Category Archives: mood

Two projects and an absence

My entry for NaNoGenMo 2016 is ANNALES, a procedurally-generated chronology of rulers, courtiers, tribes and intrigue:

Being a faithful narration of the history of the realm from the reign of Fobbial Artesia I to the present day

As transcribed by the algorithm annales-exe using the pseudo-random seed 1835917550 1 during the reign of Armey Engine III

“For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground / And tell sad stories of the death of kings”

Reign of Fobbial Artesia I the Unbridgeable.

Fobbial Artesia I, surnamed the Unbridgeable, won the throne by divination.

Fobbial Artesia I espoused Sidentilation with wild channession.

Rumours of morees in Wire Star.


Fobbial Artesia I the Unbridgeable gave birth to a son, Lavaloman, under the influence of Kabdhilinan.

Rumours of rederes in Vectary Viroth.

The source code is here and I’ll be blogging a bit about the technical details on when I get around to it.

I also got around to implementing my dumbest Twitter bot idea, @TVisoTropes.

I’ve been away from Twitter proper since the US election: my mental health has been poor this year, so I’ve had a couple of enforced absences, but the way I was reacting late stages of the campaign and Trump’s victory were pretty decisive in showing me that the way I’ve been using social media is really bad for my brain. I miss it a lot but I still don’t know how to return: maybe when my mood improves? Maybe I should start a new account and reset things?


Antisocial August – the home stretch

Twitter, I miss you, but there’ll have to be a brutal follow-purge before I return.

It’s been great not having constant reminders of political news, and I’ve been thinking quite a bit about what the whole process of “paying attention to political news” actually means, in terms of day-to-day emotional life. Along the lines of this analogy, but less glib and simplistic. And informed by Anne Cvetkovich’s Depression: A Public Feelingwhich I just finished based on Yatima‘s recommendation.

Antisocial August

A voluntary break from social media, named by @nerdfish. I’ll be avoiding Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram until September

I am allowing myself a loophole for the upcoming @FSVO series, as that’s more of a weird microblogging persona than a social media presence. In other words, I don’t hang out on it.

Why? I think it will clear my head and improve my mood, especially getting away from Twitter.

Synecdoche, New York

Ever since a particular morning visit to a park with my daughters in St Peters in 2001, when I caught myself contemplating the layer of pine-bark soft-fall in the children’s playground, thinking how awful it was that the bark was just sitting there slowly rotting, and that it would eventually have to be scooped up and thrown away and replaced, and how futile this all was – and, yes, I was already taking antidepressants, they were working just enough for me to be aware of how ridiculous I was being – ever since that moment, pessimistic artists have, for me, been divided into two groups.

On the one hand, there are those artists who seem to be comically or grotesquely unaware of how much their mordant and penetrating vision of the tragic nature of existence is contingent upon their own outlook or personality. Examples include W G Sebald, most of Pynchon, Infinite Jest, the Joy Division of Closer, The The, Michel Houellebecq and H P Lovecraft.

And then there are the ones who I still enjoy: Beckett, Cioran, Kafka, Swift, Flaubert, Ballard, The Crying of Lot 49, most of the rest of David Foster Wallace, the Joy Division of Unknown Pleasures and The Smiths.

Straight after seeing Synecdoche, New York I wasn’t sure whether Charlie Kaufman fell into the first or second categories. I won’t be entirely sure until I’ve seen the film again, but I think he’s one of the good ones. It’s a shame that one of the film’s best jokes seems to have been lifted from an episode of The Simpsons. There’s an elegiac playfulness to the film which reminded me of Barthelme.

The question of how much of the action is actually taking place seems to be answered by the appearance of a zeppelin, following the Hindenburg Uncertainty Principle. In fact, this film made me wonder whether the uncanny and infantile weirdness of airships – at once breastlike and unaggressively phallic, dreamily floating – is why they are only possible in fantasy worlds. If the Hindenburg hadn’t been going to crash it probably would have been sabotaged by guerilla psychoanalysts.


My home computer died on Maundy Thursday, just as I took a week off work for the school holidays.

Apart from that, I’m reorganising my life a fair bit at the moment.. Major dissatisfaction with the Day Job has lead to a frenzy of spare-time activity, most of which involves the computer, and taking a break from all that was pretty refreshing. I don’t think I’ll be blogging daily any more, at least for a little while.


British cynicism is congenial, up to a certain point, cynicism being so commonplace among that nation that any remission of it is perceived as a kindness. It is understood that we are talking here only of stereotypes and preconcieved notions. Americam cynicism is directed exclusively against the government or the corporation; one remembers, or pretends to have remembered, the great days of American cynicism, of wiseacres in snap-brim fedoras, and wonders if they will ever return? Cynicism being so essential a part of the Anglo-Saxon notion of Frenchness that an uncynical French person is an inconceivable contradiction in terms, and allowing that any notion the opposite of which cannot be concieved cannot truly be imagined, we conclude that French cynicism is formally unthinkable. Australian cynicism is a minor relation of British cynicism; it seems to me to have less hope of remission, but perhaps this is because the cynicism one grew up with will, if percieved at all, be felt as harsh, inescapable, without charm.