Writer’s Log: 2250 Friend or Foe

I managed to log only fifteen hours of writing last month. It would seem sequestration induces the opposite reaction, that is, inaction, at least where writing is concerned.

“Son, it’s a beautiful day outside. Go pal around with your friends.”
“Naw, I’ll just hang out inside doing nuthin’.”

“Son, it’s raining and stormy, best you stay inside today.”
“Naw, I got damns to build, boats to float and puddles to stomp.”

Not that I idled away my scant free time. A few thousand words rose like fetid mushrooms in my various venues. Yet, their shallow, haphazard appearance feels as if they grew of their own accord. “Did you write this?” “Yeah, I guess I did. But I don’t remember the verve and swerve of the experience. Perhaps I penned them during a semi-lucid dream.”

That’s not how I’d like to remember my writing adventures.

~~~

Friend or Foe

I read an article recently that explored the concept of creating a personal enemy against which one battles. It didn’t matter what type of enemy, only that it represented an oppressive or offensive manifestation that must be fought. Today I’m going to fight societal bigotry with temperance and forbearance. They, who think I can’t finish this spreadsheet, are not going to beat me! Sure it hurts, but exercise pain is the adversary we must defeat—they thought I’d give up, well I’ll show them.

If you have an identifiable rival upon which you can focus your ire, then you can leverage your aggressions to spur advancement. Fight the good fight. Wrestle and win.

I wondered about this and imagined that I might not have a personal enemy, but perhaps a loved one or close friend needs defending or protection. I might not be in jeopardy, but I have someone close who is.

Bringing this home to writing, I consider protagonists often have either a friend whom they are defending or a foe against whom they personally struggle. There’s an enemy in either case. Something evil, insidious and threatening which must be confronted and defeated—even if the enemies are but one’s own demons.

Find an enemy and do everything in your power to destroy them while they do the same to you or yours. The better the villain the better the story. Of course it’s not that simple. Sometimes a character’s friend and foe switch roles. Still, the roles exist and must be fittingly characterized.

Creating compelling enemies would appear as incentive in life as well as writing. Who are your personal opponents and are you and they worthy?

From the article: “If we imagine a force working against us, we’re more likely to get fired up, resist our temptations, and work harder to achieve our goals.”

Apocalyptic Scenario 1.b

Continuing the theme…

See the above menu item ApocaPorn for clues as to where this fits in the scheme of things.

This one takes a formatting side spur, as an experiment: no dialog quotes.

Note: you can always launch the iframe into another tab if you like for a better reading experience.

A Programmed Life

A Programmed Life

Designed, on fields of white,
squiggles etched on skin, smelling of paint,
squeak and stutter, and moan,
the names of grandparents.

Coded, in ones and zeros,
patterns of coin flips, yes and nos,
never and always, pink and blues,
life and death.

Compiled, a life of choices,
branching, nesting, looping,
with ifs and whens and wheres,
while promises break and bleed.

Deployed, sons and daughters,
babble and banter at bugs,
expecting success and excellence,
ignorant of the cost, the time.

Disabled, shrink wrapped shelves of dreams,
of visions unseen, unbought, unused,
now sit in dusty chests, glossy
memorabilia, enquizzling toddlers.

Dear Mudge, Shitty Odds

Dear Mudge,

I think we mortals spend far too much time contemplating The End.

It seems as soon as our consciousness settles in, at about thirteen or fourteen, we begin to visualize, explore and worry about our final moments and the fraction of a nano-second thereafter. Here we go again with having brains far-too-big-for-our-own-good.

Dogs don’t contemplate death. Parrots, pandas, and porcupines live for the moment and the moment only. Maybe elephants and dolphins consider their future expiration, but I doubt it.

Why us? Why are we morbidly enthralled with The End?

I don’t know. But since we’re here, talking about our collective demise, I’m gonna bore you again with more big-picture pontificating… Namely: Fermi’s Paradox and how humanity’s end, or at least its technological collapse, is preordained.

The Holocene is ending. The window for humanity’s bloom was brief and frankly anomalous in the epoch-spanning scheme of things: CO2vsTemp_Holocene

That blue squiggle up there at the right, hovering around 0C, is the Holocene—an unusually long (for us), warm period in Earth’s history. During that tiny window of geological time civilization came to be.

Whether the Holocene ends and temperatures begin to drop, or the anthropogenic CO2 humanity continues to pump into the atmosphere overrides it and we head into a new PETM (Paleocene/Eocene Thermal Maxima) the Holocene is toast, in a manner of speaking. But while it lasted, the Holocene was one of a long line of fortuitous accidents benefiting—us.

There are so many serendipitous events that undergird the existence of life, first of all, and secondly, humanity and humanity’s technological position in the Universe, that, just being here is a fucking miracle. The factors that make up our “luck” are mind-blowingly extensive. Here’s my go-to mind-trick for explaining this miraculous streak of good fortune: Imagine flipping a coin 70 times and every flip lands up heads.

That’s 1 / 2^70 = 2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·
2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2·2 =
1,180,591,620,717,411,303,424 = 1 SEXTILLION

The odds of us (technologically existing) are 1 out of 1 sextillion.

I’ll not bore you further with the source of all these coin flips, but things like: Goldilocks zone, distance from galactic center, our G2V sun, Theia/Moon, rocky planet, ice comet bombardment, 3 billion years of biological life cleansing the seas and depositing vast stores of carbon (oil/coal/nat.gas), trees, grass, livestock—are all factors from which these flips are derived.

Now that I’ve got you crying for The End…

Given all the “luck” we’ve had getting here, and it’s been a stunning chain of events, that luck can’t possibly hold. The party is most definitely coming to an end.

As we know, there are a couple of dozen excellent ways for that to happen. Will it end in an instant or a tortuous dwindling of resources; a massive calamitous extinguishing BANG! Or a crippling thwack against our infrastructure leaving ragged remnants to piddle along for millennia? Who’s to know?

But, the odds are against us. So, toot your horn, raise a glass, sing a song, love the one you’re with…

Then again, who fuckin’ cares how it all ends? None of us make it out of here alive.

Stewie the Stoic would remind us however, that…

[Addendum: The Fermi Paradox tie-in? Humanity enjoyed a string of incredible luck. Any other intelligent life, arising in the Universe, would require an equally improbable run of happy coincidences. Therefore, the question regarding the absence of life we see in the Universe (Fermi’s Paradox) can be answered by our own improbable existence. We are a most outrageous cosmic accident.]