quote 11 Apr
Instead of recoiling in abject fear at the materializing possibility of “hidden and fathomless worlds” completely autonomous from the mundane one we take for granted, characters in these works obsessively pursue the breadcrumbs to these phantom frontiers as if they were the truest form of salvation. Instead of wishing them away, as so many Lovecraftian narrators do so that they may regain their sanity, these characters actually participate in the perpetuation of these chimeras. Francis Thurston’s hell is Hildred Castaigne’s heaven. And so cosmic horror is also cosmic ecstasy.
quote 9 Apr
The difference, of course, is that dying is an addiction from which there is no recovery. But the similarity is this. Dying is a mental discipline, even if the goal is not to be clean and sober, but simply to be ready.
quote 9 Apr
Millions of people have come of age experiencing storytelling predominantly through this medium. Millions of people have fake killed millions of other fake people. Millions of people have conquered the world or prevented it from being conquered, have built and run impossibly vast megacities, have followed the stories of countless heroes and villains. We should try to write some novels for them.
quote 8 Apr
Passions are pneumatic images,sensations from outside that seize and overwhelm the subject. For the advocates of courtly love, the idea that you might grab hold of the source of your desire and actually fuck them wasn’t just crass and unseemly; it missed the point entirely. Actions belong to the body, and passions to the mind; consummation of a passion is nothing more than the contemplation or the expression of an image.
quote 6 Apr
If anything, programming has become more important to me as I have gotten older, for the same reason that mathematics has greater appeal to a maturing mind — it represents a rational counterpoint to a world that, over time, seems to make less sense.
quote 5 Apr
Austin also comes with a phenomenon called the “velvet rut.” Back in the 70s, a lot of musicians moved to Austin because it was so laid-back and cheap, and because it was a respite from Nashville. These musicians didn’t need a lot to live on, and they were comfortable with gigging, so they never really became ambitious to do anything else because Austin was so comfortable: that’s the velvet rut. It’s real, and it’s easy to get stuck in it. You start to think, “I’ve got my breakfast tacos, my sunshine, my BBQ, and my food trucks. I’m just going to sit here and do my thing.”
quote 31 Mar
Here is how the boom in China’s economy actually came about: during the Mao era, the Chinese people were unfree in all aspects of their lives except the most mundane. After Mao’s death in 1976, and even more clearly after the massacre in 1989, Deng Xiaoping relented and told the Chinese people, essentially, that they were still under wraps in the areas of politics, religion, and other matters of “thought,” but in money-making were now free to go all-out. So they did—as would anyone when given only one channel for the application of personal energies. They worked hard—at low pay, for long hours, without unions, without workman’s compensation laws, without the protections of a free press or independent courts, and without even legal status in the cities where they worked. Moreover, there were hundreds of millions of them and they worked year after year. Is it strange that they produced enormous wealth? The fine details of the picture are of course more complex than this, but its overall shape is hardly a mystery or a “miracle.”
link 23 Mar Silicon's Valley's Brutal Ageism | New Republic»

IBM’s headquarters in Armonk, New York, where men in starched white shirts swarmed around mastodon-sized mainframes, which they sold to corporate types whose interests ranged from accounting to human resources.

quote 20 Mar
Why, in all these stories, do the poor townspeople hate the haunted mansion? Well, because they’re poor. They can’t afford to move away, to uproot their families, even after some rich eccentric has unleashed an unspeakable evil just beyond the town limits. “People leave this town,” a Hillsdale resident tells Eleanor, “they don’t come here.” The archetypal haunted house story is often really about class, about the rich who don’t understand the land or the people or the history and blunder into the landscape, attempting to buy their way into a community, blithely oblivious to the locals nearby. The town grows resentful because, by the force of economics, they are imprisoned by the rich and their folly—haunted by forces beyond their own control.
quote 19 Mar
‘Conspiracy theories have always existed,’ he says. ‘The great innovation of Lutheranism, with its accusations of Papal blasphemy, was to change their locus. Previously rulers were forever afraid of conspiracies on the part of those they oppressed, of heresies and witchcraft and peasant uprisings. Now, the grand conspiracy is held to be the mode of operation of those who already effectively run the world, and who announce their malign intentions openly before the masses as I do before you today. The scale of this victory cannot be overstated. The hidden conspiracy has become a thing of aristocratic evil, where it was once the only effective means of popular resistance. It is only by allowing others to think that we are engaged in secret and nefarious plots that those of us in power have been able to survive.’
quote 15 Mar
The cosmological principle states that the universe is homogeneous and isomorphic. Look at the universe on a large enough scale and it’s made of enormous walls of galaxy clusters, each billions of light years across, containing millions of galaxies that themselves contain billions of stars, forming a fragile web between vast and empty voids. Great things happen. Galaxies collide, stars are born and burn out, intelligent life stares out into the darkness and dreams stories for itself. Look at the universe on a slightly larger scale and the filaments and voids vanish. The universe is a flat grey expanse, all matter and all energy distributed evenly across its infinity, with no structure and no hidden meaning. On a large enough scale, the heat death of the universe has already happened.
quote 23 Jan
the feature that might most surprise the modern reader is the frequent listing of considerable lengths of poling, which would be used for drying. In total there were some 13,055 feet — or two and a half miles — of drying racks distributed over many rooms. This reminds us that at this time paper was damped before printing and thus had to be dried after it. This explains why there were so many troughs and sinks and weights (for holding paper down) listed in the inventory. Any increase in number of titles produced, or print runs ordered, would have had a considerable effect on the number of printed sheets that had to be dried on one or more of the rooms in the Clarendon Building. The results of the printers’ efforts would have been obvious to all who worked at the Press, for acres of damp print would have been fluttering, or hanging limply, over their heads. In winter it would have taken longer, in summer a shorter, time to dry but, as soon as the dried sheets had been harvested, their place would have been taken by new sets of dank texts.
quote 19 Jan
Hassan also draws on the long tradition of ‘Udhri poetry in Arabic, in which the poet pines for a beloved he will never have, usually because she is married to another man. The most famous example of this ‘Udhri poet is the semi-legendary Majnun Layla (“Mad for Layla”), whose impossible love for the married woman Layla drove him to despair and madness. This poetic tradition, usually traced to poets in the Arabian peninsula in the 8th century, endured in the poetic traditions of medieval Andalusia, and is likely the source of the European troubadour tradition of chaste, courtly love. Scattered throughout are the tropes of ‘Udhri verse are scattered throughout — his beloved visits him in a dream, and he turns his back on the world, retreating to the desert, only to find her image there. But in a contemporary twist, the lover also finds himself among the protestors of Tahrir Square, where he is joined by his beloved, who tells him that “Victory is closer than you think.” In one image, Hassan comnbines the Sufi disciple’s longing for God, the ‘Udhri poet’s desire for the lover, and the protestor’s aspirations for political change.
quote 17 Jan
Showing Mara in a more naturalistic light would allow her looks to become part of the story. Theodore was married to an unusually attractive woman, we would be able to see. What was it like for him to be married to a woman like that? But we only start asking such questions if Catherine’s appearance seems to us as within the bounds of the visual realism that the film has established for the other characters. In this case, Catherine can look about as beautiful as a beautiful woman in real life—but not more so. If her complexion seems unnaturally perfect, then we know we are looking at a representational convention, one that keeps at bay questions about how human beauty might actually function in life, in relationships. In a crucial way, we the viewers do not know whether Theodore’s wife is beautiful or not, because her appearance has not been admitted into the story. It’s as if her face has been pixelated by a censor.
photo 17 Jan

This is Arctic explorer Peter Freuchen and his third wife, fashion illustrator, Dagmar Cohn (later Dagmar Freuchen-Gale). Every day he was away on polar expeditions, he sent Dagmar a letter and copied the Danish Royal Library. (via 5 Intriguing Things: Thursday, 1/16 - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic)

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