On The Edge
Running away from your life, hiding from a would-be rapist, watching the neighborly veneer crack after two hurricanes
Infinity to the left of me, infinity to the right — and, within me, a vast inner space of thoughts and feelings. My space, I call it, just as I call this body mine. My country. My planet. And the stars — are they mine, too? And what of the darkness between them?
Before we work on artificial intelligence, why don’t we do something about natural stupidity?
Jaron Lanier On The Danger Of Letting Computers Do Our Thinking For Us
A key belief of cybernetic totalism is that there’s no difference between experience and information; that is, everything can be reduced to “bits.” When you don’t believe in experience anymore, you become desensitized to the subjective quality of life. And this has a huge impact on ethics, religion, and spirituality, because now the center of everything isn’t human life or God, but the biggest possible computer. You have this cultlike anticipation of computers big enough to house consciousness and thus grant possible immortality.
The Religion Of Politics, The Politics Of Religion
If American politics is more religious than it has been for a long time, we are not alone. The world of Islam is undergoing a tremendous religiopolitical revival. I’m not sure I understand what’s behind it. I have the sense that the explanations we read in any paper or see on television are not accurate. September 11 caught us all off guard, and we still have not digested it.
The Last, Hateful Word
The day I met Harry, he was drunk and desperate. We were in a bar with a group of work colleagues, and he was ranting about how a woman had mistreated him. There was something about fumbled sex on a beach, and a long train ride, and a wound to the heart. His tone was dramatic, misogynistic, and self-pitying. I thought he was the most obnoxious man I had ever met.
One night I meet a client at the ER, she grabs my arm, forces me to her, and says: “This here will heal.” She points to a broken nose, a smashed collarbone, a red eye. “But this won’t.” She thumps her hand against her chest.
I was a shy, awkward sixteen-year-old. I hated the mall, the holidays, and commercialism in general. But for some reason — the money? the challenge? the sheer stupidity of it? — I told my sister I would do it. Being Frosty became my first job ever.
My Mother’s Convalescence
I was riding in the back seat of my Aunt Belle’s Cadillac when my cousin Joanie whispered, “You want some gum?” then leaned over to me and stuck her tongue in my mouth. When she sat back, smiling, I found that she’d left her gum behind. It was gnarled and cold and foreign-tasting, I suppose because it was wet with someone else’s saliva.