Here is the direct MP3 download for the Evil Genius Chronicles podcast, August 17, 2013.
The fandom series continues with me discussing my love of cyberpunk, Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, and JG Ballard.
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I’ve been thinking a lot about cyberpunk lately. No matter what its current fate in the literary fashion sweepstakes, I always had a great affinity for the genre and always will. No matter that its original young turks are now all too old and respectable to wield the crowbar with proper leverage. Sadly, the Ramones and the Sex Pistols are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s the fate of all punks to mellow or die, and they tend to do some of each.
William Gibson will be in my little town tomorrow accepting an honorary doctorate. It makes sense as he was born in this town. I’ve heard smatterings of outrage because apparently he speaks unkindly of Conway SC. He’ll be getting a “Doctor of Humane Letters” which leaves me wondering of they’ve actually read his books. His work has many wonderful virtues but humane is not at the top of the list. They may not have the option to give a “Doctor of Inhumane Letters.” I have Spook Country but haven’t read it yet. I’ve fallen off the Gibson pace in recent years but I still count him as equal influence with JG Ballard and William S. Burroughs in shattering my patterns of thinking and leading me somewhere new.
Bruce Sterling posted a link to a bit wondering if “cyberpunk is dead.” He has some analysis that I love and find applicable in our ongoing food fights as to whether “podcasting is dead” or “vlogging is dead.”
Just for the record, nothing can be “dead” when people have to anxiously declare it “dead.” Once it’s REALLY dead, nobody publicly frets about its deadness. Broadway theater’s been dying for about a century, “belle lettres” has been dying for, gosh, maybe 250 years now. You have to get used to that.
Right on, brother Brucie! Rather than getting pissed off, I’ll just treat the declarations of things I care about as “dead” as a sign of their vitality. From henceforth, such things will be considered self-contradictory just by existing. That was easy. Staples easy button easy, in fact.
Rudy Rucker is so far from a young turk that he’s retired now, which gives him more free time to post weird shit on his blog and blow my mind. He seems like a true case of someone with no off switch. I’m still subscribed to his audio feed and get whatever he chooses to post on it.
And just now I noticed something in common with all three of these guys: all grew up in the south and no longer live there. Gibson: South Carolina and Virgina and now in Vancouver BC. Sterling: Texas and now in Beograde. Rucker: Kentucky and now in California. If only the south made more people weird like these guys, we’d really have something!
I saw notices about the passing of Joe Murphy of the Kick Ass Mystic Ninjas. My sympathies to his friends and family. I don’t think I ever met him at a PME and I had never actually heard their show until today. As I remain underloaded on new shows, I’m digging back into older shows I had downloaded last year and moved to the external drive when my laptop was full. I just heard their episode on Sterling’s Holy Fire. I’ve got to say that a program where half the panelists can dismiss that book because “nothing happened” is probably one that I can pass on safely. As quality goes it wasn’t bad, but I think my sensibilities and theirs have a large impedance mismatch.
I’ve been listening to the John Edwards podcast since the beginning, as well as the Barack Obama podcast. I started listening mainly to see what they did with the medium, not necessarily because I was in their camp. I’d have to say if one of them was swaying me harder with it, it would be John Edwards. In particular, the speech he gave at the Riverside Baptist Church was killer. In general in the podcast, he seems more willing to take chances and more sincere. He also is more personal considering that his wife is a co-host on most of them and they frequently give updates on what their kids are up to. Having listened to both since they began, I feel more invested in Edwards than Obama from a podcast sense.
When it started up, I listened to Radio Open Source but dropped it after a few months. I know a lot of people seem to like Christopher Lydon but I find his breathless interview style a real impediment and the show generally less than the sum of its parts. I had heard his proto-podcast blogger interview series that Dave Winer was working with him on, and I had the same problems with those interviews. I had decided to give it another try last year and downloaded the episode where he talked about the NSA wiretapping and included William Gibson. I have to say, I’ve never heard an interviewer get less out of Gibson. It was just downright disappointing. Looking at the website to blog this, I see they had Sonny Rollins on the show last week. I recently subscribed to Rollins’ video podcast, although I haven’t watched any episodes yet. I might give them one more listen on that. If Open Source manages to underwhelm me with him as a source, I doubt I’ll ever be back.
I listen to the Dread Daze podcast, which has a lot of that 60s and 70s reggae vibe. I generally care very little for modern dance hall style reggae and prefer the older sounding stuff. I rely on Najashi to inform me of current bands with old school reggae sensibilities. In this old episode from last year, I think it is my favorite of the series. I liked all the music, I liked the vibe. It was exactly what I was looking for at the moment I listened to it. I’m going to look up the music of Tuklan and Jah Roots. Almost 10 years ago in the heyday of MP3.com, I found some songs from a South African reggae band that were unmistakably old school reggae but had that distinctive “Soweto sound” guitar in them. I’ve been on the search for bands like that ever since, so if you know of good African reggae that combines all these musical traditions, let me know.
Here’s a cool opinion piece in Wired by William Gibson about digital remix culture. He cites William S. Burroughs’ experiments with cut-and-paste and his cut-up experiments as part of his personal inspiration.
When I was a co-op student in college, I wrote in PETOS Basic a computer program to do random Burroughs style cut-up of input sentences. This ran on a Perkin-Elmer infrared spectrometer, back in the days when having standalone computers was uncommon. I typed in passages from Naked Lunch and printed out the mashed up versions and read them to my friends until they asked me to stop. Reading this bit from Gibson reminded me of all that.