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Silence Exile and Crumpets
 
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Monday, April 21st, 2003

Time Event
11:57a
A whole garden pavement sticking itself up my nose
It was a perfect three-point landing - the points in question being my knees and my nose. I had a glass in my hand and when I sat up with my face streaming blood screaming that I had broken my glasses, everyone present thought that I had some kind of horror comic facial injury rather than just a very heavily bleeding nose - so panic ensued for a second or two, probably more among everyone else than in me. Because I had found my glasses and they were not broken and I was not four hundred pounds out of pocket, which is one of those things that can make falling flat on your face a result.

Luckily minitrog is a first-aider and benaresq is incredibly good at sitting holding one's hand and making soothing noises and connecting you with the earth in a way that sounds New Agey until you need it and it helps you. People were kind to me and this is always a good thing even if you would rather you had not been in the position of needing them to be.

All this happened at a barbecue minitrog was giving as a farewell to thete1 to which I had dashed after coming back from a day at Seacon up in Leicestershire. Seacon is the first British sf convention I have been to in a great many years and one of the interesting things about it was just how totally mainstream British sf fandom has been permeated by Buffiness in a way it never was by Trek and rather more than it was by X-files or B5. To an extent that those diehards of the sf establishment who have never got the Buffyverse or in some cases have resisted watching it feel defensive about the whole phenomenon. I gafiated some years ago and it is odd to go back - a home I left and will probably only ever go to on visits now...A lot of the same people and they are still amazingly nice, just a bit older.

I had planned to go up to interview Mary Gentle who was guest of honour, but a few days before the con she had to drop out because of pressure of work. Instead, I interviewed Justina Robson, who is incredibly smart and nice and whose new book 'Natural History' is a top tip - the book which takes the re-engineering of humans as spaceships and terra-forming gadgets and asteroid miners and puts some real politics into it. It is a tragedy in which a crucial fact is that if you hardwire false consciousness into someone, you must not be surprised when they come back at you with some dangerously stupid political ideas.

This seems to have been a weakend for the narrative self - much of the interview with Justina was about that and the current state of the consciousness debate and I found myself going over the same ground with benaresq last night. One of the reasons why I so regret losing the reading gig at the Softback Preview is that I will have to keep up more consciously with heavy intellectual matters like that instead of having it all turn up on my doorstep as work every week.

It is frightening how crucial a book 'Consciousness Explained' has turned out to be - I don't know anyone who is convinced by the specifics of Dennett's position and yet he has very largely dictated the terms and languages in which everyone has these conversations. The interesting thing is how his very reductive approach jels with various spiritual worldviews in spite of his entirely dogmatic atheism and rejection of it jels with various sorts of humanism including my own strange brand of Nietzchean liberalism - you have to try and become the entirely mindful uber- person with absolute scorn for success or the opinion of others because in this world it is the only way to summon the energy to work for compassion.

Some of my old friends in the sf community are a bit baffled about my hanging out all the time with slashkids, but I cannot think when I last had a conversation with my own age group in that fandom as passionate and vibrant as the one I had with minitrog, te and benaresq last night. Except, oddly, for the one I had with Justina that I called an interview. Conversations are perhaps the best thing about being human, I think sometimes - and most of what is best about writing and thinking and listening to music has to do with making the best of ourselves.

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