"This was a very beautiful relaxing environment."
Dystopia versus fantasy, origins of magical practices, releases of sci-fi smut and magic zines, fighting games that made me gay, and more.
Greetings dear reader.
I think this is one of the few times I’m drafting and sending a newsletter in between full or new moons, or other much-talked about astro weather.
Today is cold, 25ºF with the sun out in full. Tomorrow is supposed to be 50º. The spring blooms are already pushing well up in the front yards on my block. This has been the winter of bothersome skin irritations, lingering mucous in my left eustachian tube, and rubbing dollops of testosterone gel onto my shoulders every morning (a low dosage). I’m sharing that last tidbit as an offering, I suppose, to anyone who has been thinking about it themself. So consider that an invitation to write with any questions you may have.
With that out of the way, there is the matter of the novel project. Not a novelty project. The All That’s Left jawn. The book. I’ve also spent this winter hunched over the kitchen table with my laptop out, my main writing notebook (A4 size), my traveler’s journal (A5 slim), my checklist notebook (A6ish), 3 beverages, and just AGONIZING my way through chapter 3. [[WOULD YOU BE INTERESTED IN READING EXCERPTS FROM THIS WORK IN PROGRESS? LET ME KNOW.]] Ever since I’ve written ATL I’ve kept or made mood boards & file folders of images and news articles supporting my mind’s eye vision of the world my cyborgs endure. Here’s a few choice pics from this chapter:
[image description: 2 cards drive down a downward sloping road that ends in floodwaters. the floodwaters also surround an industrial warehouse.]
[image description: the new jersey pine barrens. a wet mud road full of tire tracks and puddles with trees and foliage alongside it. some of the landscape is actually torn through by the tire tracks.]
[image description: a landscape that’s mostly an unnatural red-brown color. All the ground looks muddy, and a small body of water is dotted with some trees, half marked in the same color red. Text over the image says ‘Right now there’s 3 to 4 metre deep alkaline sludge in it.’]
It’s all very unpleasant and horrific in its own way, of course. The imagery. The reality. That’s ok though because this book is about hope, honestly. Holding on. And I think I said this before, but the longer I work on it the more I realize it’s fantasy and not specifically science fiction. Well, I have my business cards now and they don’t have the word fantasy on there, but I still think they tell enough.
[image description: a closeup of my left hand holding my business card. i have chipped nail polish and some tattoo lines creeping up my thumb. the card says ‘SCI-FI MAGIC SMUT SURVIVOR MEMOIR’]
With regards to writing fantasy and not sci-fi, I mean it in the sense that nothing I am writing has any interest anymore in predicting the future. I don’t think it ever did. I was always more interested in playing(?) in alternative realities. But again, the more I work on this and the longer I live, the more I realize it’s already real. Every bit of the dystopia is real. Just not necessarily where I live, or in the same/specific magnitude.
This is why all the new Netflix sci-fi shows (and hollywood movies etc) make me anxious and irritated. White heroes. Predominantly white cast or laughable diversity casting. Straight. Playing out storylines from dystopia novels written in the 50s 60s and 70s, updated to incorporate contemporary depictions of AI or surveillance culture or what have you. And does the imagery and the stakes and motives of its characters—do they push our imaginations or do they normalize social control? Same goes for fantasy. I watched a few episodes of the Witcher, a Dungeons & Dragons type series based off a video game, and quickly got annoyed. There’s a character at first whose downtrodden, with a hump on her back and face. Of course she turns into a beautiful and vindictive sorceress. And the main character, a beefcake Legolas basically, who is shirtless every episode and clad in tight leather fighting clothes, and we never get an ass shot??? No homo propaganda. I’m sick of progressive fan service titties in all these Netflix shows and no bare male ass. An edgy show that won’t give us some male full frontal is just playing pretend.
Thank the saints for this article on queer monster porn that led me to InCase’s NSFW The Invitation comic. After I enjoyed myself reading that, I ended up spending a considerable amount of time binging their longer NSFW D&D type series, Alfie. Alfie especially reminded me that narrative styles DO exist that don’t center external conflict. Most of the characters in this series spend a lot of time confronting their internal conflicts through sex, and I really liked it. For what it’s worth, the range of bodies and genital types depicted have something of a narrow range the more you read (lacking in obvious rolls and pudge, heft, labia & dick shape, etc), and it’s very Euro-centric in that it’s one of those ‘all these fantasy people are pink, light tan, or blue/green with flowing hair’. So there’s that. ::clears throat::
The other day CYBERSIX, an animated series from the late 90s/early 00s was trending on Twitter. The original poster starts off its introduction by saying “since we're talking about canadian tv, today i mourn cybersix, about a genetically engineered female warrior who escapes her creator and lives in disguise by day as a male english teacher and by night, a leather-clad heroine” and so here is the YouTube playlist to the full 13 episodes. :) (Man that era of animation, Batman the Animated Series, Gargoyles, so good and I sigh.)
face to face
In other news I went downtown yesterday for a few hours before a function later in the evening, and ended up playing Marvel vs Capcom at Round1 on the top floor of the ~Fashion District~ (RIP The Gallery). The fighting game cabinets there are Japanese style. They’re versus games but the opposing player interface is on the literal opposite side, so you don’t see your opponent. And you’re sitting down. So different from US arcade cabinets, and such a welcome change. I was sitting, casually getting familiar with old character moves, and appreciating how nearly all the games were set to a super easy computer level. Meaning you won’t get your ass beat mercilessly if you’ve never played before. I mean you might. None of the cabinets have moves lists, nor are the buttons labeled (like ABC,XYZ or Light Med Hard Punch or Kick, etc). It felt good to beat the game on its super easy setting with my full lineup of Morrigan Aensland (a succubus queen of the underworld), Sakura Kasugano (an aggro upbeat schoolgirl), and Rogue from X-MEN (super tough super incapable of intimacy). Which is more to say it’s nice to have the spaciousness of getting into the moves/button combos after having grown up putting my quarter down on the cabinet and summarily being thrashed by an experienced male player. Makes me think about my disdain/avoidance of competitive learning spaces dominated by male figures where failure to succed on the first attempt so often felt unbearable. Also makes me think of Juliana Huxtable’s I ALWAYS PICKED THE GIRLS WHEN I PLAYED VIDEO GAMES piece which I can only find on Tumblr now via someone’s reblog. Bop.
After I finish this newsletter I’m going to head to People’s Books & Culture (fka Penn Book Center) to drop off re-ups of mine and Metropolarity’s latest, and then visit the newly opened Making Worlds bookstore & community center on 45th by Walnut street. Both places sell all the books I’m always promoting here, so please give them a visit, especially Making Worlds.
in the tabs
It seems my personal time turns more and more to researching for fun. I have about 5 different Firefox windows open, each with anywhere from 2 to 15 tabs open. I command-tilda between them all, and here are (or were) some of their contents:
•••> A Hidden City Phila article on a poor agrarian community called the Neck that used to be south of Oregon Ave around the 1912s
Like many urban planning projects, this was all easier said than done. For one thing, much of this land was in use raising vegetables and livestock for the markets uptown. To realize their suburban fantasy, the city needed to destroy the backbone of the Neck’s traditional economy, especially pig farming, which was deeply-entrenched in the life of the Neck. In 1912, there were about 20,000 pigs living south of Oregon Avenue among the thousand or so humans. Generations of Neckers had made a living raising pigs, which were fed on garbage collected by the Necker’s children. Pigs were the Neck’s biggest “export,” followed by cabbage and clover sod.
Claiming that pig manure produced “harmful gasses” that caused disease, in 1911 City Council passed a ban on pigs within city limits. “The pigs will disappear so fast you can’t see them,” said Mayor John E. Reyburn. “The lands rented for piggeries will become so valuable that the raising of swine there will be abandoned.”
•••> An old blogspot about trees around Philadelphia. Thorough and informative! Also includes a list of notable trees.
•••> This YouTuber, Lora O’Brien, who has a wealth of informative videos about traditional and contemporary Irish ancestral magic practices, and who has no patience for ahistorical, white supremacist celtic/pagan Irish-American ‘the Irish were slaves too!’ bullshit. If you are Irish descended like me, I think a lot of us have been looking for something/someone like this.
•••> Stepping back in history a bit further, here’s an interesting article pointing out how many medieval symbols and practices identified in contemporary times as ‘pagan’ may just be unofficial Christianity leftovers. I value this consideration because I find so many claims of tradition from white/European-descended pagan practices ill sourced. Not saying magical tradition needs to be accounted for in the written word, but over the years I’ve noticed that many practicioners and harborers of ancestral knowledges online are able to directly cite familial traditions connected to ancestral homelands, historical causes/events, specific geographic places, ancient texts, and so on. And when it comes to seeking out sources on claims from European descended ‘pagans’ (often code for ‘Celtic’) and their practices, there is comparitively little to be found. Some things simply are. People wear a pentagram or burn a huge bundle of sage, and consume the trappings of traditions that they make no deeper connections or understandings of, for the sake of self-discovery and feeling special and different. If you are on a path of self discovery, please also begin to think about where the practices you take on originated and why you brought them into your life.
•••> Meanwhile in my wiki history adventures, I’ve moved away from the Roman empire and into the Islamic Golden Age, where I encountered this passage:
Physicians worked fixed hours and medical staff salaries were fixed by law. For regulating the quality of care and arbitrating cases, it is related that if a patient dies, their family presents the doctor's prescriptions to the chief physician who would judge if the death was natural or if it was by negligence, in which case the family would be entitled to compensation from the doctor.
What a world! This bitch is voting for Bernie, btw. I want that healthcare. And if you’ve noticed, all his interviews & other messaging is beginning to hone in on how we need healthcare.
•••> I think I’ve shared links to the Astrology Podcast before, but currently I am listening to this early episode on Saturn as Feminine and Crone (hello death goddesses like La Santisima Muerte). The host Christ Brennan is a traditional astrologer who wrote a book about Hellenistic astrology, and so him and his guests often speak about factual historical evidence, origins of techniques and alllll this cool stuff. Speaking of figuring out where contemporary practices originate.
•••> And if you find Chris and friends too dry, I’ve been following and enjoying Doelow da Pilotman on YouTube, who posts about once a day, is lit, and has a very cool method of doing tarot.
•••> Finally, here is something I wrote down from two newsletters ago that never managed to make it in: Listening to Dave Gahan's Hourglass album from 2013 that reminds me of all my most favorite scintillating mtv alt rock vampire music. Dave is the frontman of Depeche Mode.
Next time you hear from me, I’ll have a few book reviews to share, and an updated website hopefully.
1) VENUS SATURN SQUARE vol0 has been restocked. Smutty content.
[image description: me reading the zine. it’s cherry pink and it covers my face. im not wearing a shirt so many of my tattoos are visible. in the background is my room, full of big house plants and strewn with some shoes and my clothes]
2) DISCIPLINE WELCOMES BEAUTY has also been restocked. Magic content.
[image description: the zine is open on a table, surrounded by tarot cards. the zine is open to the last page and hold flat with smooth rocks. the last page says YOU HAVE TO MAKE A MESS BEFORE YOU CAN MAKE MEANING]
Annnnd the submission deadline for the next issue of VENUS SATURN SQUARE zine is coming up at the end of this month. Text for the flier can be found at the link below. Feel free to send any questions you may have, too. :)
While I’m wrapping up here, thanks to everyone who has purchased my short story collection, TRANSITIONAL TIMES TRANSITIONAL BODY. Here is my perpetual reminder that all stories are available for free on my website, cyborgmemoirs.com. And if you liked what you read and think I’m worth your time-energy, I’d appreciate any word of mouth boosting you feel up to. That’s telling your friends, lovers, enemies, shouting out @cyborgmemoirs on social with pics of the book and alllll that. I know it’s a lot to ask, but we have to try asking for what we want, you know?
PHEWWW well this has been lengthy, props to you for reading this far. What a mild and weird winter. I usually expect spring to arrive at the end of April but it really feels much closer than that. Let’s all take care of ourselves through these transitional times.
Till next time.