Survival, Technology, and Catastrophic Meatsack Failure

Another year, another apology for a prolonged break. After a brief upsurge in activity last year following Transcendental Blues, I was somehow stricken by mysterious nerve damage in my upper neck. The resulting mixture of chronic headaches and random vertigo basically cost me most of the intervening year. I’ve been on medication for nerve pain for the past few months, but it’s still rather inadequate, and anything that puts strain on my neck, including using a laptop and reading books, has a tendency to exacerbate my symptoms in a thoroughly counterproductive manner. If you’d deliberately designed an ailment specifically to make it hard for me to work, you couldn’t have done much better. Nevertheless, I’m trying to be more active, and I’m hoping to maybe post a few thoughts here in the coming months. Until then, here are videos of two talks I gave in Moscow last year, just before the advent of catastrophic meatsack failure.

First up is ‘Beyond Survival’ (slides available here), which attempts to break down the concept of survival and articulate the ways in which treating it as something like a ‘default end’ distorts the way we think about ourselves and the larger systems to which we belong:

Second up is a more spontaneous talk on the philosophy of technology I was asked to deliver later in the same conference, which heads in a similar direction (the piece by Ursula Le Guin I discuss at the beginning can be found here):

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2 thoughts on “Survival, Technology, and Catastrophic Meatsack Failure

  1. Interesting you chose to refer to nerve damage in your neck as ‘meatsack failure’. Since it’s your nerves that are giving you trouble, I’m wondering what speaks against thinking about this as an issue concerning a perhaps not-so-conscious part of your mind? Either way, get well soon and keep up the good work! A.

    • It’s pretty far removed from the level of conscious processing as far as I can tell. I get variable pain all over my head, from the back of my neck to my scalp, face, and jaw. It gets aggravated by particular sorts of movement, and is mitigated by medication for nerve pain (amitriptyline, gabapentin). All this points to something thoroughly physical, rather than psychological.

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