Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #203 - Warren Ellis and Silence

Christmas - early 1980s?

NOTE: Our family did not produce that many "every day" photos, and most of what I have to share are holiday photos. But I like the vibe of this photo and it feels like a good fit with the content, which doesn't really have anything directly to do with Christmas.

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #203 - Warren Ellis and Silence

Hi Mom,

Time again for some reprints so I can deliver good content even though I am really busy with work and homework and many things, but I do not want this to sound like I do not think of you often, Mom, and by extension this blog, which is my daily chance to reflect and connect. In fact, a ghost of you, or supposedly of you, appeared in my dream last night.

Anyway, as you know, every Sunday, at least each Sunday in which he sends one, I read Warren Ellis' weekly newsletter entitled ORBITAL OPERATIONS in its current incarnation. Other readers not Mom, subscribe at that  link if you dare.

I was struck by something Warren quoted as he interviewed author and actor and general man about the Internet, Patton Oswalt. This idea connected with an idea about silence that Warren Ellis had written about silence and about work and life and things that I worked through my own filter, reprinting him and adding a lot of me here T-Shirt #299, the core of which I have reprinted below.

Here's the Oswalt quote:

That’s a hard truth to face about any life, but there are days we burn away. If we admit it, then the days when we are present and apply ourselves become more poignant and precious."- Patton Oswalt

So, it's Sunday night, and I am lying in bed reading the newsletter, and I get to this quote, and I get chills. THIS IS IT, EXACTLY IT! Carpe Diem is a crock. Can we seize the day every day, every moment? Hardly? The best we can hope for is a moment in a week, a few moments, a really spectacular day once a month. There is work and homework and dishes and gas to pump and chickens to feed and things people want that we do not have time to give them.

I have burned many days. I have some regrets about that waste.

But your meningitis and coma was a wake up call, Mom. When you were becoming your self again, you called the family meeting. You wanted to be present in as many days as you could be. I gave you so many days after that. I applied myself to time with you, and it was all precious and poignant.

As you started to slip away and were less present, we still applied ourselves to days together. I often wish I had found more time for those days in the last years, but I also am comforted that I did not really waste time, and I made you a priority for many years in the extra fifteen we were granted with you after the coma.

Those days are precious and poignant.

Because I like to deliver what I consider to be significant content here on the blog via HEY MOM, here's text from T-Shirt #299, another in a series of reprints from 365 T-shirts.


I have written about the author Warren Ellis enough times that he has his own category in my list.

For those who want their links here for easy clicking. T-shirt #22 featured his excellent Internet comic FreakAngels.  T-shirt #75 featured his ongoing "hobby" podcast called Spektrmodule. Ellis just posted his first Spektrmodule since August HERE. It's good, though one of the drone tracks is a bit difficult to abide, at least I found it so last night and had to shut it off. Usually the podcasts are golden. I updated T-shirt #75 just for you, dear reader. Check it out.

I shared Warren Ellis' Twitter "lecture" (rant? tirade?) about whisky and whiskey via (fittingly) a t-shirt about Cerebus the Dictator in T-shirt #82. I did not reprint the whisky lecture in my post for the DOCTOR WHISKY T-shirt #284, mainly because I like to try to increase readership of previous posts in my sneaky, link-referencing way, much like I am doing here.

Also, (and I just caught and corrected this oversight), I reviewed Ellis' novel Gun Machine in the post for T-shirt #138, which I have now added to the Ellis category.

Have I mentioned that Warren Ellis would be at my Dinner Party? See the Dinner Party category. One of these days I am going to have to make the guest list and keep it updated, but not today. Also, one of these days, I am going to have to reference Judy Chicago's Dinner Party, which surely influenced my writing about this fantasy Dinner Party populated by the people I would most like to talk with and would like to observe talking with each other. And so I just did reference Judy Chicago. Linked and referenced.

I am very grateful for Warren Ellis. Planetary is one of the best things I have ever read ever in comics in fiction in anything.

I shared Warren's photo (seen here) about coffee in T-shirt #286, which I have added to the Warren Ellis category, but I think the photo deserves another go here. I am nothing if not repetitious to make sure all that needs to be seen, gets seen. So, there you go (above and left).

Warren Ellis has started a newsletter. I am going to present nearly the ENTIRE contents of the most recent one on my blog today. I am hoping Warren will be okay with this if he happens to find out. I am giving him full credit for the following text, so I don't see pasting his newsletter to my blog as much different than sharing it on Facebook as a link. Warren maintained an email newsletter recently to promote his book Gun Machine, but it died when there was some dust up with the publisher. He had some other newsletters deeper in Net history and has actually published many of these ramblings as small books or spine bound "comic" books (text books by comic publishers in comic-sized formats). I like to keep up with what Warren is on about as it fuels my own imagination and my own quests to be going on and daydreaming about my own things.

Warren's most recent email missive struck me as a subject worth more exploration. I would say that when Warren is in full-band broadcast mode from his sea fort in England, he lives more in what he calls "the flow" than I do. I am often stepping back from the flow of media to get work done. In fact, as I type this, I am taking a one hour break from work to make some progress in the blog while also checking email and Facebook, and then I will shut back down to barrel through work.

I am not a natural multi-tasker. What Warren refers to as the silence is in disconnecting from the social media flow, the techno-flow, the churn of the machine. I find that I have been more adrift in the flow this year as I have devoted myself daily to blog content and to just enough social media attention to feel like a participant. But I find that I cannot easily split my attention forty ways. Often Twitter is too much. I control in a miserly way the number (a small number) of messages that I allow through to my phone. I have disabled the phone's squawk when a message comes over the prow. I often ignore Facebook, and I do not even delve daily into the vast wilderness that is the Twitter feed let alone Tumblr or Instagram as I would be lost. This blog alone is enough of a sink hole for my attention and effort.

And yet, when I mu blog year is over, I will cease daily operational capacity. What T-shirts remain will be parceled out at a slower pace or at least that is what I say to myself now. And though I cannot claim that I am showered with daily feedback from readers, I do receive enough feedback that stepping back from the transmission and reception cycle may prove as jarring as breaking one's phone and being unreachable by the portable device until a new one is procured. (Did you wonder how I was going to bring this back to the broken phone thing?) And I am not even as much of a phone junkie as others. I rely on it mostly for communication and as a way to pass time when I am not in my office. I especially like the ability to read and archive email while waiting in line for a prescription or at the grocery checkout.

I am hatching my plans for when I enter the silence and stop the daily broadcasts. I plan to transition to fiction work, which I plan to transmit, though not on a daily basis. However, the satisfaction of just a little attention from the blog cycle may compel me to try some kind of daily updating. As I wrote, I am hatching my plans. The plans are not fully hatched yet.

And yet, I envy the true "silence" that Warren writes about in stepping out of the world and into a cocoon as he has done and as Gaiman is reportedly doing in order to write. Ellis has THOUSANDS of readers. I was searching for the number as I could swear he reported it in an Orbital Operations, and I want to say it was 10,000, but I am not sure. With Twitter and other social media outlets, authors and various artists can broadcast daily and build a following in new and ever more powerful ways. To "go dark," as Warren calls it, must be difficult and require great self-control and yet it must be very necessary for creation and productivity, as he explains in the following.

I am still "unpacking" this idea (as Warren likes to say). After all, it was Eco (who Warren quotes) that said that all cultural phenomena can be studied as communication. And so I am contemplating my own upcoming silence and how it will serve as a transition for new broadcasts and new information.

I hope you enjoy reading Warren Ellis' writing that follows. It's all set apart in a white box, so it is all clearly marked as his. If you are inspired to subscribe to his newsletter, then please use the link that follows. If by some completely CRAZY coincidence and a rare treat YOU ARE WARREN ELLIS, I hope it's okay that I re-transmitted your transmission.



“I would say that one of the ethical problems we face today is how to return to silence. And one of the semiotic problems we might consider is the closer study of the function of silence in various aspects of communication, to examine a semiotics of silence: it may be a semiotics of reticence, a semiotics of silence in theater, a semiotics of silence in politics, a semiotics of silence in political debate—in other words, the long pause, silence as creation of suspense, silence as threat, silence as agreement, silence as denial, silence in music.”

This is from Umberto Eco’s INVENTING THE ENEMY, which I finally started reading on a plane a couple of months ago. The quote is found in a lecture he gave some years ago, but it seems to speak directly to some of the talk about internet and social media over the last year. And while some of that talk has been sourced in privilege and an intent (conscious or otherwise) to assert social-media silence as a new badge of exclusivity (remember the business cards that didn’t have phone numbers on them, because if you didn’t know how to contact the bearer of the card then you weren’t worth their time?)...

...well, I’ve gone internet-dark for extended periods over the last couple of years. Silence is restorative. Neil Gaiman’s off to write for six months, because his process requires quiet. Silence, frankly, has cultural utility. Remember how everyone thought David Bowie had gone away?

And silence on social media -- particularly performative social media --

I have just seen someone use the phrase "bad doge syntax" and I am therefore now on the side of the NSA and drone strikes

-- reserves keystrokes and “thoughts” for pursuits perhaps more productive.

(If you’re minded to, you can see the majority of social media use amongst the creative clade as performance, process/transparency, community-building and curation.)

I myself am looking forward to shutting down social media for four or five weeks after I get to LA. Not ORBITAL OPERATIONS, though. ORBITAL OPERATIONS continue regardless of location because I am orbiting you constantly like a satellite of love.

I still skim some things when I’m on silent running, because I have Twitter tuned as a news feed -- I personally still believe that the realtime news stream is what made Twitter great -- and because Instagram is pretty.

(My favourite thing is actually Instagram.)

I’m not good with the quiet. I need to feel the flow of the world. But I find that, to a large extent, going dark allows me to go back to books. I’ve gotten terrible at sustained reading, and it’s entirely possible that living with my head in the flow for a couple of decades has done something to (some aspect of) my attention span. I am not going to subject you to the unread-books list on my Kindle. Which I make worse for myself by using the Send To Kindle extension for Chrome, which turns Kindle into my Instapaper. I’ve got to tell you, Send To Kindle has buried itself in my workflow now. I mean, sure, death to the Stacks and all that, but that extension is genuinely bloody useful.

“The Stacks” is a Sterlingism. 

The Stacks are Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook. Or, it did in 2012. You can probably add Twitter to that, though I understand that to be arguable. And The Stacks are part of the reason that people are considering going dark. Things like Send To Kindle are becoming the exception. Interoperability is not what it used to be. Functionality is not what it used to be. People have been talking about IndieWeb again, pulling back to personal websites from company-owned streams, but some of those same companies own your web browser, and shit could get weird, and, yes, I’m completely aware that I’ve been talking just a paragraph ago about two of those Stacks collaborating to my benefit. WHICH IS HOW THEY GET YOU (PARANOID GLITTER IN EYES, TAKES OFF CLOTHES, PRODUCES KNIFE FROM BEARD)


Okay, back to me. Isn't it interesting how Ellis relates Eco's comments to his own work process and I did the same thing? Maybe not interesting. I read Warren's newsletter before writing my own comments. But whereas a writer can step back to get the silence she needs to produce work, Eco is also ruminating on the ethical dilemma of silence by political leaders in the 24-hour news cycle, which is quite a different animal.

When Warren Ellis is in full broadcast mode, he transmits multiple messages, and up to five hit his web page on average in a normal day when he's had enough coffee, whiskey, and bull semen. Others I follow, such as John Scalzi and Cory Doctorow manage at least one post a day in their own feed (Cory is more active on average than Scalzi but then Cory helps run Boing Boing!). They have audiences. People rely on them for a constant stream of entertainment. But writing books is a thing that for many of us (I must be in the same boat with Gaiman and Ellis) requires SILENCE. I am on Day 299 of my blog (tomorrow is the big 300), and I have mental time for my fiction but not much typing time. What I have learned is that I can find the time to produce LARGE VOLUMES of text for this blog, so, ipso facto, one would assume I could convert that time to fiction at the end of the blog year. Somehow I do not think it will be that easy, but I am keen to try.

On another note, I have no idea how Cory Doctorow does all that he does. I think he has Cory robots to help him.

SIDENOTE: I love that Google has started remembering my recent searches, so when I search again, I hit "Grendel Comic" first. Brilliant. Thanks again Google. It's a little creepy, but it's bloody useful (as Warren says).

SIDESIDENOTE: I am very afraid of the "send to Kindle" thing that Warren was on about. not sure I am ready to load that app in the browser. Damn. I am still transferring links via email and assembling them in text files that I will probably never look at again. Besides my Kindle is an early gen unit and not so handy with web stuff.

Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 205 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1601.26 - 10:10
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