Sunday, April 22, 2018

On Nature

She eludes us on every side; she repudiates most of our rules, and breaks our standards to pieces. On our right she sinks far beneath the level of our thoughts, on our left she towers mountain-high above them. She appears to be constantly blundering, no less in the world of her first experiments than in that of her last, of man. There she invests with her sanction the instincts of the obscure mass, the unconscious injustice of the multitude, the defeat of intelligence and virtue, the uninspired morality which urges on the great wave of the race, though manifestly inferior to the morality that could be conceived or desired by the minds composing the small and clearer wave that ascends the other. And yet, can such a mind be wrong if it ask itself the whole truth - moral truths, therefore, as well as non-moral - had not better be sought in this chaos than in itself, where these truths would seem comparatively clear and precise?

The man who feels thus will never attempt to deny the reason or virtue of his ideal, hallowed by so many heroes and sages; but there are times when he will whisper to himself that this ideal, perhaps, has been formed at too great a distance from the enormous mass whose diverse beauty it would fain represent. He has hitherto legitimately feared that the attempt to adapt his morality to that of Nature would risk the destruction of what was her masterpiece. But today he understands her a little better; and from some of her replies, which, though still vague, reveal an unexpected breadth, he has been enabled to seize a glimpse of a plan and an intellect vaster than could be conceived by his unaided imagination; wherefore he has grown less afraid, nor feels any longer the same imperious need of the refuge his own special virtue and reason afford him. He concludes that what is so great could surely teach nothing that would tend to lessen itself. He wonders whether the moment may not have arrived for submitting to a more judicious examination of his convictions, his principles, and his dreams.

Once more, he has not the slightest desire to abandon his human ideal. That even which at first diverts him from this ideal teaches him to return to it. It were impossible for Nature to give ill advice to a man who declines to include, in the great scheme he is endeavoring to grasp, and declines to regard as sufficiently lofty to be definitive, any truth that is not at least as lofty as the truth he himself desires. Nothing shifts its place in his life save only to rise with him; and he knows he is rising when he finds himself drawing near to his ancient image of good. But all things transform themselves more freely in his thoughts; and, in his passionate contemplation, he may with impunity probe so far as to value the most cruel, most immoral contradictions of life as highly as its virtues; for he has the presentiment that valley after valley will lead him to the tableland of his dreams. Nor will this love, this contemplation, hinder him, while seeking conviction, from directing his conduct by the most humanly beautiful truth, and clinging to the one that provisionally seems to be highest, even though his researches lead him to the very reverse of what he loves. All that may add to beneficent virtue enters his heart at once; all that would tend to lessen it remaining there in suspense, like insoluble salts that change not till the hour for decisive experiment. He may accept an inferior truth, but before he will act in accordance therewith he will wait, if need be for centuries, until he perceive the connection this truth must possess with truths so infinite as to include and surpass all others.

In a word, he divides the moral from the intellectual order, admitting in the former that only which is greater and more beautiful than was there before. And blameworthy as it may be to separate the two orders in cases, only too frequent in life, where we suffer our conduct to be inferior to our thoughts, where, seeing the good, we follow the worse; to see the worse and follow the better, to raise our actions high over our idea, must ever be reasonable and salutary; for human experience renders it daily more clear that the highest thought we can attain will long be inferior still to the mysterious truth we seek. Moreover, should nothing of what goes before be true, a reason more simple and more familiar would counsel him not yet to abandon his human ideal. For the more strength he accords to the laws which would seem to set egoism, injustice, and cruelty as examples for men to follow, the more strength does he at the same time confer on the others that ordain generosity, justice, and pity; and these last laws are found to contain something as profoundly natural as the first the moment he begins to equalise, or allot more methodically, the share he attributes to the universe and to himself.

Maeterlinck, The Life of the Bee, Part 5, Chapter 5

Saturday, February 11, 2017

One Human Minute

The quantity of anthropological data discovered by scientists now exceeds any individual's ability to assimilate it. The division of labor, including intellectual labor, begun thirty thousand years ago in the Paleolithic, has become an irreversible phenomenon, and there is nothing that can be done about it. Like it or not, we have placed our destiny in the hands of the experts. A politician is, after all, a kind of expert, if self-styled. Even the fact that competent experts must serve under politicians of mediocre intelligence and little foresight is a problem that we are stuck with, because the experts themselves cannot agree on any major world issue. A logocracy of quarreling experts might be no better than the rule of the mediocrities to which we are subject. The declining intellectual quality of political leadership is the result of the growing complexity of the world. Since no one, be he endowed with the highest wisdom, can grasp it in its entirety, it is those who are least bothered by this who strive for power.
— Lem, One Human Minute, 1986

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


So after letting it languish for quite a while Google's finally announced that Reader is going away. Then I read this passage in Robert Anton Wilson's The New Inquisition (1986):
For instance, most of us are annoyed frequently by the daily newspaper. "News" or alleged news that we don't want to read gets printed; heathenish and heretical opinions appear on the letters page, and sometimes in the columnists; politicians (of the opposite camp, of course) tell the most outrageous lies, which also get printed. With modern computer technology, all of this can soon be avoided. Just fill out a simple questionnaire and mail it in. The computer will print a slightly different version of that day's paper for each reader, and your Personalized copy will come to you in the morning containing absolutely nothing but what you want to know. After a year, or maybe five years, you will have forgotten entirely all the "alien" and uncomfortable signals that once got through to you and caused you distress.
A lot to think about.

Friday, February 08, 2013

The Ethics of Liberty

Couple years ago someone left a stack of free books in the lobby of my apartment building - looked like a poli-sci student lightening the load. I nabbed a copy of Rothbard's "The Ethics of Liberty," originally published in 1982. This bit stuck out:
It is important to insist, however, that the threat of aggression be palpable, immediate, and direct; in short, that it be embodied in the initiation of an overt act. Any remote or indirect criterion - any "risk" or "threat" - is simply an excuse for invasive action by the supposed "defender" against the alleged "threat." [...] Once we bring in "threats" to person and property that are vague and future - i.e., are not overt and immediate - then all manner of tyranny becomes excusable. The only way to guard against such despotism is to keep the criterion of perceived invasion clear and immediate and overt.
Gosh, wonder what he would've thought about post-9/11 American politics.

As I read through the book I run into a lot of notions and arguments that would need re-thinking in light of new technologies. The libertarian strain that runs through Extropianism begins to make more sense and I have a feeling that if I were to dig deep into the extropian mailing lists I'd find this book referenced right alongside Nozick's "Anarchy, State, and Utopia."

Friday, January 11, 2013

SXSW Picks, 2005 - 2012

So the fine folks at have posted torrents of all the SXSW acts from 2005 through 2012. Late last year I downloaded 'em all and gave 'em a listen. Here are my picks:


  • Back Porch Vipers - When I get Low I Get High
  • The Chris Vestre Group - Dead Ant
  • dios malos - starting five
  • Dogs Die in Hot Cars - I love you cause I have to
  • Dub Trio - Drive By Dub
  • Gretchen Phillips - Swimming
  • Parlour - Over the Under
  • Red Sparowes - Alone and Unaware, The Landscape
  • Samadha - Anonyme


  • Band Marino - Someday We Die
  • Cardinale - Untitled
  • Charanga Cakewalk - Belleza
  • Christopher O'Riley - Paranoid Android
  • The Drift - Invisible Cities
  • Duane Andrews - Caravan
  • Ephraim Owens Quintet - Mo Mo Ci
  • Fires Were Shot - subslumber
  • Garland Jeffreys - I May Not Be Your Kind
  • Hopewell - Synthetic Symphony
  • Katahdin's Edge - Zoeie
  • Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch
  • Magic Surprise - Indians Ride Barebackk
  • Maserati - Towers Were Wires
  • Nomo - Discontinued
  • Of Montreal - Wraith Pinned to the Mist and...
  • Pilotdrift - Bubblecraft
  • Poni Hoax - Budapest


  • Awesome Cool Dudes - Dorm Room Disco Fantasty
  • Balkan Beat Box - Bulgarian Chicks
  • Dionysos - Tes Lacets sont des Fees
  • Electric Apricot feat. Les Claypool - Burning Man
  • The Electric Soft Parade - If That's the Case, Then I Don't Know
  • Elias Haslanger - Street Beat
  • Errors - Mr. Milk
  • Field Music - Sit Tight
  • The Jack West & Lalo Vibe - Closer to the Sky
  • Jessica Fichot - Le Genier
  • Low Line Caller - its like i think were about to leave
  • Maneja Beto - Entrudo
  • Muddy World - IRON ANT
  • Pawa Up First - Detour
  • The Procession - Major and Minor
  • Sunwrae - Catch Me If You Can
  • This Will Destroy You - I Believe In Your Victory
  • Toubab Krewe - Devil Woman
  • Turbonegro - All My Friends Are Dead
  • Ume - Hurricane
  • Upground - Oye Chica
  • White Christian Romance - Waste


  • Anamanaguchi - Power Supply
  • Bedroom Walls - No Wedding Cake
  • Bitter:sweet - Dirty Laundry
  • Black Moth Super Rainbow - sup lips
  • Blaggards - Drunken Sailor
  • Capitol K - Drum St. Song
  • Chiwoniso - Kurima
  • Citay - First Fantasy
  • Clare & The Reasons - Pluto
  • Collections of Colonies of Bees - Flocks III
  • Firewater - This Is My Life
  • Grand Analog - Around This Town
  • Greg Harris Vibe Quintet - Flank Fuzz
  • Grimy Styles - Smoking on Deck
  • Grupo Fantasma - Mentiras
  • HEAVy - SAM/SAM's Return
  • Jim Bianco - I Got a Thing for You
  • Joan of Arc - Fleshy Jeffrey
  • Kush & Jah Bloodfiyah Angels - Thick Smoke
  • Laura Barrett - Robot Ponies
  • Marcia Ball - Louella
  • Mission to the Sea - Sugar and the Queen Master
  • O'Death - Down to Rest
  • Paul Metzger - Bright Red Stone
  • Pedro Menendez Ensemble - Kolndombe
  • Pierre Aderne - Mina do Condominio
  • Sabaton - Primo Victproa
  • Shri - Mela
  • Spiral Beach - Made of Stone
  • Torngat - You Could Be
  • 17 Hippies - Wann war das?


  • Alex Smoke - A Moment to Myself
  • Arms and Sleepers - Butterflycatcher
  • Bigelf - Money, It's Pure Evil
  • Bishi - Never Seen Your Face
  • David Kirton - Green Camouflage
  • Dosh - If you Want To, You Have To
  • Easy Star All-Stars - Karma Police
  • Elastic Band - A Little Bit Of Lovin'
  • Fool's Gold - Surprise Hotel
  • Grimy Styles - Sound Czech
  • Hot Club of Cowtown - Deed I do
  • Jim Bianco - I Got a Thing For You
  • ManooghiHi - Om Baba
  • Marco Benevento Trio - Atari
  • MC Frontalot - Diseases of Yore
  • My Education - Sluts and Maniacs
  • Surinder Sandhu Band - The River
  • Wave Machines - I Go I Go I Go
  • Yppah - Gumball Machine Weekend


  • Anime Winds - Entracte
  • Balmorhea - Bowsprit
  • Beats Antique - Beauty Beats
  • Boom Pam - Surfing Tuba
  • Cosmo Jarvis - She's Got You
  • Gadarene - The Beast
  • Hauschka - Schones Madchen
  • Jazzus Lizard - Seasick
  • Margaret Cho - Eat Shit and Die
  • My Education - Oars
  • Natalia Mallo - Coracao em po
  • Omodaka - Kyoteizinc (video mix)
  • :papercutz - A secret search.
  • Tone (DC) - Confidence and Progress
  • Two Star Symphony - Goblin Attack!
  • White Ghost Shivers - Everyone's Got 'Em
  • Zona Tango - Quejas de un Bandoneonista


  • The Appleseed Cast - As the Little Things Go
  • Beats Antique - Junktion
  • Bikini - American Mourning
  • Boats - Chrome Eyelids
  • The Calm Blue Sea - Literal
  • Chief Boima - Baobab Connect
  • Constantina - Azul Marinho
  • Dam Mantle - A Statue that is Perpetually Unveiled
  • Depressed Buttons - Ow!
  • The Devil Whale - Barracudas
  • Distal - Typewriter Tune
  • Fared Shafinury & Tehranosaurus - Matarsak
  • J Rabbit - Ninja Step
  • Jim Bianco - Sinner
  • Joel Laviolette and Rattletree Electric - Going To The City
  • MC Frontalot - First World Problems
  • The Melovskys - KING OF THE BOOMBOX
  • Mexicans with Guns - Me Gusto
  • Michael Lowenstern - Trip
  • Midnight Magic - Beam Me Up
  • Pedro Menendez Fusion Ensemble - Candombe de la Pava
  • REVOLVER - Get Around Town
  • Sonodaband - Soul River 2010
  • SPOEK MATHAMBO - Mshini Wam
  • Starkey - Robot Hands
  • Threefifty Duo
  • Tune-Yards - Hatari
  • Wires Under Tension - Electricity Turns Them On
  • YTCracker - the link
  • 1001 Nights Orchestra - Miserlu


  • Aiana String Quartet - String Quartet in F Major - Vif et agite
  • Alabama Shakes - Hold On
  • Anenon - Shifts
  • Astro - Ciervos
  • BeatauCue - Kiho
  • Ben Caplan & The Casual Smokers - Beautiful
  • Ben von Wildenhaus - The Limping Axeman
  • Botany - Waterparker
  • Bright Moments - Travelers
  • Carlton Pridae & Mighty Zion - Roots Alive (Live 1-1-10)
  • Chief Boima - Talking Drum
  • Constantina - Pequenas Embacacoes
  • Daedelus (feat. Inara George) - Penny Loafers
  • Dillon Francis and Diplo - Que, Que (Torro Torro Remix)
  • Dubtronic KRU - Sunshine Girl
  • Grupo Ancestros - Patacore
  • J. Pinder - Never No
  • Jonti - Hornets Nest
  • Kyle Rapps - Love, Love (feat. KRS-One & Homeboy Sandman)
  • Maya Azucena - The Half
  • MC Frontalot - Stoop Sale
  • Mr. Pauer - Cumbion Del Sur (ft. Itagui)
  • Muchachito Bombo Infierno - SIEMPRE QUE QUIERA
  • Nadastorm - i!!
  • Natives - Where the Land Meets the Water
  • Neil Blumofe - Devil Woman
  • Outernational - Fighting Song (Future Rock Mix)
  • Rattletree Marimba - Chikende
  • Son of Kick - Playing the Villain
  • Talkdemonic - Revival

Sunday, June 03, 2012


I've resumed art posts over at since most of my source material comes from the tumblr ecosystem anyway and it's easier. Eventually will move to a Yaki installation which will pull from various sources of my content from across the web. Until then, cheers. :)