Like a lot of us, I’ve been in shock since the election. Feeling drifty and at loose ends. Waiting for the hammer to drop. In a cell on death row. How to deal?
“I Like Purple” acrylic on canvas September, 2016, 40” x 30”. I made this painting on comission for our friends Susie & Lee Poague. Susie’s only instructions were, “I like purple.” Looks kind of theatrical. I went to the art store to buy three extra tubes of random purple shades. Click for a larger version of the painting.
Sylvia and I were at the opera in San Francisco on election night, seeing Aida. At intermission I went to the NY Times app on my phone to see how things were going. All week, Hillary’s chances of winning had been around 90%. Now suddenly Trump’s chances of winning were 98% WTF?
I literally couldn’t believe it. I left the web site, looked at some others, same news. I had this horrible wrenching feeling—as if I, and all my friends and loved ones, and everyone else as well—as if all of us were on a nasty low-probability time-branch that had stemmed off from the main line. And there’s no going back.
Like we’ve suffered the hideous attack of the flying saucers. Only—saucers are kind of interesting. Not banal.
Every morning I wake up, feeling reasonably happy—and then it hits me again. I’m trying to dial down on my newspaper and TV and news apps, a media diet, but it’s hard not to creep back for another dose of adrenaline and nausea. It helps if I get deeply into a creative project—like a painting or a story. Or, failing that, into some intricate web-site/self-publishing hacking.
“Californians Request Secession” acrylic on photo on particle board, November, 2016, 30” x 20”. Click for a larger version of the painting.
Here’s a painting I did the day after the election. It’s short title is “Californians Request Secession,” and its long title is “November 9, 2016: Californians Request Secession from the Trumpic States of America.” The little saucer guys with cubical heads are Californians, you understand. I made their heads be cubes because (a) cubes are easy to paint, and (b) I feel like I’ve got my head inside a media box these days.
To make the painting, I used a big piece of masonite from a local history museum. They had a historic photo laminated onto the masonite, a scene of a work crew building a road up Mount Hamilton near San Jose, CA. So I thinned down my acrylic paints with medium and with water, and painted right over the photo. And then I did two more layers, making the important parts pop out. By the way, you can always get more info about my paintings at www.rudyrucker.com/paintings.
We had dinner with three younger Silicon Valley couples, all of them engineers, working for Apple and Cisco. And they were all starting to joke about Trump. It felt good to joke. Like the way I used to hear Sylvia’s Hungarian relatives talk about the Russian occupation back in the 70s.
“Saucer Attack” acrylic on canvas August, 2016, 40” x 30”. This is a scene I’ve always wanted to paint. I’ve seen it in Zap comix, and on the cover of a Firesign Theater album. In the Zap version, one of the people is thinking, “I always hoped I wouldn’t be here for this.” Click for a larger version of the painting.
Galileo, in a letter to fellow astronomer Kepler, on the subject of advocating the heliocentric theory to the powers that be. “My dear Kepler, what would you say of the learned here, who, replete with the pertinacity of the ass, have steadfastly refused to cast a glance through the telescope? What shall we make of this? Shall we laugh, or shall we cry?”
I came across an incredible five minute movie, by a Uruguayan director, produced in Mexico, about Trump and El Muro…funny, desperate, human, and a bit SF like. Best thing I’ve seen since the election. Bears watching twice. “M.A.M.O.N.” by Ale Damiani. https://vimeo.com/190738676
On Supermoon Monday, Sylvia and I went to look at the 4:10pm ultra-low tide at Four Mile Beach north of Santa Cruz on Rt. 1, and walked way out in the late afternoon. So fabulous. An uncovered world, a new kingdom. I made it out to a rocky point that’s usually hard to get to with all the water, and stood up there, in the air so fresh, with about twenty Santa Cruz sea-dog surfers down there doing their thing.
So many good photos to spot. My camera is always good company. Recently, at Eddie Marritz’s urging, I set my trusty Fujifilm X100T to “silent mode,” do it doesn’t click when I press the button. “What will that do for me?” I asked Eddie. Eddie just smiled in his space-ranger way and gently said, “Try it. See what happens.” And I do like it without the click. The click was…breaking my merged-in contact with the one true reality.
Dig how that rock looks like a piece of cheese.
Another change in my shooting is that I that I’ve started using manual focus. For one thing it speeds up the shot—I don’t have to wait for the autofocus to figure things out. Also I get to pick what exact part of the scene I want to focus on. Yet another change I that I now allow the auto ISO setting to run all the way up to 32000, insanely high, but that means I’m not going to be getting motion blur as often.
This shot is up on a rocky point at the right end of Four Mile Beach, it’s a little hard to climb up there and, potentially, a wave could sweep over the point. So wild and isolated, I love it. That outcrop on the right looks kind of like a tiki god, doesn’t it? With the two boulder eyes. Great reflection of the sky on that puddle. A launchpad feeling on that point, with the insane untamed energy of the waves right there. Surfers often jump in from here.
We stayed till it was getting dark, around 5, and went another five miles north to the Davenport Bakery, a roadhouse in bucolic hippie tiny town on a monstrously high sea-side bluff cliff. The place is a bar with a about eight tables, plus a baked goods counter. Locals, just folks. They had a country hippie bluegrass band—a pickup group of old hippies—they played “Willin'” by Little Feat, and we in the audience were singing along the choruses. “Give me weed, whites, and wine / and I’ll be willin / to be movin.” And the itinerary: “From Tucson to Tucumcari, from Tehachapi to Tonopah.”
I said to Sylvia, “No matter what Trump does, this is still going to be here. California is safe. We’re not going to change.”
Meanwhile I’ve republished my classic nonfiction tome The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul. You can but it off the book’s home page in paperback or ebook. Or you can read the whole damn thing as a free webpage, very attractively formatted, complete with about 150 illos (mostly drawn by daughter Isabel), about twenty tables, and some 150 footnotes…it’s one big long page, you scroll down through it, or jump via the Table of Contents links.
The book has a long subtitle that summarizes what’s in it. What Gnarly Computation Taught Me About
Ultimate Reality, The Meaning of Life, And How to Be Happy. It’s organized into six chapters, a “stairway to heaven” like Isabel drew.
It’s fun inside the LIFEBOX maze of thought. The logic is correct, and the conclusions are startling. The thing is, thinking very precisely about the nature of computation leads to a cornucopia of philosophical insights.
Simple rules can generate gnarly patterns. Physics obeys laws, but the outcomes aren’t predictable. Free will works because you can’t think fast enough to know what you’ll do. Your jumps of consciousness are like the measurements in quantum mechanics. My books earn so much less than Stephen King’s because of universal scaling laws. It may well be that we live in one of the best realities that can actually exist. It’s all there! Seriously.
My tome culminates with a proof of the Principle of Natural Undecidability which, come to think of it, I posted about in this blog before, back in 2012. The Principle says there can never be a simple trick for answering all possible questions about our world’s natural processes. No magic spell. No final formula. We live, in other words, amid splendor beyond our control. Who would will it otherwise?
So where does all this leave me? An internal exile. An expatriate, yet still inside the physical USA. A “traitor.” No worse than the ‘Nam war years, really. In a backhand kind of way, the coming waves of repression may even help the counterculture. And the White Light will always be there for us.
No matter what we look like.