As I write this it’s 2:30 am, and there is a bird outside my house singing every variation in his tiny little brain, as loudly as possible, because the sodium vapor lamp next to the tree makes him believe the sun is out. His song echoes off the buildings on the empty street, making him think he’s getting a reply, whatever he’s expressing coming right back at him from another bird who never seems to move or say anything original. Poor bastard doesn’t even know how potent of a metaphor he is.
Today is a pretty fragmentary offering. I’ve just yesterday given a talk at Odd Salon about Athanasius Kircher. Long time (relative terms here) readers will remember that back in September of last year I did a bit on Father Kircher. I am pleased to announce that despite my most well intended hubris and laziness I actually could not lift more than a few paragraphs from that for my talk and had to essentially rewrite the whole thing, which, given my assumptions about how I could rely on aforementioned hubris and laziness, was a tad more stressful than I thought it would be.
I’ve been mostly working on the novel, of course. 53k in and suddenly it turned into a different novel. Which is unsurprising, really. I’m fighting between my desire to just finish the novel I thought I was writing and my desire to rewrite it into the one that I now think I’m writing. Which I also now think is of course far stronger than what I had before, but I also am probably attempting to emulate people whose powers I cannot nearly hope to attain yet and force lighting will come shooting out of my eyes as the raw power overloads my circuits and I’m left scratching worldbuilding exercises into the floor of my cell. Either way, I have a lot of work to do.
If anyone has any thoughts on how to genetically modify ants to be more electrically conductive that would be helpful.
(God what a horrible pun, I’m so sorry. I had to say it once, NEVER AGAIN.)
I’ve had a number of people (well, a small number, but quite vocal) suggest that I should set up a Patreon for my writing stuff. I’m thinking about this, because really why not, but if I do so I want to ensure that I’m actually producing something that people feel is worth money, but which I can produce reliably enough that I can justify asking for said money, while at the same time holding down the Day Job and continuing to have enough bandwidth to work on the novel and other writing.
The models are shifting, and there are some interesting things going on. My associate Wolven is operating in a similar space as I (but with a modicum of academic rigor), just kind of thinking about really interesting stuff, albeit a far better defined subset of stuff. He recently launched a Patreon, which you should (I shill because I care) totally check out. Even if you don’t decide to back him, absolutely go read his piece on social issues in nonhuman personhood, which is required reading for anyone interested in the future of AI. Plus he looks way better than I in a suit-and-mohawk combo, and if you fund both of us we will eventually put together a conference just so we can be in the same room to prove it.
Anyway I bring this up mostly to point out that I’m looking at the way he’s doing this as a possible model for emulation. I’m in a bit of a different place, as, when I am not writing either these meanderings or talks about 17th Century Jesuits or Sex Robots and the Uncanny Valley (search on that page for “weird”), what I’m writing is ostensibly fiction. So it’s less a “research” model and more a “make shit up” model. But I’m thinking some kind of bonus and/or early content, or maybe some kind of system whereby you guys get to demand subjects for me to write about.
Possible models include:
It would mean a lot to me to get any and all feedback you might have on what you would like to see me do here. I don’t have any illusions about quitting my Day Job due to Patreon support (fantasies, yes, but not illusions per se). But I’m in a position where I can to some degree determine how much time I dedicate to the Job, and with your help I could be spending far more of that time throwing weird ideas at people in ways that don’t result in social ostracism or arrest. Or, as we used to say, “Join us now, before we get taken away!”
In Antarctica there is a place called the Russian Polar Cemetery. It’s a blasted pile of rock barely sticking up out of an endless snow plain, eroded into smooth organic shapes by the constant harshness. A few manmade structures, most notably a tall Orthodox cross, cling to it tentatively, as though they could fly away on the wind at any moment. It is the southernmost cemetery in the world. Near the other pole, within the Arctic Circle, is the ghost town of Pustozyorsk. In the 1960s the town, which had been established as part of a now long-dry trade route in the 15th century, lost its last building when the last resident took her log cabin apart and floated it down river to a presumably better place. All other buildings had long ago been burned for firewood, so the only thing that remains of the town is the cemetery, where stone and iron crosses peek out from constantly shifting snow.
Those Russians. They know how to die in lonely places.
Speaking of lonely deaths AIBO robot dogs are being given funerals after Sony stops supporting them.
A set of nodes on a mesh. A scatternet of concepts. Distributed thinking as a way of working around a problem that can only be approached obliquely.
There, wasn’t that fascinating? Don’t you want to tell me all about how I can make it better? You know you want to. Hit me up.
You just read issue #18 of Fractal Interpolation. You can also browse the full archives of this newsletter.