“Mankind is not a circle with a single center but an ellipse with two focal points of which facts are one and ideas the other.”—Victor Hugo
Last week I climbed higher than the Sears Tower in a near-fugue state, brought on by a Netflix series. “The Circle” is a surreal distillation of our zeitgeist, one that is eminently satisfying on a limbic level. It offers the uneasy sensation of a deepfake, of a show entirely designed and cast by a neural net trained on all our contemporary neuroses: “We forced an AI with generalized anxiety disorder to view ten billion Instagram interactions and here’s what it made!”
While researching the remarkable life of Seid Back for the Oregon Encyclopedia I came across some fascinating examples of historical ephemera related to the Chinese-American experience in Oregon. I’ve reproduced some below, with associated explanation:
This piece was a real pleasure to write, it’s a great feeling to address and highlight some of the fundamental absurdity of our economic system in detail. The day I saw my first “Ghost Kitchen” was profound evidence that the world is wobbling on its axis and I’m grateful to editor Maria Bustillos for her help with expressing my dismay.