MachineMachine /stream - tagged with literature en-us LifePress <![CDATA[the "undifferentiated mass of organic sensation" origin]]>

In this text from 1966, Robert Smithson quotes Roland Barthes as saying the “undifferentiated mass of organic sensation.” But I can’t find the origin of the quote. A skewed translation? or possibly just made up by Smithson? Any ideas where it might come from appreciated.

Thu, 14 Mar 2024 13:38:54 -0700
<![CDATA[Leaving Herland | The Point Magazine]]>

But even after I overcame my instinct for detachment, I remained wary of the movement’s language, which was a language of binaries: women and men.

Fri, 24 Nov 2023 11:33:20 -0800
<![CDATA[Octavia Estelle Butler: Notetaking as Science Fiction - Forte Labs]]>

Octavia Estelle Butler was born in 1947 in Pasadena, CA. Known in her early years as “Estelle,” she was raised by a single, widowed mother who worked domestic jobs to make ends meet.

Tue, 14 Sep 2021 03:51:25 -0700
<![CDATA[Please Stop Talking About the "Rise" of African Science Fiction | Literary Hub]]>

Whenever I see an article that starts with “The Rise of. . .” I think of dough. When it’s applied to African science fiction, I picture an endlessly rising (and falling) dough that will never become bread.

Tue, 09 Oct 2018 09:50:45 -0700
<![CDATA[Leaving Herland | The Point Magazine]]>

But even after I overcame my instinct for detachment, I remained wary of the movement’s language, which was a language of binaries: women and men.

Mon, 30 Apr 2018 04:24:42 -0700
<![CDATA[Help me find this quote about living in possible worlds/utopias]]>

I read a quote recently, and cannot find it again. It was in an article or interview about better worlds, about the possibility of utopia. And the person writing/being interviewed quoted another thinker's doctrine, something like: "A possible world is only worth considering if it is better regardless of who you are in that world." i.e. imagine that you don't know who you would be born as in a possible world, and build your utopia from there.

Sat, 28 Apr 2018 05:30:01 -0700
<![CDATA[How philosophy came to disdain the wisdom of oral cultures | Aeon Ideas]]>

A poet, somewhere in Siberia, or the Balkans, or West Africa, some time in the past 60,000 years, recites thousands of memorised lines in the course of an evening. The lines are packed with fixed epithets and clichés.

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 04:54:34 -0700
<![CDATA[Books after the Death of the Book | Public Books]]>

Last summer I decided to assign Ted Chiang’s The Lifecycle of Software Objects in the graduate course I was getting ready to teach.

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 04:54:32 -0700
<![CDATA[Writers of Color Continue to Wrestle With Lovecraft’s Racist Legacy | WIRED]]>

H.P. Lovecraft is universally acknowledged as one of the most important horror writers of the 20th century, and references to his Cthulhu Mythos abound in contemporary culture. But Lovecraft was also quite racist, a fact made clear in his voluminous correspondence.

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 05:50:46 -0800
<![CDATA[Manifestos for the Internet Age by Various — Julian Hanna – minor literature[s]]]>

This is what you get when you dip into Manifestos for the Internet Age, a reader issued by Greyscale Press. It might be the best way to consume manifestos, in fact, jumping in for a page or two and getting out fast.

Mon, 09 May 2016 01:16:33 -0700
<![CDATA[The Footprint on Crusoe's Island & its use in critical theory]]>

The single appearance of the footprint in Daniel Defoe's 1719 novel, Robinson Crusoe, is perhaps one of the most famous events in all of literature. I am interested in who has referenced it, and for what ends, especially in critical theory. I also wonder whether Michel Foucault's famous closing lines to 'The Order of Things' is a subtle reference to the appearance of that footprint? Can other allusions to 'the figure of man' and marks in the sand be traced back to Defoe's novel?

Wed, 09 Sep 2015 08:03:02 -0700
<![CDATA[Japanese science fiction award opens entries to aliens and computers | Books | The Guardian]]>

Last week, the Australian writer Richard Flanagan stalked on to the stage wearing a broad grin, kissed the Duchess of Cornwall and grasped the 2014 Man Booker prize.

Sat, 22 Nov 2014 05:23:52 -0800
<![CDATA[The novel is dead (this time it's for real) | Books | The Guardian]]>

If you happen to be a writer, one of the great benisons of having children is that your personal culture-mine is equipped with its own canaries.

Fri, 02 May 2014 09:56:22 -0700
<![CDATA[The culture of the copy by James Panero - The New Criterion]]>

Technological revolutions are far less obvious than political revolutions to the generations that live through them. This is true even as new tools, for better and worse, shift human history more than new regimes do. Innovations offer silent coups. We rarely appreciate the changes they bring until th

Tue, 22 Jan 2013 15:27:00 -0800
<![CDATA[Roger Scruton – A culture of fake originality]]>

A high culture is the self-consciousness of a society. It contains the works of art, literature, scholarship and philosophy that establish a shared frame of reference among educated people. High culture is a precarious achievement, and endures only if it is underpinned by a sense of tradition, and by

Tue, 22 Jan 2013 05:16:00 -0800
<![CDATA[Borges and Memory: Encounters with the Human Brain]]>

What is the genesis of Funes the Memorious, the Jorge Luis Borges story about a mnemonist that fascinates neuroscientists, and is as famed a fictional treatise on memory as anything but Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past?

Sun, 11 Nov 2012 21:23:00 -0800
<![CDATA[The Library of Babel in 140 characters (or fewer)]]>

The universe (which others call The Twitter) is composed of every word in the English language; Shakespeare's folios, line-by-line-by-line; the Exegesis of Philip K. Dick, exploded; Constantine XI, in 140 character chunks; Sun Tzu's Art of War, in its entirety; the chapter headings of JG Ballard, in abundance; and definitive discographies of Every. Artist. Ever...

All this, I repeat, is true, but one hundred forty characters of inalterable wwwtext cannot correspond to any language, no matter how dialectical or rudimentary it may be.

Sat, 27 Oct 2012 09:15:00 -0700
<![CDATA[Prometheus Unbound: What The Movie Was Actually About]]>

Prometheus contains such a huge amount of mythic resonance that it effectively obscures a more conventional plot. I'd like to draw your attention to the use of motifs and callbacks in the film that not only enrich it, but offer possible hints as to what was going on in otherwise confusing scenes.

Let's begin with the eponymous titan himself, Prometheus. He was a wise and benevolent entity who created mankind in the first place, forming the first humans from clay. The Gods were more or less okay with that, until Prometheus gave them fire. This was a big no-no, as fire was supposed to be the exclusive property of the Gods. As punishment, Prometheus was chained to a rock and condemned to have his liver ripped out and eaten every day by an eagle. (His liver magically grew back, in case you were wondering.)

Fix that image in your mind, please: the giver of life, with his abdomen torn open. We'll be coming back to it many times in the course of this article.

The ethos of the titan Prometh

Fri, 15 Jun 2012 05:29:00 -0700
<![CDATA[War and Peace ebook readers find a surprise in its Nooks]]>

A few days ago a blogger who identifies himself as just "Philip" took to his site to recount his experience of reading War and Peace – specifically, a 99¢ version as sold through Barnes and Noble's Nook store. A contextually important reminder: the Nook is Barnes and Noble's answer to Amazon's Kindle and the two devices have invariably been pitted against each other in a kind of ereader war.

When, however, Philip came across the line, "It was as if a light had been Nookd in a carved and painted lantern", the Kindle/Nook rivalry wasn't foremost in his mind. Instead, he thought he'd just stumbled on an unorthodox verb-translation or some other minor textual hiccup. It was only when that rogue "Nookd" struck again that he realised, via the text's search function, that every instance of the word "kindle" or "kindle" had, in fact, been changed to "Nook" and "Nookd".

Which means Tolstoy has been subjected to indignities – and absurdities – such as this: "When the flame of the sulphur splin

Fri, 15 Jun 2012 05:23:00 -0700
<![CDATA[In the Digital Era, Publication Isn’t Preservation]]>

Publication used to mean preservation but it no longer does. Let me explain.

When a print book is published its metadata is literally attached to its content. The author and title, publisher and imprint, price, ISBN and barcode, as well as the size, the shape, the binding are clear, easily referenced at a glance. Part of the complicated process of digitizing books that the Hathi Trust, the Internet Archive, and Google, for example, faced was how to record and connect all of this information to a digital file. For scanned and even more seriously for born-digital e-books, as Digital Book World pointed out earlier this month (Brian O’Leary clearly agrees), the matter is more complex.

First of all, it’s not always readily obvious that the metadata is correct. But just as important, the connection of metadata to digital book content is more tenuous. Without a hard copy to refer back to, a piece of information that goes missing may not be retrievable. For this reason (and more), the Intern

Mon, 21 May 2012 10:46:01 -0700