We Are Not Simulations, Chatting About Trump’s Press Secretary, and More: Today’s Recommended Reading


Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing some of the best content on the internet, but keeping an eye on all of the great writing that other folks on the ‘net are doing, too. Today, we have a lost bit of an interview with the late Anton Yelchin, a look at the trend of indie presses opening book shops, an explanation of why, in fact, we don’t live in a simulation, and a profile of Trump’s right-hand woman, Hope Hicks.

At Rolling Stone, unused bits of an older interview with the late Anton Yelchin, who passed this weekend. In it, it’s clear that the actor possessed an insight and wit that is sadly uncommon in most young actors, let alone young celebrities.

What’s interesting to me is that Pat, of all people, loves this arbitrary energy that exists and then evaporates once you’re done with the show, once you’re done with the moment. But he’s the one that has the hardest time acting in that way. I always found that really interesting. Emotionally, he’s so connected to that energy, but when you see him act, he’s trying to find reason. There’s this almost oxymoronic, or binary dialectic within him. He knows exactly what punk rock music is and being with his friends is, which is the moment — which you really cannot capture as an objective thing. You can’t really reify that. But his logic is such that he wants to reify the absurd in this way where he can make sense of it. I find that really honest about him, and moving about him.

Elon Musk and the technocrats in Silicon Valley have been spreading the belief that it’s very possible that we’re all living in a simulation. This is scary. Two writers at Vice‘s Motherboard also insist that it is not true.

The idea that simulations are a sort of immaterial entity that are, despite being dependent on their physical substrate, nonetheless different, is a leftover of the aforementioned belief in a higher—and possibly better—reality. It’s a belief that we have no reason to take seriously. The notion that we may mistake a simulation of the world for the world is both conceptually and empirically flawed. Conceptually, it is a self-defeating notion—something that if taken to be truth, negates itself. In fact, if, say, simulated water might be a meaningful notion, what would it be made of? It could not be made of real stuff, because if it was, it would no longer be simulated water. However, neither could it be made of simulated stuff, because—that’s the point of being a simulation—there is no such thing as simulated stuff. All we know is physical. All we know belongs, once again, to base reality. Either way, simulated water cannot exist.

Bookstores are said to be an endangered thing, so why are small presses starting more and more of them? Well, it’s kind of the same reason a coffee roaster would start its own café, or a record label would open a record store: it’s a way to get people “in contact” with your merchandise. A bit of an investigation over at LitHub:

Just a few years ago, in the throes of the Great Recession, the traditional publishing industry was in trouble. Independent bookstores already had been written off, and then Borders went under, proving even the big box bookstores were struggling. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple were all competing (and filing lawsuits) over the growing ebook market. Meanwhile, self-publishing was the Next Big Thing. In other words: print was dead, bookstores were passé, and self-published ebooks were the way to connect writers to readers without a middleman. The mainstream media agreed: this was the new reality. But if this was the new reality, what is going on with all these non-profits and independent presses opening local bookstores? Why would anyone decide to open a bookstore in our allegedly post-retail, post-print world?

Donald Trump’s young press secretary, Hope Hicks, is an anomaly on the Trump campaign, if only because she’s a woman in a position of power. She’s also extremely charismatic, but this GQ profile goes beyond the superficial and finds some real gold. Because the writer talks to Trump about Hope, rather than to Hope about Hope.

Of course, a central component of Trump’s appeal is his lack of political experience, which he advertises as proof that once in office, he will do things differently, and better. Similarly, Hicks, a registered but dispassionate Republican since 2008, had never so much as volunteered on a campaign. So I asked Trump if he viewed her outsider status as an asset, much as he did his. “No, I don’t think there’s a benefit to that,” he said flatly and frankly, “but she was able to build political experience quickly. She was very natural. She was very natural when it comes to picking it up, and a lot of people can’t pick it up, because it’s so fast-moving. It’s faster-moving than anything else. You know, for real estate, you have two days to get back. This thing”—by which he meant campaigning to lead the free world—“you have, like, four seconds before the story goes blasting out.”As Trump prattled on about the crazy-making swiftness of it all, it wasn’t hard to imagine the idea resonating with Hicks, now blushing. The speed with which your whole life can spin—it has to be disorienting. I looked at Hicks, trying to ascertain a reaction, but her face was buried in her hand. And it was clear, just then, that to wonder what Hicks has gotten herself into is to wonder something similar about ourselves.