TagWarren Ellis

An Interview With SPIRITS OF PLACE’s John Reppion

If you’ve been spending any time online in the past few weeks, then chances are good that you’ve heard about Spirits of Place,  the new book edited by John Reppion and put out into the world by Daily Grail Publishing.  It’s caught the attention of the likes of Guillermo del Toro, Boing Boing, and Blair MacKenzie Blake of ToolBand.net and we’ve even discussed it in the Technoccult Newsletter.

Here’s the synopsis:

Stories are embedded in the world around us; in metal, in brick, in concrete, and in wood. In the very earth beneath our feet. Our history surrounds us and the tales we tell, true or otherwise, are always rooted in what has gone before. The spirits of place are the echoes of people, of events, of ideas which have become imprinted upon a location, for better or for worse. They are the genii loci of classical Roman religion, the disquieting atmosphere of a former battlefield, the comfort and familiarity of a childhood home.

Twelve authors take us on a journey; a tour of places where they themselves have encountered, and consulted with, these Spirits of Place.

Contributing authors: Bryndís Björgvinsdóttir, Vajra Chandrasekera, Maria J. Pérez Cuervo, Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Kristine Ong Muslim, Dr. Joanne Parker, Mark Pesce, Iain Sinclair, Gazelle Amber Valentine, and Damien Williams. Edited by John Reppion.

And the cover by illustrator Pye Parr:

It is a truly beautiful book with an awe-inspiring writing lineup, and I am honoured to be a part of it.

I got the chance to do a tarot reading for John Reppion, the mind behind both the book and the event Spirits of Place. Beneath the cut, you’ll find his extremely detailed considerations on everything from magick, to art and creativity, to family, to work/life balance, and quite a lot of thoughts about how all of those things intersect.

Enjoy:

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Newspapers vs. Blogs in an Information Diet

I recently read Clay Johnson‘s book Information Diet and it’s changing the way I think about my consumption, production and sharing of media. I’m still trying to figure out what’s best for me as a media professional. How can I have a healthy media intake and remain gainfully employed? I need to keep up with what others are writing on my beats, what’s going on the tech industry as a whole and in the world in general. I also need to keep up with what’s going on in the journalism profession. Plus I have other interests I like to follow. All the while I need to avoid filter bubbles and expose myself to serendipity for the chance to make new connections and find new angles on beats.

As I try to work it all out, I enjoy reading about other writers’ media diets. Earlier this month Warren Ellis wrote that he reads about 100 blogs on various subjects, and indirectly addressed the issue of filter bubbles and serendipity.

“I read a newspaper every day, and I watch a well-produced, intelligent news analysis programme every night, and I have been known to leave 24-hour news running in a video window all day, and that still doesn’t give me a world picture in the way that my blog capture does,” Ellis writes. “The only way to find interesting things to talk about is to be open to the world as possible, and tune your machinery to bring as much of it to you as possible, without getting to the point where you’re getting no time to process it.”

I found that to be an interesting counter perspective to the notion that we get less, not more, variety from blogs than we get from a daily paper – the idea that, as expressed by Cass Sunstein, newspapers provide a better architecture for seredipity. Abe Burmeister called the suburbanization of information:

Physical newspapers play a similar mixing role, especially those that strive towards mass market audience. The more people they try to attract, the broader the mix of news stories. Turning the pages and sorting the sections is a constant reinforcement of the diversity of information in the world. We may ignore large chunks of it, but somewhere inside we know that other people actually do care about the sports section, science section, international affairs or the local stories.

As more and more people go online for news, we are losing site of the mix. News aggregators, blogs, email alerts and customizable websites give us a tremendous ability to focus our information. We surround ourselves with the news that we want to hear/see/feel. We can zip around in snug little information cocoons, isolated from the harsh reality of different ways of thinking. Those nasty conflicting viewpoints are relegated to trashbin of somebody else’s RSS feed.

William Gibson told Richard Metzger that Twitter is the greatest aggregator of novelty and that following the right 70 people is like a shopping bag full of imported magazines. Of course 70 is a really small number of people to follow on Twitter (and Gibson is now following over 100 as of this writing). And as Ellis points out, 100 blogs isn’t an astronomical number compared to some media junkies intake. Personally, I rely mostly on Twitter now for information aggregation and don’t use an RSS reader much anymore. I follow 402 people or publications on Twitter (down from about 600 before I read Information Diet). I’m trying to cut that number down further, hopefully to 200.

Of course Ellis and Gibson are professional writers of fiction, not journalists on a particular beat or citizens just trying to stay informed. I’m sure Ellis, and possibly Gibson as well, is also very consciously choosing people and publications to follow to avoid filter bubble and ensure some measure of serendipity.

I’ve often wanted some sort of “seredipity engine” that could show me random posts from a large pool of blogs – not too much stuff, just a small water fountain split off from a firehose, not filtered by what other people I follow read, not what’s popular with the world in general, and not sorted by what some algorithm thinks I want to read – just a nearly random list of articles outside my usual bubble. (I say nearly random because I would want it somewhat controlled to reduce the number of articles on the same topic, and to keep publications that publish multiple times a day to flood out publications on a less hectic schedule.)

Warren Ellis on Hunter S. Thompson’s Legacy

In a wide ranging interview with Disinfo’s Matt Staggs, Transmetropolitan writer Warren Ellis discussed the legacy of Hunter S. Thompson.

You can listen to or download the interview at Disinfo. Here are some of the points Ellis made:

  • In Transmet Ellis was more interested in the effects of celebrity on Thompson.
  • Celebrity had a corrosive effect on Thompson. Although he became more well known, he was portrayed as a cartoon character and that resulted in him being defanged and not taken seriously.
  • Because Thompson’s work is so seductively well written, it can actually be a bad influence on writers who try to imitate his style.
  • The point of drawing on 60s and 70s politics in Transmet was to show how little things had changed in the 90s and 00s when Ellis was writing it, and how unlikely it was that things would change substantially in the future.

I love Thompson’s work but think he can be a bad influence on writers and journalists who wind up writing crappy prose in an attempt to be edgy and play it fast and loose with the facts to be “gonzo.” And because of his image and style, his message was often lost. Too many people remember him as a character.

Funny AP article on obscure ways of getting high

White said that for years people experimented with “toad licking,” and now toad smoking is considered a substitute. To do so, a person heats up the frog’s venom to break down its toxins and preserve the hallucinogen, which is dried.

Hasn’t this method been around, what, at least 20 years?

In other, more terrifying news:

While smoking toad venom might sound extreme, an even more disturbing method to get high possibly includes sniffing fermented human waste. Vicky Ward, manager of prevention services at Tri-County Mental Health Services in Kansas City, said she has read e-mail warnings about a drug called jenkem.

The drug is made from fermented feces and urine.

Oh no! But wait…

But whether people actually use of jenkem has not been determined, Ward said, noting that a Web site that investigates urban legends isn’t clear on the matter.

Oh. So what was the point of this article again?

Full Story: Physorg.

(via Warren Ellis).

What is alternative culture now?

what is alternative culture now?

The second installment of my column for Alterati is up:

Does alternative culture still exist? Coilhouse, an excellent web magazine that calls itself ‘A love letter to alternative culture, written in an era where alt culture no longer exists’ obviously doesn’t think so. Neither does Warren Ellis, who wrote on the topic in his Suicide Girls column. I disagree, but we may have to challenge our notions of what alternative culture is.

Full Story: Alterati.

I’m Not Dead Yet!

I actually wanted to say a few things before being booted off, then again I guess I haven’t been booted off because I’m writing this stuff. Think of me as the houseguest who just doesn’t have the sense to leave…

Earlier, I mentioned other blogs that were in Technoccult’s karass. But I forgot the fifth Beatle: Warren Ellis’ “Die Puny Humans“. What’s really thrilling about reading Warren’s blog is that it answers quite vividly “Where do you crazy writers get your ideas from?” Today, for example, he’s praising Hunter Thompson, who I’ve always thought Spider Jerusalem was based on. I’ve also been reading every thrilling issue of Global Frequency and it’s clear that the phonecam photos and videos are not accidents. He’s also been putting in a lot of the weird science stuff. My favorite was a recent episode which featured this machine:

Also check out his online fiction novel. Some of the best online prose that I’ve ever read. Here’s a snippet:

I necked a dexidrene and watched the morning fester.

Jarrow wanted me to come into his office to talk the job over. Having to talk to Jarrow in person is almost the worst part, as he has possibly the most punchable face I’ve ever seen.

It was getting hot outside. I dug out an old pair of combat pants I picked up from one of the US Army clearance sales, years and years ago. White and black and grey, urban camouflage, baggy and lightweight – probably what the well-dressed soldier was wearing when shooting city-gooks a decade back. Black and silver streetsocks, with the rubberised soles. A sleeveless black t-shirt I got given last year by a nullpunkt band from Hamburg called Biss. The only shades I could find were some crappy plastic CamoCam things I got on the way out of Narita Airport, first time I was in Japan. They have little cameras in the back of the headstrap that pick up what’s behind you and stream it on the shades lenses, so it looks like you have two big round holes in your head. But it was these or a sunlight headache, and I was in shitty enough condition as it was.

Warren Ellis Interview in Mindjack

There’s a brief and interesting interview with Warren Ellis in this week’s Mindjack. He says about utopia and dystopia:

I think — I hope — that both concepts are dismissed as adolescent thinking. There are moments of pure, heart stopping beauty in the most tragic and broken environments. And the loveliest community on earth will not be able to eliminate the dog turd. I have attempted to reflect this in TRANSMET: the understanding that the world can be neither perfect nor doomed. But that it can be better. And the people who get to decide if it’s going to be better or not are the people who show up and raise their voices.

Mindjack: An Interview with Warren Ellis

Alan Moore’s Lost Works

Warren Ellis laments two of Alan Moore’s lost works.

Alan Moore, one of the most significant and successful writers in the medium, has a bunch of awful holes in his available backlist. Pretty much all of his short-story comics are gone, never collected. Stories of alien VD, cartoon characters allowing themselves to be mutilated for money, the subjective time-travel of a man standing on the edge of a bridge… mostly uncollected, the few collections that did exist now out of print.

Artbomb: Mists of Time

See also: Warren Ellis on some of Moore’s work that you might have overlooked

Warren Ellis Has a Blog

Warren Ellis, author of Transmetropolitan and Planetary has entered the blogoshere!

diepunyhumans.com.

Update: Ellis’ blog is now located at warrenellis.com

Unpublished Issue of Hellblazer Online

Unpublished Hellblazer page

An un-published issue of Warren Ellis‘ run on Hellblazer can be found here (link via the Barbelith Underground).

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