Thursday, 4 April 2013

Country Feedback

Can't believe that worked!  Right - today's video ends in tears:

Click to tweet: http://clicktotweet.com/cOqUb .  Iain Banks, or Iain M Banks, probably the closest living mere human being i have to a hero, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.  He has maybe up to a year to live.  I haven't got too much to say about this.  I met him once and asked him a question, apologising for its nerdiness - why were the Idiran-Culture wars set in our Middle Ages - to which he replied that it was poignancy (not his words - his words would be finely honed and far more wisely chosen than that).

His most famous novel is probably 'The Wasp Factory', and i first came across him through that although i actually read 'Walking On Glass' first.  The second edition of 'The Wasp Factory' has the amusing feature of a long list of negative reviews on the first couple of pages - i can laugh about this but i'm still very sad about the situation.  I love his mainstream novels but am more into his science fiction, and in fact i have videos planned on his work for this channel.  I don't wish to disrespect 'Against A Dark Background' or 'The Algebraist' - the gang of solipsists is absolute genius for instance, as is the Lazy Gun - but for me, what really scores are the Culture novels and stories, which attempt to depict a post-scarcity society, in other words a society in which no sentient being is exploited or has unmet physical needs.  Marain is part of the Culture - a constructed language which automatically liberates through its structure.  Whereas this might sound a little like Newspeak, he really pulls it off and it works, doubtless because he's a literary genius.

The real sadness for me is that the Culture does not exist.  If it did, and Iain Banks was living in it, he would never have got cancer and would still be in his youth.


I didn't plan to start crying and i'm not good at it.  I feel sad looking at this now.  I'm also a bit unsure about crying on a video and then uploading it to YouTube, but i did it anyway because it wasn't engineered, it just happened, and the fact is that it is really sad that Iain Banks is terminally ill.  As it happens, i was planning to do at least one video on him before i heard the news, specifically on his view of post-scarcity and geometry, and i will in fact still do that.  Marain is also fascinating but not worked out in quite so much detail.  However, this is not the point.  There are two:

  • The stark fact that he is not going to be with us much longer, and whereas of course i have no idea what he's like as a person, he's probably the only person other than Jesus i see as anything like a hero.  The fact that this would not have happened in the Culture is a weird metafictional tragedy i can't get my head round at all. Sod it, sod it, sod it!  Yes, i know the Culture is a figment of the imagination but there's something about the concreteness and reality of that particular utopia which, to me, almost makes it a Platonic form.  However, he is not in it and it doesn't exist, so he's going to die.  Fuck.
  • He's not even an acquaintance and whereas it's terrible for him and those who know him, i wish i got this kind of profound effect from bereavement of real people.  I'm sure i will with those closest to me and i am still affected by Kath's and Sarah's deaths, so maybe i'm OK, but i don't like the fact that distance and even complete fiction can get this kind of reaction when i can be so blase about the people with whose lives i'm actually intimately involved.  It really annoys me that i'm like this.
I've had a busy day, during which i made five videos for three channels, one of which is for the Other Channel and unfinished because of audio problems.  I'm not going to bother to link to the pregnancy vlog channel vids on here and i think i may be failing to use the channel properly.  However, i'm detached from that channel's failure or success, which makes a change.  Success on the Other Channel irritates me, and with a few exceptions eludes me on the main channel.  The pregnancy vlog, on the other hand, has ample scope for interesting self-exploration and expression and i feel genuinely detached from its success or failure in terms of views.

I am rather less detached from the low number of views the Iain Banks video got though, because it makes me feel like nobody cares.  I realise it's not that simple, but i would've hoped it had gotten more than two views so far.  That's a little like Liz's feeling that the news should've announced her father's death because it was such a huge thing for her but not for the rest of the world.