Monthly Archives: May 2007

Orson Welles in Malpertuis, A Film by Harry Kümel

No, I haven’t seen it. But Welles, in 1971, clearly fit the part of the gastronome Abbé Doucedame, as those of you who’ve read Ray’s lurid tale will know. (The credits seem to imply that Welles played the part of Cassave, but I will not take the trouble to deny this calumny.)

Freud’s lamprey, a poltergeist in an old pond. That some Danes believed that flight could be attained by eating the hearts of seven or twelve fetuses cut from the womb. The third (morbus sacer) heaven. Wouldn’t these make for an interesting story?

DNA and Data Storage

A recent paper (summary) about the encoding of a message in bacteria DNA left me wondering what the first use of this idea in literature was (i. e., a persistent, long-term message decoded by DNA analysis left by previous humans, aliens, god(s), alien gods, god-like aliens, humans who became aliens then gods then humans, etc.)

“Golem XIV” has some related speculation on the informational nature of the genetic code, I believe, and Memoirs Found in a Bathtub also raises the problem of data persistence which the paper cites as a potential practical application; but I seem to remember something using essentially the same idea.


Several of my friends were Pantera enthusiasts in the early-mid nineties, but I never picked up from them that their name derived from the soldier Celsus claimed to have fathered Jesus (Contra Celsum, 1.32). The eutelegenetic details of the rebuttal are subtle.

Origen had an imperfect understanding of contingency. Ernst Haeckel, who may have shared this with him, believed Celsus’s account.

“What God Cleanses, Don’t Call Common”

I wish I had taken a picture of this slogan outside the Methodist Church in Cedar Island when we stayed there last week. “Common” is frequently used in the dialect of the area (where my family has lived many generations, since the early decades of the 18th C, as far as I can tell) to mean “despicable, contemptible,”—which I’ve always found curious given our uncommonly modest background.

I fished a lot while I was there. An undersized flounder, many small croakers, and pinfish—but what is it that bites the common grub in half?

white grub fishing lure

Blue fish? Black drum? Crab? Skate? Shark? Happened three times, and I felt only the slightest tug each time.

I also intended to kayak across the bay to Hog Island, but the wind was blowing steadily from the northeast most of the time. An average-sized man can walk all but about ten yards across that bay; but it was surprisingly difficult to paddle the kayak with the current. I sprained my wrist doing so in fact.

Clancy had a great time, as she loves the sea and everything in it.

From Seven Seconds or Less

Jack McCallum’s book about the Suns:

“Amare, you’re starting on [Jason] Collins,” says Iavaroni. “What’s he known for?” Iavaroni likes to use the Socratic Method from time to time. It is not always successful.
“Rebounds. Blocks shots,” says Stoudemire, who plucked a few words from the air. They could’ve just as easily been “eats buffalo wings, drives car.” (190)

It’s a good book. I knew the Suns were going to lose game five, and I had to stop watching it, it was so painful. And I predict, sadly, that they’re going to lose tonight, giving us the pleasure of watching the Spurs bludgeon first Utah then Detroit to death in eleven games.

Essay on Primer

I have an essay on Shane Carruth’s Primer in the recently published Playing the Universe: Games and Gaming in Science Fiction (Eds. Dave Mead and Pawel Frelik, Marii Curie-Sklodowskiej UP, 2007). Here is a draft version.

When I wrote this essay in October 2005, I believe that no academic articles on the film had been in print yet. I’m not sure that this is still the case, though I’d welcome suggestions.