Monday, April 13, 2015

Update 26: Belts

Some Thoughts

A belt
I've been thinking about how to start the chapter on pop-culture. I've already started writing it, and I think I've shared a little of it here. But, in the bit I've written, I make very casual reference to something like the great conversation of humanity. This concept is very familiar to me, and has had a lot to do with my education, but it might not be very familiar to other people. So, how do I explain the idea? 

I think I'll talk about belts. Belts have been made by human beings for a long, long time, probably as long as there have been pants (because the damn things don't stay up on their own). But, who invented the belt? Who owns the patent? No one. The idea of the belt is the common heritage of all human beings, handed down from generation to generation. 

This is true of the belt even though anyone could have thought of it. It is a very basic tool that serves a function common to all people everywhere: keeping clothes on. This is even true where climate makes the clothes largely ceremonial. Anyone could invent the belt, but they might never get around to it. They might never wear pants, or be too busy fighting for their lives, or any number of things. And yet, we still have the idea, because it's been passed on and passed around. 

The great conversation of humanity includes belts. It also includes written and spoken language, mathematics, and the concept of the soul. All of these are things that arise because they have to do with what is important to human beings as human beings. People have learned them or figured them out, and then shared them with other people. Many of them could have been figured out by anyone, because they concern our common condition, but we don't need to work at it from scratch because people before us and around us let us know what's up. 

That's roughly what I mean by "the great conversation". I mean all those things and ideas people have been making, taking, modifying, rejecting, reconsidering and handing on. How pop-culture fits into this is the subject of the chapter on pop-culture.

© 2015 John Hiner III

Monday, April 6, 2015

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!

It is Easter everybody, and so I will be taking this week off. Until we meet again, here is some lovely music of a much different tone than what we've been discussing recently:

David Fenn on SoundCloud

Monday, March 30, 2015

Update 25

Some Thoughts

Recently, I've been thinking of trying my hand at writing some Twine games. You know, with all my extra time. Twine is (basically and a little inaccurately) a piece of free software for writing choose-your-own-adventure stories.
Here's a diagram I drew of a basic structure for a Twine game.
I have no idea whether following it will produce good stories
(it was designed geometrically). It looks cool though. We'll see how it goes.

I'm thinking of doing this, first because I'd like to practice the kind of descriptive, evocative writing required by fiction, and second because I'm fascinated by the possibilities (and limitations) of making fiction interactive. Twine is a quick and easy way to begin exploring some of that.

Here's a Twine game I came across earlier today that I recommend. The subject is, perhaps, a little "niche" (the whole thing takes place during a meeting of the lead developers of a big-budget video game project), but I'd call it well written and funny, and I think the themes are pretty universal, even if the particulars aren't.

Also on the subject of interactive fiction, here's one of my favorite short stories, which I also recommend.

Another little sample of the book

"The human race is participating in a great and on going conversation. Sometimes it isn't very civil or very organized, other times it really is. But, being a conversation, what comes before influences what comes after and, being human beings, the same topics recur, because they are the things that really concern us and matter to us.

The human race is participating in a great conversation, and pop-culture is the cocktail party. Pop-culture is the dorm common room at two in the morning, when some people are still seriously involved in thinking about the ideas brought up that day, and other people are just shooting the breeze, and maybe everybody is doing both alternately."

© John Hiner III

Monday, March 23, 2015

Update 24

Progress Report

There have been times in my life when I was busy and found it frustrating, and others when I've had time on my hands and found that frustrating too. I'm happy to say that, at the moment, I'm pretty happy with how busy I am. But, it still means I'm busy, and finding time for more my personal writing projects can be tough.
That's a pretty eye catching picture, yeah? It has to do with
the article I wrote for Pixel Dynamo. I didn't want another picture
of Nirvana this week...

I'm still in the process of writing the chapter on Smells Like Teen Spirit, and I'd say it's going well so far. There's another excerpt below. Also, here's a link to one of the articles I wrote for Pixel Dynamo today. I'm pretty pleased with it, and I encourage you to make comments on it over there. It's a conversation starter in need of a conversation!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Update 23

Progress Report

The current structural plan of the book is to alternate between a more generally philosophical chapter (such as the chapter on human nature, or the chapter on art) and a chapter that comments on some particular piece of pop-culture which is relevant to the surrounding philosophical discussions.

I've started work on one of these more focused, critical chapters. The subject is Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana. What it's led to so far is some general conversation about the nature of music, and how the modern "band" fits into that.

Here's a link to a previous discussion of mine about music. I'm sure I'll be revisiting that article as this chapter develops. And, below is an excerpt from the newly begun chapter. Go ahead and tell me what you think.

A Teaser

"Making music requires careful thought and planning, and repeated practice. But, when we listen to music, if that preparation and care has come to fruition, the music itself will not seem like the result of a long, laborious process of production, but like a spontaneous and living thing. And, when the piece of music is great (if not necessarily good) that living thing is filled with mysterious and dynamic purpose; intense intention; a commanding presence that invisibly dominates the place in which it is heard.

A great piece of music draws the listener into a world of its own; a world of mental sensations and glimpses of thoughts, a world of emotions.

Smells Like Teen Spirit is such a piece of music.

And, this contrast between the experience of listening to music, and the nature of making music, might even cause you to think of Nirvana as disingenuous. This is because of the nature of being “a band”, which we’ll have to take a little detour here and discuss, I guess..."

© 2015 John Hiner III

Monday, March 9, 2015

Update 22 and Phil Fish

Hello there. The last several days have been quite an adventure. My uncle died, my son went into the hospital (he should recover just fine), and my car was totaled (by a blown head gasket). One of the best things about writing about pop-culture is that is requires a combination of seriousness and levity. Unfortunately, seriousness and levity are difficult to attain along side exhaustion and stress.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Robocop (the reboot)

I saw advertisements for the Robocop “reboot” before it was released and rolled my eyes, thinking what I think whenever the amorphous “they” decides to fill the minds of the younger generation with a slick, grim, shaky-cam butchering of some classic of my childhood. I rolled my eyes, and paid it no mind.