‘‘ When you start thinking in images, without words, you’re well on the way.
Vincent van Gogh, Head of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette (1885 – 1886) (via)
Elizabeth Debicki, photographed by Will Davidson for Vogue Australia, December 2012.
‘‘ In these grotesque works, we find that the writer has made alive some experience which we are not accustomed to observe every day, or which the ordinary man may never experience in his ordinary life. We find that connections which we would expect in the customary kind of realism have been ignored, that there are strange skips and gaps which anyone trying to describe manners and customs would certainly not have left. Yet the characters have an inner coherence, if not always a coherence to their social framework. Their fictional qualities lean away from typical social patterns, toward mystery and the unexpected. It is this kind of realism that I want to consider.
…if the writer believes that our life is and will remain essentially mysterious, if he looks upon us as beings existing in a created order to whose laws we freely respond, then what he sees on the surface will be of interest to him only as he can go through it into an experience of mystery itself. His kind of fiction will always be pushing its own limits outward toward the limits of mystery, because for this kind of writer, the meaning of a story does not begin except at a depth where adequate motivation and adequate psychology and the various determinations have been exhausted. Such a writer will be interested in what we don’t understand rather than in what we do. He will be interested in possibility rather than in probability. He will be interested in characters who are forced out to meet evil and grace and who act on a trust beyond themselves–whether they know very clearly what it is they act upon or not. To the modern mind, this kind of character, and his creator, are typical Don Quixotes, tilting at what is not there.
I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted. The Southerner, who isn’t convinced of it, is very much afraid that he may have been formed in the image and likeness of God. Ghosts can be very fierce and instructive. They cast strange shadows, particularly in our literature. In any case, it is when the freak can be sensed as a figure for our essential displacement that he attains some depth in literature.
The problem for such a novelist will be to know how far he can distort without destroying, and in order not to destroy, he will have to descend far enough into himself to reach those underground springs that give life to big work. This descent into himself will, at the same time, be a descent into his region. It will be a descent through the darkness of the familiar into a world where, like the blind man cured in the gospels, he sees men its if they were trees, but walking. This is the beginning of vision, and I feel it is a vision which we in the South must at least try to understand if we want to participate in the continuance of a vital Southern literature.
—— Flannery O’Conner, Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction (via borgevino
“I’m afraid that the following syllogism may be used by some in the future.
Turing believes machines think
Turing lies with men
Therefore machines do not think
Yours in distress,
I can’t wait for The Imitiation Game, because so, so often Turing’s homosexuality goes unmentioned in stories about his work in artificial intelligence and computing. It’s frustrating, because questions of gender and identification are right at the heart of the Turing Test: the “Imitation Game” is itself a test of the ability to think based on the ability to know gender. In “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” (1950), Turing explained the game:
"(It is) played with three people, a man (A), a woman (B), and an interrogator (C) who may be of either sex. The interrogator stays in a room apart from the other two. The object of the game for the interrogator is to determine which of the other two is the man and which is the woman….It is A’s object in the game to try and cause C to make the wrong identification." That is, the man must make the judge think that he is a woman. Then Turing asks, “‘What will happen when a machine takes the part of A [the man] in this game?’ Will the interrogator decide wrongly as often when the game is played like this as he does when the game is played between a man and a woman? These questions replace our original, ‘Can machines think?’"
So the “imitation” in the imitation game, the proof of thought, depends on the simulation, one could say the performance, of heteronormative gender roles.
This is terrifically simplified, but it suggests a tragic implication of Turing’s story: if a machine must be able to identify gender in order to think, then “Turing lies with men, therefore machines do not think” implies that because Turing cannot properly determine gender (that is, who he should be fucking), Turing cannot quite think—is, therefore, not quite fully human.
Excuse me, I’ll be over here crying.
(There’s a good overview of these issues in “The ‘Sinister Fruitiness’ of Machines: Neuromancer, Internet Sexuality and the Turing Test” [x])