Personal Media Summary: February 2016

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(Image credit: The New York Times)

(Meta: Delayed by a couple of weeks because I was on vacation! That’s also why there isn’t much here or in next month’s post)

So, miscellanous finds last month:

  • In the spirit of Avatar, Peter Wohlleben shows how trees can communicate1 through a fungal network he dubs the “wood-wide web” (!)

Before moving on to an elderly beech to show how trees, like people, wrinkle as they age, he added, “Sometimes, pairs like this are so interconnected at the roots that when one tree dies, the other one dies, too.”

  • While trawling YouTube, I came across a2 great old cover of a U2 song, by a gospel choir

  • Vanity Fair speculates3 on the end of Europe

  • After “Alien” and “Aliens”, many stories were considered and rejected for “Alien 3”, and one of the most interesting ones4 was set in “an archaic wooden planet inhabited by an ancient monastery” (really).

  • The Guardian reviews5 Jonathan Blow’s new game and gives him an unusual title, “The Thomas Pynchon of Gaming”

  • Douglas Rushkoff continues6 his trademark pessimism:

They’ll get marketed to. Facebook will market you your future before you’ve even gotten there, they’ll use predictive algorithms to figure out what’s your likely future and then try to make that even more likely. They’ll get better at programming you – they’ll reduce your spontaneity. And they can use your face and name to advertise through you, that’s what you’ve agreed to. I didn’t want Facebook to advertise something through me as an influencer where my every act becomes grist to marketing.

  • “The Witch” is reviewed7, and found to be beyond the reach of other modern thrillers (sadly, I have no time to watch it)

How many people, these days, heading out of “Don Giovanni,” are honestly shaken by the mortal terror of the hero, in his final conflagration? Which of us treats “The Crucible,” set sixty years or so after the events of “The Witch,” as anything but a reflection on the political hysteria of the time in which it was written? The problem is simple: we can’t be damned. One gradual effect of the Enlightenment was to tamp down the fires of Hell and sweep away the ashes, allowing us to bask in the rational coolness that ensued. But the loss—to the dramatic imagination, at any rate—has been immense. If your characters are convinced that a single action, a word out of place, or even a stray thought brings not bodily risk but an eternity of pain, your story will be charged with illimitable dread. No thriller, however tense, can promise half as much.

  • I’ve saved the best for last: a new graphic novel8 by Douglas Rushkoff (yes, he of the technological pessimism above), titled Aleister and Adolf. This one I have to make time for.

“The bigger idea is the corporate-cyber-universe as the progeny of fascist sigil magick,” Rushkoff said. “Swastikas and other sigil logos become the corporate logos of our world. And given that we’re living in a moment where those logos are migrating online where they can move on their own, it’s kind of important that we consider the origins and power of these icons.”


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