“For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky.”

Like my previous post, this will be just a few things, some half way there thoughts…

One: The sky is still falling, and this blog is still coming to an end. We’re getting there, but slowly.

After this: 89 posts to go.

Have you listened to our podcast? You’ll notice that a majority of the posts now are just tools for you to download each new episode (but we’ll be on itunes soon). Not every post from now til the end – from this time to the end of time – will be solely about episodes of the podcast, but a good chunk of the rest of this blog will be eaten up by the creature that is consuming it and evolving out of it.

Evolution imagery is gruesome and interesting.

Two: It’s probably been a hundred years since I saw the Star Trek episode from this post borrow its title.

I vaguely remember it had a premise that sounded less interestingly like a very interesting (at least in its promise and potential) show that Harlan Ellison created way back, called The Starlost.

I won’t rehash the show’s plot, especially since you can just read about it on the Wikipedia link, but from what I gathered the show was terrible. But in reading what’s there, to me, I see the potential for something amazing, something that could be brilliant with a little bit of re-conceptualizing and competent execution.

Brilliant and intriguing puzzle/mystery box shoes still seem to be highly lusted after by network TV execs in these post-Lost wilderness years, but it seems like no one has the time to invest in competent conceptualization and execution. So it goes. Instead of our altars, we’re building our own coffins.

Three: Speaking of The Starlost, also read up on the idea of generation ships, and holodecks, and the Danger Room from X-men comics, the Dreamatorium from Community, and Arthur C. Clarke’s Rama series.

And see also: the “Mystery In Space” and “Rendezvous” issues of Warren Ellis and John Cassaday’s Planetary comic series, which was one of the best pieces of storytelling that I’ve had the pleasure to read in the last ten or so years. On its surface, it’s about mystery archaeologists, but in reality its a love letter to certain kinds of storytelling from the previous fifty years of our culture.

Four: We eat our young. Only those lucky or tough enough to crawl away are potentially worthy of living to tell the tale.

Five: This is the new decade. There’s bigger and better thinkers who are more capable of this, better suited to the task, but I wonder what this new decade will look like. What innovations and disasters and pop confectioneries will define this new unit of measuring time.

And from that, I say… Does this decade, still in its relative infancy, still feel remarkably similar to the latter days of the previous decade? Isn’t that how it goes? Did the initial years of the 80s feel similar to waning years of the70s? Did the first few years of the 90s look anything like the middle years of the 90s?

Six: I’ve never seen Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s World On A Wire, but I’ve always wanted to. I guess that, amongst other things, what’s been holding me up is that it’s a piece of old 3 1/2 German sci fi. That and it wasn’t readily available until the it was released not too long ago as part of the Criterion Collection.

The Criterion Collection. Of course.

The movie is based on an old novel, Simulacron-3 by Daniel F. Galouye, and I have seen the American movie adaptation of that book…

Seven: When something is said, or when art is created, mixed with business and pleasure, how often does it come from a real, authentic place, answering questions or curiosities that are out there amongst the community? Or, especially when you lean more towards business rather than pleasure, or the pleasure of business, does it come from the perception of an interest within the larger community, the popular imagination, or a desire to create and inspire that perception and then make money off of it?

Eight: In the 90s, especially towards the beginning of the 90s, but a little at the end of it, it seemed like we didn’t know what we had on our hands. Not yet anyway.

It’s like Murphy Brown’s baby, that was born amidst a certain level of generated/unnecessary controversy. It was raised by the guy who was painting the house for years and years and wouldn’t be named until it could be deciphered, or understood. I know that kid eventually got a name, but wasn’t he, like, twenty at that point?

In Sci Fi trends in the 90s it seemed like they were mixing the 70s paranoia rehash that was being re-conceptualized in The X-Files with this desire to pursue the new, the fringes of oncoming technology and the things that we assumed would be important.

Spoiler alert: I’m going to start talking about virtual reality in a moment.

On top of that, you had boy bands and you “alternative rock” and I remember going to high school and hearing bullshit arguments about who was or what constituted being a “poser.” I heard some kids of being accused of being “wiggers.” On one hand we were growing up to want to start living lives out of the movies that had raised us when our parents were busy, and on the other hand we were accused of appropriating lives and roles that it was felt we had no right to. In music and society and goofy cultural matters there was this question of authenticity.

Perhaps you’re not real. Perhaps you only existence in the simulacra of someone else. And perhaps because you think, therefore you are…

Unless you’re just programmed to have thoughts, or to think you’re having thoughts. Who is telling this story? And to whom?

Anyway.

The American movie that came out of Simulacron-3 in the 90s was The Thirteenth Floor, starring Craig Bierko, Gretchen Mol, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Dennis Haysbert. It’s a murder mystery set within a company that’s created a new simulated reality, and there’s a twist. The twist is not hard to guess.

from here.

The tagline for the movie was “Question Reality.” I find that interesting since the tagline for American Beauty, which came out int he same year, was “Look Closer.”

Is it possible that we’re missing something?

The Thirteenth Floor was/is not a bad movie, just a movie that wasn’t thought out far enough to its natural conclusion. It reminds me in some regards of a movie that would come today in that it seems like it’s two drafts of a script away from being much, much better. It’s a very American movie that’s concerned with the nature of our reality, with existential paranoia, mashed up with echoes of a film noir feeling.

But then again, a lot of its problems can be summed up with two words: Craig Bierko. Another bizarre, failed experiment in creating a leading man out of literally nothing.

Nine: Granted, The Thirteenth Floor was not a movie from the early 90s, and in fact came out in 1999, around the same time as The Matrix, a movie with an arguably incredibly similar premise, especially concerning how many elements it ripped off from Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles.

Also, there was David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ and Alex Proyas’ Dark City (which I never saw cause it looks stupid), and The Truman Show, which had similar heavy overtones. But earlier in the decade you had the short lived Fox TV show VR.5 which, if I were to watch it now, I’m sure I’d more than cringe at, but at the time, I thought was incredibly intriguing. That show starred Lori Singer, Anthony Stewart Head, Will Patton, and David McCallum.

Ten: At the start of this I talked haphazardly about the idea of a newborn decade dreaming of the past, but really it’s a matter of the new decade dreaming of the future, of what is to come? I should be talking about Christopher Nolan’s  Inception here probably. Something something something THIS DREAM IS COLLAPSING.

Eleven: From Borges to Pynchon to Phillip K. Dick, so much of our fiction comes back to questioning the layers of reality and how we perceive it. What is real? What is really happening? And what is the reality of what is happening, real or otherwise?

Reality may be real, or it might not be, at least not real in the sense that we think of, but we share it, and we create it together, don’t we?

from here.

Twelve: Personally I would state that the experience of an event is the reality of it, at least in the moment. Reflection is easy, but it only casts a shadow over reaction in retrospect.

Thirteen: For now, this blog is moving forward, but it’s marching onward to its eventual demise, of sorts. Even on the internet, matter can only change forms, not be fully destroyed (I hope). Soon, what is currently thought of as Your Friendly Neighborhood Counterforce will become a time capsule, once it’s fallen completely out of this virtual sky that we’re all looking at together.

And then…

“Being with you and not being with you is the only way I have to measure time.”

-Jorge Luis Borges, “The Threatened.”

from here.

Can you believe that it’s…

…already? This year is going by so fast. Or so slow, I guess, depending on how you perceive time.

Previously on Counterforce: September came and went and Peanut St. Cosmo remained chillwave as fuck. Mad Men remains easily the best show currently on TV. Movie script endings. Those three little words everyone longs to hear. Bitches ain’t shit LIVE in Nashville. They are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired. Is the omission of chocolate a racial thing? A selection from the new Criterion Classics: The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants 2. And it’s mirror universe opposite: New Moon. You must defend your blog from intruders. Does anybody remember August Bravo?

Also: Blog nerdy to me. Right now you should be loving yourself in this country of winners and gladiators. “There is no difference between the behavior of a god and the operations of pure chance.” Diets of shame. Imagine Hemingway and Castro getting jiggy with it. Joseph Gordon-Levitt vs. Rob Gordon. Cosmic loneliness. R. Kelly is for real, no doubt. How to determine your philosophy of life. For a short time Peanut St. Cosmo was the interim finance minister of Japan, all until that unfortunate sex scandal.

from here.

And seriously not forgetting: Obama porn, bad poetry, and nonsensical costumes. ID-4… 2? Donald Barthelme, George Saunders, and a bunch of weird Japanese kids getting into hijinks. No hugging, no learning. Italian urologists and swans used as murder weapons. Explanations are for everyone but the explorers. Something something something Patti Smith. And: The Moon.

And where do we go from here?

Anywhere you like.

It’s better to have loved and lost…

…than to have never watched Lost at all, right?

Mad Linkage:

What on Earth is Neal Stephenson’s “The Mongoliad?”

Hang in there, Frank Lapidus!

The alternate universe comic book covers from the recent season finale of Fringe.

The 5 laws of making a complicated story that isn’t an ungodly mess.

Commander Riker and Counselor Troi together again.

A hilarious outtake from an interview with Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse with the Associated Press and the fire alarm goes off…

Literary mashups going to the next level.

The 5 “Proverbs For Paranoids” from Gravity’s Rainbow.

Preparing for life after Lost.

Famous book titles that are less majestic/poetic.

23 awesome food ideas for your Lost finale party.

The future of the Euro.

More Lost answers.

Quantum teleportation!

Same as it ever was!”

from here.

Click here for a pretty awesome graphic on all things Lost to get you good and caught up before tomorrow’s finale.

Speaking of getting caught up, ABC is airing the very first episode of Lost tonight in an enhanced version. It’ll be nice to see how it all started once more before we see how it all ended.

And, perhaps it’s not exactly being caught between a rock and a hard place, but imagine being caught between the intensity of Jack and FUCK YEAH SAYID.

Or what Kate does/did to the internet during the run of this show.

I’d love to link to every single post on Counterforce that ever had anything to do with Lost but that’s so much. And if there’s anything that I’ve personally tried to bring to this site it’s the sense that it all ties together, it all blends in and bleeds and mixes. There’s sympathetic vibrations to all of it and sometimes it’s beautiful and scary and sometimes it’s hilarious and stupid but you were there and so were we.

But I will link to more of our Lost posts tomorrow, Lost friends, but for now, some of the important stuff from before this past year…

Our Top 5 episodes of Lost, circa early 2009: Parts five, four, three, two, and one. And, of course, there’s the runner ups.

But that was last year.

One of the most nerdy but most exciting things that I can say we did here was Benjie and I compiling not just episodes we liked from the show, but moments, and from that…

Our 100 Greatest Moments of Lost, pre-Season 6: Parts one, two, three, four, and five.

from here.

And if for some reason you’re not actually a Lost fan but you read Counterforce then… well, this has all got to suck for you, doesn’t it? Ha ha. I imagine Tuesday will be the day you’re looking forward to most then, not just here but all over the internet as the mania and the fever only grows and intensifies and gets hotter. I’d say Monday will be the last real day that one can verbally obsess over Lost, and then this aeon will pass and we’ll move into the post-Lost world, whatever that looks like.

But hey, that’ll be then and this is still now. More (of the same) tomorrow.

Raids on human consciousness.

“Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.”

-Don Delillo

And, yeah, I mentioned it last week, but I have to say again how excited I am about a new Don Delillo coming out this year – next month, in fact – entitled Point Omega. It’s a short novel, but one that sounds classically Delillo, and here’s a plot description for you:

In the middle of a desert “somewhere south of nowhere,” to a forlorn house made of metal and clapboard, a secret war advisor has gone in search of space and time. Richard Elster, seventy-three, was a scholar – an outsider – when he was called to a meeting with government war planners. They asked Elster to conceptualize their efforts – to form an intellectual framework for their troop deployments, counterinsurgency, orders for rendition. For two years he read their classified documents and attended secret meetings. He was to map the reality these men were trying to create “Bulk and swagger,” he called it. At the end of his service, Elster retreats to the desert, where he is joined by a filmmaker intent on documenting his experience. Jim Finley wants to make a one-take film, Elster its single character – “Just a man against a wall.” The two men sit on the deck, drinking and talking. Finley makes the case for his film. Weeks go by. And then Elster’s daughter Jessie visits – an “otherworldly” woman from New York – who dramatically alters the dynamic of the story. When a devastating event follows, all the men’s talk, the accumulated meaning of conversation and connection, is thrown into question. What is left is loss, fierce and incomprehensible.

It’s kind of funny now how relevant Delillo has stayed over the years, but how he’s become more relevant as events began to mirror things he’s been talking about for decades. He’s essentially been writing 9/11 novels for thirty years and talking about the race between terrorists and novelists and those who try to make sense of things, either by persuasion or by force. He’s been trying to blend in a post-apocalyptic world into the one we already live and exist in, and it would appear to be a frighteningly easy and seamless fit at times.

And like Pynchon, he’s certainly been mapping the increasing ubiquitous paranoia that has become part of our American DNA. “It was as though Hemingway died one day and Pynchon was born the next,” he’s said about the contributions of both men to the changing nature of fiction, “from pure realism to something more cosmic.”

from here.

And I think it’s fascinating that he used to work in advertising when he was younger, back when it was primarily print work and hadn’t quite jumped into the medium of television yet. The difference between the advertising industry and writing fiction? At least one is honest about what it’s doing and selling you. Most, including his friends, assumed he left the business to begin writing, but he says: “Actually, I quit my job so I could go to the movies on weekday afternoons.”

Delillo has been called, along with Cynthia Ozick, one of the English languages’ two greatest writers by David Foster Wallace, and that’s fitting here since DFW’s great big 12 years in the making novel, The Pale King, is finally coming out (although not til next year, sadly) in it’s unfinished but edited form. The book deals with a group of IRS workers and the monotony and “intense tediousness” they encounter in their jobs, and also employs a little of the good old classic meta post-modern.

Here is an interesting look at DFW’s career, his final years, and his work on The Pale King.

And four excerpts from the novel have already been published in US magazines:

Good People,” “Wiggle Room,” and “All That” in The New Yorker, and “The Compliance Branch” in Harper’s.

And again, the new Delillo short story, “Midnight In Dostoevsky,” unrelated to the new novel.

And “Still Life,” an excerpt from his previous novel, Falling Man.

Who knows, “The Year We Make Contact” could very well become the year of many happy returns. Hell, one writer is even making contact with us again from beyond the grave. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? How’s your writing going?

The year in pictures, part one.

…but not for much longer.

Midnight In Dostoevsky” by Don DeLillo, who has a new novel in 2010!

Plotting the ruination of Radiohead?

Lady Gaga and the Queen.

This is easily the film I’m most looking forward to next year.

2009 was the year to set aside childish things. Namely, the last eight years.

Putin to retire soon? “Don’t hold your breath,” he says.

“Like taking candy from someone who seriously likes candy.”

There’s always time in time and space to stop and smell the flowers.

from here.

There’s water on the moon!

What this decade has been lacking thus far: Authenticity.

Who’s your favorite Beatle?

The end of love, part one.

Person of the year?

Is this what the culture’s come to?

You know what, don’t answer that.

Going where others have gone before.

Iran pisses on itself just a little more.

“You better be in fear.”

If you are neighbors with Sarah Palin, I guess that puts you within visual range of Russia?

New terror in the skies?

First rap is dead, then love (part two)?

Serious contender for best picture of the year, right?

Both Winston Churchill and Pynchon love inherent vices.

LUV U, LILY.

MISS U, SWAYZE.

New Justice.

Hacker of the year?

Just think about all the sex you’ve had in the past year (or should have been having.)

MISS U, Batman (though not for much longer).

MISS/LUV U, Juliet.

Tiger Woods killed Brittany Murphy!

“Memes” and “Contraflow.”

I saw her again last night.”

Birds successfully begin phase one of their attack on humanity.

In the year full of recurring royalty and ending love affairs, of course the king of pop songs would die. Makes me want to scream.

Was 2009 the year of sci fi?

The end of love, part three.

To be continued!

The City On The Edge Of Forever.

Phoenix is the sweatiest city in America.

Stranger In Moscow.”

Sydney and the light rail.

Augmented reality in London.

The ghost in the field, and RFID chips.

What will happen when London is flooded?

Berlin” in Paris.

Interracial couple denied marriage license in Louisiana.

Soft robots and DARPA.

Moscow’s mayor promises a winter without snow.

Paris Syndrome and Jerusalem Syndrome.

San Francisco and the 1906 earthquake.

Rebuilding New Orleans.

from here.

City Of Blinding Lights.”

A possible glimpse at our future space cities.

America’s most expensive cities and most impoverished cities.

FOX promises to air all 13 of the already ordered Dollhouse season two episodes.

Speaking of which, Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s The Cabin In The Woods being held back a year to be switched over to 3D.

Magnetricity” observed for the first time.

A map of your future mega-cities and megaopolises.

“When the lights go down in the city…”

Sensing the immaterial-material city.

Cities underground and cities tsunami-resistant.

City Of Shadows.

The ruins of Chernobyl, over 20 years later.

Cities In Dust.”

GTA IV: Inherent Vice City.

Silver City” and “Sad, Sad City.”

Why all cities are haunted.

The mind of a city (and how our brains are similar).

The cityscapes of François Schuiten.

Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem.

The city is a battlesuit for surviving the future.

Phantom City: See the city that could’ve been.

“…when we reach the city.”

“I have come to wound the autumnal city.”

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

“I’ll take the coral reefs as my metaphor. Though hardly so beautiful. If the essence of life is information carried in DNA, then society and civilization are just colossal memory systems and a metropolis like this one, simply a sprawling external memory….”

-a quote from Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence, a movie that I was watching the other day and just first stirred the pot on several thoughts I had locked up. Thoughts about human beings and boxes we live in.

Warren Ellis had created a comic book character years ago called Jack Hawksmoor, the “king of cities.” Jack was a normal human who had been abducted by city-empathic aliens from the future and repeatedly operated on and “upgraded” to have city-specific powers for use with fighting some unknown future threat that was coming.

Jack Hawksmoor, the King Of Cities.

Hawksmoor, who’s name was inspired by both Spring Heeled Jack and Nicholas Hawksmoor, couldn’t survive for very long outside of an urban environment, but when he was in any city, he had powers specific to that city, including things like superhuman strength and agility, but also psychometry and the ability to control and alter architecture and infrastructure. I don’t think the character was ever utlized by successive writers to his full potential, but I do remember in one story where Hawksmoor had to fight a powerful villain, he made sure that the fight took place in Mexico City, the larged city in the world, to maximize his abilities.

Quarantined in utopia.

“There’s no one to know. There’s nothing to do. The city’s been down since you’ve been gone.”

Climate change and warfare.

Black And White Town.”

Scientists create “sexual tsunami.”

12 sexist vintage ads.

What’s left of the Roman city of Dougga.

Futurism vs. Science Fiction.

Futuristic steampunk urban recycling.

The little town that Los Angeles killed.

Speaking of which: Future Los Angeles.

Future Chicago.

Future New York.

The saddest blow job story ever.

History Of A Boring Town.”

Russell Brand not capable of monogamy.

10 most amazing ghost towns, including Prypiat.

Everything In It’s Right Place.”

Scientists develop “brain to brain communication.”

As time progresses, the future will literally devour the past: WW2-era statue with added cell tower.

Last Stop: This Town.”

Yes/No/As Above/So Be Low.

Seeing the invisible.

Space shuttle docked at Space Station looks like a tattoo on the sun.

The ghost cinema of Norwich.

What else is on during Shark Week?

Can Pluto become a planet again?

As above, so below. As within, s0 without.

The mystery of 10:10.

Charles Manson wants to work with Phil Spector.

The three biggest reasons music magazines are dying.

Chemtrails and weather warfare.

When is it okay for kids to run around naked?

from here.

Canadian doughnut chain enters NYC donut wars.

The “Wide-open” future of journalism, according to Ira Glass.

Genes, memes, and the third replicator.

Greatest headline ever: Call for debate on Killer Robots.

A challenge to the comet extinction theory.

We should build a wall to stop the spread of deserts, and also that giant fucking sandworms from Dune.

Hanzo The Razor: “The Snare” and “Sword Of Justice.”

PLAYBOY: Let’s start at the beginning. Tell us the story of how the wondrous mystic prince and the exotic Oriental dragon lady met.

LENNON: It was in 1966 in England. I’d been told about this “event” — this Japanese avant-garde artist coming from America. I was looking around the gallery and I saw this ladder and climbed up and got a look in this spyglass on the top of the ladder — you feel like a fool — and it just said, Yes. Now, at the time, all the avant-garde was smash the piano with a hammer and break the sculpture and anti-, anti-, anti-, anti-, anti. It was all boring negative crap, you know. And just that Yes made me stay in a gallery full of apples and nails. There was a sign that said, Hammer A Nail In, so I said, “Can I hammer a nail in?” But Yoko said no, because the show wasn’t opening until the next day. But the owner came up and whispered to her, “Let him hammer a nail in. You know, he’s a millionaire. He might buy it.” And so there was this little conference, and finally she said, “OK, you can hammer a nail in for five shillings.” So smartass says, “Well, I’ll give you an imaginary five shillings and hammer an imaginary nail in.” And that’s when we really met. That’s when we locked eyes and she got it and I got it and, as they say in all the interviews we do, the rest is history.

PLAYBOY: What happened next?

Good question, from here.

from here.

Women are getting more beautiful. The men? Not so much.

A real heart of darkness.

Owner Of A Lonely Heart.”

No No No.”

Hobos, robots, Mark Twain, jungle princesses, and Michael Kupperman.

Here come the men in black.

Fucking, Austria.

It’s not a fucking joke.

And sex laws.

Were wars and plagues the key to Europe’s dominance?

Three held for “sacrifice” of a girl.

Handerpants.

Sacramentan buys old 45s, finds out they belonged to his mom.

Emails from the dead.

You are here.

from here.

Yes and no.

Cartoon lovers.

Rorschach cheat sheet? Hint: It’s not all vaginas.

Raymond Carver and “cutting everything down to the marrow, not just to the bone.”

The Repulsion of Roman Polanski.

The Inherent Vice of Thomas Pynchon.

Pynchon’s guide to LA.

A Serious Man and The Big Lebowski.

In The Aeroplane Over The Sea on ukulele.

Do Something Real.

We’ll slide down the surface of things…