A new blog for commentary and critique

Dear readers, I return after such a long time to notify you all of a change in structure of this blog. Having finished all the university activity, I can now focus on writing for real. The last two years have been, in hindsight, a good training and the perfect time to make my mind clear about all of this. I have now well-defined projects in my mind, and both time and energy to dedicate to them.

So, this blog will now only be used to post fiction and poetry, a sort of portfolio that will contain all the stuff that, by current standards, doesn’t need to be published. The culture commentary moves to Past and Future Fragments on Substack. I’m not using Substack with the intention to add a paywall at a certain point, it’s just that the platform frees me from my recurrent concern about aesthetics: since I can’t have the slightly older appearance I want on new blog editors, I will use Substack which is way more minimal.

Thanks for everything and see you there!

https://pastfuturefragments.substack.com/

Vacation musings

Between vacation time and a extremely hot weather dropping my will to write to zero, I’m struggling a bit with posting, but I may finally reach the goal of a steady flow of releases in mid-August. The post on worldbuilding had the precedence, but Monthly Reads – June 2021 should be here in some days. The Monthly Reads after the June one will be “special” and feature both July and August, because admittedly I don’t read much during vacations, so I’m more comfortable with putting the two months together.

I have a couple of personal thoughts regarding my writing, the future of this blog, and other creative endeavors.

About writing

I’ve written nothing lately as I was more focused on producing music, but this gave me the opportunity to think a bit more about what I want to write.

I will not spend digital ink trying to give a complete account of my conclusions. Let’s just say that what I should do has become clear now. In theory, I want to see myself as a professional working to become able of writing in any genre and setting, as each is more apt to tell certain stories. But there’s something to add.

I’ve often looked at many arguments on the Internet (mainly made by writers I follow) on what the nature of heroism should be. I’ve concluded that altough I find their ideas are to be encouraged, I can’t say I exactly share them fully. Most of them seek a kind of 19th century hero, I believe, and that’s fine, but my pen wants to depict a classical hero. I want to look at that type. It be clear that as classical hero I mean any hero that precedes Don Quixote, from Achilles to Eneas to Beowulf to Roland to Perceval to Ruggiero. And I will focus mostly on classical masculine character, because most of my women tend to be boys with female bodies. I will leave female heroes to others, mostly.

I’ve written the vampire story as I planned to do, but it references Dracula a bit too much for my tastes. It needs to be rewritten but I am not in the mood for it. It’s frankly an hard choice, because I want to see my stuff released, but on the other hand I don’t want to put out garbage.

I will post more short stories like those that I’ve released recently. They are fun experiments. In time they’ll be enough to be released as a collection.

Raising the quality

Who has been following this blog for some time may notice that, while I attempted some literary criticism in the past, I have written nothing of the sort for months. The reason is that I wasn’t entirely satisfied with quality, length, and depth of my analysis. My intention is to end up writing proper essays, since I can see that the general level of literary analysis at the university level is really low. Our ability to understand the written word and the cultural world of our ancestors is waning, and even though I don’t see literary criticism as my main calling, I want to contribute in the effort of trying to stop this downward spiral.

The problem is, as I said, that I don’t think I have managed to write proper essays, in spite of maybe having good ideas and interpreations. I must work on my ability to provide good analysis, and that also means that I need more time to read more books. On the other hand, I want to write things here and now.

Part of this urgency and desire to write analysis again comes from the absolute shitshow I have seen among the self-proclaimed scholars of Tolkien. He’s one of the few authors I have a clear intention to cover already, because it’s evident that Academia has chosen to poison his work, and someone must save it before it has completely sunk in the abyss of Anglophone intellectual discourse.

Talking about music?

As I said in the previous update, I’m working on music. It’s now clear that this will be an important part of my future creative endeavors: I enjoy it very much and I think there’s some innate predisposition. We have a gem that is still uncut, but that promise great value in my opinion.

I was wondering: as music becomes more important to me as a creator, should I also start talking about music? There’s better guys than me that do this, and that’s why I don’t mean to write analysis, but just to spread the name of more artists. Let me know your opinion.

Changing name and platform

The previous point brings me to another thing. My ambient/dungeon-synth project will be called Heorot (by the way, I will soon release the demo). I think I will change my writer name to Heorot, too. After all the “Hart” comes from that, and I still like the original better. It also reflects better my creative intentions (being Heorot the legendary hall in Beowulf).

The more time passes the more I want to switch platform and get on Substack. It just seems better in general, and more focused on making the actual writing and reading comfortable instead of focusing only on the visual aspect like this one.

EDIT: A quick exchange with The Dacian convinced me to have my feet on both platforms. They have different strengths and it is good to use several tools rather than just one.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading as always.

Until next time (ideally soon).

P.S.: photo is mine, taken in the beach of Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily. I’m no photographer and my phone is quite old, but I hope it’s enough for you to have a good mood.

What’s your world about

A realization that has come to me lately as I reflected about worldbuilding is that, at least to a certain extent, usually an imaginary world that has been well-received by the public is centered around a core metaphysical or meta-narrative idea. You can quickly examine many of the big worlds in entertainment and see a red thread crossing the entirety, or the main elements, of a setting.

I would like to pose some initial examples through a look to the medium where this core concept is easier to see, because it is the center of the experience: videogames.

There are two things around which games usualy revolve: the solving of conflict and the struggle for power. Both concepts are the two pillars of gameplay that provide the engagement and fun players seek and that bring them to enjoy the experience for hours.

The core narrative of the world of Dragon Age is a neverending fight against arcane and cthonic forces constantly threatening to wipe out humanity.

Now, in successful videogames, usually, the world is built on an adjacent basis. You would argue that, since the plot must adhere strictly to the gameplay and serve its purpose, it makes sense that the world has to follow the same path. It is true, but on the other hand it is generally agreeable that keeping himself tightly attached to a core theme and experience allows a writer to focus on what matters to the light of the actual product he is working on. That can be a videogame, a novel, a comic, whatever.

Final Fantasy revolves around four magic crystals. Often you do not need much.

Worldbuilding is not a product or a work of art. It’s just the idea of an imaginary world, written down so that others may picture it. The stories that are set between its boundaries are the real deal, and many people have been fooled into forgetting or ignoring this basic truth. I know that there are books, in particular, where an extensive and pervasive worldbuilding, detailed even beyond what is necessary, is in fact a good part of the experience. I do not mean to dunk on them, especially since I hardly read any of those. In my personal experience, this trend is very similar to most avant-garde movements that, after a brief moment of glory, fell into partial oblivion due to the fact that they were revealed as unsuccessful experiments. I do not believe people under 25 years old ever read this kind of books. They may have been a nice artistic experiment, and I do not prevent anyone from remembering it fondly, but it never went beyond that. The point of worldbuilding was and still is to provide a setting.

That trend is not enduring because the reason people love imaginary world is that you can set the wildest stories inside their boundaries. What makes you love Middle Earth is not Middle Earth per se. Your opinion of it would be “this feels like history but pointless because it is imaginary” if Tolkien had not written the stories we love so much.

Changing subject to books gives me a chance to say another thing. While in videogames it is easier to see this criteria at work, books are where this red thread can get the most elaborate: the fight of Law and Chaos in Elric is to me a perfect example, as this is the central axis of Elric’s world(s). In general, the medium of narrative prose confers the most creative freedom in this regard, and this is something I want to underline given that videogames are for sure stricter in what your possibilities are.

Most people who wish to write a book fail even to subconsciously grasp what the importance of worldbuilding is, and that is, again, to provide a setting that is more than time and place, but is also a general narrative. So you can witness how stale and repetitive and samey their creations are, adding to the fact that already, for cultural and political reason, products tend to look the same. The problem is that often these people are not even working under the wing of a major corporation, they are just creating a setting for a series of books which at that point may or may not be actually written. You can imagine how harmful is to conceive something that offers nothing different or particular before even reaching the hands of corporate editors.

This is often due to a fundamental misunderstanding of Tolkien’s work, caused by something that is common among “nerds” or “fandom”, as you may call it. That is, The Lord of the Rings is often more watched as a movie trilogy than read as a book. Usually, in the minds of these people the content of the movies overlaps that of the books, and generate a failure to understand all the basic elements of the story or the core narrative of the world itself.

The fact is that the red thread traversing Arda is philology, and many other important elements stem from it. The average nerd, instead, believes that the setting is centered around Elves and Dwarves, epic battles, etc., hence his attempt at writing his own Lord of the Rings sinks when worldbuilding becomes a confused ocean of notes and maps without a clear purpose, almost all of them destined to be useless regardless of the writer actually writing the real story.

If it was not philology you would not have this.

I believe it important for us to think profoundly about the nature and the meta-narrative of the world we are to build up, if we want to keep things clear and easy for both ourselves and the reader. I confess that I am stating this as a critic and not as a writer, given that I have yet to venture into a journey as hard as the creation of an entire fantasy world; nonetheless I think that the conditions in which the indipendent artist has to operate today require him at least a minimum amount of smart thinking. Stating a clear narrative pervading the whole world is to me a smart tactic for someone who wishes to provide an extended world to his story without losing focus on what matters.

What do you think?

Retvrning to Post, Updates, No More Gynopolitcs, etc.

Back to post, at least for now.

Abandoning the blog, though temporarily, though for justifiable causes is not only a bit stupid and also quite the bet. I don’t make great numbers (fine by me) but such thing implies that I don’t necessarily get the kind of passionate attention that makes people wait for the return of someone big. I may lose readers and interest. Some of you are friends, so I don’t expect to be totally ignored, but I should be more constant nonetheless.

If I remember correctly, I’ve already stated that I tend to lose time and energies (and creativity, most of all) to write when an exam is approaching, may it be a post or a story. It’s the reality of universities, which, it seems, many suffer, at least in my parts. To my knowledge Italian universities require more effort and dedication than most Western educational institutions, so sometimes you’re just absorbed by your studying. This inconvenience should end by September in the best of cases.

To tell the truth, there’s another reason for my silence here, and for my almost total focus on shitposting on Twatter, if you’re following me there. As time passes, I’ve been through same change. One is the fact that I don’t want to write a certain kind of posts anymore. Mainly, I don’t want to chatter politics or culture tendencies I find bad. As the old farts and the whiny wine-moms of both political and cultural estabilishment keep refusing to accept that their time is soon to pass, and taking actions which testify complete inadequacy to their status, pretty much everyone has chosen his own side. Those who haven’t don’t know any real alternative, yet, and, for example, I won’t get them to read good books if I keep complaining about the other side. They abandoned those ships because they didn’t care, and there’s no reason to force them to look at the wreckage.

After I decided this, I noticed a vacuum in my mind. All the future post I had planned were rants. Luckily, I had understood before I could become the equivalent of some YouTube guys, but that also means I was left with nothing to talk about. That’s not a problem anymore.

I will soon make an exception to this new rule, but I hope I will be justified. The matter I won’t to discuss in this incoming post is really important and must be addressed.

That said, I thought to return with a brief general update on things. I didn’t spend the time playing videogames in the basement, and telling you how things have gone may help both of us understand which direction I want to take.

Dealing with the inner Renaissance man

I like many realms of art, and have a desire to put my hands on most of them. I look at them as different forms of storytelling, and storytelling is what I want to do in my life; it’s the very thing that sparks in me a sense of destiny and purpose(big words).

Each story’s got its own medium, that suits it rightly. Some of the stories I come up with require prose, others poetry, others comics, and so on. It follows that I should refine my (still poor) skills in as many different forms as I can, with the end goal of being able to tell a story with the best-suited means.

Doing many things at once can be exhausting or make you feel like you’re not doing enough in anything, but the truth is that it helps me maximize my time and efforts. When I’m writing, I put on it 1-2 hours at best but on the other hand I’m entirely focused and absorbed by that particular work, which is much better than writing for 4 hours while the mind wanders on different paths.

Writing

As of today, this year I’ve written about 22k words, a short story of 10k and half of a little book. The short story has yet to be revised (revision is the part I struggle with the most).

I think I’m getting increasingly better. The little book has already some precious moments of prose, compared to my ability. Dialogue has yet to improve, but that may be because I tend to write it as it comes to my mind with the intention of improving it later. A lot of my efforts in future drafts or revision will be directed at mastering pacing and plot tightness, especially between the main scenes. I’ve got a clear standard in my mind, and I just need to figure out how to get there.

The more time passes the more I’m unsatisfied with what I’ve done in the recent past. I’m made like this, and it’s normal. I can see the imperfections that don’t make my works good enough. Despite this, the story published here still gets some views and sometimes a Like. Maybe people see the rough diamond way more than I’ll ever do, and that’s consoling, to say the least.

Will you finally publish something? Will you post a story here like you did in the past?

Yes and yes. I counted on releasing a book at least in Q4 of 2021, but now I’m not that sure. It’s too far ahead to say, because the outcome depends on how much time I need to get an acceptable quality. My ideal is to be like a pulp author, but I’m not Chandler or Howard yet, so I need more time to get a decent product that is ready for editing. Publishing at least a single book this year is still my intention.

It’s also my intention to post another story here. My skills have improved since the time I wrote The Floating Islands, so it may be a good idea to post another. I have nothing yet, though.

Oh, I’ve been reminded that those who talk about writing don’t write at all. It makes me feel bad so I’ll try not to talk about my plans and work more on achieving them.

Drawing

I’ve been practicing drawing for roughly a year. This is one of my best works so far:

“Not much, but it’s honest work”, as they say.

I’m very confident about the learning process. A year ago my drawings were ugly scribbles, now they look nicer. I’m looking forward to see what I’ll be able to draw in the future. I dream of making some comic and especially to release books with my own illustrations on them.

Music

I’ve started to compose music in February, as I accepted the February Album Writing Month challenge. I’ve been playing guitar for some time, and have studied a bit of theory and history of music, so I had some familiarity with this stuff. I composed about 15 minutes of dungeon synth, and it seems decent. I just need the tools to properly produce this small collection of pieces and some time to add more stuff. I’ve written a synthwave song last week, too.

I noticed that making music lets me regain creativity after pauses due to exams, but I really like the whole process in general, so I’ll keep doing it.

No More Gynopolitcs

As I said I’ve kinda talked politics some time in the past and I don’t think it will happen again (unless it’s for jokes). Not that I’m disengaged or blackpilled for some motive or the other, but I’ve come to realize that it’s mostly gossip, and that political gossip has ruined people. From now on, unless it’s some really interesting political concept or book, or unless I intend to jest, I don’t think I will fill virtual space and posts with that kind of chatter. Current political discourse is suffocated by old perverts who sexually enjoy the sight of child-like women screaming for attention – but I’m less of a pervert and a healthier young man. I’ve got more important things to care about.

My tendency to constantly change things

I have a problem: I often want to change things. I constantly think about making another design change, but in the end I’m always torn between making the blog flashy and cool and making it readable and comfortable. I wish I had a good compromise in mind.

I’ve been thinking about changing pen name. I will probably have different names to use for different books/genres, but I’d like to know if it’s a good strategy first.

The blog’s name is going to get a more generic name. I feel I would be able to give a better feel to this blog and that way I can gain time thinking another pen name for my stories. I’m gonna reference airships OF COURSE. Jokes aside, I think it could give that impression of “we’re crossing the skies looking for unknown or forgotten lands and a better horizon”. Is it too pretentious?

That should be about everything I wanted to say here. I’m counting on you sticking around.

Thanks for reading! Until next time.

Dispatches From Bug World: Tecno-Crapitalism, Techno-Demons, and Mishima

It has been fourteen days since the last dispatch from Bug World. Disassociation continues, the creatures around me are having a hard time holding together their human visage, the skin is sloughing off, revealing slimy carapaces. I was welcomed back to work with a catalog of mandatory online training. We switched to a new computer […]

Dispatches From Bug World: Tecno-Crapitalism, Techno-Demons, and Mishima

The Matryoshka Dolls of Current Weakness

I had a brief exchange with a friend some time ago. It was about gun-control. He argued in its favor, while I was strongly contrary.

His main thesis was that government should prevent people to have a gun ready at hand when they are in emotional distress. At this I peacefully replied “Do you think you wouldn’t be able to restrain yourself, knowing that guns are dangerous?”

And he said yes.

Not only the argument is stupid, but the reason at its heart is ridiculous.

While I do agree that men are fallen, we have to acknowledge that there’s nothing as losing total control of your actions, at least if you haven’t gone completely mad. You do things because you want to, even when they’re evil in nature. The notions stating that you commit evil because you’ve lost control, and that by taking away dangerous objects the State can prevent you from doing them, are not only of the dumbest naivety, but also the most detached from reality visions of humanity.

“Sorry, I’m just having a bad day!”

Of course this comes from the Leftist idea that there’s no intrinsec evil in man, and that it’s all a fault of society and economy (nerd term for “common people living normal lives”, btw). And that’s why most people presenting that argument are Leftists. But there’s more than that.

The plagues of our time are low self-esteem, lack of control and lack of self-awareness. A healthily self-conscious and confident person (which doesn’t mean an arrogant narcisist, for Pete’s sake) can’t have this kind of problem, because he knows himself and how his own will is decisive in any matter. The self-unaware, instead, is ignorant of his own self and scared of his shadow.

But what can you do, most young people have grown up with tender and soft parenting. We’ve not been taught how to deal with risk and danger, and how to take them intelligently. It’s better to demand everything to whatever institution we have right now. How were most people supposed to gain control of their own self?

As you keep opening this matrioska of moral weakness and stupidity, eventually you’ll find the smallest doll, the heart of the problem. It’s definitely materialism.

It’s a weird vicious circle, but once you put soul and matter on the same level, subject and object on the same grade of agency, then you end up elevating the material over the spiritual, so objects above will and action. Because, why not? We’re already making a mistake, it’s better to be wrong twice!

So here that the person becomes irrelevant and all that matters is the system, or the tool. Frankly, first, it’s insulting. Second, it’s dehumanizing. Third, it only leads to terrible consequences.

The problem has long crossed the borders of the West. It’s a global matter. Not as a society, but as the human race, we can solve (rather, mend) only so much if we don’t address this. A vision which sees a man subdued by matter will only result in mass enslaving. Deny people agency and you’ll get cattle.

Happy Anomaly, by Sound Engraver

An artist needs your help.

The artist in question is Sound Engraver, musician, composer and sound experimenter. Due to the pandemic, she’s having a hard time affording her mastering engineer and has thus opened a campaign on Indiegogo to ask for your help, so she can release this album, Happy Anomaly, and two other projects, at best quality.

She just needs $500. Moreover, she offers a good variety of perks at a really low price. Each one is a different selection of musical pieces, most of which you can listen on her website or YT channel.

Her musical experiments are great, the preview for Happy Anomaly is wonderful. It would be a shame if she didn’t manage to release it just for $500. Help her!

Link to the campaign: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/happy-anomaly-an-upbeat-electronic-music-album#/

Sound Engraver’s website

Sound Engraver’s YouTube channel

Quicksand Entertainment

These days, we drown in media. Pick any existing form of mainstream communication and entertainment, and you’ll find a saturated market, full of infinite crap ready to be thrown at you.

We are constantly stormed by product of bad quality and malicious intent. Turn on your TV, and wait for something that is relatively interesting, something which picks your genuine attention and not your demand of gossip (that is, no news, no reality TV, etc.). Personally, if I did this, I’d wait for hours, at least until after dinner, to have a chance at finding a good show. And, who’d have guessed, it would generally be old movies.

It’s only this kind of thing for HOURS!

Try radio and go through hours of useless talking, interrupted by a couple minutes of the same shitty five songs big labels want you to listen. Videogames? Most of the “tripul A” industry costantly releases the same game with different skins. And let’s not touch books, or this rant will be too long; go to a bookstore and see for yourself.

I am aware and sure that these industries are either tanking or stagnating, one more than the other. In truth, what I really want to talk about is the fact that a part of the public has been boiling inside that old pot for so much time that is incredibly hard to pull it out of the hot water. Be it the middle-aged lady watching soap-operas all day, or the comic book nerds that just can’t stop simping for Marvel and DC, these guys will continue drowning in the quicksand that is the current entertainment industry.

“Marvel can’t swallow you up if you just stop caring!”

Since I’m more oriented towards books, I ask myself how much new authors in the indie scene should try to make themselves known to such audience, instead of solidifying their readership as an underground, but intellectually active, movement. I don’t mean we should gatekeep towards normies (we need normies to save media, I believe), also because a lot of people trapped in Quicksand Entertainment aren’t normies at all. My point is this: I’m noticing that many people just want to stay inside the mainstream. I don’t know why, but so it is.

These people will never care about all the cool stuff they’d find if they started looking elsewhere and, although it’s true that slow and steady wins the race, you can do only as much to convince them. In the end, it’s only a matter of personal decision. And many have chosen that only Big Brand X is allowed in their lives.

Should creators stop their effort, then? Never. First, because I want more cool books. Second, the movement will grow, and that’s a fact. Corpos can try to stop it however they want, some things can’t just die. What must be acknowledged is that, big as it can become, the NewPub/PulpRev/Superversive scene is going to be an underground phenomenon. The mainstream of the future may follow their steps, but these scenes are destined to be an alternative and a rebellion. A true rebellion, hence spread only up to a certain point.

Be a rebel! Read cool books! #resist

This brings me to face another crucial aspect. A writer who wants to live off his own stories should keep striving for that, but it’s important to keep in mind that you’re doing this as a contribution for a better future. Western culture will eventually recover from its malady, and it will happen thanks to our contribution. Both writers and readers, because as the first must create for the future, the second must preserve those creations and bring them into the future.

And of course, this is true for all art.

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned!