enamoured.

And he sits now, again, on a grey autumn, on the parka, and watches the grey bodies pass by, without a care on a rainy day.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

A Minor Tale

The Executor is silent as it slides through the fringes of the Hoth system. Not to say that a well-placed observer, situated a mere few metres from the hull of the enormous black vessel, would actually hear anything out of the ordinary, or for that matter, anything at all, except the irritated gruntings of the shift boss reverberating through his helmet.

For that matter, let us assume that the case of the well-placed observer is not merely a conveniently invented plot device or some such affectation. Let us assume, for the moment, that he is in fact a character in this little story. This moment is going to last the time from when you read this till the time you finish reading this tale.

So, let us get back to the case of the rather conveniently placed observer. What is he doing, you ask. This conveniently placed observer is in fact, a member of an elite corps of stormtroopers specially trained to handle space combat situations, campaigns on deserted asteroids, for instance, where there is not a slug to be found. The elite cadre of the Emperor's stormtroopers are specially selected for their Dexterity, Strength and Constitution. They are the most hardy of Soldiers, adept at the precise aiming of blasters in weightless space, able to wield melee weapons with ease, and a long but certainly not exhaustive list of other impressive skills that can be found in the ever-informative Handbook of the Various Stormtrooper Classes Found with the Ranks of the Galactic Empire, also referred to enigmatically as the Rulebook.

Ah, the Galactic Empire. Under the efficient and stable rule of the Emperor, the New Order has brought an era of Peace, Justice and Prosperity to the million happy member worlds of this great civilization. Ask any upstanding citizen of our ilk, his impressions of life in general, and he will answer contentedly of the boons the peaceful reign of the New Order has brought to his family and the aids it has brought to his undertakings. From Coruscant to the furthest reaches of the Outer rim trumpets call out in celebration of the happy rule that the Empire has brought to the citizens of the galaxy.

Back to the conveniently placed observer. What is he doing, you may ask. Why, he merely performs the tasks that any upstanding member of the elite cadres of Stormtroopers will happily undertake when told to do so by his superior officer. Only with unquestioning loyalty and devotion to the principles of Peace, Justice and Order can these Stormtroopers uphold the pillars that support the New Order. Only with these qualities can he become a bringer of the fruits of the reign of the Emperor, to worlds not yet touched by the prosperity the Empire has to offer to its citizens.

Behold, fellow citizens. For the conveniently placed observer is a hero, along with his comrades. For he upholds the principles of Peace, Justice and Order that are the basis of the New Order, which has brought happiness to the million member worlds of the Galactic Empire. Look how he stands, performing his assigned tasks, as if a hope and confidence has been infused into his soul, for he knows that whatever task he may endeavor to take in the name of the Galactic Empire brings civilization one step further to attaining Peace, Justice and Prosperity for posterity.

So, the Executor launches thousands of shuttles and transports. as the nearby Star Destroyers move into position around the icy planet Hoth. Green fury begins as the Star Destroyers deliver the fruits of Peace, Justice and Order to the ignorant, beleaguered rejectors of the prosperity and justice of the New Order. The conveniently placed observer watches through the thick transparisteel as Justice is delivered to an errant officer whose stupidity cost the lives of devoted men who uphold the New Order and the fruits of its rule.

Lord Vader takes a look at the Stormtrooper, who continues with his assigned task. A silent salute. Moments later, the conveniently placed observer receives an irritated summons from the crew boss. His schedule has been ended early.

Below, above the icy planet, streaks of silver fire blind the stark skies.

The Ultimate Urbanity

Imagine a row of skyscrapers, like jagged shards of ice, stretching both vertically and into the far horizon where the land merges with the sky. Except that that horizon is not the oracular magic that we are faced with when gazing into the blue ocean in another locale, in another time, distant as the wellsprings of creation. It is not featureless and straight; rather, it somewhat resembles a spider's thin web, a strand of a million drops of water, sparkling with iridescent light. It is a range of slender peaks and huge, towering monoliths, resplendent with Gothic majesty or outstanding in ultramodern glamour.

Imagine New York, and envision it in your mind. What if the skyscrapers of humanity's greatest concrete edifice were stretched? What if they, like a ubiquitous mould, were to spread? What if the shaded, decrepit alleys of the Bronx became a breeding ground of Fostereque experimentations? Or if Staten Island, with its suburban sprawl, were to become a nexus for the creation of a new Manhattan? Going a step further, what if Times Square were to be buried underneath the crush of sedimentation, as newer, taller, bigger
stalactites of glass, steel and chrome trampled the poor urban products of the rush of the twentieth century? In the headlong race to greatness, there can be no respite from the outcast creations of the past. There is only forward; there is no looking back.

And so the Eiffel tower becomes a support strut. A museum piece in the abode of giants. Seas vanish. The sun goes higher, the climate bleaker. Our feet cease contact with the ground and the works of men, as great as the labours signalling the active creation of a purpose, are swallowed by the rising edifices of the new and great, a flowering of creativity and expression. And the legions of the past can only look with wonder at the vast new undertaking that they have sired.

Tired, they fade out of sight but not memory.

"No, Luke. I am your father."