Bring Me The Horizon share behind-the-scenes look at Obey video shoot – NME.com

Bring Me The Horizon have shared a behind-the-scenes look at the video for Obey, their recent team-up with Yungblud.

Released earlier this month, the collaboration is the third single to be lifted from the Sheffield bands upcoming Posthuman project, following on from previous cuts Ludens and Parasite Eve.

Yesterday (September 16), BMTH posted a Making Of The Video clip to their official YouTube channel, giving fans an insight into how the epic, futuristic visuals came together.

Today me and Dom [Yungblud] are getting our faces moulded for the robots, says Bring Mes frontman Oli Sykes at the top of the clip. Should be pretty fuckin weird never actually done this before.

After cutting to a green screen studio, we hear Sykes explain how the video had been inspired by old Japanese Godzilla-type movies and Power Rangers. Later, the masked singer expresses his concerns over finishing the shoot on time. Im not panicking, he says. Its not my job to panic.

Elsewhere, Yungblud explains: I hope you all love this tune. I hope you all find anger and solace, and it helps you as much as it has us making it. Because we dont have to obey, man. We dont have to conform to an ideology that is placed upon our shoulders just because someone says so.

You can watch the full video above.

Meanwhile, Yungblud has announced his second album Weird with new single God Save Me, But Dont Drown Me Out. The 12-track record will arrive in November.

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Bring Me The Horizon share behind-the-scenes look at Obey video shoot - NME.com

Reviewed: The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante – RTE.ie

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" could be the epigraph of Elena Ferrante's book The Lying Life of Adults (translated byAnn Goldstein), the "tangled knot" of truth and lies in which the first-person narrator Giovanna pours her aching heart.

The "beholder" in the novel is the protagonists father, Andrea Trada, a high-school teacher of "refined manner" and "inimitable elegance", who believes that twelve-year old Giovanna "is getting the face" of his sister Vittoria, in which "ugliness and spite were combined to perfection".

Even though she has no recollection of Vittorias appearance, Giovannas entire world crumbles upon realizing that she might have inherited her aunts features. A frantic search through familys old pictures bears no fruit; not only Vittoria has been blanked by Andrea in real life, she has also been erased from all the photos. A black square appears where her face should be. The estranged aunt is not just absent, she has been cancelled out, emblematically turned into a radical "other", a topic so current at this moment in time. Determined to resolve her identity crisis, Giovanna embarks on a quest to meet Vittoria, a wicked, vulgar, controlling woman whose affinity with Lila, co-protagonist of the four-novel saga My Brilliant Friend, is bound to spark the magic connection with the story that all Ferrante fans are longing for.

Listen:Enrica Maria Ferrara talks The Lying Life of Adults on RT Arena

Stepping into the Pascone neighbourhood, where aunt Vittoria leaves, marks Giovannas literal descent into a hellish underworld; here she discovers a Naples very different from the polished, Italian-speaking, middle-class suburb of Rione Alto, perched on the top of the hill, which Andrea now calls his home. The lower part of the city is riddled with petty criminals and uneducated plebs, "howling shapes of repulsive unseemliness" who speak the wrong language, the coarse Neapolitan dialect that Giovanna has been forbidden to use.

But why so? Are there any reasons for this fierce suppression of identity? Are Vittorias face and the Pascone neighbourhood really so ugly, as the "beholder" of beauty Andrea Trada suggests, or is he instead a flawed individual who parted ways with his past, his Neapolitan heritage, even his own family in order to fulfil his parvenu dream?

"Look at them, your parents, look at them carefully, dont let them fool you" - aunt Vittoria presses her - as Giovannas mobile gaze pierces through the thick blanket of lies enveloping her perfect family. This is when she discovers that Andrea has had an affair with Costanza, wife of his best friend, for fifteen years. Not only has he lied about his sister, whose face is "so vividly insolent that it [is] very ugly and very beautiful at the same time"; he has also unmasked, through his actions, the dualistic fallacy of a value system based on which parents teach their children the difference between right and wrong, ugly and beautiful. They act like "reasonable" adults until something happens that "reduce them to the most untrustworthy animals, worse than reptiles".

Eventually, Giovanna develops the powerful gaze of Lila in My Brilliant Friend, her ability (that Ferrante names smarginatura) to see a world in which the boundaries between self and other, human and nonhuman animals, mind and flesh, truth and lies (and all possible opposites) collapse and give space to a novel posthuman worldview. As she crosses the invisible lines separating the two Naples, the protagonist implicitly rejects the unreliable value system built by her father and all supporters of the patriarchy and attempts to build her own. However, the first path chosen by Giovanna to overcome the perceived mind-body dualism, at the root of all lies, is self-degradation. Refusing to be objectified by men, she objectifies her own body, using it to give men pleasure even if she feels nothing: "I felt no desire, it didnt seem like a fun game, I wasnt even curious". Ferrantes descriptions of these sexual acts are not for the faint-hearted: written in crude, obscene, graphic language, they read nearly like self-inflicted rape.

On the other hand, though, as most Ferrante characters, Giovanna builds her identity by interacting not only with other human beings but also with nonhuman objects, seemingly endowed with agency. We will remember, for example, the copper pot exploding or the panel going on fire with no human intervention in My Brilliant Friend. In The Lying Life of Adults the magic object is a bracelet Vittoria claims to have gifted to her niece when she was a baby. But Giovanna has never seen the jewel until it suddenly appears on the wrist of Costanza Andrea Tradas mistress. The restitution of the bracelet to Giovanna coincides with and somehow causes - her parents divorce. This is when the protagonist starts attributing magic powers to it, "as if impregnated with the moods of that affair the glitter of its stones scattered afflictions".

The shiny ornament is also the pretext on which Corrado, one of Vittorias adoptive son, pays Giovanna a visit that will lead to the girls first clumsy, gut-wrenching sexual experience. This leitmotif, goes on and on and on. The bracelet is another character in its own right and becomes the emblem of the same reality devoid of boundaries that allows the two friends of the Neapolitan quartet to merge into one. This time, it is the refined Costanza and the vulgar Vittoria who become entangled as "the bracelet pressed them into one another and confused them, confusing me". Indeed, this tangle of truth and lies, vulgarity and refinement, ugliness and beauty, clinging onto the luminous bracelet, is what lies beneath the black rectangle of Vittorias face once Giovanna is able to see it. The stream of consciousness echoing the visionary thoughts of the adolescent protagonist is where we find Elena Ferrantes storytelling at its best. Less entertaining are Andreas affair, his new family, and even Giovannas idealized passion for Roberto, a young man native of Pascone who reminds us too closely of Nino Sarratore, My Brilliant Friends handsome villain. And yet, even these lacklustre facets of The Lying Life of Adults are wiped away by the exhilarating, compelling rhythm of Ferrantes masterful narrative voice.

Enrica Maria Ferrara

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein (Europa Editions) is out now. Enrica Maria Ferrara is an academic writer and a lecturer.

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Reviewed: The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante - RTE.ie

Bring Me The Horizons Oli Sykes: Yungblud is a new breed of rockstar – NME.com

Bring Me The Horizons Oli Sykes has hailed Yungblud as a new breed of rockstar following their recent collaboration, Obey.

Released yesterday (September 2), the team-up serves as the third single to be lifted from BMTHs upcoming Posthuman project, following on from previous cuts Ludens and Parasite Eve.

Explaining the bands decision to recruit Yungblud (real name Dominic Harrison), Sykes told Loudwire: There was an energy to [Obey] where it felt heavy but then had some slight Britpop influences, which I hear in Yungbluds music.

With our last record [amo], we kind of looked outside the scene for people to collaborate with and bring something new to the table, and with this record we wanted to have people that reflect the scene at the moment and still not choose obvious people that you would expect us to work with.

Sykes continued: I really like what Yungbluds doing. I love his energy and I think hes reflective of a new breed of rock star. Were honoured, to be honest.

Meanwhile, Yungblud has been added to the line-up for next years Reading & Leeds festivals, which will be headlined by Stormzy,Catfish And The Bottlemen, Post Malone,Disclosure, Liam GallagherandQueens Of The Stone Age.

Harrison recently revealed that his second album will be coming out this fall, and has so far shared the tracks Lemonade, Strawberry Lipstick and Weird.

It legitimately explores the ideas of identity, of sexuality, of equality, of depression, of anxiety, of life, of love, of heartbreak, of everything, Yungblud said of the LP. Me and my fan base, were coming of age together. I want to do it side by side.

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Bring Me The Horizons Oli Sykes: Yungblud is a new breed of rockstar - NME.com

Beyond Fermis Paradox VII: What it the Planetarium Hypothesis – Universe Today

Welcome back to our Fermi Paradox series, where we take a look at possible resolutions to Enrico Fermis famous question, Where Is Everybody? Today, we examine the possibility that we cant see them because they have us all inside a massive simulation!

In 1950, Italian-American physicist Enrico Fermi sat down to lunch with some of his colleagues at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he had worked five years prior as part of the Manhattan Project. According to various accounts, the conversation turned to aliens and the recent spate of UFOs. Into this, Fermi issued a statement that would go down in the annals of history: Where is everybody?

This became the basis of the Fermi Paradox, which refers to the disparity between high probability estimates for the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) and the apparent lack of evidence. Seventy years later, we are still trying to answer that question, which has led to some interesting theories about why we havent. A particularly mind-bending suggestion comes in the form of the Planetarium Hypothesis!

To break it down, this hypothesis states that the reason we are not seeing aliens is that humanity is in a simulation, and the aliens are the ones running it! In order to ensure that human beings do not become aware of this fact, they ensure that the simulation presents us with a Great Silence whenever we look out and listen to the depths of space.

Given the sheer size of the Universe and its age, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) seems like a valid enterprise. Consider the following: there are 200 to 400 billion stars in our galaxy and as many as 2 trillion galaxies in the Universe. Within our galaxy alone, there are an estimated 6 billion Earth-like planets, which means that there could be as many as 12 quintillion Earth-like planets in the Universe.

Meanwhile, it took humanity about 4.5 billion years to emerge on Earth, and the Universe has been around for 13.8 billion years. As such, its not farfetched at all to assume that intelligent life has had countless opportunities to emerge somewhere else in the Universe and plenty of time to evolve. In 1961, American physicist and SETI researcher Dr. Frank Drake illustrated this point during a meeting at the Green Bank Observatory.

In preparation for the meeting, Drake created an equation that summed up the probability of finding ETIs in our galaxy. Thereafter known as the Drake Equation, this probabilistic argument is expressed mathematically as:

The purpose of this argument was to summarize the challenges of SETI (i.e. the sheer number of unknowns) and put it into context. At the same time, it demonstrated that the odds of findings ETIs are quite good. Even employing the most conservative estimates for every parameter, the Equation indicates that there should be at least a few ETIs in our galaxy that we could communicate with at any given time.

Moreover, given the age of the Universe itself, there should be many species in our Universe that have evolved to the point where they could explore space and perform feats of engineering that would dwarf anything we can dream of. Which brings us to

In 1964, Soviet/Russian astrophysicist Nikolai Kardashev proposed that extraterrestrial civilizations could be classified based on the amount of energy its able to harness. In an essay detailing this idea, titled Transmission of Information by Extraterrestrial Civilizations, Kardashev proposed a three-tiered scheme the Kardashev Scale that stated the following:

From the standpoint of SETI, civilizations that fall into any of these three categories could be identified in a number of ways. For example, a Type I civilization is likely to have grown to occupy its entire planet and colonize Low Earth Orbit (LEO) with satellites and space stations. This cloud of artificial objects (aka. Clarke Belts) could be visible from the way it reflects the stars light during planetary transits.

A Type II civilization, according to Kardashev, is one that would be capable of building a megastructure around their star (i.e. a Dyson Sphere). This would allow the civilization to harness all of the energy produced by its sun, as well as multiplying the amount of habitable space in its home system exponentially. As Dyson himself stated in his original paper, these megastructures could be spotted by looking for their infrared signatures.

As for Type III civilizations, it is possible that a civilization capable of harnessing all the energy of its galaxy would do so by building an apparatus that encloses it. Or, its possible they would choose to enclose just a part of it, around its core region perhaps, and the supermassive black hole (SMBH) at its center. Regardless, it stands to reason that such an advanced civilization would be impossible not to notice.

Hence Fermis why famous question endures. To date, most attempts to resolve the Fermi Paradox focus on how aliens could exist but be unable to communicate with us. In contrast, the Simulation Hypothesis suggests that they are deliberately not communicating with us, and even taking great pains to hide their existence. Their method of choice consists of keeping us in a simulated reality so that we are blind to their existence.

In 2001, famed science fiction author and mathematician/engineer Stephen Baxter wrote a seminal essay titled, The Planetarium Hypothesis A Resolution of the Fermi Paradox. In response to Fermis question, Baxter postulated that humanitys astronomical observations are actually an illusion created by a Type III Civilization who are keeping humanity in a giant planetarium. Or as he put it:

A possible resolution to the Fermi Paradox is that we are living in an artificial universe, perhaps a form of virtual- reality `planetarium, designed to give us the illusion that the universe is empty. Quantum-physical and thermo-dynamic considerations inform estimates of the energy required to generate such simulations of varying sizes and quality.

This concept is similar to the Simulation Hypothesis, a theory originally put forth by Niklas Bostrom of the Oxford Future of Humanity Institute (FHI). In a 2001 paper, titled Are You Living In A Computer Simulation?, he addressed the idea that what humanity considers the observable Universe is actually a massive virtual environment. This idea, where the very nature of reality is questioned, has deep roots in many philosophical traditions.

In this case, however, it is suggested that the purpose of keeping humanity in a simulation is to protect us, our hosts, and perhaps other species from the dangers associated with contact. Using human history as a template, we see countless examples of how two cultures meeting for the first time can easily end in war, conquest, slavery, and genocide.

However, there are limits. According to Baxters original paper, it would be well within the abilities of a Type III civilization to contain our present civilization within a perfect simulation. However, a single culture that occupies a space measuring ~100 light-years in diameter would exceed the capacities of any conceivable simulated reality.

In this respect, it would be within the Type III civilizations best interests to create a simulation that would contain no evidence of ETIs while also placing limits on our ability to expand out into the Universe. This could be done by including physics models that limit humanitys ability to leave Earth (i.e. its high-escape velocity) and our ability to explore and colonize space (the limits imposed by Special Relativity).

Naturally, the idea that were living in a planetarium created by advanced aliens is difficult to test. However, multiple studies have been conducted on the Simulation Hypothesis that have implications for the Planetarium Hypothesis. For instance, Prof. David Kipping of Columbia University and the Flatiron Institutes Center for Computational Astrophysics recently published a study on the very subject.

In this study, titled A Bayesian Approach to the Simulation Argument, Kipping conducted a series of statistical calculations designed to test the likelihood and the uncertainty associated with Bostroms hypothesis. In sum, Kipping argued that a posthuman civilization with the ability to generate such simulations would create far more than just one, which indicates a high probability that we are not in one.

At the same time, he indicated that the odds that we could be in one of many are close to being even:

Using Bayesian model averaging, it is shown that the probability that we are sims is in fact less than 50%, tending towards that value in the limit of an infinite number of simulations. This result is broadly indifferent as to whether one conditions upon the fact that humanity has not yet birthed such simulations, or ignore it. As argued elsewhere, it is found that if humanity does start producing such simulations, then this would radically shift the odds and make it very probably we are in fact simulated.

Thanks to endorsements by public figures like Elon Musk, who once said theres a billion to one chance were living in base reality, the concept has gained mainstream attention and acceptance. At the same time, though, both the Simulation and Planetarium Hypothesis have their share of detractors and counter-studies that question the merits of this scenario.

For starters, multiple researchers have questioned whether a Universe-level simulation is even possible given our understanding of the laws of nature. In particular, some researchers have used our own failures with quantum Monte Carlo (QMC) simulations to argue that future humans (or an ETI) would not be able to generate a reality that is accurate right down to the quantum level.

Others have criticized the Simulation Hypothesis based on Ockhams Razor and what they see as the computational impossibility to simulate our something as huge as our Universe down to the granular level. Then there are arguments that use recent advancements in lattice Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD) to show how a simulated environment will inevitably be finite and vulnerable to discovery.

Of course, these criticisms can be countered by arguing that it is impossible to disprove the simulation theory based on physical arguments when the very physics we are referencing could be nothing more than the result of the simulation. But this counter-argument only reinforces the issue of how the Simulation Hypothesis is not falsifiable. In short, it can neither be proven nor disproven, so whats the point of debating it?

However, there are arguments concerning the Planetarium Hypothesis that are testable and can therefore be treated separately. For example, there are those who have argued that assuming the existence of a Level III Kardashev civilization is based on a fundamentally flawed assumption. In short, it assumes that the evolutionary path of advanced civilizations is based on expansion rather than optimization.

In a 2008 study, Against the Empire, Serbia astronomer, astrophysicist, and philosopher Milan Cirkovic argued the opposite take. In short, he tested two models for determining the behaviors of a postbiological and technologically advanced civilization the Empire-State and the City-State. In the end, he argued that advanced species would prefer to remain in spatially-compact optimized environments rather than spread outwards.

Some examples of this include the Dyson Swarm and the Matrioshka Brain, two variations on Dysons famous sphere. Whereas the former consist of smaller objects interlinked in orbits around a star, the latter consists of layers of computing material (computronium) powered by the star itself. The civilization responsible for building it could live on the many islands in space, or live out their existence as simulations within the giant brain.

At the end of the day, a species choosing to live like this would have very little incentive to venture out into the Universe and attempt to colonize other worlds or interfere with the development of other species. Nor would they consider other species a threat since they would be inclined to believe the evolutionary pathway for other intelligent life would be similar to their own i.e. in favor of optimization.

Unfortunately, such arguments require that evidence of ETIs be found such as the heat signatures produced by their megastructures in order to be considered testable. At this time, we have a hard time constraining what would be considered a sign of intelligent life and its activity (aka. technosignatures) because we know of only one species capable of doing that (simply put, us!)

Nevertheless, theories like the Planetarium Hypothesis remain fascinating food for thought as we continue to probe the Universe looking for signs of intelligent life. They also help refine the search by suggesting things to be on the lookout for. In the meantime, all we can do is keep looking, listening, and wondering if anyone is out there.

We have written many interesting articles about the Fermi Paradox, the Drake Equation, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) here at Universe Today.

Heres Where Are All the Aliens? The Fermi Paradox, Where Are The Aliens? How The Great Filter Could Affect Tech Advances In Space, Why Finding Alien Life Would Be Bad. The Great Filter, Where Are All The Alien Robots?, How Could We Find Aliens? The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), and Fraser and John Michael Godier Debate the Fermi Paradox.

Want to calculate the number of extraterrestrial species in our galaxy? Head on over to the Alien Civilization Calculator!

And be sure to check out the rest of our Beyond Fermis Paradox series:

Astronomy Cast has some interesting episodes on the subject. Heres Episode 24: The Fermi Paradox: Where Are All the Aliens?, Episode 110: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Episode 168: Enrico Fermi, Episode 273: Solutions to the Fermi Paradox.

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Beyond Fermis Paradox VII: What it the Planetarium Hypothesis - Universe Today

Curated by Tan Yue, Study of Things. Or a Brief Story About Fountain, Brick, Tin, Coin, Stone, Shell, Curtain, and Body. at Guangdong Times Museum,…

In today's digital age, we have grown increasingly accustomed to understanding the world through fragmented information presented on screens. Rapid developments in transportation, communication, and media have also exacerbated the fracturing and destabilising of society. Zygmunt Bauman used the term "liquid society" to describe the current volatile state of our society. As social structures dissolve, seemingly from solid to liquid, and periodic reforms accelerate to constant change, instability permeates all levels of our lives.

Moreover, global capitalism continues to consume us, labelling materials and things with trademarks and prices to produce commodities. The relationship binding humans to things has become increasingly tenuous, and the ontological status of things are reduced to either pure sensory stimulation or hallucinations on identity. The alienation and commodification of people have also resulted from this. Whether we are rethinking old materialist views of the separation between human and nature, material and consciousness, examining the dynamism of things in the production of relationships, or immersed in the nostalgia for lost objects and skills, it is not enough to merely mend the modern by stitching up ruptures in society due to the relentless expansions of symbols and vantage points. Perhaps a better way is to withdraw from the vortex of fetishisation and to coexist with things through a new methodnamely, the Study of Things. To investigate the phenomena of things in order to understand their nature.

Furthermore, since the beginning of the twenty-first century, the ecological crisis has become increasingly severe and irreversible. The structure of populations, geopolitics, and political economy have all changed drastically. The development of science and technology has left biopolitics and ethics in urgent need of discussion. Therefore, the human being, which has served as the measure all things since the age of Enlightenment, has become increasingly suspect. Our understanding of today's world is challenged. Theories and words have abandoned anthropocentric discourse and turned to matter. Bruno Latour's Actor-Network Theory and American scholar Jane Bennett's Vital Materialism provided the inspiration for the current exhibition. The former holds that both humans and nonhumans are actants, and that the network of connections and interactions between these actants serve as drivers of social and natural development. The latter emphasises that objects have lives and are alive. A They are alive in a non-biological sense, owing to the existence of interaction, entanglement, and action-oriented relationships that form open variables among things. At the same time, things have acquired political significance, not simply to conjure material contexts or material ends to political subjects, but to participate in the political process as active subjects akin to people.

Art as an activity of production maintains a strong interest in materials. It also faces a posthuman dilemma under the dual pressures of technological acceleration and global neoliberalism. Resuming the discussion of material and materiality under the wave of material turns across disciplines and geographic restrictions, what kind of revelation can we bring to the artist's work and practice beyond thought and theory? What cognitive perspectives appear when we no longer look at a specific thing in isolation, but place it in a dynamic network of relationships?

Proceeding from this, the exhibition will return to the intersection of material and imagination, gathering eleven artists' fetishistic longings and thoughts on the Study of Things. They focus on things that are within our reach, tracking their vitality and materiality, and follow the flow of things that transgress borders of time, history, and nationstate. Here, the flow of things is the process of their discovery, mining, production, distribution, and consumption; it can also be regarded as the flow of transregional society and culture, even that of the geological age. After examining an object's symbolic meaning, we go back to the formation process of its value. We question the current value system: How does the active nature of material function as a resource shaping behavioural tendencies in the development of modern humanity? Behind the trajectory of these things, how do we gain insight into the more complex social mechanisms, power structures, interests, and the cause and effect of internal power relations present in objects?

We attempt to stage things as the protagonist to tell a series of stories that are parallel and intertwined.

Press release courtesy Guangdong Times Museum.

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Curated by Tan Yue, Study of Things. Or a Brief Story About Fountain, Brick, Tin, Coin, Stone, Shell, Curtain, and Body. at Guangdong Times Museum,...

posthuman | The Chicago School of Media Theory

The Oxford English Dictionary identifies the first appearance of the term post-human as Maurice Parmelees 1916 Poverty and Social Progress. In a section entitled Eugenic Measures and the Prevention of Poverty, Parmelee, a sociologist, wrote:

But even though it is not possible, at present at any rate, to do much to improve the quality of the human stock by eugenic means, it is interesting and profitable to consider what would be the result if socially undesirable types could be eliminated entirely or in large part . . . . [But] it is evident, in the first place, that it is inconceivable that human nature could be changed to the extent that is contemplated by [the] theory of perfectibility. Such changes would bring into being an animal no longer human, or for that matter mammalian, in its character, for it would involve the elimination of such fundamental human and mammalian instincts and emotions as anger, jealousy, fear, etc. But even if such a post-human animal did come into existence, it is difficult to believe that it could carry on the necessary economic activities without using a certain amount of formal organization, compulsion, etc.[i]

Parmelees passage identifies several important issues that run throughout the lexicographical history of the term post-human into the present day. In answering What is the post-human? a corollary set of questions arise: Are we already post-human or is post-humanism permanently stuck in the future? At what point does a human stop being a human? What is the relationship between humans and animals? Does scientific advancement necessarily improve the human condition, or ought we limit it? If our social configurations (states, laws, families) are predicated on human nature, what happens to that order when we alter our nature? These inquiries stretch across disciplines from physics to anthropology, but they coalesce over the figure of the post-human. I would like to outline how three major thinkersN. Katherine Hayles, Jean-Franois Lyotard, and Jrgen Habermashave contributed to our understanding of the post-human. Speaking from different backgrounds and fields of study, Hayles, Lyotard, and Habermas each provide a unique perspective of the post-human, establishing multiple points of consensus and disagreement.

I: Hayles

We can infer much from the title of N. Katherine Hayles seminal book How We Became Posthuman: taken literally, the past-tense became connotes that the transformation from human to post-human has already occurred. But Hayles notes the multiple ironies of her title, since her thesis is more complex than That was then, this is now.[ii] Her argument is that human subjectivity is always historically specific: the changes [from human to post-human] were never complete transformations or sharp breaks; without exception, they reinscribed traditional ideas and assumptions even as they articulated something new.[iii] In other words, an element of or precondition for the post-human has always been among us (or more accurately, in us)hence, her title. People become posthuman because they think they are posthuman, not simply because they use dishwashers, the internet, or genetic engineering.[iv]

But Hayles does not deny that a real shift is taking place. Hayles impetus for her research was the 20th centurys articulation, by science fiction authors and cyberneticists like Norbert Weiner, that a great new epoch could be reached with the arrival of conscious computers, cyborgs, robots, and other variations of post-human beings which could finally separate mind from matter. She opens her essay Visualizing the Posthuman with the claim that, no longer a cloud on the horizon, the posthuman is rapidly becoming an everyday reality through physical prostheses, genetic engineering, and digital and artificial environments, all of which are necessary, but not sufficient, elements of post-humanity. [v] It is not that such technologies create the post-human object; rather, they allow for the possibility of a post-human subject. Thus, [o]ne cannot ask whether information technologies should continue to be developed. Given market forces already at work, it is virtually certain that we will increasingly live, work, and play in environments that construct as embodied virtualities.[vi]

Hayles elaborates her thesis by examining the practices of reading and writing within the digital media environment. For Hayles, the computer and digital technology have created the conditions for new conceptions of identity and subjectivity that demarcate the post-human era. In contrast to the pre-modern oral subject (fluid, changing, situational, dispersed) and the modern written subject (fixed, coherent, stable, self-identical), the postmodern virtual subject can be described as post-human because its subjectivity is formed through dynamical interfaces with computers:

The physics of virtual writing illustrates how our perceptions change when we work with computers on a daily basis. We do not need to have software sockets inserted into our heads to become cyborgs. We already are cyborgs in the sense that we experience, through the integration of our bodily perceptions and motions with computer architectures and topologies, a changed sense of subjectivity.[vii]

For Hayles the central issue in post-humanism is whether the body is superfluous: Should the body be seen as evolutionary baggage that we are about to toss out as we vault into the brave new world of the posthuman? she asks.[viii] In its philosophy and practice, the modern age sought to separate mind from body. It is only on that premise, Hayles argues, that we could conceive of discarding the body while keeping the mind, as many utopian/dystopian fictions describe, in scenarios predicting the downloading of brain matter. Instead, Hayles says our minds are bound up with our bodies, irrevocably: there is an inextricable intertwining of body with mind . . . . We are the medium, and the medium is us.[ix]

Thus, Hayles conception of the post-human is marked by two characteristics: it is not a sharp or radical break, but is a historically specific conception of subjectivity, just as Enlightenment humanism was. Because of this, the full-blown post-humanism of science fiction is necessarily incomplete: we can never completely isolate the mind and discard the body. Hence, the future is not pre-determined, neither as a positivist utopia with minimal labor, or as apocalyptic dystopia of human oppression: Technologies do not develop on their own. People develop them, and people can be guided to better or worse decisions through deliberation and politics.[x] Hayles goal is not to recuperate the liberal subject.[xi] Such a fantasy, she notes, was a conception that may have applied at best to that fraction of humanity who had the wealth power and leisure to conceptualize themselves as autonomous beings exercising their will through agency and choice.[xii] The post-human is, for better or worse, here: but it does not really mean the end of humanity. It signals instead the end of a certain conception of the human.[xiii]

II: Lyotard

Perhaps most poignant image of the post-human emerges from a thought experiment conducted by Jean-Franois Lyotard in his text The Inhumane. There, Lyotard asks, what happens when the sun explodes, as scientists tell us it will, in 4.5 billion years? It will surely mean the destruction of the planet. For Lyotard, this scenario is the prerequisite for post-humanity, and consequently, the only one worth philosophizing about as the sole serious question to face humanity today.[xiv] Even a world destroyed by nuclear weaponry does not suffice to create the post-human:

[A] human warleave[s] behind it a devastated human world, dehumanized, but with nonetheless at least a single survivor, someone to tell the story of whats left, to write it down . . . . But in what remains after the solar explosion, there wont be any humanness, there wont be living creatures, there wont be intelligent, sensitive, sentient earthlings to bear witness to it, since they and their earthly horizon will have been consumed.[xv]

Lyotards post-human is thus grounded not in the transcendence of certain human capabilities or features, like Parmelees emotions or Hayles digital subjectivity, but on a fundamental altering of the world as we have ever known it. For Lyotard, such a universe cannot even be thought ofbecause to grasp it in our minds still taints it with the trace of humanity. The universal apocalypse must remain unthought: if theres [total] death, then theres no thought. Negation without remainder. No self to make sense of it. Pure event. Disaster.[xvi]

But this does not mean we must take the attitude of Epicurus, referenced by Lyotard to stand for those who preach to only augment ones own worldly happiness. In a tone of urgency, Lyotard suggests that we must make way for the coming of the post-human. What is at stake in every field from genetics to particle physics is how to make thought without a body possible . . . . That clearly means finding for the body a nutrient that owes nothing to the bio-chemical components synthesized on the surface of the earth through the use of solar energy. Or: learning to effect these syntheses in other places than on earth.[xvii] Lyotard expresses nostalgia about this inevitability, concluding that we must say to ourselves . . . we shall go on.[xviii] This serves as the impetus for his exegeses on aesthetics and art, whose etchings and engravings capture the last vestiges of humanity, as he affirms: let us at least bear witness, and again, and for no-one.[xix] The possibility of a witness implies the possibility of a human. Thus, Lyotard presents a radicalized vision of the post-human as an essentially alien thing, even suggesting that the post-human condition is beyond the scope of our imaginations. The post-human is not a half-man, half-robot: he has no attachment to the earth whatsoever.

III: Habermas

A staunch defender of the unfinished modern project of human freedom, liberal philosopher Jrgen Habermas The Future of Human Nature speaks directly to the concerns raised by Parmelee on improving the stock of man. Habermas starting point is 1973, when the human genome was cracked. This scientific advance has allowed for embryo research and a liberal eugenics of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, which can manipulate an embryos eventual gender among other capabilities.[xx] Habermas believes developments of biology call into question our natural idea of the human being, and consequently, our laws, societal organization, nuclear families, and even philosophies. Mankind has hitherto taken birth (roughly) as a given fact of the world, meaning we make the assumption that the genetic endowment of the newborn infant, and thus the initial organic conditions for its future life history, lay beyond any programming and deliberate manipulation on the part of other persons.[xxi] However, modern technology is obliterating the boundary between persons and things because the embryo becomes subject to design, like any other object or commodity. [xxii] For the first time, the human species can take its biological evolution into its own hands. The post-human corresponds to the reversal of Jean Paul Sartres humanism, whose sloganexistence precedes essenceis now definitively called into question: now, a decision on existence or nonexistence is taken in view of the potential essence.[xxiii]

Because new technologies are regulated by supply and demand[xxiv] they leave the goals of gene-modifying interventions to the individual preferences of market participants.[xxv] But Habermas thinks merely intervening in the market through legislation cannot resolve the underlying conflict: Legislative interventions restricting the freedom of biological research and banning the advances of genetic engineering seem but a vain attempt to set oneself against the dominant tendency.[xxvi] Genetic technologies have obvious upsides that justify their application, like the eradication of debilitating genetic disorders. But the question is whether the instrumentalization of human nature changes the ethical self-understanding of the species in such a way that we may no longer see ourselves as ethically free and morally equal beings guided by norms and reasons.[xxvii] The strange science fiction accounts of humans being improved by chip implants is for Habermas only an exaggeration of an already present reality.[xxviii] Because genetic modification occurs before the moment of consciousness, subjects have no way of knowing that their characteristics were, to some degree, designed for them. In other words, the salient point for Habermas is the anti-democratic nature of the post-human: there is no choice of a red or blue pill, to use the famous scene from The Matrix.

Thus, in the post-human, Habermas sees the fate of the enlightenment project of freedom. While he does not clearly mark the threshold between human and object, his conception of the post-human is one where humans are not free to create themselves, connecting the human with the philosophy of humanism. In the mold of the Enlightenment philosophers, Habermas views humans as self-governing beings with the capacity for reason; new technologies, especially embryonic ones, undermine that modern view, ushering in the post-human.

[i] Parmelee, p. 350.

[ii] Hayles, How We Became Posthuman, p.6

[iii] Hayles, How We Became Posthuman, p. 6.

[iv] Hayles, How We Became Posthuman, p. 6.

[v] Hayles, Visualizing the Posthuman, p. 50.

[vi] Hayles, How We Became Posthuman, p. 48.

[vii] Hayles, Condition of Virtuality, p. 12.

[viii] Hayles, Visualizing the Posthuman, p. 50.

[ix] Hayles, Visualizing the Posthuman, p. 54.

[x] Hayles, Condition of Virtuality, p. 14.

[xi] Hayles, How We Became Posthuman, p. 5.

[xii] Hayles, How We Became Posthuman, p. 286.

[xiii] Hayles, How We Became Posthuman, p. 286.

[xiv] Lyotard, The Inhumane, p. 8.

[xv] Lyotard, The Inhumane, p. 10.

[xvi] Lyotard, The Inhumane, p. 11.

[xvii] Lyotard, The Inhumane, p. 14.

[xviii] Lyotard, The Inhumane, p. 105.

[xix] Lyotard, The Inhumane, p. 203.

[xx] Habermas, The Future of Human Nature, p. 43.

[xxi] Habermas, The Future of Human Nature, p. 13.

[xxii] Habermas, The Future of Human Nature, p. 13,

[xxiii] Habermas, The Future of Human Nature, p. 50.

[xxiv] Habermas, The Future of Human Nature, p. 30.

[xxv] Habermas, The Future of Human Nature, p. 19.

[xxvi] Habermas, The Future of Human Nature, p. 25.

[xxvii] Habermas, The Future of Human Nature, p. 40.

[xxviii] Habermas, The Future of Human Nature, p. 41.

WORKS CITED

Habermas, Jrgen. The Future of Human Nature. London: Blackwell, 2003.

Hayles, Katherine N. How We Became Posthuman. Chicago: University of Chicago

Press, 1999.

-Visualizing the Posthuman

-The Condition of Virtuality.

Lyotard, The Inhumane: Reflections on Time. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003.

Parmelee, Maurice. Poverty and Social Progess. New York: Macmillan, 1916.

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posthuman | The Chicago School of Media Theory

What does it mean to be posthuman? | New Scientist

By David Cohen

HOW would you like to be a posthuman? You know, a person who has gone beyond the maximum attainable capacities by any current human being without recourse to new technological means, as philosopher Nick Bostrum of the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford so carefully described it in a recent paper.

In other words, a superbeing by todays standards. If this sounds like hyperbole, bear with me. Behind the jargon lies a fascinating, troubling idea. Were not just talking about someone like Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius, who is augmented with technology to compensate for his disabilities and thus can outrun many able-bodied Olympians.

No, we mean people who, through genetic manipulation, the use of stem cells, or other biointervention, have had their ability to remain healthy and active extended beyond what we would consider normal. Their cognitive powers (memory, deductive thought and other intellectual capabilities, as well as their artistic and creative powers) would far outstrip our own.

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Whatever it means to be posthuman, this discussion is too important to be left to academics

Is it possible to imagine such humans without recourse to science fiction clichs? And if we can, how would they affect how we see ourselves and each other? Would they change how we treat each other? Or create a society you would actually want to live in?

If this seems a stretch, consider this: preimplantation genetic diagnosis already lets us screen out some genetic abnormalities in our IVF offspring. And as evidence mounts for genetic components to the physical and cognitive traits we consider desirable, designer babies are surely plausible.

Then again, imagine if you were alive 150 years ago, and someone described life as it is today. Life expectancy then was a mere 40 years on average, with a few lucky individuals making it to 75 or more, though they would likely have succumbed to the first harsh illness they faced. Today, average life expectancy in rich countries hovers around 80; death and disease have all but disappeared from view, mostly into hospitals and hospices.

Our expectations of our bodies, their functional capacity and their term of service, are profoundly different from those of people living in the mid-19th century and, in the great scheme of things, that is a mere blink of an eye.

Have we reached a natural limit, or is there further to go? In his new book, Extremes, Kevin Fong, anaesthetist, part-time TV presenter and science cheerleader, recounts how maverick doctors exploring the extremes of our physiology have produced some amazing medical advances, giving us powers to suspend, control and augment life in ways that would have looked miraculous to our 19th-century counterparts.

Take one of Fongs examples, the practice of controlled cooling of core body temperature before certain types of surgery. In heart surgery, it prolongs the time surgeons have to operate before brain damage is irreversible. The patients heart is stopped, they are not breathing: to all intents and purposes, they are dead. Yet if reheated in the right way, with appropriate life support, they will awake as if from a deep sleep.

Just a few decades ago, a cold, pulseless, breathless body would be considered dead immediately, let alone after 45 minutes of suspended animation. Yet now we can snatch the patient back from the brink, blurring the line between life and death.

Advances in intensive care medicine, too, have endowed doctors with spectacular powers that effectively allow them to take complete control of the most fundamental parts of a patients physiology: their breathing, heart function and the chemical composition of their blood. Fong eloquently outlines the history of such advances, reminding us how experiments by plastic surgeons on second world war burns victims effectively paved the way for the first full-face transplants earlier this century.

He ends by devoting a couple of chapters to his other love, space exploration and the fate of the body out there. Astronauts, for example, lose muscle bulk and bone density in the gravity-free environment, and protecting them against this is no mean feat. Then theres the even greater problem of protecting the body from cosmic radiation a role Earths natural magnetic field does for us quite nicely.

The book is a heady ride through a cherry-picked crop of impressive discoveries in science and medicine, all of them made when the human body was pushed to what we now think of as its limits. And Fong weaves in his own personal experiences so that in places it feels like a thinly veiled autobiography. Hes had an impressive career so far (hes only just 42), working for NASA on space medicine, and as medic to a diving expedition. But you do occasionally wonder if some of this was written to impress his mates from university: it can all seem very Boys Own.

He does admit, however, that most of the improvements in life expectancy have been due to public health measures rather than high-tech medicine. His claim that the war between bugs and humans is won seems premature, especially in view of the growing disquiet among experts in infectious diseases that epidemics caused by antibiotic-resistant bugs are imminent: in the case of gonorrhoea it may already have begun.

Extremes is entertaining, informative, but intellectually lightweight. While Fong does attempt to draw together some of the threads in his book, instead of deep analysis of these undeniably revolutionary changes, we find trite comments about the human imperative to explore both outer space, and the inner space of our bodies because we must.

At the opposite end of the intellectual spectrum is The Posthuman, by philosopher and cultural theorist Rosi Braidotti. She could never be accused of triteness: her charge is one of incomprehensibility, since her language is dense and littered with allusions that make sense only to social science cognoscenti. It can sometimes sap the life out of what should have been a fascinating read.

That said, when clear, Braidotti is bracing. Her central argument is that medical science and biotechnology are fast remaking how we view our bodies, that they are becoming commodities to be traded. This matters greatly because it affects what we think is possible and reasonable to do to a person/body, and therefore has deep consequences for the moral and ethical dimensions of our choices in life. Poor women in India who rent their wombs out to rich families from developed countries are one manifestation; egg and sperm donors another.

Whatever your views on this, these practices can only increase. If you accept that our moral codes reflect to a fair degree the depth of our knowledge of contemporary issues at any one time, then just as our view of homosexuality morphed from repugnance to acceptance in under a century, so the multiple ways in which we can meddle with the body are likely to become the norm in the near future.

But theres an important proviso: these changes are happening dangerously fast, and will revolutionise all our lives, for good or ill. From Fongs extreme bodies to Braidottis bodies in extremis, the discussion is too important to be left to academics. To get the right briefing for this new frontier, we need someone with Fongs communication skills and Braidottis intellectual insight and gravitas to write a book to enlighten the rest of us.

This article appeared in print under the headline Whats death got to do with it?

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What does it mean to be posthuman? | New Scientist

Updating the Human Algorithm – lareviewofbooks

1.

IMAGINE YOURSELF as a videoconferencing device.

As a self-driving nonhuman agent.

As an expanded sensorium surveying a field of visual data streaming live.

Your voice is projected through an amplified speaker, your face displayed on a screen.

You are embodied in a robotic avatar with geospatial coordinates removed from your own.

Inhabiting a mixed-reality environment through algorithmic vision with the pan-tilt-zoom functions of a multi-camera system.

In this mixed-reality, you navigate an exhibition that might otherwise require proximity to other visitors or transatlantic air travel.

Telepresent, the experience of physical presence where [you] cant be in person.

Imagine yourself caught in the infinite loop of an online viewing room.

Or, youre on a virtual museum tour, led by a digitized docent zigzagging back and forth across a series of paintings that all turn out to be Allan McCollums Plaster Surrogates.

After the global pandemic, we may need to cultivate something like this imaginary in the art field and beyond. Spurred by planetary accountability, or necessity, or both. We may need to imagine modes of presence that extend the materiality of human embodiment, that operate as copresence with nonhuman agents.

Aesthetic reception has historically been grounded in a particular model of embodiment in the physical and temporal copresence of live humans, presumed to be mobile and able-bodied.

The museum was initially a performance field where visitors displayed their membership in a civic body. It was a site for the physical enactment of collective, secular rituals. In Carol Duncans account, the museum was a backdrop against which visitors staged embodied performances of citizenship. Their performance was predicated on unmediated access to an auratic, singular commodity object. An object with physical properties and a presence in time and space, a unique existence at the place where it happens to be.

In recent decades, the live presence of human agents has become a luxury commodity in the art field, competing with the circulation of the markets system of objects. Per Hito Steyerl, the value of liveness has risen in correlation to the ubiquity of digital mediation. The result is an economy of physical human presence, privileging the seemingly unalienated experience and authentic encounter between humans.

The centrality of presence in the art field of humans as well as objects is evidenced by the economic impact of the current crisis on artists. A COVID-19 Impact Survey of over 10,000 United Statesbased artists and creative workers revealed that 95 percent of respondents experienced income loss from COVID-19. Sixty-two percent of respondents are now fully unemployed. The first item listed in W.A.G.E.s Recommended Best Practice Protocols for Institutions and Funders is compensation for online content, stipulating that content transferred online or commissioned exclusively going forward for web-based platforms should be paid for at the same or greater rate as prior to the pandemic. Moving forward, a wide-ranging reappraisal of digital labor will be necessary to ensure conditions of sustainability for art workers. This will require a reassessment of the assumptions that underlie the current framing of both presence and liveness as luxury goods.

Who, or what, is endowed with the capacity for liveness?

The human is a privileged term in economies of presence. Peggy Phelan famously described performance as the presence of living bodies. In the same vein, Philip Auslander notes that liveness has traditionally been understood as the presence of living human beings before each other. Complicating Phelans ontology of liveness, Jos Esteban Muoz has countered that the focus on presentness prevents us from directing our attention toward something else: the temporality of utopian performativity [] in the horizon, a mode of possibility a futurity that points toward new potentials for minoritarian belonging.

To borrow from Muozs formulation with a slight difference, a focus on the presentness of human agents in the here and now constrains efforts to imagine alternative futures and different configurations of the human there and then.

Liveness is a contingent category that emerges as a concept in direct relation to its other (mediation). It sustains the fiction that the human body has privileged access to the real. Mediation through nonhuman means, technological platforms, data storage methods: all these have served as the foundation against which liveness has been defined.

In this respect, liveness has always been nonhuman.

Why should the conditions of aesthetic experience matter now? Why should we concern ourselves with how liveness is formulated in the arts amid a global crisis? Or, in an ongoing series of pervasive global crises? As one recent online exhibition title deftly put it, How Can We Think of Art at a Time Like This?

We can think about art at a time like this, partly because the art field has participated in producing a time like this. Global arts ecologies generate unfathomable carbon footprints via international biennials, robust transcontinental lecture circuits, and the concomitant rise of a class of cosmopolitan curators and creative industry professionals whose frequent travel is coordinated in migratory coteries.

If, as Yale medical historian Frank Snowden observes, COVID-19 is emphatically a disease of globalization, then we would do well to recall that the art field is itself an agent of globalization, as Pamela Lee reminds us. Its activities contribute to the globally networked circuits of production and exchange that enable anthropogenic climate change alongside our current public health crisis.

In the wake of the pandemic, shuttered institutions have responded with virtual tours, online viewing rooms, and robotic telepresence opportunities. While much of this constitutes a market-driven stopgap measure, it also signals what might be a moment of epistemic rupture.

Today, the future of the human appears as a digitally encoded question mark.

Beyond the infrastructures we have known, how can we rethink liveness and the human anew in this context?

Rosi Braidottis theses on Anthropocene feminism offer possible directions. They describe:

a sort of anthropological exodus from the dominant configurations of the human a colossal hybridization of the species. The decentering of Anthropos challenges also the separation of bios, as exclusively human life, from zoe, the life of animals and nonhuman entities. What comes to the fore instead is a humannonhuman continuum, which is consolidated by pervasive technological mediation.

Dissolving the distinction between bios and zoe, we might begin by orienting ourselves toward a model of nonhuman liveness. In the conceptual space opened up by this reorientation, it could be possible to reimagine oneself through a variety of embodiments that enable what Donna Haraway calls multispecies flourishing: a robotic telepresence, an inhabitant of virtual space, a relational entity produced through intersubjective encounters with agents human and nonhuman alike.

2.

Who or what does the human denote in these formulations of liveness?

In the Global North, the human has historically been understood in oppositional relation to nature, technology, and racialized others.

The stark demarcation of human from nature emerges within a colonial classificatory logic. Where the terrain of natural resources presents an inert arena against which the human actors extractivist narratives and territorial expansion unfold. The current pandemic has upended this conceit, reminding us that the human is just one organism among many in a natural ecosystem: acting with and acted upon by microbial agents. Our fate is inextricably linked to what Anna Tsing calls interspecies entanglements.

More saliently, the invention of the human as an ontological category proceeds from the colonial encounter with racialized others. Theres much to learn on this subject from Sylvia Wynter. Wynter shows how the concept of the human emerges in relation to colonized peoples who were made into the physical referent of the idea of the irrational/subrational Human Other. For this reason, one cannot unsettle the coloniality of power without a redescription of the human.

In 1994, Wynter assessed the categorical boundaries of the human in the text, No Humans Involved: An Open Letter to My Colleagues. Her letter is instructive in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd and the groundswell around the Black Lives Matter movement. Responding to the acquittal of police officers responsible for the 1991 assault of Rodney King, Wynter describes how the Los Angeles judicial system assigned the classification NHI (No Humans Involved) to the case. The acronym was used to label trials involving young and unemployed Black men. Wynter expands outward from this example to underscore how the human has been conflated with North Americanness, whiteness, and middle-class identity.In this way, the judicial apparatus deployed the human as a classificatory tool for encoding and legitimizing violence.

At the same time, the human has been mapped as distinct from technology. Scholars in media studies, science and technology studies, disability studies, and queer and feminist studies have disputed this dualist framing from the posthuman articulated by N. Katherine Hayles; to the queer, crip cyborg outlined by Alison Kafer; to the assemblage theorized by Jasbir Puar. Amid physical distancing measures, those with the privilege of access to consoles and computing devices encounter a scenario where human activity is enabled by technological platforms.

As Paul B. Preciado suggests, patterns of confinement and remote labor during COVID-19 threaten to make 24-hour teleproducers of everyone with the luxury of working from home. Here, teleproducers are understood as codes, pixels, bank accounts, doors without names, addresses to which Amazon can send its orders. With the intensification of reliance on always-on devices, the already outmoded distinction between the human and its technological prostheses becomes increasingly untenable.

We can think of the human as an algorithmic function correlated to a specific set of terms and outcomes.

From its inception, this algorithm has been designed to retrieve certain results while suppressing others, trained by a narrow coterie of developers on datasets that reinforce patterns of exclusion and structural violence.

The algorithmic logic of the human is predictive:it purports to neutrally forecast the future while scripting it in advance. In this respect, the radical uncertainties of the present offer an opening. A space of rupture where we might encode alternative conceptions of the human and of (co)presence where we might retrieve unforeseen outcomes.

Note from the author:Early portions of this essay were written in April, others in June. I am profoundly grateful for the dialogue and input of Danny Snelson, Iggy Cortez, Jeanne Dreskin, and my remarkable colleagues and interlocutors in the Transformations of the Human program.

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Updating the Human Algorithm - lareviewofbooks

Last and First Men review eerie sounds and unearthly images from a posthuman world – The Guardian

Two years after the death of the Icelandic film composer Jhann Jhannsson, his only movie as director has become available in the UK on streaming platforms. It is a 70-minute cine-novella or essay film: a meditation on humanitys future and what it means, or will mean, to be post-human.

The score is by Jhannsson, working with sound artist and composer Yair Elazar Glotman, and this eerie, breathy soundtrack works well with its unearthly images. Last and First Men is inspired by the 1930 novel of the same name by British SF author William Olaf Stapledon, narrated by a figure from humanitys final evolutionary form billions of years in the future. This voice is performed with crisp lack of affect by Tilda Swinton.

The visual images Jhannsson finds to accompany this prose-poem are strange and disturbing sculptures that look like something built on Earth by aliens, a mix of Stonehenge and Angkor Wat. I wondered if Jhannsson had had them designed and built. In fact, these are the brutalist Spomeniks, the socialist-era monuments in former Yugoslavia, mostly in remote windswept landscapes, built in the 1950s and 60s to commemorate the tragedy of the war and the resistance to fascism; they are truly strange in their fierce, concrete giganticism, and have a cult following.

By detaching them from their historical context, Jhansson finds something very unsettling in these sculptures: they really do look like creations from the future, not the past. Last and First Men is an interesting if minor work, perhaps comparable to Nikolaus Geyrhalters Homo Sapiens or Michael Madsens Into Eternity.

Last and First Men is available on BFI Player from 30 July.

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Last and First Men review eerie sounds and unearthly images from a posthuman world - The Guardian

Posthuman | Tardis | Fandom

Posthuman

Posthumanity was the term used to describe the human race after the destruction of Earth by the Sun in the far future. Deprived of their common cultural reference point, humans formed a loose political structure composed of many groups and subspecies known as the posthuman hegemony. (PROSE: The Book of the War)

Their territory existed at the Time Lords' frontier in time. (PROSE: Frontios, The Book of the War) With their time travel technology, posthumans were a significant faction in the War in Heaven. (PROSE: The Book of the War, Cobweb and Ivory, et al.)

Due to the availability of time travel in the posthuman era, many posthumans influenced their species' past. (PROSE: The Book of the War, Work in Progress) Due to the actions of the Pilots' Coterie, le Pouvoir, the 17th century French secret service, briefly acquired "mirrors" which showed them potential timelines of posthumanity. (PROSE: Newtons Sleep)

27th century human academics were familiar with the term "Posthuman". (PROSE: Work in Progress)

Transhumanity was the evolutionary stage between humanity and posthumanity. (PROSE: Stranger Tales of the City linking material)

The pre-posthuman era was home to a group of emotionless militant cyborgs who forcibly converted other humans and were in turn reviled by humanity, (PROSE: The Book of the War) known by some as the Inanem Magnanime Milites. (PROSE: Weapons Grade Snake Oil) Members of this cyborg race, such as Litany Chromehurst, were the forebears of technosapience (PROSE: Happily Ever After Is a High-Risk Strategy) and eventually became regarded as simply another posthuman subspecies, some of them forming the Silversmiths' Coterie. (PROSE: The Book of the War)

Earth is swallowed by Sol in the 57th Segment of Time. (TV: The Ark)

The posthuman era began with the loss of Earth, which The Book of the War and The Human Species: A Spotter's Guide indicated was circa the year 10,000,000. (PROSE: The Book of the War, Of the City of the Saved...) Another account similarly showed that the Sun swallowed Earth about ten million years after the 1st Segment of Time. (TV: The Ark) However, Compassion believed that most posthuman historians dated the destruction of Earth to 12,000,000, (PROSE: The Brakespeare Voyage) and several other accounts placed Earth's end in 5,000,000,000. (TV: New Earth, The End of the World, et al)

The period immediately after Earth's destruction, the 58th Segment of Time, (PROSE: The Well-Mannered War) was at the edge of Gallifrey's noosphere, (PROSE: The Well-Mannered War, Frontios) the frontier in time. (PROSE: The Book of the War) Early Time Lords forbid within Gallifreyan civilisation any knowledge of history beyond this point, and the Fourth Doctor regarded it as the end of the Humanian Era. (PROSE: The Well-Mannered War) Finally beyond the Ghost Point (PROSE: The Book of the War) and starting to mirror the Great Houses in several new ways, (PROSE: Of the City of the Saved...) posthuman history began with a Diaspora Era (PROSE: The Silent Stars Go By) just as the Houses' history did. (PROSE: The Book of the War)

Some human colonists of Frontios were augmented into non-humanoid, cyborg forms, (TV: Frontios) as would later become popuar among technosapiens. (PROSE: Weapons Grade Snake Oil)

Direct human survivors of Earth's destruction included the Guardians, who took a 700 years voyage on the Ark to Refusis II; (TV: The Ark, PROSE: The Book of the War) Revere's ship of refugees, thought by the Fifth Doctor to be one of the last surviving groups of Mankind, who colonised Frontios; (TV: Frontios) and the Morphans, who colonised Hereafter and very slowly terraformed it into a replacement Earth while the elite transhumans of pre-destruction Earth waited in hibernation. (PROSE: The Silent Stars Go By)

Two distinct political viewpoints arose in humanity from the loss of their original homeworld. One, the Arcadians, considered themselves the preservers of the old Earth's ways. They recreated Earth on 28,000 Earth-like displays, many of which were called New Earth. (PROSE: The Book of the War) One notable New Earth was founded by the "big revival movement" within 23 years of Earth's destruction. (TV: New Earth) The Arcadians were isolationist and eventually almost completely vanished, (PROSE: The Book of the War) with one group secretly surviving in suspended animation beneath the acid seas of Endpoint until near the end of the universe. (PROSE: Hope)

Mrs Foyle of the Remonstration Bureau. (PROSE: The Book of the War)

The other viewpoint which defined the early posthuman era was one of decadence. Mrs Foyle was a notable early era decadent who ran the House of the Rising Sun and the Remonstration Bureau. (PROSE: The Book of the War)

Beginning with the early posthuman era, humans were able to procreate with basically every other species capable of breeding; a rare trait shared with advanced factions such as the Great Houses. (PROSE: Of the City of the Saved...) With the commonality of hybridisation, some posthumans genetically modified themselves to be able to speak the language of their alien partners, as Marinthe did for Rynu. (PROSE: Farewell to a World) The Eighth Doctor once encountered a race of time-travelling Cybermen who turned to the 21st century because in their native era after Earth's destruction, humanity was scattered through the cosmos and "genetically diluted," proving unfit for cyber-conversion. (COMIC: The Flood)

A chain of posthuman worlds became the breeding-grounds of the Remote. (PROSE: The Book of the War)

Some posthuman subspecies had physical aspects of other animals originating from Earth, including dolphins and tigers. (PROSE: Of the City of the Saved...)

The Immaculata Formosii was a posthuman War Goddess who allied with many sides of the War in Heaven, including the Enemy and Faction Paradox. (PROSE: The Book of the War, Against Nature)

The posthuman (PROSE: A Hundred Words from a Civil War) Malkuthites killed the native population of Yesod, including the Yesodi, and adapted themselves into the Yesodites, who were once visited by the Eighth Doctor, Samson, and Gemma. (PROSE: The Long Midwinter, AUDIO: The Wake)

The Quire were a group of posthuman scholars who once sent six of their people to the Braxiatel Collection in the 2600s. (PROSE: Work in Progress, Tribal Reservations, Quire as Folk, Intermissions, Future Relations)

The giant Bribori Zadig with a city on his shoulder. (PROSE: Furthest Tales of the City)

There existed posthuman giants for whom a planet was comparable in scale to a mountain to a normal-sized human. (PROSE: Unification Theory) The largest giant was Bribori Zadig, who constituted his own class of posthuman and was suspected by some to have been engineered as a piece of living art. (PROSE: Sleeping Giants)

Many posthumans became became parts of hive minds, such as the Saqqaf Hive (PROSE: Saqqaf) and Angstrom Hive. (PROSE: Of the City of the Saved...) The shoal-people spread their individual minds among many fish, each person their own hive mind. (PROSE: Just Passing Through)

Akroates came from an isolated society of posthuman shepherds who resembled cyclopses. (PROSE: Akroates)

A fabled clan of long-limbed posthumans lived on Trapezium. (PROSE: The Baker Street Dozen)

The Entrustine Horde were an obscure posthuman barbarian guild. (PROSE: Of the City of the Saved...)

The colonists of the ocean world Widowseed diverged into the Seaborn and Airborne, who brutally warred for control of the gigawrack, each denying the others' humanity. (PROSE: Salutation)

A-Ph-Aa came from a cuboid race of posthumans with a rich history who were made to never exist once history changed so that humans never colonised their homeplanet. (PROSE: Mourning the Story)

In the 11th billennium, several posthuman types were created along eugenic principles, including the Neotonic Clade. (PROSE: Unification Theory)

Two of the Pilots' Coterie manifest at Salomon's House in 1671 with the use of praxis. (PROSE: Newtons Sleep)

About two million years after Earth's demise, circa 12,000,000, the posthuman era entered its height as empires began emerging from the decadant movement. (PROSE: The Book of the War) The most notable of these were the aristocratic Blood Coteries based in Siloportem. (PROSE: The Book of the War, AUDIO: Movers) The Blood Coteries included the Pilots of Civitas Solis, (PROSE: The Book of the War, Newtons Sleep) the Weavers, and the Silversmiths. (PROSE: The Book of the War)

The miniscule Plume Coteries were librarians who lived in the distant reaches of dead space. (PROSE: Cobweb and Ivory)

Gargil Krymtorpor, who lived from 12,023,711 to 12,023,967, was a posthuman interstellar pirate who renegaded from Siloportem and became indentured to the Celestis. (PROSE: The Book of the War)

At the time of the last humanoid Arcadians of the Milky Way, posthumans led by Linemica resurrected Cernunnos using delicate craftmanship and illegal time travel. Dignitaries from countless posthuman cultures attended Cernunnos' unveiling on Terra Primagenia. (PROSE: Cobweb and Ivory)

A Drashig striking. (TV: Carnival of Monsters)

A splinter Coterie became lost on a million-year mission across the cosmos, during which radiation affected their evolution by activating "a few forgotten DNA pathways". Little Brother Intrepid of Faction Paradox transported some of their eggs backwards through time to a prehistoric swamp, where they evolved into Drashigs (PROSE: Daring Initiation)

Marko Marz was a transhuman Plutocrat from an openly mercantile posthuman period. Despite time travel being taboo among the Coteries, Marz publicised his interest in it (PROSE: Subjective Interlock) and had his book Retroeconomics and Timeschism for Dummies published in the past, 4973. In the book, Marz mentioned that the Dealers in Yellow operated in his era. (PROSE: Pre-narrative Briefing L)

Megropolis One on Pluto. (TV: The Sun Makers)

The Chance Coteries were a wealthy cymbiont civilisation who, during the reign of Scacia De Rein circa 19,531,250,000,007,031, manipulated public perception of technosapiens across the posthuman hegemony. De Rein secretly supported the revolution on Pluto against the Company which led to the foundation of the Plutonic Republic of Technosapien Enhanced Cultures. The revolution led to increased sympathy and understanding for technosapiens. PROTEC's president, Sojourner Hooper-Agog, later teamed with Faction Paradox Bankside to cause the fall of the Chance Coteries. (PROSE: Weapons Grade Snake Oil)

The Technosapien Interstellar Cooperative spanned many worlds, including the AutoFolk's homeworld Mechanique II. (PROSE: Happily Ever After Is a High-Risk Strategy)

The Million-Star Alliance did not actually span a million stars, but it did include the mining planet Isoptal, where posthumans survived by turning themselves into artificial intelligences known as the Isoptaline. (PROSE: Weighty Questions, Salutation)

By 6,000,000,000, the posthumans previously living on Pluto had modified themselves into homo solarians and colonised the expanding Sun. They died when the Sun was swallowed by Grandfather's Maw. Compassion considered this to be the ultimate fate of humanity, with all the posthuman groups outside the solar system being mere off-shoots of the core continuity. (PROSE: The Brakespeare Voyage)

The Lasthumans were widely considered the final posthuman civilisation. (PROSE: Of the City of the Saved...) Their God-King was Het Linc. (PROSE: The Book of the War) They created the Universal Machine in their last millennia before being massacred by House Mirraflex in 334,961,147,104. (PROSE: Of the City of the Saved..., The Book of the War)

The Toclafane. (TV: The Sound of Drums)

While the psychics of the Lasthumans had scoured the universe and found no other human minds, there also existed strands of humanity posthumously termed the "revolved" who evolved into mindless beings then "revolved" back into conscious creatures. (PROSE: Of the City of the Saved...) The Tenth Doctor encountered a group of humans on Malcassairo in 100,000,000,000,000 whose ancestors had spent millions of years evolving into gas and another million as downloads. The Master hid from the Last Great Time War among these humans (TV: Utopia) and caused their evolution into the Toclafane. (TV: Last of the Time Lords)

Near the end of the universe, when the universe was ruled from the Needle by the Imperial Family, the planet Endpoint was home to the human-descended Endpointers as well as a secret faction of "genetically pure" humans (PROSE: Hope) of the Arcadian viewpoint (PROSE: The Book of the War) in suspended animation. The Eighth Doctor, Fitz Kreiner, and Anji Kapoor came to Endpoint, got caught up in the reawakening of the humans, and ensured peace between the Endpointers and the humans. (PROSE: Hope)

Posthumanity's final creation, the Universal Machine, was one of the Secret Architects of the City of the Saved. (PROSE: Of the City of the Saved...) All of posthumanity was resurrected in the City. (PROSE: The Book of the War)

During the City of the Saved Civil War, the most sophisticated posthuman factions fought in ways incomprehensible to common humans. Five Districts warred entirely with music and representatives of two cultures went into combat in Flautencil's Plaza which appeared to consist only of smelling orchids and exchanging meaningful glances. (PROSE: A Hundred Words from a Civil War)

Continued here:

Posthuman | Tardis | Fandom

Caitlin Cherry on digital abstraction and Black femininity – Artforum

July 20, 2020 Caitlin Cherry on digital abstraction and Black femininity

Caitlin Cherry has always been interested in the weaponized circulation of images. At the Brooklyn Museum in 2013, she mounted her paintings on wooden catapults modeled after martial designs by Leonardo, as if they were about to be fired into the air. More recently, she has produced prismatic paintings from photos of Black femmes (including models, exotic dancers, porn actresses, rappers, and influencers) culled from social media. Inspired by the promotional posts of a Brooklyn cabaret, her newest works feature its servers and dancers in suggestive poses, flattened by delirious patterns and alphanumeric codes onto canvases with widescreen dimensions. Here, the slipperiness of digital images comes up against the slickness of oil paint, which she manipulates into a kind of filter that both obscures and refracts representations of Black femininity. A virtual presentation of Cherrys new paintings and digital collages, entitled Corps Sonore, is currently viewable in the online viewing room of Los Angeless Luis De Jesus Gallery through August.

THE NEW PAINTINGS include an aurora pattern that was originally inspired by iridescence. I guess its not really a direct representation of iridescence, but more like how a 4-D rendering program registers iridescence. It looks a bit like a rainbow; it can also resemble chrome. I was interested in thinking about iridescence as something you see within the cabaret industry: Im painting exotic dancers and bartenders who wear these outfits that are made of glittering, radiant materials. (They also wear a lot of fishnets; its really evil to paint fishnets, but they echo the aurora pattern, which similarly curves around the women.) But I also was interested in the aurora as a representation of what it feels like to fetishize a screenwhen you touch a screen and the color starts separating and swirls around like colorful wood grain.

I am always trying to figure out how to reposition a viewer in relationship to the Black women that my work represents. With natural iridescence, in order to see the change of color, you have to move around, or the light has to change. I try to create a similar experience with my paintings, where theres a different experience whether youre up close or far away, almost as if Im trying to figure out a way to disperse or reorient our societys relationship to Black femininityand a very specific type of Black femininity that is both underrepresented and a part of everyday aesthetics, to the point that it is almost never associated with high culture.

The paintings also mimic moir patterns, which happen when two pattern systems cant quite register on top of each other. I take the photographs I find and digitally over- and underexpose them; painting from these edits creates a little bit of an optical illusion that interrupts the pictorial space. Im making images of women who are incredibly sexy and who work in an industry where they present their bodies to be commodified, so I always feel like I have to refuse that by obscuring or interrupting your viewing of the painting. (I tend to select heavily tattooed women to paint; the patterns end up getting confused, turning into a kind of camouflage, or another interruption.) The moir pattern also represents the simultaneous over- and underexposure of these women. Theyre systematically devalued in our society, but their aesthetics have filtered into popular beauty culture.

The new works all have this additional layer of large codes made of numbers and characters that are overlaid on top of everything else. My source materials have a lot of watermarks from photographers, but I also was thinking of captchas, which websites use to identify you as a human. In our society, Black women particularly have to authenticate themselves, to prove themselves. I want to deal with the tension between the figure of the partially human or subhumanwhich Black femininity has always had to contend withand the superhuman or posthuman, represented by the bodies of these Black women who modify themselves to participate in this industry.

These codes dont just obscure; they also foreground the value of paintings as commodities that must be protected. (Because of their source images, the paintings often show women holding expensive liquor or stacks of cash, which is another way they point to the idea of value.) With their codes, these paintings can authenticate themselves; theyre already prepared for circulation. Hopefully, Ill be able to do an installation where they can be shown not just on the walls, but on storage racks in vaults that are unlocked by their codes. I have always tried to figure out how to protect my art; I think the vaults are a little bit about me wanting to control the conditions under which my art is shown, seen, and stored.

As told to Tina Rivers Ryan

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Caitlin Cherry on digital abstraction and Black femininity - Artforum

Posthuman | Transhumanism Wiki | Fandom

File:Trans-post-human2.jpg

A posthuman or post-human is, according to the transhumanist thinkers, a hypothetical future being "whose basic capacities so radically exceed those of present humans as to be no longer unambiguously human by our current standards."[1]

The difference between the posthuman and other hypothetical sophisticated non-humans is that a posthuman was once a human, either in its lifetime or in the lifetimes of some or all of its direct ancestors. As such, a prerequisite for a posthuman is a transhuman, the point at which the human being begins surpassing his or her own limitations, but is still recognisable as a human person or similar.[1]

Many science fiction writers, such as Greg Egan, Bruce Sterling, Greg Bear, Charles Stross and Ken MacLeod, have written works set in posthuman futures.

Posthumans could be a symbiosis of human and artificial intelligence, or uploaded consciousnesses, or the result of making many smaller but cumulatively profound technological augmentations to a biological human, i.e. a cyborg. Some examples of the latter are redesigning the human organism using advanced nanotechnology or radical enhancement using some combination of technologies such as genetic engineering, psychopharmacology, life extension therapies, neural interfaces, advanced information management tools, memory enhancing drugs, wearable or implanted computers, and cognitive techniques.[1]

At what point does a human become posthuman? Steven Pinker, a cognitive neuroscientist and author of How the Mind Works, poses the following hypothetical, which is an example of the Ship of Theseus paradox:

In this sense, the transition between human and posthuman may be viewed as a continuum rather than an all-or-nothing event.

A variation on the posthuman theme is the notion of the "Posthuman God"; the idea that posthumans, being no longer confined to the parameters of "humanness", might grow physically and mentally so powerful as to appear possibly god-like by human standards. This notion should not be interpreted as being related to the idea portrayed in some soft science fiction that a sufficiently advanced species may "ascend" to a superior plane of existence - rather, it merely means that some posthuman being may become so exceedingly intelligent and technologically sophisticated that its behaviour would not possibly be comprehensible to modern humans, purely by reason of their limited intelligence and imagination. The difference here is that the latter stays within the bounds of the laws of the material universe, while the former exceeds them by going beyond it.

As used in this article, "posthuman" does not necessarily refer to a conjectured future where humans are extinct or otherwise absent from the Earth. As with other species who speciate from one another, both humans and posthumans could continue to exist. However, the apocalyptic scenario appears to be a viewpoint shared among a minority of transhumanists such as Marvin Minsky and Hans Moravec, who could be considered misanthropes, at least in regards to humanity in its current state. Alternatively, others such as Kevin Warwick argue for the likelihood that both humans and posthumans will continue to exist but the latter will predominate in society over the former because of their abilities.[3]

fr:post-humainja: ()pl:postczowiekru:

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Posthuman | Transhumanism Wiki | Fandom

Posthuman | Literary Theory and Criticism

Author(s): William S. Haney II

Series: Consciousness, literature and the arts, volume 2

Publisher: Rodopi, Year: 2006(1MB)

Author(s): Jodey Castricano

Series: Environmental Humanities

Publisher: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, Year: 2008(2MB)

Author(s): Joan Broadhurst Dixon, Eric Cassidy

Publisher: Routledge, Year: 1998(1MB)

Author(s): R. L. Rutsky

Series: Electronic mediations #2

Publisher: University of Minnesota Press, Year: 1999(1MB)

Author(s): Tyson E. Lewis, Richard Kahn

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan, Year: 2010(9MB)

Author(s): Daniel Dinello

Year: 2006(4MB)

Author(s): Kim Toffoletti

Year: 2007(1MB)

Author(s): Jeff Wallace

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan, Year: 2005(1MB)

Author(s): N. Katherine Hayles

Publisher: University Of Chicago Press, Year: 1999(8MB)

Author(s): Judith Halberstam, Ira Livingston

Series: Unnatural Acts

Publisher: Indiana Univ Pr, Year: 1995(8MB)

Author(s): Rosi Braidotti

Publisher: Polity, Year: 2013(2MB)

Author(s): David Roden

Publisher: Routledge, Year: 2015(1MB)

Author(s): Colebrook, C.

Series: Critical climate change

Year: 2014(4MB)

Author(s): Patricia MacCormack

Publisher: Ashgate, Year: 2012(1MB)

Author(s): Zoe Jaques

Series: Childrens Literature and Culture

Publisher: Routledge, Year: 2014(2MB)

Author(s): Arthur Kroker

Publisher: Polity, Year: 2014(1MB)

Author(s): Hauskeller, Michael

Series: Palgrave pivot

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan, Year: 2014(1MB)

Author(s): Taylor, Matthew A

Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press, Year: 2013(2MB)

Author(s): Victoria Flanagan (auth.)

Series: Critical Approaches to Childrens Literature

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan UK, Year: 2014(1MB)

Author(s): Carol A. Taylor, Christina Hughes (eds.)

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan UK, Year: 2016(6MB)

Author(s): Catherine Adams, Terrie Lynn Thompson (auth.)

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan UK, Year: 2016(4MB)

Author(s): Jami Weinstein, Claire Colebrook

Series: Critical Life Studies

Publisher: Columbia University Press, Year: 2017(2MB)

Author(s): Kristen Lillvis

Publisher: University of Georgia Press, Year: 2017(2MB)

Author(s): Rosi Braidotti, Maria Hlavajova (eds.)

Publisher: Bloomsbury, Year: 2018(9MB)

Author(s): Annouchka Bayley (auth.)

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan, Year: 2018(3MB)

Author(s): Erika Cudworth, Stephen Hobden and Emilian Kavalski (eds.)

Publisher: Routledge, Year: 2018(4MB)

Author(s): Silvia Battista

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan, Year: 2018(3MB)

Author(s): Bruce Clarke, Manuela Rossini (eds.)

Series: Cambridge Companions to Literature

Publisher: Cambridge University Press, Year: 2017(1MB)

Author(s): Christina Bieber Lake

Publisher: University of Notre Dame Press, Year: 2013(1MB)

Author(s): Debra Benita Shaw

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield, Year: 2018(8MB)

Author(s): Haraway Donna

Author(s): Joanna Zylinska

Series: Technologies (London, England)

Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group, Year: 2002(11MB)

Author(s): James A Inman

Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Year: 2004(4MB)

Author(s): Anne Balsamo

Publisher: Duke University Press Books, Year: 1995(15MB)

Author(s): Margret Grebowicz, Helen Merrick

Publisher: Columbia University Press, Year: 2013(1MB)

Author(s): Sue Short (auth.)

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan UK, Year: 2005(1MB)

Author(s): Garfield Benjamin (auth.)

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan UK, Year: 2016(2MB)

Author(s): David Greven

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA, Year: 2017(2MB)

Author(s): Jacob Johanssen; Bonni Rambatan

Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, Year: 2013(8MB)

Author(s): Gill Kirkup, Linda Janes, Kathryn Woodward and Fiona Hovenden

Publisher: Routledge, Year: 2000(2MB)

Author(s): Jeanine Thweatt-Bates

Series: Ashgate Science and Religion

Publisher: Ashgate, Year: 2012(1MB)

Author(s): Matthew K. Gold

Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press, Year: 2012(3MB)

Author(s): Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth

Series: Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell, Year: 2008(4MB)

Author(s): David M. Berry

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan, Year: 2012(7MB)

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Posthuman | Literary Theory and Criticism

Covid-19 might have injected a new life into the conspiracy theory scene, but the fire was already ablaze – Daily Maverick

Nearly three decades ago in 1991, English former footballer, former Green Party spokesperson, and former BBC sports journalist, David Icke, came out of the closet as it were, to confirm his true identity first during a press conference and then a week later on BBCs primetime show, Wogan.

CLOSE

Icke told the world that he was, in fact, the son of the Godhead. Unsurprisingly, he was ridiculed. I couldnt walk down the street without people laughing at me. Going into a pub, there was an uproar. A comedian only had to say my name to get a laugh, he would later tell the television host.

Nonetheless, Icke would go on to publish several books during the 90s five were initially published by mainstream publishers. It was the controversy around his 1994 book, The Robots Rebellion, and its embrace of a century-old anti-Semitic literary forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, that would eventually lead him to self-publishing.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion claims to be the minutes of a meeting of Jewish secret rulers of the world and contains gems such as, Protocol 9: The weapons in our hands are limitless ambition, burning greediness, merciless vengeance, hatred and malice. It is from us that all-engulfing terror proceeds We will not give [the people of the world] peace until they openly acknowledge our international Super-Government.

As far back as 1921, it was debunked and proven to be a fabricated text, thought to be the work of Russian secret police and not a very clever one. It didnt need to be clever, though these days it is shared online and in print by neofascist, fundamentalist and antisemitic groups who still claim it is a genuine document.

Yet Icke referred to it in his book and claimed it as evidence of a plot by an illuminati reptilian race that controls the world. Yes, he believes that governments, banks, the internet, the British royal family, are all either colluding with or are members of this shape-shifting alien lizard race from another dimension that controls the world. He wrote several more books expounding on his theories, questioning the holocaust, and identifying specific politicians as Satan-worshippers and reptilian descendants.

By the turn of the century, Icke was a world-touring speaker and author.

According to Education out of Bounds: Reimagining Cultural Studies for Posthuman Age a 2010 book that examines the prevalence of the monster trope in popular imagination by the year 2000, Icke had been invited to lecture in at least twenty-five countries, and, Ickes most recognised publication the massive 533-page Rosetta stone for conspiracy junkies, The Biggest Secret has already gone through multiple re-printings since its release in 1999; his latest conspiracy/ufology testament, Alice in Wonderland and the World Trade Center Disaster, passes for vogue among American, British, and Canadian audiences as well as in non-Anglo international cultural arenas such as South Africa (where the book has been an enduring Top 5 seller).

South Africa, beloved country, we need to talk.

Most recently, Icke has jumped on the 5G causes Covid conspiracist wagon. He has also claimed that you cant catch the coronavirus by shaking hands, and that it is not real, but part of some plan to kill people. It is these views that led to him getting kicked off Facebook, where his page had over 800,000 followers, and off YouTube, where his channel had over 900,000 subscribers in May 2020. However, he is still active on his verified Twitter account with over 340,000 followers. He continues to champion climate change denialists, promote his books and talks, challenge the wearing of masks, and share videos of black people who question the Black Lives Matter movement.

Looking over the past three decades of conspiracy theories this self-proclaimed son of the Godhead has pushed, one might be surprised at his large following. Surely a man who once claimed the world was going to end in 1990, and that we are ruled by lizards, should by now, even in the fringiest of fringes, be approached with suspicion.

Alas, it is not so even Alice Walker, beloved author of The Color Purple is a fan. In 2018, in a New York Times article responding to a question about books on her nightstand, Walker said, And the Truth Shall Set You Free, by David Icke. In Ickes books there is the whole of existence, on this planet and several others, to think about. A curious persons dream come true. Walker is referring to the 1995 self-published title by Icke, which caused controversy due to its suggestion that Jews funded the Holocaust.

At this moment in time, characterised by uncertainty, millions of readers looked to the likes of Icke for explanations. According to an in-depth investigation by the UKs Press Gazette, his website davidicke.com was visited 4.3m times in April up from 1.3m in March, 600,000 in February and 700,000 in January.

Icke is not alone either there are numerous conspiracy theory super spreaders with large followings, such as Alex Jones Infowars and the London Real. The latter, by the way, are also big fans of Icke. Their 3 May three-hour long interview with Icke, where he reiterates his belief that the virus doesnt exist, among other wild claims, currently has 4.5 million views and growing.

Then theres also American Fox News opinion hosts such as Laura Ingraham, who have millions of viewers, supporting a conspiracy theory that suggests Bill Gates is behind the virus, so that he can install microchips on people and track them. Or their other popular host, Tucker Carlson, telling his viewers night after night that the Black Lives Matter protests have nothing to do with racial inequality, but rather that theyre part of a secret plot by the Democrats to take over from Republicans.

Encountering someone who believes in a conspiracy theory that one might consider a step too far, might make one think that conspiracist ideation is something that happens among a minority on the fringes of society. However, judging by the popularity of conspiracist platforms, and the amount of false claims that websites like snopes.com and factcheck.org and africacheck.org have to regularly debunk, it would seem they are anything but fringe.

In addition to the stuff we all see spreading across Facebook and Twitter, and on TV channels, there is also a wealth of misinformation spreading in more private and less visible groups, like neighbourhood and family WhatsApp groups.

This writer has certainly had to get into a few heated debates on family WhatsApp groups, whether to debunk claims including aspirin cures coronavirus or that lemon and baking soda cures the virus. Whether youre someone who might be tempted to buy into some of these false claims, or looking to arm yourself with knowledge in the face of so much misinformation and conspiracy ideation, based on my experience with my not-so-fringe family WhatsApp group, I would recommend paying this page on Africa Check a visit, where they list and debunk some of the most popular false claims and conspiracies related to the coronavirus.

In the last four decades, the body of research into the spread of conspiracy theories has grown, the majority of it coming from researchers in the US. Take, for example, this study titled Medical Conspiracy Theories and Health Behaviours, conducted in August and September 2013 in the US and weighted to be nationally representative. They found that 37% of respondents believed that the US Food and Drug Administration intentionally suppressed natural cures for cancer because of drug company pressure 31% neither agreed nor disagreed, and only 32% disagreed.

Then there are the anti-vaxxers the study also found that only 44% disagree that doctors want to vaccinate children, even though they know vaccines are harmful. And on and on.

These studies looked particularly at conspiracy theories that affect the health sector, and therefore behaviours that might affect the decisions taken. Others looked into what makes all kinds of conspiracy theories attractive in the first place, and what elements make up a conspiracy theory, as seen in this 2018 paper, Conspiracy theories: Evolved Functions and Psychological Mechanisms.

The authors break it down into at least five critical ingredients. The first is our need to see people, objects and events as interconnected. As humans we look for patterns and narratives to explain things. This is a quality that has served us well in our evolution; it has helped us to avoid threats and be able to identify alliances, among other things. Second, conspiracy theories assume some sort of agency, a deliberateness, on the part of the conspirators: theyre out to get us. Third, a conspiracy always involves some sort of coalition, a group working against us . Fourth, theres always an element of threat, be it to cause harm or to deceive. Lastly, secrecy: They dont want you to know.

Two authors, Stephan Lewandowsky from the University of Bristols School of Psychological Science, and John Cook, from George Masons Center for Climate Change Communication, have compiled The Conspiracy Theory Handbook, published in March 2020 and freely available to download. At 12 pages including the cover, it is a fairly short read, albeit an important one towards understanding conspiracist ideation.

In a nutshell, the pair emphasise the importance of fact-based debunking, logic-based debunking, challenging the credibility of sources, as well as being armed with links to fact checkers.

Their handbook goes further and makes recommendations on how to speak to conspiracy theorists, like showing empathy and avoiding the temptation to ridicule. Many conspiracy theorists also see themselves as critical thinkers the handbook emphasises the importance of affirming their capacity for critical thought, but then redirecting it towards the conspiracy theory itself.

The book is just one of many easily available online resources for dealing with conspiracy theories. But there is no guarantee that the tools it provides will help one succeed in the mission to debunk misinformation.

While some conspiracies might be easier to debunk in a world where some conspiracy platforms have larger audiences than many legitimate news platforms many will not be as easy. Afterall, the Laura Ingrahams, Sean Hannitys and Tucker Carlsons are among the most watched shows in the US, regularly beating primetime shows on other channels like MSNBC and CNN.

Closer to home, we had cases like that of Mzwandile Masina, mayor of the City of Ekurhuleni, who claimed back in March that a coronavirus vaccine had been found, and that he would direct funds towards its procurement.

Best to maintain a healthy scepticism and stay armed with facts, no matter how tempting it is to believe that corona doesnt exist, or that you can cure it with lemon and bicarbonate of soda, or that Bill Gates is out to get you, or that the British royal family is actually a race of lizards from the fourth dimension. DM/ML

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Covid-19 might have injected a new life into the conspiracy theory scene, but the fire was already ablaze - Daily Maverick

Jaws Is the Perfect Blockbuster – The Ringer

2020s summer blockbuster season has been put on hold because of the pandemic, but that doesnt mean we cant celebrate the movies from the past that we flocked out of the sun and into air conditioning for. Welcome to The Ringers Return to Summer Blockbuster Season, where well feature different summer classics each week.

Twenty-four hours is like three weeks! Thats the complaint of a local woman (for no reason at all, lets call her Karen) at a town meeting after she learns that the nicely gentrified beach community of Amity will be closed by the mayors office following grisly evidence of a shark attack; its a shrill, high-frequency whine that cuts through the scenes bustling, multitracked sound design like an air-raid siren.

For those of us whove seen Jaws more than a few times, even the films throwaway dialogue has been etched into our cerebral cortexes. For every one of the scripts enduring catchphrasesthink Youre gonna need a bigger boat or Smile, you son of a bitchtheres an exchange beloved by diehards: the idiot, bass-mouthed fisherman unable to comprehend that his friends latest trophy is a tiger shark (A whaaat?); the long-haired hipster searching in vain for his lost (and long since devoured) black Lab (Pippit. Pippit!); the old lady complaining to Roy Scheider that the disenfranchised residents of a local childrens martial arts class have been karate-ing the picket fences. But the line about keeping the beaches closed resonates the most, and not just in our current claustrophobic context. Its a whine that clarifies whats really at stake in Steven Spielbergs industry game changer: the possibility, scarier and more voracious than any great white, of a lost summer.

Summer in Jaws is a character all on its own, even if the bare trees lining the streets betray the films late-fall production dates. (The continuity error was fixed by CGI on DVD, a less obtrusive bit of meddling than turning guns into flashlights in E.T., but revisionist history nevertheless.) There had been iconic movie scenes set on beaches before: Think of the lovers rolling around in the surf in From Here to Eternity, or all the wholesome mid-60s teenyboppers playing Beach Blanket Bingo. But Jaws hunger for exposed, all-American flesh went beyond adolescent titillation or seasonal nostalgia. Spielbergs vision of scantily clad revelers taking their chances in troubled waters was and remains definitive, escapism mixed with anthropology. Jaws is a thriller rather than a coming-of-age fable, but it feels like there are whole, sun-dappled short stories embedded in its recurring images of tanned middle schoolers lounging in dinky sailboats, or parents toweling off their sand-covered kids while standing ankle-deep in the surf. Relaxingbarelyin a beach chair during an off-duty afternoon, police chief Martin Brody observes the panorama from a far, paranoid distance. You dont go in the water at all, do ya? hes admonished by a constituent; his aquaphobia will soon be revealed to be simple common sense, even as it stands in opposition to the bottom line.

Amity is a summer town. ... We need summer dollars, declares Amitys mayor, Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton), a comically dishonest figure styled by Jaws and its witty team of screenwriters (Carl Gottlieb, Howard Sackler, and Peter Benchley, the author of the original source novel) after the parade of criminal bureaucrats on display during the Watergate scandal. (Hamilton was a master of playing guys who were slow on the take: Hes the bourgie fool cuckolded by Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate.) In an essay published in March in The New Republic, Alex Shephard analyzed how Jaws barely submerged political allegorya bumbling cover-up designed to save Amitys economy in the face of a new, predatory threatworks both in the context of the movies 1975 release date and in a year where our collective, primal fears have been exploited from all sides, with no reliable protector in sight. Ignored by politicians, [Jaws heroes] face off against an unseen enemy on a much too fragile, much too small boat, writes Shephard. Theyre on their owna feeling that is all too familiar.

Spielbergs trio of shark hunters comprises a cross-section of male types, with Robert Shaws Ahab-ish Quint holding things down for old-school machismo and Richard Dreyfusss monied ichthyologist Matt Hooper embodying well-heeled technocratic geekery (Youve been counting money all your life, Quint says to his new frenemy, and hes not wrong). Somewhere between them resides Brody, a recent big-city transplant whose investment in Amitys survival as a tourist trap is strictly professional. What makes it personal, eventually, is a close encounter between the shark and Brodys preteen son Michael (Chris Rebello), which steeps his hero-cop act in a protective, paternal empathy distinct from dead-eyed 70s supercops like Dirty Harry or Popeye Doyle. (Brodys more like Frank Serpico minus the beard, a straight arrow battling corruption in the system from within.) For Quint and Hooper, the quest into deeper waters aboard the Orca is similarly self-involved: Theyre risking their lives not for civic pride but for a set of private obsessions. Quint survived the shark-infested wreck of the USS Indianapolis, and the hunt is a chance to assuage his survivors guilt and hook his own private Moby Dick; Hooper is in it for scientific progress, but hes also a glib go-getter whose Cassandra act is accuratelyif dismissivelysized up by the mayor as a stab at publicity: Love to prove that, wouldnt you? Get your name into the National Geographic.

As a horror movie released at the apex of the genres studio-subsidized rebirth in the 1970s, Jaws reroutes the trajectories and themes of classics like Psycho and The Texas Chain Saw Massacrecautionary tales in which outsiders venturing into the Old Weird America get whats coming to them via human monsters whod be better left undisturbed. In Spielbergs film, the great white is the outsider, constituting a threat thats at once thoroughly existential and a matter of nickel-and-dime economics. What the shark and Amitys ruling class have in common is the need for a steady food supply: The visitors who swarm into town on ferries, slathered in sunscreen with fanny packs full of disposable income, are just chum in the water.

These are ruthless ideas, but Jaws is, lest we forget, a pretty ruthless movie: Spielbergs filmmaking style on his first big-budget production is carnivorous. By offing a pretty, naked blonde and that aforementioned Labrador retriever in the first 20 minutes, the director definitely establishes that hes not fucking around, PG rating be damned. He also smartly imbues the staging and dialogue with just enough shell-shocked ambivalence to make audiences wonder what, if anything, all that bloody, unsentimental carnage is really about. Is the nubile, guileless hippie chick getting dragged underwater in lieu of a stoned bonfire hookup a symbolic figure, an emblem of the death of the 60s? Did the little boy have it coming as punishment for his moms negligence? Did the dog get it because Steven Spielberg is a cat person?

Combine its not-quite-world-beating heroes with its faux-utopian coastal milieu and putatively metaphorical monsterwhose fakeness when finally glimpsed full-on actually enhances its horrific presence, an accidental Brechtian effect lost to the onset of CGIand Jaws would seem to have plenty going on under the surface. In addition to all the things that it does brilliantlyits efficiency as a scare machine; its effectiveness as a directorial showcase; its evocation of eccentricity filtered through a virtuoso populism closer to The Wizard of Oz; the killer performances of its leads, especially Shaw, who doesnt so much chew the scenery as swallow it wholethe film unfolds as a ripe bicentennial satire, a snapshot of a country at once on guard and susceptible to a semi-hidden enemy. In his new book, Make My Day: Movie Culture in the Age of Reagan, J. Hoberman perceptively pairs Jaws with one of its Best Picture rivals, Robert Altmans Nashville, persuasively painting the two movies as structural and thematic twins, all-American epics in which mass patriotic gatherings are tinged with the threat of bloody violence.

Released in the fall of 1975 and riding a tidal wave of critical adulation via the one-woman hype machine of Pauline Kaelwho watched an early cut and deemed it an epochal masterpieceNashville, for all its down-and-dirty comedy, was a prestige picture. Even if Altman usually managed to be artful and unpretentious at his bestand many consider Nashville to be his masterpiecehe was still the proverbial filmmaker for grown-ups who thrived in a moment when Hollywood was, according to a seductive and still enduring myth, more hospitable to adult cinema. Jaws, by contrast, was seen as embodying the tip of a very dangerous spearthe onset of the high-concept blockbuster, no less potent an emissary of encroaching populism than The Godfather, but even more accessible. Where Altman and Francis Ford Coppola were seen as thoughtfully critiquing American greed and spectacle, Jaws surfaced in the popular consciousness as a pure Hollywood by-producta perfect engine, as Hooper describes its namesake, driven solely by its parent studios motives for profit.

A case can be made that Jaws ostensible single-mindednessits swift, gliding sense of momentum, which renders a two-hour running time almost subliminally quickis still the best expression of its directors skill set: that for all his later forays into history, morality, and future-shock social commentary, Spielbergs best incarnation is as an orchestrator of believably visceral carnage, of the fantastic intruding roughly and entertainingly on the present day. And yet, while its true that Jaws is one lean, mean entertainment machine, it also contains multitudes in a way thats as quintessentially 70s as Nashville, with all those stray, memorable little one-liners and beautifully managed detours into character development, like the game of peekaboo between Brody and his toddler Sean (Jay Mello) that seamlessly embroiders the films reckoning with masculinity. The still-bracing aggressiveness of Spielbergs scare tacticsthose bobbing, mobile underwater perspectives; that lurking, omnipresent John Williams scorebelies how consistently Jaws finds room for exchanges that deepen the psychologies of its protagonists and elevate the supporting characters around them into plausibly weird, funny bystanders. This sense of humanity gives heft to the scripts parable of a town tryingand failing, and trying againto put its best interests over cold hard cash.

The double-edged tension of Jaws plot versus its larger offscreen narrative is fascinating and funny. In the story, the sharks appetite is such that only canceling the Fourth of July will suffice as a public safety measure; in the real world, Jaws ended up drawing crowds to multiplexes in unprecedented numbers. Theres much to say about the sublimated anxieties and (literally) projected fears that drove Jaws popularitythe shark, like George Romeros zombies, can be transformed into a symbol of anything youd likebut blaming the film for the blockbusterization of Hollywood cinema, which happens often enough to be a clich, is unfairly reductive.

The biggest difference between Jaws and Star Wars, which almost instantly toppled Jaws from its all-time box office perch two years later, is not one of style or genre but of ancillary possibilities. Star Wars was aggressively marketed across a variety of products and platforms, creating a template for the high-yield, posthuman studio properties of the 80s. But with Jaws, a nice, cute Bruce plushie was not part of the equation. One way to look at E.T. is as Jaws more benign twin, a film with a big heart as well as myriad opportunities for merchandising and product placement (the only things that gets eaten by its namesake are Reeses Pieces).

But if Jaws is closer to The Godfather than to Star Warsa film that awakened the inner child of an entire society, with arguably catastrophic consequencesits also a more self-contained movie than either. Many would argue that The Godfather: Part II and The Empire Strikes Back represent vitaland superiorextensions of their predecessors, while the desultory Jaws 2, rushed into production without Spielbergs participation, anticipated the mostly diminishing returns of the sequel generation. (Jaws 2 peaks with its taglineJust when you thought it was safe to go back in the waterand is all downhill from there.) Even if you dont think that Jaws has much to say about anything, it says it eloquently enough the first time around that nobody asked for clarification; one reason the films final shot is so beautiful is because it shows Brody and Hooper reaching shore, a foregone conclusion removed of even a sliver of narrative ambiguity. And yet, depending on how you look at it, their safe return can represent either a heartwarming triumph of good over evil or else a cynically capitalist coda: Amity is once again open for business.

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Jaws Is the Perfect Blockbuster - The Ringer

The Vocoder’s Cyborg Flights in Electronic Music and Hip-Hop – Reverb News

The first time the legendary jazz bandleader Herbie Hancock streaked his voice across one of his albums, he threaded it through a vocoder first. Hancock's 1978 album Sunlight prominently features the Sennheiser Vocoder VSM201, a newly manufactured device that thinned and buffed his voice to a futuristic shine on the album's disco-inflected A-side. On songs like "I Thought It Was You" and "Come Running To Me," Hancock's heavily processed voice pitches higher than its natural range, its guttural qualities swapped out for an airy computerized whine. It's a voice that matches its partly synthesized, partly acoustic instrumentation, a tone caught between worldsnot quite human and not quite machine, but a third, cyborgian presence.

First developed in the early 20th century and used during World War II to encrypt telephone conversations between world leaders, the vocoder sneaked its way into popular music in the early '70s by way of the soundtrack to Stanley Kubrick's 1971 science fiction movie, A Clockwork Orange. (The generic term "vocoder," a portmanteau of "voice" and "encoder," has since been applied to many different vocal-manipulation devices.) Wendy Carlos, whose 1968 album, Switched-On Bach, was largely responsible for popularizing the Moog synthesizer, signed on to write and perform a score fitting the movie's dystopian ambiance. The film's protagonist loves Beethoven, and Carlos and her primary collaborator Rachel Elkind had already begun work on a synth adaptation of the Ninth Symphony with its famous choral setting "Ode to Joy."

Hancock introduces the vocoder to a live audience in this 1979 performance of "I Thought It Was You."

They had tried before, with little success, to get the Moog to "sing," but found it could not convincingly enunciate consonants. Rather than conjure up a voice fully from inside the machine, Carlos opted to filter Elkind's singing voice through a vocoder, a technology she had first encountered at the Bell Labs Pavilion during the New York World's Fair of 196465. The result fit the sound of the Moog perfectly: This cyborg voice retained enough human qualities to be decipherable, even as it was plated over with pristine computer tones. Early listeners were skeptical of the new sound. "The first reactions were unanimous: Everyone hated it!" Carlos wrote on her website decades later. "A playing synth was bad enough, but a 'singing' synth? Too much, turn it off!"

Not long after Carlos and Elkind first applied the vocoder to music, it began reverberating across national borders, from the United States to Germany and Japan and back again. With each iteration, it accumulated new meaning and potential. In the soundtrack to A Clockwork Orange, the vocoder's cyborg presence deepened the movie's considerations of what it might mean to "program" a person against his willto empty him of self-determination and turn him into something more like a computer. Across the Atlantic in Dsseldorf a few years later, the groundbreaking electronic band Kraftwerk began deploying the vocoder in their own explorations of personhood and technology.

Not long after Carlos and Elkind first applied the vocoder to music, it began reverberating across national borders, from the United States to Germany and Japan and back again. With each iteration, it accumulated new meaning and potential. In the soundtrack to A Clockwork Orange, the vocoder's cyborg presence deepened the movie's considerations of what it might mean to "program" a person against his willto empty him of self-determination and turn him into something more like a computer. Across the Atlantic in Dsseldorf a few years later, the groundbreaking electronic band Kraftwerk began deploying the vocoder in their own explorations of personhood and technology.

On albums like 1977's Trans-Europe Express, 1978's The Man-Machine, and 1981's Computer World, Kraftwerk sought to locate the role of the human in an increasingly surveilled and automated modern world. They declared themselves robots, speak-singing in dry, modulated tones over impossibly tight drum machine beats and synthesized arpeggios. Singing into machines, they professed their love for computers, serenading not the person on the other end of the line but the cold, impartial screens of the connective devices themselves. Though Kraftwerk's music was future-oriented (and certainly prescient), they rarely incubated a sense of cynicism or dystopia in their work. Their melodies slant upwards, more innocent than all-knowing; they sound helpless and in awe of technology rather than terrified of it.

The open ambivalence toward technology that Kraftwerk maintained throughout their seminal work in the '70s and early '80s made their music and its techniques easy to reinterpret. Their use of the vocoder radiated into Herbie Hancock's work (he used the Sennheiser on 1979's Feets Don't Fail Me Now as well as Sunlight), populated Italo-disco producer Giorgio Moroder's 1977 album, From Here to Eternity, and found its way into the albums of the Japanese band Yellow Magic Orchestra. Beginning in the early '80s, the vocoder would begin to make a natural home in the new, Bronx-based genre of hip-hopa form of music that, like Kraftwerk, challenged conventional narratives about the relationships between human beings and novel technology.

If a genre can be said to originate from a single moment in time, then hip-hop's starting point is well-documented. It sprang from a high school party at the end of the summer of 1973, hosted by a teenage DJ Kool Herc and his sister, Cindy Campbell. Herc spun records for his friends on his parents' soundsystem in the rec room of their apartment building, opting for songs with long instrumental breakdowns that inspired the crowd to dance. His friend, Coke La Rock, started shouting out the names of his friends over these vocal-free segments, a musical style derived from Jamaican toasting that would later become rap. Word of the music at the party spread through the Bronx, and as Herc got hired at more and more gigs, he began extending the drum breakdowns of the soul and funk records he played, spinning two copies of the same record simultaneously and resetting the needle so that the break went on indefinitely. He dubbed this technique "the merry-go-round."

In this way, from its beginning, hip-hop consciously reinscribed the potential meaning of the consumer technology on which it depended. A turntable, as a product, came pre-loaded with a specific model of music consumption: It was meant to play a record from beginning to end, to serve as a delivery device for prerecorded music. It was never intended to be an instrument in itself, just an intermediary between record company and listener. Hip-hop, along with its Manhattan cousin disco, positioned the listener as an artist in her own rightsomeone who could take consumer products designed for passive consumption and flip them around into active, dynamic tools.

In an interview with Mark Dery for his 1993 book, Flame Wars, science-fiction author Samuel R. Delany noted the challenge that hip-hop posed to the technological tools in its arsenal. "To look at any of these black cultural youth movements as an easy and happy development blossoming uncritically from the overwhelmingly white world of high-tech production that, yes, makes that culture possible is, I suspect, thoroughly to misread the fiercely oppositional nature of this art: scratch and sampling begin, in particular, as a specific miss-use and conscientious desecration of the artifacts of technology and the entertainment media," he said.

Jonzun Crew play "Pack Jam" on German TV, 1983.

The vocoder, another technology misapplied toward musical purposes, fit neatly into this schema, and by 1982 had found its place in hip-hop.

The subgenre known as electro-boogie bloomed that year, when the Boston-based rap group Jonzun Crew, the Bronx DJ and rapper Afrika Bambaataa, and the Bronx hip-hop group Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five all released pivotal vocoder-based singles. Jonzun Crew's "Pack Man (Look Out For The OVC)" drew references to Sun Ra's jazz Afrofuturism into a hip-hop context ("OVC" stands for "Outerspace Visual Communicator," a video synthesizer played by its creator, Bill Sebastian, at Sun Ra concerts in the late '70s). Amid detuned arpeggios, sparse percussion, and minor key motifs in the style of Kraftwerk, a deeply corroded voice rasps, chants, and laughs. The song's title can be made out, and the name of the Outerspace Visual Communicator, and little else. The song plays like a garbled transmission from a distant planet; its central voice, engulfed in immeasurable space, holds a certain authority, as if it were calling out from a world more advanced than our own, and unintelligible in its advancement.

"Jonzun Crew broke out of their own constraining present with instruments that gestured toward a post-human landscape, a place where the line between human and machine blurred away."

Jonzun Crew's 1983 debut album, Lost in Space, introduced more concrete pop elements to the group's futuristic sound, all while highlighting the vocoder as a primary tool. It once again pointed to Sun Ra as an ancestor with the song "Space is the Place," a reinterpretation of the Afrofuturist visionary's iconic 1973 track. If Sun Ra deployed the tools of jazz toward an expansive, utopian future, Jonzun Crew broke out of their own constraining present with instruments that gestured toward a post-human landscape, a place where the line between human and machine blurred away. The group readily transformed themselves into cyborgs with the vocoder, but their work's finer details retained a sense of human embodiment.

Toward the end of "Space is the Place," Jonzun Crew stage a call-and-response coda, a technique with deep roots in Black gospel. "You must follow me," speaks one voice, and a chorus of voices answers: "We will follow you." "You must follow me to space," clarifies the first voice, and as the vocals fade out, the sound of heavy breathing replaces them. By its nature, the vocoder irons out non-utterances like breathing. The song concludes not with the sound of robots blasting off into the heavens, but with the sound of a panicked, disoriented human being taking stock of an alien environment.

The year 1982 also saw the release of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's "Scorpio," an electro single from the album The Message that similarly deployed the vocoder toward thinning and granulating the human voice to the point of near-unrecognizability. That same year, Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force's landmark single "Planet Rock" interpolated two Kraftwerk songs"Trans Europe Express," from which it gets its beat and synth motif, and "Numbers," from which it takes a vocoder sampletoward its own vision of post-industrial humankind. Bambaataa also processed his own voice on the track, using a vocoder and a Lexicon PCM42 digital delay to lend his raps a gleaming metallic edge. While "Pack Man" and "Scorpio" both carried an air of future menace in their refusal to yield the voice and their insistence on an enigmatic cyborgian presence, "Planet Rock" focused more on how technology could bolster, rather than disappear, the human. Bambaataa's calls and responses sound more as though he's speaking to a real, live crowd, rather than a congregation of robots. His sparing use of voice processing technologies line the song with futuristic potentials without drowning it in them. Technology is the starting point, but people are the end goal.

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - "Scorpio"

In Flame Wars, Mark Dery asks hip-hop scholar Tricia Rose how the use of consumer technology squares with the Black musical tradition. "Can one be funky and mechanical?" he queries. "No question; that's what hip-hop is!" she replies. "If we understand the machine as a product of human creativity whose parameters are always suggesting what's beyond them, then we can read hip-hop as the response of urban people of color to the postindustrial landscape... What Afrika Bambaataa and hip-hoppers like him saw in Kraftwerks use of the robot was an understanding of themselves as already having been robots. Adopting the robot reflected a response to an existing condition: namely, that they were labor for capitalism, that they had very little value as people in this society. By taking on the robotic stance, one is playing with the robot. Its like wearing body armor that identifies you as an alien: if its always on anyway, in some symbolic sense, perhaps you could master the wearing of this guise in order to use it against your interpolation."

Vocoders on Reverb

The idea of anticapitalist body armor appeared not just in electro-boogie's sound but also its costumes. Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force wore flowing lame robes in the Afrofuturist tradition of Sun Ra and Parliament-Funkadelic for the "Planet Rock" video, while Jonzun Crew donned motorcycle helmets and sparkling military jackets for "Pack Jam." These outfits obscured the performers without fully roboticizing them, much as the vocoder did to their voices. If, in the 1980s, white society was content to file Black people away as cheap labor with no further value, Black artists responded by transforming themselves into cyborgs. Shut out from the full sphere of the human, but not content to be machines, either, they employed the vocoder as a mutating tool, an escape hatch from an impossible dichotomy. Bambaataa, Flash, and Jonzun Crew fashioned themselves a third entity, and found a way out.

In the 21st century, following the success of Cher's 1998 single, "Believe," the pitch-correcting software Auto-Tune has largely replaced vocoder as the voice processing method du jour, used to great effect by artists like T-Pain and Charli XCX. One notable holdout from the '90s is Daft Punk, the French duo who siphoned techniques from house and electro-boogie to massive popularity and acclaim. Their robot voices derive from Black American uses of vocoder, in addition to Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder, and like many European mimics they have greatly outsold their influences. Singles like "Technologic" and "Harder Better Faster Stronger" loop vocoded phrases that vaguely gesture toward their capitalist environments through breezy, easily digestible pop structures, largely defanging the modes of resistance that have coursed through much of the vocoder's history.

In the 21st century, following the success of Cher's 1998 single, "Believe," the pitch-correcting software Auto-Tune has largely replaced vocoder as the voice processing method du jour, used to great effect by artists like T-Pain and Charli XCX. One notable holdout from the '90s is Daft Punk, the French duo who siphoned techniques from house and electro-boogie to massive popularity and acclaim. Their robot voices derive from Black American uses of vocoder, in addition to Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder, and like many European mimics they have greatly outsold their influences. Singles like "Technologic" and "Harder Better Faster Stronger" loop vocoded phrases that vaguely gesture toward their capitalist environments through breezy, easily digestible pop structures, largely defanging the modes of resistance that have coursed through much of the vocoder's history.

The chirpy, French-accented vocals of "Harder Better Faster Stronger" were rerouted into hip-hop in 2007, when Kanye West sampled the song on his single "Stronger." If Daft Punk's original track cheerily gargled words that could have been taken from a manual on worker optimization, West's take funneled the same phrases into a biting tale of survival at any cost. The song's video borrows posthuman imagery from the 1988 anime Akira, casting West as Tetsuo, a biologically engineered teenager who has broken out of his captors' control. He replaces the original's busy house beat with a darker and more pummeling drum pattern that lets its hi-hat linger, and raps seethingly over Daft Punk's vocoder. The phrase he loops the most from "Harder Better Faster Stronger" is the one that dips into a startlingly low register on the last two words: "Our work is never over." Taken into West's hands, the phrase bleeds menace. It's no longer merely a description of capitalism and the place of the human being within it, a source of eternal labor. Instead, it rings defiantly, the cyborg voice clanging against a cyborg beat, seeking escape and beginning the long, hard task of building the world to come.

About the author: Sasha Geffen is the author of Glitter Up the Dark: How Pop Music Broke the Binary, out now from the University of Texas Press. Their writing also appears in Rolling Stone, Artforum, The Nation, Pitchfork, and elsewhere. They live in Colorado.

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The Vocoder's Cyborg Flights in Electronic Music and Hip-Hop - Reverb News

Article Posthuman cyborg love? The adaptation of the human body into machine-based offers in the sexual domain submitted, ..to be published…

I have just submitted my article Posthuman cyborg love? The adaptation of the human body into machine-based offers in the sexual domain which is going to be published (in German:Posthumane Cyborgliebe? Die Anpassung des menschlichen Krpers an maschinelle Angebote im sexuellen Bereich) in: Bendel, Oliver (ed.): Maschinenliebe. Liebespuppen und Sexroboter aus technischer, psychologischer und philosophischer Perspektive. Springer Verlag.

Posthuman cyborg love? The adaptation of the human body into machine-based offers in the sexual domain (Melike ahinol)Abstract

In this article, human-machine relationship of the specific kind, namely that of cyborg love/sex, is discussed from a sociological perspective. The main focus is to show how the human body adapts into machine-based offers in the sexual domain. The focus is on technically mediated and transmitted practice of love with teledildonic machines. Therefore, the questions are relevant whether the respective adaptation is a symbiotic relationship between human and machine and whether or when the relationship can be called cyborg love. For even if this still seems futuristic, the wide range and further development of love- or sexuality-related offers reveals posthumanist tendencies that seem to pull the ground away from the romantic love on which the concept of the nuclear family as the central institution of society is built. In the posthuman age, love, according to the main argument, does not represent a mere social relationship, but a socio-technical one especially when it is a matter of love for and with machines.

Already looking forward to the anthology Machine Love edited by Oliver Bendel!

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Article Posthuman cyborg love? The adaptation of the human body into machine-based offers in the sexual domain submitted, ..to be published...

These Are the Must-See TV Shows Premiering in April – HYPEBEAST

Well, as many already know, there arent any movies premiering in theaters this month. Due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many films have pushed back their release dates some even a full year ahead of schedule. This has led many recently released movies to debut on Digital or VOD early, such as Bad Boys for Life, Sonic the Hedgehog and Birds of Prey.

Although there will be a list of the must-see films on Digital or VOD in the future, there are for now still must-see television shows arriving to streaming services this month as usual on platforms such as Netflix, Disney+, HBO Now and more. Read on for our picks of the best TV shows to arrive on those platforms, with more to come on how you can keep up with the latest movies.

After being imprisoned by the Pykes, Ahsoka Tano and the Martez sisters manage a daring escape of their stronghold. Together they flee through the city to their ship, desperate to evade the Pyke forces in pursuit.

Why its worth your time:This is probably the best series launching from the lackluster slate of new content Disney+ is offering. Whats more, this final season looks to be wrapping up a few loose ends in Ronin Jedi Ahsoka Tano before her live-action debut inThe Mandalorian season 2. If you plan to catch everything thats happening when the show comes back in October (well, if it comes back), youre going to want to know about Anakins former Padawan.

Harley Quinn has taken down the Joker and Gotham City is finally hers for the taking following the huge earthquake caused by the collapse of Jokers tower in season one. Penguin, Bane, Mr. Freeze, The Riddler and Two-Face join forces to form the Injustice League, who now stands in the way of Harley and her crew from taking sole control of Gotham as the top villains of the city.

Why its worth your time:Shazam, Aquaman and Harley Quinn have singlehandedly kept whats left of the DC extended universe afloat. The best ofHarley Quinn may not be her spot-on live-action counterpart in Margot Robbie, but her animated form in this series. It currently hold 86% on Rotten Tomatoes and is heralded as one of the biggest selling points of the entire DC Universe. Its got a lot to say about the superhero industry far more than the big-budget adaptations.

Its 1996, and second-year high school students Haruo Yaguchi, Akira Oono and Koharu Hidaka live their lives as passionately about video games as they did five years ago. Brought together by arcade games, what began as a healthy rivalry and friendship has now turned into something more.

Why its worth your time:The first season took us by surprise. Not only is it a sweet tale full of typical anime charm, but it also pays deep respect to the fighting arcade game scene throughout the 90s. Theyve got a pretty interesting love triangle too that seemed to be ramping up in the season one finale.

Season four sees the return of Insecures core characters, Issa, Molly and Lawrence as they navigate the aftermath of the previous season. We also see some characters grow up a bit more, particularly Tiffany whose new baby changes her friendships.

Why its worth your time:This show has found its niche in its fourth season and remains one of the best long-running series on HBO. Issa Rae continues to put the main focus on the current generation of black women, but also shines a light on the plight of contemporary black men through fan-favorite characters like Lawrence.

Ruby Richardson walks away from her ordinary life in the suburbs to revisit her past with her college boyfriend, Billy Johnson. The two made a pact 17 years earlier: If either one of them texted the word RUN and the other replied with the same, they would drop everything and meet in Grand Central Station and travel across America together.

Why its worth your time:This comedy looks like itll turn into more of a touching dramedy come the season finale. Its also an HBO joint, and the platform has been on fire with its recent releases. Although most of those shows have been limited series, were hoping the streak of excellence continues in their upcoming ongoing shows.

Inspired by Kenya Barris irreverent, highly flawed, unbelievably real-life marriage and approach to parenting, race, and culture, this new show stars Barris himself alongside Rashida Jones.

Why its worth your time:The show boasts that its looking to revamp the traditional family sitcom. Its a bold claim, especially when Barris other show Black-ish looked to achieve a similar goal initially though it fell flat in later seasons. Were hoping the restrains are lifted by partnering with a streaming service this time around, alongside getting more star-studded faces like Jones and several noticeable stars of color make cameos throughout the trailer above. Fingers crossed.

A space caster traverses trippy worlds inside his universe simulator, exploring existential questions about life, death and everything in between.

Why its worth your time:We all have our favorite reccurringJoe Rogan Experience guests, and one of ours is this shows creator Duncan Trussell. If the series is anywhere near as psychedelic as his appearances on JRE or even his own podcast, then were sure The Midnight Gospel will be a hit among its April 20 demographic. Well be tuning in.

The series takes place in the year 2045 following Stand Alone Complex and after an event called Synchronized Global Default has provoked an economic disaster in the world. AI technology has now become so advanced that its sparked a conflict called the Sustainable War and a new dangerous posthuman species.

Why its worth your time:Okay we know anime fans are sick of Netflix using CG animation in every single product they deliver. But this isGhost in the Shell, they got Kenji Kamiyama and Shinji Aramaki to direct. Motoko Kusanagi and Public Security Section 9 are back. But we dont think Yoko Kanno is returning to give us another stellar opening intro, sorry guys.

The limited drama series unfolds around a shocking crime that rocks a small Massachusetts town and one family in particular, forcing an assistant district attorney to choose between his sworn duty to uphold justice and his unconditional love for his son.

Why its worth your time:The series marks Chris Evans first leading role post-Marveland reveals one of Apple TV+s biggest scores in terms of star power. Evans now joins Hollywood heavy-hitters likeStephen Speilberg and Tom Hankswho have signed on to produce upcoming content for the platform.

After a grisly murder, Detective Tiago Vegan and his partner, Lewis Michener, become embroiled in an investigation that reflects the history of Los Angeles.

Why its worth your time:We are suckers for good stories about the Devil, and this season is set to portray a conflict between those who worship the Santa Muerte and Satan himself. The season is set 40 years after the original series, during the Golden Age of Hollywood and will explore LA, but also the deep traditions of Mexican-American folklore. It all sounds intriguing, and Game of Thrones alum Natalie Dormer looks electric in the trailer. We just hope the series is able to handle this many nuanced themes.

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These Are the Must-See TV Shows Premiering in April - HYPEBEAST

The Atmospheric Indie Exploration Title In Other Waters Has Been Released! – Happy Gamer

Indie games make the world go around, especially nowadays with everyone being forced to spend so much time indoors. Indie games are typically cheaper, but their quality is no lower than non-independent games, making them a perpetually great choice. Of course, you also have the legendary indie releases, likeUndertale.

The latest indie game to be released in search of reaching that acclaim just hit stores across multiple platforms. Players that want to dive into the waters of another world can playIn Other Waters on Nintendo Switch or Steam.

In Other Waters is a unique title where you explore the oceans of an extraterrestrial planet without ever seeing them. Rather than playing as the explorer, you play as the explorers AI in their suit. Helping navigate for xenobiologist Ellery Vas, youll scan the environment to keep her up to date on any incoming threats or changes as you explore the planet together.

If youve heard ofIn Other Waters before, its likely from the accolades the indie title has acquired. Back in 2019, the title became an awardee at the Indie Cade International Festival of Independent Games, and gaming journalism outlet Rock, Paper, Shotgun also gave it their Bestest Bests award recently. Both titles applaud the unique gameplay and entrancing nature of the game as great draws.

Guide Ellery and keep her safe as you dive deeper and explore an underwater alien landscape, The description reads. The planets unique life, and its dark history, are yours to uncover and the bond between you and Ellery will be tested by the secrets you learn.

Players wont just be passively scanning. You take the role of the AI within her malfunctioning dive suit, but you arent some pre-programmed force for all good. As the story continues through a shifting narrative, youll discuss your discoveries with Ellery Vas as she tries to decide whether she can trust you to do the job she needs to do. Building your relationship with the xenobiologist is absolutely vital to the game.

Through this shifting narrative,In Other Watersasks questions about the nature of natural and artificial life, and investigates what it means to be a human in an epoch of extreme environmental destruction.

As the title states, for life to continue, it must change.In Other Waters is a fantastically posthuman romp that makes up for its lack of graphical spark with an intriguing story, strategic gameplay, and addicting progression.

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The Atmospheric Indie Exploration Title In Other Waters Has Been Released! - Happy Gamer

Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu – Locus Online

The Hidden Girl and Other Stories, Ken Liu (Saga 978-1-9821-3403-7, $26.00, 432pp, hc) February 2020.

In his introduction to The Hidden Girl and Other Stories, Ken Lius much-anticipated second collection, Liu tells us that selecting the stories was easier, since he no longer felt the pressure to present, but rather decided to stick with stories that most pleased myself. In fact, more than half of the 18 stories (plus an excerpt from the forthcoming third volume of his Dandelion Dynasty novels) are old enough that they might have been included in The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories back in 2016; the oldest date to 2011. This is one reason that second or third story collections are often more revealing than first collections; rather than showing us this is what I can do, they show this is what Im interested in. In no sense do any of the stories here feel like leftovers from that first collection, although a couple seem a bit fragmentary, like the Borgesian parable Cutting in which a group of monks annually cut out more words from their holy book as offerings to the gods, a kind of clever inversion of Clarkes The Nine Billion Names of God. What most of the stories reveal, however, is what Liu seems to be thinking about the past few years and a few clear themes emerge. One, which isnt too surprising given Lius background in computers, is the notion of the digital singularity, the now-familiar SF trope of uploading consciousness. But if that suggests the hard-SF side of Lius imagination, what emerges as an abiding concern of his humanist side is even more interesting: the problems, pitfalls, and rewards of child-parent relationships, which figure in fully half the stories here, as they did in his most celebrated story, The Paper Menagerie. Those same relationships often reveal a third theme: balancing dual identities, such as a British-educated student returning to his Chinese family in Hong Kong, or a parent who is also a distributed web intelligence, or a child learning to be a parent to a mother suffer ing dementia.

Perhaps not surprisingly, these themes converge in a number of stories, which together form a kind of meta-narrative of the singularity, which Liu treats as a mass migration into cyberspace. Lius singularity has some draconian rules: in order to upload, the living brain has to be scanned, but the procedure leaves the brain a bloody, pulpy mess. In other words, and not unlike in many religious beliefs, the geek rapture (to borrow a term already masticated into baby bird food) only works if your body dies, or at least your brain. In Lius more or less consistent chronology, one of the first to undergo such a procedure is a brilliant computer scientist in The Gods Will Not Be Chained, one of three connected stories originally published in John Joseph Adams & Hugh Howies Apocalypse Triptych anthologies. The narrator of the story is his daughter Maddie, who discovers a mysterious web presence speaking entirely in emojis that helps her deal with online bullying. The story maintains a fine balance between the account of a grieving and unhappy girl coming to terms with her parents and the cyber-thriller of what really happened to her father and why. The immediate sequel, The Gods Will Not be Slain, retains Maddies appealing narrative voice but moves into Colossus/Terminator territory as her dad battles against other uploaded consciousnesses, or gods, who have concluded that helping humanity destroy itself by taking control of weapons systems would be a dandy payback. By the third installment, The Gods Have Not Died in Vain, Maddies home life is more focused on dealing with her overworked mom, but now she meets a virtual sister she names Mist a native of the uploaded world, created by her father and the two of them form a bond even as Mist raises the argument that a post-scarcity paradise can be achieved only as people are willing to give up their physical bodies to enter the now rapidly growing cybercommunity. None of these arguments are particularly original with Liu, nor is the assumption that gender identities and family relationships will somehow persist in a nonbiological environment, but the sympathetic focus on Maddie, as she comes to terms with radical changes in her life and future, keeps the tale from turning into programmatic spec-fic.

By the time of Staying Behind, the rapture term left behind is invoked to describe those who resist uploading, even as the physical world grows depopulated and increasingly primitive and violent. The parents here cynically refer to the uploaded as the dead and have convinced their kids that the singularity is a false promise, but when the mother begins dying from a long illness, the desperate father has her uploaded against her fervent wishes, leaving the children to face a dilemma when the mother emails them that I was wrong and claims the digital world leaves her ecstatic another loaded quasi-religious term. Still later, in Altogether Elsewhere, Vast Herds of Reindeer (interestingly, a title taken from the same Auden poem that gave us Catherynne Valentes Silently and Very Fast), most kids are virtual-world natives, living in multidimensional constructs. The mother of the narrator, one of the few remaining ancients who lived part of her life in flesh, worries that humanity has turned inward and become complacent, as she tries to persuade her daughter to join her in exploring the physical universe by having herself beamed to a robot sent to a distant planet. The timescale shifts more radically in Seven Birthdays, a kind of formal experiment in which Liu forces himself into ever more remote futures by the simple trick of having each of the birthdays a multiple by seven of the previous one so that it begins with the young-girl narrators seventh birthday, then jumps to 49, to 343, and so on until were well past a million years in the future. Its the sort of device used before in stories like Jonathan Lethems Five Fucks or Sean Williamss All the Wrong Places, but as usual Liu casts it as a family drama: the overworked mom nearly misses Mias seventh birthday, and by the time Mia turns 49, she herself is so busy working on the problem of scanning brains that the roles are reversed, with the now elderly mother suffering from dementia. By her 343rd birthday, the focus shifts to Mias relations with her own daughter, both now living in virtuality. The parental problems move to the background a bit in subsequent jumps into deep time, but the tale ends with a somewhat contrived but nonetheless moving full-circle conclusion.

Family dynamics arent confined to Lius singularity tales, however. Other familiar SF tropes are also invoked in service of exploring parent/child relations. A mother given only two years to live realizes that the time dilation of repeated space journeys will enable her to see her daughter grow up and even grow old in the brief but elegant Memories of My Mother, while an enigmatic alien structure on a distant planet brings together an alienated father and daughter in The Message, a story which in many ways inverts and critiques Godwins The Cold Equations, though its nearly as front-loaded as that chestnut. One of the most complex and provocative tales is the lead story, Ghost Days, in which an ancient Chinese spade-shaped bubi coin passes from a British-educated Chinese student in 1905 Hong Kong who is facing cultural tensions with his father, to a Chinese-American student confronting racism in Reagan-era Connecticut, and finally to a genetically engineered posthuman student on a remote planet in the 24th century. Each is confronted with the conundrum of living in two worlds, symbolized by the bubi, and Lius ingeniously layered structure only adds to the resonance between the different time frames. The question of dual identity is made even more explicit in the one story involving aliens, The Reborn, depicting a problematical kind of symbiosis that in some ways reflects the debate over embodiment vs. uploading in those other stories.

As should be evident by now, Liu is fond of narrative packets tales whose segments jump forward or backward in time or shift viewpointscovering thousands of millennia in the case of Seven Birthdays and this can be equally effective when the time frames are more intimate as in Maxwells Demon. The collections most direct indictment of racism, it describes the fate of a young Japanese American physicist interned at the Tule Lake concentration camp in 1943, first classified as a no-no girl, then sent as a scientific spy to Japan. Because of her apparent affinity with spirits, she finds herself attached to a paranormal research unit which assigns her to train the spirits to act as a literal Maxwells demon in order to create a superweapon. Despite its odd mix of supernaturalism and classic physics, the storys bitterly ironic ending, which moves forward to 1945, is powerful. Equally powerful, but in a very different and disturbing way, is Thoughts and Prayers, which shifts among the viewpoints of family members of a young woman killed in a mass shooting, as they helplessly watch internet trolls cruelly manipulate images from her memorial video into porn videos. The memorial video itself is produced using algorithms which feature much more prominently in Real Artists, a rather slight satirical piece about the film industrys growing obsession with audience research.

As those last two stories suggest, an abiding concern of Lius is how technologies that are already with us may be used or misused in the near future. Byzantine Empathy is not only the most provocative story Ive read concerning the possible uses of blockchain technology, but one of the clearest explanations of blockchain itself (not surprising that it originally appeared in the MIT anthology Twelve Tomorrows). After opening with a genuinely disturbing VR scene of Myanmar refugees being brutalized by soldiers, though, it develops into what amounts to a policy debate between two former college roommates over the relative benefits of a new VR-based blockchain called Empathium which radically decentralizes fundraising for worthy causes compared to more traditional charity organizations. (The title comes from a parable about Byzantine generals needing secure communications lines.) Despite the sympathetic portraits of its two main characters, the story cant help but turn into a fairly abstruse debate about resource allocation. By contrast, Lius treatment of another hot-button issue, global warming, is given the unwieldy title Dispatches from the Cradle: The Hermit Forty-Eight Hours in the Sea of Massachusetts and is set in a more distant 27th century, when (somewhat as in Kim Stanley Robinsons 2312) terraforming efforts are underway to make Earth once again habitable. Much of the action is set in a sunken Boston, hauntingly evoked in a way which recalls Robinsons Venice Drowned.

Given Lius success with his epic Dandelion Dynasty fantasy novels, its interesting that only three of the selections here approach fantasy, and one of those is a brief preview of The Veiled Throne, the forthcoming third volume in that series (which is fun, but Ill refrain from commenting until the novel shows up). Each of the two other fantasy tales seems ready to open up into broader narratives. The title story, The Hidden Girl, is set in Tang Dynasty China, where a young girl is abducted by a bhikkhuni, or Buddhist nun, who trains her as an acrobatically skilled assassin. But on her first assignment, her encounter with the targeted warlord and his son causes her to re-evaluate her training, placing her at odds with her sister assassins and setting her on her own course to protect the innocent and guard the timid. Its basically a superhero origin story, and its not surprising that Hollywood optioned it a few years ago. Grey Rabbit, Crimson Mare, Coal Leopard, the only story original to the collection, also concludes with a suggestion of further adventures. In a repressive sort of steampunk dystopia, Ava works as a miner sifting through the middens of an ancient technological civilization destroyed by an apocalyptic Plague. One of the few avenues for the repressed miners to gain social status is to partake of Revelation wine, a magical potion which allowed its drinkers to reshape their body into a second form, a form that displayed their latent talents and hidden abilities. Avas transformation simply turns her into a rabbit. Those rabbit skills prove useful in unexpected ways as she rescues a mare (the revealed shape of another woman) and the two of them join forces with a poacher who takes the form of the coal leopard. With the three women learning how their individual powers can work together, the story seems to set the stage for an epic revolution yet to come. Perhaps this sort of adventure which, as we know from the Dandelion Dynasty, Liu can write with the best of them liberates him from the conscientiousness and tech-savvy explanations that sometimes clog the movement of his SF tales, even while deepening their power. Lius fantasies may be more freewheeling than his SF, but The Hidden Girl and Other Stories leaves us wanting a lot more of both.

Gary K. Wolfe is Emeritus Professor of Humanities at Roosevelt University and a reviewer for Locus magazine since 1991. His reviews have been collected in Soundings (BSFA Award 2006; Hugo nominee), Bearings (Hugo nominee 2011), and Sightings (2011), and his Evaporating Genres: Essays on Fantastic Literature (Wesleyan) received the Locus Award in 2012. Earlier books include The Known and the Unknown: The Iconography of Science Fiction (Eaton Award, 1981), Harlan Ellison: The Edge of Forever (with Ellen Weil, 2002), and David Lindsay (1982). For the Library of America, he edited American Science Fiction: Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s in 2012, with a similar set for the 1960s forthcoming. He has received the Pilgrim Award from the Science Fiction Research Association, the Distinguished Scholarship Award from the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts, and a Special World Fantasy Award for criticism. His 24-lecture series How Great Science Fiction Works appeared from The Great Courses in 2016. He has received six Hugo nominations, two for his reviews collections and four for The Coode Street Podcast, which he has co-hosted with Jonathan Strahan for more than 300 episodes. He lives in Chicago.

This review and more like it in the February 2020 issue of Locus.

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu - Locus Online