Teeming Links – July 26, 2013

FireHeadImage courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As you browse through today’s crop of fascinating, worthwhile, disturbing, and necessary reading, I invite you to consider not just this particular experience but your online experience as a whole in light of writer Benjamin Anastasis’ recent, impassioned, and insightful explanation of why he has abandoned Twitter. Even though he states his reasons in terms of their specific applicability to writers, they actually apply to everybody who dares to make the devil’s bargain of engaging with social media. What a shame it would/will be if the Internet as a whole — which, we’ll recall, Evgeny Morozov has argued is a kind of a fiction anyway — becomes completely overtaken by this subworld of hype and distraction that, despite its obvious uses, seems most useful at enabling and amplifying people’s inherent narcissism, and then exploiting this for profit.

For 1 year, 4 months and 22 days — or 508 days total — Twitter became part of my daily thinking ritual. Should I post that thought as a tweet? How about a picture of that lost parrot poster I saw at the park? Would that be funny? If I’m in Berkeley, is it worth tweeting about the reading I’m giving tonight in case some of my followers live out here?

. . . Writers need mystery and really shouldn’t be on Twitter. Here’s what novelist Benjamin Anastas took away from his 508 days of tweeting. “Twitter isn’t planning to go public in 2014 with an estimated market valuation of $11 billion because it’s in the democracy business, or disaster recovery, or it likes helping out with your local Neighborhood Watch. It’s that valuable in market terms because it wants to own your eyes, and everything on Twitter — from its look, to its speed, to the 140-character limit of a tweet — is designed to create a hunger in you for what it offers, to keep you coming back for more. It’s fucking diabolical, but we’re all used to being hopeless click-addicts now.  . . . Twitter works in direct proportion to how much time you spend on it: if you’re willing to burn entire days on end, you’ll have a satisfying time on Twitter with lots of links consumed, comments favorited, pithy exchanges with your followers and friends. If you just dip in from time to time, you’ll find that your response rate plummets. It’s the nature of the beast that you have to do your time if you want to join the conversation. If you don’t, you’re a stranger in Twitter Village and you’ll be treated accordingly by the natives: no replies, no retweets, no new followers, and a slow attrition of the ones you’ve already gained. Twitter wants your life. Don’t give it up so easily.”

— “Goodbye to Twitter Part Two: Lessons Learned,” Benjamin Anastasis, The Daily Beast, July 9, 2013

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They Know Much More Than You Think (The New York Review of Books)
Recent revelations about the depth and extent of the NSA’s domestic and international spying activities may be just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s a history of “what the government has been telling the public about its surveillance activities over the years,” along with a comparison of “what we know now as a result of the top secret documents and other information released by, among others, the former NSA contract employee Edward Snowden.”

The Maddening of America (Project Syndicate)
The claim that the spread of severe mental illness has reached “epidemic” proportions has been heard so often that, like any commonplace, it has lost its ability to shock. But the repercussions for international politics of the disabling conditions diagnosed as manic-depressive illnesses (including major unipolar depression) and schizophrenia could not be more serious.

The American cloud (Aeon)
The cosy coastal world of pretend farmers’ markets bears no resemblance to the actual back end of America. “The makeover has been so psychologically disruptive that during the past century, the bulk of America’s cultural resources have been devoted to obscuring the realities of the cloud with simpler, more emotionally satisfying illusions. These constitute a theatre of pre-industrial community life primarily inspired, ironically enough, by Jefferson’s small-town visions. This theatre, which forms the backdrop of consumer lifestyles, can be found today inside every Whole Foods, Starbucks and mall in America. I call it the Jeffersonian bazaar.”

Douglas Rushkoff on Deen, Snowden, Zimmerman and the Culture of Contagion (The Hollywood Reporter)
What would race riots organized on Facebook look like? The best-selling author, who coined the term “viral media” in 1993, says the camcorder days of Rodney King offer insights into the “great viral summer” of 2013.

Inner peace (Aeon)
We yearn for silence, yet the less sound there is, the more our thoughts deafen us. How can we still the noise within?

Accessing the Mind through Body Awareness (3 Quarks Daily)
“Emotions and thoughts are automatically embodied, automatically embedded in a social and physical context rather than being expressions of some interior homunculus. From this perspective, paying attention to bodily sensations should not be understood in opposition to paying attention to the workings of the mind but rather as another way of accessing the mental. Bodily sensations can potentially give us access to a large part of our subconscious and precognitive life.”

Inside the multimillion-dollar essay-scoring business (City Pages)
Behind the scenes of standardized testing.

George Lucas & Steven Spielberg: Studios Will Implode; VOD Is the Future (Variety, June 12, 2013)
Moguls predict tentpole “meltdown,” pricey pics and empathetic games.

Why Studios Must End Their Mega-Budget Obsession (Variety, July 22, 2013)
BOX OFFICE EPIC FAIL: Costly misfires pile up in crowded season: ‘After Earth,’ ‘White House Down,’ ‘Lone Ranger,’ ‘Pacific Rim,’ ‘R.I.P.D.’

The Unfortunate Legacy of Richard Matheson: On the Roots and Unfairly Repellant Qualities of Less-Than-Stellar Film Adaptations (The Millions)
Is there something inherent in Matheson’s brilliant writing that resists effective adaptation for movies and television?

An Appointment with the Wicker Man (The Wild Hunt)
The film production and distribution company StudioCanal has announced, via director Robin Hardy, that they have acquired an existing film print of 1973 cult film “The Wicker Man,” long missing, and are restoring the film, converting it to Blu-Ray format, and overseeing a short theatrical run in the Fall.

The Long, Strange Career of ‘The Conjuring’ Demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren (Flavorwire)
The fun, new horror film The Conjuring is inspiring all the usual questions that face a based-on-a-true-story horror film: is the story really true? Are the “demonologists” of the film, Ed and Lorraine Warren, just cranks? It’s hard to say.

“Our faith led us to write a horror story” (Geek Goes Rogue at Patheos)
Author Jonathan Ryan, one of the panelists in our first Teeming Brain podcast, interviews the Hayes brothers, who wrote the screenplay for The Conjuring. “After the typical press/talent greetings, I started with the question, ‘What drew you to tell this story about the Warrens and demonic possession?’ They both answered with, ‘Our Christian faith, without a doubt.'”

Two interesting paths to occultism during the enlightenment era (The Washington Post)
Michael Dirda reviews and discusses The Dark Side of the Enlightenment: Wizards, Alchemists, and Spiritual Seekers in the Age of Reason by John V. Fleming and Solomon’s Secret Arts: The Occult in the Age of Enlightenment by Paul Kleber Monod.

Out of the deep (Aeon)
From Atlantis to Noah’s Ark, we have long been drawn to stories of submerged lands. What lies beneath the flood myths?

India probes ‘UFOs’ after drone denial (The Telegraph)
India has turned to its astrophysicists to explain a ‘UFO’ mystery on its Himalayan border with China.

About Matt Cardin

Teeming Brain founder and editor Matt Cardin is the author of DARK AWAKENINGS, DIVINATIONS OF THE DEEP, A COURSE IN DEMONIC CREATIVITY: A WRITER'S GUIDE TO THE INNER GENIUS, and the forthcoming TO ROUSE LEVIATHAN. He is also the editor of BORN TO FEAR: INTERVIEWS WITH THOMAS LIGOTTI and the academic encyclopedias MUMMIES AROUND THE WORLD and GHOSTS, SPIRITS, AND PSYCHICS: THE PARANORMAL FROM ALCHEMY TO ZOMBIES.

Posted on July 26, 2013, in Arts & Entertainment, Education, Internet & Media, Paranormal, Psychology & Consciousness, Society & Culture, Teeming Links and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.

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