Thursday, September 13, 2012

cognitive dissonance

reading William Gibson
ok, so i write in library books. so sue me.
i recently read william gibson's book of collected essays, distrust that particular flavor. they represent his non-fiction that's appeared in various magazines (wired, rolling stone, nytimes magazine) and other places over the years. it gave me so much food for thought that i immediately reread it. many thoughts and reactions are tumbling in my head and i still haven't synthesized them all.

but in the meantime, i wanted to share some of my favorite bits (it's my blog and i can use it as my memory if i want to):

"...there's often something in a good translation that can't quite be captured in the original."

"If you are fifteen or so, today I suspect that you inhabit a sort of endless digital Now, a state of atemporality enabled by our increasingly efficient communal prosthetic memory. I also suspect that you don't know it, because, an anthropologists tell us, one cannot know one's own culture."

"...every future is someone else's past, every present someone else's future. Upon arriving in the capital-F Future, we discover it, invariably, to be the lower-case now."

"...imaginary futures are always, regardless of what the authors might think, about the day in which they're written."

"I found the material of the actual twenty-first century richer, stranger, more multiplex, than any imaginary twenty-first century could ever have been."

"A book exists at the intersection of the author's subconscious and the reader's response."

"It was entirely a matter of taking dictation from some part of my unconscious that rarely checks in this directly. I wish that that happened more frequently, but I'll take what I can get."

talking about the digital age:
"All of us, creators or audience, have participated in the change so far. It's been something many of us haven't yet gotten a handle on. We are too much of it to see it. It may be that we never do get a handle on it, as the general rate of technological innovation shows no indication of slowing."

"Emergent technology is, by its very nature, out of control, and leads to unpredictable outcomes."

on Singapore, which he, like me (and i swear i had no idea, tho' he did publish the piece in Wired in 1993) characterizes it as Disneyland with the Death Penalty:
"Singapore's airport, the Changi Airtropolis, seemed to possess no more resolution than some early VPL world."

great turns of phrase:
cognitive dissonance
democratizaton of connoisseurship
terminal documents

on collecting:
"The idea of the Collectible is everywhere today, and sometimes strikes me as some desperate instinctive reconfiguring of the postindustrial flow, some basic mammalian response to the bewildering flood of sheer stuff we produce."

"eBay is simply the only thing I've found on the Web that keeps me coming back. It is, for me anyway, the first "real" virtual place." (he wrote this in 1999.)

on Tokyo:
"If you believe, as I do, that all cultural change is essentially technology-driven, you pay attention to Japan."

"Something about dreams, about the interface between the private and the consensual. You can do that here, in Tokyo: be a teenage girl on the street in a bondage-nurse outfit. You can dream in public. And the reason you can do it is that this is one of the safest cities in the world, and a special zone, Harajuku, has already been set aside for you."

on the media:
"Indeed, today, reliance on broadcasting is the very definition of a technologically backward society."

"This outcome may be an inevitable result of the migration to cyberspace of everything that we do with information."

"This is something I would bring to the attention of every diplomat, politician, and corporate leader: The future, eventually, will find out you. The future, wielding unimaginable tools of transparency, will have its way with you. In the end, you will be seen to have done that which you did."

"A world of informational transparency will necessarily be one of the deliriously multiple viewpoints, shot through with misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories and a quotidian degree of madness. We may be able to see what's going on more quickly, but that doesn't mean we'll agree about it any more readily."

"Dystopias are no more real than utopias. None of us ever really inhabits either - except, in the case of dystopias, in the relative and ordinarily tragic sense of life in some extremely unfortunate place."

"If you wish to know an era, study its more lucid nightmares."

On Greg Gerard's Phantom Shanghai:
"Liminal. Images at the threshold. Of the threshold. The dividing line. Something slicing across accretions of cultural memory like Buñuel's razor."

on history:
"History, I was learning, there at the start of the 1960s, never stops happening."
my own scrawl in response to this (because you know i wrote in this library book):
" just seems like it does when you're in the midst of it."

"...history, though initially discovered in whatever soggy trunk or in whatever caliber, is a species of speculative fiction itself, prone to changing interpretation and further discoveries."

on whether we'll have chips in our heads:
"There is another argument against the need to implant computing devices, be they glass or goo. It's a very simple one, so simply that some have difficulty grasping it. It has to do with a certain archaic disctinction we still tend to make, a distinction between computing and 'the world.' Between, if you like, the virtual and the real...I very much doubt that our grandchildren will understand the distinction between that which is a computer and that which isn't."

"So, it won't, I don't think, be a matter of computers crawling buglike down into the most intimate chasms of our being, but of humanity crawling buglike out into the dappled light and shadow of the presence of that which we will have created, which we are creating now, and which seems to me to already be in process of re-creating us."

perhaps this is why we like reality t.v.:
"We sit here, watching video of places a few blocks away, and feel--pleasurably--less real."

on the real cyborg:
" I watched Dr. Satan on that wooden television in 1952. I was becoming a part of something, in the act of watching that screen. We all were. We are today. The human species was already in the process of growing itself an extended communal nervous system, and was doing things with it that had previously been impossible: viewing things at a distance, viewing things that had happened in the past, watching dead men talk and hearing their words. What had been absolute limits of the experiential world had in a very real and literal way been profoundly and amazingly altered, extended, changed...And the real marvel of this was how utterly we took it all for granted."

"The world's cyborg was an extended human nervous system: film, radio, broadcast television, and a shift in perception so profound that I believe we've yet to understand it."

"We are implicit, here, all of us, in a vast physical construct of artificially linked nervous sytems. Invisible. We cannot touch it. We are it. We are already the Borg."

"There's my cybernetic organism: the Internet. If you accept that 'physical' isn't only the things we can touch, it's the largest man-made object on the planet....And we who participate in it are physically a part of it."

So much food for thought here, don't you think? in any case, it seems we're already in the matrix.


Anonymous said...

"This is something I would bring to the attnetion [sic] of every diplomat, politician, and corporate leader: The future, eventually, will find out you. The future, wielding unimaginable tools of transparency, will have its way with you. In the end, you will be seen to have done that which you did."

Yet these very individuals don't understand this, do they? It seems so obvious to me, then I look at the GOP and sigh. How is it that they think they can get away with lies?

[Love this post. Great idea. I always like food for thought. Thanks.]

will said...

Reading cool stuff on the web reminds me of the newish word, "Slacktivism".

New gizmos, old values and same old actions - with a twist.

julochka said...

@Ally - sorry for the typo...i had no internet at home and was at the library on a deadline. :-) will fix it now!! totally agree that it's completely apropos the current election season...*sigh*

@Bill - it is possibly slacktivism, tho' i'm not sure i want anything out of it more than to remember quotes from a library book that i had to return. :-)

will said...

Writing that, I was thinking about my current activism and the apathy I see from people around me.

julochka said...

@bill - i get that. :-) in my own local activism, i detect something similar, tho' not as serious in the big scheme of things as yours.

plus, as my sister says, "it always comes back to you" so i interpreted your comment wrong...sorry. it is hard to take (as are politics in general).

christopher said...

Yes...agreed...lot's of food for thought and reflection.

Not sure about being in the Matrix...but we aren't where we think we are either...perhaps that's all the same though.