Monday, January 22, 2018

Aging Writers 3

This was not entirely new. Advertising goes back to the 19th century. One of my two favorite Dorothy Sayers' novels is set in an advertising agency in the 1930s. But as people got enough, more money had to be spent convincing them to buy more. This society of newness, of constant revolution (in style, if not substance) does not leave much place for the elderly.

More on change: "Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind."

This was written before advertising got serious. Now, instead of facing one's real conditions of life, one can play a video game or go to the mall and buy more clothes.

I seem to be saying that cutting edge art is the art of capitalism. I'm not sure I want to say that. I think it's time to read something old: either Sayers' Murder Must Advertise or Jane Austen.

Aging Writers 2

More from facebook:

This is more about a discussion I had yesterday -- in reaction to someone who found most SFF that was more than ten years old 'problematic.'
This got me utterly bent out of shape, since most of my fiction was written and published more then ten years ago. Today, I am more reflective, so I wrote:
I probably overreacted to 'problematic.' Figure that I am an age where mortality becomes an issue, and I have no children. So I think about what I have done with my life and what I will leave behind. I get upset when I think people are dismissing the older generation. And I genuinely believe this culture has close to no interest in or liking for the old. Acquired knowledge is not valued in a society that changes so fast -- and more important, this is a society where people matter as long as they produce something of commercial value. If they cannot, then they have no use and should please go die.
Children are valued (though not treated well) because they are the next generation of workers and because families with children are seen as good consumers.
Retired people do in fact spend money, but are resented because they don't earn this money. (It's the Social Security and pensions and savings they piled up through decades of work.) And retired people do a lot of socially useful work: childcare, care of the elderly and disabled, volunteer work... But money does not change hands, so this does not count.
Oh, and I looked up 'problematic,' because it is a problematic word:
constituting or presenting a problem or difficulty.
"the situation was problematic for teachers"
synonyms: difficult, hard, taxing, troublesome, tricky, awkward, controversial, ticklish, complicated, complex, knotty, thorny, prickly, vexed;
"the pest control in this building has gotten very problematic."

Well, maybe I am okay with the synonyms. My work can be seen as difficult, hard, taxing, troublesome, tricky...

Aging Writers

From facebook:

Someone who shall be nameless wrote elsewhere that she figured most SFF written before the last decade is problematic, I assume for political reasons. This calls into question most of my writing career. This is why we need a Senior Meetup at Wiscon and maybe other cons. I need a place to vent. I am trying to come up with a name for a Wiscon Meetup for seniors. "Second Wave Feminism in a New Wave World" is possible, though not quite right.

I do not think this is a huge issue, except that I worry about the older women writers vanishing. They worked hard and deserve to be remembered, though obviously they can be criticized as imperfect.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Once again I have let two months slip by without posting. We are mostly unpacked now. A guy came yesterday to install new blinds, which look really good. That was the last step in renovating the apartment. We are now home.

I just finished proofreading Ring of Swords for a new edition, due to come out this spring.

My military space opera short story got picked up by Gardner Dozois for his Best SF of the Year collection.

Otherwise, we keep trucking. I write. Patrick is doing some pro bono work for the local neighborhood council. (They are worried about homeless people, and he is an expert of homelessness, a word which should not ever exist. There should be no one without a home.) Life goes on.

I made my usual resolutions for the New Year: Exercise more. Write more. Pay more attention to nutrition. Get out to museums more. Get out more in general. The past year -- since the last election -- I have been huddling at home and worrying. Neither is useful.

I'm planning on attending the usual local cons. I'm a guest at CONvergence, the big local con. I always attend Wiscon in Madison, Wisconsin. And I hope to make IceCon, the Icelandic SF convention, in October. Though I am bit worried about their organization. They don't have a con hotel and their site does not list recommended hotels -- just "there are plenty of good hotels in Reykjavik." The site also does not list the convention location, so we can pick a nearby hotel.

We shall see.

John Oliver Simon

I just learned that John Oliver Simon has died. I knew he was in poor health, but this is still unexpected. John was in my class at college. When I got to college, I wanted to be the person in class recognized as a poet -- the class poet, though there wasn't one officially. Then I met John. One of my memories is him sitting in a tree playing a recorder. I know I could not compete with him. He was clearly the class poet. He remained a poet and seems to have gone on have a good, useful, interesting life. I reconnected with him recently through facebook. I will miss him. I now have to go online and buy all his books.

I have been googling John and wishing I'd had the wits to do this years ago, when I could have emailed him. He liked some of the poets I do, Gary Snyder and Lew Welch. (Lew Welch has a poem about Chicago which is amazing.) John talks in an interview about Sharon Doubiago, who I met years ago. She was a friend of a friend. As I recall, she didn't like me at all. John says in the same interview that d.a. levy was the most important poet in the US when he killed himself, I think in the early 1970s. I heard that levy had been killed by the police. In any case, levy's poetry hit me like a bolt of lightning, when I read it in a couple of mimeographed collections that my friend Bobby lent me. John and I could have found things to talk about. I'm going to pick up a couple of his books -- one of poems he wrote on a trip through Latin America back in the 80s and one of poems about his granddaughter, which is recent.

I found a book of translations by John, which came out a year ago from Red Dragonfly Press, a great local press here in the Twin Cities.

Anyway, the moral is -- if people stick in your mind, maybe you should make an effort to contact them or at least google them.