Viral hit

I get earworms quite regularly, but never so reliably, nor so unshakably, nor inexplicably, as when I get ill. Sometimes no amount of attempts to read something rich in images and language will make a difference, and my fever-dreams end up spooling out a full night’s worth of mangled loops and iterations of songs I’ve not heard in years, and never particularly liked or disliked at the time.

I lost Monday and Tuesday to an exciting and vigorous bout of norovirus, and Monday night’s sweaty insomnia was soundtracked by this late-80s chart gem. Because where’s the fun in being sick if you can’t share the discomfort, eh?

You’re welcome.

Event horizon

The modern world, cultural theorists tell us, has been characterized by the disenchantment of the natural world. In fact, this disenchantment was accompanied by a Romantic enchantment of the social word. Mimesis gave way to poiesis. We can see this more readily when we recognize, following Charles Taylor for example, that enchantment is a matter of meaning as much as it is a matter of magic.

[…]

Modern technology disenchanted the natural world and enchanted the social world. Meaning was no longer a feature of the world to be merely perceived and inhabited by human beings. It became a subjective reality imposed and fabricated by human beings. We necessarily became artists of the self.

Digital technology disenchants the social world and enchants the technological world. Meaning is no longer subjectively experienced. Claude Shannon’s divorce of meaning from information in digital communication is recapitulated in the human experience of digital technology; it is the founding myth that contains the truth that illuminates the world. Meaning is kicked out of the human realm and displaced onto the technological, from whence it is imposed upon us. We can no longer believe in the romantic project of self-making and self-fulfillment. Poiesis gives way to an inverted mimesis. We no longer imitate, we are the imitated, sculpted in data by algorithmically powered “intelligent” machines. 

L. M. Sacasas

The glamour of futurity

… there are always three elements that create that sensation: one is a promise of escape and transformation. A different, better life in different, better circumstances. The other is there is a sense of grace, effortlessness, all the flaws and difficulties are hidden. And the third is mystery. Mystery both draws you in and enhances the grace by hiding things.

Another way of thinking about glamour is to think about the origins of the word glamour. Glamour originally meant a literal magic spell that made people see something that wasn’t there… As the word became a more metaphorical concept, it always retained that sense of magic and illusion. And where the illusion lies is in the grace; in the disguising of difficulties and flaws.

[…]

Glamour is always driven by some form of dissatisfaction. In order to imagine your life as different and better you have to be willing to acknowledge that it’s not perfect. You have to have some sense of discontent. And you also have to have the imaginative space — the permission to feel that actually could be different. Now, that may be kind of a true fantasy, something that couldn’t really happen. But a lot of times it’s just something that’s improbable or distant.

One form of dissatisfaction is boredom. Another form is hardship, and those things can go together because people who have difficult lives often have an element of that as a kind of drudgery at work…

[…]

… from the ‘20s through the mid-60s, in the general popular culture the idea of the future was glamorous. There are still parts of the popular culture where you will find futurism being glamorous today. But they tend to be niches and subcultures. You have the the extropian radical life extension kind of people, and they have a sort of glamorous notion of the future. But I think even in mainstream science fiction, what interests people about the future is less that it’s glamorous and ideal and more that it’s different. So they’re exploring different settings, but not necessarily ones that have an element of utopianism or idealism to them.

Some big excerpts from an interview with Virginia Postrel at Paleofuture

Science fiction, science fact, and all that's in between …