Thats why MIDI has so comprehensively outstayed its welcome. If your phone can hear my phone, it can tell it to show you a picture, a web page, a document. Perhaps even to play another tune. Lets riff on that. My phone sings to your 3D printer; out comes a plastic toy. A wooden spatula. A working kidney. It sounds like. A song is a blueprint is an object, all in one. The internet of things sings, and the songs are recordable, replayable and remixable. Music concrte indeed.
The sound of a lorry reversing becomes a goods manifest. The carefully designed engine hum of your otherwise silent electric car is a negotiation with the traffic lights. And these things begin to chain: the lorrys cargo of urgent medical. We should prepare for the robot-audible world, too. The sounds of the world become music. Chirps were built by humans, for humans. But thats just politeness on the machines part. The protocols that succeed it the ones designed by machines, for machines wont be.
They wont care whether or not people can overhear them. The machines will start singing in. Their music composed by computers, performed by robots, everywhere and nowhere is sound, is data, is things. Infinitely replicable, mutable and remixable: music that has left humans behind. Welcome to the singularity disco. If your names not down, youre not coming in. An invisible thing in a landscape is just a landscape. The point of invisibility is to fail.
A just glimpsed beast-shaped burr now that catches the breath. The realisation that a vine is not a vine, but a limb, and that its hunting: that sensory stutter is what gets you. It takes seeing through a disguise to be astounded by it. Thats what it takes to realise that the universe is not as it seems. Normality blathers like a bore at a. These satori outriders, these glimmers and halfrealisations, are like slow dot-dotdots as the worlds monologue peters out, confused. So when the full disruption comes, it does so like a strange noise into silence. The cloaking goes down, and there, ex nihilo, something is watching.
The Predator. The Romulan Warbird, shimmering into malevolent prominence too close to our enterprise. On the forbidden. And a more astounding unveiling even than those spectaculars of pulp. You know it: that YouTube footage of that octopus hiding on that weedy rock outcrop, its peerless mimicry abruptly and dramatically dissolving in a flash of alarm-blanched skin.
The video is everywhere, clogging up the internet, provoking endless ignorant flame warriors to accuse its maker of CGI trickery. It is simultaneously.
Roger Hanlon is the man, traduced by fools as a digital cheat, who filmed that moment. He is one of the worlds foremost researc hers i nto camouf lage, a nd into cephalopods. He is watching another octopus. He is introducing its qualities to you, its visitors, and no matter how many. Peering from a shard of piping, coming into view, not with dermatological showmanship this time, but slowly expanding from its hide, the lone survivor of an earlier world looks back. It regards you neither with nor without enthusiasm. The alien melancholy in its eyes is hardly a surprise. The octopus should not be here.
It is a refugee from an eradicated past. Anthropologist Roland Burrage. Dixon, in his book Oceanic Mythology, explained its sheer alterity. According to the Hawaiian account, he said, the world is created from shadow and abyss and chaos, the wreck and ruin of an earlier world. In this brutal and astonishing protology, waves of new creatures fight and die until the universe is a pile of debris and outcompeted corpses, on the accumulating decay of which a new world rises.
New but for one form. A solitary escapee. In the. It hauls itself like a tugged rag and abruptly spreads against the inside of its tank, a muscular starburst of vacuums. It moves across the face of the glass, now through the water, now on the tank-floor stones. The piece came with now-iconic videos o f Amphioctopus marginatus and Abdopus aculeatus each walking. Eliciting hilarity not unmixed with unease, this sinister-comic ambulation quickly became an internet trope. But, astonishing as such motion is, it is walking.
It has a name. It is utterly, characteristically, octopus motion, and it has no name at all. It is. It partakes of crawling, rolling, oozing, climbing, swimming, struggling, swaggering, billowing. And tonguing. The arms are muscular hydrostats equipped with taste buds. Each grasp, each suckered hauling and investigation, is a taste test.
Alien libertine, the octopus moves by sensuous licking. Hanlon explains what you are seeing. He describes the four muscle groups that power those extraordinary motions. He enumerates the 10, neurons in each sucker. In an extended, visionary slander against the octopus in his book The Toilers of. Even one so used to them as Hanlon describes the pads with something between glee and awe. They are so strong, he says urgently, they can cavitate water. Perhaps in the earlier world of which it is an exile, such suckers were as unremarkable as the paws of cats.
If we have not learned to be cautious of imperious claims about. But whether Dixons Hawaiian informants would recognise the story imputed to them or not, whether the insight into octopuss secret origin is indeed a traditional Oceanic one, or some inadvertent dream misunderstood into existence, it is i ndisp en sable. It explains everything. There is no shortage of considerations of, ruminations on, considerations of, anxieties about. Roger Caillois, dissident surrealist, devoted a whole book an essay, he styles it, on the logic of the imagination to la pieuvre.
Ray Harryhausen, the Leonardo da Vinci of stopmotion, lovingly had one technically a hexapus, for budgetary reasons assault San Francisco. More than years ago, puppet-master Walter Deaves made of it the worlds most astonishing marionette. Most movingly, the great revolutionary. Louise Michel, in exile in New Caledonia after the destruction of the Paris Commune in , offered up her fascination and solidarity to this monster with a strange gaze.
She met one marooned in a rock pool. Remnant again, for a second time. Something in our bones knows Burrage is right: they are here by the grace of apocalypseeluding luck and grit. They should not be here. They are interruptions. Woods Hole, on Cape Cod, is small and pretty. It is served by tea shops and swish boutiques. It is stuffed utterly with research institutes. The ratios of marine-science insight per square foot and per inhabitant are. A curious wanderer could, in half a days brisk stroll of these streets, find answers to all her abstruse queries about oceanic geology, fluid dynamics, fish morphology and the diet of krill.
And cephalopods. Off the corridors of Roger Hanlons MBL are pleasant offices that could be in any university wing or administrative building around. Computers, personal photos, potted plants, water coolers, noticeboards and name tags. Departmental decor. Another turn, a different route, and youre in a chamber the size of a small warehouse, where the survivor lives.
Overhead are tubes like low boughs. Pick a way through a maze of workbenches and waist-high containers. There are many more animals than just cephalopods here. Horseshoe crabs, starfish in piles,. Tanks of small, curious squid torpedoing around. Nearby, though carefully separate, are containers of gloopy egg fingers laced with pheromones Hanlon calls the stuff kickapoo joy juice capable of triggering savage mat i ng behav iou rs a nd colourful Teuthic battles, aggression lightshowing the skin.
There are more colour shifts to come. Up the stairs to a room full of cuttlefish. This chamber is at once a. You can tell a lot about someone from their favourite cephalopod. Animal acme of formlessness, the octopus is the cultural point-zero; it is the ceph of choice for the discerning philosopher. The giant squid has more swagger and kitsch cachet. The nautilus, its nacreous Fibonacci shell embedded in poetry by Oliver Wendell Holmes, is favoured by those of prissier taste. In the last few years even that. Financial catastrophe was the animals memetic making.
In , in Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi pronounced Goldman Sachs a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity: a colourful political intervention and a gross insult to squids, and vampires. At such a semiotic level, cuttlefish, Sepiidae, have been poor relations, known best for posthumously providing beak-.
They deserve nothing less. They are, Hanlon stresses, formidably intelligent the equal of the octopus. The precise nature of cephalopod intelligence and thought is enthusiastically debated. Does the octopus have distributed intelligence, a sort of one-animal hive mind, as Peter Godfrey-Smith has mooted?
Do octopuses have distinct personalities? Hanlon is particularly sceptical of the latter. The shelves are stacked with cuttlefish in plastic tubs like large washing-up bowls. They scoot around their habitats holding their limbs up in oddly formal poses, like Victorian pugilists. They are mostly brownish, on entry, but any observation of cuttlefish colour is at best contingent and fleeting. That, indeed, is one of the main reasons for their presence.
There are no cuttlefish native to American waters. These flamboyant-skinned subjects, international travellers, have been imported from Europe, to be kept suspended in time in this ruthlessly seasonless room. Like Dickensian orphans, they are kept cold and fed. Not that these pre-teens are wholly quiescent. They watch you warily with pupils shaped like Ws: you are eyed by letters.
Kimberly Ulmer, laboratory research assi stant, moves with care. The room displays the consequences of incaution: the wall behind a bank of tubs is stained with what looks like it could be dried blood. It is melanin and. Each salvo was jetted a considerable distance by the captives, and each has hit the wall hard they are spattered to delight a CSI.
The institute is decorated with cuttlefish anxiety. Ulmer provokes no such sepia fusillade. She isolates a subject, and under it, one by one, she slips mats printed with a variety of. With flushes and strange blushes, the cuttlefish changes. The cephalopod professionals seem mildly disappoi nted with the display, but to amateur eyes the swift transition of patterning, the protean shimmer of the cutt lefish skin, is adequately astonishing.
Camouflage studies, like any specialism, is split. There are orthodox and dissident, avant-garde opinions. Hanlon argues,. How, he stresses, do you hide edges? As much as on efforts at resemblance, his work focuses on how cephalopod camouflage breaks up information. The research has led to countless photographs of countless cuttlefish against backgrounds of decreasing naturalness. Sand and pebbles. Stripes, vertical and slanted. And there are some on strange, black-and-white, vaguely.
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As the scale of such patterns gets larger, the animals find it harder to hide until, cowed-looking, they sit quite visible. There is something precise and conclusive in those images of cuttlefish failure. They ruin the lines. They do not fit. Their disruption no longer confuses, but draws the eye.
The everyday, anthropocentric gaze banalises the world, interprets remorselessly, makes everything at which we look. Cephalopods struggle for their own opacity. The lone survivor means nothing but itself. The squid is a predatory evasion, no matter what of it we learn. And here are cuttlefish, ruining our solipsism, schmutz on the Rorschach test. A new breed of survivalist is preparing for the imminent collapse of Western civilisation easy to mock, b u t Paul Graham Raven thinks the collapsonomic crowd will have the last laugh.
The August sunshine is swiftly drying up an hours worth of rain, but the loud music and debauch usually associated with the word festival are largely absent. There is music, sure, but it is predominantly folk or roots-based. There is poetry. There are writing workshops, and a bicentennial commemoration very well attended of the Luddite uprising.
A practical introduction to the hand scythe punctuates discussions about how to survive the socio-economic collapse of the nation-state. One can hardly move for movements at the moment. The international hacktivist group. Anonymous rattles its digital sabre at governments and corporations alike; the Occupy protests against economic and social inequality have metastasised, bonding seemingly disparate events and locations under a common if deliberately ill-defined banner.
Serious newspapers talk grimly of endemic distrust in the political process, while politicians themselves seem increasingly detached from the reality the rest of us inhabit. All of which raises a big scary question: how are we going to manage when the world we know breaks down? The mathematics is pretty simple: there are seven billion human beings on the planet right now, and we expect that number to peak at around nine billion. The planets resources are renewable up to a point, but if everybody on the planet consumed at the rate of the hypothetical average North American, we would need eight.
A world of average Europeans requires four. We dont have four planets, or even two. We have just one. Either we all consume less, or a lot of people will have to die. This isnt politics. This is home economics. Politics is merely the mechanism by which we decide who eats and who starves: a brutal calculus concealed behind the prestidigitations of politicians and economists. Climate change, economic. Sterling founded the Viridian Design movement in Viridian promoted a bright green design aesthetic that addressed environmental challenges in a.
Its can-do approach and global vision distinguished it from the leaf green of more traditional environmental movements, and ran quite counter to the dark or hairshirt green thinking of back-to-theland primitivists. Contributors included Alex Steffen, Jamais Cascio and Jon Lebkowsky, who went on to found the now-defunct Worldchanging blog and the book of the same name.
All three have become regulars on the global. Sterling wrapped up Viridian in , around the time the sub-prime mortgage bubble burst. Three years on, were still trying to clean up the mess. Defibrillatory bailouts and quantitative easing programmes have failed to produce more than a handful of weak pulses before the world markets death spiral reasserted itself. More depressing still, few of our current economic crises arrived as unexpected guests.
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Inequalities and overconsumption. The writing has always been on the wall. In the last decade, the spray-can strokes have simply got thicker and darker. Radicals thinking On the first floor of a former embassy at the foot of Haymarket in Londons West End, a dozen people are sat around the remains of a Chinese buffet takeaway and a few bottles of wine.
In the foyer the glass and steel and expensive. Whiteboards are plentiful, as are small clusters of chairs, mute testament to earlier discussions. This is one of those start-up hubs: unconstrained spaces whose founders hope to nurture new businesses for a changing world. By day the place. Globetrotting security consultant Eleanor Saitta is perched on the backrest of a chair, addressing the other diners: progressive businesspersons, policymakers, futurists, writers and a young trio whove wandered up from the OccupyLSX camp. Shes been describing the social projects that have grown out of the Scandinavian.
There are some wild, Neal-Stephensonish ideas being mooted in Iceland, too, as that tiny country attempts to redefine itself for a changing world. Saitta argues that our global communications networks are inextricably bound up in the radical changes sweeping the world. When the internet encounters an institution, she says, it eviscerates. This has already happened to the music industry, and its currently happening to journalism and publishing. Whos next in the firing line? Saitta identifies the revolutions next two within-our-lifetime targets. The banks will be the first to go; then the governments.
Saittas visit is being hosted by Vinay Gupta, best known as the inventor of the Hexayurt, an open-. Guptas genial manner and Scots accent belie the seriousness of his hobby-horse topics: radical carbon footprint reduction, for instance; and multilateral nuclear disarmament. Nor is he the sort of fellow who, at a glance, youd expect to have worked with the Pentagon.
Gupta has led an eventful life, mixing spiritual self-discovery with. His activism, which is more of a peripatetic lifestyle than a career or hobby, is informed by those experiences, and by his longstanding interest in magical practice and a certain school of Hindu mysticism. This lends a spiritual dimension to his outlook on the underlying resource-consumption issue. In a blog post he wrote:.
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I cannot see that this doesnt all root back into the desire to end the world in pursuit of something better than life. Thats what were buying at the mall: little unitised packets of the death of the world, packaged into products, and enjoyed not in spite of, but because of, the worldeath they represent. Gupta was also inspired by reading Sterlings story Green Days in Brunei, whose cast of postnational characters are muddling their way to a hard-scrabble but.
For Gupta, some sort of global civil collapse is inevitable. The open questions are how severe and swift it will be, and how gracefully we can ride it out. I dont know how you dig years-plus of bad software out of a system without doing a reformat. The same question occupies John Global Guerrillas Robb, a former USAF major and counter-terrorism operative turned writer and theorist, who delights in pointing out just how much more suited the open-. Robb is currently developing and publishing online guides for creating resilient communities that will survive the unavoidable collapse of hollow states like the US.
A lot of influential people in the United States pay attention to Robb. So do increasing numbers of ordinary folk: people who doubt. For those who feel powerless, Robbs message is: stop waiting to be helped. Help yourselves, and each other. Robb is also vocally supportive of other efforts toward building sustainable independent communities and businesses.
A recent favourite of his is the Global Village Construction Set, an opensource laboratory producing DIY designs for the sort of cheap, durable tools you would need to go off-grid as a community: tractors and backhoes, wind turbines, baking ovens, CNC routers and 3D.
Download the design for free, or buy a finished product if youre in a hurry. Back in the UK, the Transition Towns movement is attempting to spread awareness and preparedness in communities of all shapes and sizes for the arrival of energy shortages and disruptive climate change.
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The movement flatly refuses to tell people what to do or how to do it; its whole ethos is to encourage and disseminate independent thought, to share. If thats all a bit too Blitz spirit for you, the Dark Mountain manifesto might be more up your street. Dark Mountain is the brainchild of Paul Kingsnorth and Dougald Hine, writers, activists, and co-founders of the Institute for Collapsonomics. Dark Mountain assumes that civilisation as we know it is gasping its last.
It attempts to address that gloomy future with art,. In their manifesto, Uncivilisation, they write: The last taboo is the myth of civilisation. It is built upon the stories we have constructed about our genius, our indestructibility, our manifest destiny as a chosen species We believe that, in the age of ecocide, the last taboo must be broken and that only artists can do it. Section Four of the manifesto is. It is, in some respects, an admission of defeat, advocating an exodus from the city, a great expedition into the unknown.
Uncivilisations map of the future burgeons with blank spaces and long arduous journeys. It does not promise the comforting denouements of progress. In fact it promises little more than hard work in hard times. Its honesty is stern and unflinching: We write with. Alongside that extensive and gloomily eloquent manifesto, two well-received anthologies of creative writing have emerged from the Dark Mountain camp, plus of course the festival. This arty angle on apocalypse attracts a distinct demographic: one drawn neither to the rugged practicalities of Transition Towns, nor to the fevered network-centric brainstorming of the futurists.
The teepees and lentils of the. There are some classic hippie variants here, of course, but no more than youd see at any other festival. Theres also a goodly streak of old punks, travellers and ravers, some more reintegrated into the mainstream than others. But Im surprised by the number of normal-looking Gen-X people p r e s e n t : Guardianista liberals whove lost their faith in the shibboleth of Progress and are.
These arent the sort of people Ive encountered in the protest and ecology movements of the recent past; these are the people we always felt we were failing to reach, failing to engage. Somehow, an urge toward personal resilience and preparedness has replaced the hope that the government will get it all sorted. Instead of reassurances,. Solutions are thin on the ground, but the festival supplies the ingredients for baking your own.
Discussions about bootstrapping a post-money economy and panels on the second-order effects of economic collapse in the Russian Federation are interspersed with poetry readings, live music and talks on the idyllic slowness of the. It sounds charming, in a windswept gettingup-early-to-feed-the-sheep kind of way, though the speaker didnt mention how those of us unable to purchase an isolated croft in the Shetlands might invite permaculture into our lives.
Its a curious admixture of the wistful and the pragmatic, the speculative and the practical. And that, perhaps, is the common thread running through all the movements and ideologies currently. No one knows quite whats going to happen, though everyones got a sign or portent of doom to share. No one knows quite what we should do, but as the storm clouds gather on the horizon, everyone knows that we have to do something, if only to dispel the creeping sense of futility.
My take on it is that each of us has our own Dark Mountain to climb, Vinay Gupta remarks, and that we must face it individually,. In that respect, its a lot like life. Were waking up to the problems presented by our unsustainable consumption patterns. But accepting hardship and preparing for privation isnt second nature in the former First World just yet.
Beneath the awning of the festival catering van, there are bitter complaints that the baked potatoes have sold out. Good to go Liz Jensen Short story ts peak season here at the lake. A hundred in the shade, breeze like a sadist hair-dryer, speedboats roaring on the water, stirring up scuzz from the latest algal-bloom explosion. Weekends like this, the whole towns packed with head-cases from Utah getting high like only outta-state Mormons. Hi there. Kylie Wells, Angel Operator, at your service. Thats what I say to the tragedies when they come in, which might sound dumb seeing as they cant hear me, but youre gonna get intimate with someone, you gotta introduce yourself at least, is my thinking.
The Angels always been called the Angel, but the overall system needed branding cuz Threshold, who I work for, they launch it commercially hopefully next year, so you know what they paid some New York team a fortune to come up with? Sweet Parting. Some dude from HQ sent an email about how it originates from the William Shakespeare quotation parting is such sweet sorrow , but sorrow being a downer they did some tweaking. Right away us Angel-.
My favorite? Die Nice. The Angels been so much in demand it feels like Ive barely switched her off since I got here, which is four weeks ago. We got murders, boat collisions, oxy explosions, car smashes, drugs-andalcohol offences, pervert autoasphyxiations, you name it. And suicides, we got them up the ass. Had one come in last night, a bleach. Jeez, I thought.
Theres still such a thing as bleach? A primitive, the extremely sexy new doc on the ICU called her. But truth is, that girl coulda been me, a decade or so back, before I quit Kentucky and straightened out. When I sent the kids report in to the Operator Feedback Division, I flagged up the exit shot, told them. Threshold should use it in Sweet Partings promotional material, if theyre planning some kinda brochure.
Bleach or no bleach, she went out with the best smile I seen all year. Her final wish? A ten-inch butterfly tattoo at the top of her ass-crack, one wing either side of the coccyx. Colours: red, blue and green. I shit you not. According to the grapevine that were not supposed to have cuz itll. In the meantime were still fine-tuning this one, to feed into the next phase. The jurys out on what that actually means: all we know is, after the last set of software adjustments they sent ten machines to Montana, another fifteen to North and South Carolina, five to Florida and two to Arizona.
The others in Pheonix so as fars I know, Im operating the only Angel this side of the state capital. In fact I think I speak for all of us in your employ, O mighty Threshold Care Corporation, when I say we Angel-operators are so thrilled to have jobs wed go just about anywhere you choose to send us. Wouldnt suit anyone with a family and ties, but the job fits us just fine: wed fly to the moon at an hours notice, is how happy we are with our pay-cheques.
I been to some places on this gig Id neverve. In terms of Lake Havasu City? Well put it this way, I drive over the original London Bridge every day on my way to the hospital without barely even noticing it. It musta been quite a landmark a century-ish ago when the millionaire dude imported it stone by stone from Ye Olde England to make a tourist. Im a creature of habit. I stop, buy one, and drink it in the car.
Ew, yeah. I roll into the ICU, fire up my Angel. The sexy new ER docs there again, the one that called the bleach-swallower a primitive. Hi Medicine Man. Hi Kylie. Call me Angus. Hes early twenties, but Im in good shape, so Im on his radar. Dr Angus van der Kamp. Sounds like a bull. Hows it hanging today, Angus? He can rampage me any time. Its hanging good thanks Kylie. So whatre we expecting today? Ambulance is en route, due in fifteen. Car smash on the highway, oncoming truck driver DOA, some lesser injuries being seen to.
Weve got two coming in, both Angel candidates. I like the challenge of multiples. He smiles. Funny you should say that, Kylie. Me too. I appreciate that extra layer of decision-making. Then well make quite a team, Angus. But first I need more coffee, you want one? No thanks, dude, off you go. Ill beep if I need you. I head upstairs. What I really wants a muffin but since like thirty seconds ago dude! Im dieting. Nominees with the highest number of votes are announced as second round winners.
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