Thursday, November 04, 2010

Sucked In


There's a corner in my favorite coffee shop here that seems to have a perpetual smell of patchouli and body odor, even when it's empty. Yesterday I sat in it and worried constantly that it was me; today I sat elsewhere, but walked by and it was still there. I think perhaps it's a little haunting, Amityville or Shining-style -- the miasma is all that remains of the souls of Boulder's old hippies.

The usual bit: I'm in Boulder, I want to move back right now. But there's a feeling, for perhaps the first time, that I'm something of a sucker, that coming back here would thrust me into a young man's game that I'm ill-equipped to play. I'm not ambitious in the traditional sense. Right now, I'm less certain than ever what I want to do with my life. Usually, a trip back to Boulder makes me feel like I can do anything. This time, I'm just finding myself more confused and aimless (albeit in a content way).

Money and the trappings of success aren't really important to me. On the other hand, I don't seem to have it in me to be an ascetic, and even if I get to that point I still have to worry about health insurance and the pragmatic parts of life. I don't want to get caught up in materialism but I also don't want to live under a bridge.

This is an aimless ramble; this is mostly what I'm capable of these days. Confused mental meanderings. At least this week I can do it in Boulder.

* * *

#53 -- "Neuromancer" by William Gibson

#54 -- "A Dangerous Place" by Marc Reisner

So, huh, "Neuromancer." One of those books that I shoulda read a long time ago. And... I'm not crazy about it. Didn't really hold me. I'm sure that aficianados of the genre could tell me why this is way better than "Snow Crash" but I'll still take the latter. Didn't get into "The Man in the High Castle," didn't get into this -- cult literature and I have a rocky relationship.

"A Dangerous Place" is much more my thing -- Reisner's the writer of "Cadillac Desert," which I loved a bunch once upon a time. This was his final book (he died before his completion). It's a last warning about California's future, detailing how the combination of overextended water resources and major cities built on fault lines will eventually lead to utter disaster. He closes with a speculative piece, detailing just how the disaster would play out, and it's very realistic and plausible. It's a pity he wasn't able to write more.

1 comment:

Ice Cream Jonsey said...

First off, it was great to see you yesterday. I am drooling over the thought of you moving back! Not in a weird way, natch.

I would submit the following about Neuromancer: virtually every paragraph makes me want to put it down and write a cyberpunk novel, because it's bursting with imagery and ideas. I don't think Case is a particularly intriguing character (which is why I am a much bigger fan of When Gravity Fails, as opposed to Neuromancer) but the bleakness of the setting is so rich it's mostly OK that he's not. There's just so many threads of a genre-in-progress that Gibson doesn't get round to pulling, it's the first book I've ever read that is actually over-stimulating.

I will confess that if you are not obsessed with the cyberpunk genre, then it won't hold as much appeal. It suffers a bit from being first and imitated, but I still think it holds up on its own. I also believe, quite selfishly, that it's the most important book ever written. Like, I know many people would say the Bible or Paradise Lost or whatever, but cyberpunk is my favorite genre, and Gibson somehow told a good story while saying, "here's a bunch of stuff I'm not going to use - feel free."

And the opening, where a (if I remember correctly) megabyte of content in play, gets better every year. It's so little! Such a tiny amount of data. But it can be so much.

None of this will, nor should, change your opinion on it, and I can't say either of the sequels really spoke to me, but that first venture into Chiba City makes me feel like I would want to move there, even though I would never want to move there.