Rudy Rucker interview: "All these years, and I'm still looking for the big aha."

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14 Responses to “Rudy Rucker interview: "All these years, and I'm still looking for the big aha."”

  1. Glen Able says:

    “When I see an old movie, like from the ’40s or ’50s or ’60s, the people look so calm. They don’t have smart phones, they’re not looking at computer screens…”

    I like to imagine office workers from this era.  Upon arriving at work and removing their hats, I picture them opening their mail which contains jokes and newspaper clippings of humorous animal pictures, sent by their friends and family.  They carefully make copies and post them to their other friends.  Afterwards they have a rummage through some glossy catalogues to find products they might like to purchase.  In the afternoon, they open an encyclopedia volume to read about a topic they’re curious about.  They encounter other topics of interest which leads them to open up some other volumes, until they have a dozen or so open on their desk.   Towards the end of the day they wind down with a few solo games of cards and table skittles.

  2. Jonathan Badger says:

    The thing is, in works of the time, they thought *they* were the overstimulated ones, and it was the 19th century people who had it good. The novels of Jack Finney and a couple of Twilight Zone episodes dealt with stressed out businessmen escaping into an idyllic Victorian age where modern distractions like radio and automobiles were absent. And in the 19th century itself you have people like John Ruskin and William Blake who hated railroads and factories (the “satanic mills”)

    • Art says:

       Good observation.

    • bryan rasmussen says:

       I do not believe that Blake disliked the satanic mills because they were overly stimulative.

      • Jonathan Badger says:

        Well, maybe, but his solution to the mills was a return to a Christian theocracy that would build an English Jerusalem in the “green and pleasant land”, which is pretty typical pastoral idealism of a more peaceful past.

    • LaGrange says:

      There’s  a fallacy that seems to be a basis of at least several political and social ideas — that “long ago it was better”. There was a golden age where all people were straight white men staring into distance and taking their time. While drinking whisky, which was better back then. And smoking, because smoking didn’t kill back then.

  3. Genre Slur says:

    ‘Postsingular hylozoic’. Such a resonant concept. The man’s a simple genius.

  4. RedShirt77 says:

     “When I see an old movie, like from the ’40s or ’50s or ’60s, the people look so calm.”

    Those that weren’t getting fire hoses turned on them, dieing of black lung or slaving in factories were haveing a grand old time looking off towards the horizon, smoking cigarettes, and trying to drink away the PTSD from what they did in the war.

    I do like the hats.  Lets just bring those back.

    I know this is a long piece with a lot more to say than those first few lines, but man its hard to skip past them without thinking, WTF are they talking about?

    • Gulliver says:

      I think all Rucker meant was that denizens of the mid-21st-century weren’t raging in perpetual apoplexy at every sentence on the internet. Observing one cultural difference between today and yesteryear is not a ringing endorsement of some golden age that never was. If you know much about Rucker, you’ll find he’s the last person to idealize the past; he’s as progressive as they come.

      The fact is that people are more plugged in to more stimuli nowadays than during any prior era, yet the human brain is still basically the only comprehensive analytic engine in a world flooded with data and information. Sentience is getting its ass kicked by its own cleverness. Rucker foresees a world where we humans can have a conversation with the natural computation of the universe instead of simply trying to stay above water. In gamer parlance, one day our species won’t be such noobs at navigating this wild noosphere we’ve begotten.

      Hopefully that sheds some light on WTF he was talking about.

      I like the hats too.

      • Shane Simmons says:

        I’m glad someone could say it much more eloquently than I apparently ever could.  I sometimes wonder if we really are doing ourselves any favors by subjecting our minds to so much stimuli. I wonder what effect we’re having on the wiring of our brains, when we give in to the ever-flowing stream of crap we have available to us.

        I don’t think the answer is to allow AI to be subjected to the stream of crap. I think the answer will be to cut down on the crap. I just wish I knew how.

  5. Marcelo Teson says:

    Rudy Rucker is the man. Reading his books completely changed my concept of what science fiction could be. There was the classic SF like Asimov, etc. and then the cyberpunks, and then there was this crazy dude in the corner writing brain meltingly cool science fiction like it was goddamned cartoon. And it was BRILLIANT.

    And his first novel “White Light” is still a completely wonderful poetic achievement. All his books are great, but that one and “Mathematicians in Love” hold special places in my heart. I love how honestly he writes, how much of himself he puts into his work, and how while reading his insane mind-bending plots you get a sense that you really know this guy, that he’s putting himself out there in a very vulnerable place. I respect that so much. Hope I get to meet him someday.

  6. ahmacrom says:

    His Hollow Earth Book is one of my faves of all time. I still reread it every year or so. I would love to ask him about that book if I ever had the chance….

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