News 06.09.23: Five Essential Articles from Around the Web

News 06.09.23: Five Essential Articles from Around the Web
News 06.09.23: Five Essential Articles from Around the Web
News 06.09.23: Five Essential Articles from Around the Web

The other day, I was looking for a quote in Proust, so I thought I would ask ChatGPT. Here’s how it went.

EB: Is there a passage in In Search of Lost Time when Proust talks about how love affairs repeat themselves, and says that when you’re writing about a love affair in the past, you’re often drawing inspiration from a different love affair in the present?

CHATGPT: Yes, there is a passage in Marcel Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time” (also known as “Remembrance of Things Past”) where he discusses the repetition of love affairs and the influence of present experiences on writing about past love affairs. The passage can be found in the first volume of the novel, “Swann’s Way” (Du côté de chez Swann).

In this passage, Proust reflects on how our present emotions and experiences often color our memories of the past. He suggests that when we write about a past love affair, we might unknowingly be influenced by the emotions and experiences of a current or recent love affair. This blurring of past and present emotions can result in the repetition of themes and feelings in our writing.

The idea of how love affairs repeat themselves and how we are influenced by our present experiences when writing about the past is a recurring theme in Proust’s work, as he delves into the complexities of memory, perception, and the nature of human emotions.

Please note that the specific wording and context of the passage may vary depending on the translation and edition of the novel. If you’re interested in exploring this theme further, I recommend reading “Swann’s Way” to experience Proust’s beautiful prose and intricate exploration of love, memory, and the passage of time.

Some things I was thinking at this point:

1. Hmm, I had expected it to be in Volume 2 or 3. Probably the more recent experience of reading Volume 2 or 3 coloured, or even substituted, my memory of reading Volume 1! Memory is amazing! (Didn’t Proust say something about that somewhere?)

2. I wonder why it didn’t give me a direct quote. I hope it isn’t going to be squirrelly or weird about quotes. Maybe it’s stressed out about copyrighted translations. I’ll try asking for the original.

EB: Could you quote the passage for me in French?

GPT: Certainly! Here’s the passage from Marcel Proust’s “À la recherche du temps perdu” (“In Search of Lost Time”) in its original French:

“Une seule chose avait pourtant changé : les lieux, les êtres, ne présentaient plus qu’un intérêt général et par conséquent, ne m’offraient plus aucun détail intéressant. Ce que je cherchais en eux, ce que j’avais entrevu en eux une fois pour toutes, c’était un état, un sentiment de mon âme, c’était Swann lui-même. Les personnes que je fréquentais pouvaient me parler, au lieu de Swann, de beaucoup d’autres noms propres, lesquels désignaient des états analogues à ceux que Swann me faisait connaître, des états dans lesquels ma personnalité resterait, pourrait se développer, des états qui n’étaient d’ailleurs pas incompatibles avec ceux de Swann, avec sa présence, son souvenir, au point que parfois j’hésitais à les attribuer à l’un plutôt qu’à l’autre. Dès lors j’avais pu reconnaître en chacun de ces êtres à leur manière un des aspects de Swann. Eux seuls désormais m’intéressaient, mais moins comme des personnes distinctes, que comme les moyens qu’ils m’offraient de sortir de moi-même, d’atteindre Swann, d’assouvir ma curiosité, de m’apaiser. Les désirs qu’ils pouvaient me suggérer d’eux, me paraissaient neutres, comparés à l’unique et ardente désir que j’avais de Swann. Mais, lorsque j’essayais de les mettre en pratique, ils m’étaient impossibles ; ils se heurtaient à l’existence, au souvenir de Swann, ils avaient pris naissance dans un état d’esprit inconciliable avec celui-là. Alors il me semblait que j’avais changé d’idées, que j’avais transformé ma vie; ce qui en était la cause, c’était plutôt la présence en moi d’un état d’esprit transitoire, avec lequel je m’étais représenté ma vie passée, mais qui avait en réalité en lui bien peu de choses du passé, et par contre beaucoup d’éléments empruntés à un état d’esprit différent que je n’avais connu que depuis peu de jours et qui allait, lui, en durer peu.”

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

The air crackles with an almost Beatlemaniac energy as the star and his entourage tumble into a waiting Mercedes van. They’ve just ducked out of one event and are headed to another, then another, where a frenzied mob awaits. As they careen through the streets of London—the short hop from Holborn to Bloomsbury—it’s as if they’re surfing one of civilization’s before-and-after moments. The history-making force personified inside this car has captured the attention of the world. Everyone wants a piece of it, from the students who’ve waited in line to the prime minister.

Inside the luxury van, wolfing down a salad, is the neatly coiffed 38-year-old entrepreneur Sam Altman, cofounder of OpenAI; a PR person; a security specialist; and me. Altman is unhappily sporting a blue suit with a tieless pink dress shirt as he whirlwinds through London as part of a monthlong global jaunt through 25 cities on six continents. As he gobbles his greens—no time for a sit-down lunch today—he reflects on his meeting the previous night with French president Emmanuel Macron. Pretty good guy! And very interested in artificial intelligence.

As was the prime minister of Poland. And the prime minister of Spain.

Riding with Altman, I can almost hear the ringing, ambiguous chord that opens “A Hard Day’s Night”—introducing the future. Last November, when OpenAI let loose its monster hit, ChatGPT, it triggered a tech explosion not seen since the internet burst into our lives. Suddenly the Turing test was history, search engines were endangered species, and no college essay could ever be trusted. No job was safe. No scientific problem was immutable.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

How does it feel getting shortlisted for the Mercury Prize for a second time?” repeats Young Fathers’ Kayus Bankole, mulling the question over in his mind. “Ahhhmm. It feels like an acknowledgement that we’re no longer a flash-in-the-pan band.” His bandmate, Alloysious Massaquoi nods slowly. “Yeah. A solidifying moment. It’s all good…”

Joining me – via patchy Zoom links from different locations, while their third member, Graham “G” Hastings, has gone awol – the “Liberian/Nigerian/Scottish psychedelic hip-hop electro boy band” appear only mildly more enthusiastic than they had been back in 2014, when they were awarded the prize for their debut album Dead. “What do you expect us to be doing, jumping around?” they shrugged at reporters at the time, arguing that the £20,000 award and attendant flurry of industry attention “doesn’t change anything at all”.

Almost a decade on, the three musicians remain – in conversation at least – far from Tiggerish. Their serious tones and cautious words are still at odds with their gloriously noisy, soulful and unpredictable music – on display most recently on their fourth album Heavy Heavy, for which they’ve received this second Mercury nod. Bouncing, prowling, gyrating and ululating, the Edinburgh-based trio (who all share vocal and instrumental duties) delivered one of the most exciting and impassioned sets at this year’s Glastonbury festival. During a fierce performance of Heavy Heavy’s lead single, “I Saw”, Banjole, Black and dreadlocked, pressed himself up against Hastings, white and flushed; their bodies as close as their vocals. Massaquoi, meanwhile, repeated a line from their older song “Cocoa Sugar”: “Mainstream negroes that look like Jesus…” Towards the end of their set, Hastings led the crowd in a chant: “Say it loud! Say it clear! Refugees are welcome here!” before shouting “F*** the Tories” and dedicating their breakthrough single, “Shame”, to home secretary Suella Braverman.

Read the rest of this article at: Independent

News 06.09.23: Five Essential Articles from Around the Web

David Gruber began his almost impossibly varied career studying bluestriped grunt fish off the coast of Belize. He was an undergraduate, and his job was to track the fish at night. He navigated by the stars and slept in a tent on the beach. “It was a dream,” he recalled recently. “I didn’t know what I was doing, but I was performing what I thought a marine biologist would do.”

Gruber went on to work in Guyana, mapping forest plots, and in Florida, calculating how much water it would take to restore the Everglades. He wrote a Ph.D. thesis on carbon cycling in the oceans and became a professor of biology at the City University of New York. Along the way, he got interested in green fluorescent proteins, which are naturally synthesized by jellyfish but, with a little gene editing, can be produced by almost any living thing, including humans.

While working in the Solomon Islands, northeast of Australia, Gruber discovered dozens of species of fluorescent fish, including a fluorescent shark, which opened up new questions. What would a fluorescent shark look like to another fluorescent shark? Gruber enlisted researchers in optics to help him construct a special “shark’s eye” camera. (Sharks see only in blue and green; fluorescence, it turns out, shows up to them as greater contrast.) Meanwhile, he was also studying creatures known as comb jellies at the Mystic Aquarium, in Connecticut, trying to determine how, exactly, they manufacture the molecules that make them glow. This led him to wonder about the way that jellyfish experience the world. Gruber enlisted another set of collaborators to develop robots that could handle jellyfish with jellyfish-like delicacy.

“I wanted to know: Is there a way where robots and people can be brought together that builds empathy?” he told me.

In 2017, Gruber received a fellowship to spend a year at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. While there, he came across a book by a free diver who had taken a plunge with some sperm whales. This piqued Gruber’s curiosity, so he started reading up on the animals.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

The first time I heard about Taylor Swift, I was in a Los Angeles County jail, waiting to be sent to prison for murder. Sheriffs would hand out precious copies of the Los Angeles Times, and they would be passed from one reader to the next. Back then, I swore that Prince was the best songwriter of my lifetime, and I thought Swift’s rise to teen-age stardom was an injustice. I’d look up from her wide-eyed face in the Calendar section to see gang fights and race riots. The jail was full of young men of color who wrote and performed their own raps, often about chasing money and fame, while Swift was out there, actually getting rich and famous. How fearless could any little blond fluff like that really be?

In 2009, I was sentenced to life in prison. Early one morning, I boarded a bus in shackles and a disposable jumpsuit, and rode to Calipatria State Prison, a cement fortress on the southern fringes of California. Triple-digit temperatures, cracked orange soil, and pungent whiffs of the nearby Salton Sea made me feel as though I’d been exiled to Mars. After six years in the chaos of the county jail, however, I could finally own small luxuries, like a television. The thick walls of Calipat, as we called the place, stifled our radio reception, but an institutional antenna delivered shows like “Access Hollywood,” “Entertainment Tonight,” and “TMZ.” I was irritated by the celebrity gossip, but it was a connection to the outside world, and it introduced me to snippets of Swift’s performances for the first time. Here and there, I’d catch her on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” or “Fallon,” and was surprised by how intently she discussed her songwriting. I didn’t tell anyone that I thought she was talented.

In 2013, when my security level was lowered owing to good behavior, I requested a transfer to Solano state prison, the facility with a Level 3 yard which was closest to my family in the Bay Area. I got the transfer, but my property—a TV, CD player, soap, toothpaste, lotion, food—was lost in transit. I shared a cell with someone in the same situation, so, for months, we relied on the kindness of our neighbors to get by. Our only source of music was a borrowed pocket radio, hooked up to earbuds that cost three dollars at the commissary. At night, we’d crank up the volume and lay the earbuds on the desk in our cell. Those tiny speakers radiated crickety renditions of Top Forty hits.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker