Consider the Retronomicon

Retronomicon [/ˌɹɛkɹəˈnɑmɪkən/]. Noun. 1. Any nonexistent media artifact that serves as the imagined or imputed retroactive source for a field of meaning or sense (e.g., a genre, a mode of aesthetic production, or a school of thought). 2. Hyperstition. A network site of increased hyperstitional activity or productivity that operates more effectively by not existing.… Continue Reading Consider the Retronomicon

Ligotti epherema: “The Blonde” from Theoretical Detective (1982)

Here’s an interesting piece of Ligotti ephemera, for which I’ve been searching for many years. It’s a sonnet Ligotti published in a very obscure 1982 speculative detective fiction fanzine called Theoretical Detective (edited by Tine Said). My interest in the material relates to a long-term fascination with Ligotti, on the one hand, and with philosophical… Continue Reading Ligotti epherema: “The Blonde” from Theoretical Detective (1982)

Gray sky thinking

The standard assumption about the future is that it will resemble the past. Often, we adopt the standard assumption because it is a useful heuristic in everyday life. In the context of contemporary risk assessment, however, maintaining the standard assumption is blue sky thinking at best and ruinous at worst. Contemporary trends, historical precedent, and… Continue Reading Gray sky thinking

Astronoetic pessimism and the posthuman: Prometheus and Alien: Covenant as philosophy

Introduction Refer to part one (“Introducing astronoetic cinema”) for the necessary context in which I discuss these two films. In preface, I will note that the critical and popular reception of both films isn’t particularly positive. In part, this is because both suffer from some issues of casting and pacing. However, both films also speak… Continue Reading Astronoetic pessimism and the posthuman: Prometheus and Alien: Covenant as philosophy

Introducing astronoetic cinema

Astronautics and astronoetics Philosopher Hans Blumenberg’s posthumously published Die Vollzähligkeit der Sterne (1997, The Fullness of the Stars) introduces a novel distinction. On the one hand, there is “astronautics,” referring both to the pursuit of knowledge of the human by extending its purview to the extraterrestrial and to technical applications of that knowledge in the… Continue Reading Introducing astronoetic cinema

Notes on digital personae (1)

We need to get over the fantasy that the complex, temporally distended symbolic performances we call “online identities” really have anything much to do with personal identity at all. A digital persona is structurally analogous to the commodity form insofar as both are fungible media of transaction. Engaging in communication or symbolic action online involves… Continue Reading Notes on digital personae (1)

The roots of creative darkness

(A shorter version of this post can be found at the DePaul University Institute for Nature and Culture‘s website, Environmental Critique. Thanks to Dr. Christine Skolnik for the invitation to contribute.) Introduction At first glance, the three figures under discussion – Algernon Blackwood, Marion Milner, and Friedrich Schelling – seem to form a rather unlikely… Continue Reading The roots of creative darkness

“Metaphysical Boredom in the Empire of Desire”: Prime Intellect and posthistoire

Roger Williams’s novella The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect (1994) isn’t a narrative primarily concerned with technology, but, rather, with the end of history. This is generally true of singularitarian science-fiction (SSF). Consider, for example, the degree to which Iain M. Banks’s novels Player of Games (1988) and Use of Weapons (1990) address, respectively, the fundamental… Continue Reading “Metaphysical Boredom in the Empire of Desire”: Prime Intellect and posthistoire

RoboCop is Amelia Bedelia

RoboCop (1987) is the Good Soldier Švejk – or, better yet, as a colleague suggested to me, he’s Amelia Bedelia. Both Amelia and Švejk misunderstand the instructions they receive from authorities in such a way that they’ve understood too much – ostensibly without understanding anything at all. In other words, both Amelia and Švejk hear… Continue Reading RoboCop is Amelia Bedelia