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[...] and I tell you it is an inspiriting thing to be alive and trying to write English.

From Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch's On the Art of Writing

I love the word choices here, particularly trying. It's always a tussle, sometimes playful, sometimes, it feels, to the death. Quoth Eliot,

Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still.

I think I've quoted those lines before; they get me every time I reread them.


Injection #2

It's such a Warren Ellis work in conception, dialogue, and pacing that the name on the cover is almost ridiculously redundant. That's the best reason for or against reading it, depending on your tastes.

One thing of note: his use of non-dialogue text is quite interesting, somewhat similar in spirit to his Moon Knight run. Not as out there as more experimental comics, but he's probably one of the current relatively well-known comic book writers that focuses the most on fiddling with media possibilities in general (his email newsletter is often a record of what he's reading and thinking about, and although I don't share many of his interests, he's clearly a reflective and inquisitive writer).

As an aside, Morrison's Nameless #4 is also pure late Morrison, which means it's a deranged excursion into forces of reality-destroying supernatural evil.

You know, the transition between Morrison's early JLA and Morrison's Final Crisis could be described as going from professionals so badass they become legendary to legends so legendary they become godlike. A movement from tactical engineering to hermeneutical magic, if you will.
Title: The work of his hands
Rating: PG13
Fandom: Hannibal
Warnings: Spoilers for S03E01 and before.
Author notes: I'm not very happy with this fic, and I suspect it'll be very hard for me to get to the point where I write Hannibal fic I'm satisfied with. Technical difficulties with textually rendering the damnably unavoidable way in which the show uses imagery and music aside, I'm used to, and favor, the sort of ultimately direct insanity of a Bruce Wayne or a Lex Luthor. Hannibal is as smart as them, but he's baroque, bordering on the fractal. I'm not used to smart characters doing things with their left hand that might undo what they have been building with their right one, just because they want to see what would happen.

Anyway. Fic under the cut.Collapse )

Books! (Mostly Crimes and Maths Edition)

Toda Mafalda (Quino, 2015/#41): A reread. Mafalda is one of the most, if not the most, iconic comic strips in Argentine history. Its charm is hard to describe; it mixes both sempiternal childhood tropes with humor that's very specific to the country and the time period.

Zero History (William Gibson, 2015/#42): A reread. The last of the Blue Ant books, and perhaps the weirdest (also, it resolves plot threads you hadn't realized were there).

The Daemon Knows (Harold Bloom, 2015/#43): Another very Harold Bloom book; you'll enjoy it if and only if that's something you enjoy. Every book he publishes lately feels like it's his last one, a summa, and then he writes another one. As an aside, I'm convinced his The American Religion is quite underrated as a sociological observation; IMHO, it's one of the essential books to understand some of the United States' most... idiosyncratic behaviors.

The Science of Cities and Regions (Alan Wilson, 2015/#44): An interesting mixture of very specific example models of urban and regional simulations, and large-scale considerations about different research programs. Short, interesting, full of linear algebra.

Financing of Organized Crime (Center for the Study of Democracy, 2015/#45): An interesting study of, unsurprisingly, the financing of organized crime in the EU done by the CSD, a think-tank based in Bulgaria. Such organizations can sometimes be dicey (not the one I work for, mind you), but as far as I can tell from the text, it's an straightforward and epistemically conservative study. Although the focus is on how certain kinds of organized crime are financed (mainly drug and tobacco traffic, as well as VAT fraud), it necessarily gives also a very informative, for a layperson like me, large-scale picture of the logistics and economics of those crimes. My main takeaway is that absent strong job growth and/or a social safety net, street-level drug retail is pretty much impossible to beat as a last-resort job, with zero costs of entry and livable, although not good, wages, and it's certainly the only one where the mostly unavoidable prison term actually improves your employment situation (and because it makes you almost unemployable in the rest of the economy, works as a sort of lock-in mechanism). A secondary takeaway is that product is so cheap that interdiction is a laughable strategy to stop distribution networks. I haven't run precise numbers but you'd probably have to stop between a half and two thirds of all shipments into a consumer country at the very least before the business ceases to be insanely profitable; the production cost/consumer price margin is so damn huge that, generally speaking, losing cargo is no big deal. Shocker: we've been lied to by the movies (of course, if it's a deliberate loss or if it becomes a pattern, it's quite different, but interdiction risk is considered part of the cost of business, and more than well compensated by profit margins). I thought I knew this in terms of interdictions being useless to stop the industry itself, but I hadn't realized they don't even put much of a dent on individual wholesale operations, much less individual producers and importers.


Two things make 0.66... posts

* Journal tagline changed as obvious consequence of my last locked post.

* The fact that cats have developed a language dedicated exclusively to telling us things, and haven't bothered to achieve even a minimum understanding of our speech, tells us, I think, all we need to know about how they conceptualize this domestication thing.


I need to update my media firewalls

I was avoiding the latest Secret Wars, but upon learning that it was set up on an universe created by 616's Doom (somewhat more resiliently than the last time he did that), I picked it up.

Big mistake.

In this re-created universe, where Doom is god, etc, etc (although in a relatively, for Doom, relaxed way), you know who's Doom's queen? Susan. And you know how Val, the head of Doom's Foundation, calls him? Father.


Hickman's Doom is one of the smartest, most driven and interesting versions of the character, but his brand of psychological issues is very, very unnerving. He's not just, or mainly, trying to get revenge on Reed. He's so focused on unseating him it's positively juvenile. He admires Susan, but he doesn't love her (one of the things that, well, dooms Doom is that there's nobody in the world he loves or he's personally loved by, hence his cult of personality in Latveria, which would otherwise be beneath him: why would Doom care for the opinion of the lesser?), and even if he did love her he's no Namor. He just wants Susan because she is Reed's (not how either Reed or Susan would put it, of course, but that's a different and parallel crazy of Doom's).

Reminds me of Luthor on his worst days, so focused on proving he's better than Superman at Superman's thing that he becomes a lesser version of himself as Luthor.


Something I posted about four years ago

There have always been ill-considered reboots. There will always be. They are annoying.

But they are powerless. They are no longer their characters. They are nobody's, everybody's, ours. They are ideas, symbols, aspirations, and hopes --- they will outlast corporations, and are as liable to copyright as mathematics and love.

Stay calm. It's just a class-2 ontological emergency. The Justice League is on the job.

Something I needed to remember. (Not that the fact that this becomes relevant every year or so hasn't turned darkly hilarious.)


Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #41

I know I sound like a broken record, but dammit, it's good. It's good sci-fi, it's funny (I want Rodimus to lead the Justice League and the Avengers), and nothing and nobody is safe.

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