Words I stumble upon that make me (think).

The Nature of Fun by David Foster Wallace (excerpt)



The best metaphor I know of for being a fiction writer is in Don DeLillo’s “Mao II,” where he describes a book-in-progress as a kind of hideously damaged infant that follows the writer around, forever crawling after the writer (dragging itself across the floor of restaurants where the writer’s trying to eat, appearing at the foot of the bed first thing in the morning, etc.), hideously defective, hydrocephalic and noseless and flipper-armed and incontinent and retarded and dribbling cerebo-spinal fluid out of its mouth as it mewls and blurbles and cries out to the writer, wanting love, wanting the very thing its hideousness guarantees it’ll get: the writer’s complete attention.

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We already filter experience through software — Facebook and Google offer us views of the world that we can manipulate, but which also, in turn, manipulate us. The embodied language of websites, apps and networks writes itself into us.
- Vikram Chandra: Geek Sublime [Review by James Gleick]
Manchmal, in lauen Sommernächten, breitete er irgendwo auf einer frisch gemähten Wiese eine Decke aus, legte sich auf den Rücken und blickte zum Sternenhimmel hinauf. Dann dachte er an seine Zukunft, die sich so unendlich weit vor ihm ausbreitete, gerade weil er nichts von ihr erwartete. Und manchmal, wenn er lange genug so dalag, hatte er das Gefühl, die Erde unter seinem Rücken würde sich ganz sachte heben und senken, und in diesen Momenten wusste er, dass die Berge atmeten.
- Robert Seethaler: Ein ganzes Leben. Hanser Berlin, 2014, Seite 30f.
Je suis là pour recueillir des documents, les diffuser et éventuellement les provoquer.

Happy opit, Foucault

A Liberal Decalogue
Perhaps the essence of the Liberal outlook could be summed up in a new decalogue, not intended to replace the old one but only to supplement it. The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:
1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.
- Bertrand Russel
Originally appeared in the December 16, 1951, issue of The New York Times Magazine, at the end of the article “The best answer to fanaticism: Liberalism.” Also in The Autobiography of Bertrand Russel: 1944-1969.
Some of the surveillance was ostensibly devoted to terrorism suspects. But great quantities of the programs manifestly had nothing to do with national security. The documents left no doubt that the NSA was equally involved in economic espionage, diplomatic spying, and suspicionless surveillance aimed at entire populations.
Taken in its entirety, the Snowden archive led to an ultimately simple conclusion: the US government had built a system that has as its goal the complete elimination of electronic privacy worldwide. Far from hyperbole, that is the literal, explicitly stated aim of the surveillance state: to collect, store, monitor, and analyze all electronic communication by all people around the globe. The agency is devoted to one overarching mission: to prevent the slightest piece of electronic communication from evading its systemic grasp.
- Glenn Greenwald: No Place to Hide. New York: Metropolitan Books [2014], p. 94
'It's now 5:00 p.m., which was the deadline I gave you. Of we don't publish immediately — in the next thirty minutes, thee I hereby terminate my contract with the Guardian.' I almost hit 'send,' and then reconsidered.
- Glenn Greenwald: No Place to Hide. New York: Metropolitan Books, p. 69.
[And what a crucial reconsideration that was.]
Digitalisierung heißt drittens, dass wir es mit einem neuen Überschusssinn der Kommunikation zu tun bekommen (Niklas Luhmann), der jenseits dessen liegt, woran wir uns in den Medien der Sprache, der Schrift, des Buchdrucks und der symbolisch generalisierten Kommunikationsmedien (Macht, Geld, Liebe, Wahrheit, Recht, Glauben, Kunst) bereits gewöhnt haben, ohne es deswegen auch bereits begriffen zu haben. Die Struktur unserer Gesellschaft beruht nicht mehr nur auf den Möglichkeiten des Redens (Referenzüberschuss), des Schreibens (Symbolüberschuss) und des Buchdrucks (Kritiküberschuss), sondern auch auf den Möglichkeiten der elektronischen Rechner (Kontrollüberschuss). Wir müssen uns eine Kultur zurechtlegen, die nicht mehr nur kontrolliert, was wir hören und sagen, aufschreiben und lesen, verbreiten und rezipieren, sondern auch kontrolliert, welche Art von Daten zu welchen unserer Praktiken alltäglicher und beruflicher Art Zugang erhält. Genügten dafür bisher und zuweilen mehr schlecht als recht Religion und Moral, Teleologie und Kosmologie, Vernunft und Aufklärung, so benötigen wir jetzt zusätzlich ein Wissen um Formen, Spiele und Systeme.
The shock of this initial period [after the first revelations] will provide the support needed to build a more equal internet, but this will not work to the advantage of the average person unless science outpaces law. By understanding the mechanisms through which our privacy is violated, we can win here. We can guarantee for all people equal protection against unreasonable search through universal laws, but only if the technical community is willing to face the threat and commit to implementing over-engineered solutions. In the end, we must enforce a principle whereby the only way the powerful may enjoy privacy is when it is the same kind shared by the ordinary: one enforced by the laws of nature, rather than the policies of man.
- Edward Snowden in his second email to Laura Poitras [Glenn Greenwald: No Place To Hide, p. 13; or http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175843/tomgram%3A_glenn_greenwald,_how_i_met_edward_snowden/]

Once hired, Lee needed to travel to Brazil immediately. First Look has an office in New York City, but Greenwald works from his house located in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro.

Unfortunately, the consulate in San Francisco near where Lee lives didn’t have an open spot for a visa appointment. It would be at least two months before he’d be able to leave for Brazil.

Undeterred, Lee created a smart (and legal) hack — a script that constantly scraped the consulate’s visa calendar to check for cancellations. If it found any, it would text Lee, giving him the opportunity to hop online and book.

In less than 48 hours, he scored an appointment and flew to Rio within days.

We believe that modern technology platforms, such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple, are even more powerful than most people realize. These platforms constitute a true paradigm shift, and what gives them power is their ability to grow – specifically, their speed to scale. Almost nothing, short of a biological virus, can scale as quickly, efficiently or aggressively as these technology platforms and this makes the people who build, control, and use them powerful too.
- Jared Cohen, Eric Schmidt: The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business
In today’s attention economy, reading materials (we call it “content” now) have ceased to be created and disseminated for understanding. Instead, they exist first (and primarily) for mere encounter. This condition doesn’t necessarily signal the degradation of reading; it also arises from the surplus of content we are invited and even expected to read. But it’s a Sisyphean task. We can no longer reasonably hope to read all our emails, let alone our friends’ Facebook updates or tweets or blog posts, let alone the hundreds of daily articles and listicles and quizzes and the like. Longreads may offer stories that are best enjoyed away from your desk, but what good are such moments when the #longreads queue is so full? Like books bought to be shelved, articles are saved for a later that never comes.
- Ian Bogost: Reading to Have Read
Eine Kunst, die nicht fähig ist, ihre Gegenwart zu besiegen, hat jeglichen Sinn verloren.
- Helmut Krausser: Tagebücher, 1. Juli 1994