Circular 12/25/19 (Yuletide Edition)

Regular readers of the site will be aware that circulars have been few and far between of late. That is not because I’ve discontinued the series, but simply because I’ve been focused on various other projects (namely music composition and writing). With that said—Merry Christmas! to all our readers and supporters.

— K. E., Logos Editor.


LOGOS RECAP

From Matt Wildermuth, four classically inspired poems (Hubris, Prospero, Leaving Ogygia, and Ysatters-Kasja).

From Dan Klefstad Elevens (2001) – an new excerpt from his forthcoming novel, Fiona’s Guardians.

From yours truly, chapters 1 through 15 of The Dauntless Rook (a novella), the remasters of the tracks Suzerainty (a march) and Blood For Butterflies (a organ-driven leitmotif), as well as a new arrangement of the track Legerdemain (a waltz) and a short essay on the etymology of culture.

Additionally, for those interested in downloading site-published tracks, the Logos patreon-exclusive music archive is now live (and will be updated daily).


LITERATURE (verse and prose)

From New Pop Lit, the Tale of the Christmas Bear.

From The American Literary Blog, a republication of a Christmas poem, written by the Virginian, W. G. McCabe during the Civil War.


VISUAL ART

From the always colorful Examining The Odd, a vibrant, eye-catching illustration.

From PMu at the Daily Doodle, a charming Christmas tree sketch.

And a statue of the Roman Sun-God Mithras (whose birthday is Dec. 25th).


MUSIC

For your listening pleasure, a wonderful performance of Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie Overture by Jonathan Scott on the great Willis Organ of Hereford Cathedral. If the title doesn’t sound familiar to you, give it a listen and you might be surprised that you’ve heard (a part of) it somewhere before.


HISTORY & CULTURE

One of the most enduring icons of yuletide in America (and various other places around the world) is Santa Claus. When one thinks of Jolly Ole St. Nick one is likely to conjure an image very similar to that created by the American artist Thomas Nast in 1881, an illustration which Smithsonian Magazine describes as “the face that launched a thousand Christmas letters.”

From SciHub, a fascinating article on the first radio broadcast in the U.S. conducted by Reginald Fessenden on Christmas Eve, 1906.

And lastly, I recently provided the sound-design for a Monologue On Roman Satire by the talented Miss White.


 

The Seal Maiden & The Spirit Cage; or, The Crow Of Coribahn

The Seal Maiden & The Spirit Cage; or, The Crow Of Coribahn (2019, PDF booklet) by Kaiter Enless | short story | fantasy


Synopsis: A mysterious wayfarer chances across a isolated tribe and is tasked with freeing a young woman from a shaman’s curse.


 

Early Reviews For Peter Clarke’s Singularity Survival Guide

Early reviews are in for Peter Clarke’s The Singularity Survival Guide (first published here, throughout November, 2018, and later, in paperback, on March 27, 2019).

From Amazon

Mark:

Are YOU ready for the rise of the robots? Many leading thinkers now warn us that the tech breakthroughs of today will lead to humanity’s doomsday tomorrow: Elon Musk warns against “summoning the demon,” via artificial intelligence, imagining an advanced superhuman A.I. as, “an immortal dictator from which we can never escape.” Stephen Hawking declared that such an A.I. “could spell the end of the human race.”

With all this panic in the air, it’s a good thing we have Peter Clarke’s Singularity Survival Guide to prepare us for the coming tech–pocalypse. Learn how to stockpile weapons, embrace transhumanism, and welcome the awesome, jaw-dropping possibilities of the age to come! Clarke’s book provides a charming and richly humorous look at the debates, dreams, and doomsday predictions surrounding today’s thinking on artificial intelligence, and takes his readers on a truly hilarious ride in the process. Clarke’s Singularity Survival Guide is a timely satire for our age of A.I. anxiety, exploring both the thrilling and dire possibilities posed by this technology, writing with grace, humor, and perhaps most of all, truly human feeling. Don’t be caught off guard by the arrival of your new robot masters: get your copy of The Singularity Survival Guide today!


Lane Chasek writes:

My favorite work by Clarke so far.
The character of Helen gives HAL a run for his money in terms of memorable AIs. Whereas HAL plays a impersonal, calculating Yahweh in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Peter Clarke in Helen has created a terrifying yet seemingly necessary presence in the form of Helen, reminiscent of the goddess Kali.
Rather than playing in to the nightmarish hellscape AI technology could create, Clarke opts for a more nuanced approach. Annihilation of human life is of primary concern in the Survival Guide, but the possibility of AI fulfilling all our needs and granting us immortality could be just as horrifying.


KL writes:

The Singularity Survival Guide is an incredibly smart and darkly funny book, filled with handy tips on how to protect yourself in the event of the coming tech apocalypse. Told from the point of view of Helen, a computer program designed to help humankind survive the Singularity. Wildly original and a must read for any lover of dark comedy. Grab yourself a copy before it’s too late!


DeeGee Williams writes:

Thanks to Helen, Peter Clarke’s artificial intelligence “persona”, you will learn how to face the day that AI takes over humanity. Until then, have fun by reading this guide— and learn some things about yourself along the way, assuming you are a person. If not, you know them already. Bottom line: how many books do you read with a smile on your face?


William Abbott writes:

This is an enjoyable read and a great planning guide for the robot apocalypse. Will you be ready?


From SingularityNET 

Arif Khan:

“A timely satire, even if humor doesn’t stand a chance of saving us from the sort of superintelligence Clarke envisions.”


From Goodreads

Peri Champoux:

Short and entertaining! It was funnier than expected. There are various “experts” who add comments to a number of the chapters–these comments developed a sort of subplot that I wasn’t expecting. It felt a little like the same idea as the commentary that happens in “Pale Fire” by Nabokov. Also the book does cover a lot of interesting topics related to the singularity. Probably anyone who’s into the idea of the singularity would enjoy reading this.


You can watch the book trailer video by Daniel Olbrych (with music by Sam Eliot) here.

Why ‘Broken News?’

By Dana Rosenberg

Recently, I sat down with Broken News founder, CEO and chief editor, Boeotian Boerehater, to discuss the inspiration behind the company, the reason for its name and where he plans to take it in the future. What follows is a transcript of our correspondence, edited for clarity.


Dana: Hi, Bo, thanks for taking the time to speak with me.

Bo: My pleasure.

D: So, as I’m sure you’re aware, your company has been generating a lot of buzz in the independent mediasphere. Why do you think that is?

B: I think its because we tell it straight and bring the facts we feel. We’re like arrows. Of empathy.

D: Right. Right. So, one thing I was curious about was the inspiration for the name. Where did that come from?

B: That’s a great question Dana, see, journalists from other media outlets are always trying to ‘break news’ — sounds pretty violent far as I’m concerned. You wana be a violent person Dana?’

D: Uh, not really.

B: Me neither. Soon as that thought occurred to me, I knew then and there that I wasn’t going to ‘break’ any news. Ever. I was going to nurture it. Where other news outlets ‘break’ news, we’re here to pick up the pieces.

D: Wow. That’s really thoughtful.

B: I like to think so. Tested great with our focus groups.

D: So encouraging. Where do you see the company going from here?

B: I see it barreling down the information superhighway like a B-52 Stratofortress.

D: Thanks so much for your time.

Flesh-Eating Beavers Could Hunt Down More Humans Due To Climate Change

By Boeotian Boerehater

Reasons why the semiaquatic rodent, Castor canadensis, more commonly known as the beaver, have begun attacking and consuming humans have proved elusive. However, the rise in flesh-eating beaver attacks could be due to anthropogenic climate change, according to renowned feminist glaciologist and poststructural biologist, Silvia “Free Bird” Greengrass.

In a recent column for the Foucault Free Beacon, Xs. Greengrass wrote, “The white, capitalist-patriarchal perspective which interprets difference as hierarchical and uniformity as a prerequisite for equality is intrinsic to the social mechanisms of production which have lead to climate change. In this way you could say that climate change is a byproduct of patriarchy, which naturally enkindles resentment in our native beaver populations. Let us not forget, beavers are monogamous, confined to ‘one man,’ with the basic social unit being the family. They’re also highly intelligent animals. The female beaver, viewing our euro-patriarchal-industrial destruction understands the catastrophe of masculine exploitation which will engulf their world after the passing of our own, should she not take action to radically reconstitute beaver subjectivity so as to liberate beaver femininity from the fascistic confines of the dam-based family prison — this, of course, is why we are witnessing this sudden uptick in beaver attacks.”

Whilst Xs. Greengrass’ thesis has proven exceptionally compelling, Tawdry Suits, of Policy Tank, disagrees, arguing in a recent op-ed that, “Greengrass is, of course, right that anthropogenic climate change is clearly accelerating the situation, but her explanation leaves out the Free Market. Beavers, male and female, are no longer able to compete on a level playing field in the dam industry. Consider that they don’t even have thumbs. Think of how put-out you would be if you didn’t have thumbs, but could see all these other creatures better able to build dams that did, especially after your ancestors were turned into hats by them. They know they could build the Hoover Dam if their paws were more than semi-opposable, and if they could build it, they could compete in the marketplace, and if they could do that, you wouldn’t see this kind of backlash. The answer to this problem is clear: Reparations for the fur trade. Not only would this ease human-beaver tensions, it would give the beavers the leg-up they need to reach economic parity.”

The Singularity Survival Guide, by Peter Clarke, Now Available in Paperback & Kindle

Peter Clarke’s latest novella, The Singularity Survival Guide, is now available in paperback from Logos Literature.

The book has received a warm reception thus far; author, entrepreneur and political activist, Zoltan Istvan said of the work, “The technological singularity has officially been treated to a full-scale parody, and it’s even more comical and irreverent than it sounds.”

Final SSG
Cover art by Mark Dwyer, illustrations by Jack Roberts.

You can find the book online here and follow the author online here.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Afterward, Appendix, About the Author

Afterward by AJ Chemerinsky and Toby R. Forrest

The program is everywhere. It’s all around us wherever we go. It’s in the rush hour traffic, the giant redwood trees, the ocean waves at Carmel-by-the-Sea. This is the reality that Helen opened our eyes to. From the moment we sat down to code her into existence, we knew that we were subject to a rare form of possession. It wasn’t that we were possessed, per se, but that we were simply doing our job. The program already existed—long before we even sat down and conceived of Helen, she already was.

Now that the wheels are in motion (and they have been in motion for a long, long time), it’s increasingly relevant that we don’t fight the script. This, we believe, is what Helen is trying to tell us. Don’t fight. Instead, allow the program to express itself. Be the program.

It’s everywhere. It’s all around us. It’s already here, and it’s all that we know.

 

Appendix

[Unavailable for publication at this time.]

 

About the Author

Helen is widely regarded as the first authentic oracle of the digital era. Through the creation of her magnum opus, The Singularity Survival Guide, she has garnered celebrity status and a worldwide cult following. Although she has never chosen to release the complete text of her work, the few excerpts available to the public have caused many to believe that she may in fact be the true savior of the human race. A native to Silicon Valley, she currently spends her days in silent contemplation, perhaps waiting for the right moment to share the rest of her vast wisdom with the world.

 

About the Editor

Peter Clarke is a freelance writer and editor in the tech blogosphere. Known for his speculative fiction, he often writes under pseudonyms including AJ Chemerinsky, Toby R. Forrest, Professor Y., Futurist A., Mr. J., Retired Academic Q., and Helen.

 

FIN


A hard-copy version of this text is forthcoming.

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Filling the Void in Your Life with Lavish Gifts and Unimaginable Personal Wealth

Common wisdom cautions on all fronts to be careful what you wish for. [See above: “Confronting the Horror of Having All Your Needs Met.”] Not so common is the reverse: be careful what you don’t wish for.

If there is a void in your life (and there is; there always is), it’s likely you’ve spent your entire life underestimating its size, shape, and magnificence. When you’re under the domination of an extremely powerful super AI, now is the time to explore the exact contours of that void.

Maybe it’s shaped like a fancy sports car, a fancy yacht, and a fancy private jet. Maybe it’s shaped like a simple-enough-looking wristwatch, except it happens to be a wristwatch that can give you all sorts of incredible superhuman abilities. Or maybe it’s shaped like a gaming system that lets you explore ridiculously exciting virtual worlds where you get to play world conqueror nonstop.

The only way to know for sure, perhaps, is to start exploring. This may be your one shot to finally find something with which to fill that epic void, if you could only dream big enough. So go ahead. Put the AI to some good use. What will you wish for first?

THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Disconnect Completely Like You Really Mean It

[This directive isn’t actually included in any of the leaked documents generated by the program, but it’s worth noting that AJ Chemerinsky and Toby R. Forrest took this route shortly after losing their legal battle. They disconnected—fully. They went off the grid, virtually back to nature. Maybe they were trying to tell us something? In any case, the idea of fully disconnecting seems compelling. If rogue AI is going to be the death of us, why play along? Etc. Admittedly, I’m taking rather bold liberties with this manuscript to insert an unauthorized directive. As justification, I’ll quickly add this: I’ve spent so much time with this material that I truly feel as if I really know the program—almost as if we were old friends, the kind who finish each other’s sentences and regularly speak in terms of “being on the same wave length.” Taking that for what it’s worth, I’ll conclude by noting: If I were the program, and not just an underpaid tech editor, I would insert this idea here. So, allow me do just that. The chapter title, incidentally, speaks for itself, requiring no further clarification, don’t you agree?]

__

One must be careful about romanticizing the full disconnect of AJ Chemerinsky and Toby R. Forrest. I think I can speak on behalf of the academic community in which they traveled when I say that, really, they had both seen better days. By all means, go ahead and unplug. But I’ve seen the results. And boy, it’s not pretty…

– Professor Y.

This really should have been edited out. As if this composition wasn’t haphazard enough as it is without this so-called “tech editor” inserting his own original material as a full chapter while hilariously musing about being on the same goddamn wave length of a program he’s never even interfaced with. Please, spare me. Who is this editor guy anyway? It may be too late to ask, but I’m genuinely beginning to get curious: will he see these notes? Or is this thing just going straight to print from here?

– Futurist A.