Showing posts from July, 2023

Against the Human

"Mankind was born on Earth. It was never meant to die here." —Cooper, Interstellar "This is what I mean when I'm talkin' about time, and death, and futility." —Det. Rust Cohle, True Detective Season 1 "Making kin and making kind ... stretch the imagination and can change the story." —Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble In his brief book The Revolt Against Humanity: Imagining a Future Without Us , Adam Kirsch proposes that radical pessimism and fervent transhumanism are opposite poles of an anti-human spectrum: "The antihumanist future and the transhumanist future are opposites in most ways, except the most fundamental: they are worlds from which we have disappeared, and rightfully so." Reading the book is like watching Matthew McConaughey's character of Detective Rust Cohle from True Detective speak for a while and then give over the stage to McConaughey's character from Interstellar , Cooper. While the character of Cohle ha

Notes on Sylvia Townsend Warner

I began writing this while attending Readercon 32, an annual convention I've been attending for a while. (I hope to do an Archive Dive post about that soon.) Saturday morning, I went to a phenomenal panel discussion of Sylvia Townsend Warner as a fantasist. This was, in fact, a panel I proposed myself, though I did not notice it on the list when I signed up for panels, or I would have volunteered, so I was tremendously pleased to see it on the schedule — I had feared the topic was seen as too niche. I'm actually glad I missed the sign-up, because the panelists were all knowledgeable, thoughtful, and a joy to listen to. I really would have had nothing to add. I will share a few of the insights from the panel discussion, but first want to provide a quick overview of why I think Warner is important and then some updates about the availability of Warner's books in the US and UK (with the demise of The Book Depository, I'm less certain of availability for other countries).

Eat Sleep Sit

Kaoru Nonomura's Eat Sleep Sit: My Year at Japan's Most Rigorous Zen Temple (trans by Juliet Winters Carpenter) is, as far as I know, the most detailed look inside the practices of the Eiheiji temple, founded in the mid-13th century with the great Dōgen as abbot. Certainly, it is the most detailed description in English of daily life within Eiheiji. I will read almost anything about monks and hermits, regardless of religion or inclination, if the focus is on the practicalities more than the dogmas. (An obsession with Henry David Thoreau when I was in high school was probably the first sign of this inclination.) My ideal life would certainly be that of a monk; alas, I have no ability to believe in any particular religion, never mind devote my life to faith. Is there a cloister for cheerful nihilists, a quiet scholastic place where I might sit and contemplate the meaninglessness of existence? Many years ago, I met a former Trappist monk in Nicaragua, a man inspired, like many,

Taylor Mac's 24-Decade History of Popular Music

    "I'm not really interested in this show being about history as much as I am interested in it being about all of us in this room have a lot of history on our backs and we're trying to figure out what to do with it." —Taylor Mac At noon on October 8, 2016, Taylor Mac stepped on stage at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn and sang the first of 240 songs that would fill the space over the next 24 hours in one of the most astonishing works of performance art in American theatrical history.  Mac called the work a "radical faerie realness ritual sacrifce," with the event itself the ritual, the audience the sacrifice. Like much of what Mac says throughout, the statement is both absolutely earnest and aware that it's a funny and provocative thing to say. Mac's approach to personal pronouns is similar, because Mac's preferred personal pronoun is judy : A few people have claimed I use this pronoun as a joke. They are uninformed. It’s not a joke, which