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Idle musings of the sleep-deprived

Today I finished M. R. James' Ghost Stories of an Antiquary; typically, I find myself yearning for vaguely (but not dangerously) haunted antiquarian objects. But mostly for the sort of nearly- or wholly pre-human Lovecraftian artifact that, to borrow a bit of his prose, carries in it intimations of terrible knowledge from beyond the current boundaries of human conceptualization.

And yet, today I was also browsing some research papers, and realized that their aesthetics might be contemporary and downright banal, but the contents do carry intimations of terrible knowledge from beyond the current boundaries of human conceptualization. It's just that the full realization of those intimations doesn't lie in the far past (or the suddenly and often terminally encountered present), but in the more-or-less near future.

It's, to me, an appealing image — science as archaeology in reverse, figuring out the knowledge of a civilization more alien than anything known before — but at the same time the implicit determinism is dangerous, and borders Apocalypticism. Whenever you start thinking that you're uncovering pieces of "the future," you're by default thinking of the future, and, historically speaking, that can be very dangerous to collective psyche.

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About Proms

Not being from the US, I'm a bit hazy on the concept of "Prom." That's the traditional coming-of-age ritual when superpowered teenagers first use their powers in public by ceremonially slaughtering their less magically-or-mutationally-advantaged peers, right? The ones customarily relegated to physical labor (e.g. "sports" and "cheerleading")?

Pretty classic anthropological stuff, if you ask me. Sir Frazer wrote about the whole choose-a-king-and-or-queen-and-then-sacrifice-them religious ritual more than a century ago.

If you ask me, to pick someone as Prom King and Queen and then disembowel them telekinetically or let them be eaten by zombies just because they don't have a grasp of telepathic shielding techniques or practical undead containment protocols is unnecessarily harsh, and reflects poorly on American civilization. They deserve our pre-apocalyptic patience and post-apocalyptic protection, not this sort of thinly veiled mystical discrimination.

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cass, can you not
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