CULTURAL CONSUMPTION: What We’re Reading, Watching, Listening to, and Thinking About – Dec 2021 / Jan 2022
“Culture is not your friend,” remarked the late great Terrence McKenna. Nevertheless, he didn’t exactly say (or even imply) that therefore it’s our enemy. After all, we are cultural creators too, and art begets art. Even so, it might still be a good idea to keep our friends close yet our culture even closer, as with an enemy who could turn against us at any time. We should do this while maintaining awareness of the arbitrary spells that old adages can inspire.
Thus in the spirit of mindful consumption, we present a curated selection of meta-cultural morsels from our omnivorous editors, if only (though not only) for the fun of it. We encourage you to share your thoughts about any of these links, or tell us a little of what you’ve been exploring, enjoying, and learning about lately in the cultural sphere.
Welcome to Chaos
The Cult of the Black Cube: A Saturnian Grimoire (2nd edition) by Dr. Arthur Moros (pseudonym), Theion Publishing, 2021. The author looks at the history of the god Saturn, also known as Kronos or Shani, in various cultures, and his status as the both the bringer of chaos and death and the bringer of the Earth’s Golden Age.
We Are Your AI Overlords
The Dead Internet Theory. There are a number of videos on this subject, but this one caught my interest in particular. It discusses the idea that the majority of Internet content is created by bots, and that major social media sites censor what used to be free and open conversations for business reasons.
Be “Sore Afraid”
This year I joined the ranks of Religious Studies nerds with too much time on their hands and created a Biblically Accurate Christmas tree topper, complete with 1 Seraph and 2 Ophanim. I wanted to create the angels described as “bronze with 4 heads”, but that proved too challenging. Merry Christmas, and they’ll be watching you!
Marco V Morelli
Throwing the Kitchen Sink at the End of the World
Science Fiction living legend Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future looks at a whole bunch of things that could go right in the world, after everything has gone terribly wrong. The story takes place over a couple decades towards the middle of this century. There are characters. They live, love, kill, work, suffer, die. Questionable: the role of terrorism in fomenting positive change. Curious: a carbon-sequestration incentivizing cryptocurrency? Hopeful: co-ops will play a big role in the transition when circumstances force us to go beyond capitalism. Also see KSR’s related talk on Possible Worlds.
Nostalgia is One Helluva Drug
It’s been years—long years, too many years relative to my too brief life—since I have really fallen for a band… since I have felt compelled to bow low, tip my hat, offer up a big wet sloppy BRAVO from the bottom of my quavering heart—as I do now. Yet here is pure artistry with DANTE HIGH: songwriting, lyrics, hooks, yelps, synthesizer sounds! This may be one of the great albums of the early ’90s—written in 2018. Their more serious 2021 follow-up, DANTE HIGH II, dares to go retro in the guise of a tour de force.
And for the Kids…
We had to reprimand our eldest daughter, who had developed a bad habit of blurting out, “But that’s not how it happened in the book!” over and over, every time we watch an adaptation. The younger: “Tell her to stop! You’re ruining my movie night!” They finally settled down and were even won over by Disney’s take on The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart. I loved the premise: The world is in a state of emergency. Nobody is at the wheel. Everyone is being programmed by subliminal messages broadcast by an evil genius. Only a fellowship of extremely bright and daring children (and their quirky grown-up mentors) can free our minds and save us! I offered token resistance, but soon, I too had been won over and was being blissfully entertained by all the intelligent humor, colorful aesthetics, and enjoyable acting. We watched the whole first season over a couple of weeks.