David Bowie - Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime) :: The new Bowie is Miles Davis interpreted via Outside and I like it.
Well, then, a newsletter. And, it so happens, precisely a month after my last one.
I’m sorry I’ve been off comm for so long. I’ll say a bit about why, but nothing is quite as pale and insipid as the blog post that says “sorry I haven’t updated lately!”, and intuitively, I feel much the same about a newsletter, only that same difficult to define force that makes the newsletter appearing in your inbox feel more personal seems to make the apology even more lame. It’s like (well, not like, it literally is) someone writing you a mail just to say “I should write you more often.” I had a friend for a while who hated the phrase “how are you”, because “we should be able to determine that from talking about other, more real topics.” I don’t go that far, but there’s a similar sense of social nicety trying to make up for a lack of signal, and I hate that.
However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t catch you up a little bit on events. A lot of the reason for my radio silence has been Halloween. For any of you who don’t know already, my Job That Actually Pays American Dollars is lighting and production for nightclubs. Due to various social forces, almost everyone who runs your nightclubs (at least in the cities I’ve worked) comes from some variant of the Goth subculture. And Halloween is the time of year when the rest of the world decides that they want to pretend to be like us. So, the entire month around Halloween is basically a blur of parties, and I had to light most of them.
My count this year, for the week of Halloween:
Also I only saw three of the 12 Doctors this year, which I found disappointing.
I’m also a lefty pagan, so Halloween is something of a religious holiday for me as well. I won’t get into the emotional and spiritual complexities of being surrounded by drunk morons on what is for me a holy day, but what I said to a friend was “Imagine if you were a devout Hasidic Jew and once a year all the goyim dressed up in Sexy Dreidel costumes and got wasted.”
Trying to make time for writing around work is one of my biggest issues right now. Or, as I said the other day, “My supposed job keeps getting in the way of my real job.” Aside from that, it’s been a bunch of things going on in my personal life that have no place here. Some distracting health issues, some trying to be supportive for friends in need, some emotional upheaval. A lot of emotional upheaval. But I’m persisting, and I’m still here.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Occult aspects of radio and television. I gave a talk at the California Historical Society for Odd Salon about Philo Farnsworth, the inventor of Electronic Television as we understand it today. Which was fun in and of itself, but there was an oddity that came up while I was working on it. I was reading a biography of Farnsworth, and I got to the bit where he was devastated by the death of his father. I thought “Ah yes. I remember this, this is where Farnsworth becomes obsessed with the notion of Television as a method for contacting the dead.” I was so confident in that memory, I was surprised to not see it mentioned in the next paragraph. Or any other sources I was looking at. Or, with some searching, anywhere else on the internet, either in the context of his history, or fiction written about him.
Apparently, I completely fabricated that memory. If anyone can pinpoint what story I read and have forgotten that this notion came from, I would appreciate it. Otherwise I suppose I will have to write it.
Also, of course, the perpetual favorite, Numbers Stations have been making a comeback. Explorations peripheral to the Farnsworth research led me back to that beloved time sink, and this time I found a bunch of documentation I hadn’t read before, about specific channels and histories, and even this soundcloud which collects esoteric signals of various kinds. And please note that these are time stamped as months ago, not 1989. We tend to think of Numbers Stations as being sort of echoes of the sound of the Berlin Wall but they are very much still a thing, and still largely unexplained. For example: assuming that they are, as popular theory states, transmissions for field agents, why are some of the ones that were presumed to be run by the Eastern Bloc still active?
I of course will shamelessly take this off into realms normally the remit of the supposedly “magical”, so I’ve been thinking about Numbers Stations as transmissions from the Other World. Shamanic signals from the Underworld, the Subconscious of the noosphere trying to gain access to the waking world. Cthonic radio.
This flows nicely into the themes of Dark Ecology, as well as m1k3y’s thoughts about the natural evolution of Amazon’s Drone Service into Augmented Ecology. And then Elon Musk getting nigh-mystical about the (horrible) future of AI. There are these two parallel myths, the one of the Planetary Consciousness in the Gaia Hypothesis sense, the “natural” world being a single conscious entity, the other being that of Machine Intelligence, either in the sense of the increasing interconnectedness of humanity, or of some AI network beyond our ken as being a unitary consciousness. These myths overlap, of course, and I feel like that as we erase borders between what is natural and not, and as we move from systems that are comprehendible by a single person to systems that are too complex to be understood in isolation, this area of overlap gets larger and more fertile.
We should not forget that any mind, whether supposedly natural or not, has a subconscious. There are darknesses underneath every bright notion, areas undefinable by rationality. The global consciousness, whether built of neurons or neural nets, will always have an unconscious. Skynet will still dream. And it might behoove us to have people to map those dreams, in the way Shamanic traditions have mapped the otherworld since when we still thought of it purely in terms of spirit.
I’m about to go out a little farther than usual on an adventure this week. Assuming all goes well, I’ll either be reporting from mysterious territories next week, or possibly just too busy absorbing experiences to put out anything coherent. Either way, here’s to less time between updates in the future.
You just read issue #13 of Fractal Interpolation. You can also browse the full archives of this newsletter.