All posts for December 2019

Monster Mouse

It isn't Disney that's the problem with Star Wars; it's us, and not in the way you might think.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2019/12/27 08:00

If there's one lesson all of us are finally learning about Star Wars, it's that Disney and its minions are finishing with brutal efficiency what George Lucas could only accomplish halfway with his bumbling solipsism: to turn a piece of cultural wildfire into something intentionally forgettable, the better to trick you into buying the next thing with the same name on it.

I don't even blame Disney. Why? Nothing they have done here is out of gamut or historical precedent. It's their explicit and stated function to be cultural monopolists. They ingested Marvel Comics without even a burp; why would Star Wars threaten them with dyspepsia? The problem is with us for thinking the Mouse House could be terraformed from the inside out, for believing for even two consecutive milliseconds Freak Flags could ever be hoisted from the spires of the Cinderella Castle. More the fools us.

Some time back an acquaintance of mine who lives in Japan and covers the machinations of its cultural capitalist overlords said six words that sum up my feelings about anyone who does this stuff for money: they are not your fucking friends. The problem is how good they are at making us think they're our friends. They get oh so good at speaking every sub-dialect of our language, of giving us what we think we want instead of what we didn't know we needed, that it's easy to keep forgetting.

But many of us, even those of us who celebrate indie geekdom from the inside out and vote with our wallets on it, are good at wishful thinking. We want very badly to believe a machine as big and rich as Disney is also, at heart, a benevolent despot, or at least not too terrible a one. We want confirmation, however fleeting, that the job of building the Next Wonderful Thing, one that feels like a true reflection of our desires, will in fact be kicked off by someone else with tons of money and marketing muscle, and not something that we in fact will have to invent ourselves with our own bare hands. We always want to believe someone else can be the hero, because it absolves us of the responsibility of any hard work. If it takes the ruin of Star Wars to disabuse us of that delusion, hey, it's a start.

Tags: Disney  Star Wars  geekdom  monoculture  popular culture 

A Few Next Steps Into 2020

What's on deck for me for the end of this year and the beginning of the next.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2019/12/21 17:00

Quiet couple of days here — holidays, other celebrations — but time for some word about what's happening in Chez Soon To Be Something Other Than Genji (But Don't Hold Your Breath, The Revamp Won't Happen For A Bit Yet):

  • I'm still taking a nice long break from Fall Of The Hammer so I can come back to it with a clear mind. The next big step is to go back through my draft, break it down by scene, collate all my to-do-in-next-draft notes, and then figure out what to rewrite and how. The collation process alone should take a week or two, and I don't plan on diving into that until I've put a little distance between myself and the work.
  • The very nice folks at my ISP provide me with some useful tools for working on the software I use to publish this site, which is entirely of my own devising. I broke it out and took a look at it for the first time in quite a while, and began the tentative process of cleaning it up and refactoring it. It's like living in a house with a lot of peeling paint: you can live with it, but after a while you don't want to, and in some cases it can be toxic, so you finally get off your rusty-dusty and do something about it.
  • I also broke out an earlier software project, my toy language compiler, and started dinking with that again. One of the Discord servers I'm on has good help in the form of other prospective computer-language builders, so I'm getting more direct help than before.
  • I also have another software project that I'm not talking about much yet, but it might turn into something genuinely useful.
  • Finally got back into the swing of things at Ganriki. I had several reviews lined up to do for the site, but what with one thing and another I had to backburner 'em (it was mostly work on the novel eating into my time). Most recently I've done pieces on the novel Penguin Highway, a fiercely faithful manga adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's At The Mountains Of Madness, Satoshi Kon's Millennium Actress, the quasi-pinky-violence manga Ryuko, and tons more.

Tags:  The Fall Of The Hammer  programming  projects 

The Fall Of A Milestone Marker

'Fall Of The Hammer', draft 1 (actually, 2): finished.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2019/12/17 08:00

Last Thursday night, two things happened. One was the UK election, about which the less said the better (OK, John Judis has some good analysis). The other was me finishing the first draft of The Fall Of The Hammer. (Sometimes just Fall Of ...; I need to come up with a canonical version of the title and stick with it.).

First draft? More like, first-and-a-half, maybe even second. This is a complex story.

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Tags: The Fall Of The Hammer  projects  writing 

Connections And Disconnections

"Is this something I can see myself sitting down to work on literally every day for the next year or more?" If not, why?

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2019/12/15 08:00

Steve has a post up where he makes the claim that staying connected to one's work is more important that any slavish methodology for how to execute it. I think he's got a great point, one I approached from an entirely different angle by way of a question I ask myself about a prospective project: "Is this something I can see myself sitting down to work on literally every day for the next year or more?"

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Tags: creativity  creators  writers  writing 

Havel's Optimism, December 2019 Edition

Stories aren't about happy or sad endings. They're about making sense of what happens.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2019/12/12 17:00

You know the quote I'm talking about. Václav Havel:

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.

I think about this quote a great deal as of late, if only because it is one of the few bits of driftwood I can cling to in this tempest-tossed time. Most of the time I think about it in the obvious way — here we have one of the few bits of perspective available to us in a moment when history feels like a bottomless well — but I also think about it as an aesthetic for how to construct a story.

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Tags: Roger Ebert  fiction  philosophy  writers  writing 

Genji Press: Projects: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Act Five

What happens when you stop in the middle of a draft and rewind to the beginning, and why.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2019/12/04 17:00

I'm very close to the end of the first — well, second, more on that in a sec — draft of Fall Of The Hammer. I say "first/second" because I started it earlier this year, got about two-thirds of the way through, stopped, wound back to the beginning, and started rewriting it as if it was a second draft. This is not a common pattern for me; the vast majority of the time I just blast all the way through and then fix it to avoid disrupting momentum. But a funny thing happened on the way to Act Five.

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Tags: The Fall Of The Hammer  writing 

The Shape Of The Envelope

On pushing your envelope as a creator (and not getting all moralizing with yourself about it).

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2019/12/03 13:00

Last week was busy (as you can imagine), and this week is likely to also be busy, but I'm squeezing in a little time for a post based on something that came out in a conversation the other day.

A friend and I were talking about pushing one's own envelope, playing over one's head — trying to do something hitherto unexplored with one's creative work and move into new territory. Out came this formulation from yours truly:

Whenever people push their envelope, it's scary. But not all envelope pushing is vertical. It's not always about ascending vs. descending. Sometimes it's also about exploring further out to the sides. It's not about "better", but about "different" or "new".

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Tags: creativity  creators  writing 

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