Friday, August 24, 2012

Cyberpunks United!

I just got back from my Friday night outing to the movies and a delicious dinner in bustling, festive Sydney Chinatown, a milieu reminiscent of the movie sets in  the remake of "Total Recall" we'd just seen. As far as I'm concerned, the snooty critics got it wrong, always hankering after talking-heads high art, they either don't like the variations on sci-fi narrative, don't appreciate sci-fi art or do not understand science-fiction's take on pop-culture; I felt there was a buzz at the end in the theatre, the punters seemed to enjoy the ride so fuck the crits moaning about bad remakes. I got off on the movie, almost as much as the first, fuck Arnie, the Republican overseer! It's like papier-mache tits versus stainless-steel teeth! (On the re-release of the Director's Cut way back in 1999 me and the infamous Nicorette dropped acid and really spun out on the trip to Mars so I didn't need a repeat.)

Yeah, I know, we've heard the story before, but it was a good revision of Phillip K Dick's dystopian paranoia and questioning of a consumers' paradise, the "reality" pushed upon us, the enslaved masses. I can't get enough of his work so any attempt will do, I'm starved of imaginative speculation, almost feverishly hungry for anything sci-fi. It had great action, awesome cyber-techno  mis en scene, the British sci-fi artists having done a hot job, and I loved their joke on Australia as a slave colony down the end of the tube. The look of the movie is a pastiche of many classics, the flying car scenes from "Star Wars", "Minority Report" and "The Fifth Element"; the robots from "I Robot"; the water-logged Asian street-scapes from "Blade Runner", ( a re-imagined drowned Sydney, the Colony, circa 2099); even "Journey to the Centre of the Earth"/ "The Core" type machine-jaunts: it was a wild ride.

I know there are cyberpunk Headz out there somewhere who like this kind of shit, Sydney must have a gang of them, we inadvertently meet at Events Cinemas on George Street on opening weekends of horror, action and sci-fi movies and get our rocks off together on the futuristic visions and surreal mind-scapes. I cum in my pants over Phillip K. Dick and William Gibson stories, I'm always hanging for the next hard sci-fi movie release; "Prometheus" only half did it for me. I can't wait till they decide to turn William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Steve Baxter, Neal Stephenson, Iain M Banks and Ian Watson books into movies, plus all those hundreds of other great sci-fi stories out there of which I've read many, I'm a total fan. I'm reading space-opera right now, "Leviathan Wakes" by James  S. A. Corey and it's a lot of fun, cyberpunk/horror/noir, really taking me out of myself, into outer/inner space, and escaping this dehumanising world I'm trapped in, keeping my brain sharp decoding the signifiers.

I need the escapism, my art show's coming up in two weeks and I've got to dredge up the energy to handle it. It's a gig, better than a void, actually exciting, and there's lots of science-fiction in my material. I was encouraged to do a newspaper interview and I'm nervous about that, I think I spouted a lot of nonsense, Zippy the Pinhead always takes over. As I feel I'm making my last stand before I turn to dust I'm taking the chance to tell my story, for what it's worth, maybe to fuck with all the naysayers. I even wrote a letter to the curator of prints at the Australian National Gallery in Canberra, telling him how much dishonor he'd done me by excluding me from their book, "Australian Posters: the Walls Also Speak" after I'd put thousands up on the streets of Sydney. They have sixteen of my works but they took them offline due to "Copyright". Thus I haven't had access to my own art, which I'd made while desperately poor and hungry back in the late '70s and early '80s. And I never got paid the fifty bucks each for half the posters they've got in their collection: as a punk I'm easy to rip off, it's the rich kids from private schools who get the money.

I asked them to put back online those sixteen posters of mine as I have the copyright, not them, and I want the public to view my work, not remain forever buried in the file-room. I got a phone call today telling me they'll do it, and send me copies of the works for my own archive, which soon I'll post here. Thank nogod I got brave, after 21 years of stewing in my juices over it. You get nothing by being a wimp, cyberpunks always have a fight on their hands, to stay alive, and achieve their art, critiquing the powerful, talking about the future, dystopian or utopian, and always rebelling against tyranny.

(They sent my art to me in PDF file format so I can't reproduce them here, always some fucking obstacle. Even when Technology is  used against us, this Blog is an example of low-tech fighting back, swamped by the Internet giants though it is, it gives my cyberpunk heart a tiny spitting, cursing voice. )

P.S. An example of hot cyberpunk writing that's got my brain in a swooning delirium is Neal Asher. I'm plowing through his voluminous output, now onto "The Departure", the 22nd century where there's overpopulation of 18 billion, the world run by a Central Committee of a Nazi-like bureaucratic elite who enslave and compost or incinerate the disposable zero-asset millions, and one lone cyber-augmented super-intelligent rebel who sets out to destroy this inhuman world-order. Asher reminds me that there are wealthy elites, partnered with bureaucrats, who don't mind betraying and destroying most of us so that they and their families may survive and live in comfort, and they always use catch-phrases like "for the good of greater society" as the excuse for enslavement, incarceration and mass murder. Cyber-punk is always about rebels fighting back, with whatever means, like punks, daring to do it in the belly of the Beast.

If you enjoyed this story please go to the WEB address above and consider buying my book of tales about growing up anarcho-queer, rock and roll punter and mystic adventurer in Australia and India of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.