Month: May 2010

Notes on Modern Monsters: from Anarchists to Zombies

A friend of mine recently had surgery, and in one of those thoughtful moves that never seem to occur to me, one of his co-workers lent him a bag of easy-reading books for his hospital stay. While I was visiting him I found him asleep, and started the nearest book that seemed good (the one he was in the middle of, of course), World War Z, by Max Brooks.

Zombies have been showing up more and more in pop culture – from video games (Plants vs Zombies and Left 4 Dead are only two of the more popular out of many many examples), books (WWZ, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), activities (zombie walks), to of course movies.

The Red Tower

This month I want to say a few words about Thomas Ligotti, an author of short stories in the horror genre. This is not a genre I am particularly well-versed in; although I have been since my teenage years a huge H.P. Lovecraft aficionado, and am reasonably familiar with a lot of the Weird Tales-era pulp material that formed Lovecraft’s milieu as well as some of his literary progenitors like Poe, Machen and Blackwood, I don’t really have much of a sense for horror as a genre, and am almost entirely ignorant of late 20th century and current manifestations of the medium. I have read very little Stephen King, no Clive Barker, and am not even sure what other names are important enough to horror that my ignorance of them is relevant to this review. Thus, I am not capable of analyzing and contextualizing Ligotti’s work in a way that would be attentive to the larger thematic and stylistic conversation he doubtless sees himself as taking part in, or of writing a review that would satisfy a real fan of horror.

Jorge Luís Borges, Infinity, and the Internet

Jorge Luís Borges, an Argentinean writer who is well known for his many short stories, some of which discuss such fantastic themes like dreams, libraries, labyrinths, god, and the less fantastic –see also, more real – like los gauchos (imagine Argentinean cowboys). Borges’s works of fiction, intertwined with the metaphysical have made him one of the most well known writers to come out of the western hemisphere during the 20st century. For the sake of this review, we will look at the relation between Borges, infinity, and the Internet. Five different short stories by Borges which relate to these ideas will all be briefly mentioned; the stories include The Aleph, The Library of Babel, The Garden of Forking Paths, Funes, the Memorious, and the Theme of the Traitor and Hero [all of which are available for free reading on the Internet at the above links].

The Unique One and Its Own

Alien causes, alien movements, alien issues, old and alien to each of us: the Good Cause, God’s Cause, the cause of freedom, the cause of mankind, the cause of man, the cause of world peace — each meant for someone or some group to throw on us to get us to serve when we should serve ourselves. We should live for ourselves, not for liberation, and we should beware of those who get us to do various chores for liberation. That is a trick that appears to accomplish progress when it accomplishes nothing but more alienation.

cubical lofts

Spoiler Alert!

In the symbolic order, the mind twists. Objects stand naked. They convince you that they are clothed. They are clothed. There they stand, protected by the material properties of the fabric of your ideology. By the fate of paradox they at last stand draped. They were never naked. I am lost in the cloth of this object which has forever been stripped of its sublime status.

We want it all – a review of Fever Ray

This will never end, ’cause I want more
More, give me more, give me more

Media saturation makes simple things hard. Not simple things like digging a ditch, or putting on boots, but things like understanding what our neighbors are doing & thinking. What is happening outside of our own head. The information that I need to understand what is happening outside of my day-to-day experience is edited by active agents. Agents with motivations that are layered: selfish, paid for, and built over time and generations. Social and geological. I don’t stand a chance.

Counter-culture, perfected in the late 60’s, has been our only protection from this frontal assault and, naturally, has become the agent of co-option. Most of us have passed through counter-culture and it has passed through us. Counter culture shaped me into a usable form against the people who raised me and into the shape of the new kind of consumer.