MonthOctober 2006

Why blog?

When I first started this blog, I wrote a post called “What is This Journal For?”” I tossed around a few ideas – mainly the “outboard brain” idea from Cory Doctorow, which remains the operative metaphor for this blog. But I never really found a satisfactory answer, and concluded: I’m still not sure what this journal is for.”

Since that time I’ve added at least one major function: making money.  Actually, when I started my longest running blog Technoccult, money was a motivator.  That was just around the time of the dot com crash, and the idea that a hobby site could make money from advertising still seemed valid.  The idea quickly fizzled, and for years I ran Technoccult, and later this blog, without ads or any intention of ever making money off of them. Even if I never made another cent off my blogs, I’d keep doing them.

So, if the blog doesn’t have a particular function, then why blog Perhaps it has something in common with the reasons I write in general.

Peter David had this to say about writers:

I also write novels, and if I tell a stranger this– on an airplane, for example– it almost always gets the same response. The person will say, “Oh, you know, I’ve always wanted to write a novel,” or “I know someone who’s working on one and is looking for a publisher.” Impressed? Very rarely.

Tell people you’re an artist, they’ll want you to do them a sketch of Spider-Man. Tell them you’re a writer, and they’ll say, “That’s nice.” What are they supposed to say? “Ooooh, ooooh, write me a paragraph! Bang me out a word balloon!”

I hear this over and over again. “I have an idea I’ve been wanting to do.” “I have a book I’ve always wanted to write.” But they’re too busy. Too busy earning a real living in a real world. “Something always comes up and I never have the time.”

So a writer, by implication, is someone who has nothing better to do. Being a writer is something frivolous, something that the ordinary person could do in his or her spare time while making a genuine living. Try to explain to these people that writing is something you do because it’s impossible not to, and you get blank stares.

This has always resonated with me. I’m not a disciplined writer. I don’t write every day. I’ve had some articles published here and there, but I’m far from being a professional writer. Sometimes I think about quitting writing forever. Sometimes I’ll go months without writing. But somehow it always creeps back in, something will creep into my head and I’ll have to write it down. It may be a few paragraphs or a few pages, but every so often it happens and I can’t really help it.

I suppose, ultimately, the same is true of blogging. There are a number of reasons to blog, but probably an equal number of reasons not to.  Sometimes I think about shutting ’em all down, selling my domain names, and finding a more productive hobby. I did sell one of my blogs, but I don’t have any intention of giving up any of the others, and even if I did, I’d probably just keep blogging somewhere else. The truth is, I blog because I just can’t help it.

Second Life gets Reuters news service centre Worth pondering.

Two Old DeLanda Interviews

I actually thought I’d posted these before, but I can’t find them in the archives anywhere. They are older interviews, but they’re a good introduction to DeLanda.

From the Zero News Datapool:

Don’t call me Gaia. The Gaia hypothesis is a very interesting point. […] Philosophically, it is a terrible mistake. It is a terrible mistake precisely in the neo-materialist sense because it takes the metaphor of the organism, it sees life, living flesh as the most magical thing that happened on this planet. This is of course a chauvinism, a kind of organic chauvinism on our part. It takes the metaphor of the organism and applies it to the whole planet. Now the whole planet is alive, that what Gaia is. Not only do you call it an organism, you also give it a goddess name just to make sure you are ridiculous enough. The way out of this is to think that the planet is indeed something special, but it what Deleuze and Guttari called a body without organs, which is the exact opposite of an organism. It is a cauldron or receptacle of non-organic life, a body without organs. Because it can be alive in the sense of being creative and generating order without having genes or having organs or being an organism. In my view, the very fact that the atmosphere connected with the hydrosphere can generate things like hurricanes and cyclones and all kinds of self-organizing entities means that indeed the planet, even before living creatures appeared, was already a body without organs, a cauldron of creativity, a receptacle of spontaneously emerging order.

And here’s Erik Davis’s interview with DeLanda from Mondo 2000:

I have my shaman there, since I was like 19, this woman called Julietta. She is a direct heir of a long, long line of Mazatec knowledge.

I hate mysticism. I’ve always hated the whole idea of taking psychedelics and then going, “Western science is bullshit, let’s turn to Eastern philosophy.” I always strive to have a materialist explanation for what’s going on. I always thought that matter had much more to it than just this inert stuff that sits here. And now I’m being proved right.

Think about the Game of Life [computer-based cellular automata developed by mathematician John Conway]. At first the rules of interaction of the little cells in an abstract space were so simple that everybody thought it was a game. Then they found ladders and glider-generating guns spontaneously forming. So this tiny, abstract, stupid space all of a sudden began exploding with possibilities.

Fell the Don over there (it’s hard to point on the interweb)

If anyone cares, I’ll be slowly growing a body of writing more oriented towards personal observation and design. It’ll be geared towards the design industry and more pragmatic observations and magical purposes. However, I am going to be sneaky and use different language talky-talk to get these ideas out there into other cliques and paradigms.

It’s a bare-bones site, but I’ll be growing it to represent me professionally. That means no more overt occult stuff… I’ll keep all that stuff for here, thanks to Klint. 😉

AllofMP3 goes ad supported

Well, AllfofMP3 is the first semi-legit non-DRM music downloading service to go fully ad supported. We’ll see how long they last – they’re under heavy pressure right now. Since AllofMP3 is able to operate at relatively low margins, it will be easy for them to stay in business if they don’t get shut down by the Russian government – but I’d really like to see the major labels adopt this model themselves.

Full Story: International Herald Tribune.

See: Then the Whole Game Changed.

Human species ‘may split in two’

Humanity may split into two sub-species in 100,000 years’ time as predicted by HG Wells, an expert has said.

Evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry of the London School of Economics expects a genetic upper class and a dim-witted underclass to emerge.

The human race would peak in the year 3000, he said – before a decline due to dependence on technology.

People would become choosier about their sexual partners, causing humanity to divide into sub-species, he added.

The descendants of the genetic upper class would be tall, slim, healthy, attractive, intelligent, and creative and a far cry from the “underclass” humans who would have evolved into dim-witted, ugly, squat goblin-like creatures.

continued reading via the BBC

Long interview with Lost creators

I’ve been watching the TV series Lost – it’s the only TV show I watch, and it’s the only show I’ve watched on a regular basis in years. I first got interested when I read about how much of an influence the Watchmen was on it. Later Wu pointed to an article mentioning that Robert Anton Wilson was an influence as well.

Here’s a snip from a lengthy interview with the creators:

This is a theme we’re very much exploring in Season 3, this notion of “us versus them.” And who is us? And who is them? I mean I think we all tend to objectify people who we don’t know much about and I think that’s the audience’s view of The Others right now – they are bad, they are the malevolent force on the island. But over the course of the stories we’re going to be telling this season on the show we expect the audience’s view of The Others to change a lot.

Full Story: ABC News.

Six technologies we need to fight to keep public dominion

I want to introduce friends and readers to Brainsturbation. I came across it via a comment made on my old blog, Occult Design.

Firstly, there are some good links to a very decent, select list of e-books to check out. There is also a mirror of a great Paul Laffoley gallery.

Second is the list of tech that we should be keeping our eyes open to watch for. I would somehow add legislation for artificial intelligence, as it develops, but that is a piece in itself.

We Need to Corner the Market on Future Tech Now – saving the planet pt. 2

  1. Universal Translation
  2. Encryption
  3. Teleportation
  4. ‘Acoustic Weapons’ is what happens when you classify Acoustic Healing
  5. Wireless Alternative Internets
  6. Fricking Invisibility Suits Yo

Follow the link to read more details about each subject. It’s a neato site, I dig.

Why it’s so hard to make good things happen

Here then are a few of the ways in which America has become harder to change. Read them not as a victim seeking vindication for weakness or despair but as a mechanic seeking the right place to start the repairs:

– Americans are becoming increasingly socially isolated. It is hard, for example, to imagine a great social revolution with so many ears literally tuned out. And not just to Ipods. Many, as non-profits are finding, are too stressed or too busy to engage in joint ventures beyond the necessary or the profitable. From the hyper schedules of well-ordered pre-schoolers to the adult time destruction by the economy, it is harder to find the room to change.

– We live in a semiosphere of lies, noise and myth – bombarded by advertising, hype, interminable words and by sights and sounds devoid of meaning. The unavoidable ubiquity of these external messages is only a few decades old. Assessing reality in such circumstances is a chancy business at best.

Full Story: Progressive Review.

International Alchemy Conference

“Largest Gathering of Alchemists in 500 Years!”

(via: Mutato Nomine).

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