Octopodiform Deterrent

February 28, 2020

haiku is a genre of poetry

February 28, 2020

What seems most difficult for some people to understand is that haiku is a genre of poetry, not merely a form.

Indeed, the great majority of haiku now published in English does not follow a set syllabic form, but pay greater attention to another aspect of haiku form, its internal structure. Haiku are generally composed of two parts with a caesura or pause between them. When the images comprising the two parts are well chosen, this pause allows for internal comparison between the images. When the poem is written in three lines, the pause usually occurs at the end of either the first or the second line. This produces two parts of unequal length, which preserves the asymmetry that is an important characteristic of Japanese haiku form. Kôji Kawamoto has named these two parts the ‘base’ and the ‘sumperimposed part.’ According to Kawamoto, the base of the poem provides interest while the superposed part provides significance.

Lee Gurga
Richard Wright’s Place in American Haiku
The Other World of Richard Wright: Perspectives on His Haiku, ed. Jianquing Zheng

conscious only of you

February 28, 2020

I am now going to ask you a favour which sounds quite crazy, and which I should regard as such, were I the one to receive the letter. It is also the very greatest test that even the kindest person could be put to. Well, this is it:

Write to me only once a week, so that your letter arrives on Sunday — for I cannot endure your daily letters, I am incapable of enduring them. For instance, I answer one of your letters, then lie in bed in apparent calm, but my heart beats through my entire body and is conscious only of you. I belong to you; there is really no other way of expressing it, and that is not strong enough. But for this very reason I don’t want to know what you are wearing; it confuses me so much that I cannot deal with life; and that’s why I don’t want to know that you are fond of me. If I did, how could I, fool that I am, go on sitting in my office, or here at home, instead of leaping onto a train with my eyes shut and opening them only when I am with you? Oh, there is a sad, sad reason for not doing so. To make it short: My health is only just good enough for myself alone, not good enough for marriage, let alone fatherhood. Yet when I read your letter, I feel I could overlook even what cannot possibly be overlooked.

If only I had your answer now! And how horribly I torment you, and how I compel you, in the stillness of your room, to read this letter, as nasty a letter as has ever lain on your desk! Honestly, it strikes me sometimes that I prey like a spectre on your felicitous name! If only I had mailed Saturday’s letter, in which I implored you never to write to me again, and in which I gave a similar promise . . . But is a peaceful solution possible now? Would it help if we write to each other only once a week? No, if my suffering could be cured by such means it would not be serious. And already I foresee that I shan’t be able to endure even the Sunday letters. And so, to compensate for Saturday’s lost opportunity, I ask you with what energy remains to me at the end of this letter: If we value our lives, let us abandon it all.

Did I think of signing myself Dein [Yours]? No, nothing could be more false. No, I am forever fettered to myself, that’s what I am, and that’s what I must try to live with.


Franz Kafka
Letter to Felice Bauer 11th November 1912

Lack of AA batteries didn’t stop our inventive and horny great-grandparents from patenting no less than 23 fully mechanical dildos in the 19th century. Most of these were steam-powered and some required a full boiler to get the fake phallus to hum. Others required a rigorous cranking of internal dynamos to get the desired effect. All were patented as medical devices designed to relieve “female hysteria.” It is less clear, however, what the medical reasons were for Dr. Sumpter’s Harnessed Extension (though some have argued it was for soldiers who had their genitals damaged in the Civil War). But there are reports of women using strap-on dildos on women and men for explicitly erotic encounters in various pornographic memoirs pre-dating the U.S. Civil War.

Professor Calamity and Margaret Killjoy
Four Kinks Your Great-Grandparents Didn’t Want You to Know About


February 28, 2020

Perversion is just another art form. It is like painting or drawing or sculpture. Except that, instead of painting, perverts use sex as their medium

…the whole of American life was organized around the cult of the powerful individual, that phantom ideal which Europe herself had only begun to outgrow in her last phase. Those Americans who wholly failed to realize this ideal, who remained at the bottom of the social ladder, either consoled themselves with hopes for the future, or stole symbolical satisfaction by identifying themselves with some popular star, or gloated upon their American citizenship, and applauded the arrogant foreign policy of their government.

Olaf Stapledon
Last and First Men

The Family at Night

February 27, 2020

We were rag-dolls after school
and passed long winter evenings like this:
father in his armchair with an unlit pipe,
mother in the kitchen pretending to eat,
my sister and I with our small occupations.
We saw little with our button eyes
and spoke even less with our stitched-up mouths.
We played at playing till it was time for bed
when mother sewed our eyelids down
so we could get a good night’s rest.
We always woke as our human selves
to find the downstairs rooms had altered too.
A chair unstuffed, a table’s legs all wrong,
and, that one time, kittens gone from their basket;
the mother’s bone-hollow meow.

Helen Ivory

Writing book one & two

February 27, 2020

I wrote books 1 and 2 with a full-time job but it was a bit much. I work two days a week now. I’ve been self-employed for most of my life, had no retirement money. I have a house, a son. I try to be prudent. I actually like having something else to do besides writing. It helps clear my mind. If things keep going the way they’re going, that something could just be a hobby: more robotics, lion taming, part-time astronaut. We’ll see. I feel no pressure about the “full time” thing. I don’t think it means much. I live well. I do what I love. There’s no point in making it more stressful than it needs to be.

Sylvain Neuvel
Interview with Jason Golomb and Tadiana Jones, 4th April 2017

true artificial intelligence

February 27, 2020

Current artificial intelligence projects include robotic doctors, stockbrokers, and, of course, weapons.

These, however, are not the “holy grail” of artificial intelligence – these examples are better described as “expert systems” that simulate human capabilities, like your fridge ordering some more milk because it has realised there’s none left.

A more disturbing recent development is the ability of algorithms and expert systems aided by humans to influence public opinion, and voter intentions. When machines can play poker better than humans, it demands we consider how else they might out-think us.

What people tend to think of as true artificial intelligence, and the type that appears most often in science fiction, and in the fears of people like the late Stephen Hawking, is the achievement of “general intelligence” – human level abilities. With the addition of consciousness, this is known as “strong AI”.

Strong AI is the stuff of science fiction nightmares – such as HAL in 2001, Ava in Ex Machina, and apparently more benevolent, but no less disturbing by implication, Her, the self-actualising virtual companion.

Christopher Benjamin Menadue
Stephen Hawking: Blending science with science fiction

like livewire voodoo

February 27, 2020

A year here and he still dreamed of cyberspace, hope fading nightly. All the speed he took, all the turns he’d taken and the corners he cut in Night City, and he’d still see the matrix in his dreams, bright lattices of logic unfolding across that colourless void… The Sprawl was a long, strange way home now over the Pacific, and he was no Console Man, no cyberspace cowboy. Just another hustler, trying to make it through. But the dreams came on in the Japanese night like livewire voodoo, and he’d cry for it, cry in his sleep, and wake alone in the dark, curled in his capsule in some coffin hotel, hands clawed into the bedslab, temper foam bunched between his fingers, trying to reach the console that wasn’t there.

William Gibson