Because for all his modernity, for all his cubist narratives and symbolist imagery, Mr. Dylan has never had any time for the 20th century’s cult of the id. Whatever else he may be doing as an artist, he’s adamant that he isn’t expressing himself. “The songs are the star of the show,” the Los Angeles Times’ Robert Hilburn quotes him as saying, “not me.” Yes, but he wrote them didn’t he? Not necessarily. “It’s like a ghost is writing a song,” he said of what is probably still his most iconic work, “Like a Rolling Stone.” “It gives you the song and it goes away. You don’t know what it means.” Only at the level of craftsmanship is he willing to discuss writing: “I’m not thinking about what I want to say,” he told Mr. Hilburn. “I’m just thinking ‘Is this OK for the meter?’“ Little wonder Mr. Dylan admits to loving “Don’t Fence Me In” and what he calls Cole Porter’s “fearless” rhyming.
more from The NY Observer here.
“The world’s biggest ever nuclear fusion reactor is about to begin construction in the hills of Provence. But with persistent doubts over fusion’s capacity to generate energy efficiently and a raft of engineering conundrums, is this really money well spent?”
Fred Pearce in Prospect Magazine:
They call themselves “fusion gypsies”—scientists who have travelled the world, moving from one nuclear reactor to the next, living the dream that some day, somewhere, they can re-create the reactions that take place in the heart of the stars to generate huge amounts of cheap, clean electricity for the world.
Their goal is nuclear power, but not as we know it. This is fusion and not fission. Fission involves mining, processing and irradiating vast amounts of uranium, and leaving behind an even larger legacy of radioactive waste with half-lives stretching into the next ice age. Whereas, say the fusion gypsies, a small vanload of fuel supplied to a fusion power station could supply the electricity needs of a city of 1m people for a year, and leave behind only paltry amounts of radioactive waste that will decay to nothing within a century.
Consider what are sometimes cited as seminal events in the early history of bioethics: the Doctors’ Trial at Nuremberg, the Shana Alexander article in Life magazine ‘Who Should Decide?’ or the publication of the first edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves [by the Boston Women’s Health Collective]. The first of these in particular is a historical contingency: we are lucky that the Allies won the war and the trial occurred, but it could have been otherwise. Bioethics has roots in the sort of historical contingencies that philosophy abhors. The other two are examples of the type of publications that even today keep the audience for bioethics considerably more egalitarian than just academics. Just as the public declared that ‘Ethics Committees’ should not play God and decide who lives and who dies, and women proclaimed that male gynecologists should not be allowed to make decisions for women concerning their own bodies, bioethics became a field of its own when it was removed from the academic realm of philosophers and joined the practical world of medicine, law, and public policy.
more from Philosophy Now here.
Rail: One of the most challenging aspects about your work is its independence of the pictorial concern or pictorial language. Particularly in your site-specific works, they reveal no single, immediately perceivable image. They are anti-optical while insisting upon the fundamental adherences to structural process in relation to the effective treatment of materials, phenomenological reception through the bodily senses, which has to do with apperceptions of weight and mass, scale and plane, and most importantly site and context where spatial response is matter-of-fact.
Serra: There are certain conditions that are a given and that you can rely on. In sculpture gravity is undeniable. Sculptural form must necessarily confront gravity. I am interested in process and matter, in construction, in how to open up the field. The problem for me is to address within a work circulation or movement that is outside of all representation; that is to make movement itself the subject which generates or constitutes the work. My development has been up to this point fairly logical and sequential. But it’s crucial for me to pay attention to how the work develops and maintain a critical and fresh dialogue with what it is that I’m doing and what I’m intending to do, and then try, if I can, to make the most radical breaks each time out, however, it doesn’t always happen that way.
more from The Brooklyn Rail here.
3quarks pal Tom Bissell tears Robert Kaplan a new one at the Virginia quarterly Review.
Kaplan is worse than a bad writer or thinker. He is a dangerous writer made ever more dangerous by the fact that he is taken seriously. Even his most hostile reviews have treated him as though his arguments are still within the pale. His worldview is, in many ways, that of the current administration, and shared by many Americans. These are people for whom the wider world means only acrimony to be dismissed and obstacles to be knocked over. People who care not for “exquisite subtleties” when it comes to matters of force and occupation. People who do not think in human terms, except insofar as those terms reflect their own beliefs, which are supremely correct. People, in short, who had no use for people, except as cannon fodder—lives whose passing they dutifully mourn on their side and gleefully celebrate on the others. “Kaplan is America’s Kipling,” reads one of Imperial Grunts’s blurbs. This is to slander Kipling, who nevertheless did write one Kaplanesque sentence: “All the people like us are We, / And every one else is They.”
Paola Cavalieri in Logos:
The history of what we call moral progress can for the most part be seen as the history of the substitution of hierarchical visions with presumptions in favor of equality. The recent irruption into the social scene of the animal question is part of this ongoing process–a process that is usually characterized by a direct challenge to the cultural status quo. In fact, in the last few decades, nonhuman animals have been the center of a lively philosophical debate, and many voices have been raised against our current treatment of the members of species other than our own. We routinely use nonhuman animals as mere commodities–we kill them for food, we use them in work and entertainment, we employ them as tools for research of all kinds. In short, we treat them in ways in which we would deem it profoundly unethical to treat human beings. Is this position morally defensible? And, if so, on which grounds? Since behind the present divergence in standards lies a deep-rooted philosophical tradition aiming at the exclusion of nonhuman beings from the protected sphere of ethics, it may be worth considering briefly how we got where we are.
Richard Black at the BBC:
A global switch to efficient lighting systems would trim the world’s electricity bill by nearly one-tenth.
That is the conclusion of a study from the International Energy Agency (IEA), which it says is the first global survey of lighting uses and costs.
The carbon dioxide emissions saved by such a switch would, it concludes, dwarf cuts so far achieved by adopting wind and solar power.
Robert Andrews in Wired News:
Some DJs spin vinyl or twiddle fader knobs. Others write subroutines in C++.
A new brand of music maestro is turning programming into performance, eschewing turntables for a compiler and a mind for syntax structure. “Livecoding” practitioners improvise using Perl or homemade programming architectures to build compositions from the ground up, replacing instruments and samples with raw code authoring before a live audience.
Alex Maclean, a U.K. livecoder and art student, said he traded in his guitar when he found he could be more creative with code than with strings. He touch-types using Perl at raves and dance clubs, creating a unique visual and musical experience. Sessions with drummers, MCs and other livecoders can be reminiscent of traditional free-jazz improvisation.
Marek Kohn reviews Broken Genius: the rise and fall of William Shockley, creator of the electronic age by Joel N Shurkin, in the New Statesman:
William Shockley left two extraordinary legacies to posterity. One is the transistor, which is to the electronic world what cells are to the living one. The other is an archive based on the principle that nothing may be thrown away and everything must be filed. In the course of his investigations – which involved the cracking of two safes – Joel Shurkin found a note to General Foods about a Jello recipe, a wooden splinter that had destroyed one of the boy Shockley’s dimples, and a suicide note. He did not, however, find any redeeming features. We can now be confident that William Shockley really was as detestable as he always appeared.
Shockley snatched opprobrium from the jaws of glory. In 1956 he shared the Nobel Prize for Physics for his role in the development of the transistor; in subsequent decades he became notorious for promoting the idea that black people were innately less intelligent than whites. He attempted to capitalise on his scientific success by launching an electronics company, but alienated his senior staff to the extent that they mutinied, dispersing to find fortunes under other banners. Although he thus has a claim to be the founder of Silicon Valley, it’s a legacy that mocks him.
From The Observer:
It is not easy to get to Imran Khan. I meet his political agent at the 1970s government buildings in Islamabad where he has an airless basement office. We hail a cab and point it in the direction of the hills outside the city, the lowest foothills of the distant Himalayas. The tarmac soon ends and the gradient gets much steeper. There is a bridge over a dried-up gorge, where the river has been dammed further upstream. Young men and boys are laying water pipes beside the rough dirt road in the hundred-degree late afternoon heat. The road gets more precipitous still and our driver gets out to pour a bottle of mineral water over his engine. Eventually at the ridge of a hill with a view across the city with its minarets and half-finished housing projects we reach a set of unlikely electronic gates.
Imran bought these 35 acres four years ago and has built his house in the middle of them. The original plan was to move in here with his family – wife Jemima and their two boys – but as it has turned out he lives up here alone. He waves me through a cool courtyard and into a simply furnished sitting room, with big wooden doors open to the hills. He then sits on a sofa, wearing his sunglasses, and sends texts on three mobile phones, struggling for a signal. He does not speak for five or 10 minutes.
More here. (Thanks to Bibi).
When this diary was published in Russia two years ago, it was immediately, and inevitably, compared with the diary of Anne Frank. It is a very articulate record by an adolescent girl, living in an ever more threatening totalitarian environment, of her fears and frustrations, and it mingles the emotional pains of a girl going through puberty with the anguish of a trapped animal feeling the hunters getting nearer. For a girl of thirteen years old, in a society where there was no information but official propaganda and market rumour, Nina was remarkably well informed and perspicacious: she reports the famine and cannibalism that took the lives of millions of peasants in 1933, when not just the Moscow press but Moscow’s inhabitants were genuinely unaware of the disaster happening five hundred miles to the south. Andrew Bromfield speculates that she may have had access to underground Menshevik or Social Revolutionary literature, but this seems unlikely in the 1930s when all dissidence had been suppressed. Nina’s perspicacity is one of the most mysterious elements in her diary.
more from Literary Review here.