Radio Free Albemuth, the Film

Fans of Philip K. Dick delight!  “Radio Free Albemuth”, the film, premiered on October 7th at the Gotham Screen International Film Festival.  For those who don’t know, Radio Free Albemuth (RFA) is one of Dick’s last novels, and was basically a warm up exercise or first version of his strange and incomparable gnostic hallucination known as Valis. For some reason RFA, Valis, and my favorite PKD novel, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, are often considered the Valis Trilogy, but I don’t think there is any evidence PKD thought of these in these terms about these three novels.
It seems that the film is currently just being screened at film festivals, and I can’t quite back up from the website whether or when it is destined for wider release.  Come on Holywood, you know PKD is worth some dollars!  By the way, Alanis Morrssette plays the character Sylvia in the movie.
In other PKD news there are rumors that Ridley Scott is producing a miniseries of PKD’s The Man in the High Castle.

Cormac Interview in the WSJ

This interview with Cormac McCarthy by the Wall Street Journal is well worth reading (Coincidentally(?) I just started rereading the Border Trilogy.)
This amused me

[CM:] Instead, I get up and have a cup of coffee and wander around and read a little bit, sit down and type a few words and look out the window.

simply because I can attest that yes, indeed, this is what he does! And, well, because my time at the Santa Fe Institute followed a similar pattern 🙂
On the other hand here is a more ominous reason why I enjoyed (my too brief) time at SFI:

WSJ: What kind of things make you worry?
CM: If you think about some of the things that are being talked about by thoughtful, intelligent scientists, you realize that in 100 years the human race won’t even be recognizable. We may indeed be part machine and we may have computers implanted. It’s more than theoretically possible to implant a chip in the brain that would contain all the information in all the libraries in the world. As people who have talked about this say, it’s just a matter of figuring out the wiring. Now there’s a problem you can take to bed with you at night.

New York Times Film Review Fail

This morning Mrs. Pontiff read me a review out of the New York Times for the film “A Serious Man.” The opening paragraph of the review gives you an idea why she thought it might be relevant to me:

Did you hear the one about the guy who lived in the land of Uz, who was perfect and upright and feared God? His name was Job. In the new movie version, “A Serious Man,” some details have been changed. He’s called Larry Gopnik and he lives in Minnesota, where he teaches physics at a university. When we first meet Larry, in the spring of 1967, his tenure case is pending, his son’s bar mitzvah is approaching, and, as in the original, a lot of bad stuff is about to happen, for no apparent reason.

Cool, a physicist playing Job. But then she read me the second paragraph and it all soured for me:

At work, Larry specializes in topics like Schr√∂dinger’s Paradox and the Heisenberg Principle — complex and esoteric ideas that can be summarized by the layman, more or less, as “God knows.” Because we can’t. Though if he does, he isn’t saying much.

Egads New York Times (okay maybe that should be a singular “egad” given the context) what are you trying to do to this old physics curmudgeon and literature major pedant early in the morning, give him a heart attack?!?
Dear Mr. New York Times reviewer A. O. Scott, the proper words you were looking for here are “Schr√∂dinger’s Cat Paradox” and “Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.” If you’re going to take a mocking tone in your review about “complex and esoteric ideas” it would be useful, you know, if you actually got the names of those “complex and esoteric ideas” correct. Second isn’t it sad how a film critic can get away with calling these two ideas “complex”? Compared to what Mr. Scott? Compared to the proof of the PCP theorem? Compared to doing a calculation in quantum field theory? Um, I don’t think so. And finally, because standing on this upside down can is getting kind of wobbly, isn’t it a little presumptuous of you to say that God knows the position and the momentum of a particle? I mean might it be that even God doesn’t know the hidden variables of our universe. Or even, heaven forbid, that there are no such variables, and that *gasp* he is not in control of the universe that he supposedly created?

"Jumper" Jumped by Farhi and Tegmark

“Jumper” is a new movie about a man (okay, Hayden Christensen, aka Anakin Skywalker) who can teleport himself anywhere just by thinking about it. Quantum teleportation is a procedure where quantum information can be transported using entanglement and a few bits of classical communication. The distance between these two is, *ahem*, rather large. The New York Times today has an article about an event at MIT (that other institute of technology) which brought together the director of Jumper, star Hayden Christensen, and MIT professors Ed Farhi and Max Tegmark.
Continue reading “"Jumper" Jumped by Farhi and Tegmark”