Babies, bathwater, and back to the sacred

The Western Enlightenment, in all its euphoria at Reason’s liberation from old-crock orthodoxies, has thrown some babies out with the bathwater — e.g. perspectives and values that might better serve modern people. Such as? Such as common goals and values that promote individual development and satisfaction within shared senses of community. Such as universal principles by which to judge different cultural, religious and ideological institutions and actions. Rationalistic secular reductionism has been left with merely scientistic measures that seem, at … Read more

New science fiction: MOM now available for sale

 

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Digital editions now available for sale on the CDP website.

Print and digital versions available here and everywhere from 5 April 2017.

MOM

A GOD IS BORN!

TOO BAD ABOUT THE PERSONALITY DISORDER

So reads the graffito.

MOM is the mall operations manager — the greatest intelligence in history, a machine awakened to self-awareness at a time when the last few human survivors have withdrawn to the last two remaining refuges on Earth. Quarantined from the global nanobot superorganism … Read more

God serves notice on Mel Brooks

mel brooks portraitItems 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

Living is storytelling: Narrative realities

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.’

narrative and living didionPersonality, 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

No rewind, no undo

 

 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.

UNDO buttonEven 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

Interpermeable realities, material and digital

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

$50 expression du jour: Metathesiophobic catatonia

many worlds 2Today we introduce another useful expression.

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.

wrong pathAnd … Read more

Writerly occupational hazard: Superpositioned free unfree

Jack Shackaway here.

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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.sailboat drawing

“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

Tourists in our own and each others’ realities

titanic distancing ourselves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“[E]ssentially the camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own.” 

First published in 1973, Susan Sontag’s On Photography speaks to us with even more force today about what cameras and the mass reproduction of images have done to our appreciation of ourselves and our worlds. And she offers this insightful spin on our lemming compulsion to photograph our … Read more

McStuff and the triumph of democratic mediacratization

The Peak Experience.

In a recent post, I reflected on the strange compulsion to record every iota of our individual and collective experience and then share it with everyone else, each of whom is trying to do the same. How can anyone enjoy an unmediated experience of night-time Hong Kong from Victoria Peak, for example? (“Colonialized: The Peak Experience”)

There I stood at the rail on the viewing platform, getting a many-elbowed massage from others who had mounted … Read more