Almost everyone has a “this teacher changed my life” story. Usually it’s a high school teacher who provided a nurturing environment during a particularly challenging year in school. I have a few of those stories myself, but one educator stands out the most. It was a philosophy professor I never took a class from, and I only met him one time for about five minutes. But that brief encounter has stuck with me for well over a decade. …


Martin Scorsese recently made the news for complaining that his films are treated as mere “content” by streaming platforms like Netflix. On the surface, his grievance is understandable. Films require an incredible amount of vision, talent, hard work, and money to produce. And great films can have deep, lasting impacts on culture. He’s also correct to highlight the downsides of algorithmic curation. Nonetheless, it’s time to admit that art fundamentally is not sacred. …


Image by Peter Clarke

Futurist projects are often criticized for leading to absurd outcomes. For example, if we scan and upload our minds to the cloud, we could make multiple copies of ourselves. Which one would be the real you? Or, if we scan your brain at age 50 and then you die at age 60, would a resurrected copy of your 50-year-old brain really be you? Are you the same person if you lost 10 years of memories? Or, let’s say we develop teleportation where every atom in your body is scanned, destroyed, and recreated instantaneously at another location. Are you really the…


Cornelis Galle I, “Lucifer” (c. 1595).

It’s common for the passage of time to reshape how stories are perceived. Moral progress happens, and suddenly a story gets turned on its head. The good guys were actually bad guys; the bad guys were in fact victims. For example, it’s hard to watch a John Wayne movie today without cringing at both the treatment of the Indians and the antiquated “hero” depiction of Wayne’s character. Similarly, the Knights Templar — or any “heroes” dramatized in stories of the Crusades — are now often seen as bloodthirsty antagonists by modern audiences.

When a complete role reversal occurs over time…


Pataphysics is a freewheeling literary trope that had an oversized but under-appreciated impact on 20th century art and postmodern philosophy. It’s generally thought of as a precursor to other artistic movements, such as Dadaism, Surrealism, and the Decadent movement. However, pataphysics is much more than a footnote in literary history. It’s also a powerful tool for boosting creativity. Just like William Burroughs’s “cut up” method adds spontaneity and randomness to any artistic work, pataphysics adds a nearly magical element of calculated absurdity.

Pataphysics goes by a number of definitions. It’s broadly conceptualized as an extension of metaphysics, just as metaphysics…


San Francisco Skyline — Photo by Peter Clarke

The modern world can seem antagonistic to forming a strong sense of purpose. In addition to traditional stressors, such as poverty and loneliness, the modern world plagues us with entirely new sources of anxiety: perpetual connectivity, social media addiction, the need to multitask, the threat of identity theft, etc. Given this new anxiety-ridden world, it’s no wonder finding a sense of purpose can seem like a lost cause.

It’s easy to imagine a simpler time, when life wasn’t so antithetical to purpose-making. Can’t we go back to the good old days when we could work more with our hands, spend…


It’s often said that the best writers are currently in Hollywood working on movies and TV shows. The first time I heard this, a number of years ago, I was deeply skeptical. I’d always taken for granted the idea that film is a director’s medium — primarily a visual rather than a literary art form. At some level, I think I even believed that you could put a director in a room with some actors and voilà, you’d have a film.

Imagine someone seeing a stage production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and thinking, “Wow! I can’t believe that director…


Or, Saturday Night with Borat and the Commentariat

“Hello all, the subject of this audio essay is — ”

Yes, Eric Weinstein is back! Admittedly, I hadn’t noticed he’d been away. But it seems that he was — and now he’s back, kicking off his latest episode of The Portal with an audio essay about his absence, the tech platforms, the 2020 election…

The intro audio essays are often the best part of Eric’s podcast. I’m running around my apartment half listening, but I really don’t want to miss a moment. I have to set my phone down a few…


“It’s a brand new day. It is ours to live and enjoy, to make something of or not, and then to be lost forever.” — Ross Ulbricht, from prison.

Every time Ross Ulbricht’s name appears on my Twitter feed, I pause for a moment. My eyes lift off my laptop screen. I glance around the room and out the window. There’s a whole world out there. And any time I want, I can get up and check it out.

Meanwhile, Ross Ulbricht is stuck in a prison cell, somehow sending tweets out into a world he’ll likely never see again.


“Stand Up For Nuclear” Rally in San Francisco | September 19, 2020

California’s tech industry has long faced criticism for emphasizing vapid innovations that ultimately bring harm to society. In 2011, data scientist Jeff Hammerbacher observed, “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.” The ethos of this criticism can be applied to other California-centric industries, including the film industry, the music industry, and the weed industry. Even the energy industry in California has become increasingly vapid. …

Peter Clarke

Author of “The Singularity Survival Guide” and Editor at JokesLiteraryReview.com. Read more at petermclarke.com. Follow me on Twitter @HeyPeterClarke

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