The Art of Solitude

Solitude? In this time of endless noise? Here’s an article on the importance of solitude.

“If [Blaise] Pascal’s observation about our inability to sit quietly in a room by ourselves is true of the human condition in general, then the issue has certainly been augmented by an order of magnitude due to the options available today.”

“Everything that has done so much to connect us has simultaneously isolated us. We are so busy being distracted that we are forgetting to tend to ourselves, which is consequently making us feel more and more alone.”

The most important skill nobody taught you

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‘Hit and Miss’ Modern Gene Editing! Crispr edit could be ‘off-target!’

Frankenstein 1818 edition title page.jpgNothing sets off my Modern Prometheus alarms as the most recent interest in gene editing, particularly in that little bit of Crispr that seems to find its way into biological gene forms. Just like Victor Frankenstein creating his creature from dead body parts in Mary Shelley’s novel from 1818, we now have scientists in China working to find the way to ‘edit’ genes like the ones that they suspect cause cancer. Sound like fun? It didn’t turn out so well for Victor, and without actually understanding what’s happening with genetic ‘disorders,’ is it such a good idea to shoot in the dark?

“Modern gene editing is quite precise but it is not perfect. The procedure can be a bit hit and miss, reaching some cells but not others. Even when Crispr gets where it is needed, the edits can differ from cell to cell … Another common problem happens when edits are made at the wrong place in the genome. [oops!] There can be hundreds of these “off-target” edits that can be dangerous if they disrupt healthy genes or crucial regulatory DNA.”

But it’s already happening, right?

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A bit of micro-cutting to get those genes back into tip-top shape! Victor Frankenstein eat your heart out. Boris may be closer than you think!

Gene editing – and what it really means to rewrite the code of life

 

If life were only like this… Marshall McLuhan in Annie Hall

Related imageImage result for marshall mcluhan booksAccording to The Independent:

Marshall McLuhan might have been one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century. But he was one of its most terrible actors.

As well as being famous for his theories, many of which are known by catchy phrases like ‘the medium is the message, Professor McLuhan was also a guest star in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall.

Marshall McLuhan: Remembering the philosopher’s bizarre, unplanned Annie Hall appearance

Here are a few quotable gems from the McLuhan archive:

“We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.”

This is a good one to think about when you’re texting your friend while walking across a crowded crosswalk in an intersection.

Image result for Marshall McLuhan“Art is anything you can get away with.”

The latest David Lynch resurrection of Twin Peaks 25 years later, for example. Or most stuff in art galleries.

“The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village.”

Yes, he was the one who came up with the idea of the ‘global village.’ Hello Internet.

“All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values.”

Image result for marshall mcluhan books

 

Morton on Humanity: The Anthropocene

A dried-up reservoir bed in South Korea.It’s a long read on The Guardian, but definitely worth it.

Timothy Morton wants humanity to give up some of its core beliefs, from the fantasy that we can control the planet to the notion that we are ‘above’ other beings. His ideas might sound weird, but they’re catching on.

‘A reckoning for our species’: the philosopher prophet of the Anthropocene

 

 

Europe in crisis? Despite everything, its citizens have never had it so good – Natalie Nougayrède

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The EU’s achievements are huge. As Brexit begins, don’t forget that hundreds of millions still want to be part of it.

Europe in crisis? Despite everything, its citizens have never had it so good – Natalie Nougayrède

The Brave New World is more Huxley’s than Orwellian

The ascent of the latest U.S. president has proved Neil Postman’s argument in Amusing Ourselves to Death was right. In a very readable article in The Guardian, Andrew Postman (Neil Postman’s son), gives his take on the similarities of our current reality to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World rather than George Orwell’s 1984. Basically, it’s not about Big Brother watching you, but people chasing entertainment, no matter how infuriatingly ridiculous or ‘fake’ it might be.

As Postman writes:

Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture..Image result for amusing ourselves to death

Where will we go from here? Postman argues:

Who can be appalled when the coin of the realm in public discourse is not experience, thoughtfulness or diplomacy but the ability to amuse – no matter how maddening or revolting the amusement?

My dad predicted Trump in 1985 – By Andrew Postman 

 

Imagining a better future: More’s ‘Utopia’

 

Murat Cem Menguc’s essay on Hyperallergic is worth reading as it brings attention to More’s ‘Utopia.’

“First published in the early winter of 1516, Utopia eventually became one of the most widely read and thought-about texts of the Western world. ”

Why We Still Need Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’ in 2016