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Public Grace

Having watched several episodes of Black Mirror recently, I think it’s intriguing to discuss it. It almost doesn’t make sense to talk about Black Mirror as a whole because it consists of non-interrelated episodes, tied together by very inspired production and storytelling of a very talented team of people. Today I mainly want to talk about one episode, which goes by the name Nosedive. Be aware, there are spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t seen Season 3 Episode 1 of Black Mirror, make sure you do it before reading this.

Happy with her score: Lacie (Black Mirror: Nosedive)

Enjoying a private moment with her score: Lacie (Black Mirror: Nosedive)


Visions of the future are a common thing not only within arts, but also science and technology, and — on a more personal level — of course for each individual. Black Mirror has been giving us different scenarios in each episode. This one is kind of spinning forth a vision of an omnipresent social evaluation system that can be thought of as a logical step in development of social media (such as facebook). Bringing together social media and augmented reality could be considered a natural combination, as it’s already the case with games, see e.g. Pokemon Go.

What would have been perceived as an almost unrealistically futuristic scenario years ago, or at least far enough away, is now approaching us in a very apparent or immediate way. I guess you could say that Black Mirror is thinking things through, outlining a specific future scenario that is terrifyingly plausible.

But back to the episode: Social implications are probably the most important part here. We are being confronted with an environment of constant monitoring and self-censorship, which is clearly stressing people out, as indicated on several occasions in this episode. Yet a couple of promising questions arise: How much self-restriction are you willing to take in order to fit in? As in: How much do we all have to ‘shut up’ (or do the opposite)?

Constant Evaluation

Nosedive takes us to a very unrelaxed world of constant social evaluation.

Then there are those pastel colors. They soften the overall impression and perhaps leave the viewer with a somewhat numb or anesthetized vision of a dystopia, as a world where UI is omnipresent, where your social score is transparent and publicly accessible. The future looks very watered down and sugary, an image reminiscent of Pleasantville (1998) or even Brave New World — suppressed emotions resulting in a state that is sedated and tense at the same time.

In other words: The future wears a ton of make up. And this is where the development happens: Over time the episode progresses from clean to dirty, from silent to loud, from friendly to angry, gradually making the viewer come back to ‘normal’, or real life, the actual pre-technology default mode — with all its conflicts and raw stuff. My verdict: ★★★★★.


► Read summary on Wikipedia
► Watch the episode on Vimeo
► Wikihow: How To Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

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Shock Value

I was going to write about The Weeknd’s new album Starboy, but having heard The-Dream’s new EP Love You To Death, I’m cancelling my earlier plan in favor of this stunning piece of music. I never thought I’d ever even talk about The-Dream. The artist from North Carolina, whose real name is Terius Youngdell Nash, never striked me as special, but this new release blows my mind. Initially it had me thinking of Jeremih.


The-Dream / Frame from music video for Falsetto

Keeps it low: The-Dream / Frame from music video for Falsetto (2007)


Bad things first: The visual artwork for Love You To Death is rather disappointing. Recently I’ve seen so many bad artworks (among them e.g. Kuedo’s Slow Knife) that are so bad they hurt your eyes. I can’t help but wonder if everyone involved were blind for approving these uninspired and, let’s not kid ourselves, plain ugly graphics. A 6-year-old could have done a better job there.

Good things: Obviously the content of this record, i.e. the music. I don’t remember the last time I came across something as heartbreaking as Love You To Death. It consists of five tracks, and they all deal with the usual things, such as feelings, sex and drugs, but enhanced with a lot of nostalgia and longing . The difference to many other R’n’B and hip hop artists (like A$AP Rocky or even The Weeknd) is that Love You To Death is not about social status or wealth — something usually accompanied by fancy cars and meaningless hookups. Wealth and money have been a topic to The Weeknd, as he says in this long interview with Zane Lowe for Apple Music, where he also talks about cars (which is where I started yawning).


We do candy until we’re ill
Isn’t this how love feels

The-Dream, Ferris Wheel


There is so much poetry to this record, it almost makes me cry. You will rarely see so much underlying vulnerability with those artists wearing caps and golden chains. Although of course we needn’t forget that artists like Drake have been attempting to show this kind of emotional realness in their work, all while trying to maintain street cred and confidence. I just didn’t expect this from The-Dream (on the other hand I’m not that familiar with his entire opus). It makes me think about what it is about showing vulnerability that is so beautiful and strange at the same time. The-Dream doesn’t look deep, wise, poetic or even smart in any way, yet his language use has a careful thoughtfulness to it, in a way that is yet to be challenged by most. Drake’s Marvin’s Room is perhaps most suitable to illustrate what I mean by “careful thoughtfulness”: Things like specific memories, vivid depiction of emotions, transport of emotional depth in general. Of course these are just few things out of many things that can be done via artistic expression, but they’re valuable because they are contributing to you learning about people.

Then there are those explicit elements. In fact, one of the most touching pieces on Love You To Death, namely Rih-Flex, is about a body part of a girl that the protagonist considers special, memorable or unique. It seems to be inspired by Rihanna. My jaw just keeps dropping at this almost psychedelic, or dizzying, mixture of emotional depth and sexual fixation. Lines like “Sit back, let it resonate” bear the potential to give you the chills. On the surface, the whole thing still manages to sound like your average R’n’B.

If we wanted to extract social criticism out of Rih-Flex, it would refer to this certain kind of women that successful artists seem to be surrounded with a lot — gorgeous and perfect, but emotionally unavailable and promiscuous. They somehow make it into a group of successful artists, but are not an artist themselves. They’re good at partying. They strike out of the mass of girls that are generally considered to be anonymous, meaningless hookups (“Woke up by a girl / I don’t even know her name”, The Weeknd, Party Monster), as mentioned above. I think The Weeknd sings about such a situation in Party Monster, False Alarm and other tracks. Among the above-mentioned people there might be some that are more ethically questionable than other people from same group, e.g. in terms of materialistic opportunism. The latter, shall we call them the good party gurls, are probably just confused by life. Party gurls are a source of suffering, because they represent the unreachable.


To sum up everything: The R’n’B gaze seems to be wandering from A to B to C, from b*tch to another b*tch, from car to another car. The artist is constantly zoomed in on singular experiences, apparently unable to zoom out to see the meaning of the whole picture, having an underlying identity crisis, being immersed in materialistic thinking, representing the smooth face of capitalism. Is this what cultural ADD looks like? I wouldn’t know, and also this doesn’t make sense, but hell, I love it when there’s all this reverb behind it.

In our age of individualism we are of course in search of experiences that will enhance our picture of everything, including ourselves. We are getting increasingly aware of options and possibilities, and the big picture is overwhelming because it doesn’t immediately make sense in its complexity.

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alles, hey!, omg

Holy Delirium

But she didn’t understand.
Pulp –  Common People

This is actually from a Smashing Pumpkins video

This is actually from a Smashing Pumpkins video.


Bonjour, dear readership.

Unbelievable but true: My long-gone baby is now back from the dead, again thanks to the (now former) host of this blog (see this statement). I’m now back on track and as happy as a unicorn on ecstasy on a sunny summer day in New Zealand.

Over a year has passed since the last entry. Too many things happened, too many things changed, but it doesn’t have to “mean anything”. The priorities will continue to be all about serious science, facts and the truth in general, because despite all the changes, the unchangeable core is always working in the background, like a (metaphorical) CPU. Everything is a question of definition, but definitions can’t be carved in stone either, and when I say unchangeable or core, I could as well be saying croissant or crunchy, at least within the realms of this lawless corner of the world wide data abyss that is the internet.

Back in the old days an IBM engineer reportedly said “Nice, but what do we need it for?” about microprocessors. His lack of belief was soon to be drastically corrected by the reality. Let’s never forget that sometimes things that initially don’t make sense become the backbone of the economy.

Edit: The search is now working too. Who needs google for this anyway.

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psychosis machine

blessing, christening and [non-physical] catharsis only work if you let them. so does lost (2004 – 2010), which i finished watching today. within the course of these truly magical 4 1/2 months that it took to watch it, i heard people utter criticism, especially concerning the ending of the show. i didn’t want to go into detail there, because any further explanation would be a desastrous spoiler, and i really hate spoilers. please stop reading right here, if you want to avoid them, by the way.

now that i’m done, i see critical people’s possible points. upfront: of course, lost is a very ambitious endeavour and its actual, on-screen narrative appearance possibly doesn’t live up to the huge idea it’s trying to convey. but pointing out credibility gaps, unanswered questions, loose ends, logical incoherences and those clearly over the top moments doesn’t seem like an appropriate thing to do here.

there is no here or now“, says the father of the protagonist in the last episode, suggesting that the respective scene is happening beyond what the skeptical protagonist would call reality. while lost progresses from a simple story of a plane crash to a complex entanglement of simultaneously happening alternative scenarios, the protagonist, dr. jack shepherd, is constantly asking himself exactly the questions that the above mentioned critical people would ask themselves, suffocating in a room abandoned by logic. now, at the end of the story, he can’t understand why his father, whom he believed to be dead and who was supposed to be buried, is suddenly alive and well. well, of course he won’t understand. so do the above mentioned people. it’s not something you understand, it’s something you see

all in all, i honestly don’t care for the weak points in this show. it almost hurts the brain to call this a show. i really take off my hat here.

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off to the gym of life

if i was to name or tag these days, i’d think of ‘countless revisions‘ in italics and font size 11. the font does not have a face, because i can’t think of any. it’s difficult to put order into what’s going on around me at the moment, but then again, have i not always felt like this about things? this time, it’s an odd mixture of gridlock and insight, peace of mind and burnout, crawling and running at the same time.

imagine your two brain hemispheres slowly saying good bye to each other and while the left one would be in a departing industrial looking train waving out of the window, the right one would sit on the back of a glittering bird, just kidding, it would rather be a complex vehicle that is a combination of a beamer and a glittering bird. later, both of the hemispheres would begin a huge discussion via communication devices and this discussion would turn into a serious fight that would then lead to a lawsuit whereas the right hemisphere would constantly lose beaurocratic track of it and so on. anyway, that’s too long of a sentence. 

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poor joke comprehenders

i love digital archiving. you get to build a big castle of coherence that you have been contributing to for years, making a nice habit out of it. i intend to print out this entire blog and then read it in book form. this idea, it seems to me, is generally recommendable for everybody who has been creating things throughout the years.

at the right zoom level, it’s like you’re working a rye field, and you just see your immediate surroundings, but not the total area you mowed. and then the shiny “why not print out the blog?” helicopter appears out of nowhere, and you jump the hanging ladder, get pulled into the sky and see the rye field from above. i bet you will be surprised when you take an extensive look at stuff you did during the last couple of months/years. to some extent, this also applies to correspondence.

for the record: this sign language interpreter at nelson mandela’s memorial ceremony is unbelievable. his gestures made absolutely no sense. everybody is super ashamed, putin gives up, obama takes selfies with the princess of denmark, the world is languishing.

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renegade for dessert

please give me something to talk about, said the man to the lady. after he had left his monthly debating society session for good, phatic dialogues about the weather became a sweet nightmare, with a cloud of confusion blurring his view and keeping his head at a slightly too warm temperature level, because this cloud is made of hot steam. i don’t always drink beer, but when i do, i also knock back a couple of whiskeys. today, the 23. march of the year 2013, has not only been an untypically cold 23. march, but also a rather untypically fucked up saturday. days like this deserve a notice. they are rare.

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gottesdienste

„Ich war vom ersten Augenblick an getroffen von seiner unheimlichen Erscheinung. Zuerst schien er wie ein typischer Bauer, aber die Augen hielten die meinen gefangen, sie strahlten wie aus Stahl (…) Ich war zugleich angezogen, angewidert, beunruhigt und wieder beruhigt, darüber hinaus schafften seine Augen ein Gefühl des Schreckens und des Widerwillens. (…) Als die Zarin erschien, grüßte sie mich mit den Worten ‘so , Lili, du hast nun unseren Freund gesehen. Er wird dir immer helfen>.'”

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imaginieren sie dies

ein unheimlicher paranoia-schub lässt sich daran ausmachen, dass sich zunächst das assoziative denken intensiviert: anstelle der “wir bauen jetzt ein vernünftiges gebäude” tritt “demolieren wir das vernünftige gebäude und befestigen während der explosion an jedes stück schutt eine kamera. nun, dafür brauchen wir zunächst etwa 200.000 kameras. okay, wer contactet die budgetabteilung? think coherence. think about the self. what is ‘the self’ anyway? what constitutes your self?”

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heuschnupfen

baby 81 von black rebel motorcycle club erinnert mich an das prinzip der verbundenheit von bestimmter musik und bestimmten situationen. es ist ein zeugnis von tiefster subjektivität, die wie ein schwarzes loch alle bestimmtheit und feste werte in sich einsaugt, bis diese nur noch darin existieren, unendlich verdichtet und damit an das system des schwarzen lochs angepasst.

eine gegenüberstellung von konventioneller neurowissenschaftlicher praxis und symbolischer psychoanalytischer herangehensweise drängt sich ebenfalls auf, und hier kommt etwas zum nachdenken: wenn man einem forscherteam sagt, wie es einem geht und wie man dieses oder jenes empfunden hat, dann hat keine der beiden parteien eine zuverlässige ausgangsbasis für irgendetwas. wie sollen wir fähig sein, so etwas nur von psychoanalyse erfassbares, aber nicht empirisch quantifizierbares zu berücksichtigen wie abwehrmechanismen, erwartungen oder ein (üblicherweise) verzerrtes (nicht mit anderen perspektiven übereinstimmendes) selbstbild?

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