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Hellscapes

Consider these two descriptions of dark places beyond reality.
The first comes from Haruki Murakami’s Dance Dance Dance. An unnamed narrator feels drawn to a rundown hotel at which he had strange experience several years prior. But upon arrival, he discovers that the hotel has been totally revamped into a swanky, modern place and all traces of its past have been covered. As he pokes around, he learns that a current employee has also had a bizarre experience inside the hotel since its remodeling. The elevator she was using brought her to a strange hallway and then disappeared. As she describes it,
But the whole place was completely dark. All I could see were the elevator call buttons and the red digital display that says what floor it’s on. So the first thing I did was press the call buttons, but the elevator kept going down. I didn’t know what to do. Then, for some reason, I decided to take a look around.There was no sound at all. And the floor felt funny, not like the regular carpet.…

King Midas of Cool

Here he comes. Up through Austin. Down from Portland. He’s stopping in Boulder, with many more Colorado destinations in mind. He’s traveling west for a little artist colony outside of Joshua Tree, then east for Asheville. He’s the King Midas of Cool. And everything he touches turns to gold.
He’s driving an old van that he fixed up for the nomad life. Sometimes he parks it out on the street in San Francisco, alongside all the teachersand city service workers rendered homeless by tech crowd’s land grabs. Doing so bumps one of them out of place. But it’s cool, he says. Life is better with less. It’s what the hippies would have wanted. Besides, it’s all going to be automated anyways.
He drives out into the mountains on the weekends for a little R&R. He knows where all the good climbing spots are. Except they don’t stay good for long. He touches the rocks and they turn to gold. And for one brief moment, it’s an experience unlike anything you’ve ever seen. But it’s all over after that. …

Platonic Forms

“Can’t you see the game is crooked? Yeah, but it’s the only game in town.” -Canada Bill Jones
There is an odd pattern that seems to emerge in every introduction to the philosophy presented in Plato’s Republic. It goes something like this:
1) A description of how Plato’s perfect society would be overseen by an elite caste of Guardians, who are selected only after being subjected to exhaustive trials of character and judgement.
2) An explanation that, above the Guardians, is the Philosopher King, who endures even more grueling trials, and who rules not by his own whims, but by an intimate knowledge of the Forms, particularly the form of good.
3) An explanation of the Forms, the idea that a perfect version of a given object exists on a removed plane, and of which dense matter can only imitate. Usually, something like an animal is given as an example. Out there, on the plane of the forms, is the perfect and eternal form of the horse, of which Secretariat, Mister Ed, Shadowfax, and the My Littl…

New Shorty Story, "Loyalty"

Jacks prowls the night streets working as a hitman. He feeds his victims to a flesh eating monster kept out in the mountains. But after being stung by a sense of resentment, he begins to plot against his employers.

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The Glass Bees

The Glass Bees, by Ernst Junger, was originally written in 1957 but was dismissed for lacking any particularly deep insight into its time. Five decades later, it appears the novel was much more prophetic than it originally seemed. The plot takes place primarily in the mind of its protagonist, Captain Richard, as he agonizes over the possibility taking a job as a security officer for an infamous tech company. Zapparoni, the company’s head, has made a fortune in the creation of automatons. Most eminently are his glass bees which function as a prototype of drone swarm technology. What is perhaps most outstanding, however, is Junger’s ability not only to foresee what was to come, but look even beyond that:
My query is this: why are those who have endangered and changed our lives in such terrible and unpredictable ways not content with unleashing and controlling enormous forces and with enjoying their consequent fame, power, and wealth? Why must they want to be saints as well? This questio…

The Fall, Part III

This post contains spoilers for the series Altered Carbon and the drama Faust.
"I am part of that power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good.” -Faust, Johan Wolfgang Von Goethe
“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” -Robert J. Oppenheimer, quoting the Bhagavad Gita while speaking of the atomic bomb
“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” -Robert Burns
RECAP
In the first post of this series, we looked at the Luciferian Myth, mostly through the lens of John Milton’s poem, Paradise Lost. The poem provides a nuanced origin story for the conflict between good and evil. Motivated by a vain sense that it was he who was meant to be in control, Satan rebelled against God, but failed. Evil then proceeds from his ongoing attempts to recover his exalted state. In Part II, we observed these archetypes playing out in a number of sci-fi films where human civilization is upended. In these films, however, it came to light that it is not quite clear whether they are …

The Fall, Part II

Myths became images and shadows of higher ideas, and by their mysterious character inculcated a profounder veneration. -Plutarch
In the last post, we looked at of myth of Satan’s fall in order to articulate its unique characteristics. To restate: Satan is thrown out of heaven for insubordination. In Hell, he has a chance to make due. Instead, he feels compelled to continue seeking power, or at the very least, vengeance. This moves the myth beyond a simple schematic of good versus evil. But as the myth transforms into a more relatable form—incorporating universal themes of human drama—it becomes more difficult to recognize the underlying symbols.
We saw this in John Milton’s Paradise Lost. In Hell, Satan finds himself in the company of the other fallen angels who express a litany of emotions; doubt, fear, anxiety, and anger. They console and contest each other. The figure of Satan becomes relatable to the reader because he is able to interact with these other voices as normal people do. L…