What the Hell is Going On in the World? LINKS 12/27/17

#CAVETWITTER

What is #CaveTwitter?

Plato begins to weep as he shackles himself to the wall, praying to the shadows. You walk on by, each step algorithmically ticcing in time with the nothingness suffocating you; the Cave loves you, kinda. A group of pagans greet you.

They’ve stopped already, pure deceleration to the point of minus-death.

NATURE

—“A new kind of spiral wave embraces disorder.”

Waves, which exhibit a variety of shapes, are common in nature. For example, they can be found in cells that undergo cyclical patterns, such as heart cells rhythmically contracting to produce heartbeats or nerve cells firing in the brain. In a normal heart, electrical signals propagate from one end to another, triggering waves of contractions in heart cells. But sometimes the wave can spiral out of control, creating swirls that can lead to a racing or irregular heartbeat. Such spiral waves emanate in an orderly fashion from a central point, reminiscent of the red and white swirls on a peppermint candy. But the newly observed spiral wave chimera is messy in the middle.

OCCULTURE

Erik Davis‘s essay Babalon Rising explores Jack Parsons‘s “vision of the goddess Babalon, and explores some of the influences–from pulp fiction to libertarianism to his own erotic temperament – that encouraged Parsons to both extend and significant rework [Aleister] Crowley’s image of the powerful Thelemic goddess. What results is a strange prophecy of the radical feminist witchcraft to come“:

…the tale of the SoCal rocket scientist cum-sex magician has proven a hot commodity, told and retold in a series of articles, biographies, graphic novels, movie scripts, and reality tv shows that have transformed Parsons into one of the most storied figures in the history of American occulture. The superficial reasons are easy to see: with its charismatic blend of sex, sorcery, technology and death, Parsons’ story haunts a dark crossroads of the Southern California mindscape, scrawling a prophetic glyph in the wet pavement of postwar America. Indeed, his tale is so outrageous that if it did not exist, it would need — as they say — to be invented. But if it were invented — that is, if his life were presented as the fiction it in so many ways resembles — it would be hard to believe, even as a fiction. The narrative would seem overly contrived, at once too pulp and too poetic, too rich with allegorical synchronicity to stage the necessary suspension of disbelief.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Ed West on the toxicity of social media:

What vanity is to Instagram, sanctimony is to Twitter, the competition to be purer-than-thou and to gain status in the moral community the most tiresome aspect of the site; it turns comedians into bad preachers and writers into lazy partisans. This sense of moral superiority is also what drives so many high-status people with blue ticks to be so unpleasant and bad mannered on the site, which I think mars it almost as much as the extremist untermenschen.

THE COLLEGE DEATH SPIRAL

Michael Krieger has a few recent posts up devoted to rethinking the American education system.

As I write this, I’m excited to say we live in one of the most extraordinary times in human history. The old way of doing things in virtually every aspect of human civilization has either broken down, or is breaking down as I write this. Communications, media, finance, money itself, etc. The list is seemingly endless, and education is no exception. In fact, I think education is an example of extremely low-hanging fruit and will be disrupted and decentralized in unimaginable ways in the years ahead.

WALKING TOWARD ONE’S FATE

—Quillette.com on “The Hero’s Task“:

Thousands of years before anyone spoke of an “internal locus of control,” the poets and bards of earlier epochs knew the decisive importance of walking toward one’s fate. The one who did this was known as the hero. Whoever daily confronts uncertainty and fear, no matter how mundane the gesture, is heroic in the psychological sense. “We each have an appointment with ourselves, though most of us never show up for it,” writes Jungian analyst James Hollis. “Showing up, and dealing with whatever must be faced in the chasms of fear and self-doubt, that is the hero task.”

…consider the words of Marcus Aurelius. During a military campaign against Barbarian invaders, the emperor and stoic philosopher wrote the following lines to himself nearly two thousand years ago:

At first day’s light have in readiness, against disinclination to leave your bed, the thought that, “I am rising for the work of man.” Must I grumble at setting out to do what I was born for, and for the sake of which I have been brought into the world? Is this the purpose of my creation, to lie here under the blankets and keep myself warm?

Creating a society in which we are encouraged to confront anxiety and face difficult realities matters not just for the mental health of individuals, but also for our collective well-being. In the world that soon awaits us, humankind will desperately need those individuals willing to rise from their beds. The challenges that loom ahead will require us to set aside timidity, weakness, and victimhood and claim instead agency and boldness, no matter how grim the odds.

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