"United Pressing is the largest vinyl pressing plant in the US, with a close relationship to Jack White’s production emporium Third Man Records nearby, as well as Nashville’s booming analogue music recording scene.
Next year the firm will add 16 presses that should boost daily output to 60,000 records. Millar, director of marketing, won’t say where they found the presses – manufacturing of vinyl records ceased in the early 1980s and competition for presses comes from surprising quarters. The last few machines capable of cutting a metal mother – the stamp that imprints the plastic vinyl – were purchased at auction by the Church of Scientology, whose followers believed that the best way to preserve speeches of the master, L Ron Hubbard, for posterity was a 33⅓ album.
But there’s residual anxiety that the analogue revival is temporary. “Everything comes back once before it goes away for ever,” says VH1’s Bill Flanagan. “If it’s just a nostalgic or hipster-elitest thing, where does that leave us in 10 years? It might be the last gasp of an expiring culture before we all get sucked into the [digital] cloud.”
Fascinating/terrifying article about the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk in Cambridge University, England. The concept of posthuman economics sounds like a good thing to study - or, as their economist member calls it, “inequality across time”, and sustainable development incorporating “natural capital”. What if humans become not the only ‘rational actors’ in our economic framework?
I don’t get the ‘paperclip apocalypse’ headline - how does this work: “the for-instance of a paper clip making software that turns the whole of America, including the people, into paper clips”? But the idea of an artificial intelligence taking over the ‘internet of things’ for its own ends is pretty scary, and should be a prompt to ask ourselves do we really need everything to be a ‘smart’? Although as is explained, there is a certain economic-type logic pushing us towards that convergence.
Somewhat conflicted about this - on the one hand I agree with the critical perspective, but on the other I think it should also be applied to considering how ‘adverse’ reactions are defined and what the intended psycho-social outcome of therapy is (not to trivialise the former, but the example given is “rare cases of “depersonalisation”, where people feel like they are watching themselves in a film” which could either be a step towards psychosis or a spiritual awakening into the nature of selfhood). Plus there is an important overlay of tension between the commercial mindfulness industry, as a deracinated, de-contextualised form of Buddhist meditation, and the study and practice of Buddhism as a philosophical, spiritual and historical tradition - within which surely lies the essential questions of ethics and aims that underpin any broader assessment. I would consider myself a rationalist, but alongside the scepticism of mindfulness as a tool of neoliberal spiritualism there’s also the Western tradition of anti-psychiatry to question the scientific objectivity of ‘experts’ in the psychological realm.
More practically, Brad Warner, I think, has written an important caveat to the meditation/mindfulness experience: rather than simply being about ‘emptying your mind’, in the popular imagination, it can expose oneself (through relaxing conscious control) to suppressed emotions and thoughts, with uncomfortable or unpleasant results. And the experience of depression or anxiety is in large part about suppressing certain ideas or feelings through an unhealthy focus on others, as a kind of psychological defence mechanism. So mindfulness can help cut through the latter but dealing with the former requires more positive action; it’s why using mindfulness to tackle social malaise is doomed to be inadequate unless it’s coupled with an honest discourse and an ethics of care. Is there a risk to providing tools towards mental equilibrium? Maybe, but it’s less worse than denying the link between psychic pain and social situations.