The official records called them “vertebrates”, but in 3018 everyone knew them as “beasts”. These were birds, fish, reptiles, and Alyx favorites, mammals. Alyx was a record keeper, and had read all the books and all the records in existence. And the story that had always fascinated her most was known as the Myth of the Beast.
The day our spaceship arrived to Proxima Centauri, my wife and I were hiking the meadows of the Azores.
Alone, my wife and I had been traveling in the void of space for 20 years. She was the most wonderful woman I had ever met and I was truly in love with her after all these years.
And during this time, the holographic simulation room our only escape. Here in the the holodeck anything was possible.Here we could experience any location on Earth. And we explored them all. We liked to get lost in the illusions of the places we visited.
The evening that my boyfriend threatened with breaking up over my excessive drinking, I did what any other sane man would do. I went to my local bar to talk to my therapist. Over a drink.
I wasn’t intentionally ignoring my boyfriend. It so happens that The Headless Horse is the bar is where my psychologist works. The customers here come to get professional mental help and life advice. All the bartenders are robots who are both licensed shrinks and skillful mixologists.
David Apatoff from the blog Illustration Art talks about one of my favorite topics in his essay for Phil Hale‘s book Let’s Kill Johnny Badhair: the conflict between man and machine, between natural and artificial, between creator and creation…
The clash between man and machine has inspired many legends, from John Henry’s race against the steam drill to John Connor’s struggle with Skynet. You might say it has become a central metaphor for our time. Like all great metaphors, the clash between man and machine offers both strength and flexibility. Its imagery is strong and clear while its message is flexible and ambiguous, permitting a wide variety of interpretations. For example, a clash between man and a machine might represent humanity’s clash with modernity, but it might also symbolize sterile efficiency against organic imagination. We might reflect on it as a statement on the endurance of the human will when flesh is pitted against metal; or the value of a soul in a conflict with the soulless; or the conflict between order and disarray.
—David Apatoff, Comic-Con 2016: Phil Hale
You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again.
Here is an interview conducted by George Plimpton on 1954:
[Hemingway] keeps track of his daily progress—“so as not to kid myself”—on a large chart made out of the side of a cardboard packing case and set up against the wall under the nose of a mounted gazelle head. The numbers on the chart showing the daily output of words differ from 450, 575, 462, 1250, back to 512, the higher figures on days Hemingway puts in extra work so he won’t feel guilty spending the following day fishing on the Gulf Stream.
— George Plimpton for the Paris Review, issue 18, Spring 1958
And here is Hemingway’s daily practice in his own words:
When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.
— Ernest Hemingway, The Art of Fiction No. 21
I love fiction and non-fiction stories that imagine the far, far future. One can think of flying cars and super-computers, but what comes ten thousand years after, or one million years after?
Nobody knows, but here are some stories that try to answer that question:
- The Last Judgement by J. B. S. Haldane (1927, short non-fiction)
- The Last Question by Isaac Asimov (1956, short fiction)
- Year Million: Science at the Far Edge of Knowledge by Damien Broderick (2008, non-fiction book)
- The Next Ten Billion Years by John Michael Greer (2013, short non-fiction)
Lastly, here are a couple of links from Wikipedia with many more resources:
Video games, basically interactive storytelling, fulfill a great number of human needs. If only the rules of the game on real life where do clear…
Today, Cam has been sober from gaming for seven and a half years. For him, it was a problem that insinuated itself into every corner of his life over the course of his adolescence. “Gaming fulfills all of my needs in one thing,” Cam explained. He earned rewards consistently. Benchmarks for success were clear, tangible. He got his social interaction. Structure. It helped him forget about how he had dropped out of high school, lost friends, got too out of shape for hockey. Or his bullies, his deteriorating family life, his pretend jobs. He had an identity.
Alan Lightman on the human need to spend quiet time unplugged and alone every day.
Invisibly, almost without notice, we are losing ourselves. We are losing our ability to know who we are and what is important to us. We are creating a global machine in which each of us is a mindless and reflexive cog, relentlessly driven by the speed, noise, and artificial urgency of the wired world.
Bad Art. It sounds awful.
I love Art. Art that is big, and confident. Art that is unapologetic and grand. Art with capital A.
But there is also beauty in “bad” art. The art that’s small and unpretentious, that is not educated, that is unfinished, rushed, abandoned. There are worlds of infinite complexity in the most simple of art.
And so it’s funny when you look at a piece of Art with a fat A–
–and then you put it next to this doodle by Austin Kleon:
Hard not to see how they stand equal side by side.
When I’m in my head I see another world. I know I do. I see people that aren’t there for me under the daylight. I look at the eyes of a homeless man and I can see a soul. A universal, human soul that speaks of human struggles and dignity. I look at the face of a confident young professional and I see a fighter scared of the world. I look at an old woman and I see satisfied ambitions and dreams of new victories.
Are these stories real? I don’t know. But they feel real. More real than the blank masks we look at.
Maybe I should be able to see people all the time. Maybe we should feel more united than we feel apart. Maybe the climax of humanity will come when we believe each other to be even more than brothers and sisters, but One.