"As it factors into the annals of video game history, Myst was a massive success, and as such, many games would mimic its formula. It pushed the boundaries of what most people understood games could do, even if there were more innovative and interesting games being made at the same time. While the graphics of Myst today look hilariously blocky and awkward, at the time they seemed pristine — even, as FastCompany notes, photorealistic. The gameplay itself was unhurried, almost meditative: There was no clock, no enemies to fight, no way to be "killed," even if the creepy tone had me on edge the entire time I was wandering around the island. It was a decades-early precursor to similar "relaxing" atmospheric games, like the immensely addictive Witness.
Even though I never finished Myst, or really understood it, it's stayed with me for years. I might not think about it every month — frankly, I probably haven't thought of it in half a decade, before it showed up in my Twitter feed last night — but it's the unconscious standard I weigh other games against. Does this create its own world? Am I taken in by it? Am I filled with some sort of wonder?"
In an otherwise adroit piece by Mark Lilla from December (I'm usually always behind in reading periodicals, but the December 26th birth of my daughter made it even worse) about what for convenience sake we'll call "the new French Right", there's this:
"Whether anything politically significant will come out of this activity is difficult to know, given that intellectual fashions in France change about as quickly as the plat du jour. This past summer I spent some time reading and meeting these young writers in Paris and discovered more of an ecosystem than a cohesive, disciplined movement. Still, it was striking how serious they are and how they differ from American conservatives. They share two convictions: that a robust conservatism is the only coherent alternative to what they call the neoliberal cosmopolitanism of our time, and that resources for such a conservatism can be found on both sides of the traditional left-right divide. More surprising still, they are all fans of Bernie Sanders.
The intellectual ecumenism of these writers is apparent in their articles, which come peppered with references to George Orwell, the mystical writer-activist Simone Weil, the nineteenth-century anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Martin Heidegger and Hannah Arendt, the young Marx, the ex-Marxist Catholic philosopher Alasdair Macintyre, and especially the politically-leftist, culturally conservative American historian Christopher Lasch..."
Come one dude, you could have just been listing every citation in any random piece written for The American Conservative, American Affairs, The Hedgehog Review, Jacobite, etc. I know that I've personally cited ALL of those thinkers/writers in my writing.
It's a rich, telling, irony that an American "Leftist" (in the completely outmoded 20th Century sense) has to go all the way to Paris to get a whiff of what's happening every night in Topeka. Or in my case, Maine. I guess media bubbles are a real thing after all. Good grief.
Architects Mouaz Abouzaid, Bassel Omara and Ahmed Hammad have proposed creating micro homes from shipping containers, called Sheltainers, for people living in Cairo's cemeteries.
Sheltainer, which was the winner of the World Architecture Festival's WAFX Ethics and Value category, would re-purpose shipping containers to re-house people currently living in informal settlements that have grown up in the city's cemeteries.
The Cairo Necropolis, known as the City of the Dead or El'arafa, is a four-mile-long graveyard in the southeastern part of the Egyptian capital. Between 500,000 and one million people, part of Cairo's population of 19.5 milliom, are reported to be living in makeshift homes between the tombs.
In a bid to make this blog a little more personal (though I hope anyone out there reading it enjoys the links/art/music) I want to tell you about a dream I had last night.
I know, I know, I know. What is it that Dennis from It's Always Sunny said about dreams..."They're like pictures. If I'm not in them I'm not really interested"? I know, most dreams ARE boring, especially in their entirety. So I'll just leave you a snapshot:
My friend Mike explaining the nature of metaphors to me. He says that most people focus just on the binding aspect, how they draw two previously thought to be unlike things together. But there's also a fundamental separation that takes place also. There's a remnant of difference that's lost in the bid to symbolically represent similarity. Like the distinct details that get erased from caricature. Where do the remainders go?
He seemed to know but wanted me to guess. I woke up instead.
"Marx is a prisoner of the Enemy he attacks; his adversary's body falls on him and smothers him. Marx has the definitive vision of the machine for demolishing limits, which he calls capitalism, yet he questions not the limit but the machine. He wants to design a better machine, which will demolish limits without ever jamming, without crises. Like a great mechanic, he has a loving, passionate knowledge for the capitalist machine. Concerning the limit, he shares that machine's illusions. What offended him was not so much and not only the iniquity which capital engendered, but the fact that capital was preparing to become an obstacle to production, an antiquated and sclerotic form compared with the immensity of what was possible. Nobody has ever dreamed the dream of capital with as much faith as Marx was able to muster in his spirit. He was like a young man from the provinces who takes seriously, with despairing gravity, the customs of the metropolis - that is how Marx viewed capital. At times he felt like Rastignac on the hill of Père Lachaise, and then he unleashed in the world something that was to produce even more limitlessly than that old machine for demolishing limits. Capital had become is Madame de Beauséant. From her he had learned manners; it was she who had introduced him into society. But now she seemed to him withered, a bit ridiculous, doomed. He turned is gaze elsewhere, to the débutantes of the proletariat.
So far as development is concerned, Marx ultimately became more capitalist than capital itself. Sharp-eyed and obstinate, he looked everywhere for the limits of the power that demolishes limits. He wanted to reach the point from which he could look on capitalistic production as a form that was borné, timid, trapped in itself, and scorn it just as capital had scorned previous forms: "(The most extreme form of alienation...already contains in itself - though in an inverted form, upside down - the dissolution of all limited presuppositions of production. Moreover, it establishes the unconditional presuppositions of production, as well as the full material conditions for the total, universal development of the productive forces of the individual.)" Here a vibrant demonism is speaking, a desire for unlimited self-creation. Once absolute dissolution has been attained, once man has been totally expropriated, he imagines that the void can at last be filled with everything that man has never been. Marx's fury thus erupts not in a humanitarian idyll, but in a wild technological hallucination."
"Not only are screens themselves cheap to make, but they also make things cheaper. Any place that can fit a screen in (classrooms, hospitals, airports, restaurants) can cut costs. And any activity that can happen on a screen becomes cheaper. The texture of life, the tactile experience, is becoming smooth glass.
The rich do not live like this. The rich have grown afraid of screens. They want their children to play with blocks, and tech-free private schools are booming. Humans are more expensive, and rich people are willing and able to pay for them. Conspicuous human interaction — living without a phone for a day, quitting social networks and not answering email — has become a status symbol.
All of this has led to a curious new reality: Human contact is becoming a luxury good."
"It is a Vessel for labor without purpose. The metaphor of the stairway to nowhere precludes a tiring climb to the top where one is expected to spend a few moments with a cell-phone, because at least a valedictory selfie rewards us with the feeling that we wasted time on a giant staircase for something—perhaps something contained in the Vessel. The Vessel valorizes work, the physical work of climbing, all while cloaking it in the rhetoric of enjoyment, as if going up stairs were a particularly ludic activity. The inclusion of an elevator that only stops on certain platforms is ludicrously provocative. The presence of the elevator implies a pressure for the abled-bodied to not use it, since by doing so one bypasses “the experience” of the Vessel, an experience of menial physical labor that aims to achieve the nebulous goal of attaining slightly different views of the city. Unlike the Eiffel Tower, to which the Vessel has been unfathomably compared, the Vessel is just tall enough to make you feel bad for not hiking up it. To climb the Eiffel Tower is equally pointless, but its sheer size makes taking the elevator the de facto, socially normalized experience. The elevators of the Vessel and their lackluster architectural integration belie the architectural profession’s view of accessibility as a code-enforced concession rather than an ethos, a moral right to architecture for all. By taking the elevator up the Vessel, you are both inviting the judgment of your peers who insist on hauling ass up sixteen stories and confirming its sheer pointlessness as a structure; for, unlike the Eiffel Tower, which has a restaurant and shop, there is nothing at the top other than a view of the Hudson and the sad promise of the repeat performance of laboring your way back down."
"As a longtime sound engineer for the Grateful Dead, Dan Healy pioneered the way live music hits you in the gut—and he amassed a rich collection of tour tees along the way. Then he forgot about it. We visited Healy at his home in Marin, for a look at his newly re-discovered archive—and to hear the untold stories of his years on the road."