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Seeing more things; things that are finished

Monday 26th April, weather same as it was five minutes ago:

Shell-Shock Chic

Anyway, besides finishing Seeing Further over the weekend (definitely worth getting out of the library, if not buying), I finally watched The Hurt Locker, which had been the top of my high priority list on Love Film for about a year. Do they take any notice?, do they h**l. If you ever show the slightest preference for unorthodox titles, that's what you get until they have run out of other takers for the current hits. Or at least that's my impression. My verdict, it's certainly intense, every shot intense, and that's the director's art, and that's its Wow factor. But if anyone found out anything they didn't know about how "war brutalises young men and makes them psychotic" I am sorry for that person. Plus, for an anti-war movie, this is an awful lot like playing Counterstrike (which I cite because i happen to know, from years ago, substitute Call of Duty or whatever war-porn game you like best).

I was puzzled as to how a really great, hard-hitting Iraq war movie was an Oscar movie too, in this day & age. Now I get it. The fact is, if you want to make an anti-war movie, you have to ask the audience to admire the people would rather be doing something else. Whereas if you want to make an intense, rich, passionate portrait of men at war, and what heroically awful consequences their heroic exploits have for the psyche, that is not what you will choose to do.

Hm. To be fair, I have no idea if Bigelow was even intending an anti-war message. Being "against the Iraq War" doesn't necessarily mean being "against" the absolutely gorgeously strong images War affords, and you can't have the images without the real life version.

Things finished with. As of last Friday, that's the script of the US version of my career-spanning short story collection (interestingly different choice of stories from Grazing The Long Acre: and I had nothing to do with the line-up) done and dusted, cover image chosen and everything. Could be out in October from Aqueduct.

There's bread and cheese upon the shelf
If you want anymore you can sing it yourself

Things that didn't fit; seeing things further

Monday 26th April, a change in the weather at last, a grey soft sky; feels cool

Something that didn't fit into the Masterworks intro I was writing: I'm not a fan of the multiverse* or "many worlds" proposal, because I must be missing something: I don't see that it gets us anywhere. Supposing it's true that every possible (ie not self-contradictory/ self-destructive) variant on the State of all States exists, and ours is one version in a stunningly huge sea of the possibilities, that still leaves us with the problem that "many worlds" was supposed to solve: ie the fact that we cannot make the laws of physics add up. Quantum mechanics won't reconcile with Newtonian mechanics here, and there's that 90% of "missing mass" issue, here, which nobody can resolve, though not for want of trying. Plus, saying we live here because this is the Goldilocks Universe where everything is just right, is just crypto-Intelligent Design by stealth.

I like Joanna Russ's version, the braided possibilities of The Female Man, because it offers what seems to me a really satisfying insight. 1. There is only one other "universe" or "cosmos" we can compare, for complexity, indefiniteness (is that a word?), multiplicity, with the one we perceive "out there" & that is the human self. Every time you lay down a memory, every time you recall a memory, a new neuronal self springs into being; each of us is a multiverse. And yet, unless clinically insane, each of these multiverses can resolve, a trick we manage all the time (like the four Js at the end of the story) into a coherent single whole.

*I like strings, because strings remind me that "Electrons are not things" (I think it was David Bohm said that, but might be remembering wrong). I don't like those extra dimensions. I think they are a joke. This is because I am old enough to have been taught c17th century history of ideas as an undergraduate at Sussex University. I remember the mad cat's cradle that was the pre-Copernican system, just before it went bust. Just the loops people were jumping through, trying to explain the retrograde motion of Mars, if Mars was orbiting the Earth, was a sight to behold. So I look at the struggle to make the appearences conform to our present ideas, I think epicycles, and I'm just convinced something's going to give, there's a gestalt flip hovering in the wings, that will blow all this scrabbing away

Seeing Further ed. Bill Bryson

Why so cosmological all of a sudden. Partly Russ, and partly Peter gave me this essay collection published for the Royal Society's 350th birthday, for my birthday this year. Just finished it. Inevitably I found it patchy, liked some essays, bounced off others, but it was very nostalgic, given my distant past. I liked Neal Stephenson's piece on Monads, because I thought Leibnitz was wonderful when I first met his work. I liked the chapter on bridges by Henry Petroski, because it was so concrete, and the great beasts in the pictures so brilliant. & I really liked Oliver Morton's Art/Science piece on Land Art (eg Andy Goldsworthy) & unravelling those weaselly expressions "saving the Planet", "saving the Environment". Cogent and unexpectedly poetic. Georgina Ferry was inspiring, and about the only entry (no, I checked, it WAS the only entry) that featured women doing science. And special mention to Gregory Benford, for the "Darwin-Wallace Theory". About time somebody started a movement in that direction