Only today did I come across this letter by Philip K. Dick, published in the excellent Letters of Note last September, addressed to the production company for Blade Runner. He loved how the film was developing, but died before it was actually released.
I came to the conclusion that this indeed is not science fiction; it is not fantasy; it is exactly what Harrison [Ford] said: futurism. The impact of BLADE RUNNER is simply going to be overwhelming, both on the public and on creative people — and, I believe, on science fiction as a field. Since I have been writing and selling science fiction works for thirty years, this is a matter of some importance to me. In all candor I must say that our field has gradually and steadily been deteriorating for the last few years. Nothing that we have done, individually or collectively, matches BLADE RUNNER. This is not escapism; it is super realism, so gritty and detailed and authentic and goddam convincing that, well, after the segment I found my normal present-day “reality” pallid by comparison.
Ulay, Marina Abramović’s partner from 1975-1988, sits with her during her performance. This was the first time they “performed” together since The Great Wall Walk (1988), when they each walked over 1,200 miles (2,000 km) along the Great Wall of China starting at opposite ends and meeting in the middle to say their goodbye.
Somebody in the comments asks the obvious: “I thought there was to be no interaction with the art.” To which the moderator responds: “Correct, no interaction, but this was her partner in life and art for 12 years who she has had almost no contact with since 1988…”
Hayes mentioned that we were going to have a spread of Floyd Patterson, the boxing champion of the world, and Sonny Liston, the challenger, and Patterson was an 8–1 favorite. I knew right away what I was going to do, because I knew that Liston was going to kill him. So I called the photographer, and I said, “We’re going to get a guy with the same body as Patterson, we’re going to lay him flat on the ring, and we’re going to show him killed, knocked out by Liston. Leave him for dead.” I wanted to show a metaphor for boxing — if you’re a loser, you’re left for dead, which is also a metaphor for life. So we get the shot and I sent it to Hayes.
“George, I never saw a cover like this in my life! You’re calling the fight — suppose you’re wrong? Everybody says you’re wrong.” I told him we had a 50/50 chance of it working, but if it does, it shows we have balls. It hit the newsstand a week before the fight, and it was roundly laughed at in the sports crowd. But a week later, of course Liston kills Patterson, just like I thought. And Esquire got tons of publicity and the best sales since the start of the magazine. And Harold said to me, “You gotta keep doing my covers.”
Douglas Rushkoff is hosting a virtual round table with danah boyd, Nicholas Carr, Clay Shirky, RU Sirius and a bunch of other smart folks. It’s a chaotic mix of academic hyperbole and hastily typed rhetoric, but somehow it keeps me checking in for new entries. You may find that subscribing to the RSS feed is an easier way to read this since new content doesn’t always appear at the bottom. The first part is mostly about Nicholas Carr arguing with everyone else about whether groups can collectively “have an idea.” Carr says they can’t:
I think one of the reasons we’re having trouble discussing the way brilliant new ideas emerge from “networked ‘mass’ groups” is because that phenomenon doesn’t happen. The ideas for Wikipedia and Linux, to take, once again, the obvious examples, came from individuals, not from the groups that subsequently formed to bring the ideas to fruition. As Eric Raymond, the author of “The Cathedral and the Bazaar,” once wrote in an email to me, “The individual wizard is where successful bazaar projects generally start.”
Marina Abramović is having a retrospective here at MoMA. It’s the first time a performance artist has had such a show, which will include reenactments of her pieces by other performers. The main event is a new endurance piece:
Marina Abramović will perform in the Atrium at MoMA throughout the
duration of the exhibition, starting before the Museum opens each day
and continuing until after it closes.
The New Yorker has an article (subscriber-only) on the exhibition that I haven’t read yet. There’s also a podcast interview with Judith Thurman, who wrote the article, that provides some useful context.
I like how straightforward Hawking is about climate change (about 48 minutes in).
Charlie Rose: What worries you most about the future of the universe?
Stephen Hawking: I am not worried about the future of the universe. The universe will continue whatever happens. But the future of the human race, and of life on earth, is much less certain. We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our great insensitivity.
CR: What are we not doing to prevent these disasters that we absolutely should be doing?
SH: Not acting with sufficient urgency about climate change.
CR: Do you think we will survive?
SH: Maybe. (smiles)
I went to a public lecture by Hawking at CalTech a few years ago and was blown away by the experience. The first 10-15 minutes I was keeping up, but then suddenly I realized I wasn’t getting the math. The Q & A period was also well over my head, but I was struck by Hawking’s humor and stage presence.
If you’ve been following my posts here about the school, you may find this basic report to be redundant, but there’s something very nice about hearing Caroline (and Louise I think?) speaking on the radio.