B. L. Zabib’s Interstitial Truckerlogue 21.08.12

1.  Eye-opening archeological exhibit.  On Sunday, I had the good fortune to be able to spend two hours in “The Incredible Gauls!” showcase at The Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris, France.   The exhibition displays assorted Iron Age remnants of the Celtic Gauls and describes some of the scientific disciplines and techniques–ranging from palynology to remote sensing–that generated a wave of discoveries of Gallic artifacts beginning in the mid-1970s. However, the exhibitors also use their fossil trove to make an intriguing (if left-wing and pacifistic) political point: since the Middle Ages, various power-lovers have used words such as “Gaul” and “Gallic” to incite warlike conduct among the French, thereby creating a mythological Gaul that bears little–if any–likeness to the ancient people who are being exhumed, fragment by fragment, into the light of day by contemporary archeologists. Unfortunately, the show closes in a few weeks, but there are plenty of books in print that address its subject matter in detail.  For the curious, the English version of The Cité des Sciences event advertisement is here.

2.  YouTube classic du jour.  Speaking of erroneous preconceptions, you probably think that Aleister Crowley was a Satanist and that his last name is pronounced the way that Ozzy Osbourne sings it.  If so, you’re a dope and you’re wrong on both counts.  Today, I found out that not only is there a fully functional American Grand Lodge of the crafty, skeptical wizard’s Ordo Templi Orientis headquartered in Gotham (of course), but there is also a wonderfully preserved interview with the late author Robert Anton Wilson (of Illuminatus! fame) that’s available online wherein Mr. Wilson discusses The Beast 666 as well as Crowley’s involvement in a phenomenal number of secret societies during the twentieth century, including nothing less than MI5!  If you’ve got an hour to spare (and perhaps some hallucinogens to ingest), check it out here.  Wilson’s mid-twentieth century Brooklyn accent, of a type that’s vanishing into the past, is music to the ear.

3.  Book of the month.  Speaking of psychedelic transcendence and recent history, a strange and sad epilogue to Philip K. Dick’s biography was the flash-in-the-pan existence of a real-world PKD android, which was somehow lost by one of its creators during a plane switch at the Las Vegas airport in December 2005 and has yet to be recovered.  On the flight home from Paris yesterday, I read a new nonfiction book that tells the full story of the Dick head from start to finish and I’ve got to give it a maximum recommendation: besides its value as an addition to my PKD book collection, David Dufty’s How to Build an Android: The True Story of Philip K. Dick’s Robotic Resurrection provides an entertaining and serviceable overview of recent developments in artificial intelligence software and robotics hardware that’s easy to comprehend, even for flint-wielding Cro-mags like BLZ.

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