The cultural task I have in mind is meaning-making. I think this is the same task that babies undertake and early humans must have undertaken in clapping hands in imitation of one another, in pointing to something to direct attention to it, in intentionally clapping hands in synchrony with another person. These are the the radical cultural primitives, and language, drawing, writing, print, photography, and now computation are all ways of expanding our ability to clap, to point, to think together and synchronize our minds and our behaviors.
I propose that worldbuilding is the primary distinguishing characteristic of SF and fantasy (at least at a superficial level). Get the worldbuilding wrong, and your readers won’t be able to get a grip on the story line or the motivation of your characters. Or worse — they’ll get a grip, and realize that your story is, at best, a western or an age-of-sail yarn with the serial numbers filed off: that the trappings of the fantastic are only there to add a spurious sense of exoticism to an everyday tale.
Charlie Stross via World building 101 – Charlie’s Diary.
Basically, we discovered that in any interaction, the person with the higher status uses I-words less (yes, less) than people who are low in status. […] When undergraduates wrote me, their emails were littered with I, me, and my. My response, although quite friendly, was remarkably detached — hardly an I-word graced the page. And then I analyzed my emails to the dean of my college. My emails looked like an I-word salad; his emails back to me were practically I-word free.
Miéville brings these quotidian practices into stark perspective. He uses slips of perception and movement back and forth between cities to highlight the contingency of many of the social aspects of the real world. The City & the City draws no hard distinction between the world of fantasy and our own. Instead, Miéville seems to suggest, the real world is composed of consensual fantasies of varying degrees of power. The slippage isn’t between the real world and the fantastic, but between different, equally valid, versions of the real.
In a lot of cases, though, I am creating characters in order to see these places—these times, these settings. But, from the very beginning, I’ve known what kinds of stories I’ve wanted to do—so it’s also a question of finding the character who belongs to that world, as an excuse to draw that world.
The city as social realm strongly refers to communication via images. Comics help turning these images into cultural narratives and aesthetics and to create outstanding icons of modern identity, landmarks of our self-understanding that are, by definition, not bound to specific cities or nations.
What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order — not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries.
[…] Tolkien’s most important contribution by far […] was his construction of a systematic secondary world. There had been plenty of invented worlds in fantasy before, but they were vague and ad hoc, defined moment to moment by the needs of the story. Tolkien reversed that. He started with the world, plotted it obsessively, delineating its history, geography and mythology before writing the stories. He introduced an extraordinary element of rigour to the genre.
China Miéville – Tolkien – Middle Earth Meets Middle England
There is simply no way to express precise, detailed and well-articulated ideas or subjects through Powerpoint. The presentations then give the illusion of mastery, comprehension and control over a subject matter. Which means, again, that the most serious issues cannot be discussed through that medium. There is no room for complexity, complicated relations between economic, cultural and political elements. Powerpoint stifles discussion and reasoned argumentation through the bullet point format. It is surface over substance.
So, paradoxically, at the same time as workers are enjoined to use their creativity, it is forcibly channeled through the most impoverishing format where all that matters are strong points, key concepts, and action plans. All neatly lined up. Quite often, after the presentation itself, the presentation is the only document of reference that is preserved (”I missed the meeting, can you send me the Powerpoint?”).
[…] Metal: the focus on end times and Apocalyptic violence, the intense moral outrage, the polarized, almost Manichean world view, the sense of awe and respect for ritualized group behaviour, imagery of damnation, focus on the individual as a flawed moral actor, even the disregard for a material world seen as hopelessly corrupt.
Greg Downey – Death metal, religion and the socialization of emotion