Imagining Chapel Perilous

“Once you are in the Chapel [Perilous], Wilson insisted, there are only two ways out: as an agnostic, or a stone-cold paranoid. “There is no third way.”…

…Like so many drugs, the Imagination is both poison and cure, and we are not getting rid of that paradox any more than we are getting rid of pop paranoia or conspiracy politics or apocalyptic psyops. Living with Imagination does not involve the transcendence of pathology, but something more daemonic, more ironic, and also probably more tragic. The Imagination provides forms of sense-making that do not deny the chaotic disorders of our inner wilderness, and it nourishes us to the degree that we approach it as an ally to barter with rather than an overlord to slavishly believe or a “cognitive bias” to avoid.

—Erik Davis, “Wilderness of Mirrors.” Burning Shore. No. 8., August 25, 2020.


“Theirtube is a Youtube filter bubble simulator that provides a look into how videos are recommended on other people’s YouTube. Users can experience how the YouTube home page would look for six different personas. Each persona simulates the viewing environment of real Youtube users who experienced being inside a recommendation bubble through recreating a Youtube account with a similar viewing history. TheirTube shows how YouTube’s recommendations can drastically shape someone’s experience on the platform and, as a result, shape their worldview.”

The Trump-Zelensky Conversation

“For present purposes, it suffices to note that the text of the memo offers not a whiff of support for the president’s claims about what he did. That text unambiguously reflects conduct intolerable in a president in a number of different respects. And it does so in five brief, easy-to-understand pages, in which Trump clearly seeks to recruit a foreign head of state to violate the civil liberties of American citizens and uncover dirt on a potential political opponent in the 2020 presidential election. For everyone who breathed a sigh of relief that the Mueller report did not establish presidential ‘collusion’ with Russia in 2016, the White House itself has announced with this release that the president himself has already engaged in such collusion with Ukraine for the next election cycle—and what’s more, he is putting the powers of the American presidency to that purpose.”

—Scott R. Anderson, et al. “Self-Impeaching: On the Trump-Zelensky Conversation.” Lawfare. September 25, 2019.

This Lawfare blog post does a pretty good job of covering the implications of the Trump-Zelensky transcript. It’s important to realize that the call itself was just part of what happened. For example, there’s the cover-up. The transcript of the call was transferred to a system for classified information to reduce the number of people that could see it. It also implies further involvement by Rudy Giuliani and Bob Barr that is probably criminal as well. Interesting times.