“Policy updates, we call them. In effect I review the political and economic situation of the country in question. We have a complex grading system. Prison statistics weighed against the number of foreign workers. How many young males unemployed. Have the generals’ salaries been doubled recently. What happens to dissidents. This year’s cotton crop or winter wheat yield. Payments made to the clergy. We have people we call control points. The control is always a national of the country in question. Together we analyze the figures in the light of recent events. What seems likely? Collapse, overthrow, nationalization? Maybe a balance of payments problem, maybe bodies hurled into ditches. Whatever endangers an investment.””Then you pay.””It’s interesting because it involves people, waves of people, people running in the streets.” the names -delillo
[Image: Tanja Deman]
In an earlier post, I connected typography and bookmaking to James Gibson’s theory of affordances, the idea that perception is layered less with the properties of individual objects and more with the possibilities for action they enable or afford. The basic idea of this application is that books provide a detailed and intentional set of affordances for a certain kind of understanding, and that typography and bookmaking are from this perspective intricate material practices for the installment of conversions in apprehension, for the reshaping of awareness through the mode of discursive engagement.
As I noted in the original post, on this view books are things we think with and through rather than storehouses we download from. The art of writing and bookmaking, then, is the intentional creation of affordances that make such transformations of experience possible. The book is the environment in which such affordances can endure. It’s in the context of designed affordance environments—settings…
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“J.G.Ballard’s early fiction is full of sonorous surrealism. In this special edition of Between the Ears we go Between Ballard’s Ears. Two new, specially commissioned, binaural adaptations of his work reveal the soundscape of one of Britain’s greatest imaginations. In Track 12, adapted by Brian Sibley, two men listen in to the fantastically amplified results of microsonics but a different, deadlier game is under way. Anton Lesser and Elliot Levey star. In Venus Smiles, adapted by Frank Cottrell Boyce, an enigmatic artist’s sonic sculpture brings chaos and transformation to the luxury resort of Vermilion Sands. Christine Bottomley, Carl Prekopp, Keziah Joseph and David Sterne star in a story of death and transfiguration.
Sitar performed by Sheema Mukherjee. Sonic realization Mark Burman and Donald MacDonald.”
“Jonathan Lethem’s latest novel traces the existential crisis of an international backgammon hustler who thinks he’s psychic and who, while plying his trade in Berlin, discovers a rare kind of tumor growing behind his face. His search for a physical cure, seemingly at odds with his spiritual quest for identity, takes him to California, where he becomes embroiled in conspiratorial circumstances which become increasingly indistinguishable from his growing inner turmoil.”
“Studying history aims to loosen the grip of the past,” Yuval Noah Harari writes. “It enables us to turn our heads this way and that, and to begin to notice possibilities that our ancestors could not imagine, or didn’t want us to imagine” (59). Thus does the bestselling author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind rationalize his thoroughly historical approach to question of our technological future in his fascinating follow-up, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. And so does he identify himself as a humanist, committed to freeing us from what Kant would have called, ‘our tutelary natures.’ Like Kant, Harari believes knowledge will set us free.
Although by the end of the book it becomes difficult to understand what ‘free’ might mean here.
As Harari himself admits, “once technology enables us to re-engineer human minds, Homo sapiens will disappear, human history will come to…
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