Recently saw the films Moonlight (breathtaking beautiful), and Arrival (perhaps even moreso).
Arrival in particular - the way it mimicked conciousness, those moments in life that are just sublime - was absolutely beautiful. I came out of the theatre feeling that film was the most powerful medium for artistic expression I've ever experienced. It briefly made me reconsider focusing on novel writing, and then I remembered how much I hate actually making short films.
Frank Yang has said that film is the closest analog to human consciousness, and that's why it's so popular - the de facto artistic mode of expression of our time.
I wonder, then, is VR the future of storytelling? Is that a step up in immersion that will one day supplant two dimensional film as the most engaging medium for storytelling?
I don't know, but I'd assume so. Maybe one day we'll all jack into the matrix and experience narratives from the first person, all the way down into the depths of our sensorium.
The world, it's nothing but change.
Possibly one of my favourite headlines of all time:
Chinese rugby player, 20, ‘kicked fellow student in the face and broke his eye socket after he was called a ‘chink”
The "victim," a Mr. Stephen Kent, was of course later found to have been the aggressor, and the charges were dropped.
Whoever Sidney Chan's father is, he did a good job.
One of the things I find most interesting about writing is the experiencing of improvement.
As you get better, the same sequence of words appear to you in different ways. A draft that once read really well to you six months ago looks like absolute shit now. This isn't a bad thing, it means you're getting better, seeing your words in a different way - in an elevated perspective, one that sees mistakes that used to be invisible, one that understands rhythm in a way that was once impossible.
If your old work doesn't read poorly, it means you're not getting better.
And yet, there are passages that hold their quality over time. I'm nearing the endpoint of revising Beta Male for the final time, and the overall rhythm, the overall fluidity of the story is (I think) congealing in the way I had originally envisioned. I set out to write a very specific story, and I feel that I've accomplished that. The critical passages that I wrote a year ago have held their value over time.
Soon, it'll be time to release it, put wings on that motherfucker, and watch it FLY.
How many people can one fuck before it becomes "too many?" Is there such a thing?
Every man I know who's slept with a lot of women is irreparably detached from others. Every man I know with a triple digit notch count is, at bottom, not a normal human being. There is something deeply dysfunctional there (or, if you'd prefer that I use non-normative terminology, phenotypically atypical). What is the process that underlies this degradation? Maybe I'm conflating attachment with monogamy. Maybe they're not the same thing. Perhaps only people who are broken to begin with end up pursuing a high number of partners. Maybe it's not the promiscuity itself that changes you.
My friend has a theory that every casual encounter acts to poison the well, to cheapen the value of intimacy with another person. Maybe the religious conservatives have a point, that there is some kind of spiritual cost to promiscuity. I don't know. Perhaps there is some threshold, some rubicon, that once crossed, permanently severs your ability to have a loving, functional monogamous relationship with another human being.
What I do know is that the intensity of emotions I'm feeling for the women I meet in my personal life is declining. Indifference isn't the right word. Detachment would be a better word. I do care about them. I do have a fondness for them, a genuine interest in their well-being. But were they to leave my life, I probably wouldn't lose a step. It's unclear to me if this is a contradiction. It doesn't feel like one. I hesitate to attach a moral value to this, since I do not seem to know what I actually want. Life is full of surprises. My friend, who I thought was an incorrigible womanizer, fell in love in a matter of weeks. He has a girlfriend now, a medical student. She's a good person. Hope springs eternal. Sometimes the sun surprises you. I'm happy for him, I think. Maybe I'm too picky. Or more likely, just getting old. All men must die.
Sometimes, for brief moments in time, I experience a mild sensation of derealization, the feeling that my experience is not real. This isn't always linked to intense, peak experiences (deaths, travels to exotic locations, etc.), but often happens during banal moments in my life - walking the streets at night, taking in the neon lights and the signage of the urban setting.
I think this is attributable to two things: one, a mild decrease in the acuity of my sense as I age (particularly my vision), and two, the increasing amount of time that I spend in front of a screen. Since most of my work and passions involve screen-time, the screen has become the primary conduit through which I interface with reality.
In philosophy, a quale is a unit of perception: the colour red, the taste of salt on your tongue, etcetera. I wonder if "realness," as it is experienced by humans, is some summation of these individual quales, that, together, makes us feel "real" and present. Increasingly, I feel a thin film of unreality placed over some of my experiences in the world, even though I practice mindfulness and try to always "be" where I am.
Maybe Nick Bostrom is right. Maybe this all just a simulation...
Guy thinks he's God's gift to women. But then again, so do women. Guy is a successful talent agent who dates models, pop stars and women he meets on the beach. He's a narcissistic, judgmental snob who rates women's looks from one to ten; a racist, homophobic megalomaniac who makes fun of people's weight; a cheating, lying, manipulative jerk who sees his older girlfriend as nothing more than an adornment. His only real friend, besides his dog, is a loser who belongs to a pickup artist group. Guy is completely oblivious to his own lack of empathy, and his greatest talent is hiding it all?until he meets someone who challenges him in a way he's never been challenged before. Darkly funny and utterly offensive, Guy is a brilliant and insightful character study that exposes the twisted thoughts of the misogynist bro next door.
So reads the Amazon description for Guy, a novel by Canadian writer Jowita Bydlowska.
Looks like an interesting take on some of the themes in Beta Male, looking forward to reading it (but I'll wait until after I'm done my final draft of my own novel, since I don't want to unconsciously pilfer from another novel that at first glance appears to be similar to my own).
My good friend asked me today whether I'm happy. I'm not sure that I am, at the least, I'm not unhappy, but I think a focus on happiness can be toxic. A focus on happiness in an inherently inward-facing frame, one that prioritizes your own hedonic experience above all.
Happiness, then, becomes just one more metric that we track in our lives, and in the very act of constantly assessing it, we pull ourselves out of the present, comparing the current moment to a litany of past and future ones, perpetually asking ourselves - is this good enough?
Instead, I think gratitude is a much better frame. Instead of pursuing happiness, pursue gratitude, giving thanks for all the things that you do have - whatever those things may be. I'm grateful for the people in my life who love me, and for those I have loved, for my health, for living in a country like Canada, for the opportunity to make art, for the gift of having found something (writing) that animates me, that breathes vitality and purpose into my life.
The final draft of Beta Male, after about five years of work, is finally congealing, crystallizing into its final form. I'm cutting the fat, eliminating the dialogue where characters talk like mouthpieces (this isn't something people do in real life), paring things down to their essentials. It's work that I'm truly proud of, something I can point to with pride and say - I made that. The ironic thing about my novel is that even though it's about a broken, hateful person, it was made with love.
No matter what happens in my life, no matter what ups and downs go on, I take solace in art, in the act of making good art, of making something that can move another human being. To see the craft of something, to appreciate the way it rings clean and true: this is a privilege, the privilege of work.
I'm not done Beta Male, but I'm getting there.
The hard part won't be finishing it (that path is clear) - but making sure that people actually read it.
I don't think a book like this exists (and it should), so I've got some ideas on that front.
Stay the course, don't get distracted.
Got influenza this week the day after a hard workout. Hit me like a ton of bricks. Soaked my sheets in sweat for four days, my body turned against me.
I think I get how people die can die of this.
I mean, I think it's the flu.
It was either that, or, according to WebMD, cancer, HIV, malaria...
Why is that stuff you wrote a year ago reads like absolute shit today? Is it because distance alone makes you more objective? Or does it mean that you're actually getting better, that your mind is incrementally assimilating the craft of good writing over time, giving you fresh eyes? Both?
The BETA MALE draft, for the most part, is strong. But it's certainly not done - even though it felt like it was done a year ago. There's some stilted dialogue there that needs to be excised: characters taken out of an Ayn Rand book, characters that transparently convey philosophical points in a way that simply doesn't map onto the actual conversations that take place between people.
Here's a problem: you want your characters to talk about something interesting - about ideas. Except in real life, only a certain type of person talks about ideas (at least the interesting kind). Is your character one of these people? Maybe they are - but what about their friends, the people they're talking to? On paper, when two characters talk about ideas, it's easy to start straining the plausibility of the narrative - to make it seem like each character is just a mouthpiece for the author's own internal conversation about a topic.
This is the paradox of fiction - it's real and unreal at the same time. A writer, then, is a magician, someone who fuse these parts together, masking the union between these two contradictions.
people I admire
Bret Easton Ellis