A Kate Tempest quote

…a feeling that someone had called to him from a long way away. He found himself there in that illusive waking moment before reality catches up. He could have been anywhere, at any time in his life.

 

The Bricks that Built the Houses by Kate Tempest

‘Her screwball expression’: Philip K. Dick describes female beauty in The Man in the High Castle; male writers unintentional misogyny in describing love interests; and K. Dick’s influence on me

Philip K. Dick is one of the biggest names in science fiction: fact. His is a well-greased engine, skirting–as all the greatest writers do– all manner of intellectual disciplines as well as the well-trod line between genius and madness.
Of his writing style, his brevity is perhaps one of his biggest strengths: he has a style that is shotgun in its delivery yet dove-like in its poetry.
And just so, a particular paragraph:

But above and beyond everything else, he had originally been drawn by her screwball expression; for no reason, Juliana greeted strangers with a portentous, nudnik, Mona Lisa smile that hung them up between responses, whether to say hello or not. And she was so attractive that more often than not they did say hello, whereupon Juliana glided by.

Like a pinch of gunpowder in a hungover breakfast fry up: brilliant. A wonderful way of describing the often-occuring effect of woman upon man (other variations are available). Read the book to see how that paragraph ends, just as telling as the initial effect where the aforementioned sexualised social interaction is concerned.

At which point a diversion into one of the most frustrating things about male authors: descriptions of female love interests. Unveiled misogyny, or a fair and honest focus on the want of the crotch? I literally closed ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ when I was fifteen/sixteen and lost interest in Milan Kundera based on this male-centred approach to describing the phenomenon that is best explained as ‘woman makes man think of sex’ and is therefore incapable of any accurate empathy, something this reddit thread explores by questioning his relevance in the current age. And as much as I wish I wasn’t writing this, Haruki Murakami is awful for it, though his ‘sad lonely man’ trope does lend itself to such narration, this thread suggests I’m not alone in this and if you read it through you’ll find some interesting theories as to why. It is just so painful to find your heroes are human, that for all their conduction of ethereal abstracts into addictive writing they come out with some dog shit about how some female character is ‘pretty but in a plain sort of way’. It’s difficult to not betray myself here but I read this description of the collision of the human condition and the biological imperative  as ‘yeh I guess I’d probably do her’.

Anyway, back to Philip K. Dick: I came to his writing relatively early in my reading life, probably thanks to the shop Fopp, but being a hesitant reader in my teens it was the films based on his books that had me assimilating his ideas as a permanent canal in my tastes. I’d watched and re-watched Total Recall and Screamers many times on home-recorded VHS. I’d seen Imposter and would soon see Minority Report and I had no idea that they were based on his books. I’d also paid for at least two of the seven different edit-releases of Blade Runner: of which around the time I was sixteen my favourite was the noir, Harrison Ford voice-over release.
In 2006, when A Scanner Darkly came out starring Keano Reeves, Woody Harrelson, Robert Downey Jr and Winona Ryder I started reading Ubik because it was cool at nineteen-ish to think I was somehow ‘above’ this fairly hyped, gimmicky cartoon of a film and so the gradual tide of his writing washed over me. Thank god!

Memory of affirmation and the power it has to shape a lifetime

I’m not suggesting that this one isolated incident created my life, but when I was five, older girls down my street put on a magic show for the younger kids. It was quite a beautiful thing to do, looking back at it, and it brought everyone together.
Halfway through their magic show they tasked us (the younger kids) with a competition: who could draw the best picture of their garage (where the magic show was happening). I drew their typical British 1970’s grey-bricked garage, at the end of their driveway, with the yellow garage door and I remember thinking at the time that it was quite simple so there was probably something I wasn’t doing right and I might not win.
It turns out that not only did I have better hand-eye coordination than the only other kid who actually drew their garage, but that I was probably smarter as well, since most kids just drew something else completely and didn’t hear/understand/care about their fairly simple instructions. But I won a small bag of chalky sweets, like Refreshers, or Love Hearts, or Palma Violets. They were delicious and I was extremely proud.
I remember going into my back garden afterwards and sitting up on the top of the slide with a beaming feeling.

Neither of my parents were particularly artistically inclined, yet I became highly art-focussed. I got an A at GCSE, and went on to study it at A-Level, and even now have four or five sketchbooks on the go. It was a huge part of what I just ended up being known for, growing up.

It has just made me realise how important the positive small things are in life, and there really are defining moments.

Knights of Sidonia (anime): what the hell happened?

Unlike a lot of others, I loved the first season of Knights of Sidonia (KoS). I thought it was unrelenting and brave, and yes it did the whole Attack on Titan thing so claims of copying are everywhere, but I didn’t see AoT in KoS. There was something very different happening. It reminded me more of the anime Metropolis (2001), with the beautiful intro of the protagonist through the rice. Then later it had that survival at all costs and adapt by looking back trope of Battlestar Galactica. It lulled you in and then cut you down. But season two? What the hell happened? It went from being a suffocating horror sci-fi dystopia into a cutesy “shit, he actually is Sephiroth after all” harem (i.e. the authors fantasy that actually a bunch of girls do actually want to sleep with the–usually bland–protagonist, who just so happens to be a nerdy underdog–much like a stereotypical bespeckled nerdy manga author, one might say). Then what is basically a hyper-extendable squeeky pink baloon dildo flies around their mothership just being annoying. The Crimson Hawkmoth concept is diluted and we basically just end up in this cliched arch manipulator arc. They revealed the overall conspiracy far too cheaply and soon-that should have been something that dragged over the entirety of the plot. Gosh, I really hope season 3 is better.