A while back, I was re-reading Isaac Asimov’s series of novels about robots. There’s something faintly uneasy about them, which I’d meant to blog about at the time. The underlying theme of the books is the effect of robot labor on society; and the key thing which distinguishes robots from other types mechanization is that they are sentient, which makes the situation uncomfortable like slavery, a similarity which is always present in the books, but is not dealt with explicitly. This does raise a question for cybernetic communism, though: the usual assumption is that mechanization will abolish, or at least minimize, necessary labor, but what if this depends on an unjustified humanism, an assumption that we can simply farm our work off onto dumb machines? But shouldn’t a sufficiently complex assemblage of machines have some kind of say in its own future? Read more↴
Everyone thinks they know what Freud says, it’s all about sex. Freud says the opposite of course. For humans, there is no sex, in the ‘biological’ sense.
Dorothy L Sayers:
“It’s no use saying vaguely that sex is at the bottom of all these phenomena—that’s about as helpful as saying that human nature is at the bottom of them. Sex isn’t a separate thing functioning away all by itself. It’s usually found attached to a person of some sort.”
“That’s rather obvious.”
“Well, let’s have a look at the obvious. The biggest crime of these blasted psychologists is to have obscured the obvious.… Do all these facts taken together suggest nothing to you beyond a general notion of sex repression?”
— Gaudy Night
I’ve been reading Dorothy L. Sayers’s Murder Must Advertise. Above all, it makes me want to live in the twenties, when it would have been possible to call oneself a “Bolshevist,” but it is a fine book for many reasons, including this description of early Fordism: Read more↴
The internet has managed to replace some of my misplaced happy hardcore, including a couple of tracks that were favorites of John Peel (or “Fat Jack” as he used, implausibly, to claim people called him). This reminds me that my sister gave me a copy of Peel’s autobiography a little while ago. It’s pretty good; or, rather, the first half, written by Peel himself, is good, particularly if you read it to yourself while doing a bad John Peel impersonation. His description of his time at school is interesting, and his account of living in America suggests, without being overly confessional or falsely modest, that he may have been a bit of a dick, sometimes. The second half, written by his wife, is not so good; while I was surprised to discover just how involved in the counter-culture Peel was, it’s hard to get enthusiastic about a book written in the style of one of those family newsletters that people send in to Simon Hoggart.