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When we inhabit the natural world, what we see is not really the truth. For acquiring truth took tools far beyond our capabilities, most notably the microscope and telescope. The further in we looked, the stranger things got, until such words like “spin” and “charge” began to enter the vocabulary to describe what quarks and gluons were doing. We knew that intuition was great for fitness and for art. When these quarks and gluons combine, along with photons, it can produce the beautiful world ready-at-hand. But reality, as it was, without our intuitions, was something else entirely. The disparity these…

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The swamp cried ominously 200 meters across a river on the opposite shoreline from ours. A green hue emanated from the fog from two emerald torches delineating an entrance to a crypt. We set out on a viking boat, a Karve, as “leeches” as big as humans swam silently underneath. Silhouettes of draugr dotted the landscape, and something far worse, an oozing mass, left a poisonous trail as it wafted through the muck. We had mere seconds to jump from the boat to the entrance of the crypt before we were overwhelmed. As my partner performed an expert fishhook turn…

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It is now the era of the rogue-lite.

With the recent success of Supergiant Games’s Hades by nearly every game journal (and with the downfall of such giants in AAA games like Mass Effect: Andromeda, or Anthem, or Cyberpunk 2077) a clear message has taken center stage. Perhaps it had to do with the ballooning costs of game development. Perhaps it arose from an exhaustion with the open world design of the previous generation. Or maybe it had to do with storage space concerns of our solid state drives. Whatever it is, the rogue-like and rogue-lite are here to stay.

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This is a picture I took as I went on a routine walk on the street where I live. For some reason, when I see this photograph, I conflate “soul” with “sole”. As in singular. As in the only care that America gives you to worry about is of the kind that includes only you. “Treat yourself”. Here the sign “Soul Care” offers total ambiguity. I have no idea what goes on inside that building, as it is separated entirely from the rest of the buildings in the massive complex that is the Bible church. Is it conversion therapy? Meditation…

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Ursula K. Le Guin is greeted in a beachy retreat with beautiful golden sand and green-blue waters by a man seven feet tall with a beak for a nose. An envoy for the Ansarac, he assists tourist in describing the Way of the Ansarac people.

The Way of the Ansarac is not unlike that of migratory birds. As the lengths of years on their plane is 24 times as long compared to Earth, reaching the age of three is a large achievement indeed, especially considering that, each year, the entire people migrate North and South depending on the overly long…

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Spoilers for Troll 2

Missing Reel

The pandemic has promised to be apocalyptic for movies moving forward. Before 2020, cinema had been phasing out movie theaters at an alarming rate, with people opting out of watching films with rotten teenagers throwing popcorn, deaf dads who put their ringtone on high volume, and skyrocketing ticket prices for cheap gimmicks like IMAX and 3D. And trying to find an art film in the Dallas-Fort Worth area has continued to be an embarrassment in the length of the commute. It could get worse: in an article for Harper’s by A. S. Hamrah, he writes, “The…

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To review the history of violence is to be repeatedly astounded by the cruelty and waste of it all, and at times to be overcome with anger, disgust, and immeasurable sadness.

Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature

This is on the final page of Steven Pinker’s breathtaking work on why violence has declined. While a provocative and uplifting book, still it clearly cannot reconcile the paths humanity took for us to get here, one where violence is not some lofty and heroic act, but neither is it a degrading and baseless activity (like it should be viewed today)…

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Literary Indifference

The novel Moby-Dick or, the Whale by Herman Melville has a 3.51 out of 5.00 stars on Goodreads.

As I re-read the text in 2020, I felt that, more than any other book I have read since perhaps Wittgenstein’s Mistress by David Markson, any attempt to offer a numerical or star rating to the novel would be a futile exercise. Even attempting to peg onto rational grounds what the book is about is a difficult feat. Here is the summary provided by Goodreads:

So Melville wrote of his masterpiece, one of the greatest works of imagination in literary history. In…

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For some time I have been debating the concept of Self. This has not been a straightforward journey, as there are turns and twists and double-backs, as well as the case where I continue to act in a world as if I have agency and free will, though I occasionally become lucid and realize otherwise.

Reading Karl Ove Knausgaard talk about the flow state when he is writing in his latest essay collection In the Land of the Cyclops brought me back to Self. Listening to Sam Harris’s latest series on free will brought me back to Self. And I…

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Contemplation Missing from the Toolkit

Decades ago, my grandmother went on a silent retreat. It seemed odd for a family member to go off to some secluded place and remain silent in order to wait for the Lord’s message, but then again few families follow the Quaker tradition.

Quakers are just as malleable a definition of a sect as any other, with conservatives and liberals in each part of the United States. Still, there are some core tenets. Ours tended to be a more contemplative religion, where in the most extreme cases (in the Northeast part of the U.S.), services gathered on Sundays to a…

Colton Royle

Colton tries to picture a world in which nobody trusted their System 1 thinking. He is currently working on trying to be a better listener.

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