Is AI Art Really Art?
What it will mean to be moved by an AI’s mindless creativity.
He Fast-Forwarded Evolution into the Future
Forty years ago, a paleontologist pictured Earth millions of years from now. His vision is a wake-up call for us today.
The Book That Invented the World
Now that we’re corralled into our homes and apartments, something seems pre-modern in how our worlds have shrunk. Unlike past quarantines, we’re also connected by digital technology to the rest of the globe, calling to mind poet John Donne’s line from a 1633 poem about making “one little room an everywhere.” Donne came of age […]
How to Collapse the Distinction Between Art and Biology
What Xenotext does is cause its audience to reevaluate their ideas of creation, both literary and biological.Illustration by GiroScience / Shutterstock Language,” the Beat writer William S. Burroughs supposedly once exclaimed, “is a virus from outer space.” Burroughs was making a metaphorical extrapolation about the ways in which words, phrases, idioms, sentences, lines, and narratives […]
The Case for Treating Gatsby as a Real Person
If we lean too much on the text itself, or the history surrounding it, and view with suspicion why people read, and what happens when they do, then we threaten to ignore some of the most interesting questions this weird thing called literature poses. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a reader in possession […]
God Created Consciousness in Fiction
Given his grandeur, pettiness, and complexity, and his capacity for introspection, he’s the major exception to the flatness of ancient characters—God.Illustration by Humphrey King / Flickr Many modern novels do something that the earliest literature sometimes seems incapable of doing—representing the inner life of the individual, in all its complexity. The history of literature has […]
Why Pascal’s Wager Is Eminently Modern
Fingers Crossed: Pascal reasoned that life is a sort of “game,” and that our faith in God, or lack-there-of, is our wager as to the ultimate nature of reality.Photograph by Albert / Flickr On the evening of November 23rd, 1654, the brilliant polymath Blaise Pascal was thrown from his horse-drawn carriage, the creatures having been […]