Would the advent of conscious machines would aid humanity, even save it, by leading to the kind of super-intelligence that we can harness to our own ends? Or would it mean the end of human beings, their replacement by creatures with godlike powers? If the former, the end of the human story is more like the deus ex machina of ancient Greek drama, a plot device in which divine intervention saves characters from an otherwise irredeemable tragedy. If the latter, it has more in common with the contrived ending to which the phrase now generally refers: radically incongruent with the events that have preceded it, to sinister effect.
Wes Alwan on Deus ex Machina.
While I think quantum theory helps us to understand all kinds of otherwise puzzling phenomena, it does not do this by saying what’s going on at a deeper level: ontologically speaking, there is no quantum level. Quantum theory is fundamental to contemporary physics, and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. But it does not contain fundamental laws, and does not contribute its own fundamental ontology. Since quantum mechanics is in these ways parasitic on other descriptive or representational frameworks it cannot be expected to provide a basis for the reduction of the macroscopic to the microscopic. Nor, therefore, can anything else within the horizon of contemporary physics.
Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Richard Healey.
The lights of bridges
have no end anywhere
my night is filled with them
even in front of death
I will remember
Poem, ‘Theatre’, by Alok Dhanwa. Photographs and translation by Saudamini Deo.
Holes provided many nice examples of entities about which we have rich and a times conflicting intuitions. These include the idea that holes do not exist, that holes are just parts of the holed-object, or that they are properties that we erroneously re-conceptualize as individuals.
Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Roberto Casati.
Fifteen short chapters begin with a playful dialogue between sound and a writer, as Cascella seems to work out what she’s doing on the page before you, and then moving straight into the tangled yet lyrical description of that Scelsi quartet. As soon as you are oriented to that, Cascella moves again.
C.D. Rose reviews F.M.R.L. by Daniela Cascella.
In Suedehead, Joe Hawkins’ milieu shifts from Plaistow in East London, with its ‘poverty and hardship’, to a West End pad and dalliances with more affluent women, where he’s all of a sudden stepping out wearing a bowler hat. But what we’re dealing with is a more enigmatic prospect than Skinhead, as suedehead itself represented a more tailored approach to the skinhead aesthetic, with its velvet-collared Crombie, houndstooth check suits and brogues.
Intros to the digital reboot of the New English Library, by Andrew Stevens.
Léon Werth’s heroic examination of seemingly every event on this journey captures the existential drama of this long caravan. Yet it’s his search for an anchor in events that have estranged him from France that ensures the relevance of 33 Days.
Mark Tewfik on Léon Werth‘s 33 Days.
Commitment to the existence of unicorns is just not as substantive or even outright crazy as it looks if we take it for granted that there really only are those things that the imaginary discipline of physics tells us exists. I am saying “imaginary discipline,” because there is no such thing as the single discipline of physics. “Physics” or “science” still often count among philosophers (particularly among metaphysicians) as empirically grounded forms of metaphysics that get to the bottom of things (the ultimate grounding level). This is neither clearly a consequence of any actual finding of physics to date nor could it be given that we are dealing with metaphysical interpretations of terms such as “particle” or “to consist of” when we claim, for instance, that tables consist of particles and then wonder whether tables even so much as exist. Of course, tables exist and, as far as I know, so do electrons.
Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Markus Gabriel.
I’m going to take the easy way out and suggest that the physical location of the former wilderness isn’t actually that important. In the context of a mapped and clearly demarcated space, the use of the word ‘wilderness’ describes a human aspiration to a particular kind of experience. The seventeenth century garden wilderness, like the ‘managed wilderness’ which fills Abney Park today, embodies various ideas about people and nature, organised in a way that is no less deliberate for not being aggressively overt.
Bridget Penney broods on experiences of wilderness.
We were two naive human (vegan) beings thinking we could travel for six months through Africa and survive without consequences. The obvious question you might ask is: “Did you end up eating meat?” or something of that sort, throwing your predisposed notion of what “vegan” might be like into our faces, and guess what, you are completely wrong. Food was the last thing on our minds, we never had to worry about food running out, or vegan food being unavailable.
Katya Luca writes about her vegan journey through the Sahara.