Leviathan Jams: streaming mix, track list & conference abstract

Leviathan Jams: a DJ mix inspired by The Expanse & Inventory

No-spoilers description

Track list

Conference abstract

PS Possible spoiler for Leviathan Falls

No-spoilers description
This is a mashed-up mix of music inspired by James S.A. Corey’s novel series The Expanse, in mixed-media conversation with Dionne Brand’s 2006 poetry book Inventory. This mix integrates references and samples, especially of songs, artists, and genres cited in these works; selections from the TV series soundtrack; fan-made mashups; and other apt songs (like The Doors and Cornershop). If you like mashup tracks, or the Velvet Underground’s “Murder Mystery,” you might dig this experimental DJ mix, which I’ve produced to field-test a hypothesis about copyright bots. A presentation of this work has been accepted for the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE) conference in May 2022. The abstract follows the track list below. For accessibility, a downloadable file is available by request, and a text transcript is forthcoming. Thank you for listening.

Track list

00:00 – 00:45: Open Channel: The Carpenters, “Calling occupants of interplanetary craft”; Deep Purple, “Highway Star”; Rush, “Cygnus X1: The Voyage”; Frankie Goes to Hollywood, “Welcome to the Pleasuredome”; Joni Mitchell, “Big Yellow Taxi”; Space Manoeuvres, “Stage One”

00:45 – 02:13: Whitey on The Expanse: Gil Scot Heron, “Whitey on the Moon”; Clinton Shorter, “The Expanse theme”; The Beatles, “Revolution 9”; ThisQuietArmy, “The Sun Destroyers”

02:13 – 06:11: the extraterrestrial neurons: Tom Haverford & Camina Drummer (intro sample); The Beatles, “Revolution 9”; Burial feat. SpaceApe, “SpaceApe”; Aphex Twin, “Tassels”

06:11 – 10:24: Juliet Mao: Lou Reed, “Romeo Had Juliet”; The Beatles, “Revolution 1”; Tigerstyle feat. Kaur-B, “Zulfaan De Naag (Monstaboy remix)”; Fader Gladiator, “Battle of the Planets” (incl. sample of John Williams, “Imperial March”); Prince, “Baltimore”

10:24 – 15:11: across the cosmos…stop them: Space Manoeuvres, “Stage One”; Rick Ross feat. Young Thug & Wale, “Trap Trap Trap”; Zoon, “Vibrant Colours”

15:11 – 18:53: Waking Up the Slow Zone: Jimi Hendrix, “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” (intro sample); Gabrielle Aplin, “Waking Up Slow”; Shifted, “Chapter 69”; Piano Junkies, “Keep It Coming (Resin Hardcore Breaks remix)”

18:53 – 22:53: I’ve Heard that Freaky Shit in Bars: Joey Cramsey, “Radio Free Eros (OPA Fan remix)”; Crisp Biscuit, “Wink1” [white label mix of Josh Wink’s “Higher State of Consciousness”]

22:53 – 25:02: The Vast Parliament: White Panda, “Diamond Thrones” [mashup]; Gatekeeper, “Tense Past”

25:02 – 34:48: the elegant future: Khaled, “Mauvais Sang”; Way Out West, “The Gift”; Eurythmics, “Here Comes the Rain Again”; Taylor Swift, “The Archer”; Warlocks, “Baby Blue”; DJ Hotday, “Ga Ga Ga All Right”

34:48 – 38:29: Doors and Cornershop: The Doors, “Peace Frog”; Cornershop, “Brimful of Asha”; Transglobal Underground, “Zombieites (Laughing Gravy mix)”; Run The Jewels, “Angel Dust”; Siouxsie and the Banshees, “Cities in Dust”

38:29 – 43:16: the distancing planet: Samples from Janis Joplin, “Mercedes Benz” and Beastie Boys, “Intergalactic” (intro); Portishead, “Wandering Star”; SPY, “Shadows of the Mind”; Chemical Brothers, “One Too Many Mornings”

43:16 – 48:22: Windows in the Sky: Origin Unknown, “Valley of the Shadows”; Bang!, “Shooting Star (Brisk & Ham remix)”; Kings of the Rollers, “Solar Heat”; Acen, “Window in the Sky”

48:22 – 54:04: the beginning of music: Camina Drummer & Ashford (intro sample); Pete Seeger, “We Shall Overcome”; Moby, “LA 3” and “LA 4”; Anderson Dawes (outro sample)

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Conference presentation abstract

My ACCUTE soundtable contribution is a streaming music mix that juxtaposes songs cited in Dionne Brand’s Inventory and in James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse, works which share music quotation practices (including fair dealing), articulations of labour solidarity, and images of war, catastrophe, and anti-colonialism.  This mix field tests the hypothesis that a sufficiently complex music mix can jam the signals copyright bots use to suppress the unlicensed reproduction of copyrighted music on Internet social platforms, where users’ rights (i.e. fair dealing) supposedly apply but copyright bots routinely override them. Notice or takedown of the mix would prove my hypothesis wrong. 

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PS Possible spoiler for Leviathan Falls:

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My mixing technique relates to a significant detail in Leviathan Falls; but it’s a technique for signal-jamming copyright bots that I was working on before I read the novel and uncannily encountered .

The lost last paragraph of our review of The Expanse

[no spoilers]

In spring 2021, a review of The Expanse TV series that I co-wrote with SFF author Heather Clitheroe was published in the open-access journal SFRA Review. (It got a surprise, much-appreciated nod from the authors.) The Review‘s editors had advised we cut the whole last paragraph of our draft. For that journal, the cut was right, a darling killed for length and tone. But having just finished the ninth and final Expanse novel, Leviathan Falls, today–after re-reading the first eight since September, and as new episodes of the sixth and final Expanse series are now airing weekly–I thought that last paragraph is worth retrieving and sharing now. My co-author had lamented its lopping off; moreover, everything I’ve read and watched this month has only affirmed it. So voilà:

As the generally glowing tone of all this commentary may suggest, the time of this writing finds one of your co-authors (McCutcheon) unexpectedly a fan again. Unaccustomed to unalloyed adulation, he’s not one to use the term “fan” lightly: after decades as an English professor, a man pushing fifty figures the profession has disciplined out of him the capacity for fandom–its afición. How little time has he to read a book based on a show–never mind burn through all the things the show’s based on. A man’s happy to be so wrong, hasn’t felt possessed by such weird and fierce fanhood since Star Wars. How welcome, in a world of relentless catastrophe, to encounter an epic page-burner that can ambush a jaded reader, reigniting fanboy delight in love and rockets’ flight, inviting critical self-reflection on a settler-colonial youth steeped in Westerns, and sharing a novel vision of solidarity, no less. How surprisingly the encounter restores to him both the sheer plaisir du texte and a glimpse of hope for all humankind.

I admit that’s a bit ebullient for academia; but I also meant it to echo a bit of Miller.

Meanwhile, more of my commentary on this extraordinary set of texts is forthcoming, in a chapter in Frankenstein and STEAM (U Delaware P, 2022) and in other research-creation in progress. For now, I’m still processing the finale of this epic and timely story, and looking forward to Friday’s episode…and fighting the temptation to pick up Leviathan Falls again and reread it right away.

My home library’s Expanse collection: 5004 pages of killer space opera

Open letter to Government of Canada against new online harms rules

Dear members of the Canadian government’s “Digital Citizen Initiative,”
I am writing to express my alarm and disapproval over the proposed “online harms rules” legislation that the Canadian government now proposes—a combination, it seems, of the worst, most rights-violating regulations adopted in other jurisdictions, many of which aren’t exactly known as bastions of democracy and expressive freedoms.
Your proposed legislation’s combination of
* prohibitions of broad and poorly defined speech categories;
* disproportionate penalties for insufficient blocking; and
* requirement of rapid compliance without time for adequate assessment or counter-notifications
all guarantee that the major tech firms, on which the onus of your proposed regulations falls, will block all kinds of legitimate speech — and will disproportionately affect marginalized and minorities to persons and communities, as has been shown where such rules have been implemented elsewhere. (See @doctorow’s analysis and that by U Ottawa professor Michael Geist.) Online harms rules have proven a human rights disaster in other jurisdictions; France’s rules were recently ruled as unconstitutional.
I urge you to take this whole proposal either back to the proverbial drawing board—or entirely off the table. The Canadian government surely has bigger and more urgent priorities then over-regulating and preferentially censoring citizens’ constitutional expressive rights and freedoms.
Sincerely
– Mark A. McCutcheon
Professor, Literary Studies
Chair, Centre for Humanities
Athabasca University

[PS: Have your say—contact the Government of Canada’s “Digital Citizen Initiative” to tell them what you think of the new online harms rules legislation.]

Review of The Expanse TV series

with apology for an erratum

A new review of The Expanse TV series, co-written by SFF writer Heather Clitheroe and yours truly, is out today in the SFRA Review.

The Expanse may ruin other space opera for you…It’s worth it.”

And then the Expanse creators shared a very kind shout-out about the piece…making today this fan’s best ever May the 4th.

An unlooked-for kindness that an astute reader promptly rendered ironic by observing (to my mortification) that I’d misrepresented an Indigenous actor’s identity:

In working to correct this error, I’m reminded how attentive, sensitive readers like this speak to the calibre of the series and its capacity to generate and (mayhaps) organize such ardent community.

Forthcoming articles and reviews

I’m excited to announce a bunch of newly written (and co-written) articles and reviews have been accepted for publication and are forthcoming soon:

  • McCutcheon, Mark A. “Reading poetry and its paratexts for evidence of fair dealing.” Studies in Canadian Literature / Études en littérature canadienne, in press.
  • —-. “Paratextual and ‘sampladelic’ techniques for ‘committing centonism’ in contemporary poetry published in Canada.” Cento-Texts in the Making: Aesthetics and Poetics of Cento-Techniques from Homer to Zong!, edited by Manuel Baumbach, Bochumer Altertumswissenschaftliches Colloquium series, in press.
  • —. “Frankenstein meets the FAANG five: figures of monstrous technology in digital media discourse.” Beyond Modern Science: Essays on Frankenstein and STEAM for Charles E. Robinson, edited by Robin Hammerman. Delaware UP, in press.
  • Clitheroe, Heather and Mark A. McCutcheon. Review of The Expanse [TV series]. SFRA Review, in press.
  • McCutcheon, Mark A. Review of The Monster Theory Reader, edited by Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, U of Minnesota P, 2020. Extrapolation, in press.

“This Machine Chills Copyright Bots”: a #DJmix coda to #FairDealingWeek

A mad mash of Billie Eilish, Deadmau5, Lil Jon, Carly Rae Jepsen, Armand Van Helden, Public Enemy, Young Galaxy et al:

The general idea here’s a thick mix–2-4 tracks playing at most times* (all in the key of Gm/Bb)–seeking to scramble copyright bots’ capacity to discern properties; and in the process to share a genre-bent (#twotone) music mix for use in your socials that hopefully won’t get taken down by copyright bots. Which are just the worst judges of #fairuse and #fairdealing. (If you do use this mix but find your socials take it down, I’d welcome a comment about it.)
What CV Dazzle is to face recognition tech, a mix like this wants to be to automated copyright enforcement. And a coda to #fairdealingweek.
(* except the intermezzo with Sasha’s “Xpander”)

This mix, btw, began as an improvised #ValentinesDay jam for my basement #rollerskating fam…which I add to reflect how critique proceeds as a labour of love.

Downloadable-file version: TBA. Here’s the full track list:

“Alien is the thing that made me want to write the books”: Ty Franck

Alien is the thing that made me want to write the books and the screenplays for the show,” says Ty Franck—half of the authorial team known by their nom de plume, James S.A. Corey—on the 16 Dec. 2020 episode of The Expanse Aftershow. Talking with Thomas Jane, director of season 5’s third episode, “Mother”, and Wes Chatham, Franck expounds:

“The movie Alien is the single largest influence on The Expanse. I saw that movie when I was, like, I think ten or eleven, and it never left my mind…so, the two characters in Alien that are what The Expanse is, is Parker and Brett. Two guys in jumpsuits walking around fixing pipes on a spaceship, and they’re treating it like a job. They’re not starfleet, they’re not admirals, they’re not like Klingons. They’re a couple of guys with pipe wrenches fixing stuff and complaining they don’t get as much money as everybody else…those guys, those two guys are the foundation of The Expanse.”

As a scholar of science fiction’s representations of labour, I find Franck’s reflection a helpful specification of the source material for The Expanse’s refreshingly sympathetic depictions of organized labour. I find three particular things striking about his words here:

  • It’s a clear, co-authorial assertion of labour and working-class perspective as an oppositional premise (“they’re not…”), and thus as both an aesthetic and an ethos;
  • It’s an open acknowledgment of intertextual influence and (unlicensed) adaptation, and so it models transformative fair use (as does a lot of SF, to be fair); and
  • In the process of explaining Alien’s influence, Franck also names—inadvertently, perhaps, but suggestively—two other SF classics, viz., “foundation” and “the thing.”

10 of the best books I read in 2020

In chronological order (of when I read them):

  1. Daniel Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year
  2. James S.A. Corey, The Expanse (series)
  3. Ursula K. Leguin, The Lathe of Heaven
  4. Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad
  5. Natalee Caple, Love in the Chthulucene (Cthulhucene)
  6. Shirley Jackson, Novels & Stories
  7. Dionne Brand, Luce Ostinata / Tenacious Light
  8. Joshua Whitehead, Full-Metal Indigiqueer
  9. Jeffrey Weinstock, ed., The Monster Theory Reader
  10. Philip Pullman, The Book Of Dust (series)

“Ravel” by Mary Dalton (a cento from Hooking, 2013)

This weekend I’m giving a talk at the Interdisciplinary Workshop on the Technique of Cento Texts, hosted by the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. The poem I’ll be discussing as a case study is “Ravel” by Mary Dalton, from her book of centos, Hooking (Véhicule P, 2013). I’m sharing an annotated copy of that poem here so other delegates can read it, since it is hard enough to find in Canada, never mind elsewhere. (I’m sharing this copy under educational fair dealing auspices, and will delete it from this post after the weekend.)

Ol’ Dirty Cohen and The Wu Tang Wang Chung Clan

Recently, a colleague accidentally referred to Wang Chung as the Wu Tang Clan, and to Leonard Cohen as Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Most took this as a good joke. I took it as a DJ challenge. Here’s an hour-long mix in which Cohen duets with ODB and Wang Chung jams with the Wu Tang Clan.
You do two-tone your way, I’ll do mine.

Downloadable mp3 version

Track list: