Archive for cult anthropology

Tuva or Bust: A Richard Feynman Adventure

Posted in interesting things that caught my attention, people to watch for, random, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 04/01/2012 by alex c

Bowerbird #30: Soft Robot Dope Magnet

Posted in Bowerbird, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , , on 12/19/2011 by alex c


We can’t help but think about what other people are thinking about. It seems the more boring our lives become, the more we seek the flat yet palpable experience of film. The fact is: We won’t free ourselves from a dysfunctional and unfair economic order until we begin to see ourselves as communities, not commodities. If one embraces an atheist worldview, it necessarily requires embracing, even celebrating, one’s insignificance. Independent thought, originality, has to be its own reward, because normative history offers revolutionaries the reward of oblivion or villainy. Our distant ancestors were explorers and inventors, and we owe it to them to continue their legacy, not wallow in the mundane minutia of post-industrial life, trapped under the heel of bureaucrats bereft of any vision or sense of wonder. So often we wake up at 25 and realize ‘adults’ really have no idea what they are doing, no matter how confident they seem when preaching tenuously built ideologies which seem infallible to a child and dull their willingness to be awed and inspired by the discoveries of science. It’s just the idea of the thing that puts people off. A lot of people thought the sense of self was hard-wired, but it’s not at all. Even with a map, some people manage to get lost. Nature generally goes for the simplest and most robust solution. We’re still scanning the skies, and may yet see another event like this.

Bowerbird #25: Upper Peninsula Spirit Quest

Posted in Bowerbird, music, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , , on 10/12/2011 by alex c

Even in the vast astronomical distances between stars, something lurks. Galaxies are moving away from us at an accelerating rate. On the face of it, this makes no sense. Clearly, there’s a lot left to figure out here. Nature’s been at it awhile, too. Natural navigation may be just what you need. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine convincing a people to go to war for the sake of beauty. There is certainly a great deal of structural variability between individuals, and that’s compounded by structural changes that go on across the lifespan. What is there to say in the face of color, a visual phenomenon that so often seems to elude linguistic expression? We’re not composing sterile, advanced exercises. These statements are getting progressively drunker. The trick is to give the brain information that it can use in an intuitive way. Education is the wisdom wrung from failure. Our lives are filled with loops that hurt us, heal us, make us laugh, and, sometimes, leave us wanting more. There is something boring and obvious in this sociological calculus. The more we try to avoid screwing up when stressed, the more likely it becomes. We just didn’t get the joke until relatively recently.

Bowerbird #24: Constant Velocity Invisible Control

Posted in Bowerbird, music, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 10/05/2011 by alex c

Road accidents are a prime source of organs because they’re one of the few times that young, healthy people die leaving most of the body intact. We want to see into each other’s hearts. Words are not always optimal, and there’s often something left out. There has never been a shortage of new inventions, what ‘shapes us’ is what we choose to pick up on. But the challenge is to extend these approaches to increasingly complex cases. We enjoy sprawling, complex pieces of art. Poetry is that which cannot be contained by the page or for that matter some ridiculous glass and steel mausoleum. Poetry is pretty much whatever you want to call a poem. Perhaps this will seem somewhat less far-fetched when one considers that, only two centuries ago, wigs designated social hierarchy, and comprised specific, unmistakable markers of caste, occupation, and position. Creative people make piles of things. The fabled “winter blues” are more due to fewer positive feelings than more negative ones. There is virtually no evidence that artworks activate emotion areas distinct from those involved in appraising everyday objects important for survival. We would not be here, of course, if our ancestors had not kept swimming. The real problem is therefore not mistakes. The problem is how to remain a scientist once we grow up. Science is a process not of affirming ideas but of attempting to falsify ideas in the search for truth. Keep washing your hands, for sure, but a whole-body sterilization would do more harm than good.

Bowerbird #23: Bestial Electrocutive Forgiveness

Posted in Bowerbird, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , on 09/28/2011 by alex c

We like to have an influence. We survive by laughing. Ferdinand Cheval and Louis of Bavaria built the castles that they wanted to build, in accordance with a new human condition. They look like fields of stars. We want to share what we have. The impact of humanity on the environment is not determined solely by how many of us are around, but by how much stuff we use and how much room we take up. If you can make your way into a country you’re fighting and destroy the food source, you no longer have an enemy. Where do you think they’ve gone and where do you think they’re going?

The bad news, of course, is that all this creativity comes with a cost. It’s slow, metabolically expensive, and — as far as we can tell — unnecessary for intelligence. Yet somehow it keeps on floating. You experience a huge number of things every day, but you choose to tell your friends about only a fraction of them, because most of what you do isn’t worth mentioning. And if that feels like spin, well, that’s because it is. From now on, if you do not appreciate their tone, you can call them out.

Bowerbird #19: Coyote Eyes Practice Wilderness

Posted in Bowerbird, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 09/06/2011 by alex c

We learn what to want, to desire, until we are taught something better. I’ve taken a few drugs in my time. Be careful what you eat at work, because you don’t know exactly what’s in that batch of delicious brownies. There’s fucking, there’s fetishes, and there’s jail time – it’s a spectrum. However, when it comes to the brain, the science is still in its early days. And, so you exaggerate, and put it through that porn-lens. If your calculations are correct, you should find the outcome satisfying. What it is, is pure joy. Since this galaxy was right under our noses by cosmic standards, it makes us wonder how many of these black hole pairs we’ve been missing. We see a humbling yet beautiful view of ourselves. We’re not really sure how often something like this happens, or how it affects the galactic environment. But, of course, that would be another generation’s problem. Experiments have shown that the lag between things happening and us experiencing them is about 80 milliseconds. And so we wait, expectantly, for the resolution of E major, for Beethoven’s established pattern to be completed.

Bowerbird #18: Wind Water Doubt History

Posted in Bowerbird, music, poetry, the universe will wreck you with tags , , , , , , , , on 08/30/2011 by alex c

The computer you are using to read this article is already involved in a global war. And having a restless planet is a consequence of having a habitable one. This shift in thinking is really quite liberating. It’s not a new or novel concept, the idea of multiple identities for multiple occasions, but it’s also not something you talk about often. Remember when the internet was referred to as the information superhighway? Money, youth, and formerly robust good health were no protection. We’ve just found more efficient ways today of fouling our own nests. Rather like how sound is useful for communication, but stand next to a pneumatic drill for an hour, and you’ll go deaf. Seeing, by contrast, happens when something causes you to look again, and to regard a thing as though for the first time. If you’re talking about a structure that owes its properties to 1,000 or more of these structures, interacting in complicated ways, that’s asking more than we can do now. What seems right about the absurd is both its representation of the crushing pain of existence but also the silliness of the case. You can’t make such maps if you still believe in the heroic, autonomous individual.

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