Later... One night in 1999, Jools Holland interviewed Cerys Matthews of Catatonia, in that painfully"casual" studio cabaret. Dead From The Waist Down: What's that all about, eh? "It's about impotence" replied the golden-throated one, maliciously chirpy. Mr Holland recoiled (it's surefire, that word). I knew what she meant. The same impotence inspired Bold As Love. The destruction of the living world, my longing (hiraeth) for a different outcome. What happened next? History took a nosedive, we were engulfed by terror and permanent warfare. But the technology (so far) just goes on getting more and more amazing, & offering the only hope, far as I can see (with reservations). I've done a page on the science fiction in Bold As Love, here's a round-up of the real tech and trends that caught my imagination, and what's happening to them in the real world.




V1, V2, V3, V4... Adepts of the new technologies which the Chinese call "" and the English call mind/matter tech, are slaves of the visual cortex, because the vision centres dominate our brainstates (so that people born blind are right to speak of "seeing" and "imagining" things). Everything's digital now, big numbers to map small systems like the firing and fractional firing of a neuronal map. But great discoveries were made when visual perception was studied by eye and brain alone. Classic papers don't get to be classics for nothing. The best science communicates: try this collection. "Shu" first tone means a book, by the way. It stands here for all recorded knowledge, including the information itself, the building blocks of reality

Mind over matter? The Zen Self experiment was the Bold As Love Grail quest, a neuroscience project hiding out in one of those altered-state tents of the rock festival fringe. Mystical to some, deadly practical to others, it involved machines called "realtime cognitive scanners". Neuroscience has come a long way since 1999, but no such thing as yet (so far as I can find out). It's all hype, realtime scans can barely tell if you are looking at something: but the "Roving Presence" trick, whereby Ax was able to visit Hiroshima "looking out of the eyes of a daft little robot" is getting close.

Ever listened to your MP3 and felt the space created by the sound engineers, muscling in on your actual whereabouts? The brain is a strangely literal place. You feel like that because you're there, inside your head. The distorted map of a human, held in the somatosensory cortex, is the brain's image of the body. This goofy creature is the mirror site that travels, in a bi-location phonecall. It has to be masked with a hologram avatar, (or nobody would buy the things).

Bi-location's a yogi trick made tech, going to be crucial to something called the Buonarotti device. More conventional telecoms have had a chequered history in BAL. Surveillance culture, on the other hand, has blossomed, and that's no lie. You want my advice? Don't spend your private life online, do have a low-limit credit card you use for internet tr/s and nothing else. Remember that mobile phones and emails are terminally insecure & bear in mind that the media of the information age can be used as an impenetrable screen, on which any kind of picture can be projected. Oh, and renew your passport now. I'd try to convince you not to blog in character, (very, very dangerous!) but I know that horse has bolted...


This is what the thrush saidA Songthrush by the Thames? Maybe, maybe not. It's on the Red List: UK numbers in serious decline. Sometimes I wake up from the fog of habit, and I realise that I am living in the middle of a major extinction event. Even if you don't see what the fuss is about, and resent the living space wasted on orang-outans, tigers, African megafauna, songbirds, hedgehogs, it's got to be an eerie feeling. The neighbours are dropping like flies, who's next, eh? On a slightly different note, the Chinese abandoning Beijing? Quite likely. Beijing's reportedly a truly awful place to live these days. China's savage environmental problems are real enough. The dependence on brown coal is only part of what's coming apart. Will they turn China "Green", or produce an "Elder Sister"? Doubt it.

Invisible Wind Turbines... ATP, the gene-mod that allows you to draw on your own metabolic energy as an electrical power source, is looking as daft as ever, esp. for a time of scarcity. Microgeneration, however, is getting govt attention, they fancy making it the future of the National Grid. Hm... Energy Conservation is the thinking ruthless corporation's solution of choice, and recycling a dazzling industry that has barely got started. Meltdown, what meltdown? The message today is that economic growth and saving the planet are perfectly compatible. Is there a flaw in the logic?

Back To The Stone Age

And finally... Hippies get poor press in Bold As Love, reflecting my fear of the Green Right Wing, Nazis, Neo-Feudalists. Stripped of the fantasy melodrama, it's still stone obvious that 6+billion of us can't live on this planet as happy bender-dwelling hunter gatherers, fashioning our own bearskin shoes. Tetsuro Matsuzawa (who studies tool-using chimpanzees), says, "knowledge increases on the whole, while individual skills are lost." Humans living in the modern industrial age have lost the whole range of technologies that were once known to a single individual, or at least a single household...

We can't get back there, but we can, possibly, domesticate our world's cutting edge technologies. The machines, the magical futuristic machines, are actually Gaia in disguise! Do I believe that? Not sure, but I know what the bad guys want, and that's enough to send me in the other direction. Take control of your own life. Tapeworms don't need legs, consumers don't need to do anything but consume.
Do you like the idea of being a tapeworm? Or can you learn to walk in Ötzi's new shoes?