Omnium Gatherum: 7may2020

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for May 7, 2020

Here’s some things I’ve found that you may be interested in checking out:

  • Read an Excerpt From Jeff VanderMeer’s A Peculiar Peril.” Due to release in July, A Peculiar Peril (The Misadventures of Jonathan Lambshead Book 1) by Jeff VanderMeer.—”Jonathan Lambshead stands to inherit his deceased grandfather’s overstuffed mansion—a veritable cabinet of curiosities—once he and two schoolmates catalog its contents. But the three soon discover that the house is filled with far more than just oddities: It holds clues linking to an alt-Earth called Aurora, where the notorious English occultist Aleister Crowley has stormed back to life on a magic-fueled rampage across a surreal, through-the-looking-glass version of Europe replete with talking animals (and vegetables). Swept into encounters with allies more unpredictable than enemies, Jonathan pieces together his destiny as a member of a secret society devoted to keeping our world separate from Aurora. But as the ground shifts and allegiances change with every step, he and his friends sink ever deeper into a deadly pursuit of the profound evil that is also chasing after them.”
  • Evidence that human brains replay our waking experiences while we sleep—”When we fall asleep, our brains are not merely offline, they’re busy organizing new memories — and now, scientists have gotten a glimpse of the process. Researchers report in the journal Cell Reports on May 5 the first direct evidence that human brains replay waking experiences while asleep, seen in two participants with intracortical microelectrode arrays placed in their brains as part of a brain-computer interface pilot clinical trial.”
  • Plants pass on ‘memory’ of stress to some progeny, making them more resilient
  • Cecil Beaton’s Cocktail Book, due to release in a few days—”This miniature cocktail book features a delightful array of recipes inspired by the decadent drinks of Beaton’s youth, and the fabulous friends and celebrities whom he photographed. Period classics such as the Hanky Panky, Manhatten, Negroni and Sidecar are given contemporary twists by the Head Bartender and Mixologist of the world famous Claridge’s Hotel in London, which played host to some of the most extravagant Bright Young gatherings. It is illustrated with the artist’s own photographs and the witty and distinctive drawings he produced throughout his life, recording people, travels and experiences, which were featured in Vogue magazine. A must-have for every well-appointed bar cart, Cecil Beaton’s Cocktail Book brings to life a deliriously eccentric, glamorous and creative era.”
  • Circles and straight lines: shaping the language of complexity—”We attempt to describe changes like with language like “paradigm shift” and “new normal”, but struggle to capture in precise and material terms what these changes mean beyond flagging that we expect things to be very different. In some ways, though, transformational change must also involve a measure of continuity: circles, not straight lines.”
  • Why ‘getting back to normal’ is overrated: systems-led design, the GFC, and that thing we call ‘resilience’—”In his book of the same name, essayist and scholar Nassim Nicholas Taleb coined the term ‘antifragility’ by describing it as ‘beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better. This property is behind everything that has changed with time: evolution, culture, ideas, revolutions . . . even our own existence as a species on this planet.’ What’s crucial to understand about antifragility as opposed to resilience, Taleb contends, is that antifragility embraces disruptions rather than defying them: ‘Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder and stressors, and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty.'”

  • I Tried Hypnosis to Deal with My Pandemic Anxiety, and Got Something Much Weirder. The experience was far more vivid, more surreal, and more puzzling than I could have ever imagined, and the process of trying to figure it out took me deep into science, myth, and meaning.”
  • The Climate Emergency: Psychoanalytic Perspectives. Online conference on psychoanalytic perspectives around ecological destruction.23 May, 2:00 pm – 30 May, 5:00 pm, £35; Freud Museum London—”What can psychoanalysis offer to the on-going discussion about the state of the planet?”
  • Let COVID-19 expand awareness of disability tech. The pandemic’s disruption shows how much academia could learn from the disability community.” More examples of how another subcultural group has important know-how for the larger group.
  • The 1918 Flu Pandemic Killed Millions. So Why Does Its Cultural Memory Feel So Faint?. According to scholar Elizabeth Outka, the tragedy haunts modernist literature between the lines.”
  • Why Walking Matters—Now More Than Ever. Our upright gait is not just a defining feature of what it means to be human. It also makes our bodies and brains work better.”
  • Tweets—”… and visited the “tunnel of doom” in Sydenham Hill Woods. We noticed some new graffiti and other things so I went back today to document them.”
  • Tweet—”[Michel Houellebecq] described COVID-19 as a ‘banal virus’ with ‘no redeeming qualities… It’s not even sexually transmitted.'” Good gods! Could he be any more French?

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