士郎正宗, in an Interview with Frederik L. Schodt (jai2.com/MSivu.htm)

Creating humanoid robots involves seeing how much you can replicate human structure, which in turn involves understanding what it means to be human. In that sense, current robots indicate that we understand basic human muscle and bone structure, that’s all. Recently, though, some people say that emotions can be explained through chemistry, so then the […]

Bruno Latour, 'We Have Never Been Modern' (1993), 97

‘We Westerners are absolutely different from others!’—such is the moderns’ victory cry or protracted lament. … They bear this white man’s burden sometimes as an exalting challenge, sometimes as a tragedy, but always as a destiny. … In Westerners’ eye the West, and the West alone, is not a culture, not merely a culture.

David Morgan, 'The Forge of Vision' (Oxford University Press, 2015), 1

In the 1559 Latin edition of his monumental Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin excoriated humanity’s inclination to substitute its conceptions of deity for the true God. Human ingenuity, he said, was a ‘perpetual forge of idols’ (idolorum fabricam). The phrase recalls the biblical tradition of denouncing the production of idols from wood and […]

Bruno Latour, 'We Have Never Been Modern' (Harvard University Press, 1993), 43-44

It would be a pretty pathetic kind of modern, or else a postmodern: still inhabited by the violent desire to denounce, they would no longer have the strength to believe in the legitimacy of any of any these six courts of appeal. To strip moderns of their indignation is to deprive them, it seems, of […]

China Miéville, 'The Scar' (Ballantine Books, 2004), 393

We have scarred this mild world with prospects, wounded it massively, broken it, made our mark on its most remote land and stretching for thousands of leagues across its sea. And what we break we may reshape, and that which fails might still succeed. We have found rich deposits of change, and we will dig […]

Don’t Berate the Monkey

People berate themselves whenever their brain fails to be engraved with the cognitive patterns that they wish it was engraved with, as if they had complete dominion over their own thoughts, over the patterns laid down in their heads. … As if they were supposed to choose their mind, rather than being their mind.

Charles Taylor, 'A Secular Age' (Harvard University Press, 2007), 96-97

… the non-homogeneity of time entails the non-homogeneity of space. Certain sacred places—a church, a shrine, a site of pilgrimage—are closer to higher time than everyday places. Really to capture this complexity, or rather to capture the hierarchy here, one has to disrupt space, or else to make no attempt to render it coherently. This […]

Talal Asad, 'Formations of the Secular' (Stanford University Press, 2003), 13.

It is right to say that modernity is neither a totally coherent object nor a clearly bounded one, and that many of its elements originate in relations with the histories of peoples outside of Europe. Modernity is a project—or rather, a series of interlinked projects—that certain people in power seek to achieve.

Green & Grey

In spite of my young atheism and my naïve devotion to scientific optimism, profoundly religious works of literature shaped my spirit. The first novels I read, in the summer between second and third grade, were The Chronicles of Narnia. I devoured the books, one after another, ignorant enough of the Bible and Christian teachings to […]

Golden Gods & Gunpowder

Fuzhou is alive. The heavy doses of sunlight and the sweltering breath of the air take some getting used to (perhaps Tom Robbins would call the place too vivid), but if there’s one thing that sun and water do together, it’s create an alchemy of life. It’s been a while since I last wrote, but […]