It can be said that The Waste Land is a poem about memory and the lack thereof in our modern lives. Eliot uses The Tenth Book of the Confessions, which is the book about memory, in the part of his poem that is heavily reliant upon sensory experience. But, as we know from Buddha’s sermon, our sensory experience is on fire with passions. Augustine mentioned that memory—that is, collective memory—can salvage us from depravity. Accordant as he may be with this idea, Eliot presents a challenge to Augustine’s emphasis on memory. Our modern society’s “collective” memory is neglected, and Eliot uses the parts of The Waste Land that precede “The Fire Sermon” to convey a lost sense of memory that has inhibited man from looking beyond his worldly pleasures: Solemn and nostalgic, Part I. “The Burial of the Dead” tells us that we only know “a heap of broken images,” (23); patient but ticking, “Part II. A Game of Chess” tells the reader how Philomel’s call to us is in vain because we are no longer able to make out her song—“‘Jug Jug’ to dirty ears” (103)—and another speaker grows increasingly restless with the poet’s indifference—“HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME” (141, 152, 165, 168, 169).
Though buildings are often symbols of permanence, as it may lend itself to the status of an icon for a city or an heirloom for a family, they can be rendered obsolete at any moment. According to Ruin and Redemption in Architecture, Dan Barasch's newest book published by Phaidon Books, abandoned buildings can either be Lost, Forgotten, Reimagined or Transformed.
"Something else we’ve lost is the Slacker ability to slack. The internet presents itself as quasi-entertainment, all the time, even if what you’re doing is monetized, tracked, and encouraging of further quantifiable interaction. Simply put, it is no longer a giant, free hub of interaction. Instead, it’s the most efficient way business has to colonize our attention and monetize our daily lives. As Jonathan Crary writes in his fantastic book 24/7, “Billions of dollars are spent every year researching how to reduce decision-making time, how to reduce the useless time of reflection and contemplation. This is the form of contemporary progress—the relentless capture and control of time and experience.” He continues, “An attention economy dissolves the separation between the personal and the professional, between entertainment and information, all overridden by a compulsory functionality of communication that is inherently and inescapably 24/7.”
Having so much of our experiences forced online means that most of our lives are inescapably subject to the quantify/monetize logos. Could one wander, unnoticed, along the fringes of society if one wanted to? Is it even possible to work half-ass at a McJob in order to spend your free time reading Maldoror out of the line of sight of someone trying to make a buck off of you? And most importantly, are young people even interested in that sort of autonomy anymore? Perhaps the most disturbing thing about my generation is how we’ve defined rebellion down, blurring its edges and oversimplifying it so it somehow still collates with online exposure. Millions of preening young people, posturing for one another, with no gesture unquantifiable and nothing learned that the algorithm hasn’t taught them.
For me, Slacker is a melancholy artifact of what we’ve lost over the last 30 years. It’s still recognizable in many ways. People continue to fret over climate change and analyze pop culture to death like the characters in the film do. Watching it now, though, you can’t help but feel that we’ve traded older, deeper notions of freedom for a frenzied simulacrum of autonomy and monetized attention spans."
"Sand’s unconventional religious journey began when she was a child raised by a Voltairean grandmother on an isolated estate in central France. It was there, she recalled in her autobiography, that lacking a religion she “made one for myself.” Sand’s childhood religion revolved around an androgynous God she named ‘Corambé,’ who inspired stories told to herself in which the god/goddess charmed and consoled those who suffered. Sand also received some minimal instruction as a Catholic, enough to satisfy the local priest that she could receive her First Communion. But it was only at a convent school in Paris, where she spent three years as a teenager, that Sand began to take seriously her Catholic faith. After a period in which she embraced the ‘devils’ of the school, Sand was transformed by a mystical encounter in the convent chapel in which “a whirling whiteness” passed before her eyes. Sand recalled a feeling of “indescribable sweetness” and a love that bound her intimately to God, “as if the insuperable obstacle that stood between the hearth of infinite warmth and the dormant flame had been swept away.” When Sand’s grandmother learned of her religious conversion, and her desire to become a nun, she swept in quickly and took her back to Nohant, the family estate in Berry in 1820. "
"For nearly a month, Dadabots has been streaming death metal nonstop on its YouTube channel. While that may sound like a huge undertaking for a typical four-piece metal band, Dadabots is actually an AI generating its own approximations of what death metal sounds like.
Dadabots—a fake band powered by deep learning software—was developed by CJ Carr and Zack Zukowski, two musicians and technologists who met while they were going to Berklee College of Music in Boston they told The Outline. It’s based on a recurrent neural network—computing architecture that “learns” patterns in a large amount of input data (in this case, death metal) in order to predict what musical elements and sequences are most common and recreates them."
Motherboard article here.
I expected to see a lot more of this kind of criticism of San Junipero's depressing vapidness and pinched moral imagination after the last season of Black Mirror. But...of course there wasn't. Anyway, this one from Sean Haylock writing in The Agonist is good:
We already treat virtuality as a suspension of morality. Our lives online are lives lived as if on holiday from reality. Slavoj Žižek has remarked (in The Fragile Absolute) that the human rights regime is an inversion of the Decalogue, a theoretical apparatus for granting permission to sin. Similarly, the virtual world of the internet is an inversion of the eschaton, where liberal democratic netizens (a natural development of the liberal democratic citizen) propel themselves ever further from the beatific vision, and by a cheap transgression attain a cheap transcendence. We find ourselves then in a cut-price afterlife, but indebted nonetheless, convinced of the boon of this discount ticket but increasingly anxious to catch sight of our destination. We are caught paying the boatman in perpetuity. Desperately, we deny the existence of the hedonic treadmill. Inexorably, we set it in motion with our every surrender to acquisitiveness and “autonomy.” If heaven is a place on earth then it is only another mask worn to hide the ultimate shame of our mortality.
“San Junipero” is a curious cultural artefact. Part of a series that is currently the purest expression of technological angst in popular culture and the bleakest fictional diagnosis of the dystopian present since J.G. Ballard, it is beloved as an exception to this rule. It is aBlack Mirror episode that does not expose the horrors latent in our lives with our devices but instead reassures its progressive viewers, who might have received the distasteful impression that their belief in progress has unsurpassable limits, that despite all the scary possibilities lurking in the cultural imagination, they were right all along to say “Love Will Win.” Its failure as a work of science fiction and its unwitting success as a work of eschatological horror means it presents a particularly vivid image of a failure of morality and the terrible fate that necessarily accompanies it. It pictures a certain kind of curse. The Curse of San Junipero is that failure of moral imagination which makes us think tearing up our fig leaves is all that is required to transport us back to paradise.
We have profiled many social media profiles on Archinect, but this may be the first haunted account we have come across. Cursed Architecture (@CursedArchitect) has showcased "The best of the worst in questionable design decisions, horrible DIY, and existential terror" through its twitter page with over 800 examples of the built environment gone awry.
Back in the late '70s, Dylan complained in an interview about the bizarre range of topics about which interviewers would ask him.
“Well,” said the interviewer, “what do you think they should ask you about?”
“I don’t know," he answered. "Maybe music?".
That was always my intention going in, and a sensible one, to talk about songwriting with the man who has profoundly transformed it over the years. And Dylan - like so many other songwriters' we've spoken to -was happy to talk about this ancient art to which he's devoted his life, and which has been so profoundly shaped by the impact of his own work.
It was a promise I'd always emphasize in my interview requests, that my goal was to have a serious conversation about songwriting, music, songs and the creative process – nothing else. Nothing about the personal life, or anything unrelated to music. Dylan had read some of the past interviews and liked the approach, especially my two-part interview with Paul Simon.
Being a lifelong and devotional songwriter myself, I came informed and inspired to these interviews, which was usually fun and refreshing for those being interviewed, as it's rare for songwriters to be asked about the mystery and mechanics of music itself, although it is there that their genius lives. And as musicians know - we talk to fellow musicians differently than to civilians. Because music itself is a different language - one which reaches beyond words - and seeing the world through the eyes and heart of a songwriter is a distinct experience, as in being an artist in the music industry.
Unusually I'd let on that I was a songwriter and musician by discussing a song's key - or chords - which always registers. Because though they rarely discuss it, that is where songwriters live: not only in lyrics and rhymes, but in the many colors of musical keys, major and minor, and those chords used forever to discover and propel melodies. Dylan is a remarkable craftsman - his care for intricate rhyme schemes, perfect meter, singability has been prominent since the start - and he happily answered questions about keys, chords, rhymes and the rest.
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