PASSENGERS

  CONSTELLATIONS, TELEVISION, AND THE SADNESS OF ASTRONAUTS   “We set out to explore the moon and instead discovered the Earth.” — William Anders, Apollo 8 astronaut. Television — or at least, the image dissection technology at the core of it —was invented by Philo T Farnsworth II in 1927, but it did not bring […]

RED

    The boys had gone swimming and Red wanted to go too, but her mother wouldn’t let her. She was too young and didn’t know how to swim. So she waited for a while and then sneaked away, following the path to the pond. As she approached through the trees, she could see their […]

WARRIOR, MERCHANT, SAGE

    When I was looking after my father, I read a lot of books, at night or in the afternoon while he was sleeping. One of them was Merchant, Soldier, Sage by the Oxford historian David Priestland. The paperback came out in 2014 and I’d picked it up fresh off the presses at the […]

REFUGE

So I’m turning into this strange old hermit, this solitary farang living alone at the bottom of Lion Rock, waylaying tourists like the Guardian of the Valley of Death in Monty Python.  “Thou shalt not pass unto the sea  Until you answer answer questions three — What — is your name? What — is your […]

THE STRANGE CASE OF DOCTOR LOVELOCK

OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE CO2   James Lovelock is the much honoured British scientist famous for a beautiful and irresistible idea known as the Gaia hypothesis. Lovelock is a self-made man in the best tradition of scientists of a previous age. His parents were poor, and he financed his own […]

THE CARBON EPIPHANY

Whirl up, sea — whirl your pointed pines, splash your great pines on our rocks, hurl your green over us, cover us with your pools of fir. (Oread, by H. D.) Carbon is the element of life, common to all known life-forms. Its unique and astonishing properties make life possible. With four electrons available for covalent […]

HAMADRYAD 

A hamadryad (Greek: Ἁμαδρυάδες, Hamadryádes) is a mythological being that lives in trees. Hamadryads are born bonded to a certain tree. Some believe that hamadryads are the actual tree, while dryads are the entities, or spirits, of the trees. If the tree dies, the hamadryad associated with it dies as well. For that reason, dryads and the gods […]

THE FABULOUS PANTHER

OF CATS AND CONSPIRACIES    The Orpheus Pavement (detail)   “The idea of leopards still living in Europe is very powerful. Every year a new and ferocious creature turns up in England, one that exists only in newspaper columns, vividly imprecise eyewitness reports, blurry photographs of black pussy cats and our eternal appetite for monsters: […]

McLUHAN IN MANHATTAN

“The tactic of the terrorist model is to provoke a surplus of reality and to make the whole system collapse under it.” — Jean Baudrillard, The Spirit of Terrorism (2002).   ∆   Baudrillard’s work is coolly psychedelic, giving us the same sense of dizzying replication that we love in doppelgänger stories and much science fiction. […]

THE MEMORY HOLE

  My first real encounter with the Thought Police.  This essay, part of a series applying Jean Baudrillard’s simulation theory to contemporary events, has been suppressed by WordPress. The piece evoked a series of mass-shootings in 2011-12, viewing them in the light of the document usually referred to as The Report from Iron Mountain. It sketched a timeline […]