101 ways social isolation can be good for you

#1: Recover the pleasure of sinking into a long novel. 

learn to out-focus a goldfish 

Recover an attention span longer than that of a goldfish – your average digitally connected human has the lesser attention span – the way evolution intended. Be less a victim of the myriad modern distractions that grab our minds and then scatter them across what currently pass for our realities. 

compose the script of your own existence

Reclaiming your attention span means also reclaiming a … Read more

The Great Cull

Looking back from some time in the future, assuming there’s still anyone to look back, will we interpret COVID-19 in part as a cull?  

If so, then exactly what was culled? Did the pandemic take mostly the old and weak, leaving the rest of the herd to carry on? Maybe it also culled the stupid and irresponsible to some extent, though those conditions may have been more a matter of nurture than genetic nature. (I’ll leave it to readers to … Read more

Where do we go from here?

In what follows, I propose a speculative chronology of developments over the coming months as we try to maintain our social distancing. The items and the order in which they appear are off the top of my head. 

From this website.

I welcome suggested revisions or additions. This post could evolve together with actual developments out there in the real world.

  • people begin looking notably dishevelled, unkept, a consequence of having spouses cut their hair or else having to do
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Trade your freedoms for security? Social-cultural triage

medical triage

‘Triage,’ a common dilemma, is more and more presenting a terrible moral choice in this time of pandemic COVID-19. When medical facilities and staff are utterly overwhelmed, medical staff must decide, on the basis of various criteria, who lives and who dies. 

social-cultural triage

Perhaps that expression can be usefully applied to another dilemma, one that is characteristic of a modern world increasingly shaped by digital technology in service to the politics of fear. Here’s an example of … Read more

Learning to walk (again)

Back in the day, I was the fastest pedestrian in Bangkok. If someone passed me on the pavement, I assumed they were either from Korea or else on the run from the police.

But these days I get schoolgirls in bobby sox and buckle shoes  zipping past me while drowned in their smartphones. This suggests three hypotheses:

 

1. I’m slowing with age.

2. A younger generation of Thais are walking faster.

3. I’ve learned to live more in the … Read more

Invasion of the black boxes

Hans-Georges Arp painted this image long before Big Data came to invade every human space, private and public.

Now amorphous entities like digital amoebae suck our minds and souls dry of predictive nutrients. Obscenely intimate, these ethereal blobs snuggle up to absorb and commodify the digital detritus of our progress through the age of surveillance capitalism.

If you look hard, you can discern the inputs and outputs, but the algorithmic machinations at the centre of this process are often compared … Read more

Space invaders (2057): Windows on our future

The great escape (failed). As you drive south on the Rama II expressway out of Bangkok, you approach wooded patches and scenic hills in the distance. Not that you can see them. Rows of gigantic billboards line the road to demand your attention, blocking out the natural attractions, what might have been visual relief from life in the big city.

Who erected these billboards, and why? Who did they consult before doing this; who didn’t they consult? And why?

 … Read more

Space invaders

Space invaders (2019)

Soft drinks giant PepsiCo has consulted with a Russian space startup offering brands the chance to project their logos into the night skies via low-orbit satellites.

                              “Pepsi considers space billboards to project logo across night sky using satellites

                                          (The Independent)

No problem, eh? Just part of a global campaign to erode our private spaces and our private choices to vanishing point. More and more, without so much as a by-your-leave, commercial interests invade … Read more

RANT

 

Scenario: I post ‘Three Strikes vs. Magic Circles’ (see my last post)  and no one notices. So I post a second, even more inflammatory diatribe, which no one remarks, and then another and another, each more hysterically indignant than the one before. No one reads any of them, much less reads my novels. Eventually they are all collected in a book I call RANT, which becomes a bestseller.

I die before that, and Sara lives happily … Read more

Best of all worlds

 

Best of all worlds. MOM, Genesis 2.0, and Resurrections are topping bestseller lists worldwide for the third month in a row. Mobs are rioting in the streets of major cities everywhere, demanding the author cough up Kill Cade, the fourth novel in the MAGIC CIRCLE series. Hollywood agents are climbing in the windows, groupies clamor at the door. Sara won’t talk to me. It’s amazing.

Yeah. And all this is happening in a near-adjacent parallel universe where the internet … Read more