The Next Time The World Almost Comes To An End, I'd Like At Least A Little Advance Notice, Thanks

Title tells it.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-01-20 21:00:00 No comments

Yes, it's been a rough few weeks ... couple of months, really ... and not only for the obvious reasons.

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Tags: excuse our dust politics these troubled times

The Fall Of The Hammer: A Minor Oops, Un-Oopsed

The purchase links for Fall Of The Hammer went to the wrong books. This has since been corrected.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-01-16 18:00:00 No comments

The purchase links for Fall Of The Hammer went to the wrong books. This has since been corrected.

Purchase on Amazon

The book is available on Amazon in dead-tree and dead-electron versions.

The rest of normal service will resume shortly. I hope.

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Tags: Infinimata Press The Fall Of The Hammer excuse our dust

Look No Further

On the (easily misunderstood) Zen doctrine of not looking for fulfillment through outside phenomena.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-01-04 21:00:00 No comments

The hardest lesson Zen has to teach, and the most important one, is that whatever it is we're looking for is not outside ourselves. It's also a widely misunderstood lesson, because it sounds like narcissism to those who don't know much about Zen or Buddhism. After studying it on my own for around fifteen years now, I'm certain it's not about navel-gazing or self-importance. Too bad it's also pretty hard to explain to others! But I can try.

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Tags: Buddhism Zen

The Threshold Of Awesomeness

Sometimes there is too much of a good thing.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-01-04 12:00:00 No comments

A great line I read in a Goodreads review: "There is a threshold of awesomeness beyond which I stop caring about a story." The term threshold of awesomeness is a great one, and it immediately got my gears spinning.

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Tags: creativity storytelling

New Phone, Who Dis

Upgrade time. Not the best time for it, either.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-01-03 21:00:00 No comments

On top of everything else these last couple of weeks, I had to replace my phone. Not the time of my life I wanted to do it in -- more on that later, it's a long, long story -- but time was nigh whether I liked it or not. Four years is about the outer limit of use for a phone these days -- and that's about two more years than the phone makers and the carriers want you to get out of them, so I've beaten the odds nicely there, I think.

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Tags: technology

The More You Know, The More You Stare

With a wide-eyed and dismayed sense of overwhelm.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2021-01-02 12:00:00 No comments

The end of the old year and the beginning of the new one is proving more crowded and complex than I expected. More about that when I am ready to talk about it. But for now I have a few things to muse about.

Something we got to mumbling about the other night, I ended up christening "the paradox of technical awareness:. The more you know how complex a particular thing is, or how broad the space is, the harder it is to feel like anything you would do at all in that space would matter, the more conscious you are of your insignificance.

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Tags: creativity

Movies: Goodfellas

One of the greatest of American films generally, and certainly the most incisive and insightful one about the criminal life.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2020-12-29 12:00:00 No comments

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As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster. To me, being a gangster was better than being President of the United States.

Fitting that in 2020, when I sat down to watch Goodfellas 30 years after its release, we would have a president who amounted to a mobster. Here we have, still have, one of the greatest of American films generally, and certainly the most incisive and insightful one about the criminal life, because of how it tricks us emotionally into thinking the Mafia code actually amounted to something for those who lived inside it.

Most Hollywood mob movies are about kingpins who rise and then fall: Little Caesar, Scarface (both of them), The Godfather. Goodfellas is unabashedly about a low-level guy, someone who has just enough of a taste of the life to enjoy it, but who will never rise very far -- presumably because he's half-Irish and half-Italian, but really because of his urges to shirk the disciplines of the mob world. He never rises very high, but he he still has a long way to fall.

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Tags: Joe Pesci Lorraine Bracco Martin Scorsese Ray Liotta Robert de Niro movies organized crime review

The Visualization Trigger

Sometimes I get ideas for a project by way of nothing but a potential piece of cover art.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2020-12-28 12:00:00 No comments

This may sound cheesy, but I won't lie: Sometimes I get ideas for a project by way of nothing but a potential piece of cover art. Remember that post from the other day about the four projects that graduated to my incubator (in a matter of speaking) this year? At least two of them got booted to incubation because I whomped together cover art for them at random. Imagining something that looked like that on my shelf made it easier for me to imagine what the back cover blurb might be, or what might be inside.

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Tags: artwork book-covers creativity visualization

The Function Of Fantasy, As Per Lynda Barry

Fantasy can be used as a distraction, but its job is to give us new ways to look at what's around us every day,

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2020-12-26 22:00:00 No comments

Lynda Barry, who is a treasure beyond compare and has never been given a tenth of what she deserves for it, once appeared on Letterman and said something to the effect that her favorite television was anything that had a cell dividing in it.

I'd known about Barry before, having stumbled across her strip Ernie Pook's Comeek and later on her album The Lynda Barry Experience. A line like that made me think of the likes of Laurie Anderson or even Virginia Woolf: someone with great and gentle attention to the wonderful things, when so much of the rest of the world has no such thing.

She also said this once, in her book What It Is:

There are certain children who are told they are too sensitive, and there are certain adults who believe sensitivity is a problem that can be fixed in the way that crooked teeth can be fixed and made straight. And when these two come together you get a fairytale, a kind of story with hopelessness in it.

I believe there is something in these old stories that does what singing does to words. They have transformational capabilities, in the way melody can transform mood.

They can't transform your actual situation, but they can transform your experience of it. We don't create a fantasy world to escape reality, we create it to be able to stay. I believe we have always done this, used images to stand and understand what otherwise would be intolerable.

Emphasis mine. Her notion complements my oft-quoted line from 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."

Fantasy can be used as an anaesthetic or a distraction, but I don't think that's its real function. Its job is to give us new ways to look at what's around us every day, to shake that up a little, and to let us take something away from that shaking-up.

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Tags: Lynda Barry fantasy

Those Damn Darlings

To kill them or not kill them?

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2020-12-24 12:00:00 No comments

Nurture Your Darlings :: Matthew Buscemi

My advice to Aaron, and to all other writers, is not to kill your darlings, but to nurture them. That scene that you think is really awesome, try to make it the best it can possibly be. Don’t forgive its flaws just because you like it—you’re the author; make it better. What better motivator could one have for wanting a thing to be good than caring about it deeply?

I think the whole reason the cult of "kill your darlings" came about is as pushback against the kind of senselessly "expressive" writing that made self-indulgence and obscurantism into the highest goals, instead of storytelling and narrative/artistic cohesion.

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Tags: writers writing

See earlier posts from December 2020

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