born to run

Days on the Waitlist: 6

Sweater Progress: Sleeves: complete. Collar: complete. Hem facing: f-ing never ending.

I'm listening to Bruce Springsteen's album "Born to Run" with some obsession today. A dancing friend, whose living in someone else's house this semester (and therefore with someone else's record collection) said that she'd been listening to Springsteen lately, which she hadn't really listened too much previously.

She described it as being "angry and about prison and fights and ugliness. But it was much more melodic than she'd expected." Which I think is the perfect description of his music, particularly of "Born to Run" that I am so fond of. I think the way that his lyrics are so gritty and the way that this contrasts with the way that the melodies are so rich is what makes his music so appealing.

I said--somewhat flippantly--that there's something about this aesthetic that people like William Gibson aspire to create: a wondrous, fantastic image steeped in a very gritty hard fought sense of "reality." And frankly, Bruce does it better than anything that I've ever seen of Gibson's. But I am willing to stand corrected.

And though I enjoy this music, and frankly the attempt to ground fiction in an non-utopian setting, despite my protests against "hipster dystopianism" (Gibson, Doctorow, Sterling, etc.). I am even more admit in the position that it's possible to write fiction that is high quality and highly interesting that participates in the discourse of cultural critique that isn't an aesthetic homage to grit and dystopia.

Leave it to Springsteen, really.

Actually, perhaps part of the reason that I dislike fiction which embraces the point of view that in order to be "fresh" and "real" and "engaging" you have write stories about gritty reality and the dark underbelly of society is that this perspective has only the most superficial understandings of class. This is, I think the result of the "punk" part of the cyberpunk equation.

I've heard a couple of times that cyberpunk "failed" in part because technology didn't develop in the way that everyone in the eighties thought that it would, but more than that, because the cyberpunk movement failed to attract "real" punks. Geeks in the eighties and nineties turned into dot-com yuppies, not cyberpunks.

Regardless of who was attracted to the literature, cyberpunk relies heavily on the image of the 'punk. Poor, outcast, and non-conforming, the hero of the cyberpunk drama is able to wield a collection of skills in a virtual world to combat large unregulated megacorporations in their bid to do evil. The virtual world becomes a space to level out difference where the battle becomes about skills and ingenuity, not resources.

Which makes for a great story, the problem with this is that being a punk is a luxury, and although at the time of the story the cyberpunk characters are on the fringes of society, there's the distinct feeling that despite their current situation, their class identity/background is much more middle/upper class. Because being a cyberpunk requires time, and skills, and money that is hard to come by if you're poor.

And Springsteen is able to write these songs that capture class in a more realistic way, that captures the gritty reality without become enrapt by "punk"-ness. And it's enjoyable.

Ok rant over. Or something. I hope that made sense.

Other news:

  • I hooked up a new external keyboard to my computer. Wow. It's really nice, and I can type pretty damn well. It's a windows keyboard so it's taking a few moments to learn where all the apple specific keys map to. But it's nice to have a keyboard with full key return that doesn't stick funny. My laptop keyboard is in bad shape. I should just order the new computer, but it's a lot of change to drop at once, particularly when things are so uncertain.
  • I have begun sending out feelers for summer and current employment.
  • The waitlist thing continues to be difficult and unchanging, so I'm not writing very much about it. I'm trying to find the right balance between: celebrating the distinct possibility that I'm going to be a graduate student next year, the possibility that I will need to seriously reconsider my purpose and position in the world as I try and figure out "what next," and planning for the present so that I'm not stuck perpetually waiting for "what happens next." But it's damn hard.
  • Knitting: I need to spend some time knocking out this sweater. Really. It's close, but I fear that if I go full boar, I'm going to wreck my wrist, and that's not desirable at all. And I hereby promise to not pass judgment or moan over this sweater until it's fully blocked.

Onward and Upward!

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