Archive for August, 2007

Castro?

August 26, 2007

Admittedly, wire press stories like the one about Hugo Chavez denying his death in this morning’s Victoria Times-Colonist make the whole thing seem suspect. The story may have originally come from here. Still, this is the most recent, a political statement purportedly penned by the old man. Stiletto also got me thinking about this today too.

Whatever the case, his eventual passing will be significant. The end of an era.

On My Desk, Vol.3

August 22, 2007

Another in a series (whose central purpose thus far is unabashed procrastination). Again, apologies to the book averse. But really, if you’ve already read this far…So, here we go…

Frank Herbert, Soul Catcher (New York: Berkley, 1972).

A novel. Set in the modern day (i.e. 1972) with all the action taking place in the woods, right across the way here on the Olympic Peninsula. Herbert is the author of the sci-fi classic Dune, so it was a bit surprising to find him writing early 70s social criticism by way of Native American magic realism. Thinking about it, however, and remembering the heavy nature-spirit angle in the initial works of the Dune series (which became serialized and bad at a certain point…), I suppose it’s not that much of a surprise. Even less surprising when one mentions he came out to the Olympic Peninsula in 1971, bought a little land and set to homesteading. Lots of vivid description of an environment I now understand. Weird that I totally relate to this book (and to the message and the play of materialism and spiritualism) due to my recent alterations in life path. Vague, I know. Hopefully you get my drift. Alien words like katsuk and hoquat are now rattling around in my head…

Sadly, I wish you good luck picking this one up at Chapters…

Isaac Asimov, Words of Science and the History Behind Them (New York: Signet, 1969 [1959]).

I just finished teaching a class on science (at the most basic level) and re-made the essential discovery that, like everything else, our understanding of science begins with language (thank you, Marquis de Condorcet). Words, in other words. Asimov scribbled maniacally throughout his career, producing hundreds of books. Of course one would have to recommend his Foundation series, or the classic short story collection I, Robot, or even his wonderful short story “Nightfall” (perhaps the most over-anthologized sci-fi story of all time…) before suggesting Words of Science, but there is still something quintessentially Asimov (and thus readable) in this relatively innocuous reference book. Guess that’s why they kept publishing him.

Aleister Crowley, 777 and Other Qabalistic Writings (York Beach, ME: Weiser, 1998 [1986]).

Um…Not sure I’m ready for Hermetic Qabalah on any real level at this point in my life, but when I am, this book will surely provide an inroad. For now, I’ll just read through the fascinating introduction. Looks very Golden Dawn. Obviously.

Douglass Mulhall, Our Molecular Future: How Nanotechnology, Robotics, Genetics, and Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Our World (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2002).

I know, I know. Futurism is lame. Just ask Ray Kurzweil (well, don’t ask him…). But there are realms of technological development that will be quite significant eventually and they bear keeping abreast of. This is one of those popular books that helps you do that. Very “third culture”. These guys (tellingly, they are mostly guys…) have a journal now — Edge — lots of good futurism stuff to be found there. Remember, kids, futurism is lame. Unless, of course, you are Arthur C. Clarke.

Daniel Pinchbeck, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoalt (New York: Penguin, 2006).

Even though I’m pretty critical of this guy, I picked up his book and am giving it a chance. A journalistic approach to the subject, which is understandable given Pinchbeck’s background. The first 75 pages have held my attention, so I’ll keep reading…

Robert Anton Wilson, The New Inquisition (Tempe, AZ: New Falcon, 1999 [1986]).

A reprint of a classic by RAW, replete with his inspired mix of criticism, humour, anarchy and skepticism. The first couple of chapters of this book read like a popularization of Feyerabend’s Against Method and other strongly critical takes on instrumental rationalism and modern techno-science. Philosophy of science for people who don’t want to read philosophy of science.

An eclectic and esoteric mix this time. I’m on an unusual reading tangent right now. It won’t last, however — too much reading outside of these parameters is required to prepare for my fall teaching. That and the fact that I haven’t even finished a “required” text from my last list. Ah, well.

Cosmological Inconstant

August 19, 2007

An interesting recent article in American Scientist about cosmology. Funny that word — cosmology — referring both to the study of theories about the origin and fate of the physical universe and to the idea of a “paradigm” or world-view. Our modern cosmology — in both of its senses — is changing and uncertain. It’s no surprise we (you know “we” as in “we as a society”) are prone to search for answers about metaphysical meaning beyond our western cosmology. The solace of science tainted by a universe full of mysterious darkness…

No wonder Lovecraft is still popular.

Of VALIS and Empire

August 17, 2007

There’s an insightful and well-written article about Philip K. Dick in the recent New Yorker, which you can find on-line here. Dick has become quite the literary darling in recent months due to the release of an anthology of his works by a major American publisher. Suddenly his status as pulp icon has evolved into something with more solidity. The article sees him in a romantic light, and discusses the conundrum of the prophet/hack dichotomy he’s been burdened with. If he were alive today, he’d probably think it was a conspiracy. Or a hoax.

Deuce Coupe

August 12, 2007

blackrod.jpg

Last week, there were old hot rods sprinkled all over the Victoria harbour, some even spilling out onto the front lawn of the Empress. The shiny chrome and bright candy colors were enough to bring out the child in everyone. Quite beautiful, for machines…

orangebluerods.jpg

Unpolished Drivel

August 8, 2007

I’m suddenly compelled to spout into the aether about the first thing that comes to my mind, which immediately makes me ask why I’d ever want to do this in the first place. I mean, is there something redeeming about most of the poorly composed ramblings of the medicated and the incoherent, dusting together a few grains of wisdom from their romp through the daily news or the latest software upgrade. You people kill me. Heck, I’m amusing myself by mockingly recreating a repetitive and incoherent (see, used that word twice, and too close together…) blog post, complete with randomly inserted smiley face. :)

Blame it on latent, malevolent bio-agents, or poorly designed infrastructure, or new and misunderstood technology, but don’t put too much of the burden on oneself. That’s impolitic in this day and age — mellow out, dude. Like the boy says — “Don’t have a cow, man”. No, have hundreds…swallow the wild eyed beasts in bloody wholes, with a side order of fries. Supersize me, you damn dirty ape.

My parody has degraded into maddeningly incoherent (there he goes again…) and random streams of pop culture consciousness…But like Democritus sticking his head in a well, there be some truth boiling under all that Facebooking. Or not.

Anyway, when in Rome. What ever happened to those Romans, anyway?

Eat lead, suckas…

Last Spring

August 5, 2007

As summer continues unabated in an endless stream of sun-drenched days, one reflects on the many ways nature’s essential cycles still shape our modern, plugged-in, technological lives. Spring, for example, as a time of blooms and fresh green growth — a veritable celebration of life.

In a post a while ago I speculated on the end of this essential cycle…On a “last garden” brought about by the disappearance of the bees, key pollinators in many ecosystems. And yet this would mean much more than just the “last garden” — it could be a last spring. Sadly, as pointed out in a recent New Yorker article that came to my attention by way of Anxious MoFo, we may be closer to this point that we think. Our bees are very, very sick. And so, in a sense, is our world.

Will we finally, clearly see the symptoms? Will we make a diagnosis? Can we find a “cure” and somehow alter the prognosis?

Maybe…


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