Futurism

… Unless you’re over 60, you weren’t promised flying cars. You were promised an oppressive cyberpunk dystopia. Here you go.

Kyle Marquis

The lightning stroke

In the financial world, gains and losses are asymmetric; many years of gradual gains can be wiped out by a sudden loss. In biotech and pandemics, the risk is dominated by the rare but extreme events. Moreover, as science empowers us more, and because our world is so interconnected, the magnitude of the worst potential catastrophes has grown unprecedentedly large, and too many are in denial about them.

— Martin Rees

Land Bias

The existence of ancient seaways, and their crucial role in shaping prehistory, were only recognized in the early twentieth century. Until then, pre-historians and historical geographers had demonstrated a ‘land bias’; a perceptive error brought about by an over-reliance on Roman sources that tended to concentrate on the movement of troops, goods, and ideas on foot and across countries. Certainly, the Roman Empire’s road network transformed internal mobility in Europe and, unmistakably, Roman roads were the keys to military and economic power. ‘The sea divides and the land unites, ran the Roman truism. But for millennia prior to the rise of Rome’s empire, the reverse had been true. The classical sources misled subsequent historians — allied with the fact that the sea erases all records of its traverses, whereas the land preserves them.

— Robert McFarlane

Challenges

Teaching literature is impossible; that is why it is difficult.

— Northrup Frye

Transferability

Milch: I think that is the chief blessing of art, the opportunity to organize one’s behavior around a different reality. It’s a second chance. You pray to be equal to it, equal to its opportunities. We both know that some days you’re better at that than others. In my case, there’s a continuing unfolding discovery of the limitations of that vision.

I’m thinking of playing catch with my son, Ben, teaching him to play catch. The particular kind of reverence that you feel for that process, for what you know it will mean to him. To catch the ball and to throw it back right, and to know that I’m proud of him. The opportunity to do those things is transferable to the artistic process as well—the process of passing on, for better or worse, as well as one can, what you’ve learned. And blessing him on the voyage that he’ll begin. Those are special and particular opportunities that are given an artist.

From David Milch’s Third Act

The flip side

So many horrors could not have been possible without so many virtues. Doubtless, much science was needed to kill so many, to waste so much property, annihilate so many cities in so short a time; but moral qualities in like number were also needed. Are Knowledge and Duty, then, suspect?

— Paul Valéry