From the time you get up till the time you go to sleep—even beyond that, if you use a digital sleep tracker—the average twenty-first-century citizen is subject to constant surveillance, caught in a interrogative crossfire, a sticky network fixing your locational, attitudinal and general behavioral spoor 24/7, holding it for the digital spiders that come to collect all this lovely data and cart it off to Big Data centers for digestion and construal in ways that help the spider collective … Read more
Items overheard on BBC radio this morning: Japan is forbidding entry to anyone with tattoos; and Argentina is suffering a plague of beavers, a non-native species that has has changed water drainage patterns sufficiently that native plant species are going locally extinct. All this comes hot on the heels of Trump winning the US presidential election, and I take it to be further evidence of space-time dimensional slips that have us careening from one progressively less adjacent parallel universe to … Read more
Overheard, an item of happy hour flotsam: “I never read fiction. I’m only interested in the real world.”
Yeah, well. So you go ahead and tell me all about your ‘real world.’
Personality, culture, our realities themselves are narrative in structure. We and our worlds are stories we tell ourselves and each other, individually and collectively. This is something most people don’t understand. Reality is a social construct. Always. Once people do recognize this, even only tacitly, then the construction … Read more
In my last post, ‘Interpermeable realities, material & digital,’ I suggested that manipulative impulses, as well as sources of addiction, are leaking over from our digital worlds into our material realities. The impulse to conduct a word search in a paper book for just one example.
Even before the digital age, of course, we’d experience impulses to alter our material world merely by wishing hard. A faux pas, for instance, could make you wish you had access … Read more
Do you ever try to conduct word searches while reading a print book? What an odd sensation. Just for a moment, you mentally reach for a control that isn’t there. Then you realize this is a paper book, and if you want to find that word or passage you have to use the index, if there is one, or else estimate where in all those pages it’s most likely to appear, and then skim the actual material book manually. What … Read more
Metathesiophobic catatonia (n.): paralysis induced by fear of the perception that any action, including any decision, will change the future. Those of the multiversal persuasion might decribe this as inertia brought on by terror that the slightest exercise of agency will result in the agent entering an adjacent parallel universe, forever barred from the one in which the action was performed, unable to return to a world where the decision was never taken.
And … Read more
Jack Shackaway here.
Friends have just suggested I join them on a sailing trip at the end of November. Joyous news, right? Not so. Now I have to weather the usual squall of anxieties and conflicting inclinations, maybe even a massive storm of dither.
“How soon do I have to tell you one way or the other?” I ask them.
“You’ve got a problem with free sailing trips?” they say.
The problem. Following an extended period of freelance-writerly doldrums … Read more
Old news. But these days our technology transforms our environment, both external and internal, at an ever-accelerating rate. And we aren’t always conscious of how much or how fast we ourselves are changing in response to this.
Here’s just one example. More and more, people are consulting smartphones and tablets in mid-conversation. Only half attending to whatever any given speaker is on about, they’re digitally retrieving bits of information they think might add value to … Read more
This morning my tea is ready before my Parker refills are done. They’ve been simmering in a pot on the stove for five minutes already, but they still won’t write.
I’ve used indelible black Parker medium ballpoints for years. Some of my associates describe my Parker pens as mere affectation. “I do fine with these twenty-baht stick pens,” says one friend. Of course he’s only a photographer and hardly knows what to do with a pen anyway. The point is, … Read more
Jack Shackaway presents a review of a recent Mickey’s Muse product:
Take the lead scene, for example. Mr. Ambit presents everything that Hollywood wants—a startling instance of random structural violence, with much smoke and flame and opportunity for the action hero to squint in the general direction of the shitstorm and wince in a way that suggests strong … Read more