Teeming Links – August 2, 2013

FireHeadImage courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I invite you to peruse today’s offering of necessary and recommended reading under the overarching emotional/conceptual rubric of this recent rumination about the extreme value of ambivalence and undecidedness amid our present sociocultural circumstance of frenetic and manipulative opinion-peddling and belief-mongering:

We live in a society in which opinions, options, and information are everywhere proliferating, and ambivalence is on the rise. Persuasive arguments are available on either side of nearly every choice. What should I think or feel about fast food, nuclear energy, or euthanasia? Which of these 15 brands of toothpaste do I prefer and why?

Yet because it goes largely unmeasured and undetected, ambivalence is undervalued. Uncertainty is interpreted as weakness, even though certainty takes us blundering into wars and financial crashes. Facebook turns our analogue emotions into binary oppositions: You either “like” something or you don’t. Management books valorize decisiveness; self-help books command us to be happy; politicians pitch to one side or the other. The ambivalents are trapped in a culture that prizes univalents.

If we are to find a way to break out of our current deadlocks, we need a little more respect for ambivalence. After all, an ambivalent sensibility is a creative one. . . .

When you are in a state of mind in which things aren’t resolved into their conventional categories, you are more likely to see new possibilities.

Isn’t it time we stood up for ambivalence as a valid and necessary mode of comprehending the world?

Then again, maybe that’s a terrible idea.

— Ian Leslie, “Ambivalence Is Awesome,” Slate, June 13, 2013

* * *

The New Circulations of Culture (Berfrois)
“We might imagine Facebook, YouTube, Last.fm, Flickr, Instagram, Twitter and so on, as vast archives of cultural data. As things stand, culture is being radically transformed by the recursive circulations of digital by-product data, yet we have little understanding of how this is happening or what the consequences might be.”

Thinking in Network Terms (Edge)
Physicist and network theorist Albert-lászló Barabási on human societies in the age of Big Data, when Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc., are the richest troves of human information on the planet. “One of the shocking things that I discovered through my son is that from a very young age, I kept saying ‘Do you want to be an astronomer? Do you want to go to the moon?” Always he always said, “No, I don’t want to go.’ But he would like to go to work for Google, he would like to go to work for Facebook.’ We have a generation that is growing up for whom the traditional goals of going to the moon, of flying to faraway stars, don’t exist anymore. That’s not what excites them.”

Why the Internet is Ground Zero in the Global Consciousness War (AlterNet)
By Daniel Pinchbeck. Quoted here three years ago but well worth revisiting or reading for the first time. “The established forces that want to control consciousness and manage perception face the new challenges of outsider perspectives that the internet makes available.”

The Internet As We Know It Is On Its Deathbed (AlterNet)
“The original vision of the Internet, where information and media is freely shared, without one’s computer strokes and searches being metered, tracked, traced, archived, dissected, marketed and warehoused in government data banks, is dead. And that’s what’s being lost by mainstream media in the ongoing Edward Snowden coverage. . . . Snowden’s revelations are the end of a vision of unfettered Internet freedom.”

In Praise of Pessimism (New Statesman)
Will Self on the virtues of negative expectations. “The optimist lives in fear of a future that she endeavours, futilely, to control. For the pessimist, it’s simply a matter of shit happens, but until it does, make hay.”

Not Even Silicon Valley Escapes History (The Atlantic)
A revolution began here. And this is what is left over. “What we see now is a surreal imitation of the suburban industrial parks and commercial spaces of yesteryear. They’re built atop the past’s mistakes, erasing them from our maps and eyes.”

How to keep Millennials in the church? Let’s keep church un-cool (The Washington Post)
“Christianity has become too obsessed with how it is perceived. Just like the Photoshop-savvy Millennials she is so desperate to retain, the church is ever more meticulously concerned with her image, monitoring what people are saying about her and taking cues from that. . . . As a Millennial, if I’m truly honest with myself, what I really need from the church is not another yes-man entity enabling my hubris and giving me what I want. Rather, what I need is something bigger than me, older than me, bound by a truth that transcends me and a story that will outlast me.”

The Brilliant, Troubled Legacy of Richard Wagner (Smithsonian.com)
“Those who have immersed themselves in Wagner’s full operas — lengthy and demanding, yet flowing and churning like a great river of thought and feeling — often experience a sense of awe. ‘It’s so rich and deep — it’s like a drug sometimes. If you give up and let go, it really drags you into a mysterious world,’ Jonas Kaufmann, the celebrated German tenor, said on NPR in February.”

Science fiction is creeping into more mainstream films (The Guardian)
Science fiction isn’t all “talking squids in space”. And its creep into mainstream cinema is everywhere from Never Let Me Go to Midnight in Paris.

Harlan Ellison Isn’t Dead Yet (Vulture)
“Endings remain very much on his mind. ‘I have led what others call the good life,’ he said on the phone a few weeks ago. ‘I’ve done what I love all my life and I’m still doing it. Working hard is the only thing I know.'”

Stephen King’s Family Business (The New York Times)
“The family now boasts five novelists, four of whom have books out this year. . . . The closest comparison would have to be the Brontës, and even they maxed out at a paltry three published novelists, plus one dissipated poet.”

Mutilated Cows Found at Missouri Farm, Police Not Ruling Out the Possibility of Aliens (CBS St. Louis)
The last half of the headline is misleading, but the story is quite interesting. There’s a long history of this thing in Missouri (my home state), by the way. “Who would cut the tongues and take the reproductive organs from several cows? That’s the mystery police in a small town 90 miles away from Kansas City are dealing with.”

The History and Psychology of Clowns Being Scary (Smithsonian.com)
From tribal cultures to modern circuses to Poltergeist, Heath Ledger’s Joker, and Pennywise from Stephen King’s It, “Clowns, as pranksters, jesters, jokers, harlequins, and mythologized tricksters have been around for ages.”

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 August 2, 2013, in Arts & Entertainment, Internet & Media, Paranormal, Society & Culture, Teeming Links and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. That first sentence is a mouthful

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