(11/1/11)

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 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”.

18/12/10

The “Ghost Villages” of Russia
(Luke Harding, The Guardian, 11/03/2008)
The average life expectancy for Russian males is 59. This excellent and necessary piece of journalism illustrates the causes (political, economic, cultural) behind a country’s demise. Why does a population drink itself to death?

Respect The Flow: From the Block to The Ivory Tower
(Kalefa Sanneh, The New Yorker, 08/12/10)
A review of Jay z’s Decoded examines the effort of scholars to legitimize and raise up the stratus of rap lyrics to “poetry”. Is it taking away from, belittling, and sterilizing the work of brilliant MCs by the vain attempts of university professors to make it “scholarly”? But really, anything that provides the opportunity to speak of Sprung Rhythm and crack rocks in the same sentence is a positive.

The Land of Milk and Honey, It Is Not
(C., Spike Japan, 28/11/10)
A fascinating look at the origins and present day condition of a remote, and endlessly doomed, island of Japan. From samurai uprisings, prostitution, and Christian persecutions to today’s “underpopulation”, urban decay, and economic decline this is a mysterious and eerie place – a great, tragic story.

“The Past Is Not Dead. In Fact, It’s Not Even Past”
(Michaelangelo Matos, Resident Advisor, 23/11/10)
With all of history at our wired fingered tips, artists today are able to exploit, manipulate, and reinterpret our cultural history with a bold new approach and mindset. This article explores cultural theories of nostalgia and recontextualization and the how the internet/technology is changing our connection with the past. Seen through the lense of today’s electronic music.

Eat The Very, Very Rich
(Mark Enger, Dissent Magazine, 22/11/10)
How we define “rich” today illustrate the growing and extreme concentration of wealth in North America and the controversy over Obama’s tax reforms. How we distinguish between “LeBron James and LeBron James’ dentist” is more important than you may think.

22/11/10

The Singapore Solution
(Mark Jacobson, The National Geographic, 01/01/11)
The 4th place in the world I would never want to live – ominous (almost sinister) in its cleanliness, control, and formality.

Take A Peak At My World. Can You?
(Meehan Crist, Los Angeles Times, 14/11/10)
A fascinating review of Oliver Sacks’ latest work, one that evokes the “delicious paradox” and enigma at the heart of the relationship between subjective experience and how we describe it (language).

Speed, Progress, and Accidents
(Caroline Dumoucel, trans. Pauline Eiferman, Vice Magazine, 01/09/10)
An inspiring and nuanced interview with the French cultural theorist, Paul Virillo, who is famous for stating, “The invention of the ship was the invention of the shipwreck.”

Something For The Hedonists To Bandy About While Mocking Spin Classes
(Richard Klein, The Chronicle, 21/11/10)
“To be against health is to be critical of the myths and lies concerning our health that are circulated by the media and paid for by large industries. It is to demystify their hidden moralizing and their political agenda.”

The Influence and Power of The West (This, sadly, is not an article on the cultural significance of NWA or G-Funk.)
(Ian Morris, History Today, 20/11/10)
Historian gives a comprehensive (for the interweb) look at how geography shaped the world we live in today (and how this authority could be waning) and that there is nothing special about the West, just a series choice (accidental?) locations.

16/11/10

A forgotten classic and an eerie, mysterious disappearance
(Matt Sullivan, An Aquarium Drunkard, 10/11/2010)
This should be in the rock mythology canon, a truly amazing story. Light In The Attic founder, Matt, attempts to uncover the details and context of artist Jim Sullivan’s disappearance in New Mexico, in 1975. Great music, amazing story.

Snake Meat and Reefer
(Jacob Mikanowski, The Millions, 12/11/10)
An essay on the lurid, dark, and disturbed characters of Horacio Castellanos Moya that pushes for the appreciation (and embrace) of the absurd, despicable, and depraved in this crazy world.

The Wiring and Chemistry of Humanity’s Pain and Joy
(Genevieve Wanucha, Seed Magazine, 30/03/10)
A feature on how the ability to empirically map the ’emotional brain’ helps to explain the phenomenons that dictate how we interact with ourselves, others, and the world.

All Hail Science!
(James Garvey, The Philosophers’ Magazine, 25/10/11)
Maybe a nice counterpoint to the above article, this is a look at the work of the English philosopher, Peter Hacker, and his take on the perils and delusions of today’s Scientism.

Change The Channel
(Jennifer Pozner, In These Times, 03/11/10)
Too easy, I know. But this article exposes how today’s television, produced by integrated marketing and advertising teams, is exacerbating and perpetuating North America’s crippling reliance on and belief in class and consumption. Too easy?

13/11/10

Literature Machine
(Suzanne Moyer, New York Magazine, 11/11/2010)
A facotry ran by controversial “author” churns out assembly lit.

Science and Skepticism
(Michael Shumer, Scientific America, 03/11/2010)
The power of rhetoric in creating the (un)scientific

A Fresh Look at the “intellectual terrorist who was going to “divide history into two halves” “
(Jonathan Ree, The Humanist,06/11/2010)
Nietzsche is given a succinct, brief, timely, and playful analysis.

A quick glance at our lack of a generation
(Zadie Smith, NYRB, 06/11/2010)
Renowned writer provides a cutting critique of the today’s interactions through a review of the movie “The Social Network” and the book “We Are Not Gadgets”. Or is it just another hackneyed “kids these days…” statement?

Science and Skepticism
(Michael Shumer, Scientific America, 03/11/2010)
The power of rhetoric in creating the (un)scientific

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