Rudy’s Blog

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Video Page for “Transreal Trilogy + All the Visions”

May 26th, 2014

Hard at work on some mad-scientist-type project in the 1994 AMD chip-fab clean room…

We’re closing in on the conclusion of my Kickstarter project, Transreal Trilogy + All the Visions! Campaign ends on Friday.

Please think about helping me do this thing! It’s not much different from ordering an ebook or a paperback in advance.

As an added-on stretch goal, I’m going digitize some of the old videos from my basement cupboard archives, many of these coming from the time periods when I was writing my transreal SF novels The Secret of Life, White Light, Saucer Wisdom, and when I was writing my beat scroll memoir All the Visions. The idea is to make a nice rich media page to accompany the launch of the Transreal Trilogy + All the Visions project.

One old video I’m particularly eager to revive shows me at an international high-academic psychiatric convention, reading the All the Visions account of a hedonistic 1979 Manhattan day when the famous cinematographer Eddie Marritz and I wandered high in the city, the reading including honks from a squeeze-bulb bicycle horn I brought along. The reading filmed by one and the same E. Marritz using state of the art equipment, a SONY helical scan jobbie.

Another tape I want to get out there shows a series of public access TV shows I made in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1985. One time our dog Arf came on camera with me. The series was called Brain Food, and featured my diffuse reviews of books, authors and artists I happened to be thinking about—including Anselm Hollo, William Burroughs, Charles Bukowski, Ansel Adams, Andy Warhol, Edgar Allen Poe, Steven Levy’s Hackers and Thomas Bass’s The Eudaemonic Pie, Margaret Atwood, and J. G. Ballard. “That was damn good,” one local guy told me in the weeks to come. “Made me laugh. Not like the regular stuff on TV.”

And I’d like to post my educational live-computer-demo videos on Chaos and on Cellular Automata. And the evening when Rudy Jr. and I performed our collaborative story, “Jenna and Me” in San Francisco. And the stage performance of my 3D-Mandelbrot-set play, As Above So Below, in Fort Worth, Texas. And a 1983 video of me reading from Master of Space and Time in Sweetbriar College, near our home in Lynchburg, Virginia. All kinds of footage in the archive, and with a few extra bucks from the Kickstarter, I’ll finally get some of this stuff digitized and online for the historic record.

So kick in something for the final stretch of the Transreal Trilogy + All the Visions campaign and help me make it happen.

If not for me, then for the keen and alert members of the next generation!


Paintings For Four Novels

May 15th, 2014

Yeah, baby. In July I’ll be reprinting three of my SF novels (together in one volume) plus a scrolly Kerouac-like novel All the Visions. Here’s four of my paintings that approximately depic the four novels I’m talking about.

And, as of today, I have enough backers to fund my Kickstarter project, Transreal Trilogy + All the Visions for this! You can essentially pre-order these books now—as rewards via the Kickstarter page.

The Secret of Life

The young hero comes to realize he’s a saucer alien with startling superpowers. And yet he finds love.

White Light

A rogue math professor makes his way to the cosmic, absolute, white light that lies atop a transfinite ladder of cliffs and across a beyond-endless plain. The ultimate road trip.

Saucer Wisdom

Quirky underground author “Rudy Rucker” encounters a saucer abductee who’s seen the future.

All the Visions

A thirtyish 1980s hipster types his memories onto an 85-foot-long scroll.

The New Volumes!

Coming in July.


“Rucker Songs” by Roy Whelden & Karen Clark. “All the Visions” Rant.

May 13th, 2014

In 1994, the composer and musician Roy Whelden made a beautiful album called Like a Passing River. The tracks includes several sections of me reading from All the Visions. Roy mixed my voice with performances by the American Baroque ensemble, and with the singing of soprano Karen Clark. The result is wonderful; it is kind of a transcendentalized operatic version of All the Visions. You can buy the Like a Passing River album, or individual tracks from it, via iTunes, via Amazon, and in other places. Meanwhile, Roy and his music publisher, New Albion Records, have agreed that I can post a few of the tracks from the album as podcasts. You can play the songs without leaving this page, just by clicking on the play bars where they appear in the post below.

Rucker Songs

“Rucker Songs” is the most amazing cut on the album. It’s about my notion of God as a white light, and includes a line I really like, which Karen begins with.

“Oh man we are in heaven, for sure for sure.”

In composing “Rucker Songs,” Roy built a hauntingly lovely operatic oratorio onto on that, followed by a bridge of wondrous sine-wave-humming, leading to a sprachgesang or spoken-song passage including my line, “What’s the point, can’t somebody tell me,” and then goes into my vision of flying “into the light” and reaching a zone with “no space, no time.”

“Give us this day our daily rush, on the nod as thou art in heaven.”

I actually wrote that line. Words to live by. And we get to hear Karen Clark’s great lush opera voice singing it. I’ve always kind of wanted to hear lines like these when I listen to religious songs. Karen caresses and burnishes the words.

I Was At the New Year’s Eve Dance, or, I’m Going To Die

“I Was At the New Year’s Eve Dance,” which might also be called “I’m Going To Die,” is a recording of me reading a passage describing my my teenage realization of the inevitability of death—which took place at a party at the Riverview Valley Country Club in Louisville, Kentucky, 1962.

“It first hit me when I was sixteen: you’re going to die.”

In setting up this song, Roy uses a few bars of “Teenager in Love” by Dion and the Belmonts, which fits, as I myself sampled this song in my line: “I know the answer: sometimes I’m happy sometimes I’m blue.”

Surf it, bro.

What’s the Point?

“What’s the Point?” isn’t really a song, it’s more just a recording of my voice, wondering what’s the point of existence—this is near the end of the novel, it comes from the long passage that I’m reprinting below, yes, I’m running the final long passage of All the Visions here. You might want to listen to “Rucker Songs” again after you read it.

By the way, you can also access these three podcast songs via my Feedburner podcast station by clicking the icon below.

As most of you probably know, I’m running a Kickstarter project, Transreal Trilogy + All the Visions. I want to reprint three of my SF novels plus a scrolly Kerouac-like novel All the Visions. You might think of today’s post as providing you with a musical and spoken word material relating to All the Visions, as well as this mammoth reprint of the book’s closing rant:

Final Section of All The Visions

So what’s the point? I mean, it ought to add up to something, shouldn’t it? A guy telling his life story, at length, but it doesn’t really come to anything. Well…I guess I would have been glad to read it, glad to see the footprints in the sands of time, yes, glad to know there was once someone vaguely like me, and will be again, no doubt, we are a hive, us humans, no individual death really matters, like when we were at the beach last year and Conrad Jr. caught a lot of crabs—crabs are so stupid that all you do is lower a fish-head or chicken-neck down in the water and the crab grabs it and won’t let go and you pull up the string and net him and put him in a bucket with the other crabs you caught, unless you haven’t caught any crabs yet, in which case the bucket is empty—and we cooked them for supper, they screamed when I threw them into the boiling water, but screamed so high that it was hard to hear, but not quite so high a scream as lobsters do, we cooked the crabs for supper and poor Conrad started crying, because, you understand, these crabs and him had been out on the dock for several hours, doing a number together, biped catching crustacean, and now the poor crabs were dead, but the consoling factor was that, after all, there are still a whole lot more crabs in the ocean, the race of crab not one whit diminished by these individual deaths,

no man is an island, if you think of it the right way, “no man is an island,” means that in fact an individual death doesn’t matter, it’s the whole thing, the gestalt that matters, so that, as old Bill suggests, our best way for space colonization would be to send out probes full of bacteria or viruses, just so they have that buddy-buddy double-strand of DNA, ribonucleic acid, the genes, if you think about it, the genes are sitting down deep in us—we are in fact big space probes for the genes, we are meat robots that the genes build in order to reproduce themselves, the other form of immortality being, yeah, software backups, but the final is the realization that even these stabs at immortality are relative, try like 10-to-the-30th years from now, man, when most of the protons have broke down, or 10-to-the-100th years away, and, really if you think about it, what difference would it make if the world lasted forever, and would it even matter if you yourself didn’t have to die, oh, it would get too old, but still, something in one’s soul does kind of leap up at the thought of immortality, but it’s a con, we have to learn not to fall for it, not get sucked in, because mortality is an essential part of the human condition,

like in Gravity’s Rainbow, Pynchon writes about the angels looking down, “all unaware of the dark beauty of the death-sentence we labor under,” the dark beauty, take me now Jesus, well, give me 35 more years, I wanna be 72 when I croak, and I’m past the midpoint, up here in real time real time real time, auughh, it’s not real for you anymore, my time, or for me, it’s ripped back from me by the current, the flow, I’m going to die, oh so what, who cares, it’ll be a relief for sure for sure, though there’s no rush is there , but still…as I thought once, “Death is the only thing that makes life bearable,” I mean how awful it would be to stand forever on a cloud, all stiff, strumming it, listening to hymns, nasty God walking past to pee on the floor, a chance of a peek up the bluesky folds of Mary’s skirt to her skin more whiter than a harp of gold, strum it, baby, there must be some way out of here,

I’m a desperate man, but why bother to be desperate, why do anything when you can groove, though grooving gets so boring, well, not boring, really, it’s the hangovers and the stoneover dissociation that’s hard to take, year after year, “And do your folks say you are a stranger / do your friends think you be too weird / it’s hard to learn to live with so much danger, bay-bih / year after year after year after year,” psycho rant stifflegged dead pig axe cross the stage, making everyone feel better they aren’t up there, scraping it right down to the rind, what’s the point, what’s the fucking point, man, why are you alive, why is there something instead of nothing, what’s the answer, “The answer,” sez Wittgenstein, “is experienced as the vanishing of the questions,” right, I kin dig it, but hey, the questions come back don’t they, you have to come down and make some money, baby, the questions come back later, you get the answer fine,

you fall asleep, you lose it, lose it totally, gag me with a chain-saw, baby, lose it totally and then start scratching your head, showering lice-eggs across the schizo-scenario and wondering why be working so hard just to get a stiff dick soft, get a stomach full, horrible animal functions, the way that if you really really have to take a shit you can’t think of anything else, just kind of crab-scuttle around, do the limbo under the pay-toilet door, find a guy already in there, flub-gubba-geep, go on outside and “lay your load upon the road / when toilets weren’t invented,” all this hassle to keep the system at maintenance level, putting bug spray on yourself, all the work to keep your hair oiled and your butt clean and your fillings in, your socks up, your wounds disinfected and bandaged, your eyesight corrected, your hearing amplified, your behavior modified, reformed-alcoholic radio-evangelist republican-congressman, yes!—your fungus damped, your itch scratched, and the piece of food picked out between those two dancey molars, the brain amused with TV paper book magazine drug cigarette booze coffee frisco-speedball organ-music-piped-in-from-the-catacombs-of-Thoth, the frisson, my dear,

“Give us this day our daily rush, on the nod as thou art in Heaven,” in heaven, oh man we are in heaven for sure for sure…or maybe it’d be better to be in Hell and limp, instead of forever in Heaven with your tremendous aching stiff salute, with God’s horrible bunion feet the size of mountains and you’re in fact standing on them though you don’t realize it, just singing, and feeling the better for it, soothing the itch the flaw the egg the lurking scream the origin of the species, the way Brits are supposed to always say “D” instead of “R,” The Gdeat Pydamids, those guys thought they had something going, one would imagine, those Egyptians mounding up those rocks and sand, Chariots of the Gods????????? naw, the power of the weak, what man can do, Izzy Tuskman used to yell at me, “What man can do,” is, uh, turn other men on, like, “Take this my body which is given for you,” do you think I’ll go to hell for writing that? Oh what’s the point, can’t somebody tell me please, not that I’d listen, I’ve got it all figured out, I tell you, I know the answer and it’s “Sometimes I feel so happy / sometimes I feel so blue,” I mean surf it, bro, hang ten, ho-dad, slide in and out of the reckless wash of snit-snit bubbles, each a galaxy in itself, and what can we ever know of the fish who swim below, just be there, why why, just do this, do that,

as a good “bad-attitude” attitude keep in mind that if enough people believe anything it’s probably wrong, eternally subject to revision, the idea in history, though each time you figure it out you still have to go to sleep and again wake up and again start over—a day is such a very long time, why would anyone want to live forever, throb, the Muse getting in bed with him…throb, he’s up again, out of bed, around the bend agin, over and over, until, if you’re lucky as John Lennon, some mushroom from West Yakshit blows you away, or if you’re lucky as Aldous Huxley, your wife shoots you up with acid, meanwhile JFK croaking on TV in the nurses’ room, and your old lady’s like shooting you up every time your stroke-twitched big wise forever-talking mouth tries to move, uh uh uh, “yes dear, take another hit of chemicals…and fucking die, man, and shut up,” into the light now darling, into the light, go now, go peacefully into the light.

Yeah, baby. Back me if you can. Transreal Trilogy + All the Visions.


“Hungry Bird.” Why Write a Journal or a Blog?

May 9th, 2014

I finished a new painting yesterday, “Hungry Bird.”

“Hungry Bird” oil on canvas, May, 2014, 18” x 24”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

I like how he’s about to eat a yellow square from the underlying pattern of squares and rectangles. Maybe he’s come into this abstract world from the funky analog world and he’s eating it. I did that background pattern a couple of weeks earlier, and then one morning I saw an article in the paper, with a photo of a hungry baby black-crested night heron. Some bird had been evicted from their nests near Merrit Lake in Oakland.

I saw this nestling on the local TV news last night, doing well, saw him gulp down a whole big fish in one bite. Followed by a yellow square…

[Photo by Paul Chinn, SF Chronicle.]

This week, among other activities, I’ve been looking through my 25-years-long collection, Journals 1990-2014, which I might try publishing next year, like in 2015. I’m in my fourth full revision of the thing, wrestling it down to a more reasonable size, and revising it for better flow. I came across a bloggable entry on the topic of why I would enjoy writing a journal at all. And these reasons could just as well apply to why I blog. I came up with seven reasons.

Identity. After my roles of husband and father, the most essential thing about me is that I am a writer. For me to write is to be myself. When I’m writing, I feel I have a reason to exist.

Companionship. I don’t speak as clearly as I write. And it’s rare that anyone wants to listen to me talk at any great length about my arcane interests. A writing page is a patient conversational partner.

Self-discovery. In writing, I unearth thoughts I didn’t know I had. And then I rewrite, organizing the thoughts into clear patterns.

Social utility. The journal or blog writings can seed commercial works. If people enjoy reading what I write, I’m performing a social good. And I can get money and recognition for this.

Transcendence. I become an observer rather than just a participant. I get out of myself. I see things from a broader perspective. I forget my quotidien worries.

Craftsmanship. I enjoy honing and exercising my craft. Writing a journal or a blog works at multiple levels: choosing the mot juste, building balanced sentences, forming paragraphs that express well-formed thoughts, writing posts or journal entries that have an essay-like cohesion or perhaps a narrative zap, orchestrating the flow of posts or entries into a developmental arc.

Immortality. When I record what I’m thinking and doing, I’m making a temporary barrier against my eventual obliteration by time’s flow. On a more practical level—I tend to forget things, and looking back on my journals or my blog brings back the past.

I’m having some success with my current Kickstarter project: Transreal Trilogy + All the Visions. Many thanks to those of you out there who are backing it.


Kickstarter for TRANSREAL TRILOGY + ALL THE VISIONS. “Two Ducks.”

May 1st, 2014

I’m running a new Kickstarter project: Transreal Trilogy + All the Visions.

What’s the new project? Four novels bound as two books.
And what is “transrealism”? Your usual life, only it’s an SF novel!

Transreal Trilogy contains:
The Secret of Life: A 60s college student learns he’s a saucer alien.
White Light: A hipster math professor travels to the afterworld.
Saucer Wisdom: A cult author tries to write about alien abductions.

All the Visions is a short, autobiographical, non-SF that novel I composed on the typewriter with an 80-foot scroll of paper in 1983. Inspiration? Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. The underground classic returns in a new edition, smooth and strange.

On another subject, I just finished a new painting, “Two Ducks.”

“Two Ducks” oil on canvas, April, 2014, 20” 16”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

The two ducks might be two people you know, or the warring dyad within yourself, or the cosmic yin/yang. Or all of the above. Which are YOU today…the calm duck or the angry duck?

Either way, dear duckie, I’d be grateful if you can help with the Transreal Trilogy + All the Visions project.

One way of looking at it is that you’d just be putting in advance orders for the books. The paperback, hardback, and ebook editions will be out this summer, in July, 2014.


Free Books, Inverse Power Laws, New Paradigm

April 22nd, 2014

I made a new “Free Books” page with links to five of my books that are in free Creative Commons licensed ebook editions, plus five more books that can be read for free online, either as webpages or as PDF files. Ten free books! Go get ‘em.

As I say on that page, I release free editions of my books for several reasons. One is to keep the books alive and in circulation far into the future. A second reason is to allow those unfamiliar with my work to sample it for free. A third reason is to allow open access to my books for research and teaching. A fourth reason is that giving away books builds an author’s “name brand” and may ultimately bring in book sales, speaking engagements, and commissioned story gigs.

We’re seeing a new paradigm for how creative artists support themselves. I’m thinking about writers in particular, but some of this applies to musicians, painters, photographers, film-makers and other kinds of artists as well. I’m thinking in particular of the writers and so on who aren’t in the tiny top one-percent of their field. There will always be money at the top—but surprisingly little on the bottom. The “long tail” doesn’t do artists much good once the tail is only a hairs-breadth above the zero axis.

This phenomenon has to do with the pestiferous inverse-power-law curve, also known as the scaling law. if you’re the hundredth-most popular writer, you earn a hundredth as much as the most popular one. Instead of a million dollars, you get ten thousand bucks. Or maybe just a thousand (the law may have a scaling exponent). That’s how nature is. It’s not anyone’s fault.

The scaling law applies across the board—to the populations of cities, the number of hits on websites, the heights of mountains, the number of friends that people have, the areas of lakes, and the sales of books. The Nth biggest one racks up something like 1 over N as much as the number-one biggest dpes. Or there can be a scaling exponent, and maybe the Nth-ranking person only gets 1 / (N-squared) as much. It’s a natural phenomenon, and you can’t exactly be mad about it. Instead you have to deal with it.

I go into this in some detail is section “5.3 Commercial and Gnarly Aesthetics” of my nonfiction tome, The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul—here’s a link to that section of the book, which is currently living online as a huge PDF file. And shown below is a graph, with explanation, having to do with various ways in which author advances might be skewed.

[Drawing by Isabel Rucker for The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul. Caption for this figure is copied below.]

The curve shows the inverse power law Advance = $1,000,000/ Rank. The double lightning bolt indicates where I had to leave out six or seven miles of space so as to fit in the point marking where the most popular writer gets a million bucks. Despite this big spike, the total area under the curve between one and one thousand is only about six million, which represents the total in book advances that society hands out to the top thousand writers. The two straight lines show a couple of options for how a central committee might allocate six million dollars to a thousand writers in a “more equitable” fashion. The horizontal line depicts the possibility of giving each writer a flat six thousand dollars, irregardless of popularity. And the sloping line shows the option where the most popular writer gets $l0,000 and the thousandth most popular writer gets $2,000.

Why is nature filled with inverse power laws, also called scaling laws? Oddly enough there doesn’t seem to be any really clear explanation—I’ve seen attempts, but none of them quite add up. My personal opinion is that the explanation has something to do with the fact that natural processes are, as Wolfram has it, universal computations…you can see my conjecture to this effect buried in the text of my Lifebox tome here.

So what-frikkin-ever, that’s the computation-theoretic underpinnings of why artists have it hard. The practice is that, in order to make it, it helps to have patrons, whales, special gigs. Kickstarter is part of the answer here—asking your fanbase to directly support you and, yes, fishing for a few deep-pocketed whales in the fanbase.

And having the name recognition can impel people to ask you to give talks, or do some kind of consultation. Early on I might have been so flattered that I didn’t ask for money when some business was asking me to give a talk or a reading to their employees. “You’ll make it up in increased books sales,” was the belief. But now it’s backwards. Your income from book sales is in the toilet, and it’s gonna be staying there for the foreseeable future. So you ask the businesses to pay you to speak.

But what if the people inviting you say, “Oh, we don’t do that.” That can be tough. If it’s something like a small SF gathering, and they clearly don’t have money, then there’s no use pushing. But schools will pay, and businesses can pay. Always ask. If people with serious money want to stonewall me, there’s the building-the-brand and egoboo temptation to knuckle under and speak anyway. But I’m doing that less than I used to. I get a bad feeling when I knuckle under to a fat cat. They gotta give me something, even if they want to call it “travel expenses” instead of “honorarium.”

The street performers in Manhattan pass the hat, of course, and to make sure you don’t melt away, they pass the hat just before their best and final trick. I’ve never actually been in a position of literally passing a hat after a talk. Sometimes you do it indirectly, like in a book store where people are supposed to buy your book, or at a more informal gathering where you try and sell some of your books directly from the podium, books that you brought in the trunk of your beat-up traveling-snake-oil-salesperson or country-musician-type car.

But on my new “Free Books” page I am, for about the first time, electronically passing the hat, that is, I put a “Make a Donation” button the page.

In the same vein, I’ll be launching a Kickstarter for my next project on May 1. It’ll be called “Transreal Trilogy + All the Visions.” But that’s another story. Stay tuned!

Rucktronics, Inc., marches into the future!


NYC Photos, April, 2014. Post #2. Plus Brainwash Reading

April 16th, 2014

Last week I did a reading at this cool café / laundromat near 7th and Folsom St. in San Francisco. The Brainwash. And here’s a podcast of my reading, which was about twenty minutes long, including some brief Q&A.

(Note that Feedburner only shows my most recent podcasts. For older audio files, see my archive on Gigadial, which runs back to 2005.)

I read the ending of the new edition of my Kerouac-style scroll novel, All the Visions. In May I’ll be planning to run a Kickstarter for a Transreal Trilogy + All the Visions project. The trilogy will contain reprints of The Secret of Life, White Light, and Saucer Wisdom.

The event was organized by David Gill, who teaches at San Francisco State, and who runs a small SF magazine called Pravic. He’s shown here playing SF-style boop-whoop music on his computer. He doesn’t always look like this—I asked him to look like a sinister mad scientist, a request to which he responded with a perhaps disconcerting alacrity.

We had a decent crowd, including such luminaries as V. Vale, Marian Wallace, Ted Hand, and Dave Pescovitz.

So now let’s jump back to NYC. This is the foreshortened curtain at the new Woody Allen musical version of Bullets Over Broadway (seen from below). When the curtain came up some flapper-type dancers were in that same pose. Best musical show I’ve ever seen. Great to forget yourself in the laughter of a crowd.

Times Square is so freaking chaotic. Especially when, as I already mentioned, you don’t know which direction is which when you come up from the subway. Times like this, Google Maps on your cellphone isn’t all that helpful—the currents are too strong to let you figure it out, and maybe it’s not a great idea to be blindly waving around your phone in a crowd of a twenty thousand louche strangers. So you bumble along like an molecule in a rushing river.

Huge limos ply the streets.

People hurrying past. Such an anthill. And you’re one with the ants.

Buskers all over the place, good music. Classy Bethany (?) fountain area in Central Park, string quartet, kind of. The walls are, like, Renaissance.

The new World Trade Center tower is almost done. With the antenna it’s supposed to be 1776 fee tall. A fairly simple design, but strong, iconic. Takes awhile to get onto the grounds, like with airport-style searches and all that, although eventually I guess it’ll have to be wide open so people can actually be using the place.

Those big memorial holes are still there, they give me a lump in my throat, unexpectedly. Such a graphic image of death…you flow down in the sparkling waterfall, your life’s course runs in maturity along that calm plat area, and then it’s down into the deep dark hole of death.

We hit Washington Square Park just for old time’s sake. Like this tree. You do get hungry for plants in Manhattan.

Busker with a grand piano at Washington square. Playing good stuff.

I always like looking at Wall Street and Lower Manhattan too. No idea what this structure is, but it looks nice with the people. Kind of a Federico Fellini vibe.

All the way down at Battery Park where you can get the ferries, I saw an easy photo, wharf pilings and a number.

And then back uptown.

I like the buildings reflected in each other. It’s the One World Trade Center again here.

A slanted bottom façade on the building on the left.

And the makeup mirror in our bathroom…


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