In the work of the Argentine writer Julio Cortázar, the shortest distances are often also the greatest: The space between self and other can be maddeningly difficult to traverse. Full of magical transformations, ritual sacrifices, and turbulent prophetic dreams, Cortázar’s writing abounds with troubled pairings, unlikely and uneasy doppelgängers who come apart even as—especially as—they converge.
Mice whose father or grandfather learned to associate the smell of cherry blossom with an electric shock became more jumpy in the presence of the same odour, and responded to lower concentrations of it than normal mice.
Is the narrow binary of go to college/don’t go to college, really the
best option we have to offer students of the twenty-first century?
I’m an environmental philosopher. In 2008, I invented a word to describe all kinds of things that you can study and think about and compute, but that are not so easy to see directly: hyperobjects. Things like: not just a Styrofoam cup or two, but all the Styrofoam on Earth, ever. All that Styrofoam is going to last an awfully long time: 500 years, maybe. It’s going to outlive me by a great extent. Will my family’s descendants even be related to me in any kind of meaningful way by 2514? There is so much more Styrofoam on Earth right now than there is Timothy Morton.
On the opening night, one panellist made magic of the word, enforcing that idea that we don’t know what they do, we can’t control them, and that they go on to invent themselves like an ever replicating organism. This, I’m afraid, is a literal fairytale (oh, wouldn’t it be easier if it was? I’m kidding).
I realised that half the time, this is because the very use of the word ‘algorithm’, the weight of supposed meaning we place behind it by throwing it into these contexts, removes the humans that created them entirely.