You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?Dr. Peter Watts is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials, heartbreaking eulogies, and agonizing run-ins with fascists (and fasciitis) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed 2006 novel Blindsight [full text] -- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room, the Philosophical Zombie, Chernoff faces, and the myriad quirks and blind spots that haunt the human mind. But Blindsight's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew/ship/"Firefall" notes, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism (PDF - prev.), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section, tomorrow will see the release of
The life and times of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
After seeing the light of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, it's hard to not notice it everywhere. Han Solo makes the gesture in Star Wars, as Reddit noticed in 2012. Daily Dot writer Miles Klee caught the Spider-Man super villain Mysterio doing it. In 2013, it appeared in a Reddit post that commanded users "lol idk just upvote." "Lol idk" seems like a fairly apt description of the shruggie's meaning, but it also doesn't begin to describe the nihilism that ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ embodies today.
"I don’t particularly care for fantasy per se. What I actually cherish is something far more rare: the elevated prose poetry, mythopoeic subcreation, and thematic richness that only the best fantasy achieves, and that echoes in important particulars the myths and fables of old. This realization eliminates, at a stroke, virtually everything written under the banner of fantasy today."
Time to play The Game. A Flash Monday tour of the absurd.
The Wire is dissent; it argues that our systems are no longer viable for the greater good of the most, that America is no longer operating as a utilitarian and democratic experiment. An already-quite-good discussion about The Wire, originating in Mark Bowden's Atlantic article ('The Angriest Man in Television') and continuing through Mark Bowden's post on the show's nihilistic bleakness gets even more interesting on Matt Yglesias's blog, where the creator of the show stops by to give his opinion on what it's all supposed to mean.
"Bloggers are nihilists because they are 'good for nothing'. They post into Nirvana and have turned their futility into a productive force." "Blogging, the nihilist impulse," based on a lecture by Geert Lovink.
Crispin Sartwell is a cryptic and sensational man. The Chair of Humanities and Sciences at the Maryland Institute College of Art, he has translated the Tao Te Ching, published philosophy papers and books, maintained pages on hip hop, founded the American Nihilist Party (and gave a speech to young Democrats urging them to reconsider their votes for John Kerry), taught courses on conjuring and illusion, etc. etc. See also his essay on the pagan cult of mathematics and his thought experiment on music.
Cheer Down With Cioran, The Big Daddy Of Miserable Bastards: Grab some instant cynical nihilism from the E.M.Cioran Random Generator! Is it any wonder the late, great aphorist is so unpopular in academe? Meanwhile, in Spike Magazine, Stephen Mitchelmore is the latest in a long series of critics to try and spread the old master's noble rot.