Mark Damon Hughes Cyberpunk Media Rant [Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics] [about]

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Cyberpunk stuff I have, like, want, or recommend

  This is yet another in a long series of diversions in an attempt to avoid responsibility. I had too much time on my hands, had a couple lists of books and CDs I'd been meaning to pick up, and then decided to merge it with a short reading/viewing/listening list and my RPG systems rant, and then it just snowballed from there. The more I thought about the subject, the more ranting I had in me, so I added more to it. This'll be expanding more when I have more responsibility to avoid and more ranting to vent.

  If you have any comments or additions, or want me to add a comment of your own to something, let me know, and I'll consider it - I'm not just an automated adding form, and I won't add comments I think are bullshit, but I'm genuinely interested.

  Most of my comments below are going to be positive. That's not because I like everything - if anything, I'm inclined to be negative about everything - but because I've only listed the things I like and want and recommend. In a few cases, I'll warn you off from real crap, but I'm not going to spend a few gigs listing things that suck - Sturgeon's Law makes that a losing game. On the gripping hand, I can only list things I know about. If I've missed something good, let me know.

  In this I often combine cyberpunk, dystopianism, slipstream, transhumanism, anarchist and libertarian politics, and culture jamming as "cyberpunk" - they're all treating the same topics of humanity, government, technology, semiotics, and media (all of which are essentially the same thing to my mind) in the same way, so I don't really care about the differences. I should probably get a new term, but I like this one, so I'm keeping it.

  I'm a long-time cpunk fan, I've been reading the genre since Johnny Mnemonic came out in Omni back in '81. When I read that, my world changed. I didn't understand everything yet, but I knew I needed more, I wanted to be the most technical boy in town (not such a big ambition, with my home town), and I didn't want to be destroyed by the killing floor of culture shock.

  The technology that cyberpunk is about isn't cybernetics, it's *THIS* - computers and nets and the media and everything we've built up around ourselves. Dehumanizing computerized databases, bureaucracies and corporate agendas, us spending our lives talking to a monitor or watching whatever media, increasingly all-absorbing, is pushed at us, streets that aren't safe to go out on, so you DO end up spending your life inside, and artificial emotions stimulated from whatever chemical you're on this week.

  Characters in cyberpunk stories often feel confused and detached from "reality" because of the technologies they use, because they're metaphors for the invasive technologies that WE use, that make US feel detached and confused. They feel like they've lost control, becase WE have lost control of our technologies and culture. If you just take any cyberpunk literature as a literal view of the future, you've missed the whole point, and should go back and re-read it all with that in mind, preferably after studying semiotics a bit.

  And yet, despite the bleakness of all that, I still wouldn't go back. The old world was too corporeal, too much at the mercy of whoever had the guns and physical power. Whatever this is, I try to live the life and subvert the media a bit (through role-playing games, USENET, web, and radio - whatever bitstream will get me to your cortex). Other than culture jamming and civil disobedience, though, I don't particularly recommend becoming violent or breaking laws that only affect the corporeal world (not that I respect their laws, but that just encourages them to take you out, weakening the movement).

  Out here, we can all be heard, we are all just information that wants to be free. They can't get all of us before they're obsolete.

I'm arrogant, self-absorbed, and will stand up to defend my opinions (the signs of a healthy mind if you see these traits in yourself, and the signs of true villainy in everyone else) - I only form opinions if the evidence I've seen so far backs them up, so naturally they're unchangeable without additional evidence. If my attitude bothers you, or you don't agree, that's okay, and I respect your right to disagree, I *WANT* disagreement in this world, it'd be damned boring without it, but don't expect me to fall at your feet and say "why, you're RIGHT, I'll change my whole life to fit YOUR views!" T'ain't gonna happen, Bucky. Give me counter-evidence and I'll happily admit my thought crimes and go on. My point here is: this will probably infuriate you at some point, my opinions do that to everyone. Step back from the computer, take a deep breath, and remember that it's all just electrons (but hey, who/what isn't?).
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