devi: (fields)
Back home forests are deep cool peace and balm for the soul, the feeling of your chest unclenching and your heart slowing down as you walk out of the jagged noise of the urban world into the quiet greenness. They´re somewhere to go when you´ve been run ragged, to restore yourself and get a treehugging fix to help you cope with the madness outside.

The rainforest is not like that.

Walking into the jungle on the first day of the trip felt more like getting off the airport bus in the middle of Bangkok. A million alien stimuli coming at you at once, some of them dangerous. Your brain spinning up to high speed, labouring to take it all in while also looking out for yourself. This is the pulsing, pounding, frenetic capital of nature. The traffic is mad, the nightlife is high-octane, the crime rate is sky-high (especially in the Murder Zone at the surface of the river where thousands of fish race to devour millions of insects before the birds can devour them) and the most amazing, unlikely, diverse, specialised stuff happens: creatures and plants fill weird little niches the way a big city supports funny little shops, oddball artists and products that only certain subcultures want to buy.

... )
devi: (butterfly)
I´d like to tell you properly about the lakeside jungle lodge on stilts, its banana-leaf-thatched buildings linked by narrow wooden walkways like a level of Myst. The jubilation of bursting out into sunshine from the Lima perma-fog, and flying over the Andes and then down over endless forest patched with cloud shadows and threaded with twisty red-brown rivers like question marks. Hummingbirds and butterflies and sliced papaya and talking parrots and hurtling round Pucallpa on rattly, noisy little mototaxis, and this dusty little internet cubby full of rough wooden sculptures of animals and staticky pop radio (everyone round here seems to listen to a station called, I think, ´Romantica´, where every song sounds like it´s from the slushy lovesong pirate radio of my childhood). There´s mad explody mythological art to tell about (I heart Pablo Amaringo) and lucky meetings and exciting stuff afoot. And this feeling of `yes, I´ve arrived, this is it´ which requires a big digression about rainforests and my childhood imaginary world. But I can´t capture anything properly right now because it is TOO HOT TO LIVE (Lima was chilly and somehow damp and arid at the same time; getting off the plane at tiny Pucallpa airport, it was as if the sun was punching me in the bare shoulders).

Also I itch like holy hell after being devoured by mosquitoes last night. It´s murder on my concentration. The `Off!´ bug spray I bought to replace my proper Jungle Formula stuff, gone with my bag, is some sort of cruel joke. It burned when I put it on, but the evil little beggars just sniggered at it and went on biting merrily. Perhaps it is actually human repellent.

Graah. I go find anaesthetic cream. Perhaps I come back later.
devi: (Default)

Parc départemental du Val-de-Marne
Originally uploaded by gadl

This guy just made my jaw drop. He takes 360-degree panoramas and turns them into tiny planets. The full set is here.

And while I'm at it, more beautiful otherworldly pictures by [ profile] marnameow. They're a set taken on the Thames at night, exposed for so long they're as bright as day.

River, and gherkin in the distance
Originally uploaded by felinebeastie

How did I live without this constant influx of cool stuff from the internet? Oh yeah, I got quarterly fanzines in the post or something. It wasn't much fun.

devi: (bookish)
I was up marking coursework till nearly 3am last night and now my head is full of wool and my neck feels simultaneously stiff and too wobbly. Today was running up and down stairs chasing more coursework, sending the students out to buy plastic folders and find me the hole punch because surely you're not submitting THAT? It's all in but one now, finally, and for the rest of the evening I am off duty. I am eating bucket pasta and thinking about watching 24 Hour Party People, which always inspires me because it's about a shambolic disorganised mess of a person who through sheer enthusiasm manages to make great stuff happen, almost by accident.

But even despite my adrenalin-filled get-things-done state, I still found myself perched on the edge of the bed half-dressed for half an hour this morning, breathlessly devouring the end of Geoff Ryman's Air. Oh my. I'd only picked it up while packing my bag to see how far I was from the end. I went out to catch the bus still staggered by the brilliance.

More people ought to know about Geoff Ryman. Okay, lots of people seem to have read 253, his book of thumbnail portraits of people on a tube train, but who knows about The Child Garden, the love story of a girl and a polar bear opera-singer in a near-future sub-tropical London? It's full of amazing language and big ideas and is one of the best books I've ever read. Was, his remix of The Wizard of Oz, is also great and very, very dark. Lust is an awkward one, about a scientist who develops the power to manifest anyone he fancies, alive, dead or fictional, but it's still got more crunchy concepts and moments of insight and beauty than any three more processed and pasteurised books you care to mention, and towards the end goes careering off into a gorgeous crazed mystic tangent about what really happens when you die. He writes about time and memories and the random connections between people, the texture of cities and making art and throwing impromptu street parties in the face of death. With balloons.

Excuse my fangirling. I just think he's criminally ignored, though he did win a bunch of awards for Air, which is set in the last village in the world to get online. When I was in Trinity Netsoc we invited him over to give a talk about 253 and online fiction (yes, it was the late nineties, how can you tell?) and a bunch of us committee people got outrageously drunk with him in his B&B while he told the guy who was Secretary to stop wasting his life and go have babies. It sounded as if he felt he'd failed at his life. I think he ought to have people peeling grapes for him, if there was any justice.

Off to the Bristol Comic Expo tomorrow with a bundle of Wasted Epiphanies to thrust upon people. With polar bears in it, yes. I rip off Mr Ryman all the time without meaning to.
devi: (railway)
Just now, finally, in a sudden burst fuelled by some brilliant driving music, three months after I originally thought I'd be done, I have written the last bit of text for Strange Characters. When I started, I thought I'd just have to write a few connecting paragraphs. Turns out that what I wrote between January and now is as long as all the stuff I wrote on the trip. The whole thing is just over 60,000 words, though I'll probably have to cut some waffle out. I am totally boogieing at my desk right now.
devi: (dancing)
Many coolnesses! The first one, as seen on Neil Gaiman's journal, is If I had one it would have to lead to a Madwoman's Chamber, like the one in the Wizards, Warriors and You books. Though some of you might think that in a house with me living in it this would not be difficult.

Yesterday I got an unexpected parcel from [ profile] addedentry and [ profile] j4. Surprise parcels are the best. It had two books on writing for children, including one by Joan Aiken! And a card with the cover of one of the Malory Towers books! You guys rock.

(The Joan Aiken book had a list inside the front cover of books she's written, some for children and some for adults. The adult books all have dull, wet names like "The Young Lady from Paris" and "The Smile of the Stranger". The children's books have thrilling titles like "The Stolen Lake" and "Midnight is a Place". Wonder what that tells us about her? Or maybe about me?)

I really appreciate all the comments on the cover I put up. And I have found a printer in the UK thanks to [ profile] spurious_fellow's introduction skills. This is great news, meaning no stupid international shipping charges for me or anyone else who wants to buy the book over here, but none for people in America either because they have a branch there too!

Is it wrong of me to think that "Antony Rowe" will look way better than "Lulu" on the back of a book? It sounds so much more... publishery. I hope this is not just because of some unconscious prejudice on my part because Lulu is a girl's name. Albeit a particularly fluffy, silly-sounding name.

Doing it in the UK means I have to do various bureaucratic bits myself, though. I have to get a company in Oxford to make me a barcode. On a little piece of plastic, apparently. And it looks like I might have to buy ten ISBNs. You can't get them singly. I have a few other hare-brained book schemes in the back of my head, but not a whole ten of them. Is anyone else out there considering self-publishing something? If so, you can buy an ISBN from me for £9.40 and then I will officially be your publisher! This amuses me greatly.

Exclamation marks! They are the new understatement!
devi: (bookish)
[ profile] huskyteer had my favourite subject line of the people who've done this meme - "there are things known and things unknown, and in between is the window".

And [ profile] offensive_mango's results diagram is great. But I'm away from my own computer so you'll have to imagine the window-shape for yourselves...

the results! )

[ profile] juggzy made me splutter with laughter by including 'big tits' among all the other words. And like people said, the word list does suck quite a bit. Why all the similar words? Brave *and* bold, why? So. What words would you like to have seen in something like this? 'Forgetful'? 'Hedonistic'? 'Perverted'? 'Mutant freak'? 'Barking mad'?

edit: This is so amazing and trippy and beautiful and I WANT ONE. From [ profile] gillen
devi: (orange)
Or there should be. I want to buy a piece of land, somewhere in England or Ireland, and declare it a Chinese park. Or just rent a house with a garden and declare it to be a Chinese park for a single night. Chinese parks are the new best thing ever.

Picture this: It’s just after dark. You’re walking along a winding, shadowy, leafy path with funny metal sculptures like huge bubbles of mercury sitting on the grass on either side. Off in one direction, someone’s voice is rising and falling in operatic scales. From another, faintly, comes the sound of someone else’s flute practice. A barefoot woman is doing t’ai chi in a clearing. Further on, an elderly man in pyjamas is standing absolutely motionless, staring at a tree. Young couples kiss on benches, old couples walk their tiny dogs. Kids play badminton in the path...

night kites and other fun stuff )

Say I did have a nice big garden to do it in. Would you come to a Chinese park evening? And what would you do? ('Stroll' is a perfectly acceptable answer, of course, and so is 'absolutely nothing').

the hermit

Aug. 15th, 2005 06:18 pm
devi: (masked)
And so the Strange and Rootless Summer goes on. I'm house-sitting for [ profile] addedentry and [ profile] j4 in Cambridge right now. They have no internet yet. On the one hand, this is a bit weird. On the other hand, it means I'm getting lots and lots of writing done, and watching their videos, and magpieing my way through their fantastic poetry collection, reading Four Quartets over and over again and playing the Oysterband loudly. And the 24 Hour Party People soundtrack. If I ever have the study/library/workshop I dream of, I think I'll call it the Factory.

Now I'm in a lovely little netcafe/bookshop called CB1 on Mill Road. It has a bookcrossing shelf. I've adopted Mary Dorcey's Biography of Desire (apparently it's the first ever Irish erotic novel. Hmm. No I said no I won't no) and had a chat with the folkie proprietor about bookcrossing. I wonder what I have in my rucksack that I can leave in return?

Saturday was [ profile] ghoti's wedding, which was beautiful and full of hymns and ceilidh dancing. It was weird to be singing things like Here I Am Lord (a Fanore classic) again, and some of the hymns were downright apocalyptic ("Come back suddenly, Lord, and fill your temples!" At least I can take consolation in the fact that they've been singing that hymn since the 1700s and He hasn't come back suddenly yet), but it still felt sort of right. And it seems I really like ceilidh dancing. I'd better not tell my mum or she'll make me accompany her to sessions in school halls to dance with sweating elderly farmers with one hand*.

This past week... I have no proper words, so I'm just going to mumble indistinctly about exploring territories real and imaginary, and books and ideas I needed just falling into my lap, and being amazed at my own brain (it's not as egotistical as it sounds, really, it could apply to anyone's brain), crazy random conversations, speaking things long unspoken, and stuff, and things. And stuff. Er...

Anyway, never mind the specifics; the result is I'm in a writing frenzy. I wonder if it's possible to write 20,000 words in a week? I'll be back online properly at the weekend, I hope, maybe. I'm sorry to anyone who tried to contact me these last few days who didn't get a reply. A couple of weeks ago I was all gregarious and now I've turned back into a recluse. I am a flake.

*This has actually happened before

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