Category Archives: NowReading

“At his best, Wallace wrote about how impossible it was to truly know or connect with others in any kind of important or authentic way, despite our wired-in yearning to do so; how solipsism and anxiety and an addiction to the pleasures and artifice of modern American culture—with its fragmentary focus, narcissistic impulses, and worship […]

Erik Davis on California

California is remarkably resilient. I remain cautiously optimistic that the state will find some inventive and not entirely sucky ways to remake and reimagine itself once again, in the face of white decline, an income chasm, a 21st-century drought, and the brilliant idiocy of hyperactive technology. I also remain reliably irritated by the propensity of […]

Crazy

“It’s a country that does things in lurches. Born in radicalism, then reluctant for years, decades, the better part of the centuries, to do anything crazy, until it does the craziest thing of all. But it’s also a country – inherent in its genes – capable of imagining what cannot be imagined and then, once […]

The Desert

In sublimity – the superlative degree of beauty – what land can equal the desert with its wide plains, its grim mountains, and its expanding canopy of sky! You shall never see elsewhere as here the dome, the pinnacle, the minaret fretted with golden fire at sunrise and sunset; you shall never see elsewhere as […]

Complexity and ambiguity

“The majority of essays in the humanities have as their primary methodological orientation an interest in complexity and ambiguity. A plurality of texts describe cultural locations, practices, identities, and objects as hybrid, mixed, impure, marginal, dislocated, disoriented, Creole, Pidgin, transcultural, liminal, meta-, para-, quasi-, or otherwise complex and ambiguous. The pleasure of the text is […]

Now reading

Reading now: Nalo Hopkinson Midnight Robber Lauren Beukes Zoo City Marc von Schlegell Mercury Station Paul Grainge Monochrome Memories. Nostalgia and Style in Retro America

Reincarnation

You really go through different incarnations, in effect. That in any life your body changes, and where you live changes – the people in your life, your work, your habits. All that changes, so much that in effect you pass though several incarnations in any one biological span. And what I think is, if you […]

Jaron Lanier – You Are Not a Gadget

Reading the above – brilliant so far but this passage especially struck a chord. The deep meaning of personhood is being reduced by illusions of bits. Since people will be inexorably connecting to one another through computers from here on out, we must find an alternative. . . . Next to the many problems the […]

Riding Towards Everywhere

One night not long ago, in a certain desert valley that I love, a farewell gathering for friends had ended, and we were all feeling sad. Since I had been sitting in company for hours, I decided to return to the ranch alone and on foot. It was an easy walk of three or four […]

Now Reading

Reading now: J. K. Gibson-Graham A Postcapitalist Politics (2006) Paul Auster Sunset Park (2010) Gene Wolfe Pirate Freedom (2010) Just (sort of) watched: Triangle(2009) Enter the Void(2009) Avetik(1992)

Underground London ca. 1919

Serge, Audrey and Becky visit the salon several times over the next few weeks. After a while Becky teaches them the password sequence so that they can go without her: it consists of the visitor enquiring whether there’ll be a piano recital today, and the servant (since Madame Z’s seems to be open round the […]

Now reading

Reading now: Tom McCarthy C (2010) Ken McLeod Newton’s Wake (2004) Just watched: The Quiet Earth (1985)

Mad daguerreotypists

Daguerreotypists developed their negs inside the dark tent, holding the glass plate above a bow of mercury and a spirit lamp. As heated mercury vapor whirled around the plate, the image appeared. Denny must have done this hundreds of times, for years and years. It’s why his hands shook, and why his gums had turned […]

Generation Loss

I hate looking at bad reproductions of great photographs, and these online images were uniformly lousy. Generation loss – that’s what happens when you endlessly reproduce a photographic image. You lose authenticity, the quality deteriorates in each subsequent generation that’s copied from the original negative, and the original itself decays with time, so that every […]

Now Reading

Douwe Draaisma Machina metafor. Historia pamieci China Mieville Kraaken Jeff VanderMeer Third Bear Roger Luckhurst Science Fiction

I am there.

I spent long moments looking. The sky was stretched taut between cliff edges, it was narrowed and lowered, that was the strange thing, the sky right there, scale the rocks and you can touch it. I started walking again and came to the end of the tight passage and into an open space choked at […]

The desert

I keep seeing the words. Heat, space, stillness, distance. They’ve become visual states of mind. I’m not sure what that means. I keep seeing figures in isolation, I see past physical dimension into the feelings that these words engender, feelings that deepen over time. That’s the other word, time. I drove and looked. He stayed […]

Neurobiological Gods

God(s) evolved as one of our brain functions in the same sense that vision evolved as a means of processing stimuli arising from photons stimulating neural tissue. That is, god(s) are located within the brain where, we propose, their evolved function nudges us toward Darwinian ends. This “god function” is neither trivial nor dysfunctional. Instead, […]

Now Reading/Just Read

Gillian Rose Visual Methodologies Louis Althusser On Ideology Emma Bull War for the Oaks Alastair Reynolds Revelation Space Russell Blackford and Udo Schüklenk 50 Voices of Disbelief. Why We Are Atheists

Beauty in the eye

“The beauty of Mars exists in the human mind,” he said in that dry factual tone, and everyone stared at him amazed. “Without the human presence it is just a collection of atoms, no different than any other random speck of matter in the universe. It’s we who understand it, and we who give it […]

Science fiction as revolution

It is possible then to think about SF not in the bourgeois terms of the novel, but as an experimental science. The object of study is not the ideological reproduction of SF, but a philosophical self-reflection upon these conditions of ideological reproduction. To read is to discover the absolute difference a novel has from its […]

Life-with

I bring you life-with. It’s more than love. Love’s a hard, sad, dirty word, a cold word, an old word. It says too much and it promises too little. I bring you something much bigger than love. If you’re alive, you’re alive. If you’re alive-with, then you know the other life is there too—both of […]

Anamorphosis

[Anamorphosis] is a philosophy of false reality, or, more precisely, a poetics of alternative realities. An anamorphic image posits the coded presence of an almost unimaginable reality that momentarily obtrudes on ideologically constituted reality, thereby rendering it arbitrary, ontologically inconsistent [. . .] The effect of anamorphosis, philosophically speaking, is therefore that of extreme relativisation. […]