The Ghost in the Machine

by Henry Farrell on January 25, 2010

“Nicholas Carr announces his forthcoming book”:

My next book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, argues that the tools we use to think with – our “intellectual technologies” – not only shape our habits of thought but exert an actual physical influence on the neurons and synapses in our brains.

ummm … not wanting to get too reductionist, but how could something that shaped habits of thought _not_ have consequences for physical processes with neurons and synapses and all that other good stuff? Also, I think the book would be _much_ better if it were titled _The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brainz. BRRRAIIINNZZZ ! ! !_, but then, I reckon that pretty well any book in this broad genre could be improved by “learning from the master”: and adding some good zombie action.

The Pipesucker Report

by John Holbo on January 25, 2010

Very sorry I haven’t kept up my Descartes blogging. Been dead busy and, somehow, blogging about hylomorphism, you never feel the Sisyphusian (Sisyfuscian?) pressures of the news cycle. Will try to get back on that dead horse. But here’s something new. My 5-year old daughter is shaping up to be a Peter Cook/Dudley Moore fan. She likes Superthunderstingcar even better than the original Thunderbirds, even better than cat videos! (Also, she would like to report that she wewwy had “Bad Wowmance” wunning thwew hew head. But that’s another kettle of fish. I haven’t let her watch the video for that one, but she was singing it for a while. And the 8-year old called her ‘Baby Gaga’, but it didn’t stick, so she’s back to being Mei-Mei.)

So I’ve been watching a spot of “Not Only … But Also” YouTube videos. Very funny stuff. I had never watched it until recently. (Which gives the lie to the whole ‘dead busy’ excuse. I know.) Here’s my question to you. The “L.S. Bumblebee” sketch, which is a hoot and a half – love the shirtless gong player and his sheet music; and which concludes with a hilarious appearance by John Lennon as “Dan”; is a dead-on “Lucy In The Sky” roast. Yet “L.S.” was, apparently, released as a single in February 1967. But Sgt. Pepper itself was only released in June, 1967. It seems that “Lucy in the Sky” was perfectly pre-parodied, months in advance. I’ve Googled around a bit and found quotes from Moore, from the 1970’s (by which time “L.S.” was apparently erroneously popping up on Beatles bootlegs) suggesting that the song was supposed to parody the Beach Boys more than the Beatles, which doesn’t really seem right. (Maybe the Monkees?) Also suggesting it was a response to the whole “Lucy” craze, which doesn’t seem to fit with the dating. Anyway, what is most surprising to me is the thought that, by the start of 1967, Sgt. Pepper-style psychedelia was the stuff of parody to the point where the frame joke of the sketch is that it is fodder for a documentary for Idaho television. Could it really be that Sgt. Peppers was that old hat by the end of 1966, before it even existed? I’m confused? I always thought the Beatles were pretty cool.