Just about finished with You Are Not A Gadget, and it continues to provoke, though there are some whopping gaps in Lanier’s various and sundry arguments, like blaming the current fashion for “retro,” mashups, and the like on the way software is written; I see the connection, but it’s pretty tenuous, and ignores all the other factors that make so much of popular culture so godawful boring, like the influence (and distributive constraints) of corporate culture, which is something that Lanier valorizes other places, claiming that the open source community could never produce an iPhone. Well, duh, but is an iPhone really revolutionary? And if so, then what does that say about our expectations for revolution? Anyhow… one thing this book has helped me think more about is mind/body dualism, as I spent around 10 years explaining to myself that the philosophical separation of mind and body was artificial, a Judeo-Christian boo-boo that Descartes helped persist into the 20th century; that mind was nothing more than an expression of body, a function of brain chemicals interacting with external stimuli. I had begun to realize, prior to reading You Are Not A Gadget, that the stories I had been telling myself about mind/body dualism were in fact a reaction to evils done in the name of dualism: the mortification and denigration of the body and of loved experience (in favor of some future state of spiritual bliss). The idea that a soul floats down (up?) into the shells of our bodies still strikes me as absurd, but there remains, despite the efforts of neuroscientists and AI researchers and the like, something decidedly ineffable in how we move from neuronal activity to thought. There is still a ghost in the machine, and yes the data keeps piling up about what brain cluster lights up when this happens or what chemicals are triggered when that occurs, but the data could be as large as the universe and we still will not have explained human consciousness, perhaps because we are asking the wrong questions, using the wrong languages… but it makes me happy, the idea that I’ve been thinking in the wrong direction for 10 years or so; it makes me happy because now I get to think a different way about the problem, which is in itself a pleasing sensation, but moreso because acknowledging that that nature of our time in these bodies is largely a mystery is somehow delightful, and even liberating.
241) Ultra-Lounge, V6: Rhapsodia
I never went head-over-heels for the lounge revival of the 90’s, maybe because I already listened to a lot of this stuff already: Julie London is so nice when you are hungover… so, not sure where I got this CD, but it’s a very serviceable mix, though I could do without the Muzzy Marcellino.
242) Housemartins: The Best of the Housemartins
Up Hull! Such an odd voice, Pual Heaton, instantly distinguishable. I never knew Fatboy Slim was in the band for a while…
243) Split Enz: True Colors
Makes sense this would follow the Housemartins; was I looking for nasally singers from more obscure parts of the British Empire at some point? (Hull and New Zealand). Not my favorite Split Enz, but I am a fan, and “Shark Attack” is pretty great, and of course “I Got You.”
244) Jurassic 5: Power In Numbers
If there wasn’t so much godawful hip-hop coming out in the mid-90’s and early 00’s, Jurassic 5 would not have gotten so much hype, methinks. They are a fine hip-hop collective, but very uneven (a good editor sure would help), both musically and lyrically. Still worth owning to throw into a shuffle…
245) Wu Tang Clan: Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
Wu Tang’s version of “I Am Curious, Yellow.” Alright, it’s great. Still makes me think of Kool Keith “Why are you looking hard with a hood on and Timberland boots, / staring at me for one hour – / – when you could walk up and shake my hand? Why? /Why are you making those mean faces in your videos with the fish lens effects? Why?.”