the m john harrison blog

Category: uncategorizable

signal to noise 2

The ordinary grifter works with what the mark wants. The clever grifter works with what the mark needs. The really outstanding grifter works with the mark’s confusion between the two. The easy mark thinks he can hide what he wants; the difficult mark can often hide what he needs: the really elusive mark unwittingly deploys his own confusion between the two as a kind of emotional smoke screen. Is this in itself a kind of manipulation? In such engagements there must come a point when neither party knows who manipulated who.

signal to noise

People who think others are easily manipulated are rarely as good at it as they believe themselves to be, & often receive lots of help from the manipulee. That’s probably the basic weakness of the “emotional intelligence” concept. It’s less misplaced confidence, even, than a kind of premature triumphalism, to think that you can always manage others. The mistake is to imagine that you control the context of any given manipulation; the moment you actually understand the situation, contexts are seen to multiply & then recede terrace upon terrace. (Didn’t grifter movies exhaust all the possibilities of this years ago?) Interestingly, nobody seems to have done any work on the intuitive deployment of alexithymia as a sort of ECM of the emotions, at least in the sense of packing the arena with false signal. Are the emotionally unintelligent protected to a degree by their own deployed confusion as they struggle towards goals they don’t even know they have?

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quote of the week

“If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it’s uncanny how it will now get on your nerves.” –Sandra Newman.

recognition

S’s miniature dachsund chases a fox across the common. The fox, which has a dead rat in its mouth, increases its pace slightly above a walk and the dachsund on its two-inch legs immediately begins to fall behind, looking crestfallen. “This crestfallenness,” I suggest, “seems to indicate a more socially complicated transaction than first appears. It must always have been perfectly clear to the dachsund, for instance, that it wasn’t going to get any of the rat.” “The tragedy of miniature dachsunds,” S agrees, “is that they are only ever looking for one thing: recognition as dogs.”

a happy new year to all our customers

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photo: Cath Phillips

2012

Best nonfiction of the year: Robert Macfarlane, The Old Ways. Best novel of the year: Will Eaves, This Is Paradise. Best short fiction of the year: David Constantine, Tea at the Midland. Best fiction debut: Sam Thompson’s Communion Town. Best rediscovery: Narrative Discourse, Gerard Genette. Best film: Amour, Michael Haneke (best cinema, The Gate). Best social media of the year: Twitter. Best hot snacks of the year: Penn Ponds car park, Richmond Park. Best new place: the Long Mynd. Best return of the year: S, from Spain. Best news of the year: can’t tell you yet. Wish I’d done more: running.

oh fuck off

ely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? puerile waste really, personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, surely? personal taste, sur

LIGHT

The light roared in on him unconfined: he felt it on his skin, he heard it as a sound. It was light unburdened, light like a substance: real light.

He had no idea where he was. He felt the most extraordinary sense of surprise and wonder and delight. He laughed. “Where am I ?” he said. “Am I dead ?”

Light on audiobook, at Neil Gaiman Presents.

raspberry flavoured nondoms

All the imaginary reviews including the one(s) I forgot to add yesterday.

In other news, the UK fails its quality of life test. Who’s surprised. Brits live in hutches on a petrol station forecourt at the edge of a hypermarket car park or an airport. They seem to like it there. They eat a slurry of reclaimed meat. A few hundred yards away it’s possible to see, through the fog of diesel particulates, an eight lane road along which race the nondoms & celebrities in their SUVs, off to view their money in another country. That’s the entertainment. Behaviour is controlled by cctv & peer pressure, mediated by liars who regularly tap phones & supply the results to the police. The rules are simple. Actually, there’s only the one, & when it’s delivered, it’s delivered in a dead but somehow startled tone: if you want anything better you have to pay more. Quality of life–quality of anything–is a feature of the premium package, not the one you signed for. I don’t think you’ll find it says anywhere that you’ll actually get the thing the ad said we were selling.

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