The Procrastination Dance

Ye Gods, is that the time? Jeepers, I should’ve been back hard at work three months ago

But, fish gotta sing, birds gotta swim, and bills need to get paid…so one review, two comic scripts, three to five blog posts, uncounted e-mails and phone calls, four stories a book and goddamnit a play (a play? I must be out of my mind) have languished on the back burner while I rewrite a commission I already rewrote half a dozen times already, and all too infrequently chase the thing with some shovelling, rock-rolling, and brush-clearing. Oh well, they can’t all be perfect summers…

At least I’ve gotten some songwriting done, in amongst all that.

Really, some weeks I’m just happy if I can remember to floss…much less do the dishes…

But anyway here I sit, avoiding a) work and b) going to bed…so you might as well know what’s on my mind.

1. Tom Strong. I got the first three TPBs today and yesterday…and wow. How does he do it? It is just such a very very carefully intentional thing, it’s a project that totally shouldn’t work at all, but it does. I couldn’t possibly love Top Ten, LOEG, Promethea and Tomorrow Stories more (Jack B. Quick alone would be enough to make me a dedicated ABC-er for life, even if the rest were all crap), but Tom Strong is far and away one of the most insane things I have ever read. How could he possibly have made it work? By the start of the fifth issue, it really does seem like I’ve been reading these things for years and years, for God’s sake you know I think I might be able to get by in Ozu now. Well, it helps that Ozu pretty much functions on English grammar…but even so, what? WHAT?! You talk about a magic trick, well this is my favourite kind: the establishment of an addictively comfortable fictional universe, that reading about verges on participating in. If I weren’t still procrastinating, I might list a few of those uncannily attractive fictional universes from the worlds of publishing and film, for my own edification if not yours — because of course the interesting thing about them is that they don’t really have to be good, to sink their hooks into you, so what is it that special thing that they do, how does their compulsive attraction work? Well, Alan Moore knows, clearly. I thought Top Ten was fun. Top Ten was thrillingly awesome, but it can’t touch Tom Strong for fun. Fun! It’s like people almost forgot how to have it, or something! But damn it, there’s no mystery about this sort of thing, it’s just mainstream pop entertainment, for heaven’s sake we’ve been doing it for ages, surely it ought to be easy by now?

Nope, guess not. But boy, the ABC crew sure make it look that way.

Oh, well.

2. I can’t remember what I was going to say for 2., so here’s something else instead: Stanley Kubrick was a master of sound. Full Metal Jacket was on TV tonight, and since I always drop what I’m doing whenever I get a chance to see the thing — you should, too — I had occasion to be stunned once again by the authenticity of the sound in each scene. Of course FMJ can never be a documentary, and hey, it wasn’t intended to be one! But there are moments when double vision sets in, and you can kind of see out of one eye with documentary sight, while the other one takes in pictures of Matthew Modine and Adam Baldwin. The lines sound scripted, and then suddenly they don’t; well, it’s a favourite movie of mine, anyway. But Kubrick managed sound well in his movies, if anybody ever did: and if I had the time to set aside (but obviously I don’t) I’d screen my own SK film-fest and concentrate on the sound of each movie, just to see what he did differently from movie to movie, and what he did that was the same.

3. I really will have to make that list of Absorbo-Universes at some point…

4. I have been stuck on the ending of a short story — perhaps about four pages to go, if that — for two years. I’ve practically forgotten what it feels like to address and mail a manila envelope. In April I woke up one morning and walked straight to the computer, sat down and started bashing out improvements, sighed with pleasure at the success I was having, went and got a coffee, came back, sat down, resumed typing…and then the milkman visited, or something. Somebody called, and made me think about something else. I got hungry. I truly do not remember what happened, but it was just at that precise point when I needed ten minutes of concentration on How To Do It, and didn’t get it. However, having said that: who’s to blame? Recently I put in twelve hours of work on my commission, only to have my computer eat the work…but as I was explaining to my father, this isn’t really all that big a deal. Most of what we write could stand rewriting anyway, and word-selections are just word-selections, they’re not sacred or anything. And who forgets plot points? Just doesn’t happen; if you can forget plot-points, you should not be writing straight onto the page, you should be sitting in a corner with a scratch pad getting that stuff properly nailed-down. At least, that’s how I figure it. No, the dangerous stuff to lose are the tweaks: little changes made on third or sixth re-read, when you suddenly realize that, oh crap, should really not have gone “colon” there, that’s really clunky…and look here, you’ve said “continuously” when you really mean “continually”, which is even more ridiculous because what you should have said was intermittently. Duh! So you make all these changes, like three, four dozen of them. Then you change some of them back. Then you revert them again, then you decide to just kill that troublesome sentence entirely, and merge the ones before and after…and then you hit save, and then the computer explodes like you insulted its mother, and you lose all that stupid fiddly work

Well. But that’s not really my problem with this story, either. The problem is that I have simply written something that hasn’t got an ending. It’s got everything else. It’s even got, I swear to God, a sequel. But an ending, no. The sequel has an ending, and it’s a dandy one. But not this thing. It just sort of hangs there, frozen in time. Awaiting the diligent application of, like, two hours decent labour.

But then so many other things awaiting just two hours labour as well, and one has to eat sometime.

Anyway that’s my confession. Congratulations! I feel better.

5. The Perseids are here. When I was a kid and used to go to summer camp, we did little two-day camping trips right at their peak, eschewing tents the better to watch the fireworks. I cannot recommend this activity too highly.

6. People seem to be really invested in Harvey Dent’s condition at the end of Dark Knight being permanent. I frankly do not understand this.

7. With all the online lotteries I’m winning, I’ve been thinking of using some of that money to buy up all the discount jewellry that people who can’t spell their own names correctly seem to have for sale. Either that or some viagkra or ciolis. After all I am running a little low.

8. The sun is about to come up. Time, I guess, to knit up the old ravelled sleeve of care; and concede that there will be no vacuuming today after all. Hooray! I hate vacuuming.

But in a way, hasn’t this post been a little bit like vacuuming?

‘Til tomorrow, then, Bloggers!


17 responses to “The Procrastination Dance

  1. “Ozu”, Plok, ozu – and I never could figure it, “ton me on wehwah” = it is a baby, something? It’s such a loving bit of craft – in the end, I think I like Tom the best of all the ABC stuff. Reassessing recently, it seems the purest and kindest of them too.

  2. “Ozu,” of course, damn! Think I’ll just correct that…

    A loving bit of craft, indeed — heck, Val Var Gam gets a language too. Um, also based on English grammar. Oh well, what the hell, I’m just happy it works so well!

    Tom’s the pure stuff, all right, and it does seem as kind as the man himself…Geoff Klock might disagree, though: didn’t he opine that it’s a fable of fascism in his book? Wonderful book, actually, although I do think I disagree with him about the purpose of The Four in Planetary too…

    Now if I can only resist blowing the rest of my discretionary dough on the other TPBs right away…

  3. I tend to find the Comics Scholar types a bit much, really, to be honest; I like Tim Callahan’s blog but would’ve poked my eyes out if he’d highlighted another duality in Doom Patrol in his Morrison book… I don’t even much like Klock’s blog, but would be interested in you trying to redress anything you find at fault in it.

    Tom Strong is an ubermensch, certainly though, yes – I think the latter trades (I have all the original issues, in the parlance of the land) are primarily other writers taking the character for a spin – Brubaker and Aylett for my money win that game, but also ‘Crisis in Infinite Hearts’ and the final issue which I should have mentioned in this discussion of Promethea as – I think, apart from a strip in my soccer magazine when I was 10 or 11 – the only comic to make me blub, a little.

  4. Ah! I just read that one last night! (Also, aha! So you’re Bots’wana Beast!) I do enjoy reading Moore reviews that take the material as itself: the play with superhero forms seems to block too many people from engaging with the whole, you know, point of the effort. Although I do think Promethea suffers just a tiny bit from being read in the trade, actually: on the journey up the Sephiroth(s?), some of the emotions our heroines experience are, well, kind of the same as the other ones they experience. Although it’s absolutely fantastic to blast through them all in a day, it very pleasingly does your head in and you don’t have to wait — I can’t imagine how people managed to wait a month for some of these — there’s still some serial-based reiteration there. And then this symptom of production gets stapled onto other effects that really have nothing to do with it, because the thing is just so formally ambitious in terms of art that if you’re not prepared to roll easily from adventure-based scripting into fabulistic travelogue, you’re almost wishing the ambitious elements would be downplayed or removed. But you can’t get anywhere that way, damn it! I didn’t have any trouble recognizing the shift in idiom during the tarot card business — Little Margie’s presence ought to prepare one for it, anyway — actually my one complaint about the tarot stuff is that Margie wasn’t “lent” to Sophie for just that purpose — and then the later move into self-conscious dialogue up the Tree of Life is even more necessary to what’s being attempted, but you know people.

    “Crisis In Infinite Hearts” — instantly recognizable as a Tom Strong title! But, I’ll get there in a week or two. Not extraordinarily bothered by others taking Tom out for a ride…wow, Moore really does play EIC in the early Marvel style (done right), doesn’t he? So Brubaker’s Roy Thomas, then? Or Steve Moore’s Roy, and Bru is Gerry Conway, or something? Truly a bold experiment, and now I’m actually rather curious as to how it turned out.

    Can’t remember precisely how Geoff established his fascism thing in HTRSC(AW), but if it hadn’t been for that book I would probably not be blogging now — I sort of appreciate the position Geoff is in, like the position Douglas Wolk is in, that they’ve essentially got comics-blogging careers out there in the real world of print, and so in some ways interacting with them is like interacting with the “pros” — and yet they blog anyway, and are not the pros, so they’re part of our little community too. Hence me calling him “Geoff” instead of “Klock”, I guess…and I do like the Comics Scholars, but to be honest my favourite ones are the guys who don’t necessarily do it for a living…although I should bite my tongue, because I don’t know if I’ve ever found occasion to disagree with a single word Marc Singer’s said. But then again I think I sometimes disagree with even Dave Fiore, so Geoff’s in good company — and when I agree with him, I think he expresses my own inarticulate thoughts wonderfully, so when we disagree on something fundamental I feel shocked. Mind you, most of that is about taste, I think: he just likes a lot of stuff that I find absolutely appalling. It’s like going into someone’s record collection and finding all this Chet Baker, and then suddenly Matchbox 20. Doesn’t make sense, even from the perspective of loving trash-culture. One still expects pattern to be involved. But anyway, that’s taste for ya, a pattern all of its own! But overall the kind of thing I like in my scholarly blogging most of all is the more personal stuff: crazy stuff like Jim Roeg finding intimations of Freud in George Perez’s drawings of rubble, or (just to pluck an example at random) David Golding producing weird little almost-haikus about Dr. Strange, or Kurt Vonnegut, or the Invisibles, in what is clearly an online diary much more radically distributed than most of ours. Sometimes this sort of stuff is art, I think, just informed by a scholarly background…and I dig it.

    Back to Geoff, whose blog is a little bit more like an informal after-class bull session than a personal statement. It’s absolutely beautiful for that, actually: maybe my most favourite sidebar ever. Bet he’s a good teacher. Really hard to find anything like “fault” anywhere around there, although I’m certain you didn’t quite mean that I should. Also, from the poetry he slaps up if nothing else, I suspect he’s a better reader than I am. This, I always maintain, is an important distinction: reading and writing are separate competencies, and most people are better at one than they are at the other (though usually, I believe, the better you are at writing, the more your skill at reading outstrips it, because reading’s the primary competency. Well, that’s the benefit of an education, I guess: as you get better at exercising the primary competency, you get better at exercising the secondary one too — hey, it’s just a theory). But I’ve often been tempted to comment on comics and pop-culture over there, and haven’t because I didn’t want to seem impolite: blogs are micro-communities of their own, after all, and not all of us want to be CBSG, so sometimes when I’ve disagreed with Geoff’s noodlings I’ve just done a post about it here instead. Most recently, everything I wrote about “astro-sugar”, ST:TNG, and Doctor Who was influenced by the way I think the deeper you go into litcrit the more you appreciate the utility of adventurous coinages…but TNG basically relied so heavily on aural processing strategies over visual processing strategies that I think it preferred the SF plot-solving instrument of crafting neologisms over the similar instrument of making analogies, to the detriment of its attempts at realism/plausibility/suspension of disbelief. In TOS, Scotty has to go into a dangerously energy-charged Jeffries Tube to switch cables in order to reverse the polarity of the deflector shield to turn it into a massive tractor beam…or whatever, you know…whereas in TNG Geordie taps his chin and says “waitaminute, what if we modify the phase inverters to emit chronoton radiation instead of absorbing it?!” And then Data says that that’d be really dangerous because it would fracture the quantum filaments and plunge them all into X-space, or something, but then Geordie explains that it’ll be okay if they only disable the uncertainty modulators just for ten minutes, then afterwards the chronoton shower will be reabsorbed, so long as nobody says the word “Rumplestiltskin”, and then Data agrees and thinks Geordie’s really smart, and then somebody pushes a button and the thing is done. You can see just about the same thing in any given episode of CSI. Aural over visual. In my mind it makes it all seem fake. On TNG the Romulans carry around a captive singularity in an attache case — shit, give up, Federation, that’s God-technology! But because it’s all aural, it doesn’t matter, it’s just another McGuffin. The talking is the important thing, the true technology…

    Sorry, ranting: but anyway that’s a superficial disagreement I recently had with something Geoff said in a no doubt off-the-cuff way that doesn’t really deserve any specific blasting…um, so I just talked about it anyway. Actually I really like checking in at that blog: there’s always something happening.

    But, so, hmm…maybe I should re-read HTRSC, and refamiliarize myself with the fascism argument, and more importantly the argument about The Four. Oh, and I really loved his take on DKR, that’d be worth reading again for sure! The fascism thing, though…of course you can’t help but love Tom, can you?

    It may bear some looking into. Whoops, I have just spent too much time blogging, must run off for an hour now! Hope this didn’t all sound like talking behind Geoff’s back, did it? Remember, reading is disagreeing…

    Back shortly!

  5. Snap! I’ve got one just like it!

    I have been over half a year now, writing a high-school level introduction to what’s called geometric algebra. I was catching up on GA for a year or so previous, and I thought, okay, enough time spent on this. Write up your findings and be done with it for a while. It can’t be hard: the axioms of GA are six lines of algebra, and I’ve implemented them in about nine lines of code. (Admittedly in Iverson’s J, the world’s most cryptically syntacted computer language, but a whiz for array calculations and combinatorics.) Just write what you know.

    Instead … instead! … I’ve been on page two for months, with sixty pages of false starts. Confessed this, to my friend who already has a beautiful popular book published on Faraday and Maxwell, and is now in retreat while she starts her next, and she said, “Tell me about it.”

    What happened? Audience problem. Always a factor in writer’s block – we anticipate an appropriate reception of our work because we have mastered assuming the protective colouring of a certain style of specialized discourse. When we think our style is going to be a turn-off to even one segment of the audience, we adjust it. But how to write mathematics – in which you must never make a single statement for which you have not provided a justification – without beginning to smell the chalk-dust on your gown and mortarboard, and hear the rising murmur of boredom at the back of the class?

    Plus, foundations of geometry is genuinely hard. It’s a comfort to be reading Hans Reichenbach’s The Philosophy of Space and Time, finding him reflecting on the disconnection between philosophical and scientific questions since Kant; to see the work Hilbert had to put into his <i.Foundations book; to see how roundabout and clumsy Felix Klein was when he delivered his manifesto on the transformational approach.

    And there’s something worse than schoomaster lecturing, and that is the meticulously allusive format of modern math – effectively unreadable unless you are actually in the Maths Dept Library at the time, with a complete set of references on hand. It is meant to free one from time wasted on interpretations and personal opinions, presenting only structure, so that the only possible responses to a statement are “Yes it is” or “No it isn’t”. Research language isolated not only from philosophy but pedagogy.

    Plok, take a look at this, if you will. This is where I start in, after a bit of a preface. I’ve been showing my first drafts to a few friends who write, so nothing crucial hangs on your opinion … but … wadjathink?

    Rays and Mirrors.

    Take a fresh sheet of paper and mark two points on it.
    Make a fold in the paper so the points coincide, and press down the crease. Call it the mirror.
    Make another fold so the crease goes through both points. Call it the ray.

    Now you’ve made a right angle – you can’t miss. The more exact the folding, the more exactly perpendicular are the creases.

    [Fig. 1]

    It is remarkable that a one-dimensional figure – two points in a row – determines a two-dimensional figure – the right angle. Somehow the property of having right angles is built in to the property of being a sheet of paper. How does that work?

    Basically it is because the paper is a rigid object in its own plane (no matter how we might fold or crumple it in space). Slide it, rotate it or fold it, the distance between two points, along the paper, remains constant.

    Rigidity is a powerful constraint. It locks spatial figures and their properties together in a special system of relations, so that when we specify even such a simple figure as a pair of points, other figures and facts necessarily follow from it.

    We recognize the right angle by its symmetry. The creases divide the paper into four equal quarters, and if we doubt they are equal, we only need to fold the paper again, to see that each quarter is an exact fit for its neighbours. In technical language, the quarters are congruent (from the Latin word meaning “agreeing together”.)

    This agrees with the classical definition of an angle, as a pair of half-line edges starting from the same point. Two quarter angles across the mirror are congruent because, when we fold the paper, their edges are congruent: the two halves of the ray are made to coincide, while the halves of the mirror stay fixed. Therefore the angles they make are supplementary angles, dividing a half-plane in two; and equal supplementary angles are right angles by definition.

    The question then is, why do the halves of the ray coincide?

    Make the first fold again. Say you fold the right side over the left; now unfold the left side back under the right, turning the paper over completely. The paper is reflected, relative to the mirror crease, so that each point on either side of the crease changes places with its mirror image on the other side.

    We can see this reflection as a transformation of the paper as a whole. In general a transformation is a movement or rearrangement of the points of a space, taking each point (say, A) to some image point (say, A’). Together, translations (sliding without turning), rotations and reflections make up the class of rigid transformations of the plane. They are unlike any rearrangement of the points requiring us to tear the paper, or to stretch or squeeze it.

    One property of rigid transformations is that they preserve straight lines. If A, B and C are points on a line, than A’, B’ and C’ will be on some line also, though maybe a different line. This follows from the constancy of distance, because a straight line is the shortest distance between two points. If A, B and C lie on a line in order, the distances between them add up: AB + BC = AC. If we change B for some point D not on the line, then instead, AD + DC > AC. (The “Triangle Rule”). Since a rigid transformation preserves distance, it must move A, B and C to image points the same distances apart, satisfying the same additive equation and therefore lying on a line as well. In short, a rigid transformation cannot bend a straight line into two sides of a triangle.

    Now, if a transformation takes each point to an image of its very own, so that no two points are moved to the same image, it is an invertible transformation, having an inverse transformation which moves every image point back to its original place. All rigid transformations are invertible.

    Our reflection is special. It is not only invertible, it is its own inverse: flipping the paper twice returns every point to its original place. Every point A is either exchanged with a distinct image point A’, or else is fixed, so we can write: A’ = A. In either case, (A’)’ = A. Transformations like this are called involutions.

    We now have the basic facts which we need to complete the argument.

    There can be only one straight line passing through two distinct points. So if two points are fixed by a rigid transformation, the whole line through them is also fixed. But if the transformation exchanges two points, they still make up the same pair, so again the line through them is fixed.

    So we know the transformation determines two sets of lines: lines containing two fixed points, and lines containing two exchanged points. If the transformation is an invoution, every point is either fixed or exchanged. Any line containing fewer than two fixed points, and fewer than two exchanged points must contain one of each; but then it won’t contain the exchanged point’s mirror image, so it won’t be a fixed line. So the two sets make up all the fixed lines there are.

    What’s more, no line can belong to both sets. Suppose a line contains two exchanged points. It must also contain the point half-way between them, and there is only one such point. The involution cannot move this midpoint to a second point half-way between the exchanged points, so it must be a fixed point.

    Every other point on the line is closer to one exchanged point than the other, and the involution will take it to a different point for which the two distances are reversed. So two different pairs of exchanged points cannot have two different midpoints; and so there is only one fixed point on the whole line. Therefore, a line cannot contain both two exchanged points and two fixed points, so the two sets of lines must be separate.

    If there is a line through two exchanged points, its midpoint is fixed. If there is even one other fixed point, there is a fixed line through the midpoint and it. The two lines are fixed, and different; therefore the angles they make are fixed, or congruent. The right angle between them is now a certainty.

    And so that’s how it works.

    Now I begin with this paper-folding illustration, because, simple as first seems, it involves many of the elements of geometry. Especially, it shows the close relation between distance and perpendicularity. If there exists a rigid involution which fixes at least two points, then there are right angles. Every line through two points reflected in a mirror is perpendicular to it, and we can also prove that no point lies on more than one of these lines – that is, they are parallel.

    The relations of being perpendicular and being parallel are the foundation of geometric algebra. We already used the idea of adding distances. There are also two ways of multiplying distances. When we multiply distances that are parallel, we get a square of a distance without direction; we do this when we use Pythagoras’ Theorem to calculate the hypotenuse of a right triangle. When we multiply distances that are perpendicular, we get an area, by the “base times height” rule.

    These are commonplaces of school geometry. What is not so commonly taught, though, is that these two kinds of multiplication are the perfectly-matched halves of a single geometric calculation. They go together like cosines and sines, or like the real and imaginary parts of a complex number – to both of which, they are closely related.

    Once you see how the two multiplications work in concert, as the complementary parts of “the geometric product”, it becomes almost impossible to imagine one without the other. The geometric product itself gives a clean expression for many proofs and calculations in geometry, and should be more widely known.

  6. — one review, two comic scripts, three to five blog posts, uncounted e-mails and phone calls, four stories a book and goddamnit a play

    Plok, with me just having a single three-quarter-drafted novel to ignore, you make feel like a mere apprentice procrastinator.

  7. Actually, if that sounded snarky, I didn’t mean it like that. What I meant was ‘Good god, man, how come you manage to have so many projects?’

  8. Jonathan, you lost me. And: it’s a brilliant illustration. But I think you either need a drastic rewrite or it needs to be five times as long as it is.

    And thank you, by the way, for showing me that I’m not the only one who’s stuck ’cause they can’t see anymore.

    The answer is simple: drastic rewrite. Because you start so simply, you soar too quickly. If you started with something a little conceptually tougher, the interpretive-adjustment curve wouldn’t be so steep, but then you’d lose the gorgeous simplicity of marking two points on a piece of paper and then folding them.

    I would suggest keeping that.

    But, ten words at the beginning saves a hundred words at the end. If it were me, I’d straight-up bring Emily Noether into the picture before even getting to the paper — what “symmetry” means first. Mathematicians always think you have to recreate the history of mathematical discovery to understand the subject. You don’t. You can go backwards and sideways: whatever it takes. Also mathematicians usually feel that a word can be introduced once, and then run off with at a million miles an hour. Ordinarily, it can’t be.

    I’d start with Emily.

    Then, the two points on the paper.

    Then the folding, which you handle amazingly well. Really beautiful stuff.

    Then I’d give them an extra paragraph in addition to what you allot, to fully parse the meaning of “rigidity”, which in itself is also an introduction to parsing mathematical terms. And four more Figures. Maybe five. Figures, like mathematical terms, are notoriously difficult to dope out, but if you front-load it, some Figurative “grammar” will emerge. Just make sure you understand the grammar you’re introducing as well, so you don’t outrage it! The Figures are the bane of all math students everywhere, don’t you remember? And yet look how Rudy Rucker handles them — that’s the way to do it. Indispensible and yet misleading: we should be able to do better than that, these days.

    All of this is leading up to transformation. If you have to dumb it down, do it here, because this is key. It isn’t “now I’ve brought you to this point, so you know what to do” — God, the hazing rituals in every discipline, this is your “The Waste Land” or thirty-six hour hospital shift! — no, coddle the little bastards here. Another four Figures, at least. Now here is your point about how marking two points inevitably explodes into logically necessary relationships. That is in fact the punchline, not the set-up: “and now we’re back to the paper…this is all just about the paper. Look, it’s in your hands.”

    Writing advice: put most of what comes after “And so that’s how it works” at the very very top of the exposition — even before Noether, if you were to use Noether. Every magician tells his audience what the trick is going to be before he does it, and that’s for a damn good reason, because they won’t sit through it otherwise. Also I notice you use passive voice most when you get to the most key concepts, as though you think their implicitness should stand on its own…and that is how we all were taught, but that’s where passive voice should be used least, because they only acquire elegantly implicit meaning once you already know them! So these introductions are all…I know there’s a precise mathematical term for this, but…<backwards. But actually, it’s a million miles better than what I read when I was in school, Jonathan: I sense it cares about my understanding, and that is literally three-quarters of the battle, telling the kids they’re just like you, and therefore smart enough. I’d actually be pleased, if it wouldn’t be too presumptuous, to do an edit/tweak of this for you, just to give you a new thing to muck around with if you feel that might be useful — because it seems like a hell of a worthwhile effort, to me. There is room for some nipping and tucking there: for example you rely far too much on the kids understanding the meaning of “congruence” when you’ve actually de-emphasized its explanation. Again, the failing of mathematicians: they want people to understand that the words they use are so really quite simply descriptive, that they describe them so simply they’re almost useless to a newbie. Hazing.

    Why not start with Emily, move back to Euclid, move forward to Cantor, push back to Archimedes, get up to Einstein…I mean why not? What, is this fucking medicine, are mathematicians supposed to wear fucking snakes around their necks to advance to the Glorious Masonic Degree of bandaging twisted ankles? BAH! Math should be above such things, and yet it’s stuck in the past. Math today should be like organic broccoli or bananas: nutritionally no better for you, perhaps, but kids love to eat it, so give me the over/under on that

    Sorry, Jonathan, got a little ranty there for a minute…beer, you see. Anyway, if you’d like to continue this discussion in email I’d be delighted to try (in my fumbling way) to lend a hand…however if you would prefer not (and why wouldn’t you?) that’ll be okay as well. Just shoot me a message on the circumstantial line…and yes we can continue to discuss here, too, if that’s what you’d prefer, but shoot me that message willya.

    Oooo-ooh, too much beer. What’s that in Ozu?

  9. Clone, isn’t it obvious? It’s because I tried to enslave a Muse one time who was once the consort of the King of Dreams, and I’ve been cursed.

    Either that, or it’s all that damn goloka root I been chewin’.

    But don’t be ridiculous, that didn’t sound snarky at all, and moreover according to the evidence you’re not one that’s given to snark. However I am: and a response on one of those comments of mine would be welcome, ya bastard! Oh, and the real secret: most of those hanging necessaries are more than five years old.

  10. Responses? Well, if you will keep writing about The Dark Knight…. Us parent-types don’t get allowed out any more. I figure I’ll read your review about six weeks after it comes out on video.

    But you do write fast, though, don’t you? I’m the type who sits for five hours worrying about the placement of an Oxford comma, adopting a meditative Karnak position above my laptop for ten minutes before leaping to the keyboard, slapping down five characters and then retreating into a state of deep passivity.

    Case in point: I just spent five mins wondering whether to use ‘tranquillity’ or ‘passivity’ in the above paragraph.

  11. No, that’s me too: remember the post is all about procrastination. I’ve been having so much fun blogging for the last two-and-a-half years that it’s seriously cut into my work time. And I don’t have nine-to-fiver either, so…

    Definitely hours spent on comma placement.

    As to TDK, once I see it again I plan to review it for real. There’s a lot of stuff in there, I figure. So keep watching the skies!

  12. Disintigrating Clone- you’re a parent, and you can spent 5 minutes on word choice? Wow, I have to type like I eat – quickly, often without taking the time to evaluate the qualities of what I’m eating/ writing. Case in point, my little girl’s napping now, so I can read the posts on this blog.

    And speaking of procrastinating, there are those progress notes I have to finish and tomorrow’s work to plan…

  13. Oooh…I may have just a tad inebriated there…hope that all came off sounding like a normal person…

    You say that after every blogpost or long comment, so how is any one thing supposed to stand out as not-normal-sounding?

  14. Good point.

    Just an update: as it happens, I re-read a chunk of Geoff Klock’s book last night, and it’s an awfully nice case he makes for Tom Strong’s fascist undertones…not at all in the tired sense we’re all used to seeing such connections made in. Reading it, I was laughing at my inability to spot such obvious clues. (Haven’t got to Planetary yet.) I think I may have to see if I can discuss this a little bit more, ’cause it’s interesting, but right now I hear the siren song of coffee.

  15. To just do a little bit: Geoff points out a lot of stuff about the villain as mirror for the hero that’s well-taken: the size of the membership of the Strongmen of America is the same as the size of the Aztech Empire (which Tom does not liberate), he fights Nazis and copycats and soullessness, lives in a monument, even (if I can just go beyond what Geoff said at the time) encounters the dangers of gaining the heart’s desire. Through it all, Moore’s trademark play with what is real and what people remember is combined with Tom’s benevolent, likable rule to get us to accept a lot of things we would ordinarily question. Dialogue points to extreme similarities between the hero and his villains, but the emotional context gives it such a fuzzy glow that we don’t notice.

    Excellent observations; I don’t do them justice here.

    Still, starting from Geoff’s analysis, I wonder if there isn’t more yet to say…it’s hard not to think that all Alan’s famed texture is always deliberate on his part: the man likes playing with form, and seeding the ground with clues, so what Geoff notices is surely there, however I think I must be either a) shamefully willing to be bewitched by this art even having been shown what it is, or b) picking up on another formally-subversive vibe Geoff somehow missed — because if all of what he says is true, then what is the “purpose” of Tom Strong? Beyond the play (quite enough for anyone else to be satisfied with, but it’d be unusual for Moore to stop there, I think), I imagine there’s something, but I haven’t yet given sufficient thought to what it could be, let alone have I actually found what it is. If it even exists. And yet I have a fancy that it does, so…

    Back to the drawing-board!

    Geoff’s book’s a riot, by the way — highly recommended.

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