Pressing The Big Red Buttons
Orbital Operations for 25 June 2023
This week, I am pressing all the buttons. Hello from out here on the Thames Delta. I wrote a 1500-word newsletter earlier in the week, opened it on Saturday and decided I didn’t like it, so I’m going to do something else instead.
It’s all systems go, over here.
On Tuesday, we wrapped recording on THE DEPARTMENT OF MIDNIGHT. Now we go into assembling cuts, doing post, sound design and music. After which, we’ll reveal our plans for distribution and announce our full cast. Right now, I just want to thank Kevin Kolde for making me do it and then making it so I could do it, Fred Seibert for his faith, Meredith Layne for making it work, and James Callis for making it possible. It was really nice to put the band back together, and wonderful to meet so many new actors and have so much fun. And, once I was over my nerves, it really was a lot of fun. Turns out I’d missed working with other people more than I thought, and the whole thing proved to be hours of laughter.
And while we’re doing post on that, I’m going to finish writing the next serial. After I clear a consulting job and a graphic novella off my desk.
Otherwise, I am content in my hermitage bubble. Although, I have to say, the weirdness in Russia on Friday is the only thing in ages that’s tempted me to put Twitter on. I bet David Rothkopf is all over that shit. I used to listen to his Deep State Radio all the time, and before that, when he was doing the Foreign Policy podcast.
I’m eating fruit out of my little garden.
As I was falling asleep, the thought came to mind: ‘I saw the greatest minds of my generation destroyed by Facebook.’
THE THINGS WE’VE SEEN, Agustin Fernandez Mallo
…the term ‘studio’ derives from a verb as well as a noun. Studiolo denoted the scholar’s study or cabinet, but there was also studiare, linked to a certain kind of diligent or pleasurable work, which could take place anywhere. The word ‘studio’ was not used to describe the workplace of an artist until the late 17th century in Italy, and in Britain only from the 19th century, by which time the studio was already breaking out of its familiar four walls and beginning to move (quite literally, if we think of Charles-François Daubigny’s floating workspace on the river). Some studios, like Moreau’s, sloughed off any pretence of domesticity and achieved cavernous proportions. At the 1937 Paris World Fair, where the European dictatorships faced off against one another in monumental combat, Nazi Germany’s pavilion was guarded by a trio of bronze beefcakes (one female) sculpted by Josef Thorak. At once camp and creepy, and standing 22 feet tall, Comradeship was produced in Thorak’s atelier near Munich, designed by Albert Speer. The world’s largest studio, it could accommodate a Zeppelin.
I don’t have a studio. I have a tiny box room that I’ve worked in for twenty eight years. For the last ten or fifteen years, my office chair has been an old dining chair with a pillow on it. I bought my desk in a second hand shop a month after we moved into this house. Reading that sort of thing always makes me covet a proper writing studio.
My name is Warren Ellis, and I’m a writer from England. These newsletters are about the work I do and the creative life I try to lead. I send them every Sunday to subscribers. Feel free to send your friends to orbitaloperations.beehiiv.com , where they can read the most recent letters and subscribe for their own.
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It’s Saturday afternoon and the BBC just reported that public buildings in Moscow are being evacuated. I was in the garden tying up raspberry canes, with my phone streaming BBC News in my pocket.
I remember coming back to my bedsit from an extended drinking session with Ben Dilworth to find the house in chaos because the Berlin Wall was coming down. I was drunk and told them to stop fucking with me just because I was shitfaced.
I finally visited the remains of the Berlin Wall seven or eight years ago. Just briefly. All I could think of was the oddness of life: the things we’re doing in the moment the world shifts on a distant pivot. And, I suppose, the beginning of real-time mass-media coverage of those pivots.
I watched the Berlin Wall fall on a television that was basically a piece of furniture in its own right, a big plastic box. Today, I watched mercenaries fire at a Russian helicopter on a handheld shard of glass, the same glass that I use to look at weather radar, identify plants, monitor my pulse, send money to my kid, take photos, listen to music, consult encyclopedias, access my filing cabinets and speak to people all over the world. We call this device a “phone.” Sometimes I can’t help but stop and think about what a hiliariously inadequate word that is, and what a strange future we’ve all lived to see.
Some recent purchases.
Funny thing: when I’m writing a lot of fiction, or writing a book, I stop reading fiction. Right now I’m holding a lot of story ideas in my head and don’t want anyone else’s in there. So I’m looking for inspirational non-fiction about the creative life.
GOT MORE TIME?
WARRENELLIS.LTD is my personal notebook, in which I make new entries several times a day. Think of it as all the things I can't fit into this newsletter, from links and bookmarks to reviews, random thoughts and life notes. If you use a RSS reader, it generates a feed at https://warrenellis.ltd/feed/ .
Okay, I’m off to pull up some weeds, move a lot of containerised fruit trees around, and cut and hang some netting. While listening to the news! Stay safe, don’t forget to eat and drink water, and remember that you can turn everything off for a while, whenever you damn well want, because it’s your life. Take care. See you next week.