Thomas Pynchon’s novels have several recurring themes: paranoia and conspiracy, pastiches of high and low culture, synchronicity and coincidence, shadowy networks lurking around every corner, and the impact of science and technology. With the coming of the Internet age and the surveillance society that sprang up in the wake of 11 September 2001, it seems as though reality has finally caught up with his vision. In his latest work, Bleeding Edge, Pynchon takes full advantage of this convergence.
The first question asked of a new Pynchon book is: is this one of the sprawling, spiralling, time-tripping monsters with innumerable characters and a plot that is tricky to bring into focus, like Gravity’s Rainbow or Against the Day; or is it one of the fun detective stories with a well-defined protagonist, like The Crying of Lot 49 or Inherent Vice? Bleeding Edge is definitely in the latter category. There is a colourful cast of memorable personalities, and high jinks often ensue, but the tale is told linearly, from the point of view of an acknowledged main character, with something approximating an explicit goal.
Excerpt from an article written by Sean M. Carroll at Nature. Continue THERE
The Hungarian philosopher Agnes Heller, in a chapter she contributed to a book published in 1992, stated with some confidence her view that there was no such thing as European culture. There was certainly, she wrote, Italian and German music, and Florentine and Venetian painting, “but there is no European music and no European painting”.
It is true that the history of art and culture was not really Heller’s field, but it would seem that those who, in the same year as she wrote her essay, framed the Maastricht Treaty, signalling the transition from European Community to European Union, at least partially agreed with her. The treaty was the first time the community had taken for itself significant powers in the cultural field. European cultures (note the plural), the relevant article stated, were to be understood as requiring “respect” – by which one understands freedom from too much supranational interference (“The Community shall contribute to the flowering of the cultures of the Member States, while respecting their national and regional diversity …”). At the same time however, the Community was to be entrusted with the task of “[b]ringing the common cultural heritage to the fore”.
Excerpt from an essay written by Enda O’Doherty at DBR. Continue THERE
Bridging transsexuality and transhumanism makes sense. It’s possible that transgender people may become the first normalized transhumanist class. I use “normalized” loosely of course, drawing the line at doping athletes and plastic surgery junkies—a moral assertion that gives meaning to this conversation, but something for another time.
So, what exactly is transhumanism? Some label it a religion. I see it as something between a philosophy and a cultural movement.
To paraphrase philosophers Nick Bostrom and David Pearce, co-founders of the World Transhumanist Association and authors of the Transhumanist Declaration, transhumanism affirms the possibility of improving the human condition through applied reason and technological advancement—the idea being to eliminate aging and suffering, and enhance human capacities across the board. Another key element of transhumanism is the motivation to overcome “fundamental” human limitations. According to Humanity+, an international membership organization that “advocates the ethical use of technology to expand human capacities,” transhumanism is about man and technology, taking a “multidisciplinary approach to analyzing the dynamic interplay between humanity and the acceleration of technology.”
Excerpt from an article written by C.Delatorre at C.Delatorre. Continue HERE
Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, is built by a community–a community of Wikipedians who are expected to “assume good faith” when interacting with one another. In Good Faith Collaboration, Joseph Reagle examines this unique collaborative culture.
Wikipedia, says Reagle, is not the first effort to create a freely shared, universal encyclopedia; its early twentieth-century ancestors include Paul Otlet’s Universal Repository and H. G. Wells’s proposal for a World Brain. Both these projects, like Wikipedia, were fuelled by new technology–which at the time included index cards and microfilm. What distinguishes Wikipedia from these and other more recent ventures is Wikipedia’s good-faith collaborative culture, as seen not only in the writing and editing of articles but also in their discussion pages and edit histories. Keeping an open perspective on both knowledge claims and other contributors, Reagle argues, creates an extraordinary collaborative potential.
Wikipedia’s style of collaborative production has been imitated, analyzed, and satirized. Despite the social unease over its implications for individual autonomy, institutional authority, and the character (and quality) of cultural products, Wikipedia’s good-faith collaborative culture has brought us closer than ever to a realization of the century-old pursuit of a universal encyclopedia.
Foreword by Lawrence Lessig
Publisher MIT Press, 2010
History and Foundation of Information Science Series
ISBN 0262014475, 9780262014472
Text via MITPress
For decades, we have reached for the skies with bricks and mortar, steel and glass and have literally built places in the clouds. But the only way is not up: a few adventurers are airing out the dark corners and infusing contemporary culture and a new lease of life into forgotten underground spaces.
Every space erased from human memory, boarded and bricked up, and consigned to oblivion by us, hears the resounding echoes of Wim Wender’s words: “In a million years when no one will be around anymore to even remember us faintly, some of these places will. Places have memories. They remember everything. It’s engraved in stone…”
Yet a few souls remember the abandoned, the forgotten, and the buried residuals that contemporary architecture inevitably creates. These visionaries see the potential and beauty – and gradually, such spaces are infused with a new lease of life.
Excerpt of an text written by Gabriel Tamez, mb! by Mercedes-Benz. Continue HERE
This area of the website gathers together and articulates throughout a series of subsections, the materials that constitute the various sources from which dOCUMENTA (13) gradually came into being, as well as the different accounts that are being recorded during its making.
It is in an attempt to bear witness to the process in its multifaceted, contingent and inhomogeneous nature, as well as to the individual and common trajectories of those who took, are and will be taking part in the project. The texts, images and videos that constitute the different entries of this resources area are listed chronologically here, and further organized around the subcategories “100 Days”, “Glossary”, “Minutes”, Projects”, and “Materials”.
Text via dOCUMENTA (13) Resources