A stock footage company puts their archive to clever cinematic use:
Benjamin Breen prefers the 19th-century literature of laughing gas to the druggy musings of 1960s writers like Timothy Leary. He cites the “exuberant, experimental, playful, funny, honest, and intellectually curious” trip-lit of William James:
After huffing a large amount of nitrous oxide, James set out to tackle a prominent bugbear of 1880s intellectual life: Hegelian dialectics. He came up with a stream of consciousness that centered on a kind of ecstatic binary thinking:
Don’t you see the difference, don’t you see the identity?
Constantly opposites united!
The same me telling you to write and not to write!
Extreme—extreme, extreme! Within the extensity that “extreme” contains is contained the “extreme” of intensity
Something, and other than that thing!
By George, nothing but othing!
That sounds like nonsense, but it’s pure onsense!
Thought much deeper than speech … !
Medical school; divinity school, school! SCHOOL!
Oh my God, oh God; oh God!
James acknowledged to his readers that these ravings were the product of a mental state that, like alcohol intoxication, “seems silly to lookers-on.” But he came away from the experience with a remarkably positive take on nitrous oxide. James had argued that drunkenness produced a kind of “subjective rapture” occasioned by its ability to make “the centre and periphery of things seem to come together.” Nitrous oxide, he believed, produced a similar effect, “only a thousandfold enhanced.” On the gas, his mind was “seized … by logical forceps” and jolted into a new order of consciousness which, he thought, made the logic of Hegelian dialectics perfectly obvious to him.
Tearin’ it up:
Megan Patterson interviews Kara Stone about Sext Adventure, a game she designed to be played on smartphones:
You mentioned to me a couple of weeks ago that a lot of women that hear the title Sext Adventure, and they just hear the word “sext” and assume that it’s made to appeal to guys, and not women. When that’s not remotely true at all!
Yes, totally! I think partly it’s the assumption that video games are for men, and I think if I heard about a sexting game, I’d be like, “Ugh, it’s gonna be hetero, it’s gonna be for men, and it’s gonna be by a bunch of white dudes who think they’re funny.” So I recognize that.
It has been funny seeing guys who play it, expecting one thing, and then they end up getting random dick pics, or not being able to get the exact kind of body type they want, or the gender they want. I’ve gotten a few emails being like, “Um, how do I make sext bot a woman?” I can imagine them having played a few times, like, “I can’t get the right narrative!” I didn’t make this game to troll dudes, but it’s a very funny consequence.
I was thinking more about making a game everybody could play, and also explore sexuality in a cyborg light, to get people thinking about the roles of gender and technology. We often gender technology, and sentient technology might not have gender. What would that mean? How would it express desire? How would it understand humans?
In other sex-and-tech news, Kottke points to amusing erotic poetry formed exclusively from snippets of iPhone 6 reviews:
A cool new TED-Ed animation explains why we love repetition in music:
As professor Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis wrote earlier this year:
Cultures all over the world make repetitive music. The ethnomusicologist Bruno Nettl at the University of Illinois counts repetitiveness among the few musical universals known to characterise music the world over. Hit songs on American radio often feature a chorus that plays several times, and people listen to these already repetitive songs many times. The musicologist David Huron at Ohio State University estimates that, during more than 90 per cent of the time spent listening to music, people are actually hearing passages that they’ve listened to before. The play counter in iTunes reveals just how frequently we listen to our favourite tracks. And if that’s not enough, tunes that get stuck in our heads seem to loop again and again. In short, repetition is a startlingly prevalent feature of music, real and imagined.
Photographer Nicolas Rivals creates portraits out of spinning molten metal:
While other artists use pigments to paint, Nicolas Rivals uses light. His work isn’t exactly a painting as it is an photo captured through long exposure then flipped to create a sort of Rorschach image made of light. Nicolas has another series of light paintings featuring a bright circle of light floating in the middle of an urban setting. He said: “There is always hope that even in the depths of night a glimmer will appear. Light is never as reassuring as the anguish of the shadow. A little light, a little sense, would for a moment, make the chaos disappear”.
These stories appeared in The New Yorker over the span of about 15 years. Yet how conspicuously consistent their interests! They are at once many stories and the same story, with slight but ultimately trivial differences among the various shades of alcoholism, childlessness, parental ambivalence, dead mothers, artistic ambitions, mood-stabilizing medications, and myriad other signifiers of middle-class “anxiety and suicidality.”
This arresting sameness … I would attribute not to any creative drought on the part of Antrim (whose novels are enormously fecund, fun, and surreal), but to the peculiar ambition of the collection: it wants to be a miniature mythology. Its stories don’t aim to delight us with rare and precise Flaubertian details, or to present a wide and sparkling array of humanity. Instead, the book wants to wash over us in waves of familiarity. We are made to recognize the human hubris at work in each story precisely because the humans depicted are sketchily, almost indifferently drawn.
In a profile of Antrim, John Jeremiah Sullivan offers insight into the roots of the author’s “art of anxiety.” He relates the story of how Antrim got over his fear of electroconvulsive therapy – with the help of a phone call from David Foster Wallace:
This week’s short story, Andre Dubus’ “Killings” (pdf), is notable not just for the way it portrays the way one family grieves, but for being turned into a brilliant film by director Todd Field, In the Bedroom. We suggest reading the story – it’s not long – then watching the movie counterpart. Here’s how the story begins:
On the August morning when Matt Fowler buried his youngest son, Frank, who had lived for twenty-one years, eight months, and four days, Matt’s older son, Steve, turned to him as the family left the grave and walked between their friends, and said: ‘I should kill him.’ He was twenty-eight, his brown hair starting to thin in front where he used to have a cowlick. He bit his lower lip, wiped his eyes, then said it again. Ruth’s arm, linked with Matt’s, tightened; he looked at her. Beneath her eyes there was swelling from the three days she had suffered. At the limousine Matt stopped and looked back at the grave, the casket, and the Congregationalist minister who he thought had probably had a difficult job with the eulogy though he hadn’t seemed to, and the old funeral director who was saying something to the six young pallbearers. The grave was on a hill and overlooked the Merrimack, which he could not see from where he stood; he looked at the opposite bank, at the apple orchard with its symmetrically planted flees going up a hill.
You have until noon on Tuesday to guess it. City and/or state first, then country. Please put the location in the subject heading, along with any description within the email. If no one guesses the exact location, proximity counts. Be sure to email entries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Winner gets a free The View From Your Window book or two free gift subscriptions to the Dish. Have at it.
Also, check out this extra-credit guess for last week’s contest, in which a reader didn’t just ID the city and hotel, but dug even deeper to determine the day, time and exact moment of the live baseball game being played in the background:
On the not at all ironically titled CNN show Reliable Sources, there was a discussion about the leaks with a dramatic onscreen graphic carrying the legend ‘Should Glenn Greenwald be prosecuted?’ Walter Pincus of the Washington Post felt it was all Julian Assange’s doing (which it wasn’t), while Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times used his CNBC show to say he would arrest Greenwald for seeming to want to get Snowden to Ecuador.
Perhaps we should just be grateful that these commentators didn’t form the wellspring of journalistic endeavour in the darkest days of apartheid. But Greenwald brilliantly describes the period they have brought into being under Obama’s extended wing. We learn that journalism, perhaps in imitation of Western governance itself, has ripped up the rulebook since 2001. It’s less a question of ‘What’s the real story?’ as ‘Whose side are you on?’ That this should be a disaster for the generally liberal-minded will not occur to these bin-rakers and text-inspectors, who think warriors for digital privacy are not that different from the men who would cut off your head. Such commentators are building the dark places they claim to hate – they spread their own kind of terror and advocate their own intolerance – and for such people, no matter what cave or desert or studio they reside in, the truth is always the enemy.