August 05, 2016

Technoccult News: Mostly Cyborgs and Magick

Been working on using the Tarot format to craft some questions for another interview subject, and thinking about the other projects I need to be working on. This is one of those projects, and I'm sorry if you've felt neglected these past few days.

Hello from the Southeastern Corner of These United States.

 
•••…My Own Hell To Raise•••
Like the title of this edition says, there's been a lot of talk this week about Cyborgs and Magick, some of which has been done by myself. Last time, we talked about the story I was writing for the Frankenstein Bicentennial Dare, and that can be found here: "The Hermeneutics of Insurrection."

The reception has been pretty positive, so far, so I hope you enjoy it.

Other than that, I've spent the week updating my CV and making a static portal for my 2013 Laval Virtual paper, "The Metaphysical Cyborg."

PBS Idea Channel ran this interview with our friend (can we call you a friend? We like to think we're friends…) Rose Eveleth. It's about cyborgs and language, and even a little bit about the ways in which immediation (the process of removing the mediating factors) of our technology mirrors our history with magick. This, of course, reminded me both of the aforementioned Metaphysical Cyborg piece, and all the work that was done at Magick.Codes, back in 2014. Really thinking about organizing another one of those. Windfall funding being something that happens to other people. Crowdfunding, on the other hand…

Not the last time Magick.Codes came up, these past two weeks, either. This piece at The New Republic, "The Spiritualist Origins of Ghostbusters" greatly recalls the work Dr Karen Gregory presented at that gathering. And, as noted by Tim Hutchings, elsewhere, Bill Murray's Peter Venkman isn't unprecedented, either, as the history of the spiritualism and the occult is chock full of gross dudes behaving inappropriately toward vulnerable women.

Sticking with PBS a bit, NOVA asked "Can Autonomous Cars Be Moral?" Which is a slightly less nuanced take on the work of Doctors Selina Pan and Sarah Thornton, whom we previously met in the Preying With Trickster Gods and Stealing the Light to Write By editions of this newsletter, and more importantly, whose work is currently featured at the Stanford News: "Stanford researchers teach human ethics to autonomous cars." That's a video at that link, but well worth watching and listening to.

In that vein, there's this article from Leigh Alexander at The Guardian, "Is an algorithm any less racist than a human?" It pretty well mirrors a lot of the things we've been talking about in the aforementioned previous newsletters, and over at A Future Worth Thinking About, in the audio recording of my research lecture for "On the Moral, Legal, and Social Implications of the Rearing and Development of Nascent Machine Intelligences," and, more recently, 'On the European Union’s "Electronic Personhood" Proposal.'

This four-year-old article, 'Drones, witches and other flying objects: the force of fantasy in US counterterrorism', from the journal Critical Studies on Terrorism, has been making the rounds, this week, for reasons that weren't too clear until this happened "Unexplained Light Flashes Above Arch Tuesday Morning." Be interesting to see how it shakes out.

 
•••Fast as You Can•••
My most recent missive for Eris Magazine made it to Apple News. So if you know anybody who uses that as their primary news source, feel free to pass that along to them.

Speaking of my work, over at Eris, I finally saw Ghostbusters, and all I have to say is, do yourself a favour and take yourself to go see this movie. It's a lot of fun.

More importantly, do generations of young women a favour, and take them to go see this movie. Not just because of the aforementioned fun, but because because the better it does, the more opportunities there will be for this kind of female-driven genre production.

And as both Sigourney Weaver and Geena Davis can tell you, that can only be a good thing.

And while there were some "Sassy Black Lady Moments" in Ghostbusters, as per my fears in "The Spooks Sitting By Ghostbusters' Door," it did work our that literally all of them were crammed into the trailers.

So while their presence at all is a problem, and that particular marketing strategy is utterly disgusting, speaking to conversations we need to be having about the deep cultural problems in what "sells" the general movie-going public on black characters in movies, the film didn't suffer noticeably much for it, and Leslie Jones' character was among the most fully realised of all of the new team.

Check it out.

 
•••After All The Folderol…•••
That's going to be everything, this week. I link to a lot of my work, in this one, as well as trying to highlight the work of those people who intersect with me. The latter I do because I'm a firm believer in at least one of Kong Fuzi's tenets: "Since you yourself desire standing then help others achieve it; since you yourself desire success then help others attain it." The former I do because I feel like a lot of the conversations we've been having are starting to come into sharper relief and wider focus (I know), these days, and I want us all to remember these things as they happen.

As always, if you like the things we do around here, tell your friends about it, and about the ways they can help us keep the turbines to oiled: The Patreon for longterm support and the Tip Jar for one-offs. And no matter which anyone chooses, every little bit helps.

One more thing: Did you know that they thought that Namibian Desert Elephants might have different DNA from other African Savanna elephants? Turns out they don't, they just have different taught traditions and adaptations. Elephants, man.

Until Next Time.