Sunday, November 30, 2003

The Mars radio show went well.

I received a nice email from a reader in Australia yesterday. He poses a rather pertinent question. In his own words: I can't believe how many books you read. Are reading and drinking coffee the only things you fill your day with???

Actually, that's not all I do (appearances aside). I also spend a great deal of time heating up microwave pasta, doing laundry and hatching ambitious schemes involving extraplanetary colonization and uploading brains into computers. It's a busy life -- downright hectic sometimes.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Chown's "The Universe Next Door" is a great roundup of dispatches from the bleeding edge of theoretical physics. I haven't enjoyed a popular science book this much since Gary Zukav's "The Dancing Wu Li Masters." I confess: quantum cosmology has an interesting narcotic effect on me. I get a cerebral buzz off of it, a sort of Zen lucidity.

I'm doing an Internet radio show in about an hour to discuss the latest Mars weirdness. has flooded me with hits: so many that I've exceeded my monthly data transfer allocation and am now paying extra to keep the site online. I actually wrote to Rense's webmaster to ask that he remove the link to my site from his headlines so I don't wind up paying a fortune. Hopefully, since it's a Saturday night and people are presumably out drinking, eating and shopping, the hits will start trickling off. In the meantime, I'm still getting deluged. It's great to be popular, but I need to be prepared the next time this happens.

It's a zoo outside, a confusion of shoppers and Salvation Army volunteers and horse-drawn carriages. I barely managed to cross the street back to my apartment.
"I'm more interested in news, and the best way to get the news is from objective sources, and the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what is going on with the world."

--George W. Bush, on objectivity in the media (quoted by the Associated Press)

You almost kind of feel sorry for him, don't you?

Friday, November 28, 2003

Damnit, I've already broken my Buy Nothing Day vow -- I caved and bought Marcus Chown's "The Universe Next Door" and dinner at Panera. And a cinnamon latte.

A guy on 47th Street was doing pretty good airbrush paintings of planetary scenes; if I had any spending cash to speak of I might have commissioned one.

I'm now reading "The Holy Land" by Robert Zubrin and "The Invisible Country" by Paul J. McAuley (short-stories).
The Lighting Ceremony really packed them in. There are actually people from out-of-state who flock to the Plaza in trailers and stay overnight to witness the official countdown.

I waited for the crowd to thin while the stage technicians began packing up and made for Barnes & Noble. Closed. The coffee shop was jam-packed, so that was out of the question. I ended up just coming home. I've going to brave the masses tomorrow and, contrary to my principles, probably buy something even though it's Buy Nothing Day. In my culture-jamming playbook, it doesn't count if you purchase something from a local, non-corporate store. (I'm just making this clear so the Karma Police can't throw me in lock-up.)

Thursday, November 27, 2003

W., in all of his patriotic glory, blessed U.S. troops with his presence in Iraq on Thanksgiving Day. It was a spectacular photo-op, but it might come back to haunt him. Iraq's been producing dead American soldiers at a respectable rate for a while now. I'm not a Pentagon strategist, but how intelligent can it be to send Air Force One on a top-secret mission so W. can pose with a baked turkey while wearing an Army jacket?

The admiring talking head covering the "story" made W.'s secret flight to the Gulf sound like the stuff of action movies -- and in W.'s eternally child-like mind, talking it up with a bunch of grunts in fatigues while waiting for his private plane to take him back to civilization probably was action, in the same way that swaggering around an aircraft carrier in a flight suit seemed oh-so-cool.

Here's an unsettling possibility: What if word of Air Force One's abrupt departure had made it to Iraqi Evil-Doers? And what if they had downed the plane with a rocket-propelled grenade, like they do to U.S. military helicopters on a near-daily basis? Let's be generous and assume that W. survived the crash. Can you imagine W. taking on The Enemy under cover of darkness and making it to the nearest U.S. camp, to be greeted with cheers and back-slapping military camaraderie?

Skeptics would pounce. They'd maintain that the "crash" was staged and that the Evil-Doers were actually U.S. soldiers in fake mustaches and phony uniforms following classified orders. Objective: turn W. into a war hero. Of course, there'd be no reason to tell W. Let him think he really took on Iraqi rebels; then maybe he'd be less likely to let the truth slip at his next press conference.

And then there's the inevitable TV movie: "Behind Enemy Lines" (or some such shit), probably starring Don Johnson as Bush. And of course the obligatory American Hero action figure (fully compatible with Flight Suit Bush and accessories) -- just in time for Christmas.
I'll spare you the details, but I'm in a foul mood. Not a "Happy Thanksgiving" mood. More of a "Mind Your Own Damned Business" kind of mood, to be honest. But I'll get over it.

The 28th is Buy Nothing Day. Do you have what it takes?

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Dream: Urban decay. Squalid playground equipment, eruptions of weeds through asphalt, the silent carcass of a lobotomized city. An almost tactile sense of abandonment.

The stage for tomorrow's Plaza Lighting Ceremony is taking form outside my window.

Blogger is giving away one free audio-blogging session to non-subscribers. What should I say?

"An alien nation in therapy, sliding naked and new . . ."

--David Bowie, "Dead Man Walking"
The Plaza lights are on as I type this. Officially they don't come on until the ceremony on Thanksgiving, but if you happen to live close enough -- and keep weird hours -- you can usually catch a preview or two.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Looks like I might have a cameo on the NBC "reality" show "Average Joe." I was reading in the coffeeshop and in walks the show's star with a quick-talking girlfriend (manager?) and a cameraman. I was the only customer at the time. The camera dude swung his machine at me and the friend asked me if I recognized the star, a blonde named Melana. I gave her a thoughtful stare and admitted ignorance.

(I didn't even know there was a show called "Average Joe." I just now Googled it to know what, exactly, I'm dealing with.)

While the group was getting ready to leave, I apologized to Melana: "Don't feel embarrassed that I don't know you. I don't watch TV."

She patted my arm and laughed it off.

Here's what she says about her "type" on the show's website:

"I am usually attracted to the guy who walks in and 'lights up the room,' not by his looks, but by his charm and the way he treats others . . . with a smile. I have been known to become weak for the singer/songwriter/guitar player as well . . ."

Alas, I don't think my presence precisely "lights up the room." If anything, I add a nuance of caffeinated misanthropy. Charm-wise, I'm probably somewhere between Morrissey and Jeff Goldblum. Definitely not television material.

Anyway, watch "Average Joe" and let me know if I'm in it. I'm the guy in the corner wearing rectangular black-framed glasses and a black leather jacket.

Oh, yeah -- the second draft of my book's cover design is in. Needs work, but it's on the right track.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Must-read editorial for today:

"And then, like a surgically enhanced cavalry charge, Michael Jackson blasts to the forefront to rescue the mainstream media from perhaps being required to cover matters of substance."

Sunday, November 23, 2003

So this is what I'm doing: sitting in a too-cold apartment glancing warily at the wintry urban landscape nine floors down and pondering the unread books on my shelves. A plan is forming: I will choose a book I haven't read and go down the street to the coffeeshop and read it.

Coffee or espresso? I can have both, you know. It's called a "Depth Charge" -- a shot of espresso unleashed into a cup of otherwise normal coffee. Side-effects include flickering delusions of self-importance and out-of-body experiences. I stopped drinking Depth Charges when I realized that I could still get my frequent buyer's card punched for normal coffee; I had thought that the card was only good for espresso drinks. Evidently I hadn't read the fine print.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Forth Media presents



(Forth Media) - An all-digital portrait entitled
"MacBot Singularity" will have its first public
viewing this weekend, November 22 & 23, 2003 at
Santana Row in San Jose, California. The artist
is participating in an outdoor arts & entertainment
program, where, in addition to seeing a sample of
this limited edition print, Silicon Valley
residents can purchase one of The Electric Warrior's
"wearable artwork" T-Shirts.

The artist works exclusively with digital formats,
which are output to a variety of print media.
"MacBot Singularity," is a digital portrait of
author Mac Tonnies which has been rendered onto a
large-format canvas and then framed. Advances in
contemporary printer technology produce remarkable
results, and area residents are invited to see how
this modern, computerized art process measures up
against traditional media.

The artist is also offering a series of Internet-
savvy designs for the man & woman "on the street."
Each "wearable artwork" T-Shirt is individually
imprinted by the artist, and then signed.

image: MacBot Singularity painting

directions: Santana Row location

(Santana Row's artists' program is held in an open
air environment in the vicinity of Border's book


"MacBot Singularity" by Kurt Jonach is now
available as a made-to-order, limited edition print,
please inquire.

Kurt Jonach
Forth Media
(408) 893-8580
I'm cleaning up my Mars pages; a lot of the earlier ones are awkwardly written and of little or no interest to anyone except, perhaps, hypothetical Mars website historians.

Robert Zubrin has asked me to review his new book, a science fiction satire of the "War on Terror" (or whatever they're calling it now). It's about time for some post-9-11 satire, if you ask me. Zubrin's been a long-time reader of my Cydonia updates . . . or at least he hasn't asked me to stop sending them. Some scientists in the Mars community haven't been so accommodating.

Friday, November 21, 2003

I got my "Anti-Gravity Hacker" T-shirt today. It features the artwork above, eWarrior's rendering of a Venusian "scoutship" originally photographed by legendary flying saucer contactee George Adamski.

Adamski was an interesting character. His claims sound completely ludicrous, but no one has ever been able to conclusively prove that he was a fraud -- and he gave his critics plenty of photographic ammunition, including film footage of a craft like the one above in the act of "morphing."

To my mind, the ultimate book on Adamski is Colin Bennett's "Looking for Orthon," which captures the essence of Adamski's reported space adventures and meetings with interplanetary hippies with incredible finesse.

My circadian rhythms are shot to hell.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

I finally dined at the new Panera down the street. It's surprisingly spacious. Fortunately it was pretty empty except for a handful of yuppie hipsters with laptop computers and the usual residue of medical students from UMKC.

I scheduled an overdue (and over-priced) haircut this morning. The stylist's name is Mac, or at least he claims it is. There was much generic bonne homie as the rest of the staff clued into the fact that there were two Macs on the premises.

This evening I took in a nature photography gallery, vaguely enjoying the role of thoughtful customer while the manager demonstrated the merits of anti-glare framing and chromatic printing.

Excellent weather, by the way.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Another session with The Cutup Machine

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I'm reading an entertaining space opera called "Evergence: The Prodigal Sun." It's the first in a trilogy. I sort of bought it on a lark. It's definitely a post-"Schismatrix" novel; Bruce Sterling changed everything with that book.

Genre-wise, I'm extremely wary of stories that have anything to do with Asimovian galactic empires (or federations, or whatever). I think the likelihood of a galactic civilization striving for political/cultural coherence is appallingly unlikely.

I really wish I could relate some meaningful and/or interesting anecdote about my day, but I can't. I slept badly -- again -- and resigned myself to methodically eating canned goods, doing laundry and drinking the obligatory coffee (a new blend called -- no kidding -- "The Meaning of Life." Not bad for $1.47).

You know what? I'm really sick of the Midwest. I'm not putting it down; I'm just tired of it. I'd like to find myself suddenly wandering the streets of Cairo or Bangkok or Paris. Tokyo, Prague, Mars -- just give me the ticket and I'm there.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

It rained intermittently all day.

I finished reading "Night" by Elie Wiesel over a double-shot of espresso. Suddenly I was very tired. I browsed at Barnes & Noble for a while -- "Filter" magazine has a good cover story on Michael Stipe. I'm fascinated by his face; everytime I see it I want to pull out a sketchbook.

Last night was largely sleepless. I'm fighting a sense of emptiness that seems to have attached itself to me and inundated my cells. Too often, the people I encounter seem like little more than mass-produced animatronics. Memories seem more substantial -- and certainly more exquisite -- than reality.

Lingering dreams of transit. Solace in anonymity. Circadian ritual. Rain-slicked rooftop parking lots. The universe bursting into fragments. Everything is under control.

Monday, November 17, 2003

I might -- emphasis on might -- take in "Tribulation Christmas" with fellow Kansas City blognaut Jason. Why would I want to go to such a thing? Purely for the humor. I think it would be great if they could work in some overtly political references. And nothing conveys "holiday spirit" like the sight of Jesus himself pulverizing homosexuals and bleeding-heart liberal communist scum with a flaming sword.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

They're not body-bags anymore. They're "transfer tubes."

This is sick. And scary as hell. Someone thought this up. Someone, groping for a "polite" way of dealing with the dozens of corpses returning from a war that's already been labeled "victorious," actually came up with this. I'm guessing it was a he. Maybe some aging warhawk with slate-gray eyes and sagging jowls. Or maybe an up-and-coming defense bureaucrat possessed by a moment of grinning inspiration.

"Soft targets." "Combat fatigue." The modern battlefield is littered with condescending euphemisms designed for a population of armchair savants who can't stand the sight of blood unless it's conjured up by Industrial Light and Magic. The United States has become spineless, ineffectual, and nastily autistic. So we invent a new lexicon to protect us from the stark nightmare reality of mangled bodies arriving en masse from a war that never should have been.

We might as well get it over with. U.S. soldiers should be stripped of their human citizenship and rechristened "organic combat modules." Then we wouldn't feel nearly as bad when the next batch gets splattered all over the desert by a rocket-propelled grenade. And maybe we won't feel that pang of unpatriotic shame when another one of our troops puts a gun to his head or wanders off into the middle of nowhere to die.
The Electric Warrior has launched Forth Media, a new venture that sells, for starters, really cool T-shirts. (My "Anti-Gravity Hacker" XL is in the mail.) Be the envy of every chatroom and BBS and order a "Wired Weirdness" shirt, featuring your favorite angst-ridden transhuman!

Saturday, November 15, 2003

After an inexplicable (but well-deserved) blogging hiatus, Jason is back on the map with some painfully accurate posts on the Iraq mess. I encourage you to check them out.
Plowed through most of "The Cosmic Puppets"; this one is extremely creepy. Dick takes an almost absurdly simple premise -- a guy revisits his home town only to find that the place is utterly alien and that no one remembers him -- and creates a wrenchingly paranoid story out of it. And this was written in the 1950s, before the words "virtual reality" had been uttered and the guys who conceived "The Matrix" hadn't even been born.

I came home from the coffeeshop racked by a headache and ate left-over Vietnamese. I have a mild, senseless crush on one of the baristas. It's so much easier for me to be attracted to women I don't know. And since I really don't know any women, I find myself speculating on a near-constant basis. I realize this portrait isn't flattering; it makes me sound like some skittish, socially impoverished creature living on the margins of human existence -- which isn't true. I'm actually pretty amiable and emotionally articulate. I suppose I'm simply a "work in progress," a postmodern installation piece.

Is it mere coincidence that I'm entranced by simulacra and the idea of the "alien"?

"When the wind turns on the shores lies another day
I cannot ask for more
And when the time bell blows my heart and I have scored a better day
Well nobody made this war of mine

"And the moments that I enjoy
A place of love and mystery
I'll be there anytime."

--Beth Gibbons, "Mysteries"

Friday, November 14, 2003

Finished "Lilith's Dream" last night. Not bad at all. This evening I'll start Philip K. Dick's "The Cosmic Puppets." On the subject of PKD: The good news is that yet another PKD-inspired movie, "Paycheck," will be released next month. The bad news is that Ben Affleck's in it. Read all about it in the current issue of "Wired."

Check out this amazing site. Bruce Sterling plugged it on his blog yesterday. I still have a lot of exploring to do.

"My only mistake is I'm hoping."

--Morrissey, "The Edges Are No Longer Parallel"

Thursday, November 13, 2003

I first read about the mystery of the number 23 in R.A. Wilson's "Cosmic Trigger." If I remember accurately, Wilson first heard of it from William S. Burroughs. The "mystery" -- if that's indeed the word for it -- is this: 23 seems to crop up again and again in cases of apparent synchronicity (i.e., an athlete whose uniform number is 23 scores 23 points on the 23rd of a given month. Or 23 cars wind up in a pile-up on 23rd Street, resulting in exactly 23 deaths. That sort of thing.)

As a reader of UFO books, I've noticed that a large number of sightings take place on the 23rd of their respective months. Maybe this is because I've been sensitized to the "23 mystery," and my subconscious brings candidate incidents to my attention when there's no statistical significance whatsoever. But after finishing Vallee's "Anatomy of a Phenomenon," I really have to wonder. Page after page describes credible sightings on the 23rd . . . one account even describes a UFO descending over a "23 highway" somewhere.

So, is the UFO phenomenon attempting to draw our attention to the number 23 for unknown (and perhaps unknowable) reasons? Or is 23 somehow integral to the UFO experience, as pi is to a circle? Beats me.

Perhaps now that I've introduced you to the "23 mystery," you'll start noticing 23 cropping up everywhere. And maybe you'll be nagged by a simple but maddening question: was the 23 phenomenon always present, unnoticed in your life, or did it somehow "activate" upon my telling you about it?

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Almost finished with Vallee's book and Strieber's "Lilith's Dream." I have quite a backlog of books I want to catch up with: "Exploring the Matrix" (a collection of essays by the likes of Bruce Sterling and John Shirley), "Flesh and Machines," "Natural Born Cyborgs" and Robert Zubrin's "Entering Space" for starters.

There's a ton of fiction I want to read. Shirley's "Crawlers" is out. I also want to try some Mervyn Peake -- the stated primary influence behind Mieville's "Perdido Street Station -- and Paul J. McAuley. I have the British editions of "The Invisible Country" (short-stories) and "Red Dust," a futuristic Martian planet-opera. I tried, unsuccessfully, to find a copy of his novel "Fairyland" a few years ago. With any luck I'll run into it at a used-book store.

This blog is almost a year old. How about that? I've eliminated the book reviews; they're all available on my website and I tend to update them anyway. There's nothing as annoying as "dead media." Maybe now Posthuman Blues reads a bit more like a stream-of-consciousness novel than a literary thesis paper. Blogger only recently added a spell-checker, so some of the older posts may have a disproportionate number of typos. Oh, well. I don't exactly expect anyone to call me on them.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Whitley Strieber's "Lilith's Dream" is unfolding nicely. Strieber is a very skilled suspense writer, and his vampire mythos is agreeably creepy.

Reactions to the first-draft book cover have been mixed. The common denominator among those who don't unconditionally love it seems to be that it's too stark. I tend to think that minimalism is a virtue in graphic design, but I agree that the current design could be spiced up.

"Matrix Revolutions" was thoroughly trashed by the Kansas City Star. To be sure, it was a flawed movie. One mistake was to package it as a single movie. "Reloaded" and "Revolutions" should have been shown as the single long movie that they really are, perhaps with a 20-minute intermission. This wouldn't have masked all of its shortcomings, but at least it would have made the Wachowksi brothers look pioneering and denied the critics some of their ammunition.

What annoys me (even more than the underdeveloped plotlines in the last two movies) is the fact that much of the trilogy's back-story -- an imaginative and plausible war between humans and robots -- is apparently available only in the form of supplementary media like the "Animatrix" DVD, which I have no desire to see. No wonder theater audiences were scratching their heads.

That's it from me on the topic of "The Matrix." Ominously, I don't see any remotely promising new science fiction on the movie horizon.

Monday, November 10, 2003

I just viewed the first draft of the cover for my new book, "After the Martian Apocalypse." It's bold. It's dramatic. I like it.

The only thing I would change is the unprocessed Viking image of the Face. Not only is this the image that publications such as Weekly World News invariably choose to use when addressing the Face, it's also the version most adored by would-be debunkers who claim it's all a trick of light and shadow. They also enjoy claiming --falsely -- that Face "believers" think that one of the black dots (due to data transmission error) is a "nostril." Even Carl Sagan, who should have known better, regurgitated this claim in "The Demon-Haunted World."

The irony is that there actually is a structure resembling an anatomically correct nostril on the Face, but of course not visible at Viking resolution. Debunkers wisely choose not to confront the implications of the relatively minute humanoid features uncovered by new observations.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

The American body-count in Iraq has officially eclipsed that of Bush, Sr.'s Gulf War.

Noam Chomsky has pointed out (as if it really needed to be pointed out) that Bush will seize on another "manufactured threat" to ensure his re-election. I have no idea who the next member of the Axis of Evil will be, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if Saudi Arabia becomes the new menace to "freedom." And although this may sound defeatist and intolerably cynical (not to mention "un-American"), I also wouldn't be at all surprised if we were treated to another 9-11 sometime in the next several months.

On a more hopeful note, I've noticed fewer "God Bless America" bumper-stickers lately. I think the proles are actually -- maybe -- beginning to get sick of being jerked around.

I wonder if W.'s partial birth abortion ban is coincidence. George Carlin: "Republicans want live babies so they can have dead soldiers."

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Most of us think of existence as basically linear: to get to point C from point A, you must first traverse point B. I think it's more likely (and much more fun) to consider that we're recreated moment to moment out of raw information, and that points A, B and C don't exist except in our endlessly reconstituted minds.

Imagine the reels for every movie ever made -- and, more pertinently, every movie never made. Now imagine cutting this infinity of footage into single frames. Thirdly, picture putting every single one of these isolated frames in a blender, chopping them into microscopic oblivion, and stirring them with the aerosolized remains of every other frame.

This endless deluge of celluloid confetti is emptied into space, where it forms a randomized nebula, a pixelated collage of all possible "sequences." Now suppose we want to view a "movie" of someone's life (knowing full well that sequentiality is a cognitive construct with no objective validity). We shine a laser through the glittering mist of would-have-been films, thus isolating a single "sequence" of particulated states. If we keep doing this, we'll quickly find that most of our laser-lit "sequences" don't make any sense. After all, they're composed of completely random bits of data (ultimately at the level of simple "yeses" and "nos", or -- if you're into computer metaphors -- ones and zeroes).

But since we're dealing with an infinity of this "powdered reality," we also recognize that some of the laser beams are illuminating coherent "storylines." They might break up and dissolve at some point, but the endless quantity of possibilities waiting to be realized ensures that they will resume at some point. In this sense, a given observer's "reality" is an elaborate, self-maintaining juxtaposition. Random patterns (read: "sequences") in our hypothetical embryonic cloud are able to link up with similar, equally random, patterns -- very much like a crystal impregnating a vial of solution with its own molecular structure. A sort of binary Darwinism takes hold. Meaningful "sequences" thrive; the rest is just existential static.

Time needn't be relevant in the cosmic screening room. Whether a particular pattern emerged in the past or future is irrelevant. Information from the "past" and "future" (mere cognitive constructs) freely integrate. This is a realm without spatial or temporal boundaries. It's something like the "implicate order" suggested by physicist David Bohm. The "explicate order," of course, is the intricate sensory illusion that we inhabit. Or think we do.

The ever-changing patterns in the protean cloud dictate the nature of whatever universe happens to be illuminated by our imaginary laser. Since our perceived reality is constantly modeled by the myriad ones and zeroes in the timeless cloud, we find ourselves diced into informational slivers. From this perspective, "continuity" is meaningless. The "I" writing this sentence could be hundreds of billions of "I"s removed from the one that wrote the last sentence. More disturbingly, "I" might not have existed at all until right . . . now.

The newly formed "I" happens to have "memories" of composing this essay, but memories, like everything else, are simply advantageous fluctuations in the filmic cloud, subject to constant revision. And since I'm ostensibly a component in day-to-day reality, it's inevitable that the randomly constructed parameters that define my world -- all of it, from my living room to the coffeeshop down the street to the structure of galaxies -- is every bit as flimsy and malleable. Reincarnation is quite real. It's happening all the time -- invisibly.

Several months ago I was in an automobile crash. My memories contain the adrenalized moment of impact, the literally breathless aftermath as I pondered the crushed metal and broken glass, and a trip to a hospital inside an ambulance. It would appear I survived, albeit bruised and aching. But who am I to tell the story of what "really" happened? Perhaps the arc of my life, as defined by the fluctuating patterns (and bits of would-be pattern) in the cosmic screening room bifurcated shortly before I collided with the other car. In one variation I came to a bloody end. In yet another there was never an accident at all.

I pick the crash incident not because of any intrinsic importance -- at the most fundamental level, the blind dance of possibilities doesn't care if I live or die -- but because it illustrates how flawlessly one or two frames can be altered (or randomly inserted or deleted) to potentially catastrophic effect in the observable world. So long as a pattern remains intact -- and it will, since it has infinite space and time to organize itself -- so will some permutation of "I."

Which begs the question: What happens when someone dies? It's possible that informational death is impossible and that the person who "dies" in the "explicate order" is expediently recycled, living his or her life again and again in a state of total amnesia. Or maybe something like my crash incident applies and that observers who die -- in the directly perceivable world -- are shuffled into a future in which they "miraculously" survive their own crashes (or cancer treatments or heart transplants).

There's nothing concrete or absolute about our so-called universe. It is an alluring, insidiously clever simulation. The Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum physics implies that the universe is constant "branching" into parallel, exclusive states. A better term, in light of the scenario described above, might be "flowing."


For a fictional excursion into similar territory, I recommend Greg Egan's "Permutation City," which examines the existential status of electronic copies of the human nervous system.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Bruce Sterling's new blog is up and running. I can't think of another writer more equipped for this medium.

Ebe is back home, drastically weakened. I'm not supposed to feed her until tomorrow. Anyway, I have an unspoken rule here: I don't discuss pets. I suspect there are thousands of blogs dedicated to the merits of cats, dogs, ferrets, etc. and I think we'll both get along much better if Posthuman Blues isn't one of them.

Don't you?

For more of the usual posthuman fare, see the next post . . .
I dropped Ebe off at the vet's for some unsolicited gynecology. She really didn't want to go; she knows what that pat taxi means. I pick her up this evening.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Some thoughts on "The Matrix Revolutions"

This is the sort of movie that DVD was invented for; it elicits the urge to jump back and forth between various scenes so you're sure you're on the right wavelength. With that disclaimer aside, I liked this movie. It's a much more coherent adventure than the second installment. This time around, the hand-to-hand action scenes are quick and effective -- not the distended pageants of the first two (however much superficial fun they might have provided).

"Revolutions" features some of the best art direction and visual effects yet, including a convincingly sinister glimpse of one of the sprawling, AI-dominated cities. Viewers may be surprised to find that Keanu Reeves' Neo is almost a minor character, with the bulk of the plot centered around the subterranean city of Zion, which is under siege by tentacled cybernetic vermin.

With Zion's inhabitants in the throes of a Giger-esque fever-dream, the philosophical threads that surfaced in "Reloaded" become part of the narrative background. This is probably a good thing; one of the perils of a movie like this is existential overkill. In "Reloaded," the storyline jumped helter-skelter from metaphysics to car chases to kung-fu brawls and back again at a seizure-inducing speed that utterly prohibited getting to know any of the characters, let alone caring about their plight. "Revolutions" remedies this somewhat.

We discover that Agent Smith, in an orgy of digital cloning, now threatens the continued existence of the Matrix; hence, he poses a threat to the malign AI that constructed the Matrix in the first place to keep its human livestock placated. This is the movie's most promising premise. It's also its most perplexing. ("Wait -- hand me that remote . . .") Even though his appearances are few and far between, Smith is the rightful star of "Revolutions". Hugo Weaving exudes a mechanically child-like wrath that captures the exponentiating insanity of his world; if a computer virus could speak, I imagine it would sound something like Weaving at the film's climax, when Smith faces up to his own unheeding autism.

"Revolutions" is replete with cool camera work, a few rewarding eyeball kicks (i.e., a subway billboard advertises "Tasty Wheat," the product that inspired a memorable philosophical monologue in the first film) and at least one new idea: that informational goods can be illegally trafficked within the Matrix's pragmatic boundaries, provided you have the right connections.

The ending is ambiguous (what did you expect?) and possibly a shade too sunny for a trilogy that's repeatedly taken its visual cues from the grit and shadows of "Blade Runner" and "Neuromancer." Regardless, "Revolutions" left me with a desire to see the latter two films again, which is perhaps exactly what it was supposed to do.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

"Anatomy of a Phenomenon" is refreshingly candid and erudite. Vallee's commentary reminds me somewhat of Carl Sagan's views on extraterrestrial intelligence in the 1960s. "Anatomy" was written shortly before what Colin Wilson termed Vallee's "labyrinthine pilgrimage." The suspicion inherent on every page of "Anatomy" is that UFOs are ET vehicles. Now Vallee, like Mack and Strieber, thinks the ET hypothesis is too simplistic.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

I've made an appointment for Ebe, my "kitten," to be spayed on Friday. Her kitty hormones kicked in the other night and now she spends most of her time yowling and screeching and driving me absolutely insane. Evidently cats are amazingly horny; I don't think they have any sexual "down-time." I'm not sure why I'm surprised, given the thousands of strays that are "put to sleep" every year.

I was pleased to see R.E.M. on the cover of a music magazine, accompanied by a CD of music selected by band members. I'm exasperated with critics who downplay R.E.M.'s last few records because of (relatively) low sales in the U.S. As if songs about the mass media and mortality are supposed to compete with the likes of Britney Spears. (Even so, "Imitation of Life" was a chart-topper in Japan.)

It was bitingly cold today. I almost didn't leave my apartment. But Ebe's theatrics forced me out into the night and for that I'm grateful to her. I picked up a $4.95 hardback of "Dracula," which I've never read, and began Jacques Vallee's "Anatomy of a Phenomenon."

There's a new homeless guy in town. At least I think he's new. He stands right in front of Barnes & Noble like some sort of installation piece, which means I have to circumvent him at least once a day. For some reason, panhandlers flock to Barnes & Noble like moths to candlelight.

The Plaza has begun the sad process of shutting off its fountains for the winter. I'm bracing myself for another impossibly annoying Christmas shopping season.

I've been marveling at newspaper headlines recently. Can the Iraq situation possibly be any worse, short of all-out thermonuclear conflagration? How the hell with this end (if at all)? Will someone, in some future administration, get it through his head that we're not wanted?

China shoots for the Moon.

Meanwhile, there's a very real possibility that the Bush administration is going to announce a human return to the Moon. The Chinese military is quite serious about setting up a lunar base by 2008. As I write, you can be damned sure the Chinese government is cheering the U.S.'s predicament in Iraq and toasting to the demise of Columbia. So if we go -- and at this point I think we should -- it will be the result of yet another "Space Race," to keep the Chinese from undermining our own military presence in space. I can only hope that while we're there we'll begin to appreciate the vast potential economic benefit. With any luck, a militarized U.S. Moon mission might seed a legitimate off-planet migration. Because if we go, we'll go to stay. Or until we nuke it out in the Sea of Tranquility in an attempt to "liberate" Chinese astronauts.

Breaking news: The Sun just experienced the largest solar flare on record. A real whopper.

"And the senses being dulled are mine."

--The Smiths
I've always been subject to bizarre, transient crushes. My latest involves adoration of British cultural critic Gaby Wood, author of "Edison's Eve." There's a beautiful portrait of her on the back cover. The irony is that the book's all about simulations. I'm not in love with Gaby, but a literary simulation of Gaby.

Monday, November 03, 2003

I've set aside Hartmann's "Mars Underground" in favor of Whitley Strieber's "Lilith's Dream," which recently came out in paperback.

I'm very disappointed that "Alien" isn't showing at my local theater. I thought it was going to be rereleased for Halloween. Maybe it showed on the 31st and is gone already. Damn.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

I finally toted my laptop to the coffeeshop to make some headway on my novel. I bought a double espresso, sat down, flipped the screen up . . . and discovered I hadn't charged the goddamned battery. So I sat there for a while, sipping idly and occasionally tapping the "ON" button as if that might make some sort of difference. It's charging as I type this. I have no idea how long it takes. Hopefully no more than 30 minutes.

I'm quite excited over the discovery on Mars that I'm looking into. Today Dr. Horace Crater, a planetary geologist, noted that the parallelogram in Cydonia appears to exhibit tetrahedral geometry. Stan McDaniel of Sonoma State University added that he thought that this would be significant if confirmed. I personally think it would be far more than merely significant. If highly specific redundant mathematics are embedded on the surface of Mars, then the simplest explanation for their presence is intelligent design.
I received this somewhat cryptic email regarding the alien photo mentioned in previous posts:

Subject: Re: A lot of talk about your Alien photo

No sweat Bill, been tracking their conversations
using AXS. Guess the Bird Site is obscure.
Wait till they see (if ever) GW talking about Birds
and the Clock ref that shredded TS/MAJIC message
scotched taped back together ........Also, Kit & others
think that 3 Second Eben is real.......Rmc

I like the opening sentence about my (online) conversation being tracked with AXS -- whatever that is. Perhaps a Google search is in order.

I don't know what to make of the reference to TS/MAJIC, other than that "TS" clearly means "Top Secret" and "MAJIC" is a codeword for a possibly authentic working team mobilized to study crashed UFOs. I asked a colleague if he knew who "Kit" could be and he immediately linked the name to a high-level spook who's presumably had access to classified materials. By the way, the "Bird Site" is, where I found the most interesting pictures of the "EBEN" (Extraterrrestrial Biological ENtity).

Saturday, November 01, 2003

I just received my third eyewitness assessment of the "alien" pictured here (see previous post). Here it is:

Doesn't fit my memory at all.

First, the proportions appear off. The head is longer. The eyes much larger. They almost wrap arount the head. The "ruffles have no ridges," like in the potato(e) chip. No ridges around the eyes. There are, from my memory, no features which provide prominances as in the photo above, which I've seen many times. It is also too wide at the top for the size to be proportionately correct.

The mouth is too large ... that is to say, long. The nose, too prominant. In fact ... This leaves quite a lot to be desired. However and having said all that, there are perhaps, more than one variety of these buggers. This may be one with which I am not familiar. Doubtful though.
I've interested several scientists, including at least one planetary geologist, in an extremely strange parallelogram "etched" onto the surface of Mars in the immediate vicinity of the Face. Research is proceeding methodically. If the investigation pans out, it may yield quantifiable evidence of intelligent design as opposed to mere puzzled glances and quizzical remarks.

Halloween was uneventful. No costume. I did, however, wear my hat backwards -- not because I thought it made me look particularly "cool," but because it's the only way it will fit. I've come to terms with the fact that I have a big head. It's measurably larger than other people's. You know those "one size fits all" fasteners with the little plastic pegs? I can unclasp the fastener completely and the hat won't even begin to fit; it just sort of balances on top of my oversized skull. To date, I've found two hats that I can actually wear: the R.E.M. cap I wore tonight, and another I picked up in a department store. The former has an elastic band inside instead of a fastener and I suspect the latter is defective.

I should make it clear that I don't look like I have a big head. It doesn't appear disproportionate to casual observers. Nevertheless, my cranium is an anomaly. Maybe I'm an extraterrestrial-human hybrid; that would put my mind at ease.

Speaking of ETs: There's a remarkable-looking photograph of an alleged alien on the Web that I've posted on my site to see what people make of it. John Velez, a UFO abductee you might have seen on television, thinks it looks extremely authentic. I emailed Whitley Strieber and he thinks it looks real, too. I'm waiting for feedback from one other person who has supposedly seen "Grays" at close range.

I'm reading Gaby Wood's history of humanoid automata, contemplating dusting off my laptop and writing a novel, drinking the usual large quantities of coffee, and beginning William K. Hartmann's "Mars Underground." Hartmann is a Mars Global Surveyor project scientist -- as well as a considerably talented fiction writer -- who I almost saw speak down the street a couple months or so ago. His newest book, "A Traveler's Guide to Mars" looks edifying, but I was exasperated by his ritualistic, uninformed debunking of the "Face." I'm troubled by these self-appointed bastions of Official Science, who casually marginalize whatever they don't understand. Somehow, I can't help thinking they're in for a big surprise.

Meanwhile, by cat Ebe has discovered that she can keep warm by dozing off on top of my computer monitor. I've decided to tolerate it; in a few months she'll be too big to curl up there anyway. Let her enjoy it while she's still a kitten.

"I'm vibrating at the speed of light."

--R.E.M., "Animal"