Category Archives: Art

Digital Culture Killed My Dog

anonymous-16114-400x250This week, aaronJacob and I examine the state of the digital world, wondering whether our state of technological growth is a good thing or a bad thing, much the same, or if that growth is perhaps a little overstated. Is it making us mentally unstable? Does it help us escape or confirm our biases? Does new technology annihilate old modalities? We’ll spend our electronically-scored time delving into as many aspects of our collective computer culture and online ouvre as we can in two hours, everything from viral videomemes and remix art to pitched copyright battles and very real cyberwars, piracy and hacktivism to censorship and surveillance. Not to mention the insidious, darkest corners of the web; conspiracy, violence, cyberbullies, trolls,  and even hauntings.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2013-01-19: Digital Culture Killed My Dog by The Stranger on Mixcloud

PLAYLIST
In the Hall of the Mountain King – Galaxee Trance
Katamari on the Swing – We Love Katamari Soundtrack
my favorite james taylor song – (8BitPeoples) yuppster
Hard Reset – Eats Tapes
Gimme the Mermaid – Negativland
Circumlocution – The Quiet American
Human After All (Alter Ego Remix) – Daft Punk
Scratch Bass – Lamb
Slow This Bird Down – Boards Of Canada
Verbal (Prefuse 73 Dipped Escalade mix) – Amon Tobin
Roboshuffle – Kid Koala
Spread Teamer – Yip-Yip
Super Mario Bros. Dirty Mix OC ReMix – A Scholar & A Physician
Spy vs Spy II (Drunk n’ Basement Mix) – 8-Bit Weapon
Lavender Town – Pokemon
Clocktown Backwards – Majora’s Mask
Wood Man Theme – Mega Man 2
Town (Day) – Castlevania 2
Hydrocity Zone Act 1 – Sonic the Hedgehog 3
no more memory – cyriak
Return of the God – Dreadnots
A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld – The Orb
CHange FRom ONe FOrm TO ANother – The Royal You
Upgrade (A Brymar College Course) – Deltron
Sattellite Surfer – F/i

January 18 marks an online holiday: Internet Freedom Day, or#InternetFreedomDay. The day a massive online protest successfully defeated the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA). But as the EFF points out, we must remain ever-vigilant against such threats:

  • Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership
  • Demand Patent Reform
  • Reform Draconian Computer Crime Law
  • Protect Cell Phone Location Data
  • Stop new Internet Surveillance Laws

We recognize the value of fair use when artists are free to express their creative, political and social statements by repurposing and remixing such classics:

Whatever new aesthetic form our digital art takes, such as data moshing or augmented reality. Heck, there is even value to preserving the nature of piracy in some regard.

So while our leaders are trying to convince us that foreign entities and idealistic individuals are to blame for the viruses and espionage around the globe, but in reality our own massively overpowered governments are spying and prying into our personal affairs, unleashing damage and persecuting the free every day.

In response to a FOIA request, the FBI sent the ACLU of empty and redacted pages (PDF), providing zero insight into what this policy actually is. The FBI says that information is “private (privileged) and confidential.”

“The Justice Department’s unfortunate decision leaves Americans with no clear understanding of when we will be subjected to tracking—possibly for months at a time—or whether the government will first get a warrant” ~Catherine Crump, an ACLU staff attorney

All this while human rights monitors document the rise in surveillance and censorship technology being exported from America to other (arguably) more repressive nations.

Human rights monitors have documented the use of US-manufactured Internet surveillance and censorship gear in 21 countries, some with checkered human rights policies such as Syria, China, and Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan, Bahrain, China, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, and Venezuela. Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. The technology isn’t subject to US State Department export restrictions except to countries such as Syria, Iran, and North Korea (all on an embargo list).

So while we idly worry about threats to our online privacy, diligent crusaders and information liberators are actively targeted by government prosecutors.

Reddit co-founder and internet freedom activist Aaron Swartz tragically committed suicide on January 11, 2013. He had been arrested and charged back in 2009 for having downloaded a massive cache of documents from JSTOR., and was facing up to 13 felony counts, 50 years in prison, and millions of dollars in fines. MIT and JSTOR had already settled over the ‘Terms of Use’ breach, but prosecutors only dropped the charges after his death.

Prosecutors allege that Swartz downloaded the articles because he intended to distribute them for free online, though Swartz was arrested before any articles were made public. He had often spoken publicly about the importance of making academic research freely available. His actions were criminalized under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), an act was designed to prosecute hackers.

JSTOR did acknowledge it was “deeply saddened” by the Swartz tragedy.

“The case is one that we ourselves had regretted being drawn into from the outset, since JSTOR’s mission is to foster widespread access to the world’s body of scholarly knowledge,” the organization wrote in an unsigned, undated statement. “At the same time, as one of the largest archives of scholarly literature in the world, we must be careful stewards of the information entrusted to us by the owners and creators of that content. To that end, Aaron returned the data he had in his possession and JSTOR settled any civil claims we might have had against him in June 2011.”

Law professor Lawrence Lessig, a friend and mentor to Swartz, wrote a post called “Prosecutor as Bully”:

The question this government needs to answer is why it was so necessary that Aaron Swartz be labeled a “felon.” For in the 18 months of negotiations, that was what he was not willing to accept, and so that was the reason he was facing a million dollar trial in April — his wealth bled dry, yet unable to appeal openly to us for the financial help he needed to fund his defense, at least without risking the ire of a district court judge. And so as wrong and misguided and fucking sad as this is, I get how the prospect of this fight, defenseless, made it make sense to this brilliant but troubled boy to end it.

Fifty years in jail, charges our government. Somehow, we need to get beyond the “I’m right so I’m right to nuke you” ethics that dominates our time. That begins with one word: Shame.

They don’t prosecute Wall Street for destroying the world’s economy, they don’t prosecute HSBC for laundering billions for the drug cartels and terrorists, and they don’t prosecute war criminals. But they’ll prosecute Aaron Swartz, Bradley Manning and other activists.

Some Senators are demanding answers:

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introducedAaron’s law,” which would reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that was used to prosecute Swartz. Another member of the House Judiciary Committee, Darrell Issa (R-CA), said he wanted to investigate the actions of the US Attorney who authorized the prosecution, Carmen Ortiz of Massachusetts.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) sent a letter this morning to Attorney General Eric Holder, suggesting the case against Swartz may have been retaliation for prior investigations of Swartz, or his use of FOIA.

But US Attorney Carmen Ortiz released a statement defending her prosecution of Aaron Swartz, calling it an ‘appropriate handling of the case’, even though many are claiming that it may have prompted the 26-year-old’s suicide.

“At no time did this office ever seek – or ever tell Mr. Swartz’s attorneys that it intended to see – maximum penalties under the law,” Ortiz said. She claims she would have recommended that the judge offer a deal that came with six-month prison sentence in a low-security setting.

Elliot Peters, Swartz’s lawyer, said that prosecutors planned to argue for a seven to eight year prison sentence if their client had rejected the six-month offer.

So while Zoe Lofgren’s terrific changes are a good start, the EFF vowed to continue Aaron’s work and ‘attack‘ the obsolete, vague, and abused computer and communications laws:

EFF vows to continue his work to open up closed and entrenched systems that prevent ordinary people from having access to the world’s knowledge, especially the knowledge created with our tax dollars… to attack the computer crime laws that were so horribly misused in the prosecution of Aaron.

First, [to] ensure that when a user breaks a private contract like a terms of service or other contractual obligation or duty, the government can’t charge them criminally under the CFAA or wire fraud law—two statutes the Justice Department used against Aaron.

The second set of changes ensures that no criminal liability can attach to people who simply want to exercise their right to navigate online without wearing a digital nametag. It ensures that changing a device ID or IP address cannot by itself be the basis of a CFAA or wire fraud conviction.

Meanwhile, a group of online archivists released the “Aaron Swartz Memorial JSTOR Liberator.” The initiative is a JavaScript-based bookmarklet that lets Internet users “liberate” an article, already in the public domain, from the online academic archive JSTOR. This is in the hope that free knowledge can be taken from behind academic paywalls and put into the public domain, to liberate information and do to publishing what has already been done to other forms of media.

But as Swartz’s and other “hacktivist” cases demonstrate, you don’t necessarily have to be a hacker to be viewed as one under federal law. Are activists like Swartz committing civil disobedience, or online crimes?

  • Publishing Documents – Accessing and downloading documents from private servers or behind paywalls with the intent of making them publicly available.
  • Distributed Denial of Service  – Some web activists have pressed for DDoS to be legalized as a form of protest, claiming that disrupting web traffic by occupying a server is the same as clogging streets when staging a sit-in. A petition started on the White House’s “We the People” site a few days before Swartz’s death has garnered more than 5,000 signatures.

“Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) is not any form of hacking in any way. It is the equivalent of repeatedly hitting the refresh button on a webpage. It is, in that way, no different than any ‘occupy’ protest.”

  • Doxing – Doxing involves finding and publishing a target’s personal or corporate information.
  • Website Defacement

As we’ve seen, hackers can be a lot more benefit than harm, and the internet, if it is to be the most democratizing system on the planet, must allow for radical transparency of information. Even if you disagree with much of it, or find the bulk of it stupid or offensive. Reactionary censorship and oppression are never righteous, or even permanently effective, solutions.

Stranger in a Strange Land 2013-01-19: Digital Culture Killed My Dog by The Stranger on Mixcloud

~The Stranger
thestranger@earthling.net

“whether we know it or not, all of us are being influenced by the net. The machines have changed everything in our lives. As you know, if you use the internet, there is a tremendous evil available at your fingertips. Do not- DO NOT allow the machines to take control over your lives. Don’t do that.”

~Bill O’Reilly

“the Internet is not something that you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes.”

~Ted Stevens

Gifts of Lovecraft

If you’re anything as lucky as me, then you’ve found a significant other/trans-dimensional monster hunter/mental patient to share your life with, however short that may be. And if your beloved and accursed life partner is an enthusiast, nay, a votary, of all things weird and macabre, then you might need a little help finding the inspired gifts to show them the horrific holiday, blighted birthday or abhorrent anniversary you both deserve! These Lovecraftian artifacts will spell out your love beyond the ageless æons and non-Euclidean space, as the dread Cthulhu has already permeated our modern popular culture with its putrid tentacles… of doom.

BOOKS & ART

Whether a long-time devotee or curious neophyte, anyone interested in ‘the Mythos‘ could find no better place to delve than these gorgeous collections, The Eldritch Tales and the Necronomicon. The faux-leather covers and gold-embossed Les Edwards illustrations (not to mention the inside Virgil Finlay sketch of Howard Phillips Lovecraft) make these commemorative editions a must-have. Notably,  Robert E. Howard‘s Conan the Barbarian is also collected in a similar series, as the two share a contextual history. Then again, a lot of fictional universes dip into the Cthulhu Mythos, from some of Stephen King‘s short stories to Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea‘s Illuminatus! Trilogy, and even more recently, episodes of South Park.

Originally written for the pulp magazines of the 1920s and 1930s, H. P. Lovecraft’s astonishing tales blend elements of horror, science fiction, and cosmic terror that are as powerful today as they were when they were first published.

One might also gaze upon the maelstrom of aesthetes and devotees of the black arts, who have lent their skills to paintings, illustrations, sketches and essays of these mighty Elder Gods. The Lovecraft Retrospective is chock full of artists inspired by the Master of Horror Fiction, including H. R. Giger and Mike Mignola, among at least forty others (with an introduction by Harlan Ellison). Although Giger released his own Necronomicon work with an introduction by Clive Barker, and Mike Mignola, (in addition to doing a brilliant cover for a collection) also paid tribute to the man himself in the Codex Arcana. Not to mention the very looming presence of Ancient Ones in the Hellboy universe.

Or peruse the works of the late Jean Giraud, whether they be in full comic book form, or covers such as Lovecraft: Letters D’Arkham, Marginalia, 1975.

Speaking of art, it’s a damned shame (and I do mean damned) that, for copyright reasons, these hilarious crossovers, mash-ups or remixes are not available for purchase. Such as Murray Groat (A.K.A. Muzski)’s versions of Tintin within the Mythos, as Hergé/Moulinsart S.A.’s rights apply:

“I am getting alot of print requests by email, which is nice, but I have to sadly tell each and everyone of them that I cannot.”

cc5203223fe766c426332abee9c40d02.jpg

Or the multi-chaptered project to chronicle Bil Keane‘s The Family Circus as they fall into the inky æther of ‘unspeakable horrors.’

Or Dr. Faustus‘ Seussian retellings:

This is not to say, of course, that one cannot make a fine print of these deviations for personal, non-commercial use.

DRINK

One method of inducing a thrilling madness is to first enter a drunken stupor. Though many soporific aperitifs of the Eldritch abomination exist, only a few are readily extant and/or non-fictitious.

Demon’s Hop Yard IPA is brewed by Anheuser-Busch, Inc., and can be found in several states (Lovecraft’s ‘Devil’s Hopyard’ was in his fictional town of Dunwich).

Clear, bright golden, with copper hues topped with a thick, clinging hop-induced lace that trails the beer as it’s consumed. Aroma is dank, resiny and saturated with a pronounced herbal character.

Miskatonic Dark Rye is a vegan and organic ale from (where else?) Portland, Oregon brewing company Captured by Porches. I’m sure it’s what the students at Miskatonic U get soused on as they pore over dusty tomes in ancient libraries.

Smooth. Rye spiced with chocolate and wine tones. Light to medium bodied. Made with organic two row and malted wheat, rye, and oats. Malted with crystal and chocolate. Hopped with domestic tettnanger.

Others are more secret, nigh-mythical brews, such as the Limited Edition New Year’s Black IPA by Us Vs Them, inspired by the dark lord Cthulhu himself, which is either no longer available or lying asleep for centuries.

Premium 2 row barley, coloring and caramel flavor from 2 speciality malts…the blackness comes from a special de-husked roasted malt called Carafa Special 3… it does not impart that very roasty, astringent or bitter coffee flavor you’d find in a stout, however it does leave a deep, dark tone to the appearance. It was bittered with Chinook and flavored with Amarillo Centenial and Simcoe and fermented with a California Ale Yeast to accentuate the clean bitterness and hop flavors.

Cthulhu Custom Etched Shot Glass

Of course, one needs the proper receptacle to contain the evil spirits with designs on your mind and soul. Might I recommend either the tentacled pint glass, or the Cthulhu custom-etched shot glass, (and filled appropriately with Kraken rum)

A fine gift could be made of Jonathan Chaffin’s Horror in Clay tiki mug, and now that his Kickstarter goal has been made, perhaps in futures told they shall be hewn from matter most foul, but do not seem for sale to the public just yet.

And apparently, HPL was a fervent coffeeholic, with these subversive subcultures crossing in several ways, including the now extinct Cthulhu Coffee.

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgahnagl fhtag”  ~ Me, after tasting the foul bitters aforementioned

TOYS

All manner of adorable plushies of the Dread Lord can be found, but some creative artisans have crafted their own worldly totems, as prescribed by the visions in their feverish dreams.

John Kovalic’s My Little Cthulhu:

The various knitted Cthulhu patterns:

Or the abominable HP Lovercraft figure by Alex CF:

My first DIY action figure project is a hand molded, cast and painted effigy of Lovecraft, along with a copy of the fabled and despised Necronomicon! Each figure will come as part of a larger box set – including a copy of a comic I have written and drawn, a screen printed t shirt, a screen printed poster, badge and sketch, all in a wax sealed box! These will be available very soon! email merrylinhouse@gmail.com for inquiries!

ENTERTAINMENT

Though many directors have been influenced by HPL’s works, not many have successfully conjured a faithful translation of those strange stories (see: Re-Animator). In 2005, however, director Andrew Leman brought one of the finest independent horror films into our world and onto the silent screen:

The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society presents its all new silent film of The Call of Cthulhu. The famed story is brought richly to life in the style of a classic 1920s silent movie, with a haunting original symphonic score. Using the “Mythoscope” process — a mix of modern and vintage techniques, the HPLHS has worked to create the most authentic and faithful screen adaptation of a Lovecraft story yet attempted.


More importantly, for the purposes of gift-giving and love-making, a classic black & white flick is the perfect thing to curl up with your loved one on the couch, as a slowly creeping dread encompasses the both of you. (The prolific H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society also villainously vends the album A Shoggoth on the Roof, a CD of Lovecraftian carolsArkham Asylum Certificates of Insanity, and other cult relics.)

The Evil Dead 2 (Book Of The Dead 2 Limited Edition)But if you really want a really great date night, allow the self-parodying  Sam Raimi and manly-chinned Bruce Campbell to open a deathly portal of Dead-ites, with your very own Necronomicon bound in a horrid human face! This Limited Edition ‘Book of the Dead’ isn’t necessarily easy to find, but is full of artwork and special features, and will scream when pressed if in mint condition!

H. P. Lovecraft IH. P. Lovecraft II

H.P. Lovecraft, not so coincidentally, was also a psychedelic acid rock band in the late 1960’s. They only released two albums in 1967 and 1968 before breaking up, renaming and reforming, but their best work were these early nuggets. They’re not exactly horrific or amorous, but their imagery is evocative and dreamlike nonetheless.

TRAVEL

If you desire to steal your beloved away for the week-end, perhaps a themed holiday is in order. If out West, wander to The Lovecraft Bar in Portland, covered in demonic symbols and cosmic tentacles, and visit the annual H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival and Cthulhu Con. Or make your way to L.A. for their version of the Eldritch Events. Florida each year holds the NecronomiCon, a science fiction, fantasy and horror convention now in its 31st year.

But for real historical ambiance, what could be more romantic than a getaway to New England, to the hexed locality that spawned so many legends of spirits and devils and witchcraft, and a never-ending litany of literary progeny, from Hawthorne and Poe to Lovecraft and King. Begin in Lovecraft’s hometown of Providence, Rhode Island (though the Angell St. family mansion was torn down in 1961). Take the walking tour of College Hill, his old stomping grounds. From there, expedition to Essex County, Massachusetts (Lovecraft commented often in his letters that Marblehead was one of his favorite towns, saying that he’d live there if he didn’t already live in Providence). The basis for many of the ports and towns in what came to be called Miskatonic County (with an eponymous river and University), or ‘Lovecraft Country,’ containing Dunwich, Innsmouth, Arkham, Kingsport and Billington’s Wood.File:Lovecraft Country.svg

Interestingly, the fictional county is close to Salem, already known for its occult history, and North of the Bridgewater Triangle, a modern hotbed of supposed paranormal activity.

MISCELLANY

If your fated partner cares not for those sweet nothings and sweeping gestures, perhaps the wretched aromatics of the Elder Gods will help spice things up, and the Picnic in Arkham: The Lovecraft Collection of perfumes by Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs:

Azathoth is the blind, idiot god who sits on a black throne at the center of Chaos. His scent is high-pitched and screeching, both impenetrably dark and searingly bright with the clarity of madness: tangerine, saffron, vetiver, black amber and cedarwood.

Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young, the All-Mother and wife of the Not-to-Be-Named-One. The lust incense of a corrupted Astarte. A blend of ritual herbs and dark resins, shot through with three gingers and aphrodisiacal spices.

The internet is resplendent with other mementos that profess your dark feelings, so be creative and think outside the box!

Diplomas:

Miskatonic Diploma (Herbert West) Poster

Purses:

And Elder thongs:

Social Justice Bots

Robots make up over half of the web today. Crawlers keep a detailed history of our human accomplishments and failures, our deepest truths and most fanciful fictions. They cost only as much as processing and memory storage, worming their way around.

Corporate nonpersons run and own the world as we speak. Algorithms are creating and mediating more of our reality than ever before. Quants make up 70% of the stock trading on Wall Street while a quarter of our tweets, and most wikipedia edits, are created by machines.

“Corporations are not people  They are profit-making robots.” ~Cenk Uygur

While defense and intel will ramp up tax dollar usage in 2013, “nobody is hiring all the A.I. researchers.” Currently, defense agencies and digital dissidents are laughable in their use of A.I. But this is rapidly changing. We are getting better bots and better ideas.

The ethics of robotic entities will very soon be a major sociological question, with unmanned drones destabilizing geopolitical relations, driverless cars (named like horseless carriages) with better success than humans, and robocallers getting fines up to $100,000Automation is destroying the job market far more than any immigration threat.

We are already concerned with the ramifications of privacy, surveillance, corporate crime and digital record-keeping. This is to say nothing of the more fantastic risks of the singularity and possible disasters from grey goo to Skynet. The unpredictability of superintelligence alone should send our biological heads spinning. Even if things go smoothly, our connected future may have troubling repercussions for our human autonomy and identity.

Both to our pleasure and chagrin, even digital data erodes over time.

Chatbots are nearing passing grades on the Turing test, and robots like Deepblue and Cornell’s Watson impress us with their analytical skills, sometimes even superior to humans. We now have A.I.s is already learning how to write poetry, paint, score essays, do photography, journalismfarming, spy surveillance and data analysis, make war and run corrections facilities. Robots compete in their own sports and cyborgs will be olympiads and documentarians. It may not be long before the entertainment out of Hollywood is entirely created by artificial intelligence, which will be cheaper and easier. We already have the uncanny simulacra of deceased politicians, pandering from beyond the grave. Like most every other ‘fringe’ movement before, the distinction between true art and the new aesthetics will be blurred and disappeared.

But anyone attempting to learn the secrets of the cosmos, (or even carry a decent conversation) with a chatbot realizes the limitations of their cognition. How will an A.I. incorporate memories and experiences to reflect not only knowledge and communication, but creativity, problem-solving, and personality? Perhaps only now that we are fully mapping the brain will be able to either interface with the machine, build a theoretical facsimile, or simulate an exact copy.

Our brains and search engines are beginning to look very similar.

We have already seen the popularity of tablets and e-literature, both flash fiction and flash mobs, apps, tweets, meetups, crowdsourcing, more and more affordable technology (and yes, even piracy), allowing for a prosumer market and freelance economy, the rise of DiY culture bringing us hackerspaces, hacktivists, biohacking and 3D printing.

Social justice bots and civilian drones will be automated to fight against authoritarian regimes and peace viruses may infect and deactivate war bots.

Imminently we will be controlling robots by thoughts alone. We may augment our reality so much that it becomes indistinguishable from the computer simulations. We will need them to help us quickly expand, serve ourselves and our environment, explore space, mine asteroids and survive.

Influence

A large version of the influence map originally memed by fox-orian.deviantart.com. Once I started, I just couldn’t stop! And inevitably, I’m sure I forgot some artists/animators/cartoonists.

influence map

Reading List

Some of my top favorite authors and titles as per my Good Reads profile.
My tumblr follows the publishing industry, retail books, the e-book revolution, libraries and other bibliographical, bookish-type things at Likely In Store!

By Genre

Classics & Fiction
Things Fall ApartThe Canterbury TalesParadise LostSilas MarnerWhite NoiseHeart of DarknessThe Picture of Dorian GrayInvisible ManUp the Down StaircaseA Clockwork OrangeThe New York TrilogyThe Sadness of SexFuck MachineA Modest ProposalIt Can't Happen HereFlowers for AlgernonTo Kill a MockingbirdThe Catcher in the RyeThe Great GatsbyAnimal FarmOf Mice and MenThe Grapes of WrathCannery RowTravels with Charley: In Search of AmericaMe Talk Pretty One DayLord of the FliesLittle WomenA Tale of Two CitiesThe Count of Monte CristoMoby-DickMemoirs of a GeishaMiddlesexLolitaGone With the Wind1984Veronika Decides to DieAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-GlassAnd the Hippos Were Boiled in Their TanksBeowulf: A New Verse TranslationBig SurOn the RoadThe Call of the Wild, White Fang and Other StoriesCandide: or, OptimismThe Brothers KaramazovDemonsThe Old Man and the SeaThe Sun Also RisesTo Have and Have NotA Hunger ArtistIn The Penal ColonyThe MetamorphosisThe TrialR. Crumb's KafkaThe Cheese MonkeysOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestThe ChosenThe Tevye Stories and OthersAdventures of Mottel: The Cantor's SonA Christmas CarolOliver TwistThe Divine ComedyDoctor FaustusThe Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeTreasure IslandNaked LunchLove is a Dog from HellHam on RyeThe Most Beautiful Woman in TownHot Water MusicThe StrangerThe Satanic VersesPortnoy’s ComplaintAtlas ShruggedChokeDiaryRantLullabyFight ClubCatch-22FaustLife of Pi
Poetry
Budget Travel through Space and Time: PoemsThe Collected Poems, Complete and UnabridgedPoetry as Insurgent ArtA Coney Island of the MindHowl and Other PoemsSongs of Innocence and of ExperienceThe Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Other PoemsMeditations in an EmergencyLord Byron: The Major Works
Drama
Les MisérablesThe Diary of a Madman, The Government Inspector, and Selected StoriesOedipus RexArsenic And Old LaceThe Odd CoupleRosencrantz and Guildenstern are DeadThe CrucibleDeath of a SalesmanFocusThe Portable Arthur MillerThe Oedipus Cycle: Oedipus Rex / Oedipus at Colonus / AntigoneHamletA Midsummer Night's DreamMacbethThe TempestOthelloRomeo and JulietShakespeare's SonnetsThe Taming of the Shrew
Mythology
Le Morte d'Arthur: King Arthur and the Legends of the Round TableArthurian LegendsKappa; A NovelThe Saga of the VolsungsThe Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One NightsEgyptian Ideas of the AfterlifeAncient Egyptian MagicSir Gawain and the Green KnightAesop's FablesThe Hero With a Thousand FacesBeowulf: A New Verse Translation
Paranormal
The Coincidence File: Synchronicity, Morphic Resonance or Pure Chance?The Young Oxford Book of AliensFaces of the VisitorsThe Mothman PropheciesCasebook on the Men in BlackThe Lost Continent of MuCommunion: A True StoryThe Celestine Prophecy50 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time: History's Biggest Mysteries, Coverups, and Cabals
Science
CosmosBonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and SexElephants on Acid: And Other Bizarre ExperimentsThe Golden Section: Nature's Greatest SecretThe Man Who Tasted ShapesI Live in the Future & Here's How It Works: Why Your World, Work & Brain Are Being Creatively DisruptedThe Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat & Other Clinical TalesFlatland: A Romance of Many DimensionsThe Man Who Tasted ShapesWhat We Believe But Cannot Prove: Today's Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of CertaintyWhat Is Your Dangerous Idea?: Today's Leading Thinkers on the UnthinkableWhat Are You Optimistic About?: Today's Leading Thinkers on Why Things Are Good and Getting BetterWhat Have You Changed Your Mind About?: Today's Leading Minds Rethink EverythingTricks of the Mind
Business
Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and RealityHey, Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great AdsThe Pirate's Dilemma: How Youth Culture Is Reinventing CapitalismThe 48 Laws of Power
History
The Iliad & The OdysseyThe IliadThe OdysseyI, ClaudiusNazi GermanyWhat a Way to Go: The Guillotine, the Pendulum, the Thousand Cuts, the Spanish Donkey, and 66 Other Ways of Putting Someone to DeathGuns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human SocietiesA Little History of the WorldOne Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear WarThe War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-08Lincoln's DevotionalLies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got WrongCrossfire: The Plot That Killed KennedyBenjamin Franklin: Wit and WisdomNightThe Diary of a Young GirlNickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in AmericaThe Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian SuperpowerA People's History of the American Revolution: How Common People Shaped the Fight for Independence1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the WestYou Can't WinThe Prince
Philosophy
A Little Book of LanguageA Little History of PhilosophyMeditationsGod's Debris: A Thought ExperimentUniverse and EyeCommon SenseThe Communist ManifestoThis Is Not a PipeAstonish Yourself: 101 Experiments in the Philosophy of Everyday LifeDo You Think What You Think You Think?The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten: 100 Experiments for the Armchair PhilosopherComing of Age at the End of HistoryThe Society of the SpectacleOn BullshitGödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden BraidThe Five People You Meet in HeavenAristotle and an Aardvark Go to WashingtonPlato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through JokesZeno and the Tortoise: How to Think Like a PhilosopherWays of SeeingLateral ThinkingDo You Think What You Think You Think?Is Bill Cosby Right?: Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?The Michael Eric Dyson ReaderBullshit and PhilosophyTwilight of the Idols/The Anti-Christ
Media Theory
Extra Lives: Why Video Games MatterThe Medium Is the MassageArt & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of ArtmakingMad Men Unbuttoned: A Romp Through 1960s AmericaHow to Watch TV News: Revised EditionDon't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate: The Essential Guide for Progressives50 Things You're Not Supposed to KnowImpro101 Things to Learn in Art School
Humour
The Devil's DictionaryThe Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus; All the Words Volume OneNapalm & Silly PuttyBrain DroppingsLies & the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair & Balanced Look at the RightThe Illustrated ManStuff White People Like: A Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of MillionsWhere's My Jetpack?: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future that Never ArrivedHow To Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming RebellionHow to Be a Villain: Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans, and More!!!I Am AmericaCurb Your Enthusiasm: The BookThe Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Extreme EditionThe Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Dating and SexThe Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: TravelThe Worst-Case Scenario Survival HandbookHeaven and Hell: A Compulsively Readable Compendium of Myth, Legend, Wisdom, and Wit for Saints and SinnersOur Dumb World: The Onion's Atlas of the Planet EarthOur Dumb Century: The Onion Presents 100 Years of Headlines from America's Finest News SourceI'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski: Life, The Big Lebowski, and What Have YouThe Dilbert Future: Thriving on Stupidity in the 21st CenturyThe Joy of Work: Dilbert's Guide to Finding Happiness at the Expense of Your Co-WorkersThe Dilbert Principle: A Cubicle's-Eye View of Bosses, Meetings, Management Fads & Other Workplace AfflictionsGreat Comedians Talk about ComedyHow to Rule the World: A Handbook for the Aspiring DictatorThe Groucho Letters: Letters from and to Groucho Marx
Horror
At the Mountains of MadnessThe Complete WorksFrankensteinThe ShiningThree Ghost StoriesWorld War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie WarThe Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living DeadRudyard Kipling's Tales of Horror and Fantasy
Don QuixoteThe Confidence-Man
Crime
Homicide: A Year on the Killing StreetsThree Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the InnocentThe Maltese FalconThe Big SleepThe GodfatherThe Complete Sherlock HolmesDetection by GaslightThe Big Sleep & Farewell, My LovelyThe Murder of Roger AckroydAnd Then There Were NoneThe SicilianOmertaThe Thin Man
Science Fiction
The Challenge Of The SpaceshipTimelineJurassic ParkThe Lost WorldPrey2001: A Space OdysseyR Is for RocketThe Martian ChroniclesA Sound of Thunder and Other StoriesThe VeldtVenus on the Half-ShellMore Stories from the Twilight ZoneStories from the Twilight ZoneBrave New WorldFahrenheit 451The Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyThe Time MachineStar Wars: A New HopeThe Lost WorldThe HobbitEnder's GameDuneStranger in a Strange LandParis in the Twentieth CenturyThe First Men in the MoonNeuromancerSnow CrashThe Island of Dr. MoreauWhen the Sleeper WakesThe Country of the Blind and Other Science-Fiction StoriesThe Best Time Travel Stories of All TimeFrom the Earth to the MoonJourney to the Center of the EarthThe Best Time Travel Stories of the 20th CenturyBrave New World/Brave New World RevisitedStarship TroopersMona Lisa Overdrive (Sprawl, #3)Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
Children’s
Mr. Popper's PenguinsWatership DownBunniculaThe Complete Grimm's Fairy TalesMrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMHThe Indian in the CupboardFrom the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. FrankweilerA Wrinkle in TimeA Wind in the DoorRikki-Tikki-TaviJust So StoriesThe Jungle BooksThe Princess BrideOne Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue FishHorton Hears a Who!The LoraxGreen Eggs and HamThe Sneetches and Other StoriesFox in SocksOh, the Places You'll Go!The Cat in the HatThe Butter Battle BookThe Cat in the Hat Comes BackHow the Grinch Stole Christmas!I am Not Going to Get Up Today!Where the Sidewalk EndsThe Giving TreeThe Little PrinceThe Polar ExpressSix MenStrega NonaWhere the Wild Things AreThe Night Before Christmas
Art
Mad Men: The Illustrated WorldThe Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to Be The Artist You Truly AreGnomesThe Complete GnomesThe Magic Mirror of M.C. EscherThe Graphic WorkH.R. Giger's NecronomiconDynamic Figure DrawingEx Libris: The Art of BookplatesThe Small Stakes: Music PostersThe Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese InventionsBanksy Locations & Tours Volume 2: A Collection of Graffiti Locations and Photographs from around the UKBanksy Locations & Tours: A Collection of Graffiti Locations and Photographs in London, EnglandWall and PieceStreet Art San Francisco: Mission MuralismoGraffiti World: Street Art from Five Continentsi am 8-bit: Art Inspired by Classic Videogames of the '80sThe Art BookThe Cult of LEGOCartooning: Philosophy and PracticeWreck This JournalThe Book of TikiInfinite City: A San Francisco AtlasMid-Century Ads: Advertising from the Mad Men EraUnpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books
Graphic Novels
Rex Libris, Volume I: I, LibrarianHandmade Houses: A Century of Earth-Friendly Home DesignScud: The Disposable Assassin -The Whole ShebangThe Sixth Gun, Vol. 1: Cold Dead FingersThe Perry Bible Fellowship AlmanackThe Walking Dead, Book OneCats are Weird and More ObservationsI Kill GiantsInvincible, Volume 1: Family MattersJack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus, Vol. 1Action Philosophers Giant-Size Thing Vol. 1Persepolis: The Story of a ChildhoodThe Umbrella Academy, Vol. 1: Apocalypse SuiteSweet Tooth, Vol. 1: Out of the Deep WoodsDaredevil Legends, Vol. 1: YellowThe Sandman: King of DreamsFrank, Vol. 1The Complete Far Side, 1980-1994Usagi Yojimbo, Vol. 1: The RoninDarth Vader and SonKick-AssAmerican Splendor: The Life and Times of Harvey PekarDr. Horrible and Other Horrible StoriesTransmetropolitan, Vol. 1: Back on the StreetChew, Vol. 1: Taster's ChoiceEverything Can Be BeatenBatman: The Long HalloweenWiener Dog ArtThe Far Side GalleryChris WareHow to Draw Comics the Marvel WayEverything is Its Own Reward: An All Over Coffee CollectionAll Over CoffeePaula Scher: MAPSKirby: King of ComicsY: The Last Man, Vol. 1: UnmannedThe Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other StoriesThe Complete Hans Christian Andersen Fairy TalesPinocchioThe Complete Calvin and HobbesThe Complete MausMaus, Vol. 2: And Here My Troubles BeganRamayana: Divine LoopholeEssential Doctor Strange, Vol. 1Essential Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 3Essential Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 2Essential Amazing Spider-Man, Vol. 1The Art of Steve DitkoStrange and Stranger: The World of Steve DitkoNew GodsSavage Dragon Archives, Vol. 1Mouse Guard: Roleplaying GameMouse Guard: Winter 1152Mouse Guard: Fall 1152Moomin Book Five: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic StripMoomin Book Four: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic StripMoomin Book Three: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic StripMoomin Book Two: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic StripMoomin Book One: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic StripTintin in the Land of the SovietsCigars of the PharaohTintin in TibetThe Complete ConcreteDiesel Sweeties: Pocket Sweeties Volume 1A Zits Treasury 02: Big Honkin' ZitsEditorial WorksLittle Nemo: 1905-1914Zippy: Walk a Mile in My Muu-Muu (ZippyZippy StoriesAre We Having Fun YetHow To Go To HellAkbar and Jeff's Guide to LifeWork Is HellChildhood Is HellThe Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite FamilyBart Simpson's Guide to Life: A Wee Handbook for the PerplexedSimpsons World - The Ultimate Episode GuideThe Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of HomerSchool is HellThe Big Book of Hell: The Best of Life in HellThe AlcoholicScott Pilgrim's Precious Little LifeScott Pilgrim Vs. the WorldScott Pilgrim & the Infinite SadnessScott Pilgrim Gets It TogetherScott Pilgrim Vs. the UniverseScott Pilgrim's Finest HourUncle SamDrawing Words and Writing PicturesSilver Surfer: ParableThe Halo Graphic NovelZot!: The Complete Black-and-White Collection: 1987-1991Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic NovelsUnderstanding Comics: The Invisible ArtReinventing Comics: How Imagination and Technology Are Revolutionizing an Art FormRed Meat GoldThe Goon, Volume 8: Those That Is DamnedThe Goon, Volume 9: Calamity of ConscienceThe Goon, Volume 7: A Place of Heartache and GriefThe Goon, Volume 6: Chinatown and The Mystery of Mr. WickerThe Goon, Volume 4: Virtue and the Grim Consequences ThereofThe Goon: NoirThe Goon, Volume 5: Wicked InclinationsThe Goon, Volume 3: Heaps of RuinationThe Goon, Volume 2: My Murderous ChildhoodThe Goon, Volume 1: Nothin' but MiseryThe Collected Sam and MaxThe Walking Dead, Vol. 11: Fear the HuntersThe Walking Dead, Vol. 8: Made to SufferThe Walking Dead, Vol. 3: Safety Behind BarsThe Walking Dead, Vol. 2: Miles Behind UsThe Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone ByeSin City, Vol. 7: Hell and BackSin City, Vol. 6: Booze, Broads, and BulletsSin City, Vol. 5: Family ValuesBatman: The Dark Knight Strikes AgainSin City, Vol. 4: That Yellow BastardSin City, Vol. 3: The Big Fat KillSin City, Vol. 2: A Dame to Kill For300Sin City, Vol. 1: The Hard GoodbyeBatman: The Dark Knight ReturnsBatman: Year OneElektra Lives Again Beanworld, Vol. 1: Wahoolazuma!Beanworld, Vol. 2: A Gift Comes!Arkham Asylum: MadnessWolverine Legends Vol. 1: Wolverine/HulkThe Maxx, Vol. 3The Maxx, Vol. 2The Maxx, Vol. 1Empowered, Volume 1Empowered, Volume 2Empowered, Volume 3Empowered, Volume 4Empowered, Volume 5Bigfoot: I Not DeadIn Me Own Words: The Autobiography of BigfootBoneCagesThe Fate of the ArtistThe Big Book of the UnexplainedThe Big Book of ConspiraciesThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1910The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black DossierSwamp Thing, Vol. 1: Saga of the Swamp ThingThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 2From HellThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1Batman: The Killing JokeV for VendettaWatchmenThe Amazing Screw-on Head and Other Curious ObjectsDoctor Strange, Doctor Doom: Triumph and TormentHellboy, Vol. 10: The Crooked Man and OthersHellboy, Vol. 9: The Wild HuntHellboy: Odd JobsHellboy, Vol. 8: Darkness CallsHellboy, Vol. 7: The Troll Witch and OthersHellboy, Vol. 6: Strange PlacesHellboy, Vol. 5: Conqueror WormHellboy, Vol. 4: The Right Hand of DoomHellboy, Vol. 3: The Chained Coffin and OthersHellboy, Vol. 2: Wake the DevilHellboy, Vol. 1: Seed of DestructionDonald DuckPogoTales from Outer SuburbiaThe ArrivalMirrorMaskThe Sandman: Book of DreamsThe Day I Swapped My Dad for Two GoldfishThe Sandman, Vol. 9: The Kindly OnesThe Sandman, Vol. 3: Dream CountryThe Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll's HouseThe Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and NocturnesMarvel 1602MarvelsThe Cartoon History of the Universe III: From the Rise of Arabia to the RenaissanceCartoon History of the Universe II, Vol. 8-13: From the Springtime of China to the Fall of RomeCartoon History of the Universe I, Vol. 1-7: From the Big Bang to Alexander the GreatBat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in JapanBeasts! Book OneGorillaz: Rise of the OgreTank Girl (Tank Girl, #1)Sloppy SecondsHair HighMutant AliensThe Sleazy Cartoons of Bill PlymptonWhen We Were Very MaakiesMaakiesAlias, Vol. 1GoldfishPowers, Vol. 3: Little DeathsJinxPowers, Vol. 7: ForeverPowers, Vol. 1: Who Killed Retro Girl?Fortune & Glory: A True Hollywood Comic Book StoryPowers, Vol. 11: Secret IdentityAlias, Vol. 3: The UnderneathPowers, Vol. 9: PsychoticPowers, Vol. 5: AnarchyPowers, Vol. 4: SupergroupAlias, Vol. 2: Come HomePowers, Vol. 8: LegendsPowers, Vol. 6: The SelloutsPowers, Vol. 2: RoleplayPowers, Vol. 10: CosmicAlias, Vol. 4: The Secret Origins of Jessica JonesHouse of MSecret InvasionTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Book IThe Contract With God Trilogy: Life on Dropsie AvenueWill Eisner's New York: Life in the Big CityThe Best of the SpiritTransmetropolitan, Vol. 1: Back on the StreetTransmetropolitan, Vol. 1, Revised: Back on the StreetBatman: Joker's AsylumX'ed OutLiberty Meadows Volume 1: EdenLiberty Meadows Volume 2: Creature ComfortsLiberty Meadows Volume 3: Summer Of LoveClerks: The Comic BooksChasing DogmaBluntman and ChronicCerebus, Vol. 1Cerebus, Vol. 2: High SocietyCerebus, Vol. 4: Church and State IICerebus, Vol. 16: The Last DayCerebus, Vol. 6: MelmothCerebus, Vol. 9: ReadsCerebus, Vol. 7: FlightCerebus, Vol. 3: Church and State ICerebus, Vol. 5: Jaka's StoryCerebus, Vol. 11: GuysCerebus, Vol. 10: MindsCerebus, Vol. 8: WomenCerebus, Vol. 13: Going HomeCerebus, Vol. 14: Form and VoidCerebus, Vol. 12: Rick's StoryCerebus, Vol. 15: Latter DaysDoctor Strange, Doctor Doom: Triumph and TormentBlanketsThe Acme Novelty Library #17The Acme Novelty LibraryThe Acme Novelty Library #16The Acme Novelty Datebook: Sketches and Diary Pages in Facsimile, 1986-1995Quimby the Mouse: Or Comic Strips, 1990-1991Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on EarthThe Acme Novelty Library #18The Acme Novelty Datebook, Vol. 2The Acme Novelty Library #19The Acme Novelty Library #2The Acme Novelty Library #1The Acme Novelty Library #3Kingdom ComeThe Best of Gahan WilsonJohnny the Homicidal Maniac: Director's CutSquee's Wonderful Big Giant Book of Unspeakable HorrorsFillerbunny in My Worst Book Yet!JellyfistI Feel Sick #1Fillerbunny #1Revenge Of The FillerbunnyI Feel Sick #2The Bad Art CollectionA Right to Be Hostile: The Boondocks TreasuryAmphigorey TooAmphigoreyAmphigorey Also

Favorite Authors

Douglas Adams
The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxySo Long, and Thanks for All the FishLife, the Universe, and EverythingThe Restaurant at the End of the UniverseMostly Harmless
Isaac Asimov
The End of EternityDavid Starr, Space RangerThe Foundation TrilogyFoundation and EmpireFoundationSecond FoundationMort
Philip K. Dick
UbikDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?The Man in the High CastleA Scanner DarklyThe Collected Stories, Vol. 4: The Minority ReportThe Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick 2: We Can Remember it for You WholesaleThe Minority ReportThe Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick 1: The Short Happy Life of the Brown OxfordPaycheck and Other Classic StoriesThe Shifting Realities of Philip K. DickThe Philip K. Dick Reader
Hunter S. Thompson
Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. ThompsonThe Gonzo Tapes: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. ThompsonGonzoGonzo: The ArtFear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American DreamThe Joke's OverHell's AngelsThe Rum DiaryBetter Than Sex: Confessions of a Political Junkie
Kurt Vonnegut
Breakfast of ChampionsCat’s CradleWelcome to the Monkey HouseGalápagosThe Sirens of TitanMother NightGod Bless You, Mr. Rosewater: A NovelA Man Without a CountryPlayer PianoTimequakeDeadeye Dick: A NovelBluebeardBagombo Snuff BoxGod Bless You, Dr. KevorkianWampeters, Foma and GranfalloonsArmageddon in RetrospectLook at the Birdie: Unpublished Short FictionSlaughterhouse-Five
Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom SawyerA Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's CourtThe Prince and the PauperThe Complete Short Stories of Mark TwainPudd'nhead WilsonThe Diary of Adam and EveLife on the MississippiThe Bible According to Mark TwainThe Mysterious StrangerThe Wit and Wisdom of Mark TwainMark Twain Tonight!Mark Twain's San FranciscoThe Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other SketchesThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Light Fantastic

SFMOMA’s Atrium is now adorned with Jim Campbell’s “Exploded View”, and the concept struck a deep chord in my memory of an art piece that had haunted me many moons ago in a mythical land that many claim does not (or simply cannot) exist.

For which I cannot seem to find a decent historical record in the collective digital archive!

Because it turns out it was the same artist all along! Thanks to his book in the MuseumStore, I discovered it was called Time and Data (though I do not know the name of the entrance piece) and I would have seen it around 2001-2002 in this place:

Which later reminded me of this:

 I wandered the fabled city of steel, lost in an existential stupor, exploring blindly, a light peppering of intoxicant leading me in aimless geometric shapes. Pausing beneath dubious architecture, quizzical sculpture, empathetic trees, and a frighteningly soul-searching pixelated face. The cosmic gravity of binary information forming in the flicker-fusion rate of my vision and imprinting overwhelmingly in my mind, only to discover the appropriate name of the exhibition, Time and Data.

Alien Intelligence

As a child and adolescent, paranormal threats would frighten and obsess me more than any ghost, vampire, or irrational phobia. The most nightmare-inducing movies for me were the Day the Earth Stood Still, Fire in the Sky, and even Mars Attacks! I was addicted to the X-Files continuity, and to books like Communion by Whitley Streiber. I kept my ear glued to Coast to Coast AM, long before the befuddled yet charming (much like my father) George Noory, during the smoky-voiced Art Bell years, managing to handle ridiculous claims and speculation with both eyebrow-raised incredulity and eager thirst for woo.

Listening to it still, but with an older more skeptical mind, it’s amazing how much hardcore paranormal believers reveal about what exactly is happening in the brain by what they say. A number of them describe alien, ghost, shadow people, and old hag encounters that, regardless of the character in place, are apt illustrations of hypnagogic dreams in action. Numerous callers, and the Mothman Prophecies author Jim Keel, claim that when supernatural forces “notice you noticed them” presumably continue to act out further for that enlightened person’s benefit. They are quite closely describing their own confirmation bias, seeing the very thing they are keyed up to look for, for that very reason. Utilising the mechanism of the brain that builds patterns out of nothing, and holding firmer to their position out of fear of their invested belief being wrong, and rewarded by the childlike part of the brain that endorses mythology, animism, imaginary friends, and religion.

Their conspiratorial-minded community reinforces that they are wiser and more enlightened for having gotten in on the secret(s). Believing their information to be factual and superior, they consider themselves the truly critical-thinking ones, because their minds are open to accept such outlandish claims. Many claim a healthy mixture of open-mindedness and skepticism, and then use this justification to heavily land in the former. Mythology is interesting stuff, and perfectly healthy to delve into, but only when recognized as perfectly false.

How can anyone really be sure that their minds, through various combinations of hypnagogic sleep states, pareidolia, or confirmation bias, aren’t fooling us into supernatural superstition no different than those in the past? Jim Kieth, himself a paranormal investigator, inadvertently revealed some of the weaknesses in his Casebook on the Men in Black, explaining how we have always had some cultural awareness of (as Terence McKenna calls it) “the Other”. Men in Black used to be iterations of Old Scratch, the devil himself, or else the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague. Greys used to be any number of various little green men, fairies, goblins, or demons. And if one doesn’t accept the more grandiose implications of a Jungian collective unconscious (used to support a metaphysically telepathic astral plane of nightmarish archetypes), but simply the deeply ingrained set of socio-psychological beliefs, then the disconnects only seem to hurt the credibility of the phenomenon being an external physical force, more than mere mental construct. One can make the argument that these phenomena actually have been observed as a constant but simply described (I would argue, widely) differently. That the inter-dimensional or mystically quantum nature of these objects and beings make them ephemeral spirits, manifesting differently. Even if this is the case, it only lends to the unfalsifiability of the whole matter.

At least with accounts of Bigfoot, the reporting and sightings throughout history are fairly consistent.

What is surprising is that even when skeptics, astronomers, astrobiologists, xenobiologists, and philosophers suppose the existence of alien intelligence, it is usually described as autocratic, organizational, and would probably have mathematically subcategorized our sector. At least partially or wholly integrated with machine, they would be cold telepathic drones, more like one giant organism than many, frightening in their passionless drive to accomplish hive goals. The commensurate measures that led to cellular life growing more diverse, apes to be social climbers, and humans to be the planet’s most winningest species, might certainly have allowed a space-faring race to survive in the perpetuity necessary for interstellar travel. Their motives would be so far removed as to seem malevolent (but in actuality no moreso than the automatic slapping of a mosquito), their technology like the ‘magic’ of Gods, their thoughts unknowable, their abilities seemingly without limit. One thing would be certain, they would have their own limits and needs, beyond our comprehension, but as important to them as ours are to us. It is frighteningly coincidental how this model fits the described greys and their behavior. Listen to any specific person on the matter, however, especially those that receive mental messages from our astrological space brethren, and you’re in for a world of intellectual hurt.

Even the Catholic Church now believes in our brothers from the stars, also saved by the Judeo-Christian God. This may not help either argument much.

The thing is, we’re all on the inside of a false centre looking out at all the things that are when we aren’t even sure what “are” means.

Ultimately, it all comes down to faith. Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard believed that taking that leap of faith (be it a god or love) was ultimately scary and could prove to be wrong, and therefore should take courage. No such evidence could ever be enough to pragmatically justify the kind of total commitment involved in true religious faith or romantic love. Faith involves making that commitment anyway. Kierkegaard thought that to have faith is at the same time to have doubt. So, for example, for one to truly have faith in God, one would also have to doubt one’s beliefs about God; the doubt is the rational part of a person’s thought involved in weighing evidence, without which the faith would have no real substance. In essence, those who try to use science to prove their faith do not have real faith. Faith and scientific method are mutually exclusive. You cannot use phenomena to explain or justify itself, or rely on mostly unreliable witness testimony. Proponents or willing adherents to the supernatural should try like the dickens to falsify their own hypotheses.

This surely works the other way, and die-hard skeptics should explore the evidence of outlandish claims, if for no other reason than it is fun. Similar to theologian Tim Mawson’s claims that atheists should attempt prayer for some period of time, to strengthen their disbelief. Wouldn’t their logic would supersede any patterns of magical thinking? And how would one know which God to try this with? Of course many skeptics would argue that the burden of proof does not lie with those that posit something’s nonexistence.

What interests me most about all this is this; Why is it much more difficult to accept the existence of God or UFOs, than a pig (which you have seen before but are not looking at right now) or Japan (which you may have never directly observed)?

Happy Halloween, everyone!