Articles in the Essays Category

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December 20th, 2015 | Comments Off on Cultural Scripts: Now or Narrow | Category: Essays
Cultural Scripts: Now or Narrow

A couple of years ago I wrote a piece about the death of the mainstream in which I quote my friend Mark Wieman describing the long tail as longer and fatter than ever. In that same piece I state, “…what happens when we don’t share any of it anymore? Narrowcasting and narrowcatching, as each of us burrows further down into our own interests, we have less of them in common as a whole. The mainstream has become less of a stream and more of a mist.” As this creeping fragmentation continues, …

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October 10th, 2015 | Comments Off on Crimes of the Clock: The Crooked Corridor of Timecrimes | Category: Essays, Reviews
Crimes of the Clock: The Crooked Corridor of <em>Timecrimes</em>

The time-travel trope, if employed well, never seems to wear thin. Several of my favorite narratives — Donnie Darko (2001), Primer (2004), Source Code (2011), and The Shining Girls (2013), to name a few — all involve time travel to some extent. “Part of the fascination of time travel concerns the stark paradoxes that threaten as soon as travel into the past is considered,” writes theoretical physicist Paul Davies (2001). “Perhaps causal loops can be made self-consistent. Perhaps reality consists of multiple universes” (pp. 123-124). These thought experiments are rife …

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August 09th, 2015 | Comments Off on Sean Price, Rest in Peace | Category: Essays
Sean Price, Rest in Peace

I’ve never hoped so hard for a hoax… My favorite rapper, Sean Price, reportedly passed away in his sleep Saturday morning.

Sean Price taught me so much. He embodied and critiqued the hypocrisies and contradictions of being an entertainer, specifically a rapper, for a living. He taught me that you can make serious art, be serious about your craft, and still not take yourself too seriously. His friends Black Milk and Vinnie Paz both say he was one of the funniest people they knew. His albums and mixtapes all have goofy, …

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March 04th, 2015 | Comments Off on Kim Gordon: Femme Fearless | Category: Essays, Reviews
Kim Gordon: Femme Fearless

When I started discovering music on my own, Sonic Youth was already a band with records out. In that sense, I don’t know a world without them. I once wrote that they weren’t a band, that they were an institution. One could say the same about Kim Gordon. Her presence in the band and her relationship with Thurston Moore showed us what was possible—and not only that it was possible but that it was also sustainable. Writer Elissa Schappell said that they’d shown an entire generation how to grow up. And …

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October 18th, 2014 | Comments Off on Bedlam and Then Some: This is not the Future | Category: Essays
Bedlam and Then Some: This is not the Future

One of the many methods used in futures studies is what is called environmental scanning. “All futurists do environmental scanning,” write Theodore J. Gordon and Jerome C. Glenn, “some are more organized and systematic, all try to distinguish among what is constant, what changes, and what constantly changes” (p. 3). The process, which includes several distant early warning techniques (e.g., expert panels, literature reviews, internet searches, conference monitoring, etc.), helps inform the pursuits of issues management and strategic planning. According to William Renfro, President of the Issues Management Association, issues …

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October 12th, 2014 | No Comment | Category: Essays, Reviews
Contested Boundaries and Saturated Selves

In her book The Social Machine (MIT Press, 2014), Judith Donath outlines designs for living online. Echoing George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (1980), she writes, “We are embodied beings, who have evolved in the physical world; our thoughts and imagination are rooted in the sensory experience of our physical surroundings. Online, there is no body; there is only information. We comprehend abstract ideas by reframing them in metaphoric terms that ultimately derive from physical experience” (p. 9). One needn’t look any further that a computer’s desktop to see this in …

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August 19th, 2014 | No Comment | Category: Essays, Reviews
Writing Women: Don’t Care If You Like It

Sometime in the year since reading Lauren Beukes’ The Shining Girls, I noticed that I’d been reading a lot of books written by women. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but looking back, it struck me as notable. But just as there are two kinds of racism, there are two kinds of sexism: noting the difference when it doesn’t matter and not noting it when it does. I love the writing of Rebecca Solnit, Chris Kraus, and Lauren Beukes regardless of their gender. I aspire to write like them because they …

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May 29th, 2014 | No Comment | Category: Essays, Reviews
Slayer: Building Bridges With Fire

Opinions often vary widely on the most important bands and records of any era, but only a few dare dispute the reign of Slayer and their thrash watermark Reign in Blood (Def Jam, 1986). There has always been a weird rift between punk and metal, but thrash was the first sub-genre to draw heavily from both. The two major movements have since spawned such tributaries as grindcore, metalcore, murdercore, power violence, and various strains of post-metal. “What do you think would get a bigger reaction: a Minor Threat cover or …

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May 16th, 2014 | No Comment | Category: Essays, Reviews
Is Anyone There? On <i>her</i> and <i>Transcendence</i>

Cinema is our most viable and enduring form of design fiction. More than any other medium, it lets us peer into possible futures projected from the raw materials of the recent past, simulate scenes based on new visions via science and technology, gauge our reactions, and adjust our plans accordingly. These visions are equipment for living in a future heretofore unseen. As video artist Bill Viola (1995) puts it,
The implied goal of many of our efforts, including technological development, is the eradication of signal-to-noise ratio, which in the end is …

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March 26th, 2014 | No Comment | Category: Essays, Reviews
Mixed Metonymies: Mechanization and Culture

Meanings are malleable. Words bend and break under the stress of unintended use, abuse, or overuse. Like machine parts pushed past their limits, cogs stripped bare of their teeth, the language we use wears out, weakening the culture that carries it and our knowledge thereof.

Aldous Huxley (1970) writes, “In the days before machinery men and women who wanted to amuse themselves were compelled, in their humble way, to be artists. Now they sit still and permit professionals to entertain them by the aid of machinery” (p. 11). We use metaphors …