It’s a grand thing that V’ger is out of the solar system. If you think there’s no life anywhere else - a proposition I find ridiculous, given the scale of the joint - then that means the tiny spacecraft has done something never accomplished before now in the history of the universe, and we did it. If you’re thinking “how could it possibly encounter the machine civilization in a mere two hundred years and change? How? Are they that close?” If I recall correctly, it went through a black hole and squirted out somewhere else. It’s the fate of Voyager 2 that still rankles; one of the Star Trek movies - 5, I think - begins with a Klingon Bird of Prey blasting Voyager 2 as a throwaway gag, one of those things that made you realize no one involved in this has any idea what this is all about.
I’d like to think it’s not the last we’ve seen of it. If we build fast engines and get out there someday, someone will go looking for it. But it would be wrong to bring it home; that’s not its place. It would be a tourist attraction, like the ruins of an old colonial fort from the 17th century. Pass alongside, snap a picture: if you’ll look out the portside windows, we’re passing Voyager 1, which has a record containing the music of Chuck Berry and Beethoven. What haunts me is the idea that it will never be found, the record never be heard, and long after the sun has guttered out, the idea of Beethoven, unrealized, floats in an empty void, an arrangement of code.
If you’d told Beethoven that his work would persist beyond the reach of the sun, I wonder if he would have been surprised, or nodded curt approval.
Oh, say, there's this:
That would be the first novel, now available on Kindle. Free for Amazon prime!
The next one is due in a month.
For some reason I thought the six-hour documentary on Nazi Germany would be something other than . . . oh, I don’t know, a six-hour documentary on Nazi Germany. It was called “A Warning from History,” a joint effort from the BBC and A&E. I’ve seen six-hour documentaries on specific aspects of the Nazis, and of course “World at War” is still the gelt standard. But it was excellent, mostly because it was from 1997 and featured many conversations with old Germans. The show had a nifty trick: after someone says something damning, indicating unrepentance or ignorance, mute the interviewer and hold the shot. I’m sure most of these interviews didn’t have awkward five second pauses. The interviewer kept going. But when you drop the audio, and the person just sits there listening, it’s as if the Judgment of the Ages is being visited upon the miserable coot.
It’s heavy on documentary footage, and spends a few minutes - not enough - on a subject that fascinates me: crappy Naziwood movies made for domestic consumption. You know, light comedies. Musicals. Big-budget pieces like Titanic. I don’t speak German, and I haven’t seen much - youtube has some examples - but everything I’ve seen feels utterly false. All the talented directors left; the government vetted every production. Production values were good enough, and often lavish. But everyone seems like they’re pretending that what’s going on in the real world isn’t going on, and they’re also pretending here in the film world. There’s something about knowing you can be arrested in the middle of making a musical comedy that constrains your gifts.
Look at this crap.
In one of the shots of the Nazis entering Austria - official stated rationale was “BECAUSE, that’s why” - there’s a shot of the cheering crowd . .
. . . and you wonder what happened to him. Probably survived. Probably lived an ordinary life after the war, died in 1966 with the Beatles playing down the hall in the hospital. Nothing was ever as extraordinary as that day when the world seemed to be arranging itself just so, the passing of the days feeling like the clicks of a tumbler in a great lock.
I read a lot about European difficulties, and realized just now: how often do you read about Austria? It’s been this way all my life. It’s as if the country adopted the chameleon as the national symbol, and learned to blend in with such expert skill you forget it’s there.
Well. I have lots of stuff coming this week, along the usual lines - the last of the Disney titles, a big batch of motels, ten more pages of Wards 1961 - but I predict a fortnight of restlessness and irritation, with short blunt Bleats interspersed with brackish diatribes. I am in a mood. I know the Black Dog when I hear him whine and growl. It’s a standard thing; it’s not unaccustomed. I think it’s the end result of some sort of creative exhaustion that followed the Great Fiction Flood, compounded by cleaning up the mess. Fixing the second novel is depressing work; so much has to be tossed out, so much is wrong. I feel there’s whips at my back to get it ready for a December release - and yet I know the revised versions is better.
You have these times when you just get so damned tired, and you know that giving in is the recipe for Three-Bean Crap Salad, and then -
It struck again this afternoon, a shearing horrible screeching sound I was convinced was the result of someone taking a bandsaw to wood up the block for some construction project. I took a nap, which was fitful - THAT SOUND intruded, even behind closed doors and windows. Later I was sitting outside and heard again, a screech, like someone sawing an ostrich’s neck - only when I walked away from the house did I realize it was coming from the roof of my house. But what? But what?
I shut down every fan I could find in the house, and still it persisted. This meant I would have to go in the attic. So I pulled down the staircase in the bedroom closet, headed up with a flashlight, and found a fan in the attic. It ran for ten seconds, shrieked, spun down, spun up again.
I have no idea what this fan does.
There was a switch next to it.
I turned it off.
The sound stopped.
That’s what things feel like now. There’s a switch, and the moment I turn it ON, the shrieking begins again.
So. Bear with me. If I take a break, it'll be for the good. I'll be fixing the fan.