Wednesday, October 29, 2008

WNW: Move Your Dead Bones

As I've said before, I have a fondness for cheesy 80s electronica.

C'mon boys and girls,
come a little closer.
I'm the reanimator.

Reanimate your feet!

If you're feeling dead I'll be your reanimator
I've got the way to bring you to life
A superior existence with no one to control you
Where you can always do what you like

Let me give you some green color and you will ask for more
You will see that you never felt this way before
Party without limits, have sex and don't be blue
Freedom is eternal for you, you, you!

Move your dead bones bones bones
Move your dead bones bones bones
The secret will keep you alive
Move your dead bones bones bones
Move your dead bones bones bones
You'll dance for the rest of your life

Move your dead bones bones bones
Move your dead bones bones bones
The secret will keep you alive
Move your dead bones bones bones
Move your dead bones bones bones
You'll dance for the rest of your life

Reanimate your feet!

All you people listen to your reanimator
Don't hesitate and give it a try
And you'll be quite satisfied just as long as I can give you
A guarantee that you'll never die

Let me give you some green color and you will ask for more
You will see that you never felt this way before
Party without limits, have sex and don't be blue
Freedom is eternal for you you you

Move your dead bones bones bones
Move your dead bones bones bones
The secret will keep you alive
Move your dead bones bones bones
Move your dead bones bones bones
You'll dance for the rest of your life

Move your dead bones bones bones
Move your dead bones bones bones
The secret will keep you alive
Move your dead bones bones bones
Move your dead bones bones bones
You'll dance for the rest of your life

Reanimate your feet!
Reanimate your feet!

Move your dead bones bones bones
Move your dead bones bones bones
The secret will keep you alive
Move your dead bones bones bones
Move your dead bones bones bones
You'll dance for the rest of your life

Reanimate your feet!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Curse/Or: Not a peaceful dream sequence

"Mommy, Mommy," I hear it crying.

It's been screaming for hours and it won't shut the fuck up. The milk it wants is in front of me, along with some cheap vodka and Kahlua. I mix another White Russian, slam it down. I'm not drunk enough.

The screaming stops. Now the demons come out to play.
"MOMMY," it says again, its voice barbed wire and mutilated dogs. The crib creaks and it's climbing out. Coming for me.

I look down. Rosary. Bible. Knife. Gun. Nothing's worked. Each time it eats more of me.

"BREAST, MOMMY. BREAST." The trailer creaks with each step. The air stinks with sulfur and shit. I vomit up a drink or two, manage to catch it in the glass.

Yeah. It could breastfeed, or it'd kill another child in daycare tomorrow. Hell of a deal, right? The deal I made with the demon in the skin of my son.

Except that breastfeeding the monster was like having leeches on my soul. It was eating everything good in me. Turning me into it.

Climbing into my lap now. My son's face, only not. Red. Twisted. All mouth, no eyes. It pulls at my shirt.

"Deal with this," I say, pouring the alcoholic vomit onto its face. It howls. The rugs ooze pus and the walls bleed.

I pick it up, put it in my son's high chair, strap it in. I empty the vodka over it.

Then I find a match.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

WNW: Motivation

Yes, that's my character Kenku in the upper right, delivering an Eagle Claw to the back of Marauder's head/neck. Her compatriot, Purr, is providing a spiked heel to the crotch.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Son of Reader Mail

Wherein I respond to many several two interesting comments which have sprung from my Curse/Or Grand Unified Theory posts.


DemonicBunny, in response to my Theory of Magic post, did utter:
The more cats they keep the more power they get.
The more cats they get the less power they wield.
Neither cats nor fully fledged agoramancers wield any power at all.

Who are the agoramancers and why can't they wield any power?
I think you mean Ailuromancer, Bunny, because an Agoramancer would have something to do with wide-open spaces. You bring up an interesting point however, and it immediately draws to mind the fact that cats were revered in Egypt, even being accorded the same mummification and burial rites as nobility. The reason they were revered is because the cats preyed upon the vermin of the city, specifically the rats that would otherwise eat from the royal granaries.

So now I'm thinking of the old ladies who hoard cats, and why they don't have power. Well, for one, they don't properly revere the cat. They are, at best, spoiled by their owners, given kitty treats and not allowed to go outside because they might get hurt. But cats are predators, you see, they need to run free to stalk and kill. A proper cat isn't owned; it owns you.

So these hoarders are amassing cats when they should be amassing grain (or something else that vermin would eat.) They're short-circuiting the paradox by trying to control the cats, when it is the freedom of the cat that grants power.

So an ailuromancer wouldn't have a house full of cats. It wouldn't even own a single cat. A proper ailuromancer is allergic to cats, because as everyone knows, those are the people that cats like best. Of course, most people who are allergic to cats hate them (which makes the paradox stronger), and people who hate cats aren't likely to have them around, let alone develop an obsessive magical worldview based upon them.

Fear... fear the angry divorced homeless man who lives in an area curiously devoid of vermin. His ex-wife mysteriously suffocated to death in her sleep, and when her body was found it had been partially eaten.


Ricochet, she of the Pinball Mind, asked:
So if the internet is a huge mad brain with a billion voices shouting within it at once and theoretically linked to each consciousness that touches it, does this mean that we are all at risk of contracting organic forms of digital viruses via the electronic impulses in our brains?
What do you think an Internet Meme is? (No joke. I'm actually planning on using this in the book. Both you and Bunny are likely to be amused and distressed when I introduce a certain antagonist provisionally known as K.K.)

Think about it. How long did it take for the "Chuck Norris Meme" to make its way from the internet to a mainstream media campaign commercial?

Answer: about 2 years. Pretty slow for a cultural phenomenon, but about right for a disease transmission from original source to new population.
Cos if so, not only could you make a mint selling cerebral protection software, it would explain a lot of the shit going on in the world today.
The first thing that popped into my head was the phrase "mind condoms".

Monday, October 13, 2008

My mother is no longer allowed to watch Heroes

... because we have conversations like this every 10 minutes:
Mom: Where was Claire last episode?
Palette: Claire wasn't in last episode.
Mom: Yes she was, we saw her shooting Peter.
Palette: That was future Claire. Present Claire wasn't present.
Mom: I get so confused.
Please keep in mind that Mom saw last week's episode at lunch today.

Another fun snippet:
(Having just seen Daphne speaking to Linderman)

Palette: Aha! She's seeing someone else's power!
Mom: What?
Palette: (sighing, pausing TV) Look there. First she was talking to him, and now in the wide shot with the bystanders, you can't see him.
Mom: Okay....
Palette: That means she's seeing Linderman in her head. Which means Nathan isn't crazy, and that someone is using their power to project Linderman images and manipulate people.
Mom: But I can see Linderman.
Palette: (facepalm)
I swear, I spend a quarter to half an episode explaining the plot to my family. Does this happen to anyone else?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cause and Effect

Once again, Here be spoilers.

In Monday's post, I explained how magic works in the Curse/Or universe... except I left out one crucial element. It's all very well and good to say that Magic is what happens when an obsessed individual alters reality through sheer force of will, but that doesn't really explain why obsessive force of will can make these changes.

At the risk of bringing the wrath of physicists down upon my head, it all comes down to quantum uncertainty and the observer effect. If you don't know what these are, I encourage you to skim the articles, but for purposes of understanding this post all you need to know is that subatomic particles are affected by observation, i.e. the act of looking at something on the quantum scale actually changes it in some manner.

So in the Curse/Or universe, when an individual performs magic there is a huge outpouring of psychic energy -- obsessive amounts of willpower -- channeled through the framework of a paradoxical belief system and focused with ritual paraphernalia. And when this energy flows outward into the universe, it begins sloshing about the Quantum Structure of Things.

Physics says that if you channel energy, then you affect the world through its release. Yet, according to the Observer Effect, observing and affecting are the same thing... so if by observing you cause change, then by changing you must necessarily observe.... thus, psychically changing the universe means that you are also observing it on a psychic level as well. Magic is actually the psychic manipulation of the quantum structure of the universe to achieve a desired result.

Or, as I like to put it: "Magic does not cause effects. Rather, it effects causes."

Remember when I compared the human brain to a network? It's a psychic network, which means that it can link with other networks (thus explaining ESP, telepathy, etc), and therefore everyone, on some level, perceives magic, even if it's the archetypal "bad feeling about this" or the "someone walked over my grave" shudder.

What this means is that, perversely, magic works better when more people are consciously aware of it, which is why human sacrifice has such a kick to it: the conscious sacrificee, if awake, is providing psychic energy along with the magic-using sacrificer. (This also explains the typical "cultists surrounding the chief priest" schtick: the more people watching, the more powerful the ritual.)

Because it all ties into that damned Observer Effect. If only the caster perceives it, that effect has the power of 1 (x^1). If someone else is present to perceive it, even unconsciously, then that effect is squared (x^2), making it more real, in much the same way that an audience watching the performance of an illusionist is a willing party to its own deception ("We all saw it. There's no way he could have faked that!")

Or to put it more lasciviously: A naked woman in your bedroom is sex. A naked woman on the street is a misdemeanor. A naked woman inside a magazine is pornography. A naked woman on the front page of the newspaper is a scandal. A naked woman on national television is that nation freaking out.

So magic is also a network -- perhaps even the network, since it links humanity, and has done so since the very beginning. It adheres to the observer effect, and yet reaches across the planet. How do you define something that is both everywhere and no one place?

You call it n-dimensional. Meaning, "Fuck if I know how many dimensions it has. Probably at least 4, since it can be everywhere on Earth at once without being tangible. But on a large enough scale, "Earth" is a single point. So what else do you call a construct that:
  • Exists as a single point (Earth)
  • Is infinite in length (every human to every other human on Earth)
  • Offers instantaneous transfer of information (magic) between nodes (people) as if distance was meaningless?"
Now, how many of you noticed what I did there? If you said "Palette, didn't you just describe the internet in abstract terms?" then you get a cookie.

  • According to my system, the Internet is the biggest fucking brain on the planet.
  • If it's a brain, then it's linked (or at least is capable of being linked) in some psychic manner to all the other brains on the planet.
  • If it's a psychic link, then the Internet... is capable of performing what we call magic.
  • Of course, to perform magic, you kinda have to be a little crazy.
  • And, well, if millions of people were using YOUR brain to send spam, porn, financial scams and sorts of other crap to each other -- constantly -- you'd be a little crazy too.
So: the internet is a brain, is crazy, and can perform magic. What this means, and what happens next, is the tale that the Curse/Or novel intends to tell.

And look at that, I didn't even need to drag Kabbalah into this explanation. Lucky for you! Because things would have gotten strange otherwise.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A girl needs satellites

Short version: I am insecure and need your attention/validation/ worship. If you are able to do so, please become a follower of my blog.

Once I have a following list that isn't embarrassingly tiny, I shall post it here, both to advertise your blog and as a way to say thanks.

I believe in the metaphorical reach-around, so if you link to me/ follow me, I'll do the same for you.

Come, orbit me and frolic in my gravity well.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

WNW: Om nom nom

That guy sure loves corn.

And don't worry, this is all completely safe for work.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Never consume an energy field larger than your head

So where were we?

Right, I was going to explain how magic works in the Curse/Or universe. But first, I shall reiterate my SPOILERS AHOY warning.

Okay, so let's revisit my thesis statement: Networks are n-dimensional constructs of psychic energy. In my previous post, I explained pretty thoroughly how the human brain and the internet and the Kabbalistic Tree of Life are all neural/nodal networks, and I'm sure some of you are going "Palette, I get the bit about the internet, and I even understood the Magister Ludi stuff, but what does medieval Jewish occultism have to do with it?"

And I'd love to answer that question, really. But I can't right now. If I did, I'd just confuse you worse. So hold that thought, because we will most definitely come back to it.

So. Magic. Put extremely simply, Magic is what happens when an obsessed individual alters reality through sheer force of will.

Now, when someone alters reality, she is also altering her perception of reality. Someone who makes reality conform to her will, while at the same time changing the parameters by which she perceives that reality, is not exactly what you'd call stable. A person who constantly changes her point of reference about reality is, by many definitions, insane.

But most (though, creepily, not all) clinically insane people lack the force of will to enact magical change, because their world is constantly changing around them. So there needs to be a focus, a framework, an unchanging bedrock for this crazy obsessive person to stand on while she twists reality to suit her needs.

Hence magic wands, chanting in Latin, summoning circles... or in Camel's case, smoking. All of these foci provide a rigid lattice of "If I do this, then that happens" which helps keep the merely crazily obsessed at the shallow end of the madness pool instead of diving headfirst into the deep end of heavy-duty psychosis.

So okay, you've got a focus. But where does the power come from? What actually makes magic go? This presents an interesting dilemma, because most people, even the freaky obsessed ones, don't have enough emotional/psychic/whatever energy to pour into their focus to make it work. What you need, then, is symbolic tension: something meaningful and paradoxical that you can live your life around which creates a kind of energy.

At the risk of offending people -- and please don't kill me for this -- let's use Roman Catholicism as an example. Imagine someone who goes to confession, oh, once a week. Throughout that week, he's conscious of all the ways in which he's sinned. It's like in the back of his head, he's got a little process running that keeps track of all the things he needs to feel guilty about. At the same time, there's another process that keeps a running list of all of the sins he might commit, so that he can be on the lookout and not do them.

I ask you, how much energy -- mental, emotional, spiritual, psychic, whatever you want to call it -- is expended during that week? Looking out for sin, listing sin, tabulating guilt, maintaining guilt?

One would probably think quite a bit.

That's because it's tied up in what is essentially a paradox: "Christ loves you. Christ wants you to be happy and free from sin. Keep scrupulous track of all the ways you've fucked up so you can confess and be happy."

Again, I apologize if I've offended anyone, but you get it, right? Human brains LOVE paradox. We are all chock-a-block full of hypocrisy, and while consciously we may ignore our self-contradictions we are all aware of them at some level. They sit in the back of the head, spinning like a turbine, generating a ton of energy, which is just waiting to be poured into the right focus and framework. Some people dump that energy into religion, or politics, or sports, or art, and are called fanatics (remember, "fan" is short for fanatic).

Those who are less well-adjusted sometimes have what is basically a trigger event -- such as a near-death experience -- that forces them to re-evaluate their lives. Sometimes they even have epiphanies, mystic awakenings where for one moment they understand the universe. They see the paradoxes inherent in existence and realize they are the engines that drive reality. And in that moment, a person becomes capable of performing magic.

Or batshit insane.

Or both.

Camel's magic is Cancermancy*. Her central paradox is, "Magic gives you power. Cancer eats your body. Kill your body to fuel your magic." The theme of her magic is twofold: One, it exploits all the superstitions and odd rituals that are inherent to smoking; and two, Cancer likes to spread.

So that's how magic works. For those who have been paying attention, this post just explained the "psychic energy" portion of my thesis, with the previous post explaining "constructs". My next (and hopefully final) post in this series will explain "N-dimensional" and hopefully tie all of this stuff together.

* Yes, yes, I know the proper Latin for this is actually "Carcinomancy", because the word Cancer is derived from the Greek. But fuck it! I like the rough way Cancermancer sounds, like someone is coughing up a lung while speaking. If it pisses off the purists, so much the better; tobacco smoking has been doing that for centuries.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Like taking a drink from a fire hose

I am high as a fucking kite right now.

It's not from drugs -- the hardest substance currently in my body is 8 ounces of Mountain Dew. No, right now my high is entirely due to adrenaline and brain chemistry, because I have just put together the final thesis of Curse/Or. This is the Grand Unified Theory of Everything for my universe, and at this moment, I comprehend the entire cosmos.

I'm going to share it with you, because I'm tired of not having posted anything this week, and I was going to have to write it all down anyway. Once this high wears off I may not be able to grasp this particular universal totality, so it'll be a huge help if later on I can refer back to my notes and wonder what the hell I was thinking.

Besides, there's always the possibility that I missed something, and one of you may catch it. If so, please comment. I welcome such criticism, along with questions or requests for further explanation.

However, be warned: SPOILERS AHEAD. If you'd prefer to be surprised by what happens in Curse/Or, then by all means, skip this. But if you don't mind spoilers, or would rather know just what the hell is going on, or (like me) simply enjoy peeking under the hood of someone else's universe, then this is the post you've been waiting for.

Oh, one last thing: This fucker threatens to be dense, and may have all the readability of a lunatic's rantings. If you thought SCSI Logic and Illithics were off the rails, what comes next is really gonna bake your noodle, as I reference all kinds of crap from Hermann Hesse's Magister Ludi to Quantum Theory to Kabbalah and "modern" occult theory. I'll do my best to link things, but if stuff still doesn't make sense, then I encourage you to bug me until it does.

Thesis: Networks are n-dimensional constructs of psychic energy.

Where to begin, where to begin... okay, let's start with Hermann Hesse. In 1943, he wrote a book titled The Glass Bead Game but which most people call Magister Ludi (Latin for "Master of the Game") because, frankly, it just sounds cooler. In this book, Hesse created a 25th century nation called Castalia in which the residents -- nearly all of them Ivory Tower-style academics -- engage in what is known as Das Glasperlenspiel, or the Glass Bead Game:
"... the Game of games had developed into a kind of universal language through which the players could express values and set these in relation to one another. Throughout its history the Game was closely allied with music, and usually proceeded according to musical and mathematical rules. One theme, two themes, or three themes were stated, elaborated, varied, and underwent a development quite similar to that of the theme in a Bach fugue or a concerto movement. A Game, for example, might start from a given astronomical configuration, or from the actual theme of a Bach fugue, or from a sentence out of Leibniz or the Upanishads, and from this theme, depending on the intentions and talents of the player, it could either further explore and elaborate the initial motif or else enrich its expressiveness by allusions to kindred concepts. Beginners learned how to establish parallels, by means of the Game's symbols, between a piece of classical music and the formula for some law of nature. Experts and Masters of the Game freely wove the initial theme into unlimited combinations."
In other words, the Game is an exercise in comparative symbology that encompasses all of human existence and understanding. For an example of how this might work, go to Hipbone Games and read through some of their examples. If you're already confused, go lie down for a bit, because it's only going to get worse.

"Beginners learned how to establish parallels, by means of the Game's symbols, between a piece of classical music and the formula for some law of nature." If you're like me, you read this sentence and immediately thought of the Internet. Anyone who's followed a trail of hyperlinks while websurfing, or lost hours while browsing Wikis (TV tropes is the most powerful of these) understands this concept. This leads to that which leads to those.

And then I realized, this is exactly how the human brain works, too. We may not realize we are making causal or symbolic links when we think of things, but I guarantee you that we do. If we didn't, there'd be no such thing as an object of sentimental value.

And then I thought of the Kabbalah. Specifically, the Ten Sephirot of the Tree of Life, and how they are understood to be discrete levels of creation unfolding into the world as emanations of God, and how this concept has been developed into a model of reality.

All of these are networks. And they're all reflections of the human mind's desire to find connections and causality. They're all neural, if you're willing to accept a suitably broad interpretation of the word, or perhaps nodal. They're all constructs for thinking about thinking.
And none of them truly exist in a tangible state. Sure, the human brain exists, but whatever makes it a mind is still well and truly abstract. Each of these things has measurable qualities, but in their totality are immeasurable.

Thus: the Internet = Glass Bead Game = Kabbalistic Tree of Life = Human Brain = Internet.

But that doesn't quite explain everything in the thesis, does it? I'm afraid it doesn't, and in order to do that, I need to explain what magic is, and how it works, in my particular universe. Since this is already running a bit long and I don't want to fall victim to the dreaded "too long; didn't read" syndrome, I'm going to take a break here and save the crazed occultism for my next post.

The Fine Print

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