watterson on comics

[Jake Rossen:] Where do you think the comic strip fits in today’s culture? [↑Bill Watterson:] Personally, I like paper and ink better than glowing pixels, but to each his own. Obviously the role of comics is changing very fast. On the one hand, I don’t think comics have ever been more widely accepted or taken as seriously as they are now. On the other hand, the mass media is disintegrating, and audiences are atomizing. I suspect comics will have less widespread cultural impact and make a lot less money. I’m old enough to find all this unsettling, but the world … Continue reading

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queen of cyberpunk

That juxtaposition of technology and humanity is a key theme of the cyberpunk movement [...] (Brown 2011) When Synners [Cadigan 1991] was published, the World Wide Web didn’t exist; few people had access to computers for leisure use; virtual reality hadn’t made it out of the labs. Yet Cadigan wrote, with typical assurance, of a noisy, noirish, dystopian future, of characters overwhelmed by sheer noise (physical and mental), of a plethora of information conveyed in media old and new, of the breakdown of the body/technology boundary. The world of Synners feels (un)comfortably familiar from the vantage point of the present … Continue reading

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transformation of reality

I well remember going to conferences in 2006 and 2007 where trendy social theorists presented papers arguing that these new forms of securitization, linked to new information technologies, heralded a looming transformation in the very nature of time, possibility—reality itself. I remember thinking: “Suckers!” And so they were. (Graeber 2011: 15) Ich erinnere mich an Vorträge aus den Jahren 2006 und 2007, in denen Gesellschaftstheoretiker auf der Höhe ihrer Zeit darlegten, dass diese neuen Formen der Verbriefung in Verbindung mit den neuen Informationstechnologien eine bevorstehende Transformation der Natur von Zeit und Möglichkeit—ja der Realität ankündigten. Ich weiß noch, dass ich … Continue reading

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vintage tomorrows

  There’s a fine new book: ‘Vintage Tomorrows’ (Carrott & Johnson 2013). Here’s the official description: What would today’s technology look like with Victorian-era design and materials? That’s the world steampunk envisions: a mad-inventor collection of 21st century-inspired contraptions powered by steam and driven by gears. In this book, futurist Brian David Johnson and cultural historian James Carrott explore steampunk, a cultural movement that’s captivated thousands of artists, designers, makers, hackers, and writers throughout the world.     Just like today, the late 19th century was an age of rapid technological change, and writers such as Jules Verne and H.G. … Continue reading

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technoscience leaving modernity?

The ideas and practices of Artificial Life research, and the interactions between these ideas and practices, are the topics of this thesis. How can the study of life, which ALife researchers see as pregiven by Darwinian evolution, be combined with the study of the artificial, which they see as “man made”? What implications do the combination of “artificial” and “life” have on how they practise their science? We will see that this combination makes Artificial Life a blend of a traditional naturalistic science and what they themselves sometimes call a postmodern science. (↑Risan 1997: ↑Introduction) In their introduction Varela and … Continue reading

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war as text

Currently I am bit by bit re-reading Latour’s ‘We have never been modern’ (1993 [1991]). In one of the classes I am holding this term I am coercing the students to do this reading, and loyally I am joining in. Latour’s criticism of postmodernism induced an association inside me. Especially this paragraph: When we are dealing with science and technology it is hard to imagine for long that we are a text that is writing itself, a discourse that is speaking all by itself, a play of signifiers without signifieds. It is hard to reduce the entire cosmos to a … Continue reading

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science as servant

A 1946 advertisement for the ↑Bendix Corporation, scanned and put online by Paul Malon—↑click for larger versions, in order to be able to read all of the small text, too. The slogan ‘Creative engineering makes science your obedient servant’ not only perfectly sums up the immediate post-war era stance of absolute belief in technological feasibility, but also unmistakingly voices where science’s proper place in society should be. I maintain that the understanding of said era is quintessential for understanding our contemporary world: In present day society, the term ‘science’ has great potency. Not only is ‘science’ more or less equivalent … Continue reading

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early near futures

Many of the films discussed so far [films made from 1895 to 1910 and featuring science-fictional elements or qualities] could be said to be cinematic predictions of the future: from future warfare and advanced automatons to trips to the moon and visitors from another planet. Yet most of these narratives (or the film’s mise en scène more generally) suggested that events were taking place in an undefined present, the result of a recent technological breakthrough. This initial absence of futurity can also be found in much of the literature from which these early film narratives were drawing inspiration: Frankenstein, Twenty … Continue reading

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evolution of creationism

I sincerely urge everyone to read David Montgomery’s article ‘↓The evolution of creationism‘—it’s just about five pages long and absolutely concise and clear. Abstract For centuries, natural philosophers, their scientific successors, and theologians alike sought to explain the physical and natural world. The now common cultural narrative of perpetual conflict between science and religion simplifies the arguments and struggles of the past and overlooks cross-pollination between those who embraced faith and reason as the keys to understanding earth history. When geologists unequivocally dismissed the idea of a global flood and recognized Earth’s antiquity, many conservative theologians acknowledged that there was … Continue reading

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