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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anthropology and cinema

For many people the words “anthropology” and “cinema” go together like bread and gasoline. This is unfortunate as they have a substantial amount to offer one another. (Gray 2010: x) … tell me about it. GRAY, GORDON. 2010. Cinema: A visual anthropology. Oxford, New York: Berg. … 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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who is exchanged?

zeph’s pop culture quiz #44 Here is a fine noir Cold War scenario. Right at the Iron Curtain government officials are waiting for an exchange of prisoners. But who is exchanged?     Just leave a comment with your educated guess—you can ask for additional hints, too. [Leaving a comment is easy; just click the ‘Leave a comment’ at the end of the post and fill in the form. If it’s the first time you post a comment, it will be held for moderation. But I am constantly checking, and once I’ve approved a comment, your next ones won’t be … Continue reading

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cyberculture as discourse

After elaborating on methodological concerns and before delving into detailed analysis of the representational politics in selected cyberpop examples, it is important to situate the objects of this book in their cultural context. Chapter 2 is an overview of several key concepts in the network of discourses and practices that constitute cyberculture and, by extension, its popular media productions. Describing cyberculture as a discursive formation (inspired by theories of Michel Foucault (Archeology) helpfully clarifies how the key concepts that emerge repeatedly in cyberpop operate as a network or conceptual architecture linking technologies to individual subjects, identities, and digital lifestyles. In … Continue reading

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pfaffenberger on society

Today, most sociologists accept that communities arise, not necessarily from face-to-face interaction, but rather from shared meanings. Because they are capable of promulgating shared meanings on an unprecedented scale, new communication and media technologies (including newspapers, motion pictures, radio, television, and computer-based communications) are capable of creating communities that vastly transcend the limits of face-to-face interaction. (Pfaffenberger 2008: 651) Durkheim’s understanding of society was informed by likening its constituent elements to an advanced, highly differentiated organism. Scientific and technological advances in the twentieth century made new metaphors available to sociological theorists. Drawing on the emerging fields of cybernetics and systems … Continue reading

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colossus

But—and it was a very large but—his had been the guiding brain, the one with the big overall concept, the vision. And that was the one that counted. (Jones 1966: chpt. 1)     Briefly he considered his future, but the idea of life without the Project lacked reality. (Jones 1966: chpt. 1)     They were both roughly the same age, in their very early fifties, though a hundred years earlier they would have appeared much younger. (Jones 1966: chpt. 1)     Now it’s all over, and in the last few weeks, I’ve begun to realize what it … Continue reading

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monte cristo jim

This is the islet Montecristo, where Edmond Dantès found the treasure enabling him to become ‘↑The Count of Monte Cristo‘ (↑Dumas 1844-1846) [legally for free ↓at Project Gutenberg] and to take bitter revenge. The photo shows Montecristo as seen from Giglio Island—I took it when I was there in 2007. With all the media coverage of the ↑Costa Concordia disaster I’m astounded that it nowhere crept up that Montecristo was that close (at least I didn’t read it anywhere). The story of the captain (who faces preliminary charges of multiple manslaughter, failure to assist passengers in need, and abandonment of … Continue reading

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the simple art of murder

There are things which are interesting again and again, forever. ↑Raymond Chandler‘s essay ‘↑The Simple Art of Murder‘ (1950 [1944]) I already have read multiple times, quoted from it in ‘↑Cyberanthropology,’ and so on. Now I just stumbled over it again, via the ↵cyberpunk reading list, where the essay is commented like this: When reading it, replace ‘mystery novel’ with ‘sci-fi novel’ and its amazing. Every complaint the Cyberpunk authors had about ‘classic sci-fi’ is there as a complaint about ‘classic detective stories.’ – Logan Joshua Ratner We ↵just had it that William Gibson prefers Dashiell Hammett and is not … Continue reading

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