Extreme peer reviewing

The book invited criticism. Both explicitly, by means of a humble invitation from its author, and on a deep, implicit level; something about it screamed that this was a thing to critique. Every page figuratively screamed that here was a “but” to be had, and that it would be a good one, should you take the time to formulate it.

Yet. Everyone who did found that, in the last moments of their due diligences, their critiques did not measure up. There was always some prior remark, some footnote, some small but crucial aspect that rendered their critical efforts moot. Though the book did cover a finite amount of things, somehow it seemed to contain an infinite amount of rebuttals to any attempt to criticize it.

This sparked quite an interest. It became an informal competition among its readers to find the one thing that could unequivocally be said to be bad – no ifs, buts or qualifiers. The race was on.

At length, in a small gathering of the minds, one particularly bright voice abrupted: “I’ve got it!” When all else failed, the voice announced, there was still a nuclear option: to proclaim that the book was, among all the other things is was, boring. Following this revelation, cheers erupted.

At that very moment, the author – for reasons quite unrelated – entered the establishment, and noted the general excitement of the room. Upon asking what was afoot, the answer was given. And then, the final blow, the one innocent utterance that so shattered hearts and minds:

“I’m glad to see you are all so excited and enthused by what I’ve written”

Excess motivation

Every corpse on Mount Everest was at one point a highly motivated person. They looked at what it would take to get where they wanted to go, assessed all the available means to get there, negotiated the process of acquiring these means, faced inevitable logistical setbacks, eventually got to the mountain, and started ascending. They could, at any point, have given up and returned home to a comfortable bed, a marked lack of extreme physical hardship, and a stable altitudinal situation. But they didn’t. They persevered, because they thought that was the thing to do.

Fortunately, our protagonists were only climbing a relatively small hill.

A Friday horoscope

Aries

Friday is upon us. It is up to you to find a quick solution to the imminent challenges facing us

Taurus

Friday is upon us. Someone will come along with a solution to the imminent challenges facing us. Help them in any way you can

Gemini

Friday is upon us. This means it will soon be time to kick back, relax and enjoy the good things in life

Cancer

Friday is upon us. Do not panic. Your preparations are sufficient. The only thing left to do now is to be there and power through it

Leo

Friday is upon us. The call from the unrelenting ululations beckon both from within and without. You know what to do

Virgo

Friday is upon us. Pray it does not alter the deal further

Libra

Friday is upon us. Cats will gravitate towards you

Scorpio

Friday is upon us. You and your friends will have a good time, and then one of you will have had too much to drink, and you will form a strong bond through the ritual of taking care that have been established over the last couple of month. Eventually, you will all have to sit down and have a long talk about your friendship and how it is formed on the basis of alcohol consumption, and that this is not a healthy way to grow up and grow old. It will be painful, there will be tears, but it has to be done

Sagittarius

Friday is upon us. You look nice today

Capricorn

Friday is upon us. If you see an Aires and Taurus duo seemingly involved in some kind of time-sensitive quest, tell them that what they seek is over yonder, and point to somewhere in the middle distance

Aquarius

Friday is upon us. You know what you did

Pisces

Friday is upon us. There will be much celebrating around town, but you do not have to participate if you do not want to. It is okay to not be a party animal, and to just have a nice quiet evening at home

Covering all the basics

This was not an ordinary shelter for the homeless. It was more than that. It was the most scientifically studied shelter for the homeless there ever was.

On the surface, it did everything you would expect it to: provide food, beds, showers, rudimentary legal aid. Nothing out of the ordinary – nothing less than what was necessary, and sparse few things more than that. In short, it and its ever so temporary inhabitants scraped by.

Except. For some reason, probably due to the contingencies of interpersonal friendships, this particular shelter was the goto hotspot for social scientists focusing on homelessness and social deprivation. Whenever a study of the homeless population of the city – or indeed the nation – were to be undertaken, this was inevitably where the researchers ended up.

Over the years, a relationship had been established between the manager of the shelter and the researchers. The manager, ever the curious sort, had gotten into the habit of reading the research articles that came out of this peculiar arrangement, and thus knew the field just as good as anyone. When researchers talked to him about the particular study they were about to conduct, he could more often than not direct them to articles or authors they hadn’t considered yet.

When asked why he didn’t apply for a job at the university – seeing as he knew his way around both theory and practice – he responded that his GED was not quote sufficient to make ‘em university administrators give e damn unquote, and that he anyway felt that he made more of a difference where he was.

University representatives, when asked if they would provide funding to the shelter, replied that they would not.

A felicitous horoscope

Aries

You will notice an unusual number of cats out and about, if you look carefully

Taurus

An unusual number of cats will notice you, and possibly also judge you

Gemini

You might discover that you are actually a catgirl

Cancer

Your internal monologue will be replaced with a Catalan voiceover

Leo

Do not worry about the movements at the periphery of your vision; those are extradimensional kittens

Virgo

A piece of string will inexplicably catch your eye

Libra

Do not make any large life decisions until you have factored in where to house the numerous kittens

Scorpio

You have spontaneously learnt how to purr

Sagittarius

Felix says hi

Capricorn

New verbs have entered your vocabulary, such as prrrp and flomp

Aquarius

The door is ajar

Pisces

You know it’s time for dinner, because the cat is close to your face

A time-honored tradition

“I come from the future – your future – and I need me to do something for me”

“Are you playing the pronoun game on yourself?”

“Who’d better to? Nevertheless – neverdeleuze – I need you to do something. It’s very small, it won’t take up much of your time, and the benefits will be immense when the time comes”

“Sounds like it would be in my best interest to listen. What am I supposed to do?”

“I need you to add the line ‘, as is common in economies of jouissance’ to page 242 of the thing you’re writing now”

“…the thing is only 70 pages so far”

“Right, yes, of course. The writing process and all that. Let’s see. It would be the section on Star Trek and how it relates to contemporary culture. After the detailed examination of the slashfics surrounding-“

“I know the part. Wherein?”

“Let’s see – ah, here, before the Klingon mating rituals but after the Romulan political machinations”

“So what does that sentence fragment even mean?”

“I have no idea, but good things will come out of it being there. Trust me – I’m you”

“Hold up. Are you from a future where I put in that fragment, or one where I didn’t?”

“Sorry, time’s up. Remember what I said!”

Paratextual banditry

“So this is what you propose to send in? This is the controversial piece of writing that will flip the tables, cause intellectual riots and generally upset the salons?”

“Yes”

“But it is the most banal, straightforward, unproblematic text there ever was. In fact, I can’t find one single controversial aspect either in or about it!”

“Think about it in the context of everything else I’ve written”

“What do you mea-“

“That look on your face means you’ve got it”

“You can’t be- you wouldn’t- that’d be”

“I’m glad you understand”

“You magnificent bastard”

“That would be me”

Recipe for new dreams

Go new places

Go to old places and see them from new angles

Meet new people

Meet old people

Do new things with old people

Do old things with new people

Revisit everything

Ask her out

Ask him out

Read

Write

Walk every street in your city

Do it now

The misinterpreted prophet

“And thus, I proclaim” the prophet ended his sermon, which had gone on at some length. The listenership had been entranced in rapt attention, for such were the gifts of the prophet. His gift of eloquence was not matched by an equal measure of clarity, however, and outside the immediate experience of receiving the word, opinions differed on what had actually been said.

Thus, a cottage industry of interpreters arose, who made the fancy words plain and the plain words fancy, as the situation and audience required. Most of these interpreters were true to their word, with only minor deviations from the core message (which, for some reason, seemed to resist every effort of being translated into French). Some interpreters, however, felt free to embellish a little here and a little there, until the prophet came out saying things surprising to those who were there and heard the word.

These surprising things mysteriously happened to portray this one particular interpreter in an especially good light. As if by accident.

For the most part, this mattered little in the grand scheme of things. Except in two regards: this particular interpreter seemed to be garnering more donations than the others, and the prophet noticed.

Thus, some time and many sermons later, the prophet decided to put his interpreters to the test. He made a series of very subtle and specific pronouncements that systematically contradicted the favored interpretations of the selective interpreter, just to see what would happen. The interpreter, not deterred, kept at it, not even mentioning the possibility of contradiction. Business were as usual.

Some time and many misinterpretations later, the prophet had had enough, and proclaimed in no uncertain terms (a rare occasion indeed) that he was pleased with the interpretive efforts of everyone so far, except our selective interpreter, which he named by name. This caused quite a stir, but given the clarity (and praise) of the proclamation, the work of interpretation went on as usual. For everyone, including our selective interpreter.

Determined, the prophet paid a visit. Our selective interpreter, surprised, greeted the prophet, became even more surprised upon hearing these words:

“You are the prophet now. Wear my robe; they will let you into my tent. I will be gone after this visit. Remember what I said”

The next day, the new prophet delivered a very familiar sermon, although perhaps slightly less ambiguous than usual –

Target audience

The situation looked dire. They needed to get out of the building, but they also needed to do it stealthily. Outside the enemy lay in waiting, sure to grab any opportunity to attack. Being seen meant being dead, and, both being bad, had to be avoided.

A plan was needed.

Looking around, the ragtag team of outlaw anthropologists noted the following about their surroundings. It seemed to be a typical gathering spot for the communal consumption of alcohol and outrageously bad food. But. On this night, the clientele was not at all typical. In fact, it seemed to be mainly consisting of attendees from a nearby conference on digital memetics and online discursive practices. Their discussions seemed to center on the topic of the day, which seemed to be the importance (or lack thereof) of coherent categorization of ongoing phenomena in relation to attaining a proper situational awareness.

A plan was hatched.

The boldest, most quick-witted and sure of foot of the group leapt atop a table and yelled “IS THIS PEANUT BUTTER TACO A SANDWICH?” The others looked on in confusion, but as the commotion and arguing rose to a fever pitch, they knew they had the distraction needed to make a covert escape.