Search This Blog

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

I'm thinking of trying to get into one of those secret societies that may be trying to take over the world, like the Freemasons. Mainly, it is true, to fuck with the conspiracy theorists I know. Also, it would be nice to have a chunk of Canada if they manage it (I'll move the assholes out first). Some people think my friend T is crazy for wanting to take over the world, but anyone who doesn't secretly want to be ruler of the earth is a liar. At the very least I reckon I'd get some free shit. If they don't let me in then I'll pretend I'm a Freemason anyway - what are they gonna do, they're a fucking secret society. I'm pretty sure all of the homoerotic rites are fiction anyway. Pretty sure.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Chess players are divided roughly between the tacticians, such as Tal, and the strategists, like Karpov. A tactician essentially lives in the present, looking for complications in a position he arrives at fairly intuitively. A strategist manipulates the flow of the game while looking at the bigger picture, seeking often to smother his opponent. A great tactician can win when he has sacrificed his queen and rooks, whereas a great strategist can win a game through the placement of a single pawn. It is essentially brilliance versus subtlety, the possibilities of a moment versus a vision of the future.

Writers are much the same. A prose stylist like Joyce has the sharp weapons of description and epigram at his disposal, whereas the story-teller like James has both plotting and psychology. Of course in chess one must have a strategic understanding to extract the potential of a situation, just as one must have a tactical understanding in order to implement one's long-term plans. I argue that writers and chess-players may be divided along the same lines. The experience of reading a chess game or a novel by a tactician exists in the thrill of a moment, in which the whole thing threatens to fall apart: whereas with the strategist one is most impressed by the harmony, which builds to an often predictable but satisfying conclusion.

I am by nature a tactician. I have little patience for the long haul, and it is my love of problem solving that makes me look at things in microcosm - I value pure chess above the perfect game, and beautiful words above flawless novels. The vast majority of writers and chess players will always be story-tellers, because stylists like Kerouac and Nezhmetdinov are in need of constant inspiration, and it is true that one's powers fade faster. My play, like my writing, has often been criticised as "unsound", mostly by the type of person who is certain that one should never use the same adjective twice, or allow a doubled pawn.

I haven't yet found the conviction to allow my talents to blossom, instead often compromising my natural abilities to accommodate others' advice. A tactician who wastes moves shoring up his defence simply becomes a blunt instrument -- so, too, has my attempt to project a plot over my words often led me into the realms of cliche. I must be allowed to fail in experiments, in a fashion frankly more embarrassing than if I were to take the well-trodden routes of safety and common sense. I will certainly always be an amateur chess player, and probably an amateur writer too, but my complex relationship with both activities has always been supported by my conviction that both have much to teach me about life.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

The only people who try to tell us what we feel are psychiatrists and journalists. Neither group, one could argue, are exactly qualified for the job.

Superman In Heaven

There is a feeling of impotency you get when you are late through public transport. You go up to a guard and say, what if I get the Piccadilly line, and the bastard just smiles at you and shakes his head. This is an attempt to get you to accept the inevitable. But you can't - you think, I'll do a Bruce Willis in Diehard 3, I'll twat a passing yuppie and commandeer his stupid fold-up bicycle, surely if I want it enough there has to be a way. Then that feeling creeps over you when as a child, it first sank in that needing something didn't make you any more likely to get it. Suddenly it isn't about being late for someone but a lot of things in your life.

There is an issue of Superman where Clark brings Lois back from the dead by pulling the world so it spins backwards. Before the horrible science gives you a brain freeze, consider this - what would Superman want in heaven? We struggle against our natures to better ourselves: Superman already is better. All human suffering is caused by having none of Superman's potency. When he streaks past us rescuing innocents, he isn't saving us - the only way he could save us is by desensitising us to suffering. While he catches little Jimmy on the thirteenth floor, he can't stop his mother's alcoholism.

Even when Superman suffers, it's as a martyr. When we suffer, it's because we're in the wrong. The selfishness of wanting someone back, the weakness of flesh, the hubris of self-sacrifice. Superman never steps into a place of worship because he has no need of God. Some analysts think that he is God, but in fact he's a powerful argument against faith among mankind born to suffer and sin. His perfection makes God the creator look like a child who puts the cat in splints just so she can tend to it. Standing in the station glowering at my fellow sufferers, I feel exactly like that outraged cat.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

OK so I won't go into it, but I dreamt about my brother's death last night - three times, since I woke up as if it was from a nightmare and then went back to the dream again. Mostly the dreams involved me walking around London crying and crying. When I woke up, I actually cried as well.

My dreams neither interest me nor affect me usually, but I took the unprecedented step of looking up its meaning. Apparently the death of a loved one in a dream suggests you are lacking a quality the loved one embodies. Asa is very good at making me happy, and when he died I felt I'd lost that.

Simply put, the dream isn't about Asa or my relationship with him at all. It's about the ability to make myself happy. I've seen at least one friend a day since I came to London, but I can't escape a certain sadness. I am the self-sufficient person who woke up one day and realised he was lonely.

I'm going to make this a longer entry, if you're okay with that. Well, anyway, I saw Greenberg today and related to it a lot. In fact I was actually dismayed to see reviewers afterwards describe Greenberg as dislikeable. In fact it felt a lot like they were saying it about me.

Greenberg hurts people, like I do. He finds it hard to listen, and does things like forget which person told him what. He lets people down. He's arrogant, and often unacceptably rude. He's depressive, and has accomplished nothing in his life. But the film never judged him for it.

He is good with animals, like I am. He freaks out, like I do. He is incredibly candid, and terrible with small talk. He has few friends. He has trouble getting over the past. He's half-Jewish and sensitive about it. He makes mixtapes and leaves phone messages to show his true emotions.

Yes, Greenberg is a monster. I am a living person with subtleties and contradictions that no movie character could ever have. But I *know* Greenberg. I recognise the balance between pride and loneliness, and the never-ending struggle to relate to other people.

Monday, 21 June 2010

The problem I have always had with fantasy is that it seems the larger the canvas, the broader the brush strokes. In something like Star Trek, often an alien race will be described as having a certain personality type, mainly to help distinguish them from the thousands of other races that have also featured on Star Trek. Which is absurd. Imagine if someone told you, "Oh, all Belgian people are crafty". This is why fantasy is rarely deserving of such a name, instead featuring a tired parade of cliches like orcs and goblins. It's interesting because fantasy fits anything outside of reality, but it seems that the more one departs from everyday life, the more rigid the constructs have to be. Dice rolls 17, you step on a lizard king but you have the sword of holy fire, so let me consult my rule book ...

Saturday, 19 June 2010

I have decided to open up my new blog to Facebook after a few more posts. The problem with blogspot is its transparency: people are unwilling to talk privately, so most journals are incredibly fucking boring, e.g. dedicated exclusively to geese or frogurt. If anything this journal is dedicated to the way I relate to the world. I am the socially inexcusable form of misanthrope, possessing neither a cigarette nor a copy of Sartre. But there was never a farm-worker alive who although he spent his life fighting muck, did not secretly wish to throw himself into it also. Any man who talks about himself is a liar, for he instantly opens himself up to contradictions - in explaining my contradictions I hope to remain as honest as possible.
Opinions are likely the dullest thing in the world to me. Why should I care what your opinions are? That's why I have my own, isn't it?

Friday, 18 June 2010

I feel old like a child: and a child who feels old has always been the saddest possible thought to me.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

So I was casting for a short film I'm making that requires the role of an ex-soldier turned gambler, and I was captivated by this man's insane stare. While everyone else has a portfolio with pictures from different angles, this man thought, "No, I'm a maverick: I'll take three that look exactly the same as each other."

In this one he is looking happy. His credits include Chucklevision: would you let this man near children?

In this one he is looking suspicious. I think. It's difficult to tell with such an amazing moustache.

In this one he shows his range by looking surprised and/or sad. Perhaps these are his police photos.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

A few notes on love

I think the trick to love is being able to find the person in the ideal. Love is a dream that demands we never awake from it, so we must find any reality in it that we can. But when you write that your beloved's smile begins in her eyes, do you mean her smile or that of an ideal hovering beyond her?

One day they'll say that love doesn't exist, and that it is just another word like "God". I'll tell them that God is love: an irrational hope that there is something beyond the scope of materialism, as illogical as the feeling one gets when seeing shadows of cloud cross a sunlit field, and just as real.