The recombinant city

Written by George on 2016-04-03 Categories: Posts


All starts are false, just as all identities are mistaken. Writing this post means re-writing the “Hello world!” default post in a fresh WordPress one-click install on my host (still Dreamhost after all these years). Choosing to write it at all, in the spring of 2016, is silly. Just the same, here I am.

I thought, sitting in the living room and finishing the evening’s second can of beer, that If get up and look for my paperback copy of Brian Eno’s “A Year With Swollen Appendices” for some hint or suggestion about how best to spell out the basics: most online bios still have me calling myself, among a few other roles, a blogger; most of the people I used to read who called themselves that have moved on to other titles or responsibilities or platforms; most of what might matter to me is less wieldy and share-friendly than it used to be. Things done changed, yo.

Instead of Eno, Samuel Delany’s “Dhalgren” caught my eye and, remembering William Gibson’s 1993 foreword “The Recombinant City,” I picked it up off the nearest of our groaning bookshelves and ran my eyes over it. I’ve never finished it and I have a few things to finish reading this month already (including Cixin Liu’s latest couple of books, so I can talk about them with A. at least), but I might have new motives, what with the ongoing/upcoming/oncoming Bellona Times-ization of the local masthead, and the company that distributes it.

Oakland is not an autumnal city (not even in April), but it is wounded. No amount of happy talk from elected figures or corporate communiqués can conceal it. Band-Aids don’t fix bullet holes, T.S. elegantly said, and she’s still right. Living here, then, means figuring out what works: keeping up with flows of information and filtering for utility, amusement, and for others’ benefit, not just one’s own. It means experimenting. I should try that here as well, whether or not I decide to import all the posts I wrote and the un(der)written drafts, or decide to rely on my just-renewed Flickr Pro membership when its parent company may sell it down the river before midyear, or decide to upgrade my still functional phone for something slightly faster and perhaps more easily secured (or compromised).

The other thing the foreword reminded me of, of course, was the difference between Gibson’s descriptions of the city and America, and how the city he knew, just as the one I used to blog in and about not longer exists, but instead blended together in some eerie and uncanny biological process. Well, it me. So let’s see.

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