Saturday, January 15, 2005

R. Scott Bakker has recently released the Warrior-Prophet, the sequel to his first book, the Darkness That Comes Before. I haven't finished the first book, but it's quite interesting so far. Plus, it's kind of inspiring, how he's basically taken his D&D homebrewed campaign and turned it into a work of fiction.

Here is an interview with R. Scott Bakker, wherein he talks about epic fantasy, world creation, religion, philosophy, and why fantasy is important in the modern world.

Here's an excerpt:

For instance, take the ancient Middle-East as described in the Bible. If you were to redraw the shorelines, rivers, and mountain ranges, and to rename the various peoples, nations, and cities -- to change everything, that is, except its fundamental form -- what would you have? A prescientific world where magic and prophecy are possible, where divinity is certain, where individuals have an indisputable place in a cosmic order, and where the end of the world is imminent.

What you would have, in other words, is something very similar to Eärwa or Middle-Earth! And this is my point: if you change the details and leave the fundamentals intact, scriptural worlds become fantasy worlds.

Personally, I find this fact extraordinary. It explains, for instance, why so many Biblical literalists have so much difficulty with Harry Potter. If you think the world as described in the Bible is the world, then Harry's world is no longer 'harmless fantasy' -- he might as well be a gunslinger! And it also explains, I think, something of epic fantasy's mass appeal.

And a little more:

So, to finally answer your question (I told you I spent way too much time mulling these things over!). Thanks to science, fantasy worlds are worlds where philosophy and religion still command the heights of cognition. In other words, any world where philosophical discourse remains entirely credible is a fantasy world -- which is why I think fantasy is ideally suited to be a 'literature of ideas.' To write the one, I've found, is to inevitably beg the other. I started using my philosophy to understand my fantasy, only to find my understanding of philosophy transformed as well.

Speaking of fantasy and world creation, one of my favorite sites is Virtual Verduria. The work put into this is quite compelling, certainly on the level of a Tolkien or an Austin Tappan Wright, author of Islandia. Verduria has it all. History. Conlangs. All the cool stuff. Highly recommended.

And of course, taking world creation in a slightly more disturbing (because of thematic content, i.e. little girls with penises being vivisected and killed in battles) and outsider art direction, there's this link over at Metafilter, about Henry Darger, and the obsessive and astounding 15,000 page illustrated novel that he wrote over years.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

I want Clappers.

If anyone out there finds Clappers at a flea market, or at the Salvation Army, or in your great auntie's attic, I want them.

I have a cool idea (which I shamelessly stole from someone on EM411) for a crazy sound installation that I would like to do, and Clappers are integral to the plan.

Ghetto blasters or tape players with built-in speakers would be welcome too.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Did you know that Heraclitus died by having himself buried up to his neck in cow dung? He thought it would draw the fluid out of his lungs. But he was wrong. Dead wrong.

What a shitty way to die.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Here's some interesting ambient art. By John Vega.

And sleepbot has a very cool webcast.
So, this comic, Non Sequitur (which seems kind of like a second rate Far Side) has been taking potshots at Scott Kurtz's PVP, and webcomics in general.

So, they pointed out what Gabe had to say about this on BoingBoing, which, to quote:
This guy has been giving Scott Kurtz a lot of shit over Scott's syndication deal. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, any newspaper that wants to run PVP can do so for free. It's just free advertising for Scott. The more people he can drive back to his site, the more eyeballs on his ads and the more money he makes.

I sort of feel bad for Wiley, I mean it's not his fault he's old and doesn't understand technology. He's like a doddering old man sitting in his horse and buggy, shaking his liver spot covered fist at passing automobiles. He thinks that web publishing is for kids and lacks the integrity of good old fashioned paper. Let me tell you about web publishing Mr. Wiley.

Six years ago my friend and I started publishing our comic strips on the internet. Now Penny Arcade is translated into five different languages and read by 3.5 million fans in countries all over the world. When we have a convention to play video games and talk about Penny Arcade, over 3000 people show up. When we ask our fans to donate to charity they give $310,000 to the Children's Hospital. Newspapers like the New York Times write long articles about how fucking awesome we are. Huge companies pay us to create web comics based on popular license like Tom Clancy and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. All of this came from publishing our silly little comics on the internet.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, fuck you and fuck your stupid newspapers. We don't need you.

Scott Kurtz, then pointed out this funny commentary at another webcomic, called CheckerboardNightmare.
'Webcomics are amateur garbage...'
'Yes! Because they're not sanctified by corrupt media behemoths! '

I find the whole thing kind of funny.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Here's that link I promised Mike about the robots that eat flies. That's a short step away from humans, folks.

But, I, for one, welcome our new robotic overlords!

Took away a good haul of books from the Dickson Street used bookstore today. Glen Cook's the Black Company, Prince of Ayodhya by Ashok K. Banker (a retelling of the Ramayana), Against A Dark Background by Iain Banks (which I've been wanting to reread) and a short story collection by Brian Aldiss called Galactic Empires 1.

Oh yeah, and Faiths and Pantheons, a D20 sourcebook for D&D.