Few things have depressed me more recently than this post by Charlie Stross. In fact, the night I read it I stayed up til 4 am having a full on panic attack about, um, the future of the world I guess. Which sounds stupid. It is not a reason to lay in bed making dramatic lemur eyes at the ceiling.

And yet, there I was.

Five years ago I was so much more optimistic about the state of the world and the future than I am now. Which is insane, because Bush was in power and things were shitty then, too. But I had such confidence in my generation and the power of awesomeness to win out. Is it just because we had, I don’t know, A GODDAMN DEPRESSION in there? That I’m over 30 now, so contractually obligated to be miserable about everything and pessimistic and want everything to be how it was when I was in my mid twenties? I don’t know.

It sucks to live at the end of a world. And we are–this is the end of industrial culture, kids. The tail end of the revolution. We live in the Shire, a hundred years post-Saruman’s Patented Electricalfantastik Oppression System. Industrial life has given the developed world all it had to give, and now we’ve offloaded the horrible parts of it to parts of the world we don’t like to think about and I don’t even know what we’re moving toward instead. I’m not that good a science fiction writer.

What I see in that post and in many other futurist predictions is that the only job in the future is Robot Maintainer. I simply believe our (American) government would rather see us all rot and die than take the smallest step toward a post-wage (ZOMGSOCIALIST) economy, and if everything can be automated, well, that 1% will have no reason to tolerate the rest of us as much as they do. And since I’m one of those assholes the internet says has no worth at all and deserves to starve because I got a LIBERAL ARTS DEGREE OH NOES (possibly I should stop reading reddit?) well, it seemed obvious to me at 4 am with my ceiling for company that my job would vanish into the black pit of WhoEvenReadsAnymore in the next few years. At least my husband has some Robo-Relevant Skillz?

It feels like dystopia is our only option. No wonder everyone’s writing about it. One of the comments on that post talked about replacing teachers with AIs to instruct kids and my brain just screamed INSTRUCT THEM TO DO WHAT? If even teaching, that most human activity, is offloaded to AI, and it will be, because AUTOMATION IS TEH BETTERZ and also current American culture has never met a job it didn’t want to get rid of or pay someone in a developing nation a penny and a half to kill themselves doing, what can we possibly educate kids in EXCEPT liberal arts if all the real world applicable stuff isn’t applicable at all because anything a human can do Apple has made an i____ to do?

Dmitri says I’m crazy, the post wasn’t dismal and he can’t understand why it would upset me so much. I’m not sure I understand. We fear change? Shit, even the cornerstone of my internet activity, long form blogging, is dying incredibly fast. I don’t like what’s replacing it, microblogging and UGH Facebook, which apparently people think is a permanent public utility now? And fairly soon I’d bet even microblogging will die off, so people can just be advertised to and play Farmville until they’re dead. I miss the days of the internet feeling absolutely positive to me, rather than something that has destroyed a scary amount of industries (and yes, made some, too) and given us once more, bizarrely, a monoculture. Entire, well-followed Twitters do little more than spout internet memes like a gross shallow fountain, and half of television just culls from YouTube for programming. I was happier when I read more Livejournal and less reddit.The internet is a beast, it owns our world, and the best is good and the beast is bad. But you can’t avoid the beast.

AND THIS IS OLD PEOPLE LAWN TALK. I hate myself for even saying it. Yes, yes, be the change you wish to see. Except that most of everything I as an individual have no control over. That’s been one of the biggest lessons of being an adult for me: the system does not care, and you can’t really affect it except in small ways. Climate change has happened already. It will keep happening. Even if I never eat tuna again that fish will go extinct in my lifetime. There is fuck all I as a person can do about that. And this is what keeps me up. Everything changes and you can’t even know if you are changing sufficiently with it. I started playing Skyrim, the game everyone says is the MOST AMAZING EVAR, and I got bored after a couple of hours and knitted instead. I am an old lady. I would rather cook in the real world than in Skyrim. I even got excited to snow shovel this morning because it makes me feel alive rather than numb in front of a screen, which is probably the ideal state of a human as far as companies and culture is concerned.

Maybe I take it hard because I grew up in the 90s, when the internet was new and briefly we thought everything was going to be pretty great for the forseeable future. Smile, we were all on Candid Camera.

Or did we not think that? Am I doing the thing, the Boomer Fallacy, where I think that when I was a kid things were good and easy because I was a kid and I didn’t know anything so the SHUT UP THE FIFTIES WERE THE BEST LET’S COSPLAY THEM FOREVER?

And maybe it’s not so bad. I come to my blog to wriggle out of my anxiety and it kind of works. I worry about 2032, and 2052, and will there even be such a thing as a “university” or a “job” for our kid, or even “winter” or “peacetime.” I think Occupy Wall Street was pretty much right about things and no one cared. I try to think that every generation despairs but things keep going somehow. And I try to hold on to this silly thing I wrote a few years back because it’s all I’ve got at 4am when the lemur eyes have settled on open, open, open forever.

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So tonight, at 10pm Eastern Standard and 7pm Pacific, I will be on a public Google Hangout Interview/Discussion with authors A.V. Flox (known to you LJers as besideserato), Jackie Summers, Mark Jeffrey, and Jason Goldman. We’ll be talking about writing process and other interesting things.

I’ve never used the G+ tech for this kind of thing before so I’m fascinated to see how it all turns out. So tune in to the New TV and see my office and my still-a-little-sick face on your glowybox!

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I used to get a lot of new music off of a Livejournal community called audiography. Every week they’d have a theme and people would post links to YouTube or other (mostly) free ways of hearing music that fit the theme. Sometimes the theme was a genre, sometimes a feeling, sometimes an image.

It was how I found the Decemberists, the Dresden Dolls, Sufjan Stevens, Rilo Kiley, Neko Case and a whole host of my other longtime favorites–and it’s mostly dead.

Audiography died off a long time ago, well before LJ traffic began to decline. The mods stopped posting themes and people stopped posting tracks. It had a resurgence in August and September last year–and immediately I discovered Florence + the Machine, Mumford and Sons, and First Aid Kit. (Ok, I am late on discovering those. But Audiography used to be my ticket to Knowing About Music Things! I am lost without them!)

I miss it. I listen to so much music–I need to have music on to write so my days are often filled with music from waking to sleeping. I like Pandora but I often miss what X song was called, and Spotify and Rdio can feel overwhelming. I’d try to revive Audiography myself except that I’m not a mod and can’t post themes.

But what I DO have is MAH OWN BLOG. So I am inaugurating Autoaudiography–my own one-blog version of the late great communal music pond.

I’ll post a theme every Monday, to loosely coincide with Twitter’s Music Monday hashtag. In the comments, post your favorite songs that fit the theme. Use (legit, legal, and free) links to Youtube videos (feel free to embed) or other sources for music that will not get me in trouble. Look through the comments for new music–I’ll repost my three favorites along with the new theme at the end of the week. Hopefully we can all find awesome new music, support musicians, and recapture some of that old awesomeness.

This week’s theme, thanks to the insomnia post that made me think about this and start listening to Florence again, is Night.

The title or artist can contain the word or related words, or the song can just make you think of nighttime, sleep, the moon, etc. Any connection to the theme is fine, it’s a loose sort of thing. Any genre is welcome, and, departing from Audiography rules, if you have songs of your own writing/singing/playing, by all means post them! Just keep it legal and non-piratical, please.

I’ll go first, on the off chance there’s someone else who hasn’t heard this song and seen this gorgeous video (which is kind of what I think that mask scene in Eyes Wide Shut might have been if that movie weren’t mainly about white people not feeling things) that has been my night-time companion the last few 3 ams:

So, what have you been listening to lately?

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Now that I’m on sleep meds, I have to confront this other problem with my soul. Even given the ability to regulate my sleep with no side effects, I’ll stay up until 4:30 in the morning voluntarily. Even fight sleep.

Why? I don’t know. These hours have been mine my whole life, mine and no one else’s, as I seem to solely date and marry people who can fall asleep instantly and stay asleep with no trouble, and also who need to be up early in the morning. So my whole being thinks they belong to me, they are precious hours when I am alone and myself.

And there comes a moment, every night I stay up, when I feel quickened and awake and real, I feel on the verge of some epiphany, some starry apotheosis that I can never quite realize. But if I could only stay up another hour, surely, then I would…I don’t know. Transform.

Usually this is when I start to listen to melancholy indie music and/or bombastic music that makes me want to seethe and leap high and become–but I grasp at nothing in the dark and come away with only wistfulness and a completely upended circadian rhythm. I don’t want to stay up late. (Well, I do, but I also want to get up early.)

But that feeling comes and I chase it and never catch it.

It’s 4:30. I have Shake It Out on repeat. Sitting in bed in the dark winter of the night. I wish someone were awake with me. But the epiphany–oh my god, it is Epiphany, isn’t it? Right now, tonight, since I haven’t gone to bed yet. How strange. The epiphany never comes, it just crackles along my skin and it’s probably stupid chemicals firing for no reason, but it never comes so what would I say to someone who could, like the fairy tale task, stay up all night with me?

The night is another country. Half of me lives there.

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Our friends atheorist, his sister Sarah, and their mother Julie came over to spend Christmas day with us this year–which was lovely, as I like having a full house of folks I can cook for and take care of. As her present to us, Julie taught everyone about Zentangle and led us through making one.

Zentangle is this thing where they break down certain repetitive drawing patterns and use it to create a meditative experience which is less about doing nothing than about clearing the mind through repetitive action. Wax on, wax off, so to speak. I found it fairly awesome, as it’s similar to how I (compulsively) doodle anyway, but gives a structure I hadn’t had before.

That sounds a little stilted. I’ve always wanted to be able to draw, and been super shitty at it. I doodle because I have the restless hands, but I can’t draw meaningfully at all. My college notebooks are full of swirls and no notes to speak of. ZT has done a pretty great job of breaking images down into something I can draw–though I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do anything non-abstract, I am still excited about this. I can do awesome art deco/medieval/eschery things!

So, unfortunately, the online Zentangle culture leaves something to be desired. The starter kit is kind of broken–they don’t include instructions even for all the patterns in their little legend, and some of the ones included don’t even have instructions online. It’s all very focused on selling the founders’ seminars, and getting “certified” as an instructor, and that just doesn’t appeal to me at all, as well as turning art into a kind of weird scrapbookers’ Amway thing. But the thing itself has such worth. So I’m ignoring the tupperware club aspect, mostly, except for finding patterns, of which there are hundreds, much like knitting. I do like a lot of the Zentangle inspired blogs, which takes the technique and goes further with it, outside the original bounds of the notion.

In fact, it reminds me a lot of knitting, with the slow growth of complex patterns built with straight lines. Also medieval marginalia, though I’ haven’t found any celtic knot patterns yet I’m sure they exist. And last night I finally realized what it reminds me most of: mehndi.

Which, it turns out, is done exactly the same way–small, repetitive patterns fitted within larger shapes. Some of the patterns are, in fact, identical to Zentangle patterns. (Also explains why I know people who can’t draw traditionally but do mehndi.) I’m surprised that I haven’t seen anyone comment on this–though they may have, I’m not super involved with the community as I’ve said. The similarity is extremely striking to me, though–if there are less flower and bird designs in Zentangle.

So I’m hoping, as a resolutiony type thing, to do one Zentangle a day as a meditation exercise, because my brain is so birdyjumpy it needs to work the hands more or less constantly. I’ve been adding some words to my pieces, free association and alliteration, because I love words and can’t help it. Maybe I’ll try to pick up some calligraphy–though I’m pretty proud of my handwriting.

I don’t feel like I want to post them–there’s so many Zentangle blogs and I just want to do it for myself, not get certified or join the community. But I feel really nice about drawing every day. I think it will be grounding. I spent hours last night copying patterns into a blank book (with mehndi on the cover, amusingly) so that I can keep track of my abilities (also, the kit comes with a d20 so you can randomize the process, which is geekier than I suspect they know) and the patterns I really like, which tend to be curvy and flowing rather than geometric.

I’d be interested to know if any of you guys have heard of this or taken it up!

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