Bill Joy, Norman O. Brown and Gyrus Justice

Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, recently left the company. A long-standing luminary in the tech field (Joy was a prime mover in the development of the Java programming language and various Unix operating systems), he became known to a (slightly) wider audience via his April 2000 Wired Magazine article, ‘Why the future doesn’t need us‘. The Matrix had primed the public for millennial techno-fear, but Joy did the valuable service of giving a good few left-brains a wake-up call, even as our right-brains thrilled to Keanu’s fight against the machines. The focus of Joy’s warnings about technological evolution, and the potential it contains for human obsolescence, was a trinity of disciplines that have been given the title "GNR". No, nothing to do with Axl Rose; it stands for genetic engineering, nanotechnology and robotics.

Anyways, via web software hero Nick Bradbury, I just came across an interesting post-Sun interview with Joy. It might seem arbitrary to some for an interview to veer between critiquing computer networking and operating software, and assessing the dangers to our species’ future. Well, Joy’s the person to read first if you’ve not made the frightening conceptual leap to the point where these two issues start overlapping—he probably knows more than anyone about the former, and seems to know more than most about the latter. He’s got a book out soon, probably worth checking out: The Future Doesn’t Need Us.

Also via Nick’s blog, a related deep-tech piece from AI pioneer Ray Kurzweil.


Leftfield music journo Simon Reynolds recently mapped his fellow music-obsessive bloggers to proggy bands and artists. My old occultural mucker John Eden got (respectfully, it seems) paired off with Hawkwind. Cue loads of "re-assessing Hawkwind" bits and pieces (for those into Hawkwind—I’m pretty agnostic on them), some of it spawning an interesting little re-conceptualisation of the 60’s.

Which brings me in a roundabout kind of way to my object of interest here: someone else who bothers to mention that trans-Freudian brain-bending scholar Norman O. Brown. I got into this guy via the same route that brought this mention into Reynolds’ blog: Theodore Roszak’s sober, fascinating analysis of the 60’s, Making of a Counter Culture. Yes, Brown’s Life Against Death was a huge influence on Jim Morrison, probably more than he admitted and most people are willing to acknowledge. I was thinking about this recently, getting into Brain Donor‘s Too Freud To Rock ‘N’ Roll, Too Jung To Die. Sure, Sigmund himself was probably a stuffy bookworm, coke habit notwithstanding. But the shit he unearthed—what we usually refer to with the word "Freud"—came from psychological seams that fuel rock ‘n’ roll. Talk about angst… And the song so commonly hailed as the rock song that it’s probably terribly uncool to big it up these days, ‘The End’—it don’t get more Freudian than that. The only thing that comes to mind as getting close is from Copey himself: the blinding Jehovahkill.

Rock thrives on Oedipal fury, and Norman O. Brown gave Freud’s work the sharp, radical spin it needed to influence rock stars themselves. Check out Brown’s ‘sequel’, too, the more scholarly and more poetic Love’s Body (1966). His third book in this series, Apocalypse And/Or Metamorphosis (1992) doesn’t even live up to its title; if you want more, rather grab his great little classical trickster treatise, Hermes The Thief (1947).


And finally… I just got one of the strangest emails I’ve ever received:

I have recently acquired a pony named ‘Gyrus Justice’. He is a five year old imported Irish (Connemara). Trying to find out a little about why and perhaps who he is named for….what does it all mean??? Any ideas? Jennifer in the U.S.

It seemed obvious that the pony had nothing to do with me (I sense more on the background to my chosen epithet soon…); but equally, why name an animal after "any of the prominent, rounded, elevated convolutions on the surfaces of the cerebral hemispheres"? Let alone tag the word "justice" on the end…

It all got even stranger when I recalled that almost exactly 5 years ago, I was actually on a short hitching & camping jaunt down in beautiful West Cork. I had lifts from a few great people on the way (though that hardly made it a notable Irish trip). Who knows, maybe one of them got home that day and named their new-born Connemara pony after the strange guy they gave a lift to? And felt that I had been unjustly treated in some way, and wanted to advertise my plight…? Well, now it seems that news of my plight has reached the USA. Maybe I’ll get something done about it now, I’ve had bugger all luck with the UN.

(Illuminati theorists may wish to note: the period of 5 years; the sum of the current year’s numerals (2003) also being 5; my age this year being 32; and the fact that the Connemara Breeders Society was founded in 1923…)