The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

20 minutes into a quagmire

There is nothing quite like having thirty days to write fifty thousand words and you have no idea what to write. So you write. And write. And write some more. And end up with a mess that will either be really terrible or a masterpiece.

It's early 1961. Eisenhowser gave his farewell speech that warned about the millitary-industrial complex and Kennedy, after the closest Presidential race in U. S. History, is turning the White House into Camelot. The horrors of the Cold War have yet to come. Vietnam is still back page news in the papers, McCarthyism is, if not completely dead, mostly over. The mood of the nation is optimistic.

And into this idyll place a novel is given to some random 20something to read. It's not a novel in the conventional sense but more of a collection of vignettes about the future. Nothing exciting, nothing overly grand. Just normal life as it would appear to someone in the future. Some fourty years into the future.

About our now.

Notes from my poor attempt at a novel, 20 Minutes Into The Future

My intent was to write a series of loosely coupled stories taking place in the near indeterminate future, some fourty, maybe fifty years down the road. Just take current trends as I see them, and extend them down; maybe toss in a few outrageous things that can't possibly happen (who could foresee the fall of Communism or terrorists piloting a plane (a commercial plane!) into the Pentagon? Or two of the tallest buildings in the U. S.?) and let it stand at that.

Only I'm getting rather depessed the more I contemplate the near future. And not just over Pax Americana either. The abolishment of anonymous money (unless of course, you are already filthy rich in which case there are plenty of tax havens for you to shuffle your funds towards), the abolishment of ownership (and not by a Communistic government fiat but by the relentless shift of ownership from personal to corporations and foundations), creation of corporate fiefdoms (which are worse than the fiefdoms of Europe—at least there you gave your fielty to your local barron and he protected you—now you still have to give your fielty to your local corporate masters but they don't have to protect you, or even keep you employed), errosion of privacy (data mining of cross indexed corporate and government databases, ubiquitous cameras watching our every move, and every citizen being fingerprinted and chipped from childhood) and excuse me whilst I slit my wrists right now …

For Sale!

Investment Homes for Sale—4 days use! Buy now while they last! Going fast, so hurry!

Two days overnight use only. Use during Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas extra. No Trick-or-Treating allowed during Halloweeen. Dinner parties of more than 20 require permission of the Board. Taxes include city, county and school district. Monthly cleaning required.

Excerpt from my poor attempt at a novel, 20 Minutes Into The Future

I thought it best to rethink my strategy, and it's then when I turned to The Hero Of A Thousand Faces. Joseph Campbell did extensive research into the myths from around the world and noticed certain themes coming up time and time again. These he outlined and explained in his book, The Hero Of A Thousand Faces, notes of which I made into entries (mostly for myself but hey, someone else could find a use for them). So if George Lucas can apply the monomyth to a crappy script (“You can type this XXXX, George, but you can't say it.” –Harrison Ford), bad acting (Need I mention a whiny Mark Hamill? Or Carrie Fisher's faux British accent through half the film?) and a derivative plot (taken from Kurosawa's Hidden Fortress, right down to the two peasents rendered as A2-D2 and C-3P0) and have one of the top grossing films ever, then it couldn't hurt me, right?

But I have a problem with the Hero's Arc. Not that I don't think it's valid (it is) but more for what it represents—that the Hero is extraordinary in some sense; that he's of divine birth (or noble birth, but really, there is no difference as the early kings and emperors of our history were thought to be of divine birth anyway) and has a higher destiny; a calling to greatness. Joe Serf need not apply. And that doesn't sit well with me. Even Luke Skywalker turned out to be the spawn of a knight and a queen …

The other problem I'm having is that I've yet to write fiction. Okay, sure, I have a few comedy sketches I did (Monty Python phase) and my humor columns towards the end might be considered mostly fictional but they did derive from actual events (however exaggerated they became—perhaps this was my Hunter S. Thompson phase, unbeknownst to me) and there was the one college paper on Gothic Cathedrals was largly fabricated on the spot (I was in my Dave Barry phase at that point) but overall, most of my writing has been non-fictional in nature. This fictional stuff is quite different for me, so there's difficulty there.

So right now, I'm at a loss of where to go …

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[The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades]

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