Grains of Attic salt



What A Wonderful World: A Look At The Scariest Of 2010
(Spencer Ackerman, et al, Wired, 31/12/10)

If the past year is an indication of where things are headed, batten down the hatches and stockpile those cans of chickpeas. This article paints a world of corrupt, ubiquitous espionage, murderous flying robots, insane monomaniac dictators with nukes, nefarious governments wielding “neuroweapons”, and “cyberwars” that will be felt in your living-room. Nothing new really, but it’s fun to bring back that old Cold War feeling every now and then. This same post will be up next year, guaranteed.

The Extended Mind, The Blending of You and The World
(Andy Clark, NYT, 12/12/10)

“Where does the mind start and end?” asks University of Edinburgh University philosophy professor Andy Clark. Is there a mind to find is not necessarily the question (but is a thorny issue here) but Clark wants to look at the “the physical machinery of thought and reason” and how it extends beyond the skin/skull barrier – the complex interaction between body, brain, and our increasingly designed and technological environment. This leads to some serious cyberpunk type questioning of what is human and how we encounter reality. Make sure to read the comments (with a healthy dose of skepticism and openness) and Clark’s paper “The Extended Mind” to see the array of problems, presumptions, and consequences that surround and are inflamed by this topic.

Listening To Napalm Death In The Coffee Shop
(Daniel Ross, The Quietus, 12/11/10)

Has “noise” lost its power to shake us up, to shock us out the daily monotony? Has it become to familiar and therefore comfortable? Since the rise of Modernism, many forms of art have attempted and strove to subvert and destroy, and thereby draw attention to, the bland, sterility of our day-to-day drudgery of capital gain; music is no different and “noise” has always been a key combatant in this mission. But like the high-school girl wearing a Motorhead t-shirt to her ballet practice, “noise” has been co-opted and placed comfortably in our cultural landscape, stripped of its original power to challenge and disrupt. (It must be said, that the author ignores a lot of “noise” staples; for example, Prurient can still scare the shit out of me.)

Beyond the Book, Storytelling In The Future
(Amanda Gefter, New Scientist, 15/11/10)

The book lover in me brings out the Luddite. But I need to remind myself that the book is only a medium of storytelling, one that has a culturally ingrained prestige and the romantic nostalgia of warm library academia. It is the deft craft, the succinct, awe-inspiring, connections and manifestations of ideas, the fantasy, and empathy contained within the covers that I love, not necessarily the object itself. (This is only partly true.) This article briefly points out a few of the exciting possibilities of how future generations will experience storytelling. It is as scary, and prone to backlash, as it invigorating in its grand possibilities of new, unforeseen narratives. Literature will be able to open new worlds, but it won’t look like the old stuffy scholars want it to.

An Uneasy Past: The Tumult of Reason and Faith
(Colin Wells, Arion, 01/09/10)

The relationship between faith and reason has been central, pivotal (according to Wells) in shaping the history and present state of the world. Understanding the growing  and always evolving tension and reactionary interplay between “the seen” and “the unseen” and its role in the rise to power of exclusive monotheistic religions (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity), along with their apocalyptic psychology, helps to explain (to an extent) the religious and political climate of today.

How To Talk About Music: The Impotence And Challenges Of Music Criticism On The Internet
(Nick Sylvester, Thirteen, NY Public Media, 22/12/10)

Renowned music critic Nick Sylvester honestly and in succinct form describes his battle to say/find something meaningful about music in today’s cluttered, diluted, and culture obsessed internet/blog discourse. With the constant, growing, shifting output of music, a demand for the new and next being the pinnacle, music criticism has lost it’s focus on in-depth musical analysis and has become a form of hyper-topical and cosseted cultural criticism. The task of converting sound to text has always been wrought with contradictions and hurdles, but the monetary limitations,  the over abundance of “content”, and an increasing need contextualize the music’s place in our history and cultural identity, leaves the music itself unheard, drowned in the internet’s “noise”.


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