No Maps

It must be weird to be asked to talk to someone with a camera long enough to have an hour and a half of footage. I’m watching the William Gibson documentary No Maps For These Territories, and I’m struck by the difficulty of this kind of “performance.” No doubt it is a performance: sitting around and talking is different from sitting around and talking to a camera. It’s interesting in a number of ways. It certainly provides some context to Gibson’s career, especially his recent comments about SF and the comments in the documentary about the relative difficulty of imagining the future.

I would have preferred if I could have gotten it out of a library or something, since I don’t know how often I’ll watch it. But I am glad I’ve seen it.

Oddly, I’ll be watching another documentary this evening, as well — El Ché: Investigating a Legend — as a little inspirational research for when I polish up my story “Dhuluma…” I don’t know much about Ché Guevara, so I have few expectations.

I’m writing the ending of “McWar” now, under the influence of one nicely hammering drink and some nicely hammering music. This track, actually — I rarely listen to recordings I’m on, but this one somehow brings out something grimy and nasty from the depths of my imagination, which suits “McWar” well. I recommend it — it’s the only track in the world where I have a featured vocal track. (I think I have a couple of bad backing vocals elsewhere, but aided by a flu, this one is actually good, because I sound nothing like the Gord most people know. Though it’s mostly the band noise I am listening to right now.

Which reminds me, I’m traking a break from Frank Norris’ The Octopus to read Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club. I should have done so years ago. He has a few pretty damned good tricks — the kind of thing I shall have to read again, like the Chapoter 3, the technique of which has been running through my brain since I read it. Shall have to experiment some more. I think it may drive me off producing new stuff for a while, but hey, whatever. A new dimension in style would be worth a few months of experimentation. I think if one pushes it, that technique could do a lot.

Back to drafting. Won’t be posting much the next few days — have social plans two nights in a row, which is unusual for me.

UPDATE: Got it! Redraft for McWar done. Now titled “Alone With Gandhari.” Needs some polishing. I’m going to do that in a week or so, since the deadline for “Gandhari” doesn’t really exist (and is probably end of November if I do send it where I’m intending); however, the deadline for “Dhuluma…”  looms, and the story needs just a little polishing, so that’s slated next.

8 thoughts on “No Maps

  1. Weird but true: the guy that snapped the famous photo of Che you see on t-shirts and photos never saw a dime in royalties from the picture. That’s all I know about Che, and I wrote an essay on him in my Latin American history class.

  2. Hey,

    Well, I wasn’t turned into a raving fan by the documentary, but at the same time, I did find it interesting enough to start thinking about whether it might not be worth it to tell a story in my alternate history (with aliens and a technocommunist surge in the 50s and 60s) where Castro gets killed in some accident just after the end of the Cuban uprising and Che ends up heading the Cuban government.

    (My guess is that he would have probably deployed Cuban troops elsewhere in Latin America, weakened Cuba economically, and thus left the door open for an American resuscitation of old Cuba — what was, for the US, a kind of resort island.)

  3. Mark,

    Yes, that’s what the documentary said, too. Of course, I’m imagining a world where Castro was off the scene early on — right after the Revolut in Cuba. What I’m saying is that Che would have likely wrecked the economy as he did, but could have been put in the position of dictator — if ever a foreigner could have done it in modern Cuba, Che was the one — and would have then tried to launch a campaign in Latin America while also trying to keep Cuba from falling apart. Which is impossible, but Pan-Latin American revolution was closer to his heart than leading a nation, I think; so Cuba would have likely succumed to outside influence and become a protectorate of the US, which is a different outcome than we have now.

    But that’s assuming there’s no figure of the relative pull of Castro to fill the void — assuming instead that Che is the one to fill that void.

  4. The first part of your alternate history I understand, but the Cuban thread is a little hazy to me. I don’t know much about the country, but how is your Che scenario all that different from what Cuba has already been through under Castro? The economy was wrecked, early on, and Cubans survived because of subsidies from the USSR. Castro tried to export the revolution to Bolivia, and later, there were Cuban “advisors” running around Angola. Currently, the country is a resort for Canadian and European tourists. At first blush, it doesn’t really look all that different from your alternate timeline of Cuba.

  5. Oh, Cuba suffers the same for a while, but in my scenario, by 1960 or so at the latest, Che’s already brought down Cuban communism in flames and the island’s economically and politically linked to the USA. Che was a less savvy operator than Castro, in other words, and as a real radical he would have been even worse in the top position than in the #2 position.

    In the wider context of the story this is quite ironic, but I won’t get into that or it’ll take much longer to explain.

  6. Uh, this is completely unrelated to the post, sorry, but I found your blog while searching for a Korean etymological dictionary, specifically looking for where the Korean word for bread, bbang 빵 comes from. Incidentally, you posted a comment at LanguageHat related to where the word bbang comes from. Maybe it comes from a similar sounding French word, or from Portuguese by way of Japan, or maybe from Spanish, Greek, or Latin or any combination of those. Who knows, right? Anyways, it looks like bbang is a loanword from the West but not English. IMHO, interesting. Do you know of any online Korean etymological dictionaries (in English) that could answer this question of where bbang comes from? Thank you, and, again, sorry to intrude.

  7. Kilgore,

    I don’t mind the unrelatedness of the comment to the post, but I’m afraid I don’t know of any etymological dictionaries for Korean online.

    (You might find a copy of this at a university somewhere, but I doubt it.)

    I have no idea exactly what the origin of the word for “bread” in Korean is, but I would have to say that most of the loan-words come from Chinese, and there is a Chinese word for bread that’s similar — “bing” — so that’d be my guess. However, it’s pronounced so similarly to the French pronunciation of “pain” (bread) that it leads me to wonder. I don’t think anything like “bing” is used to describe the corresponding Korean versions of originally Chinese foods called by the word “bing” — it seems “ddeok” or “jeon” is used instead. But that’s a very vague impression.

    I have no idea where one would look to find out, beyond asking a Korean majoring in Korean language study in University, who would (I imagine) know of a good source.

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