The Digest #3
5 new things I’m seeing, reading, doing, contemplating, or wanting.
The 5 things I’m seeing, reading, doing, contemplating, and wanting right now. I have read an audio version of this Digest below.
👀 What I’m Seeing
Claire and I are in the middle of an intra-DC house move right now, so things are chaotic. I’ve been working 12-14 hour days—a nice combination of physical and intellectual labor, which is satisfying (moving/unpacking boxes or landscaping the backyard and thinking as I go, which sometimes gets me into trouble…). Normally my end-of-night relaxation is a good book…but this past week it has been trying out a couple of streaming shows—one of them old, the other new. (I just haven’t had the energy to read, at least with an active mind. I could probably read Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey or something, but that’s about it.)
I’m watching Friday Night Lights for the first time (oddly, Claire is the one who convinced me, not the other way around!). It’s truly extraordinary to watch a show about high school kids and never see a single smartphone.
But the show that really has my attention is the strange Mrs. Davis. It’s a profoundly theological show (though don’t take the theology in it very seriously…) with a profound message at its core—and it couldn’t be more relevant to our time. It is the specificity of its relevance that amazes me, partly because this show’s production began long before the full emergence of generative AI (like ChatGPT) late last year.
The show is centered around a faithful nun who engages in a battle to destroy a powerful AI. Bishop Robert Barron has a nice, short primer on the show if you don’t know anything about it. Note what he says about desire here (his short video synopsis is below, but I pulled out this quote):
“The algorithms are…in myriad ways…and in a manner largely unbeknownst to ourselves…manipulating us, getting us to think and desire in such a way as to foster the economic and political interests of others. In a word: we’re not using them, they’re using us.”
Maybe I need to find out how to have an Anti-Mimetic “Watch Party”… Anyone in?
📖 What I’m Reading
Jessica Hooten Wilson’s doctoral dissertation examined demonic possession through the lens of Girard’s mimetic theory. Her dissertation was turned into this book: Giving the Devil His Due: Demonic Authority in the Fiction of Flannery O’Connor and Fyodor Dostoevsky, which I am just now getting around to reading it. So far I’m finding it fascinating.