Weekend Reads: March 18, 2022
Apocalypse, Quantum Computing, Milk (Bovine and Otherwise) & Immunity
I’ve been underwater this week so a lot of what I’ve been reading has either been for our upcoming workshop on bubbles and mimesis (facilitated by The Diff’s Byrne Hobart) or what you see below.
Read: Girard and Illich on the Apocalypse
I’m running a day-long salon with a student group at Stanford in May on the topics of Christendom without Christ (essentially a Girardian reading of Christianity & society + a workshop on what modern culture without Christian influences (but raised in the shadow of Christendom) creates). In the process of researching for that seminar, I came across an essay by Rene Girard on Clausewitz’s On War titled “On War and Apocalypse” over at First Things. It’s a bit dated as it is presented through the lens of the threat of radical Islam, but it’s a good look into the anthropological view that he brings to the question of Christendom (i.e., civilization built on the back of Christianity):
This is the implacable logic of the sacred, which myths dissimulate less and less as humans become increasingly self-aware. The decisive point in this evolution is Christian revelation. Rituals had slowly educated humans; after Christianity, they had to do without. Christianity, in other words, demystifies religion.
And yet, demystification, which is good in the absolute, has proven bad in the relative, for we were not prepared to shoulder its consequences. We are not Christian enough.
The paradox can be put in a different way: Christianity is the only religion that has foreseen its own failure. This prescience is known as the apocalypse. Indeed, it is in the apocalyptic texts that the word of God is most forceful, repudiating mistakes that are entirely the fault of humans, who are less and less inclined to acknowledge the mechanisms of their violence. The longer we persist in our error, the stronger God’s voice will emerge from the devastation. This is why no one wants to read the apocalyptic texts that abound in the synoptic gospels and Pauline epistles. This is also why no one wants to recognize that these texts rise up before us because we have disregarded the Book of Revelation. Once in our history the truth about the identity of all humans was spoken, and no one wanted to hear it; instead we hang ever more frantically onto our false differences.
Paradoxically, stupid sacrifice is what we are most in need of at present. Few Christians still talk about the apocalypse, and they usually have a completely mythological conception of it. They think that the violence of the end of time will come from God himself. They cannot do without a cruel God. Strangely, they do not see that the violence we ourselves are in the process of amassing and that is looming over our own heads is entirely sufficient to trigger the worst. They have no sense of humor.
Violence is a terrible adversary, since it always wins. Desiring war can thus become a spiritual attitude. We have to fight a violence that can no longer be controlled or mastered. More than ever, I am convinced that history has meaning, and that its meaning is terrifying.
In a similar vein, here’s a piece on Ivan Illich and Girard’s views of the Apocalypse:
Illich sees modern institutions as perversions of a Gospel imperative. Girard sees a similar perversion in the way in which a claim of victimization can become a potential source of power and social advantage in the modern world. In both cases, love fuses with resentment and the desire for power in a way that betrays its inspiration and, as William Blake says, “builds a hell in heaven’s despite.”
Illich's Deschooling Society was a pivotal text for me back in ~2012 when I was critically examining schooling and school structures. He lays out one of the best and most succinct cases on what effects schooling has as a way of thinking on society and institutions. He’s a pretty well-known critic of industrialized schooling and medicine — and worth visiting if you haven’t come across his work before.
Watch: Peter’s Denial
“Man cannot resist mimetic contagion. When you are in a crowd, you become literally possessed by the crowd.”
Twitter Thread: A2 Milk
Interesting twitter thread on A2A2 milk compared to A1 (i.e., any milk that is not A2A2) out there:
I’ve generally read that A2 milk isn’t really all that helpful unless you developed or have a milk allergy. Whether or not it goes beyond that, I have yet to dig more deeply.
In general, if the food and nutrition stuff I share here interests you, I recommend Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food. It’s an easy read and the FAQ in the back + the recipes throughout the book make it highly practical.
Read: Breast Milk Antibodies Confer Immunity Against Mucosal Infections
As part of some research I’m doing right now, I was referred to this study from Mount Sinai hospital on the antibodies in human breastmilk and their effectiveness in conferring immunity (in this case, against Covid but I actually think the specific infection is incidental to the fundamental science here).
I’ve had the opportunity to dig deep on baby formulae (i.e., largely seed oils and sugar in many cases) and how it stacks up to natural breastmilk for those infants who are either premature, born to mothers who can’t breastfeed, or face any number of other issues. The TL;DR is that they don’t stack up — at all. Even if you can mimic the nutritional content of natural milk, you lose a lot of the immune-boosting benefits due to both the (natural) bacterial content of the milk as well as (and especially) the presence of IgA antibodies.
Watch: Quantum Computing Map
I recently helped our team at 1517 Fund with a project relating to a quantum computing company in our portfolio. This is not a shallow topic and is still taking me time to fully grok. I found this short video helpful for understanding the use cases and landscape: