Open AI and Director Jordan Clarke tell a story about an AI who wanted to be famous:

On the video’s Vimeo page, Clarke writes:

A story about an A.I. that wanted to be famous, also written and performed by an A.I. (paraphrased and edited with liberties from a human). Visualized by a human (me), flipping the norm of what we see in the AI-driven art world today. Special thanks to Amie Bennett for letting me bounce off all my ideas, Adam Kirschner for his nft bro performance, and Des Hume for his awesome music as well as featuring a track from the Midnight.

The Mother Ship Arrives

Photo by Roman.

Is that a cheap trick? It may not be precisely the same image that I posted several weeks ago but here again is a gas burner gussied-up as something far more dramatic and fanciful.

To be fair, sometimes doing this can be fun. Label a what-am-i-looking-at and the suggestion pops to the top amid a cloud of alternate possibilities, almost like a chord.

Did this do that for you? Well, whatever turns you on… I do like the image, as mundane as it may be. But twice may be too much and aliens too obvious.

Whatever. My alternate idea, discussing my humble opinion on the future prospects for human space travel, would have been seriously depressing.

Though maybe as fanciful.

People say we’ll muddle through but in truth we muddle ’till we’re through.

“Six Guys”

When I encountered this video from animator Ripley Howarth, I was convinced that I had seen it before yet if so it could not have been the entire video as this left me happily fulfilled. Who could imagine this effect from something firmly within the horror genre? But Howarth squared my circle.

The other thing Six Guys reminded me of was the 1965 film by Polish Director Wojciech Has, The Saragossa Manuscript. Well… they do have in common a magically surreal journey as a central part of the storytelling, but Six Guys is very much a horror movie.

Donovan’s Brain?

Photo by Roman.

Donovan’s Brain is the title of a 1942 sci-fi / horror novel by author and screen writer Curt Siodmak. According to Wikipedia, it’s been made into movies more than once, including a 1953 production that shares the title. I saw the movie once ages ago and actually have a 1969 re-issue of the book, but I remember almost nothing about it except that it probably could also be classed as detective fiction.

Disembodied brains have been a constant trope of horror and fascination in the sci-fi and fantasy genres probably as long as folks have been writing such stuff. It would be an interesting compare and contrast of the treatments of that plot device by various authors. I mean, consider on one hand the heads preserved alive in C.S. Lewis’ That Hideous Strength or the intelligences embodied in light in Arthur C. Clarke’s The City and the Stars and Against the Fall of Night. In the face of the mighty productivity of the authors of popular fiction, the bibliography alone would be a significant project.

And, of course, what do zombies want? Brains…

One lunch time when my Dad was working a day shift, Mom asked if I’d like something different for lunch: baked calf brains. Dad was one of those meat and very salty potatoes sort of guys so this was not something he’d have cared for… But I was game. No, it did not taste like chicken. As I recall, Mom’s production tasted like meatloaf, a meatloaf of sincerely alarming appearance.

I think I finished my serving but I’m certain I did not ask for more.

I was inspired to suspect that many of my fellow children had meatloaf for brains and alas that nothing since has challenged that prejudice.

Though to be fair, we all have meatloaf brains. *

On the other hand, maybe the photo is of a very large wad of used chewing gum…

But really, the photo above is not someone’s discarded higher or lower functions but what looks to be the result of maybe a full can of spray foam, the kind of stuff used to seal rodent holes. Was that the intent here? They could have done as well with less, especially if steel wool also blocked the hole. But this overkill makes for a much more interesting photo, yes?

* For an interesting perspective on this, see “All People Are Created Educable, a Vital Oft-Forgotten Tenet of Modern Democracy” over at Ex Urbe.

Day of the Triffids…

…was the title of a 1951 post apocalyptic novel by John Wyndham (and later a movie) that could easily be either science fiction or horror; think I Am Legend by Richard Matheson but scratch the zombies and add predatory homicidal plants that relentlessly stalk their suddenly blinded victims. The plants, in my imagination, frequently looked something like this:

Photo by Roman.

. But even if I could see it, could I tell if it were dead or just waiting…?

Against the Fall of Night

Photo by Roman.

It seems an apt title for the photo, if perhaps a bit portentously sentimental.

It’s also the title of science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke’s first novel, published in 1953. It was a classmate, Vicky Brown, who gave me a copy of the book in 8th grade or maybe it was high school. It is likely that I stammered out some thank you at the moment, but I’m certain I never told her just how bedazzled I was by the book.

Against the Fall of Night, as a book, is mildly unusual in that Clarke, a few years later, rewrote the book as The City and the Stars. The first version had been in the works since the late 1930s, but since then advances in science had

“…opened up vistas and possibilities quite unimagined when the book was originally planned. In particular, certain developments in information theory suggested revolutions in the human way of life even more profound than those which atomic energy is already introducing, and I wished to incorporate these in the book I had attempted, but so far failed, to write.” [preface to The City and the Stars]

I’ve become considerably less enthralled by Clarke in the decades since. Some of it is political. The techno-optimism of the 1950s has become rather less plausible over the years but consider also Clarke’s not-too-subtle endorsement of colonialism in the novel Childhood’s End. Then too, while Clarke had a real talent for sentimentality, when you find yourself expected to be all weepy over a lump of uranium, well that raises an eyebrow, at least for me.

But thank you for the book, Vicky, where ever you be, and in return to you and to everyone else: a lamp in the evening light.