097: This monkey’s gone to heaven


Verbatim

Oh boy, what to say about this glorious firehose of online recollection from Patricia Lockwood in the LRB? Perhaps just that the only way to understand “everything tangled in the string of everything else” that is… well…. now, is just to let the string untangle?

A few years ago, when it suddenly occurred to us that the internet was a place we could never leave, I began to keep a diary of what it felt like to be there in the days of its snowy white disintegration, which felt also like the disintegration of my own mind. My interest was not academic. I did not care about the Singularity, or the rise of the machines, or the afterlife of being uploaded into the cloud. I cared about the feeling that my thoughts were being dictated. I cared about the collective head, which seemed to be running a fever. But if we managed to escape, to break out of the great skull and into the fresh air, if Twitter was shut down for crimes against humanity, what would we be losing? The bloodstream of the news, the thrilled consensus, the dance to the tune of the time. The portal that told us, each time we opened it, exactly what was happening now. It seemed fitting to write it in the third person because I no longer felt like myself. Here’s how it began.


Things“There is a surprisingly large number of people who go around dreaming about an island.”

What’s vanilla sex and what’s not? At Vice, Anna Iovine gathers a pretty useful little data set of modern day kink-think.

As we all sit horrified contemplating these staggering reports of insect population collapse, here’s BS favourite Jedediah Purdy on the Green New Deal: “In the 21st century, environmental policy is economic policy. Keeping the two separate isn’t a feat of intellectual discipline. It’s an anachronism.” Purdy does a good job here of tracking the shifting political winds of environmentalism. As a chaser, the latest “You’re Wrong About” podcast dives into the vaguely remembered threat of acid rain, and all the ways we did and didn’t solve it. (Yeah, we did already link to this podcast just recently, but damn it’s good.)

Meanwhile, STAT surveys the climate change risk assessment plans of the big biotech firms, which… are something. “Takeda predicts that climate change will help its Zika and dengue fever vaccines find a larger market. Roche says it could ultimately make it attractive for the company to develop treatments for diseases like malaria. And AbbVie says extreme weather events might boost its immunology products. But the potential risks of climate change — and the attendant increase in natural disasters — stand to outstrip any of those incremental gains…”


We haven’t seen Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Never Look Away, or read Daniel Mallory’s The Woman in the Window, but we’re already a part of their stories. It’s easy to be drawn in when the boundaries are blurry—when you feel your involvement is essential piece of the puzzle, and that the artist needs you to fully struggle with something. Is von Donnersmarck’s fascination with Gerhard Richter’s amorphous self-presentation more genuine than Mallory’s manipulation of the publishing world to propel his best-selling debut thriller? In either case, the audience searches for clues, cracks, winks, and Easter eggs, finding meaning in the ambiguous relationship between an artist’s personal narrative and their work (or a disappeared crypto entrepreneur and their “cold wallets”). Not only does this fuel fandom, gossip sites, critical attention, and collector markets, it also inspires other artists, compounding the kaleidoscope. And with both these pieces running in The New Yorker, both mentioning The Talented Mr. Ripley, we have just enough of a seed for some fan theories of our own.

Whether or not Oppy’s last words were really “My battery is low and it’s getting dark”, we did shed a little tear for the brave little Mars rover. (Also, how great are the arguments in the Skeptics Stack Exchange?). We didn’t shed a single tear, though, for the collapse of the giant scam that was Mars One, though we do like to celebrate the achievements of our readers here at Buckslip, so we’d like to give a shout out to the brilliant Elmo Keep for having been on to them from the very beginning. If you, dear reader, have similarly helped bring about the end of anybody’s grand dreams of interplanetary travel, just write in and we’ll include you in a special section!

Meet the Mormon Transhumanists Seeking Salvation in the Singularity is a very Buckslip headline, no?


For some reason we were thinking a lot about Lyndon LaRouche this week – it happens now and again. And then he went and died! And then, while we were still wondering why he’d even come to mind, he showed up again in the latest episode of Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything, a thorough and enthralling history of the icky conspiracy theory of “Cultural Marxism” and the far right’s profound hatred of Adorno (CW for Jordan Peterson’s voice and lobster theories). What’s up, Lyndon? What wild bigotry you trying to send us from out there beyond?

“As a neurologist, I have seen many patients rendered amnesic by destruction of the memory systems in their brains, and I cannot help feeling that these people, having lost any sense of a past or a future and being caught in a flutter of ephemeral, ever-changing sensations, have in some way been reduced from human beings to Humean ones.” We wanted more from the late, great Oliver Sacks on the attention economy and struggles of adjusting to the new than this posthumous piece which leans a bit too disappointingly towards old-man-fretting about “myriads of people in the street peering into little boxes” and a social life that he sees as disappeared, not migrated. We’ve love to see Sacks in dialogue with the Lockwood, above – so curious what he’d make of it, in many ways this piece’s antithesis. Stick with it, though, as it takes a more existential turn, via Forster and Hume, to contemplation of what might survive of human culture on a climate-change-ravaged earth. That’s much more our thing!


Build yourself a pretty MIDI city.

Photographer Derek Shapton takes the last Greyhound bus through Western Canada.

At the NYT Mag, Clive Thompson writes on “The Secret History of Women in Coding”, and at The Atlantic, Ed Yong looks at the programming women whose contribution to the field of genetics was lost to footnotes. Two of our favourite writers, sure, and one of our favourite topics but… hey, important magazine editors, just wondering… were you really waiting for two establishment men to pitch these “forgotten” stories before you’d tell ‘em? Here’s the actual study Yong is writing on. It’s great.


Good?