Saturday, November 12, 2005

Pat Murphy

THE CITY, NOT LONG AFTER is an apocalyptic story of San Francisco with cross-over worlds of the spirit and cyberpunk art. One of those novels that keeps you going until the last page, a few quotes of ideas underlying the narrative give us more substance than most genre fiction:

"When you make something beautiful, you change. You put something into the thing you make. You're a different person when you're done."

"While you change yourself, you change the world. Make it more your own."

"Do you know how to tell if a work is art?"
"True art changes the artist. The artist puts something into the work and he changes. That's how you tell."

(Change Quotes Collection)

Watching the William Gibson documentary after reading this novel reinforced the aptness of the word "cyberpunk" to define an art movement as much as Renaissance or Romantic ever did. It's the impermanence of art in today's disposable society that makes it so different from that of our ancestors. The virtual worlds of cyberpunk are, in effect, ephemeral, and thus all art, real or virtual, in the mode are defined by this quality as being of the dawning of the 21st century.

Melissa Scott

TROUBLE AND HER FRIENDS (1994) was entertaining cyberpunk. Strong lesbian characters give a sense of the loss women must suffer in order to reinforce their personal power. It's not the loss of femininity, but more a loss of validation, of the reinforcement men grow up with to be strong.

Read BURNING BRIGHT but don't remember it particularly, may deserve a revisit but truthfully, Scott is dessert, to be enjoyed but not to be relied on for sustenance.

May Sarton

Can't believe I've not posted since the Spring. Job cuts into personal, to the quick. Every waking moment spent either working, thinking about work, or recovering from work. Have had a week away from the library, sort of. Conference Friday through Monday, in briefly Tuesday night, then off through today Saturday. Only beginning to get a complete breath. Doubt enough of a breather to do all the creative things I wanted to do when looking at the five days from the other side. So, mostly read the whole time. My best source of recovery. Without reading, and the opportunity to spritz my "rich inner life" with nourshing ideas, I would shrivel, a walking talking dry husk of humanity.

Have read many of May Sarton's books, though not much of her poetry. Just finished reading AS WE ARE NOW (1973), a short novel of the power of self-determination. We would seem to agree, May and I, that it is only with our acceptance of responsibility for our own death are we ever truly able to give definition to our lives. This book is really too beautiful to review and must be read to be appreciated. A few quotes to savor:

"The tide goes out, little by little; the tide goes out and whatever is left of us lies like a beached ship, rotting on the shore among all the other detritus--empty crab shells, clam shells, dried seaweed, the indestructible plastic cup, a few old rags, pieces of driftwood. The tide of love goes out."

"It was as though we were the last people left alive on earth. I do not really know what happened, why it was like that. I felt I was speaking to someone very far away, yet someone who would hear a whisper, and perhaps I did whisper, Can you forgive me now?"

The one thing that May doesn't convey to my satisfaction is that by having to ask for forgiveness, we exhibit the most crucial inability to forgive ourselves.