Crash log of the Singularity

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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. Stephen
    November 27, 2015 @ 10:38 am

    “In the struggle between tradition and innovation, which is the basic theme of internal cultural development in historical societies, innovation always wins. But cultural innovation is generated by nothing other than the total historical movement — a movement which, in becoming conscious of itself as a whole, tends to go beyond its own cultural presuppositions and toward the suppression of all separations.”


    • Aylwin
      November 27, 2015 @ 12:27 pm

      Well, that’s…Hegelian. Significance?

      Of course, innovation actually loses all the time. Failed innovations are just less conspicuous than successful ones (well, unless you’re reading the Innovations Catalogue (does that still exist, or is it a defeated tradition at this point?))


    • Aylwin
      November 29, 2015 @ 6:06 am

      More pointedly, the implicit premise of this assertion seems to be that society starts out with a finite stock of tradition, which is then chipped away by innovation. Which is nonsense. New traditions emerge and grow all the time, tightening their inertial grip even as others are loosening theirs. Yesterday’s successful innovation is tomorrow’s tradition. It’s a fallacy like supposing that erosion means that in the end the whole world will end up flat. Contrary to the usual precepts of Hegelianism and Marxism, the dynamics of human society don’t work like thernodynamics – they’re not proceeding towards some equilibrium end-state.

      And that’s before you take into account the conscious revival/invention/importation of traditions, in which innovation and tradition act not as opposing forces but in intricate concert. Or the fact that the parameters for cultural innovations are set by the context of tradition, and that their capacity to flourish depends on their finding an appropriate site within that context on which to take effect. Or…


      • Aylwin
        November 29, 2015 @ 6:21 am

        [Realises too late that “importation of tradition” would have provided a hook for suggesting some vague pertinence of the above comment to the miserable, imbecilic, desire-to-hunt-down-and-kill-whatever-idiot-was-responsible-for-that-inducing crapness of the species-jumping pullulating plague of the proliferation of Black sodding buggershittyfucking Friday. Decides that was probably just as well, as thinking about that at all would just have been upsetting. Realises too late that this has now in fact just happened.]


  2. Chicanery
    November 27, 2015 @ 2:49 pm

    Black Friday is no longer a solely American phenomenon. We have it here in Northern Ireland at this point. Global Capitalism is lovely like that (I. E. It’s not).


  3. Alex
    November 27, 2015 @ 3:44 pm

    Entirely unrelated, but i read this paragraph in a New Yorker article about the role of subjective thinking in science and it dovetailed rather nicely with many of the concerns of this blog.

    “One of Musser’s themes is that the boundary between inexplicable-seeming magical actions and explicable physical phenomena is a fuzzy one. The lunar theory of tides is an instance. Galileo’s objection to it was like Einstein’s to the quantum theory: that the moon working an occult influence on the oceans was obviously magical nonsense. This objection became Newton’s point: occult influences could be understood soberly and would explain the movement of the stars and planets. What was magic became mathematical and then mundane. “Magical” explanations, like spooky action, are constantly being revived and rebuffed, until, at last, they are reinterpreted and accepted. Instead of a neat line between science and magic, then, we see a jumpy, shifting boundary that keeps getting redrawn. It’s like the “Looney Tunes” cartoon where Bugs draws a line in the dirt and dares Yosemite Sam to “just cross over dis line”—and then, when Sam does, Bugs redraws it, over and over, ever backward, until, in the end, Sam steps over a cliff. Real-world demarcations between science and magic, Musser’s story suggests, are like Bugs’s: made on the move and as much a trap as a teaching aid.”


    • Aberrant Eyes
      November 27, 2015 @ 9:27 pm

      “The border between the Real and the Unreal is not fixed, but just marks the last place where rival gangs of shamans fought each other to a standstill.” — Robert Anton Wilson


    • Iain Coleman
      November 28, 2015 @ 7:25 pm

      I’m a physicist by training and research background, and this point seems basically sound to me. I’ve long thought of science as magic that works.

      In physics, esoteric formulae – the Einstein equations, quantum field theory and so on – unravel the secrets of the structure and origin of the Universe, the nature of time, space and matter, granting the adepts in this sorcery the power to level whole cities in a burst of light, to communicate over vast distances, to travel to celestial objects and even bring pieces of them to Earth.

      Allied magical disciplines reveal the nature and origins of humanity.allowing the eradication of diseases and offering life to the dying, reveal the strange creatures that walked the Earth in the vast abysm of time, and provide mastery of materials so as to create vast structures beyond the dreams of any Pharoah.

      Along the way, various magical ideas that turned out to lack any power or validity were discarded, of course. But they did not altogether vanish. You see, there is a profound spiritual fulfilment that comes from understanding real magic, but achieving that understanding is very hard, painstaking work. But a few people in the last century realised that they could achieve some ersatz form of that same transcendent feeling by patching together bits and pieces of failed, discarded magic into a simpler, more intuitive system that didn’t require understanding anything hard like differential geometry or DNA replication. However, whereas real magic offers feats of cosmic power that would astonish the great pioneers of early times, this counterfeit magic offers Grant Morrison wanking on a doodle.


  4. Alex
    November 27, 2015 @ 3:48 pm

    the article as a whole is really worth reading


  5. taiey
    November 27, 2015 @ 5:27 pm

    Black Friday sales in New Zealand, where we do not celebrate Thanksgiving, are even more ridiculous.


  6. Jane Campbell
    November 28, 2015 @ 12:22 am

    I was wondering what I was going to write about this week. This helps tremendously.


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