Tag Archives: future

selections from Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“She’ll come back and be a serious Americanah like Bisi,” Ranyinudo said.

They roared with laughter, at that word “Americanah,” wreathed in glee, the fourth syllable extended, and at the thought of Bisi, a girl in the form below them, who had come back from a short trip to America with odd affectations, pretending she no longer understood Yoruba, adding a slurred r to every English word she spoke. (78) Continue reading

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selections from Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

Feminism, as writer Marie Sheer remarked in 1986, “is the radical notion that women are people.” (122) Continue reading

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selections from Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (2014)

“In life, as in mutual funds, past performance is no guarantee of future results.” Continue reading

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selections from The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

[…] that luxurious after-dinner atmosphere when thought runs gracefully free of the trammels of precision. (3)

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“Clearly,” the Time Traveller proceeded, “any real body must have extension in four directions: it must have Length, Breadth, Thickness, and—Duration.” (4)

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“Time is only a kind of Space.” (5)

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“You can show black is white by argument,” said Filby, “but you will never convince me.” (7)

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“Our ancestors had no great tolerance for anachronisms.” (7)

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“Then there is the future,” said the Very Young Man. “Just think! One might invest all one’s money, leave it to accumulate at interest, and hurry on ahead!”

“To discover a society,” said I, “erected on a strictly communistic basis.” (7)

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“Presently, as I went on, still gaining velocity, the palpitation of day and night merged into one continuous greyness; the sky took on a wonderful deepness of blue, a splendidi luminous color like that of early twilight; the jerking sun became a streak of fire, a brilliant arch, in space; the moon a fainter fluctuating band; and I could see nothing of the stars, save now and then a brighter circle flickering in the blue.” (20)

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“It seemed to me that I had happened upon humanity upon the wane. The ruddy sunset set me thinking of the sunset of mankind. For the first time I began to realize an odd consequence of the social effort in which we are at present engaged. And yet, come to think, it is a logical consequence enough. Strength is the outcome of need; security sets a premium on feebleness. The work of ameliorating the conditions of life—the true civilizing process that makes life—humanity over Nature had followed another. Things that are now mere dreams had become projects deliberately put in hand and carried forward. And the harvest was what I saw!

“After all, the sanitation and the agriculture of to-day are still in the rudimentary stage. The science of our time has attacked but a little department of the field of human disease, but even so, it spreads its operations very steadily and persistently. Our agriculture and horticulture destroy a weed just here and there and cultivate perhaps a score or so of wholesome plants, leaving the greater number to fight out a balance as they can. We improve our favourite plants and animals—and how few they are—gradually by selective breeding; now a new and better peach, now a seedless grape, now a sweeter and larger flower, now a more convenient breed of cattle. We improve them gradually, because our ideals are vague and tentative, and our knowledge is very limited; because Nature, too, is shy and slow in our clumsy hands. Some day all this will be better organized, and still better. That is the drift of the current in spite of the eddies. The whole world will be intelligent, educated, and co-operating; things will move faster and faster towards the subjugation of Nature. In the end, wisely and carefully we shall readjust the balance of animal and vegetable me to suit our human needs.

“This adjustment, I say, must have been done, and done well; done indeed for all Time, in the space of Time across which my machine had leaped. The air was free from gnats, the earth from weeds or fungi; everywhere were fruits and sweet and delightful flowers; brilliant butterflies flew hither and thither. The ideal of preventive medicine was attained. Diseases had been stamped out. I saw no evidence of any contagious diseases during all my stay. And I shall have to tell you later that even the processes of putrefaction and decay had been profoundly affected by these changes.

“Social triumphs, too, had been effected. I saw mankind housed in splendid shelters, gloriously clothed, and as yet I had found them engaged in no toil. There were no signs of struggle, neither social nor economical struggle. The shop, the advertisement, traffic, all that commerce which constitutes the body of our world, was gone. It was natural on that golden evening that I should jump at the idea of a social paradise. The difficulty of increasing population had been met, I guessed, and population had ceased to increase.

“But with this change in condition comes inevitably adaptations to the change. What, unless biological science is a mass of errors, is the cause of human intelligence and vigour? Hardship and freedom: conditions under which the active, strong, and subtle survive and the weaker go to the wall; conditions that put a premium upon the loyal alliance of capable men, upon self-restraint, patience, and decision. And the institution of the family, and the emotions that arise therein, the fierce jealousy, the tenderness for offspring, parental self-devotion, all found their justification and support in the imminent dangers of the young. Now, where are these imminent dangers? There is a sentiment arising, and it will grow, against connubial jealousy, against fierce maternity, against passion of all sorts; unnecessary things now, and things that make us uncomfortable, savage survivals, discords in a refined and pleasant life.

“I thought of the physical slightness of the people, their lack of intelligence, and those big abundant ruins, and it strengthened my belief in a perfect conquest of Nature. For after the battle comes Quiet. Humanity had been strong, energetic, and intelligent, and had used all its abundant vitality to alter the conditions under which it lived. And now came the reaction of the altered conditions.

“Under the new conditions of perfect comfort and security, that restless energy, that with us is strength, would become weakness. Even in our own time certain tendencies and desires, once necessary to survival, are a constant source of failure. Physical courage and the love of battle, for instance, are no great help—may even be hindrances—to a civilized man. And in a state of physical balance and security, power, intellectual as well as physical, would be out of place. For countless years I judged there had been no danger of war or solitary violence, no danger from wild beasts, no wasting disease to require strength of constitution, no need of toil. For such a life, what we should call the weak are as well equipped as the strong, are indeed no longer weak. Better equipped indeed they are, for the strong would be fretted by an energy for which there was no outlet. No doubt the exquisite beauty of the buildings I saw was the outcome of the last surgings of the now purposeless energy of mankind before it settled down into perfect harmony with the conditions under which it lived—the flourish of that triumph which began the last great peace. This has ever been the fate of energy in security; it takes to art and to eroticism, and then come languor and decay.

“Even this artistic impetus would at last die away—had almost died in the Time I saw. To adorn themselves with flowers, to dance, to sing in the sunlight: so much was left of the artistic spirit, and no more. Even that would fade in the end into a contented inactivity. We are kept keen on the grindstone of pain and necessity, and, it seemed to me, that here was that hateful grindstone broken at last! (32-35)

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“I am too Occidental for a long vigil.” (40)

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“Then suddenly the humour of the situation came into my mind: the thought of the years I had spent in study and toil to get into the future age, and now my passion of anxiety to get out of it.” (40) Continue reading

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selections from Electra and other plays by Sophocles

And I am as you see me now. Continue reading

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selections from Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

If a pistol appears in a story, eventually it’s got to be fired. Continue reading

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reasons i might have a heart attack

Continue reading

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notes from 2012: The Return of Quetzacoatl by Daniel Pinchbeck

“Love never faileth; but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” — 1 Corinthians 13:8 Continue reading

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phuture sound

Disco, Chicago House, Detroit Techno and Acid. i’m in ecstasy. hungover after drinking too much of Diana Ross’ love, i walked into the arms of Adonis, who laughed when i asked for the way back. “no way.” so i wandered … Continue reading

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Happy Birthday!

i’ve been having some weird dreams, and remembering them. i guess it comes with the whole <8 hours/night thing because i’m a M-F hardworking man now. not a motherfucking hardworking man, just a monday-friday hardworking man.

for example, last night i had a dream that was way too easy to peel from my brain and transpose to some real-life events from the past week. actually, exactly a week ago tonight. girls, hair, etc. i liked the dream i had night before last because it was much more abstract and out in left field. i don’t remember the details or much of the surrounding storyline (and i know something elaborate was going on), but what i remember was a close friend’s girlfriend serving baklava at lunchtime costco, except it was kind of like a professional wrestling arena at the same time.

(i’m stoned and listening to Modeselektor. i’ve never heard this guy before. it’s okay.)

want to see things i wrote as notes in my phone? here’s one:

honey

weekly girl
Greek music ruins

the first word was the first line ever written in this note. it was the saddened beginnings of a grocery list, sad not because of the shortness of the list, but rather because of the quality. it’s ok, i settled for just peanut butter and banana. the second line is blank. the third line refers to the fact that for each of the past five weekends, a different (and individually fantastic) female friend has found her way to San Francisco Bay. in the beginning of the month, aerienne drove up for Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (stones/blues/fog/shoes). the next weekend, Shannon flew from the east to see her sister married (sits/doodles/Thai/noodles). next, Allison also drove up for a music festival, this one with real tickets and on a fake island, (treasure/music/ecstasy/do it). last weekend, Rachel flew up with work as an excuse and play as fuel (Monopoly/playoffs/aches/eggs). and finally, halloween weekend, Anna Maria flew up to scare the city shitless (hugs/baseball/beer/birdtales). so so awesome. i don’t know what i’m going to do with this november thing, but i can’t wait to fly to New Yorsey (that’s gotta be sacrilege) to see moon madness in the shape of the sea.

the fourth line represents a stoned idea i formed last night when i was not stoned at all. i was taking a piss and, ok slight divergence here. is the bathroom not such a spiritual place? people love singing in the shower or while shaving in front of the mirror. the mirrors! the water! flowing water everywhere! it’s not even normal to go in there with someone else (unless maybe you’re a girl and you’re at a dirty club or some shit). you go in alone. it’s a tiled sanctuary of sitting and robotic muscle movements and cleansing, a place where you are forced into thinking all alone in your own dome. with running water and mirrors. ok enough of that, so i was taking a piss thinking about some future (age-darkened) world where the contemporary “ruins” are remnants of recorded rock & roll from the 20th and 21st centuries. imagine something like the Winged Victory of Samothrace, except it’s Prince’s Purple Rain without the title track. or maybe the Venus de Milo as 69 Love Songs missing the first and last discs. or all the different versions of Athena/Minerva (bless Her, eternal light), something like all those wildly different Miles Davis records (where’s that owl, that trumpet? bright eyes, bright eyes!). and Quicksilver Messenger Service’s 25-minute psychedelic version of “Who Do You Love,” originally by Bo Diddley the Man? lost to time.

oh, but that’ll never happen. we have the Internet and the Internet is Immortal. perhaps needless to say, the note is back to its original one-line form: “honey.”

did you ever realize that chicken kind of sounds like “chick” “hen”? or was it the other way around? which came first?

do you realize that the sentence “Nine Inch Nails scored the Facebook movie” would have sounded a little silly five years ago, would have been nonsense ten years ago, and could have been grounds for submission to a mental institution two decades ago? Nine Inch Nails scored the Facebook movie. Daft Punk scored the Tron movie. that one might have passed as poetry in 1982. Daft Punk scored the Tron movie.

do you pray? neither do i, but maybe we should sometimes. i mean, music is kind of like prayer. in fact, a month ago i attended a feverish worship of the cosmos led by the great guru Patti Smith and she taught me and my congregation a new prayer. well, an old prayer, one written by Francis of Assisi, the one who somehow persuaded animals to chill with him all the time. here’s his prayer:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Amen.

beautiful. here’s something i wrote on my phone:

leaky rainbow clinging desperate to my back pocket, multicolored water faucet dripping dripping dripping, and i think of nothing but the silly things i posit.

verbs whir with a beer
above my ceiling eyed by girl

add “the best” to the list
of words hat describe this it:
everything all god universe

tugging at the ends of your dress,
you’re making me jealous.

boats going by left and right,
painting just for me,
clouds keep coming, painting
just for me

bench fly high, transparent
radiation stuck in my head, go
away spacemen, this is my trip,
painting just for me

remember your first time
remember your third time
remember your eleventh time
remember be here now
remember birth is a death
sentence.

the waves just roll
the robots just dance
the bamboo surrenders
the sand sucks you in
the dry lakebed cracks at dawn
the parties are always spontaneous
the ice can feel like a fury
steam in a hole can be a comfort
walk from trees to sea, believe
slow down, slow down
everyone is painting just for me

ask me about and i’ll tell you. i want to tell you about it.

f. Continue reading

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