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BLDGBLOG: Ghost Streets of Los Angeles
"In a short story called "Reports of Certain Events in London" by China Miéville—a text often cited here on BLDGBLOG—we read about a spectral network of streets that appear and disappear around London like the static of a radio tuned between stations, old roadways that are neither here nor there, flickering on and off in the dead hours of the night.

For reasons mostly related to a bank heist described in my book, A Burglar's Guide to the City, I found myself looking at a lot of aerial shots of Los Angeles—specifically the area between West Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard—when I noticed this weird diagonal line cutting through the neighborhood.

[image]

It is not a street—although it obviously started off as a street. In fact, parts of it today are still called Marshfield Way.

At times, however, it's just an alleyway behind other buildings, or even just a narrow parking lot tucked in at the edge of someone else's property line.

[image]

Other times, it actually takes on solidity and mass in the form of oddly skewed, diagonal slashes of houses.

The buildings that fill it look more like scar tissue, bubbling up to cover a void left behind by something else's absence.

[image]

First of all, I love the idea that the buildings seen here take their form from a lost street—that an old throughway since scrubbed from the surface of Los Angeles has reappeared in the form of contemporary architectural space.

That is, someone's living room is actually shaped the way it is not because of something peculiar to architectural history, but because of a ghost street, or the wall of perhaps your very own bedroom takes its angle from a right of way that, for whatever reason, long ago disappeared.

[image]

If you follow this thing from roughly the intersection of Hollywood & La Brea to the strangely cleaved back of an apartment building on Ogden Drive—the void left by this lost street, incredibly, now takes the form of a private swimming pool—these buildings seem to plow through the neighborhood like train cars.

Which could also be quite appropriate, as this superficial wound on the skin of the city is most likely a former streetcar route.

But who knows: my own research went no deeper than an abandoned Google search, and I was actually more curious what other people thought this might be or what they've experienced here, assuming at least someone in the world reading this post someday might live or work in one of these buildings.

[image]

And perhaps this is just the exact same point, repeated, but the notion that every city has these deeper wounds and removals that nonetheless never disappear is just incredible to me. You cut something out—and it becomes a building a generation later. You remove an entire street—and it becomes someone's living room.

I remember first learning that one of the auditoriums at the Barbican Art Centre in London is shaped the way it is because it was built inside a former WWII bomb crater, and simply reeling at the notion that all of these negative spaces left scattered and invisible around the city could take on architectural form.

Like ghosts appearing out of nowhere—or like China Miéville's fluttering half-streets, conjured out of the urban injuries we all live within and too easily mistake for property lines and real estate, amidst architectural incisions that someday become swimming pools and parking lots.

*Update* Some further "ghost streets" have popped up in the comments here, and the images are worth posting.

[image]

The one seen above, for example, is "another ghost diagonal that begins on 8th St. at Hobart, and ends at Pico and Rimpau," an anonymous commenter explains.

Another example, seen below—

[image]

—is "a block in the Pico-Robertson area," a commenter writes:
I lived there as a teenager, but never noticed the two diagonals until I looked at it with google maps. There are some lots on the west side of the next two blocks north which also have diagonals. And if you continue north across Pico Blvd, you can see diagonal property lines around St. Mary Magdalene Catholic School and the church.

Thanks for all the tips, and by all means keep them coming, if you are aware of other sites like this, whether in Los Angeles or further afield; and be sure to read through the comments for more.

*Second Update* The examples keep coming. A commenter named Lance Morris explains that he did an MFA project "about this very thing, but in Long Beach. There's a long diagonal scar running from Long Beach Blvd and Willow all the way down to Belmont Shore. I tried walking as closely to the line as I could and GPS tracked the results. There are even 2 areas where you can still see tracks!"

This inspired me to look around the area a little bit on Google Maps, which led to another place nearby, as seen below.

[image]

Again, seeing how these local building forms have been generated by the outlines of a missing street or streetcar line is pretty astonishing.

Further, the tiniest indicators of these lost throughways remain visible from above, usually in the form of triangular building cuts or geometrically odd storage yards and parking lots. Because they all align—like some strange industrial ley line—you can deduce that an older piece of transportation infrastructure is now missing.

[image]

Indeed, if you zoom out from there in the map, you'll see that the subtle diagonal line cutting across the above image (from the lower left to the upper right) is, in fact, an old rail right of way that leads from the shore further inland.

To give a sense of how incredibly subtle some of these signs can be, the diagonal fence seen in the below screen grab—

[image]

—is actually shaped that way not because of some quirk of the local storage lot manager, but because it follows this lost right of way."
losangeles  urban  architecture  cities  chinamieville  streets  seams  scars  landscape  2015  geoffmanaugh  bldgblog 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Best Fabulist Books – Flavorwire
"Fabulism, it seems, is having a moment — although whether it’s truly a trend is up for debate. Some might say it’s been right there, purring along all this time, while others might blink and wonder what you’re talking about. Such is always the case with magic. But whether you’re a newbie or an old hat, there are always new corners of the fantastic to discover.

Before we begin, take note: I say fabulism, but there’s really no single term that works for all of these books, or even for more than a few of them. There’s Robert Scholes’s fabulation, Todorov’s fantastic, there’s plain old fairy tale or fantasy, there’s the much-discussed magical realism, but none of these really work as blanket terms, at least not for what we think of when we consider contemporary literary works with, er, unrealistic elements. And maybe that’s a good thing — maybe that’d tether these books too close to earth, keep them too cemented in our imaginations.

So, here you’ll find 50 excellent novels and short story collections by fabulists, fantasists, and fairy-tale-tellers, literary books that incorporate the irreal, the surreal, and the supernatural, which have no unironic dragons, very few (if any) self-serious necromancers, but lots of delightful, magical, humane, real-as-all-get-out storytelling. Better get started, and if any of your own favorites are missing here, add them to the list in the comments."
via:anne  books  booklists  toread  srg  harukimurakami  italocalvino  borges  isabelallende  gabrielgarcíamárquez  georgesaunders  kafka  aimeebender  alissanutting  ameliagray  angelacarter  benmarcus  chinamieville  césararia  donaldantrim  donaldbarthelme  eowynivey  etgarkeret  heidijulavits  helenoyeyemi  jeffvandermeer  johnbarth  joywilliams  karenjoyfowler  karenrussell  katebernheimer  kathryndavis  kellylink  kevinbrockmeier  koboabe  lauravandenberg  lucycorin  marie-helenebertino  mattbell  mikhailbulgakov  nalohopkinson  neilgaiman  normanlock  philiproth  porochistakhakpour  ramonaausubel  salmanrushdie  sarahsun-lienbynum  shanejones  stephenmillhauser  tobybarlow 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Toward a Poetics of Skateboarding | The American Reader
"But for all of its private jargon, skateboarding’s poetry has never been linguistic. It is forever embodied and also, though this is difficult to speak of seriously, spiritual. How else to explain its appearance in Uganda without even a single retail outlet to support it? In fact, the only conveyable language of skateboarding, outside of participation and socialization in the activity itself, has always been spoken through film.

In broad terms, skate media splits time between documentation and advertisement, and their commercial evolution has skewed ever more crass and spectacular. Recent work from select video artists, however, attempts to confront the activity’s basic mystery and meaningful meaninglessness. Non-skateboarders have tended not to look very closely at these films. They mostly do not care. Skateboarders meanwhile care far too much to care exactly why. In any case, it’s here that an attempt toward a poetics of skateboarding must begin."



"Nor can we call such an effort unselfish. My own struggle with the mystery of skateboarding began five years ago, fifteen after I first stepped onto a board, when I began work on my second novel. The problem I encountered was that none of skateboarding’s confectionary can or should be dismissed. Speaking technically and contra Ian Mackaye, skateboarding today is a sport and a hobby both, along with countless other things: a therapy, an obsession, a conservative anti-drug. In its basic meaninglessness, skateboarding has become the tool that takes the shape of whoever’s hand it’s in."



"What in those first years had fit awkwardly into a de facto rubric of athletics—a sport to be timed and judged for athletic merit—became in the 1970s something more rhetorical. The ethos was the punk scavenging of revolution by way of repurposing. Whatever prefigurations of the object we had seen, never before had they been deployed creatively. To speak in China Mieville’s terms, what emerged was something counterposed to the comfort of the uncanny. The activity, new, unrecognized, and bounded only by imagination, was abcanny."



"While the basic spirit of skateboarding might have remained constant since the addition of polyurethane, the marketplace around it quite obviously has not. Now and once again the importance of skateboarding in our time is on the increase. Today, it is on Fox. It is on ESPN with real-time algorithms for evaluating tricks. Once more the marketplace would have us comprehend skateboarding as a sport.

We know on first glance that skateboarding, in its dominant form of street activity, stands apart from ball and net athletics. It seems uninterested, too, in velocity and stopwatch performances. But the first challenge to the rubric of sport begins even lower, at a semiotic level. You and I could, if we wanted, go and shoot lazy jumpshots on a netless schoolyard hoop, or go to the driving range and smack buckets of balls into the green void. We can take our gloves to the park and throw grounders and pop flies and apply tags to invisible runners. But for any of these to qualify as “basketball,” “golf,” or “baseball,” we would require the structure of competition and order of rules.

Systems such as these have no bearing on skateboarding, of which even the most negligible acts, no matter how brief or private, simply are skateboarding. Consider: between my home and the nearest skatepark is a well-paved boulevard with sewer caps embedded into the blacktop every half block or so. A source of joy for me is to push down this boulevard and pop tiny ollies over these sewer caps, sometimes barely scraping my tail, other times popping hard and pulling my knees up to my chest. These are not tricks proper, just ways to see and engage with the street’s reality. This is not, as athletes might call it, practice; I am not training for a future event. It is travel, yes, but the joy has little to do with the scenery or distance covered. In the purview of skate competition, this pushing down the boulevard, the single most fun I have in any given day, is not a scorable act of skateboarding. It is worth zero and it is worth everything.

In a world increasingly data-driven and surveilled, skateboarding lives beneath scoring and resists all datazation by establishing everything as a performance. It deflects the surveillance state by its primal devotion to documenting and sharing itself, monitoring every possible development, repetition, and failure. It pre-empts the onslaught of observation by embracing it. To pre-empt is to deflect, but also to admit defeat. Luckily, skateboarders are shameless—in this way, they’re the perfect actors to play the role of themselves.

Our potential heuristic now approaches what literary and cultural theorists today speak of, with a smirk, as the so-called authentic self. But a skater, whether standing on his stage, behind a camera, or at a keyboard, sees and thinks and performs precisely as what and who he is. What other memberships function in this or a similar manner? Parenthood. Romantic partnership. Citizenship. Does artistry?

***

To date, the most complete attempt to theorize skateboarding has been Iain Borden’s Skateboarding, Space and the City: Architecture and the Body (Berg, 2001). Borden, a Professor of Architecture and Urban Culture at The Bartlett, University College London, treats the activity of skateboarding as a Lefebvrian practice with a potential to become its own sort of architecture: not of construction, but by the “production of space, time, and social being.” He traces the history of skateboarding into the 1990s’ street skating movement, and speaks of the way this “oppositional subculture” rethinks architecture “as a set of discrete features and elements…recomposing it through new speeds, spaces and times.” The gears of capitalism create spaces in which behavior is prescribed and easily accounted for. Skateboarding’s opposition is thus a compositional process, partially of the individual body, which is recomposed against the “intense scopic determinations of modernist space,” and partially of a deeper critique of urban life: “production not as the production of things but of play, desires and actions.”"



"By contrast, today’s most compelling skateboarding films aim to capture not only the play of skateboarding, but enact what Borden calls the “positive dialectic that restlessly searches for new possibilities of representing, imagining and living our lives.” The “Panoramic Series” from Philip Evans, for example, relieves the actor from the full burden of attention. Here Evans follows Phil Zwijsen through his hometown of Antwerp:"



"The skater, Austyn Gillette, appears only after the environmental context, resulting in a portrait not of one or the other, but both. The subject is, as skateboarding’s always has been in practice, the interactions between city and individual body. Alongside recent work by Mike Manzoori, Evan Schiefelbine and select others, these films find energy beyond the progressive trickery of athletics, or the documentation of extant geographies. They combine the skateboarder’s practice—creative, productive—with a distinctly non-skateboarding meta-awareness of the activity’s potential for meaning. Their grounding within the geist of skateboarding is obvious: there is nothing a skater spots more quickly than the fraud, or tourist. These are films made by skateboarders who have lived within the activity’s world, and who choose to leverage the activity as a tool to understand itself. How long, they ask, must a toy endure before it becomes something else? What does it become, and does this mean it has ceased to be a toy?"



"Roberto Bolaño called surrealism “something convulsive and vague, that familiar amorphous thing.” If indeed there is ever to be a poetics of skateboarding, familiarity will have to play a role. Suvin argued that science fiction’s value lay in its ability to effect cognitive estrangement. Campbell’s film documents and creates ostranenie by the re-presentation of a familiar world as captured by, and portrayed through, the glance of the radical dreamer. In fact, what Cuatros does better than any film I’ve seen is remind us that skateboarding’s heuristic usefulness is ontological. Its topos is not that there is a world inside the world, but rather: there is a world the exact shape and texture of the world that you know laid seamlessly over top of it, and you, for some reason, fail to see how beautiful it can be.

Convulsive, vague, and conveyed by slidy looks. Campbell’s subject is our ineffable, binding thing, that lurking, trembling essence that he can only render by images and motions of the surreal. The artist whose art was born from skateboarding has made an object about skateboarding that conveys this birth and mode of being. Skateboarding infects the filmmaker infects the musicians infects the viewer. Viewer goes out skating. Skateboarding is self-perpetuating in this way. It is always itself and something else, it is infectious, it is comprehensive and sublatable to the core. This is how the infinite comes to be—once born, skateboarding can never now die.

But the dreamscape of Cuatros Sueños Pequeños is not an expression of this infinity. Rather, it is mimetic. What world is this?, asks the skateboarder. A familiar one we have seen so many times that it’s rendered unseeable. More importantly, what is to be done in it? The answer, like Campbell’s film, is incoherent, and thank goodness. The answer is anything at all."
skating  skateboarding  skateboards  quantification  measurement  urban  urbanism  surveillance  iainborden  meaning  film  video  robertobolaño  thomascampbell  cuatrosueñospequeños  performance  datazation  repetition  monitoring  failure  documentation  process  capitalism  henrilefebvre  space  place  play  culture  movement  infectiousness  inspiration  feral  ecosystems  socialbeing  time  architecture  landscape  kylebeachy  understanding  experience  robertzemeckis  pontusalv  punk  metrics  schematics  markets  poetics  filmmaking  darkosuvin  sciencefiction  ianmackaye  technology  history  circumstance  california  socal  sports  chinamieville  abcanny  zines  creativity  competition  commercialization  commercialism  commoditization  diy  systems  rules  revolution  resistance  practice  authenticity  artistry  philipevans  philzwijsen  colinkennedy  stasis  motion  austyngillette  mikemanzoori  evanschiefelbine  javiermendizabal  madarsapse  dondelillo  cities  meaninglessness  participation  participatory  democracy  tribes  belonging  identity  spirituality  social  socializati 
july 2014 by robertogreco
The Hauntology of Daily Life — Medium
"Next time I need to go to the café, I will know exactly where it is, just as I know that another café that I frequent is across the street — one block closer to the Pacific ocean — from a dim sum place I eat lunch at frequently, and just as I know that a favorite Vietnamese restaurant is on the same block as the movie theater that is closest to my home. I could not tell you the cross streets of any of these businesses, but I know where they all are in relation to each other. That is how memories are cemented. At least that is how my brain makes memories, through context, correlation, proximity.

And through incidence. There are different types of proximity, and though the word suggests physical nearness, there is also simply chance incident. On the way to the dim sum restaurant, there is a spot where I think about feathers, because a dead bird was left there for several weeks, and for weeks after its carcass had disappeared, individual feathers fluttered in the bushes and grass.

Key for my memory is sound, certain parallels between physical places and the sounds that I associate with them.

I do not think of alarms when I walk past the neighborhood fire station, but I do think about the crying in a nursery ward. This is because of a sign on the firehouse door that announces the place as a safe haven for unwanted newborns. The sign shows a child sleeping in a pair of hands, yet I cannot walk by that firehouse without the helpless calls of infants ringing in my mind’s ears.

There is a stretch of road between Pasadena and Glendale where I will always hear the rhythmic threadbare minimal techno of Monolake’s album Cinemascope, even if Led Zeppelin is blasting on the radio,even if I am deep in conversation on the phone or with a fellow passenger, even if the windows are open and letting in the sirens of passing police cars, all of which has happened. More than a decade ago, on a visit to the Los Angeles area, I blasted a CD of that album in a rental car after a long day of meetings, on my way to visit a friend across town, and though I have never again sat in that particular car, and I have long since parted ways with that employer, and my physical copy of the Monolake album is buried in a box in my closet, the music still hovers on the highway, waiting for me to trigger it simply by driving through it.

And I cannot step into a particular corner of my home’s small backyard without having the novelist China Miéville tell me a story — more specifically, tell me a particular part of a story. For at some point, many years ago, I struggled in that spot with a heavy ration of weeds, and while I pulled at the weeds, tried to separate them from the ground without leaving their crepuscular roots intact, a recording of Miéville reading from one of his stories played through the headphones attached to my MP3 player. I was fixed in that spot long enough for the story to take root. It is as if the story lingers there, set on a loop on an invisible jukebox, and I can access it if I get just inside a specific zone of the yard."
memory  mapping  place  senses  sound  sounds  2013  marcweidenbaum  audio  music  losangeles  context  proximity  chinamieville  brain  mameories  associations 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Venture Ethnography 1: a bi(bli)ography « Justin Pickard
"Project Cascadia is the test-case for a cluster of ideas I’ve been playing with for the best part of five years. A chance to break out my signature obsessions …

Hauntings, world expos, gonzo journalism, science fiction, systems, geopolitics, utopianism, virtuality, globalisation, the sublime, resilience, collapsonomics, aesthetics, architecture, environmentalism, infrastructure, design, futures studies, sovereignty, atemporality, risk, the nation-state, the uncanny, Americana, technoscience, cyberpunk, multispecies ethnography, fiction, capitalism, the human senses, counterfactual history, media and cyborgs (and media cyborgs)

… and nail them to the mast of a weird and interstitial sort of boat; a soupy, hybrid writing practice that would combine the best of ethnography, journalism and science fiction.

In lieu of a biography, then, I’m offering a bibliography. Five years of my brain, in books, articles, essays, and blog posts…"
urbanism  jgballard  richardbarbrook  marcaugé  warrenellis  jenniferegan  bradleygarrett  donnaharaway  naomiklein  brunolatour  ursulaleguin  ianmacdonald  suketumehta  chinamieville  jimrossignol  michaeltaussig  huntersthompson  adamgreenfield  brucesterling  thomaspynchon  bldgblog  geoffmanaugh  cityofsound  danhill  davidgraeber  matthewgandy  williamgibson  corydoctorow  douglascoupland  michaelchabon  jamaiscascio  laurenbeukes  journalism  mediacyborgs  cyborgs  geopolitics  aesthetics  utopianism  risk  atemporality  sovereignty  sciencefiction  cyberpunk  technoscience  ethnography  capitalism  globalization  collapsonomics  resilience  writing  projectcascadia  bibliographies  2011  justinpickard  bibliography 
november 2012 by robertogreco
LQ Podcast 31: China Miéville - Lapham’s Quarterly
"China Miéville speaks with LQ editor Aidan Flax-Clark about craft, genre fiction, and the power of the supernatural over his books."
genrefiction  supernatural  magicshows  2012  sciencefiction  scifi  tolisten  interviews  horror  fantasy  chinamieville 
september 2012 by robertogreco
China Miéville: the future of the novel | Books | guardian.co.uk
"With the internet has come proof that there are audiences way beyond the obvious."

"In fact what's becoming obvious - an intriguing counterpoint to the growth in experiment - is the tenacity of relatively traditional narrative-arc-shaped fiction. But you don't radically restructure how the novel's distributed and not have an impact on its form. Not only do we approach an era when absolutely no one who really doesn't want to pay for a book will have to, but one in which the digital availability of the text alters the relationship between reader, writer, and book. The text won't be closed."

"A collection of artists and activists advocating the neoliberalisation of children's minds. That is scandalous and stupid. The text is open. This should – could – be our chance to remember that it was never just us who made it, and it was never just ours."

"We piss and moan about the terrible quality of self-published books, as if slews of god-awful crap weren't professionally expensively published every year."

"There's a contingent relationship between book sales and literary merit, so we should totally break the pretence at a connection, because of our amplifying connection to everyone else, and orient future-ward with a demand.

What if novelists and poets were to get a salary, the wage of a skilled worker?"

"This would only be an exaggeration of the national stipends already offered by some countries for some writers. For the great majority of people who write, it would mean an improvement in their situation, an ability to write full-time. For a few it would mean an income cut, but you know what? It was a good run. And surely it's easily worth it to undermine the marketisation of literature for some kind of collectivity.

But who decides who qualifies as a writer? Does it take one sonnet? Of what quality? Ten novels? 50,000 readers? Ten, but the right readers? God knows we shouldn't trust the state to make that kind of decision. So we should democratise that boisterous debate, as widely and vigorously as possible. It needn't be the mere caprice of taste. Which changes. And people are perfectly capable of judging as relevant and important literature for which they don't personally care. Mistakes will be made, sure, but will they really be worse than the philistine thuggery of the market?

We couldn't bypass the state with this plan, though. So for the sake of literature, apart from any- and everything else, we'll have to take control of it, invert its priorities, democratise its structures, replace it with a system worth having.

So an unresentful sense of writers as people among people, and a fidelity to literature, require political and economic transformation. For futures for novels – and everything else. In the context of which futures, who knows what politics, what styles and which contents, what relationships to what reconceived communities, which struggles to express what inexpressibles, what stories and anti-stories we will all strive and honourably fail to write, and maybe even one day succeed?"
writers  writing  publishers  democratization  democracy  futures  politics  selfpublishing  self-publishing  neoliberalism  copyright  hypertextnovels  fiction  literature  weirdfictionreview  ubuweb  lyricalrealism  zadiesmith  jamesjoyce  poulocoelho  oulipo  modernism  brunoschulz  lawrencedurrell  borges  ebooks  hypertext  hypertextfiction  text  cv  economics  publishing  leisurearts  bookfuturism  futureofbooks  2012  chinamieville  collectivity  money  artleisure 
august 2012 by robertogreco
dConstruct2011 videos: The Transformers, Kars Alfrink
"In this talk, Kars Alfrink – founder and principal designer at applied pervasive games studio Hubbub – explores ways we might use games to alleviate some of the problems wilful social self-seperation can lead to. Kars looks at how people sometimes deliberately choose to live apart, even though they share the same living spaces. He discusses the ways new digital tools and the overlapping media landscape have made society more volatile. But rather than to call for a decrease in their use, Kars argues we need more, but different uses of these new tools. More playful uses."

[See also: http://2011.dconstruct.org/conference/kars-alfrink AND http://speakerdeck.com/u/dconstruct/p/the-transformers-by-kars-alfrink ]

"Kars looks at how game culture and play shape the urban fabric, how we might design systems that improve people’s capacity to do so, and how you yourself, through play, can transform the city you call home."
monocultures  rulespace  self-governance  gamification  filterbubble  scale  tinkering  urbanism  urban  simulationfever  animalcrossing  simulation  ludology  proceduralrhetoric  ianbogost  resilience  societalresilience  division  belonging  rioting  looting  socialconventions  situationist  playfulness  rules  civildisobedience  separation  socialseparation  nationality  fiction  dconstruct2011  dconstruct  identity  cities  chinamieville  design  space  place  play  gaming  games  volatility  hubbub  howbuildingslearn  adaptability  adaptivereuse  architecture  transformation  gentrification  society  2011  riots  janejacobs  karsalfrink  simulations 
december 2011 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Unsolving the City: An Interview with China Miéville
"Over the course of the following long interview, China Miéville discusses the conceptual origins of the divided city featured in his recent, award-winning novel The City and The City; he points out the interpretive limitations of allegory, in a craft better served by metaphor; we take a look at the "squid cults" of Kraken (which arrives in paperback later this month) and maritime science fiction, more broadly; the seductive yet politically misleading appeal of psychogeography; J.G. Ballard and the clichés of suburban perversity; the invigorating necessities of urban travel; and much more."
chinamieville  thecityandthecity  design  art  architecture  books  cities  bldgblog  geoffmanaugh  literature  fiction  jgballard  scifi  sciencefiction  borders  toread  jmwturner  gulliver'stravels  thomaspynchon  gravitysrainbow  tvtropes  via:preoccupations  seeing  unseeing  attention  2011 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Pasta&Vinegar » About The City and the City by China Miéville
"What struck me…was the role played by the cityscape in the whole narrative. The action takes place in the distinct cities of Besźel & Ul Qoma. However, both of them actually occupy the same physical space.…Because the citizens chose this separation, B & UQ are perceived by people as 2 different cities…inhabitants are taught to “unsee” or “unhear” the persons from the other city:

“They knew I was in Ul Quoma: I could find them & could walk alongside them in the street & we would be inches apart but unable to acknowledge each other. Like the old story. Not that I would ever do such a thing. Having to unsee acquaintances or friends is a rare & notoriously uncomfortable circumstance.“

Unseeing, as described above, is supposed to be unconscious. This ability is important because it doesn’t mean that people would’nt notice anything…This of course means that this ability is taught very early to children & that each cities has its own peculiar design/color/shape/architecture…"
books  toread  scifi  sciencefiction  noticing  seeing  unseeing  unhearing  chinamieville  novels  fiction  cities  perception  urban  urbanism  borders  2009  nicolasnova  division  cityscapes  place 
june 2011 by robertogreco
BBC News - Science Fiction... but not as you know it
"A new exhibition dedicated to science fiction has opened at the British Library in London.

Out Of This World aims to challenge visitors' perceptions of the genre and explore its relationship with science.

Books on show at the exhibition, which is open to the public from May 20 until September 25, include a first edition of Thomas More's Utopia and Luigi Serafini's encyclopaedia of an imaginary world Codex Seraphinius.

Sci-fi author China Mieville took BBC News on a tour of the exhibition to explain the genre's importance and lasting appeal."
history  books  scifi  sciencefiction  chinamieville 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Mieville on Tolkien - Boing Boing
"Tolkien is the wen on the arse of fantasy literature. His oeuvre is massive and contagious - you can't ignore it, so don't even try. The best you can do is consciously try to lance the boil. And there's a lot to dislike - his cod-Wagnerian pomposity, his boys-own-adventure glorying in war, his small-minded and reactionary love for hierarchical status-quos, his belief in absolute morality that blurs moral and political complexity. Tolkien's clichés - elves 'n' dwarfs 'n' magic rings - have spread like viruses. He wrote that the function of fantasy was 'consolation', thereby making it an article of policy that a fantasy writer should mollycoddle the reader."

[via: http://bettyann.tumblr.com/post/3549253868 ]
jrrtolkein  chinamieville 
february 2011 by robertogreco

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