A recent article at Aeon magazine proposed that one of the master symbols of twentieth century biology, the double-helix structure of DNA, should be replaced by the symbol of a feedback loop. Jamie Davis provides a quick tour of the ways that understanding DNA has failed to capture or explain the development of organisms. The technology to sequence the genomes of many organisms has only developed in the last two decades and the optimistic hope that once the sequences were completed we would then be able to understand the whole of the organism, the causes of diseases, and much more has been mostly dashed.
Two interesting articles passed the transom recently. Bruce Sterling started it all with a post on the NewAesthetic - a tumblr that has been collecting visual examples of our current age under the non-manifesto title the “New Aesthetic.” Most of these images are inspired by computer imagery, data mining, and new GIS technologies. Part of what they have in common is recording the breakdown of the digital and the unexpected appearence of the digital in the analog world.
Tonight’s disquisition is a trip down memory lane, following connections as they come. I watched Sunshine State, a film by John Sayles on Friday night. I frequently forget to mention Sayles when someone asks me about my favorite movies or directors. His work is extremely good, but often understated. He almost always uses an ensemble of characters to create a portrait of a particular place at a particular time. Among his best are Matewan and City of Hope.